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Title: Animal Intelligence - The International Scientific Series, Vol. XLIV.
Author: Romanes, George J.
Language: English
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I HAVE recently learnt from the publishers of the 'International
Scientific Series' that they have made arrangements with Sir John
Lubbock to bring out in the same series a work of his on Ants and Bees.
Necessarily, therefore, the material to be dealt with in his work will
to a large extent overlap that which is presented by my chapters on the
same insects; but after consulting with the publishers, and also with
Sir John Lubbock, it has seemed to me undesirable to omit these chapters
on account of the circumstances here stated. For, on the one hand, the
facts will not lose their value from being twice told; and on the other,
it is desirable that the present member of the Series should form in
itself, so far as its Author can make it, a complete _résumé_ of all the
more important facts of _Animal Intelligence_.




    I. FORMS OF WATER: a Familiar Exposition of the Origin
      and Phenomena of Glaciers. By J. TYNDALL, LL. D., F.
      R. S. With 25 Illustrations. $1.50.

    II. PHYSICS AND POLITICS; Or, Thoughts on the
      Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection"
      and "Inheritance" to Political Society. By WALTER
      BAGEHOT. $1.50.

      With numerous Illustrations. $1.75.

    IV. MIND AND BODY: The Theories of their Relation. By
      ALEXANDER BAIN, LL. D. With Four Illustrations. $1.50.


    VI. THE NEW CHEMISTRY. By Professor J. P. COOKE, of
      Harvard University. With 31 Illustrations. $2.00.

      STEWART, M. A., LL. D., F. R. S. With 14
      Illustrations. $1.50.

    VIII. ANIMAL LOCOMOTION; or, Walking, Swimming, and
      Flying. By J. B. PETTIGREW, M. D., F. R. S., etc. With
      130 Illustrations. $1.75.

      MAUDSLEY, M. D. $1.50.


    XI. ANIMAL MECHANISM: A Treatise on Terrestrial and
      Aërial Locomotion. By Professor E. J. MAREY. With 117
      Illustrations. $1.75.

      SCIENCE. By J. W. DRAPER, M. D., LL. D. $1.75.

      Professor OSCAR SCHMIDT (Strasburg University). With
      26 Illustrations. $1.50.

      Dr. HERMANN VOGEL (Polytechnic Academy of Berlin).
      Translation thoroughly revised. With 100
      Illustrations. $2.00.

    XV. FUNGI: Their Nature, Influences, Uses, etc. By M.
      C. COOKE, M. A., LL. D. Edited by the Rev. M. J.
      BERKELEY, M. A., F. L. S. With 109 Illustrations.

      WILLIAM DWIGHT WHITNEY, of Yale College. $1.50.

      STANLEY JEVONS, M. A., F. R. S. $1.75.

    XVIII. THE NATURE OF LIGHT, with a General Account of
      Physical Optics. By Dr. EUGENE LOMMEL. With 188
      Illustrations and a Table of Spectra in
      Chromo-lithography. $2.00.

      BENEDEN. With 83 Illustrations. $1.50.

      Illustrations. $1.50.

      With 91 Illustrations. $1.75.

      Professor PIETRO BLASERNA. With numerous
      Illustrations. $1.50.

      LOCKYER, F. R. S. With Six Photographic Illustrations
      of Spectra, and numerous Engravings on Wood. $2.50.

      Professor R. H. THURSTON. With 163 Illustrations.


      CHROMATICS. With Applications to Art and Industry. By
      Professor OGDEN N. ROOD, Columbia College. New
      edition. With 130 Illustrations. $2.00.

      QUATREFAGES, Membre de l'Institut. $2.00.

    XXVIII. THE CRAYFISH: an Introduction to the Study of
      Zoölogy. By T. H. HUXLEY, F. R. S. With 82
      Illustrations. $1.75.

      Translated by E. CLEMINSHAW, F. C. S. $1.50.

      OF EXISTENCE. By KARL SEMPER. With Two Maps and 106
      Woodcuts. $2.00.

    XXXI. SIGHT: An Exposition of the Principles of
      Monocular and Binocular Vision. By JOSEPH LE CONTE,
      LL. D. With 132 Illustrations. $1.50.

      Professor J. ROSENTHAL. With 75 Illustrations. $1.50.

    XXXIII. ILLUSIONS: A Psychological Study. By JAMES
      SULLY. $1.50.

    XXXIV. THE SUN. By C. A. YOUNG, Professor of Astronomy
      in the College of New Jersey. With numerous
      Illustrations. $2.00.

    XXXV. VOLCANOES: What they Are and what they Teach. By
      JOHN W. JUDD, F. R. S., Professor of Geology in the
      Royal School of Mines. With 96 Illustrations. $2.00.

    XXXVI. SUICIDE: An Essay in Comparative Moral
      Statistics. By HENRY MORSELLI, M. D., Professor of
      Psychological Medicine, Royal University, Turin.

      ACTION OF WORMS. With Observations on their Habits. By
      CHARLES DARWIN, LL. D., F. R. S., author of "On the
      Origin of Species," etc., etc. With Illustrations.

      By J. B. STALLO. $1.75.



    XLI. DISEASES OF MEMORY: An Essay in the Positive
      Psychology. By TH. RIBOT, author of "Heredity." From
      the French, by WILLIAM HUNTINGTON SMITH. $1.50.

    XLII. ANTS, BEES, AND WASPS. A Record of Observations
      on the Habits of the Social Hymenoptera. By Sir JOHN
      LUBBOCK, Bart., F. R. S., D. C. L., LL. D., etc.

      "Science of Law." $1.75.


    XLV. MAN BEFORE METALS. By N. JOLY, Correspondent of
      the Institute. With 148 Illustrations. $1.75.

      VON MEYER, Professor in Ordinary of Anatomy at the
      University of Zürich. With 47 Woodcuts. $1.75.

    New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 1, 3, & 5 Bond Street.




    GEORGE J. ROMANES, M. A., LL. D., F. R. S.,

    1, 3, AND 5 BOND STREET.


WHEN I first began to collect materials for this work it was my
intention to divide the book into two parts. Of these I intended the
first to be concerned only with the facts of animal intelligence, while
the second was to have treated of these facts in their relation to the
theory of Descent. Finding, however, as I proceeded, that the material
was too considerable in amount to admit of being comprised within the
limits of a single volume, I have made arrangements with the publishers
of the 'International Scientific Series' to bring out the second
division of the work as a separate treatise, under the title 'Mental
Evolution.' This treatise I hope to get ready for press within a year or

My object in the work as a whole is twofold. First, I have thought it
desirable that there should be something resembling a text-book of the
facts of Comparative Psychology, to which men of science, and also
metaphysicians, may turn whenever they may have occasion to acquaint
themselves with the particular level of intelligence to which this or
that species of animal attains. Hitherto the endeavour of assigning
these levels has been almost exclusively in the hands of popular
writers; and as these have, for the most part, merely strung together,
with discrimination more or less inadequate, innumerable anecdotes of
the display of animal intelligence, their books are valueless as works
of reference. So much, indeed, is this the case, that Comparative
Psychology has been virtually excluded from the hierarchy of the
sciences. If we except the methodical researches of a few distinguished
naturalists, it would appear that the phenomena of mind in animals,
having constituted so much and so long the theme of unscientific
authors, are now considered well-nigh unworthy of serious treatment by
scientific methods. But it is surely needless to point out that the
phenomena which constitute the subject-matter of Comparative Psychology,
even if we regard them merely as facts in Nature, have at least as great
a claim to accurate classification as those phenomena of structure which
constitute the subject-matter of Comparative Anatomy. Leaving aside,
therefore, the reflection that within the last twenty years the facts of
animal intelligence have suddenly acquired a new and profound
importance, from the proved probability of their genetic continuity with
those of human intelligence, it would remain true that their systematic
arrangement is a worthy object of scientific endeavour. This, then, has
been my first object, which, otherwise stated, amounts merely to passing
the animal kingdom in review in order to give a trustworthy account of
the grade of psychological development which is presented by each group.
Such is the scope of the present treatise.

My second, and much more important object, is that of considering the
facts of animal intelligence in their relation to the theory of Descent.
With the exception of Mr. Darwin's admirable chapters on the mental
powers and moral sense, and Mr. Spencer's great work on the Principles
of Psychology, there has hitherto been no earnest attempt at tracing the
principles which have been probably concerned in the genesis of Mind.
Yet there is not a doubt that, for the present generation at all
events, no subject of scientific inquiry can present a higher degree of
interest; and therefore it is mainly with the view of furthering this
inquiry that I have undertaken this work. It will thus be apparent that
the present volume, while complete in itself as a statement of the facts
of Comparative Psychology, has for its more ultimate purpose the laying
of a firm foundation for my future treatise on Mental Evolution. But
although, from what I have just said, it will be apparent that the
present treatise is preliminary to a more important one, I desire to
emphasise this statement, lest the critics, in being now presented only
with a groundwork on which the picture is eventually to be painted,
should deem that the art displayed is of somewhat too commonplace a
kind. If the present work is read without reference to its ultimate
object of supplying facts for the subsequent deduction of principles, it
may well seem but a small improvement upon the works of the
anecdote-mongers. But if it is remembered that my object in these pages
is the mapping out of animal psychology for the purposes of a subsequent
synthesis, I may fairly claim to receive credit for a sound scientific
intention, even where the only methods at my disposal may incidentally
seem to minister to a mere love of anecdote.

It remains to add a few words on the principles which I have laid down
for my own guidance in the selection and arrangement of facts.
Considering it desirable to cast as wide a net as possible, I have
fished the seas of popular literature as well as the rivers of
scientific writing. The endless multitude of alleged facts which I have
thus been obliged to read, I have found, as may well be imagined,
excessively tedious; and as they are for the most part recorded by
wholly unknown observers, the labour of reading them would have been
useless without some trustworthy principles of selection. The first and
most obvious principle that occurred to me was to regard only those
facts which stood upon the authority of observers well known as
competent; but I soon found that this principle constituted much too
close a mesh. Where one of my objects was to determine the upper limit
of intelligence reached by this and that class, order, or species of
animals, I usually found that the most remarkable instances of the
display of intelligence were recorded by persons bearing names more or
less unknown to fame. This, of course, is what we might antecedently
expect, as it is obvious that the chances must always be greatly against
the more intelligent individuals among animals happening to fall under
the observation of the more intelligent individuals among men. Therefore
I soon found that I had to choose between neglecting all the more
important part of the evidence--and consequently in most cases feeling
sure that I had fixed the upper limit of intelligence too low--or
supplementing the principle of looking to authority alone with some
other principles of selection, which, while embracing the enormous class
of alleged facts recorded by unknown observers, might be felt to meet
the requirements of a reasonably critical method. I therefore adopted
the following principles as a filter to this class of facts. First,
never to accept an alleged fact without the authority of some name.
Second, in the case of the name being unknown, and the alleged fact of
sufficient importance to be entertained, carefully to consider whether,
from all the circumstances of the case as recorded, there was any
considerable opportunity for mal-observation; this principle generally
demanded that the alleged fact, or action on the part of the animal,
should be of a particularly marked and unmistakable kind, looking to the
end which the action is said to have accomplished. Third, to tabulate
all important observations recorded by unknown observers, with the view
of ascertaining whether they have ever been corroborated by similar or
analogous observations made by other and independent observers. This
principle I have found to be of great use in guiding my selection of
instances, for where statements of fact which present nothing
intrinsically improbable are found to be unconsciously confirmed by
different observers, they have as good a right to be deemed trustworthy
as statements which stand on the single authority of a known observer,
and I have found the former to be at least as abundant as the latter.
Moreover, by getting into the habit of always seeking for corroborative
cases, I have frequently been able to substantiate the assertions of
known observers by those of other observers as well or better known.

So much, then, for the principles by which I have been guided in the
selection of facts. As to the arrangement of the facts, I have taken the
animal kingdom in ascending order, and endeavoured to give as full a
sketch as the selected evidence at my disposal permitted of the
psychology which is distinctive of each class, or order, and, in some
cases, family, genus, or even species. The reason of my entering into
greater detail with some natural groups than with others scarcely
requires explanation. For it is almost needless to say that if the
animal kingdom were classified with reference to Psychology instead of
with reference to Anatomy, we should have a very different kind of
zoological tree from that which is now given in our diagrams. There is,
indeed, a general and, philosophically considered, most important
parallelism running through the whole animal kingdom between structural
affinity and mental development; but this parallelism is exceedingly
rough, and to be traced only in broad outlines, so that although it is
convenient for the purpose of definite arrangement to take the animal
kingdom in the order presented by zoological classification, it would be
absurd to restrict an inquiry into Animal Psychology by any
considerations of the apparently disproportionate length and minute
subdivision with which it is necessary to treat some of the groups.
Anatomically, an ant or a bee does not require more consideration than a
beetle or a fly; but psychologically there is need for as great a
difference of treatment as there is in the not very dissimilar case of a
monkey and a man.

Throughout the work my aim has been to arrive at definite principles
rather than to chronicle mere incidents--an aim which will become more
apparent when the work as a whole shall have been completed. Therefore
it is that in the present volume I have endeavoured, as far as the
nature and circumstances of the inquiry would permit, to suppress
anecdote. Nevertheless, although I have nowhere introduced anecdotes for
their own sake, I have found it unavoidable not to devote much the
largest part of the present essay to their narration. Hence, with the
double purpose of limiting the introduction of anecdotes as much as
possible, and of not repeating more than I could help anecdotes already
published, I have in all cases, where I could do so without detriment to
my main object, given the preference to facts which have been
communicated to me by friends and correspondents. And here I may fitly
take the opportunity of expressing my thanks and obligations to the
latter, who in astonishing numbers have poured in their communications
during several years from all quarters of the globe. I make this
statement because I desire to explain to all my correspondents who may
read this book, that I am not the less sensible of their kindness
because its bounty has rendered it impossible for me to send
acknowledgments in individual cases. However, I should like to add in
this connection that it does not follow, because I have only quoted a
small percentage of the letters which I have received, that all of the
remainder have been useless. On the contrary, many of these have served
to convey information and suggestions which, even if not reserved for
express quotation in my forthcoming work, have been of use in guiding my
judgment on particular points. Therefore I hope that the publication of
these remarks may serve to swell the stream of communications into a yet
larger flow.[1]

In all cases where I have occasion to quote statements of fact, which in
the present treatise are necessarily numerous, I have made a point of
trying to quote _verbatim_. Only where I have found that the account
given by an author or a correspondent might profitably admit of a
considerable degree of condensation have I presented it in my own words.

And here I have to express my very special obligations to Mr. Darwin,
who not only assisted me in the most generous manner with his immense
stores of information, as well as with his valuable judgment on sundry
points of difficulty, but has also been kind enough to place at my
disposal all the notes and clippings on animal intelligence which he has
been collecting for the last forty years, together with the original MS.
of his wonderful chapter on 'Instinct.' This chapter, on being re-cast
for the 'Origin of Species,' underwent so merciless an amount of
compression that the original draft constitutes a rich store of hitherto
unpublished material. In my second work I shall have occasion to draw
upon this store more largely than in the present one, and it is needless
to add that in all cases where I do draw upon it I shall be careful to
state the source to which I am indebted.

[The above was written when I sent this work to the publishers several
months ago, and I have thought it best to leave the concluding paragraph
as it originally stood. But in making this explanation, I cannot allude
to the calamity which has since occurred without paying my tribute, not
alone to the memory of the greatest genius of our age, but still more,
and much more, to the memory of a friend so inexpressibly noble, kind,
and generous, that even my immense admiration of the naturalist was
surpassed by my loving veneration for the man.]


[1] Letters may be addressed to me directly at 18 Cornwall Terrace,
Regent's Park, London, N W.


  INTRODUCTION                                                    1


  MOLLUSCA                                                       25

  ANTS                                                           31

  BEES AND WASPS                                                143

  TERMITES                                                      198

  SPIDERS AND SCORPIONS                                         204

  REMAINING ARTICULATA                                          226

  FISH                                                          241

  BATRACHIANS AND REPTILES                                      254

  BIRDS                                                         266

  MAMMALS                                                       326

  RODENTS                                                       353

  ELEPHANT                                                      386

  THE CAT                                                       411

  FOXES, WOLVES, JACKALS, &C.                                   426

  THE DOG                                                       437

  MONKEYS, APES, AND BABOONS                                    471

  INDEX                                                         499


BEFORE we begin to consider the phenomena of mind throughout the animal
kingdom it is desirable that we should understand, as far as possible,
what it is that we exactly mean by mind. Now, by mind we may mean two
very different things, according as we contemplate it in our own
individual selves, or in other organisms. For if we contemplate our own
mind, we have an immediate cognizance of a certain flow of thoughts or
feelings, which are the most ultimate things, and indeed the only
things, of which we are cognisant. But if we contemplate mind in other
persons or organisms, we have no such immediate cognizance of thoughts
or feelings. In such cases we can only _infer_ the existence and the
nature of thoughts and feelings from the activities of the organisms
which appear to exhibit them. Thus it is that we may have a subjective
analysis of mind and an objective analysis of mind--the difference
between the two consisting in this, that in our subjective analysis we
are restricted to the limits of a single isolated mind which we call our
own, and within the territory of which we have immediate cognizance of
all the processes that are going on, or at any rate of all the processes
that fall within the scope of our introspection. But in our objective
analysis of other or foreign minds we have no such immediate cognizance;
all our knowledge of their operations is derived, as it were, through
the medium of ambassadors--these ambassadors being the activities of the
organism. Hence it is evident that in our study of animal intelligence
we are wholly restricted to the objective method. Starting from what I
know subjectively of the operations of my own individual mind, and the
activities which in my own organism they prompt, I proceed by analogy to
infer from the observable activities of other organisms what are the
mental operations that underlie them.

Now, in this mode of procedure what is the kind of activities which may
be regarded as indicative of mind? I certainly do not so regard the
flowing of a river or the blowing of the wind. Why? First, because the
objects are too remote in kind from my own organism to admit of my
drawing any reasonable analogy between them and it; and, secondly,
because the activities which they present are of invariably the same
kind under the same circumstances; they afford no evidence of feeling or
purpose. In other words, two conditions require to be satisfied before
we even begin to imagine that observable activities are indicative of
mind: first, the activities must be displayed by a living organism; and
secondly, they must be of a kind to suggest the presence of two elements
which we recognise as the distinctive characteristics of mind as
such--consciousness and choice.

So far, then, the case seems simple enough. Wherever we see a living
organism apparently exerting intentional choice, we might infer that it
is conscious choice, and therefore that the organism has a mind. But
further reflection shows us that this is just what we cannot do; for
although it is true that there is no mind without the power of conscious
choice, it is not true that all apparent choice is due to mind. In our
own organisms, for instance, we find a great many adaptive movements
performed without choice or even consciousness coming into play at
all--such, for instance, as in the beating of our hearts. And not only
so, but physiological experiments and pathological lesions prove that in
our own and in other organisms the mechanism of the nervous system is
sufficient, without the intervention of consciousness, to produce
muscular movements of a highly co-ordinate and apparently intentional
character. Thus, for instance, if a man has his back broken in such a
way as to sever the nervous connection between his brain and lower
extremities, on pinching or tickling his feet they are drawn suddenly
away from the irritation, although the man is quite unconscious of the
adaptive movement of his muscles; the lower nerve-centres of the spinal
cord are competent to bring about this movement of adaptive response
without requiring to be directed by the brain. This non-mental operation
of the lower nerve-centres in the production of apparently intentional
movements is called Reflex Action, and the cases of its occurrence, even
within the limits of our own organism, are literally numberless.
Therefore, in view of such non-mental nervous adjustment, leading to
movements which are only in appearance intentional, it clearly becomes a
matter of great difficulty to say in the case of the lower animals
whether any action which appears to indicate intelligent choice is not
really action of the reflex kind.

On this whole subject of mind-like and yet not truly mental action I
shall have much to say in my subsequent treatise, where I shall be
concerned among other things with tracing the probable genesis of mind
from non-mental antecedents. But here it is sufficient merely to make
this general statement of the fact, that even within the experience
supplied by our own organisms adaptive movements of a highly complex and
therefore apparently purposive character may be performed without any
real purpose, or even consciousness of their performance. It thus
becomes evident that before we can predicate the bare existence of mind
in the lower animals, we need some yet more definite criterion of mind
than that which is supplied by the adaptive actions of a living
organism, howsoever apparently intentional such actions may be. Such a
criterion I have now to lay down, and I think it is one that is as
practically adequate as it is theoretically legitimate.

Objectively considered, the only distinction between adaptive movements
due to reflex action and adaptive movements due to mental perception,
consists in the former depending on inherited mechanisms within the
nervous system being so constructed as to effect _particular_ adaptive
movements in response to _particular_ stimulations, while the latter
are independent of any such inherited adjustment of special mechanisms
to the exigencies of special circumstances. Reflex actions under the
influence of their appropriate stimuli may be compared to the actions of
a machine under the manipulations of an operator; when certain springs
of action are touched by certain stimuli, the whole machine is thrown
into appropriate movement; there is no room for choice, there is no room
for uncertainty; but as surely as any of these inherited mechanisms are
affected by the stimulus with reference to which it has been constructed
to act, so surely will it act in precisely the same way as it always has
acted. But the case with conscious mental adjustment is quite different.
For, without at present going into the question concerning the relation
of body and mind, or waiting to ask whether cases of mental adjustment
are not really quite as _mechanical_ in the sense of being the necessary
result or correlative of a chain of physical sequences due to a physical
stimulation, it is enough to point to the variable and incalculable
character of mental adjustments as distinguished from the constant and
foreseeable character of reflex adjustments. All, in fact, that in an
objective sense we can mean by a mental adjustment is an adjustment of a
kind that has not been definitely fixed by heredity as the only
adjustment possible in the given circumstances of stimulation. For were
there no alternative of adjustment, the case, in an animal at least,
would be indistinguishable from one of reflex action.

It is, then, adaptive action by a living organism in cases where the
inherited machinery of the nervous system does not furnish data for our
prevision of what the adaptive action must necessarily be--it is only
here that we recognise the objective evidence of mind. The criterion of
mind, therefore, which I propose, and to which I shall adhere throughout
the present volume, is as follows:--Does the organism learn to make new
adjustments, or to modify old ones, in accordance with the results of
its own individual experience? If it does so, the fact cannot be due
merely to reflex action in the sense above described, for it is
impossible that heredity can have provided in advance for innovations
upon, or alterations of, its machinery during the lifetime of a
particular individual.

In my next work I shall have occasion to consider this criterion of mind
more carefully, and then it will be shown that as here stated the
criterion is not rigidly exclusive, either, on the one hand, of a
possibly mental element in apparently non-mental adjustments, or,
conversely, of a possibly non-mental element in apparently mental
adjustments. But, nevertheless, the criterion is the best that is
available, and, as it will be found sufficient for all the purposes of
the present work, its more minute analysis had better be deferred till I
shall have to treat of the probable evolution of mind from non-mental
antecedents. I may, however, here explain that in my use of this
criterion I shall always regard it as fixing only the upper limit of
non-mental action; I shall never regard it as fixing the lower limit of
mental action. For it is clear that long before mind has advanced
sufficiently far in the scale of development to become amenable to the
test in question, it has probably begun to dawn as nascent subjectivity.
In other words, because a lowly organised animal does _not_ learn by its
own individual experience, we may not therefore conclude that in
performing its natural or ancestral adaptations to appropriate stimuli
consciousness, or the mind-element, is wholly absent; we can only say
that this element, if present, reveals no evidence of the fact. But, on
the other hand, if a lowly organised animal _does_ learn by its own
individual experience, we are in possession of the best available
evidence of conscious memory leading to intentional adaptation.
Therefore our criterion applies to the upper limit of non-mental action,
not to the lower limit of mental.

Of course to the sceptic this criterion may appear unsatisfactory, since
it depends, not on direct knowledge, but on inference. Here, however, it
seems enough to point out, as already observed, that it is the best
criterion available; and further, that scepticism of this kind is
logically bound to deny evidence of mind, not only in the case of the
lower animals, but also in that of the higher, and even in that of men
other than the sceptic himself. For all objections which could apply to
the use of this criterion of mind in the animal kingdom would apply with
equal force to the evidence of any mind other than that of the
individual objector. This is obvious, because, as I have already
observed, the only evidence we can have of objective mind is that which
is furnished by objective activities; and as the subjective mind can
never become assimilated with the objective so as to learn by direct
feeling the mental processes which there accompany the objective
activities, it is clearly impossible to satisfy any one who may choose
to doubt the validity of inference, that in any case other than his own
mental processes ever do accompany objective activities. Thus it is that
philosophy can supply no demonstrative refutation of idealism, even of
the most extravagant form. Common sense, however, universally feels that
analogy is here a safer guide to truth than the sceptical demand for
impossible evidence; so that if the objective existence of other
organisms and their activities is granted--without which postulate
comparative psychology, like all the other sciences, would be an
unsubstantial dream--common sense will always and without question
conclude that the activities of organisms other than our own, when
analogous to those activities of our own which we know to be accompanied
by certain mental states, are in them accompanied by analogous mental

The theory of animal automatism, therefore, which is usually attributed
to Descartes (although it is not quite clear how far this great
philosopher really entertained the theory), can never be accepted by
common sense; and even as a philosophical speculation it will be seen,
from what has just been said, that by no feat of logic is it possible to
make the theory apply to animals to the exclusion of man. The expression
of fear or affection by a dog involves quite as distinctive and complex
a series of neuro-muscular actions as does the expression of similar
emotions by a human being; and therefore, if the evidence of
corresponding mental states is held to be inadequate in the one case, it
must in consistency be held similarly inadequate in the other. And
likewise, of course, with all other exhibitions of mental life.

It is quite true, however, that since the days of Descartes--or rather,
we might say, since the days of Joule--the question of animal automatism
has assumed a new or more defined aspect, seeing that it now runs
straight into the most profound and insoluble problem that has ever been
presented to human thought--viz. the relation of body to mind in view of
the doctrine of the conservation of energy. I shall subsequently have
occasion to consider this problem with the close attention that it
demands; but in the present volume, which has to deal only with the
phenomena of mind as such, I expressly pass the problem aside as one
reserved for separate treatment. Here I desire only to make it plain
that the mind of animals must be placed in the same category, with
reference to this problem, as the mind of man; and that we cannot
without gross inconsistency ignore or question the evidence of mind in
the former, while we accept precisely the same kind of evidence as
sufficient proof of mind in the latter.

And this proof, as I have endeavoured to show, is in all cases and in
its last analysis the fact of a living organism showing itself able to
learn by its own individual experience. Wherever we find an animal able
to do this, we have the same right to predicate mind as existing in such
an animal that we have to predicate it as existing in any human being
other than ourselves. For instance, a dog has always been accustomed to
eat a piece of meat when his organism requires nourishment, and when his
olfactory nerves respond to the particular stimulus occasioned by the
proximity of the food. So far, it may be said, there is no evidence of
mind; the whole series of events comprised in the stimulations and
muscular movements may be due to reflex action alone. But now suppose
that by a number of lessons the dog has been taught not to eat the meat
when he is hungry until he receives a certain verbal signal: then we
have exactly the same kind of evidence that the dog's actions are
prompted by mind as we have that the actions of a man are so
prompted.[2] Now we find that the lower down we go in the animal
kingdom, the more we observe reflex action, or non-mental adjustment, to
predominate over volitional action, or mental adjustment. That is to
say, the lower down we go in the animal kingdom, the less capacity do we
find for changing adjustive movements in correspondence with changed
conditions; it becomes more and more hopeless to _teach_ animals--that
is, to establish associations of ideas; and the reason of this, of
course, is that ideas or mental units become fewer and less definite the
lower we descend through the structure of mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not my object in the present work to enter upon any analysis of
the operations of mind, as this will require to be done as fully as
possible in my next work. Nevertheless, a few words must here be said
with regard to the main divisions of mental operation, in order to
define closely the meanings which I shall attach to certain terms
relating to these divisions, and the use of which I cannot avoid.

The terms sensation, perception, emotion, and volition need not here be
considered. I shall use them in their ordinary psychological
significations; and although I shall subsequently have to analyse each
of the organic or mental states which they respectively denote, there
will be no occasion in the present volume to enter upon this subject. I
may, however, point out one general consideration to which I shall
throughout adhere. Taking it for granted that the external indications
of mental processes which we observe in animals are trustworthy, so that
we are justified in inferring particular mental states from particular
bodily actions, it follows that in consistency we must everywhere apply
the same criteria.

For instance, if we find a dog or a monkey exhibiting marked expressions
of affection, sympathy, jealousy, rage, &c., few persons are sceptical
enough to doubt that the complete analogy which these expressions afford
with those which are manifested by man, sufficiently prove the
existence of mental states analogous to those in man of which these
expressions are the outward and visible signs. But when we find an ant
or a bee apparently exhibiting by its actions these same emotions, few
persons are sufficiently non-sceptical not to doubt whether the outward
and visible signs are here trustworthy as evidence of analogous or
corresponding inward and mental states. The whole organisation of such a
creature is so different from that of a man that it becomes questionable
how far analogy drawn from the activities of the insect is a safe guide
to the inferring of mental states--particularly in view of the fact that
in many respects, such as in the great preponderance of 'instinct' over
'reason,' the psychology of an insect is demonstrably a widely different
thing from that of a man. Now it is, of course, perfectly true that the
less the resemblance the less is the value of any analogy built upon the
resemblance, and therefore that the inference of an ant or a bee feeling
sympathy or rage is not so valid as is the similar inference in the case
of a dog or a monkey. Still it _is_ an inference, and, so far as it
goes, a valid one--being, in fact, the only inference available. That is
to say, if we observe an ant or a bee apparently exhibiting sympathy or
rage, we must either conclude that some psychological state resembling
that of sympathy or rage is present, or else refuse to think about the
subject at all; from the observable facts there is no other inference
open. Therefore, having full regard to the progressive weakening of the
analogy from human to brute psychology as we recede through the animal
kingdom downwards from man, still, as it is the only analogy available,
I shall follow it throughout the animal series.

It may not, however, be superfluous to point out that if we have full
regard to this progressive weakening of the analogy, we must feel less
and less certain of the real similarity of the mental states compared;
so that when we get down as low as the insects, I think the most we can
confidently assert is that the known facts of human psychology furnish
the best available pattern of the probable facts of insect psychology.
Just as the theologians tell us--and logically enough--that if there is
a Divine Mind, the best, and indeed only, conception we can form of it
is that which is formed on the analogy, however imperfect, supplied by
the human mind; so with 'inverted anthropomorphism' we must apply a
similar consideration with a similar conclusion to the animal mind. The
mental states of an insect may be widely different from those of a man,
and yet most probably the nearest conception that we can form of their
true nature is that which we form by assimilating them to the pattern of
the only mental states with which we are actually acquainted. And this
consideration, it is needless to point out, has a special validity to
the evolutionist, inasmuch as upon his theory there must be a
psychological, no less than a physiological, continuity extending
throughout the length and breadth of the animal kingdom.

       *       *       *       *       *

In these preliminary remarks only one other point requires brief
consideration, and this has reference to the distinction between what in
popular phraseology is called 'Instinct' and 'Reason.' I shall not here
enter upon any elaborate analysis of a distinction which is undoubtedly
valid, but shall confine my remarks to explaining the sense in which I
shall everywhere use these terms.

Few words in our language have been subject to a greater variety of
meanings than the word instinct. In popular phraseology, descended from
the Middle Ages, all the mental faculties of the animal are termed
instinctive, in contradistinction to those of man, which are termed
rational. But unless we commit ourselves to an obvious reasoning in a
circle, we must avoid assuming that all actions of animals are
instinctive, and then arguing that because they are instinctive,
therefore they differ from the rational actions of man. The question
really lies in what is here assumed, and we can only answer it by
examining in what essential respect instinct differs from reason.

Again, Addison says:--

      I look upon instinct as upon the principle of
      gravitation in bodies, which is not to be explained by
      any known qualities inherent in the bodies themselves,
      nor from any laws of mechanism, but as an immediate
      impression from the first Mover, and the Divine energy
      acting in the creatures.

This mode of 'looking upon instinct' is merely to exclude the subject
from the sphere of inquiry, and so to abstain from any attempt at

Innumerable other opinions might be quoted from well-known writers,
'looking upon instinct' in widely different ways; but as this is not an
historical work, I shall pass on at once to the manner in which science
looks upon it, or, at least, the manner in which it will always be
looked upon throughout the present work.

Without concerning ourselves with the origin of instincts, and so
without reference to the theory of evolution, we have to consider the
most conspicuous and distinctive features of instinct as it now exists.
The most important point to observe in the first instance is that
instinct involves _mental_ operations; for this is the only point that
serves to distinguish instinctive action from reflex. Reflex action, as
already explained, is non-mental neuro-muscular adaptation to
appropriate stimuli; but instinctive action is this and something more;
there is in it the element of mind. Such, at least, is instinctive
action in the sense that I shall always allude to it. I am, of course,
aware that the limitation which I thus impose is one which is ignored,
or not recognised, by many writers even among psychologists; but I am
persuaded that if we are to have any approach to definiteness in the
terms which we employ--not to say of clearness in our ideas concerning
the things of which we speak--it is most desirable to restrict the word
instinct to mental as distinguished from non-mental activity. No doubt
it is often difficult, or even impossible, to decide whether or not a
given action implies the presence of the mind-element--_i.e._, conscious
as distinguished from unconscious adaptation; but this is altogether a
separate matter, and has nothing to do with the question of defining
instinct in a manner which shall be formally exclusive, on the one hand
of reflex action, and on the other of reason. As Virchow truly observes,
'it is difficult or impossible to draw the line between instinctive and
reflex action;' but at least the difficulty may be narrowed down to
deciding in particular cases whether or not an action falls into this or
that category of definition; there is no reason why the difficulty
should arise on account of any ambiguity of the definitions themselves.
Therefore I endeavour to draw as sharply as possible the line which _in
theory_ should be taken to separate instinctive from reflex action; and
this line, as I have already said, is constituted by the boundary of
non-mental or unconscious adjustment, with adjustment in which there is
concerned consciousness or mind.

Having thus, I hope, made it clear that the difficulty of drawing a
distinction between reflex and instinctive actions as a class is one
thing, and that the difficulty of assigning particular actions to one or
the other of our categories is another thing, we may next perceive that
the former difficulty is obviated by the distinction which I have
imposed, and that the latter only arises from the fact that on the
objective side there is no distinction imposable. The former difficulty
is obviated by the distinction which I have drawn, simply because the
distinction is itself a definite one. In particular cases of adjustive
action we may not always be able to affirm whether consciousness of
their performance is present or absent; but, as I have already said,
this does not affect the validity of our definition; all we can say of
such cases is that if the performance in question is attended with
consciousness it is instinctive, and if not it is reflex.

And the difficulty of assigning particular actions to one or other of
these two categories arises, as I have said, merely because on the
objective side, or the side of the nervous system, there is no
distinction to be drawn. Whether or not a neural process is accompanied
by a mental process, it is in itself the same. The advent and
development of consciousness, although progressively converting reflex
action into instinctive, and instinctive into rational, does this
exclusively in the sphere of subjectivity; the nervous processes engaged
are throughout the same in kind, and differ only in the relative degrees
of their complexity. Therefore, as the dawn of consciousness or the rise
of the mind-element is gradual and undefined, both in the animal kingdom
and in the growing child, it is but necessary that in the early morning,
as it were, of consciousness any distinction between the mental and the
non-mental should be obscure, and generally impossible to determine.
Thus, for instance, a child at birth does not close its eyes upon the
near approach of a threatening body, and it only learns to do so by
degrees as the result of experience; at first, therefore, the action of
closing the eyelids in order to protect the eyes may be said to be
instinctive, in that it involves the mind-element:[3] yet it afterwards
becomes a reflex which asserts itself even in opposition to the will.
And, conversely, sucking in a new-born child, or a child _in utero_, is,
in accordance with my definition, a reflex action; yet in later life,
when consciousness becomes more developed and the child _seeks_ the
breast, sucking may properly be called an instinctive action. Therefore
it is that, as in the ascending scale of objective complexity the
mind-element arises and advances gradually, many particular cases which
occupy the undefined boundary between reflex action and instinct cannot
be assigned with confidence either to the one region or to the other.

We see then the point, and the only point, wherein instinct can be
consistently separated from reflex action; viz., in presenting a mental
constituent. Next we must consider wherein instinct may be separated
from reason. And for this purpose we may best begin by considering what
we mean by reason.

The term 'reason' is used in significations almost as various as those
which are applied to 'instinct.' Sometimes it stands for all the
distinctively human faculties taken collectively, and in antithesis to
the mental faculties of the brute; while at other times it is taken to
mean the distinctively human faculties of intellect.

Dr. Johnson defines it as 'the power by which man deduces one
proposition from another, and proceeds from premises to consequences.'
This definition presupposes language, and therefore ignores all cases of
inference not thrown into the formal shape of predication. Yet even in
man the majority of inferences drawn by the mind never emerge as
articulate propositions; so that although, as we shall have occasion
fully to observe in my subsequent work, there is much profound
philosophy in identifying reason with speech as they were identified in
the term Logos, yet for purposes of careful definition so to identify
intellect with language is clearly a mistake.

More correctly, the word reason is used to signify the power of
perceiving analogies or ratios, and is in this sense equivalent to the
term 'ratiocination,' or the faculty of deducing inferences from a
perceived equivalency of relations. Such is the only use of the word
that is strictly legitimate, and it is thus that I shall use it
throughout the present treatise. This faculty, however, of balancing
relations, drawing inferences, and so of forecasting probabilities,
admits of numberless degrees; and as in the designation of its lower
manifestations it sounds somewhat unusual to employ the word reason, I
shall in these cases frequently substitute the word intelligence. Where
we find, for instance, that an oyster profits by individual experience,
or is able to perceive new relations and suitably to act upon the result
of its perceptions, I think it sounds less unusual to speak of the
oyster as displaying intelligence than as displaying reason. On this
account I shall use the former term to signify the lower degrees of the
ratiocinative faculty; and thus in my usage it will be opposed to such
terms as instinct, reflex action, &c., in the same manner as the term
reason is so opposed. This is a point which, for the sake of clearness,
I desire the reader to retain in his memory. I shall always speak of
intelligence and intellect in antithesis to instinct, emotion, and the
rest, as implying mental faculties the same in kind as those which in
ourselves we call rational.

Now it is notorious that no distinct line can be drawn between instinct
and reason. Whether we look to the growing child or to the ascending
scale of animal life, we find that instinct shades into reason by
imperceptible degrees, or, as Pope expresses it, that these principles
are 'for ever separate, yet for ever near.' Nor is this other than the
principles of evolution would lead us to expect, as I shall afterwards
have abundant occasion to show. Here, however, we are only concerned
with drawing what distinction we can between instinct and reason as
these faculties are actually presented to our observation. And this in a
general way it is not difficult to do.

We have seen that instinct involves 'mental operations,' and that by
this feature it is distinguished from reflex action; we have now to
consider the features by which it is distinguished from reason. These
are accurately, though not completely, conveyed by Sir Benjamin Brodie,
who defines instinct as 'a principle by which animals are induced,
independently of experience and reasoning, to the performances of
certain voluntary acts, which are necessary to their preservation as
individuals, or to the continuance of the species, or in some other way
convenient to them.'[4] This definition, as I have said, is accurate as
far as it goes, but it does not state with sufficient generality and
terseness that all instinctive action is adaptive; nor does it clearly
bring out the distinction between instinct and reason which is thus well
conveyed by the definition of Hartmann, who says in his 'Philosophy of
the Unconscious,' that 'instinct is action taken in pursuance of an end,
but without conscious perception of what the end is.' This definition,
however, is likewise defective in that it omits another of the important
differentiæ of instinct--namely, the uniformity of instinctive action as
performed by different individuals of the same species. Including this
feature, therefore, we may more accurately and completely define
instinct as mental action (whether in animals or human beings),
directed towards the accomplishing of adaptive movement, antecedent to
individual experience, without necessary knowledge of the relation
between the means employed and the ends attained, but similarly
performed under the same appropriate circumstances by all the
individuals of the same species. Now in every one of these respects,
with the exception of containing a mental constituent and in being
concerned in adaptive action, instinct differs from reason. For reason,
besides involving a mental constituent, and besides being concerned in
adaptive action, is always subsequent to individual experience, never
acts but upon a definite and often laboriously acquired knowledge of the
relation between means and ends, and is very far from being always
similarly performed under the same appropriate circumstances by all the
individuals of the same species.

Thus the distinction between instinct and reason is both more definite
and more manifold than is that between instinct and reflex action.
Nevertheless, in particular cases there is as much difficulty in
classifying certain actions as instinctive or rational, as there is in
cases where the question lies between instinct and reflex action. And
the explanation of this is, as already observed, that instinct passes
into reason by imperceptible degrees; so that actions in the main
instinctive are very commonly tempered with what Pierre Huber calls 'a
little dose of judgment or reason,' and _vice versâ_. But here, again,
the difficulty which attaches to the classification of particular
actions has no reference to the validity of the distinctions between the
two classes of actions; these are definite and precise, whatever
difficulty there may be in applying them to particular cases.

Another point of difference between instinct and reason may be noticed
which, although not of invariable, is of very general applicability. It
will have been observed, from what has already been said, that the
essential respect in which instinct differs from reason consists in the
amount of conscious deliberation which the two processes respectively
involve. Instinctive actions are actions which, owing to their frequent
repetition, become so habitual in the course of generations that all
the individuals of the same species automatically perform the same
actions under the stimulus supplied by the same appropriate
circumstances. Rational actions, on the other hand, are actions which
are required to meet circumstances of comparatively rare occurrence in
the life-history of the species, and which therefore can only be
performed by an intentional effort of adaptation. Consequently there
arises the subordinate distinction to which I allude, viz., that
instinctive actions are only performed under particular circumstances
which have been frequently experienced during the life-history of the
species; whereas rational actions are performed under varied
circumstances, and serve to meet novel exigencies which may never before
have occurred even in the life-history of the individual.

Thus, then, upon the whole, we may lay down our several definitions in
their most complete form.

Reflex action is non-mental neuro-muscular adjustment, due to the
inherited mechanism of the nervous system, which is formed to respond to
particular and often recurring stimuli, by giving rise to particular
movements of an adaptive though not of an intentional kind.

Instinct is reflex action into which there is imported the element of
consciousness. The term is therefore a generic one, comprising all those
faculties of mind which are concerned in conscious and adaptive action,
antecedent to individual experience, without necessary knowledge of the
relation between means employed and ends attained, but similarly
performed under similar and frequently recurring circumstances by all
the individuals of the same species.

Reason or intelligence is the faculty which is concerned in the
intentional adaptation of means to ends. It therefore implies the
conscious knowledge of the relation between means employed and ends
attained, and may be exercised in adaptation to circumstances novel
alike to the experience of the individual and to that of the species.


[2] Of course it may be said that we have no evidence of _prompting_ in
either case; but this is the side issue which concerns the general
relation of body and mind, and has nothing to do with the guarantee of
inferring the presence of mind in particular cases.

[3] _I.e._, ancestral as well as individual. If the race had not always
had occasion to close the eyelids to protect the eyes, it is certain
that the young child would not so quickly learn to do so in virtue of
its own individual experience alone; and as the action cannot be
attributed to any process of conscious inference, it is not rational;
but we have seen that it is not originally reflex; therefore it is

[4] _Psychological Researches_, p. 187.




NO one can have watched the movements of certain Infusoria without
feeling it difficult to believe that these little animals are not
actuated by some amount of intelligence. Even if the manner in which
they avoid collisions be attributed entirely to repulsions set up in the
currents which by their movements they create, any such mechanical
explanation certainly cannot apply to the small creatures seeking one
another for the purposes of prey, reproduction, or, as it sometimes
seems, of mere sport. There is a common and well-known rotifer whose
body is of a cup shape, provided with a very active tail, which is armed
at its extremity with strong forceps. I have seen a small specimen of
this rotifer seize a much larger one with its forceps, and attach itself
by this means to the side of the cup. The large rotifer at once became
very active, and swinging about with its burden until it came to a piece
of weed, it took firm hold of the weed with its own forceps, and began
the most extraordinary series of movements, which were obviously
directed towards ridding itself of the encumbrance. It dashed from side
to side in all directions with a vigour and suddenness which were highly
astonishing, so that it seemed as if the animalcule would either break
its forceps or wrench its tail from its body. No movements could
possibly be better suited to jerk off the offending object, for the
energy with which the jerks were given, now in one direction and now in
another, were, as I have said, most surprising. But not less surprising
was the tenacity with which the smaller rotifer retained its hold; for
although one might think that it was being almost jerked to pieces,
after each bout of jerking it was seen to be still attached. This trial
of strength, which must have involved an immense expenditure of energy
in proportion to the size of the animals, lasted for several minutes,
till eventually the small rotifer was thrown violently away. It then
returned to the conflict, but did not succeed a second time in
establishing its hold. The entire scene was as like intelligent action
on the part of both animals as could well be imagined, so that if we
were to depend upon appearances alone, this one observation would be
sufficient to induce me to attribute conscious determination to these
microscopical organisms.

But, without denying that conscious determination may here be present,
or involving ourselves in the impossible task of proving such a
negative, we may properly affirm that until an animalcule shows itself
to be teachable by individual experience, we have no sufficient evidence
derived or derivable from any number of such apparently intelligent
movements, that conscious determination is present. Therefore, I need
not wait to quote the observations of the sundry microscopists who
detail facts more or less similar to the above, with expressions of
their belief that microscopical organisms display a certain degree of
instinct or intelligence as distinguished from mechanical, or wholly
non-mental adjustment. But there are some observations relating to the
lowest of all animals, and made by a competent person, which are so
remarkable that I shall have to quote them in full. These observations
are recorded by Mr. H. J. Carter, F.R.S., in the 'Annals of Natural
History,' and in his opinion prove that the beginnings of instinct are
to be found so low down in the scale as the Rhizopoda. He says:--'Even
_Athealium_ will confine itself to the water of the watch-glass in which
it may be placed when away from sawdust and chips of wood among which it
has been living; but if the watch-glass be placed upon the sawdust, it
will very soon make its way over the side of the watch-glass and get to

This is certainly a remarkable observation: for it seems to show that
the rhizopod distinguishes the presence of the sawdust outside the
watch-glass, and crawls over the brim of the latter in order to get into
more congenial quarters, while it is contented with the water in the
watch-glass so long as there is no sawdust outside. But to proceed:

      On one occasion, while investigating the nature of
      some large, transparent, spore-like elliptical cells
      (fungal?) whose protoplasm was rotating, while it was
      at the same time charged with triangular grains of
      starch, I observed some actinophorous rhizopods
      creeping about them, which had similarly shaped grains
      of starch in their interior; and having determined the
      nature of these grains in both by the addition of
      iodine, I cleansed the glasses, and placed under the
      microscope a new portion of the sediment from the
      basin containing these cells and actinophryans for
      further examination, when I observed one of the
      spore-like cells had become ruptured, and that a
      portion of its protoplasm, charged with the triangular
      starch-grains, was slightly protruding through the
      crevice. It then struck me that the actinophryans had
      obtained their starch-grains from this source; and
      while looking at the ruptured cell, an _actinophrys_
      made its appearance, and creeping round the cell, at
      last arrived at the crevice, from which it extricated
      one of the grains of starch mentioned, and then crept
      off to a good distance. Presently, however, it
      returned to the same cell; and although there were now
      no more starch-grains protruding, the _actinophrys_
      managed again to extract one from the interior through
      the crevice. All this was repeated several times,
      showing that the _actinophrys_ instinctively knew that
      those were nutritious grains, that they were contained
      in this cell, and that, although each time after
      incepting a grain it went away to some distance, it
      knew how to find its way back to the cell again which
      furnished this nutriment.

      On another occasion I saw an _actinophrys_ station
      itself close to a ripe spore-cell of _pythium_, which
      was situated upon a filament of _Spirogyra crassa_;
      and as the young ciliated monadic germs issued forth,
      one after another, from the dehiscent spore-cell, the
      _actinophrys_ remained by it and caught every one of
      them, even to the last, when it retired to another
      part of the field, as if instinctively conscious that
      there was nothing more to be got at the old place.

      But by far the greatest feat of this kind that ever
      presented itself to me was the catching of a young
      _acineta_ by an old sluggish _amoeba_, as the
      former left its parent; and this took place as

      In the evening of the 2nd of June, 1858, in Bombay,
      while looking through a microscope at some _Euglenæ_,
      &c., which had been placed aside for examination in a
      watch-glass, my eye fell upon a stalked and triangular
      _acineta_ (_A. mystacina_?), around which an
      _amoeba_ was creeping and lingering, as they do when
      they are in quest of food. But knowing the antipathy
      that the _amoeba_, like almost every other
      infusorian, has to the tentacles of the _acineta_, I
      concluded that the _amoeba_ was not encouraging an
      appetite for its whiskered companion, when I was
      surprised to find that it crept up the stem of the
      _acineta_, and wound itself round its body. This mark
      of affection, too much like that frequently evinced at
      the other end of the scale, even where there is a mind
      for its control, did not long remain without
      interpretation. There was a young _acineta_, tender,
      and without poisonous tentacles (for they are not
      developed at birth), just ready to make its exit from
      the parent, an exit which takes place so quickly, and
      is followed by such rapid bounding movements of the
      non-ciliated _acineta_, that who would venture to say,
      _à priori_, that a dull, heavy, sluggish _amoeba_
      could catch such an agile little thing? But the
      _amoeba_ are as unerring and unrelaxing in their
      grasp as they are unrelenting in their cruel
      inceptions of the living and the dead, when they serve
      them for nutrition; and thus the _amoeba_, placing
      itself round the ovarian aperture of the _acineta_,
      received the young one, nurse-like, in its fatal lap,
      incepted it, descended from the parent, and crept off.
      Being unable to conceive at the time that this was
      such an act of atrocity on the part of the _amoeba_
      as the sequel disclosed, and thinking that the young
      _acineta_ might yet escape, or pass into some other
      form in the body of its host, I watched the _amoeba_
      for some time afterwards, until the tale ended by the
      young _acineta_ becoming divided into two parts, and
      thus in their respective digestive spaces ultimately
      becoming broken down and digested.[5]

With regard to these remarkable observations it can only, I think, be
said that although certainly very suggestive of something more than
mechanical response to stimulation, they are not sufficiently so to
justify us in ascribing to these lowest members of the zoological scale
any rudiment of truly mental action. The subject, however, is here full
of difficulty, and not the least so on account of the _amoeba_ not
only having no nervous system, but no observable organs of any kind; so
that, although we may suppose that the adaptive movements described by
Mr. Carter were non-mental, it still remains wonderful that these
movements should be exhibited by such apparently unorganised creatures,
seeing that as to the remoteness of the end attained, no less than the
complex refinement of the stimulus to which their adaptive response was
due, the movements in question rival the most elaborate of non-mental
adjustments elsewhere performed by the most highly organised of nervous


Dr. Eimer attributes 'voluntary action' to the Medusæ, and indeed draws
a sharp distinction between what he considers their 'involuntary' and
'voluntary' movements. In this distinction, however, I do not at all
concur; for although I am well acquainted with the difference between
the active and slow rhythm upon which the distinction is founded, I see
no evidence whatever for supposing that the difference involves any
psychological element. The active swimming is produced by stimulation,
and is no doubt calculated to lead to the escape of the organism; but
this fact certainly does not carry us beyond the ordinary possibilities
of reflex action. And even when, as in some species is constantly the
case, bouts of active swimming appear to arise spontaneously or without
observable stimulation, the fact is to be attributed to a liberation of
overplus ganglionic energy, or to some unobservable stimulation; it does
not justify the supposition of any psychical element being concerned.[6]

M'Crady gives an interesting account of a medusa which carries its larvæ
on the inner sides of its bell-shaped body. The manubrium, or mobile
digestive cavity of the animal, depends, as in the other Medusæ, from
the summit of the concave surface of the bell, like a clapper or tongue.
Now M'Crady observed this depending organ to be moved first to one side
and then to the other side of the bell, in order to give suck to the
larvæ on the sides of the bell--the larvæ dipping their long noses into
the nutrient fluids which that organ of the parent's body contained. I
cite this case, because if it occurred in one of the higher animals it
would probably be called a case of instinct; but as it occurs in so low
an animal as a jelly-fish, it is unreasonable to suppose that
intelligence can ever have played any part in originating the action.
Therefore we may set it down as the uncompounded result of natural

Some species of medusæ--notably _Sarsia_--seek the light, crowding into
the path of a beam, and following it actively if moved. They derive
advantage from so doing, because certain small crustacea on which they
feed likewise crowd into the light. The seeking of light by these medusæ
is therefore doubtless of the nature of a reflex action which has been
developed by natural selection in order to bring the animals into
contact with their prey. Paul Bert has found that _Daphnia pulex_ seeks
the light (especially the yellow ray), and Engelmann has observed the
same fact with regard to certain protoplasmic organisms. But in none of
these or other such cases is there any evidence of a psychical element
being concerned in the process.


Some of the natural movements of these animals, as also some of their
movements under stimulation, are very suggestive of purpose; but I have
satisfied myself that there is no adequate evidence of the animals being
able to profit by individual experience, and therefore, in accordance
with our canon, that there is no adequate evidence of their exhibiting
truly mental phenomena. On the other hand, the study of reflex action in
these organisms is full of interest--so much so that in my next work I
shall take them as typical organisms in this connection.[7]


Mr. Darwin has now in the press a highly interesting work on the habits
of earth-worms. It appears from his observations that the manner in
which these animals draw down leaves, &c., into their burrows is
strongly indicative of instinctive action, if not of intelligent
purpose--seeing that they always lay hold of the part of the leaf (even
though an exotic one) by the traction of which the leaf will offer least
resistance to being drawn down. But as this work will so shortly be
published, I shall not forestall any of the facts which it has to state,
nor should I yet like to venture an opinion as to how far these facts,
when considered altogether, would justify any inference to a truly
mental element as existing in these animals.

Of the land leeches in Ceylon, Sir E. Tennent gives an account which
likewise seems to bespeak intelligence as occurring in annelids. He

      In moving, the land leeches have the power of planting
      one extremity on the earth and raising the other
      perpendicularly to watch for their victim. Such is
      their vigilance and instinct, that on the approach of
      a passer-by to a spot which they infest, they may be
      seen amongst the grass and fallen leaves on the edge
      of a native path, poised erect, and preparing for
      their attack on man and horse. On descrying their prey
      they advance rapidly by semicircular strides, fixing
      one end firmly and arching the other forwards, till by
      successive advances they can lay hold of the
      traveller's foot, when they disengage themselves from
      the ground and ascend his dress in search of an
      aperture to enter. In these encounters the individuals
      in the rear of a party of travellers in the jungle
      invariably fare worst, as the leeches, once warned of
      their approach, congregate with singular celerity.[8]


[5] H. J. Carter, F.R.S., _Annals of Natural History_, 3rd Series, 1863,
pp. 45-6.

[6] For an account of the natural movements of the Medusæ and the
effects of stimulation upon them, see Croonian Lecture in _Phil. Trans._
1875, and also _Phil. Trans._ 1877 and 1879.

[7] See Croonian Lecture, 1881, in forthcoming issue of _Phil. Trans._

[8] _Natural History of Ceylon_, p. 481.



I SHALL treat of the Mollusca before the Articulata, because as a group
their intelligence is not so high. Indeed, it is not to be expected that
the class of animals wherein the 'vegetative' functions of nutrition and
reproduction predominate so largely over the animal functions of
sensation, locomotion, &c., should present any considerable degree of
intelligence. Nevertheless, in the only division of the group which has
sense organs and powers of locomotion highly developed--viz., the
Cephalopoda--we meet with large cephalic ganglia, and, it would appear,
with no small development of intelligence. Taking, however, the
sub-kingdom in ascending order, I shall first present all the
trustworthy evidence that I have been able to collect, pointing to the
highest level of intelligence that is attained by the lower members.

The following is quoted from Mr. Darwin's MS.:--

      Even the headless oyster seems to profit from
      experience, for Dicquemase ('Journal de Physique,'
      vol. xxviii. p. 244) asserts that oysters taken from a
      depth never uncovered by the sea, open their shells,
      lose the water within, and perish; but oysters taken
      from the same place and depth, if kept in reservoirs,
      where they are occasionally left uncovered for a short
      time, and are otherwise incommoded, learn to keep
      their shells shut, and then live for a much longer
      time when taken out of the water.[9]

Some evidence of intelligence seems to be displayed by the razor-fish.
For the animals dislike salt, so that when this is sprinkled above their
burrows in the sand, they come to the surface and quit their
habitations. But if the animal is once seized when it comes to the
surface and afterwards allowed to retire into its burrow, no amount of
salt will force it again to come to the surface.[10]

With regard to snails, L. Agassiz writes: 'Quiconque a eu l'occasion
d'observer les amours des limaçons, ne saurait mettre en doute la
séduction déployée dans les mouvements et les allures qui préparent et
accomplissent le double embrassement de ces hermaphrodites.'[11]

Again, Mr. Darwin's MS. quotes from Mr. W. White[12] a curious exhibition
of intelligence in a snail, which does not seem to have admitted of
mal-observation. This gentleman 'fixed a land-shell mouth uppermost in a
chink of rock; in a short time the snail protruded itself to its utmost
length, and, attaching its foot vertically above, tried to pull the
shell out in a straight line. Not succeeding, it rested for a few
minutes and then stretched out its body on the right side and pulled its
utmost, but failed. Resting again, it protruded its foot on the left
side, pulled with its full force, and freed the shell. This exertion of
force in three directions, which seems so geometrically suitable, must
have been intentional.'

If it is objected that snail shells must frequently be liable to be
impeded by obstacles, and therefore that this display of manoeuvring
on the part of their occupants is to be regarded as a reflex, I may
remark that here again we have one of those incessantly recurring cases
where it is difficult to draw the line between intelligence and
non-intelligence. For, granting that the action is to a certain extent
mechanical, we must still recognise that the animal while executing it
must have remembered each of the two directions in which it had pulled
ineffectually before it began to pull in the third direction; and it is
improbable that snail shells are so frequently caught in positions from
which a pull in only one direction will release them, that natural
selection would have developed a special instinct to try pulling
successively in three directions at right angles to one another.

The only other instance that I have met with of the apparent display of
intelligence in snails is the remarkable one which Mr. Darwin gives in
his 'Descent of Man,' on the authority of Mr. Lonsdale. Although the
interpretation which is assigned to the fact seems to me to go beyond
anything that we should have reason to expect of snail intelligence, I
cannot ignore a fact which stands upon the observation of so good an
authority, and shall therefore quote it in Mr. Darwin's words:--

      These animals appear also susceptible of some degree
      of permanent attachment: an accurate observer, Mr.
      Lonsdale, informs me that he placed a pair of
      land-snails (_Helix pomatia_), one of which was
      weakly, into a small and ill-provided garden. After a
      short time the strong and healthy individual
      disappeared, and was traced by its track of slime over
      a wall into an adjoining well-stocked garden. Mr.
      Lonsdale concluded that it had deserted its sickly
      mate; but after an absence of twenty-four hours it
      returned, and apparently communicated the result of
      its successful exploration, for both then started
      along the same track, and disappeared over the

In this case the fact must be accepted, seeing that it stands on the
authority of an accurate observer, and is of so definite a kind as not
to admit of mistake. Consequently we are shut up to the alternative of
supposing the return of the healthy snail to its mate a mere accident,
and their both going over the wall into the well-stocked garden another
mere accident, or acquiescing in the interpretation which Mr. Darwin
assigns. Now, if we look closely into the matter, the chances against
the double accident in question are certainly so considerable as to
render the former supposition almost impossible. On the other hand,
there is evidence to prove, as I shall immediately show, that a not
distantly allied animal is unquestionably able to remember a particular
locality as its home, and habitually to return to this locality after
feeding. Therefore, in view of this analogous and corroborative case,
the improbability of the snail remembering for twenty-four hours the
position of its mate is very much reduced; while the subsequent
communication, if it took place, would only require to have been of the
nature of 'follow me,' which, as we shall repeatedly find, is a degree
of communicative ability which many invertebrated animals possess.
Therefore, in view of these considerations, I incline to Mr. Darwin's
opinion that the facts can only be explained by supposing them due to
intelligence on the part of the snails. Thus considered, these facts are
no doubt very remarkable; for they would appear to indicate not merely
accurate memory of direction and locality for twenty-four hours, but
also no small degree of something akin to 'permanent attachment,' and
sympathetic desire that another should share in the good things which
one has found.[14]

The case to which I have just alluded as proving beyond all doubt that
some Gasteropoda are able to retain a very precise and accurate memory
of locality, is that of the common limpet.

Mr. J. Clarke Hawkshaw publishes in the Journal of the Linnæan Society
the following account of the habits in question:--

      The holes in the chalk in which the limpets are often
      to be found are, I believe, excavated in a great
      measure by rasping from the lingual teeth, though I
      doubt whether the object is to form a cavity to
      shelter in, though the cavities, when formed, may be
      of use for that purpose. It must be of the greatest
      importance to a limpet that, in order that it may
      insure a firm adherence to the rock, its shell should
      fit the rock accurately; when the shell does fit the
      rock accurately, a small amount of muscular
      contraction of the animal would cause the shell to
      adhere so firmly to a smooth surface as to be
      practically immoveable without fracture. As the shells
      cannot be adapted daily to different forms of surface,
      the limpets generally return to the same place of
      attachment. I am sure this is the case with many; for
      I found shells perfectly adjusted to the uneven
      surfaces of flints, the growth of the shells being in
      some parts distorted and indented to suit
      inequalities in the surface of the flints. . . .

      I noticed signs that limpets prefer a hard, smooth
      surface to a pit in the chalk. On one surface of a
      large block, over all sides of which limpets were
      regularly and plentifully distributed, there were two
      flat fragments of a fossil shell about 3 inches by 4
      inches, each embedded in the chalk. The chalk all
      round these fragments was free from limpets; but on
      the smooth surface of the pieces of shell they were
      packed as closely as they could be. I noticed another
      case, which almost amounts, to my mind, to a proof
      that they prefer a smooth surface to a hole. A limpet
      had formed a clearing on one of the sea-weed-covered
      blocks before referred to. In the midst of this
      clearing was a pedestal of flint rather more than one
      inch in diameter, standing up above the surface of the
      chalk; it projected so much that a tap from my hammer
      broke it off. On the top of the smooth fractured
      surface of this flint the occupant of the clearing had
      taken up its abode. The shell was closely adapted to
      the uneven surface, which it would only fit in one
      position. The cleared surface was in a hollow with
      several small natural cavities, where the limpet could
      have found a pit ready made to shelter in; yet it
      preferred, after each excursion, to climb up to the
      top of the flint, the most exposed point in all its

It appears certain from these observations, which to some extent were
anticipated by those of Mr. F. C. Lukis,[16] that limpets, after every
browsing excursion, return to one particular spot or home; and the
precise memory of direction and locality implied by this fact seems to
justify us in regarding these actions of the animal as of a nature
unquestionably intelligent.

Coming now to the cephalopoda, there is no doubt that if a larger sphere
of opportunity permitted, adequate observation of these animals would
prove them to be much the most intelligent members of the sub-kingdom.
Unfortunately, however, this sphere of opportunity has hitherto been
very limited. The following meagre account is all that I have been able
to gather concerning the psychology of these interesting animals.

According to Schneider,[17] the Cephalopoda show unmistakable evidence
of consciousness and intelligence. This observer had an opportunity of
watching them for a long time in the zoological station at Naples; and
he says that they appeared to recognise their keeper after they had for
some time received their food from him. Hollmann narrates that an
octopus, which had had a struggle with a lobster, followed the latter
into an adjacent tank, to which it had been removed for safety, and
there destroyed it. In order to do this the octopus had to climb up a
vertical partition above the surface of the water and descend the other
side.[18] According to Schneider, the Cephalopoda have an abstract idea
of water, seeking to return to it when removed, even though they do not
see it. But this probably arises from the sense of discomfort due to
exposure of their skin to the air; and if we can call it an 'idea,' it
is doubtless shared by all other aquatic Mollusca when exposed to air.


[9] This fact is also stated by Bingley, _Animal Biography_, vol. iii.
p. 454, and is now turned to practical account in the so-called
'Oyster-schools' of France. The distance from the coast to Paris being
too great for the newly dredged oysters to travel without opening their
shells, they are first taught in the schools to bear a longer and longer
exposure to the air without gaping, and when their education in this
respect is completed they are sent on their journey to the metropolis,
where they arrive with closed shells, and in a healthy condition.

[10] Bingley, _loc. cit._, vol. iii. p. 449.

[11] _De l'Espèce et de la Classe_, &c., 1869, p. 106.

[12] _A Londoner's Walk to Edinburgh_, p. 155 (1856).

[13] _Descent of Man_, pp. 262-3.

[14] The facts, however, in order to sustain such conclusions, of course
require corroboration, and it is therefore to be regretted that Mr.
Lonsdale did not experimentally repeat the conditions.

[15] _Journal Linn. Soc._ vol. xiv. p. 406 _et seq._

[16] _Mag. Nat. Hist._ 1831, vol. iv. p. 346.

[17] _Thieresche Wille_, § 78.

[18] _Leben der Cephalopoden_, s. 21.



WITHIN the last ten or twelve years our information on the habits and
intelligence of these insects has been so considerably extended, that in
here rendering a condensed epitome of our knowledge in this most
interesting branch of comparative psychology, it will be found that the
chapter is constituted principally of a statement of observations and
experiments which have been conducted during the short period named. The
observers to whom we are mainly indebted for this large increase of our
knowledge are Messrs. Bates, Belt, Müller, Moggridge, Lincecum, MacCook,
and Sir John Lubbock. From the fact that these naturalists conducted
their observations in different parts of the world and on widely
different species of ants, it is not surprising that their results
should present many points of difference; for this only shows, as we
might have expected, that different species of ants differ considerably
in habits and intelligence. Therefore, in now drawing all these numerous
observations to a focus, I shall endeavour to show clearly their points
of difference as well as their points of agreement; and in order that
the facts to be considered may be arranged in some kind of order, I
shall deal with them under the following heads:--Powers of special
sense; Sense of direction; Powers of memory; Emotions; Powers of
communication; Habits general in sundry species; Habits peculiar to
certain species; General intelligence of various species.

_Powers of Special Sense._

Taking first the sense of sight, Sir John Lubbock made a number of
experiments on the influence of light coloured by passing through
various tints of stained glass, with the following results. The ants
which he observed greatly dislike the presence of light within their
nests, hurrying about in search of the darkest corners when light is
admitted. The experiments showed that the dislike is much greater in the
case of some colours than in that of others. Thus under a slip of red
glass there were congregated on one occasion 890 ants, under green 544,
under yellow 495, and under violet only 5. To our eyes the violet is as
opaque as the red, more so than the green, and much more so than the
yellow. Yet, as the numbers show, the ants had scarcely any tendency to
congregate under it: there were nearly as many under the same area of
the uncovered portion of the nest as under that shaded by the violet
glass. It is curious that the coloured glasses appear to act on the ants
in a graduated series, which corresponds with the order of their
influence on a photographic plate. Experiments were therefore made to
test whether it might not be the actinic rays that were so particularly
distasteful to the ants; but with negative results. Placing violet glass
above red produces the same effect as red glass alone. Obviously,
therefore, the ants avoid the violet glass because they dislike the rays
which it transmits, and do not prefer the other colours because they
like the rays which they transmit. Sodium, barium, strontium, and
lithium flames were also tried, but not with so much effect as the
coloured glass.

It has just been observed that the relative dislike which Sir John
Lubbock's ants showed to lights of different colours seems to be
determined by the position of the colour in the spectrum--there being a
regular gradation of intolerance shown from the red to the violet end.
As these ants dislike light, the question suggests itself that the
reason of their graduated intolerance to light of different colours may
be due to their eyes not being so much affected by the rays of low as by
those of high refrangibility. In this connection it would be interesting
to ascertain whether ants of the genus _Atta_ show a similarly graduated
intolerance to the light in different parts of the spectrum; for both
Moggridge and MacCook record of this genus that it not only does not
shun the light, but seeks it--coming to the glass sides of their
artificial nests to enjoy the light of a lamp. Possibly, therefore, the
scale of preference to lights of different colours would be found in
this genus to be the reverse of that which Sir John Lubbock has found in
the case of the British species.

As regards hearing, Sir John Lubbock found that sounds of various kinds
do not produce any effect upon the insects. Tuning-forks and violin
notes, shouting, whistling, &c., were all equally inefficient in
producing the slightest influence upon the animals; and experiments with
sensitive flames, microphone, telephone, &c., failed to yield any
evidence of ants emitting sounds inaudible to human ears.

Lastly, as regards the sense of smell, Sir John Lubbock found that on
bringing a camel's-hair brush steeped in various strong scents near
where ants were passing, "some went on without taking any notice, but
others stopped, and evidently perceiving the smell, turned back. Soon,
however, they returned, and passed the scented pencil. After doing this
two or three times, they generally took no further notice of the scent.
This experiment left no doubt on my mind." In other cases the ants were
observed to wave about and throw back their antennæ when the scented
pencil was brought near.

That ants track one another by scent was long ago mentioned by Huber,
and also that they depend on this sense for their power of finding
supplies which have been previously found by other ants. Huber proved
their power of tracking a path previously pursued by their friends, by
drawing his finger across the trail, so obliterating the scent at that
point, and observing that when the ants arrived at that point they
became confused and ran about in various directions till they again came
upon the trail on the other side of the interrupted space, when they
proceeded on their way as before. The more numerous and systematic
experiments of Sir John Lubbock have fully corroborated Huber's
observations, so far as these points are concerned. Thus, to give only
one or two of these experiments; in the accompanying woodcut (Fig. 1) A
is the nest, B a board, _n_ _f_ _g_ slips of paper, _h_ and _m_ similar
slides of glass, on one of which, _h_, there was placed pupæ, while the
other, _m_, was left empty. Sir John Lubbock watched two particular
(marked) ants proceeding from A to _h_ and back again, carrying the pupæ
on _h_ to the nest A. Whenever an ant came out of A upon B he transposed
the slips _f_ and _g_. Therefore at the angle below _n_ there was a
choice presented to the ant of taking the unscented pathway leading to
the full glass _h_, or the scented pathway leading to the empty glass
_m_. The two marked ants, knowing their way, always took the right turn
at the angle; but the stranger ants, being guided only by scent, for the
most part took the wrong turn at the angle, so going to the empty glass
_m_. For out of 150 stranger ants only 21 went to _h_, while the
remaining 129 went to _m_. Still the fact that all the stranger ants did
not follow the erroneous scent-trail to _m_, may be taken to indicate
that they are also assisted in finding treasure by the sense of sight,
though in a lesser degree. Therefore Sir John Lubbock concludes that in
finding treasure 'they are guided in some cases by sight, while in
others they track one another by scent.'

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

As further evidence showing how much more ants depend upon scent than
upon sight in finding their way, the following experiment may be quoted.
In the accompanying woodcut (Fig. 2) the line marked 1, 2, 3 represents
the edge of a paper bridge leading to the nest; A the top of a pencil
which is standing perpendicularly upon a board, represented by the
general black surface; B the top of the same pencil when moved a
distance of a few inches from its first position A. On the top of this
pencil were placed some pupæ. Sir John Lubbock, after contriving this
arrangement, marked an ant and put it upon the pupæ on the top of the
pencil. After she had made two journeys carrying pupæ from the pencil to
the nest (the tracks she pursued being represented by the two thick
white lines), while she was in the nest he moved the pencil to its
position at B. The thin white line represents the course then pursued
by the ant in its endeavours to find the pencil, which was shifted only
a few inches from A to B. That is, 'the ants on their journey to the
shifted object travelled very often backwards and forwards and round the
spot where the coveted object first stood. Then they would retrace their
steps towards the nest, wander hither and thither from side to side
between the nest and the point A, and only after very repeated efforts
around the original site of the larvæ reach, as it were, accidentally
the object desired at B.' Therefore the ants were clearly not guided by
the _sight_ of the pencil.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

[Illustration: Fig. 4.]

[Illustration: Fig. 5.]

The same thing is well shown by another form of experiment. 'Some food
was placed at the point _a_ (Figs. 3 and 4) on a board measuring 20
inches by 12 inches, and so arranged that the ants in going straight
from it to the nest would reach the board at the point _b_, and after
passing under the paper tunnel _c_, would proceed between five pairs of
wooden bricks, each 3 inches in length and 1-3/4 inches in height. When
they got to know their way they went quite straight along the line _d e_
to _a_. The board was then twisted as shown in Fig. 4. 'The bricks and
tunnel being arranged exactly in the same direction as before, but the
board having been moved, the line _d e_ was now outside them. The
change, however, did not at all discompose the ants; but instead of
going, as before, through the tunnel and between the rows of bricks to
_a_, they walked exactly along the old path to _e_.' Keeping the board
steady, but moving the brick pathway to the left-hand corner of the
board where the food was next placed (Fig. 5), had the effect of making
the ant first go to the old position of the food at _a_, whence it
veered to a new position, which we may call _x_. The bricks and food
were then moved towards the right-hand corner of the board--_i.e._ over
a distance of 8 inches (Fig. 6). The ant now first went to _a_, then to
_x_, and not finding the food at either place, set to work to look for
it at random, and was only successful after twenty-five minutes'

[Illustration: Fig. 6.]

And, as evidence how much more dependence they place upon scent in
finding their way than upon any other of their faculties, it is
desirable to quote yet one further experiment, which is of great
interest as showing that when their sense of smell is made to contradict
their sense of direction, they follow the former, notwithstanding, as we
shall presently see, the wonderful accuracy of the information which is
supplied to them by the latter. 'If, when _F. niger_ were carrying off
larvæ placed in a cup on a piece of board, I turned the board round so
that the side which had been turned towards the nest was away from it,
and _vice versâ_, the ants always returned over the same track on the
board, and, in consequence, directly away from home. If I moved my board
to the other side of my artificial nest, the result was the same.
Evidently they followed the road, not the direction.'

There can be little doubt that ants have a sense of taste, as they are
so well able to distinguish sugary substances; and it is unquestionable
that in their antennæ they possess highly elaborated organs of touch.

_Sense of Direction._

As evidence of the accuracy and importance of the sense of direction in
the Hymenoptera, we must here adduce Sir John Lubbock's highly
interesting experiments on ants--leaving his experiments in this
connection on bees and wasps to be considered in the next chapter. He
first accustomed some ants (_Lasius niger_) to go to and fro to food
over a wooden bridge. When they had got quite accustomed to the way, he
watched when an ant was upon a bridge which could be rotated, and while
she was passing along it, he turned it round, so that end _b_ was at
_c_, and _c_ at _b_. 'In most cases the ant immediately turned round
also; but even if she went on to _b_ or _c_, as the case might be, as
soon as she came to the end of the bridge she turned round.' Next,
between the nest and the food he placed a hat-box twelve inches in
diameter and seven inches high, cutting two small holes, so that the
ants in passing from the nest to the food had to pass in at one hole and
out at the other. The box was fixed upon a central pivot, so as to admit
of being rotated easily without much friction or disturbance. When the
ants had well learnt their way, the box was turned half round as soon as
an ant had entered it, 'but in every case the ant turned too, thus
retaining her direction.' Lastly, Sir John took a disk of white paper,
which he placed in the stead of the hat-box between the nest and the
food. When an ant was on the disk making towards the food, he gently
drew the disk to the other side of the food, so that the ant was
conveyed by the moving surface in the same direction as that in which
she was going, but _beyond_ the point to which she intended to go. Under
these circumstances 'the ant did not turn round, but went on' to the
further edge of the disk, when she seemed 'a good deal surprised at
finding where she was.'

These experiments seem to show that the mysterious 'sense of direction,'
and consequent faculty of 'homing,' are in ants, at all events, due to a
process of registering, and, where desirable, immediately counteracting
any change of direction, even when such change is gently made by a
wholly closed chamber in which the animal is moving, and not by any
muscular movements of the animal itself. And the fact that drawing the
moving surface along in the same direction of advance as that which the
insect is pursuing does not affect the movements of the latter, seems
conclusively to show that the power of registration has reference only
to _lateral_ movements of the travelling surface; it has no reference to
variations in the _velocity_ of advance along the line in which the
animal is progressing.[19]

_Powers of Memory._

Little need here be said to prove that ants display some powers of
memory; for many of the observations and experiments already detailed
constitute a sufficient demonstration of the statement that they do.
Thus, for instance, the general fact that whenever an ant finds her way
to a store of food or larvæ, she will return to it again and again in a
more or less direct line from her nest, constitutes ample proof that the
ant remembers the way to the store. It is of considerable interest,
however, to note that the nature of this insect-memory appears to be, as
far as it goes, precisely identical with that of memory in general.
Thus, a new fact becomes _impressed_ upon their memory by _repetition_,
and the impression is liable to become effaced by lapse of time. More
evidence on both these features of insect-memory will be adduced when we
come to treat of the intelligence of bees; but meanwhile it is enough to
refer to the fact that in his experiments on ants, Sir John Lubbock
found it necessary to _teach_ the insects by a repetition of several
lessons their way to treasure, if that way was long or unusual.

With regard to the _duration_ of memory, it does not appear that any
experiments have been made; but the following observation by Mr. Belt on
this point in the case of the leaf-cutting ant may here be stated. In
June 1859 he found his garden invaded by these ants, and following up
their paths he found their nest about a hundred yards distant. He
poured down their burrows a pint of common brown carbolic acid, mixed
with four buckets of water. The marauding parties were at once drawn off
from the garden to meet the danger at home, and the whole formicarium
was disorganised, the ants running up and down again in the utmost
perplexity. Next day he found them busily employed bringing up the
ant-food from the old burrows, and carrying it to newly formed ones a
few yards distant. These, however, turned out to be only intended as
temporary repositories; for in a few days both the old and the new
burrows were entirely deserted, so that he supposed all the ants to have
died. Subsequently, however, he found that they had migrated to a new
site, about two hundred yards from the old one, and there established
themselves in a new nest. Twelve months later the ants again invaded his
garden, and again he treated them to a strong dose of carbolic acid. The
ants, as on the previous occasion, were at once withdrawn from the
garden, and two days afterwards he found 'all the survivors at work on
one track that led directly to the old nest of the year before, where
they were busily employed in making fresh excavations. Many were
bringing along pieces of ant-food' from the nest most recently deluged
with carbolic acid to that which had been similarly deluged a year
before, and from which all the carbolic acid had long ago disappeared.
'Others carried the undeveloped white pupæ and larvæ. It was a wholesale
and entire migration;' and the next day the nest down which he had last
poured the carbolic acid was entirely deserted. Mr. Belt adds: 'I
afterwards found that when much disturbed, and many of the ants
destroyed, the survivors migrate to a new locality. I do not doubt that
some of the leading minds in this formicarium recollected the nest of
the year before, and directed the migration to it.'

Now, I do not insist that the facts necessarily point to this
conclusion; for it may have been that the leaders of the migration
simply stumbled upon the old and vacant nest by accident, and finding it
already prepared as a nest, forthwith proceeded to transfer the food and
pupæ to it. Still, as the two nests were separated from one another by
so considerable a distance, this hypothesis does not seem probable, and
the only other one open to us is that the ants remembered the site of
their former home for a period of twelve months. And this conclusion is
rendered less improbable from a statement of Karl Vogt in his
'Thierstaaten,' to the effect that for several successive years ants
from a certain nest used to go through certain inhabited streets to a
chemist's shop 600 mètres distant, in order to obtain access to a vessel
filled with syrup. As it cannot be supposed that this vessel was found
in successive working seasons by as many successive accidents, it can
only be concluded that the ants remembered the syrup store from season
to season.

I shall now pass on to consider a class of highly remarkable facts,
perhaps the most remarkable of the many remarkable facts connected with
ant psychology.

It has been known since the observations of Huber that all the ants of
the same nest or community recognise one another as friends, while an
ant introduced from another nest, even though it be an ant of the same
species, is known at once to be a foreigner, and is usually maltreated
or put to death. Huber found that when he removed an ant from a nest and
kept it away from its companions for a period of four months it was
still recognised as a friend, and caressed by its previous
fellow-citizens after the manner in which ants show friendship, viz., by
stroking antennæ. Sir John Lubbock, after repeating and fully confirming
these observations, extended them as follows. He first tried keeping the
separated ant away from the nest for a still longer period than four
months, and found that even after a separation of more than a year the
animal was recognised as before. He repeated this experiment a number of
times, and always with the same invariable difference between the
reception accorded to a foreigner and a native--no matter, apparently,
how long the native had been absent.

Considering the enormous number of ants that go to make a nest, it seems
astonishing enough that they should be all personally known to one
another, and still more astonishing that they should be able to
recognise members of their community after so prolonged an absence.
Thinking that the facts could only be explained, either by all the ants
in the same nest having a peculiar smell, or by all the members of the
same community having a particular pass-word or gesture-sign, Sir John
Lubbock, with the view of testing this theory, separated some ants from
a nest while still in the condition of pupæ, and, when they emerged from
that state as perfect insects, transferred them back to the nest from
which they had been taken as pupæ. Of course in this case the ants in
the nest could never have _seen_ those which had been removed, for a
larval ant is as unlike the mature insect as a grub is unlike a beetle;
neither can it be supposed that a larva, hatched out away from the nest,
should retain, when a perfect insect, any smell belonging to its parent
nest--more especially as it had been hatched out by ants in another
nest;[20] nor, lastly, is it reasonable to imagine that the animal, while
still a larval grub, can have been taught any gesture-signal used as a
pass-word by the matured animals. Yet, although all these possible
hypotheses seem to be thus fully excluded by the conditions of the
experiment, the result showed unequivocally that the ants recognised
their transformed larvæ as native-born members of their community.

Lastly, Sir John Lubbock tried the experiment of going still further
back in the life-history of the ants before separating them from the
nest. For in September he divided a nest into two halves, each having a
queen. At this season there were neither larvæ nor eggs. The following
April both the queens began to lay eggs, and in August--_i.e._ nearly a
year after the original partitioning of the nest--he took some of the
ants newly hatched from the pupæ in one division, and placed them in the
other division, and _vice versâ_. In all cases these ants were received
by the members of the other half of the divided nest as friends,
although if a stranger were introduced into either half it was
invariably killed. Yet the ants which were thus so certainly recognised
by their kindred ants as friends had never, even in the state of an egg,
been present in that division of the nest before. On this highly
remarkable fact Sir John Lubbock says:--

      These observations seem to me conclusive as far as
      they go, and they are very surprising. In my
      experiments of last year, though the results were
      similar, still the ants experimented with had been
      brought up in the nest, and were only removed after
      they had become pupæ. It might therefore be argued
      that the ants, having nursed them as larvæ, recognised
      them when they came to maturity; and though this would
      certainly be in the highest degree improbable, it
      could not be said to be impossible. In the present
      case, however, the old ants had absolutely never seen
      the young ones until the moment when, some days after
      arriving at maturity, they were introduced into the
      nest; and yet in all ten cases they were undoubtedly
      recognised as belonging to the community.

      It seems to me, therefore, to be established by these
      experiments that the recognition of ants is not
      personal and individual; that their harmony is not due
      to the fact that each ant is individually acquainted
      with every other member of the community.

      At the same time, the fact that they recognise their
      friends even when intoxicated, and that they know the
      young born in their own nest even when they have been
      brought out of the chrysalis by strangers, seems to
      indicate that the recognition is not effected by means
      of any sign or pass-word.

We must, therefore, conclude with reference to this subject that the
mode whereby recognition is undoubtedly effected is as yet wholly
unintelligible; and I have introduced these facts under the heading of
memory only because this heading is not more inappropriate than any
other that could be devised for their reception.

It ought here to be added also that the power of thus recognising
members of their community is not confined by the limits of
blood-relationship, for in an experiment made by Forel it was shown that
Amazon ants recognised their own slaves almost instantaneously after an
absence of four months.

Under this heading I may also adduce the evidence as to enormous masses,
or, as we might say, a whole nation of ants recognising each other as
belonging to the same nationality. New nests often spring up as
offshoots from the older ones, and thus a nation of towns gradually
spreads to an immense circumference around the original centre. Forel
describes a colony of _F. exsecta_ which comprised more than two hundred
nests, and covered a space of nearly two hundred square mètres. 'All the
members of such a colony, even those from the furthermost nest,
recognise each other and admit no stranger.'

Similarly, MacCook describes an 'ant town' in the Alleghany Mountains of
North America ('Trans. Amer. Entom. Soc.,' Nov. 1877) which was
inhabited by _F. exsectoïdes_. It consists of 1,600 to 1,700 nests,
which rise in cones to a height of from two to five feet. The ground
below is riddled in every direction with subterranean passages of
communication. The inhabitants are all on the most friendly terms, so
that if any one nest is injured it is repaired by their united forces.

It remains to be added in connection with this subject that the
recognition is not automatically invariable, but when 'ants are removed
from a nest in the pupa state, tended by strangers, and then restored,
some at least of their relatives are certainly puzzled, and in many
cases doubt their claims to consanguinity. I say some, because while
strangers under the circumstances would have been immediately attacked,
these ants were in every case amicably received by the majority of the
colony, and it was sometimes several hours before they came across one
who did not recognise them.'

It may also be added that _Lasius flavus_ behaves towards strangers
quite differently and much more hospitably than is the case with _L.
niger_. The stranger shows no alarm, but, on the contrary, will
voluntarily enter the strange nest, and she is there received with
kindness; although from the attention she excites, and the numerous
communications which take place between her and her new friends, Sir
John was 'satisfied that they knew she was not one of themselves. . . .
Very different is the behaviour of _L. niger_ under similar
circumstances. I tried the same experiment with them. There was no
communications with the antennæ, there was no cleaning, but every ant
which the stranger approached flew at her like a little tigress. I tried
this experiment four times; each stranger was killed and borne off to
the nest.'


The pugnacity, valour, and rapacity of ants are too well and generally
known to require the narration of special instances of their display.
With regard to the tenderer emotions, however, there is a difference of
opinion among observers. Before the researches of Sir John Lubbock it
was the prevalent view that these insects display marked signs of
affection towards one another, both by caressing movements of their
antennæ, and by showing solicitude for friends in distress. Sir John,
however, has found that the species of ants on which he has experimented
are apparently deficient both in feelings of affection and of
sympathy--or, at least, that such feelings are in these species much
less strongly developed than the sterner passions.

He tried burying some specimens of _Lasius niger_ beneath an ant-road;
but none of the ants traversing the road made any attempt to release
their imprisoned companions. He tried the same experiment with the same
result on various other species. Even when the friends in difficulty are
actually in sight, it by no means follows that their companions will
assist them. Of this, he says, he could give almost any number of
instances. Thus, when ants are entangled in honey, their companions
devote themselves to the honey, and entirely neglect their friends in
distress; and when partly drowned, their friends take no notice. When
chloroformed or intoxicated their own companions either do not heed
them, or else 'seem somewhat puzzled at finding their intoxicated
fellow-creatures in such a condition, take them up, and carry them about
for a time in a somewhat aimless manner.' Further experiments, however,
on a larger scale, went to show that chloroformed ants were treated as
dead, _i.e._ removed to the edge of the parade-board and dropped over
into the surrounding moat of water; while intoxicated ants were
generally carried into the nest, if they were ants belonging to that
community; if not, they were thrown overboard. This care shown towards
intoxicated friends appears to indicate a dim sense of sympathy towards
afflicted individuals; but that this emotion or instinct does not in the
case of these species extend to healthy individuals in distress seems to
be proved, not only by the experiments of burying already described, but
also by the following:--

      On Sept. 2, therefore, I put two ants from one of my
      nests of _F. fusca_ into a bottle, the end of which
      was tied up with muslin as described, and laid it down
      close to the nest. In a second bottle I put two ants
      from another nest of the same species. The ants which
      were at liberty took no notice of the bottle
      containing their imprisoned friends. The strangers in
      the other bottle, on the contrary, excited them
      considerably. The whole day one, two, or more ants
      stood sentry, as it were, over the bottle. In the
      evening no less than twelve were collected round it, a
      larger number than usually came out of the nest at any
      one time. The whole of the next two days, in the same
      way, there were more or less ants round the bottle
      containing the strangers; while, as far as we could
      see, no notice whatever was taken of the friends. On
      the 9th the ants had eaten through the muslin, and
      effected an entrance. We did not chance to be on the
      spot at the moment; but as I found two ants lying
      dead, one in the bottle and one just outside, I think
      there can be no doubt that the strangers were put to
      death. The friends throughout were quite neglected.

      Sept. 21.--I then repeated the experiment, putting
      three ants from another nest in a bottle as before.
      The same scene was repeated. The friends were
      neglected. On the other hand, some of the ants were
      always watching over the bottle containing the
      strangers, and biting at the muslin which protected
      them. The next morning at 6 A.M. I found five ants
      thus occupied. One had caught hold of the leg of one
      of the strangers, which had unwarily been allowed to
      protrude through the meshes of the muslin. They worked
      and watched, though not, as far as I could see, with
      any system, till 7.30 in the evening, when they
      effected an entrance, and immediately attacked the

      Sept. 24.--I repeated the same experiment with the
      same nest. Again the ants came and sat over the bottle
      containing the strangers, while no notice was taken of
      the friends.

      The next morning again, when I got up, I found five
      ants round the bottle containing the strangers, none
      near the friends. As in the former case, one of the
      ants had seized a stranger by the leg, and was trying
      to drag her through the muslin. All day the ants
      clustered round the bottle, and bit perseveringly,
      though not systematically, at the muslin. The same
      thing happened all the following day.

      On repeating these experiments with another species
      (viz., _Formica rufescens_) the ants took no notice of
      either bottle, and showed no sign either of affection
      or hatred. One is almost tempted to surmise that the
      spirit of these ants is broken by slavery [_i.e._ by
      the habit of keeping slaves]. But the experiments on
      _F. fusca_ seem to show that in these curious insects
      hatred is a stronger passion than affection.

We must not, however, too readily assent to this general conclusion,
that ants as a whole are deficient in the tenderer emotions; for
although the case is doubtless so with the species which Sir John
examined, it appears to be certainly otherwise with other species, as we
shall presently see. But first it may be well to point out that even the
hard-hearted species with which Sir John had to do seem not altogether
devoid of sympathy with sick or mutilated friends, although they appear
to be so towards healthy friends in distress. Thus the care shown to
intoxicated friends seems to indicate, if not, as already observed, a
dim sense of sympathy, at least an instinct to preserve the life of an
ailing citizen for the future benefit of the community. Sir John also
quotes some observations of Latreille showing that ants display sympathy
with mutilated companions; and, lastly, mentions an instance which he
has himself observed of the same thing. A specimen of _F. fusca_
congenitally destitute of antennæ was attacked and injured by an ant of
another species. When separated by Sir John, another ant of her own
species came by. 'She examined the poor sufferer carefully, then picked
her up tenderly, and carried her away into the nest. It would have been
difficult for any one who witnessed this scene to have denied to this
ant the possession of humane feelings.' Moggridge is also of opinion
that the habit of throwing sick and apparently dead ants into the
water, is 'in part to be rid of them, and partly, perhaps, with a view
to effecting a possible cure; for I have seen one ant carry another down
the twig which formed their path to the surface of the water, and, after
dipping it in for a minute, carry it laboriously up again, and lay it in
the sun to dry and recover.'

But that some species of ants display marked signs of what we may call
sympathy even towards healthy companions in distress, is proved by the
following observation of Mr. Belt. He writes:[21]--

      One day, watching a small column of these ants (_i.e._
      _Eciton humata_), I placed a little stone on one of
      them to secure it. The next that approached, as soon
      as it discovered its situation, ran backwards in an
      agitated manner, and soon communicated the
      intelligence to the others. They rushed to the rescue;
      some bit at the stone and tried to move it, others
      seized the prisoner by the legs and tugged with such
      force that I thought the legs would be pulled off, but
      they persevered until they got the captive free. I
      next covered one up with a piece of clay, leaving only
      the ends of its antennæ projecting. It was soon
      discovered by its fellows, which set to work
      immediately, and by biting off pieces of the clay soon
      liberated it. Another time I found a very few of them
      passing along at intervals. I confined one of these
      under a piece of clay at a little distance from the
      line, with his head projecting. Several ants passed
      it, but at last one discovered it and tried to pull it
      out, but could not. It immediately set off at a great
      rate, and I thought it had deserted its comrade, but
      it had only gone for assistance, for in a short time
      about a dozen ants came hurrying up, evidently fully
      informed of the circumstances of the case, for they
      made directly for their imprisoned comrade and soon
      set him free. I do not see how this action could be
      instinctive. It was sympathetic help, such as man only
      among the higher mammalia shows. The excitement and
      ardour with which they carried on their unflagging
      exertions for the rescue of their comrade could not
      have been greater if they had been human beings.

This observation seems unequivocal as proving fellow-feeling and
sympathy, so far as we can trace any analogy between the emotions of the
higher animals and those of insects. That insects with such highly
organised social habits, and depending so greatly on the principles of
co-operation, should manifest emotions or instincts of an incipiently
altruistic character, is no more than we should antecedently expect on
the general principle of survival of the fittest. Our only surprise
should be that these emotions, or instincts, should appear to be so
feebly developed in some species of ants, and, as we shall subsequently
see, also of bees. But it may be worth while in this connection to point
out that the valuable observation of Mr. Belt above quoted refers to the
species of ant which, as we shall subsequently find, presents the most
highly organised instincts of co-operation that are to be met with among
ants, and therefore the greatest dependence of the welfare of the
individual on that of the community. And the same remark is applicable
to our native species, _F. sanguinea_, which the Rev. W. W. F. White has
repeatedly seen rescuing buried companions very much in the manner
described by Mr. Belt; and he does not appear to be acquainted with Mr.
Belt's observations. He figures one case in which he saw three ants
co-operating to dig out a buried comrade.[22]

_Powers of Communication._

Huber, Kirby and Spence, Dugardin, Burmeister, Franklin, and other
observers have all expressed themselves as more or less strongly of the
opinion that members of the same community of ants, and other social
Hymenoptera, are able to communicate information to one another by some
system of language or signs. The facts, however, on which their opinion
rests have not been stated with that degree of caution and detail which
the acceptance of the conclusion requires. Thus, Kirby and Spence give
only one instance of supposed communication between ants,[23] and even
this one is inconclusive, as the facts described admit of being
explained by supposing that the ants simply tracked one another by
scent; while Huber merely deals in general statements as to 'contact of
antennæ,' without narrating any particulars of his observations.
Therefore, until within the last few years there was really no
sufficient evidence to sustain the general opinion that ants are able to
communicate with one another; but the observations which I shall now
detail must be regarded as fully substantiating that general opinion by
facts as abundant and conclusive as the most critical among us can
desire. I shall first narrate in his own words the more important of Sir
John Lubbock's experiments in this connection:--

      I took three tapes, each about 2 feet 6 inches long,
      and arranged them parallel to one another and about 6
      inches apart. An end of each I attached to one of the
      nests (_F. niger_), and at the other end I placed a
      glass. In the glass at the end of one tape I placed a
      considerable number (300 to 600) of larvæ. In the
      second I put two or three larvæ only, in the third
      none at all. The object of the last was to see whether
      many ants would come to the glasses under such
      circumstances by mere accident, and I may at once say
      that scarcely any did so. I then took two ants, and
      placed one of them to the glass with many larvæ, the
      other to that with two or three. Each of them took a
      larva and carried it to the nest, returning for
      another, and so on. After each journey I put another
      larva in the glass with only two or three larvæ, to
      replace that which had been removed. Now, if several
      ants came under the above circumstances as a mere
      matter of accident, or accompanying one another by
      chance, or if they simply saw the larvæ which were
      being brought, and consequently concluded that they
      might themselves find a larva in the same place, then
      the numbers going to the two glasses ought to be
      approximately equal. In each case the number of
      journeys made by the ants would be nearly the same;
      consequently, if it was a matter of scent, the two
      glasses would be in the same position. It would be
      impossible for an ant, seeing another in the act of
      bringing a larva, to judge for itself whether there
      were few or many left behind. On the other hand, if
      the strangers were brought, then it would be curious
      to see whether more were brought to the glass with
      many larvæ than to that which only contained two or
      three. I should also mention that every stranger was
      imprisoned until the end of the experiment.

The results of these experiments were that during 47-1/2 hours the ants
which had access to a glass containing numerous larvæ brought 257
friends to their assistance; while during an interval 5-1/2 hours longer
those which visited the glass with only two or three larvæ brought only
82 friends; and, as already mentioned, no single ant came to the glass
which contained no larvæ. Now, as all the glasses were exposed to
similar conditions, and as the roads to the first two must, in the first
instance at all events, have been equally scented by the passage of ants
over them, these results look very conclusive as proving some power of
definite communication, not only that larvæ are to be found, but even
where the largest store is to be met with.

To this interesting account Sir John Lubbock adds,--

      One case of apparent communication struck me very
      much. I had had an ant (_F. niger_) under observation
      one day, during which she was occupied in carrying off
      larvæ to her nest. At night I imprisoned her in a
      small bottle; in the morning I let her out at 6.15,
      when she immediately resumed her occupation. Having to
      go to London, I imprisoned her again at 9 o'clock.
      When I returned at 4.40 I put her again to the larvæ.
      She examined them carefully, and went home without
      taking one. At this time no other ants were out of the
      nest. In less than a minute she came out again with
      eight friends, and the little heap made straight for
      the heap of larvæ. When they had gone two-thirds of
      the way I again imprisoned the marked ant; the others
      hesitated a few minutes, and then with curious
      quickness returned home. At 5.15 I put her again to
      the larvæ. She again went home _without a larva_, but
      after only a few seconds' stay in the nest, came out
      with no less than thirteen friends. They all went
      towards the larvæ, but when they had got about
      two-thirds of the way, although the marked ant had on
      the previous day passed over the ground about 150
      times, and though she had just gone straight from the
      larvæ to the nest, she seemed to have forgotten her
      way, and considered; and after she had wandered about
      for half an hour, I put her to the larvæ. Now, in this
      case, the twenty-one ants must have been brought out
      by my marked one, for they came exactly with her, and
      there were no other ants out. Moreover, it would seem
      that they must have been told, because (which is very
      curious in itself) she did not in either case bring a
      larva, and consequently it cannot have been the mere
      sight of a larva which had induced them to follow her.

Further experiments proved, as we might have expected, that although an
ant is able to communicate to her friends in the nest that she has found
treasure somewhere outside, she is not able to describe to them its
precise locality. Thus, having exposed larvæ and placed an ant upon them
as before, Sir John watched every time she came out of the nest with
friends to assist her, but instead of allowing her to pilot the way, he
took her up and carried her to the larvæ, allowing her to return with a
larva upon her own feet. Under these circumstances the friends, although
evidently coming out with the intention of finding some treasure, were
never able to find it; but wandered about in various directions for a
while, and then returned to the nest. Thus, during two hours she brought
out in her successive journeys altogether no less than 120 ants, of
which number only 5 in their unguided wanderings happened to find the
sought-for treasure. This result seems to prove, as we might have
expected, that the communication is of the nature of some sign amounting
to no more than a 'follow me.' Other experiments confirmed this result,
and also brought out the fact that 'some species act much more in
association than others--_Formica fusca_, for instance, much less than
_Lasius niger_.' Thus Sir John Lubbock placed some honey before a marked
specimen of the former species; but although she visited and revisited
the honey during an entire day, she brought out no friends to share it;
and although in her journeys to and from the nest she happened to pass
and repass many other individuals, they took no notice of each other.

The obvious objection to these experiments, that an ant observing a
friend bringing home food or a pupa might infer, without being told,
that by accompanying the friend on the return journey she 'might
participate in the good things,' has been partly met by the fact already
stated, viz., that there is so very marked a difference in the result
if, on experimenting on two ants, one had access to a large treasure and
the other only to a small one. But to put this matter beyond question,
Sir John Lubbock tried the experiment of pinning down a dead fly, so
that the ant which found it was unable, with all her tugging, to move it
towards the nest. At length she went back to the nest for assistance,
and returned accompanied by seven friends. So great was her excitement,
however, that she outran these friends, 'who seemed to have come out
reluctantly, as if they had been asleep, and were only half awake;' and
they failed to find the fly, slowly meandering about for twenty minutes.
After again tugging for a time at the fly, the first ant returned a
second time to the nest for assistance, and in less than a minute came
out with eight friends. They were even less energetic than the first
party, and having lost sight of their guide in the same manner as
happened before, they all returned to the nest. Meanwhile several of the
first party, which had all the while been meandering about, found the
fly, and proceeded to dismember it, carrying the trophy to the nest, and
calling out more friends in the ordinary way. This experiment was
repeated several times and on different species, always with the same
result. Now, as Sir John remarks, 'the two cases (_i.e._ those in which
the ant brought out friends to her assistance even when she had no booty
to show) surely indicate a distinct power of communication. . . . It is
impossible to doubt that the friends were brought out by the first ant;
and as she returned empty-handed to the nest, the others cannot have
been induced to follow her by merely observing her proceedings. I
conclude, therefore, that they possess the power of requesting their
friends to come and help them.'

In order to ascertain whether the signs which communicating ants make to
one another are made by means of sound, Sir John Lubbock placed near a
nest of _Lasius flavus_ six small upright pillars of wood about 1-1/2
inch high, and on one of these he put a drop of honey. 'I then put three
ants to the honey, and when each had sufficiently fed, I imprisoned her,
and put another; thus always keeping three ants at the honey, but not
allowing them to go home. If, then, they could summon their friends by
sound, there ought soon to be many ants at the honey.' The result
showed that the ants were not able thus to call to one another from a

As additional proof of the general fact that at all events some ants
have the power of communicating information to one another, it will be
enough here to quote an exceedingly interesting observation of the
distinguished geologist Hague. The quotations are taken from his letters
written to Mr. Darwin, and published in _Nature_:[24]--

      On the mantelshelf of our sitting-room my wife has the
      habit of keeping fresh flowers. A vase stands at each
      end, and near the middle a small tumbler, usually
      filled with violets. Some time ago I noticed a pile of
      very small red ants on the wall above the left-hand
      vase, passing upward and downward between the
      mantelshelf and a small hole near the ceiling, at a
      point where a picture nail had been driven. The ants,
      when first observed, were not very numerous, but
      gradually increased in number, until on some days the
      little creatures formed an almost unbroken procession,
      issuing from the hole at the nail, descending the
      wall, climbing the vase directly below the nail,
      satisfying their desire for water or perfume, and then
      returning. The other vase and tumbler were not visited
      at that time.

      As I was just then recovering from a long illness it
      happened that I was confined to the house, and spent
      my days in the room where the operations of these
      insects attracted my attention. Their presence caused
      me some annoyance, but I knew of no effective means of
      getting rid of them. For several days in succession I
      frequently brushed the ants in great numbers from the
      wall down to the floor; but as they were not killed
      the result was that they soon formed a colony in the
      wall at the base of the mantel, ascending thence to
      the shelf, so that before long the vase was attacked
      from above and below.

      One day I observed a number of ants, perhaps thirty or
      forty, on the shelf at the foot of the vase. Thinking
      to kill them, I struck them lightly with the end of my
      finger, killing some and disabling the rest. The
      effect of this was immediate and unexpected. As soon
      as those ants which were approaching arrived near to
      where their fellows lay dead and suffering, they
      turned and fled with all possible haste. In half an
      hour the wall above the mantelshelf was cleared of

      During the space of an hour or two the colony from
      below continued to ascend until reaching the lower
      bevelled edge of the shelf, at which point the more
      timid individuals, although unable to see the vase,
      somehow became aware of trouble, and turned about
      without further investigation, while the more daring
      advanced hesitatingly just to the upper edge of the
      shelf, when, extending their antennæ and stretching
      their necks, they seemed to peep cautiously over the
      edge until beholding their suffering companions, when
      they too turned and followed the others, expressing by
      their behaviour great excitement and terror. An hour
      or two later, the path or trail leading from the lower
      colony to the vase was almost entirely free from ants.

      I killed one or two ants on their path, striking them
      with my finger, but leaving no visible trace. The
      effect of this was that as soon as an ant ascending
      towards the shelf reached the spot where one had been
      killed, it gave signs immediately of great
      disturbance, and returned directly at the highest
      possible speed.

      A curious and invariable feature of their behaviour
      was that when such an ant, returning in fright, met
      another approaching, the two would always communicate,
      but each would pursue its own way, the second ant
      continuing its journey to the spot where the first had
      turned about, and then following that example.

      For some days after this there were no ants visible on
      the wall, either above or below the shelf.

      Then a few ants from the lower colony began to
      reappear, but instead of visiting the vase which had
      been the scene of the disaster, they avoided it
      altogether, and following the lower front edge of the
      shelf to the tumbler standing near the middle, made
      their attack upon that. I repeated the same experiment
      here with precisely the same result. Killing or
      maiming a few of the ants and leaving their bodies
      about the base of the tumbler, the others on
      approaching, and even before arriving at the upper
      surface of the shelf where their mutilated companions
      were visible, gave signs of intense emotion, some
      running away immediately, and others advancing to
      where they could survey the field and then hastening
      away precipitately.

      Occasionally an ant would advance towards the tumbler
      until it found itself among the dead and dying; then
      it seemed to lose all self-possession, running hither
      and thither, making wide circuits about the scene of
      the trouble, stopping at times and elevating the
      antennæ with a movement suggestive of wringing them in
      despair, and finally taking flight. After this another
      interval of several days passed, during which no ants
      appeared. Now, three months later, the lower colony
      has been entirely abandoned. Occasionally, however,
      especially when fresh and fragrant violets have been
      placed on the shelf, a few 'prospectors' descend from
      the upper nail-hole, rarely, almost never, approaching
      the vase from which they were first driven away, but
      seeking to satisfy their desire at the tumbler. To
      turn back these stragglers and keep them out of sight
      for a number of days, sometimes for a fortnight, it is
      sufficient to kill one or two ants on the trail which
      they follow descending the wall. This I have recently
      done as high up as I can reach, three or four feet
      above the mantel. The moment this spot is reached, an
      ant turns abruptly and makes for home, and in a little
      while there is not an ant visible on the wall.

In a subsequent volume of 'Nature' (viii. p. 244), Mr. Darwin publishes
another letter which he received from Mr. Hague upon the same subject.
It seems that Mr. Moggridge suggested to Mr. Darwin that, as he and
others had observed ants to be repelled by the mere scent of a finger
drawn across their path, the observation of Mr. Hague might really
resolve itself into a dislike on the part of the ants to cross a line
over which a finger had been drawn, and have nothing to do with
intelligent terror inspired by the sight of their slaughtered
companions. The following is Mr. Hague's reply to Mr. Darwin's request
for further experiments to test this point:--

      Acting on Mr. M----'s suggestion, I first tried making
      simple finger-marks on their path (the mantel is of
      marble), and found just the results which he describes
      in his note as observed by himself at Mentone, that
      is, no marked symptoms of fear, but a dislike to the
      spot, and an effort to avoid it by going around it, or
      by turning back and only crossing it again after an
      interval of time. I then killed several ants on the
      path, using a smooth stone or piece of ivory, instead
      of my finger, to crush them. In this case the ants
      approaching all turned back as before, and with much
      greater exhibition of fear than when the simple
      finger-mark was made. This I did repeatedly. The final
      result was the same as obtained last winter. They
      persisted in coming for a week or two, during which I
      continued to kill them, and then they disappeared, and
      we have seen none since. It would appear from this
      that while the taint of the hand is sufficient to turn
      them back, the killing of their fellows with a stone
      or other material produces the effect described in my
      first note. This was made clear to me at that time,
      from the behaviour of the ants the first day I killed
      any, for on that occasion some of them approaching the
      vase from below, on reaching the upper edge of the
      mantel, peeped over, and drew back on seeing what had
      happened about the vase, then turned away a little,
      and after a moment tried again at another and another
      point along the edge, with the same result in the end.
      Moreover, those that found themselves among the dead
      and dying went from one writhing ant to another in
      great haste and excitement, exhibiting the signs of
      fright which I described.

      I hardly hope that any will return again, but if they
      do, and give me an opportunity, I shall endeavour to
      act further on Mr. M----'s suggestion.

With this quotation I shall conclude the present division of the
chapter; for, looking to all the other observations previously
mentioned, there can be no question concerning the general fact that
ants have the power of communicating with one another. And under
subsequent headings abundant additional evidence on this point will be
found implicated with the other facts detailed.

_Habits General in Sundry Species._

_Swarming._--The precise facts with regard to the swarming of ants are
not yet certainly established. As regards some of the facts, however,
there is no doubt. The winged males and females first quit the nest in
enormous numbers, and choose some fine afternoon in July or August for
their wedding flight. The entrances to the nest are widened by the
workers and increased in number, and there is a great commotion on the
surface of the nest. The swarm takes place as a thick cloud of all the
male and female insects, rising together to a considerable height. The
flight continues for several hours, usually circling round some tree or
tower, and it is during the flight that fertilisation is effected. After
it is effected, the swarm returns to the ground, when the males perish,
either from falling a prey, in their shelterless condition, to birds or
spiders, or, on account of not being able to feed themselves, from
starvation. 'The workers, or neuter ants, of their own colony have lost
all interest in them from the moment of their return, and trouble
themselves no more about them, for they well know that the males have
now fulfilled their vocation.' The great majority of the fertilised
females share the same fate as the males. But a small proportion find
concealment in holes, which they either dig for themselves, or happen to
find ready made, and there found a new colony. The first thing they do
is to pull off their now useless wings, by scratching and twisting them,
one after the other, with the clawed ends of their feet. They then lay
their eggs, and become the queens of new colonies.

Forel says that no fertilised female ever returns to her original home;
but that the workers keep back a certain number of females which are
fertilised before the swarming takes place; in this case the workers
pull off the wings of the fertilised females. The majority of observers,
however, maintain that some of the females composing the swarm return to
their native home to become mothers where they had been children.
Probably both statements are correct. A writer in the 'Groniger
Deekblad' for June 16, 1877, observes that, looking to the injurious
effects of in-breeding, the facts as related by Forel are less probable
than those related by other observers, and that, if they actually occur,
the females fertilised before flight are probably kept by the ants as a
sort of 'reserve corps to which the workers resort only in case of need,
and if they fail to secure any returning queens.'

_Nursing._--The eggs will not develop into larvæ unless nursed. The
nursing is effected by licking the surface of the eggs, which under the
influence of this process increase in size, or grow. In about a
fortnight, during which time the workers carry the eggs from higher to
lower levels of the nest, and _vice versâ_, according to the
circumstances of heat, moisture, &c., the larvæ are hatched out, and
require no less careful nursing than the eggs. The workers feed them by
placing mouths together and regurgitating food stored up in the crop or
proventriculus into the intestinal tract of the young. The latter show
their hunger by 'stretching out their little brown heads.' Great care
is also taken by the workers in cleaning the larvæ, as well as in
carrying them up and down the chambers of the nest for warmth or

When fully grown the larvæ spin cocoons, and are then pupæ, or the
'ants' eggs' of bird-fanciers. These require no food, but still need
incessant attention with reference to warmth, moisture, and cleanliness.
When the time arrives for their emergence as perfect insects, the
workers assist them to get out of their larval cases by biting through
the walls of the latter. It is noticeable that in doing this the workers
do not keep to any exact time, but free them sometimes earlier and
sometimes later, in accordance with their rate of development. 'The
little animal when freed from its chrysalis is still covered with a thin
skin, like a little shirt, which has to be pulled off. When we see how
neatly and gently this is done, and how the young creature is then
washed, brushed, and fed, we are involuntarily reminded of the nursing
of human babies. The empty cases, or cocoons, are carried outside the
nest, and may be seen heaped together there for a long time. Some
species carry them far away from the nest, or turn them into building
materials for the dwelling.'[25]

_Education._--The young ant does not appear to come into the world with
a full instinctive knowledge of all its duties as a member of a social
community. It is led about the nest, and 'trained to a knowledge of
domestic duties, especially in the case of the larvæ.' Later on the
young ants are taught to distinguish between friends and foes. When an
ants' nest is attacked by foreign ants, the young ones never join in the
fight, but confine themselves to removing the pupæ; and that the
knowledge of hereditary enemies is not wholly instinctive in ants is
proved by the following experiment, which we owe to Forel. He put young
ants belonging to three different species into a glass case with pupæ of
six other species--all the species being naturally hostile to one
another. The young ants did not quarrel, but worked together to tend the
pupæ. When the latter hatched out, an artificial colony was formed of a
number of naturally hostile species all living together after the manner
of the 'happy families' of the showmen.

_Habit of keeping Aphides._--It is well known that various species of
ants keep aphides, as men keep milch cows, to supply a nutritious
secretion. Huber first observed this fact, and noticed that the ants
collected the eggs of the aphides and treated them exactly as they
treated their own, guarding and tending them with the utmost care. When
these eggs hatch out the aphides are usually kept and fed by the ants,
to whom they yield a sweet honey-like fluid, which they eject from the
abdomen upon being stroked on this region by the antennæ of the ants.
Mr. Darwin, who has watched the latter process, observes with regard to

      I removed all the ants from a group of about a dozen
      aphides on a dock plant, and prevented their
      attendance during several hours. After this interval,
      I felt sure that the aphides would want to excrete. I
      watched them for some time through a lens, but not one
      excreted; I then tickled them with a hair in the same
      manner, as well as I could, as the ants do with their
      antennæ; but not one excreted. Afterwards I allowed an
      ant to visit them, and it immediately seemed, by its
      eager way of running about, to be well aware what a
      rich flock it had discovered; it then began to play
      with its antennæ on the abdomen, first of one aphis
      and then of another; and each, as soon as it felt the
      antennæ, immediately lifted up its abdomen and
      excreted a limpid drop of sweet juice, which was
      eagerly devoured by the ant. Even quite young aphides
      behaved in this manner, showing that the action was
      instinctive, and not the result of experience.

The facts also show that the yielding of the secretion to the ants is,
as it were, a voluntary act on the part of the aphides, or, perhaps more
correctly, that the instinct to yield it has been developed in such a
relation to the requirements of the ants, that the peculiar stimulation
supplied by the antennæ of the latter is necessary to start the act of
secretion; for in the absence of this particular stimulation the aphides
will never excrete until compelled to do so by the superabundance of the
accumulating secretion. The question, therefore, directly arises how, on
evolutionary principles, such a class of facts is to be met; for it is
certainly difficult to understand the manner in which this instinct, so
beneficial to the ants, can have arisen in the aphides, to which it does
not appear, at first sight, to offer any advantages. Mr. Darwin meets
the difficulty thus: 'Although there is no evidence that any animal
performs an action for the exclusive good of another species, yet each
tries to take advantage of the instincts of others;' and 'as the
secretion is extremely viscid, it is no doubt a convenience to the
aphides to have it removed; therefore probably they do not excrete
solely for the good of the ants.'[26]

Some ants which keep aphides build covered ways, or tunnels, to the
trees or shrubs where the aphides live. Forel saw a tunnel of this kind
which was taken up a wall and down again on the other side, in order to
secure a safe covered way from the nest to the aphides. Occasionally
such covered ways, or tubes, are continued so as to enclose the stems of
the plants on which the aphides live. The latter are thus imprisoned by
the walls of the tube, which, however, expand where they take on this
additional function of stabling the aphides, so that these insects are
really confined in tolerably large chambers. The doors of these chambers
are too small to allow the aphides to escape, while large enough for the
ants to pass in and out. Forel saw such a prison or stable shaped like a
cocoon, and about a centimètre long, which was hanging on the branch of
a tree, and contained aphides carefully tended by the ants. Huber
records similar observations.

Sir John Lubbock has made an interesting addition to our knowledge
respecting this habit as practised by a certain species of ant (_Lasius
flavus_), which departs in a very remarkable manner from the habit as
practised by other species. He says: 'The ants took the greatest care of
these eggs, carrying them off to the lower chambers with the utmost
haste when the nest was disturbed.' But the most interesting of Sir John
Lubbock's observations in this connection is new, and reveals an
astonishing amount of method shown by the ants in farming their
aphides. He says:--

      When my eggs hatched I naturally thought that the
      aphides belonged to one of the species usually found
      on the roots of plants in the nests of _Lasius
      flavus_. To my surprise, however, the young creatures
      made the best of their way out of the nest, and,
      indeed, were sometimes brought out by the ants
      themselves. In vain I tried them with roots of grass,
      &c.; they wandered uneasily about, and eventually
      died. Moreover, they did not in any way resemble the
      subterranean species. In 1878 I again attempted to
      rear these young aphides; but though I hatched a great
      many eggs, I did not succeed. This year, however, I
      have been more fortunate. The eggs commenced to hatch
      the first week in March. Near one of my nests of
      _Lasius flavus_, in which I had placed some of the
      eggs in question, was a glass containing living
      specimens of several species of plants commonly found
      on or around ants' nests. To this some of the young
      aphides were brought by the ants. Shortly afterwards I
      observed on a plant of daisy, in the axils of the
      leaves, some small aphides, very much resembling those
      from my nest, though we had not actually traced them
      continuously. They seemed thriving, and remained
      stationary on the daisy. Moreover, whether they had
      sprung from the black eggs or not, the ants evidently
      valued them, for they built up a wall of earth round
      and over them. So things remained throughout the
      summer, but on October 9 I found that the aphides had
      laid some eggs exactly resembling those found in the
      ants' nests; and on examining daisy plants from
      outside, I found on many of them similar aphides, and
      more or less of the same eggs.

      I confess these observations surprised me very much.
      The statements of Huber have not, indeed, attracted so
      much notice as many of the other interesting facts
      which he has recorded, because if aphides are kept by
      ants in their nests, it seems only natural that their
      eggs should also occur. The above case, however, is
      much more remarkable. Here are aphides, not living in
      the ants' nests, but outside, on the leaf-stalks of
      plants. The eggs are laid early in October on the
      food-plant of the insect. They are of no direct use to
      the ants, yet they are not left where they are laid,
      where they would be exposed to the severity of the
      weather and to innumerable dangers, but brought into
      their nests by the ants, and tended by them with the
      utmost care through the long winter months until the
      following March, when the young ones are brought out
      and again placed on the young shoots of the daisy.
      This seems to me a most remarkable case of prudence.
      Our ants may not perhaps lay up food for the winter,
      but they do more, for they keep during six months the
      eggs which will enable them to procure food during the
      following summer.

The following, which is taken from Büchner's 'Geistesleben der Thiere'
is perhaps a still more striking performance of the same kind as that
which Sir John Lubbock observed:--

      The author is debtor to Herr Nottebohm, Inspector of
      Buildings at Karlsruhe, who related the following on
      May 24, 1876, under the title, 'Ants as Founders of
      Aphides' Colonies:'--'Of two equally strong young
      weeping ashes, which I planted in my garden at
      Kattowitz, in Upper Silesia, one succeeded well, and
      in about five or six years showed full foliage, while
      the other regularly every year was covered, when it
      began to bud, with millions of aphides, which
      destroyed the young leaves and sprouts, and thus
      completely delayed the development of the tree. As I
      perceived that the only reason for this was the action
      of the aphides, I determined to destroy them utterly.
      So in the March of the following year I took the
      trouble to clean and wash every bough, sprig, and bud
      before the bursting of the latter, with the greatest
      care, by means of a syringe. The result was that the
      tree developed perfectly healthy and vigorous leaves
      and young shoots, and remained quite free from the
      aphides until the end of May or the beginning of June.
      My joy was of short duration. One fine sunny morning I
      saw a surprising number of ants running quickly up and
      down the trunk of the tree; this aroused my attention,
      and led me to look more closely. To my great
      astonishment I then saw that many troops of ants were
      busied in carrying single aphides up the stem to the
      top, and that in this way many of the lower leaves had
      been planted with colonies of aphides. After some
      weeks the evil was as great as ever. The tree stood
      alone on the grass plot, and offered the only
      situation for an aphides' colony for the countless
      ants there present. I had destroyed this colony; but
      the ants replanted it by bringing new colonists from
      distant branches, and setting them on the young


      MacCook noticed, of the mound-making ants, that of
      the workers returning to the nest from the tree on
      which the milking was going on, a far smaller number
      had distended abdomens than among those descending the
      tree itself. A closer investigation showed that at the
      roots of the trees, at the outlets of the subterranean
      galleries, a number of ants were assembled, which were
      fed by the returning ants after the fashion already
      described in feeding the larvæ, and which were
      distinguished by the observer as 'pensioners.' MacCook
      often observed the same fact later, among, with
      others, the already described Pennsylvanian wood-ant.
      Distinguished individuals in the body-guard of the
      queen were fed in like fashion. MacCook is inclined to
      think that the reason of this proceeding is to be
      found in the 'division of labour' so general in the
      ant republic, and that the members of the community
      which are employed in building and working within the
      nest, leave to the others the care of providing food
      for themselves as well as for the younger and helpless
      members; they thus have a claim to receive from time
      to time a reciprocal toll of gratitude, and take it,
      as is shown very clearly, in a way demanded by the
      welfare of the community.[28]

Aphides are not the only insects which ants employ as cows, several
other insects which yield sweet secretions being similarly utilised in
various parts of the world. Thus, gall insects and cocci are kept in
just the same way as aphides; but MacCook observed that where aphides
and cocci are kept by the same ants, they are kept in separate chambers,
or stalls. The same observer saw caterpillars of the genus _Lycoena_
kept by ants for the sake of a sweet secretion which they supply.

_Habit of making Slaves._--This habit, or instinct, obtains among at
least three species of ant, viz., _Formica rufescens_, _F. sanguinea_,
and _strongylognathus_. It was originally observed by P. Huber in the
first-named species. Here the species enslaved is _F. fusca_, which is
appropriately coloured black. The slave-making ants attack a nest of _F.
fusca_ in a body; there is a great fight with much slaughter, and, if
victorious, the slave-makers carry off the pupæ of the vanquished nest
in order to hatch them out as slaves. Mr. Darwin gives an account of a
battle which he himself observed.[29]

When the pupæ hatch out in the nest of their captors, the young slaves
begin their life of work, and seem to regard their master's home as
their own; for they never attempt to escape, and they fight no less
keenly than their masters in defence of the nest. _F. sanguinea_ content
themselves with fewer slaves than do _F. rufescens_; and the work that
devolves upon the slaves differs according to the species which has
enslaved them. In the nests of _F. sanguinea_ the comparatively few
captives are kept as household slaves; they never either enter or leave
the nest, and so are never seen unless the nest is opened. They are then
very conspicuous from the contrast which their black colour and small
size present to the red colour and much larger size of _F. rufescens_.
As the slaves are by this species kept strictly indoors, all the outdoor
work of foraging, slave-capturing, &c., is performed by the masters; and
when for any reason a nest has to migrate, the masters carry their
slaves in their jaws. _F. rufescens_, on the other hand, assigns a much
larger share of labour to the slaves, which, as we have already seen,
are present in much larger numbers to take it. In this species the males
and fertile females do no work of any kind; and the workers, or sterile
females, though most energetic in capturing slaves, do no other kind of
work. Therefore the whole community is absolutely dependent upon its
slaves. The masters are not able to make their own nests or to feed
their own larvæ. When they migrate, it is the slaves that determine the
migration, and, reversing the order of things that obtains in _F.
sanguinea_, carry their masters in their jaws. Huber shut up thirty
masters without a slave and with abundance of their favourite food, and
also with their own larvæ and pupæ as a stimulus to work; but they could
not feed even themselves, and many died of hunger. He then introduced a
single slave, and she at once set to work, fed the surviving masters,
attended to the larvæ, and made some cells.

In order to confirm this observation, Lespès placed a piece of sugar
near a nest of slave-makers. It was soon found by one of the slaves,
which gorged itself and returned to the nest. Other slaves then came out
and did likewise. Then some of the masters came out, and, by pulling
the legs of the feeding slaves, reminded them that they were neglecting
their duty. The slaves then immediately began to serve their masters
with the sugar. Forel also has confirmed all these observations of
Huber. Indeed, in the case of _F. rufescens_, the structure of the
animal is such as to render self-feeding physically impossible. Its long
and narrow jaws, adapted to pierce the head of an enemy, do not admit of
being used for feeding, unless liquid food is poured into them by the
mouth of a slave. This fact shows of how ancient an origin the instinct
of slave-making must be; it has altered in an important manner a
structure which could not have been so altered prior to the
establishment of the instinct in question.

Mr. Darwin thus sums up the differences in the offices of the slaves in
the nests of _F. sanguinea_ and _F. rufescens_ respectively:--

      The latter does not build its own nest, does not
      determine its own migrations, does not collect food
      for itself or for its fellows, and cannot even feed
      itself; it is absolutely dependent on its numerous
      slaves. _Formica sanguinea_, on the other hand,
      possesses much fewer slaves, and in the early part of
      the summer extremely few; the masters determine when
      and where a new nest shall be formed, and when they
      migrate, the masters carry the slaves. Both in
      Switzerland and England the slaves seem to have the
      exclusive care of the larvæ, and the masters alone go
      on slave-making expeditions. In Switzerland the slaves
      and masters work together, making and bringing
      materials for the nest; both, but chiefly the slaves,
      tend and milk, as it may be called, their aphides; and
      thus both collect food for the community. In England
      the masters alone usually leave the nest to collect
      building materials and food for themselves, their
      slaves and larvæ. So that the masters in this country
      receive much less service from their slaves than they
      do in Switzerland.

Mr. Darwin further observes that 'this difference in the usual habits of
the masters and slaves in the two countries probably depends merely on
the slaves being captured in greater numbers in Switzerland than in
England;' and records that he has observed in a community of the English
species having an unusually large stock of slaves that 'a few slaves
mingled with their masters leaving the nest, and marched along the same
road to a tall Scotch fir tree, twenty-five yards distant, which they
ascended together, probably in search of aphides or cocci.' And,
according to Huber, the principal office of the slaves in Switzerland is
to search for aphides.

Mr. Darwin also made the following observation:--'Desiring to ascertain
whether _F. sanguinea_ could distinguish the pupæ of _F. fusca_, which
they habitually make into slaves, and which are an unwarlike species,
from _F. flava_, which they rarely capture, and never without a severe
fight,' he found 'it was evident that they did at once distinguish
them;' for while 'they eagerly and instantly seized the pupæ of _F.
fusca_, they were much terrified when they came across the pupæ, or even
the earth from the nest, of _F. flava_, and quickly ran away; but in
about a quarter of an hour, shortly after the little yellow ants had
crawled away (from their nest having been disturbed by Mr. Darwin), they
took heart and carried off the pupæ.'

Concerning the origin of this remarkable instinct, Mr. Darwin writes:--

      As ants which are not slave-makers will, as I have
      seen, carry off pupæ of other species if scattered
      near their nests, it is possible that such pupæ
      originally stored as food might become developed, and
      the foreign ants thus unintentionally reared would
      then follow their proper instincts, and do what work
      they could. If their presence proved useful to the
      species which had seized them--if it were more
      advantageous to the species to capture workers than to
      procreate them--the habit of collecting pupæ,
      originally for food, might by natural selection be
      strengthened and rendered permanent for the very
      different purpose of raising slaves. When the instinct
      was once acquired, if carried out to a much less
      extent even than in our British _F. sanguinea_, which,
      as we have seen, is less aided by its slaves than the
      same species in Switzerland, natural selection might
      increase and modify the instinct, always supposing
      such modification to be of use to the species, until
      an ant was found as abjectly dependent on its slave as
      is the _Formica rufescens_.

Ants do not appear to be the only animals of which ants make slaves; for
there seems to be at least one case in which these wonderful insects
enslave insects of another species, which therefore may be said to stand
to the ants in the relation of beasts of burden. The case to which I
allude is one that is recorded in Perty's 'Intellectual Life of Animals'
(2nd ed. p. 329), and is as follows:--

      According to Audubon certain leaf-bugs are used as
      slaves by the ants in the Brazilian forests. When
      these ants want to bring home the leaves which they
      have bitten off the trees, they do it by means of a
      column of these bugs, which go in pairs, kept in order
      on either side by accompanying ants. They compel
      stragglers to re-enter the ranks, and laggards to keep
      up by biting them. After the work is done the bugs are
      shut up within the colony and scantily fed.

_Wars._--On the wars of ants a great deal might be said, as the facts of
interest in this connection are very numerous; but for the sake of
brevity I shall confine myself to giving only a somewhat meagre account.

One great cause of war is the plundering of ants' nests by the
slave-making species. Observers all agree that this plundering is
effected by a united march of the whole army composing a nest of the
slave-making species, directed against some particular nest of the
species which they enslave. According to Lespès and Forel, single scouts
or small companies are first sent out from the nest to explore in
various directions for a suitable nest to attack. These scouts
afterwards serve as guides to the marauding excursion. Forel saw several
of these scouts of the species _F. rufescens_ or Amazon carefully
inspecting a nest of _F. fusca_ which they had found, investigating
especially the entrances. These are purposely made difficult to find by
their architects, and it not unfrequently happens that after all
precautions and inspections on the part of the invaders, an expedition
fails on account of not finding the city gates.

When the scouts have been successful in discovering a suitable nest to
plunder, and have completed their strategical investigations of the
locality to their satisfaction, they return straight to their own nest
or fortress. Forel has then seen them walking about on the surface of
their nest for a long time, as if in consultation, or making up their
minds. Then some of them entered the nest, soon after which hosts of
warriors streamed out of the entrances, and ran about tapping each other
with their heads and antennæ. They then formed into column and set out
to pillage the nest of the slave ants. The following is the account
which Lespès gives of such expeditions:--

      They only take place towards the end of the summer and
      in autumn. At this time the winged members of the
      slave species (_F. fusca_ and _F. cunicularia_) have
      left the nest, and the Amazons will not take the
      trouble to bring back useless consumers. When the sky
      is clear our robbers leave their town in the afternoon
      at about three or four o'clock. At first no order is
      perceptible in their movements, but when they are all
      gathered together they form a regular column, which
      then moves forward quickly, and each day in a
      different direction. They march closely pressed
      together, and the foremost always appear to be seeking
      for something on the ground. They are each moment
      overtaken by others, so that the head of the column is
      continually growing. They are in fact seeking the
      traces of the ants which they propose to plunder, and
      it is scent that guides them. They snuff over the
      ground like hounds following the track of a wild
      animal, and when they have found it they plunge
      headlong forward, and the whole column rushes on
      behind. The smallest armies I saw consisted of several
      hundred individuals, but I have also seen some four
      times as large. They then form columns which may be
      five mètres long, and as much as fifty centimètres
      wide. After a march, which often lasts a full hour,
      the column arrives at the nest of the slave species.
      The _F. cuniculariæ_, which are the strongest, offer
      keen opposition, but without much result. The Amazons
      soon penetrate within the nest, to come out again a
      moment later, while the assailed ants at the same time
      rush out in masses. During the whole time attention is
      directed solely to the larvæ and pupæ, which the
      Amazons steal while the others try to save as many as
      possible. They know very well that the Amazons cannot
      climb, so they fly with their precious burdens to the
      surrounding bushes or plants, whereto their enemies
      cannot follow them. They then pursue the retreating
      robbers and try to take away from them as much of
      their booty as possible. But the latter do not trouble
      themselves much about them, and hasten on home. On
      their return they do not follow the shortest road, but
      exactly the one by which they came, finding their way
      back by smell. Arrived at their nest, they
      immediately hand over their booty to the slaves, and
      trouble themselves no more about it. A few days
      afterwards the stolen pupæ or nymphæ emerge, without
      memory of their childhood, and immediately and without
      compulsion take part in all tasks.

According to Büchner's account,[30]--

      From time to time the army makes a short halt, partly
      to let the rearguard close up, partly because
      different opinions arise as to the direction of the
      host, or because the place at which they are is
      unknown to them. Forel several times saw the army
      completely lose its way--an incident only once
      observed by Huber. Forel puts the number of warriors
      in such an army at from one hundred to more than two
      thousand. Its speed is on an average a mètre per
      minute, but varies much according to circumstances,
      and is naturally least when returning laden with
      booty. If the distance be very great, such bodily
      fatigue may at last be felt that the whole attack on
      the hostile nest is given up, and a retreat is begun;
      Forel once saw this happen after they had passed over
      a distance of two hundred and forty yards. Sometimes
      it seems as though, on coming within sight of the
      hostile nest, a kind of discouragement took possession
      of them, and prevented their making the attack. If the
      nest cannot at once be found, the whole army halts,
      and some divisions are sent forward to search for it,
      and these are gradually seen returning towards the
      centre. Forel also saw such an army only searching the
      first day, advancing zigzag, and with frequent halts,
      whereas on the following day it went forward to its
      aim swiftly and without delay, having found out the
      road. It seems that a single ant, even if it knows the
      way and the place, is not able alone to lead a large
      army, but that a considerable number must be employed
      in this duty. Mistakes as to the road occur with
      special ease during the return journey, because the
      several ants are laden with booty and cannot readily
      understand each other. Individual ants are then seen
      to wander about in every direction often for a long
      time, until they at last reach a spot known to them,
      and then advance swiftly to their goal. Many never
      come back at all. These mistakes easily occur when the
      robbers which have passed into a hostile nest do not
      come out again at the same holes whereby they entered,
      but by others at some distance--for instance, by a
      subterranean canal. Coming out thus in a strange
      neighbourhood, they do not know which way to take, and
      only some chance to find the right road during their
      aimless wanderings about, and recognise and follow it
      by smell. On the other hand, such mistakes scarcely
      ever happen to individuals in an unladen train, kept
      in good array. Other species of ants (_F. fusca_,
      _rufa_, _sanguinea_) know better how to manage under
      such circumstances than do the Amazons. The laden ones
      lay down their loads, first find where they are, and
      only take them up again after they have found their
      way. If the booty seized in the nest first attacked is
      too large to be all taken at once, the robbers return
      once, or oftener, so as to complete their work. . . .
      The ants, as already said, have no regular leaders nor
      chiefs, yet it is certain that in each expedition,
      alteration of road, or other change, the decision
      during that event comes from a small knot of
      individuals, which have previously come to an
      understanding, and carry the rest and the undecided
      along with them. These do not always follow
      immediately, but only after they have received several
      taps on the head from the members of the 'ring.' The
      procession does not advance until the leaders have
      convinced themselves by their own eyesight that the
      main part of the army is following.

      One day Forel saw some Amazons on the surface of a
      nest of the _F. fusca_ seeking and sounding in all
      directions, without being able to find the entrance.
      At last one of them found a very little hole, hardly
      as large as a pin's head, through which the robbers
      penetrated. But since, owing to the smallness of the
      hole, the invasion went on slowly, the search was
      continued, and an entrance was found further off,
      through which the Amazon army gradually disappeared.
      All was quiet. About five minutes later Forel saw a
      booty-laden column emerge from each hole. Not a single
      ant was without a load. The two columns united outside
      and retreated together.

      A marauding excursion of the Amazons against the _F.
      rufibarbis_, a sub-species of the _F. fusca_, or small
      black ants, took place as follows:--The vanguard of
      the robber army found that it had reached the
      neighbourhood of the hostile nest more quickly than it
      had expected; for it halted suddenly and decidedly,
      and sent a number of messengers which brought up the
      main body and the rearguard with incredible speed. In
      less than thirty seconds the whole army had closed up,
      and hurled itself in a mass on the dome of the hostile
      nest. This was the more necessary as the _rufibarbes_
      during the short halt had discovered the approach of
      the enemy, and had utilised the time to cover the dome
      with defenders. An indescribable struggle followed,
      but the superior numbers of the Amazons overcame, and
      they penetrated into the nest, while the defenders
      poured by thousands out of the same holes, with their
      larvæ and pupæ in their jaws, and escaped to the
      nearest plants and bushes, running over the heaps of
      their assailants. These looked on the matter as
      hopeless, and began to retreat. But the _rufibarbes_,
      furious at their proceedings, pursued them, and
      endeavoured to get away from them the few pupæ they
      had obtained, by trying to seize the Amazons' legs and
      to snatch away the pupæ. The Amazon lets its jaws slip
      slowly along the captive pupa, as far as the head of
      its opponent, and pierces it, if it does not, as
      generally happens, draw back. But it often manages to
      seize the pupa at the instant at which the Amazon lets
      it go and flies with it. This is managed yet more
      easily when a comrade holds the robber by the legs,
      and compels it to loose its prey in order to guard
      itself against its assailant. Sometimes the robbers
      seize empty cocoons and carry them away, but they
      leave them on the road when they have discovered their
      mistake. In the above case the strength of the
      _rufibarbes_ proved at last so great that the
      rearguard of the retreating army was seriously
      pressed, and was obliged to give up its booty. A
      number of the Amazons also were overpowered and
      killed, but not without the _rufibarbes_ also losing
      many people. None the less did some individuals, as
      though desperate, rush into the thickest hosts of the
      enemy, penetrated again into the nest, and carried off
      several pupæ by sheer audacity and skill. Most of them
      left their prey to go to the help of their comrades
      when assailed by the _rufibarbes_. Ten minutes after
      the commencement of the retreat all the Amazons had
      left the nest, and, being swifter than their
      opponents, they were only pursued for about halfway
      back. Their attack had failed on account of a short

      On another occasion observed by Forel, in which
      several fertile Amazons also took part and killed many
      enemies, the nest was thoroughly ravished, but the
      retreat was also in this case very much disturbed and
      harassed by the superior numbers of the enemy. There
      were many slain on both sides. That in spite of the
      above-mentioned unanimity different opinions among the
      members of an expedition sometimes hinder its conduct,
      the following observation seems to show:--An advancing
      column divided after it had gone about ten yards from
      the nest. Half turned back, while the other half went
      on, but after some time hesitated and also turned
      back. Arrived at home, it found those which had
      formerly turned back putting themselves in motion in a
      new direction. The newly returned followed them, and
      the reunited army, after various wheelings, halts,
      &c., at last turned home again by a long way round.
      The whole business looked like a promenade. But
      apparently different parties had different nests in
      view, while others were entirely against the
      expedition. Yet perhaps it was only a march for

      Outer obstacles do not, as a rule, hinder the Amazons
      when they are once on the march. Forel saw them wade
      through some shallow water, although many were drowned
      in it, and then march over a dusty high road, although
      the wind blew half of them away. As they returned,
      booty-laden, neither wind, nor dust, nor water could
      make them lay down their prey. They only got back with
      great trouble, and turned back again to bring fresh
      booty, although many lost their lives.

The following is also quoted from Büchner's excellent epitome of Forel's
observations in this connection:--

      The most terrible enemy of the Amazons is the sanguine
      ant (_F. sanguinea_), which also keeps slaves, and
      thereby often comes into collision with the Amazons on
      their marauding excursions. It is not equal to it in
      bodily strength or fighting capacity, but surpasses it
      in intelligence; according to Forel it is the most
      intelligent of all the species of ants. If Forel, for
      instance, poured out the contents of a sack filled
      with a nest of the slave species near an Amazon nest,
      the Amazons apparently generally regarded the tumbled
      together heap of ants, larvæ, pupæ, earth, building
      materials, &c., as the dome of a hostile nest, and
      took all imaginable but useless pains to find out the
      entrances thereinto, leaving on one side for this
      investigation their only object, the carrying off the
      pupæ; but the sanguine ants under similar
      circumstances did not allow themselves to be deceived,
      but at once ransacked the whole heap.

On another occasion, while a procession of Amazon ants was on its way to
plunder a nest of _F. fusca_, before it arrived Forel poured out a
sack-full of sanguine ants, and made a break in the nest:--

      The sanguine ants pressed in, while the _fusca_ came
      out to defend themselves. At this moment the first
      Amazons arrived. When they saw the sanguine ants they
      drew back and awaited the main army, which appeared
      much disturbed at the news. But once united, the bold
      robbers rushed at their foes. The latter gathered
      together and beat back the first attack, but the
      Amazons closed up their ranks and made a second
      assault, which carried them on to the dome and into
      the midst of the enemy. These were overthrown, as well
      as a number of _F. pratensis_, which Forel at this
      moment poured out on the nest. The conquerors delayed
      for a moment on the dome after their victory, and then
      entered the nest to bring out a little of the valuable
      booty. A few Amazons which were mad with anger did not
      return with the main army, but went on slaughtering
      blindly among the conquered and the fugitives of the
      three species, _fusca_, _pratensis_, and _sanguinea_.

      The ravished _rufibarbes_ once became so desperate at
      their overthrow that they followed the robbers to
      their own nest, and the latter had some trouble in
      defending it. The _rufibarbes_ let themselves be
      killed in hundreds, and really seemed as though they
      courted death. A small number of the Amazons also sank
      under the bites of their enemies. The nest contained
      slaves of the _rufibarbis_ species, which on this
      emergency fought actively against their own race.
      There were also slaves of the species _fusca_, so that
      the nest included three different species of ants.

      The same nest is often revisited many times on the
      same day or at different periods, until either there
      is no more to steal, or the plundered folk have hit
      upon better mode of defence. A column which was in the
      act of going back to such a plundered nest turned when
      halfway there, and halted, apparently on no other
      ground than because it had met the rearguard of the
      army, and had learned that the nest was exhausted, and
      that there was nothing more to be had there. The
      robbers then went off to a _rufibarbis_ nest which was
      in the neighbourhood, and killed half the inhabitants
      while plundering the nest. The surviving _rufibarbes_
      returned after the robbery and brought up new progeny;
      but thirteen days later the Amazons again reaped a
      rich harvest from the same nest. The Amazon army often
      severs itself into two separate divisions when there
      is not enough for both to do at the same spot.
      Sometimes one division finds something and the other
      nothing, and they then reunite. If any obstacle be
      placed in their way they try to overcome it, in doing
      which some leave the main army, lose themselves, and
      only find their way home again with difficulty. Forel
      has tried to establish the normal frequency of
      expeditions, and found that a colony watched by
      himself for a space of thirty days sent out no less
      than forty-four marauding excursions. Of these about
      eight-and-twenty were completely, nine partially, and
      the remainder not at all successful. He four times saw
      the army divide into two. Half the expeditions were
      levelled against the _rufibarbes_, half against the
      _fuscæ_. On an average a successful expedition would
      bring back to the colony a thousand pupæ or larvæ. On
      the whole, the number of future slaves stolen by a
      strong colony during a favourable summer may be
      reckoned at forty thousand!

      The internecine battles which occasionally break out
      among the Amazons themselves are naturally the most
      cruel. They tear each other to pieces with incredible
      fury, and knots of five or six individuals which have
      pierced each other may be seen rolling over each other
      on the ground, it being impossible to distinguish
      between friend and foe. Civil wars among men are also
      known to be the most embittered and the most bloody.

The mode of attack practised by the other best known species of
slave-making ant, _sanguinea_, is somewhat different:--

      They march in small troops which, in case of need,
      summon reinforcements, and therefore as a rule only
      reach their goal slowly. Between the individual troops
      messengers or scouts run continually backwards and
      forwards. The first troop which arrives at the hostile
      nest does not rush at it, as do the Amazons, but
      contents itself with making provisional
      reconnaissances, wherein some of the assailants are
      generally made prisoners by the enemy, which have time
      to bethink and to collect themselves. Reinforcements
      are now brought up, and a regular siege of the nest
      begins. A sudden invasion, like that of the Amazons,
      is never seen. The besieging army forms a complete
      ring round the hostile nest, and the besiegers hold
      this with mandibles open and antennæ drawn back,
      without going nearer. In this position they beat off
      all assaults of the besieged, until they feel
      themselves strong enough to advance to the attack.
      This attack scarcely ever fails, and has for its chief
      object the mastering of the entrances and outlets of
      the nest. A special troop guards each opening, and
      only allows such of the besieged to pass out as carry
      no pupæ. This manoeuvre gives rise to a number of
      comical and characteristic scenes. By this means the
      sanguine ants in a few minutes manage to have all the
      defenders out of the nests and the pupæ left behind.
      This is the case at least with the _rufibarbes_, while
      the rather less timid _fuscæ_ try, even at the last
      moment when it is useless, to stop up or barricade the
      entrances. The sanguine ants do not indeed possess the
      terrible weapons and the warlike impetuosity of the
      Amazons, but they are stronger and larger. If a
      _fusca_ or a _rufibarbis_ fights with a sanguine ant
      for the possession of a pupa, it is generally very
      soon overcome. While the main part of the army is
      penetrating into the nest to steal the pupæ, some
      divisions pursue the fugitives, to take away from them
      the few pupæ which may chance to have been saved. They
      drive them even out of the cricket-holes in which they
      have meanwhile taken refuge. In short, it is a
      _razzia_, or sweeping burglary, as complete as can be
      imagined. In the retreat the robbers in no wise hurry
      themselves, for they know that they are threatened by
      no danger and no loss, and the complete emptying of a
      large and distant nest often takes several days in
      accomplishing. The ants which have been so thoroughly
      robbed scarcely ever return to their former abode.

      It must be admitted that a human army, robbing a
      foreign town or fortress, could not behave better or
      more prudently.

Huber gives the following account of a battle waged by sanguine ants:--

      At ten, in a July morning, he noticed a small band of
      them emerge from their nest, and march rapidly towards
      a nest of negroes, around which it dispersed. A number
      of the blacks rushed out, gave battle, and succeeded
      in defeating their invaders, and in making several of
      them prisoners. Upon this, the remainder of the
      attacking force waited for a reinforcement. When this
      came up, they still declined further proceedings, and
      sent more aides-de-camp to their own nest. The result
      of these messages was a much larger reinforcement; but
      even yet the pirates appeared to shun the combat. At
      last, the negroes marched out from their nest in a
      phalanx of about two feet square, and a number of
      skirmishes began, which soon ended in a general
      _mêlée_. Long before the event seemed certain, the
      negroes carried off their pupæ to the most distant
      part of the nest; and when, after a longer encounter,
      they appeared to think further resistance vain, they
      retreated, attempting to take with them their young.
      In this, however, they were prevented, and the
      invaders obtained possession of their nest and the
      booty. When they had done this, they put in a
      garrison, and occupied the night and the succeeding
      day in carrying off their spoil.

Büchner says--

      Battles between ants of the same species often end
      with a lasting alliance, especially when the number of
      the workers on both sides is comparatively small. The
      wise little animals under such circumstances discover,
      much more quickly and better than men, that they can
      only destroy each other by fighting, while union would
      benefit both parties. Sometimes they drive each other
      out of their nests in a quite friendly way. Forel laid
      on a table a piece of bark with a nest of the gentle
      _Leptothorax acervorum_, and then put on it the
      contents of another nest of the same species. The last
      comers were by far the more numerous, and soon
      possessed themselves of the nest, driving out the
      inmates. But the latter did not know whither to go,
      and turned back again. They were then seized by their
      opponents one after the other, carried away as far as
      possible from the nest, and there put down. The
      oftener they came back the further were they carried
      away. One of the carriers arrived in this fashion at
      the edge of the table, and after it had by means of
      its feelers convinced itself that it had reached the
      end of the world, mercilessly let its burden drop into
      the fathomless abyss. It waited a moment to see if it
      had attained its object, and then turned back to the
      nest. Forel picked up the ant which had fallen on the
      floor, and put it down right in front of the returning
      ant. The latter repeated the same manoeuvre as at
      first, only stretching its neck further over the edge
      of the table. He several times reiterated his
      experiment, and always with the same result. Later the
      two colonies were shut up together in a glass case,
      and gradually learned to agree.

At other times, however, warlike ants show great and needless cruelty to
one another:--

      They slowly pull from their victim, that is rendered
      defenceless by wounds, exhaustion, or terror, first
      one feeler and then the other, then the legs one after
      another, until they at last kill it, or pull it in a
      completely mutilated and helpless condition to some
      out-of-the-way spot where it perishes miserably. Yet
      some compassionate hearts are to be found among the
      victors, which only pull the conquered to a distant
      place in order to get rid of them, and there let them
      go without injuring them.

The following account is also taken from Büchner's 'Mind in Animals,' p.

      The doors are often guarded by special sentries, which
      fulfil their important duty in various ways. Forel saw
      a nest of the _Colobopsis truncata_, the two or three
      very small round openings of which were watched by
      soldiers, arranged so that their thick cylindrical
      heads stopped them up, just as a cork stops up the
      mouth of a bottle. The same observer saw the
      _Myrmecina Latreillei_ defend themselves against the
      invasions of the slave-making _Strongylognathus_, by
      placing a worker at each of the little openings of the
      nest, which quite stops up the opening either with
      its head or abdomen. The _Camponotus_ species also
      defend their nests by stretching their heads in front
      of the openings, drawing back the antennæ. Each
      approaching enemy thus receives a sharp blow or bite
      delivered with the whole weight of the body. MacCook
      noticed in the nests of the soon to be described
      Pennsylvanian mound-building ants, the employment of
      special sentries, which lay watching within the nest
      entrances, and sprang out at the first sight of danger
      to attack the enemy; and it was wonderful to see with
      what swiftness the news of such an alarm spread
      through the nest, and how the inhabitants came out _en
      masse_ to meet the enemy. The _Lasius_ species defend
      their large, strong, and very extensive nests against
      hostile attack or sieges with equal courage and skill,
      while other timid species seek to fly as speedily as
      possible with their larvæ, pupæ, and fruitful queens.
      There is, as Forel tells us, a regular barricade
      fight. Passage after passage is stopped and defended
      to the uttermost, so that the assailants can only
      advance step and step. Unless the latter are in an
      enormous majority, the struggle may last a very long
      time with these tactics. During this time, other
      workers are busy preparing subterranean passages
      backwards for eventual flight. Generally such passages
      are already made, and during a fight a new dome of the
      _Lasius_ may be seen rising at a distance, it not
      being difficult for them to make this with the help of
      their extended subterranean passages and

      The _F. exsecta_ or _pressilabris_ fights in a
      peculiar way, which is due to care of their small and
      very tender bodies. It avoids all single combats, and
      always fights in closed ranks. Only when it thinks
      victory secure does it spring on its enemy's back. But
      its chief strength lies in the fact that many together
      always attack a foe. They nail down their opponent by
      seizing its legs and holding them firmly to the
      ground, while a comrade springs on the back of the
      defenceless creature and tries to bite through its
      neck. But if threatened the holders sometimes take
      flight, and so it happens that in battles between the
      _exsectæ_ and the much stronger _pratenses_ not a few
      of the latter are seen running about with a small
      enemy clutching their shoulders, and making violent
      efforts to tear the neck of its foe. If the bearer is
      then seized with cramp, the nervous cord has been
      injured. On the other hand, if an _exsecta_ is seized
      by the back by a _pratensis_ it is at once lost.

      The tactics of the turf ants resemble those of the
      _exsectæ_, three or four of them seizing an opponent
      and pulling off his legs. In similar fashion the
      attack of the _Lasius_ species is chiefly directed
      against the legs of its enemies, three, four, or five
      uniting in the effort. They understand barricade
      fighting particularly well in their large well-built
      dwellings, and if it comes to the worst fly by
      subterranean passages. They are feared by most ants on
      account of their numerical superiority. Forel one day
      poured the contents of ten nests of _pratenses_ in
      front of a tree trunk inhabited by _Lasius
      fuliginosus_ (jet ant). The siege at once began; but
      the jet ants called in help from the nests connected
      with their colony, and thick black columns were at
      once seen coming out from the surrounding trees. The
      _pratenses_ were obliged to fly, and left behind them
      a mass of dead as well as their pupæ, which last were
      carried off by the victors to their nests to be eaten.

Battles, however, are not confined to species of ants having warlike and
slave-making habits. The agricultural ants likewise at times wage fierce
wars with one another. The importance of seeds to these ants, and the
consequent value which they set upon them, induce the animals, when
supplies are scarce, to plunder each other's nests. Thus Moggridge

      By far the most savage and prolonged contests which I
      have witnessed were those in which the combatants
      belong to two different colonies of the same
      species. . . . The most singular contests are those
      which are waged for seeds by _A. barbara_, when one
      colony plunders the stores of an adjacent nest
      belonging to the same species, the weaker nest making
      prolonged though, for the most part, inefficient
      attempts to recover their property.

      In the case of the other species of ant which I have
      watched fighting, the strife would last but a short
      time--a few hours or a day--but _A. barbara_ will
      carry on the battle day after day and week after week.
      I was able to devote a good deal of time to watching
      the progress of a predatory war of this kind, waged by
      one nest of _barbara_ against another, and which
      lasted for forty-six days, from January 18 to March 4!

      I cannot of course declare positively that no
      cessation of hostilities may have taken place during
      the time, but I can affirm that whenever I visited the
      spot--and I did so on twelve days, or as nearly as
      possible twice a week--the scene was one of war and
      spoliation such as that which I shall now describe.

      An active train of ants, nearly resembling an ordinary
      harvesting train, led from the entrance of one nest to
      that of another lower down the slope, and fifteen feet
      distant; but on closer examination it appeared that
      though the great mass of seed-bearers were travelling
      towards the upper nest, some few were going in the
      opposite direction and making for the lower. Besides
      this, at intervals, combats might be seen taking
      place, one ant seizing the free end of a seed carried
      by another, and endeavouring to wrench it away, and
      then frequently, as neither would let go, the stronger
      ant would drag seed and opponent towards its nest. At
      times other ants would interfere and seize one of the
      combatants and endeavour to drag it away, this often
      resulting in terrible mutilations, and especially in
      the loss of the abdomen, which would be torn off while
      the jaws of the victim retained their indomitable
      bull-dog grip upon the seed. Then the victor might be
      seen dragging away his prize, while its adversary,
      though now little more than a head and legs, offered a
      vigorous though of course ineffectual resistance. I
      frequently observed that the ants during these
      conflicts would endeavour to seize one another's
      antennæ, and that if this were effected, the ant thus
      assaulted would instantly release his hold, whether of
      seed or adversary, and appear utterly discomfited. No
      doubt the antennæ are their most sensitive parts, and
      injuries inflicted on these organs cause the greatest

      It was not until I had watched this scene for some
      days that I apprehended its true meaning, and
      discovered that the ants of the upper nest were
      robbing the granaries of the lower, while the latter
      tried to recover the stolen seeds both by fighting for
      them and by stealing seeds in their turn from the nest
      of their oppressors. The thieves, however, were
      evidently the stronger, and streams of ants laden with
      seeds arrived safely at the upper nest, while close
      observation showed that very few seeds were
      successfully carried on the reverse journey into the
      lower and plundered nest.

      Thus when I fixed my attention on one of these robbed
      ants surreptitiously making its exit with the seed
      from the thieves' nest, and having overcome the
      opposition and dangers met with on its way, reaching,
      after a journey which took six minutes to accomplish,
      the entrance to its own home, I saw that it was
      violently deprived of its burden by a guard of ants
      stationed there apparently for the purpose, one of
      whom instantly started off and carried the seed all
      the way back again to the upper nest.

      This I saw repeated several times.

      After March 4 I never saw any acts of hostility
      between these nests, though the robbed nest was not
      abandoned. In another case of the same kind, however,
      where the struggle lasted thirty-one days, the robbed
      nest was at length completely abandoned, and on
      opening it I found all the granaries empty with one
      single exception, and this one was pierced by the
      matted roots of grasses and other plants, and must
      therefore have been long neglected by the ants.
      Strangely enough, not one of the seeds in this
      deserted granary showed traces of germination.

      No doubt some very pressing need is the cause of these
      systematic raids in search of accumulations of seeds,
      and there can be little doubt that the requirements of
      distinct colonies of ants of the same species are
      often different even at the same season and date. Thus
      these warring colonies of ants were active on many
      days when the majority of the nests were completely
      closed; and I have even seen these robbers staggering
      along, enfeebled by the cold, and in wind and rain,
      when all other ants were safe below ground.

The agricultural ants of Texas do not appear to be less pugnacious than
their European congeners. Thus MacCook says:--

      A young community has sometimes to struggle into
      permanent prosperity through many perils. The
      following example is found in the unpublished Lincecum
      manuscripts. One day a new ant-city was observed to be
      located within ten or twelve yards of a
      long-established nest, a distance that the doctor
      thought would prove too near for peaceable
      possession--for the agriculturals seem to pre-empt a
      certain range of territory around their formicary as
      their own, within which no intrusion is allowed. He
      therefore concluded to keep these nests under close
      observation, and visited them frequently. Only a day
      or two had elapsed before he found that the
      inhabitants of the old city had made war upon the new.
      They had surrounded it in great numbers, and were
      entering, dragging out and killing the citizens. The
      young colonists, who seemed to be of less size than
      their adversaries, fought bravely, and,
      notwithstanding they were overwhelmed by superior
      numbers, killed and maimed many of their assailants.
      The parties were scattered in struggling pairs over a
      space ten or fifteen feet around the city gate, and
      the ground was strewed with many dead bodies. The new
      colonists aimed altogether at cutting off the legs of
      their larger foes, which they accomplished with much
      success. The old-city warriors, on the contrary,
      gnawed and clipped off the heads and abdomens of their
      enemies. Two days afterward the battlefield was
      revisited, and many ants were found lying dead tightly
      locked together by legs and mandibles, while hundreds
      of decapitated bodies and severed heads were strewed
      over the ground.

      Another example, which is given in the published
      paper, is quite similar, and had like result. In
      forty-eight hours the old settlers had exterminated
      the new. The distance between the nests was about 20
      feet. While the young colonists remained in
      concealment they were not disturbed, but as soon as
      they began to clear away their open disk war was

MacCook, however, says that 'these ants are not always so jealous of
territorial encroachment, or at least must have different standards of
rights.' For he observed many cases of nests situated within twenty, and
even ten feet of one another, without a battle ever occurring between
members of the two communities. Therefore, without questioning the
accuracy of Lincecum's observations--which, indeed, present no scope for
inaccuracy--he adds, 'That neighbouring ants, like neighbouring nations
of civilised men, will fall out and wage war Lincecum's examples show.
Perhaps we should be quite as unsuccessful in case of these ants as of
our human congeners, should we seek a sufficient reason for these wars,
or satisfactory cause for these differences in dealing with neighbours
which appear from the comparison of Lincecum's observations with mine.'

In connection with the wars of these ants, the following quotations may
also be made from the same author:--

      The erratic ants do not appear to be held as common
      enemies by the agriculturals, and they are even
      permitted to establish their formicaries within the
      limits of the open disk. Sometimes, however, the
      diminutive hillocks which mark the entrance to an
      erratic ant-nest multiply beyond the limit of the
      agriculturals' forbearance. But they do not declare
      war, nor resort to any personal violence.
      Nevertheless, they get rid of them, oddly enough, by a
      regular system of vexatious obstructions. They
      suddenly conclude that there is urgent demand for
      improving their public domain. Forthwith they sally
      forth in large numbers, fall eagerly to work gathering
      the little black balls which are thrown up by the
      earth-worms in great quantities everywhere in the
      prairie soil, which they bring and heap upon the paved
      disk until all the erratic ant-nests are covered! The
      entire pavement is thus raised an inch or so, and
      pains are taken to deposit more balls upon and around
      the domiciles of their tiny neighbours than elsewhere.
      The erratics struggle vigorously against this Pompeian
      treatment; they bore through the avalanche of balls,
      only to find barriers laid in their way. The
      obstructions at length become so serious that it is
      impossible to keep the galleries open. The dwarfs
      cease to contend against destiny, and, gathering
      together their household stores, quietly evacuate the
      premises of the inhospitable giants. It is the triumph
      of the policy of obstruction, a bloodless but
      effectual opposition.

Lastly, MacCook records the history of an interesting engagement which
he witnessed between two nests of _Tetramorium cæspitum_. It took place
between Broad Street and Penn Square in Philadelphia, and lasted for
nearly three weeks. Although all the combatants belonged to the same
species, however great the confusion of the fight, friends were always
distinguished from foes--apparently by contact of antennæ.

_Habit of keeping Domestic Pets._--Many species of ants display the
curious habit of keeping in their nests sundry kinds of other insects,
which, so far as observation extends, are of no benefit to the ants, and
which therefore have been regarded by observers as mere domestic pets.
These 'pets' are for the most part species which occur nowhere else
except in ants' nests, and each species of 'pet' is peculiar to certain
species of ants. Thus Moggridge found 'a large number of a minute
shining brown beetle moving about among the seeds' in the nests of the
harvesting ant of the south of Europe, 'belonging to the scarce and very
restricted genus _Colnocera_, called by Kraatz _C. attæ_, on account of
its inhabiting the nests of ants belonging to the genus _Atta_.' He also
observed inhabiting the same nests a minute cricket 'scarcely larger
than a grain of wheat' (_Gryllus myrmecophilus_), which had been
previously observed by Paolo Savi in the nests of several species of
ants in Tuscany, where it lived on the best terms with its hosts,
playing round the nests in warm weather, and retiring into them in
stormy weather, while allowing the ants to carry it from place to place
during migrations. Again, Mr. Bates observes that 'some of the most
anomalous forms of coleopterous insects are those which live solely in
the nests of ants.' Sir John Lubbock also, and other observers whom we
need not wait to cite, mention similar facts. The Rev. Mr. White says
that altogether 40 distinct species of Coleoptera, most of which he has
in his own collection, are known to inhabit the nests of various species
of ants, and to occur nowhere else.

As in all these cases the ants live on amicable terms with their guests,
and in some cases even bestow labour upon them (as in carrying them from
one nest to another during migration), it is evident that these insects
are not only tolerated, but fostered by the ants. Moreover, as it seems
absurd to credit ants with any mere fancy or caprice such as that of
keeping pets, we can only conclude that these insects, like the aphides,
are of some use to their hosts, although we are not yet in a position to
surmise what this use can be.

_Habits of Sleep and Cleanliness._--It is probable that all species of
ants enjoy periods of true sleep alternating with those of activity; but
actual observations on this subject have only been made on two or three
species. The following is MacCook's account of these habits in the
harvesting ant of Texas:--

      The observation upon the ants now before me began at 8
      o'clock; at 11 P.M. the cluster had nearly dissolved,
      only a few being asleep. To illustrate the soundness
      of this sleep I take the quill pen with which I write,
      and apply the feather end of it to an ant who is
      sleeping upon the soil. She has chosen a little oval
      depression in the surface, and lies with abdomen upon
      the raised edge, and face toward the lamp. Her legs
      are drawn up close to the body. She is perfectly
      still. I gently draw the feather tip along the body,
      stroking 'with the fur,' if I may so say. There is no
      motion. Again and again this action is repeated, the
      stroke gradually being made heavier, although always
      quite gentle. Still there is no change. The strokes
      are now directed upon the head, with the same result.
      Now the tip is applied to the neck, the point at which
      the head is united to the pro-thorax, with a waving
      motion intended to produce a sensation of tickling.
      The ant remains motionless. After continuing these
      experiments for several minutes, I arouse the sleeper
      by a sharp touch of the quill. She stretches out her
      head, then her legs, which she also shakes, steps
      nearer to the light, and begins to cleanse herself in
      the manner already described. This act invariably
      follows the waking of ants from sleep. The above
      description applies to the general habit of somnolence
      as observed upon the two named species of harvesting
      ants for nearly four months. I have often applied the
      quill, and even the point of a lead pencil, to the
      sleeping Floridians without breaking their slumber.
      There are some other details which have not appeared
      in the behaviour of the individual just put under

      Thus, I have several times seen the ants (_Crudelis_)
      _yawning_ after awaking. I use this word for lack of
      one which more accurately expresses the behaviour. The
      action is very like that of the human animal; the
      mandibles are thrown open with the peculiar muscular
      strain which is familiar to all readers; the tongue
      also is sometimes thrust out, and the limbs stretched
      with the appearance, at least, of that tension which
      accompanies the yawn in the genus _homo_. During sleep
      the antennæ have a gentle, quivering, apparently
      involuntary motion, which seemed to me, at times, to
      have the regularity of breathing. I also often noted
      an occasional regular lifting up and setting down of
      the fore-feet, one leg after another, with almost a
      rhythmic motion.

      The length of time during which sleep is prolonged
      appears to vary according to circumstances and,
      perhaps, organism. The large head-soldiers of the
      Floridian harvesters appear to have a more sluggish
      nature than the smaller workers. Their sleep is longer
      and heavier. The former fact the watch readily
      determined. The latter appeared from the greater
      stolidity of the creatures under disturbance. While
      the ants of one group are taking sleep others may be
      busy at work, and these stalk among and over the
      sleepers, jostling them quite vigorously at times.
      Again, new members occasionally join the group, and,
      in their desire to get close up to the heat and light,
      crowd their drowsy comrades aside. I have seen ants
      who had been at work in the galleries drop their
      pellets, push thus into the cluster, and presently be
      apparently sound asleep. This rough treatment is
      invariably received with perfect good humour, as are
      like jostlings when the ants are awake. I have never
      seen the slightest display of anger or attempt to
      resent disturbance even under these circumstances, so
      peculiarly calculated to excite the utmost irritation
      in men. But of course some of the sleepers are
      aroused. They change position a little, or give
      themselves a brief combing, and then resume their nap,
      unless, indeed, they are satisfied. In watching these
      movements it was quite evident that the Florida
      soldiers were far less easily disturbed than their
      smaller fellows. They slept on stolidly while all the
      others were in agitation around them. Moreover, their
      very appearance, particularly when awaking out of
      sleep, indicated the greater sluggishness of their
      temperament in this respect.

The ordinary duration of sleep MacCook takes to be about three hours.

Ants, like many other insects, are in the habit of cleaning themselves,
being, like them, provided by nature with combs and brushes, &c., for
the purpose. But, unlike other insects, several species of ants are also
in the habit of assisting each other in the performance of their toilet.
The author last quoted gives the following account of this process in
the genus _Atta_:--

      We take a couple; the cleanser has begun at the face,
      which is licked thoroughly, even the mandibles being
      cared for, they being held apart for convenient
      manipulation. From the face the cleanser passes to the
      thorax, thence to the haunch, and so along the first
      leg, along the second and third in the same manner,
      around to the abdomen, and thence up the other side of
      the ant to the head. A third ant approaches and joins
      in the friendly task, but soon abandons the field to
      the original cleanser. The attitude of the cleansed
      all this while is one of intense satisfaction, quite
      resembling that of a family dog when one is scratching
      the back of his neck. The insect stretches out her
      limbs, and, as her friend takes them successively into
      hand, yields them limp and supple to her manipulation;
      she rolls gently over upon her side, even quite over
      upon her back, and with all her limbs relaxed presents
      a perfect picture of muscular surrender and ease. The
      pleasure which the creatures take in being thus
      'combed' and 'sponged' is really enjoyable to the
      observer. I have seen an ant kneel down before another
      and thrust forward the head, drooping, quite under the
      face, and lie there motionless, thus expressing, as
      plainly as sign-language could, her desire to be
      cleansed. I at once understood the gesture, and so did
      the supplicated ant, for she at once went to work. If
      analogies in nature-studies were not so apt to be
      misleading, one might venture to suggest that our
      insect friends are thus in possession of a modified
      sort of Emmetonian Turkish bath.

      The acrobatic skill of these ants, which has often
      furnished me amusement, and which I shall yet further
      illustrate, was fully shown one morning in these
      offices of ablution. The formicary was taken from the
      study, where the air had become chilled, and placed in
      an adjoining chamber upon the hearth, before an
      open-grate fire. The genial warmth was soon diffused
      throughout the nest, and aroused its occupants to
      unusual activity. A tuft of grass in the centre of the
      box was presently covered with them. They climbed to
      the very top of the spires, turned round and round,
      hanging by their paws, not unlike gymnasts performing
      upon a turning-bar. They hung or clung in various
      positions, grasping the grass blade with the third and
      fourth pairs of legs, which were spread out at length,
      cleansing their heads with the fore-legs or bending
      underneath to comb and lick the abdomen. Among these
      ants were several pairs, in one case a triplet,
      engaged in the cleansing operation just described. The
      cleanser clung to the grass, having a fore-leg on one
      side and a hind leg on the other side of the stem,
      stretched out at full length, while the cleansed hung
      in a like position below, and reached over and up,
      submitting herself to the pleasant process. As the
      progress of the act required a change of posture on
      the part of both insects, it was made with the utmost

Similarly, Bates thus describes the cleansing process in another genus
of ants (_Ecitons_):--

      Here and there an ant was seen stretching forth first
      one leg and then another, to be brushed and washed by
      one or more of its comrades, who performed the task by
      passing the limb between the jaws and tongue,
      finishing by giving the antennæ a friendly wipe.

_Habits of Play and Leisure._--The life of ants is not all work, or, at
least, is not so in all species; for in some species, at any rate,
periods of recreation are habitually indulged in.

Büchner('Geistesleben der Thiere,' p. 163) gives the following abstract
of Huber's celebrated observations in this connection:--

      It was of the _pratensis_ that Huber wrote the
      observations touching its gymnastic sports which
      became so famous. He saw these ants on a fine day
      assembled on the surface of their nest, and behaving
      in a way that he could only explain as simulating
      festival sports or other games. They raised themselves
      on their hind legs, embraced each other with their
      fore-legs, seized each other by the antennæ, feet, or
      mandibles, and wrestled--but all in friendliest
      fashion. They then let go, ran after each other, and
      played hide-and-seek. When one was victorious, it
      seized all the others in the ring, and tumbled them
      over like ninepins.

      This account of Huber's found its way into many
      popular books, but in spite of its clearness won
      little credence from the reading public. 'I found it
      hard to believe Huber's observation,' writes Forel,
      'in spite of its exactness, until I myself had seen
      the same.' A colony of the _pratensis_ several times
      gave him the opportunity when he approached it
      carefully. The players caught each other by the feet
      or jaws, rolled over each other on the ground like
      boys playing, pulled each other inside the entrances
      of their nest, only to come out again, and so on. All
      this was done without bad temper, or any spurting of
      poison, and it was clear that all the rivalry was
      friendly. The least breath from the side of the
      observer was enough to put an end to the games. 'I
      understand,' continues Forel, 'that the affair must
      seem marvellous to those who have not seen it,
      especially when we remember that sexual attraction can
      here play no part.'

MacCook also gives an account of habits of play as indulged in among
ants of the other Hemisphere:--

      At one formicary half a dozen or more young queens
      were out at the same time. They would climb up a large
      pebble near the gate, face the wind, and assume a
      rampant posture. Several having ascended the stone at
      one time, there ensued a little playful
      passage-at-arms as to position. They nipped each other
      gently with the mandibles, and chased one another from
      favourite spots. They, however, never nipped the
      workers. These latter evidently kept a watch upon the
      sportive princesses, occasionally saluted them with
      their antennæ in the usual way, or touched them at the
      abdomen, but apparently allowed them full liberty of

As to leisure, Bates writes:--

      The life of these Ecitons is not all work, for I
      frequently saw them very leisurely employed in a way
      that looked like recreation. When this happened the
      place was always a sunny nook in the forest. The main
      column of the army and the branch columns, at these
      times, were in their ordinary relative positions; but
      instead of pressing forward eagerly and plundering
      right and left, they seemed to have been all smitten
      with a sudden fit of laziness. Some were walking
      sternly about, others were brushing their antennæ with
      their fore-feet; but the drollest sight was their
      cleaning each other. [Here follows the above-quoted
      passage.] The actions of these ants looked like simple
      indulgence in idle amusement. . . . It is probable
      that these hours of relaxation and cleaning may be
      indispensable to the effective performance of their
      harder burdens; but whilst looking at them, the
      conclusion that the ants were engaged merely in play
      was irresistible.[31]

_Funereal Habits._--In another connection it has already been stated
that Sir John Lubbock found his ants to be very careful in disposing of
the dead bodies of their comrades. This habit seems to be pretty general
among many species of ants, and is no doubt due to sanitary
requirements, thus becoming developed as a beneficial instinct by
natural selection. The funereal habits of the agricultural ant are thus
related by MacCook:[32]--

      There is nothing which is apt to awaken deeper
      interest in the life-history of ants than what may
      properly be called their funereal habits. All species
      whose manners I have closely observed are quite alike
      in their mode of caring for their own dead, and for
      the dry carcasses of aliens. The former they appear to
      treat with some degree of reverence, at least to the
      extent of giving them a sort of sepulture without
      feeding upon them. The latter, after having exhausted
      the juices of the body, they usually deposit together
      in some spot removed from the nest. I did not see any
      of the 'cemeteries' of the agricultural ant upon the
      field, nor, indeed, observe any of their behaviour
      towards the dead, but my artificial nests gave me some
      insight of this. In the first colony had been placed
      eight agriculturals of another nest, which were
      literally cut to pieces. Very soon after the ants were
      comfortably established in their new home, a number of
      them laid hold upon these _disjecta membra_, and began
      carrying them back and forth around the formicarium.
      The next day this continued, and several of their own
      number who had died were being treated in like
      manner. Back and forth, up and down, into every corner
      of the box the bearers wandered, the very embodiment
      of restlessness. For four days this conduct continued
      without any intermission. No sooner would a body or
      fragment thereof be dropped by one bearer than another
      would take it up and begin the restless circuit. The
      difficulty, I easily understood, was that there was no
      point to be found far enough removed from the
      living-rooms of the insects in which to inter these
      dead. Their desire to have their dead buried out of
      their sight was strong enough to keep them on this
      ceaseless round, apparently under the continuous
      influence of the hope that something might turn up to
      give them a more satisfactory burial-ground. It does
      not appear greatly to the credit of their wisdom that
      they were so long discovering that they were limited
      to a space beyond their power to enlarge. When,
      however, this fact was finally recognised they gave
      their habit its utmost bent, and began to deposit the
      carcasses in the extreme corner of the flat, as
      distant as possible from the galleries on the terrace
      above. Here a little hollow was made in the earth,
      quite up against the glass, wherein a number of bodies
      were laid. Portions of bodies were thrust into the
      chinks formed in the dry sod. This flat became the
      permanent charnel-house of the colony, and here, in
      corners, crevices, and holes, for the most part out of
      sight, but not always so, the dead were deposited. But
      the living never seemed quite reconciled to their
      presence. Occasionally, restless resurrectionists
      would disentomb the dead, shift them to another spot,
      or start them once more upon their unquiet wanderings.
      Even after the establishment of this cemetery, the
      creatures did not seem able to lay away their newly
      deceased comrades--for there were occasional deaths in
      the formicary--without first indulging in this
      funereal promenade.

      In the formicaries established in glass jars, both of
      _barbatus_ and _crudelis_, the same behaviour
      appeared. So great was the desire to get the dead
      outside the nest, that the bearers would climb up the
      smooth surface of the glass to the very top of the
      jar, laboriously carrying with them a dead ant. This
      was severe work, which was rarely undertaken except
      under the influence of this funereal enthusiasm. The
      jar was very smooth and quite high. Falls were
      frequent, but patiently the little 'undertaker' would
      follow the impulse of her instinct, and try and try
      again. Finally, as in the large box, the fact of a
      necessity seemed to dawn upon the ants, and a portion
      of the surface opposite from the entrance to the
      galleries, and close up against the glass, was used
      as burial-ground and sort of kitchen-midden, where all
      the refuse of the nest was deposited. Mrs. Treat has
      informed me that her artificial nests of _crudelis_
      behaved in precisely the same way.

      An interesting fact in the funereal habits of _Formica
      sanguinea_ was related to me by this lady. A visit was
      paid to a large colony of these slave-makers, which is
      established on the grounds adjoining her residence at
      Vineland, New Jersey. I noticed that a number of
      carcasses of one of the slave species, _Formica
      fusca_, were deposited together quite near the gates
      of the nest. These were probably chiefly the dry
      bodies of ants brought in from recent raids. It was
      noticed that the dead ants were all of one species,
      and thereupon Mrs. Treat informed me that the red
      slave-makers never deposited their dead with those of
      their black servitors, but always laid them by
      themselves, not in groups, but separately, and were
      careful to take them a considerable distance from the
      nest. One can hardly resist pointing here another
      likeness between the customs of these social
      hymenopters and those of human beings, certain of whom
      carry their distinctions of race, condition, or
      religious caste, even to the gates of the cemetery in
      which the poor body moulders into its mother dust!

It will be observed that none of these accounts furnish evidence of ants
burying their dead, as Pliny asserts to have been the case with ants in
the south of Europe. In the Proceedings of the Linnæan Society, however
(1861), there is a very definite account of such a practice as obtaining
among the ants of Sydney; and although it is from the pen of an observer
not well known, the observation seems to have been one about which there
could scarcely have been a mistake. The observer was Mrs. Hutton, and
this is her account. Having killed a number of 'soldier ants,' and
returning half an hour afterwards to the place where the dead bodies
were lying, she says:

      I saw a large number of ants surrounding the dead
      ones. I determined to watch their proceedings closely.
      I followed four or five that started off from the rest
      towards a hillock a short distance off, in which was
      an ants' nest. This they entered, and in about five
      minutes they reappeared, followed by others. All fell
      into rank, walking regularly and slowly two by two,
      until they arrived at the spot where lay the dead
      bodies of the soldier ante. In a few minutes two of
      the ants advanced and took up the dead body of one of
      their comrades; then two others, and so on, until all
      were ready to march. First walked two ants bearing a
      body, then two without a burden; then two others with
      another dead ant, and so on, until the line was
      extended to about forty pairs, and the procession now
      moved slowly onwards, followed by an irregular body of
      about two hundred ants. Occasionally the two laden
      ants stopped, and laying down the dead ant, it was
      taken up by the two walking unburdened behind them,
      and thus, by occasionally relieving each other, they
      arrived at a sandy spot near the sea. The body of ants
      now commenced digging with their jaws a number of
      holes in the ground, into each of which a dead ant was
      laid, where they now laboured on until they had filled
      up the ants' graves. This did not quite finish the
      remarkable circumstances attending this funeral of the
      ants. Some six or seven of the ants had attempted to
      run off without performing their share of the task of
      digging; these were caught and brought back, when they
      were at once attacked by the body of ants and killed
      upon the spot. A single grave was quickly dug, and
      they were all dropped into it.

The Rev. W. Farren White also, in his papers on ants published in the
'Leisure Hour' (1880), after alluding to the above case, corroborates it
by some interesting observations of his own. He says:--

      Several of the little sextons I observed with dead in
      their mandibles, and one in the act of burying a
      corpse. . . . I should mention that the dead are not
      interred without considerable difficulty, in
      consequence of the sides of the trays being almost
      perpendicular. The work of the sextons continued until
      no dead bodies remained upon the surface of the nest,
      but all were interred in the extramural cemeteries.
      Afterwards I removed the trays, and turned the
      contents of the formicarium upside down, and then I
      placed six trays on the surface of the earth, two of
      which I filled with sugar for food. All six were used
      freely as cemeteries, being crowded with the corpses
      of the little people and their young, the larvæ which
      had perished in the disruption of their home.

      I have noticed in one of my formicaria a subterranean
      cemetery, where I have seen some ants burying their
      dead by placing earth above them. One ant was
      evidently much affected, and tried to exhume the
      bodies, but the united exertions of the yellow sextons
      were more than sufficient to neutralise the effort of
      the disconsolate mourner. The cemetery was now
      converted into a large vault, the chamber where the
      dead were placed, together with the passage which led
      to it, being completely covered in.

_Habits Peculiar to Certain Species._

_Leaf-cutting Ants of the Amazon_ ([OE]codoma cephalotes).--The mode of
working practised by these ants is thus described by Mr. Bates:--

      They mount a tree in multitudes. . . . Each one places
      itself on the surface of a leaf, and cuts with its
      sharp scissor-like jaws a nearly semicircular incision
      on the upper side; it then takes the edge between its
      jaws, and by a sharp jerk detaches the piece.
      Sometimes they let the leaf drop to the ground, where
      a little heap accumulates, until carried off by
      another relay of workers; but generally each marches
      off with the piece it has operated on, and as all take
      the same road to the colony, the path they follow
      becomes in a short time smooth and bare, looking like
      the impression of a cart-wheel through the herbage.

Each ant carries its semicircular piece of leaf upright over its head,
so that the home-returning train is rendered very conspicuous. Nearer
observation shows that this home-returning or ladened train of workers
keeps to one side of the road, while the outgoing or empty-handed train
keeps to the other side; so that on every road there is a double train
of ants going in opposite directions. When the leaves arrive at the nest
they are received by a smaller kind of workers, whose duty it is to cut
up the pieces of leaf into still smaller fragments, whereby the leaves
seem to be better fitted for the purpose to which, as we shall presently
see, they are put. These smaller workers never take any part in the
outdoor labours; but they occasionally leave the nest, apparently for
the sole purpose of obtaining air and exercise, for when they leave the
nest they merely run about doing nothing, and frequently, as if in mere
sport, mount some of the semicircular pieces of leaf which the carrier
ants are taking to the nest, and so get a ride home.

From his continued observation of these ants, Bates concludes--and his
opinion has been corroborated by that both of Belt and Müller--that the
object of all this labour is highly interesting and remarkable. The
leaves when gathered do not themselves appear to be of any service to
the ants as food; but when cut into small fragments and stored away in
the nests, they become suited as a nidus for the growth of a minute kind
of fungus on which the ants feed. We may therefore call these insects
the 'gardening ants,' inasmuch as all their labour is given to the
rearing of nutritious vegetables on artificially prepared soil. They are
not particular as to the material which they collect and store up for
soil, provided that it is a material on which the fungus will grow. Thus
they are very partial to the inside white rind of oranges, and will
carry off the flowers of certain shrubs while leaving the leaves
untouched. But, to quote again from Bates,--

      They are very particular about the ventilation of
      their underground chambers, and have numerous holes
      leading up to the surface from them. These they open
      out or close up, apparently to keep up a regular
      degree of temperature below. The great care they take
      that the pieces of leaves they carry into the nest
      should be neither too dry nor too damp, is also
      consistent with the idea that the object is the growth
      of a fungus that requires particular conditions of
      temperature and moisture to ensure its vigorous
      growth. If a sudden shower should come on, the ants do
      not carry the wet pieces into the burrows, but throw
      them down near the entrances. Should the weather clear
      up again, these pieces are picked up when nearly
      dried, and taken inside: should the rain, however,
      continue, they get sodden down into the ground, and
      are left there. On the contrary, in dry and hot
      weather, when the leaves would get dried up before
      they could be conveyed to the nest, the ants, when in
      exposed situations, do not go out at all during the
      hot hours, but bring in their leafy burdens in the
      cool of the day and during the night. As soon as the
      pieces of leaves are carried in they must be cut up by
      the small class of workers into little pieces. Some of
      the ants make mistakes, and carry in unsuitable
      leaves. Thus grass is always rejected by them, but I
      have seen some ants, perhaps young ones, carrying
      leaves of grass; but after a while these pieces are
      always brought out again and thrown away. I can
      imagine a young ant getting a severe ear-wigging from
      one of the major-domos for its stupidity.

      When a nest is disturbed and the masses of ant-food
      spread about, the ants are in great concern to carry
      every morsel of it under shelter again; and sometimes,
      when I had dug into a nest, I found the next day all
      the earth thrown out filled with little pits, that the
      ants had dug into it to get out the covered-up food.
      When they migrate from one part to another, they also
      carry with them all the ant-food from their old

In Büchner's 'Geistesleben der Thiere' there is published an interesting
description of the habits of these ants, which was communicated to the
author by Dr. Fr. Ellendorf of Wiedenbrück, who has lived many years in
Central America. Dr. Ellendorf says that--

      It would be quite impossible for them to creep even
      through short grass with loads on their heads for
      miles. They therefore bite off the grass close to the
      ground for a breadth of about five inches, and throw
      it on one side. Thus a road is constructed, which is
      finally made quite smooth and even by the continual
      passing to and fro of millions upon millions night and
      day. . . . If the road is looked down upon from a height
      with these millions thickly pressed together, and all
      moving along with their green bannerets over their
      heads, it looks as though a giant green snake were
      gliding slowly along the ground; and this picture is
      all the more striking in that all these bannerets are
      swaying backwards and forwards.[33]

This observer made the experiment of interrupting the advance of a
column of these ants, with the interesting result which he describes:--

      I wished to see how they would manage if I put an
      obstacle in their way. Thick high grass stood on
      either side of their narrow road, so that they could
      not pass through it with the load on their heads. I
      placed a dry branch, nearly a foot in diameter,
      obliquely across their path, and pressed it down so
      tightly on the ground that they could not creep
      underneath. The first comers crawled beneath the
      branch as far as they could, and then tried to climb
      over, but failed owing to the weight on their heads.
      Meanwhile the unloaded ants from the other side came
      on, and when these succeeded in climbing over the
      bough there was such a crush that the unladen ants had
      to clamber over the laden, and the result was a
      terrible muddle. I now walked along the train, and
      found that all the ants with their bannerets on their
      heads were standing still, thickly pressed together,
      awaiting the word of command from the front. When I
      turned back to the obstacle, I saw with astonishment
      that the loads had been laid aside by more than a
      foot's length of the column, one imitating the other.
      And now work began on both sides of the branch, and in
      about half an hour a tunnel was made beneath it. Each
      ant then took up its burden again, and the march was
      resumed in the most perfect order.

A migration of these ants is thus described by the same observer:--

      The road led towards a cocoa plantation, and here I
      soon discovered the building which I afterwards
      visited daily. As I again went thither one day I was
      met, at a considerable distance from the nest, by a
      closely pressed column coming thence, and all the ants
      laden with leaves, beetles, pupæ, butterflies, &c.;
      the nearer I came to the nest, the greater was the
      activity. It was soon plain to me that the ants were
      in the act of leaving their dwelling, and I walked
      along the train to discover the new abode. They had
      gone for some distance along the old road, and had
      then made a new one through the grass to a cooler
      place, lying rather higher. The grass on the new road
      was all bitten off close to the ground, and thousands
      were busy carrying the path on to the new building. At
      the new home itself was an unusual stir of life. There
      were all sorts of labourers--architects, builders,
      carpenters, sappers, helpers. A number were busy
      digging a hole in the ground, and they carried out
      little pellets of earth and laid them together on end
      to make a wall. Others drew along little twigs,
      straws, and grass-stalks, and put them near the place
      of building. I was anxious to know why they had
      quitted their old home, and when the departure was
      complete, I dug it up with a spade. At a depth of
      about a foot and a half I found several tunnels of a
      large marmot species, the terror of cocoa planters,
      because in making their passages they gnaw off the
      thickest roots of the cocoa plants. The interior of
      the ant-hill had apparently fallen in through these
      mines. Unfortunately I was unable to follow further
      the progress of the new building, for I was obliged to
      leave the next day for San Juan del Sur. When I
      returned at the end of a week the building was
      finished, and the whole colony was again busy with the
      leaves of the coffee plants.

_Harvesting Ants_ (Atta).--The ants which, so far as at present known,
practise the peculiar and distinctive habits to be described under this
division belong for the most part to one genus, _Atta_, which, however,
comprises a number of species distributed in localised areas over all
the four quarters of the globe. Hitherto nineteen species have been
detected as having the habits in question. These consist of gathering
nutritious seeds of grasses during summer, and storing them in granaries
for winter consumption. We owe our present knowledge concerning these
insects to Mr. Moggridge,[34] who studied them in the south of Europe,
Dr. Lincecum,[35] and Mr. MacCook,[36] who studied them in Texas, and
Colonel Sykes[37] and Dr. Jerdon,[38] who made some observations upon them
in India. They also occur scattered over a great part of Europe and in
Palestine, where they were clearly known to Solomon and other classical
writers of antiquity,[39] whose claim to accurate observation, although
long disputed (owing to the authority of Huber), has now been amply

Mr. Moggridge, who was a careful and industrious observer, found the
following points of interest in the habits of the European harvesters.
From the nest in various directions there proceed outgoing trains, which
may be from twenty to thirty or more yards in length, and each consists
of a double row of ants, moving, like the leaf-cutting ants, in opposite
directions. Those in the outgoing row are empty-handed, while those in
the incoming row are laden. But here the burdens are grass seeds. The
roads terminate in the foraging ground, or ant-fields, and the insects
composing the columns there become dispersed by hundreds among the
seed-yielding grasses. The following is their method of collecting
seeds; I quote from Moggridge:--

      It is not a little surprising to see that the ants
      bring in not only seeds of large size and fallen
      grain, but also green capsules, the torn stalks of
      which show that they have been freshly gathered from
      the plant. The manner in which they accomplish this
      feat is as follows. An ant ascends the stem of a
      fruiting plant of shepherd's-purse (_Capsella
      bursa-pastoris_), let us say, and selects a
      well-filled but green pod about midway up the stem,
      those below being ready to shed their seeds at a
      touch. Then, seizing it in its jaws, and fixing its
      hind legs firmly as a pivot, it contrives to turn
      round and round, and so strain the fibres of the
      fruit-stalk that at length they snap. It then descends
      to the stem, patiently backing and turning upwards
      again as often as the clumsy and disproportionate
      burden becomes wedged between the thickly set stalks,
      and joins the line of its companions on their way to
      the nest. In this manner capsules of chickweed
      (_Stellaria media_) and entire calyces, containing the
      nutlets of calamint, are gathered; two ants also
      sometimes combine their efforts, when one stations
      itself near the base of the peduncle and gnaws it at
      the point of greatest tension, while the other hauls
      upon and twists it. I have never seen a capsule
      severed from its stalk by cutting alone, and the
      mandibles of this ant are perhaps incompetent to
      perform such a task. I have occasionally seen ants
      engaged in cutting the capsules of certain plants,
      drop them, and allow their companions below to carry
      them away; and this corresponds with the curious
      account given by Ælian of the manner in which the
      spikelets of corn are severed and thrown down 'to the
      people below,' [Greek: tô dêmô tô katô].

The recognition of the principle of the division of labour which the
latter observation supplies, is further proved by the following
quotation from the same author. A dead grasshopper which was being
carried into their nest was--

      Too large to pass through the door, so they tried to
      dismember it. Failing in this, several ants drew the
      wings and legs as far back as possible, while others
      gnawed through the muscles where the strain was
      greatest. They succeeded at last in thus pulling it

The same thing is strikingly shown by the following quotation from

      If the road from the place where they are gathering
      their harvest to the nest is very long, they make
      regular depôts for their provisions under large
      leaves, stones, or other suitable places, and let
      certain workers have the duty of carrying them from
      depôt to depôt.

Büchner (_loc. cit._ p. 101) also makes the following references to the
statements of previous observers:--

      The subterranean workers of this remarkable genus are
      very clever. The Rev. H. Clark reports from Rio de
      Janeiro, that the _Sa-ubas_ have made a regular tunnel
      under the bed of the river Parahyba, which is there as
      broad as the Thames at London, in order to reach a
      storehouse which is on the opposite bank. Bates tells
      us that close to the Magoary rice-mills, near Para,
      the ants bored through the dam of a large reservoir,
      and the water escaped before the mischief could be
      remedied. In the Para Botanical Gardens an
      enterprising French gardener did everything he could
      to drive the _Sa-ubas_ away. He lit fires at the chief
      entrances of their nests, and blew sulphur vapour into
      their galleries by means of bellows. But how
      astonished was Bates when he saw the vapour come out
      at no less a distance than seventy yards! Such an
      extension have the subterranean passages of the

The recognition of the principle of the division of labour, which is
shown by the above observations, is further corroborated by the
following quotation from Belt:--

      Between the old burrows and the new one was a steep
      slope. Instead of descending this with their burdens,
      they cast them down on the top of the slope, whence
      they rolled down to the bottom, where another relay of
      labourers picked them up and carried them to the new
      burrow. It was amusing to watch the ants hurrying out
      with bundles of food, dropping them over the slope,
      and rushing back immediately for more.

The same thing has been observed, as already stated, of the leaf-cutting
ants--those engaged in cutting frequently throwing down the fragments of
leaf which they cut to the carriers below. The prevalence of this habit
among various species of ants therefore renders credible the following
statements of Vincent Gredler of Botzen which are thus recorded in 'der
Zool. Gart.,' xv. p. 434:--

      In Herr Gredler's monastery one of the monks had been
      accustomed for some months to put food regularly on
      his window-sill for ants coming up from the garden.
      In consequence of Herr Gredler's communications he
      took it into his head to put the bait for the ants,
      pounded sugar, into an old inkstand, and hung this up
      by a string to the cross-piece of his window, and left
      it hanging freely. A few ants were in with the bait.
      These soon found their road out over the string with
      their grains of sugar, and so their way back to their
      friends. Before long a procession was arranged on the
      new road from the window-sill along the string to the
      spot where the sugar was, and so things went on for
      two days, nothing fresh occurring. But one day the
      procession stopped at the old feeding-place on the
      window-sill, and took the food thence, without going
      up to the pendent sugar-jar. Closer observation
      revealed that about a dozen of the rogues were in the
      jar above, and were busily and unwearyingly carrying
      the grains of sugar to the edge of the pot, and
      throwing them over to their comrades down below.

Many other instances of the division of labour might be given besides
these, and those to be mentioned hereafter in other connections
throughout the course of the present chapter; but enough has been said
to show that the principle is unquestionably acted upon by sundry
species of ants.

That ants are liable to make mistakes, and, when they do, that they
profit by experience, is shown by the following experiment made by
Moggridge; and many other instances might be given were it desirable:--

      It sometimes happens that an ant has manifestly made a
      bad selection, and is told on its return that what it
      has brought home with much pains is no better than
      rubbish, and is hustled out of the nest, and forced to
      throw its burden away. In order to try whether these
      creatures were not fallible like other mortals, I one
      day took out with me a little packet of grey and white
      porcelain beads, and scattered these in the path of a
      harvesting train. They had scarcely lain a minute on
      the earth before one of the largest workers seized
      upon a bead, and with some difficulty clipped it with
      its mandibles and trotted back at a great pace to the
      nest. I waited for a little while, my attention being
      divided between the other ants who were vainly
      endeavouring to remove the beads, and the entrance
      down which the worker had disappeared, and then left
      the spot. On my return in an hour's time, I found the
      ants passing unconcernedly by and over the beads which
      lay where I had strewed them in apparently
      undiminished quantities; and I conclude from this that
      they had found out their mistake, and had wisely
      returned to their accustomed occupations.

When the grain is thus taken into the nest, it is stored in regular
granaries, but not until it has been denuded of its 'husks' or 'chaff.'
The denuding process is carried on below ground, and the chaff is
brought up to the surface, where it is laid in heaps to be blown away by
the wind.

It is a remarkable thing, and one not yet understood, why the seed, when
thus stored in subterranean chambers just far enough below the surface
to favour germination, does not germinate. Moggridge says that out of
twenty-one nests and among many thousands of seeds that he examined, he
only found twenty-seven cases of incipient germination. Moreover, all
these cases occurred in months from November to February, while in the
nests opened in October, March, April, and May, no sprouted seeds were
discovered, though these are the months highly favourable to
germination. He is at a loss to suggest the treatment to which the ants
expose the seeds in order to prevent their sprouting. 'Apparently it is
not that moisture or warmth or the influence of atmospheric air is
denied to the seeds, for we find them in damp soil in genial weather,
and often at but a trifling distance below the surface of the ground;'
and he has proved that the vitality of the seeds is not impaired, for he
succeeded in raising crops of young plants from seeds removed from the

He also says,--

      By a fortunate chance I have been able to prove that
      the seeds will germinate in an undisturbed granary
      when the ants are prevented from obtaining access to
      it: and this goes to show not only that the structure
      and nature of the granary chamber is not sufficient of
      itself to prevent germination, but also that the
      presence of the ants is essential to secure the
      dormant condition of the seeds.

      I discovered in two places portions of distinct nests
      of _Atta structor_ which had been isolated owing to
      the destruction of the hollow wall behind which they
      lay, and then the granaries well filled up and
      literally choked with growing seeds, though the earth
      in which they lay completely enclosed and concealed
      them until by chance I laid them bare. In one case I
      knew that the destruction of the wall had only taken
      place ten days before, so that the seeds had sprouted
      in the interval.

      My experiments also tend to confirm this, and to
      favour the belief that the non-germination of the
      seeds is due to some direct influence voluntarily
      exercised by the ants, and not merely to the
      conditions found in the nest, or to acid vapours which
      in certain cases are given off by the ants themselves.

These experiments consisted in confining a large number of harvesting
ants with their queen and larvæ in a glass test-tube partly filled with
damp soil and various seeds, the whole being closed with a cork in the
mouth of the test-tube. Under these circumstances the seeds all
sprouted, showing that mere confinement in an atmosphere of exhalations
from the ants did not prevent germination. Another series of
experiments, undertaken at the suggestion of Mr. Darwin, on the effects
of an atmosphere of formic acid, showed that although this vapour was
very injurious to the seeds, it did not prevent their incipient
germination. Therefore it yet remains to be ascertained why the seeds do
not germinate in the granaries of the ants.

But in whatever way the ants manage to prevent germination, it is
certain that they are aware of the importance in this connection of
keeping the seeds as dry as possible; for Moggridge repeatedly observed
that when the seeds which had been stored proved over-moist, the ants
again took them out and spread them in the sun to dry, to be again
brought into the nest after a sufficient exposure.

Lastly, he also repeatedly observed the most surprising and interesting
fact that when, as we have seen was occasionally the case, the seeds did
begin to germinate in the nests, the ants knew the most effective method
of preventing the germination from proceeding; for he found that in
these cases the ants gnawed off the tips of the radicles. This fact
deserves to be considered as one of the most remarkable among the many
remarkable facts of ant-psychology.

Passing on now to the harvesting or agricultural ants of Texas,
attention was first called to the habits of this insect by Mr. Buckley
in 1860,[40] and by Dr. Lincecum, who sent an account of his observations
to Mr. Darwin, by whom they were communicated to the Linnæan Society in
1861. Five years later a paper was published in the Proceedings of the
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia from the MS. of Dr.
Lincecum. Lastly, in 1877 Mr. MacCook went to Texas expressly to study
the habits of these insects, and he has recently embodied the results of
his observations in a book of three hundred pages.[41] These observations
are for the most part confirmatory of those of Lincecum, and for this as
well as for reasons to be deduced from the work itself, they deserve to
be accepted as trustworthy, notwithstanding that in some cases they are
provokingly incomplete. The following is an epitome of these

The ants clear away all the herbage above their nest in the form of a
perfect circle, or 'disk,' 15 or 20 feet in diameter, by carefully
felling every stalk of grass or weed that may be growing thereon. As the
nests are placed in thickly grown localities, the effect of these bald
or shaven disks is highly conspicuous and peculiar, exactly resembling
in miniature the clearings which the settlers make in the American
backwoods. The disk, however, is not merely cleared of herbage, but also
carefully levelled, all inequalities of the surface being reduced by
building pellets of soil into the hollows to an extent sufficient to
make a uniformly flat surface. The action of rain and the constant
motion of multitudes of ants cause this flat surface to become hard and
smooth. In the centre of the disk is the gateway of the nest. This may
be either a simple hole or a hollow cone.

From the disk in various directions there radiate ant-roads or avenues,
which are cleared and smoothed like the disk itself, and which course
through the thick surrounding grass, branching and narrowing as they go
till they eventually taper away. These roads are usually three or four
in number before they begin to branch, but may be as many as seven.
They are usually two to three inches wide at their origin, but in large
nests may be as much as five. MacCook found no road longer than sixty
feet, but Lincecum describes one of three hundred feet. Along these hard
and level roads there is always passing, during the daytime of the
harvesting season, a constant stream of ants--those going from the nest
being empty-handed, and those returning to it being laden with seeds. Of
course the incoming ants, converging from all quarters upon the road,
and therefore increasing in numbers as they approach the nest, require
greater space for free locomotion; while the outgoing ants, diverging as
they get further from home, also require greater proportional space the
less their distance from the nest: hence the gradual swelling in the
width of the roads as they approach the nests.

The manner of collecting the seeds in the jungle surrounding the roads
is thus described by MacCook:--

      At last a satisfactory seed is found. It is simply
      lifted from the ground, or, as often happens, has to
      be pulled out of the soil into which it has been
      tightly pressed by the rain or by passing feet. Now
      follows a movement which at first I thought to be a
      testing of the seed, and which, indeed, may be
      partially that; but finally I concluded that it was
      the adjusting of the burden for safe and convenient
      carriage. The ant pulls at the seed-husk with its
      mandibles, turning and pinching or 'feeling' it on all
      sides. If this does not satisfy, and commonly it does
      not, the body is raised by stiffening out the legs,
      the abdomen is curved underneath, and the apex applied
      to the seed. I suppose this to be simply a mechanical
      action for the better adjusting of the load. Now the
      worker starts homeward. It has not lost itself in the
      mazes of the grass forest. It turns directly towards
      the road with an unerring judgment. There are many
      obstacles to overcome. Pebbles, pellets of earth, bits
      of wood, obtruding rootlets, or bent-down spears of
      grass block up or hinder the way. These were scarcely
      noticed when the ant was empty-handed. But they are
      troublesome barriers now that she is burdened with a
      seed quite as thick, twice as wide, and half as long
      as herself. It is most interesting to see the skill,
      strength, and rapidity with which the little harvester
      swings her treasure over or around, or pushes it
      beneath these obstacles. Now the seed has caught
      against the herbage as the porter dodges under a too
      narrow opening. She backs out and tries another
      passage. Now the sharp points of the husk are
      entangled in the grass. She jerks or pulls the burden
      loose, and hurries on. The road is reached, and
      progress is comparatively easy. Holding the grain in
      her mandibles well above the surface, she breaks into
      what I may describe with sufficient accuracy as 'a
      trot,' and with little further interruption reaches
      the disk and disappears within the gate. There are
      variations from this behaviour, more or less marked,
      according to the nature of the grounds, the seeds, and
      (I suppose) the individuality of the harvesters; but
      the mode of ingathering the crop is substantially as
      above. Each ant operated independently. Once only did
      I see anything like an effort to extend sympathy and
      aid. A worker minor seeming to have difficulty in
      testing or adjusting a large seed of buffalo-grass,
      was assisted (apparently) by one worker major, and
      then by another, after which she went on her way.

But these ants do not confine their harvesting operations to gathering
fallen seeds; they will, like the ants of Europe, also cut seeds from
the stalk.

      In order to test the disposition of _crudelis_ to
      garner the seeds from the stem, bunches of millet were
      obtained from the North, and stalks eighteen inches
      high, crowned by the boll of close-set seeds, were
      stuck in the mound of an active formicary. The ants
      mounted the stems and set to work vigorously to secure
      the seeds, clusters of twenty or more being engaged at
      once upon one head. The seeds were carried off and
      stored within the nest. This experiment proved pretty
      conclusively that in the seeding season _crudelis_
      does not wait for the seeds to drop, but harvests them
      from the plant.

The 'granaries' into which the seeds are brought are kept distinct from
the 'nurseries' for the pupæ. Their walls, floor, and roof are so hard
and smooth, that MacCook thinks the insects must practise upon them
'some rude mason's craft.'

He traced these granaries to a depth of four feet below the surface of
the ground, and believes, from the statements of a native peasant, that
they, or at least the formicaries, extend to a depth of fifteen feet.

As regards the care that the ants take of the gathered grain, Lincecum
describes the same habit as Moggridge and Sykes describe--viz., the
sunning of wet seeds to dry. MacCook, however, neglected to make any
experiments on this subject. Neither has he been able to throw any light
upon the question as to why the stored seeds do not germinate, and is
doubtful whether the habit of gnawing the radicle of sprouting seeds,
which prevails in the European species, is likewise practised by the
American. On two other points of importance MacCook's observations are
also incomplete. One of these has reference to an alleged statement,
which he is disposed to believe, that when some ants in a community have
been killed by poison, the survivors avoid the poison: he, however, made
no experiments to test this statement.

The other main point on which his observations are defective has
reference to a remarkable statement made by Lincecum in the most
emphatic terms. This statement is that upon the surface of their disk
the ants sow the seeds of a certain plant, called ant-rice, for the
purpose of subsequently reaping a harvest of the grain. There is no
doubt that the ant-disks do very often support this peculiar kind of
grass, and that the ants are particularly fond of its seed; but whether
the plant is actually sown in these situations by the insects, or grows
there on account of these situations being more open than the general
surface of the ground--this question MacCook has failed to answer, or
even to further. We are, therefore, still left with Dr. Lincecum's
emphatic assurance that he has witnessed the fact. His account is that
the seed of the ant-rice, which is a biennial plant, is sown in time for
the autumnal rains to bring up. At the beginning of November a green row
or ring of ant-rice, about four inches wide, is seen springing up round
the circumference of the disk. In the vicinity of this circular ring the
ants do not permit a single spire of any other grass or weed to remain a
day, but leave the aristida, or ant-rice, untouched until it ripens,
which occurs in June of the next year. After the maturing and harvesting
of the seed, the dry stubble is cut away and removed from the pavement
or disk, which is thus left unencumbered until the ensuing autumn, when
the same species of grass again appears as before, and so on. Lincecum
says he has seen the process go on year after year on the same
ant-farms, and adds,--

      There can be no doubt of the fact that the particular
      species of grain-bearing grass mentioned above is
      intentionally planted. In farmer-like manner the
      ground upon which it stands is carefully divested of
      all other grasses and weeds during the time it is
      growing. When it is ripe the grain is taken care of,
      the dry stubble cut away and carried off, the paved
      area being left unencumbered until the ensuing autumn,
      when the same 'ant-rice' reappears within the same
      circle, and receives the same agricultural attention
      as was bestowed upon the previous crop--and so on year
      after year, as I _know_ to be the case, in all
      situations when the ant's settlements are protected
      from graminivorous animals.

In a second letter Dr. Lincecum, in reply to an inquiry from Mr. Darwin
whether he supposed that the ants plant seeds for the ensuing crop,

      I have not the slightest doubt of it. And my
      conclusions have not been arrived at from hasty or
      careless observation, nor from seeing the ants do
      something that looked a little like it, and then
      guessing at the results. I have at all seasons watched
      the same ant-cities during the last twelve years, and
      I know that what I stated in my former letter is true.
      I visited the same cities yesterday, and found the
      crop of ant-rice growing finely, and exhibiting also
      the signs of high cultivation, and not a blade of any
      other kind of grass or weed was to be seen within
      twelve inches of the circular row of
      ant-rice.--(_Journ. Linn. Soc._, vol. vi. p. 30-1.)

Now, MacCook found the ant-rice growing as described, but only on some
nests. Why it does not grow upon all the nests he does not understand.
So far, then, as his observations go, they confirm those of Dr.
Lincecum; but he does 'not believe that the ants deliberately sow a crop
as Lincecum asserts;' he thinks 'that they have for some reason found it
to their advantage to permit the aristida to grow upon their disks,
while they clear off all other herbage;' but finally concludes 'that
there is nothing unreasonable, nor beyond the probable capacity of the
emmet intellect, in the supposition that the crop is actually sown.
Simply, it is the Scotch verdict--"Not proven."'

The following facts with regard to 'modes of mining' are worth quoting
from MacCook:--

      In sinking the galleries the difficulty of carrying is
      not great in a moist or tough soil, which permits the
      ant to obtain goodly-sized pellets for portage. But
      when the soil is light and dry, so that it crumbles
      into dust as it is bitten off, the difficulty is
      greatly increased. It would be a very tedious task
      indeed to take out the diggings grain by grain. This
      difficulty the worker overcomes by balling the small
      particles against the surface of the gallery, the
      under side of the head, or within and against the
      mandibles. The fore-feet are used for this purpose,
      being pressed against the side face, turned under, and
      pushed upward with a motion similar to that of a man
      putting his hand upon his mouth. The abdomen is then
      swung underneath the body and the apex pressed against
      the little heap of grains of dirt massed against the
      under side of the mandibles, or between that and the
      smooth under surface of the head. Thus the dust is
      compressed into a ball which is of sufficient size to
      justify deportation.

      The same operation is observed in the side-galleries,
      where the ants work very frequently upon their sides
      or backs, precisely as I have seen colliers do in
      Pennsylvania coal-mines.

The following is likewise worth quoting from the same author:--

      Seeds are evidently not the only food of our
      agriculturals. When the ants at disk No. 2 had broken
      through the slight mud-sediment that sealed up their
      gate, as described above, they exhibited a peculiar
      behaviour. Instead of heading for the roads and
      pressing along them, they distributed themselves at
      once over the entire disk, radiating from the gate to
      all points in the circumference, from which they
      penetrated the jungle of grass beyond. In a moment a
      large number were returning across the roads, out of
      the grass, over the pavement toward the entrance. They
      bore in their mandibles objects which I presently
      found to be the males and females of white ants
      (_Termes flavipes_), which were filling the air,
      during and after the rain, in marriage flight. They
      had probably swarmed just before the shower. The
      agriculturals were under great excitement, and hurried
      forth and back at the top of their speed. The number
      of ants bearing termites was soon so great that the
      vestibule became choked, and a mass of struggling
      anthood was piled up around the gate. A stream of
      eager insects continually poured out of the door,
      pushing their way through the crowd that vainly but
      persistently endeavoured to get in with their burdens.
      The outcoming ants had the advantage, and succeeded in
      jostling through the quivering rosette of antennæ,
      legs, heads, and abdomens. Occasionally a worker
      gained an entrance by dint of sheer physical force and
      perseverance. Again and again would the crowd rush
      from all sides upon the gate, only to be pushed back
      by the issuing throng. In the meanwhile quite a heap
      of termites, a good handful at least, had been
      accumulated at one side of the gate, the ants having
      evidently dropped them, in despair of entrance, and
      hurried off to garner more.

      In due time the pressure upon the vestibule
      diminished, the laden workers entered more freely, and
      in the end this heap was transferred to the interior.
      The rapidity with which the ants were distributed to
      all parts of their roads, after the first opening of
      the gates, was truly surprising. I was greatly
      puzzled, at the first, to know what the cause of such
      a rush might be. The whole behaviour was such as to
      carry the conviction that they knew accurately what
      effect the rain would have, had calculated upon it,
      and were acting in accordance with previous
      experience. I had no doubt at the time, and have none
      now, that the capturing of insects beaten down by the
      rain is one of the well-established customs of these
      ants. I saw a few other insects taken in, and one
      milliped, but chiefly the white ants.

      That very afternoon I found in a formicary which I
      then opened several large colonies, or parts of one
      colony of termites, nested within the limits of the
      disk and quite at home. The next day numbers of the
      winged white ants were found stored within the
      granaries of a large formicary. There is no reason to
      doubt that these insects were intended for food, in
      accordance with the quite universal habit of the

A curious habit has been noticed by most observers to occur in many
species of ant, and it is one on which Mr. MacCook has a good deal to
say. The habit in question consists in the ants transporting one another
from place to place. The carrying ant seizes her comrade by the middle,
and hurries along with it held aloft--the ant which is carried remaining
quite motionless with all her legs drawn together. Huber supposed the
process to be one enjoyable to both the insects concerned, and to be
performed by mutual understanding and consent; but MacCook, in common
with most other observers, supposes that it is merely a rough and
primitive way of communicating to fellow-workers the locality where
their services are required. He says:--

      Keeping these facts in mind, we have a key to the
      solution of the press-gang operations which Lincecum
      observed among the agriculturals, and which have been
      fully described in other species. In the absence of
      any common head or directory, and of all executive
      officers, a change of location or any other concerted
      movement must be carried forward by the willing
      co-operation of individuals. At first sight, the act
      of seizing and carrying off workers does not appear
      like an appeal to free-will. It is indeed coercive, so
      far as the first act goes. But, in point of fact, the
      coercion ceases the moment the captive is set down
      within the precincts of the new movement. The
      carrier-ant has depended upon securing her consent and
      co-operation by thus bringing her within the circle of
      activity for which her service is sought. As a rule,
      no doubt, the deported ant at once yields to the
      influence around her, and drops into the current of
      fresh enterprise, in which she moves with as entire
      freedom and as independently as any other worker. But
      she is apparently under no restraint, and if she so
      please, may return to her former haunts.

_Certain Ants of Africa._--Livingstone says of certain ants of Africa:--

      They have established themselves on the plain where
      water stands so long annually as to allow the lotus
      and other aqueous plants to come to maturity. When all
      the ant-horizon is submerged a foot deep, they manage
      to exist by ascending to little houses built of black
      tenaceous loam on stalks of grass, and placed higher
      than the line of inundation. This must have been the
      result of experience, for, if they had waited till the
      water actually invaded their terrestrial habitations,
      they would not have been able to procure materials for
      their aërial quarters, unless they dived down to the
      bottom for every mouthful of clay.[42]

_The Tree Ant of India and New South Wales._--These ants are remarkable
from their habit of forming nests only in trees. According to Col.
Sykes' account, the shape of the nest is more or less globular, and
about ten inches in diameter. It is formed entirely of cow-dung, which
the insects collect from the ground beneath, and work into the form of
thin scales. These are then built together in an imbricated manner, like
tiles or slates upon the roof of a house, the upper or outer scale,
however, being one unbroken sheet, which covers the whole nest like a
skull-cap. Below this the scales are placed one upon another in a wavy
or scalloped manner, so that numerous little arched entrances are left,
and yet, owing to the imbricated manner in which the scales are
arranged, the interior of the nest is perfectly protected from rain.
This interior consists of a number of irregular cells, the walls of
which are formed by the same process as the exterior.

In New South Wales there is another species of ant which also frequents
trees, but builds within the stem and branches. In the report of Captain
Cook's expedition its habits are thus described:--'Their habitations are
the insides of the branches of a tree, which they contrive to excavate,
by working out the pith almost to the extremity of the slenderest twig;
the tree at the same time flourishing as if it had no such inmate.' On
breaking one of the branches the ants swarm out in legions. Some of our
native species also have the habit of excavating the interior of trees,
though not on so extensive a scale.

_Honey-making Ant_ (Myrmecocystus mexicanus).--This ant is found in
Texas and New Mexico. Capt. W. B. Fleeson has observed its habits, and
his observations have been communicated to the Californian Academy of
Sciences, and also, by Mr. Henry Edwards, to Mr. Darwin. The following
are the chief points of interest in Capt. Fleeson's results:--

      The community appears to consist of three distinct
      kinds of ants, probably of two separate genera, whose
      offices in the general order of the nest would seem to
      be entirely apart from each other, and who perform the
      labour allotted to them without the least encroachment
      upon the duties of their fellows. These three kinds

      I. Yellow workers; nurses and feeders of II.

      II. Yellow honey-makers; sole function to secrete a
      kind of honey in their large globose abdomens, on
      which the other ants are supposed to feed. They never
      quit the nest, and are fed and tended by I.

      III. Black workers, guards, and purveyors; surround
      the nest as guards or sentinels, in a manner presently
      to be described, and also forage for the food required
      for I. They are much larger and stronger insects than
      either I. or II., and are provided with very
      formidable mandibles.

The nest is placed in sandy soil in the neighbourhood of shrubs and
flowers, is a perfect square, and occupies about four or five square
feet of ground, the surface of which is kept almost unbroken. But the
boundaries of the nest are rendered conspicuous by the guard of black
workers (III.), which continuously parade round three of its sides in a
close double line of defence, moving in opposite directions. In the
accompanying diagram this sentry path is represented by the thick black
lines. These always face the same points of the compass, and the
direction in which the sentries march is one column from south-west to
south-east, and the other column from south-east to south-west--each
column, however, moving in regular order round three sides of a square.
The southern side of the encampment is left unguarded; but if any enemy
approaches on this or any other side, a number of the guards leave their
stations, and sally forth to face the foe--raising themselves on their
hind tarsi on meeting the enemy, and moving their large mandibles in
defiance. Spiders, wasps, beetles, and other insects, if they venture
too near the nest, are torn to pieces by the guard in a most merciless
manner, and the dead body of the vanquished is speedily removed from the
neighbourhood of the nest--the guard then marching back to resume their
places in the line of defence, their object in destroying other insects
being the defence of their encampment, and not the obtaining of food.

The object of leaving the southern side of the square encampment open is
as follows. While some of the black workers are engaged on duty as
guard, another and larger division are engaged on duty as purveyors.
These enter and leave the quadrangle by its open or southern side along
the dotted line marked _a_ to the central point _c_. The incoming line
is composed of individuals each bearing a burden of fragments of
flowers or aromatic leaves. These are all deposited in the centre of the
quadrangle _c_. Along the other diagonal _e_ there is a no less
incessantly moving double line of yellow workers (I.), whose office it
is to convey the supplies deposited by the black workers at _c_ to _b_,
which is the gateway of the fortress. It is remarkable that no black ant
is ever seen upon the line _e_, and no yellow one upon the line _a_;
each keeps his own separate station, and follows his own particular duty
with a steadfastness and apparent adherence to discipline that are most
astonishing. The hole at _d_ seems to be a ventilating shaft; it is
never used as a gateway.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.]

Section of the nest reveals, besides galleries, a small chamber about
three feet below the surface, across which is spread, like a spider's
web, a network of squares spun by the insects, the squares being about
1/4 inch across, and the ends of the whole net being fastened to the
earthen walls of the chamber. In each one of the squares, supported by
the web, sits one of the honey-making ants (II.). Here these honey
makers live in perpetual confinement, and receive a constant supply of
flowers, pollen, &c., which is continually being brought them by (I.),
and which, by a process analogous to that performed by the bee, they
convert into honey.

Such is an epitome of the only account that the world has yet received
of the habits and economy of this wonderful insect, whose instincts of
military organization seem to be not less wonderful than those of the
Ecitons, though in this case they are developed with reference to
defence, and not to aggression. It is especially noteworthy that the
black and yellow workers are believed to belong to 'two separate
genera;' for if this is the case, it is the only one I can recall of two
distinct species co-operating for a common end; for even the nearest
parallel which we find supplied in other species of ants maintaining
aphides, is not quite the same thing, seeing that the aphides are merely
passive agents, like Class II., of the honey-making ant, and not
actively co-operating members of the community, like Class I.

_Ecitons._--We have next to consider the habits of the wonderful
'foraging,' or, as it might be more appropriately called, the military
ant of the Amazon. These insects, which belong to several species of the
same genus, have been carefully watched by Belt, Bates, and other
naturalists. The following facts must therefore be accepted as fully

_Eciton legionis_ moves in enormous armies, and everything that these
insects do is done with the most perfect instinct of military
organization. The army marches in the form of a rather broad and regular
column, hundreds of yards in length. The object of the march is the
capture and plunder of other insects, &c., for food, and as the
well-organised host advances, its devastating legions set all other
terrestrial life at defiance. From the main column there are sent out
smaller lateral columns, the composing individuals of which play the
part of scouts, branching off in various directions, and searching
about with the utmost activity for insects, grubs, &c., over every log,
under every fallen leaf, and in every nook and cranny where there is any
chance of finding prey. When their errand is completed, they return into
the main column. If the prey found is sufficiently small for the scouts
themselves to manage, it is immediately seized, and carried back to the
main column; but if the amount is too large for the scouts to deal with
alone, messengers are sent back to the main column, whence there is
immediately dispatched a detachment large enough to cope with the
requirements. Insects which when killed are too large for single ants to
carry, are torn in pieces, and the pieces conveyed back to the main army
by different individuals. Many insects in trying to escape run up bushes
and shrubs, where they are pursued from branch to branch and twig to
twig by their remorseless enemies, until on arriving at some terminal
ramification they must either submit to immediate capture by their
pursuers, or drop down amid the murderous hosts beneath. As already
stated, all the spoils that are taken by the scouts or by the
detachments sent out in answer to their demands for assistance, are
immediately taken back to the main column. When they arrive there, they
are taken to the rear of that column by two smaller columns of carriers,
which are constantly running, one on either side of the main column,
with the supplies that are constantly pouring in from both sides. Each
of these outside columns is a double line, the ants composing one of the
two lines all running in the same direction as the main army, and the
ants composing the other line all running in the opposite direction. The
former are empty-handed carriers, which having deposited their burdens
in the rear, are again advancing to the van for fresh burdens. Those
composing the other line are all laden with the mangled remains of
insects, pupæ of other ants, &c. On either side of the main column there
are also constantly running up and down a few individuals of smaller
size and lighter colour than the other ants, which seem to play the part
of officers; for they never leave their stations, and while running up
and down the outsides of the column, they every now and again stop to
touch antennæ with some member of the rank and file, as if to give
instructions. When the scouts discover a wasp's nest in a tree, a strong
force is sent out from the main army, the nest is pulled to pieces, and
all the larvæ carried to the rear of the army, while the wasps fly
around defenceless against the invading multitude. Or, if the nest of
any other species of ant is found, a similarly strong force, or perhaps
the whole army is deflected towards it, and with the utmost energy the
innumerable insects set to work to sink shafts and dig mines till the
whole nest is rifled of its contents. In these mining operations the
ants work with an extraordinary display of organized co-operation; for
those low down in the shafts do not lose time by carrying up the earth
which they excavate, but pass on the pellets to those above; and the
ants on the surface, when they receive the pellets, carry them, 'with an
appearance of forethought that quite staggered' Mr. Bates, only just far
enough to ensure that they shall not roll back again into the shaft,
and, after depositing them, immediately hurry back for more. But there
is not a rigid division of labour, although the work 'seems to be
performed by intelligent co-operation amongst a host of eager little
creatures;' for some of them act 'sometimes as carriers of pellets, and
at another as miners, and all shortly afterwards assume the office of
conveyors of the spoil.' Again, as showing the instincts of
co-operation, the following may also be quoted from Bates's account:--

      On the following morning no trace of ants could be
      found near the place where I had seen them the
      preceding day, nor were there signs of insects of any
      description in the thicket; but at the distance of
      eighty or one hundred yards, I came upon the same
      army, engaged evidently on a razzia of a similar kind
      to that of the previous evening; but requiring other
      resources of their instinct, owing to the nature of
      the ground. They were eagerly occupied on the face of
      an inclined bank of light earth in excavating mines,
      whence, from a depth of eight or ten inches, they were
      extracting the bodies of a bulky species of ant of the
      genus Formica. It was curious to see them crowding
      round the orifices of the mines, some assisting their
      comrades to lift out the bodies of the Formicæ, and
      others tearing them in pieces, on account of their
      weight being too great for a single Eciton; a number
      of carriers seizing each a fragment, and carrying it
      off down the slope.

These Ecitons have no fixed nest themselves, but live, as it were, on a
perpetual campaign. At night, however, they call a halt and pitch a
camp. For this purpose they usually select a piece of broken ground, in
the interstices of which they temporarily store their plunder. In the
morning the army is again on the march, and before an hour or two has
passed not a single ant is to be seen where the countless multitudes had
previously covered the ground.

Another and larger species of Eciton (_E. humata_) hunts sometimes in
dense armies, and sometimes in columns, according to the kind of prey of
which they are in search. When in columns they are seeking for the nests
of a certain species of ant which have their young in holes of rotten
logs. These Ecitons when seeking for these nests hunt about, like those
just described, in columns, which branch off in various directions. When
a fallen log is reached, the column spreads over it, searching through
all the holes and cracks. Mr. Belt says of them:--

      The workers are of various sizes, and the smallest are
      here of use, for they squeeze themselves into the
      narrowest holes, and search out their prey in the
      furthest ramifications of the nests. When a nest of
      the _Hypoclinea_ is attacked, the ants rush out,
      carrying the larvæ and pupæ in their jaws, but are
      immediately despoiled of them by the Ecitons, which
      are running about in every direction with great
      swiftness. Whenever they come across a _Hypoclinea_
      carrying a larva or pupa, they take it from it so
      quickly, that I could never ascertain exactly how it
      was done.

      As soon as an Eciton gets hold of its prey, it rushes
      off back along the advancing column, which is composed
      of two sets, one hurrying forward, the other returning
      laden with their booty, but all and always in the
      greatest haste and apparent hurry. About the nest
      which they are harrying, all appears in confusion,
      Ecitons running here and there and everywhere in the
      greatest haste and disorder; but the result of all
      this apparent confusion is that scarcely a single
      _Hypoclinea_ gets away with a pupa or larva. I never
      saw the Ecitons injure the Hypoclineas themselves,
      they were always contented with despoiling them of
      their young.

The columns of this species 'are composed almost entirely of workers of
different sizes;' but, as in the species previously mentioned, 'at
intervals of two or three yards there are larger and lighter coloured
individuals that often stop, and sometimes run a little backward,
stopping and touching some of the ants with their antennæ,' and looking
'like officers giving orders and directing the march of the column.'

Concerning the other habits of this species, the same author writes:--

      The eyes in the Ecitons are very small, in some of the
      species imperfect, and in others entirely absent; in
      this they differ greatly from the _Pseudomyrma_ ants,
      which hunt singly and which have the eyes greatly
      developed. The imperfection of eyesight in the Ecitons
      is an advantage to the community, and to their
      particular mode of hunting. It keeps them together,
      and prevents individual ants from starting off alone
      after objects that, if their eyesight was better, they
      might discover at a distance; the Ecitons and most
      other ants follow each other by scent, and, I believe,
      they can communicate the presence of danger, of booty,
      or other intelligence, to a distance by the different
      intensity or qualities of the odours given off. I one
      day saw a column of _Eciton hamata_ running along the
      foot of a nearly perpendicular tramway cutting, the
      side of which was about six feet high. At one point I
      noticed a sort of assembly of about a dozen
      individuals that appeared in consultation. Suddenly
      one ant left the conclave, and ran with great speed up
      the perpendicular face of the cutting without
      stopping. It was followed by others, which, however,
      did not keep straight on like the first, but ran a
      short way, then returned, then again followed a little
      further than the first time. They were evidently
      scenting the trail of the pioneer, and making it
      permanently recognisable. These ants followed the
      exact line taken by the first one, although it was far
      out of sight. Wherever it had made a slight _détour_
      they did so likewise. I scraped with my knife a small
      portion of the clay on the trail, and the ants were
      completely at fault for a time which way to go. Those
      ascending and those descending stopped at the scraped
      portion, and made short circuits until they hit the
      scented trail again, when all their hesitation
      vanished, and they ran up and down it with the
      greatest confidence. On gaining the top of the
      cutting, the ants entered some brushwood suitable for
      hunting. In a very short space of time the information
      was communicated to the ants below, and a dense column
      rushed up to search for their prey. The Ecitons are
      singular amongst the ants in this respect, that they
      have no fixed habitations, but move on from one place
      to another, as they exhaust the hunting grounds around
      them. I think _Eciton hamata_ does not stay more than
      four or five days in one place. I have sometimes come
      across the migratory columns; they may easily be
      known. Here and there one of the light-coloured
      officers moves backwards and forwards directing the
      columns. Such a column is of enormous length, and
      contains many thousands if not millions of
      individuals. I have sometimes followed them up for two
      or three hundred yards without getting to the end.

      They make their temporary habitations in hollow trees,
      and sometimes underneath large fallen trunks that
      offer suitable hollows. A nest that I came across in
      the latter situation was open at one side. The ants
      were clustered together in a dense mass, like a great
      swarm of bees, hanging from the roof but reaching to
      the ground below. Their innumerable long legs looked
      like brown threads binding together the mass, which
      must have been at least a cubic yard in bulk, and
      contained hundreds of thousands of individuals,
      although many columns were outside, some bringing in
      the pupæ of ants, others the legs and dissected bodies
      of various insects. I was surprised to see in this
      living nest tubular passages leading down to the
      centre of the mass, kept open just as if it had been
      formed of inorganic materials. Down these holes the
      ants who were bringing in booty passed with their
      prey. I thrust a long stick down to the centre of the
      cluster, and brought out clinging to it many ants
      holding larvæ and pupæ, which probably were kept warm
      by the crowding together of the ants. Besides the
      common dark-coloured workers and light-coloured
      officers, I saw here many still larger individuals
      with enormous jaws. These they go about holding wide
      open in a threatening manner.

It was this ant which, as previously stated, showed sympathy and
fellow-feeling with companions in difficulties.

The habits of _E. drepanophora_ are closely similar to those of the
species already described; and, indeed, except in matters of detail,
all the species of Ecitons have much the same habits. Mr. Bates records
an interesting observation which he made on one of the moving columns of
this species. He says: 'When I interfered with the column or abstracted
an individual from it, news of the disturbance was quickly communicated
to a distance of several yards to the rear, and the column at that point
commenced retreating.' The main column is in this species narrower,
viz., 'from four to six deep,' but extends to a great length, viz., half
a mile or more. It was this species of Eciton that the same naturalist
describes as enjoying periods of leisure and recreation in the 'sunny
nooks of the forest.'

Next we have to consider _E. prædator_, of which the same observer

      This is a small dark reddish species, very similar to
      the common red stinging ant of England. It differs
      from all other Ecitons in its habit of hunting, not in
      columns, but in dense phalanxes consisting of myriads
      of individuals, and was first met with at Ega, where
      it is very common. Nothing in insect movements is more
      striking than the rapid march of these large and
      compact bodies. Wherever they pass, all the rest of
      the animal world is thrown into a state of alarm. They
      stream along the ground and climb to the summits of
      all the lower trees, searching every leaf to its apex,
      and whenever they encounter a mass of decaying
      vegetable matter, where booty is plentiful, they
      concentrate, like other Ecitons, all their forces upon
      it, the dense phalanx of shining and quickly-moving
      bodies, as it spreads over the surface, looking like a
      flood of dark red liquid. They soon penetrate every
      part of the confused heap, and then, gathering
      together again in marching order, onward they move.
      All soft-bodied and inactive insects fall an easy prey
      to them, and, like other Ecitons, they tear their
      victims in pieces for facility of carriage. A phalanx
      of this species, when passing over a tract of smooth
      ground, occupies a space of from four to six square
      yards; on examining the ants closely they are seen to
      move, not all together in one straightforward
      direction, but in variously spreading contiguous
      columns, now separating a little from the general
      mass, now reuniting with it. The margins of the
      phalanx spread out at times like a cloud of
      skirmishers from the flanks of an army. I was never
      able to find the hive of this species.

Lastly, there are two species of Eciton totally blind, and their habits
differ from those of the species which we have hitherto considered.
Bates writes of them:--

      The armies of _E. vastator_ and _E. erratica_ move, as
      far as I could learn, wholly under covered roads, the
      ants constructing them gradually but rapidly as they
      advance. The column of foragers pushes forward step by
      step, under the protection of these covered passages,
      through the thickets, and on reaching a rotting log,
      or other promising hunting-ground, pour into the
      crevices in search of booty. I have traced their
      arcades, occasionally, for a distance of one or two
      hundred yards; the grains of earth are taken from the
      soil over which the column is passing, and are fitted
      together without cement. It is this last-mentioned
      feature that distinguishes them from the similar
      covered roads made by termites, who use their
      glutinous saliva to cement the grains together. The
      blind Ecitons, working in numbers, build up
      simultaneously the sides of their convex arcades, and
      contrive, in a surprising manner, to approximate them
      and fit in the key-stones without letting the loose
      uncemented structure fall to pieces. There was a very
      clear division of labour between the two classes of
      neuters in these blind species. The large-headed
      class, although not possessing monstrously lengthened
      jaws like the worker-majors in _E. hamata_ and _E.
      drepanophora_, are rigidly defined in structure from
      the small-headed class, and act as soldiers, defending
      the working community (like soldier termites) against
      all comers. Whenever I made a breach in one of their
      covered ways, all the ants underneath were set in
      commotion, but the worker-minors remained behind to
      repair the damage, whilst the large-heads issued forth
      in a most menacing manner, rearing their heads and
      snapping their jaws with an expression of the fiercest
      rage and defiance.

_Annornia arcens._--This is the so-called 'driver' or 'marching' ant of
West Africa, which in habits and intelligence closely resembles the
military ants of the other hemisphere. I shall therefore not wait again
to describe these habits in detail. Like the Ecitons, the marching ants
of Africa have no fixed nest, but make temporary halts in the shade of
hollow trees, overhanging rocks, &c. They march in large armies, and,
like the Ecitons, always in the form of a long close column; but in this
case the relative position of the carriers of spoil and larvæ is
reversed, for while these occupy the middle place the soldiers and
officers march on either side. These have large heads armed with
powerful jaws, and never take part in carrying; their function is to
maintain order, act as scouts, and attack prey. The habits of these ants
resemble most closely those of the blind Ecitons in that they very
frequently, and indeed generally, build covered ways; they do so
apparently in order to protect themselves from the heat of the African
sun. Their line of march is therefore marked by a continuous arch or
tunnel, which is always being constructed by the van of the column. The
structure is made of earth moulded together by saliva, and is very
quickly built. But it is only built in places where the line of march is
exposed to the sunlight; at night, or in the shadow of trees or long
grass, it is not made. If their camp is flooded by a tropical rainstorm,
the ants congregate in a close mass, with the younger ants in the
centre; they thus form a floating island.

It is remarkable that ants of different hemispheres should manifest so
close a similarity with respect to all these wonderful habits. The
Chasseur ants of Trinidad, and, according to Madame Merian, the ants of
visitation of Cayenne, also display habits of the same kind.

_General Intelligence of Various Species._

Many of the foregoing facts display an astonishing degree of
intelligence as obtaining among ants; for I think that however much
latitude we may be inclined to allow to 'blind instinct' in the way of
imitating actions elsewhere due to conscious purpose, some at least of
these foregoing facts can only be fairly reconciled with the view that
the insects know what they are doing and why they are doing it. But as I
am myself well aware of the difficulty that arises in all such cases of
drawing the line between purposeless instinct and purposive
intelligence, I have thought it desirable to reserve for this concluding
division of the present chapter several isolated facts which have been
observed among sundry species of ants, and which do not seem to admit
of being reasonably comprised under the category of instinctive action,
if by the latter we mean action pursued without knowledge of the
relation between the means adopted and the ends attained.

It will be remembered that our test of instinctive as distinguished from
truly intelligent action is simply whether all individuals of a species
perform similar adaptive movements under the stimulus supplied by
similar and habitual circumstances, or whether they manifest individual
and peculiar adaptive movements to meet the exigencies of novel and
peculiar circumstances. The importance of this distinction may be
rendered manifest by the following illustrations.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.]

We have already seen that the ants which Sir John Lubbock observed
display many and complex instincts, which together might seem to justify
us in anticipating that animals which present such wonderful instincts
must also present sufficient general intelligence to meet simple though
novel exigencies by such simple adaptations as the unfamiliar
circumstances require. Yet experiments which he made in this connection
seem to show that such is not the case, but that these ants, with all
their wealth of instinctive endowments, are utterly destitute of
intelligent resources; they have abundance of common and detailed
knowledge (supposing the adaptations to be made consciously) how to act
under certain complex though familiar circumstances, but appear quite
unable to originate any adaptive action to obviate even the simplest
conceivable difficulty, if this is of a kind which they have not been
previously accustomed to meet. Thus, on a horizontal rod B supported in
a saucer of water S, and therefore inaccessible to the ants from
beneath, he placed some larvæ A. On the nest N he then placed a block of
wood C D, constructed so that the portion D should touch the larvæ at
A. When the ants had made a number of journeys over C D A and back
again, he raised the block C D so that there was an interval 3/10 of an
inch between the end of the block D and the larvæ at A.

      The ants kept on coming, and tried hard to reach down
      from D to A, which was only just out of their
      reach. . . . After a while they all gave up their
      efforts and went away, losing their prize in spite of
      most earnest efforts, because it did not occur to them
      to drop 3/10 of an inch. At the moment when the
      separation was made there were fifteen ants on the
      larvæ. These could, of course, have returned if one had
      stood still and allowed the others to get on its back.
      This, however, did not occur to them; nor did they
      think of letting themselves drop from the bottom of the
      paper (P) on to the nest. Two or three, indeed, fell
      down, I have no doubt by accident; but the remainder
      wandered about, until at length most of them got into
      the water.

In another experiment he interposed a light straw bridge on the way
between the nest and the larvæ, and when the ants had well learnt the
way, he drew the bridge a short distance towards the nest, so that a
small chasm was made in the road. The ants tried hard and ineffectually
to reach across it, but it did not occur to them to _push_ the straw
into its original position.

The following experiment is still more illustrative of the absence of
intelligence, because the adjustive action required would not demand the
exercise of such high powers of imagination and abstraction as would
have been required for the moving forwards of the paper drawbridge.

      To test their intelligence I made the following
      experiments: I suspended some honey over a nest of
      _Lasius flavus_ at a height of about 1/2 an inch, and
      accessible only by a paper bridge more than 10 feet
      long. Under the glass I then placed a small heap of
      earth. The ants soon swarmed over the earth on to the
      glass, and began feeding on the honey. I then removed
      a little of the earth, so that there was an interval
      of about 1/3 of an inch between the glass and the
      earth; but though the distance was so small, they
      would not jump down, but preferred to go round by the
      long bridge. They tried in vain to stretch up from the
      earth to the glass, which, however, was just out of
      their reach, though they could touch it with their
      antennæ; but it did not occur to them to heap the
      earth up a little, though if they had moved only half
      a dozen particles of earth they would have secured for
      themselves direct access to the food. This, however,
      never occurred to them. At length they gave up all
      attempts to reach up to the glass, and went round by
      the paper bridge. I left the arrangement for several
      weeks, but they continued to go round by the long
      paper bridge.

Another and somewhat similar experiment consisted in placing an upright
stick A, supporting at an angle another stick B, which nearly but not
quite touched the ground at C. At the end of the stick B there were
placed some larvæ in a horizontal glass cell at D. Into this cell were
also placed a number of ants along with the larvæ. The drop from D to C
was only 1/2 an inch; 'still, though the ants reached over and showed a
great anxiety to take this short cut home, they none of them faced the
leap, but all went round by the sticks, a distance of nearly 7 feet.'
Sir John then reduced the interruption to 2/5 of an inch, so that the
ants could even touch the glass cell with their antennæ; yet all day
long the ants continued to go the long way round rather than face the
drop. Next, therefore, he took still longer sticks and tapes, and
arranged them as before, only horizontally instead of vertically. He
also placed some fine earth under the glass cell containing the larvæ.
The ants as before continued to go the long way round (16 feet), though
the drop could not have hurt either themselves or the larvæ, and though
even this drop might have been obviated by heaping up the fine earth
into a little mound 1/8 of an inch high, so as to touch the glass cell.

It is desirable, however, here to state that all species of ants do not
show this aversion to allowing themselves to drop through short
distances; for Moggridge describes the harvesting ants of Europe as
seeming rather to enjoy acrobatic performances of this kind; and the
same fact is recorded by Belt of the leaf-cutting ants of the Amazons.
Dr. Bastian, in his work on 'Brain as an Organ of Mind,' suggests that
the 'seeming lack of intelligence betrayed by our English ants, from
their disinclination to take a small leap, may be due simply to their
defective sight' (pp. 241-2). But even this consideration does not
extenuate the stupidity of the ants which failed to heap up the fine
earth to reach the glass cell which they were able to touch with their

That the species of ants on which Sir John Lubbock experimented were
not, however, quite destitute of intelligence is proved by the result of
the following experiment:--

      I put some provisions in a shallow box with a glass
      top and a single hole in one side; I then put some
      specimens of _Lasius niger_ to the food, and soon a
      stream of ants was at work busily carrying supplies
      off to the nest. When they had got to know their way
      thoroughly, and from thirty to forty were so occupied,
      I poured some fine mould in front of the hole, so as
      to cover it to a depth of about 1/2 an inch. I then
      took out the ants which were actually in the box. As
      soon as the ants had recovered from the shock of this
      unexpected proceeding on my part, they began to run
      all round and about the box, looking for some other
      place of entrance. Finding none, however, they began
      digging down into the earth just over the hole,
      carrying off the grains of earth one by one and
      depositing them without any order all round at a
      distance of from 1/2 to 6 inches, until they had
      excavated down to the doorway, when they again began
      carrying off the food as before.

This experiment was several times repeated on _L. niger_ and on _L.
flavus_, always with the same result.

Thus, then, we may conclude that the reasoning power of these ants,
although shown by the first experiments to be almost _nil_, is shown by
this experiment to be not quite _nil_; for the attempt to meet the
exigencies of the case by first going round the box to seek another
entrance, before taking the labour to remove the earth from the known
entrance, implies a certain rudimentary degree of adaptive capacity
which belongs to the category of the rational.

Another point of considerable interest, as bearing on the general
intelligence of ants, is one that was brought out as the result of a
laborious series of hourly observations, extending without intermission
from 6.30 A.M. to 10 P.M. for a period of three months. The object of
these observations was to ascertain whether the principle of the
division of labour is practised by the ants. The result of these
observations was to show that during the winter-time, when the ants are
not active, certain individuals are told off to forage for supplies, and
that when any casualty overtakes these individuals, others are told off
to supply their places. Thus, in the words of Sir John Lubbock's
analysis of his lengthy tables,--

      The feeders at the beginning of the experiment were
      those known to us as Nos. 5, 6, and 7. On the 22nd of
      November a friend, registered as No. 8, came to the
      honey, and again on the 11th December; but with these
      two exceptions the whole of the supplies were carried
      in by Nos. 5 and 6, with a little help from No. 7.
      Thinking now it might be alleged that possibly these
      were merely unusually active or greedy individuals, I
      imprisoned No. 6 when she came out to feed on the 5th.
      As will be seen from the table, no other ant had been
      out to the honey for some days; and it could therefore
      hardly be accidental that on that very evening another
      ant (then registered as No. 9) came out for food. This
      ant, as will be seen from the table, then took the
      place of No. 6 (No. 5 being imprisoned). On the 11th
      January No. 9 took in all the supplies, again with a
      little help from No. 7. So matters continued until the
      17th, when I imprisoned No. 9, and then again, _i.e._
      on the 19th, another ant (No. 10) came out for the
      food, aided, on and after the 22nd, by another (No.
      11). This seems to me very curious. From the 1st
      November to the 5th January, with two or three casual
      exceptions, the whole of the supplies were carried in
      by three ants, one of whom, however, did comparatively
      little. The other two are imprisoned, and then, but
      not till then, a fresh ant appears on the scene. She
      carries in the food for a week, and then she being
      imprisoned, two others undertake the task. On the
      other hand, in nest 1, when the first foragers were
      not imprisoned, they continued during the whole time
      to carry in the necessary supplies.

The facts, therefore, certainly seem to indicate that certain ants are
told off as foragers, and that during winter, when but little food is
required, two or three such foragers are sufficient to provide it.

Although Sir John Lubbock's ants showed such meagre resources of
intelligent adjustment, other species of ants, which we have already had
occasion to consider, appear to be as remarkable in this respect as they
are in respect of their instinctive adjustments. Unfortunately
observations on this subject are very sparse, but such as they are they
hold out a strong inducement for any one who has the opportunity to
experiment with the view of testing the intelligence of those species in
connection with which the following observations have been made.

      Réaumur states that ants will make no attempt to enter
      an inhabited beehive to get at the contained honey,
      knowing that the bees will slaughter them if they do
      so. But if the hive is uninhabited, or the bees all
      dead, the ants will swarm into the hive as long as any
      honey is to be found there.

P. Huber records that a wall which had been partly erected by ants was
observed by him--

      As though it were intended to support the still
      unfinished arched roof of a large room, which was
      being built from the opposite side. But the workers
      which had begun the arch had given it too low an
      elevation for the wall on which it was to rest, and if
      it had been continued on the same lines it would have
      met the partition wall halfway up, and this was to be
      avoided. I had just made this criticism to myself,
      when a new arrival, after looking at the work, came to
      the same conclusion. For it began at once to destroy
      what had been done, and to heighten the wall on which
      it was supported, and to make a new arch with the
      materials of the old one under my very eyes. When the
      ants begin an undertaking it seems exactly as if an
      idea slowly ripened into execution in their minds.
      Thus if one of them finds two stalks lying crosswise
      on the nest, which make possible the formation of a
      room, or some little rafters which suggest the walls
      and the corners, it first observes the various parts
      accurately, and then quickly and neatly heaps little
      pellets of earth in the interspaces and alongside the
      stalks. It brings from every side materials that seem
      appropriate, and sometimes takes such from the
      uncompleted works of its companions, so much is it
      urged on by the idea which it has once conceived, and
      by the desire to execute it. It goes and comes and
      turns back again, until its plan is recognisable by
      the others.

Ebrard, in his 'Etudes de Moeurs' (p. 3), gives the following
remarkable instance of the display of intelligence of _F. fusca_:--

      The earth was damp and the workers were in full
      swing. It was a constant coming and going of ants,
      coming forth from their underground dwelling, and
      carrying back little pellets of earth for building. In
      order to concentrate my attention I fixed my gaze on
      the largest of the rooms which were being built,
      wherein several ants were busy. The work had made
      considerable progress; but although a projection could
      be plainly seen along the upper edge of the wall,
      there remained an interspace of about twelve or
      fifteen millimetres to fill in. Here would have been
      the place, in order to support the earth still to be
      brought in, to have had recourse to those pillars,
      buttresses, or fragments of dried leaves, which many
      ants are wont to use in building. But the use of this
      expedient is not customary with the ants I was
      observing (_F. fusca_). Our ants, however, were
      sufficient for the occasion. For a moment they seemed
      inclined to leave their work, but soon turned instead
      to a grass-plant growing near, the long narrow leaves
      of which ran close together. They chose the nearest,
      and weighted its distal end with damp earth, until its
      apex just bent down to the space to be covered.
      Unfortunately the bend was too close to the extremity,
      and it threatened to break. To prevent this
      misfortune, the ants gnawed at the base of the leaf
      until it bent along its whole length and covered the
      space required. But as this did not seem to be quite
      enough, they heaped damp earth between the base of the
      plant and that of the leaf, until the latter was
      sufficiently bent. After they had thus attained their
      object, they heaped on the buttressing leaf the
      materials required for building the arched roof.

      The characteristic _trait_ of the building of ants,
      says Forel, is the almost complete absence of an
      unchangeable model, peculiar to each species, such as
      is found in wasps, bees, and others. The ants know how
      to suit their indeed little perfect work to
      circumstances, and to take advantage of each
      situation. Besides, each works for itself and on a
      given plan, and is only occasionally aided by others
      when these understand its plan. Naturally many
      collisions occur, and some destroy that which others
      have made. This also gives the key to understanding
      the labyrinth of the dwelling. For the rest, it is
      always those workers which have discovered the most
      advantageous method, or which have shown the most
      patience, which win over to their plan the majority of
      their comrades and at last the whole colony, although
      not without many fights for supremacy. But if one
      succeeds in obtaining a second to follow it, and this
      second draws the others after it, the first is soon
      lost again in the crowd.

Espinas also observed ('Thierischen Gesellschaften,' German translation,
1879, p. 371) that each single ant made its own plan and followed it
until a comrade, which had caught the idea, joined it, and then they
worked together in the execution of the same plan.

Moggridge says of the harvesters of Europe,--

      I have observed on more than one occasion that when in
      digging into an ants' nest I have thrown out an
      _elater_ larva, the ants would cluster round it and
      direct it towards some small opening in the soil,
      which it would quickly enlarge and disappear down. At
      other times, however, the ants would take no notice of
      the _elater_, and it is my belief that the attentions
      paid to it on former occasions were purely selfish,
      and that they intended to avail themselves of the
      tunnel thus made down into the soil, with the view of
      reopening communications with the galleries and
      granaries concealed below, the approaches to which had
      been covered up. I have frequently watched the ants
      make use of these passages mined by the _elater_ on
      these occasions.

And again, as showing apparently intelligent adaptation of their usual
habits to altered circumstances, he gives an account of the behaviour of
these ants when a great crowd of them were confined by him in a glass
jar containing earth. He says:--

      On the following morning the openings were ten in
      number, and the greatly increased heaps of excavated
      earth showed that they must probably have been at work
      all night. The amount of work done in this short time
      was truly surprising, for it must be remembered that,
      eighteen hours before, the earth presented a perfectly
      level surface, and the larvæ and ants, now housed
      below, found themselves prisoners in a strange place,
      bounded by glass walls, and with no exit possible.

      It seems to me that the ants displayed extraordinary
      intelligence in having thus at a moment's notice
      devised a plan by which the superabundant number of
      workers could be employed at one time without coming
      in one another's way. The soil contained in the jar
      was of course less than a tenth part of that comprised
      within the limits of an ordinary nest, while the
      number of workers was probably more than a third of
      the total number belonging to the colony. If therefore
      but one or two entrances had been pierced in the soil,
      the workers would have been for ever running against
      one another, and a great number could never have got
      below to help in the all-important task of preparing
      passages and chambers for the accommodation of the
      larvæ. These numerous and funnel-shaped entrances
      admitted of the simultaneous descent and ascent of
      large numbers of ants, and the work progressed with
      proportionate rapidity. After a few days only three
      entrances, and eventually only one, remained open.

Concerning the harvesting ant of Texas, the following quotation may be
made, under the present head, from MacCook. After remarking that these
ants always select sunny places wherein to build their nests, or disks,
he goes on to say that within a few paces of his tent--

      A nest was made which was partly shaded by a small
      mesquite tree that stood just beyond the margin of the
      clearing. The sapling had probably grown up after the
      location of the community, and for some reason had
      been permitted to remain until too old to kill off.
      The shadow thrown upon the pavement was very slight;
      nevertheless, fifteen feet distant a new formicary was
      being established. The path from the ranch to the
      spring ran between this new hill and the old one, and
      ants were in communication between the two. An opening
      had been made in the ground, and the beginnings of a
      new formicary were quite apparent. This is the only
      instance observed of what seemed an attempt at
      colonising or removing, and I associated it with the
      presence of the small but growing shadow of the young

He also gives us a still more remarkable observation, which indeed, I
must candidly say, does not appear to me credible. I am, therefore, glad
to add that it does not appear very distinctly from the account whether
the author himself made the observation, or had it narrated to him by
his guide. But here is the observation in his own words:--

      While studying the habits of the cutting ant I was
      tempted to make a night visit to a farm some distance
      from camp, by the farmer's story of depredations made
      by these insects upon certain plants and vegetables. A
      long, dark tramp, a blind and vain search among the
      fields, compelled us at last to call out the
      countryman from his bed. He led us directly to one of
      the cutting ants' nests, which was overshadowed by a
      young peach tree. 'There they be, sir,' cried he
      triumphantly. They were agriculturals! So also were
      the other nests shown. The reason for this confounding
      of the two ants on the part of the people hereabouts,
      and the reason for the 'cutting' operations of our
      harvesters, will be explained farther on. It is only
      in point here to say that the farmer affirmed that the
      ants under the peach tree had stripped off the first
      tender leaves last spring, so that scarcely one had
      been left upon the limbs. I am convinced that the
      reason for this onslaught was the desire to be rid of
      the obnoxious shade, and open the formicary to the
      full light of the sun.

From this account it is not very clear whether the writer himself saw
evidence of the former denudation of the tree, and if so whether there
was any indication, other than the word of the farmer, that the
denudation had been effected by the ants. To make this conclusion
credible the best conceivable evidence would be required, and this,
unfortunately, is just what we find wanting. Somewhat the same remarks
may be made on the following quotation from the same writer, though in
this case his view is to some extent supported by an observation of
Moggridge, as well as by that of Ebrard already quoted:--

      Here I observed what appeared to be a new mode of
      operation. The workers, in several cases, left the
      point at which they had begun a cutting, ascended the
      blade, and passed as far out toward the point as
      possible. The blade was thus borne downward, and as
      the ant swayed up and down it really seemed that she
      was taking advantage of the leverage thus gained, and
      was bringing the augmented force to bear upon the
      fracture. In two or three cases there appeared to be a
      division of labour; that is to say, while the cutter
      at the roots kept on with her work, another ant
      climbed the grass blade and applied the power at the
      opposite end of the lever. This position may have been
      quite accidental, but it certainly had the appearance
      of a voluntary co-operation. I was sorry not to be
      able to establish this last inference by a series of
      observations, as the facts were only observed in this
      one nest.

The observation of Moggridge, to which I have alluded as in some measure
rendering support to the foregoing, is as follows. Speaking of European
harvesters which he kept in an artificial nest for the purposes of close
observation, he says:--

      I was also in this way able to see for myself much
      that I otherwise could not have seen. Thus I was able
      to watch the operation of removing roots which had
      pierced through their galleries, belonging to seedling
      plants growing on the surface, and which was performed
      by two ants, one pulling at the free end of the root,
      and the other gnawing at its fibres where the strain
      was greatest, until at length it gave way.

And again,--

      Two ants sometimes combine their efforts, when one
      stations itself near the base of the peduncle, and
      gnaws it at the point of greatest tension, while the
      other hauls upon and twists it. . . . I have occasionally
      seen ants engaged in cutting the capsules of certain
      plants, drop them, and allow their companions below to
      carry them away.

Lastly, the statements of these three observers taken together serve to
render credible the following quotation from Bingley,[43] who says that
in Captain Cook's expedition in New South Wales ants were seen by Sir
Joseph Banks and others--

      As green as a leaf, which live upon trees and build
      their nests of various sizes, between that of a man's
      head and his fist. These nests are of a very curious
      structure: they are formed by bending down several of
      the leaves, each of which is as broad as a man's hand,
      and gluing the points of them together so as to form a
      purse. The viscous matter used for this purpose is an
      animal juice. . . . Their method of bending down leaves
      we had no opportunity to observe; but we saw thousands
      uniting all their strength to hold them in this
      position, while other busy multitudes were employed
      within, in applying this gluten, that was to prevent
      their returning back. To satisfy ourselves that the
      leaves were bent and held down by the efforts of these
      diminutive artificers, we disturbed them in their
      work; and as soon as they were driven from their
      station, the leaves on which they were employed sprang
      up with a force much greater than we could have
      thought them able to conquer by any combination of
      their strength.

This remarkable fact also seems to be corroborated by the following
independent observation of Sir E. Tennent:--

      The most formidable of all is the great red ant, or
      Dimiya. It is particularly abundant in gardens and on
      fruit-trees; it constructs its dwellings by gluing the
      leaves of such species as are suitable from their
      shape and pliancy into hollow balls, and these it
      lines with a kind of transparent paper, like that
      manufactured by the wasp. I have watched them at the
      interesting operation of forming these dwellings;--a
      line of ants standing on the edge of one leaf bring
      another into contact with it, and hold both together
      with their mandibles till their companions within
      attach them firmly by means of their adhesive paper,
      the assistants outside moving along as the work
      proceeds. If it be necessary to draw closer a leaf too
      distant to be laid hold of by the immediate workers,
      they form a chain by depending one from the other till
      the object is reached, when it is at length brought
      into contact, and made fast by cement.

I shall now pass on to the remarkable observation communicated to Kirby
by Colonel Sykes, F.R.S., and which is thus narrated by Kirby in his
'History, Habits, and Instincts of Animals:'--

      When resident at Poona, the dessert, consisting of
      fruits, cakes, and various preserves, always remained
      upon a small side table, in a verandah of the
      dining-room. To guard against inroads, the legs of the
      table were immersed in four basins filled with water;
      it was removed an inch from the wall, and, to keep off
      dust from open windows, was covered with a tablecloth.
      At first the ants did not attempt to cross the water,
      but as the strait was very narrow, from an inch to an
      inch and a half, and the sweets very tempting, they
      appear, at length, to have braved all risks, to have
      committed themselves to the deep, to have scrambled
      across the channel, and to have reached the objects of
      their desires, for hundreds were found every morning
      revelling in enjoyment: daily vengeance was executed
      upon them without lessening their numbers; at last the
      legs of the table were painted, just above the water,
      with a circle of turpentine. This at first seemed to
      prove an effectual barrier, and for some days the
      sweets were unmolested, after which they were again
      attacked by these resolute plunderers; but how they
      got at them seemed totally unaccountable, till Colonel
      Sykes, who often passed the table, was surprised to
      see an ant drop from the wall, about a foot above the
      table, upon the cloth that covered it; another and
      another succeeded. So that though the turpentine and
      the distance from the wall appeared effectual
      barriers, still the resources of the animal, when
      determined to carry its point, were not exhausted, and
      by ascending the wall to a certain height, with a
      slight effort against it, in falling it managed to
      land in safety upon the table.

Colonel Sykes was a good observer, so that this statement, standing upon
his authority, ought not, perhaps, to be questioned. But in all cases of
remarkable intelligence displayed by animals, we naturally and properly
desire corroboration, however good the authority may be on which the
statement of such cases may rest. I will, therefore, add the following
instances of the ingenious and determined manner in which ants overcome
obstacles, and which so far lend confirmation to the above account.

Professor Leuckart placed round the trunk of a tree, which was visited
by ants as a pasture for aphides, a broad cloth soaked in tobacco-water.
When the ants returning home down the trunk of the tree arrived at the
soaked cloth, they turned round, went up the tree again to some of the
overhanging branches, and allowed themselves to drop clear of the
obnoxious barrier. On the other hand, the ants which desired to mount
the tree first examined the nature of the barrier, then turned back and
procured from a distance little pellets of earth, which they carried in
their jaws and deposited one after another upon the tobacco-cloth till a
road of earth was made across it, over which the ants passed to and fro
with impunity.

This interesting, and indeed surprising observation of Leuckart's is, in
turn, a corroboration of an almost identical one made more than a
century ago by Cardinal Fleury, and communicated by him to Réaumur, who
published it in his 'l'Histoire des Insectes' (1734). The Cardinal
smeared the trunk of a tree with birdlime in order to prevent the ants
from ascending it; but the insects overcame the obstacle by making a
road of earth, small stones, &c., as in the case just mentioned. In
another instance the Cardinal saw a number of ants make a bridge across
a vessel of water surrounding the bottom of an orange-tree tub. They did
so by conveying a number of little pieces of _wood_, the choice of which
material instead of earth or stones, as in the previous case, seems to
betoken no small knowledge of practical engineering.

Büchner, after quoting these cases, proceeds to say (_loc. cit._, p.

      The ants behaved in yet more ingenious fashion under
      the following very similar circumstances. Herr G.
      Theuerkauf, the painter (Wasserthorstr. 49, Berlin),
      writes to the author, November 18, 1875: 'A maple tree
      standing on the ground of the manufacturer, Vollbaum,
      of Elbing (now of Dantzic), swarmed with aphides and
      ants. In order to check the mischief, the proprietor
      smeared about a foot width of the ground round the
      tree with tar. The first ants who wanted to cross
      naturally stuck fast. But what did the next? They
      turned back to the tree and carried down aphides,
      which they stuck down on the tar one after another
      until they had made a bridge over which they could
      cross the tarring without danger. The above-named
      merchant, Vollbaum, is the guarantor of this story,
      which I received from his own mouth on the very spot
      whereat it occurred.'

Büchner also gives the following case on the authority of Karl Vogt
(_loc. cit._, p. 128). An apiary of a friend was invaded by ants:--

      To make this impossible for the future, the four legs
      of the beehive-stand were put into small, shallow
      bowls filled with water, as is often done with food in
      ant-infested places. The ants soon found a way out of
      this, or rather a way into their beloved honey, and
      that over an iron staple with which the stand was
      attached to a neighbouring wall. The staple was
      removed, but the ants did not allow themselves to be
      defeated. They climbed into some linden trees standing
      near, the branches of which hung over the stand, and
      then dropped upon it from the branches, doing just the
      same as their comrades do with respect to food
      surrounded by water, when they drop upon it from the
      ceiling of the room. In order to make this impossible,
      the boughs were cut away. But once more the ants were
      found in the stand, and closer investigation showed
      that one of the bowls was dried up, and that a crowd
      of ants had gathered in it. But they found themselves
      puzzled how to go on with their robbery, for the leg
      did not, by chance, rest on the bottom of the bowl,
      but was about half an inch from it. The ants were seen
      rapidly touching each other with their antennæ, or
      carrying on a consultation, until at last a rather
      larger ant came forward and put an end to the
      difficulty. It rose to its full height on its hind
      legs, and struggled until at last it seized a rather
      projecting splinter of the wooden leg, and managed to
      take hold of it. As soon as this was done other ants
      ran on to it, strengthened the hold by clinging, and
      so made a little living bridge, over which the others
      could easily pass.

The same author publishes the following very remarkable observation,
quoted from a letter to him by Dr. Ellendorf:--

      It is a hard matter to protect any eatables from these
      creatures, let the custody be ever so close. The legs
      of cupboards and tables in or on which eatables are
      kept are placed in vessels of water. I myself did
      this, but I none the less found thousands of ants in
      the cupboard next morning. It was a puzzle to me how
      they crossed the water, but the puzzle was soon
      solved; for I found a straw in one of the saucers,
      which lay obliquely across the edge of the pan and
      touched the leg of the press: this they had used for a
      bridge. Hundreds were drowned in the water, apparently
      because disorder had reigned at first, those coming
      down with booty meeting those going up. But now there
      was perfect order; the descending stream used one side
      of the straw, the ascending the other. I now pushed
      the straw about an inch away from the cupboard leg; a
      terrible confusion arose. In a moment the leg
      immediately over the water was covered with hundreds
      of ants, feeling for the bridge in every direction
      with their antennæ, running back again and coming in
      ever larger swarms, as though they had communicated to
      their comrades within the cupboard the fearful
      misfortune that had taken place. Meanwhile the
      new-comers continued to run along the straw, and not
      finding the leg of the cupboard the greatest
      perplexity arose. They hurried round the edge of the
      pan, and soon found out where the fault lay. With
      united forces they quickly pulled and pushed at the
      straw, until it again came into contact with the wood,
      and the communication was again restored.

This observation is strikingly, though unconsciously, confirmed by a
recent writer in the _Leisure Hour_ (1880, pp. 718-19), who having been
much troubled by small red ants in the tropics swarming over his
provisions, placed the latter in a meat-safe detached from the wall and
standing on four legs, each of which was placed in a little tin vessel
containing water. Eight or ten days afterwards he found his provisions
in the safe swarming with ants as before, and on investigating their
mode of access to them found--

      Proceeding along the whitewashed wall a string of ants
      going and coming from the outer door to a height of
      four feet on my wall, and corresponding with that of
      the safe; and looking between it and the wall, I
      discovered the secret--the bridge which these
      persevering little insects had made. It consisted of a
      broken bit of straw, which rested with one end on a
      mud buttress fixed to the wall, and the other on the
      overhanging or projecting top of the safe, which came
      within an inch and a half of the wall. So they must
      have carried the straw up from the floor, and resting
      their end of it on the support they had prepared, let
      it fall until its other end reached the safe, and then
      crossed and completed the structure, for it was
      fastened at both ends with the mortar composed of
      their saliva and fine earth. Ruthlessly I destroyed
      the bridge, and moving the safe farther from the wall,
      managed to prevent their inroads for that season at
      least. Since then I have frequently seen short
      bridges, composed entirely of the concrete or mortar
      which the white ants use to cover up their workings,
      extending from a damp earthen wall to anything not
      more than three-quarters of an inch from it.

Of the Ecitons Mr. Belt says:--

      I shall relate two more instances of the use of a
      reasoning faculty in these ants. I once saw a wide
      column trying to pass along a crumbling, nearly
      perpendicular slope. They would have got very slowly
      over it, and many of them would have fallen, but a
      number having secured their hold, and reaching to each
      other, remained stationary, and over them the main
      column passed. Another time they were crossing a
      watercourse along a small branch, not thicker than a
      goose-quill. They widened this natural bridge to three
      times its width by a number of ants clinging to it and
      to each other on each side, over which the column
      passed three or four deep; whereas excepting for this
      expedient they would have had to pass over in single
      file, and treble the time would have been consumed.
      Can it be contended that such insects are not able to
      determine by reasoning powers which is the best way of
      doing a thing?

Another observer, writing from the same part of the world to Büchner,
gives a still more wonderful account of the ingenuity of Ecitons in
crossing water. This observer is Herr H. Kreplin, of Heidemühl (Station
Ducherom), 'who lived for nearly twenty years in South America as an
engineer, and had often the opportunity of seeing the driver ants in the
forests there.' He writes to Büchner, under date May 10, 1876, as

      On both sides of the train, at about 10 mm. distance
      from each other, stronger ants are to be seen,
      distinguishable from the others by their foxy colour
      and very thick heads with gigantic mandibles. These
      'thickheads' play the same _rôle_ in the ant-state for
      which they are cast in cultured communities. They look
      after the order of the march, and allow none to turn
      either to the right or left. The least confusion in
      the regularity of the march makes them turn round and
      put things straight again. While the procession of the
      brown workers streams on unceasingly with a swarming
      motion, the 'officers,' as the natives call these
      thickheads, run constantly backwards and forwards,
      ready to take the command on meeting any difficulty.
      The crossing of streams by these creatures is the most
      interesting point. If the watercourse be narrow, the
      thickheads soon find trees, the branches of which meet
      on the bank on either side, and after a short halt the
      column set themselves in motion over these bridges,
      rearranging themselves in the narrow train with
      marvellous quickness on reaching the further side. But
      if no natural bridge be available for the passage,
      they travel along the bank of the river until they
      arrive at a flat sandy shore. Each ant now seizes a
      bit of dry wood, pulls it into the water, and mounts
      thereupon. The hinder rows push the front ones even
      further out, holding on to the wood with their feet
      and to their comrades with their jaws. In a short time
      the water is covered with ants, and when the raft has
      grown too large to be held together by the small
      creatures' strength, a part breaks itself off and
      begins the journey across, while the ants left on the
      bank busily pull their bits of wood into the water,
      and work at enlarging the ferry-boat until it again
      breaks. This is repeated as long as an ant remains on
      shore. I had often heard described this method of
      crossing rivers, but in the year 1859 I had the
      opportunity of seeing it for myself.

It is remarkable that the military or driving ants of Africa exhibit
precisely similar devices for the bridging of streams, namely, by
forming a chain of individuals over which the others pass. By means of
similar chains they also let themselves down from trees. It must be
observed, however, that these and all the above observations, being
independently made and separately recorded, serve to corroborate one
another so strongly that we can entertain no reasonable doubt concerning
the wonderful facts which they convey.

I shall now bring these numerous instances to a close with a quotation
from Mr. Belt, which reveals in the most unequivocal manner surprising
powers of observation and rational action on the part of the
leaf-cutting ants of South America, whose general habits we have already

      A nest was made near one of our tramways, and to get
      to the trees the ants had to cross the rails, over
      which the waggons were continually passing and
      repassing. Every time they came along a number of ants
      were crushed to death. They persevered in crossing for
      some time, but at last set to work and tunnelled
      underneath each rail. One day, when the waggons were
      not running, I stopped up the tunnels with stones; but
      although great numbers carrying leaves were thus cut
      off from the nest, they would not cross the rails, but
      set to work making fresh tunnels underneath them.

_Anatomy and Physiology of Nerve-centres and Sense-organs._

The foregoing facts concerning the intelligence of ants fully justifies
Mr. Darwin's observation that 'the brain of an ant is one of the most
marvellous atoms of matter in the world, perhaps more so than the brain
of a man.' It may therefore be interesting in this particular case to
depart from the lines otherwise laid down throughout the present work,
and to devote a short section to the anatomy and physiology of this
nerve-centre with its appended organs of sense.

The brain of an ant, then, is proportionally larger than that of any
other insect. (See Titus Graber, 'Insects,' vol. i. p. 255.) In
structure, also, the brain of an ant is in advance of that of other
insects, its nearest analogue being the brain of a bee. The superiority
of development is particularly remarkable with reference to the 'stalked
bodies' of Dujardin; and these are largest in neuter workers, which are
the most intelligent members of the community.

Injury of the brain causes, as in higher animals, tetanic spasms and
involuntary reflex movements, followed by stupefaction.

      An ant, whose brain has been perforated by the pointed
      mandibles of an amazon, remains as though nailed to
      its place; a shudder runs from time to time through
      its body, and one of its legs is lifted at regular
      intervals. It occasionally makes a short and quick
      step, as though driven by an unseen spring, but, like
      that of an automaton, aimless and objectless. If it is
      pulled, it makes a movement of avoidance, but falls
      back into its stupefied condition as soon as it is
      released. It is no longer capable of action
      consciously directed to a given object; it neither
      tries to escape, nor to attack, nor to go back to its
      home, nor to rejoin its companions, nor to walk away;
      it feels neither heat nor cold, it knows neither fear
      nor desire for food. It is merely an automatic and
      reflex machine, and is exactly similar to one of those
      pigeons from which Flourens removed the hemispheres of
      the cerebrum. Just in the same way behaves the body of
      an ant from which the head has been taken away. In the
      numerous fights between amazons and other ants,
      countless cases have been observed of slight injury to
      the brain, which have caused the most remarkable
      phenomena. Many of the wounded were seized with a mad
      rage, and flung themselves at every one that came in
      their way, whether friend or foe. Others assumed an
      appearance of indifference, and walked serenely about
      in the midst of the fighting. Others exhibited a
      sudden failure of strength; but they still recognised
      their enemies, approached them, and tried to bite them
      in cold blood, in a way quite foreign to the behaviour
      of healthy ants. They were also often observed to run
      round and round in a circle, the motion resembling the
      _manège_, or riding-school action of mammals, when one
      of the crura cerebri has been removed.

      If an ant is cut in half through the thorax, so that
      the great nerve ganglia of the pro-thorax remain
      untouched, the behaviour of the head shows that
      intelligence also remains untouched. Ants mutilated in
      this way try to go forwards with their two remaining
      legs, and beg with their antennæ for their companions'
      aid. If one of these latter lets itself be stopped,
      then we observe a lively interchange of thanks and
      sympathy expressed by the actively moving antennæ.
      Forel placed near to each other two such mutilated
      bodies of the _F. rufibarbis_. They conversed with
      each other in the above-described way, and appeared
      each to beg for help. But when he put in some
      similarly mutilated ants of a hostile species, _F.
      sanguinea_, the picture was changed; war broke out
      between these cripples just in the same way and with
      the same fury as between perfect ants.[44]

The antennæ appear to be the most important of the sense-organs, as
their removal produces an extraordinary disturbance in the intelligence
of the animal. An ant so mutilated can no longer find its way or
recognise companions, and therefore is unable to distinguish between
friends and foes. It is also unable to find food, ceases to engage in
any labour, and loses all its regard for larvæ, remaining permanently
quiet and almost motionless. A somewhat similar disturbance, or rather
destruction, of the mental faculties is observable as a result of the
same mutilation in the case of bees.[45]


[19] While this MS. is passing through the press Sir John Lubbock has
read another paper before the Linnæan Society, which contains some
important additional matter concerning the sense of direction in ants.
It seems that in the experiment above described, the hat-box was not
provided with a cover or lid, i.e. was not a 'closed chamber,' and that
Sir John now finds the ants to take their bearings from the direction in
which they observe the light to fall upon them. For in the experiment
with the uncovered hat-box, if the source of light (candle) is moved
round together with the rotating table which supports the box, the ants
continue their way without making compensating changes in their
direction of advance. The same thing happens if the hat-box is covered,
so as to make of it a dark chamber. Direction of light being the source
of their information that their ground is being moved, we can understand
why they do not know that it is being moved when it is moved in the
direction of their advance, as in the experiment with the paper slip.

[20] It is to be noted that although ants will attack stranger ants
introduced from other nests, they will carefully tend stranger larvæ
similarly introduced.

[21] _The Naturalist in Nicaragua_, 1874, p. 26.

[22] See _Leisure Hour_, 1880, p. 390.

[23] _Introduction to Entomology_, vol. ii. p. 524.

[24] Vol. vii. pp. 443-4.

[25] Büchner, _Geistesleben der Thiere_, pp. 66-7.

[26] _Origin of Species_, 6th ed. pp. 207-8.

[27] _Loc. cit._ p. 121.

[28] _Loc. cit._ p. 123.

[29] _Origin of Species_, 6th ed. p. 218.

[30] _Geistesleben der Thiere_, pp. 145-9.

[31] _Loc. cit._

[32] _Loc. cit._ p. 337.

[33] _Loc. cit._ p. 97.

[34] _Harvesting Ants and Trap-door Spiders_, London, 1873 and
Supplement, 1874.

[35] _Journal Linn. Soc._, vol. vi. p. 29, 1862.

[36] _Agricultural Ant of Texas_, Philadelphia, 1880.

[37] _Trans. Ent. Soc. Lond._, i. 103, 1836.

[38] _Madras Journ. Lit. Sc._, 1851.

[39] For this see Moggridge, _loc. cit._ pp. 6-10, where, besides Prov.
iv. 6-8, and xxx. 25, quotations are given from Horace, Virgil, Plautus,
and others.

[40] Proc. Phil. Acad. Nat. Sci., xii. p. 445.

[41] Agricultural Ant of Texas (Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, 1880).

[42] _Missionary Travels_, p. 328.

[43] _Animal Biography_, 'Ants.'

[44] Büchner, _Geistesleben der Thiere_, English translation, p. 49.

[45] While this work is passing through the press, an interesting Essay
has been published by Mr. MacCook on the Honey-making Ant. I am not here
able to refer to this Essay at greater length, but have done so in a
review in _Nature_ (March 2, 1882.)--G. J. R.



ARRANGING this chapter under the same general headings as the one on
ants, we shall consider first--

_Powers of Special Sense._

Bees and wasps have much greater powers of sight than ants. They not
only perceive objects at a greater distance, but are also able to
distinguish their colours. This was proved by Sir John Lubbock, who
placed honey on slips of paper similarly formed, but of different
colours; when a bee had repeatedly visited a slip of one colour (A), he
transposed the slips during the absence of the bee; on its return the
insect did not fly to slip B, although this now occupied the _position_
which had been previously occupied by slip A, but again visited slip A,
although this now occupied the position which had been previously
occupied by slip B. Therefore, as these experiments were again and again
repeated both on bees and wasps with uniform results, there can be no
question that the insects by their first visits to slip A established an
association between the colour of A and the honey upon it, such that,
when they again returned and found B in the place of A, they were guided
by their memory of the colour rather than by their memory of the
position. It was thus shown that the insects could distinguish green,
red, yellow, and blue. These experiments also brought out the further
fact that both bees and wasps exhibit a marked preference for some
colours over others. Thus, in a series of black, white, yellow, orange,
green, blue, and red slips, two or three bees paid twenty-one visits to
the orange and yellow, and only four to all the other slips. The slips
were then moved, after which, out of thirty-two visits, twenty-two were
to the orange and yellow. Another colour to which a similar preference
is shown is blue.

As regards scent, Sir John found that on putting a few drops of eau de
Cologne at the entrance of a beehive, 'immediately a number (about 15)
came out to see what was the matter.' Other scents had a similar effect;
but on repetition several times the bees became accustomed to the scent,
and no longer came out.

As in ants, so in bees, Sir John's experiments failed to yield any
evidence of a sense of hearing. But in this connection we must not
forget the well-known fact, first observed by Huber, that the queen bee
will answer by a certain sound the peculiar piping of a pupa queen; and
again, by making a certain cry or humming noise, will strike
consternation suddenly on all the bees in the hive--these remaining for
a long time motionless as if stupefied.

_Sense of Direction._

The following are Sir John Lubbock's observations upon this subject in
the case of bees and wasps:--

      Every one has heard of a 'bee-line.' It would be no
      less correct to speak of a wasp-line. On August 6 I
      marked a wasp, the nest of which was round the corner
      of the house, so that her direct way home was not out
      at the window by which she had entered, but in the
      opposite direction, across the room to a window which
      was closed. I watched her for some hours, during which
      time she constantly went to the wrong window, and lost
      much time in buzzing about at it. For ten consecutive
      days this wasp paid numerous visits, coming in at the
      open window, and always trying, though always
      unsuccessfully, to return to her nest in the
      'wasp-line' of the closed window--buzzing about that
      window for hours at a time, though eventually on
      finding it closed she returned and went round through
      the open window by which she always entered.

This observation shows how strong must be the instinct in a wasp to take
the shortest way home, and how much the insect depends upon its sense of
direction in so doing. It also shows how long a time it requires to
learn by individual experience the properties of a previously unknown
substance such as glass. But to this latter point we shall presently
have occasion to return.

Next we must adduce evidence to show that in way-finding the 'sense of
direction' in bees appears to be largely supplemented by observation of
particular objects.

Sir John Lubbock observes: 'I never found bees to return if brought any
considerable distance at once. By taking them, however, some twenty
yards each time they came to the honey, I at length _trained_ them to
come to my room;' that is to say, bees require to _learn_ their way
little by little before they can return to a store of honey which they
may have been fortunate enough to find; their general sense of direction
is not in itself a sufficient guide. This, at least, is the case where,
as in the experiments in question, the bees are _carried_ from the hive
to the store of honey (here a distance of less than 200 yards): possibly
if they had found the honey by themselves flying towards it, and so
probably taking note of objects by the way, one journey might have
proved sufficient to teach them the way. But, whether or not this would
have been the case, the fact that when carried they required also to be
taught the way piece by piece, is conclusive proof that their sense of
direction _alone_ is not sufficient to enable them to traverse a route
of 200 yards a second time.

The same result is brought out by other experiments conducted on a
different plan, though not apparently with this object. 'My room is
square, with two windows on the south-west side, where the hive was
placed, and one on the south-east.' Besides the ordinary entrance from
outside, the hive had a small postern door opening into the room.

      At 6.50 a bee came out through the little postern
      door. After she had fed, she evidently did not know
      her way home; so I put her back.

      At 7.10 she came out again. I again fed her and put
      her back.

      At 10.15 she came out a third time; and again I had to
      put her back.

      At 10.55 she came out again, and still did not
      remember the door. Though I was satisfied that she
      really wished to return, and was not voluntarily
      remaining outside; still, to make the matter clear, I
      turned her out of a side window into the garden, when
      she at once returned to the hive.

      At 11.15 she came out again; and again I had to show
      her the way back.

      At 11.20 she came out again; and again I had to show
      her the way back (this makes five times); when,

      At 11.30 she came out again after feeding, she
      returned straight to the hive.

      At 11.40 she came out, fed, and returned straight to
      the hive.

      At 11.50 she came out, fed, and returned straight to
      the hive; she then stayed in for some time.

      At 12.30 she came out again, but seemed to have
      forgotten the way back; after some time, however, she
      found the door and went in.

      Again:--August 24 at 7.20 a bee came through the
      postern: I fed her; and though she was not frightened
      or disturbed, when she had finished her meal she flew
      to the window and had evidently lost her way; so at 8
      o'clock I in pity put her back myself.

      August 29.--A bee came out to the honey at 10.10; at
      10.12 she flew to the window, and remained buzzing
      about till 11.12, when, being satisfied that she could
      not find her way, I put her in.

      Nay, even those who seemed to know the postern, if
      taken near the other window, flew to it, and seemed to
      have lost themselves.

      This cost me a great many bees. Those which got into
      my room by accident continually died on the floor near
      the window.

These observations show that even when a bee is not _carried_ from the
hive to the honey, but herself _flies_ to it, her sense of direction is
not alone sufficient to enable her to find the way back to the hive--or,
rather, to the unaccustomed entrance to the hive from which she had come
out. Probably if the side window had been open, the bee would have
returned to the hive round the corner of the house, and through the
entrance to which she was most accustomed. But as it was she had to
_learn_, by five or six journeys, the way between the postern entrance
and the food.

But the following observation on a wasp is in this connection the most

A marked wasp visited honey exposed in the room before mentioned. 'The
next morning she came--

      At 7.25, and fed till 7.28, when she began flying
      about the room and even into the next; so I thought it
      well to put her out of the window, when she flew
      straight away to her nest. My room, as already
      mentioned, had windows on two sides; and the nest was
      in the direction of a closed window, so that the wasp
      had to go out of her way in going out through the open

      At 7.45 she came back. I had moved the glass
      containing the honey about two yards; and though it
      stood conspicuously, the wasp seemed to have much
      difficulty in finding it. Again she flew to the window
      in the direction of her nest, and I had to put her
      out, which I did at 8.2.

      At 8.15 she returned to the honey almost straight.
      8.21, she flew again to the closed window, and
      apparently could not find her way; so at 8.35 I put
      her out again. It seems obvious from this that wasps
      have a sense of direction, and do not find their way
      merely by sight.

      At 8.50 back to honey, and 8.54 again to wrong window;
      but finding it closed, she took two or three turns
      round the room, and then flew out through the open

      At 9.24 back to the honey; and 9.27 away, first,
      however, paying a visit to the wrong window, but
      without alighting.

  At 9.36 back to the honey, and 9.39 away, but, as before, going
                                           first to wrong window.
                                She was away therefore 9 minutes.
     9.50   "     9.53 away, this time straight.   "  11    "
    10      "    10. 7   "                         "  11    "
    10.19   "    10.22   "                         "  12    "
    10.35   "    10.39   "                         "  13    "
    10.47   "    10.50   "                         "   9    "
    11. 4   "    11. 7   "                         "  14    "
    11.21   "    11.24   "                         "  14    "
    11.34   "    11.37   "                         "  10    "
    11.49   "    11.52   "                         "   1    "
    12. 3   "    12. 5   "    Away therefore 11 minutes.
    12.13   "    12.15½  "                         "   8    "
    12.25   "    12.28   "                         "  10    "
    12.39   "    12.43   "                         "  11    "
    12.54   "    12.57   "                         "  11    "
     1.15   "     1.19   "                         "  18    "
     1.27   "     1.30   "                         "   8 minutes,'
  &c., &c., the way being now clearly well learnt.

But that the sense of direction is of much service to bees in finding
the locality of their hives seems to be indicated by the following
observation thus narrated, on the authority of the authors themselves,
by Messrs. Kirby and Spence:--

      In vain, during my stay at St. Nicholas, I sallied out
      at every outlet to try to gain some idea of the extent
      and form of the town. Trees, trees, trees, still met
      me, and intercepted the view in every direction; and I
      defy any inhabitant bee of this rural metropolis,
      after once quitting its hive, ever to gain a glimpse
      of it again until nearly perpendicularly over it. The
      bees, therefore, . . . must be led to their abodes by
      instinct, &c.

The observation, however, is not so conclusive as its authors suppose;
for there is nothing to show that the bees did not take note of
particular objects on their accustomed routes, and so learn these routes
by stages. It would be worth while in this connection to try the effect
of hooding the eyes of a bee, or, if this were deemed too disturbing an
experiment, removing the hive bodily to a distance from its accustomed
site, and observing whether the bees start away boldly as before for
long flights, or learn their new routes by stages.

In this connection I may quote the following.

Mr. John Topham, of Marlborough House, Torquay, writing to 'Nature,'[46]

      On October 29, 1873, I removed a hive of bees in my
      garden, after it was quite dark, for a distance of 12
      yards from the place in which it had stood for several
      months; and between its original situation and the new
      one there was a bushy evergreen tree, so that all
      sight of its former place was obstructed to a person
      looking from the new situation of the hive.

      Notwithstanding this change, the bees every day flew
      to the locality where they formerly lived, and
      continued flying around the site of what had been
      their home until, as night came on, they many of them
      sank upon the grass exhausted and chilled by the cold.
      Numbers, however, returned alive to their new
      position, after having looked in vain for their hive
      in its old place. At night I picked the exhausted bees
      up, and having restored warmth to them (by leaving
      them for a time on my coat-sleeve), I returned them to
      their companions.

      Here was an illustration that the faculty of memory
      was superior to that of observation; but that was not
      all. Nearly every bee which I picked up during the 23
      days through which this effort of memory lasted was an
      _old one_, as was easily deduced from observing the
      worn edges of the wings; showing that whilst the young
      insects were quick in receiving new impressions and in
      correcting errors, the nervous system of the old bees
      continued _acting in the direction which early habit
      had effected_. So true it is that 'one touch of nature
      makes the whole world kin.'

A closely similar observation has been told me by a friend, Mr. George
Turner. He found that when he removed a beehive only a yard or two from
its accustomed site, the bees, on returning home, flew in swarms around
the latter, and for a long time were unable to find the hive. And
several other similar cases might be adduced. Lastly, Thompson says:--

      It is highly remarkable that they [bees] know their
      hive more from its locality than from its appearance,
      for if it be removed during their absence and a
      similar one be substituted, they enter the strange
      one. If the position of a hive be changed, the bees
      for the first day take no distant flight till they
      have thoroughly scrutinised every object in its

On the other hand, the writer of the article on 'Bees' in the
'Encyclopædia Britannica' says that in certain parts of France it is the
habit of bee-keepers to place a number of hives upon a boat, which, in
charge of a man, floats slowly down a river. The bees are thus
continuously changing their pasture-ground, and yet do not lose their
locomotive hives.

It may be here worth while to add, parenthetically, as the only
authentic observation with which I am acquainted concerning the distance
that bees are accustomed to forage, the following statement of Prof.
Hugh Blackburn. Writing from Glasgow University to 'Nature,'[48] he says
that bees are found in a certain peach-house every spring at the time of
blossom, although, so far as he can ascertain, the beehives nearest to
the peach-house in question are his own, and these are at a distance of
ten miles.

On the whole, then, and in the absence of further experiments, we must
conclude it to be probable that the sense of direction with which
hymenopterous insects are, as shown by some of Sir John Lubbock's
experiments, unquestionably endowed, is of no small use to them in
finding their way from home to food and _vice versâ_; although it
appears certain, from other of his experiments, that this sense of
direction is not in all cases a sufficient guide, and therefore requires
to be supplemented by the definite observation of landmarks.

But the most conclusive evidence on this latter point is afforded by a
highly interesting observation of Mr. Bates on the sand-wasps at
Santurem, which may here be suitably introduced, as the insects are not
distantly allied. He describes these animals as always taking a few
turns in the air round the hole they had made in the sand before leaving
to seek for flies in the forest, apparently in order to mark well the
position of the burrow, so that on their return they might find it
without difficulty. This observation has been since confirmed in a
striking manner by Mr. Belt, who found that the sand-wasp takes the most
precise bearings of an object the position of which she desires to
remember. This observation is so interesting that it deserves to be
rendered _in extenso_:--

      A specimen of _Polistes carnifex_ (_i.e._ the
      sand-wasp noticed by Mr. Bates) was hunting about for
      caterpillars in my garden. I found one about an inch
      long, and held it out towards it on the point of a
      stick. It seized it immediately, and commenced biting
      it from head to tail, soon reducing the soft body to a
      mass of pulp. It rolled up about one-half of it into a
      ball, and prepared to carry it off. Being at the time
      amidst a thick mass of a fine-leaved climbing plant,
      it proceeded, before flying away, to take note of the
      place where it was leaving the other half. To do this,
      it hovered in front of it for a few seconds, then took
      small circles in front of it, then larger ones round
      the whole plant. I thought it had gone, but it
      returned again, and had another look at the opening in
      the dense foliage down which the other half of the
      caterpillar lay. It then flew away, but must have left
      its burden for distribution with its comrades at the
      nest, for it returned in less than two minutes, and
      making one circle around the bush, descended to the
      opening, alighted on a leaf, and ran inside. The green
      remnant of the caterpillar was lying on another leaf
      inside, but not connected with the one on which the
      wasp alighted, so that in running in it missed it, and
      soon got hopelessly lost in the thick foliage. Coming
      out again, it took another circle, and pounced down on
      the same spot again, as soon as it came opposite to
      it. Three small seed-pods, which here grew close
      together, formed the marks that I had myself taken to
      note the place, and these the wasp seemed also to have
      taken as its guide, for it flew directly down to them,
      and ran inside; but the small leaf on which the
      fragment of caterpillar lay not being directly
      connected with any on the outside, it again missed it,
      and again got far away from the object of its search.
      It then flew out again, and the same process was
      repeated again and again. Always when in circling
      round it came in sight of the seed-pods down it
      pounced, alighted near them, and recommenced its quest
      on foot. I was surprised at its perseverance, and
      thought it would have given up the search; but not so,
      it returned at least half-a-dozen times, and seemed to
      get angry, hurrying about with buzzing wings. At last
      it stumbled across its prey, seized it eagerly, and as
      there was nothing more to come back for, flew straight
      off to its nest, without taking any further note of
      the locality. Such an action is not the result of
      blind instinct, but of a thinking mind; and it is
      wonderful to see an insect so differently constructed
      using a mental process similar to that of man.


We may here first allude to an observation of Sir John Lubbock already
quoted in another connexion (see p. 147). It is here evident that the
wasp, after finding the store of honey in the room, and after finding
the window closed in the 'wasp-line' direction to its nest, required
three repeated _lessons_ from Sir John before she _learnt_ that the
window on the other side of the room, and away from the direction of her
nest, afforded no obstacle to her exit. Having learnt this, the fourth
time she came she again flew to the closed window as before, and then,
as if but dimly remembering that there was another opening somewhere
that offered no such mysterious resistance to her passage, 'she took two
or three turns round the room, and then flew out through the open
window.' Having now taken the bearings of all the room upon her own
wings, and having again found the difference between the two windows in
respect of resistance, although in all other respects so much alike, the
next time she came she made in the first instance as it were an
experimental flight towards the closed window, but clearly had the
alternative of going to the open one in her memory; for on finding the
window closed as before, she did not alight, but flew straight from the
closed to the open window. The same thing happened once again, but now,
with the distinction between the two windows thus fully learnt, and with
it the perception that in this case 'the shortest cut was the longest
way round,' she never again flew to the closed window; in the forty
successive visits which she paid through the remainder of that day, and
the hundred visits or so which she made during the two following days,
she seems to have uniformly flown to the open window.

As evidence of _forgetfulness_, it will be enough to refer to the case
of another wasp which, under precisely similar circumstances to those
just detailed, learnt her way out of the open window one day, having
made fifty passages through it in five hours. Yet Sir John remarks,--

      It struck me as curious that on the following day this
      wasp seemed by no means so sure of her way, but over
      and over again went to the closed window.

It is further of interest to note, as showing the similarity of the
memory displayed by these insects with that of the higher animals, that
there are considerable individual differences to be found in the degree
of its manifestation.

      In this respect they certainly differ considerably.
      Some of the bees which came out of the little postern
      door (already described) were able to find their way
      back after it had been shown to them a few times.
      Others were much more stupid; thus one bee came out on
      the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th,
      18th, and 19th, and came to the honey; but though I
      repeatedly put her back through the postern, she was
      never able to find her way for herself.

      I often found that if bees which were brought to honey
      did not return at once, still they would do so a day
      or two afterwards. For instance, on July 11, 1874, a
      hot thundery day, and when the bees were much out of
      humour, I brought twelve bees to some honey; only one
      came back, and that one only twice; but on the
      following day several of them returned.

This latter observation is important, as proving that bees can remember
for at least a whole day the locality where they have found honey only
once before, and that they so far think about their past experiences as
to return to that locality when foraging.

As the association of ideas by contiguity is the principle which forms
the basis of all psychology, it is desirable to consider still more
attentively this the earliest manifestation that we have of it in the
memory of the Hymenoptera. That it is not exercised with exclusive
reference to _locality_ is proved by the following observation of Sir
John Lubbock:--

      I kept a specimen of _Polistes Gallica_ for no less
      than nine months.[49] . . . I had no difficulty in
      inducing her to feed on my hand; but at first she was
      shy and nervous. She kept her sting in constant
      readiness. . . . Gradually she became quite used to me,
      and when I took her on my hand apparently expected to
      be fed. She even allowed me to stroke her without any
      appearance of fear, and for some months I never saw
      her sting.

One other observation which goes to prove that other things besides
locality are noted and remembered by bees may here be quoted. Sir John
placed a bee in a bell jar, the closed end of which he held towards a
window. The bee buzzed about at that end trying to make for the open
air. He then showed her the way out of the open end of the jar, and
after having thus learnt it, she was able to find the way out herself.
This seems to show that the bee, like the wasp on the closed
window-pane, was able to appreciate and to remember the difference
between the quality of glass as resisting and air as permeable, although
to her sense of vision the difference must have been very slight. In
other words, the bee must have remembered that by first flying _away_
from the window, round the edge of the jar, and then _towards_ the
window, she could surmount the transparent obstacle; and this implies a
somewhat different act of memory from that of associating a particular
object--such as honey--with a particular locality. It is noteworthy that
a fly under similar circumstances did not require to be taught to find
its way out of the jar, but spontaneously found its own way out. This,
however, may be explained by the fact that flies do not always direct
their flight towards windows, and therefore the escape of this one was
probably not due to any act of intelligence.

While upon the subject of memory in the Hymenoptera, it is indispensable
that we should again refer to the observation of Messrs. Belt and Bates
already alluded to on pages 150-51. For it is from that observation
rendered evident that these sand-wasps took definite pains, as it were,
to _teach themselves_ the localities to which they desired to return.
Mr. Bates further observed that after thus taking a careful mental note
of the place, they would return to it without a moment's hesitation
after an absence of an hour. The observation of Mr. Belt, already quoted
_in extenso_, proves that these mental notes may be taken with the
utmost minuteness, so that even in the most intricate places the insect,
on its return, is perfectly confident that it has not made a mistake.

With regard to the duration of memory, Stickney relates a case in which
some bees took possession of a hollow place beneath a roof, and having
been then removed into a hive, continued for several years to return and
occupy the same hole with their successive swarms.[50]

Similarly Huber relates an observation of his own showing the duration
of memory in bees. One autumn he put some honey in a window, which the
bees visited in large numbers. During the winter the honey was taken
away and the shutters shut. When they were again opened in the spring
the bees returned, although there was no honey in the window.

These two cases amply prove that the memory of bees is comparable with
that of ants, which, as we have seen from analogous facts, also extends
at least over a period of many months.


Sir John Lubbock's experiments on this head go to show that the social
sympathies of bees are even less developed than he found them to be in
certain species of ants. Thus he says:--

      I have already mentioned with reference to the
      attachment which bees have been said to show for one
      another, that though I have repeatedly seen them lick
      a bee which had smeared herself in honey, I never
      observed them show the slightest attention to any of
      their comrades who had been drowned in water. Far,
      indeed, from having been able to discover any evidence
      of affection among them, they appear to be thoroughly
      callous and utterly indifferent to one another. As
      already mentioned, it was necessary for me
      occasionally to kill a bee; but I never found that the
      others took the slightest notice. Thus on the 11th of
      October I crushed a bee close to one which was
      feeding--in fact, so close that their wings touched;
      yet the survivor took no notice whatever of the death
      of her sister, but went on feeding with every
      appearance of composure and enjoyment, just as if
      nothing had happened. When the pressure was removed,
      she remained by the side of the corpse without the
      slightest appearance of apprehension, sorrow, or
      recognition. It was, of course, impossible for her to
      understand my reason for killing her companion; yet
      neither did she feel the slightest emotion at her
      sister's death, nor did she show any alarm lest the
      same fate should befall her also. In a second case
      exactly the same occurred. Again, I have several
      times, while a bee has been feeding, held a second bee
      by the leg close to her; the prisoner, of course,
      struggled to escape, and buzzed as loudly as she
      could; yet the selfish eater took no notice whatever.
      So far, therefore, from being at all affectionate, I
      doubt whether bees are in the least fond of one

Réaumur, however ('Insects,' vol. v., p. 265), narrates a case in which
a hive-bee was partly drowned and so rendered insensible; the others in
the hive carefully licked and otherwise tended her till she recovered.
This seems to show that bees, like ants, are more apt to have their
sympathies aroused by the sight of ailing or injured companions than by
that of healthy companions in distress; but Sir John Lubbock's
observations above quoted go to prove that even in this case display of
sympathy is certainly not the rule.

_Powers of Communication._

Huber says that when one wasp finds a store of honey 'it returns to its
nest, and brings off in a short time a hundred other wasps;' and this
statement is confirmed by Dujardin, who witnessed a somewhat similar
performance in the case of bees--the individual which first found a
concealed store informing other individuals of the fact, and so on till
numberless individuals had found it.

Although the systematic experiments of Sir John Lubbock have not tended
to confirm these observations with regard to bees and wasps, we must not
too readily allow his negative results to discredit these positive
observations--more especially as we have seen that his _later_
experiments have fully confirmed the opinion of these previous authors
with respect to ants. His experiments on bees and wasps consisted in
exposing honey in a hidden situation, marking a bee or wasp that came to
it, and observing whether it afterwards brought any companions to share
the booty. He found that although the same insect would return over and
over again, strangers came so rarely that their visits could only be
attributed to accidental and independent discovery. Only if the honey
were in an exposed situation, where the insects could _see_ one another
feeding, would one follow the other to the food.

But we have the more reason not to accept unreservedly the conclusion
to which these experiments in themselves might lead, because the very
able observer F. Müller states an observation of his own which must be
considered as alone sufficient to prove that bees are able to
communicate information to one another:--

      Once (he says[51]) I assisted at a curious contest,
      which took place between the queen and the other bees
      in one of my hives, which throws some light on the
      intellectual faculties of these animals. A set of
      forty-seven cells have been filled, eight on a newly
      completed comb, thirty-five on the following, and four
      around the first cell of a new comb. When the queen
      had laid eggs in all the cells of the two older combs
      she went several times round their circumference (as
      she always does, in order to ascertain whether she has
      not forgotten any cell), and then prepared to retreat
      into the lower part of the breeding-room. But as she
      had overlooked the four cells of the new comb, the
      workers ran impatiently from this part to the queen,
      pushing her, in an odd manner, with their heads, as
      they did also other workers they met with. In
      consequence the queen began again to go around on the
      two older combs; but as she did not find any cell
      wanting an egg she tried to descend, but everywhere
      she was pushed back by the workers. This contest
      lasted for a rather long while, till the queen escaped
      without having completed her work. Thus the workers
      knew how to advise the queen that something was as yet
      to be done, but they knew not how to show her _where_
      it had to be done.

Again, Mr. Josiah Emery, writing to 'Nature,'[52] with reference to Sir
John Lubbock's experiments, says that the faculty of communication which
bees possess is so well and generally known to the 'bee-hunters' of
America, that the recognised method of finding a bees' nest is to act
upon the faculty in question:--

      Going to a field or wood at a distance from tame bees,
      with their box of honey they gather up from the
      flowers and imprison one or more bees, and after they
      have become sufficiently gorged, let them out to
      return to their home with their easily gotten load.
      Waiting patiently a longer or shorter time, according
      to the distance of the bee-tree, the hunter scarcely
      ever fails to see the bee or bees return accompanied
      with other bees, which are in like manner imprisoned
      till they in turn are filled, when one or more are
      let out at places distant from each other, and the
      direction in each case in which the bee flies noted,
      and thus, by a kind of triangulation, the position of
      the bee-tree proximately ascertained.

      Those who have stored honey in their houses understand
      very well how important it is to prevent a single bee
      from discovering its location. Such discovery is sure
      to be followed by a general onslaught from the hive
      unless all means of access is prevented. It is
      possible that our American are more intelligent than
      European bees, but hardly probable; and I certainly
      shall not ask an Englishman to admit it. Those in
      America who are in the habit of playing first, second,
      and third fiddle to instinct will probably attribute
      this seeming intelligence to that principle.

According to De Fravière, bees have a number of different notes or tones
which they emit from the stigmata of the thorax and abdomen, and by
which they communicate information. He says:--

      As soon as a bee arrives with important news, it is at
      once surrounded, emits two or three shrill notes, and
      taps a comrade with its long, flexible, and very
      slender feelers, or antennæ. The friend passes on the
      news in similar fashion, and the intelligence soon
      traverses the whole hive. If it is of an agreeable
      kind--if, for instance, it concerns the discovery of a
      store of sugar or of honey, or of a flowering
      meadow--all remains orderly. But, on the other hand,
      great excitement arises if the news presages some
      threatened danger, or if strange animals are
      threatening invasion of the hive. It seems that such
      intelligence is conveyed first to the queen, as the
      most important person in the state.

This account, which is quoted from Büchner, no doubt bears indications
of imaginative colouring; but if the observation as to the emission of
sounds is correct--and, as we shall see, this point is well confirmed by
other observers--it is most likely concerned in communicating by tone a
general idea of good or harm: probably in the former case it acts as a
sign, 'follow me;' and in the latter as a signal of danger. Büchner
further says that, according to Landois, if a saucer of honey is placed
before a hive, a few bees come out, which emit a cry of tut, tut, tut.
This note is rather shrill, and resembles the cry of an attacked bee.
Hereupon a large number of bees come out of the hive to collect the
offered honey.


      The best way to observe the power of communication
      possessed by bees by means of their interchange of
      touches, is to take away the queen from a hive. In a
      little time, about an hour afterwards, the sad event
      will be noticed by a small part of the community, and
      these will stop working and run hastily about over the
      comb. But this only concerns part of the hive, and the
      side of a single comb. The excited bees, however, soon
      leave the little circle in which they at first
      revolved, and when they meet their comrades they cross
      their antennæ and lightly touch the others with them.
      The bees which have received some impression from this
      touch now become uneasy in their turn, and convey
      their uneasiness and distress in the same way to the
      other parts of the dwelling. The disorder increases
      rapidly, spreads to the other side of the comb, and at
      last to all the people. Then arises the general
      confusion before described.

      Huber tested this communication by the antennæ by a
      striking experiment. He divided a hive into two quite
      separate parts by a partition wall, whereupon great
      excitement arose in the division in which there was no
      queen, and this was only quieted when some workers
      began to build royal cells.

      He then divided a hive in similar fashion by a
      trellis, through which the bees could pass their
      feelers. In this case all remained quiet, and no
      attempt was made to build royal cells: the queen could
      also be clearly seen crossing her antennæ with the
      workers on the other side of the trellis.

      Apparently the feelers are also connected with the
      exceedingly fine scent of the bees, which enables
      them, wonderful as it may seem, to distinguish friend
      and foe, and to recognise the members of their own
      hive among the thousands and thousands of bees
      swarming around, and to drive back from the entrance
      stranger or robber bees. The bee-masters, therefore,
      when they want two separate colonies or the members of
      them to unite in one hive, sprinkle water over the
      bees, or stupefy them with some fumigating substance,
      so as to make them to a certain extent insensible to
      smell, in order to attain their object. It is always
      possible to unite colonies by making the bees smell of
      some strong-smelling stuff, such as musk.[53]

Lastly, under the present heading I shall quote one other observation,
for which I am also indebted to Büchner's very admirable collection of
facts relating to the psychology of Hymenoptera:--

      Herr L. Brofft relates, in 'der Zoologische Garten'
      (XVIII. Year, No. 1, p. 67), that a poor and a rich
      hive stood next each other on his father's bee stand,
      and the latter suddenly lost its queen. Before the
      owner had come to a decision thereupon the bees of the
      two hives came to a mutual understanding as to the
      condition of their two states. The dwellers in the
      queenless hive, with their stores of provisions, went
      over into the less populous or poorer hive, after they
      had assured themselves, by many influential
      deputations, as to the state of the interior of the
      poor hive, and, as appeared, especially as to the
      presence of an egg-laying queen!

_General Habits._

The active life of bees is divided between collecting food and rearing
young. We shall therefore consider these two functions separately.

The food collected consists of two kinds, honey (which, although stored
in the 'crop' for the purpose of carriage from the flowers to the cells,
appears to be but the condensed nectar of flowers) and so-called
'bee-bread.' This consists of the pollen of flowers, which is worked
into a kind of paste by the bees and stored in their cells till it is
required to serve as food for their larvæ. It is then partly digested by
the nurses with honey, so that a sort of chyle is formed. It is
observable that in each flight the 'carrier bees' collect only one kind
of pollen, so that it is possible for the 'house bees' (which, by the
way, are the younger bees left at home to discharge domestic duties with
only a small proportion of older ones, left probably to direct the more
inexperienced young) to sort it for storage in different cells. In the
result there are several different kinds of bee-bread, some being more
stimulating or nutritious than others. The most nutritious has the
effect, when given to any female larva, of developing that larva into a
queen or fertile female. This fact is well known to the bees, who only
feed a small number of larvæ in this manner, and the larvæ which they
select so to feed they place in larger or 'royal' cells, with an obvious
foreknowledge of the increased dimensions to which the animal will grow
under the influence of this food. Only one queen is required for a
single hive; but the bees always raise several, so that if any mishap
should occur to one, other larvæ may be ready to fall back upon.

Besides honey and bee-bread two other substances are found in beehives.
These are propolis and beeswax. The former is a kind of sticky resin
collected for the most part from coniferous trees. This is used as
mortar in building, &c. It adheres so strongly to the legs of the bee
which has gathered it, that it can only be detached by the help of
comrades. For this purpose the loaded bee presents her legs to her
fellow-workers, who clean it off with their jaws, and while it is still
ductile, apply it round the inside of the hive. According to Huber, who
made this observation, the propolis is applied also to the insides of
the cells. The workers first planed the surfaces with their mandibles,
and one of them then pulled out a thread of propolis from the heap
deposited by the carrier bees, severed it by a sudden throwing back of
the head, and returned with it to the cell which it had previously been
planing. It then laid the thread between the two walls which it had
planed; but, proving too long, a portion of the thread was bitten off.
The properly measured portion was then forced into the angle of the cell
by the fore-feet and mandibles. The thread, now converted into a narrow
ribbon, was next found to be too broad. It was therefore gnawed down to
the proper width. Other bees then completed the work which this one had
begun, till all the walls of the cells were framed with bands of
propolis. The object of the propolis here seems to be that of giving
strength to the cells.

The wax is a secretion which proceeds from between the segments of the
abdomen. Having ingested a large meal of honey, the bees hang in a thick
cluster from the top of their hive in order to secrete the wax. When it
begins to exude, the bees, assisted by their companions, rub it off into
heaps, and when a sufficient quantity of the material has been thus
collected, the work begins of building the cells. As the cells are used
both for storing food and rearing young, I shall consider them later
on. Now we have to pass to the labours incidental to propagation.

All the eggs are laid by one queen, who requires during this season a
large amount of nourishment, so much, indeed, that ten or twelve working
bees (_i.e._ sterile females) are set apart as her feeders. Leaving the
'royal cell,' she walks over the nursery-combs attended by a retinue of
workers, and drops a single egg into each open cell. It is a highly
remarkable fact that the queen is able to control the sex of the eggs
which she lays, and only deposits drone or male eggs in the drone cells,
and worker or female eggs in the worker cells--the cells prepared for
the reception of drone larvæ being larger than those required for the
worker larvæ. Young queens lay more worker eggs than old queens, and
when a queen, from increasing age or any other cause, lays too large a
proportion of drone eggs, she is expelled from the community or put to
death. It is remarkable, also, under these circumstances, that the queen
herself seems to know that she has become useless, for she loses her
propensity to attack other queens, and so does not run the risk of
making the hive virtually queenless. There is now no doubt at all that
the determining cause of an egg turning out male or female is that
which Dzierzon has shown, namely, the absence or presence of
fertilisation--unfertilised eggs always developing into males, and
fertilised ones into females. The manner, therefore, in which a queen
controls the sex of her eggs must depend on some power that she has of
controlling their fertilisation.

The eggs hatch out into larvæ, which require constant attention from the
workers, who feed them with the chyle or bee-bread already mentioned. In
three weeks from the time that the egg is deposited, the white worm-like
larva has passed through its last metamorphosis. When it has emancipated
itself its nurses assemble round it to wash and caress it, as well as to
supply it with food. They then clean out the cell which it has left.

When so large a number of the larvæ hatch out as to overcrowd the hive,
it is the function of the queen to lead forth a swarm. Meanwhile several
larval queens have been in course of development, and matters are so
arranged by the foresight of the bees, that one or more young queens are
ready to emerge at a time when otherwise the hive would be left
queenless. But the young queen or queens, although perfectly formed,
must not escape from their royal prison-houses until the swarm has
fairly taken place; the worker bees will even strengthen the coverings
of these prison-houses if, owing to bad weather or other causes,
swarming is delayed. The prisoner queens, which are fed through a small
hole in the roof of their cells, now continually give vent to a
plaintive cry, called by the bee-keepers 'piping,' and this is answered
by the mother queen. The tones of the piping vary. The reason why the
young queens are kept such close prisoners till after the departure of
the mother queen with her swarm, is simply that the mother queen would
destroy all the younger ones, could she get the chance, by stinging
them. The workers, therefore, never allow the old queen to approach the
prisons of the younger ones. They establish a guard all round these
prisons or royal cells, and beat off the old queen whenever she
endeavours to approach. But if the swarming season is over, or anything
should prevent a further swarm from being sent out, the worker bees
offer no further resistance to the jealousy of the mother queen, but
allow her in cold blood to sting to death all the young queens in their
nursery prisons. As soon as the old queen leaves with a swarm, the young
queens are liberated in succession, but at intervals of a few days; for
if they were all liberated at once they would fall upon and destroy one
another. Each young queen as it is liberated goes off with another
swarm, and those which remain unliberated are as carefully guarded from
the liberated sister queen as they were previously guarded from the
mother queen. When the season is too late for swarming the remaining
young queens are liberated simultaneously, and are then allowed to fight
to the death, the survivor being received as sovereign.

      The bees, far from seeking to prevent these battles,
      appear to excite the combatants against each other,
      surrounding and bringing them back to the charge when
      they are disposed to recede from each other; and when
      either of the queens shows a disposition to approach
      her antagonist, all the bees forming the cluster
      instantly give way to allow her full liberty of
      attack. The first use which the conquering queen makes
      of her victory is to secure herself against fresh
      dangers by destroying all her future rivals in the
      royal cells; while the other bees, which are
      spectators of the carnage, share in the spoil,
      greedily devouring any food which may be found at the
      bottom of the cells, and even sucking the fluid from
      the abdomen of the pupæ before they toss out the

Similarly, when a strange queen is put into a hive already provided with
a queen--

      A circle of bees instinctively crowd around the
      invader, not, however, to attack her--for a worker
      never assaults a queen--but to respectfully prevent
      her escape, in order that a combat may take place
      between her and their reigning monarch. The lawful
      possessor then advances towards the part of the comb
      where the invader has established herself, the
      attendant workers clear a space for the encounter,
      and, without interfering, wait the result. A fearful
      encounter then ensues, in which one is stung to death,
      the survivor mounting the throne. Although the workers
      of a _de facto_ monarch will not fight for her
      defence, yet, if they perceive a strange queen
      _attempting_ to enter the hive, they will surround
      her, and hold her until she is starved to death; but
      such is their respect for royalty that they never
      attempt to sting her.[55]

All these facts display a wonderful amount of apparently sagacious
purpose on the part of the workers, although they may not seem to
reflect much credit on the intelligence of the queens. But in this
connection we must remember the observation of F. Huber, who saw two
queens, which were the only ones left in the hive, engaged in mortal
combat; and when an opportunity arose for each to sting the other
simultaneously, they simultaneously released each other's grasp, as if
in horror of a situation that might have ended in leaving the hive
queenless. This, then, is the calamity to avert which all the instincts
both of workers and queens are directed. And that these instincts are
controlled by intelligence is suggested, if not proved, by the
adaptations which they show to special circumstances. Thus, for
instance, F. Huber smoked a hive so that the queen and older bees
effected their escape, and took up their quarters a short distance away.
The bees which remained behind set about constructing three royal cells
for the purpose of rearing a new queen. Huber now carried back the old
queen and ensconced her in the hive. Immediately the bees set about
carrying away all the food from the royal cells, in order to prevent the
larvæ contained therein from developing into queens. Again, if a strange
queen is presented to a hive already provided with one, the workers do
not wait for their own queen to destroy the pretender, but themselves
sting or smother her to death. When, on the other hand, a queen is
presented to a hive which is without one, the bees adopt her, although
it is often necessary for the bee-master to protect her for a day or two
in a trellis cage, until her subjects have become acquainted with her.
When a hive is queenless, the bees stop all work, become restless, and
make a dull complaining noise. This, however, is only the case if there
is likewise a total absence of royal pupæ, and of ordinary pupæ under
three days of age--_i.e._ the age during which it is possible to rear an
ordinary larva into a queen.

As soon as the queen has been fertilised, and the services of the drones
therefore no longer required, the worker bees fall upon their
unfortunate and defenceless brothers to kill them, either by direct
stinging or by throwing them out of the hive to perish in the cold. The
drones' cells are then torn down, and any remaining drone eggs or pupæ
destroyed. Generally all the drones--which may number more than a
thousand--are slaughtered in the course of a single day. Evidently the
object of this massacre is that of getting rid of useless mouths; but
there is a more difficult question as to why these useless mouths ever
came into existence. It has been suggested that the enormous
disproportion between the present number of males and the single fertile
female refers to a time before the social instincts became so complex
or consolidated, and when, therefore, bees lived in lesser communities.
Probably this is the explanation, although I think we might still have
expected that before this period in their evolution had arrived bees
might have developed a compensating instinct, either not to allow the
queen to lay so many drone eggs, or else to massacre the drones while
still in the larval state. But here we must remember that among the
wasps the males do work (chiefly domestic work, for which they are fed
by their foraging sisters); so it is possible that in the hive-bee the
drones were originally useful members of the community, and that they
have lost their primitively useful instincts. But whatever the
explanation, it is very curious that here, among the animals which are
justly regarded as exhibiting the highest perfection of instinct, we
meet with perhaps the most flagrant instance in the animal kingdom of
instinct unperfected. It is the more remarkable that the drone-killing
instinct should not have been better developed in the direction of
killing the drones at the most profitable time--namely, in their larval
or oval state--from the fact that in many respects it seems to have been
advanced to a high degree of discriminative refinement. Thus, to quote

      That the massacre of the drones is not performed
      entirely from an instinctive impulse, but in full
      consciousness of the object to be gained, is proved by
      the circumstance that it is carried out the more
      completely and mercilessly the more fertile the queen
      shows herself to be. But in cases where this fertility
      is subject to serious doubt, or when the queen has
      been fertilised too late or not at all, and therefore
      only lays drones' eggs, or when the queen is barren,
      and new queens, to be fertilised later, have to be
      brought up from working-bee larvæ, then all or some of
      the drones are left alive, in the clear prevision that
      their services will be required later. . . . This wise
      calculation of consequences is further exemplified in
      that sometimes the massacre of the drones takes place
      before the time for swarming, as, for instance, when
      long-continued unfavourable weather succeeds a
      favourable beginning of spring, and makes the bees
      anxious for their own welfare. If, however, the
      weather breaks, and work again becomes possible, so
      that the bees take courage anew, they then bring up
      new drones, and prepare them in time for the swarming.
      This killing of drones is distinguished from the
      regular drone massacre by the fact that the bees then
      only kill the developed drones, and leave the drone
      larvæ, save when absolute hunger compels their
      destruction. Not less can it be regarded as a prudent
      calculation of circumstances when the bees of a hive,
      brought from our temperate climate to a more southern
      country, where the time of collecting lasts longer, do
      not kill the drones in August, as usual, but at a
      later period, suitable to the new conditions.

But the philosophy of drone-killing is, I think, even more difficult in
the case of the wasps than in that of the bees. For, unlike the bees,
whose communities live from year to year, the wasps all perish at the
end of autumn, with the exception of a very few fertilised females. As
this season of universal calamity approaches, the workers destroy all
the larval grubs--a proceeding which, in the opinion of some writers,
strikingly exemplifies the beneficence of the Deity! Now, it does not
appear to me easy to understand how the presence of such an instinct in
this case is to be explained. For, on the one hand, the individual
females which are destined to live through the winter cannot be
conspicuously benefited by this slaughter of grubs; and, on the other
hand, the rest of the community is so soon about to perish, that one
fails to see of what advantage it can be to it to get rid of the grubs.
If the whole human race, with the exception of a few women, were to
perish periodically once in a thousand years, the race would profit
nothing by destroying, a few months before the end of each millennium,
all sick persons, lunatics, and other 'useless mouths.' I have not seen
this difficulty with regard to the massacring instinct in wasps
mentioned before, and I only mention it now in order to draw attention
to the fact that there seems to be a more puzzling problem presented
here than in the case of the analogous instinct as exhibited by bees.
The only solution which has suggested itself to my mind is the
possibility that in earlier times, or in other climates, wasps may have
resembled bees in living through the winter, and that the grub-slaying
instinct is in them a survival of one which was then, as in the case of
the bees now, a clearly beneficial instinct.

For some days before swarming begins, there is a great excitement and
buzzing in the hive, the temperature of which rises from 92° to 104°.
Scouts having been previously sent out to explore for suitable quarters
wherein to plant the new colony, these now act as guides. The swarm
leaves the hive with their queen. The bees which remain behind busy
themselves in rearing out the pupæ, which soon arriving at maturity,
also quit the hive in successive swarms. According to Büchner,
'secondary swarms with young queens send out no scouts, but fly at
random through the air. They clearly lack the experience and prudence of
the older bees.' And, regarding the behaviour of the scouts sent out by
primary swarms, this author says:--

      M. de Fravière had the opportunity of observing the
      manner in which such an examination is carried on, and
      with what prudence and accuracy. He placed an empty
      beehive, made in a new style, in front of his house,
      so that he could exactly watch from his own window
      what went on inside and out without disturbance to
      himself or to the bees. A single bee came and examined
      the building, flying all round it and touching it. It
      then let itself down on the board, and walked
      carefully and thoroughly over the interior, touching
      it continually with its antennæ so as to subject it on
      all sides to a thorough investigation. The result of
      its examination must have been satisfactory, for after
      it had gone away it returned accompanied by a crowd of
      some fifty friends, which now together went through
      the same process as their guide. This new trial must
      also have had a good result, for soon a whole swarm
      came, evidently from a distant spot, and took
      possession. Still more remarkable is the behaviour of
      the scouts when they take possession of a satisfactory
      hive or box for an imminent or approaching swarm.
      Although it is not yet inhabited they regard it as
      their property, watch it and guard it against stranger
      bees or other assailants, and busy themselves
      earnestly in the most careful cleansing of it, so far
      as this cleansing is impossible to the setter up of
      the hive. Such a taking possession sometimes occurs
      eight days before the entrance of the swarm.

_Wars._--As with ants, so with bees, the great cause of war is plunder;
and facts now well substantiated by numberless observers concerning
'robber-bees' indicate a large measure of intelligence. These aim at
lessening their labour in collecting honey by plundering the store of
other hives. The robberies may be conducted singly or in concert. When
the thieving propensity is developed only in individual cases, the
thieves cannot rely on force in plundering a foreign state, and so
resort to cautious stealth. 'They show by their whole behaviour--creeping
into the hive with careful vigilance--that they are perfectly conscious
of their bad conduct; whereas the workers belonging to the hive fly in
quickly and openly, and in full consciousness of their right.' If such
solitary burglars are successful in obtaining plunder, their bad example
leads other members of their own community to imitate them; thus it is
that the whole bee-nation may develop marauding habits, and when they do
this they act in concert to rob by force. In this case an army of bees
precipitates itself upon the foreign hive, a battle ensues, and if
successful in overcoming resistance, the invaders first of all search
out the queen-bee and put her to death, whereby they disorganise their
enemies and plunder the hive with ease. It is observed that when this
policy is once successful, the spirit of aggrandisement is encouraged,
so that the robber-bees 'find more pleasure in robbery than in their own
work, and become at last formidable robber-states.' When an invaded hive
is fairly overcome by the invaders killing the queen, the owners of the
hive, finding that all is lost, not only abandon further resistance, but
very often reverse their policy and join the ranks of their conquerors.
They assist in the tearing down of their cells, and in the conveyance of
the honey to the hive of their invaders. 'When the assailed hive is
emptied, the next ones are attacked, and if no effective resistance is
offered, are robbed in similar fashion, so that in this way a whole
bee-stand may be gradually destroyed.' Siebold observed the same facts
in the case of wasps (_Polistes gallica_). If, however, the battle turns
in favour of the defenders, they pursue the flying legions of their
enemies to a distance from their home. It sometimes happens that the
plundered hive offers no resistance at all, owing to the robbers having
visited the same flowers as the robbed, and so probably (having much the
same smell) not being recognised as belonging to a different community.
The thieves, when they find such to be the case, may become so bold as
to stop the bees that are returning to the hive with their loads, of
which they deprive them at the entrance of the hive. This is done by a
process which one observer, Weygandt,[56] calls 'milking,' and it seems
that the milking bee attains the double advantage of securing the honey
from the milked one and disarming suspicion of the other bees by
contracting its smell and entering the hive loaded, into which it is
admitted without opposition to continue its plunder.

Sometimes robber-bees attack their victims in the fields at a distance
from the hives. This sort of highway robbery is generally conducted by a
gang of four or five robber-bees which set upon a single honest bee,
'hold him by the legs, and pinch him until he unfolds his tongue, which
is sucked in succession by his assailants, who then suffer him to depart
in peace.'

It is strange that hive-bees of dishonest temperaments seem able to coax
or wheedle humble-bees into the voluntary yielding of honey.
'Humble-bees have been known to permit hive-bees to take the whole honey
that they have collected, and to go on gathering more, and handing it
over, for three weeks, although they refuse to part with it, or seek
refuge in flight, when wasps make similar overtures.'[57]

Besides theft and plunder, there are other causes of warfare among bees,
which, however, are only apparent in their effects. Thus, for some
undiscernible reason, duels are not infrequent, which generally end in
the death of one or both combatants. At other times, equally without
apparent reason, civil war breaks out in a hive, which is sometimes
attended with much slaughter.

_Architecture._--Coming now to the construction of the cells and combs,
there is no doubt that here we meet with the most astonishing products
of instinct that are presented in the animal kingdom. A great deal has
been written on the practical exhibition of high mathematical principles
which bees display in constructing their combs in the form that secures
the utmost capacity for storage of honey with the smallest expenditure
of building material. The shortest and clearest statement of the subject
that I have met with is the following, which has been given by Dr.

      There are only three possible figures of the cells
      which can make them all equal and similar, without any
      useless interstices. These are the equilateral
      triangle, the square, and the regular hexagon.
      Mathematicians know that there is not a fourth way
      possible in which a plane may be cut into little
      spaces that shall be equal, similar, and regular,
      without useless spaces. Of the three figures, the
      hexagon is the most proper for convenience and
      strength. Bees, as if they knew this, make their cells
      regular hexagons.

      Again, it has been demonstrated that, by making the
      bottoms of the cells to consist of three planes
      meeting in a point, there is a saving of material and
      labour in no way inconsiderable. The bees, as if
      acquainted with these principles of solid geometry,
      follow them most accurately. It is a curious
      mathematical problem, at what precise angle the three
      planes which compose the bottom of a cell ought to
      meet, in order to make the greatest possible saving,
      or the least expense of material and labour. This is
      one of the problems which belong to the higher parts
      of mathematics. It has accordingly been resolved by
      some mathematicians, particularly by the ingenious
      Maclaurin, by a fluctionary calculation, which is to
      be found in the Transactions of the Royal Society of
      London. He has determined precisely the angle
      required, and he found, by the most exact mensuration
      the subject would admit, that it is the very angle in
      which the three planes in the bottom of the cell of a
      honeycomb do actually meet.[58]

Marvellous as these facts undoubtedly are, they may now be regarded as
having been satisfactorily explained. Long ago Buffon sought to account
for the hexagonal form of the cells by an hypothesis of mutual pressure.
Supposing the bees to have a tendency to build tubular cells, if a
greater number of bees were to build in a given space than could admit
of all the parallel tubes being completed, tubes with flat sides and
sharp angles might result, and if the mutual pressure were exactly equal
in all directions, these sides and angles would assume the form of
hexagons. This hypothesis of Buffon was sustained by such physical
analogies as the blowing of a crowd of soap-bubbles in a cup, the
swelling of moistened peas in a confined space, &c. The hypothesis,
however, as thus presented was clearly inadequate; for no reason is
assigned why the mutual pressure, even if conceded to exist, should
always be so exactly equal in all directions as to convert all the
cylinders into perfect hexagons--even the analogy of the soap-bubbles
and the moistened peas failing, as pointed out by Brougham and others,
to sustain it, seeing that as a matter of fact bubbles and peas under
circumstances of mutual pressure do not assume the form of hexagons,
but, on the contrary, forms which are conspicuously irregular. Moreover,
the hypothesis fails to account for the particular prismatic shape
presented by the cell base. Therefore it is not surprising that this
hypothesis should have gained but small acceptance. Kirby and Spence
dispose of it thus:--'He (Buffon) gravely tells us that the boasted
hexagonal cells of the bee are produced by the reciprocal pressure of
the cylindrical bodies of these insects against each other!!'[59] The
double note of admiration here may be taken to express the feelings with
which this hypothesis of Buffon was regarded by all the more
sober-minded naturalists. Yet it turns out to have been not very wide of
the mark. As is often the case with the gropings of a great mind, the
idea contains the true principle of the explanation, although it fails
as an explanation from not being in a position to take sufficient
cognizance of all the facts. Safer it is for lesser minds to restrain
their notes of exclamation while considering the theories of a greater;
however crude or absurd the latter may appear, the place of their birth
renders it not impossible that some day they may prove to have been
prophetic of truth revealed by fuller knowledge. Usually in such cases
the final explanation is eventually reached by the working of a yet
greater mind, and in this case the undivided credit of solving the
problem is to be assigned to the genius of Darwin.

Mr. Waterhouse pointed out 'that the form of the cell stands in close
relation to the presence of adjoining cells.' Starting from this fact,
Mr. Darwin says,--

      Let us look to the great principle of gradation, and
      see whether Nature does not reveal to us her method of
      work. At one end of a short series we have
      humble-bees, which use their old cocoons to hold
      honey, sometimes adding to them short tubes of wax,
      and likewise making separate and very irregular
      rounded cells of wax. At the other end of the series
      we have the cells of the hive-bee, placed in a double
      layer. . . . In the series between the extreme perfection
      of the cells of the hive-bee and the simplicity of
      those of the humble-bee we have the cells of the
      Mexican _Melipona domestica_, carefully described and
      figured by Pierre Huber. . . . It forms a nearly regular
      waxen comb of cylindrical cells, in which the young
      are hatched, and, in addition, some large cells of wax
      for holding honey. These latter cells are nearly
      spherical and of nearly equal sizes, and are
      aggregated into an irregular mass. But the important
      thing to notice is, that these cells are always made
      at that degree of nearness to each other that they
      would have intersected or broken into each other if
      the spheres had been completed; but this is never
      permitted, the bees building perfectly flat cells of
      wax between the spheres which thus tend to intersect.
      Hence each cell consists of an outer spherical
      portion; and of two, three, or more flat surfaces,
      according as the cell adjoins two, three, or more
      other cells. When one cell rests on three other cells,
      which, from the spheres being nearly of the same size,
      is very frequently and necessarily the case, the three
      flat surfaces are united into a pyramid; and this
      pyramid, as Huber has remarked, is manifestly a gross
      imitation of the three-sided pyramidal base of the
      cell of the hive-bee. . . .

      Reflecting on this case, it occurred to me that if the
      Melipona had made its spheres at some given distance
      from each other, and had made them of equal sizes, and
      had arranged them symmetrically in a double layer, the
      resulting structure would have been as perfect as the
      comb of the hive-bee. Accordingly I wrote to Prof.
      Miller of Cambridge, and this geometer has kindly read
      over the following statement, drawn up from his
      information, and tells me that it is strictly correct.

This statement having fully borne out his theory, Mr. Darwin

      Hence we may safely conclude that, if we could
      slightly modify the instincts already possessed by the
      Melipona, and in themselves not very wonderful, this
      bee would make a structure as wonderfully perfect as
      that of the hive-bee. We must suppose the Melipona to
      have the power of forming her cells truly spherical,
      and of equal sizes; and this would not be very
      surprising, seeing that she already does so to a
      certain extent, and seeing what perfectly cylindrical
      burrows many insects make in wood, apparently by
      turning round on a fixed point. We must suppose the
      Melipona to arrange her cells in level layers, as she
      already does her cylindrical cells; and we must
      further suppose--and this is the greatest
      difficulty--that she can somehow judge accurately at
      what distance to stand from her fellow-labourers when
      several are making their spheres; but she is already
      so far able to judge of distance that she always
      describes her spheres so as to intersect to a certain
      extent; and then she unites the points of intersection
      by perfectly flat surfaces. By such modifications of
      instinct, which in themselves are not very
      wonderful--hardly more wonderful than those which
      guide a bird to make its nest,--I believe that the
      hive-bee has acquired through natural selection her
      inimitable architectural powers.[60]

Mr. Darwin next tested this theory by the experiment of introducing into
beehives plates of wax, and observing that the bees worked upon these
plates just as the theory required. That is to say, they made their
cells by excavating a number of little circular pits at equal distances
from one another, so that by the time the pits had acquired the width of
an ordinary cell, the sides of the pits intersected. As soon as this
occurred the bees ceased to excavate, and instead began to build up flat
walls of wax on the lines of intersection. Other experiments with very
thin plates of vermilion-coloured wax showed that the bees all worked at
about the same rate, and on opposite sides of the plates, so that the
common bottoms of any two opposite pits were flat. These flat bottoms
'were situated, as far as the eye could judge, exactly along the planes
of imaginary intersection between the basins on the opposite sides of
the ridge of wax;' so that if the plate of wax had been thick enough to
admit of the opposite basins being deepened (and widened) into cells,
the mutual intersection of _adjacent_ as well as _opposite_ bottoms
would have given rise, as in the first experiment with the thick plate
of wax, to the pyramidal bottoms. Experiments with the vermilion wax
also showed, as Huber had previously stated, that a number of individual
bees work by turns at the same cell; for by covering parts of growing
cells with vermilion wax, Mr. Darwin--

      Invariably found that the colour was most delicately
      diffused by the bees--as delicately as a painter could
      have done it with his brush--by atoms of the coloured
      wax having been taken from the spot on which it had
      been placed, and worked into the growing edges of the
      cells all round.

Such, omitting details, is the substance of Mr. Darwin's theory. In
summary he concludes,--

      The work of construction seems to be a sort of balance
      struck between many bees, all instinctively standing
      at the same relative distance from each other, all
      trying to sweep equal spheres, and then building up,
      or leaving ungnawed, the planes of intersection
      between these spheres.

This theory, while serving as a full and simple explanation of all the
facts, has, as we have seen, been so fully substantiated by observation
and experiment, that it deserves to be regarded as raised to the rank of
a completed demonstration. It differs from the theory of Buffon in two
important particulars: it embraces all the facts, and supplies a cause
adequate to explain them. This cause is natural selection, which
converts the random 'pressure' in Buffon's theory into a precisely
regulated principle. Random pressure alone could never produce the
beautifully symmetrical form of the hexagonal cell with the pyramidal
bottom; but it could and must have produced the intersection of
cylindrical cells among possibly many extinct species of bees, such as
the Melipona. Whenever this intersection occurred in crowded nests, it
must clearly have been of great benefit in securing economy of precious
wax; for in every case where a flat wall of partition between two
adjacent cells did duty instead of a double cylindrical wall of
separate cells, there wax should have been saved. Thus we can see how
natural selection would have worked towards the developing of an
instinct to excavate cells near enough together to produce intersection;
and once begun, there is no reason why this instinct should not have
been perfected by the same agency, till we meet with its ideal
perfection in the hive-bee. For as Mr. Darwin observes,--

      With respect to the formation of wax, it is known that
      bees are often hard pressed to get sufficient nectar;
      and I am informed by Mr. Tegetmeier that it has been
      experimentally proved that from twelve to fifteen
      pounds of dry sugar are consumed by a hive of bees for
      the secretion of a pound of wax; so that a prodigious
      quantity of fluid nectar must be collected and
      consumed by the bees in a hive for the secretion of
      the wax necessary for the construction of their combs.
      Moreover, many bees have to remain idle for many days
      during the process of secretion. . . . Hence it would
      continually be more and more advantageous to our
      humble-bees if they were to make their cells more and
      more regular, nearer together, and aggregated into a
      mass, like the cells of Melipona; for in this case a
      large part of the bounding surface of each cell would
      serve to bound the adjoining cell, and much labour and
      wax would be saved. Again, from the same cause, it
      would be advantageous to the Melipona if she were to
      make her cells closer together, and more regular in
      every way than at present; for then, as we have seen,
      the spherical surfaces would wholly disappear and be
      replaced by plane surfaces; and the Melipona would
      make a comb as perfect as that of the hive-bee. Beyond
      this stage of perfection in architecture, natural
      selection could not lead; for the comb of the
      hive-bee, as far as we can see, is absolutely perfect
      in economising labour and wax.

The problem, then, as to the origin and perfection of the cell-making
instinct appears thus to have been fully and finally solved. I shall now
adduce a few facts to show that while the general instinct of building
hexagonal cells has doubtless been acquired by natural selection in the
way just explained, it is nevertheless an instinct not wholly of a blind
or mechanical kind, but is constantly under the control of intelligent
purpose. Thus Mr. Darwin observes,--

      It was really curious to note in cases of difficulty,
      as when two pieces of comb met at an angle, how often
      the bees would pull down and rebuild in different ways
      the same cell, sometimes recurring to a shape which
      they had at first rejected.[61]

Again, Huber saw a bee building upon the wax which had already been put
together by her comrades. But she did not arrange it properly, or in a
way to continue the design of her predecessors, so that her building
made an undesirable corner with theirs. 'Another bee perceived it,
pulled down the bad work before our eyes, and gave it to the first in
the requisite order, so that it might exactly follow the original
direction.' Similarly, to quote Büchner,--

      All the cells have not the same shape, as would be the
      case if the bees in building worked according to a
      perfectly instinctive and unchangeable plan. There are
      very manifold changes and irregularities. Almost in
      every comb irregular and unfinished cells are to be
      found, especially where the several divisions of a
      comb come together. The small architects do not begin
      their comb from a single centre, but begin building
      from many different points, so as to progress as
      rapidly as possible, and so that the greatest number
      may work simultaneously; they therefore build from
      above downwards, in the shape of flat truncated cones
      or hanging pyramids, and these several portions are
      afterwards united together during the winter budding.
      At these lines of junction it is impossible to avoid
      irregular cells between the pressed together or
      unnaturally lengthened ones. The same is true more or
      less of the passage cells, which are made to unite the
      large cells of the so-called drone wax with the
      smaller ones of the working bees, and which are
      generally placed in two or three rows. The cells also
      which they usually build from the combs to the glass
      walls of their hives, in order to hold them up, show
      somewhat irregular forms. Finally, in places where
      special conditions of the situation do not otherwise
      permit, it may be observed that the bees, far from
      clinging obstinately to their plan, very well
      understand how to accommodate themselves to
      circumstances not only in cell-building, but also in
      making their combs. F. Huber tried to mislead their
      instinct, or rather to put to the proof their reason
      and cleverness in every possible way, but they always
      emerged triumphant from the ordeal. For instance, he
      put bees in a hive the floor and roof of which were
      made of glass, that is of a body which the bees use
      very unwillingly for the attachment of their combs, on
      account of its smoothness. Thus the possibility of
      building as usual from above downwards, and also from
      below upwards, was taken away from them; they had no
      point of support save the perpendicular walls of their
      dwelling. They thereupon built on one of these walls a
      regular stratum of cells, from which, building
      sideways, they tried to carry the comb to the opposite
      side of the hive. To prevent this Huber covered that
      side also with glass. But what way out of the
      difficulty was found by the clever insects? Instead of
      building further in the projected direction, they bent
      the comb round at the extreme point, and carried it at
      a right angle towards one of the inner sides of the
      hive which was not covered with glass, and there
      fastened it. The form and dimensions of the cells must
      necessarily have been altered thereby, and the
      arrangement of their work at the angle must have been
      quite different from the usual. They made the cells of
      the convex side so much broader than those of the
      concave that they had a diameter two or three times as
      great, and yet they managed to join them properly with
      the others. They also did not wait to bend the comb
      until they came to the glass itself, but recognised
      the difficulty beforehand,[62] which had been
      interposed by Huber while they were building with a
      view to overcome the first difficulty.

_Special Habits._

_The Mason-Bee._--This insect closes the roof of its larval cell with a
kind of mortar, which sets as hard as stone. A little hole, closed only
with soft mud, is, however, left in one part of the roof as a door of
exit for the matured insect. It is said that when a mason-bee finds an
old and deserted nest, it saves itself the trouble of making a new
one--utilising the ready-made nest after having well cleaned it. In
Algiers the mason-bees have been observed in this way to utilise empty
snail-shells. According to Blanchard, some individuals avoid the labour
of making their own nests or houses for their young, by possessing
themselves of their neighbours' houses either by craft or by force.
'Does the mason-bee act like a machine,' says E. Menault, 'when it
directs its work according to circumstances, possesses itself of old
nests, cleanses and improves them, and thereby shows that it can fully
appreciate the immediate position? Can one believe that no kind of
reflection is here necessary?'

_The Tapestry-Bee._--The so-called tapestry-bee digs holes for her larvæ
three or four inches deep in the earth, and lines the walls and floor of
the chamber with petals of the poppy laid perfectly smooth. Several
layers of petals are used, and when the eggs are introduced the chamber
is closed by drawing all the leaves together at the top. Loose earth is
then piled over the whole structure in order to conceal it. The
so-called rose-bee (_Megachile centuncularis_) displays very similar

_The Carpenter-Bee._--This was first observed and described by
Réaumur.[64] It makes a long cylindrical tube in the wood of beams,
palings, &c. This it divides into a number of successive chambers by
partitions made of agglutinated saw-dust built across the tube at right
angles to its axis. In each chamber there is deposited a single egg,
together with a store of pollen for the nourishment of the future larva.
The larvæ hatch out in succession and in the order of their age--_i.e._
the dates at which they were deposited. To provide for this, the bee
bores a hole from the lower cell to the exterior, so that each larva,
when ready to escape from its chamber, finds an open way from the tube.
The larvæ have to cut their own way out through the walls of their
respective chambers, and it is remarkable that they always cut through
the wall that faces the tubular passage left by the parent; they never
bore their way out in the opposite direction, which, were they to do so,
would entail the destruction of all the other and immature larvæ.

_The Carding-Bee._--This insect surrounds its nest with a layer of wax,
and then with a thick covering of moss. For this purpose a number of
bees co-operate, and in order to save time each bee does not find and
carry its own moss, but, with a division of labour similar to that
which we have already noticed in the case of certain ants, a row of bees
is formed, and the bits of moss passed from one to another along the
line. There is a long passage to the nest, through which the moss has to
be passed, and it is said that at the mouth of the tunnel a guard is
stationed to drive away ants or other intruders.

_Wasps._--These usually construct their nests of wood-dust, which they
scrape off the weather-worn surfaces of boards, palings, &c., and work
into a kind of paper with their saliva. If they happen to find any real
paper, they perceive that it so much resembles the product of their own
manufacture that they utilise it forthwith. The wasps do not require any
special cells or chambers for the storage of honey, as they do not lay
up any supply for the winter. The cells which they construct are
therefore used exclusively for the rearing of larvæ. In form these cells
are sometimes cylindrical or globular, but more usually hexagonal, like
those of the hive-bee. Although the mode of building is different from
that employed by the bees, there can be little doubt that if it were as
carefully investigated Mr. Darwin's theory of transition from the
cylindrical to the hexagonal form would be found to apply here also,
seeing that both forms so frequently occur in the same nest.

_The Mason-Wasp._--The habits of this insect are described by Mr. Bates.
It constructs its nest of clay. Each pellet that the insect brings it
lays on the top of its nest-wall, and then spreads it out with its jaws,
and treads it smooth with its feet. The nest, which is suspended on the
branch of a tree, is then stocked with spiders and insects paralysed by
stinging. The victims, not being wholly deprived of life, keep fresh
until required as food of the developing larvæ.

_The Butcher-Wasps._--These also paralyse their prey in a similar
manner, and for a similar purpose. Fabre removed from a so-called
sphex-wasp a killed grasshopper, which it was conveying to its nest and
had momentarily laid down at the mouth of the burrow--as these insects
always do on returning with prey, in order to see that nothing has
intruded into the burrow during their absence. Fabre carried the dead
or paralysed grasshopper to a considerable distance from the hole. On
coming out the insect searched about until it found its prey. It then
again carried it to the mouth of its burrow, and again laid it down
while it once more went in to see that all was right at home. Again
Fabre removed the grasshopper, and so on for forty times in
succession--the sphex never omitting to go through its fixed routine of
examining the interior of its burrow every time that it brought the prey
to its mouth.

Mr. Mivart, in his 'Lessons from Nature,' points to the instinct of this
animal in the stinging of the ganglion of its prey as one that cannot be
explained on Mr. Darwin's theory concerning the origin of instincts. In
my next work, which will have to deal with this theory, I shall consider
Mr. Mivart's difficulty, and also the difficulty first pointed out by
Mr. Darwin himself as to why neuter insects, separated as they appear to
be from the possibility of communicating by heredity any instinctive
acquirements of the individual to the species, should present any
instincts at all.

_General Intelligence._

Beginning with Sir John Lubbock's observations on this head, I shall
first quote his statements with regard to way-finding:--

      I have found, he says, that some bees are much more
      intelligent in this respect than others. A bee which I
      had fed several times, and which had flown about in
      the room, found its way out of the glass in a quarter
      of an hour, and when put in a second time came out at
      once. Another bee, when I closed the postern door,
      used to come round to the honey through an open

      Bees seem to me much less clever in finding things
      than I had expected. One day (April 14, 1872), when a
      number of them were very busy on some barberries, I
      put a saucer with some honey between two bunches of
      flowers; these were repeatedly visited, and were so
      close that there was hardly room for the saucer
      between them, yet from 9.30 to 3.30 not a single bee
      took any notice of the honey. At 3.30 I put some
      honey on one of the bunches of flowers, and it was
      eagerly sucked by the bees; two kept continually
      returning till past five in the evening.

      One day when I came home in the afternoon I found that
      at least a hundred bees had got into my room through
      the postern and were on the window, yet not one was
      attracted by an open jar of honey which stood in a
      shady corner about 3 feet 6 inches from the window.

      One day (29th April, 1872) I placed a saucer of honey
      close to some forget-me-nots, on which bees were
      numerous and busy; yet from 10 A.M. till 6 only one
      bee went to the honey.

      I put some honey in a hollow in the garden wall
      opposite the hives at 10.30 (this wall is about five
      feet high and four feet from the hives); yet the bees
      did not find it during the whole day.

      On the 30th March, 1873, a fine sunshiny day, when the
      bees were very active, I placed a glass containing
      honey at 9 in the morning on the wall in front of the
      hives; but not a single bee went to the honey the
      whole day. On April 20 I tried the same experiment,
      with the same result.

      September 19.--At 9.30 I placed some honey in a glass
      about four feet from and just in front of the hive;
      but during the whole day not a bee observed it.

      As it then occurred to me that it might be suggested
      that there was something about this honey which
      rendered it unattractive to the bees, on a following
      day I placed it again on the top of the wall for three
      hours, during which not a single bee came, and then
      moved it close to the alighting-board of the hive. It
      remained unnoticed for a quarter of an hour, when two
      bees observed it; and others soon followed in
      considerable numbers. . . . On the whole, wasps seem to
      me more clever in finding their way than bees. I tried
      wasps with the glass mentioned on p. 124 [_i.e._ the
      bell-jar], but they had no difficulty in finding their
      way out.

We shall now conclude this _résumé_ of Sir John Lubbock's observations
by quoting two other passages bearing on the general intelligence of
bees and wasps:--

      The following fact struck me as rather remarkable. The
      wasp already mentioned at the foot of p. 135 one day
      smeared her wings with syrup, so that she could not
      fly. When this happened to a bee, it was only
      necessary to carry her to the alighting-board, when
      she was soon cleaned by her comrades. But I did not
      know where this wasp's nest was, and therefore could
      not pursue a similar course with her. At first, then,
      I was afraid that she was doomed. I thought, however,
      that I would wash her, fully expecting, indeed, to
      terrify her so much that she would not return again. I
      therefore caught her, put her in a bottle half full of
      water, and shook her up well till the honey was washed
      off. I then transferred her to a dry bottle and put
      her in the sun. When she was dry I let her out, and
      she at once flew to her nest. To my surprise, in
      thirteen minutes she returned, as if nothing had
      happened, and continued her visits to the honey all
      the afternoon.

      This experiment interested me so much that I repeated
      it with another marked wasp, this time, however,
      keeping the wasp in the water till she was quite
      motionless and insensible. When taken out of the water
      she soon recovered; I fed her; she went quietly away
      to her nest as usual, and returned after the usual
      absence. The next morning this wasp was the first to
      visit the honey.

      I was not able to watch any of the above-mentioned
      wasps for more than a few days; but I kept a specimen
      of _Polistes Gallica_ for no less than nine months.

This is the wasp which has already been alluded to under the heading
'Memory;' but it is evident that the capacity which the insect displayed
of becoming tamed implies no small degree of general intelligence; its
hereditary instincts were conspicuously modified by the individual
experiences incidental to its domestication.

The remaining passages that deserve quotation are the following:--

      It is sometimes said of bees that those of one hive
      all know one another, and immediately recognise and
      attack any intruder from another hive. At first sight
      this certainly implies a great deal of intelligence.
      It is, however, possible that the bees of particular
      hives have a particular smell. Thus Langshaft, in his
      interesting 'Treatise on the Honey-Bee,' says:
      'Members of different colonies appear to recognise
      their hive companions by the sense of smell; and I
      believe that if colonies are sprinkled with scented
      syrup, they may generally be safely mixed. Moreover, a
      bee returning to its own hive with a load of treasure
      is a very different creature from a hungry marauder;
      and it is said that a bee, if laden with honey, is
      allowed to enter any hive with impunity.' Mr.
      Langshaft continues, 'There is an air of roguery about
      a thieving bee which, to the expert, is as
      characteristic as are the motions of a pickpocket to a
      skilful policeman. Its sneaking look, and nervous,
      guilty agitation, once seen, can never be mistaken.'
      It is, at any rate, natural that a bee which enters a
      wrong hive by accident should be much surprised and
      alarmed, and would thus probably betray herself.

      On the whole, then, I do not attach much importance to
      their recognition of one another as an indication of

      Since their extreme eagerness for honey may be
      attributed rather to their anxiety for the common weal
      than to their desire for personal gratification, it
      cannot fairly be imputed as greediness; still the
      following scene, one which most of us have witnessed,
      is incompatible surely with much intelligence. The sad
      fate of their unfortunate companions does not in the
      least deter others who approach the tempting lure from
      madly alighting on the bodies of the dying and dead,
      to share the same miserable end. No one can understand
      the extent of their infatuation until he has seen a
      confectioner's shop assailed by myriads of hungry
      bees. I have seen thousands strained out from the
      syrup in which they had perished; thousands more
      alighting even upon the boiling sweets, the floor
      covered and windows darkened with bees, some crawling,
      others flying, and others still, so completely
      besmeared as to be able neither to crawl nor fly, not
      one in ten able to carry home its ill-gotten spoils,
      and yet the air filled with new hosts of thoughtless

Passing on now to the statements of other observers, Huber first noticed
the remarkable fact that when beehives are attacked by the death's-head
moth the bees close the entrance of their hive with wax and propolis to
keep out the marauder. The barricade, which is built immediately behind
the gateway, completely stops it up--only a small hole being left large
enough to admit a bee, and therefore of course too small to admit the
moth. Huber specially states that it was not until the beehives had been
_repeatedly_ attacked and robbed by the death's-head moth, that the bees
closed the entrance of their hive with wax and propolis. _Pure_ instinct
would have induced the bees to provide against the first attack. Huber
also observed that a wall built in 1804 against the death's-head
hawk-moth was destroyed in 1805. In the latter year there were no
death's-head moths, nor were any seen during the following. But in the
autumn of 1807 a large number again appeared, and the bees at once
protected themselves against their enemies. The bulwark was destroyed
again in 1808.

Again, Huber (_loc. cit._, tom. ii., p. 280) gives a case of apparent
exercise of reason, or power of inference from a particular case to
other and general cases. A piece of comb fell down and was fixed in its
new position by wax. The bees then strengthened the attachments of all
the other combs, clearly because they inferred that they too might be in
danger of falling. This is a very remarkable case, and leads Huber to
exclaim, 'I admit that I was unable to avoid a feeling of astonishment
in the presence of a fact from which the purest reason seemed to shine

A closely similar, and therefore corroborative case of an even more
remarkable kind is thus narrated in Watson's 'Reasoning Power of
Animals' (p. 448):--

      Dr. Brown, in his book on the bee, gives another
      illustration of the reasoning power of bees, observed
      by a friend of his. A centre comb in a hive, being
      overburdened with honey, had parted from its
      fastenings, and was pressing against another comb, so
      as to prevent the passage of the bees between them.
      This accident excited great bustle in the colony, and
      as soon as their proceedings could be observed, it was
      found that they had constructed two horizontal beams
      between the two combs, and had removed enough of the
      honey and wax above them to admit the passage of a
      bee, while the detached comb had been secured by
      another beam, and fastened to the window with spare
      wax. But what was most remarkable was, that, when the
      comb was thus fixed, they removed the horizontal beams
      first constructed, as being of no further use. The
      whole occupation took about ten days.

Again, Mr. Darwin's MS. quotes from Sir B. Brodie's 'Psychological
Inquiries' (1854, p. 88) the following case, which is analogous to the
above, except that the supports required had to be made in a vertical
instead of in a horizontal direction:--

      On one occasion, when a large portion of the honeycomb
      had been broken off, they pursued another course. The
      fragment had somehow become fixed in the middle of the
      hive, and the bees immediately began to erect a new
      structure of comb on the floor, so placed as to form a
      pillar supporting the fragment, and preventing its
      further descent. They then filled up the space above,
      joining the comb which had become detached to that
      from which it had been separated, and they concluded
      their labours by removing the newly constructed comb
      below, thus proving that they had intended it to
      answer a merely temporary purpose.

Similarly, Dr. Dzierzon, an experienced keeper of bees, and the observer
who first discovered the fact of their parthenogenesis, makes the
general remark,--

      The cleverness of the bees in repairing perfectly
      injuries to their cells and combs, in supporting on
      pillars pieces of their building accidentally knocked
      down by a hasty push, in fastening them with rivets,
      and bringing everything again into proper unity,
      making hanging bridges, chains, and ladders, compels
      our astonishment.

Lastly, as still further corroboration of such facts, I shall quote the
following from Jesse's 'Gleanings:'[65]--

      Bees show great ingenuity in obviating the
      inconvenience they experience from the slipperiness of
      glass, and certainly beyond what we can conceive that
      mere instinct would enable them to do. I am in the
      habit of putting small glass globes on the top of my
      straw hives, for the purpose of having them filled
      with honey; and I have invariably found that before
      the bees commence the construction of combs, they
      place a great number of spots of wax at regular
      distances from each other, which serve as so many
      footstools on the slippery glass, each bee resting on
      one of these with its middle pair of legs, while the
      fore claws were hooked with the hind ones of the bee
      next above him; thus forming a ladder, by means of
      which the workers were enabled to reach the top, and
      begin to make their combs there.

Herr Kleine, in his pamphlet on Italian Bees and Bee-keeping (Berlin,
1855), says that on substituting during the absence of the bees a hive
filled with empty comb for their own hive, the returning bees exhibit
the utmost perplexity. As the substituted hive stands in the exact spot
previously occupied by their own hive, the returning bees fly into it
without observing the change. But finding only empty combs inside, 'they
stop, do not know where they are, come out of the hole again without
depositing their loads, fly off, look most carefully round the stand to
assure themselves that they have made no mistake, and go in once more
when convinced that they are at the right place. The same thing is
repeated over and over again, until the bees at last bow to the
incomprehensible and unavoidable, lay down their loads, and set to work
at those tasks made necessary by the new circumstances of the hive. But
as all the newly arriving bees behave in similar fashion, the
disturbance lasts till late in the evening, and the uncertainty and
anxiety of the bees is so great that the bee-master cannot contemplate
it without deep sympathy.' Under such circumstances the bees take
quickly to a substituted queen; 'for the feeling of the first comers
that they have no right to the new dwelling, having, as they suppose,
made some inexplicable mistake which they cannot remedy, prevents them
from feeling any hostility to the new queen which they find; they
probably consider themselves as merely on sufferance, and feel that they
should be grateful that no action is taken against them for their
illegal entry, as generally happens in bee-experience.' Hence the writer
adopts this device when he desires to exchange or substitute queens.

Büchner, after alluding to this case, supplements it with the

      The wind threw down from the stand of a bee-master--a
      friend of the author's, whose name will soon become
      known--a straw beehive, the inmates of which were
      surprised in full work, and no small disorder in the
      interior was the result. The owner repaired the hive,
      put the loose comb back in its place, and replaced it
      in such a manner that the wind could not again catch
      it, hoping that the accident would have no further
      results. But when he examined the hive a few days
      later, he found that the bees had left their old home
      in the lurch, and had tried to enter other hives,
      clearly because they could no longer trust the
      weather, and feared that the terrible accident might
      again befall them.

Dr. Erasmus Darwin, in his 'Zoonomia,' asserts that bees, when
transported to Barbadoes, where there is no winter, cease to lay up
honey. In contradiction to this statement, however, Kirby and Spence
say, 'It is known to every naturalist acquainted with the fact, that
many different species of bees store up honey in the hottest climates,
and that there is no authentic instance on record of the hive-bees
altering in any age or climate their peculiar operations.'

On the other hand, more recent observation has shown that Dr. Darwin's
statement is probably correct. For, according to a note in _Nature_,[66]
European bees, when transported to Australia, retain their industrious
habits only for the first two or three years. After that time they
gradually cease to collect honey till they become wholly idle. In a
subsequent number of the same periodical (p. 411) a correspondent writes
that the same fact is observable with bees transported to California,
but is obviated by abstracting honey as the bees collect it.

There seems to be no doubt that bees and wasps are able to distinguish
between persons, and even to recognise those whom they are accustomed to
see, and to regard as friends. Bee-masters who attend much to their
bees, so as to give the insects a good chance of knowing them, are
generally of the opinion that the insects do know them, as shown by the
comparatively sparing use of their stings. Again, many instances might
be quoted, such as that given by Guerinzius,[67] who allowed a species of
wasp native to Natal to build in the doorposts of his house, and who
observed that although he often interfered with the nest, he was only
once stung, and this by a young wasp; while no Caffre could venture to
approach the door, much less to pass through it.[68] This power of
distinguishing between persons indicates a higher order of intelligence
than we might have expected to meet with among insects; and, according
to Bingley, bees will not only learn to distinguish persons, but even
lend themselves to tuition by those whom they know. For he says, 'Mr.
Wildman, whose remarks on the management of bees are well known,
possessed a secret by which he could at any time cause a hive of bees to
swarm upon his head, shoulders, or body, in a most surprising manner. He
has been seen to drink a glass of wine with the bees all over his head
and face more than an inch deep; several fell into the glass, but did
not sting him. He could even act the part of a general with them, by
marshalling them in battle array on a large table. Then he divided them
into regiments, battalions, and companies, according to military
discipline, waiting only for his word of command. The moment he uttered
the word _march!_ they began to march in a very regular manner in rank
and file, like soldiers. To these, his Lilliputians, he also taught so
much politeness that they never attempted to sting any of the numerous
company which, at different times, resorted to admire this singular

Huber's observation, since amply confirmed, of bees biting holes through
the base of corollas in order to get at the honey which the length of
the corollas prevent them from reaching in the ordinary way, also seems
to indicate a rational adjustment to unusual circumstances. For the bees
do not resort to this expedient until they find from trial that they
cannot reach the nectar from above; but having once ascertained this,
they forthwith proceed to pierce the bottoms of all the flowers of the
same species. From an interesting account by Mr. Francis Darwin[69]
(unfortunately too long to quote) it appears that, even when the nectar
may be reached from above, bees may still resort to the expedient of
biting through corollas in order to save time.

In connection with biting holes in corollas I may quote an observation
communicated to me by a correspondent, Sir J. Clarke Jervoise. Speaking
of a humble-bee, he says: 'I watched him into the flower of a foxglove,
and, when out of sight, I closed the lips of the flower with my finger
and thumb. He did not hesitate a moment, but cut his way out at the
further end as if he had been served the same trick before. I never did

Bees are highly particular in the matter of keeping their hives pure,
and their sanitary arrangements often exhibit intelligence of a high

The following is quoted from Büchner (_loc. cit._, p. 248):--

      Impure air within the hive is that which the bees must
      above all things fear and avoid, for with the pressure
      together of so many individuals in a comparatively
      small space, it would not only be directly harmful to
      individual bees, but would produce among them
      dangerous diseases. They therefore also never void
      their excrements within, but always outside the hive.
      While this is very easy to do in summer, it is, on the
      contrary, very difficult in the winter, when the bees
      sit close together and generally motionless in the
      upper part of the hive, and when, from impure air and
      foul evaporations, as well as from bad and
      insufficient food, dysentery-like diseases break out
      among them, and often carry off the whole community in
      a brief space of time. In such cases they utilise the
      first fine day to relieve themselves, and in the
      spring they take a long general cleansing flight. But
      they also know how to take advantage of special
      circumstances so as to perform the process of
      purification in the way least harmful to the hive.
      Herr Heinrich Lehr, of Darmstadt, a bee-keeping friend
      of the author, has sent the following
      communication:--During an epidemic of dysentery in
      winter, from which most of his hives suffered (as the
      bees were no longer able to retain their excrements),
      one hive suffered less than the others. Exact
      investigation showed that this hive was soiled all
      over at the back with the excrement of the bees, and
      that the inmates had here made a kind of drain. On
      this spot a little opening had been made by the
      falling off of the covering clay, which led directly
      to the upper part of the hive, where the bees were
      accustomed to sit together during the winter. This
      excellent opportunity, whereby they could reach in the
      shortest way an otherwise difficult object, and one
      rendered complicated by circumstances, did not escape

It sometimes happens that mice, slugs, &c., enter a beehive. They are
then killed and covered with a coating of propolis. Réaumur says[70] that
he once saw a snail enter a hive in this way. The hard shell was an
effective protection against the stings of the bees, so the insects
smeared round the edges of the shell with wax and resin, fastening down
the animal to the wall of the hive, so that it died of starvation or
want of air. If the encasing of an animal (such as a mouse) with
propolis is not sufficient to prevent its putrefaction, the bees gnaw
away all the putrescible parts of the carcass and carry them out of the
hive, leaving only the skeleton behind. The dead bodies of their
companions are also carried out of the hive and deposited at a distance.
There is no question about this fact (which it will be remembered is
analogous to that already mentioned in the case of ants); according to
Büchner, however, bees not only remove their dead, but also,
occasionally at least, bury them. But as he gives very inadequate
evidence in support of this assertion, we may safely set it aside as
insufficiently proven.

Büchner, however, gives an admirable summary, and makes some judicious
remarks on the well-known and highly remarkable habit which bees
practise for the obvious purpose of ventilating their hives. As this
account gives all the facts in a brief compass, I cannot do better than
quote it:--

      Very interesting, and closely connected with this
      characteristic of cleanliness, is the conduct of the
      so-called ventilating-bees, which have to take care
      that in summer or hot weather the air necessary for
      respiration of the bees in the interior of the hive is
      renewed, and the too high temperature cooled down. The
      latter precaution is necessary, not only on account of
      the bees working within the hive, to whom, as already
      said, a temperature risen beyond a certain point would
      be intolerable, but also to guard against the melting
      or softening of the wax. The bees charged with the
      care of the ventilation divide themselves into rows
      and stages in regular order through all parts of the
      hive, and by swift fanning of their wings send little
      currents of air in such fashion that a powerful stream
      or change of air passes through all parts of the hive.
      Other bees stand at the mouth of the hive, which fan
      in the same way and considerably accelerate the wind
      from within. The current of air thus caused is so
      strong that little bits of paper hung in front of the
      mouth are rapidly moved, and that, according to F.
      Huber, a lighted match is extinguished. The wind can
      be distinctly felt if the hand be held in front.

      The motion of the wings of the ventilating bees is so
      rapid that it is scarcely perceptible, and Huber saw
      some bees working their wings in this way for
      five-and-twenty minutes. When they are tired they are
      relieved by others. According to Jesse, the bees in
      very hot weather, in spite of all their efforts, are
      unable to sufficiently lower the temperature, and
      prevent the melting of some of the wax; they then get
      into a condition of great excitement, and it is
      dangerous to approach them. In such a case they also
      try to mend matters by a number leaving the hive and
      settling in large masses on its surface, so as to
      protect it as much as possible from the scorching rays
      of the sun.

      Although the described plan of ventilation is
      remarkable enough in itself, it is yet more remarkable
      in that it is clearly only the result of bee-keeping,
      and is evoked by this misfortune. For there could be
      no need of such ventilation for bees in a state of
      nature, whose dwellings in hollow trees and clefts of
      rocks leave nothing to be desired as to roominess and
      airiness, while in the narrow artificial hive this
      need at once comes out strongly. In fact, the fanning
      of the bees almost entirely ceased when Huber brought
      them into large hives five feet high, in which there
      was plenty of air. It follows, therefore, that the
      fanning and ventilating can have absolutely nothing to
      do with an inborn tendency or instinct, but have been
      gradually evoked by necessity, thought, and

As the following observation on the cautious sagacity of wasps is, so
far as I am aware, new, and as it certainly does not admit of
mal-observation, I introduce it on the authority of a correspondent, the
Rev. Mr. J. W. Mossman, who writes from Tarrington Rectory, Wragby. He
found an apple in his orchard which had fallen from a tree in apparently
good condition; but on taking it up observed that it was little more
than a shell filled with wasps. Giving the apple a shake, he saw a wasp
slowly emerging from a single small aperture in the rind:--

      This aperture was sufficient, and only just
      sufficient, to admit of the ingress or egress of a
      single wasp. The circumstance which struck me as very
      remarkable was this--that the wasp did not make its
      way through the aperture with its head first, as I
      should have expected, but with its tail, darting out
      its sting to its utmost extent, and brandishing it
      furiously. In this manner it came out of the apple
      backwards. Then, finding itself in the open air upon
      the outer surface of the apple, it turned round, and
      without any attempt to molest me, flew off in the
      usual way. The moment this first wasp had emerged, the
      sting and tail of another was seen protruding. This,
      too, I watched with much interest, and exactly the
      same process was repeated as in the case of the first.
      I held the apple in my hand until some ten or a dozen
      wasps had made their exit in the same identical manner
      in each individual case. I then threw down the apple,
      inside of which, however, there were still apparently
      a good many wasps.

      It seemed to me at the time, and I have always felt
      since, that the wasps coming out of the apple
      backwards, brandishing their stings as a defensive
      weapon against possible enemies, whom of course they
      were not able to see, was an evidence of what would be
      called thought and reflection in the case of human
      beings. It seems to me that these wasps must have
      reflected that if they came out of the narrow aperture
      in the apple, which was their only possible means of
      ready egress, in the usual manner, head first, they
      might be taken at a disadvantage by a possible enemy,
      and destroyed in detail. They, therefore, with great
      prudence and foresight, came out of the apple
      backwards, protecting themselves by means of their
      chief offensive and defensive weapons, their stings,
      which, according to their normal method of locomotion,
      would have been useless to them as long as they were
      making their exit.

With regard to the tactics displayed by hunting wasps I may quote the
following cases:--

      Mr. Seth Green, writing to the _New York World_ of May
      14, says that one morning when he was watching a
      spider's nest, a wasp alighted within an inch or two
      of the nest, on the side opposite the opening.
      Creeping noiselessly around towards the entrance of
      the nest the wasp stopped a little short of it, and
      for a moment remained perfectly quiet; then reaching
      out one of his antennæ he wriggled it before the
      opening and withdrew it. This overture had the desired
      effect, for the boss of the nest, as large a spider as
      one ordinarily sees, came out to see what was wrong
      and to set it to rights. No sooner had the spider
      emerged to that point at which he was at the worst
      disadvantage than the wasp, with a quick movement,
      thrust his sting into the body of his foe, killing him
      easily and almost instantly. The experiment was
      repeated on the part of the wasp, and when there was
      no response from the inside he became satisfied,
      probably, that he held the fort. At all events, he
      proceeded to enter the nest and slaughter the young
      spiders, which were afterwards lugged off one at a

Mr. Henry Cecil writes as follows (_Nature_, vol. xviii., p. 311):--

      I was sitting one summer's afternoon at an open window
      (my bedroom) looking into a garden, when I was
      surprised to observe a large and rare species of
      spider run across the window-sill in a crouching
      attitude. It struck me the spider was evidently
      alarmed, or it would not have so fearlessly approached
      me. It hastened to conceal itself under the projecting
      ledge of the window-sill inside the room, and had
      hardly done so when a very fine large hunting wasp
      buzzed in at the open window and flew about the room,
      evidently in search of something. Finding nothing, the
      wasp returned to the open window and settled on the
      window-sill, running backwards and forwards as a dog
      does when looking or searching for a lost scent. It
      soon alighted on the track of the poor spider, and in
      a moment it discovered its hiding-place, darted down
      on it, and no doubt inflicted a wound with its sting.
      The spider rushed off again, and this time took refuge
      under the bed, trying to conceal itself under the
      framework or planks which supported the mattress. The
      same scene occurred here; the wasp now appeared to
      follow the spider by sight, but ran backwards and
      forwards in large circles like a hound. The moment the
      trail of the spider was found the wasp followed all
      the turns it had made till it came on it again. The
      poor spider was chased from hiding-place to
      hiding-place, out of the bedroom, across a passage,
      and into the middle of another large room, where it
      finally succumbed to the repeated stings inflicted by
      the wasp. Rolling itself up into a ball the wasp then
      took possession of its prey, and after ascertaining it
      could make no resistance, tucked it up under its _very
      long hind legs_, just as a hawk or eagle carries off
      its quarry, when I interposed and secured both for my

Mr. Belt, in his work already frequently quoted, gives the following
account of a struggle which not unfrequently occurs between wasps and
ants for the sweet secretion of 'frog-hoppers:'--

      Similarly as, on the savannahs, I had observed a wasp
      attending the honey-glands of the bull's-horn acacia
      along with the ants; so at Santo Domingo another wasp,
      belonging to quite a different genus (_Nectarina_),
      attended some of the clusters of frog-hoppers, and for
      the possession of others a constant skirmishing was
      going on. The wasp stroked the young hoppers, and
      sipped up the honey when it was exuded, just like the
      ants. When an ant came up to a cluster of
      leaf-hoppers attended by a wasp, the latter would not
      attempt to grapple with its rival on the leaf, but
      would fly off and hover over the ant; then when its
      little foe was well exposed, it would dart at it and
      strike it to the ground. The action was so quick that
      I could not determine whether it struck with its
      fore-feet or its jaws; but I think it was with the
      feet. I often saw a wasp trying to clear a leaf from
      ants that were already in full possession of a cluster
      of leaf-hoppers. It would sometimes have to strike
      three or four times at an ant before it made it quit
      its hold and fall. At other times one ant after the
      other would be struck off with great celerity and
      ease, and I fancied that some wasps were much cleverer
      than others. In those cases where it succeeded in
      clearing the leaf, it was never left long in peace;
      for fresh relays of ants were continually arriving,
      and generally tired the wasp out. It would never wait
      for an ant to get near it, doubtless knowing well that
      if its little rival once fastened on its leg, it would
      be a difficult matter to get rid of it again. If a
      wasp first obtained possession, it was able to keep
      it; for the first ants that came up were only
      pioneers, and by knocking these off, it prevented them
      from returning and scenting the trail to communicate
      the intelligence to others.

Dr. Erasmus Darwin records an observation ('Zoonomia,' i., p. 183)
which, from having since been so widely quoted, deserves to be called
classical. He saw a wasp upon the ground endeavouring to remove a large
fly which was too heavy for it to carry off. The wasp cut off the head
and abdomen, and flew away with the thorax alone. The wind, however,
catching the wings of this portion made it still too unwieldy for the
wasp to guide. It therefore again alighted, and nipped off first one
wing and then the other, when it was able to fly off with its booty
without further difficulty.

This observation has since been amply confirmed. I shall quote some of
the confirmatory cases.

Mr. R. S. Newall, F.R.S., in _Nature_, vol. xxi., p. 494, says:--

      Many years ago I was examining an apple tree, when a
      wasp alighted on a leaf which formed a caterpillar's
      nest neatly rolled up. The wasp examined both ends,
      and finding them closed, it soon clipped a hole in the
      leaf at one end of the nest about one-eighth of an
      inch in diameter. It then went to the other end and
      made a noise which frightened the caterpillar, which
      came rushing out of the hole. It was immediately
      seized by the wasp, who finding it too large to carry
      off at once, cut it in two and went off with his game.
      I waited a little and saw the wasp come back for the
      other half, with which it also flew away.

Again, Büchner (_loc. cit._, p. 297) gives the following account in the
words of his informant, Herr H. Löwenfels, who himself witnessed the

      I here found a robber-wasp busied in lifting from the
      ground a large fly which it had apparently killed. It
      succeeded indeed in its attempt, but had scarcely
      raised its prey a few inches above the ground when the
      wind caught the wings of the dead fly, and they began
      to act like a sail. The wasp was clearly unable to
      resist this action, and was blown a little distance in
      the direction of the wind, whereupon it let itself
      fall to the ground with its prize. It now made no more
      attempts to fly, but with eager industry pulled off
      with its teeth the fly's wings which hindered it in
      its object. When this was quite done it seized the
      fly, which was heavier than itself, and flew off with
      it untroubled on its journey through the air at a
      height of about five feet.

Büchner also records the two following remarkable observations, which
from being so similar corroborate one another. The first is received
from Herr Albert Schlüter, who writing from Texas says that he there saw
a cicada pursued by a large hornet, which threw itself upon its prey and
seemed to sting it to death:--

      The murderer walked over its prey, which was
      considerably larger than itself, grasped its body with
      its feet, spread out its wings, and tried to fly away
      with it. Its strength was not sufficient, and after
      many efforts it gave up the attempt. Half a minute
      went by; sitting astride on the corpse and
      motionless--only the wings occasionally jerking--it
      seems to reflect, and indeed not in vain. A mulberry
      tree stood close by, really only a trunk--for the top
      had been broken off, clearly by the last flood--of
      about ten or twelve feet high. The hornet saw this
      trunk, dragged its prey toilsomely to the foot of it,
      and then up to the top. Arrived thereat, it rested for
      a moment, grasped its victim firmly, and flew off with
      it to the prairies. That which it was unable to raise
      off the ground it could now carry easily once high in
      the air.

The other instance is as follows:--

      Th. Meenan ('Proc. of the Acad. of Nat.,'
      Philadelphia, Jan. 22, 1878) observed a very similar
      case with _Vespa maculata_. He saw one of these wasps
      try in vain to raise from the ground a grasshopper it
      had killed. When all its efforts proved to be in vain,
      it pulled its prey to a maple tree, about thirty feet
      off, mounted it with its prize, and flew away from it.
      'This,' adds the writer, 'was more than instinct. It
      was reflection and judgment, and the judgment was
      proved to be correct.'

Depriving bees of their antennæ has the effect of producing an even more
marked bewilderment than results from this operation in the case of
ants. A queen thus mutilated by Huber ran about in confusion, dropping
her eggs at random, and appeared unable to take with precision the food
that was offered her. She showed no resentment to a similarly mutilated
stranger queen that was introduced: the workers also heeded not the
mutilated stranger; but when an unmutilated stranger was introduced they
fell upon her. When the mutilated queen was allowed to escape, none of
the workers followed.


[46] Vol. ix. p. 484.

[47] _Passions of Animals_, p. 53.

[48] Vol. xii. p. 68.

[49] 'Three months' in the Journal of the Linnæan Society, but Sir John
Lubbock informs me that this is a misprint.

[50] See Kirby and Spence, vol. ii. p. 591.

[51] Letter to Mr. Darwin, published in _Nature_, vol. x., p. 102.

[52] Vol. xii., pp. 25-6.

[53] _Loc. cit._

[54] Art. 'Bees,' _Encycl. Brit._

[55] Dr. Kemp, _Indications of Instinct_.

[56] _The Bee_, 1877, No. 1.

[57] Dr. Lindley Kemp, _Indications of Instinct_.

[58] Handcock on Instinct, p. 18.

[59] _Introd. Ent._, ii, p. 465.

[60] _Origin of Species_, 'Cell-making Instinct.'

[61] _Origin of Species_, p. 225.

[62] _Mind in Animals_, pp. 252-3.

[63] For a complete account of these habits see Bingley, _Animal
Biography_, vol. iii., pp. 272-5.

[64] _Mém. sur les Insectes_, tom. vi., p. 39.

[65] Vol. i., pp. 22-3 (3rd ed.).

[66] Vol. xvii., p. 373.

[67] See Brehm, _Thierleben_, ix., p. 252.

[68] An exactly similar case is recorded by Stodmann in his _Travels in
Surinam_, ii., p. 286.

[69] _Nature_, ix., p. 189.

[70] See _Kirby and Spence_, vol. ii., p. 229.



THE habits of the Termites, or so-called White Ants, have not been so
closely studied as they deserve. Our chief knowledge concerning them is
derived from the observations of Jobson, in his 'History of Gambia;'
Bastian, in 'The Nations of Eastern Asia;' Forsteal, Lespès, König,
Sparman, Hugen, Quatrefages, Fritz Müller, and most of all, Smeathman,
in 'Philosophical Transactions,' vol. lxxi. In Africa these insects
raise their hills to a height of between ten and twenty feet, and
construct them of earth, stones, pieces of wood, &c., glued together by
a sticky saliva. The hills are in the form of a cone, and so strong that
it is said the buffaloes are in the habit of using them as watch-towers
on which to post sentries, and that they will even support the weight of
an elephant. The growth of these gigantic mounds is gradual, increasing
with the increase of the population. From the mound in all directions
there radiate subterranean tunnels, which may be as much as a foot in
width, and which serve as roadways. Besides these tunnels there are a
number of other subterranean tubes, which serve the purpose of drainage
to carry off the floods of water to which the nest is exposed during
tropical showers. Büchner calculates that a pyramid built by man on a
scale proportional to his size would only equal one of these nests if it
attained to the height of 3,000 feet. The following is this author's
description of the internal structure:--

      These internal arrangements are so various and so
      complicated that pages of description might be written
      thereupon. There are myriads of rooms, cells,
      nurseries, provision chambers, guard-rooms, passages,
      corridors, vaults, bridges, subterranean streets and
      canals, tunnels, arched ways, steps, smooth inclines,
      domes, &c., &c., all arranged on a definite, coherent,
      and well-considered plan. In the middle of the
      building, sheltered as far as possible from outside
      dangers, lies the stately royal dwelling, resembling
      an arched oven, in which the royal pair reside, or
      rather are imprisoned; for the entrances and outlets
      are so small, that although the workers on service can
      pass easily in and out, the queen cannot; for during
      the egg-laying her body swells out to an enormous
      size, two or three thousand times the size and weight
      of an ordinary worker. The queen, therefore, never
      leaves her dwelling, and dies therein. Round the
      palace, which is at first small, but is later enlarged
      in proportion as the queen increases in size until it
      is at least a yard long and half a yard high, lie the
      nurseries, or cells for the eggs and larvæ; next these
      the servants' rooms, or cells for the workers which
      wait on the queen; then special chambers for the
      soldiers on guard, and, between these, numerous
      store-rooms, filled with gums, resins, dried
      plant-juices, meal, seeds, fruits, worked-up wood, &c.
      According to Bettziech-Beta, there is always in the
      midst of the nest a large common room, which is used
      either for popular assemblies or as the meeting and
      starting point of the countless passages and chambers
      of the nest. Others are of the opinion that this space
      serves for purposes of ventilation.

      Above and below the royal cell are the rooms of the
      workers and soldiers which are specially charged with
      the care and defence of the royal pair. They
      communicate with each other, as well as with the
      nursery-cells and store-rooms, by means of galleries
      and passages which, as already said, open into the
      common room in the middle under the dome. This room is
      surrounded by high, boldly projected arched ways,
      which lose themselves further out in the walls of the
      countless rooms and galleries. Many roofs outside and
      in protect this room and the surrounding chambers from
      rain, which, as already said, is drained away by
      countless subterranean canals, made of clay and of a
      diameter of ten or twelve centimetres. There are also,
      under the layer of clay covering the whole building,
      broad spirally winding passages running from below to
      the highest points, which communicate with the
      passages of the interior, and apparently, as they
      mainly consist of smooth inclines, serve for carrying
      provisions to the higher parts of the nest.[71]

The termites, like many species of true ants, are divided into two
distinct castes, the workers and the soldiers. If a breach is made in
the walls of the dome the soldiers rush out to meet the enemy, and fight
desperately with any enemy that they may find. Here, again, I cannot do
better than quote Büchner's epitome of facts:--

      If the assailant withdraws beyond their reach and
      inflicts no further injury, they retire within their
      dwelling in the course of half an hour, as though they
      had come to the conclusion that the enemy who had done
      the mischief had fled. Scarcely have the soldiers
      disappeared when crowds of workers appear in the
      breach, each with a quantity of ready-made mortar in
      its mouth. As soon as they arrive they stick this
      mortar round the open place, and direct the whole
      operation with such swiftness and facility that in
      spite of their great number they never hinder each
      other, nor are obliged to stop. During this spectacle
      of apparent restlessness and confusion the observer is
      agreeably surprised to see arising a regular wall,
      filling up the gap. During the time that the workers
      are thus busied the soldiers remain within the nest,
      with the exception of a few, which walk about
      apparently idly, never touching the mortar, among the
      hundreds and thousands of workers. Nevertheless one of
      them stands on guard close to the wall which is being
      built. It turns gently each way in turn, lifting its
      head at intervals of one or two minutes to strike the
      building with its heavy mandibles, making the
      before-mentioned crackling noise. This signal is
      immediately answered by a loud rustling from the
      interior of the nest and from all the subterranean
      passages and holes. There is no doubt that this noise
      arises from the workers, for as often as the sign is
      given they work with increased energy and speed. A
      renewal of the attack instantaneously changes the
      scene. 'At the first stroke,' says Smeathman, 'the
      workers run into the many tunnels and passages which
      run through the building, and this happens so quickly
      that they seem regularly to vanish. In a few seconds
      they are all gone, and in their stead appear the
      soldiers once more, as numerous and as pugnacious as
      before. If they find no enemy, they turn back slowly
      into the interior of the hill, and immediately the
      mortar-laden workers again appear, and among them a
      few soldiers, which behave just as on the first
      occasion. So one can have the pleasure of seeing them
      work and fight in turn, as often as one chooses; and
      it will be found each time that one set never fight,
      and the other never work, however great the need may

Similar facts have been observed by Fritz Müller of the South American

The Termites, being like the Ecitons blind, like them make all their
expeditions under the protection of covered ways. These are underground
tunnels in all cases where circumstances permit, but on arriving at a
rock or other impenetrable obstruction, they build a tubular passage
upon the surface. According to Büchner,--

      They can even carry their viaducts through the air,
      and that in such bold arches that it is difficult to
      understand how they were projected. In order to reach
      a sack of meal which was well protected below, they
      broke through the roof of the room in which it was,
      and built a straight tube from the breach they had
      made down to the sack. As soon as they tried to carry
      off their booty to a safe place, they became convinced
      that it was impossible to pull it up the straight
      road. In order to meet this difficulty, they adopted
      the principle of the smooth incline, the use of which
      we have already seen in the interior of their nests,
      and built close to the first tube a second, which
      wound spirally within, like the famous clock tower of
      Venice. It was now an easy task to carry their booty
      up this road and so away. . . . Either from the desire
      to remain undiscovered, or from their liking for
      darkness, they have the remarkable habit of destroying
      and gnawing everything from within outwards, and of
      leaving the outside shell standing, so that from the
      outside appearance the dangerous state of the inside is
      not perceptible. If, for instance, they have destroyed
      a table or other piece of household furniture, in which
      they always manage from the ground upwards to hit
      exactly the places on which the feet of the article
      rest, the table looks perfectly uninjured outside, and
      people are quite astonished when it breaks down under
      the slightest pressure. The whole inside is eaten away,
      and only the thinnest shell is left standing. If fruits
      are lying on the table, they also are eaten out from
      the exact spot on which they rest on the surface of the

      In similar fashion things consisting wholly of wood,
      such as wooden ships, trees, &c., are destroyed by
      them so that they finally break in without any one
      having noticed the mischief. Yet it is said that they
      go so prudently to work in their destruction that the
      main beams, the sudden breakage of which would
      threaten the whole building and themselves therewith,
      are either spared, or else so fastened together again
      with a cement made out of clay and earth that their
      strength is greater than ever!(?) Hagen also states
      that they never cut right through the corks which stop
      up stored bottles of wine, but leave a very thin
      layer, which is sufficient to prevent the outflow of
      the wine and the consequent destruction of the
      workers. The same author relates that in order to
      reach a box of wax lights they made a covered road
      from the ground up to the second story of a house.[73]

It is needless to give a special description of any of the other habits
of these insects, such as their swarming, breeding, &c., for they all
more or less closely resemble the analogous habits of ants and bees. It
is very remarkable that insects of two distinct orders should both
manifest such closely similar social habits of such high complexity, and
it rather surprises me that more has not been made of this point by
writers opposed to the principles of evolution. Of course if the point
were raised, the argument in answer would require to be, either that the
similar instincts were derived from common and very remote progenitors
(in which case the fact would form by far the most remarkable instance
of the permanency of instincts among changing species), or more
probably, that similar causes operating in the two orders have produced
similar effects--complex and otherwise unique though these effects
undoubtedly are.

In connection with the theory of evolution I may conclude this chapter
with the following quotation from Smeathman, as it shows how natural
relation may develop for the benefit of the species instincts which are
detrimental to the individual. Speaking of the soldiers he says:--

      I was always amused at the pugnacity displayed when,
      in making a hole in the earthy cemented archway of
      their covered roads, a host of these little fellows
      mounted the breach to cover the retreat of the
      workers. The edges of the rupture bristled with their
      armed heads as the courageous warriors ranged
      themselves in compact line around them. They attacked
      fiercely any intruding object, and as fast as their
      front ranks were destroyed, others filled up their
      places. When the jaws closed in the flesh, they
      suffered themselves to be torn in pieces rather than
      loosen their hold. It might be said that this instinct
      is rather a cause of their ruin than a protection when
      a colony is attacked by the well-known enemy of
      termites, the ant-bear; but it is the soldiers only
      which attach themselves to the long worm-like tongue
      of this animal, and the workers, on whom the
      prosperity of the young brood immediately depends, are
      left for the most part unharmed. I always found, on
      thrusting my finger into a mixed crowd of termites,
      that the soldiers only fastened upon it. Thus the
      fighting caste do in the end serve to protect the
      species by sacrificing themselves to its good.[74]


[71] _Loc. cit._, p. 189.

[72] _Ibid._, p. 119.

[73] _Geistesleben der Thiere_, pp. 194 and 199-200.

[74] Phil. Trans., _loc. cit._




THE emotional life of spiders, so far as we can observe it as expressed
in their actions, seems to be divided between sexual passion (including
maternal affection) and the sterner feelings incidental to their
fiercely predatory habits. But the emotions, although apparently few and
simple in character, are exceedingly strong in force. In many species
the male spider in conducting his courtship has to incur an amount of
personal danger at the hands (and jaws) of his terrific spouse, which
might well daunt the courage of a Leander. Ridiculously small and weak
in build, the males of these species can only conduct the rites of
marriage with their enormous and voracious brides by a process of active
manoeuvring, which if unsuccessful is certain to cost them their
lives. Yet their sexual emotions are so strong that, as proved by the
continuance of the species, no amount of personal risk is sufficient to
deter them from giving these emotions full play. There is no other case
in the animal kingdom where courtship is attended with any approach to
the gravity of danger that is here observable. Among many animals the
males have to meet a certain amount of inconvenience from the coquetry
or disinclination of the females; but here the coquetry and
disinclination has passed into the hungry determination of a ferocious
giantess. The case, therefore, because unique, is of interest from an
evolutionary point of view. We can see a direct advantage to species
from the danger incurred by males on account of mutual jealousy; for
this, giving rise to what Mr. Darwin has called 'the law of battle,'
must obviously be a constant source of the creation and the maintenance
of specific proficiency; the law of battle determines that only the
strongest and most courageous males shall breed. But the benefit to
species is not so obvious where the danger of courtship arises from the
side of the female. Still, that there must be some benefit is obvious,
seeing that the whole structure of the male, if we take that of the
female as the original type, has been greatly modified with reference to
this danger: had the latter been wholly useless, either it would not
have been allowed to arise, or the species must have become extinct. The
only suggestion I can make to meet this aberrant case is that the
courage and determination required of the male, besides being no doubt
of use to him in other relations in life, may be of benefit to the
species by instilling these qualities into the psychology both of his
male and female descendants.

The courage and rapacity of spiders as a class are too well and
generally known to require special illustration. One instance, however,
may be quoted to show the strength of their maternal emotions. Bonnet
threw a spider with her bag of eggs into the pit of an ant-lion. The
latter seized the eggs and tore them away from the spider; but although
Bonnet forced her out of the pit, she returned, and chose to be dragged
in and buried alive rather than leave her charge.

The only other point that occurs to me with reference to the emotions of
spiders is the somewhat remarkable one concerning their apparent
fondness of music. The testimony is so varied and abundant on this
matter that we can scarcely doubt the truth of the facts. These simply
are that spiders--or at any rate some species or individuals--approach a
sounding musical instrument, 'especially when the music is tender and
not too loud.' They usually approach as near as possible, often letting
themselves down from the ceiling of the room by a line of web, and
remain suspended above the instrument. Should the music become loud,
they often again retreat. Professor C. Reclain, during a concert at
Leipsic, saw a spider descend in this way from one of the chandeliers
while a violin solo was being played; but as soon as the orchestra
began to sound it quickly ran back again.[75] Similar observations have
been published by Rabigot, Simonius, von Hartmann, and others.

A highly probable explanation of these facts has recently been given by
Mr. C. V. Boys, which relieves us of the necessity of imputing to
animals so low in the scale any rudiment of æsthetic emotion as aroused
by musical tones. As the observation is an interesting one, I shall
quote it _in extenso_:--

      Having made some observations on the garden spider
      which are I believe new, I send a short account of
      them, in the hope that they may be of interest to the
      readers of _Nature_.

      Last autumn, while watching some spiders spinning
      their beautiful geometrical webs, it occurred to me to
      try what effect a tuning-fork would have upon them. On
      sounding an A fork, and lightly touching with it any
      leaf or other support of the web, or any portion of
      the web itself, I found that the spider, if at the
      centre of the web, rapidly slues round so as to face
      the direction of the fork, feeling with its fore-feet
      along which radial thread the vibration travels.
      Having become satisfied on this point, it next darts
      along that thread till it reaches either the fork
      itself or a junction of two or more threads, the right
      one of which it instantly determines as before. If the
      fork is not removed when the spider has arrived it
      seems to have the same charm as any fly; for the
      spider seizes it, embraces it, and runs about on the
      legs of the fork as often as it is made to sound,
      never seeming to learn by experience that other things
      may buzz besides its natural food.

      If the spider is not at the centre of the web at the
      time that the fork is applied, it cannot tell which
      way to go until it has been to the centre to ascertain
      which radial thread is vibrating, unless of course it
      should happen to be on that particular thread, or on a
      stretched supporting thread in contact with the fork.

      If, when a spider has been enticed to the edge of the
      web the fork is withdrawn, and then gradually brought
      near, the spider is aware of its presence and of its
      direction, and reaches out as far as possible in the
      direction of the fork; but if a sounding fork is
      gradually brought near a spider that has not been
      disturbed, but which is waiting as usual in the middle
      of the web, then, instead of reaching out towards the
      fork, the spider instantly drops--at the end of a
      thread, of course. If under these conditions the fork
      is made to touch any part of the web, the spider is
      aware of the fact, and climbs the thread and reaches
      the fork with marvellous rapidity. The spider never
      leaves the centre of the web without a thread along
      which to travel back. If after enticing a spider out
      we cut this thread with a pair of scissors, the spider
      seems to be unable to get back without doing
      considerable damage to the web, generally gumming
      together the sticky parallel threads in groups of
      three and four.

      By means of a tuning-fork a spider may be made to eat
      what it would otherwise avoid. I took a fly that had
      been drowned in paraffin and put it into a spider's
      web, and then attracted the spider by touching the fly
      with a fork. When the spider had come to the
      conclusion that it was not suitable food, and was
      leaving it, I touched the fly again. This had the same
      effect as before, and as often as the spider began to
      leave the fly I again touched it, and by this means
      compelled the spider to eat a large portion of the

      The few house-spiders that I have found do not seem to
      appreciate the tuning-fork, but retreat into their
      hiding-places as when frightened; yet the supposed
      fondness of spiders for music must surely have some
      connection with these observations; and when they come
      out to listen, is it not that they cannot tell which
      way to proceed?

      The few observations that I have made are necessarily
      imperfect, but I send them, as they afford a method
      which might lead a naturalist to notice habits
      otherwise difficult to observe, and so to arrive at
      conclusions which I in my ignorance of natural history
      must leave to others.[76]

_General Habits._

Coming now to general habits, our attention is claimed by the only
general habit that is of interest--namely, that of web-building. The
instinct of constructing nets for the capture of prey occurs in no other
class of animals, while in spiders it not only attains to an
extraordinary degree of perfection (so that, in the opinion of some
geometers, the instinct is not less wonderful in this respect than is
that displayed by the hive-bee in the construction of its cells), but
also ramifies into a number of diverse directions. Thus we have, in
different species, wide open networks spread between the branches of
bushes, &c., closely woven textures in the corners of buildings, earth
tubes lined with silk, the strong muslin-like snare of the Mygale,
which, as first noticed by Madame Merian,[77] and since confirmed by
Bates,[78] is able to retain a struggling humming-bird while this most
beautiful animal in creation is being devoured by the most repulsive;
and many other varieties might be mentioned. It may at first sight
appear somewhat remarkable that this instinct of spreading snares should
on the one hand occur only in one class of the animal kingdom, while on
the other hand, in the class where it does occur, it should attain such
extreme perfection, and run into so much variety. But we must here
remember that the development of the instinct obviously depends upon the
presence of a web-secreting apparatus, which is a comparatively rare
anatomical feature. In caterpillars, which are not predaceous, the web
is used only for the purposes of protection and locomotion; and it is
easy to see that the spreading of snares would here be of no use to the
animals. But in spiders, of course, the case is otherwise. Once granting
the power of forming a web, and it is evident that there is much
potential service to which this power may be put with reference to the
voracious habits of the animal; and therefore it is not to be wondered
that both the anatomical structures and their correlated instincts
should attain to extreme perfection in sundry lines of development. The
origin of the web-building structure was probably due to the use of the
web for purposes of locomotion or of cocoon-spinning, as we see it still
so used in the same way that it is used by caterpillars for descending
from heights, and in the case of the gossamer spider for travelling
immense distances through the air. As the anatomical structures in
question differ very greatly in the case of spiders and in that of
caterpillars, we may wonder why analogous if not homologous structures
should never have been developed in the case of any other animal having
predaceous habits--especially, perhaps, in that of the imago form of
predaceous insects. It is easy to see how, if there were any original
tendency to secrete a viscid substance in the neighbourhood of the anus,
this might be utilised in descending from low elevations (as certain
kinds of slugs use their viscid slime as threads whereby to let
themselves down from low branches to the ground); and so we can
understand how natural selection might thus have the material supplied
out of which to develop such highly specialised organs as the spinnerets
of a spider. But if we are inclined to wonder why this should not have
happened among other animals, we must remember that any expectation that
it should rests on negative grounds; we have no reason to suppose that
in any other case the initial tendency to secrete a viscid substance was
present. One inference, however, in the case of spiders seems perfectly
valid. As this comparatively rare faculty of web-spinning occurs so
generally throughout the class, it must have had its earliest origin
very far back in the history of that class, though probably not so far
back as to include the common progenitors of the spiders and the
scorpions, seeing that the latter do not spin webs.

I shall now give a few details on the manner in which spiders' webs are
made. Without going into the anatomy of the subject further than to
observe that a spider's 'thread' is a composite structure made up of a
number of finer threads, which leave their respective spinneret-holes in
an almost fluid condition, and immediately harden by exposure to the
air, I shall begin at once to describe the method of construction.

The so-called 'geometric spider' constructs her web by first laying down
the radiating and unadhesive rays, and then, beginning from the centre,
spins a spiral line of unadhesive web, like that of the rays which it
intersects. This line, in being woven through the radii in a spiral from
centre to circumference, serves as a scaffolding for the spider to walk
over, and also keeps the rays properly stretched. She next spins another
spiral line, but this time from the circumference to near the centre,
and formed of web, covered with a viscid secretion to retain prey.
Lastly, she constructs her lair to bide and watch for prey, at some
distance from the web but connected with it by means of a line of
communication or telegraph, the vibrations of which inform her of the
struggling of an insect in the net.[79]

According to Thompson,--

      The web of the garden spider--the most ingenious and
      perfect contrivance that can be imagined--is usually
      fixed in a perpendicular or somewhat oblique direction
      in an opening between the leaves of some plant or
      shrub; and as it is obvious that round its whole
      extent lines will be required to which those ends of
      radii that are farthest from the centre can be
      attached, the construction of those exterior lines is
      the spider's first operation. It seems careless about
      the shape of the area they are to enclose, well aware
      that it can as readily inscribe a circle in a triangle
      as a square; and in this respect it is guided by the
      distance or proximity of the points to which it can
      attach them. It spares no pains, however, to
      strengthen and keep them in a proper degree of
      tension. With the former view it composes each line of
      five or six or even of more threads glued together;
      and with the latter it fixes to them from different
      points a numerous and intricate apparatus of smaller
      threads; and having thus completed the foundation of
      its snare, it proceeds to fill up the outline.
      Attaching a thread to one of the main lines, it walks
      along it, guiding it with one of its hind legs, that
      it may not touch in any part and be prematurely glued,
      and crosses over to the opposite side, where, by
      applying its spinners, it firmly fixes it. To the
      middle of this diagonal thread, which is to form the
      centre of its net, it fixes a second, which in like
      manner it conveys and fastens to another part of the
      lines including the area. The work now proceeds
      rapidly. During the preliminary operations it
      sometimes rests, as though its plan required
      meditation; but no sooner are the marginal lines of
      the net firmly stretched, and two or three radii spun
      from its centre, than it continues its labour so
      quickly and unremittingly that the eye can scarcely
      follow its progress. The radii, to the number of about
      twenty, giving the net the appearance of a wheel, are
      speedily finished. It then proceeds to the centre,
      quickly turns itself round, pulls each thread with its
      feet to ascertain its strength, breaking any one that
      seems defective, and replacing it by another. Next it
      glues, immediately round the centre, five or six small
      concentric circles, distant about half a line from
      each other, and then four or five larger ones, each
      separated by the space of half an inch or more. These
      last serve as a sort of temporary scaffolding to walk
      over, and to keep the radii properly stretched while
      it glues to them the concentric circles that are to
      remain, which it now proceeds to construct. Placing
      itself at the circumference, and fastening its thread
      to the end of one of the radii, it walks up that one,
      towards the centre, to such a distance as to draw the
      thread from its body of a sufficient length to meet
      the next. Then stepping across and conducting the
      thread with one of its hind legs, it glues it with its
      spinners to the point in the adjoining radius to which
      it is to be fixed. This process it repeats until it
      has filled up nearly the whole space from the
      circumference to the centre with concentric circles,
      distant from each other about two lines. It always,
      however, leaves a vacant interval around the smallest
      first spun circles that are nearest to the centre, and
      bites away the small cotton-like tuft that united all
      the radii, which being held now together by the
      circular threads have thus probably their elasticity
      increased; and in the circular opening, resulting from
      this procedure, it takes its station and watches for
      its prey, or occasionally retires to a little
      apartment formed under some leaf, which it also uses
      as a slaughter-house.[80]

According to Büchner,--

      The long main threads, with the help of which the
      spider begins and attaches its web, are always the
      thickest and strongest; while the others, forming the
      web itself, are considerably weaker. Injuries to the
      web at any spot the spider very quickly repairs, but
      without keeping to the original plan, and without
      taking more trouble than is absolutely necessary. Most
      spiders' webs, therefore, if closely looked into, are
      found to be somewhat irregular. When a storm
      threatens, the spider, which is very economical with
      its valuable spinning material, spins no web, for it
      knows that the storm will tear it in pieces and waste
      its pains, and it also does not mend a web which has
      been torn. If it is seen spinning or mending, on the
      other hand, fine weather may be generally reckoned
      on. . . . The emerged young at first spin a very
      irregular web, and only gradually learn to make a
      larger and finer one, so that here, as everywhere
      else, practice and experience play a great part. . . .
      The position must also offer favourable opposite
      points for the attachment of the web itself. People
      have often puzzled their brains, wondering how
      spiders, without being able to fly, had managed first
      to stretch their web through the air between two
      opposite points. But the little creature succeeds in
      accomplishing this difficult task in the most various
      and ingenious ways. It either, when the distance is
      not too great, throws a moist viscid pellet, joined to
      a thread, which will stick where it touches; or hangs
      itself by a thread in the air and lets itself be
      driven by the wind to the spot; or crawls there,
      letting out a thread as it goes, and then pulls it
      taut when arrived at the desired place; or floats a
      number of threads in the air and waits till the wind
      has thrown them here or there. The main or radial
      threads which fasten the web possess such a high
      degree of elasticity, that they tighten themselves
      between two distant points to which the spider has
      crawled, without it being necessary for the latter to
      pull them towards itself. When the little artist has
      once got a single thread at its disposition, it
      strengthens this until it is sufficiently strong for
      it to run backwards and forwards thereupon, and to
      spin therefrom the web.[81]

_Special Habits._

_Water-spider._--The water-spider (_Argyroneta aquatica_), as is well
known, displays the curious instinct of building her nest below the
surface of water, and constructing it on the principle of a diving-bell.
The animal usually selects still waters for this purpose, and makes her
nest in the form of an oval hollow, lined with web, and held secure by a
number of threads passing in various directions and fastened to the
surrounding plants. In this oval bell, which is open below, she watches
for prey, and, according to Kirby,[82] passes the winter after having
closed the opening. The air needful for respiration the spider carries
from the surface of the water. To do this she swims upon her back in
order to entangle an air-bubble upon the hairy surface of her abdomen.
With this bubble she descends, 'like a globe of quicksilver,' to the
opening of her nest, where she liberates it and returns for more.

_The Vagrant or Wolf Spider._--This insect catches its prey by
stealthily stalking it until within distance near enough to admit of a
sudden dart being successful in effecting capture. Some species, before
making the final dart (_e.g. Salticus scenicus_), fix a line of web upon
the surface over which they are creeping, so that whether their station
is vertical or horizontal with reference to the prey, they can leap
fearlessly, the thread in any case preventing their fall. Dr. H. F.
Hutchinson says that he has seen this spider crawling over a
looking-glass stalking its own reflection.[83]

The following is quoted from Büchner:--

      Less idyllic than the water-spider is our native
      hunting-spider (_Dolomedes fimbriata_), which belongs
      to those species which spin no web, but hunt their
      victims like animals of prey. As the _Argyroneta_ is
      the discoverer of the diving-bell, so may this be
      regarded as the discoverer or first builder of a
      floating raft. It is not content with hunting insects
      on land, but follows them on the water, on the surface
      of which it runs about with ease. It, however, needs a
      place to rest on, and makes it by rolling together dry
      leaves and such like bodies, binding them into a firm
      whole with its silken threads. On this raft-like
      vessel it floats at the mercy of wind and waves; and
      if an unlucky water-insect comes for an instant to the
      surface of the water to breathe, the spider darts at
      it with lightning speed, and carries it back to its
      raft to devour at its ease. Thus everywhere in nature
      are battle, craft, and ingenuity, all following the
      merciless law of egoism, in order to maintain their
      own lives and to destroy those of others!

_Trap-door Spiders._--These display the curious instinct of providing
their nests with trap-doors. The nest consists of a tube excavated in
the earth to the depth of half a foot or more. In all save one species
the tube is unbranched; it is always lined with silk, which is
continuous with the lining of the trap-door or doors, of which it forms
the hinge. In the species which constructs a branching tube, the branch
is always single, more or less straight, takes origin at a point
situated a few inches from the orifice of the main tube, is directed
upwards at an acute angle with that tube, and terminates blindly just
below the surface of the soil. At its point of junction with or
departure from the main tube it is provided with a trap-door resembling
that which closes the orifice of the main tube, and of such a size and
arrangement that when closed against the opening of the branch tube it
just fills that opening; while when turned outwards, so as to uncork
this opening, it just fills the diameter of the main tube: the latter,
therefore, is in this species provided with two trap-doors, one at the
surface of the soil, and the other at the fork of the branched tube.

Each species of trap-door spider is very constant in building a
particular kind of trap-door; but among the different species there are
four several kinds of trap-doors to be distinguished. 1st. The
single-door cork nest, wherein the trap-door is a thick structure, and
fits into the tube like a cork into a bottle. 2nd. The single-door wafer
nest, wherein the trap-door is as thin as a piece of paper. 3rd. The
double-door unbranched nest, wherein there is a second trap-door
situated a few inches below the first one. And 4th, the double-door
branched nest already described. In all cases the trap-doors open
outwards, and when the nest is placed, as it usually is, on a sloping
bank, the trap-door opens upwards; hence there is no fear of its gaping,
for gravity is on the side of holding it shut.

The object of the trap-door is to conceal the nest, and for this purpose
it is always made so closely to resemble the general surface of the
ground on which it occurs, that even a practised eye finds it difficult
to detect the structure when closed. In order to make the resemblance to
the surrounding objects as perfect as possible, the spider either
constructs the surface of its door of a portion of leaf, or weaves moss,
grass, &c., into the texture. Moggridge says,[84]--

      Thus, for example, in one case where I had cut out a
      little clod of mossy earth, about two inches thick and
      three square on the surface, containing the top of the
      tube and the moss-covered cork door of _N.
      cæmentaria_, I found, on revisiting the place six
      days later, that a new door had been made, and that
      the spider had mounted up to fetch moss from the
      undisturbed bank above, planting it in the earth which
      formed the crown of the door. Here the moss actually
      called the eye to the trap, which lay in the little
      plain of brown earth made by my digging.

If an enemy should detect the trap-door and endeavour to open it, the
spider frequently seizes hold of its internal surface, and, applying her
legs to the walls of the tube, forcibly holds the trap-door shut. In the
double trap-door species it is surmised that the second trap-door serves
as an inner barrier of defence, behind which the spider retires when
obliged to abandon the first one. In the branched tube species (which,
so far as at present known, only occurs in the south of Europe) it is
surmised that the spider, when it finds that an enemy is about to gain
entrance at the first trap-door, runs into the branch tube and draws up
behind it the second trap-door. The surface of this trap-door, being
overlaid with silk like the walls of the tube, is then invisible; so
that the enemy no doubt passes down the main tube to find it empty,
without observing the lateral branch in which the spider is concealed
behind the closed door.

As showing that these animals are to no small extent able to adapt their
dwellings to unusual circumstances, I shall here quote the following
from Moggridge (_loc. cit._, p. 122):--

      Certain nests which were furnished with two doors of
      the cork type were observed by Mr. S. S. Saunders in
      the Ionian Islands. The door at the surface of these
      nests was normal in position and structure, but the
      lower one was placed at the very bottom of the nest,
      and inverted, so that, though apparently intended to
      open downwards, it was permanently closed by the
      surrounding earth. The presence of a carefully
      constructed door in a situation which forbade the
      possibility of its ever being opened seemed, indeed,
      something difficult to account for. However, it
      occurred to Mr. Saunders that, as these nests were
      found in the cultivated ground round the roots of
      olive trees, they may occasionally have got turned
      topsy-turvy when the soil was broken up. The spider
      then, finding her door buried below in the ground and
      the bottom of the tube at the surface, would have
      either to seek new quarters or to adapt the nest to
      its altered position, and make an opening and door at
      the exposed end. In order to try whether one of these
      spiders would do this, Mr. Saunders placed a nest,
      with its occupant inside, upside down in a flower-pot.
      After the lapse of ten days a new door was made,
      exactly as he had conjectured it would be, and the
      nest presented two doors like those which he had found
      at first.

The most remarkable fact connected with these animals, if we regard
their peculiar instinct from the standpoint of the descent theory, is
the wide range of their geographical distribution. In all quarters of
the globe species of trap-door spiders are found occurring in more or
less localised areas; and as it is improbable that so peculiar an
instinct should have arisen independently in more than one line of
descent, we can only conclude that the wide dispersion of the species
presenting it has been subsequent to the origin and perfecting of the
instinct. This conclusion of course necessitates the supposition that
the instinct must be one of enormous antiquity; and in this connection
it is worthy of remark that we seem to have independent evidence to show
that such is the case. It is a principle of evolution that the earlier
any structure or instinct appears in the development of the race, the
sooner will it appear in the development of the individual; and read by
the light of this principle we should conclude, quite apart from all
considerations as to the wide geographical distribution of trap-door
spiders, that their instincts--as, indeed, is the case with the
characteristic instincts of many other species of spiders--must be of
immense age. Thus, again to quote Moggridge,--

      It seems to be the rule with spiders generally that
      the offspring should leave the nest and construct
      dwellings for themselves when very young.

      Mr. Blackwall, speaking of British spiders,
      says:--'Complicated as the processes are by which
      these symmetrical nets are produced, nevertheless
      young spiders, acting under the influence of
      instinctive impulse, display, even in their first
      attempts to fabricate them, as consummate skill as the
      most experienced individuals.'

      Again, Mr. F. Pollock[85] relates of the young of
      _Epeira aurelia_, which he observed in Madeira, that
      when seven weeks old they made a web the size of a
      penny, and that these nets have the same beautiful
      symmetry as those of the full-grown spider.

And, speaking of trap-door spiders, Moggridge says,--

      I cannot help thinking that these very small nests,
      built as they are by minute spiders probably not very
      long hatched from the egg, must rank among the most
      marvellous structures of this kind with which we are
      acquainted. That so young and weak a creature should
      be able to excavate a tube in the earth many times its
      own length, and know how to make a perfect miniature
      of the nest of its parents, seems to be a fact which
      has scarcely a parallel in nature.[86]

Regarding the steps whereby the instinct of building trap-doors probably
arose, Büchner quotes Moggridge thus:--

      To show, lastly, how various are the transitional
      forms and gradations so important in deciding upon the
      gradual origin of the forms of nests, Moggridge also
      alludes to the similar buildings made by other genera
      of spiders. _Lycosa Narbonensis_, a spider of Southern
      France much resembling the Apuleian tarantula, and
      belonging to the family of the wolf spiders, makes
      cylindrical holes in the earth, about one inch wide
      and three or four inches deep, in a perpendicular
      direction; when they have attained this depth they run
      further horizontally, and end in a three cornered
      room, from one to two inches broad, the floor of which
      is covered with the remnants of dead insects. The
      whole nest is lined within with a thick silken
      material, and has at its opening--closed by no
      door--an above-ground chimney-shaped extension, made
      of leaves, needles, moss, wood, &c., woven together
      with spider threads. These chimneys show various
      differences in their manner of building, and are
      intended chiefly, according to Moggridge, to prevent
      the sand blown about by the violent sea-winds from
      penetrating into the nests. During winter the opening
      is wholly and continuously woven over, and it is very
      well possible, or probable, that the process of
      reopening such a warm covering in the spring, after
      this opening was three-quarters completed, and was
      large enough to let the spider pass out, may have long
      ago awaked in the brain of some species of spider the
      idea of making a permanent and moveable door. But from
      this to the practical construction of so perfect a
      door as we have learned to know, and even to the
      building of the exceedingly complicated nest of the
      _N. Manderstjernæ_, through all the gradations which
      we already know, and which doubtless exist in far
      greater number, is no great or impossible step.

_General Intelligence._

Coming now to the general intelligence of spiders, I think there can be
no reasonable doubt, from the force of concurrent testimony, that they
are able to distinguish between persons, and approach those whom they
have found to be friendly, while shunning strangers. This power of
discrimination, it will be remembered, also occurs among bees and wasps,
and therefore its presence in spiders is not antecedently improbable. I
myself know a lady who has 'tamed' spiders to recognise her, so that
they come out to be fed when she enters the room where they are kept;
and stories of the taming of spiders by prisoners are abundant. The
following anecdote recorded by Büchner is in this connection worth

      Dr. Moschkau, of Gohlis, near Leipsic, writes as
      follows to the author, on August 28, 1876:--'In
      Oderwitz(?), where I lived in 1873 and 1874, I noticed
      one day in a half-dark corner of the anteroom a
      tolerably respectable spider's web, in which a
      well-fed cross-spider had made its home, and sat at
      the nest-opening early and late, watching for some
      flying or creeping food. I was accidentally several
      times a witness of the craft with which it caught its
      victim and rendered it harmless, and it soon became a
      regular duty to carry it flies several times during a
      day, which I laid down before its door with a pair of
      pincers. At first this feeding seemed to arouse small
      confidence, the pincers perhaps being in fault, for it
      let many of the flies escape again, or only seized
      them when it knew that they were within reach of its
      abode. After a while, however, the spider came each
      time and took the flies out of the pincers and spun
      them over. The latter business was sometimes done so
      superficially, when I gave flies very quickly one
      after the other, that some of the already ensnared
      flies found time and opportunity to escape. This game
      was carried on by me for some weeks, as it seemed to
      me curious. But one day when the spider seemed very
      ravenous, and regularly flew at each fly offered to
      it, I began teasing it. As soon as it had got hold of
      the fly I pulled it back again with the pincers. It
      took this exceedingly ill. The first time, as I
      finally left the fly with it, it managed to forgive
      me, but when I later took a fly right away, our
      friendship was destroyed for ever. On the following
      day it treated my offered flies with contempt, and
      would not move, and on the third day it had

Jesse relates the following anecdote, which seems to display on the part
of a spider somewhat remote adaptation of means to novel circumstances.
He confined a spider with her eggs under a glass upon a marble
mantelpiece. Having surrounded the eggs with web,--

      She next proceeded to fix one of her threads to the
      upper part of the glass which confined her, and
      carried it to the further end of the piece of grass,
      and in a short time had succeeded in raising it up and
      fixing it perpendicularly, working her threads from
      the sides of the glass to the top and sides of the
      piece of grass. Her motive in doing this was obvious.
      She not only rendered the object of her care more
      secure than it would have been had it remained flat on
      the marble, but she was probably aware that the cold
      from the marble would chill her eggs, and prevent
      their arriving at maturity: she therefore raised them
      from it in the manner I have described.[88]

Mr. Belt gives the following account of the intelligence which certain
species of South American spiders display in escaping from the terrible
hosts of the Eciton ants:--

      Many of the spiders would escape by hanging suspended
      by a thread of silk from the branches, safe from the
      foes that swarmed both above and below.

      I noticed that spiders generally were most intelligent
      in escaping, and did not, like the cockroaches and
      other insects, take shelter in the first hiding-place
      they found, only to be driven out again, or perhaps
      caught by the advancing army of ants. I have often
      seen large spiders making off many yards in advance,
      and apparently determined to put a good distance
      between themselves and the foe. I once saw one of the
      false spiders, or harvest-men (_Phalangidæ_), standing
      in the midst of an army of ants, and with the greatest
      circumspection and coolness lifting, one after the
      other, its long legs, which supported its body above
      their reach. Sometimes as many as five out of its
      eight legs would be lifted at once, and whenever an
      ant approached one of those on which it stood, there
      was always a clear space within reach to put down
      another, so as to be able to hold up the threatened
      one out of danger.[89]

Mr. L. A. Morgan, writing to 'Nature' (Jan. 22, 1880), gives an account
of a spider conveying a large insect from the part of the web where it
was caught to the 'larder,' by the following means. The spider first
went two or three times backwards and forwards between the head of the
insect and the main strand of the web. After this he went about cutting
all the threads around the insect till the latter hung by the head
strands alone. The spider then fixed a thread to the tail end, and by
this dragged the carcass as far on its way to the larder as the head
strands would permit. As soon as these were taut, he made the tail rope
fast, went back to the head rope and cut it; then he attached himself to
the head and pulled the body towards the larder, until the tail rope was
taut. In this way, by alternately cutting the head and tail ropes and
dragging the insect bit by bit, he conveyed it safely to the larder.

But the practical acquaintance with mechanical principles which this
observation displays is perhaps not so remarkable as that which is
sometimes shown by spiders when they find that a widely spread web is
not tightly enough stretched, and as a consequence is to an inconvenient
extent swayed about by the wind. Under such circumstances these animals
have been observed to suspend to their webs small stones or other heavy
objects, the weight of which serves to steady the whole system.
Gleditsch saw a spider so circumstanced let itself down to the ground by
means of a thread, seize a small stone, remount, and fasten the stone to
the lower part of its web, at a height sufficient to enable animals and
men to walk beneath it. After alluding to this case, Büchner observes
(_loc. cit._, p. 318),--

      But a similar observation was made by Professor E. H.
      Weber, the famous anatomist and physiologist, and was
      published many years ago in Müller's Journal. A spider
      had stretched its web between two posts standing
      opposite each other, and had fastened it to a plant
      below for the third point. But as the attachment below
      was often broken by the garden work, by passers-by,
      and in other ways, the little animal extricated itself
      from the difficulty by spinning its web round a little
      stone, and fastened this to the lower part of its web,
      swinging freely, and so to draw the web down by its
      weight instead of fastening it in this direction by a
      connecting thread. Carus ('Vergl. Psycho.,' 1866, p.
      76) also made a similar observation. But the most
      interesting observation on this head is related by J.
      G. Wood ('Glimpses into Petland'), and repeated by
      Watson (_loc. cit._, p. 455). One of my friends, says
      Wood, was accustomed to grant shelter to a number of
      garden spiders under a large verandah, and to watch
      their habits. One day a sharp storm broke out, and the
      wind raged so furiously through the garden that the
      spiders suffered damage from it, although sheltered by
      the verandah. The mainyards of one of these webs, as
      the sailors would call them, were broken, so that the
      web was blown hither and thither, like a slack sail in
      a storm. The spider made no fresh threads, but tried
      to help itself in another way. It let itself down to
      the ground by a thread, and crawled to a place where
      lay some splintered pieces of a wooden fence thrown
      down by the storm. It fastened a thread to one of the
      bits of wood, turned back with it, and hung it with a
      strong thread to the lower part of its nest, about
      five feet from the ground. The performance was a
      wonderful one, for the weight of the wood sufficed to
      keep the nest tolerably firm, while it was yet light
      enough to yield to the wind, and so prevent further
      injury. The piece of wood was about two and a half
      inches long, and as thick as a goose-quill. On the
      following day a careless servant knocked her head
      against the wood, and it fell down. But in the course
      of a few hours the spider had found it and brought it
      back to its place. When the storm ceased, the spider
      mended her web, broke the supporting thread in two,
      and let the wood fall to the ground!

If so well-observed a fact requires any further confirmation, I may
adduce the following account, which is of the more value as
corroborative evidence from the writer not appearing to be aware that
the fact had been observed before. This writer is Dr. John Topham, whom
the late Dr. Sharpey, F.R.S., assured me is a competent observer, and
who publishes the account in 'Nature' (xi. 18):--

      A spider constructed its web in an angle of my garden,
      the sides of which were attached by long threads to
      shrubs at the height of nearly three feet from the
      gravel path beneath. Being much exposed to the wind,
      the equinoctial gales of this autumn destroyed the web
      several times.

      The ingenious spider now adopted the contrivance here
      represented. It secured a conical fragment of gravel
      with its larger end upwards by two cords, one attached
      to each of its opposite sides, to the apex of its
      wedge-shaped web, and left it suspended as a moveable
      weight to be opposed to the effect of such gusts of
      air as had destroyed the webs previously occupying the
      same situation.

      The spider must have descended to the gravel path for
      this special object, and having attached threads to a
      stone suited to its purpose, must have afterwards
      raised this by fixing itself upon the web, and pulling
      the weight up to a height of more than two feet from
      the ground, where it hung suspended by elastic cords.
      The excellence of the contrivance is too evident to
      require further comment.

An almost precisely analogous case, with a sketch, is published by
another observer in 'Land and Water,' Dec. 12, 1877.


Before quitting the Arachnida I must allude to some recent
correspondence on the alleged tendency of the scorpion to commit suicide
when surrounded by fire. This alleged tendency has long been recognised
in popular fables, and has been used by Byron as a poetical metaphor in
certain well-known lines. But until the publication of the
correspondence to which I allude, no one supposed the tendency in
question to have any existence in fact. This correspondence took place
in 'Nature' (vol. xi.), and as the subject is an interesting one, I
shall reproduce the more important contributions to it _in extenso_. It
was opened by Mr. W. G. Biddie as follows:--

      I shall feel obliged if you will record in 'Nature' a
      fact with reference to the common black scorpion of
      Southern India, which was observed by me some years
      ago in Madras.

      One morning a servant brought to me a large specimen
      of this scorpion, which, having stayed out too long in
      its nocturnal rambles, had apparently got bewildered
      at daybreak, and been unable to find its way home. To
      keep it safe the creature was at once put into a
      glazed entomological case. Having a few leisure
      minutes in the course of the forenoon I thought I
      would see how my prisoner was getting on, and to have
      a better view of it the case was placed in a window in
      the rays of the hot sun. The light and heat seemed to
      irritate it very much, and this recalled to my mind a
      story which I had read somewhere that a scorpion, on
      being surrounded with fire, had committed suicide. I
      hesitated about subjecting my pet to such a terrible
      ordeal, but taking a common botanical lens, I focussed
      the rays of the sun on its back. The moment this was
      done it began to run hurriedly about the case, hissing
      and spitting in a very fierce way. This experiment was
      repeated some four or five times with like results,
      but on trying it once again, the scorpion turned up
      its tail and plunged the sting, quick as lightning,
      into its own back. The infliction of the wound was
      followed by a sudden escape of fluid, and a friend
      standing by me called out, 'See, it has stung itself:
      it is dead;' and sure enough in less than half a
      minute life was quite extinct. I have written this
      brief note to show (1) that animals may commit
      suicide; (2) that the poison of certain animals may be
      destructive to themselves.

The following corroborative evidence on the subject was then supplied by
Dr. Allen Thomson, F.R.S. ('Nature,' vol. xx., p. 577):--

      Doubts having been expressed at various times, even by
      learned naturalists, as to the reality of the suicide
      or self-destruction of the scorpion by means of its
      own poison, and these doubts having been again stated
      in 'Nature,' vol. xx., p. 553, by Mr. B. F.
      Hutchinson, of Peshawur, as the result of his own
      observations, I think it may be useful to give an
      articulate account of the phenomenon as it has been
      related to me by an eye-witness, which removes all
      possible doubt as to its occurrence under certain

      While residing many years ago, during the summer
      months, at the baths of Sulla in Italy, in a somewhat
      damp locality, my informant together with the rest of
      the family was much annoyed by the frequent intrusion
      of small black scorpions into the house, and their
      being secreted among the bedclothes, in shoes, and
      other articles of dress. It thus became necessary to
      be constantly on the watch for these troublesome
      creatures, and to take means for their removal and
      destruction. Having been informed by the natives of
      the place that the scorpion would destroy itself if
      exposed to a sudden light, my informant and her
      friends soon became adepts in catching the scorpions
      and disposing of them in the manner suggested. This
      consisted in confining the animal under an inverted
      drinking-glass or tumbler, below which a card was
      inserted when the capture was made, and then, waiting
      till dark, suddenly bringing the light of a candle
      near to the glass in which the animal was confined. No
      sooner was this done than the scorpion invariably
      showed signs of great excitement, running round and
      round the interior of the tumbler with reckless
      velocity for a number of times. This state having
      lasted for a minute or more, the animal suddenly
      became quiet, and turning its tail on the hinder part
      of its body over its back, brought its recurved sting
      down upon the middle of the head, and piercing it
      forcibly, in a few seconds became quite motionless,
      and in fact quite dead. This observation was repeated
      very frequently; in truth, it was adopted as the best
      plan of getting rid of the animals. The young people
      were in the habit of handling the scorpions with
      impunity immediately after they were so killed, and of
      preserving many of them as curiosities.

      In this narrative the following circumstances are
      worthy of attention:--

      (1) The effect of light in producing the excitement
      amounting to despair, which causes the animal to
      commit self-destruction;

      (2) The suddenness of the operation of the poison,
      which is probably inserted by the puncture of the head
      into the upper cerebral ganglion; and

      (3) The completeness of the fatal symptoms at once

      I am aware that the phenomena now described have been
      observed by others, and they appear to have been
      familiarly known to the inhabitants of the district in
      which the animals are found. Sufficient confirmation
      of the facts is also to be found in the narratives of
      'G. Biddie' and 'M. L.' contained in 'Nature,' vol.
      ix., pp. 29-47, and it will be observed that the
      circumstances leading the animal to self-destruction
      in these instances were somewhat similar to those
      narrated by my informant. It is abundantly clear,
      therefore, that the view taken by Mr. Hutchinson,
      viz., that the 'popular idea regarding scorpionic
      suicide is a delusion based on an impossibility,' is
      wholly untenable; indeed, the recurved direction of
      the sting, which he refers to as creating the
      impossibility of the animal destroying itself,
      actually facilitates the operation of inflicting the
      wound. I suppose Mr. Hutchinson, arguing from the
      analogy of bees or wasps, imagined that the sting
      would be bent forwards upon the body, whereas the
      wound of the scorpion is invariably inflicted by a
      recurvation of the tail over the back of the animal.

It will be perceived that these observations were not made by Dr. Allen
Thomson himself, and that there are certain inherent discrepancies in
the account which he has published--such, for instance, as the reason
given for trying and repeating the experiment, the method being clearly
a cumbersome one to employ if the only object were that of 'disposing
of' the animals. Nevertheless, as Dr. Thomson is a high authority, and
as I learn from him that he is satisfied regarding the capability and
veracity of his informant, I have not felt justified in suppressing his
evidence. Still I think that so remarkable a fact unquestionably demands
further corroboration before we should be justified in accepting it
unreservedly. For if it is a fact, it stands as a unique case of an
instinct detrimental alike to the individual and to the species.


[75] _Body and Mind_, p. 275.

[76] _Nature_, xxiii., pp. 149-50.

[77] _Naturalist on the Amazon_, p. 83.

[78] For many other confirmations see Sir E. Tennent, _Nat. Hist.
Ceylon_, pp. 468-69.

[79] Kirby, vol. ii., p. 298.

[80] Thompson, _Passions of Animals_, p. 145.

[81] _Loc. cit._, p. 316 _et seq._

[82] _Hist. Habits and Inst. of Animals_, vol. ii. p. 296.

[83] _Nature_, vol. xx., p. 581.

[A] _Loc. cit._, p. 323.

[84] _Harvesting Ants and Trap-door Spiders_, p. 120.

[85] 'The History and Habits of _Epeira aurelia_,' in _Annals and Mag.
of Nat. Hist._ for June 1865.

[86] _Harvesting Ants and Trap-door Spiders_, p. 126. This admirable
work, with its appendix, contains a very full account of the whole
economy of the interesting animals with which it is concerned.

[87] _Loc. cit._, p. 319.

[88] _Gleanings_, vol. i., p. 103.

[89] _Naturalist in Nicaragua_, p. 19.



THE Hymenoptera being so much the most intelligent order, not merely of
insects, but of Invertebrata, and the Arachnida having been now
considered, very little space need be occupied with the remaining
classes of the Articulata.


Sir John Lubbock, in his first paper on Bees and Wasps, quotes the
following case from Kirby and Spence, with the remarks which I append:--

      The first of these anecdotes refers to a beetle
      (_Ateuchus pilularius_) which, having made for the
      reception of its eggs a pellet of dung too heavy for
      it to move, repaired to an adjoining heap, and soon
      returned with three of his companions. 'All four now
      applied their united strength to the pellet, and at
      length succeeded in pushing it out; which being done,
      the three assistant beetles left the spot and returned
      to their own quarters.' This observation rests on the
      authority of an anonymous German artist; and though we
      are assured that he was a 'man of strict veracity,' I
      am not aware that any similar fact has been recorded
      by any other observer.

Catesby, however, says:--

      I have attentively admired their industry, and their
      mutual assisting of each other in rolling these
      globular balls from the place where they made them, to
      that of their interment, which is usually a distance
      of some yards, more or less. This they perform back
      foremost, by raising their hind parts and pushing away
      the ball with their hind feet. Two or three of them
      are sometimes engaged in trundling one ball, which
      from meeting with impediments, on account of the
      unevenness of the ground, is sometimes deserted by
      them. It is, however, attempted by others with
      success, unless it happen to roll into some deep
      hollow or ditch, where they are accustomed to leave
      it; but they continue their work by rolling off the
      next ball that comes in their way. None of them seem
      to know their own balls, but an equal care for the
      whole appears to affect all the community. They form
      these pellets while the dung remains moist, and leave
      them to harden in the sun before they attempt to roll
      them. In their rolling of them from place to place,
      both they and the balls may frequently be seen
      tumbling about over the little eminences that are in
      their way. They are not, however, easily discouraged,
      and by repeating their attempts usually surmount the

Büchner speaks of the fact that dung-beetles co-operate in their work as
one that is well established, but gives no authorities or references.[91]
A friend of my own, however, informs me that she has witnessed the fact;
and in view of analogous observations made on other species of
Coleoptera, I see no reason to doubt this one. Some of these
observations I may here append.

Herr Gollitz writes to Büchner thus:--

      Last summer, in the month of July, I was one day in my
      field, and found there a mound of fresh earth like a
      molehill, on which a striped black and red beetle,
      with long legs, and about the size of a hornet, was
      busy taking away the earth from a hole that led like a
      pit into the mound, and levelling the place. After I
      had watched this beetle for some time, I noticed a
      second beetle of the same kind, which brought a little
      lump of earth from the interior to the opening of the
      hole, and then disappeared again in the mound; every
      four or five minutes a pellet came out of the hole,
      and was carried away by the first-named beetle. After
      I had watched these proceedings for about half an
      hour, the beetle which had been working underground
      came out and ran to its comrade. Both put their heads
      together, and clearly held a conversation, for
      immediately afterwards they changed work. The one
      which had been working outside went into the mound,
      the other took the outside labour, and all went on
      vigorously. I watched the affair still for a little
      longer, and went away with the notion that these
      insects could understand each other just like men.
      Klingelhöffer, of Darmstadt (in Brehm, _loc. cit._,
      ix., p. 86), says:--A golden running beetle came to a
      cockchafer lying on its back in the garden, intending
      to eat it, but was unable to master it; it ran to the
      next bush, and returned with a friend, whereupon the
      two overpowered the cockchafer, and pulled it off to
      their hiding-place.

Similarly, there is no doubt that the burying beetles (_Nicrophorus_)

      Several of them unite together to bury under the
      ground, as food and shelter for their young, some dead
      animal, such as a mouse, a toad, a mole, a bird, &c.
      The burial is performed because the corpse, if left
      above ground, would either dry up, or grow rotten, or
      be eaten by other animals. In all these cases the
      young would perish, whereas the dead body lying in the
      earth and withdrawn from the outer air lasts very
      well. The burying beetles go to work in a very
      well-considered fashion, for they scrape away the
      earth lying under the body, so that it sinks of itself
      deeper and deeper. When it is deep enough down, it is
      covered over from above. If the situation is stony,
      the beetles with united forces and great efforts drag
      the corpse to some place more suitable for burying.
      They work so diligently that a mouse, for instance, is
      buried within three hours. But they often work on for
      days, so as to bury the body as deeply as possible.
      From large carcasses, such as those of horses, sheep,
      &c., they only bury pieces as large as they can

Lastly, Clarville gives a case of a burying beetle which wanted to carry
away a dead mouse, but, finding it too heavy for its unaided strength,
went off, like the beetles previously mentioned, and brought four others
to its assistance.[93]

A friend of Gleditsch fastened a dead toad, which he desired to dry,
upon the top of an upright stick. The burying beetles were attracted by
the smell, and finding that they could not reach the toad, they
undermined the stick, so causing it to fall with the toad, which was
then buried safe out of harm's way.[94]

A converse exemplification of beetle-intelligence is given by G.
Berkeley.[95] He saw a beetle carrying a dead spider up a heath plant,
and hanging it upon a twig of the heath in so secure a position, that
when the insect had left it Mr. Berkeley found that a sharp shake of the
heather would not bring the dead spider down. As the burying beetle
preserves its treasure by hiding it out of sight below ground, so this
beetle no doubt secured the same end but by other means; 'seeing,' as
Mr. Berkeley observes, 'that if it did not hang up its prey, it might
fall into the hands of other hunters, it took all possible pains to find
out the best store-room for it.'

The above instances of beetle-intelligence lead me to credit the
following, which has been communicated to me by Dr. Garraway, of
Faversham. On a bank of moss in the Black Forest he saw a beetle alight
with a caterpillar which it was carrying, and proceed to excavate a
cylindrical hole in the peat, about an inch and a half deep, into which,
when completed, it dropped the caterpillar, and then flew away through
the pines. 'I was struck,' says my correspondent, 'with the creature's
folly in leaving the whole uncovered, as every curious wayfaring insect
would doubtless be tempted to enter therein. However, in about a minute
the beetle returned, this time carrying a small pebble, of which there
were none in the immediate vicinity, and having carefully fitted this
into the aperture, fled away into space.'


I must devote a short division of this chapter to the earwig. M. Geer
describes a regular process of incubation as practised by the mother
insect. He placed one with her eggs in a box, and scattered the eggs on
the floor of the latter. The earwig, however, carried them one by one
into a certain part of the box, and then remained constantly sitting
upon the heap without ever quitting it for a moment. When the eggs were
hatched, the young earwigs kept close to their mother, following her
about everywhere, and often running under her abdomen, just as chickens
run under a hen.[96]

A young lady, who objects to her name being published, informs me that
her two younger sisters (children) are in the habit of feeding every
morning with sugar an earwig, which they call 'Tom,' and which crawls up
a certain curtain regularly every day at the same hour, with the
apparent expectation of getting its breakfast. This resembles analogous
instances which, have been mentioned in the case of spiders.

_Dipterous Insects._

The gad-fly, whose eggs are hatched out in the intestines of the horse,
exhibits a singular refinement of instinct in depositing them upon those
parts of the horse which the animal is most likely to lick. For,
according to Bingley and other writers, 'the inside of the knee is the
part on which these flies principally deposit their eggs; and next to
this they fix them upon the sides, and the back part of the shoulder;
but almost always in places liable to be licked by the tongue.' The
female fly deposits her eggs while on the wing, or at least scarcely
appears to settle when she extends her ovidepositor to touch the horse.
She lays only a single egg at a time--flying away a short distance after
having deposited one in order to prepare another, and so on.

The following anecdote, which I quote from Jesse, seems to indicate
no small degree of intelligence on the part of the common
house-fly--intelligence, for instance, the same both in kind and degree
as that which was displayed by Sir John Lubbock's pet wasp already

      Slingsby, the celebrated opera dancer, resided in the
      large house in Cross-deep, Twickenham, next to Sir
      Wathen Waller's, looking down the river. He was fond
      of the study of natural history, and particularly of
      insects, and he once tried to tame some house-flies,
      and preserve them in a state of activity through the
      winter. For this purpose, quite at the latter end of
      autumn, and when they were becoming almost helpless,
      he selected four from off his breakfast-table, put
      them upon a large handful of cotton, and placed it in
      one corner of the window nearest the fireplace. Not
      long afterwards the weather became so cold that all
      flies disappeared except these four, which constantly
      left their bed of cotton at his breakfast-time, came
      and fed at the table, and then returned to their home.
      This continued for a short time, when three of them
      became lifeless in their shelter, and only one came
      down. This one Slingsby had trained to feed upon his
      thumb-nail, by placing on it some moist, sugar mixed
      with a little butter. Although there had been at
      intervals several days of sharp frost, the fly never
      missed taking his daily meal in this way till after
      Christmas, when, his kind preserver having invited a
      friend to dine and sleep at his house, the fly, the
      next morning, perched upon the thumb of the visitor,
      who, being ignorant that it was a pet of his host's,
      clapped his hand upon it, and thus put an end to Mr.
      Slingsby's experiment.[97]


There is no doubt that these are an intelligent group of animals,
although I have been able to collect but wonderfully little information
upon the subject. Mr. Moseley, F.R.S., in his very interesting work,
'Notes by a Naturalist on the _Challenger_,' says (p. 70):--

      In the tropics one becomes accustomed to watch the
      habits of various species of crabs, which there live
      so commonly an aërial life. The more I have seen of
      them, the more have I been astonished at their

And again (pp. 48-9):--

      A rock crab (_Grapsus stringosus_) was very abundant,
      running about all over the rocks, and making off into
      clefts on one's approach. I was astonished at the keen
      and long sight of this crab. I noticed some made off
      at full speed to their hiding-places at the instant
      that my head showed above a rock fifty yards
      distant. . . .

      At Still Bay, on the sandy beach of which a heavy surf
      was breaking, I encountered a sand crab (_[OE]cypoda
      ippeus_), which was walking about, and got between it
      and its hole in the dry sand above the beach. The crab
      was a large one, at least three inches in breadth of
      its carapace. . . . With its curious column-like eyes
      erect, the crab bolted down towards the surf as the
      only escape, and as it saw a great wave rushing up the
      shelving shore, dug itself tight into the sand, and
      held on to prevent the undertide from carrying it into
      the sea. As soon as the wave had retreated, it made
      off full speed for the shore. I gave chase, and
      whenever a wave approached, the crab repeated the
      manoeuvre. I once touched it with my hand whilst it
      was buried and blinded by the sandy water, but the
      surf compelled me to retreat, and I could not snatch
      hold of it for fear of its powerful claws. At last I
      chased it, hard pressed, into the surf in a hurry, and
      being unable to get proper hold in time, it was washed
      into the sea. The crab evidently dreaded going into
      the sea. . . . They soon die when kept a short time
      beneath the water.

The land crabs of the West Indies and North America descend from their
mountain home in May and June, to deposit their spawn in the sea. They
travel in such swarms that the roads and woods are covered with them.
They migrate in a straight line, and rather than allow themselves to be
deflected from it, 'they scale the houses, and surmount every other
obstacle that lies in their way' (Kirby). They travel chiefly by night,
and when they arrive at the sea-shore they 'bathe three or four
different times,' and then 'commit their eggs to the waves.' They return
to the mountains by the same route, but only the most vigorous survive
the double journey.

Prof. Alex. Agassiz details some interesting observations on the
behaviour of young hermit crabs reared by himself 'from very young
stages,' when first presented with shells of mollusks. 'A number of
shells, some of them empty, others with the animal living, were placed
in a glass dish with the young crabs. Scarcely had the shells reached
the bottom before the crabs made a rush for the shells, turned them
round and round, invariably at the mouth, and soon a couple of the crabs
decided to venture in, which they did with remarkable alacrity.' The
crabs which obtained for their share the shells still inhabited by
living mollusks, 'remained riding round upon the mouth of their future
dwelling, and, on the death of the mollusk, which generally occurred
soon after in captivity, commenced at once to tear out the animal, and
having eaten him, proceeded to take its place within the shell.'[98]

There is a species of small crustacean (_Podocerus capillatus_)
described by Mr. Bates, which builds a nest to contain its eggs. The
nest is in the form of a hollow cone, built upon seaweed, and composed
of fine thread-like material closely interlaced. 'These nests,' says Mr.
Bates, 'are evidently used as a place of refuge and security, in which
the parent protects and keeps her brood of young until they are old
enough to be independent of the mother's care.'

Dr. Erasmus Darwin tells us, on the authority of a friend on whose
competency as an observer he relied, that the common crab during the
moulting season stations as sentinel an unmoulted or hard-shelled
individual, to prevent marine enemies from injuring moulted individuals
in their unprotected state. While thus mounting guard the hard-shelled
crab is much more courageous than at other times, when he has only his
own safety to consider. But these observations require to be

In 'Nature' (xv., p. 415) there is a notice of a lobster (_Homarus
marinus_) in the Rothesay Aquarium which attacked a flounder that was
confined in the same tank with him, and having devoured a portion of his
victim, buried the rest beneath a heap of shingle, on which he 'mounted
guard.' 'Five times within two hours was the fish unearthed, and as
often did the lobster shovel the gravel over it with his huge claws,
each time ascending the pile and turning his bold defensive front to his

The following is quoted from Mr. Darwin's 'Descent of Man' (pp.

      A trustworthy naturalist, Mr. Gardner, whilst watching
      a shore-crab (_Gelasimus_) making its burrow, threw
      some shells towards the hole. One rolled in, and three
      other shells remained within a few inches of the
      mouth. In about five minutes the crab brought out the
      shell which had fallen in, and carried it away to the
      distance of a foot; it then saw the three other shells
      lying near, and evidently thinking that they might
      likewise roll in, carried them to the spot where it
      had laid the first. It would, I think, be difficult to
      distinguish this act from one performed by man by the
      aid of reason.

Mr. Darwin also alludes to the curious instinctive habits of the large
shore-crab (_Birgus latro_), which feeds on fallen cocoa-nuts 'by
tearing off the husk fibre by fibre; and it always begins at that end
where the three eye-like depressions are situated. It then breaks
through one of these eyes by hammering with its heavy front pincers, and
turning round, extracts the albuminous core with its narrow posterior

Remarkable cases occur of commensalism between certain crabs and
sea-anemones, and they betoken much intelligence. Thus Professor Möbius
says in his 'Beiträge zur Meeresfauna der Insel Mauritius' (1880) that
there are two crabs belonging to different genera which have the habit
of firmly grasping a sea-anemone in each claw and carrying them about,
presumably to secure some benefit to themselves. The more familiar case
of the species of anemone which lives on the shells tenanted by hermit
crabs is of special interest to us on account of a remarkable
observation published by Mr. Gosse, F.R.S. (_Zoologist_, June, 1859). He
found that on his detaching the anemone (_Adamsia_) from the shell, the
hermit crab always took it up in its claws and held it against the shell
'for the space of ten minutes at a time, until fairly attached by a good
strong base.' It was said by the late Dr. Robert Ball that when the
common _Sagartia parasitica_ is attached to a stone and a hermit crab is
placed in its vicinity, the anemone will leave the stone and attach
itself to the hermit's shell (_Critic_, March 24, 1860).

_Intelligence of Larvæ of Certain Insects._

I shall now allude to some of the more interesting facts touching the
psychology of insects when in their immature or larval state. This is an
interesting topic from the point of view which we occupy as
evolutionists, because a caterpillar is really a locomotive and
self-feeding embryo, whose entire mental constitution is destined to
undergo a metamorphosis no less complete and profound than that which is
also destined to take place in its corporeal structure. Yet although the
caterpillar has an embryo psychology, its instincts and even
intelligence often seem to be higher or more elaborated than is the case
with the imago form. Where such is the case the explanation of course
must be that it is of more importance to the species that the larval
form should be in a certain measure intelligent than that the imago form
should be so. Every larva is a potential imago, or breeding individual;
therefore its life is of no less value to the species during its larval
than during its adult existence; and if certain instincts or grades of
intelligence are of more use to it during the former than during the
latter period, of course natural selection would determine the unusual
event which we seem here in some cases to see--namely, that the embryo
should stand on a higher level of psychological development than the

I may most fitly begin under this heading with the remarkable instincts
of the so-called 'ant-lion,' which is the larva of a neuropterous
insect, the common _Myrmeleon_ (_M. formicarium_). I quote the following
account of its habits from Thompson's 'Passions of Animals' (p. 258):--

      The devices of the ant-lion are still more
      extraordinary if possible. He forms, with astonishing
      labour and perseverance, a pit in the shape of a
      funnel, in a dry sandy soil, under some old wall or
      other spot protected from the wind. His pit being
      finished, he buries himself among the sand at the
      bottom, leaving only his horns visible, and thus waits
      patiently for his prey. When an ant or any other small
      insect happens to walk on the edge of the hollow, it
      forces down some of the particles of sand, which gives
      the ant-lion notice of its presence. He immediately
      throws up the sand which covers his head to overwhelm
      the ant, and with its returning force brings it to the
      bottom. This he continues to do till the insect is
      overcome and falls between his horns. Every endeavour
      to escape, when once the incautious ant has stepped
      within the verge of the pit, is vain, for in all its
      attempts to climb the side the deceptive sand slips
      from under its feet, and every struggle precipitates
      it still lower. When within reach its enemy plunges
      the points of its jaws into its body, and having
      sucked out all its juices, throws out the empty skin
      to some distance.

According to Bingley, if the ant-lion, while excavating its pitfall,--

      Comes to a stone of some moderate size, it does not
      desert the work on this account, but goes on,
      intending to remove that impediment the last. When the
      pit is finished, it crawls backward up the side of the
      place where the stone is; and, getting its tail under
      it, takes great pains and time to get it on a true
      poise, and then begins to crawl backward with it up
      the edge to the top of the pit, to get it out of the
      way. It is a common thing to see an ant-lion labouring
      in this manner at a stone four times as big as its own
      body; and as it can only move backwards, and the poise
      is difficult to keep, especially up a slope of such
      crumbling matter as sand, which moulders away from
      under its feet, and necessarily alters the position of
      its body, the stone very frequently rolls down, when
      near the verge, quite to the bottom. In this case the
      animal attacks it again in the same way, and is often
      not discouraged by five or six miscarriages, but
      continues its struggle so long that it at length gets
      over the verge of the place. When it has done this, it
      does not leave it there, lest it should roll in again;
      but is always at the pains of pushing it further on,
      till it has removed it to a necessary distance from
      the edge of the pit.[99]

Passing on now to the intelligence of caterpillars, Mr. G. B. Buckton,
F.R.S., writing from Haslemere, says:--

      Many caterpillars of _Pieris rapæ_ have, during this
      autumn, fed below my windows. On searching for
      suitable positions for passing into chrysalides, some
      eight or ten individuals, in their direct march
      upwards, encountered the plate-glass panes of my
      windows; on these they appeared to be unable to stand.
      Accordingly in every case they made silken ladders,
      some of them five feet long, each ladder being formed
      of a single continuous thread, woven in elegant loops
      from side to side. . . . The reasoning, however, seems
      to be but narrow, for one ladder was constructed
      parallel to the window-frame for nearly three feet,
      on which secure footing could be had by simply
      diverting the track two inches.[100]

In this case it appears clear that we have to do with instinct, and not
with reason. No doubt it is the congenital habit of these caterpillars
to overcome impediments in this way; but the instinct is one of
sufficient interest to be here stated.

The following is quoted from Kirby and Spence:--

      A caterpillar described by Bonnet, which, from being
      confined in a box, was unable to obtain a supply of
      the bark with which its ordinary instinct directs it
      to make its cocoon, substituted pieces of paper that
      were given to it, tied them together with silk, and
      constructed a very passable cocoon with them. In
      another instance the same naturalist having opened
      several cocoons of a moth (_Noctura verbasci_), which
      are composed of a mixture of grains of earth and silk,
      just after being finished, the larvæ did not repair
      the injury _in the same manner_. Some employed both
      earth and silk; others contented themselves with
      spinning a silken veil before the opening.[101]

The same authorities state, as result of their own observation, that

      Common cabbage caterpillar, which, when building web
      under stone or wooden surfaces, previously covers a
      space with a web to form a base for supporting its
      dependent pupa, when building a web beneath a muslin
      surface dispenses with this base altogether: it
      perceives that the woven texture of the muslin forms
      facilities for attaching the threads of the cocoon
      securely enough to support the weight of the cocoon
      without the necessity of making the usual square inch
      or so of basal support.[102]

The instincts of the larva of the _Tinea_ moth are thus described by

      It feeds upon the elm, using the leaves both as food
      and clothing. To do this it only eats the parenchyma
      of the leaf, preserving the upper and under epidermal
      membranes, between which it then insinuates itself as
      it progressively devours the parenchyma. It, however,
      carefully avoids separating these membranes where they
      unite at the extreme edge of the leaf, which is
      designed to form 'one of the seams of its coat.' The
      cavity when thus excavated between the two epidermal
      membranes is then lined with silk, made cylindrical in
      shape, cut off at the two ends and all along the side
      remote from the 'seam,' and then the two epidermal
      membranes sewn together along the side where they have
      had to be cut in order to separate them from the tree.
      The larva now has a coat exactly fitting its body, and
      open at each end. By the one opening it feeds, and by
      the other discharges its excrement, 'having on one
      side a nicely jointed seam--that which is commonly
      applied to its back--composed of the natural marginal
      junction of the membranes of the leaf.'

Réaumur cut off the edge of a newly finished coat, so as to expose the
body of the larva at that point. The animal did not set about making a
new coat _ab initio_, as we might expect that it would on the popular
supposition that a train of instinctive actions is always as mechanical
as the running down of a set of cog-wheels, and that wherever a novel
element is introduced the machinery must be thrown out of gear, so that
it cannot meet a new emergency of however simple a character, and must
therefore re-start the whole process over again from the beginning. In
this case the larva sewed up the rent; and not only so, but 'the
scissors having cut off one of the projections intended to enter into
the construction of the triangular end of the case, it entirely changed
the original plan, and made that end the head which had been first
designed for the tail.'

Another remarkable case of the variation of instinct in the Lepidoptera
is stated by Bonnet. There are usually, he says, two generations of the
Angoumois moth: the first appear in early summer, and lay their eggs
upon the ears of wheat in the fields; the second appear later in the
summer, or in the autumn, and these lay their eggs upon wheat in the
granaries; from these eggs there comes the first generation of next
year's moths. This is a highly remarkable case--supposing the facts to
be as Bonnet states; for it seems that the early summer moths, although
born in the granaries, immediately fly to the unreaped fields to lay
their eggs in the standing corn, while the autumn moths never attempt to
leave the granaries, but lay their eggs upon the stored wheat.[103]

Westwood says that--

      A species of Tasmanian caterpillar (_Noctua Ewingii_)
      swarms over the land in enormous companies, which
      regularly begin to march at four o'clock in the
      morning, and as regularly halt at midday. _Liparis
      chrysorrhaca_, a kind of caterpillar, spins for the
      winter a common web, in which several hundred
      individuals find a common shelter.[104]

According to Kirby and Spence,--

      The larva of the ichneumon, while feeding upon its
      caterpillar host, spares the walls of the intestines
      until it is time for it to escape, when, the life of
      the caterpillar being no longer necessary to its
      development, it perforates these walls.[105]

      The larvæ _Theda isocrates_ live in a group of seven
      or eight in the fruit of pomegranate. In consequence
      of their excavations within the fruit, the latter is
      apt to fall; and to prevent its doing so the larvæ
      throw out a thread of attachment wherewith to secure
      the fruit to the branch, so that if the stalk withers,
      this thread serves to suspend the fruit.[106]

      The caterpillar of the Bombyx moth, which is a native
      of France, exhibits very wonderful instincts. The
      larva is gregarious in its habits, each society
      (family) consisting of perhaps 600 or 800
      individuals. When young they have no fixed habitation,
      but encamp sometimes in one place, and sometimes in
      another, under the shelter of their web; but when they
      have attained two-thirds of their growth, they weave
      for themselves a common tent. About sunset the
      regiment leaves its quarters. . . . At their head is a
      chief, by whose movements their procession is
      regulated. When he stops all stop, and proceed when he
      proceeds; three or four of his immediate followers
      succeed in the same line, the head of the second
      touching the tail of the first; then comes an equal
      series of pairs, next of threes, and so on, as far as
      fifteen or twenty. The whole procession moves
      regularly on with an even pace, each file treading in
      the steps of those that precede it. If the leader,
      arriving at a particular point, pursues a different
      direction, all march to that point before they

The following additional facts concerning these remarkable habits may be
quoted. I take them from the account published by Mr. Davis in
'Loudoun's Magazine of Natural History:'--

      The caterpillars, he observed, were Bombyces, and were
      seen crossing a road in single file, each so close to
      its predecessor that the line was quite continuous,
      'moving like a living cord.' The number of
      caterpillars was 154, and the length of the line 27
      feet. When Mr. Davis removed one from the line the
      caterpillar immediately in front suddenly stood still,
      then the next, and next, and so on to the leader.
      Similarly, those behind the point of interruption
      successively halted. After a pause of a few moments,
      the first caterpillar behind the break in the line
      endeavoured to fill up the vacant space, and so
      recover contact or communication, which after a time
      it succeeded in doing, when the information that the
      line was again closed was passed forward in some way
      from caterpillar to caterpillar till it reached the
      leader, when the whole fine was again put in motion.
      The individual which had been abstracted remained
      rolled up and motionless; but on being placed near the
      moving column it immediately unrolled, and made every
      attempt to get readmitted into the procession. After
      many endeavours it succeeded, the one below falling
      into the rear of the interloper. On repeating the
      experiment by removing a caterpillar fifty from the
      head of the procession, Mr. Davis found that it took
      just thirty seconds by his watch for information of
      the fact to reach the leader. All the same results
      followed as in the previous case. It was observable
      that the animals were guided neither by sight nor
      smell while endeavouring to close up the interrupted
      line; for the caterpillar next behind the
      interruption, on whom the duty of closing up devolved,
      'turned right and left, and often in a wrong
      direction, when within half an inch of the one
      immediately before him; when he at last touched the
      object of his search, the fact was communicated again
      by signal; and in thirty seconds the whole line was in
      rapid march.' This gentleman adds that the object of
      the march was the search for new pasture. The
      caterpillars feed on the Eucalyptus, and when they
      have completely stripped one tree of its leaves, they
      all congregate on the trunk, and proceed as described
      to another tree.

De Villiers[108] gives an account of his observations on the manner in
which these caterpillars (_Cnethocampii pitzocampa_) are able to pass
information, which does not quite agree with the above observation of
Mr. Davis. For he says that, in a train of 600 caterpillars,
interference by him in any part of the train was communicated through
the whole series instantaneously--all the 600 caterpillars stopping
immediately and with one consent like a single organism.

According to Kirby and Spence there is a kind of caterpillar (_Pieris
cratægi_) which lives in little colonies of ten or twelve in common
chambers lined with silk. In one part they make of the same material a
little bag or pocket, which is used by the community or household as a
water-closet. When full of excrement the caterpillars empty it by
turning out the pellets with their feet.[109]

Only two other instances of noteworthy intelligence as exhibited by
larvæ have fallen within my reading. One of these is mentioned by
Réaumur, who says that the larvæ of _Hemerobius chrysops_ chase aphides,
and having killed them, clothe themselves in their skins; and the other
case is the very remarkable one mentioned in his newly published work by
W. MacLachlan, F.R.S., of caddis-worms adjusting the specific gravity of
their tubes to suit that of the water in which they live, by attaching
heavy or light material to them according as they require sinking or


[90] Quoted by Bingley, _Animal Biography_, vol. iii., p. 118.

[91] _Loc. cit._, p. 344.

[92] Büchner, _loc. cit._, p. 344.

[93] Quoted in Strauss, _Insects_, s. 389.

[94] Kirby and Spence, _loc. cit._, pp. 321-2.

[95] _Life and Recollections_, vol. ii., p. 356.

[96] Quoted by Bingley, _loc. cit._, vol. iii., pp. 150-51.

[97] _Gleanings_, vol. ii., pp. 165-6.

[98] _American Journ. Sc. and Art_, vol. x., Oct. 1875.

[99] _Animal Biography_, vol. iii., pp. 244-5.

[100] _Nature_, vii., p. 49.

[101] _Intr. to Ent._, ii., p. 475.

[102] _Ibid._, p. 475.

[103] _[OE]uvres_, ix., p. 370.

[104] _Trans. Ent. Soc._, vol. ii.

[105] _Introd. Ent._, Letter xi.

[106] Westwood, _Trans. Ent. Soc._, vol. ii., p. 1.

[107] Kirby and Spence, _Entomology_, Letter xvi.

[108] _Trans. Ent. Soc. France_, vol. i., p. 201.

[109] _Introduction to Entomology_, Letter xxvi.



ALTHOUGH we here pass into the sub-kingdom of animals the intelligence
of which immeasurably surpasses that of the other sub-kingdoms, it is
remarkable that these lowest representatives of the higher group are
psychologically inferior to some of the higher members of the lower
groups. Neither in its instincts nor in general intelligence can any
fish be compared with an ant or a bee--a fact which shows how slightly a
psychological classification of animals depends upon zoological
affinity, or even morphological organisation. For although a highly
competent authority, namely Van Baer, has said that a bee is as highly
organised an animal as a fish, though on a different type,[110] no one
would be found to assert that an ant or a bee is so much more highly
organised than a fish as its higher intelligence would require,
supposing degrees of intelligence to stand in necessary relation to
degree of organic development. And this consideration is not materially
altered if, instead of regarding the whole organism, we look to the
nervous system alone. There is no doubt that the cerebral hemispheres of
a fish, although small as compared with these organs in the higher
Vertebrata, are, bulk for bulk, enormous as compared with the
oesophageal ganglia or 'brain' of an insect; while the disproportion
becomes still greater if the cerebral hemispheres of a fish are compared
with their supposed analogues in the brain of an ant, viz., the
pedunculated and convoluted lobes which surmount the cephalic ganglion.
But here the relative smallness of the ant as a whole must be taken into
consideration, and also the fact that its brain is relatively much more
massive as well as more highly organised than that which occurs in any
other order of invertebrated animals, except, perhaps, the octopus and
his allies. Therefore, although the brain of a fish is formed upon a
type which by increase of size and complexity is destined in function
far to eclipse all other types of nerve-centre, we have to observe that
in its lowest stage of evolution as presented to science in the fishes,
this type is functionally inferior to the invertebrate type, where this
reaches its highest stage of evolution in the Hymenoptera.


Fish display emotions of fear, pugnacity; social, sexual, and parental
feelings; anger, jealousy, play, and curiosity. So far the class of
emotions is the same as that with which we have met in ants, and
corresponds with that which is distinctive of the psychology of a child
about four months old. I have not, however, any evidence of sympathy,
which would be required to make the list of emotions identical; but
sympathy may nevertheless be present.

Fear and pugnacity are too apparent in fish to require special proof.
The social or gregarious feelings are strongly shown by the numberless
species which swim in shoals, the sexual feelings are proved by
courtships, and the parental by those species which build nests and
guard their young. Schneider saw several species of fish at the Naples
Aquarium protecting their eggs. In one case the male mounted guard over
a rock where the eggs were deposited, and swam with open mouth against
intruders. The following accounts of the nidification of certain species
of fish show that the parental instincts are not unlike those which
obtain in birds, and are comparable in point of strength with the same
instincts as they occur in ants, bees, and spiders.

      Agassiz remarks[111] that while examining the marine
      products of the Sargasso Sea, Mr. Mansfield picked up
      and brought to him a round mass of sargassum, about
      the size of the two fists placed together. The whole
      consisted, to all appearance, of nothing but
      gulf-weed, the branches and leaves of which were,
      however, evidently knit together, and not merely
      balled into a roundish mass. The elastic threads which
      held the gulf-weed together were beaded at intervals,
      sometimes two or three beads being close together, or
      a branch of them hanging from the cluster of threads.
      This nest was full of eggs scattered throughout the
      mass, and not placed together in a cavity. It was
      evidently the work of the _Chironectes_. This rocking
      fish-cradle is carried along as an undying arbour,
      affording at the same time protection and afterwards
      food for its living freight. It is suggested that the
      fish must have used their peculiar pectoral fins when
      constructing this elaborate nest.

      The well-known tinker or ten-spined stickleback
      (_Gasterosteus pungitius_) is one of our indigenous
      fish which constructs a nest. On May 1, 1864, a
      male[112] was placed in a well-established aquarium of
      moderate size, to which, after three days, two ripe
      females were added. Their presence at once roused him
      into activity, and he soon began to build a nest of
      bits of dirt and dead fibre, and of growing confervoid
      filaments, upon a jutting point of rock among some
      interlacing branches of _Myriophyllum spicatum_--all
      the time, however, frequently interrupting his labours
      to pay his addresses to the females. This was done in
      most vigorous fashion, he swimming, by a series of
      little jerks, near and about the female, even pushing
      against her with open mouth, but usually not biting.
      After a little coquetting she responds and follows
      him, swimming just above him as he leads the way to
      the nest. When there, the male commences to flirt--he
      seems unaware of its situation, will not swim to the
      right spot, and the female, after a few ineffectual
      attempts to find the proper passage into it, turns
      tail to swim away, but is then viciously pursued by
      the male. When he first courts the female, if she, not
      being ready, does not soon respond, he seems quickly
      to lose his temper, and, attacking her with great
      apparent fury, drives her to seek shelter in some
      crevice or dark corner. The coquetting of the male
      near the nest, which seems due to the fact that he
      really has not quite finished it, at length terminates
      by his pushing his head well into the entrance of the
      nest, while the female closely follows him, placing
      herself above him, and apparently much excited. As he
      withdraws she passes into the nest, and pushes quite
      through it, after a very brief delay, during which she
      deposits her ova. The male now fertilises the eggs,
      and drives the female away to a safe distance; then,
      after patting down the nest, he proceeds in search of
      another female. The nest is built and the ova
      deposited in about twenty-four hours. The male
      continued to watch it day and night, and during the
      light hours he also continually added to the nest.

      The marine fifteen-spined stickleback (_Gasterosteus
      spinachia_) affords another instance of
      nest-constructing fishes. The places selected for
      their nests are usually harbours, or some sheltered
      spots to where pure sea water reaches. The fish either
      find growing, or even collect some of the softer kinds
      of green or red seaweed, and join them with so much of
      the coralline tufts (_Janiæ_) growing on the rock as
      will serve the purpose of affording firmness to the
      structure, and constitute a pear-shaped mass five or
      six inches long, and about as stout as a man's fist. A
      thread, which is elastic and resembles silk, is
      employed for the purpose of binding the materials
      together: under a magnifier it appears to consist of
      several strands connected by a gluey substance, which
      hardens by exposure to the water.[113]

      M. Carbonnier, who has studied the habits of the
      Chinese butterfly-fish (_Macropodus_) in his private
      aquarium in Paris, where he had some in confinement,
      observed that the male constructs a nest of froth of
      considerable size, 15 to 18 centimetres horizontal
      diameter, and 10 to 12 high. He prepares the bubbles
      in the air (which he sucks in and then expels),
      strengthening them with mucous matter from his mouth,
      and brings them into the nest. Sometimes the buccal
      secretion will fail him, whereupon he goes to the
      bottom in search of confervæ, which he sucks and bites
      for a little in order to stimulate the act of
      secretion. The nest prepared, the female is induced to
      enter. Not less curious is the way in which the male
      brings the eggs from the bottom into the nest. He
      appears unable to carry them up in his mouth; instead
      of this, he first swallows an abundant supply of air,
      then descending, he places himself beneath the eggs,
      and suddenly, by a violent contraction of the muscles
      in the interior of his mouth and pharynx, he exhales
      the air which he had accumulated by the gills. This
      air, finely divided by the lamellæ and fringes of the
      gills, escapes in the form of two jets of veritable
      gaseous powder, which envelopes the eggs and raises
      them to the surface. In this manoeuvre the
      _Macropodus_ entirely disappeared in a kind of
      air-mist, and when this had dissipated he reappeared
      with a multitude of air-bubbles like little pearls
      clinging all over his body.[1]

Again, in detailing Mr. Baker's observations on the three-spined
stickleback, published in the Philosophical Transactions, this author

      It has been remarked that after the deposition of the
      eggs the nest was opened more to the action of the
      water, and the vibratory motion of the body of the
      male fish, hovering over its surface, caused a current
      of water to be propelled across the surface of the
      ova, which action was repeated almost continuously.
      After about ten days the nest was destroyed and the
      materials removed; and now were seen the minute fry
      fluttering upwards here and there, by a movement half
      swimming, half leaping, and then falling rapidly again
      upon or between the clear pebbles of the shingle
      bottom. This arose from their having the remainder of
      the yelk still attached to their body, which, acting
      as a weight, caused them to sink the moment the
      swimming effort had ceased. Around, across, and in
      every direction the male fish, as the guardian,
      continually moved. Now his labours became more
      arduous, and his vigilance was taxed to the utmost
      extreme, for the other fish (two tench and a gold
      carp), some twenty times larger than himself, as soon
      as they perceived the young fry in motion,
      continuously used their utmost endeavours to snap them
      up. The courage of the little stickleback was now put
      to its severest test; but, nothing daunted, he drove
      them all off, seizing their fins and striking with all
      his strength at their heads and at their eyes. His
      care of the young brood when encumbered with the yelk
      was very extraordinary; and as this was gradually
      absorbed and they gained strength, their attempts to
      swim carried them to a greater distance from the
      parent fish; his vigilance, however, seemed
      everywhere, and if they rose by the action of their
      fins above a certain height from the shingle bottom,
      or flitted beyond a given distance from the nest, they
      were immediately seized in his mouth, brought back,
      and gently puffed or jetted into their place again.
      The same care of the young, bringing them back to then
      nest up till about the sixth day after hatching, has
      been remarked by Dr. Ransom in the ten-spined
      stickleback (_G. pungitius_).[114]

The well-known habit of the lophobranchiate fish, of incubating their
eggs in their pouches, also displays highly elaborated parental
feeling.[115] M. Risso says that when the young of the pipe-fish are
hatched out, the parents show them marked attachment, and that the pouch
then serves them as a place of shelter or retreat from danger.[116]

      M. Carbonnier has recorded how the male of the
      curiously grotesque telescope-fish, a variety of
      _Carassius auratus_ (Linn.), acts as accoucheur to the
      female. Three males pursued one female which was heavy
      with spawn, and rolled her like a ball upon the ground
      for a distance of several metres, and continued this
      process without rest or relaxation for two days, until
      the exhausted female, who had been unable to recover
      her equilibrium for a moment, had at last evacuated
      all her ova.[117]

      That adult fish are capable of feeling affection for
      one another would seem to be well established: thus
      Jesse relates how he once captured a female pike
      (_Esox lucius_) during the breeding season, and that
      nothing could drive away the male from the spot at
      which he had perceived his partner slowly disappear,
      and whom he had followed to the edge of the water.

      Mr. Arderon[118] gave an account of how he tamed a dace,
      which would lie close to the glass watching its
      master; and subsequently how he kept two ruffs
      (_Acerina cernua_) in an aquarium, where they became
      very much attached to one another. He gave one away,
      when the other became so miserable that it would not
      eat, and this continued for nearly three weeks.
      Fearing his remaining fish might die, he sent for its
      former companion, and on the two meeting they became
      quite happy again. Jesse gives a similar account of
      two gold carp.[119]

Anger is strikingly shown by many fish, and notoriously by sticklebacks
when their territory is invaded by a neighbour. These animals display a
strange instinct of appropriating to themselves a certain part of the
tank in which they may be confined, and furiously attacking any other
stickleback which may presume to cross the imaginary frontier. Under
such circumstances of provocation I have seen the whole animal change
colour, and, darting at the trespasser, show rage and fury in every
movement. Of course, here, as elsewhere, it is impossible to be sure how
far apparent expression of an emotion is due to the presence of that
mental state which we recognise as the emotion in ourselves; but still
the best guide we have to follow is that of apparent expression.

Following this principle, we are also entitled to attribute to fish the
emotions conducive to play; for nothing can well be more expressive of
sportive glee than many of their movements. As for jealousy, the fights
of many male fish for the possession of females constitutes evidence of
emotion which would be called by this name in the higher animals.
Schneider, in his recent work already often quoted, says that he has
observed a male fish (_Labrus_) show jealousy only towards other
individual males of his own species--chasing these away from the
neighbourhood of his female, but not objecting to the approach of fish
of other species.

Curiosity is shown by the readiness, or even eagerness, with which fish
will approach to examine any unfamiliar object. So much is this the case
that fishermen, like hunters, sometimes trade upon this faculty:--

    And the fisher, with his lamp
    And spear, about the low rocks damp
    Crept, and struck the fish which came
    To worship the delusive flame.[120]

Stephenson, the engineer, on sinking lighted lanterns in the water, also
found that fish were attracted to them.[121]

_Special Habits._

As curious instances of special instincts in fish we may notice the
well-known habit of the angler (_Lophius piscator_), which conceals
itself in mud and seaweed, while waving in the water certain filaments
with which it is provided above its snout. Other fish, attracted by
these moving objects, approach, and are thereupon seized by the angler.
We must also allude to the _Chelmon rostratus_, which shoots its prey by
means of a drop of water projected from the mouth with considerable
force and unerring aim. The mark thus shot at is always some small
object, such as a fly, at rest above the surface of the water, so that
when suddenly hit it falls into the water.[122] This remarkable instinct
can only, I think, have originated as a primordially intentional
adjustment, and as such shows a high degree of intelligence on the part
of these fishes' ancestors. Moreover, the wonderful co-ordination of
sight and muscular movements required to judge the distance, to make due
allowance for refraction, and to aim correctly, shows that the existing
representatives are not unworthy of their ancestors.

Several species of fish in different parts of the world have the habit
of quitting pools which are about to dry up, and taking excursions
across country in search of more abundant water. Eels have this habit,
and perform their migrations by night. Dr. Hancock, in the 'Zoological
Journal,' gives an account of a species of _Doras_, the individuals of
which are about a foot in length, and travel by night in large shoals,
or 'droves,' when thus searching for water. A strong serrated arm
constitutes the first ray of the pectoral fin; and, using this as a kind
of foot, the animal pushes itself forward by means of its tail, thus
moving nearly as fast as a man can walk. Another migrating fish
(_Hydrargzra_) was found by thousands in the fresh waters of Carolina by
Bosc. It travels by leaps, and, according to Bosc, always directs itself
towards the nearest water, although he purposely placed them so that
they could not see it.

But perhaps the strangest among this class of habits is that of the
climbing perch (_Perca scandens_), first discovered by Daldorff in
Tranquebar; for this animal not only creeps over land, but even climbs
the fan palm in search of certain Crustacea which form its food. In
climbing it uses its open gill-covers as hands wherewith to suspend
itself, while it deflects its tail laterally upwards so as to bring to
bear upon the bark certain little spines with which its anal fin is
provided; it then pushes itself upwards by straightening the tail, while
it closes the gill-covers not to prevent progress, and so on. Sir E.
Tennent, however, without disputing the evidence that these fish do
climb trees, says,--

      The probability is, as suggested by Buchanan, that the
      ascent which was witnessed by Daldorff was accidental,
      and ought not to be regarded as the habit of the

A great number of species of fish perform migrations. In relation to
intelligence, the most interesting of these is the migration of salmon,
which annually leave the sea to spawn in rivers, though there is some
doubt whether the same individuals spawn every year. There is no doubt,
however, that the same individuals frequently, though not invariably,
revisit the same rivers for their successive spawnings. This fact may be
due either to the remembrance of locality, similar to that which is
unquestionably manifested by birds, or to the salmon not swimming far
along the coast during other seasons of the year, and therefore in the
spawning season when seeking a river happening to hit upon the same one.
The latter hypothesis is one which Mr. Herbert Spencer tells me he is
inclined to adopt, and, being a salmon-fisher, he has paid attention to
the subject. He informs me of an observation by a friend of his own, who
saw a salmon, when about to spawn, swimming along the coast-line, and
all round a boathouse, apparently seeking any stream that it might first

The distances up rivers to which salmon will swim in the spawning season
is no less surprising than the energy with which they perform the feat,
and the determination with which they overcome all obstacles. They reach
Bohemia by the Elbe, Switzerland by the Rhine, and, which is much more
wonderful, the Cordilleras of America by the Maragnon.

      They employ only three months in ascending to the
      sources of the Maragnon (a journey of 3,000 miles),
      the current of which is remarkably rapid, which is at
      the rate of nearly forty miles a day; in a smooth
      stream or lake their progress would increase in a
      fourfold ratio. Their tail is a very powerful organ,
      and its muscles have wonderful energy; by placing it
      in their mouths they make of it a very elastic spring,
      for letting it go with violence they raise themselves
      in the air to the height of from twelve to fifteen
      feet, and so clear the cataract that impedes their
      course: if they fail in their first attempt, they
      continue their efforts till they have accomplished

_General Intelligence._

With reference to the general intelligence of fish, allusion may first
be made to their marked increase of wariness in waters which are much
fished. This shows no small degree of intelligence, for the caution is
proved to be the result of observation by the fact that young trout
under such circumstances are less wary than old ones. Moreover, many
fish will abandon old haunts when much disturbed. Again, according to
Kirby, the carp thrusts itself into the mud in order that the net may
pass over it, or, if the bottom be stony, makes great leaps to clear it.

      At the Andaman Islands fish are captured by the
      convicts by means of weirs fixed across the openings
      of creeks. After existing a week or so, it is observed
      that captures invariably cease; and it is believed
      that such is due to barnacles, &c., clustering on to
      the wood of which they are composed. It does not seem
      improbable that the fish have learned to avoid a
      locality out of terror at those which enter but do not
      again return.[125]

Lacepède[126] relates that some fish, which had been kept for many years
in a basin of the Tuileries, would come when called by their names.
Probably it was the sound of the voice and not the articulate words to
which they responded; for Lacepède also relates that in many parts of
Germany trout, carp, and tench were summoned to their food by the sound
of a bell; and the same thing has been recorded of various fish in
various localities, notably by Sir Joseph Banks, who used to collect his
fish by sounding a bell.[127]

In 'Nature' (vol. xi., p. 48) Mr. Mitchell gives the following instance
of intelligence on the part of a small perch. Having one day disturbed
its nest full of young fry, Mr. Mitchell next day went to look for the
nest; 'but we searched in vain for the fish and her young. At length, a
few yards further up stream, we discovered the parent guarding her fry
with jealous care in a cavity scooped out of the coarse sand. . . . This is
the first and only instance that has come under my notice of a fish
watching over her young, and conveying them, when threatened with
danger, to some other place.'

In 'Nature' (December 19, 1878) there is also published a communication
which was made by Mr. J. Faraday to the Manchester Anglers' Association,
concerning a skate which he observed in the aquarium of that town:--

      A morsel of food thrown into the tank fell directly in
      an angle formed by the glass front and the bottom. The
      skate, a large example, made several vain attempts to
      seize the food, owing to its mouth being on the
      underside of its head and the food being close to the
      glass. He lay quite still for a while as though
      thinking, then suddenly raised himself into a slanting
      posture, the head inclined upwards, and the under
      surface of the body towards the food, when he waved
      his broad expanse of fins, thus creating an upward
      current or wave in the water, which lifted the food
      from its position and carried it straight to his

It will be observed, however, that this observation is practically
worthless, from the observer having neglected to repeat the conditions
in order to show that the movements of the fish were not, in their
adaptation to these circumstances, purely accidental. Therefore I should
not have alluded to this observation, had I not found that it has been
quoted by several writers as a remarkable display of intelligence on the
part of the fish.

I must not take leave of this class without making some allusion to the
alleged habits of the so-called 'pilot-fish,' and also to those of
'thresher' and 'sword-fish.' I class these widely different habits
together because they are alike in being dubious; different observers
give different accounts, and therefore, until more information is
forthcoming, we must suspend our judgment with regard to the habits in
question. The following describes what these habits are believed by many
observers to be.

Captain Richards, R.N., says that he saw a blue shark following a bait
which was thrown out to him from the ship. The shark, which was attended
by four pilot-fish, repeatedly approached the bait; but every time he
did so one of the latter rushed in and prevented him. After a time the
shark swam away; but when he had gone a considerable distance, he turned
back again, swam quickly after the vessel, and before the pilot-fish
could overtake him, seized the bait and was caught. While hoisting him
on board, one of the pilots was seen to cling to his side until above
water, when it dropped off. All the pilots then swam about for a time,
as if searching for their friend, 'with every apparent mark of anxiety
and distress.'[128] Colonel Smith fully corroborates this observation; but
Mr. Geoffrey, on the other hand, saw a pilot-fish take great pains to
bring a shark to the bait.[129] Probably the truth is that the pilot-fish
attend the shark in order to obtain the crumbs that fall from his
feasts, and that the cases in which they appear to prevent his taking
the bait are without any psychological significance.

With regard to the alleged co-operation of the threshing and sword-fish
in the destruction of whales, all that can be said is that the
statements, although antecedently improbable, are sufficient in number
not to be ignored. Mr. Day appears to accept the evidence as adequate,
and gives the following cases:--

      Captain Arn, in a voyage to Memel in the Baltic, gives
      the following interesting narrative:--One morning
      during a calm, when near the Hebrides, all hands were
      called up at 2 A.M. to witness a battle between
      several of the fish called threshers or fox-sharks
      (_Alopecias vulpes_), and some sword-fish on one side,
      and an enormous whale on the other. It was in the
      middle of the summer; and the weather being clear, and
      the fish close to the vessel, we had a fine
      opportunity of witnessing the contest. As soon as the
      whale's back appeared above the water, the threshers
      springing several yards into the air descended with
      great violence upon the object of their rancour, and
      inflicted upon him the most severe slaps with their
      long tails, the sounds of which resembled the reports
      of muskets fired at a distance. The sword-fish in
      their turn attacked the distressed whale, stabbing
      from below: and thus beset on all sides and wounded,
      when the poor creature appeared, the water around him
      was dyed with blood. In this manner they continued
      tormenting and wounding him for many hours, until we
      lost sight of him; and I have no doubt they in the end
      completed his destruction.

      The master of a fishing-boat has recently observed
      that the thresher-shark serves out the whales, the sea
      sometimes being all blood. One whale, attacked by
      these fish, once took refuge under his vessel, where
      it lay an hour and a half without moving a fin. He
      also remarked having seen the threshers jump out of
      the water as high as the mast-head and down upon the
      whale, while the sword fish was wounding him from
      beneath, the two sorts of fish evidently acting in


[110] _Phil. Frags._, translated by Huxley, _Taylor's Mag._, 1853, p.

[111] Silliman's _American Journal_, Feb. 1872.

[112] Ransom, _Ann. and Mag. Nat. Hist._, 1865, xvi., p. 449.

[113] Quoted from Francis Day, F.L.S., 'Instincts and Emotions of Fish,'
_Journ. Linn. Soc._, vol. xv., pp. 36-7, where see for other cases of
nest-building among fish.

[114] _Ibid._

[115] Kaup, _Catal. Lopho. Fish in Brit. Mus._ 1856, p. i.

[116] Yarrell, _Brit. Fishes_, 2nd ed. ii. p. 436.

[117] _Compt. Rend._, Nov. 4, 1872, p. 1127.

[118] _Phil. Trans. Royal Society_, 1747.

[119] F. Day, _loc. cit._

[120] Shelley, _Lines written in the Bay of Lerici_.

[121] See Smiles, _Lives of Engineers_, vol. iii., p. 69.

[122] See 'On the Jaculator-Fish,' by Schlosser, _Phil. Trans._ 1764.

[123] _Natural History of Ceylon_, p. 351.

[124] Kirby, _Hist. Habits and Instincts of Animals_, vol i. p. 119.

[125] F. Day, _loc. cit._

[126] _Hist. des Poiss._, _Introd._, cxxx.

[127] For sundry other similar cases see Mr. Day's excellent paper
already quoted.

[128] Cuv., _Anim. Kingd._ x. p. 636.

[129] F. Day, _loc. cit._



ON the intelligence of frogs and toads very little has to be said. Frogs
seem to have definite ideas of locality; for several of my
correspondents inform me that they have known cases in which these
animals, after having been removed for a distance of 200 or 300 yards
from their habitual haunts, returned to them again and again. This,
however, may I think perhaps be due to these haunts having a moistness
which the animals are able to perceive at a great distance. But be this
as it may, certainly the distance at which frogs are able to perceive
moisture is surprising. Thus, for instance, Warden gives a case in which
a pond containing a number of frogs dried up, and the frogs thereupon
made straight for the nearest water, although this was at a distance of
eight kilometres.[130]

A curious special instinct is met with in the toad _Bufo obstetricans_,
from which it derives its name; for the male here performs the function
of an accoucheur to the female, by severing from her body the gelatinous
cord by which the ova are attached.

Another special instinct or habit manifested by toads is described by M.
Duchemin in a paper before the Academy of Sciences at Paris.[131] The
habit consists in the killing of carp by squatting on the head of the
fish and forcing the fore-feet into its eyes. Probably this habit arises
from sexual excitement on the part of the toads.

I have one case, communicated to me by a correspondent, of a frog which
learnt to know her voice, and to come when called. As fish will
sometimes do the same thing, the account is sufficiently credible for
me to quote:--

      I used to open the gate in the railings round the
      pond, and call out 'Tommy' (the name I had given it),
      and the frog would jump out from the bushes, dive into
      the water, and swim across to me--get on my hand
      sometimes. When I called 'Tommy,' it would nearly
      always come, whatever the time of day, though it was
      only fed after breakfast; but it seemed quite tame.

A very similar case is recorded by Mr. Pennent[132] of a toad which was
domesticated for thirty-six years, and knew all his friends.

There is no doubt that frogs are able to appreciate coming changes of
weather, and to adapt their movements in anticipation of them; but these
facts show delicate sensibility rather than remarkable intelligence.

The following observation of Edward, the Scottish naturalist, however,
shows considerable powers of observation on the part of frogs. After
describing the great noise made by a number of frogs on a moonlight
night, he says:--

      Presently, when the whole of the vocalists had reached
      their highest notes, they became hushed in an instant.
      I was amazed at this, and began to wonder at the
      sudden termination of the concert. But, looking about,
      I observed a brown owl drop down, with the silence of
      death, on to the top of a low dyke close by the


Like the other cold-blooded Vertebrata, the reptiles are characterised
by a sluggishness and low development of mental power which is to some
extent proverbial. Nevertheless, that some members of the class present
vivid emotions is not to be questioned. Thus, to quote from Thompson:--

      The common guana (_Lacerta iguana_) is naturally
      extremely gentle and harmless. Its appearance,
      however, is much against it, especially when agitated
      by fear or anger. Its eyes then seem on fire; it
      hisses like a serpent, swells out the pouch under its
      throat, lashes about its long tail, erects the scales
      on its back, and extending its wide jaws, holds its
      head, covered over with tubercles, in a menacing
      attitude. The male, during the spring of the year,
      exhibits great attachment towards the female. Throwing
      aside his usual gentleness of character, he defends
      her even with fury, attacking with undaunted courage
      every animal that seems inclined to injure her; and at
      this time, though his bite is by no means poisonous,
      he fastens so firmly, that it is necessary either to
      kill him or to beat him with great violence on the
      nose, in order to make him quit his hold.[134]

Several species of snake incubate their eggs and show parental affection
for their young when they are hatched out; but neither in these nor in
any other of their emotions do the reptiles appear to rise much above
the level of fish. The case, however, which I shall afterwards quote, of
the tame snakes kept by Mr. and Mrs. Mann, seems to show a somewhat
higher degree of emotional development than could be pointed to as
occurring in any lower Vertebrata. Moreover, according to Pliny, so much
affection subsists between the male and female asp, that when the one is
killed the other seeks to avenge its death; and this statement is so far
confirmed--or rather, its origin explained--by Sir Emerson Tennent that
he says when a cobra is killed, its mate is often found on the same spot
a day or two afterwards.

Passing on to the general intelligence of reptiles, we shall find that
this also, although low as compared with the intelligence of birds and
mammals, is conspicuously higher than that of fish or batrachians.

Taking first the case of special instincts, Mr. W. F. Barrett, in a
letter to Mr. Darwin, bearing the date May 6, 1873, and contained among
the MSS. already alluded to, gives an account of cutting open with a
penknife the egg of an alligator just about to hatch. The young animal,
although blind, 'instantly laid hold of the finger, and attempted to
bite.' Similarly, Dr. Davy, in his 'Account of Ceylon,' gives an
interesting observation of his own on a young crocodile, which he cut
out of the egg, and which, as soon as it escaped, started off in a
direct line for a neighbouring stream. Dr. Davy placed his stick before
it to try to make the little animal deviate from its course; but it
stoutly resisted the opposition, and raised itself into a posture of
offence, just as an older animal would have done.

Humboldt made exactly the same observation with regard to young turtles,
and he remarks that as the young normally quit the egg at night, they
cannot see the water which they seek, and must therefore be guided to it
by discerning the direction in which the air is most humid. He adds that
experiments were made which consisted in putting the newly hatched
animals into bags, carrying them to some distance from the shore, and
liberating them with their tails turned towards the water. It was
invariably found that the young animals immediately faced round, and
took without hesitation the shortest way to the water.

Scarcely less remarkable than the instincts of the young turtles are
those of the old ones. Their watchful timidity at the time of laying
their eggs is thus described by Bates:--

      Great precautions are obliged to be taken to avoid
      disturbing the sensitive turtles, who, previous to
      crawling ashore to lay, assemble in great shoals off
      the sand-bank. The men during this time take care not
      to show themselves, and warn off any fisherman who
      wishes to pass near the place. Their fires are made in
      a deep hollow near the borders of the forest, so that
      the smoke may not be visible. The passage of a boat
      through the shallow waters where the animals are
      congregated, or the sight of a man or a fire on the
      sand-bank, would prevent the turtles from leaving the
      water that night to lay their eggs; and if the causes
      of alarm were repeated once or twice they would
      forsake the praia for some other quieter place. . . .
      I rose from my hammock by daylight, shivering with
      cold--a praia, on account of the great radiation of
      heat in the night from the sand, being towards the
      dawn the coldest place that can be found in this
      climate. Cardozo and the men were already up watching
      the turtles. The sentinels had erected for this
      purpose a stage about fifty feet high, on a tall tree
      near their station, the ascent to which was by a
      roughly made ladder of woody lianas. They are enabled,
      by observing the turtles from this watch-tower, to
      ascertain the date of successive deposits of eggs,
      and thus guide the commandante in fixing the time for
      the general invitation to the Ega people. The turtles
      lay their eggs by night, leaving the water, when
      nothing disturbs them, in vast crowds, and crawling to
      the central and highest part of the praia. These
      places are, of course, the last to go under water
      when, in unusually wet seasons, the river rises before
      the eggs are hatched by the heat of the sand. One
      could almost believe, from this, that the animals used
      forethought in choosing a place; but it is simply one
      of those many instances in animals where unconscious
      habit has the same result as conscious prevision. The
      hours between midnight and dawn are the busiest. The
      turtles excavate with their broad webbed paws deep
      holes in the fine sand: the first comer, in each case,
      making a pit about three feet deep, laying its eggs
      (about 120 in number) and covering them with sand; the
      next making its deposit at the top of that of its
      predecessor, and so on until every pit is full. The
      whole body of turtles frequenting a praia does not
      finish laying in less than fourteen or fifteen days,
      even when there is no interruption. When all have
      done, the area (called by the Brazilians _taboleiro_)
      over which they have excavated is distinguishable from
      the rest of the praia only by signs of the sand having
      been a little disturbed.[135]

The same naturalist says of the alligator,

      These little incidents show the timidity and cowardice
      (? prudence and caution) of the alligator. He never
      attacks man when his intended victim is on his guard;
      but he is cunning enough to know when this may be done
      with impunity. Of this we had proof a few days
      afterwards, &c.[136]

Of the alligator, Jesse writes:[137]--

      But a most singular instance of attachment between two
      animals, whose natures and habits were most opposite,
      was related to me by a person on whose veracity I can
      place the greatest reliance. He had resided for nine
      years in the American States, where he superintended
      the execution of some extensive works for the American
      Government. One of these works consisted in the
      erection of a beacon in a swamp in one of the rivers,
      where he caught a young alligator. This animal he made
      so perfectly tame that it followed him about the house
      like a dog, scrambling up the stairs after him, and
      showing much affection and docility. Its great
      favourite, however, was a cat, and the friendship was
      mutual. When the cat was reposing herself before the
      fire (this was at New York), the alligator would lay
      himself down, place his head upon the cat, and in this
      attitude go to sleep. If the cat was absent the
      alligator was restless; but he always appeared happy
      when the cat was near him. The only instance in which
      he showed any ferocity was in attacking a fox, which
      was tied up in the yard. Probably, however, the fox
      resented some playful advances which the other had
      made, and thus called forth the anger of the
      alligator. In attacking the fox he did not make use of
      his mouth, but beat him with so much severity with his
      tail, that, had not the chain which confined the fox
      broken, he would probably have killed him. The
      alligator was fed on raw flesh, and sometimes with
      milk, for which he showed a great fondness. In cold
      weather he was shut up in a box, with wool in it; but,
      having been forgotten one frosty night, he was found
      dead in the morning. This is not, I believe, a
      solitary instance of amphibia becoming tame, and
      showing a fondness for those who have been kind to
      them. Blumenbach mentions that crocodiles have been
      tamed; and two instances have occurred under my own
      observation of toads knowing their benefactors, and
      coming to meet them with considerable alacrity.

With regard to the higher intelligence of reptiles, I may quote the
following instances.

Three or four different correspondents tell me of cases which they have
themselves observed, of snakes and tortoises unmistakably distinguishing
persons. In one of these cases the tortoise would come to the call of
the favoured person, and when it came would manifest its affection by
tapping the boot of this person with its mouth; 'but it would not answer
anyone else.' A separation of some weeks did not affect the memory of
this tortoise for his friend.[138]

The following interesting observation on the intelligence of snakes
shows, not only that these animals are well able to distinguish persons,
and that they remember their friends for a period of at least six weeks,
but also that they possess an intensity of amiable emotion scarcely to
be expected in this class. Clearly the snakes in question were not only
perfectly tame, but entertained a remarkable affection for those who
tended and petted them. The facts were communicated to me by Mr. Walter
Severn, the well-known artist, who was a friend of Mr. and Mrs. Mann,
the gentleman and his wife to whom the snakes belonged. Mr. and Mrs.
Mann having got into trouble with their neighbours on account of the
fear and dislike which their pets occasioned, legal proceedings were
instituted, and so the matter came before the public. Mr. Severn then
wrote a letter to the _Times_, in order to show that the animals were
harmless. From this letter the following is an extract:--

      I happen to know the gentleman and lady against whom a
      complaint has been made because of the snakes they
      keep, and I should like to give a short account of my
      first visit to them.

      Mr. M., after we had talked for a little time, asked
      if I had any fear of snakes; and after a timid 'No,
      not very,' from me, he produced out of a cupboard a
      large boa-constrictor, a python, and several small
      snakes, which at once made themselves at home on the
      writing-table among pens, ink, and books. I was at
      first a good deal startled, especially when the two
      large snakes coiled round and round my friend, and
      began to notice me with their bright eyes and forked
      tongues; but soon finding how tame they were, I ceased
      to feel frightened. After a short time Mr. M.
      expressed a wish to call Mrs. M., and left me with the
      boa deposited on an arm-chair. I felt a little queer
      when the animal began gradually to come near, but the
      entrance of my host and hostess, followed by two
      charming little children, put me at my ease again.
      After the first interchange of civilities, she and the
      children went at once to the boa, and, calling it by
      the most endearing names, allowed it to twine itself
      most gracefully round about them. I sat talking for a
      long time, lost in wonder at the picture before me.
      Two beautiful little girls with their charming mother
      sat before me with a boa-constrictor (as thick round
      as a small tree) twining playfully round the lady's
      waist and neck, and forming a kind of turban round
      her head, expecting to be petted and made much of
      like a kitten. The children over and over again took
      its head in their hands and kissed its mouth, pushing
      aside its forked tongue in doing so. The animal seemed
      much pleased, but kept turning its head continually
      towards me with a curious gaze, until I allowed it to
      nestle its head for a moment up my sleeve. Nothing
      could be prettier than to see this splendid serpent
      coiled all round Mrs. M. while she moved about the
      room, and when she stood to pour out our coffee. He
      seemed to adjust his weight so nicely, and every coil
      with its beautiful marking was relieved by the black
      velvet dress of the lady. It was long before I could
      make up my mind to end the visit, and I returned soon
      after with a friend (a distinguished M.P.[139]), to see
      my snake-taming acquaintance again. . . .

      These (the snakes) seemed very obedient, and remained
      in their cupboard when told to do so.

      About a year ago Mr. and Mrs. M. were away for six
      weeks, and left the boa in charge of a keeper at the
      Zoo. The poor reptile moped, slept, and refused to be
      comforted, but when his master and mistress appeared
      he sprang upon them with delight, coiling himself
      round them, and showing every symptom of intense

The end of this python was remarkable and pathetic. Mr. Severn tells me
that some years after he had published the above letter Mr. Mann was
seized with an apoplectic fit. His wife, being the only other person in
the house at the time, ran out to fetch a doctor. She was absent about
ten minutes, and on returning found that the serpent during her absence
had crawled upstairs from the room below into that where her husband was
lying, and was stretched beside him dead. Such being the fact, we are
left to speculate whether the double seizure of the man and the snake
was a mere coincidence, or whether the sight of its stricken master,
acting on the emotions of a possibly not healthy animal, precipitated
its death. Looking to the extreme suddenness of the latter, as well as
to the fact of the animal having pined so greatly for his friends while
it was confined at the Zoological Gardens, I think the probability
rather points to the death of the animal having been accelerated by
emotional shock. But of course the question is an open one.

So much for the power of reptiles to establish such definite and
complete associations as are required for the recognition of
persons--associations, however, to which, as we have seen, frogs, and
even insects may attain. As for other associations, a correspondent
writes to me:--

      I believe tortoises are able to establish a definite
      association between particular colours on a flat
      surface and food. Only the day before reading your
      article on animal intelligence I noticed the
      endeavours of a small tortoise to eat the _yellow_
      flowers of an inlaid writing-table, and I have often
      remarked the same recognition with regard to red.

Lord Monboddo relates the following anecdote of a serpent:--

      I am well informed of a tame serpent in the East
      Indies, which belonged to the late Dr. Vigot, and was
      kept by him in the suburbs of Madras. This serpent was
      taken by the French, when they invested Madras in the
      late war, and was carried to Pondicherry in a close
      carriage. But from thence he found his way back again
      to his old quarters, which it seems he liked better,
      though Madras is distant from Pondicherry about one
      hundred miles. This information, he adds, I have from
      a lady who then was in India, and had seen the serpent
      often before his journey and after his return.

Considering the enormous distances over which turtles are able to find
their way in the season of migration, this display of the homing faculty
to so great a degree in a serpent is not to be regarded as incredible.

Mr. E. L. Layard, in his 'Rambles in Ceylon' says of the cobra:[141]--

      I once watched one which had thrust its head through a
      narrow aperture and swallowed one (_i.e._ a toad).
      With this encumbrance he could not withdraw himself.
      Finding this, he reluctantly disgorged the precious
      morsel, which began to move off. This was too much for
      snake philosophy to bear, and the toad was again
      seized; and again, after violent efforts to escape,
      was the snake compelled to part with it. This time,
      however, a lesson had been learnt, and the toad was
      seized by one leg, withdrawn, and then swallowed in

Mr. E. C. Buck, B.C.S., says in 'Nature' (vol. viii., p. 303):--

      I have witnessed exactly a similar plan pursued by a
      large number of Ganges crocodiles, which had been
      lying or swimming about all day in front of my tent,
      at the mouth of a small stream which led from some
      large inland lakes to the Ganges. Towards dusk, at the
      same moment every one of them left the bank on which
      they were lying, or the deep water in which they were
      swimming, and formed a line across the stream, which
      was about twenty yards wide. They had to form a double
      line, as there was not room for all in a single line.
      They then swam slowly up the shallow stream, driving
      the fish before them, and I saw two or three fish
      caught before they disappeared.

An account of reptile psychology would be incomplete without some
reference to the alleged facts of snakes charming other animals by
'fascination,' and being themselves charmed by the arts of music, &c.
The testimony on both subjects is conflicting, and especially with
regard to the fascination of other animals by snakes. Thus:--

      Mr. Pennant says that this snake (rattle-snake) will
      frequently lie at the bottom of a tree on which a
      squirrel is seated. He fixes his eyes on the animal,
      and from that moment it cannot escape; it begins a
      doleful outcry, which is so well known that a
      passer-by, on hearing it, immediately knows that a
      snake is present. The squirrel runs up the tree a
      little way, comes down again, then goes up, and
      afterwards comes still lower. The snake continues at
      the bottom of the tree with its eyes fixed on the
      squirrel, and his attention is so entirely taken up,
      that a person accidentally approaching may make a
      considerable noise without so much as the snake
      turning about. The squirrel comes lower, and at last
      leaps down to the snake, whose mouth is already
      distended for its reception. Le Vaillant confirms this
      fascinating terror by a scene he witnessed. He saw on
      the branch of a tree a species of shrike, trembling as
      if in convulsions, and at the distance of nearly four
      feet, on another branch, a large snake that was lying
      with outstretched neck and fiery eyes, gazing steadily
      at the poor animal. The agony of the bird was so great
      that it was deprived of the power of moving away; and
      when one of the party killed the snake, it (_i.e._ the
      bird) was found dead upon the spot--and that entirely
      from fear; for, on examination, it appeared not to
      have received the slightest wound. The same traveller
      adds that a short time afterwards he observed a small
      mouse in similar agonising convulsions, about two
      yards from a snake, whose eyes were intently fixed
      upon it; and on frightening away the reptile, and
      taking up the mouse, it expired in his hand.[142]

Many other observations, more or less similar, might be quoted; but, on
the other hand, Sir Joseph Fayrer tells me that 'fascination is only
fright;' and this appears to be the opinion of all persons who have had
the opportunity of looking into the subject in a scientific manner. The
truth probably is that small animals are occasionally much alarmed by
the sight of a snake looking at them, and as a consequence of this more
easily fall a prey. In some cases, it is likely enough, strong terror so
unnerves the animal as to make it behave in the manner which the
witnesses describe; in making half-palsied efforts to escape, it may
actually fall or draw nearer to the object of its dread. Perhaps,
therefore, Dr. Barton, of Philadelphia, is a little too severe on
previous observers when he says that--

      The report of this fascinating property has had its
      rise in nothing more than the fears and cries of birds
      and other animals in the protection of their nests. . . .
      The result of not a little attention has taught me
      that there is but one wonder in the business--the
      wonder that the story should ever have been believed
      by any man of understanding and observation.

But, be this as it may, it is certainly remarkable, as Sir J. Fayrer in
his letter to me observes, 'how little fear some animals show until the
moment that they are seized and struck.'

As for snake-charming, the facts seem to be that cobras and other
serpents are attracted by the sound of a pipe to creep out of their
hiding-places, when they are captured and tamed. It is certain that the
fangs are not always drawn, and also that from the first moment of
capture, before there has been time for any process of training, a real
snake-charmer is able to make the reptile 'dance.' Thus, for instance,
Sir E. Tennent publishes the following letter from Mr. Reyne. After
describing all his precautions to ensure that the snake-charmer had no
tamed snakes concealed about his person, Mr. Reyne proceeds to tell how
he made the man accompany him to the jungle, where, attracted by the
music of a pipe which the man played, a large cobra came from an
ant-hill which Mr. Reyne knew it to occupy:--

      On seeing the man it tried to escape, but he caught it
      by the tail and kept swinging it round until we
      reached the bungalow. He then made it dance, but
      before long it bit him above the knee. He immediately
      bandaged the leg above the bite and applied a
      snake-stone to the wound to extract the poison. He was
      in great pain for a few minutes, but after that it
      gradually went away, the stone falling off just before
      he was relieved.[143]

Thus the only remarkable thing about the charming of a freshly caught
snake seems to be that the charmer is able to make the animal
'dance'--for the fact of the snake approaching the unfamiliar sound of
music is not in itself any more remarkable than a fish approaching the
unfamiliar sight of a lantern. It does not, however, appear that this
dancing is anything more than some series of gestures or movements which
may be merely the expressions, more or less natural, of uneasiness or
alarm. Anything else that charmed snakes may do is probably the result
of training; for there is no doubt that cobras admit of being tamed, and
even domesticated. Thus, for instance, Major Skinner, writing to Sir E.
Tennent, says:--

      In one family near Negombo, cobras are kept as
      protectors, in the place of dogs, by a wealthy man who
      has always large sums of money in his house. But this
      is not a solitary case of the kind. . . . The snakes
      glide about the house, a terror to the thieves, but
      never attempting to harm the inmates.[144]

Thus, on the whole, we may accept Dr. Davey's opinion--who had good
opportunities for observation--that the snake-charmers control the
cobras by working upon the well-known timidity and reluctance of these
animals to use their fangs till they become virtually tame.


[130] _Account of the United States_, vol. ii., p. 9.

[131] April 11, 1870.

[132] See Bingley, _Animal Biography_, vol. ii., p. 406.

[133] Smiles, _Life of Edwards_, p. 124.

[134] _Passions of Animals_, p. 229.

[135] _Naturalist on the Amazon_, pp. 285-6.

[136] _Ibid._ The astonishing facts relating to the migration of turtles
in the laying season will be treated under the general heading
'Migration' in my forthcoming work.

[137] _Gleanings_, vol. i., pp. 163-4.

[138] The tortoise which has gained such immortal celebrity by having
fallen under the observation of the author of the _Natural History of
Selborne_, likewise distinguished persons in this way. For 'whenever the
good old lady came in sight, who had waited on it for more than thirty
years, it always hobbled with awkward alacrity towards its benefactress,
whilst to strangers it was altogether inattentive.'

[139] This gentleman was Lord Arthur Russell.

[140] The _Times_, July 25, 1872.

[141] See _Annas. and Mag. of Nat. Hist._, 2nd series, vol. ix., p. 333.

[142] Thompson, _Passions of Animals_, p. 118; see also Bingley, _Animal
Biography_, vol. ii., pp. 447-8.

[143] _Natural History of Ceylon_, p. 314.

[144] Tennent, _loc. cit._, p. 299.



ADEQUATELY to treat of the intelligence of birds a separate volume would
be required; here it must be enough to deal with this class as I shall
afterwards deal with the Mammalia--namely, by giving an outline sketch
of the more prominent features of their psychology.


The memory of birds is well developed. Thus, although we are much in the
dark on the whole subject of migration--so much so that I reserve its
discussion with all the problems that this presents for a separate
chapter in my next work--we may at least conclude that the return of the
same pair of swallows every year to the same nest must be due to the
animals remembering the precise locality of their nests. Again, Buckland
gives an account of a pigeon which remembered the voice of its mistress
after an absence of eighteen months;[145] but I have not been able to
meet with satisfactory evidence of the memory of a bird enduring for a
longer time than this.

As it is a matter of interest in comparative psychology to trace as far
as possible into detail the similarities of a mental faculty as it
occurs in different groups of animals, and as the faculty of memory
first admits of detailed study in the class which we are now
considering, I shall here devote a paragraph to the facts concerning the
exhibition of memory by birds where its mechanism best admits of being
analysed; I refer to the learning of articulate phrases and tunes by
talking and musical birds. The best observations in this connection with
which I am acquainted are those of Dr. Samuel Wilks, F.R.S., and
therefore I shall quote _in extenso_ the portion of his paper which
refers to the memory of parrots: other portions of this paper I shall
have occasion to quote in my next work:--

      When my parrot first came into my possession, several
      years ago, it was quite unlettered, and I therefore
      had an opportunity of observing the mode in which it
      acquired the accomplishment of speech. I was very much
      struck with its manner of learning, and the causes for
      its speaking on special occasions. The first seemed to
      resemble very much the method of children in learning
      their lessons, and the second to be due to some
      association or suggestion--the usual provocative for
      set speeches at all periods of human life. A parrot is
      well known to imitate sounds in a most perfect manner,
      even to the tone of the voice, besides having a
      compass which no human being can approach, ranging
      from the gravest to the most acute note. My bird,
      though possessing a good vocabulary of words and
      sentences, can only retain them for a few months
      unless kept constantly in practice by the suggestive
      recurrence of some circumstance which causes their
      continual utterance. If forgotten, however, they are
      soon revived in the memory by again repeating them a
      few times, and much more speedily than any new
      sentence can be acquired. In beginning to teach the
      parrot a sentence, it has to be repeated many times,
      the bird all the while listening most attentively by
      turning the opening of the ear as close as possible to
      the speaker. After a few hours it is heard attempting
      to say the phrase, or, I should say, trying to learn
      it. It evidently has the phrase somewhere in store,
      for eventually this is uttered perfectly, but at first
      the attempts are very poor and ludicrous. If the
      sentence be composed of a few words, the first two or
      three are said over and over again, and then another
      and another word added, until the sentence is
      complete, the pronunciation at first being very
      imperfect, and then becoming gradually more complete,
      until the task is accomplished. Thus hour after hour
      will the bird be indefatigably working at the
      sentence, and not until some days have elapsed will it
      be perfect. The mode of acquiring it seems to me
      exactly what I have observed in a child learning a
      French phrase; two or three words are constantly
      repeated, and then others added, until the whole is
      known, the pronunciation becoming more perfect as the
      repetition goes on. I found also on whistling a
      popular air to my parrot that she picked it up in the
      same way, taking note by note until the whole
      twenty-five notes were complete. Then the mode of
      forgetting, or the way in which phrases and airs pass
      from its recollection, may be worth remarking. The
      last words or notes are first forgotten, so that soon
      the sentence remains unfinished or the air only half
      whistled through. The first words are the best fixed
      in the memory; these suggest others which stand next
      to them, and so on till the last, which have the least
      hold on the brain. These, however, as I have before
      mentioned, can be easily revived on repetition. This
      is also a very usual process in the human subject: for
      example, an Englishman speaking French will, in his
      own country, if no opportunity occur for conversation,
      apparently forget it; he no sooner, however, crosses
      the Channel and hears the language than it very soon
      comes back to him again. In trying to recall poems
      learned in childhood or in school days, although at
      that period hundreds of lines may have been known, it
      is found that in manhood we remember only the two or
      three first lines of the 'Iliad,' the 'Æneid,' or the
      'Paradise Lost.'[146]

The following is communicated to me by Mr. Venn, of Cambridge, the
well-known logician:--

      I had a grey parrot, three or four years old, which
      had been taken from its nest in West Africa by those
      through whom I received it. It stood ordinarily by the
      window, where it could equally hear the front and back
      door bells. In the yard, by the back door, was a
      collie dog, who naturally barked violently at nearly
      all the comers that way. The parrot took to imitating
      the dog. After a time I was interested in observing
      the discriminative association between the back-door
      bell and the dog's bark in the parrot's mind. Even
      when the dog was not there, or for any other cause did
      not bark, the parrot would constantly bark when the
      back-door bell sounded, but never (that I could hear)
      when the front-door bell was heard.

      This is but a trifle in the way of intelligence, but
      it struck me as an interesting analogous case to a law
      of association often noticed by writers on human

The celebrated parrot that belonged to the Buffon family and of which
the Comte de Buffon wrote, exhibited in a strange manner the association
of its ideas. For he was frequently in the habit of asking himself for
his own claw, and then never failed to comply with his own request by
holding it out, in the same way as he did when asked for his claw by
anybody else. This, however, probably arose, not, as Buffon or his
sister Madame Nadault supposed, from the bird not knowing its own voice,
but rather from the association between the words and the gesture.

According to Margrave, parrots sometimes chatter their phrases in their
dreams, and this shows a striking similarity of psychical processes in
the operations of memory with those which occur in ourselves.

Similarly, Mr. Walter Pollock, writes me of his own parrot:--

      In this parrot the sense of association is very
      strongly developed. If one word picked up at a former
      home comes into its head, and is uttered by it, it
      immediately follows this word up with all the other
      words and phrases picked up at the same place and

Lastly, parrots not only remember, but recollect; that is to say, they
know when there is a missing link in a train of association, and
purposely endeavour to pick it up. Thus, for instance, the late Lady
Napier told me an interesting series of observations on this point which
she had made upon an intelligent parrot of her own. They were of this
kind. Taking such a phrase as 'Old Dan Tucker,' the bird would remember
the beginning and the end, and try to recollect the middle. For it would
say very slowly, 'Old--old--old--old' (and then very quickly) 'Lucy
Tucker.' Feeling that this was not right, it would try again as before,
'Old--old--old--old--old Bessy Tucker,' substituting one word after
another in the place of the sought-for word 'Dan.' And that the process
was one of truly seeking for the desired word was proved by the fact
that if, while the bird was saying, 'Old--old--old--old,' any one threw
in the word 'Dan,' he immediately supplied the 'Tucker.'


As regards emotions, it is among birds that we first meet with a
conspicuous advance in the tenderer feelings of affection and sympathy.
Those relating to the sexes and the care of progeny are in this class
proverbial for their intensity, offering, in fact, a favourite type for
the poet and moralist. The pining of the 'love-bird' for its absent
mate, and the keen distress of a hen on losing her chickens, furnish
abundant evidence of vivid feelings of the kind in question. Even the
stupid-looking ostrich has heart enough to die for love, as was the case
with a male in the Rotund of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, who,
having lost his wife, pined rapidly away. It is remarkable that in some
species--notably pigeons--conjugal fidelity should be so strongly
marked; for this shows, not only what may be called a refinement of
sexual feeling, but also the presence of an abiding image in the mind's
eye of the lover. For instance,--

      Referring to the habits of the mandarin duck (a
      Chinese species) Mr. Bennett says that Mr. Beale's
      aviary afforded a singular corroboration of the
      fidelity of the birds in question. Of a pair in that
      gentleman's possession, the drake being one night
      purloined by some thieves, the unfortunate duck
      displayed the strongest marks of despair at her
      bereavement, retiring into a corner, and altogether
      neglecting food and drink, as well as the care of her
      person. In this condition she was courted by a drake
      who had lost his mate, but who met with no
      encouragement from the widow. On the stolen drake
      being subsequently recovered and restored to the
      aviary, the most extravagant demonstrations of joy
      were displayed by the fond couple; but this was not
      all, for, as if informed by his spouse of the gallant
      proposals made to her shortly before his arrival, the
      drake attacked the luckless bird who would have
      supplanted him, beat out his eyes, and inflicted so
      many injuries as to cause his death.[147]

Similarly, to give an instance or two with regard to other birds, Jesse
states the following as his own observation:--

      A pair of swans had been inseparable companions for
      three years, during which time they had reared three
      broods of cygnets; last autumn the male was killed,
      and since that time the female has separated herself
      from all society with her own species; and, though at
      the time I am writing (the end of March) the breeding
      season for swans has far advanced, she remains in the
      same state of seclusion, resisting the addresses of a
      male swan, who has been making advances towards
      forming an acquaintance with her, either driving him
      away, or flying from him whenever he comes near her.
      How long she will continue in this state of widowhood
      I know not, but at present it is quite evident that
      she has not forgotten her former partner.

      This reminds me of a circumstance which lately
      happened at Chalk Farm, near Hampton. A man, set to
      watch a field of peas which had been much preyed upon
      by pigeons, shot an old cock pigeon which had long
      been an inhabitant of the farm. His mate, around whom
      he had for many a year cooed, whom he had nourished
      from his own crop, and had assisted in rearing
      numerous young ones, immediately settled on the ground
      by his side, and showed her grief in the most
      expressive manner. The labourer took up the dead bird,
      and tied it to a short stake, thinking that it would
      frighten away the other depredators. In this
      situation, however, the widow did not forsake her
      deceased husband, but continued, day after day,
      walking slowly round the stick. The kind-hearted wife
      of the bailiff of the farm at last heard of the
      circumstance, and immediately went to afford what
      relief she could to the poor bird. She told me that,
      on arriving at the spot, she found the hen bird much
      exhausted, and that she had made a circular beaten
      track round the dead pigeon, making now and then a
      little spring towards him. On the removal of the dead
      bird the hen returned to the dove-cote.[148]

As evidence of the intensity of the maternal instinct even in the case
of barren birds, I may quote the following from the naturalist Couch. I
do so because, although the instance is a trivial one, and also one of
frequent occurrence, it is interesting as showing that a deeply rooted
instinct or emotion may assert itself powerfully even in the absence of
what may be termed its natural stimulus or object:--

      I was once witness to a curious instance of the
      yearning for progeny in a diminutive bantam hen.

      There was at this time a nest of the common hen in a
      secluded part of the garden, and the parent had been
      sitting on its eggs, till compelled by hunger she left
      them for a short time. This absence was fatal; for the
      bantam had in the meantime found its situation in a
      covered recess in the hedge, and I saw her creep into
      it with all the triumph of the discoverer of a
      treasure. The real mother now returned, and great was
      her agony at finding an intruder in her nest. The
      expression of her eye and the attitude of her head
      were emphatic of surprise at the impudence of the
      proceeding. But after many attempts to recover
      possession she was compelled to resign her rights, for
      the bantam was too resolute to be contended with; and
      though its body was not big enough to cover the whole
      of the eggs, and thus some of them were not hatched,
      yet in due season the pride of this audacious
      step-mother was gratified by strutting at the head of
      a company of robust chickens, which she passed off
      upon the feathered public as a brood of her own.[149]

As evidence of sympathy I shall quote _in extenso_ an interesting case
which has been communicated to me by a young lady, who desires her name
withheld. There are several more or less corroborative cases in the
anecdote-books,[150] so that I have no doubt as to the substantial
accuracy of the account:--

      My grandfather had a Swan River gander, which had been
      reared near the house, and had consequently attached
      himself to the members of the family; so much so that,
      on seeing any of them at a distance, he would run to
      meet them with all possible demonstrations of delight.

      But 'Swanny' was quite an outcast from his own tribe;
      and as often as he made humble overtures to the other
      geese, so often was he driven away with great
      contempt, and on such occasions he would frequently
      run to some of his human friends, and laying his head
      on their laps, seem to seek for sympathy. At last,
      however, he found a friend among his own species. An
      old grey goose, becoming blind, was also discarded by
      her more fortunate companions, and Swanny lost no
      opportunity of recognising this comrade in distress.
      He at once took her under his protection and led her
      about. When he considered it well for her to have a
      swim, he would gently take her neck in his bill, and
      thus lead her, sometimes a considerable distance, to
      the water's edge. Having fairly launched her, he kept
      close by her side, and guided her from dangerous
      places by arching his neck over hers, and so turning
      her in the right direction. After cruising about a
      sufficient time, he would guide her to a convenient
      landing-place, and taking her neck in his bill as
      before, lead her to _terra firma_ again. When she had
      goslings, he would proudly convoy the whole party to
      the water-side; and if any ill-fated gosling got into
      difficulties in a hole or deep cart-rut, Swanny with
      ready skill would put his bill under its body, and
      carefully raise it to the level ground.

      My grandfather had also another gander who attached
      himself to him, and would follow him for hours through
      fields and lanes, pausing when he stood still, and
      waddling gravely by his side as he proceeded. This
      gander was not, like the other, discarded by his kind,
      but would leave them any time to walk with his master,
      and was exceedingly jealous of any one else who tried
      to share this privilege, excepting only his mistress.
      On one occasion, a gentleman venturing to place his
      hand on my grandfather's arm, the gander flew at him,
      and beat him severely with his wings, and it was with
      great difficulty that he was induced to let go.

The solicitude which most gregarious birds display when one of their
number is wounded or captured, constitutes strong evidence of sympathy.
As Jesse observes,--

      There is one trait in the character of the rook which
      is, I believe, peculiar to that bird, and which does
      him no little credit; it is the distress which is
      exhibited when one of his fellows has been killed or
      wounded by a gun while they have been feeding in a
      field or flying over it. Instead of being scared away
      by the report of the gun, leaving their wounded or
      dead companion to his fate, they show the greatest
      anxiety and sympathy for him, uttering cries of
      distress, and plainly proving that they wish to
      render him assistance by hovering over him, or
      sometimes making a dart from the air close up to him,
      apparently to try and find out the reason why he did
      not follow them. . . . I have seen one of my labourers
      pick up a rook which he had shot at for the purpose of
      putting him up as a scarecrow in a field of wheat, and
      while the poor wounded bird was still fluttering in
      his hand, I have observed one of his companions make a
      wheel round in the air, and suddenly dart past him so
      as almost to touch him, perhaps with the last hope
      that he might still afford assistance to his
      unfortunate mate or companion. Even when the dead bird
      has been hung, _in terrorem_, to a stake in the field,
      he has been visited by some of his former friends, but
      as soon as they found that the case was hopeless, they
      have generally abandoned that field altogether.

      When one considers the instinctive care with which
      rooks avoid any one carrying a gun, and which is so
      evident that I have often heard country people remark
      that a rook can smell gunpowder, one can more justly
      estimate the force of their love or friendship in thus
      continuing to hover round a person who has just
      destroyed one of their companions with an instrument
      the dangerous nature of which they seem fully capable
      of appreciating.[151]

The justice of these remarks may be better appreciated in the light of
the following very remarkable observation, as an introduction to which I
have quoted them.

Edward, the naturalist, having shot a tern, which fell winged into the
sea, its companions hovered around the floating bird, manifesting much
apparent solicitude, as terns and gulls always do under such
circumstances. How far this apparent solicitude is real I have often
speculated, as in the analogous case of the crows--wondering whether the
emotions concerned were really those of sympathy or mere curiosity. The
following observation, however, seems to set this question at rest.
Having begun to make preparations for securing the wounded bird, Edward
says: 'I expected in a few moments to have it in my possession, being
not very far from the water's edge, and drifting shorewards with the
wind.' He continues:--

      While matters were in this position I beheld, to my
      utter astonishment and surprise, two of the unwounded
      terns take hold of their disabled comrade, one at
      each wing, lift him out of the water, and bear him out
      seawards. They were followed by two other birds. After
      being carried about six or seven yards, he was let
      gently down again, when he was taken up in a similar
      manner by the two who had been hitherto inactive. In
      this way they continued to carry him alternately,
      until they had conveyed him to a rock at a
      considerable distance, upon which they landed him in
      safety. Having recovered my self-possession, I made
      toward the rock, wishing to obtain the prize which had
      been so unceremoniously snatched from my grasp. I was
      observed, however, by the terns; and instead of four,
      I had in a short time a whole swarm about me. On my
      near approach to the rock I once more beheld two of
      them take hold of the wounded bird as they had done
      already, and bear him out to sea in triumph, far
      beyond my reach. This, had I been so inclined, I could
      no doubt have prevented. Under the circumstances,
      however, my feelings would not permit me; and I
      willingly allowed them to perform without molestation
      an act of mercy, and to exhibit an instance of
      affection which man himself need not be ashamed to

According to Clavigero,[153] the inhabitants of Mexico utilise the
sympathy of the wild pelican for the procuring of fish. First a pelican
is caught and its wing broken. The bird is then tied to a tree, and
being both in pain and captivity, it utters cries of distress. Other
pelicans are attracted by the cries, and finding their friend in such a
sorry case, their bowels of compassion become moved in a very literal
sense; for they disgorge from their stomachs and pouches the fish which
they have caught, and deposit them within reach of the captive. As soon
as this is done the men, who have been lying in wait concealed, run to
the spot, drive off the friendly pelicans, and secure their fish,
leaving only a small quantity for the use of the captive.

The parrot which belonged to the Buffon family showed much sympathy with
a female servant to whom it was attached when the girl had a sore
finger, which it displayed by its never leaving her sick room, and
groaning as if itself in pain. As soon as the girl got better the bird
again became cheerful.

I shall conclude this brief demonstration of the keen sympathy which may
exist in birds, by quoting the following very conclusive case in the
words of its distinguished observer, Dr. Franklin:[1]--

      I have known two parrots, said he, which had lived
      together four years, when the female became weak, and
      her legs swelled. These were symptoms of gout, a
      disease to which all birds of this family are very
      subject in England. It became impossible for her to
      descend from the perch, or to take her food as
      formerly, but the male was most assiduous in carrying
      it to her in his beak. He continued feeding her in
      this manner during four months, but the infirmities of
      his companion increased from day to day, so that at
      last she was unable to support herself on the perch.
      She remained cowering down in the bottom of the cage,
      making, from time to time, ineffectual efforts to
      regain the perch. The male was always near her, and
      with all his strength aided the feeble attempts of his
      dear better half. Seizing the poor invalid by the
      beak, or the upper part of the wing, he tried to raise
      her, and renewed his efforts several times.

      His constancy, his gestures, and his continued
      solicitude, all showed in this affectionate bird the
      most ardent desire to relieve the sufferings and
      assist the weakness of his companion.

      But the scene became still more interesting when the
      female was dying. Her unhappy spouse moved around her
      incessantly, his attention and tender cares redoubled.
      He even tried to open her beak to give some
      nourishment. He ran to her, then returned with a
      troubled and agitated look. At intervals he uttered
      the most plaintive cries; then, with his eyes fixed on
      her, kept a mournful silence. At length his companion
      breathed her last; from that moment he pined away, and
      died in the course of a few weeks.[154]

The jealousy of birds is proverbial; and that they also manifest the
kindred passion of emulation, no one can doubt who has heard them
singing against one another. Mr. Bold relates that a mule canary would
always sing at his own image in a mirror, becoming more and more
excited, till he ended by flying in rage against his supposed rival.

The late Lady Napier wrote me, among other 'anecdotes of a grey parrot
left on a long visit to the family of General Sir William Napier, at the
time residing in Germany,' the following graphic description of the
exultation displayed by the bird when it baffled the imitative powers of
its master. The bird was the same as that already mentioned under the
head of 'Memory':--

      Sometimes when only two or three were in the room, at
      quiet occupations instead of talking, she would utter
      at short intervals a series of strong squalls or cries
      in an interjectional style, each more strange and
      grotesque than the previous one. My father on these
      occasions sometimes amused himself by imitating these
      cries as she uttered them, which seemed to excite her
      ingenuity in the production of them to the uttermost.
      As a last resource she always had recourse to a very
      peculiar one, which completely baffled him; upon
      which, with a loud ha! ha! ha! she made a somersault
      round her perch, swinging with her head downwards,
      sprung from one part of the cage to another, and
      tossed a bit of wood she used as a toy over her head
      in the most exulting triumph, repeating at intervals
      the inimitable cry, followed by peals of ha! ha! ha!
      to the great amusement of all present.

Allied to emulation is resentment, of which the following, communicated
to me by a correspondent, may be taken as an example. If space permitted
I could give confirmatory cases:--

      One day the cat and the parrot had a quarrel. I think
      the cat had upset Polly's food, or something of that
      kind; however, they seemed all right again. An hour or
      so after, Polly was standing on the edge of the table;
      she called out in a tone of extreme affection, 'Puss,
      puss, come then--come then, pussy.' Pussy went and
      looked up innocently enough. Polly with her beak
      seized a basin of milk standing by, and tipped the
      basin and all its contents over the cat; then chuckled
      diabolically, of course broke the basin, and half
      drowned the cat.

Several strange but mutually corroborative stories seem to show
cherished vindictiveness on the part of storks. Thus, in Captain Brown's
book there occurs an account of a tame stork which lived in the college
yard at Tübingen,--

      And in a neighbouring house was a nest, in which other
      storks, that annually resorted to the place, used to
      hatch their eggs. At this nest, one day in autumn, a
      young collegian fired a shot, by which the stork that
      was sitting on it was probably wounded, for it did not
      fly out of the nest for some weeks afterwards. It was
      able, however, to take its departure at the usual time
      with the rest of the storks. But in the ensuing spring
      a strange stork was observed on the roof of the
      college, which, by clapping his wings and other
      gestures, seemed to invite the tame stork to come to
      him; but, as the tame one's wings were clipped, he was
      unable to accept the invitation. After some days the
      strange stork appeared again, and came down into the
      yard, when the tame one went out to meet him, clapping
      his wings as if to bid him welcome, but was suddenly
      attacked by the visitor with great fury. Some of the
      neighbours protected the tame bird, and drove off the
      assailant, but he returned several times afterwards,
      and incommoded the other through the whole summer. The
      next spring, instead of one stork only, four storks
      came together into the yard, and fell upon the tame
      one; when all the poultry present--cocks, hens, geese,
      and ducks--flocked at once to his assistance, and
      rescued him from his enemies. In consequence of this
      serious attack, the people of the house took
      precaution for the tame stork's security, and he was
      no more molested that year. But in the beginning of
      the third spring came upwards of twenty storks, which
      rushed at once into the yard and killed the tame stork
      before either man or any other animal could afford him

      A similar occurrence took place on the premises of a
      farmer near Hamburg, who kept a tame stork, and,
      having caught another, thought to make it a companion
      for the one in his possession. But the two were no
      sooner brought together than the tame one fell upon
      the other, and beat him so severely that he made his
      escape from the place. About four months afterwards,
      however, the defeated stork returned with three
      others, who all made a combined attack upon the tame
      one and killed him.[155]

The curiosity of birds is highly developed, so much so, indeed, that in
this and other countries it is played upon by sportsmen and trappers.
Unfamiliar objects being placed within sight, say, of ducks, the birds
approach to examine them, and fall into the snares which have been
prepared. Similarly, in oceanic islands unfrequented by man, the birds
fearlessly approach to examine the first human beings that they have

That birds exhibit pride might be considered doubtful if we had to rely
only on the evidence supplied by the display of the peacock, and the
strutting of the turkey-gobbler; for these actions, although so
expressive of this emotion, may not really be due to it. But I think
that the evident pleasure which is taken in achievement by talking birds
can only be ascribed to the emotion in question. These birds regularly
practise their art, and when a new phrase is perfected they show an
unmistakable delight in displaying the result.

Play is exhibited by many species in various ways, and it seems to be
this class of feelings in their most organised form which have led to
the extraordinary instincts of the bower-birds of New South Wales. The
'playhouses' of the animals have been described by Mr. Gould in his
'History of the Birds of New South Wales.' Of course the play-instincts
are here united with those of courtship, which are of such general
occurrence among birds; but I think no one can read Mr. Gould's
description of the bowers and the uses to which they are put without
feeling that the love of sportive play must have been joined with the
sexual instincts in producing the result. But, be this as it may, there
can be no question that these bowers are highly interesting structures,
as furnishing the most unexceptionable evidence of true æsthetic, if not
artistic feeling, on the part of the bird which constructs them; and,
according to Mr. Herbert Spencer, the artistic feelings are
physiologically allied with those of play. It is a matter of importance
to obtain definite proof of an æsthetic sense in animals, because this
constitutes the basis of Mr. Darwin's theory of sexual selection; but as
he has treated the evidence on this subject in so exhaustive a manner, I
shall not enter upon so wide a field further than to point out that the
case of the bower-bird, even if it stood alone, would be amply
sufficient to carry the general conclusion that some animals exhibit
emotions of the beautiful. The following is Mr. Gould's description, _in
extenso_, of the habits of the bird in question:--

      The extraordinary bower-like structure, alluded to in
      my remarks on the genus, first came under my notice in
      the Sydney Museum, to which an example had been
      presented by Charles Cox, Esq. . . . On visiting the
      cedar bushes of the Liverpool range, I discovered
      several of these bowers or playing-houses on the
      ground, under the shelter of the branches of the
      overhanging trees, in the most retired part of the
      forest; they differed considerably in size, some being
      a third larger than others. The base consists of an
      extensive and rather convex platform of sticks firmly
      interwoven, on the centre of which the bower itself is
      built. This, like the platform on which it is placed,
      and with which it is interwoven, is formed of sticks
      and twigs, but of a more slender and flexible
      description, the tips of the twigs being so arranged
      as to curve inwards and nearly meet at the top; in the
      interior the materials are so placed that the forks of
      the twigs are always presented outwards, by which
      arrangement not the slightest obstruction is offered
      to the passage of the birds. The interest of this
      curious bower is much enhanced by the manner in which
      it is decorated with the most gaily coloured articles
      that can be collected, such as the blue tail-feathers
      of the Rose-hill and Pennantian parakeets, bleached
      bones and shells of snails, &c.; some of the feathers
      are inserted among the twigs, while others with the
      bones and shells are strewed near the entrances. The
      propensity of these birds to fly off with any
      attractive object is so well known to the natives that
      they always search the runs for any small missing
      article that may have been accidentally dropped in the
      bush. I myself found at the entrance of one of them a
      small neatly worked stone tomahawk of an inch and a
      half in length, together with some slips of blue
      cotton rag, which the birds had doubtless picked up at
      a deserted encampment of the natives.

It has now been clearly ascertained that these curious bowers are merely
sporting-places in which the sexes meet, when the males display their
finery, and exhibit many remarkable actions; and so inherent is this
habit, that the living examples, which have been from time to time sent
to this country, continue it even in captivity.[156] Those belonging to
the Zoological Society have constructed their bowers, decorated and
kept them in repair, for several years. In a letter from the late Mr. F.
Strange, it is said:--

      My aviary is now tenanted by a pair of satin-birds,
      which for the last two months have been constantly
      engaged in constructing bowers. Both sexes assist in
      their erection, but the male is the principal workman.
      At times the male will chase the female all over the
      aviary, then go to the bower, pick up a gay feather or
      a large leaf, utter a curious kind of note, set all
      his feathers erect, run round the bower, and become so
      excited that his eyes appear ready to start from his
      head, and he continues opening first one wing and then
      another, uttering a low whistling note, and, like the
      domestic cock, seems to be picking up something from
      the ground, until at last the female goes gently
      towards him, when after two turns round her, he
      suddenly makes a dash, and the scene ends.[157]

I have said that if this case stood alone it would constitute ample
evidence that some animals possess emotions of the beautiful. But the
case does not stand alone. Certain humming-birds, according to Mr.
Gould, decorate the outsides of their nests 'with the utmost taste; they
instinctively fasten thereon beautiful pieces of flat lichen, the larger
pieces in the middle, and the smaller on the part attached to the
branch. Now and then a pretty feather is intertwined or fastened to the
outer sides, the stem being always so placed that the feather stands out
beyond the surface.' Several other instances might be rendered of the
display of artistic feeling in the architecture of birds; and, as Mr.
Darwin so elaborately shows, there can scarcely be question that these
animals take emotional pleasure in surveying beautiful plumage in the
opposite sex, looking to the careful manner in which the males of many
species display their fine colours to the females. Doubtless the
evidence of æsthetic feeling is much stronger in the case of birds than
it is in that of any other class; but if this feeling is accepted as a
sufficient cause, through sexual selection, of natural decoration in the
members of this class, we are justified in attributing to sexual
selection, and so to æsthetic feeling, natural decoration in other
classes, at least as low down in the scale as the Articulata. But, as I
have said, Mr. Darwin has dealt with this whole subject in so exhaustive
a manner that it is needless for me to enter upon it further than to say
in general terms, that whatever we may think of his theory of sexual
selection, his researches have unquestionably proved the existence of an
æsthetic sense in animals.

The same fact appears to be shown in another way by the fondness of
song-birds for the music of their mates. There can be no doubt that male
birds charm their females with their strains, and that this, in fact, is
the reason why song in birds has become developed. Of course it may be
said that the vocal utterances of birds are not always, or even
generally, musical; but this does not affect the fact that birds find
some æsthetic pleasure in the sounds which they emit; it only shows that
the standard of æsthetic taste differs in different species of birds as
it does in different races of men. Moreover, the pleasure which birds
manifest in musical sounds is not always restricted to the sounds which
they themselves produce. Parrots seem certainly to take delight in
hearing a piano play or a girl sing; and the following instance,
published by the musician John Lockman, reveals in a remarkable manner
the power of distinguishing a particular air, and of preferring it above
others. He was staying at the house of a Mr. Lee in Cheshire, whose
daughter used to play; and whenever she played the air of 'Speri si'
from Handel's opera of 'Admetus,' a pigeon would descend from an
adjacent dovecot to the window of the room where she sat, 'and listen to
the air apparently with the most pleasing emotions,' always returning to
the dovecot immediately the air was finished. But it was only this one
air that would induce the bird to behave in this way.[158]

_Special Habits._

Under this heading we shall have a number of facts to consider, which
are more or less of a disconnected character.

Taking first those special habits connected with the procuring of food,
we may notice the instinct manifested by blackbirds and thrushes of
conveying snails to considerable distances in order to hammer and break
their shells against what may happen to be the nearest stone,[159] and the
still more clever though somewhat analogous instinct exhibited by
certain gulls and crows of flying with shell-fish to a considerable
height and letting them fall upon stones for the purpose of smashing
their shells.[160] Both these instincts manifest a high degree of
intelligence, either on the part of the birds themselves, or on that of
their ancestors; for neither of these instincts can be regarded as due
to originally accidental adjustments favoured and improved by natural
selection; they must at least originally have been intelligent actions
purposely designed to secure the ends attained.

An interesting instinct is that of piracy, which in the animal kingdom
reaches its highest or most systematic development among the birds. It
is easy to see how it may be of more advantage to a species of strong
bird that its members should become parasitic on the labours of other
species than that they should forage for themselves, and so there is no
difficulty in understanding the development of the plundering instinct
by natural selection. We find all stages of this development among the
sea-birds. Thus the gulls, although usually self-foragers, will, as I
have often observed, congregate in enormous numbers where the guillemots
have found a shoal of fish. Resting on or flying over the surface of
the water, the gulls wait till a guillemot comes to the surface with a
fish, and then wrest the latter from the beak of the former. In the
robber-tern this instinct has proceeded further, so that the animal
gains its subsistence entirely by plunder of other terns. I have often
observed this process, and it is interesting that the common tern well
knows the appearance of the robber; for no sooner does a robber-tern
come up than the greatest consternation is excited among a flock of
common terns, these flying about and screaming in a frantic manner. The
white-headed eagle has also developed the plundering instinct in great
perfection, as is shown by the following graphic account of Audubon:--

      During spring and summer, the white-headed eagle, to
      procure sustenance, follows a different course, and
      one much less suited to a bird apparently so well able
      to supply itself without interfering with other
      plunderers. No sooner does the first hawk make its
      appearance along the Atlantic shore, or around the
      numerous and large rivers, than the eagle follows it,
      and, like a selfish oppressor, robs it of the
      hard-earned fruits of its labour. Perched on some tall
      summit, in view of the ocean or of some watercourse,
      he watches every motion of the osprey while on the
      wing. When the latter rises from the water, with a
      fish in its grasp, forth rushes the eagle in pursuit.
      He mounts above the fish-hawk, and threatens it by
      actions well understood; when the latter, fearing
      perhaps that its life is in danger, drops its prey. In
      an instant the eagle, accurately estimating the rapid
      descent of the fish, closes its wings, follows it with
      the swiftness of thought, and the next moment grasps
      it. The prize is carried off in silence to the woods,
      and assists in feeding the ever-hungry brood of the

The frigate pelican is likewise a professional thief, and attacks the
boobies not only to make them drop the fish which they have newly
caught, but also to disgorge those which are actually in their stomachs.
The latter process is effected by strong punishment, which they continue
until the unfortunate booby yields up its dinner. The punishment
consists in stabbing the victim with its powerful beak. Catesby and
Dampier have both observed and described these habits, and it seems from
their account that the plunderer may either commit highway robbery in
the air, or lie in wait for the boobies as they return to rest.

In antithesis to this habit of plundering other birds I may quote the
following from 'Nature' (July 20, 1871), to show that the instinct of
provident labour, so common among insects and rodents, is not altogether
unrepresented in birds:--

      The ant-eating woodpecker (_Melanerpes formicivorus_),
      a common Californian species, has the curious and
      peculiar habit of laying up provision against the
      inclement season. Small round holes are dug in the
      bark of the pine and oak, into each of which is
      inserted an acorn, and so tightly is it fitted or
      driven in, that it is with difficulty extricated. The
      bark of the pine trees, when thus filled, presents at
      a short distance the appearance of being studded with

The following may also be quoted:--

      It is the nature of this bird (guillemot), as well as
      of most of those birds which habitually dive to take
      their prey, to perform all their evolutions under
      water with the aid of their wings; but instead of
      dashing at once into the midst of the terrified group
      of small prey, by which only a few would be captured,
      it passes round and round them, and so drives them
      into a heap; and thus has an opportunity of snatching
      here one and there another as it finds it convenient
      to swallow them; and if any one pushes out to escape,
      it falls the first prey of the devourer. The manner in
      which this bird removes the egg of a gull or hen to
      some secure place to be devoured, when compared with
      that in which a like conveyance is made by the parent
      for the safety of its future progeny, affords a
      striking manifestation of the difference between
      appetite and affection. When influenced by affection,
      the brittle treasure is removed without flaw or
      fracture, and is replaced with tender care; but the
      plunderer at once plunges his bill into its substance,
      and carries it off on its point.[161]

Speaking of the feeding habits of the lapwing, Jesse says:--

      When the lapwing wants to procure food, it seeks for a
      worm's cast, and stamps the ground by the side of it
      with its feet. After doing this for a short time, the
      bird waits for the issue of the worm from its hole,
      which, alarmed at the shaking of the ground,
      endeavours to make its escape, when it is immediately
      seized, and becomes the prey of the ingenious bird.
      The lapwing also frequents the haunts of moles, which,
      when in pursuit of worms on which they feed, frighten
      them, and the worm, in attempting to escape, comes to
      the surface of the ground, when it is seized by the


      A lady of Dr. E. Darwin's acquaintance saw a little
      bird repeatedly hop on a poppy stem, and shake the
      head with his bill, till many seeds were scattered,
      when it settled on the ground and picked up the

It is a matter of common remark that in countries where vultures abound,
these birds rapidly 'gather together where the carcass is,' although
before the death of their prey no bird was to be seen in the sky. The
question has always been asked whether the vultures are guided to the
carcass by their sense of smell or by that of sight; but this question
is really no longer an open one. When Mr. Darwin was at Valparaiso he
tried the following experiment. Having tied a number of condors in a
long row, and having folded up a piece of meat in paper, he walked
backwards and forwards in front of the row, carrying the meat at a
distance of three yards from them, 'but no notice whatever was taken.'
He then threw the meat upon the ground, within one yard of an old male
bird; 'he looked at it for a moment with attention, but then regarded it
no more.' With a stick he next pushed the meat right under the beak of
the bird. Then for the first time the bird smelled it, and tore open the
paper 'with fury, and at the same moment every bird in the long row
began struggling and flapping its wings.'[164] Thus there can be no doubt
that vultures do not depend on their sense of smell for finding carrion
at a distance. Nor is it mysterious why they should find it by their
sense of sight. If over an area of many square miles there are a number
of vultures flying as they do at a very high elevation, and if one of
the number perceives a carcass and begins to descend, the next adjacent
vultures would see the descent of the first one, and follow him as a
guide, while the next in the series would follow these in the same way,
and so on.

Coming now to special instincts relating to incubation and the care of
offspring, a correspondent writes:--

      Last spring I had a pair of canaries, in an ordinary
      breeding cage (with two small boxes for nests in a
      compartment at one end). In due course the first egg
      was laid, which I inspected through the little door
      made for that purpose. The next day I looked again;
      still only one egg, and so for four or five days. It
      being evident, from the appearance of the hen, that
      there were more eggs coming, and as she seemed in good
      health, I supposed she might have broken some; and I
      took out the box, and examined it carefully for the
      shells (but without pulling the nest to pieces), and
      found nothing, until towards the beginning of another
      week I went to take the one egg away, as the hen
      seemed preparing to sit upon it. There were two eggs!
      The next morning, to my surprise, she was sitting upon
      six eggs! She must therefore have buried four of them
      in the four corners of the box, and so deep that I had
      been unable to find them. At first I thought that she
      had done so merely from dislike at their being looked
      at, but on reflection it has occurred to me that she
      did it that all might be hatched at the same time (as
      they subsequently were); for she was perfectly tame,
      and would almost suffer herself to be handled when on
      her nest. Wild birds never seem to conceal their eggs
      before sitting; but then (having more amusements than
      cage birds) they do not revisit their eggs after
      laying, until they have laid their number, whereas a
      caged bird, having nothing to divert her attention
      from her nest, often sits on it the greater part of
      the day.

I am not aware that this curious display of forethought on the part of a
caged bird has been hitherto recorded, and seeing, as my correspondent
points out, that it has reference to the changed conditions of life
brought about by domestication, it may be said to constitute the first
step in the development of a new instinct, which, if the conditions were
of sufficiently long continuance, might lead to an important and
permanent change of the ancestral instinct.

I have several interesting facts, also communicated to me by
correspondents, similarly relating to individual variations of the
ancestral instinct of incubation in order to meet the requirements of a
novel environment. Thus Mr. J. F. Fisher tells me that while he was a
commander in the East India trade he always took a quantity of fowls to
sea for food. The laying-boxes being in a confined space, the hens used
to quarrel over their occupancy; and one of the hens adopted the habit
of removing the 'nest-eggs' which Mr. Fisher placed in one of the boxes
to another box of the same kind not very far away. He watched the
process through a chink of a door, and 'saw her curl her neck round the
egg, thus forming a cup by which she lifted the egg,' and conveyed it to
the other box. He adds:--

      I can give no information as to the more recondite
      question _why_ the egg was removed, or the fastidious
      preference of the one box over the other, or the
      inventive faculty that suggested the neck as a
      makeshift hand; but from the despatch with which she
      effected the removal of the egg in the case I saw, I
      have no doubt that this hen was the one which had
      performed the feat so often before.

The explanation of the preference shown for the one box over the other
may, I think, be gathered from another part of my correspondent's
letter, for he there mentions incidentally that the box in which he
placed the nest-egg, and from which the hen removed it, was standing
near a door which was usually open, and thus situated in a more exposed
position than the other box. But be this as it may, considering that
among domestic fowls the habit of conveying eggs is not usual, such
isolated cases are interesting as showing how instincts may originate.
Jesse gives an exactly similar case ('Gleanings,' vol. i., p. 149) of
the Cape goose, which removed eggs from a nest attacked by rats, and
another case of a wild duck doing the same.

In the same connection, and with the same remarks, I may quote the
following case in which a fowl adopted the habit of conveying, not her
eggs, but her young chickens. I quote it from Houzeau ('Journ.,' i., p.
332), who gives the observation on the authority of his brother as
eye-witness. The fowl had found good feeding-ground on the further side
of a stream four metres wide. She adopted the habit of flying across
with her chickens upon her back, taking one chicken on each journey. She
thus transferred her whole brood every morning, and brought them back in
a similar way to their nest every evening. The habit of carrying young
in this way is not natural to Grallinaceæ, and therefore this particular
instance of its display can only be set down as an intelligent
adjustment by a particular bird.

Similarly, a correspondent (Mr. J. Street) informs me of a case in which
a pair of blackbirds, after having been disturbed by his gardener
looking into their nest at their young, removed the latter to a distance
of twenty yards, and deposited them in a more concealed place.
Partridges are well known to do this, and similarly, according to
Audubon, the goatsucker, when its nest is disturbed, removes its eggs to
another place, the male and female both transporting eggs in their

Still more curiously, a case is recorded in 'Comptes Rendu' (1836) of a
pair of nightingales whose nest was threatened by a flood, and who
transported it to a safe place, the male and the female bearing the nest
between them.

Now, it is easy to see that if any particular bird is intelligent
enough, as in the cases quoted, to perform this adjustive action of
conveying young--whether to feeding-grounds, as in the case of the hen,
or from sources of danger, as in the case of partridges, blackbirds, and
goatsuckers--inheritance and natural selection might develop the
originally intelligent adjustment into an instinct common to the
species. And it so happens that this has actually occurred in at least
two species of birds--viz., the woodcock and wild duck, both of which
have been repeatedly observed to fly with their young upon their backs
to and from their feeding-ground.

Couch gives some facts of interest relating to the mode of escape
practised by the water-rail, swan, and some other aquatic birds. This
consists in sinking under water, with only the bill remaining above the
surface for respiration. When the swan has young, she may sink the head
quite under water in order to allow the young to mount on it, and so be
carried through even rapid currents.

The same author remarks that--

      Many birds will carefully remove the meetings of the
      young from the neighbourhood of their nests, in order
      not to attract the attention of enemies; for while we
      find that birds which make no secret of their
      nesting-places are careless in such matters, the
      woodpecker and the marsh tit in particular are at
      pains to remove even the chips which are made in
      excavating the cavities where the nests are placed,
      and which might lead an observer to the sacred spot.

Similarly, Jesse observes:--

      The excrement of the young of many birds who build
      their nests without any pretensions to concealment,
      such as the swallow, crow, &c., may at all times be
      observed about or under the nest; while that of some
      of those birds whose nests are more industriously
      concealed is conveyed away in the mouths of the parent
      birds, who generally drop it at a distance of twenty
      or thirty yards from the nest. Were it not for this
      precaution, the excrement itself, from its
      accumulation, and commonly from its very colour, would
      point out the place where the young were concealed.
      When the young birds are ready to fly, or nearly so,
      the old birds do not consider it any longer necessary
      to remove the excrement.

Sir H. Davy gives an account of a pair of eagles which he saw on Ben
Nevis teaching their young ones to fly; and every one must have observed
the same thing among commoner species of birds. The experiments of
Spalding, however, have shown that flying is an instinctive faculty; so
that when he reared swallows from the nest and liberated them only after
they were fully fledged, they flew well immediately on being liberated.
Therefore, the 'teaching to fly' by parent birds must be regarded as
mere encouragement to develop instinctive powers, which in virtue of
this encouragement are probably developed sooner than would otherwise be
the case.

A few observations may here be offered on some habits which do not fall
under any particular heading.

The habit which many small birds display of mobbing carnivorous ones is
probably due to a desire to drive off the enemy, and perhaps also to
warn friends by the hubbub. It may therefore perhaps be regarded as a
display of concerted action, of which, however, we shall have better
evidence further on. I have seen a flock of common terns mob a pirate
tern, which shows that this combined action may be directed as much
against robbery as against murder. Couch says he has seen blackbirds
mobbing a cat which was concealed in a bush, and here the motive would
seem to be that of warning friends rather than that of driving away the

I have observed among the sea-gulls at the Zoological Gardens a curious
habit, or mode of challenge. This consists in ostentatiously picking up
a small twig or piece of wood, and throwing it down before the bird
challenged, in the way that a glove used to be thrown down by the old
knights. I observed this action performed repeatedly by several
individuals of the glaucous and black-back species in the early
spring-time of the year, and so it probably has some remote connection
with the instinct of nest-building.


In connection with the habits and instincts peculiar to certain species
of birds, I may give a short account of the more remarkable kinds of
nidification that are met with in this class of animals. As the account
must necessarily be brief, I shall only mention the more interesting of
the usual types.

Petrels and puffins make their nests in burrows which they excavate in
the earth. The great sulphur mountain in Guadaloupe is described by
Wasser as 'all bored like a rabbit warren with the holes that these imps
(_i.e._ petrels) excavate.' In the case of the puffin it is the male
that does the work of burrowing. He throws himself upon his back in the
tunnel which he has made, and digs it longer and longer with his broad
bill, while casting out the mould with his webbed feet. The burrow when
finished has several twists and turns in it, and is about ten feet deep.
If a rabbit burrow is available, the puffin saves himself the trouble of
digging by taking possession of the one already made. The kingfisher and
land-martin also make their nests in burrows.

Certain auks lay their single egg on the bare rock while the stone
curlew and goatsucker deposit theirs on the bare soil, returning,
however, year after year to the same spot. Ostriches scrape holes in the
sand to serve as extemporised nests for their eggs promiscuously
dropped, which are then buried by a light coating of sand, and incubated
during the day by the sunbeams, and at night by the male bird. Sometimes
a number of female ostriches deposit their eggs in a common nest, and
then take the duty of incubation by turns. Similarly, gulls, sandpipers,
plovers, &c., place their eggs in shallow pits hollowed out of the soil.
The kingfisher makes a bed of undigested fish-bones ejected as pellets
from her stomach, and 'some of the swifts secrete from their salivary
glands a fluid which rapidly hardens as it dries on exposure to the air
into a substance resembling isinglass, and thus furnish the "edible
birds' nests" that are the delight of the Chinese epicures.'[166]

The house-martin builds its nest of clay, which it sticks upon the face
of a wall, and renders more tenacious by working into it little bits of
straw, splinters of wood, &c. According to Mr. Gilbert White:--

      That this work may not, while it is soft and green,
      pull itself down by its own weight, the provident
      architect has prudence and forbearance enough not to
      advance her work too fast; but by building only in the
      morning, and by dedicating the rest of the day to food
      and amusement, gives it sufficient time to dry and
      harden. About half an inch seems a sufficient layer
      for a day. Thus careful workmen, when they build mud
      walls (informed at first perhaps by these little
      birds), raise but a moderate layer at a time, and then
      desist, lest the work should become top-heavy, and
      ruined by its own weight. By this method, in about ten
      or twelve days is formed a hemispheric nest, with a
      small aperture towards the top, strong, compact, and
      warm, and perfectly fitted for all the purposes for
      which it was intended.

Other birds build in wood. The tomtit and the woodpecker excavate a hole
in a tree, and carefully carry away the chips, so as not to give any
indication of the whereabouts of their nests. Wilson says that the
American woodpecker makes an excavation five feet in depth, of a
tortuous form, to keep out wind and rain.

The orchard starling suspends its nest from the branches of a tree, and
uses for its material tough kinds of grass, the blades of which it
weaves together. Wilson found one of these blades to be thirteen inches
long, and to be woven in and out thirty-four times.

We may next notice the weaver (_Ploceus textor_) and tailor (_Prinia_,
_Orthotomus_, and _Sylvia_). The former intertwines slender leaves of
grass so as to produce a web sufficiently substantial for the protection
of its young. The tailor-birds sew together leaves wherewith to make
their nests, using for the purpose cotton and thread where they can find
it, and natural vegetable fibres where they cannot obtain artificial.
Colonel Sykes says that he has found the threads thus used for sewing
knotted at the ends.[167]

Forbes saw the tailor-bird of the East Indies constructing its nest, and
observed it to choose a plant with large leaves, gather cotton which it
regularly spun into a thread by means of its bill and claws, and then
sew the leaves together, using its beak as a needle, or rather awl.

This instinct is rendered particularly interesting to evolutionists from
the fact that it is exhibited by three distinct genera. For, as the
instinct is so peculiar and unique, it is not likely to have originated
independently in the three genera, but must be regarded as almost
certainly derived from a common ancestral type--thus showing that an
instinct may be perpetuated unaltered after the differentiation of
structure has proceeded beyond a specific distinction. The genus
_Sylvia_ inhabits Italy, the other two inhabit India. _Sylvia_ uses for
thread spiders' web collected from the egg-pouches, which is stitched
through holes made in the edges of leaves, presumably with the beak.

The baya bird of India 'hangs its pendulous dwelling from a projecting
bough, twisting it with grass into a form somewhat resembling a bottle
with a prolonged neck, the entrance being inverted, so as to baffle the
approaches of its enemies, the tree snakes and other reptiles.'

Sir E. Tennent, from whom this account is taken, adds:--

      The natives assert that the male bird carries
      fire-flies to the nest, and fastens them to its sides
      by particles of soft mud. Mr. Layard assures me that
      although he has never succeeded in finding the
      fire-fly, the nest of the male bird (for the female
      occupies another during incubation) invariably
      contains a patch of mud on each side of the perch.

Dr. Buchanan confirms the report of the natives here alluded to, and

      At night each of the habitations is lighted up by a
      fire-fly stuck on the top with a bit of clay. The nest
      consists of two rooms; sometimes there are three or
      four fire-flies, and their blaze in the little cells
      dazzles the eyes of the bats, which often kill the
      young of these birds.

While this work is passing through the press I meet with the following,
which appears to refer to some independent, and therefore corroborative
observation concerning the above-stated fact, and in any case is worth
adding, on account of the observation concerning the rats, which, if
trustworthy, would furnish a sufficient reason for the instinct of the
birds. The extract is taken from a letter to 'Nature' (xxiv., p. 165),
published by Mr. H. A. Severn:

      I have been informed on safe authority that the Indian
      bottle-bird protects his nest at night by sticking
      several of these glow-beetles around the entrance by
      means of clay; and only a few days back an intimate
      friend of my own was watching three rats on a roof
      rafter of his bungalow when a glow-fly lodged very
      close to them; the rats immediately scampered off.

The Talegallus of Australia is, in the opinion of Gould,--

      Among the most important of the ornithological
      novelties which the exploration of Western and
      Southern Australia has unfolded to us, and this from
      the circumstance of its not hatching its own eggs,
      which, instead of being incubated in the usual way,
      are deposited in mounds of mixed sand and herbage, and
      there left for the heating of the mass to develop the
      young, which, when accomplished, force their way
      through the sides of the mound, and commence an active
      life from the moment they see the light of day.[168]

Sir George Grey measured one of these mounds, and found it to be
'forty-five feet in circumference, and if rounded in proportion on the
top (it being at the time unfinished) would have been full five feet
high.' The heat round the eggs was taken to be 89°.

A curious aberration of the nest-building instinct is sometimes shown by
certain birds--particularly the common wren--which consists in building
a supernumerary nest. That is to say, after one nest is completed,
another is begun and finished before the eggs are laid, and the first
nest is not used, though sometimes it is used in preference to the

As showing at once the eccentricity which birds sometimes display in the
choice of a site, and also the determination of certain birds to return
to the same site in successive years, I may allude to the case published
by Bingley, of a pair of swallows which built their nest upon the wings
and body of a dead owl, which was hanging from the rafters of a barn,
and so loosely as to sway about with every gust of wind. The owl with
the nest upon it was placed as a curiosity in the museum of Sir Ashton
Lever, and he directed that a shell should be hung upon the rafters in
the place which had been previously occupied by the dead owl. Next year
the swallows returned and constructed their new nest in the cavity of
the shell.[169]

The following is quoted from Thompson's 'Passions of Animals,' p. 205:--

      The sociable grosbeak of Africa is one of the few
      instances of birds living in community and uniting in
      constructing one huge nest for the whole society. L.
      Valiant's account has been fully confirmed by other
      travellers. He says: 'I observed on the way a tree
      with an enormous nest of these birds, which I have
      called republicans; and as soon as I arrived at my
      camp I despatched a few men with a waggon to bring it
      to me, that I might open and examine the hive. When it
      arrived, I cut it in pieces with a hatchet, and saw
      that the chief portion of the structure consisted of a
      mass of Boshman's grass, without any mixture, but so
      compact and firmly basketed together as to be
      impenetrable to the rain. This is the commencement of
      the structure, and each bird builds its particular
      nest under this canopy. But the nests are formed only
      beneath the eaves, the upper surface remaining void,
      without, however, being useless; for as it has a
      projecting rim, and is a little inclined, it serves to
      let the water run off, and preserves each little
      dwelling from the rain. Figure to yourself a huge
      irregular sloping roof, all the eaves of which are
      covered with nests, crowded one against another, and
      you will have a tolerably accurate idea of these
      singular edifices. Each individual nest is three or
      four inches in diameter, which is sufficient for the
      bird; but, as they are all in contact with one another
      around the eaves, they appear to the eye to form but
      one building, and are distinguishable from each other
      only by a little external aperture which serves as an
      entrance to the nest; and even this is sometimes
      common to three different nests, one of which is
      situated at the bottom and the other two at the sides.
      This large nest, which was one of the most
      considerable I had anywhere seen in the course of my
      journey, contained 320 inhabited cells, which,
      supposing a male and female to each, would form a
      society of 640 individuals; but as these birds are
      polygamous, such a calculation would not be exact.'

The following is quoted from Couch ('Illustrations of Instinct,' p. 227
_et seq._):--

      Mr. Waterton says there is a peculiarity in the
      nidification of the domestic swan too singular to be
      passed over without notice. At the time it lays its
      first egg the nest which it has prepared is of very
      moderate size; but as incubation proceeds we see it
      increase vastly in height and breadth. Every soft
      material, such as pieces of grass and fragments of
      sedges, is laid hold of by the sitting swan as they
      float within her reach, and are added to the nest.
      This work of accumulation is performed by her during
      the entire period of incubation, be the weather wet or
      dry, settled or unsettled; and it is perfectly
      astonishing to see with what assiduity she plies her
      work of aggrandisement to a nest already sufficient
      in strength and size to answer every end. My swans
      generally form their nest on an island quite above the
      reach of a flood; and still the sitting bird never
      appears satisfied with the quantity of materials which
      are provided for her nest. I once gave her two huge
      bundles of oaten straw, and she performed her work of
      apparent supererogation by applying the whole of it to
      her nest, already very large, and not exposed to
      destruction had the weather become ever so rainy.

This same author continues:--

      It is probable that this disposition to accumulation,
      in its general bearing, has reference to heat rather
      than the flood; but that the wild swan has a foresight
      regarding danger, and a quick perception as to the
      means of securing safety, appears from an instance
      mentioned by Captain Parry, in his Northern voyage.
      When everything was deeply involved in ice, the
      voyagers were obliged to pay much attention to discern
      whether they were travelling over water or land; but
      some birds, which formed their nest at no great
      distance from the ships, were under no mistake in so
      important a matter; and when the thaw took place it
      was seen that the nest was situated on an island in
      the lake.

The following cases are likewise taken from Couch (_loc. cit._, p.

      This swan was eighteen or nineteen years old, had
      brought up many broods, and was highly valued by the
      neighbours. She exhibited, some eight or nine years
      past, one of the most remarkable powers of instinct
      ever recorded. She was sitting on four or five eggs,
      and was observed to be very busy in collecting weeds,
      grasses, &c., to raise her nest; a farming man was
      ordered to take down half a load of haulm, with which
      she most industriously raised her nest and the eggs
      two feet and a half; that very night there came down a
      tremendous fall of rain, which flooded all the
      malt-shops and did great damage. Man made no
      preparation, the bird did; instinct prevailed over
      reason. Her eggs were above, and only just above, the

      During the early part of the summer of 1835, a pair of
      water-hens built their nest by the margin of the
      ornamental pond at Bell's Hill, a piece of water of
      considerable extent, and ordinarily fed by a spring
      from the height above, but into which the contents of
      another large pond can occasionally be admitted. This
      was done while the female was sitting; and as the nest
      had been built when the water level stood low, the
      sudden influx of this large body of water from the
      second pond caused a rise of several inches, so as to
      threaten the speedy immersion and consequent
      destruction of the eggs. This the birds seem to have
      been aware of, and immediately took precautions
      against so imminent a danger; for when the gardener,
      upon whose veracity I can safely rely, seeing the
      sudden rise of the water, went to look after the nest,
      expecting to find it covered and the eggs destroyed,
      or at least forsaken by the hen, he observed, whilst
      at a distance, both birds busily engaged about the
      brink where the nest was placed; and when near enough
      he clearly perceived that they were adding, with all
      possible despatch, fresh materials to raise the fabric
      beyond the level of the increased contents of the
      pond; and that the eggs had by some means been removed
      from the nest by the birds, and were then deposited
      upon the grass about a foot or more from the margin of
      the water. He watched them for some time, and saw the
      nest rapidly increase in height; but I regret to add
      that he did not remain long enough, fearing he might
      create alarm, to witness the interesting act of
      replacing the eggs which must have been effected
      shortly after; for, upon his return in less than an
      hour, he found the hen quietly sitting upon them in
      the newly raised nest. In a few days afterwards the
      young were hatched, and, as usual, soon quitted the
      nest and took to the water with their parents. The
      nest was shown to me _in situ_ shortly after, and I
      could then plainly discern the formation of the new
      with the older part of the fabric.

We must not conclude these remarks on nidification without alluding to
Mr. Wallace's chapters on the 'Philosophy of Birds' Nests,' in his work
on 'Natural Selection.' This writer is inclined to suppose that birds do
not build their nests distinctive of their various species by the
teachings of hereditary instinct, but by the young birds intelligently
observing the construction of the nests in which they are hatched, and
purposely imitating this construction when in the following season they
have occasion to build nests of their own. With reference to this theory
it is only needful to say that it is antecedently improbable, and not
well substantiated by facts. It is antecedently improbable because, when
any habit has been continued for a number of generations--especially
when the habit is of a peculiar and detailed character--the probability
is that it has become instinctive; we should have almost as much reason
to anticipate that the nest of the little crustacean _Podocerus_, or the
cell of the hive-bee, is constructed by a process of conscious
imitation, as that this is the case with the nests of birds. And this
theory is not well substantiated by facts because, if the theory were
true, we should expect considerable differences to be usually presented
by nests of the same species. Unless the construction of the nest of any
given species were regulated by a common instinct, numberless
idiosyncratic peculiarities would necessarily require to arise, and
there would only be a very general uniformity of type presented by the
nests of the same species.

A more valuable contribution to the 'Philosophy of Birds' Nests' is
furnished by this able naturalist when he directs attention to a certain
general correlation between the form of the nest and the colour of the
female. For, on reviewing the birds of the world, he certainly makes
good the proposition that, as a general rule, liable however to frequent
exceptions, dull-coloured females sit on open nests, while those that
are conspicuously coloured sit in domed nests. But Mr. Darwin, in a
careful review of all the evidence, clearly shows that this interesting
fact is to be attributed, not, as Mr. Wallace supposed, to the colour of
the female having been determined through natural selection by the form
of the nest, but to the reverse process of the form of the nest having
been determined by the colour of the female.[170]

Another general fact of interest connected with nidification must not be
omitted. This is that the instincts of nidification, although not so
variable as the theory of Mr. Wallace would require, are nevertheless
highly plastic. The falcon, which usually builds on a cliff, has been
known to lay its eggs on the ground in a marsh; the golden eagle
sometimes builds in trees or on the ground, while the heron varies its
site between trees, cliffs, and open fen.[171] Again, Audubon, in his
'Ornithological Biography,' gives many cases of conspicuous local
variations in the nests of the same species in the northern and
southern United States; and, as Mr. Wallace truly observes,--

      Many facts have already been given which show that
      birds do adapt their nests to the situations in which
      they place them; and the adoption of eaves, chimneys,
      and boxes by swallows, wrens, and many other birds,
      shows that they are always ready to take advantage of
      changed conditions. It is probable, therefore, that a
      permanent change of climate would cause many birds to
      modify the form or materials of their abode, so as
      better to protect their young.[172]

In America the change of habits in this respect undergone by the
house-swallow has been accomplished within the last three hundred years.

Closely connected, if not identical, with this fact is another, namely,
that in some species which have been watched closely for a sufficient
length of time, a steady improvement in the construction of nests has
been observed. Thus C. G. Leroy, who filled the post of Ranger of
Versailles about a century ago, and therefore had abundant opportunities
of studying the habits of animals, wrote an essay on 'The Intelligence
and Perfectibility of Animals from a Philosophical Point of View.' In
this essay he has anticipated the American observer Wilson in noticing
that the nests of young birds are distinctly inferior to those of older
ones, both as regards their situation and construction. As we have here
independent testimony of two good observers to a fact which in itself is
not improbable, I think we may conclude that the nest-making instinct
admits of being supplemented, at any rate in some birds, by the
experience and intelligence of the individual. M. Pouchet has also
recorded that he has found a decided improvement to have taken place in
the nests of the swallows at Rouen during his own lifetime; and this
accords with the anticipation of Leroy that if our observation extended
over a sufficient length of time, and in a manner sufficiently close, we
should find that the accumulation of intelligent improvements by
individuals of successive generations would begin to tell upon the
inherited instinct, so that all the nests in a given locality would
attain to a higher grade of excellence.

Leroy also says that when swallows are hatched out too late to migrate
with the older birds, the instinct of migration is not sufficiently
imperative to induce them to undertake the journey by themselves. 'They
perish, the victims of their ignorance, and of the tardy birth which
made them unable to follow their parents.'


Perhaps the strangest of the special instincts manifested by birds is
that of the cuckoo laying its eggs in the nests of other birds. As the
subject is an important one from several points of view, I shall
consider it at some length.

It must first be observed that the parasitic habit in question is not
practised by all species of the genus--the American cuckoo, for
instance, being well known to build its nest and rear its young in the
ordinary manner. The Australian species, however, manifests the same
instinct as the European. The first observer of the habit practised by
the European cuckoo was the illustrious Jenner, who published his
account in the 'Philosophical Transactions.'[173] From this account the
following is an extract:--

      The cuckoo makes choice of the nests of a great
      variety of small birds. I have known its eggs
      entrusted to the care of the hedge-sparrow,
      water-wagtail, titlark, yellowhammer, green linnet,
      and winchat. Among these it generally selects the
      three former, but shows a much greater partiality to
      the hedge-sparrow than to any of the rest; therefore,
      for the purpose of avoiding confusion, this bird only,
      in the following account, will be considered as the
      foster-parent of the cuckoo, except in instances which
      are particularly specified.

      When the hedge-sparrow has sat her usual time, and
      disengaged the young cuckoo and some of her own
      offspring from the shell,[174] her own young ones, and
      any of her eggs that remain unhatched, are soon turned
      out, the young cuckoo remaining possessor of the
      nest, and sole object of her future care. The young
      birds are not previously killed, nor are the eggs
      demolished, but all are left to perish together,
      either entangled about the bush which contains the
      nest, or lying on the ground under it.

      On June 18, 1787, I examined the nest of a
      hedge-sparrow, which then contained a cuckoo's and
      three hedge-sparrow's eggs. On inspecting it the day
      following, I found the bird had hatched, but that the
      nest now contained a young cuckoo and only one young
      hedge-sparrow. The nest was placed so near the
      extremity of a hedge, that I could distinctly see what
      was going forward in it; and, to my astonishment, saw
      the young cuckoo, though so newly hatched, in the act
      of turning out the young hedge-sparrow.

      The mode of accomplishing this was very curious. The
      little animal, with the assistance of its rump and
      wings, contrived to get the bird upon its back, and
      making a lodgment for the burden by elevating its
      elbows, clambered backward with it up the side of the
      nest till it reached the top, when, resting for a
      moment, it threw off its load with a jerk, and quite
      disengaged it from the nest. It remained in this
      situation a short time, feeling about with the
      extremities of its wings, as if to be convinced
      whether this business was properly executed, and then
      dropped into the nest again. With these (the
      extremities of its wings) I have often seen it
      examine, as it were, an egg and nestling before it
      began its operations; and the sensibility which these
      parts appeared to possess seemed sufficiently to
      compensate the want of sight, which as yet it was
      destitute of. I afterwards put in an egg, and this by
      a similar process was conveyed to the edge of the nest
      and thrown out. These experiments I have since
      repeated several times in different nests, and have
      always found the young cuckoo disposed to act in the
      same manner. In climbing up the nest it sometimes
      drops its burden, and thus is foiled in its
      endeavours; but after a little respite the work is
      resumed, and goes on almost incessantly till it is
      effected. It is wonderful to see the extraordinary
      exertions of the young cuckoo, when it is two or three
      days old, if a bird be put into the nest with it that
      is too weighty for it to lift out. In this state it
      seems ever restless and uneasy. But this disposition
      for turning out its companions begins to decline from
      the time it is two or three till it is about twelve
      days old, when, as far as I have hitherto seen, it
      ceases. Indeed, the disposition for throwing out the
      egg appears to cease a few days sooner; for I have
      frequently seen the young cuckoo, after it had been
      hatched nine or ten days, remove a nestling that had
      been placed in the nest with it, when it suffered an
      egg, put there at the same time, to remain unmolested.
      The singularity of its shape is well adapted to these
      purposes; for, different from other newly hatched
      birds, its back from the scapulæ downwards is very
      broad, with a considerable depression in the middle.
      This depression seems formed by nature for the design
      of giving a more secure lodgment to the egg of the
      hedge-sparrow, or its young one, when the young cuckoo
      is employed in removing either of them from the nest.
      When it is about twelve days old this cavity is quite
      filled up, and then the back assumes the shape of
      nestling birds in general. . . . The circumstance of the
      young cuckoo being destined by nature to throw out the
      young hedge-sparrows seems to account for the parent
      cuckoo dropping her egg in the nests of birds so small
      as those I have particularised. If she were to do this
      in the nest of a bird which produced a large egg, and
      consequently a large nestling, the young cuckoo would
      probably find an insurmountable difficulty in solely
      possessing the nest, as its exertions would be unequal
      to the labour of turning out the young birds. (I have
      known a case in which a hedge-sparrow sat upon a
      cuckoo's egg and one of her own. Her own egg was
      hatched five days before the cuckoo's, when the young
      hedge-sparrow had gained such a superiority in size
      that the young cuckoo had not powers sufficient to
      lift it out of the nest till it was two days old, by
      which time it had grown very considerably. This egg
      was probably laid by the cuckoo several days after the
      hedge-sparrow had begun to sit; and even in this case
      it appears that its presence had created the
      disturbance before alluded to, as all the
      hedge-sparrow's eggs had gone except one.) . . . June
      27, 1787.--Two cuckoos and a hedge-sparrow were
      hatched in the same nest this morning; one hedge
      sparrow's egg remained unhatched. In a few hours
      after, a contest began between the cuckoos for the
      possession of the nest, which continued undetermined
      till the next afternoon; when one of them, which was
      somewhat superior in size, turned out the other,
      together with the young hedge-sparrow and the
      unhatched egg. This contest was very remarkable. The
      combatants alternately appeared to have the advantage,
      as each carried the other several times nearly to the
      top of the nest, and then sunk down again oppressed
      with the weight of its burden; till at length, after
      various efforts, the strongest prevailed, and was
      afterwards brought up by the hedge-sparrows.

      To what cause, then, may we attribute the
      singularities of the cuckoo? May they not be owing to
      the following circumstances,--the short residence this
      bird is allowed to make in the country where it is
      destined to propagate its species, and the call that
      nature has upon it, during that short residence, to
      produce a numerous progeny? The cuckoo's first
      appearance here is about the middle of April, commonly
      on the 17th. Its egg is not ready for incubation till
      some weeks after its arrival, seldom before the middle
      of May. A fortnight is taken up by the sitting bird in
      hatching the egg. The young bird generally continues
      three weeks in the nest before it flies, and the
      foster-parents feed it more than five weeks after this
      period; so that, if a cuckoo should be ready with an
      egg much sooner than the time pointed out, not a
      single nestling, even one of the earliest, would be
      fit to provide for itself before its parent would be
      instinctively directed to seek a new residence, and be
      thus compelled to abandon its young one; for old
      cuckoos take their final leave of this country the
      first week in July.

      Had nature allowed the cuckoo to have stayed here as
      long as some other migrating birds, which produce a
      single set of young ones (as the swift or nightingale,
      for example), and had allowed her to have reared as
      large a number as any bird is capable of bringing up
      at one time, there might not have been sufficient to
      have answered her purpose; but by sending the cuckoo
      from one nest to another, she is reduced to the same
      state as the bird whose nest we daily rob of an egg,
      in which case the stimulus for incubation is

A writer in 'Nature' (vol. v., p. 383; and vol. ix., p. 123), to whom
Mr. Darwin refers in the latest edition of 'The Origin of Species' as an
observer that Mr. Gould has found trustworthy, precisely confirms, from
observations of his own, the above description of Jenner. So far,
therefore, as the observations are common I shall not quote his
statements; but the following additional matter is worth rendering:--

      But what struck me most was this: the cuckoo was
      perfectly naked, without a vestige of a feather or
      even a hint of future feathers; its eyes were not yet
      opened, and its neck seemed too weak to support the
      weight of its head. The pipits (in whose nest the
      young cuckoo was parasitic) had well-developed quills
      on the wings and back, and had bright eyes partially
      open; yet they seemed quite helpless under the
      manipulations of the cuckoo, which looked a much less
      developed creature. The cuckoo's legs, however,
      seemed very muscular, and it appeared to feel about
      with its wings, which were absolutely featherless, as
      with hands--the 'spurious wing' (unusually large in
      proportion) looking like a spread-out thumb. The most
      singular thing of all was the direct purpose with
      which the blind little monster made for the open side
      of the nest, the only part where it could throw its
      burden down the bank. [The latter remark has reference
      to the position of the nest below a heather bush, on
      the declivity of a low abrupt bank, where the only
      chance of dislodging the young birds was to eject them
      over the side of the nest remote from its support upon
      the bank.] As the young cuckoo was blind, it must have
      known the part of the nest to choose by feeling from
      the inside that that part was unsupported.

Such being the facts, we have next to ask how they are to be explained
on the principles of evolution. At first sight it seems that although
the habit saves the bird which practises it much time and trouble, and
so is clearly of benefit to the individual, it is not so clear how the
instinct is of benefit to the species; for as cuckoos are not social
birds, and therefore cannot in any way depend on mutual co-operation, it
is difficult to see that this saving of time and trouble to the
individual can be of any use to the species. But Jenner seems to have
hit the right cause in the concluding part of the above quotation. If it
is an advantage that the cuckoo should migrate early, it clearly becomes
an advantage, in order to admit of this, that the habit should be formed
of leaving her eggs for other birds to incubate. At any rate, we have
here a sufficiently probable explanation of the _raison d'être_ of this
curious instinct; and whether it is the true reason or the only reason,
we are justified in setting down the instinct to the creating influence
of natural selection.

Mr. Darwin, in his 'Origin of Species,' has some interesting remarks to
make on this subject. First, he is informed by Dr. Merrell that the
American cuckoo, although as a rule following the ordinary custom of
birds in incubating her own eggs, nevertheless occasionally deposits
them in the nests of other birds.

      Now let us suppose that the ancient progenitor of our
      European cuckoo had the habits of the American cuckoo,
      and that she occasionally laid her egg in another
      bird's nest. If the old bird profited by this
      occasional habit through being able to migrate
      earlier, or through any other cause; or if the young
      were made more vigorous by advantage being taken of
      the mistaken instinct of another species than when
      reared by their own mother, encumbered as she could
      hardly fail to be by having eggs and young at the same
      time;[175] then the old birds or the fostered young
      would gain an advantage.[176]

The instinct would seem to be a very old one, for there are two great
changes of structure in the European cuckoo which are manifestly
correlated with the instinct. Thus, the shape of the young bird's back
has already been noted; and not less remarkable than this is the small
size of the egg from which the young bird is hatched. For the egg of the
cuckoo is not any larger than that of the skylark, although an adult
cuckoo is four times the size of an adult skylark. And 'that the small
size of the egg is a real case of adaptation (in order to deceive the
small birds in whose nests it is laid), we may infer from the fact of
the non-parasitic American cuckoo laying full-sized eggs.' Yet, although
the instinct in question is doubtless of high antiquity, there have been
occasional instances observed in cuckoos of reversion to the ancestral
instinct of nidification; for, according to Adolf Müller, 'the cuckoo
occasionally lays her eggs on the bare ground, sits on them, and feeds
her young.'

In 'Nature' for November 18, 1869, Professor A. Newton, F.R.S., has
published an article on a somewhat obscure point connected with the
instincts of the cuckoo. He says that Dr. Baldamus has satisfied him, by
an exhibition of sixteen specimens of cuckoos' eggs found in the nests
of different species of birds, 'that the egg of the cuckoo is
approximately coloured and marked like those of the bird in whose nest
it is found,' for the purpose, no doubt, of deceiving the
foster-parents. Professor Newton adds, however:--

      Having said this much, and believing as I do the
      Doctor to be partly justified in the carefully worded
      enunciation of what he calls a 'law of nature,' I must
      now declare that it is only 'approximately,' and by no
      means _universally_ true that the cuckoo's egg is
      coloured like those of the victims of her imposition,

Still, when so great an authority as Professor Newton expresses himself
satisfied that there is a marked _tendency_ to such imitation, which in
some cases leads to extraordinary variations in the colouring of the
cuckoo's egg, the alleged fact becomes one which demands notice. The
question, of course, immediately arises, How is it conceivable that the
fact, if it is a fact, can be explained? We cannot imagine the cuckoo to
be able consciously to colour her egg during its formation in order to
imitate the eggs among which she is about to lay it; nor can we suppose
that having laid an egg and observed its colouring, she then carries it
to the nest of the bird whose eggs it most resembles. Professor Newton
suggests another theory, which he seems to think sufficient, but which I
confess seems to me little more satisfactory than the impossible
theories just stated. He says:--

      Only one explanation of the process can, to my mind,
      be offered. Every person who has studied the habits of
      birds with sufficient attention will be conversant
      with the tendency which certain of those habits have
      to become hereditary. It is, I am sure, no violent
      hypothesis to suppose that there is a very reasonable
      probability of each cuckoo most commonly placing her
      eggs in the nest of the same bird, and of this habit
      being transmitted to her posterity.

      Now it will be seen that it requires but only an
      application to this case of the principle of 'natural
      selection,' or 'survival of the fittest,' to show that
      if my argument be sound, nothing can be more likely
      than that, in the course of time, that principle
      should operate so as to produce the facts asserted,
      the eggs which best imitated those of particular
      foster-parents having the best chance of duping the
      latter, and so of being hatched out.

Now, granting to this hypothesis the assumption that individual cuckoos
have special predilections as to the species in whose nests they are to
lay their eggs, and that some of these species require to be deceived by
imitative colouring of the egg to prevent their tilting it out, there is
still an enormous difficulty to be met. Supposing that one cuckoo out of
a hundred happens to lay eggs sufficiently like those of the North
African magpies (a species alluded to by Professor Newton) to deceive
the latter into supposing the egg to be one of their own. This I cannot
think is too small a proportion to assume, seeing that, _ex hypothesi_,
the resemblance must be tolerably close, and that the egg of the magpie
does not resemble the great majority of eggs of the cuckoo. Now, in
order to sustain the theory, we must suppose that the particular cuckoo
which happens to have the peculiarity of laying eggs so closely
resembling those of the magpie, must also happen to have the peculiarity
of desiring to lay its eggs in the nest of a magpie. The conjunction of
these two peculiarities would, I should think, at a moderate estimate
reduce the chances of an approximately coloured egg being laid in the
appropriate nest to at least one thousand to one. But supposing the
happy accident to have taken place, we have next to suppose that the
peculiarity of laying these exceptionably coloured eggs is not only
constant for the same individual cuckoo, but is inherited by innumerable
generations of her progeny; and, what is much more difficult to grant,
that the fancy for laying eggs in the nest of a magpie is similarly
inherited. I think, therefore, notwithstanding Professor Newton's strong
opinion upon the subject, that the ingenious hypothesis must be
dismissed as too seriously encumbered by the difficulties which I have
mentioned. We may with philosophical safety invoke the influence of
natural selection to explain all cases of protective colouring when the
_modus operandi_ need only be supposed simple and direct; but in a case
such as this the number and complexity of the conditions that would
require to meet in order to give natural selection the possibility of
entrance, seem to me much too considerable to admit of our entertaining
the possibility of its action--at all events in the way that Professor
Newton suggests. Therefore, if the facts are facts, I cannot see how
they are to be explained.

Cuckoos are not the only birds which manifest the parasitic habit of
laying their eggs in other birds' nests.

      Some species of _Melothrus_, a widely distinct genus
      of American birds, allied to our starlings, have
      parasitic habits like those of the cuckoo; and the
      species present an interesting gradation in the
      perfection of their instincts. The sexes of _Melothrus
      cadius_ are stated by an excellent observer, Mr.
      Hudson, sometimes to live promiscuously together in
      flocks and sometimes to pair. They either build a nest
      of their own, or seize on one belonging to some other
      bird, occasionally throwing out the nestlings of the
      stranger. They either lay their eggs in the nest thus
      appropriated, or oddly enough build one for themselves
      on the top of it. They usually sit on their own eggs
      and rear their own young; but Mr. Hudson says it is
      probable that they are occasionally parasitic, for he
      has seen the young of this species feeding old birds
      of a distinct kind and clamouring to be fed by them.
      The parasitic habits of another species of
      _Melothrus_, the _M. Canariensis_, are much more
      highly developed than those of the last, but are still
      far from perfect. This bird, as far as it is known,
      invariably lays its eggs in the nests of strangers,
      but it is remarkable that several together sometimes
      commence to build an irregular untidy nest of their
      own, placed in singularly ill-adapted situations, as
      on the leaves of a large thistle. They must, however,
      as far as Mr. Hudson has ascertained, complete a nest
      for themselves. They often lay so many eggs, from
      fifteen to twenty, in the same foster-nest, that few
      or none can possibly be hatched. They have, moreover,
      the extraordinary habit of pecking holes in the eggs,
      whether of their own species or of their
      foster-parents, which they find in the appropriated
      nests. They drop also many eggs on the bare ground,
      which are thus wasted. A third species, the _M.
      precius_ of North America, has acquired instincts as
      perfect as those of the cuckoo, for it never lays more
      than an egg in a foster-nest, so that the young bird
      is securely reared. Mr. Hudson is a strong disbeliever
      in evolution, but he appears to have been so much
      struck by the imperfect instincts of the _Melothrus
      Canariensis_ that he quotes my words, and asks, 'Must
      we consider these habits not as especially endowed or
      created instincts, but as small consequences of one
      general law, namely transition?'[177]

Such are all the facts and considerations which I have to present with
reference to the curious instinct in question. It will be seen
that--with one doubtful or not sufficiently investigated exception,
viz., that of cuckoos adapting the colour of their eggs to that of the
eggs of the foster-parents--there is nothing connected with these
instincts that presents any difficulty to the theory of evolution. We
may, perhaps, at first sight wonder why some counteracting instinct
should not have been developed by the same agency in the birds which are
liable to be thus duped; but here we must remember that the deposition
of a parasitic egg is, comparatively speaking, an exceedingly rare
event, and therefore not one that is likely to lead to the development
of a special instinct to meet it.

_General Intelligence._

Under this heading I shall here, as in the case of this heading
elsewhere, string together all the instances which I have met with, and
which I deem trustworthy, of the display of unusually high intelligence
in the class, family, order, or species of animals under
consideration--the object of this heading in all cases being that of
supplying, by the facts mentioned beneath it, a general idea of the
upper limit of intelligence which is distinctive of each group of

That birds recognise their own images in mirrors as birds there can be
no question. Houzeau, who records observations of his own in this
connection with parrots,[178] adds that dogs are more difficult to deceive
by mirrors in this way than birds, on account of their depending so
much upon smell for their information. No doubt individual differences
are to be met with in animals of both classes, and much depends on
previous experience. Young dogs, or dogs which have never seen a mirror
before, are not, as a rule, difficult to deceive, even though they have
good noses. I myself had a setter with an excellent nose, who on many
repeated occasions tried to fight his own image, till he found by
experience that it was of no use. As to birds, I have seen canaries
suppose their own images to be other canary birds, and also the
reflection of a room to be another room--the birds flying against a
large mirror and falling half stunned. I mention the latter circumstance
because it afforded evidence of the superior intelligence of a linnet,
which on the same occasion dashed itself against the mirror once, but
never a second time, while the canaries did so repeatedly.

Mrs. Frankland, in 'Nature' (xxi., p. 82), gives the following account
of a bullfinch paying more attention to a portrait of a bullfinch than
to his own image in a mirror, which is certainly remarkable; and as the
fact seems to have been observed repeatedly, it can scarcely be

      The following is a curious instance of discrimination
      which I have observed in my bullfinch. He is in the
      habit of coming out of his cage in my room in the
      morning. In this room there is a mirror with a marble
      slab before it, and also a very cleverly executed
      water-colour drawing of a hen bullfinch, life size.
      The first thing that my bullfinch does on leaving his
      cage is to fly to the picture (perching on a vase just
      below it) and pipe his tune in the most insinuating
      manner, accompanied with much bowing to the portrait
      of the hen bullfinch. After having duly paid his
      addresses to it, he generally spends some time on the
      marble slab in front of the looking-glass, but without
      showing the slightest emotion at the sight of his own
      reflection, or courting it with a song. Whether this
      perfect coolness is due to the fact of the reflection
      being that of a cock bird, or whether (since he shows
      no desire to fight the reflected image) he is
      perfectly well aware that he only sees himself, it is
      difficult to say.

That birds possess considerable powers of imagination, or forming mental
pictures of absent objects, may be inferred from the fact of their
pining for absent mates, parrots calling for absent friends, &c. The
same fact is further proved by birds dreaming, a faculty which has been
noticed by Cuvier, Jerdon, Thompson, Bennet, Houzeau, Bechstein,
Lindsay, and Darwin.[179]

The facility with which birds lend themselves to the education of the
show-man is certain evidence of considerable docility, or the power of
forming novel associations of ideas. Thus, according to Bingley,--

      Some years ago the Sieur Roman exhibited in this
      country the wonderful performances of his birds. These
      were goldfinches, linnets, and canary birds. One
      appeared dead, and was held up by the tail or claw
      without exhibiting any signs of life. A second stood
      on its head, with its claws in the air, &c., &c.[180]

And many years ago there was exhibited a very puzzling automaton, which,
although of very small size and quite isolated from any possibly
mechanical connection with its designer, performed certain movements in
any order that the fancy of the observers might dictate. The explanation
turned out to be that within the mechanism of the figure there was a
canary bird which had been taught to run in different directions at
different words or tones of command, so by its weight starting the
mechanism to perform the particular movement required.

The rapidity with which birds learn not to fly against newly erected
telegraph wires, displays a large amount of observation and
intelligence. The fact has been repeatedly observed. For instance, Mr.
Holden says:--

      About twelve years ago I was residing on the coast of
      county Antrim, at the time the telegraph wires were
      set up along that charming road which skirts the sea
      between Larne and Cushendall. During the winter months
      large flocks of starlings always migrated over from
      Scotland, arriving in the early morning. The first
      winter after the wires were stretched along the coast
      I frequently found numbers of starlings lying dead or
      wounded on the road-side, they having evidently in
      their flight in the dusky morn struck against the
      telegraph wires, not blown against them, as these
      accidents often occurred when there was but little
      wind. I found that the peasantry had come to the
      conclusion that these unusual deaths were due to the
      flash of the telegraph messages killing any starlings
      that happened to be perched on the wires when working.
      Strange to say that throughout the following and
      succeeding winters hardly a death occurred among the
      starlings on their arrival. It would thus appear that
      the birds were deeply impressed, and understood the
      cause of the fatal accidents among their
      fellow-travellers the previous year, and hence
      carefully avoided the telegraph wires; not only so,
      but the young birds must also have acquired this
      knowledge and perpetuated it, a knowledge which they
      could not have acquired by experience or even
      instinct, unless the instinct was really inherited
      memory derived from the parents whose brains were
      first impressed by it.[181]

Similar facts are given in Buckland's 'Curiosities of Natural
History,'[182] and I have myself known of a case in Scotland where a
telegraph was erected across a piece of moorland. During the first
season some of the grouse were injured by flying against the wires, but
never in any succeeding season. Why the young birds should avoid them
without having had individual experience may, I think, be explained by
the consideration that in birds which fly in flocks or coveys, it is the
older ones that lead the way. This explanation would not, of course,
apply to birds which fly singly; but I am not aware that any
observations have gone to show that the young of such birds avoid the

I quote the following exhibition of intelligence in an eagle from

      The following account of the patience with which a
      golden eagle submitted to surgical treatment, and the
      care which it showed in the gradual use of the healing
      limb, must suggest the idea that something very near
      to prudence and reason existed in the bird. This eagle
      was caught in a fox-trap set in the forest of
      Fontainebleau, and its claw had been terribly torn. An
      operation was performed on the limb by the
      conservators of the Zoological Gardens at Paris, which
      the noble bird bore with a rational patience. Though
      his head was left loose, he made no attempts to
      interfere with the agonising extraction of the
      splinters, or to disturb the arrangements of the
      annoying bandages. He seemed really to understand the
      nature of the services rendered, and that they were
      for his good.[183]

Speaking of the Urubu vultures, Mr. Bates says:--

      They assemble in great numbers in the villages about
      the end of the wet season, and are then ravenous with
      hunger. My cook could not leave the open kitchen at
      the back of the house for a moment whilst the dinner
      was cooking, on account of their thievish
      propensities. Some of them were always loitering
      about, watching their opportunity, and the instant the
      kitchen was left unguarded, the bold marauders marched
      in and lifted the lids of the saucepans with their
      beaks to rob them of their contents. The boys of the
      village lie in wait, and shoot them with bow and
      arrow; and vultures have consequently acquired such a
      dread of these weapons, that they may be often kept
      off by hanging a bow from the rafters of the

      Mrs. Lee, in her 'Anecdotes', says that one day her
      gardener was struck by the strange conduct of a robin,
      which the man had often fed. The bird fluttered about
      him in so strange a manner--now coming close, then
      hurrying away, always in the same direction--that the
      gardener followed its retreating movements. The robin
      stopped near a flower-pot, and fluttered over it in
      great agitation. It was soon found that a nest had
      been formed in the pot, and contained several young.
      Close by was a snake, intent, doubtless, upon making a
      meal of the brood.

The following appeared in the 'Gardener's Chronicle' for Aug. 3, 1878,
under the initials 'T. G.' I wrote to the editor requesting him to
supply me with the name of his correspondent, and also to state whether
he knew him to be a trustworthy man. In reply the editor said that he
knew his correspondent to be trustworthy, and that his name is Thomas

      About thirty years ago the small market town in which
      I reside was skirted by an open common, upon which a
      number of geese were kept by cottagers. The number of
      the birds was very great. . . . Our corn market at that
      time was held in the street in front of the principal
      inn, and on the market day a good deal of corn was
      scattered from sample bags by millers. Somehow the
      geese found out about the spilling of corn, and they
      appear to have held a consultation upon the
      subject. . . . From this time they never missed their
      opportunity, and the entry of the geese was always
      looked for and invariably took place. On the morning
      after the market, early, and always on the proper
      morning, fortnightly, in they came cackling and
      gobbling in merry mood, and they never came on the
      wrong day. The corn, of course, was the attraction,
      but in what manner did they mark the time? One might
      have supposed that their perceptions were awakened on
      the market day by the smell of corn, or perhaps by the
      noise of the market traffic; but my story is not yet
      finished, and its sequel is against this view. It
      happened one year that a day of national humiliation
      was kept, and the day appointed was that on which our
      market should have been held. The market was
      postponed, and the geese for once were baffled. There
      was no corn to tickle their olfactory organs from
      afar, no traffic to appeal to their sense of hearing.
      I think our little town was as still as it usually is
      on Sundays. . . . The geese should have stopped away;
      but they knew their day, and came as usual. . . . I do
      not pretend to remember under what precise
      circumstances the habit of coming into the street was
      acquired. It may have been formed by degrees, and
      continued from year to year; but how the old birds, who
      must have led the way, marked the time so as to come in
      regularly and fortnightly, on a particular day of the
      week, I am at a loss to conceive.

Livingstone's 'Expedition to the Zambesi, 1865,' p. 209, gives a
conclusive account of the bird called the honey-guide, which leads
persons to bees' nests. 'They are quite as anxious to lure the stranger
to the bees' hive as other birds are to draw him away from their own
nests.' The object of the bird is to obtain the pupæ of the bees which
are laid bare by the ravaging of the nest. The habits of this bird have
long been known and described in books on popular natural history; but
it is well that the facts have been observed by so trustworthy a man as
Livingstone. He adds, 'How is it that members of this family have
learned that all men, white and black, are fond of honey? 'We can only
answer, by intelligent observation in the first instance, passing into
individual and hereditary habit, and so eventually into a fixed

Brehm relates an instance of cautious sagacity in a pewit. He had placed
some horsehair snares over its nest, but the bird seeing them, pushed
them aside with her bill. Next day he set them thickly round the nest;
but now the bird, instead of running as usual to the nest along the
ground, alighted directly upon it. This shows a considerable
appreciation of mechanical appliances, as does also the following.

Mrs. G. M. E. Campbell writes to me:--

      At Ardglass, co. Down, Ireland, is a long tract of
      turf coming to the edge of the rocks overhanging the
      sea, where cattle and geese feed; at a barn on this
      tract there was a low enclosure, with a door fastening
      by a hook and staple to the side-post: when the hook
      was out of the staple, the door fell open by its own
      weight. I one day saw a goose with a large troop of
      goslings coming off the turf to this door, which was
      secured by the hook being in the staple. The goose
      waited for a minute or two, as if for the door to be
      opened, and then turned round as if to go away, but
      what she did was to make a rush at the door, and
      making a dart with her beak at the point of the hook
      nearly threw it out of the staple; she repeated this
      manoeuvre, and succeeded at the third attempt, the
      door fell open, and the goose led her troop in with a
      sound of triumphant chuckling. How had the goose
      learned that the force of the rush was needful to give
      the hook a sufficient toss?

Mrs. K. Addison sends me the following instance of the use of signs on
the part of an intelligent jackdaw. The bird was eighteen months old,
and lived in some bushes in Mrs. Addison's garden. She writes:--

      I generally made a practice of filling a large basin
      which stands under the trees every morning for Jack's
      bath. A few days ago I forgot this duty, and was
      reminded of the fact in a very singular manner.
      Another of my daily occupations is to open my
      dressing-room shutters about eleven o'clock of a
      morning. Now these said shutters open almost on to the
      trees where Jack lives. The day I forgot his bath,
      when I opened the shutters I found my little friend
      waiting just outside them, as though he knew that he
      should see me there; and when he did he placed himself
      immediately in front of me, and then shook himself and
      spread out his wings just as he always does in his
      bath. The action was so suggestive and so
      unmistakable, that I spoke just as I would have done
      to a child--'Oh yes, Jack, of course you shall have
      some water.'

Mr. W. W. Nichols writes to 'Nature:'--

      The Central Prison at Agra is the roosting-place of
      great numbers of the common blue pigeon; they fly out
      to the neighbouring country for food every morning,
      and return in the evening, when they drink at a tank
      just outside the prison walls. In this tank are a
      large number of fresh-water turtles, which lie in wait
      for the pigeons just under the surface of the water
      and at the edge of it. Any bird alighting to drink
      near one of these turtles has a good chance of having
      its head bitten off and eaten; and the headless bodies
      of pigeons have been picked up near the water, showing
      the fate which has sometimes befallen the birds. The
      pigeons, however, are aware of the danger, and have
      hit on the following plan to escape it. A pigeon comes
      in from its long flight, and, as it nears the tank,
      instead of flying down at once to the water's edge,
      will cross the tank at about twenty feet above its
      surface, and then fly back to the side from which it
      came, apparently selecting for alighting a safe spot
      which it had remarked as it flew over the bank; but
      even when such a spot has been selected the bird will
      not alight at the edge of the water, but on the bank
      about a yard from the water, and will then run down
      quickly to the water, take two or three hurried gulps
      of it, and then fly off to repeat the same process at
      another part of the tank till its thirst is satisfied.
      I had often watched the birds doing this, and could
      not account for their strange mode of drinking till
      told by my friend the superintendent of the prison, of
      the turtles which lay in ambush for the pigeons.

As a still more remarkable instance of the display of intelligence by a
bird of this species, I shall quote the following observation of
Commander R. H. Napier, also published in 'Nature' (viii., p. 324):--

      A number of them (pouters) were feeding on a few oats
      that had been accidentally let fall while fixing the
      nose-bag on a horse standing at bait. Having finished
      all the grain at hand, a large 'pouter' rose, and
      flapping its wings furiously, flew directly at the
      horse's eyes, causing the animal to toss his head, and
      in doing so, of course shake out more corn. I saw this
      several times repeated--in fact, whenever the supply
      on hand had been exhausted. . . . Was not this something
      more than instinct?

The following display of intelligence on the part of swallows is
communicated to me by Mr. Charles Wilson. It can scarcely be attributed
to accident, and does not admit of mal-observation. My informant says:--

      Two swallows were building a nest in the verandah of a
      house in Victoria, but as their nest was resting
      partly on a bell-wire, it was by this means twice
      pulled down. They then began afresh, making a tunnel
      through the lower part of the nest, through which the
      wire was able to act without doing damage.

Another gentleman writes me of another use to which he has observed
swallows put the artifice of building tunnels. Being molested by
sparrows which desired to take forcible possession of their nest, a pair
of swallows modified the entrance of the latter, so that instead of
opening by a simple hole under the eaves of a house, it was carried on
in the form of a tunnel.

Linnæus says that the martin, when it builds under the eaves of houses,
sometimes is molested by sparrows taking possession of the nest. The
pair of martins to which the nest belongs are not strong enough to
dislodge the invaders; but they convoke their companions, some of whom
guard the captives, whilst others bring clay, close up the entrance of
the nest, and leave the sparrows to die miserably. This account has been
to a large extent independently confirmed by Jesse, who seems not to
have been acquainted with the statement of Linnæus. He writes:--

      Swallows seem to entertain the recollection of injury,
      and to resent it when an opportunity offers. A pair of
      swallows built their nest under the ledge of a house
      at Hampton Court. It was no sooner completed than a
      couple of sparrows drove them from it, notwithstanding
      the swallows kept up a good resistance, and even
      brought others to assist them. The intruders were left
      in peaceable possession of the nest, till the two old
      birds were obliged to quit it to provide food for
      their young. They had no sooner departed than several
      swallows came and broke down the nest; and I saw the
      young sparrows lying dead on the ground. As soon as
      the nest was demolished, the swallows began to rebuild

The same author gives the following and somewhat similar case:--

      A pair of swallows built their nest against one of the
      first-floor windows of an uninhabited house in Merrion
      Square, Dublin. A sparrow, however, took possession of
      it, and the swallows were repeatedly seen clinging to
      the nest, and endeavouring to gain an entrance to the
      abode they had erected with so much labour. All their
      efforts, however, were defeated by the sparrow, who
      never once quitted the nest. The perseverance of the
      swallows was at length exhausted: they took flight,
      but shortly afterwards returned, accompanied by a
      number of their congeners, each of them having a piece
      of dirt in its bill. By this means they succeeded in
      stopping up the hole, and the intruder was immured in
      total darkness. Soon afterwards the nest was taken
      down and exhibited to several persons, with the dead
      sparrow in it. In this case there appears to have been
      not only a reasoning faculty, but the birds must have
      been possessed of the power of communicating their
      resentment and their wishes to their friends, without
      whose aid they could not thus have avenged the injury
      they had sustained.[186]

That birds sometimes act in concert may also be gathered from the
following observations recorded by Mr. Buck:--

      I have constantly seen a flock of pelicans, when on
      the feed, form a line across a lake, and drive the
      fish before them up its whole length, just as
      fishermen would with a net.[187]

The following is extracted from Sir E. Tennent's 'Natural History of
Ceylon,' and displays remarkable intelligence on the part of the crows
in that island:--

      One of these ingenious marauders, after vainly
      attitudinising in front of a chained watch-dog, that
      was lazily gnawing a bone, and after fruitlessly
      endeavouring to divert his attention by dancing before
      him, with head awry and eye askance, at length flew
      away for a moment, and returned bringing a companion
      which perched itself on a branch a few yards in the
      rear. The crow's grimaces were now actively renewed,
      but with no better success, till its confederate,
      poising itself on its wings, descended with the utmost
      velocity, striking the dog upon the spine with all the
      force of its strong beak. The ruse was successful; the
      dog started with surprise and pain, but not quickly
      enough to seize his assailant, whilst the bone he had
      been gnawing was snatched away by the first crow the
      instant his head was turned. Two well-authenticated
      instances of the recurrence of this device came within
      my knowledge at Colombo, and attest the sagacity and
      powers of communication and combination possessed by
      these astute and courageous birds.

This account, which would be difficult of credence if narrated by a less
competent author, is strikingly confirmed by an independent observation
on the crows of Japan, which has recently been published by Miss Bird,
in whose words I shall render it. She writes:--

      In the inn garden I saw a dog eating a piece of
      carrion in the presence of several of these covetous
      birds. They evidently said a great deal to each other
      on the subject, and now and then, one or two of them
      tried to pull the meat away from him, which he
      resented. At last a big strong crow succeeded in
      tearing off a piece, with which he returned to the
      pine where the others were congregated, and after much
      earnest speech they all surrounded the dog, and the
      leading bird dexterously dropped the small piece of
      meat within reach of his mouth, when he immediately
      snapped at it, letting go the big piece unwisely for a
      second, on which two of the crows flew away with it to
      the pine, and with much fluttering and hilarity they
      all ate, or rather gorged it, the deceived dog looking
      vacant and bewildered for a moment, after which he sat
      under the tree and barked at them inanely. A gentleman
      told me that he saw a dog holding a piece of meat in
      like manner in the presence of three crows, which also
      vainly tried to tear it from him, and after a
      consultation they separated, two going as near as they
      dared to the meat, while the third gave the tail a
      bite sharp enough to make the dog turn round with a
      squeak, on which the other villains seized the meat,
      and the three fed triumphantly upon it on the top of a

These two independent statements by competent observers of such similar
exhibitions of intelligence by crows, justifies us in accepting the
fact, remarkable though it be. As further corroboration, however, I
shall quote still another independent and closely similar observation,
which I find in a letter to me from Sir J. Clarke Jervoise, who says,
while writing of rooks which he has observed in England:--

      A pheasant used to come very boldly and run off with
      large pieces of food, which he could only divide by
      shaking, and he was closely watched by the rooks for
      the pieces that flew out of his reach. He learned to
      run off into the shrubs, followed by the rooks, who
      pulled his tail to make him drop his food.

I shall next quote a highly interesting observation which seems to have
been well made, and which displays remarkable intelligence on the part
of the birds described. These are Turnstones, which, as their name
implies, turn over stones, &c., in order to obtain as food the sundry
small creatures concealed beneath. In this case the observer was Edward.
Being concealed in a hollow, and unnoticed by the birds, he saw a pair
trying to turn over the body of a stranded cod-fish, three and a half
feet long, and buried in the sand to a depth of several inches. He thus
describes what he saw:--

      Having got fairly settled down in my pebbly
      observatory, I turned my undivided attention to the
      birds before me. They were boldly pushing at the fish
      with their bills, and then with their breasts. Their
      endeavours, however, were in vain: the object remained
      immovable. On this they both went round to the
      opposite side, and began to scrape away the sand from
      beneath the fish. After removing a considerable
      quantity, they again came back to the spot which they
      had left, and went once more to work with their bills
      and breasts, but with as little apparent success as
      formerly. Nothing daunted, however, they ran round a
      second time to the other side, and recommenced their
      trenching operations with a seeming determination not
      to be baffled in their object, which evidently was to
      undermine the dead animal before them, in order that
      it might be the more easily overturned.

      While they were thus employed, and after they had
      laboured in this manner at both sides alternately for
      nearly half an hour, they were joined by another of
      their own species, which came flying with rapidity
      from the neighbouring rocks. Its timely arrival was
      hailed with evident signs of joy. I was led to this
      conclusion from the gestures which they exhibited, and
      from a low but pleasant murmuring noise to which they
      gave utterance so soon as the new-comer made his
      appearance. Of their feelings he seemed to be
      perfectly aware, and he made his reply to them in a
      similar strain. Their mutual congratulations being
      over, they all three set to work; and after labouring
      vigorously for a few minutes in removing the sand,
      they came round to the other side, and putting their
      breasts simultaneously to the fish, they succeeded in
      raising it some inches from the sand, but were unable
      to turn it over. It went down again into its sandy
      bed, to the manifest disappointment of the three.
      Resting, however, for a space, and without leaving
      their respective positions, which were a little apart
      the one from the other, they resolved, it appears, to
      give the work another trial. Lowering themselves, with
      their breasts pressed close to the sand, they managed
      to push their bills underneath the fish, which they
      made to rise about the same height as before.
      Afterwards, withdrawing their bills, but without
      losing the advantage which they had gained, they
      applied their breasts to the object. This they did
      with such force, and to such purpose, that at length
      it went over, and rolled several yards down a slight
      declivity. It was followed to some distance by the
      birds themselves before they could recover their

I shall now bring this chapter to a close by presenting all the evidence
that I have been able to collect with regard to the punishment of
malefactors among rooks.

Goldsmith, who used constantly to observe a rookery from his window,
says that the selection of a site for the building of a nest is a matter
of much anxious deliberation on the part of a young crow couple; the
male and female 'examining all the trees of a grove very attentively,
and when they have fixed upon a branch that seems fit for their purpose,
they continue to sit upon it, and observe it very sedulously for two or
three days longer:'--

      It often happens that the young couple have made
      choice of a place too near the mansion of an older
      pair, who do not choose to be incommoded by such
      troublesome neighbours; a quarrel, therefore,
      instantly ensues, in which the old ones are always
      victorious. The young couple, thus expelled, are
      obliged again to go through their
      fatigues--deliberating, examining, and choosing; and,
      having taken care to keep their due distance, the nest
      begins again, and their industry deserves
      commendation. But their activity is often too great in
      the beginning; they soon grow weary of bringing the
      materials of their nests from distant places, and they
      very early perceive that sticks may be provided nearer
      home, with less honesty indeed, but some degree of
      address. Away they go, therefore, to pilfer as fast as
      they can, and, whenever they see a nest unguarded,
      they take care to rob it of the very choicest sticks
      of which it is composed. But these thefts never go
      unpunished, and probably, upon complaint being made,
      there is a general punishment inflicted. I have seen
      eight or ten rooks come upon such occasions, and,
      setting upon the new nest of the young couple, all at
      once tear it to pieces in a moment.

      At length, however, the young pair find the necessity
      of going more regularly to work. While one flies to
      fetch the materials, the other sits upon the tree to
      guard it; and thus in the space of three or four days,
      with a skirmish now and then between, the pair have
      filled up a commodious nest, composed of sticks
      without, and of fibrous roots and long grass within.
      From the instant the female begins to lay, all
      hostilities are at an end; not one of the whole grove,
      that a little before treated her so rudely, will now
      venture to molest her, so that she brings forth her
      brood with perfect tranquillity. Such is the severity
      with which even native rooks are treated by each
      other; but if a foreign rook should attempt to make
      himself a denizen of their society, he would meet with
      no favour, the whole grove would at once be up in arms
      against him, and expel him without mercy.

Couch says ('Illustrations of Instinct,' p. 334 _et seq._):--

      The wrong-doers being discovered, the punishment is
      appropriate to the offence; by the destruction of
      their dishonest work they are taught that they who
      build must find their own bricks or sticks, and not
      their neighbours', and that if they wish to live in
      the enjoyment of the advantages of the social
      condition, they must endeavour to conform their
      actions to the principles of the rookery of which they
      have been made members.

      It is not known what enormities led to the institution
      of another tribunal of the same kind, called the Crow
      Court, but according to Dr. Edmonson, in his 'View of
      the Shetland Islands,' its proceedings are as
      authoritative and regular, and it is remarkable as
      occurring in a species (_Corvus Cornice_) so near akin
      to the rook. The Crow Court is a sort of general
      assembling of birds who, in their usual habits, are
      accustomed to live in pairs, scattered at great
      distances from each other; when they visit the south
      or west of England, as they do in severe winters, they
      are commonly solitary. In their summer haunts in the
      Shetland Islands, numbers meet together from different
      points on a particular hill or field; and on these
      occasions the assembly is not complete, and does not
      begin its business for a day or two, till, all the
      deputies having arrived, a general clamour or
      croaking ensues, and the whole of the court, judges,
      barristers, ushers, audience, and all, fall upon the
      two or three prisoners at the bar, and beat them till
      they kill them. When this is accomplished the court
      breaks up and quietly disperses.

      In the northern parts of Scotland (says Dr. Edmonson),
      and in the Faroe Islands, extraordinary meetings of
      crows are occasionally known to occur. They collect in
      great numbers, as if they had all been summoned for
      the occasion; a few of the flock sit with drooping
      heads, and others seem as grave as judges, while
      others again are exceedingly active and noisy; in the
      course of about one hour they disperse, and it is not
      uncommon, after they have flown away, to find one or
      two left dead on the spot. These meetings will
      sometimes continue for a day or two before the object,
      whatever it may be, is completed. Crows continue to
      arrive from all quarters during the session. As soon
      as they have all arrived, a very general noise ensues;
      and, shortly after, the whole fall upon one or two
      individuals, and put them to death. When the execution
      has been performed, they quietly disperse.

Similarly, the Bishop of Carlisle writes in the 'Nineteenth Century' for
July 1881:--

      I have seen also a jackdaw in the midst of a
      congregation of rooks, apparently being tried for some
      misdemeanour. First Jack made a speech, which was
      answered by a general cawing of the rooks; this
      subsiding, Jack again took up his parable, and the
      rooks in their turn replied in chorus. After a time
      the business, whatever it was, appeared to be settled
      satisfactorily: if Jack was on his trial, as he seemed
      to be, he was honourably acquitted by acclamation; for
      he went to his home in the towers of Ely Cathedral,
      and the rooks also went their way.

Lastly, Major-General Sir George Le Grand Jacob, K.C.S.I., C.B., writes
to me that while sitting in a verandah in India, he saw three or four
crows come and perch on a neighbouring house. They then cawed
continuously with such peculiar sound and vigour as to attract his
attention. His account proceeds:--

      Soon a gathering of crows from all quarters took
      place, until the roof of the guard-house was blackened
      by them. Thereupon a prodigious clatter ensued; it was
      plain that a 'palaver' was going forward. Some of its
      members, more eager than others, skipping about, I
      became much interested, and narrowly watched the
      proceedings, all within a dozen yards of me. After
      much cawing and clamour, the whole group suddenly rose
      into the air, and kept circling round half a dozen of
      their fellows, one of whom had been clearly told off
      for punishment, for the five repeatedly attacked it in
      quick succession, allowing no opportunity for their
      victim to escape, which he was trying to do, until
      they had cast him fluttering on the ground about
      thirty yards from my chair. Unfortunately I rushed
      forward to pick up the bird, prostrate but fluttering
      on the grass which was like a lawn before the
      building. I succeeded only in touching it, for it
      wriggled away from my grasp, and flew greatly crippled
      and close to the ground into the neighbouring bushes,
      where I lost sight of it. All the others, after
      circling round me and chattering, angrily as I
      thought, flew away, on my resuming my seat, in the
      direction taken by their victim.

      [Since going to press I have seen, through the
      kindness of Mr. Seebohm, some specimens of cuckoo's
      eggs coloured in imitation of those belonging to the
      birds in the nests of which they are laid. There can
      be no question about the imitation, and I add this
      note to mitigate the criticism which I have passed
      upon Professor Newton's theory of the cause. For Mr.
      Seebohm has pointed out to me that the theory becomes
      more probable if we consider that a cuckoo reared in
      the nest of any particular bird is likely afterwards
      to choose a similar nest for the deposition of its own
      eggs. Whether or not the memory of a bird would thus
      act could only, of course, be certainly proved by
      experiment; but in view of the possibility that it
      may, Professor Newton's theory becomes more probable
      than it is if the selection of the appropriate nest is
      supposed to depend only on inheritance.

      I most also add that Dr. Sclater has been kind enough
      to draw my attention to a remarkable description of a
      species of Bower-bird, published by Dr. Beccari in the
      _Gardener's Chronicle_ for March 16, 1879. This
      species is called the Gardener Bower-bird (_Amblyornis
      niornata_), and inhabits New Guinea. The animal is
      about the size of a turtle-dove, and its bower--or
      rather hut--is built round the stem of a tree in the
      shape of a cone, with a space between the stem of the
      tree and the walls of the hut. The latter are composed
      of stems of an orchid with their leaves on--this
      particular plant being chosen by the birds apparently
      because its leaves remain long fresh. But the most
      extraordinary structure is the garden, which is thus
      described by Dr. Beccari:--'Before the cottage there
      is a meadow of moss. This is brought to the spot and
      left free from grass, stones, or anything which would
      offend the eye. On this green turf flowers and fruits
      of pretty colour are placed, so as to form an elegant
      little garden. The greater part of the decoration is
      collected round the entrance to the nest, and it would
      appear that the husband offers these his daily gifts
      to his wife. The objects are very various, but always
      of a vivid colour. There were some fruits of a
      Garcinia like a small-sized apple. Others were the
      fruits of Gardencias of a deep yellow colour in the
      interior. I saw also small rosy fruits, probably of a
      Scitamineous plant, and beautiful rosy flowers of a
      new Vaccinium. There were also fungi and mottled
      insects placed on the turf. As soon as the objects are
      faded they are moved to the back of the hut.' There is
      a fine-coloured plate of this bird in its garden,
      published in the _Birds of New Guinea_, by Mr. Gould
      Part ix., 1879.]


[145] _Curiosities_, &c., p. 126. Wilson also, in his _American
Ornithology_, gives the following sufficiently credible account of the
memory of a crow:--'A gentleman who resided on the Delaware, a few miles
below Easton, had raised [reared] a crow, with whose tricks and society
he used frequently to amuse himself. This crow lived long in the family,
but at length disappeared, having, as was then supposed, been shot by
some vagrant gunner, or destroyed by accident. About eleven months after
this, as the gentleman one morning, in company with several others, was
standing on the river shore, a number of crows happened to pass by; one
of them left the flock, and flying directly towards the company,
alighted on the gentleman's shoulder, and began to gabble away with
great volubility, as one long-absent friend naturally enough does on
meeting another. On recovering from his surprise the gentleman instantly
recognised his old acquaintance, and endeavoured, by several civil but
sly manoeuvres, to lay hold of him; but the crow, not altogether
relishing quite so much familiarity, having now had a taste of the
sweets of liberty, cautiously eluded all his attempts; and suddenly
glancing his eye on his distant companions, mounted in the air after
them, soon overtook and mingled with them, and was never afterwards seen
to return.'

[146] _Journal of Mental Science_, July 1879.

[147] Couch, _Illustrations of Instinct_, p. 165.

[148] _Gleanings_, vol. i., pp. 112-13.

[149] Couch, _Illustrations of Instinct_, p. 232.

[150] See especially Bingley, _Animal Biography_, vol. ii., pp. 327-29.

[151] _Gleanings_, pp. 58-9.

[152] Smiles, _Life of Edward_, p. 240.

[153] _History of Mexico_, p. 220.

[154] _Zoologist_, vol. ii.

[155] Watson, _Reasoning Power of Animals_, pp. 375-76, where see also
some curious cases of male storks slaying their females upon the latter
hatching out eggs of other birds. He gives an exactly similar case as
having occurred with the domestic cock; and in Bingley (_loc. cit._,
vol. ii., p. 241) there is quoted from Dr. Percival another case of the
same kind, in which a cock killed his hen as soon as she had hatched out
a brood of young partridges from eggs which had been set to her.

[156] See Darwin. _Descent of Man_, pp. 92, 381, 406, 413.

[157] Gould, _Birds of Australia_, vol. i., pp. 442-45.

[158] Bingley, _Animal Biography_, vol. ii., p. 220.

[159] For full information, see Buckland, _Curiosities of Natural
History_, p. 183.

[160] Of the crow (carrion and hooded), Edward says: 'He goes aloft with
a crab, and lets it fall upon a stone or a rock chosen for the purpose.
If it does not break, he seizes it again, goes up higher, lets it fall,
and repeats his operation again and again until his object is
accomplished. When a convenient stone is once met with, the birds resort
to it for a long time. I myself know a pretty high rock, that has been
used by successive generations of crows for about twenty years!' Also,
as Handcock says, 'a friend of Dr. Darwin saw on the north coast of
Ireland above a hundred crows preying upon mussels, which is not their
natural food; each crow took a mussel up into the air, twenty or forty
yards high, and let it fall on the stones, and thus breaking the shell,
got possession of the animal. Ravens, we are told, often resort to the
same contrivance.'

[161] Couch, _Illustrations of Instinct_, pp. 192-93.

[162] _Gleanings_, &c., vol. i., p. 71.

[163] _Ibid._

[164] _Voyage of a Naturalist_, &c., p. 184.

[165] _Orn. Biog._, i., p. 276.

[166] Newton, _Encycl. Brit._, art. 'Birds.'

[167] _Catalogue of Birds_, &c., p. 16.

[168] Gould, _Birds of Australia_, vol. ii., p. 155, where see for
further description.

[169] _Animal Biography_, vol. ii., p. 204.

[170] See _Descent of Man_, p. 452 _et seq._

[171] See Newton, _Ency. Brit._, art. 'Birds.'

[172] _Natural Selection_, pp. 232-3.

[173] _Phil. Trans._, vol. lxxviii., p. 221 _et seq._

[174] The young cuckoo is generally hatched first.

[175] Allusion is here made to the fact that the cuckoo lays her eggs at
intervals of two or three days, and therefore that if all were incubated
by the mother, they would hatch out at different times--a state of
things which actually obtains in the case of the American cuckoo, whose
nest contains eggs and young at the same time.

[176] It is worth while to observe, as bearing on this theory of the
origin of this parasitic habit, that even non-parasitic birds
occasionally deposit their eggs in nests of other birds. Thus, Professor
A. Newton writes in his admirable essay on 'Birds' in the Encyclopædia
Britannica, 'Certain it is that some birds, whether by mistake or
stupidity, do not unfrequently lay their eggs in the nests of others. It
is within the knowledge of many that pheasants' eggs and partridges'
eggs are often laid in the same nest; and it is within the knowledge of
the writer that gulls' eggs have been found in the nests of eider-ducks,
and _vice versâ_; that a redstart and a pied flycatcher will lay their
eggs in the same convenient hole--the forest being rather deficient in
such accommodation; that an owl and a duck will resort to the same
nest-hole, set up by the scheming woodman for his own advantage; and
that the starling, which constantly dispossesses the green woodpecker,
sometimes discovers that the rightful heir of the domicile has to be
brought up by the intruding tenant.'

[177] _Origin of Species_, p. 215.

[178] Tom. i., p. 130.

[179] See _Birds of India_, i., p. 21; _Passions of Animals_, p. 60;
_Fac. Men. des Ani._, tom. ii., p. 183; _Mind in Lower Animals_, vol.
ii., p. 96; and _Descent of Man_, p. 74.

[180] _Animal Biography_, vol. ii., p. 173.

[181] _Nature_, xx., p. 266.

[182] Vol. i., p. 216. See also _Descent of Man_, p. 80.

[183] Menault, _Wonders of Instinct_, p. 132.

[184] _Nat. on Amazons_, p. 177; _Anecdotes_, p. 135.

[185] _Gleanings_, vol. ii., p. 96.

[186] _Ibid._, p. 99.

[187] _Nature_, vol. xiii., p. 303.

[188] _Unbeaten Tracks in Japan_, vol. ii, pp. 149-50.

[189] Smiles, _Life of Edward_, pp. 244-6.



I SHALL devote this chapter to the psychology of all the Mammalia which
present any features of psychological interest, with the exception of
the rodents, the elephant, the dog and cat tribe among Carnivora, and
the Primates--all of which I shall reserve for separate treatment.


In the 'Transactions of the Linnean Society,' Major Mitchell gives an
interesting account of the structure reared by a small Australian
marsupial (_Conilurus constructor_) for the purposes of defence against
the dingo dog. It consists of a large pile of dry sticks and brushwood,
'big enough to make two or three good cart-loads.' Each stick and
fragment is closely intertwined or woven with the rest, so that the
whole forms a solid, compact mass. In the middle of this large structure
is the nest of the animal.

The marsupials are as low in the scale of mammalian intelligence as they
are in that of mammalian structure: so that, except the above, I have
met with no fact connected with the psychology of this group that is
worth quoting, except, perhaps, the following, which appears to show
deliberation and decision on the part of the kangaroo. Jesse writes:--

      A gentleman who had resided for several years in New
      South Wales related the following circumstance, which
      he assured me he had frequently witnessed while
      hunting the kangaroo: it furnishes a strong proof of
      the affection of that animal for her young, even when
      her own life has been placed in the most imminent
      danger. He informed me that, when a female kangaroo
      has been hard pressed by dogs, he has seen her, while
      she has been making her bounds, put her fore-paws into
      her pouch, take a young one from it, and then throw it
      as far on one side as she possibly could out of the
      way of the dogs. But for this manoeuvre her own life
      and that of her young one would have been sacrificed.
      By getting rid of the latter she has frequently
      effected her escape, and probably returned afterwards
      to seek for her offspring.


The following is quoted from Thompson:--

      In 1811, says Mr. Scoresby, one of my harpooners
      struck a sucker, with the hope of leading to the
      capture of the mother. Presently she arose close to
      the 'fast boat,' and seizing the young one, dragged
      about 600 feet of line out of the boat with remarkable
      force and velocity. Again she rose to the surface,
      darted furiously to and fro, frequently stopped short
      or suddenly changed her direction, and gave every
      possible intimation of extreme agony. For a length of
      time she continued thus to act, though pursued closely
      by the boats; and, inspired with courage and
      resolution by her concern for her young, seemed
      regardless of the danger's which surrounded her. At
      length one of the boats approached so near that a
      harpoon was hove at her; it hit, but did not attach
      itself. A second harpoon was struck, but this also
      failed to penetrate; but a third was more successful,
      and held. Still she did not attempt to escape, but
      allowed other boats to approach; so that in a few
      minutes three more harpoons were fastened, and in the
      course of an hour afterwards she was killed.[190]

Mr. Saville Kent communicates an article to 'Nature' (vol. viii., p.
229) on 'Intellect of Porpoises.' He says:--

      The keeper in charge of these interesting animals is
      now in the habit of summoning them to their meals by
      the call of a whistle; his approaching footsteps,
      even, cause great excitement in their movements. . . .
      The curiosity attributed to these creatures, as
      illustrated by the experiences of Mr. Matthew
      Williams, receives ample confirmation from their
      habits and confinement. A new arrival is at once
      subjected to the most importunate attention, and,
      advancing from familiarity to contempt if disapproved
      of, soon becomes the object of attack and persecution.
      A few dog-fish (_Acanthias_ and _Mastelus_), three or
      four feet long, now fell victims to their tyranny, the
      porpoises seizing them by their tails, and swimming
      off with and shaking them in a manner scarcely
      conducive to their comfort or dignified appearance,
      reminding the spectator of a large dog worrying a
      rat. . . . On one occasion I witnessed the two _Cetacea_
      acting evidently in concert against one of these
      unwieldy fish (skates), the latter swimming close to
      the top of the water, and seeking momentary respite
      from its relentless enemies by lifting its unfortunate
      caudal appendage high above its surface--the peculiar
      tail of the skate being the object of sport to the
      porpoises, which seized it in their mouths as a
      convenient handle whereby to pull the animal about,
      and worry it incessantly.

In a subsequent number of 'Nature' (vol. ix., p. 42) Mr. C. Fox

      Several years ago a herd of porpoises was scattered by
      a net which I had got made to enclose some of them. . . .
      The whole 'sculle' was much alarmed, and two were
      secured. I conclude that their companions retained a
      vivid remembrance of the sea-fight, as these
      _Cetacea_, although frequent visitants in this harbour
      (Falmouth) previously, and often watched for, were not
      seen in it again for two years or more.

_Horse and Ass._

The horse is not so intelligent an animal as any of the larger
Carnivora, while among herbivorous quadrupeds his sagacity is greatly
exceeded by that of the elephant, and in a lesser degree by that of his
congener the ass. On the other hand, his intelligence is a grade or two
above that of perhaps any ruminant or other herbivorous quadruped.

The emotional life of this animal is remarkable, in that it appears to
admit of undergoing a sudden transformation in the hands of the
'horse-tamer.' The celebrated results obtained by Rarey in this
connection have since been repeated with more or less success by many
persons in various parts of the world, and the 'method' appears to be in
all cases essentially the same. The untamed and apparently untamable
animal has its fore-leg or legs strapped up, is cast on its side and
allowed to struggle for a while. It is then subjected to various
manipulations, which, without necessarily causing pain, make the animal
feel its helplessness and the mastery of the operator. The extraordinary
fact is that, after having once felt this, the spirit or emotional life
of the animal undergoes a complete and sudden change, so that from
having been 'wild' it becomes 'tame.' In some cases there are subsequent
relapses, but these are easily checked. Even the truly 'wild' horse from
the prairie admits of being completely subdued in a marvellously short
time by the Gauchos, who employ an essentially similar method, although
the struggle is here much more fierce and prolonged.[191] The same may be
said of the taming of wild elephants, although in this case the facts
are not nearly so remarkable from a psychological point of view, seeing
that the process of taming is so much more slow.

Another curious emotional feature in the horse is the liability of all
the other mental faculties of the animal to become abandoned to that of
terror. For I think I am right in saying that the horse is the only
animal which, under the influence of fear, loses the possession of every
other sense in one mad and mastering desire to run. With its entire
mental life thus overwhelmed by the flood of a single emotion, the horse
not only loses, as other animals lose, 'presence of mind,' or a due
balance among the distinctively intellectual faculties, but even the
avenues of special sense become stopped, so that the wholly demented
animal may run headlong and at terrific speed against a stone wall. I
have known a hare come to grief in a somewhat similar fashion when hotly
pursued by a dog; this, however, was clearly owing to the hare looking
behind instead of before, in a manner not, under the circumstances,
unwise; but, as I have said, there is no animal except the horse whose
whole psychology is thus liable to be completely dominated by a single

As for its other emotions, the horse is certainly an affectionate
animal, pleased at being petted, jealous of companions receiving
favour, greatly enjoying play with others of its kind, and also the
sport of the hunting-field. Lastly, horses exhibit pride in a marked
degree, as do also mules. Such animals, when well kept, are unmistakably
pleased with gay trappings, so that 'in Spain, as a punishment for
disobedience, it is usual to strip the animal of its gaudy coronal and
bells, and to transfer them to another' (Thompson).

The memory of the horse is remarkably good, as almost every one must
have had occasion to observe who has driven one over roads which the
animal may have only once traversed a long time before. As showing the
duration of memory I may quote the following letter to Mr. Darwin from
the Rev. Rowland H. Wedgwood, which I find among the MSS. of the

      I want to tell you of an instance of long memory in a
      horse. I have just driven my pony down from London
      here, and though she has not been here for eight
      years, she remembered her way quite well, and made a
      bolt for the stables where I used to keep her.

A few instances of the display of intelligence by members of the horse
tribe may bring this section to a close.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. W. J. Fleming writes me concerning a vicious horse he had which,
while being groomed, frequently used to throw a ball of wood attached to
his halter at the groom. He did so by flexing his fetlock and jamming
the ball between the pastern and the leg, then throwing the ball
backwards 'with great force.'

I myself had a horse which was very clever at slipping his halter after
he knew that the coachman was in bed. He would then draw out the two
sticks in the pipe of the oat-bin, so as to let all the oats run down
from the bin above upon the stable floor. Of course he must have
observed that this was the manner in which the coachman obtained the
oats, and desiring to obtain them, did what he had observed to be
required. Similarly, on other occasions he used to turn the water-tap to
obtain a drink, and pull the window cord to open the window on hot

The anecdote books contain several stories very much alike concerning
horses spontaneously visiting blacksmiths' shops when they require
shoeing, or feel their shoes uncomfortable. The appended account,
vouched for as it is by a good authority, may be taken as corroborative
of these stories. I quote the account from 'Nature' (May 19, 1881):--

      The following instance of animal intelligence is sent
      to us by Dr. John Rae, F.R.S., who states that the Mr.
      William Sinclair mentioned is respectable and
      trustworthy. The anecdote is taken from the 'Orkney
      Herald' of May 11:--"A well-authenticated and
      extraordinary case of the sagacity of the Shetland
      pony has just come under our notice. A year or two ago
      Mr. William Sinclair, pupil-teacher, Holm, imported
      one of these little animals from Shetland on which to
      ride to and from school, his residence being at a
      considerable distance from the school buildings. Up to
      that time the animal had been unshod, but some time
      afterwards Mr. Sinclair had it shod by Mr. Pratt, the
      parish blacksmith. The other day Mr. Pratt, whose
      smithy is a long distance from Mr. Sinclair's house,
      saw the pony, without halter or anything upon it,
      walking up to where he was working. Thinking the
      animal had strayed from home, he drove it off,
      throwing stones after the beast to make it run
      homewards. This had the desired effect for a short
      time; but Mr. Pratt had only got fairly at work once
      more in the smithy when the pony's head again made its
      appearance at the door. On proceeding a second time
      outside to drive the pony away, Mr. Pratt, with a
      blacksmith's instinct, took a look at the pony's feet,
      when he observed that one of its shoes had been lost.
      Having made a shoe he put it on, and then waited to
      see what the animal would do. For a moment it looked
      at the blacksmith as if asking whether he was done,
      then pawed once or twice to see if the newly-shod foot
      was comfortable, and finally gave a pleased neigh,
      erected its head, and started homewards at a brisk
      trot. The owner was also exceedingly surprised to find
      the animal at home completely shod the same evening,
      and it was only on calling at the smithy some days
      afterwards that he learned the full extent of his
      pony's sagacity."

In 'Nature,' also (vol. xx., p. 21), Mr. Claypole, of Antioch Cottage,
Ohio, writes as follows:--

      A friend of mine is employed on a farm near Toronto,
      Ontario, where a horse, belonging to the wife of the
      farmer, is never required to work, but is allowed to
      live the life of a gentleman, for the following
      reason. Some years ago the lady above mentioned fell
      off a plank bridge into a stream when the water was
      deep. The horse, which was feeding in a field close
      by, ran to the spot, and held her up with his teeth
      till assistance arrived, thus probably saving her
      life. Was this reason or instinct?

Mr. Strickland, also writing to 'Nature' (vol. xix., p. 410), says:--

      A mare here had her first foal when she was ten or
      twelve years old. She was blind of one eye. The result
      was, she frequently trod upon the foal or knocked it
      over when it happened to be on the blind side of her,
      in consequence of which the foal died when it was
      three or four months old. The next year she had
      another foal, and we fully expected the result would
      be the same. But no; from the day it was born she
      never moved in the stall without looking round to see
      where the foal was, and she never trod upon it or
      injured it in any way. You see that reason did not
      teach her that she was killing her first foal; her
      care for the second was the result of memory,
      imagination, and thought after the foal was dead, and
      before the next one was born. The only difference that
      I can see between the reasoning power of men and
      animals is that the latter is applied only to the very
      limited space of providing for their bodily wants,
      whereas that of men embraces a vast amount of other
      objects besides this.

Houzeau (vol. ii., p. 207) says that the mules used in the tramways at
New Orleans prove that they are able to count five; for they have to
make five journeys from one end of the tramway to the other before they
are released, and they make four of these journeys without showing that
they expect to be released, but bray at the end of the fifth. This
observation, however, requires to be confirmed, for unless carefully
made we must suppose that the fact may be due to the mules seeing the
ostler waiting to take them out.

Mr. Samuel Goodbehere, solicitor, writes me from Birmingham the
following instance as having fallen under his own observation:--

      We had a Welsh cob pony or Galloway about 14 hands
      high, who was occasionally kept in a shed (in a
      farmyard), partly closed at the front by a gate which
      was secured by a bolt inside and a drop latch outside.
      The pony (who was able to put his head and neck over
      the gate, but could not reach the outside latch) was
      constantly found loose in the yard, which was
      considered quite a mystery until it was solved one day
      by my observing the pony first pushing back the inside
      bolt, and then neighing until a donkey, who had the
      run of the yard and an adjoining paddock, came and
      pushed up the outside latch with his nose, thus
      letting the pony at liberty, when the two marched off

The following is the only instance that I have met with in any of the
horse tribe of that degree of sagacity which leads to the intentional
concealment of wrong-doing. In the case of elephants, dogs, and monkeys
we find abundant evidence on this head, which therefore renders the
following instance more antecedently credible, and, as it is also
narrated on good authority, I do not hesitate to quote it.

Professor Niphon, of Washington University, St. Louis, U.S., says:--

      A friend of mine living at Iowa City had a mule, whose
      ingenuity in getting into mischief was more than
      ordinarily remarkable. This animal had a great liking
      for the company of an oat-bin, and lost no
      opportunity, when the yard gate and barn door were
      open, to secure a mouthful of oats. Finally the mule
      was found in the barn in the morning, and for a long
      time it was found impossible to discover how he had
      come there. This went on for some time, until the
      animal was 'caught in the act.' It was found that he
      had learned how to open the gate, reaching over the
      fence to lift the latch, and that he then effectually
      mystified his masters by turning round and backing
      against it until it was latched. He then proceeded to
      the barn door, and pulling out the pin which held the
      door, it swung open of its own accord. From the
      intelligence which this animal displayed on many
      occasions, I am of the opinion that had not discovery
      of his trick prevented, it would soon have occurred to
      him to retrace his steps before daylight, in order to
      avoid the clubbing which the stable boys gave him in
      the morning. It may be added that this animal had
      enjoyed no unusual educational advantages, and his
      owners found it to their interest to discourage his
      intellectual efforts as much as possible.[192]


Concerning sympathy, Major-General Sir George Le Grand Jacob, C.B., &c.,
writes me of instances which he observed of doe ibexes raising with
their heads the bucks which he shot, and supporting them during flight.

A vivid and intelligent class of emotions, in which sympathy and
rational fear are blended, seem to be exhibited by cattle in
slaughterhouses. Many years ago a pamphlet was written upon the subject,
and more recently Mr. Robert Hamilton, F.C.S., without apparently
knowing of this previous publication, wrote another pamphlet, conveying
precisely similar statements. These are too long to quote _in extenso_;
but from a letter which the latter gentleman writes to me I may make the
following extract:--

      The animal witnessing the process of killing, flaying,
      &c., repeated on one after another of its fellows,
      gets to comprehend to the full extent the dreadful
      ordeal, and as it mentally grasps the meaning of it
      all, the increasing horror depicted in its condition
      can be clearly seen. Of course some portray it much
      more vividly than others; the varying intelligence
      manifested in this respect is only another link which
      knits them in oneness with the human family.

Pride is well marked in sheep and cattle, as shown by the depressing
effects produced on a 'bell-wether' or leading cow by transferring the
bell to another member of the herd; and it is said that in Switzerland
the beasts which on show days are provided with garlands, are evidently
aware of the distinction thus placed upon them. With some amount of
poetic exaggeration this fact is noted by Schiller, who says in 'Wilhelm

    See with what pride your steer his garland wears;
    He knows himself the leader of the herd;
    But strip him of it, and he'd die of grief.

With regard to the general intelligence of ruminants I may first quote
the following:--

      The sagacity with which the bisons defend themselves
      against the attack of wolves is admirable. When they
      scent the approach of a drove of these ravenous
      creatures, the herd throws itself into the form of a
      circle, having the weakest and the calves in the
      middle, and the strongest ranged on the outside; thus
      presenting an impenetrable front of horns.[193]

The buffalo of the Old World manifests sagacity very similar. As Sir J.
E. Tennent informs us,--

      The temper of the wild buffalo is morose and
      uncertain; and such is its strength and courage, that
      in the Hindu epic of the 'Ramayana' its onslaught is
      compared with that of the tiger. It is never quite
      safe to approach them if disturbed in their pasture,
      or alarmed from their repose in the shallow lakes. On
      such occasions they hurry into line, draw up in
      defensive array, with a few of the oldest bulls in
      advance; and, wheeling in circles, their horns
      clashing with a loud sound as they clank them together
      in their rapid evolutions, they prepare for attack:
      but generally, after a menacing display, the herd
      betake themselves to flight; then forming again at a
      safer distance, they halt as before, elevating their
      nostrils, and throwing back their heads to take a
      defiant survey of the intruders.[194]

When tamed this animal is used for sporting purposes in a manner which
displays the spirit of curiosity of deer, hogs, and other animals. Thus,
Sir J. E. Tennent continues:--

      A bell is attached to its neck, and a box or basket
      with one side open is securely strapped on its back.
      This at night is lighted with flambeaux of wax, and
      the buffalo bearing it is slowly driven into the
      jungle. The huntsmen with their fowling-pieces keep
      close under the darkened side, and as it moves slowly
      onwards, the wild animals, startled by the sound and
      bewildered by the light, steal cautiously towards it
      in stupefied fascination. Even the snake, I am
      assured, will be attracted by this extraordinary
      object; and the leopard, too, falls a victim to

Livingstone says of the African buffalo, that he has known the animal,
when pursued by hunters, to 'turn back to a point a few yards from its
own trail, and then lie down in a hollow for the hunter to come up,'--a
fact which displays a level of intelligence in this animal surpassing
that which is met with in most Carnivora.[196]

Livingstone also says:--

      It is curious to observe the intelligence of game; in
      districts where they are much annoyed by fire-arms
      they keep out on the most open spots of country they
      can find, in order to have a widely extended range of
      vision, and a man armed is carefully shunned. . . .
      But here, where they are killed by the arrows of the
      Balonda, they select for safety the densest forest,
      where the arrow cannot be easily shot.[197]

Jesse, who had many opportunities of observing the fact, says:--

      I have been much delighted with watching the manner in
      which some of the old bucks in Bushey Park continue to
      get the berries from the fine thorn trees there. They
      will raise themselves on their hind legs, give a
      spring, entangle their horns in the lower branches of
      the tree, give them one or two shakes, and they will
      then quietly pick them up.[198]

The same author elsewhere says:--

      Few things, indeed, can show more forcibly the
      powerful instinct which is implanted in animals for
      their self-preservation than the means which they take
      to avoid danger. I saw an instance of this lately in a
      stag. It had been turned out before a pack of hounds,
      and, when somewhat pressed by them, I observed it
      twice to go amongst a flock of sheep, and in both
      cases to double back, evidently, I should imagine,
      with the intention of baffling the pursuit of the
      dogs. It would thus seem that the animal was aware of
      its being followed by the scent, and not by sight. If
      this be the case, it affords another proof that
      animals are possessed of something more than common

This author also says that he has 'frequently observed the buffalo at
the Zoological Farm on Kingston Hill' display the following proof of
intelligence. Being of a ferocious disposition, a strong iron ring was
fixed through the septum of his nose, to which a chain about two feet
long was attached. At the free end of the chain there was another ring
about four inches in diameter. 'In grazing the buffalo must have put his
feet on this ring, and in raising his head the jerk would have produced
considerable pain. In order to avoid this the animal has the sense to
put his horn through the lower ring, and thus avoid the inconvenience he
is put to. I have seen him do this in a very deliberate manner, putting
his head on one side while he got his horn through the ring, and then
shaking his head till the ring rested at the bottom of the horn.'[200]

The following is quoted from Mrs. Lee's 'Anecdotes' (p. 366), and is
rendered credible not only because her own observations are generally
good, but also because we shall subsequently find unquestionable
evidence of the display of similar intelligence by cats:--

      A goat and her kids frequented a square in which I
      once lived, and were often fed by myself and
      servants--a circumstance which would have made no
      impression, had I not heard a thumping at the hall
      door, which arose from the buttings of the goat when
      the food was not forthcoming, and whose example was
      followed by the two little things. After a time this
      remained unheeded, and, to our great astonishment, one
      day the area bell used by the tradespeople, the wire
      of which passed by the side of one of the railings,
      was sounded. The cook answered it, but no one was
      there save the goat and kids, with their heads bent
      down towards the kitchen window. It was thought that
      some boy had rung for them; but they were watched, and
      the old goat was seen to hook one of her horns into
      the wire and pull it. This is too much like reason to
      be ascribed to mere instinct.

P. Wakefield, in his 'Instinct Displayed,'[201] gives two separate cases
of an intelligent manoeuvre performed by goats. On both occasions two
goats met on a ridge of rock with a precipice on each side, and too
narrow to admit of their passing one another. One of these cases
occurred on the ramparts of Plymouth Citadel, and was witnessed by 'many
persons;' the other took place at Ardenglass, in Ireland. 'In both these
instances the animals looked at each other for some time, as if they
were considering their situation, and deliberating what was best to be
done in the emergency.' In each case one of the goats then 'knelt down
with great caution, and crouched as close as it could lie, when the
other walked over its back.' This manoeuvre on the part of goats has
also been recorded by other writers, and is not so incredible as it may
at first sight appear, if we remember that in their wild state these
animals must not unfrequently find themselves in this predicament.

Mr. W. Forster, writing from Australia, gives me the following account
of the intelligence of a bull:--

      A rather tame bull, bred of a milch cow, used to
      puzzle me by being found inside a paddock used for
      cultivation, and enclosed by a two-railed fence, of
      which the lower rail was unusually high. At last I saw
      the animal lie down close to the fence, and roll over
      on his back, with four legs in the air, by which
      proceeding he was inside the paddock. I never knew
      another beast perform this feat; and although it must
      have been often done in the presence of a number of
      cows, not one of them ever imitated it, though they
      would all have unquestionably followed the bull
      through an opening in the fence, or by the slip-rails.

Mr. G. S. Erb, writing from Salt Lake City, gives me an interesting
account of the sagacity displayed by the wild deer of the United States
in avoiding gun-traps, which, except for the cutting of the string, to
which the teeth of the animal are not so well adapted, is strikingly
similar to the sagacity which we shall see to be displayed in this
respect by sundry species of Carnivora. He says:--

      My method was this: I would fell or cut down a maple
      tree, the top of which they are very partial to; and
      as the ground was invariably covered with snow to the
      depth of 12 inches, food was scarce, and the deer
      would come and browse, probably from hearing the tree
      fall. I would place a loaded gun 20 feet from the top
      of the tree at which it was pointing; I would attach a
      line the size of an ordinary fish-line to a lever that
      pressed against the trigger; the other end of the line
      I would fasten to the tree-top. By this means the deer
      could not pass between the tree and the gun without
      getting shot, or at least shot at; but I never
      succeeded in killing one when my line was as large as
      a fish-line, _i.e._ about one-sixteenth of an inch in
      thickness. Commencing at the body of the tree on one
      side, the deer would eat all the tops to within 12
      inches of the line, and then go around the gun and eat
      all on the other side, never touching the line. I
      tried this at least sixty times, always with the same
      result. Then I took a black linen thread, and had no
      difficulty in killing them, as it was so small and
      black that they could not distinguish it.


There can be no doubt that pigs exhibit a degree of intelligence which
falls short only of that of the most intelligent Carnivora. The tricks
taught the so-called 'learned pigs' would alone suffice to show this;
while the marvellous skill with which swine sometimes open latches and
fastenings of gates, &c., is only equalled by that of the cat. The
following account of pigs in their wild state shows that they manifest
the same kind of sagacious co-operation in facing an enemy as that which
we have just seen to be manifested by the bison and the buffalo,
although here it seems to be displayed in a manner still more

      Wild swine associate in herds and defend themselves in
      common. Green relates that in the wilds of Vermont a
      person fell in with a large herd in a state of
      extraordinary restlessness; they had formed a circle
      with their heads outwards, and the young ones placed
      in the middle. A wolf was using every artifice to snap
      one, and on his return he found the herd scattered,
      but the wolf was dead and completely ripped up.
      Schmarda recounts an almost similar encounter between
      a herd of tame swine and a wolf, which he witnessed on
      the military positions of Croatia. He says that the
      swine, seeing two wolves, formed themselves into a
      wedge, and approached the wolves slowly, grunting and
      erecting their bristles. One wolf fled, but the other
      leaped on to the trunk of a tree. As soon as the swine
      reached it they surrounded it with one accord, when,
      suddenly and instantaneously, as the wolf attempted to
      leap over them, they got him down and destroyed him in
      a moment.[202]

In Bingley's 'Memoirs of British Quadrupeds' (page 452) there is an
account drawn up at his request by Sir Henry Mildmay, concerning the
docility of the pig. The Toomer brothers were King's keepers in the New
Forest, and they conceived the idea of training a sow to point game.
This they succeeded in doing within a fortnight, and in a few more
weeks it also learnt to retrieve. Her scent was exceedingly good, and
she stood well at partridges, black game, pheasants, snipes, and
rabbits, but never pointed hares. She was more useful than a dog, and
afterwards became the property of Sir Henry Mildmay. According to
Youatt,[203] Colonel Thornton also had a sow similarly trained. The same
author says that a sow belonging to Mr. Craven had a litter of pigs, one
of which, when old enough, was taken and roasted, then a second and a
third. These were necessarily taken when the mother returned in the
evening from the woods for supper. But the next time she came she was
alone, and, 'as her owners were anxious to know what was become of her
brood, she was watched on the following evening, and observed driving
back her pigs at the extremity of the wood, with much earnest grunting,
while she went off to the house, leaving them to wait for her return. It
was evident that she had noticed the diminution of her family, and had
adopted this method to save those that remained.'[204]

Mr. Stephen Harding sends me the following as an observation of his

      On the 15th ult. (Nov. 1879) I saw an intelligent sow
      pig about twelve months old, running in an orchard,
      going to a young apple tree and shaking it, pricking
      up her ears at the same time, as if to listen to hear
      the apples fall. She then picked the apples up and ate
      them. After they were all down she shook the tree
      again and listened, but as there were no more to fall
      she went away.

The proverbial indifference to dirt attributed to the pig seems scarcely
to be justified; the worst that can be said is that the animal prefers
cool mud to dry heat, and the filth which swine often exhibit in their
sty is the fault of the farmers rather than of the animals. Or, to quote
from Thompson's 'Passions,'--

      A washed sow in the hot season of our temperate
      climate, and in almost every season of such a climate
      as that of Palestine, 'returns to her wallowing in the
      mire' simply because she feels scorched, and
      blistered, and sickened under the ardent sunshine;
      and hence, when she receives from man the aid which is
      due to her as a domesticated animal, she demands not
      dirt all the year through, nor any day at all, but
      shade in summer, shelter in winter, and a clean, dry
      bed in every season.


Mr. Bates says of bats: 'The fact of their sucking the blood of persons
sleeping is now well established; but it is only a few persons who are
subject to this bloodletting. . . . I am inclined to think many different
kinds of bats have this propensity' ('Nat. on Amaz.,' p. 91). The
particular species of bat, however, which has been most universally
accredited with this habit, viz., the vampire, is perfectly harmless.

Mr. G. Clark ('A Brief Notice of the Fauna of Mauritius') gives an
account of the intelligence displayed by a tame bat (_Pteropus
vulgaris_). As soon as its master came into the room, it welcomed him
with cries; and if not at once taken up to be petted, it climbed up his
dress, rubbed its head against him, and licked his hands. If Mr. Clark
took anything in his hand, the bat would carefully examine it by sight
and smell, and when he sat down the bat would hang upon the back of his
chair, following all his movements with its eyes.


I shall here run together a few facts relating to the intelligence of
carnivorous animals other than those to be considered in subsequent

_Seals._--In their wild state these animals have not much opportunity
for the display of intelligence; but when tamed it is seen that the
latter is considerable. They are then affectionate animals, liking to be
petted, and showing attachment to their homes. The most remarkable
species of the order from a psychological point of view are the
so-called Pinnipeds, whose habits during the breeding season are so
peculiar that I think it is worth while to quote the best account that
has hitherto been published on the subject. This is the elaborate work
of Mr. Joel Asaph Allen:[205]--

      From the time of the first arrivals in May up to the
      1st of June, as late as the middle of this month if
      the weather be clear, is an interval in which
      everything seems quiet; very few seals are added to
      the pioneers. By the 1st of June, however, or
      thereabouts, the foggy, humid weather of summer sets
      in, and with it the bull-seals come up by hundreds and
      thousands, and locate themselves in advantageous
      positions for the reception of the females, which are
      from three weeks to a month later, as a rule. The
      labour of locating and maintaining a position in the
      rookery is really a serious business for those bulls
      which come in last, and for those that occupy the
      water-line, frequently resulting in death from severe
      wounds in combat sustained. It appears to be a well
      understood principle among the able-bodied bulls that
      each one shall remain undisturbed on his ground, which
      is usually about ten feet square, provided he is
      strong enough to hold it against all comers; for the
      crowding in of fresh bulls often causes the removal of
      those who, though equally able-bodied at first, have
      exhausted themselves by fighting earlier, and are
      driven by the fresher animals back further and higher
      up on the rookery. Some of these bulls show wonderful
      strength and courage. I have marked one veteran, who
      was among the first to take up his position, and that
      one on the water-line, when at least fifty or sixty
      desperate battles were fought victoriously by him with
      nearly as many different seals who coveted his
      position; and when the fighting season was over (after
      the cows have mostly all hauled up) I saw him covered
      with scars and gashes, raw and bloody, an eye gouged
      out, but holding it bravely over his harem of fifteen
      or twenty cows, all huddled together on the same spot
      he had first chosen. The fighting is mostly or
      entirely done with the mouth, the opponents seizing
      each other with the teeth and clenching the jaws;
      nothing but sheer strength can shake them loose, and
      that effort almost always leaves an ugly wound, the
      sharp canines tearing out deep gutters in the skin and
      blubber, or shredding the flippers into ribbon-strips.
      They usually approach each other with averted heads
      and a great many false passes before either one or the
      other takes the initiative by gripping; the heads are
      darted out and back as quick as flash, their hoarse
      roaring and shrill piping whistle never ceases, while
      their fat bodies writhe and swell with exertion and
      rage, fur flying in air and blood streaming down--all
      combined make a picture fierce and savage enough, and,
      from its great novelty, exceedingly strange at first
      sight. In these battles the parties are always
      distinct, the offensive and the defensive; if the
      latter proves the weaker he withdraws from the
      position occupied, and is never followed by his
      conqueror, who complacently throws up one of his hind
      flippers, fans himself, as it were, to cool himself
      from the heat of the conflict, uttering a peculiar
      chuckle of satisfaction and contempt, with a sharp eye
      open for the next covetous bull or 'sea-catch' (native
      name for the bulls on the rookeries, especially those
      which are able to maintain their position).

       *       *       *       *       *

      All the bulls, from the very first, that have been
      able to hold their positions have not left them for an
      instant, night or day; nor do they do so until the end
      of the rutting season, which subsides entirely between
      the 1st and 10th of August, beginning shortly after
      the coming of the cows in June. Of necessity,
      therefore, this causes them to fast, to abstain
      entirely from food of any kind, or water for at least
      three months; and a few of them stay four months
      before going into the water for the first time after
      hauling up in May. This alone is remarkable enough,
      but it is simply wonderful when we come to associate
      the condition with unceasing activity, restlessness,
      and duty devolved upon the bulls as heads and fathers
      of large families. They do not stagnate like bears in
      caves; it is evidently accomplished or due to the
      absorption of their own fat, with which they are so
      literally supplied when they take their positions on
      the breeding-ground, and which gradually diminishes
      while they remain on it.

       *       *       *       *       *

      They are noticed and received by the bulls on the
      water-line station with much attention; they are
      alternately coaxed and urged up on the rocks, and are
      immediately under the most jealous supervision; but
      owing to the covetous and ambitious nature of the
      bulls which occupy the stations reaching some way back
      from the water-line, the little cows have a
      rough-and-tumble time of it when they begin to arrive
      in small numbers at first; for no sooner is the pretty
      animal fairly established on the station of bull No. 1
      who has installed her there, than he perhaps sees
      another one of her style down in the water from which
      she has just come, and in obedience to his polygamous
      feeling, he devotes himself anew to coaxing the later
      arrival in the same winning manner so successful in
      her case, when bull No. 2, seeing bull No. 1 off his
      guard, reaches out his long strong neck, and picks the
      unhappy but passive creature up by the scruff of hers,
      just as a cat does a kitten, and deposits her on his
      seraglio-ground; then bulls Nos. 3, 4, 5, and so on in
      the vicinity, seeing this high-handed operation, all
      assail one another, and especially bull No. 2, and
      have a tremendous fight perhaps for half a minute or
      so; and during this commotion the cow is generally
      moved or moves farther back from the water two or
      three stations more, where, when all gets quiet, she
      usually remains in peace. Her late lord and master,
      not having the exposure to such diverting temptation
      as had her first, gives her such care that she not
      only is unable to leave did she wish, but no other
      bull can seize upon her. This is only one instance of
      the many different trials and tribulations which both
      parties on the rookery subject themselves to before
      the harems are filled. Far back, fifteen or twenty
      stations deep from the water-line sometimes, but
      generally not more than, on an average, ten or
      fifteen, the cows crowd in at the close of the season
      for arriving, July 10 to 14, and then they are able to
      go about pretty much as they please, for the bulls
      have become greatly enfeebled by this constant
      fighting and excitement during the past two months,
      and are quite content with even only one or two

       *       *       *       *       *

      I have found it difficult to ascertain the average
      number of cows to one bull on the rookery, but I think
      it will be nearly correct to assign to each male from
      twelve to fifteen females occupying the stations
      nearest the water, those back in the rear from five to
      nine. I have counted forty-five cows all under the
      charge of one bull, which had them penned up on a flat
      table-rock near Kestaire Point; the bull was enabled
      to do this quite easily, as there was but one way to
      go to or come from this seraglio, and on this path the
      old Turk took his stand and guarded it well. At the
      rear of all these rookeries there is always a large
      number of able-bodied bulls, who wait patiently, but
      in vain, for families, most of them having had to
      fight as desperately for the privilege of being there
      as any of their more fortunately located neighbours,
      who are nearer the water than themselves; but the cows
      do not like to be in any outside position, when they
      are not in close company lying most quiet and content
      in the largest harems; and these large families pack
      the surface of the ground so thickly that there is
      hardly moving or turning room until the females cease
      to come up from the sea; but the inaction on the part
      of the bulls in the rear during the rutting season
      only serves to qualify them to move into the places
      vacated by those males who are obliged to leave from
      exhaustion, or to take the position of fearless and
      jealous protectors for the young pups in the fall. The
      courage with which the fur-seal holds his position as
      the head and guardian of a family is of the very
      highest order compared with that of other animals. I
      have repeatedly tried to drive them when they have
      fairly established themselves, and have almost always
      failed, using every stone at my command, making all
      the noise I could, and finally, to put their courage
      to the full test, I walked up to within twenty feet of
      a bull at the rear and extreme end of Tolstoi Rookery,
      who had four cows in charge, and commenced with my
      double-barrelled breech-loading shot-gun to pepper him
      all over with mustard-seed or dust-shot. His bearing
      in spite of the noise, smell of powder, and pain, did
      not change in the least from the usual attitude of
      determined defence which nearly all the bulls assume
      when attacked with showers of stones and noise; he
      would dart out right and left and catch the cows which
      timidly attempted to run after each report, fling and
      drag them back to their places; then, stretching up to
      his full height, look me directly and defiantly in the
      face, roaring and spitting most vehemently. The cows,
      however, soon got away from him, but he still stood
      his ground, making little charges on me of ten or
      fifteen feet in a succession of gallops or lunges,
      spitting furiously and then retreating to the old
      position, back of which he would not go, fully
      resolved to hold his own or die in the attempt.

      This courage is all the more noteworthy from the fact
      that, in regard to man, it is invariably of a
      defensive character. The seal, if it makes you turn
      when you attack it, never follows you much farther
      than the boundary of its station, and no aggravation
      will compel it to become offensive, as far as I have
      been able to observe.

       *       *       *       *       *

      The apathy with which the young are treated by the old
      on the breeding-grounds is somewhat strange. I have
      never seen a cow caress or fondle her offspring, and
      should it stray but a short distance from the harem,
      it can be picked up and killed before the mother's
      eyes, without causing her to show the slightest
      concern. The same indifference is exhibited by the
      bull to all that takes place outside of the boundary
      of his seraglio. While the pups are, however, within
      the limits of his harem-ground he is a jealous and
      fearless protector; but if the little animals pass
      beyond this boundary, then they may be carried off
      without the slightest attention in their behalf from
      their guardian.

       *       *       *       *       *

      Early in August (8th) the pups that are nearest the
      water on the rookeries essay swimming, but make slow
      and clumsy progress, floundering about, when over head
      in depth, in the most awkward manner, thrashing the
      water with their fore-flippers, not using the hinder
      ones. In a few seconds, or a minute at the most, the
      youngest is so wary that he crawls out upon the rocks
      or beach, and immediately takes a recuperative nap,
      repeating the lesson as quick as he awakes and is
      rested. They soon get familiar with the water and
      delight in it, swimming in endless evolutions,
      twisting, turning, diving; and when exhausted, they
      draw up on the beach again, shake themselves as young
      dogs do, either going to sleep on the spot, or having
      a lazy frolic among themselves.

      In this matter of learning to swim, I have not seen
      any 'driving' of the young pups into the water by the
      old in order to teach them this process, as has been
      affirmed by writers on the subject of seal life.

_Otter._--The fact that otters admit of being taught to catch fish and
bring them to their masters, shows no small degree of docility on the
part of these animals. 'I have seen,' says Dr. Goldsmith, 'an otter go
to a gentleman's pond at word of command, drive the fish into a corner,
and, seizing upon the largest of the whole, bring it off in his mouth to
his master.' And several other cases of the same kind are given by

_Weasel._--'Mdlle. de Faister described her tame weasel to Buffon as
playing with her fingers like a kitten, jumping on her head and neck;
and if she presented her hands at the distance of three feet, it jumped
into them without ever missing. It distinguished her voice amidst twenty
people, and sprang over everybody to get at her. She found it impossible
to open a drawer or a box, or even to look at a paper, without his
examining it also. If she took up a paper or book, and looked
attentively at it, the weasel immediately ran upon her hand, and
surveyed with an inquisitive air whatever she happened to hold.'[207]

_Polecat._--Professor Alison, in his article on 'Instinct,' in Todd's
'Cyclopædia of Anatomy,' quotes the following account from the 'Magazine
of Natural History' (vol. iv., p. 206) touching a remarkable instinct
manifested by polecats. 'I dug out five young polecats, comfortably
embedded in dry, withered grass; and in a side-hole, of proper
dimensions for such a larder, I picked out forty large frogs and two
toads, all alive, but merely capable of sprawling a little. On
examination, I found that the whole number, toads and all, had been
purposely and dexterously bitten through the brain.' The analogy of this
instinct to that which has already been mentioned as having been much
more recently observed by M. Fabre in the sphex insect is noteworthy.

_Ferret._--I once kept a ferret as a domestic pet. He was a very large
specimen, and my sister taught him a number of tricks, such as begging
for food (which he did quite as well and patiently as any terrier),
leaping over sticks, &c. He became a very affectionate animal,
delighting much in being petted, and following like a dog when taken out
for walk. He would, however, only follow those persons whom he well
knew. That his memory was exceedingly good was shown by the fact that
after an absence of many months, during which he was never required to
beg, or to perform any of his tricks, he went through all his paces
perfectly the first time that we again tried him.

I strongly suspect that ferrets dream, as I have frequently seen them
when fast asleep moving their noses and twitching their claws as if in
pursuit of rabbits. Another fact I may mention as bearing on the
intelligence of these animals. On one occasion, while ferreting rabbits,
I lost the ferret about a mile away from home. Some days afterwards the
animal returned to his home. Similar cases have been communicated to me
by several sporting friends, but certainly the return of a ferret under
such circumstances is the exception, and not the rule.

_Wolverine._--Amazing tales are told concerning the intelligence of this
animal, which for the most part are certainly exaggerations. Still there
is no doubt that the creature does display a degree of sagacious cunning
unsurpassed, if not unequalled, in the animal kingdom. This may be
shown by the two following quotations from the statements of trustworthy
writers. The first is a letter kindly sent me by Dr. J. Rae, F.R.S., in
reply to my request for information concerning the intelligence of this

      The narratives of most travellers in America tell
      wonderful stories of the glutton or wolverine, but I
      do not know that any of my experiences of this
      extremely acute animal indicate what I call reasoning
      powers. They are very suspicious, and can seldom or
      never be taken with poisoned bait, trap, or gun. The
      poisoned baits are usually found broken up, but not
      eaten by them; traps are destroyed or entered, but not
      where the trapper desired; and guns, except when
      concealed after the Eskimo fashion by a covering of
      snow, are avoided.

      In 1853, on the Arctic coast, when about to change our
      domicile from a tent to the warmer snow hut, my man
      had carried over about 100 lbs. or more of fine
      venison steaks to the snow houses about a quarter of a
      mile from our tents; and as there were at the time no
      traces either of foxes, wolves, or wolverines about,
      the meat was placed overnight in one of the huts, and
      the door left open. During the night two wolverines
      came, but, evidently dreading some trap or danger in
      the open door, would not enter that way, but cut a
      hole for themselves through the wall of the snow hut,
      and carried off all our fine steaks, a considerable
      quantity of which was picked up close to our house
      when the thaw took place in the spring, it having been
      hid in the snow, but completely spoilt for use, by a
      well-known filthy habit.

Dr. Rae has also drawn my attention to the following account contained
in the Miscellaneous Publications of the Geological Survey of the United
States.[208] The writer of this account is Captain Elliot Cones:--

      To the trapper the wolverines are equally annoying.
      When they have discovered a line of marten traps they
      will never abandon the road, and must be killed before
      the trapping can be successfully carried on. Beginning
      at one end, they proceed from trap to trap along the
      whole line, pulling them successively to pieces, and
      taking out the baits from behind. When they can eat no
      more, they continue to steal the baits and câche
      them. If hungry they may devour two or three of the
      martens they find captured, the remainder being
      carried off and hidden in the snow at a considerable
      distance. The work of demolition goes on as fast as
      the traps can be renewed.

      The propensity to steal and hide things is one of the
      strongest traits of the wolverine. To such an extent
      is it developed that the animal will often secrete
      articles of no possible use to itself. Besides the
      wanton destruction of marten traps, it will carry off
      the sticks and hide them at a distance, apparently in
      sheer malice. Mr. Ross, in the article above quoted,
      has given an amusing instance of the extreme of this
      propensity. The desire for accumulating property seems
      so deeply implanted in this animal, that, like tame
      ravens, it does not appear to care much what it steals
      so that it can exercise its favourite propensity to
      commit mischief. An instance occurred within my own
      knowledge, in which a hunter and his family having
      left their lodge unguarded during their absence, on
      their return found it completely gutted--the walls
      were there, but nothing else. Blankets, guns, kettles,
      axes, cans, knives, and all the other paraphernalia of
      a trapper's tent had vanished, and the tracks left by
      the beast showed who had been the thief. The family
      set to work, and by carefully following up all his
      paths recovered, with some trifling exceptions, the
      whole of the lost property.

       *       *       *       *       *

      At Peel's River, on one occasion, a very old carcajou
      discovered my marten road, on which I had nearly a
      hundred and fifty traps. I was in the habit of
      visiting the line about once a fortnight, but the
      beast fell into the way of coming oftener than I did,
      to my great annoyance and vexation. I determined to
      put a stop to his thieving and his life together, cost
      what it might. So I made six strong traps at as many
      different points, and also set three steel traps. For
      three weeks I tried my best to catch the beast without
      success; and my worst enemy would allow that I am no
      green hand in these matters. The animal carefully
      avoided the traps set for his own benefit, and seemed
      to be taking more delight than ever in demolishing my
      marten traps and eating the martens, scattering the
      poles in every direction, and câching what baits or
      martens he did not devour on the spot. As we had no
      poison in those days, I next set a gun on the bank of
      a little lake. The gun was concealed in some low
      bushes, but the bait was so placed that the carcajou
      must see it on his way up the bank. I blockaded my
      path to the gun with a small pine tree, which
      completely hid it. On my first visit afterwards I
      found that the beast had gone up to the bait and
      smelled it, but had left it untouched. He had next
      pulled up the pine tree that blocked the path, and
      gone around the gun and cut the line which connected
      the bait with the trigger, just behind the muzzle.
      Then he had gone back and pulled the bait away, and
      carried it out on the lake, where he lay down and
      devoured it at his leisure. There I found my string. I
      could scarcely believe that all this had been done
      designedly, for it seemed that faculties fully on a
      par with human reason would be required for such an
      exploit if done intentionally. I therefore rearranged
      things, tying the string where it had been bitten. But
      the result was exactly the same for three successive
      occasions, as I could plainly see by the footprints;
      and what is most singular of all, each time the brute
      was careful to cut the line a little back of where it
      had been tied before, as if actually reasoning with
      himself that even the knots might be some new device
      of mine, and therefore a source of hidden danger he
      would prudently avoid. I came to the conclusion that
      that carcajou ought to live, as he must be something
      at least human, if not worse. I gave it up, and
      abandoned the road for a period.

       *       *       *       *       *

      With so much for the tricks and the manners of the
      beast behind our backs, roaming at will in his vast
      solitudes, what of his actions in the presence of man?
      It is said that if one only stands still, even in full
      view of an approaching carcajou, he will come within
      fifty or sixty yards, provided he be to windward,
      before he takes the alarm. Even then, if he be not
      warned by sense of smell, he seems in doubt, and will
      gaze earnestly several times before he finally
      concludes to take himself off. On these and similar
      occasions he has a singular habit--one not shared, so
      far as I am aware, by any other beast whatever. He
      sits on his haunches and shades his eyes with one of
      his fore-paws, just as a human being would do in
      scrutinising a dim or distant object. The carcajou,
      then, in addition to his other and varied
      accomplishments, is a perfect sceptic--to use this
      word in its original signification. A sceptic, with
      the Greeks, was simply one who would shade his eyes to
      see more clearly.

_Bears._--There is no doubt that the intelligence of these animals
stands very high in the psychological scale, although the actual
instances which I have met of the display of their intelligence are few.
The tricks which are taught performing bears do not count for much as
proof of high sagacity, as they for the most part consist in teaching
the animals to assume unnatural positions, or display grotesque
antics--performances which speak indeed for the general docility of the
creatures, but scarcely for their high intelligence. Still even here it
is worth while to remark that all species of bears would probably not
lend themselves to this kind of education, for the emotional temperament
manifested by the different species is unquestionably diverse. Thus,
making all allowances for exaggeration, it seems certain that the
grizzly bear displays a courage and ferocity which are foreign to the
disposition of the brown bear, and indeed to that of most other animals.
The polar bear likewise displays much bravery under the influence of
hunger or maternal feeling, although under other circumstances it
usually deems discretion the better part of valour. The following
incident displays considerable intelligence on the part of this animal.

Scoresby, in his 'Account of the Arctic Regions,' gives the instance to
which I allude:--

      The animal with two cubs was being pursued by a party
      of sailors over an ice-field. She urged her young to
      an increase of speed by running before them, turning
      round, and manifesting, by a peculiar action and
      voice, her anxiety for their progress; but finding
      that her pursuers were gaining upon them, she carried,
      or pushed, or pitched them alternately forward, until
      she effected their escape. In throwing them before
      her, the little creatures placed themselves across her
      path to receive the impulse; and when projected some
      yards in advance, they ran onwards until she overtook
      them, when they alternately adjusted themselves for a
      second throw.

As the polar bear is not exposed to any enemies except man, this method
of escaping is not likely to be instinctive, but was probably an
intelligent adaptation to the particular circumstances of the case.

Mr. S. J. Hutchinson writes me as follows with regard to this same

      One Sunday, at the 'Zoo,' some one threw a bun to the
      bears, but it fell in the water in that
      quadrant-shaped pond you will remember. The bun fell
      just at the angle, and the bear seemed disinclined to
      enter the water, but stood on the edge of the pond,
      and commenced _stirring_ the water with its paw, so
      that it established a sort of rotatory current, which
      eventually brought the bun within reach. When one leg
      got tired it used the other, but in the same
      direction. I watched the whole performance with the
      greatest interest myself.

In corroboration of this most remarkable observation I quote the
following from Mr. Darwin's 'Descent of Man' (p. 76), which is so
precisely similar, that the fact of bears reaching the high level of
intelligence which the fact implies can scarcely be doubted. 'A
well-known entomologist, Mr. Westropp, informs me that he observed in
Vienna a bear deliberately making with his paw a current in some water
which was close to the bars of his cage, so as to draw a piece of
floating bread within his reach.'


[190] _Passions of Animals_, p. 154.

[191] See Mr. Darwin's account in _Naturalist's Voyage round the World_,
pp. 151-2.

[192] _Nature_, vol. xx., p. 21.

[193] Thompson, _Passions of Animals_, p. 308.

[194] _Natural History of Ceylon_, p. 54.

[195] _Ibid._, p. 56.

[196] _Missionary Travels_, p. 328.

[197] _Ibid._, p. 280.

[198] _Gleanings_, &c., vol. i., p. 20.

[199] _Ibid._, vol. ii., p. 20.

[200] _Ibid._, pp. 226-7.

[201] Pp. 66 and 97.

[202] Thompson, _Passions of Animals_, p. 308.

[203] _On the Pig_, p. 17.

[204] _Ibid._

[205] _History of the North American Pinnipeds._ The quotations are
taken from pp. 348 to 361.

[206] _Animal Biography_, vol. iii., pp. 301-2.

[207] Thompson, _Passions in Animals_, p. 337.

[208] Vol. viii., Washington, 1877: 'A Monograph of the North American



THE rodents, psychologically considered, are, of all orders in the
animal kingdom, most remarkable for the differences presented by
constituent species. For while the group contains many animals, such as
the guinea-pig, whose instincts and intelligence cannot be said to rise
above the lowest level that obtains among mammalian forms, it also
contains other animals with instincts as remarkable as those of the
squirrel, intelligence as considerable as that of the rat, and a
psychological development as unique as that of the beaver. In no other
group of animals do we meet with nearly so striking an exemplification
of the truth that zoological or structural affinity is only related in a
most loose and general way to psychological or mental similarity. Up to
a certain point, however, even here we meet with an exemplification of
what I may call a complementary truth, namely, that similarity of
organisation and environment is in a general way related to similarity
of instincts (though not necessarily of intelligence). This is obviously
the case with the habit from which the order takes its name; for whether
the instinct of gnawing is here the cause or the result of peculiar
organisation, the instinct is unquestionably correlated with the
peculiarity. And similarly, though less obviously, is this the case with
the instinct of storing food for winter consumption, which is more
prevalent among the rodents than in any other order of mammals--rats,
mice, squirrels, harvesters, beavers, &c., all manifesting it with
remarkable vigour and persistency. Here we probably have a case of
similar organisation and environment determining the same instinct; for
the latter is not of sufficiently general occurrence among all species
of rodents to allow us to suppose that the species in which it does
occur have derived it from a common ancestry.


Rabbits are somewhat stupid animals, exhibiting but small resources
under novel circumstances, although inheriting several clever instincts,
such as that of rapidly deciding upon the alternative of flight or
crouching, which is usually done with the best judgment. I have,
however, often observed that the animal does not seem to have sense
enough to regard the colour of the surface on which it crouches, so that
if this happens to be inappropriate, the rabbit may become conspicuous,
and so its crouching a source of danger. I have been particularly struck
with the fact that black rabbits inherit the crouching instinct as
strongly as do normally coloured ones, with the effect of rendering
themselves highly conspicuous. This shows that the instinct is not
necessarily correlated with the colour which alone renders the instinct
useful, but that both have developed simultaneously and independently,
and by natural selection. The fact also shows that the crouching of
rabbits is purely instinctive, and not due to any conscious process of
comparing their own colour with that of the surfaces on which they
crouch. No doubt the instinct began and was developed by natural
selection placing a premium upon the better judgment of those
individuals which know when best to seek safety in flight and when by
crouching--protective colouring being added at the same time by the same

Another fact, which every one who shoots must have observed, goes to
show the stupidity of rabbits, or their inability to learn by
experience. When alarmed they run for their burrows, and when they reach
them, instead of entering they very frequently squat down to watch the
enemy. Now, although they well know the distance at which it is safe to
allow a man with a gun to approach, excess of curiosity, or a mistaken
feeling of security in being so near their homes, induces the animals to
allow a man to approach within easy shooting distance. Yet that in
other respects rabbits can learn much by experience must be evident to
all who are accustomed to shoot with ferrets. From burrows which have
not been much ferreted, rabbits will bolt soon after the ferret is put
in; but this is not the case where rabbits have had previous experience
of the association between ferrets and sportsmen. Rather than bolt under
such circumstances, and so face the known danger of the waiting gun,
rabbits will often allow themselves to be torn with the ferrets' claws
and mutilated by their teeth. This is the case, no matter how silently
the sportsmen may conduct their operations; the mere fact of a ferret
entering their burrows seems to be enough to assure the rabbits that
sportsmen are waiting outside.[209]

In its emotions the rabbit is for the most part a very timid animal,
although the males fight severely with one another--having more strongly
developed than any other animal the strange but effectual instinct of
castrating their rivals. Moreover, even against other animals, rabbits
will, when compelled to do so, stand upon the defensive. To show this I
may quote a letter which several years ago I published in 'Nature:'--

      I have occasion just now to keep over thirty Himalayan
      rabbits in an outhouse. A short time ago it was
      observed that some of these rabbits had been attacked
      and slightly bitten by rats. Next day the person who
      feeds the rabbits observed, upon entering the
      outhouse, that nearly all the inmates were congregated
      in one corner; and upon going to ascertain the cause,
      found one rat dead, and another so much injured that
      it could scarcely run. Both rats were of an unusually
      large size, and their bodies were much mangled by the
      rabbits' teeth.

      I never before knew that domestic rabbits would fight
      with any carnivorous antagonist. That wild rabbits
      never do so I infer from having several times seen
      ferrets turn out from the most crowded burrow in a
      warren young stoats and weasels not more than four
      inches long.

      It is evident that the show-fight instinct cannot have
      been developed in Himalayan rabbits by means of
      natural selection, but it is no less evident that if
      it ever arose in wild rabbits it would be preserved
      and intensified by such means.

The following observation of my own on a previously unnoticed instinct
displayed by wild rabbits is, I think, of sufficient interest to render.
Most people are aware that if a rabbit is shot near the mouth of its
burrow, the animal will employ the last remnant of its life in
struggling into it. Having several times observed that wounded rabbits
which had thus escaped appeared again several days afterwards above
ground, lying dead a few feet from the mouth of the burrow, I wished to
ascertain whether the wounded animals had themselves come out before
dying, possibly for air, or had been taken out by their companions. I
therefore shot numerous rabbits while they were sitting near their
burrows, taking care that the distance between the gun and the animal
should be such as to insure a speedy, though not an immediate death.
Having marked the burrows at which I shot rabbits in this manner I
returned to them at intervals for a fortnight or more, and found that
about one-half of the bodies appeared again on the surface in the way
described. That this reappearance above ground is not due to the
victim's own exertions, I am now quite satisfied; for not only did two
or three days generally elapse before the body thus showed itself--a
period much too long for a severely wounded rabbit to survive--but in a
number of cases decomposition had set in. Indeed, on one occasion
scarcely anything of the animal was left save the skin and bones. This
was in a large warren.

It is a curious thing that I have hitherto been unable to get any bodies
returned to the surface, of rabbits which I _inserted_ into their
burrows _after death_. I account for this by supposing that the stench
of the decomposing carcass is not so intolerable to the other occupants
of the burrow when it is near the orifice as it is when further in.
Similarly, I find that there is not so good a chance of bodies being
returned from an extensive warren of intercommunicating holes, as there
is from smaller warrens or blind holes; the reason probably being that
in the one case the living inhabitants are free to vacate the offensive
locality, while in the other case they are not so. Anyhow, there can be
no reasonable doubt that the instinct of removing their dead has arisen
in rabbits from the necessity of keeping their confined domiciles in a
pure state.


The hare is a more intelligent animal than the rabbit. Possibly its much
greater powers of locomotion may be one cause of its mental superiority
to its nearest congener. I have never myself observed a hare commit the
mistake already mentioned in the case of the rabbit, viz., that of
crouching for concealment upon an inappropriately coloured surface. But
the best idea of the comparatively high intelligence of the hare will be
gained by the following quotations. The first of these is taken from
Loudoun's 'Magazine of Natural History' (vol. iv., p. 143):--

      It is especially conscious of the scent left by its
      feet, and of the danger which threatens it in
      consequence; a reflection which implies as much
      knowledge of the habits of its enemies as of its own.
      When about to enter its seat for the purpose of rest,
      it leaps in various directions, and crosses and
      recrosses its path with repeated springs; and at last,
      by a leap of greater energy than it has yet used, it
      effects a lodgment in the selected spot, which is
      chosen rather to disarm suspicion than to protect it
      from injury. In the 'Manuel du Chasseur' some
      instances are quoted from an ancient volume on hunting
      by Jaques du Fouillouse. A hare intending to mislead
      its pursuers has been seen spontaneously to quit its
      seat and to proceed to a pond at the distance of
      nearly a mile, and having washed itself, push off
      again through a quantity of rushes. It has, too, been
      known, when pursued to fatigue by dogs, to thrust
      another hare from its seat and squat itself down in
      its place. This author has seen hares swim
      successively through two or three ponds, of which the
      smallest was eighty paces round. He has known it,
      after a long chase, to creep under the door of a
      sheep-house and rest among the cattle, and when the
      hounds were in pursuit, it would get into the middle
      of a flock of sheep and accompany them in all their
      motions round the field, refusing by any means to quit
      the shelter they afforded. The stratagem of its
      passing forward on one side of a hedge and returning
      by the other, with only the breadth of the hedge
      between itself and its enemies, is of frequent
      occurrence, and it has even been known to select its
      seat close to the walls of a dog-kennel. This latter
      circumstance, however, is illustrative of the
      principles of reflection and reasoning; for the fox,
      weasel, and polecat are to the hare more dangerous
      enemies than the hound; and the situations chosen were
      such as those ferocious creatures were not likely to
      approach. A gentleman was engaged in the amusement of
      coursing, when a hare, closely pressed, passed under a
      gate, while the dogs followed by leaping over it. The
      delay caused to her pursuers by this manoeuvre seems
      to have taught a sudden and useful lesson to the
      persecuted creature; for as soon as the dogs had
      cleared the gate and overtaken her, she doubled and
      returned under the gate as before, the dogs again
      following and passing over it. And this flirtation
      continued backwards and forwards until the dogs were
      fairly tired of the amusement; when the hare, taking
      advantage of their fatigue, quietly stole away.

The following note, by Mr. Yarrell, is significant of a process of
reasoning derived from observations of the course of nature, such as
would do no discredit to a higher race of creatures:--

      A harbour of great extent on our northern coast has an
      island near the middle of considerable size, the
      nearest point of which is a mile distant from the
      mainland at high water, and with which point there is
      frequent communication by a ferry. Early one morning
      in spring two hares were observed to come down from
      the hills of the mainland towards the sea-side; one of
      which from time to time left its companion, and
      proceeding to the very edge of the water, stopped
      there a minute or two, and then returned to its mate.
      The tide was rising, and after waiting some time, one
      of them, exactly at high water, took to the sea, and
      swam rapidly over, in a straight line, to the opposite
      projecting point of land. The observer on this
      occasion, who was near the spot, but remained
      unperceived by the hares, had no doubt they were of
      different sexes, and that it was the male (like
      another Leander) which swam across the water, as he
      had probably done many times before. It was remarkable
      that the hares had remained on the shore nearly half
      an hour; one of them occasionally examining, as it
      would seem, the state of the current, and ultimately
      taking to the sea at that precise period of the tide
      called slackwater, when the passage across could be
      effected without being carried by the force of the
      stream either above or below the desired point of
      landing. The other hare then cantered back to the
      hills. (Loudoun's 'Magazine of Natural History,' vol.
      v., p. 99.)

According to Couch ('Illustrations of Instinct,' p. 177)--

      When followed by dogs, it will not run through a gate,
      though this is obviously the most ready passage; nor
      in crossing a hedge will it prefer a smooth and even
      part, but the roughest, where thorns and briars
      abound; and when it mounts an eminence it proceeds
      obliquely, and not straightforward. And whether we
      suppose these actions to proceed from a desire to
      avoid those places where traps may probably have been
      laid, or from knowing that his pursuers will exactly
      follow his footsteps, and he has resolved to lead them
      through as many obstacles as possible, in either case
      an estimation of causes and consequences is to be

It is a remarkable thing that both hares and rabbits should allow
themselves to be overtaken in the open field by weasels. I have myself
witnessed the process, and am at a loss to account for it. The hare or
rabbit seems perfectly aware of the dangerous character of the weasel,
and yet does not put forth its powers of escape. It merely toddles along
with the weasel toddling behind, until tamely allowing itself to be
overtaken. This anomalous case may perhaps be akin to the alleged
phenomena of the fascination of birds and small rodents by snakes; but
in any case there seems to have been here a remarkable failure of
natural selection in doing duty to the instincts of these swift-footed

We must not close this account of the intelligence of the hare genus
without alluding to the classical case of Cowper's hares. The following
abstract is taken from Tegg's edition of 'The Life and Works of William
Cowper,' p. 633:--

      Puss was ill three days, during which time I nursed
      him, kept him apart from his fellows, . . . and by
      constant care, &c., restored him to perfect health. No
      creature could be more grateful than my patient after
      his recovery, a sentiment which he most significantly
      expressed by licking my hand, first the back of it,
      then the palm, then every finger separately, then
      between all the fingers, as if anxious to leave no
      part of it unsaluted; _a ceremony which he never
      performed but once again upon a similar occasion_.
      Finding him extremely tractable, I made it my custom
     to carry him always after breakfast into the garden. . . .
     I had not long habituated him to this taste of
     liberty before he began to be impatient for the return
     of the time when he might enjoy it. He would invite me
     to the garden by drumming upon my knee, and by a look
     of such expression as it was not possible to
     misinterpret. If this rhetoric did not immediately
     succeed, _he would take the skirt of my coat between
     his teeth and pull it with all his force_. He seemed to
     be happier in human society than when shut up with his
     natural companions.

_Rats and Mice._

Rats are well known to be highly intelligent animals. Unlike the hare or
rabbit, their shyness seems to proceed from a wise caution rather than
from timidity; for, when circumstances require, their boldness and
courage in combat is surprising. Moreover, they never seem to lose their
presence of mind; for, however great their danger, they seem always
ready to take advantage of any favouring circumstances that may arise.
Thus, when matched with so formidable an opponent as a ferret in a
closed room, they have been known to display wonderful cunning in taking
advantage of the light--keeping close under the window so as to throw
the glare into the eyes of the enemy, darting forwards time after time
to deliver a bite, and then as often retiring to their vantage-ground.[210]
But the emotions of rats do not appear to be of an entirely selfish
character. There are so many accounts in the anecdote books of blind
rats being led about by their seeing companions, that it is difficult to
discredit an observation so frequently confirmed.[211] Moreover, rats
have been frequently known to assist one another in defending themselves
from dangerous enemies. Several observations of this kind are recorded
by the trustworthy writer Mr. Rodwell, in his somewhat elaborate work
upon this animal.

Again, as showing affection for human beings, I may quote the
following:--'The mouse which had been tamed by Baron Trench in his
prison having been taken from him, watched at the door and crept in when
it was opened; being removed again, it refused all food, and died in
three days.'[212]

With regard to general intelligence, every one knows the extraordinary
wariness of rats in relation to traps, which is only equalled in the
animal kingdom by that of the fox and the wolverine. It has frequently
been regarded as a wonderful display of intelligence on the part of rats
that while gnawing through the woodwork of a ship, they always stop
before they completely perforate the side; but, as Mr. Jesse suggests,
this is probably due to their distaste of the salt water. No such
disparaging explanation, however, is possible in some other instances of
the display of rat-intelligence. Thus, the manner in which they
transport eggs to their burrows has been too frequently observed to
admit of doubt. Rodwell gives a case in which a number of eggs were
carried from the top of a house to the bottom by two rats devoting
themselves to each egg, and alternately passing it down to each other at
every step of the staircase.[213] Dr. Carpenter also received from an
eye-witness a similar account of another instance.[214] According to the
article in the _Quarterly Review_, already mentioned, rats will not only
convey eggs from the top of the house to the bottom, but from bottom to
top. 'The male rat places himself on his fore-paws, with his head
downwards, and raising up his hind legs and catching the egg between
them, pushes it up to the female, who stands on the step above, and
secures it with her fore-paws till he jumps up to her; and this process
is repeated from step to step till the top is reached.'

'The captain of a merchantman,' says Mr. Jesse, 'trading to the port of
Boston, in Lincolnshire, had constantly missed eggs from his sea stock.
He suspected that he was robbed by his crew, but not being able to
discover the thief, he was determined to watch his store-room.
Accordingly, having laid in a fresh stock of eggs, he seated himself at
night in a situation that commanded a view of his eggs. To his great
astonishment he saw a number of rats approach; they formed a line from
his egg baskets to their hole, and handed the eggs from one to another
in their fore-paws.'[215]

Another device to which rats resort for the procuring of food is
mentioned in all the anecdote books, and it seemed so interesting that I
tried some direct experiments upon the subject. I shall first state the
alleged facts in the words of Watson:--

      As to oil, rats have been known to get oil out of a
      narrow-necked bottle in the following way:--One of
      them would place himself, on some convenient support,
      by the side of the bottle, and then, dipping his tail
      into the oil, would give it to another to lick. In
      this act there is something more than what we call
      instinct; there is reason and understanding.[216]

Jesse also gives the following account:--

      A box containing some bottles of Florence oil was
      placed in a store-room which was seldom opened; the
      box had no lid to it. On going to the room one day for
      one of the bottles, the owner found that the pieces of
      bladder and cotton at the mouth of each bottle had
      disappeared, and that much of the contents of the
      bottles had been consumed. The circumstance having
      excited suspicion, a few bottles were refilled with
      oil, and the mouths of them secured as before. Next
      morning the coverings of the bottles had been removed,
      and some of the oil was gone. However, upon watching
      the room, which was done through a little window, some
      rats were seen to get into the box, and insert their
      tails into the necks of the bottles, and then
      withdrawing them, they licked off the oil which
      adhered to them.[217]

Lastly, Rodwell gives another case similar in all essential respects,
save that the rat licked its own tail instead of presenting it to a

The experiment whereby I tested the truth of these statements was a
very simple one. I recorded it in 'Nature' as follows:--

      It is, I believe, pretty generally supposed that rats
      and mice use their tails for feeding purposes when the
      food to be eaten is contained in vessels too narrow to
      admit the entire body of the animal. I am not aware,
      however, that the truth of this supposition has ever
      been actually tested by any trustworthy person, and so
      think the following simple experiments are worth
      publishing. Having obtained a couple of tall-shaped
      preserve bottles with rather short and narrow necks, I
      filled them to within three inches of the top with red
      currant jelly which had only half stiffened. I covered
      the bottles with bladder in the ordinary way, and then
      stood them in a place infested by rats. Next morning
      the bladder covering each of the bottles had a small
      hole gnawed through it, and the level of the jelly was
      reduced in both bottles to the same extent. Now, as
      this extent corresponded to about the length of a
      rat's tail if inserted at the hole in the bladder, and
      as this hole was not much more than just large enough
      to admit the root of this organ, I do not see that any
      further evidence is required to prove the manner in
      which the rats obtained the jelly, viz., by repeatedly
      introducing their tails into the viscid matter, and as
      repeatedly licking them clean. However, to put the
      question beyond doubt, I refilled the bottles to the
      extent of half an inch above the jelly level left by
      the rats, and having placed a circle of moist paper
      upon each of the jelly surfaces, covered the bottles
      with bladder as before. I now left the bottles in a
      place where there were no rats or mice, until a good
      crop of mould had grown upon one of the moistened
      pieces of paper. The bottle containing this crop of
      mould I then transferred to the place where the rats
      were numerous. Next morning the bladder had again been
      eaten through at one edge, and upon the mould there
      were numerous and distinct tracings of the rats'
      tails, resembling marks made with the top of a
      pen-holder. These tracings were evidently caused by
      the animals sweeping their tails about in a fruitless
      endeavour to find a hole in the circle of paper which
      covered the jelly.

With regard to mice, the Rev. W. North, rector of Ashdown, in Essex,
placed a pot of honey in a closet, in which a quantity of plaster
rubbish had been left by builders. The mice piled up the plaster in the
form of a heap against the sides of the pot, in order to constitute an
inclined plane whereby to reach the rim. A quantity of the rubbish had
also been thrown into the pot, with the effect of raising the level of
the honey that remained to near the rim of the pot; but, of course, the
latter fact may have been due to accident, and not to design.[218] This is
a case in which mal-observation does not seem to have been likely.

Powelsen, a writer on Iceland, has related an account of the
intelligence displayed by the mice of that country, which has given rise
to a difference of competent opinion, and which perhaps can hardly yet
be said to have been definitely settled. What Powelsen said is that the
mice collect in parties of from six to ten, select a flat piece of dried
cow-dung, pile berries or other food upon it, then with united strength
drag it to the edge of any stream they wish to cross, launch it, embark,
and range themselves round the central heap of provisions with their
heads joined over it, and their tails hanging in the water, perhaps
serving as rudders. Pennant afterwards gave credit to this account,
observing that in a country where berries were scarce, the mice were
compelled to cross streams for distant forages.[219] Dr. Hooker, however,
in his 'Tour in Iceland,' concludes that the account is a pure
fabrication. Dr. Henderson, therefore, determined on trying to arrive at
the truth of the matter, with the following result:--'I made a point of
inquiring of different individuals as to the reality of the account, and
am happy in being able to say that it is now established as an important
fact in natural history by the testimony of two eye-witnesses of
unquestionable veracity, the clergyman of Briamslaek, and Madame
Benedictson of Stickesholm, both of whom assured me that they had seen
the expedition performed repeatedly. Madame Benedictson, in particular,
recollected having spent a whole afternoon, in her younger days, at the
margin of a small lake on which these skilful navigators had embarked,
and amusing herself and her companions by driving them away from the
sides of the lake as they approached them. I was also informed that
they make use of dried mushrooms as sacks, in which they convey their
provisions to the river, and thence to their homes.'[220]

Before leaving the mice and rats I may say a few words upon certain
mouse- and rat-like animals which scarcely require a separate section
for their consideration. Of the harvesting mouse Gilbert White says:--

      One of their nests I procured this autumn, most
      artificially plaited and composed of blades of wheat,
      perfectly round, and about the size of a cricket-ball,
      with the aperture so ingeniously closed that there was
      no discovering to what part it belonged. It was so
      compact and well filled that it would roll across the
      table without being discomposed, though it contained
      eight little mice that were naked and blind. As the
      nest was perfectly full, how could the dam come at her
      litter respectively, so as to administer a teat to
      each? Perhaps she opens different places for that
      purpose, adjusting them again when the business is
      over; but she could not possibly be contained herself
      in the ball with the young ones, which, moreover,
      would be daily increasing in size. This wonderful
      procreant cradle, an elegant instance of the efforts
      of instinct, was found in a wheat field, suspended on
      the head of a thistle.

Pallas has described the provident habits of the so-called 'rat-hare'
(_Lagomys_), which lays up a store of grass, or rather hay, for winter
consumption. These animals, which occur in the Altai Mountains, live in
holes or crevices of rock. About the middle of the month of August they
collect grass, and spread it out to dry into hay. In September they form
heaps or stacks of the hay, which may be as much as six feet high, and
eight feet in diameter. It is stored in their chosen hole or crevice,
protected from the rain.

The following is quoted from Thompson's 'Passions of Animals,' pp.

      The life of the harvester rat is divided between
      eating and fighting. It seems to have no other passion
      than that of rage, which induces it to attack every
      animal that comes in its way, without in the least
      attending to the superior strength of its enemy.
      Ignorant of the art of saving itself by flight,
      rather than yield, it will allow itself to be beaten
      to pieces with a stick. If it seizes a man's hand, it
      must be killed before it will quit its hold. The
      magnitude of the horse terrifies it as little as the
      address of the dog, which last is fond of hunting it.
      When a harvester perceives a dog at a distance, it
      begins by emptying its cheek-pouches, if they happen
      to be filled with grain; it then blows them up so
      prodigiously, that the size of the head and neck
      greatly exceeds that of the rest of the body. It rears
      itself upon its hind legs, and thus darts upon the
      enemy. If it catches hold, it never quits it but with
      the loss of its life; but the dog generally seizes it
      behind, and strangles it. This ferocious disposition
      prevents it from being at peace with any animal
      whatever. It even makes war against its own species.
      When two harvesters meet, they never fail to attack
      each other, and the stronger always devours the
      weaker. A combat between a male and a female commonly
      lasts longer than between two males. They begin by
      pursuing and biting each other, then each of them
      retires aside, as if to take breath. After a short
      interval they renew the combat, and continue to fight
      till one of them falls. The vanquished uniformly
      serves as a repast to the conqueror.

If we contrast the fearless disposition of the harvester with the
timidity of the hare or rabbit, we observe that in respect of emotions,
no less than in that of intelligence, the order Rodentia comprises the
utmost extremes.

The so-called 'prairie-dog' is a kind of small rodent, which makes
burrows in the ground, and a slight elevation above it. The animals
being social in their habits, their warrens are called 'dog-towns.'
Prof. Jillson, Ph.D., kept a pair in confinement (see 'American
Naturalist,' vol. v., pp. 24-29), and found them to be intelligent and
highly affectionate animals. These burrows he found to contain a
'granary,' or chambers set apart for the reception of stored food. With
regard to the association said to exist between this animal and the owl
and rattle-snake, Prof. Jillson says, 'I have seen many dog-towns, with
owls and dogs standing on contiguous, and in some cases on the same
mound, but never saw a snake in the vicinity.' The popular notion that
the owl acts the part of sentry to the dog requires, to say the least,


Most remarkable among rodents for instinct and intelligence
unquestionably stands the beaver. Indeed, there is no animal--not even
excepting the ants and bees--where instinct has risen to a higher level
of far-reaching adaptation to certain constant conditions of
environment, or where faculties, undoubtedly instinctive, are more
puzzlingly wrought up with faculties no less undoubtedly intelligent. So
much is this the case that, as we shall presently see, it is really
impossible by the closest study of the psychology of this animal to
distinguish the web of instinct from the woof of intelligence; the two
principles seem here to have been so intimately woven together, that in
the result, as expressed by certain particular actions, it cannot be
determined how much we are to attribute to mechanical impulse, and how
much to reasoned purpose.

Fortunately, the doubt that for many years shrouded the facts has been
dispelled by the conscientious and laborious observations of the late
Mr. Lewis H. Morgan,[221] whose work throughout displays the judicious
accuracy of a scientific mind. As this is much the most trustworthy, as
well as the most exhaustive essay upon the subject, I shall mainly rely
upon it for my statement of facts, and while presenting these I shall
endeavour to point out the psychological explanation, or difficulty of
explanation, to which they are severally open.

The beaver is a social animal, the male living with his single female
and progeny in a separate burrow or 'lodge.' Several of these lodges,
however, are usually built close together, so as to form a beaver
colony. The young quit the lodge of their parents when they enter upon
the summer of their third year, seek mates, and establish new lodges for
themselves. As each litter numbers three or four, and breeding is
annual, it follows that a beaver lodge never or rarely contains more
than twelve individuals, while the number usually ranges from four to
eight. Every season, and particularly when a district becomes
overstocked, some of the beavers migrate. The Indians say that in their
local migrations the old beavers go up stream, and the young down;
assigning as a reason that in the struggle for existence greater
advantages are afforded near the source than lower down a stream, and
therefore that the old beavers appropriate the former. But although
lodges may thus be vacated by the old beavers, they are not left
tenantless; their lease is, as it were, transferred to another beaver
couple. This process of transference of ownership goes on from
generation to generation, so that the same lodges are continuously
occupied for centuries.

These lodges, which are always constructed in or near water, are of
three kinds--the island, bank, and lake lodge. The first are formed on
small islands which may happen to occur in the ponds made by the
beaver-dams. The floor of the lodge is a few inches above the level of
the water, and into it there open two, or sometimes more entrances:

      These are made with great skill, and in the most
      artistic manner. One is straight, or as nearly so as
      possible, with its floor, which is of course under
      water, an inclined plane, rising gradually from the
      bottom of the pond into the chamber; while the other
      is abrupt in its descent, and often sinuous in its
      course. The first we shall call the 'wood entrance,'
      from its evident design to facilitate the admission
      into the chamber of their wood cuttings, upon which
      they subsist during the season of winter. These
      cuttings, as will elsewhere be shown, are of such size
      and length that such an entrance is absolutely
      necessary for their free admission into the lodge. The
      other, which we shall call the 'beaver entrance,' is
      the ordinary run-way for their exit and return. It is
      usually abrupt, and often winding. In the lodge under
      consideration, the wood entrance descended from the
      outer run of the chamber entrance about ten feet to
      the bottom of the pond in a straight line, and upon an
      inclined plane; while the other, emerging from the
      line of the chamber at the side, descended quite
      abruptly to the bottom of the moat or trench, through
      which the beavers must pass, in open water, out into
      the pond. Both entrances were rudely arched, with a
      roof of interlaced sticks filled in with mud
      intermixed with vegetable fibre, and were extended to
      the bottom of the pond or trench, with the exception
      of the opening at their ends. At the places where they
      were constructed through the floor they were finished
      with neatness and precision; the upper parts and sides
      forming an arch more or less regular, while the bottom
      and floor edges were formed with firm and compacted
      earth, in which small sticks were embedded. It is
      difficult to realise the artistic appearance of some
      of these entrances without actual inspection.

Upon the floor of the lodge there is constructed a house of sticks,
brushwood, and mud, in the form of a circular or oval chamber, the size
of which varies with the age of the lodge; for by a continuous process
of repair (which consists in removing the decayed sticks, &c., from the
interior and working them up with new material upon the exterior) the
whole lodge progressively increases in size: eventually in this way the
interior chamber may attain a diameter of seven or eight feet.

The 'bank lodges' are of two kinds:--

      One is situated upon the bank of the stream or pond, a
      few feet back from its edge, and entered by an
      underground passage from the bed of the stream,
      excavated through the natural earth up into the
      chamber. The other is situated upon the edge of the
      bank, a portion of it projecting over and resting upon
      the bed of the channel, so as to have the floor of the
      chamber rest upon the bank as upon solid ground, while
      the external wall on the pond side projects beyond it,
      and is built up from the bottom of the pond.

Lastly, the 'lake lodges' are constructed on the shores of lakes, which,
being usually shelving and hard, require some further variation in the
structure of the lodges. These, therefore, are of interest 'as
illustrations of the capacity of the beavers to vary the mode of
construction of their lodges in accordance with the changes of
situation.' One-half or two-thirds of the lodge is in this case 'built
out upon the lake for the obvious purpose of covering the entrance, as
well as for its extension into deep water.'

All these forms of lodge are, historically regarded, modified burrows.

      The beaver is a burrowing animal. Indulging this
      propensity, he excavates chambers underground, and
      constructs artificial lodges upon its surface, both of
      which are indispensable to his security and happiness.
      The lodge is but a burrow above ground, covered with
      an artificial roof, and possesses some advantages over
      the latter as a place for rearing young.

      There are reasons for believing that the burrow is the
      normal residence of the beavers, and that the lodge
      grew out of it, in the progress of their experience,
      by a process of natural suggestion. . . . In addition
      to the lodge, the same beavers who inhabit it have
      burrows in the banks surrounding the pond. They never
      risk their personal safety upon their lodge alone,
      which, being conspicuous to their enemies, is liable
      to attack. . . . As the entrances are always below the
      surface level of the pond, there are no external
      indications to mark the site of the burrow,

except occasionally a small pile of beaver-cuttings a foot or more high.
These, the trappers affirm, are purposely left there by the beavers to
keep the snow loose over the ends of their burrows during winter for the
admission of air.

Mr. Morgan adds the very probable suggestion that this habit of piling
up cuttings for purposes of ventilation may have constituted the origin
of lodge-building.

      It is but a step from such a surface-pile of sticks to
      a lodge, with its chamber above ground, and the
      previous burrow as its entrance from the pond. A
      burrow accidentally broken through at its upper end,
      and repaired with a covering of sticks and earth,
      would lead to a lodge above ground, and thus
      inaugurate a beaver lodge out of a broken burrow.

It is evidence of an important local variation of instinct, that in the
Cascade Mountains the beavers live chiefly in burrows in the banks of
streams, and rarely construct either lodges or dams. Dr. Newbury, in his
report on the zoology of Oregon and California, says: 'We found the
beavers in numbers, of which, when applied to beavers, I had no
conception,' and yet 'we never saw their houses and seldom a dam.'
Whether this local variation be due to a relapse from dam- and
lodge-building instincts to the primitive burrowing instinct, or to a
failure in the full development of the newer instinct, is immaterial.
Probably, I think, looking to the high antiquity of the building
instinct, and also to its being occasionally manifested by the
Californian beavers, their case is to be regarded as one of relapsing

In selecting the site of their lodges beavers display much sagacity and

      The severity of the climate in these high northern
      latitudes lays upon them the necessity of so locating
      their lodges as to be assured of water deep enough in
      their entrances, and also so protected in other
      respects, as not to freeze to the bottom;[222] otherwise
      they would perish with hunger, locked up in ice-bound
      habitations. To guard against this danger, the dam,
      also, must be sufficiently stable through the winter
      to maintain the water at a constant level; and this
      level, again, must be so adjusted with reference to
      the floor of the lodge as to enable them, at all
      times, to take in their cuttings from without as they
      are needed for food. When they leave their normal mode
      of life in the banks of the rivers, and undertake to
      live in dependence upon artificial ponds of their own
      formation, they are compelled to prevent the
      consequences of their acts at the peril of their

On the upper Missouri, where the banks of the river are for miles
together vertical, and rising from three to eight feet above its
surface, the beavers resort to the device of making what are called
'beaver slides.' These are narrow inclined planes cut into the banks at
intervals, the angle of inclination being 45° to 60°, so as to form a
gradual descent from a point a few feet back from the edge of the bank
to the level of the river. As Mr. Morgan observes, 'they furnish another
conspicuous illustration of the fact that beavers possess a free
intelligence, by means of which they are enabled to adapt themselves to
the circumstances in which they are placed.'

Coming now to the habits of these animals in connection with the
procuring and storing of food, it is first to be observed that 'the
thick bark upon the trunks of large trees, and even upon those of medium
size, is unsuitable for food; but the smaller limbs, the bark of which
is tender and nutritious, afford the aliment which they prefer.' To
obtain this food, the animals, as is well known, fell the trees by
gnawing a ring round their base. Two or three nights' successive work by
a pair of beavers is enough to bring down a half-grown tree, 'each
family being left to the undisturbed enjoyment of the fruits of their
own toil and industry.' 'When the tree begins to crackle they desist
from cutting, which they afterwards continue with caution until it
begins to fall, when they plunge into the pond usually, and wait
concealed for a time, as if fearful that the cracking noise of the
tree-fall might attract some enemy to the place.' It is of much interest
that the beavers when thus felling trees know how to regulate the
direction of the fall; by gnawing chiefly on the side of the trunk
remote from the water, they make the tree fall towards the water, with
the obvious purpose of saving as much as possible the labour of
subsequent transport. For as soon as a tree is down, the next work is to
cut off the branches, or such as are from two to six inches in diameter;
and then, when they have been cleared of their twigs, to divide them
into lengths sufficient to admit of the beavers transporting them to
their lodges. The cutting into lengths is effected by making a number of
semi-sections through the branch at more or less equal distances as it
lies upon the ground, and then turning the branch half round and
continuing the sections from the opposite side. 'To cut it (the branch)
entirely through from the upper side would require an incision of such
width as to involve a loss of labour.' The thicker the branch, the
closer together are the sections made, and consequently the shorter are
the resulting portions--the reason, of course, being that the strength
of the animal would not be sufficient to transport a thick piece of
timber of the same length as a thin piece which it is only just able to

      In moving cuttings of this description they are quite
      ingenious. They shove and roll them with their hips,
      using also their legs and tails as levers, moving
      sideways in the act. In this way they move the larger
      pieces from the more or less elevated ground on which
      the deciduous trees are found, over the uneven but
      generally descending surface to the pond. . . . After
      one of these cuttings has been transported to the water,
      a beaver, placing one end of it under his throat, pushes
      it before him to the place where it is to be sunk.

The sinking is no doubt partly effected by mere soaking; but there is
also some evidence to show that the beavers have a method of anchoring
down their supplies. Thus they have been observed towing pieces of brush
to their lodges, and then, while holding the large end in their mouths,
'going down with it to the bottom, apparently to fix it in the mud
bottom of the pond.' A brush-heap being thus formed, the cuttings from
the felled trees are stuck through the brushwork, without which
'protection they would be liable to be floated off by the strong
currents, and thus be lost to the beavers at the time when their lives
might depend upon their safe custody.'

Lastly, as a method whereby the beavers can save themselves the trouble
of cutting, transporting, and anchoring all at the same time, they are
prone, when circumstances permit, to fell a tree growing near enough to
their pond to admit of its branches being submerged in the water. The
animals then well know that the branches and young shoots will remain
preserved throughout the winter without any further trouble from them.
But of course the supply of trees thus growing conveniently near a
beaver-pond is too limited to last long.

We have next to consider the most wonderful, and I think the most
psychologically puzzling structures that are presented as the works of
any animal; I mean, of course, the dams and canals.

The object of the dam is that of forming an artificial pond, the use of
which is to afford refuge to the animals as well as water connection
with their lodges. Therefore the level of the pond must in all cases be
higher than that of the lodge- and burrow-entrances, and it is usually
maintained two or three feet above them.

      As the dam is not an absolute necessity to the beaver
      for the maintenance of his life--his normal habitation
      being rather natural ponds and rivers, and the burrows
      in their banks--it is, in itself considered, a
      remarkable fact that he should have voluntarily
      transferred himself, by means of dams and ponds of his
      own construction, from a natural to an artificial mode
      of life.

In external appearance there are two distinct kinds of dams, although
all are constructed on the same principle. One, the more common, is the
'stick dam,' which is composed of interlaced stick and pole work upon
the lower face, with an embankment of earth mixed with the same
materials on the upper face. The other is the 'solid-bank dam,' which
differs from the former in having much more brush and mud worked into
its construction, especially upon its surfaces; the result being that
the whole formation looks like a solid bank of earth. In the first kind
of dam the surplus water percolates through the structure along its
entire length; but in the second kind the discharge takes place through
a single furrow in the crest, which, remarkable though the fact
unquestionably is, the beavers intentionally form for this purpose.

In the construction of the dam, stones are used here and there to give
down-weight and solidity. These stones weigh from one to six pounds, and
are carried by the beavers in the same way as they carry their
mud--namely, by walking on their hind legs while holding their burden
against the chest with their fore-paws. The solid dams are much firmer
in their consistence than the stick dams; for while a horse might walk
across the former, the weight of a man would be too great to be
sustained by the latter. Each kind of dam is adapted to the locality in
which it is built, the difference between the two kinds being due to the
following cause. As a stream gains water and force in its descent, it
develops banks, and also a broader and deeper channel. These banks
assume a vertical form in the level areas where the soil is alluvial.
Thus, an open stick-work dam could not in such places be led off from
either bank; and even if it could, the force and depth of the stream
would carry it away. Therefore in such places the beavers build their
solid-bank dams, while in shallow and comparatively sluggish waters they
content themselves with the smaller amount of labour involved in the
building of a stick dam.

To give some idea of the proportions of a dam, I shall epitomise a
number of measurements given by Mr. Morgan:--

  Height of structure from base line                 2 to  6
  Difference in depth of water above and below dam   4 to  5
  Width of base or section                           6 to 18
  Length of slope, lower face                        6 to 13
  Length of slope, upper face                        4 to  8

The only other measurement is that of length, and this, of course,
varies with the width of water to be spanned. Where this width is
considerable the length of a dam may be prodigious, as the following
quotation will show:--

      Some of the dams in this region are not less
      remarkable for their prodigious length, a statement of
      which, in fact, would scarcely be credited unless
      verified by actual measurement. The largest one yet
      mentioned measures 260 feet, but there are dams 400
      and even 500 feet long.

      There is a dam in two sections, situated upon a
      tributary of the main branch of the Esconauba River,
      about a mile and a half north-west of the Washington
      Main. One section measures 110 and the other 400 feet,
      with an interval of natural bank, worked here and
      there, of 1,000 feet. A solid-bank dam, 20 feet in
      length, was first constructed across the channel of
      the stream, from bank to bank, with the usual opening
      for the surplus water, five feet wide. As the water
      rose and overflowed the bank on the left side, the dam
      was extended for 90 feet, until it reached ground high
      enough to confine the pond. This natural bank extended
      up the stream, and nearly parallel with it, for 1,000
      feet, where the ground again subsided, and allowed the
      water in the upper part of the pond to flow out and
      around into the channel of the stream below the dam.
      To meet this emergency a second dam, 420 feet long,
      was constructed. For the greater part of its length it
      is low, but in some places it is two and a half and
      three feet high, and constructed of stick-work on the
      land, and with an earth embankment on its outer face.
      In effect, therefore, it is one structure 1,530 feet
      in length, of which 530 feet in two sections is
      artificial, and the remainder natural bank, but worked
      here and there where depressions in the ground
      required raising by artificial means.

It is truly an astonishing fact that animals should engage in such vast
architectural labours with what appears to be the deliberate purpose of
securing, by such very artificial means, the special benefits that arise
from their high engineering skill. So astonishing, indeed, does this
fact appear, that as sober-minded interpreters of fact we would fain
look for some explanation which would not necessitate the inference that
these actions are due to any intelligent appreciation, either of the
benefits that arise from the labour, or of the hydrostatic principles to
which this labour so clearly refers. Yet the more closely we look into
the subject, the more impossible do we find it to account for the facts
by any such easy method. Thus it seems perfectly certain that the
beavers, properly and strictly speaking, understand the use of their
dams in maintaining a certain level of water. For it is unquestionable
that in the solid-bank dams, as already observed, a regular opening or
trough is cut at one part of its crest to provide for the overflow; and
now it has to be added that this opening is purposely widened or
narrowed with reference to the amount of water in the stream at
different times, so as to ensure the maintenance of a constant level in
the pond. Similarly, though by different means, the same end is secured
in the case of the stick dams. For 'in most of these dams the rapidity
or slowness with which the surplus water is discharged is undoubtedly
regulated by the beavers; otherwise the level of the pond would
continually vary. There must be a constant tendency to enlarge the
orifices through which the water passes,' when the stream is small, and
_vice versâ_; otherwise the lodges would be either inundated or have
their sub-aquatic entrances exposed.[223] Moreover, a very little
consideration is enough to show that in stick dams the tendency to
increased leakage from the effects of percolation, and to a settling
down of the dam as its materials decay from underneath, must demand
unceasing vigilance and care to avert the consequences. And accordingly
it is found that 'in the fall of the year a new supply of materials is
placed upon the lower face of these dams to compensate this waste from

Now, it is obvious that we have here presented a continual variation of
conditions, imposed by continual variations in the amount of water
coming down; and it is a matter of observation that these variations are
met by the beavers in the only way that they can be met--namely, by
regulating the amount of flow taking place through the dams. It will
therefore be seen that we have here to consider a totally different case
from that of the operation of pure instinct, however wonderful such
operation may be. For the adaptations of pure instinct only have
reference to conditions that are unchanging; so that if in this case we
suppose pure instinct to account for all the facts, we must greatly
modify our ideas of what pure instinct is taken to mean. Thus we must
suppose that when the beavers find the level of their ponds rising or
falling, the discomfort which they experience acts as a stimulus to
cause them, without intelligent purpose, either to widen or to narrow
the orifices in their dams as the case may be. And not only so, but the
conditions of stimulation and response must be so nicely balanced that
the animals widen or narrow these orifices with a more or less precise
_quantitative_ reference to the degree of discomfort, actual or
prospective, which they experience. Now it seems to me that even thus
far it is an extremely difficult thing to believe that the mechanism of
pure or wholly unintelligent instinct could admit of sufficient
refinement to meet so complex a case of compensating adaptation; and, as
we shall immediately see, this difficulty increases still more as we
contemplate additional facts relating to these structures.

Thus it sometimes happens that in large dams the pressure of the water
which they keep back is so considerable that their stability is
endangered. In such cases it has been observed by Mr. Morgan that, at a
short distance beneath the main dam, another and lower dam is thrown
across the stream, with the result of forming a shallow pond between the
two. This pond is--

      Of no apparent use for beaver occupation, but yet
      subserving the important purpose of setting back water
      to the depth of twelve or fifteen inches; . . . and the
      small dam, by maintaining the water a foot deep below
      the great dam, diminishes to this extent the
      difference in level above and below, and neutralises
      to the same extent the pressure of the water in the
      pond above against the main structure.

'Whether,' adds Mr. Morgan, with commendable caution, 'the lower dam was
constructed with this motive and for this object, or is explainable on
some other hypothesis, I shall not venture an opinion.' But as, he
further adds, 'I have also found the same precise work repeated below
other large dams,' we are led to conclude that their correlation cannot
at least be accidental; and as it is of so definite a character, there
really seems no 'other hypothesis' open to us than that of its having
reference to the stability of the main dam. Yet, if this is the case, it
becomes in my opinion simply impossible to attribute the fact to the
operation of pure instinct.

Again, Mr. Morgan observed one case in which, higher up stream than the
main dam, there was constructed another dam, ninety-three feet long, and
two and a half feet high at the centre:--

      A dam at this point is apparently of no conceivable
      use to improve the lake for beaver occupation. It has
      one feature, also, in which it differs from other dams
      except those upon lake outlets, and that consists in
      its elevation, at all points, of about two feet above
      the level of the lake at ordinary stages of the water.
      In all other dams, except those upon lake outlets, and
      in most of the latter, the water stands quite near
      their crests, while in the one under consideration it
      stood about two feet below it. This fact suggests at
      least the inference, although it may have but little
      of probability to sustain it, that it was constructed
      with special reference to sudden rises of the lake in
      times of freshet, and that it was designed to hold
      this surplus water until it could be gradually
      discharged through the dam into the great space below.
      It would at least subserve this purpose very
      efficiently, and thus protect the dam below it from
      the effects of freshets. To ascribe the origin of this
      dam to such motives of intelligence is to invest this
      animal with a higher degree of sagacity than we have
      probable reason to concede to him, and yet it is
      proper to mention the relation in which these dams
      stand to each other--whether that relation is regarded
      as accidental or intentional.

As before, we have here to commend the caution displayed by the closing
sentence; but, as useless dams are not found in other places, the
inference clearly is that the dam in question, both as regards its
exceptional position and exceptional height, can only be explained by
supposing the structure to have been designed for the use which it
unquestionably served. That is to say, if we do not entertain this
explanation, there is no other to be suggested; and although in any
ordinary or occasional instance of the display of animal intelligence in
such a degree as this I should not hesitate to attribute the facts to
accident, in the case of the beaver there are such a multitude of
constantly recurring facts, all and only referable to a practical though
not less extraordinary appreciation of hydrostatic principles, that the
hypothesis of accident must here, I think, be laid aside. To
substantiate this statement I shall detail the facts concerning the

As Mr. Morgan, who first discovered and described these astonishing
structures, observes,--

      Remarkable as the dam may still be considered, from
      its structure and objects, it scarcely surpasses, if
      it may be said to equal, these water-ways, here called
      canals, which are excavated through the low lands
      bordering their ponds for the purpose of reaching the
      hard wood, and for affording a channel for its
      transportation to their lodges. To conceive and
      execute such a design presupposes a more complicated
      and extended process of reasoning than that required
      for the construction of a dam, and, although a much
      simpler work to perform when the thought was fully
      developed, it was far less to have been expected from
      a mute animal.

These canals are developed in this way. One of the principal objects
served by a dam thrown across a small stream, is that of flooding the
low ground so as to obtain water connection with the first high ground
upon which hard wood is to be found, such connection being convenient,
or even necessary, for the purposes of transport.

      Where the pond fails to accomplish this fully, and
      also where the banks are defined and mark the limits
      of the pond, the deficiency is supplied by the canals
      in question. On descending surfaces, as has elsewhere
      been stated, beavers roll and drag their short
      cuttings down into the ponds. But where the ground is
      low it is generally so uneven and rough as to render
      it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the
      beavers to move them for any considerable distance by
      physical force. Hence the canal for floating them
      across the intervening level ground to the pond. The
      necessity for it is so apparent as to diminish our
      astonishment at its construction; and yet that the
      beaver should devise a canal to surmount this
      difficulty is not the less remarkable.

The canals, which are made by excavation, are usually from three to five
feet wide, three feet deep, and perhaps hundreds of feet long--the
length of course depending on the distance between the lodge and the
wood supply. They are cut in the form of trenches, having perpendicular
sides and abrupt ends. All roots of trees, under-brush, &c., are cleared
away in their course, so as to afford an unobstructed passage. These
canals are of such frequent occurrence that it is impossible to
attribute them to accident; they are evidently made, at the cost of much
labour, with the deliberate purpose of putting them to the use for which
they are designed. In executing this purpose there is sometimes
displayed a depth of engineering forethought over details of structure
required by the circumstances of special localities, which is even more
astonishing than the execution of the general idea. Thus it not
unfrequently happens that when a canal has been run for a certain
distance, a rise in the level of the ground renders it impossible to
continue the structure further from the water supply or lodge-pond,
without either incurring a great amount of labour in digging the canal
with progressively deepening sides, or leaving the trench empty of
water, and so useless. In such cases the beavers resort to various
expedients, according to the nature of the ground.


Mr. Morgan gives an interesting sketch of one such case, where the canal
is excavated through low ground for a distance of 450 feet, when it
reaches the first rise of ground, and throughout this distance, being
level with the pond, it is supplied with water from this source. Where
the rise begins a dam is made, and the canal is then continued for 25
feet at a level of one foot higher than before. This higher level reach
is supplied with water collected from still higher levels by another
dam, extending for 75 feet upon one side of the canal and 25 feet on the
other, in the form of a crescent with its concavity directed towards the
highlands, so as to collect all the drainage water, and concentrate it
into the second reach of the canal. Beyond this larger dam there is
another abrupt rise of a foot, and the canal is there continued for 47
feet more, where a third dam is built resembling the second in
construction, only having a still wider span on either side of the canal
(142 feet), so as to catch a still larger quantity of drainage water to
supply the third or uppermost reach of the canal. We have, therefore,
here presented, not only a perfect application of the principle of
'locks,' which are used in canals of human construction, but also the
principle of collecting water to supply the reaches situated on the
slope by means of elaborately constructed dams of wide extent, and of
the best form for the purpose. There is thus shown much too great a
concurrence of engineering principles to the attainment of one object to
admit of our attributing the facts to accident. On this structure Mr.
Morgan observes:--

      The crests of these dams where they cross the canals
      are depressed, or worn down, in the centre, by the
      constant passage of beavers over them while going to
      and fro and dragging their cuttings. This canal with
      its adjuncts of dams and its manifest objects is a
      remarkable work, transcending very much the ordinary
      estimates of the intelligence of the beaver. It served
      to bring the occupants of the pond into easy
      connection by water with the trees that supplied them
      with food, as well as to relieve them from the tedious
      and perhaps impossible task of transporting their
      cuttings 500 feet over uneven ground unassisted by any

Again, in another case, also sketched by Mr. Morgan, another device is
resorted to, and one which, having reference to the particular
circumstances of the case, is the best that could have been adopted.
Here the canal, proceeding from the pond to the woodland 150 feet
distant, encounters at the woodland a rising slope covered with hard
wood. Thereupon the canal bifurcates, and the two diverging branches or
prongs are carried in opposite directions along the base of the woodland
rise, one for a distance of 100 and the other for 115 feet. The level
being throughout the same, the water from the pond supplies the two
branch-canals as well as the trunk. Both branches end with abrupt
vertical faces. Now the object of these branches is sufficiently

      After the rising ground, and with it the hard wood
      trees, were reached at the point where it branches,
      there was no very urgent necessity for the branches.
      But their construction along the base of the high
      ground gave them a frontage upon the canal of 215 feet
      of hard-wood lands, thus affording to them, along this
      extended line, the great advantages of water
      transportation for their cuttings.

One more proof of engineering purpose in the construction of canals will
be sufficient to place beyond all question the fact that beavers form
these canals, as they form their dams, with a far-seeing perception of
the suitability of highly artificial means to the attainment of
particular ends, under a variety of special circumstances. Mr. Morgan
observed one or two instances where the land included in a wind or loop
of a river was cut through by a beaver canal across the narrowest part,
'apparently to shorten the distance in going up and down by water.'
Judging from the figures which he gives, drawn to measurement, there can
be no question that such was the object; and as these structures may be
one or two hundred feet in length, and represent the laborious
excavation of some 1,500 cubic feet of soil, the animals must be
actuated by the most vivid conception of the subsequent saving in labour
that is to be effected by making an artificial communication across the
chord of an arc, instead of always going round the natural curve of a

Regarding now together all these facts relating to the psychology of the
beaver, it must be confessed, as I said at the outset, that we have
presented to us a problem perhaps the most difficult of any that we have
to encounter in the whole range of animal intelligence. On the one hand,
it seems incredible that the beaver should attain to such a level of
abstract thought as would be implied by his forming his various
structures with the calculated purpose of achieving the ends which they
undoubtedly subserve. On the other hand, as we have seen, it seems
little less than impossible that the formation of these structures can
be due to instinct. Yet one or other hypothesis, either singly or in
combination, must be resorted to. The case, it will be observed, thus
differs from that of the more wonderful performances of instinct
elsewhere, such as that of ants and bees, inasmuch as the performances
here are so complex and varied, as well as having reference to physical
principles of a much more recondite or less observable nature. The case
from its theoretical side being thus one of much difficulty, I think it
will be better to postpone its discussion till in 'Mental Evolution' I
come to treat of the whole subject of instinct in relation to

I must not, however, conclude this epitome of the facts without alluding
to the only other publication on the habits of the beaver which is of
distinctly scientific value. This is a short but interesting paper by
Prof. Alexander Agassiz.[224] He says that the largest dam he has himself
seen measured 650 feet in length, and 3-1/2 feet in height, with a small
number of lodges in the vicinity of the pond. The number of lodges is
always thus very small in proportion to the size of the dam, the
greatest number of lodges that he has observed upon one pond being five.
It is evident from this that beavers are not really gregarious in their
habits, and that their dams and canals 'are the work of a comparatively
small number of animals; but to make up for the numbers the work of
succeeding inhabitants of any one pond must have been carried on for
centuries to accomplish the gigantic results we find in some

In one case Prof. Agassiz obtained what may be termed geological
evidence of the truth of an opinion advanced by Mr. Morgan, that
beaver-works may be hundreds if not thousands of years in course of
continuous formation. For the purpose of obtaining a secure foundation
for a mill dam erected above a beaver dam, it was necessary to clear
away the soil from the bottom of the beaver pond. This soil was found to
be a peat bog. A trench was dug into the peat 12 feet wide by 1,200 feet
long, and 9 feet deep; all the way along this trench old stumps of trees
were found at various depths, some still bearing marks of having been
gnawed by beavers' teeth. Agassiz calculated the growth of the bog as
about a foot per century, so that here we have tolerably accurate
evidence of an existing beaver dam being somewhere about a thousand
years old.

The gradual growth of these enormous dams has the effect of greatly
altering the configuration of the country where they occur. By taking
levels from dams towards the sources of streams on which they occur,
Agassiz was able ideally to reconstruct the original landscape before
the growth of the dams, and he found that, 'from the nature of the
surrounding country, the open spaces now joining the beaver ponds--the
beaver meadows where the trees are scanty or small--must at one time
have been all covered with forests.' At first the beavers 'began to
clear the forest just in the immediate vicinity of the dams, extending
in every direction, first up the stream as far as the nature of the
creek would allow, and then laterally by means of their canals, as far
as the level of the ground would allow, thus little by little clearing a
larger area according to the time they have occupied any particular
place,' In this way beavers may change the whole aspect of large tracts
of country, covering with water a great extent of ground which was once
thickly wooded.


[209] It is particularly remarkable that if under these circumstances a
rabbit bolts and, seeing the sportsman, doubles back into its burrow,
being then certain that the sportsman is waiting, it will usually allow
itself to be slowly and painfully killed by the ferret rather than bolt
a second time. This is remarkable because it proves the strength of an
abiding image or idea in the mind of the animal.

[210] See Watson's _Reasoning Power in Animals_, and _Quarterly Review_,
c. i., p. 135.

[211] See especially Jesse, _Gleanings_, &c., iii., p. 206; and
_Quarterly Review_, c. i., p. 135.

[212] Thompson, _Passions of Animals_, p. 368.

[213] _The Rat, its Natural History_, p. 102.

[214] Mrs. Lee, _Anecdotes of Animals_, p. 264.

[215] Jesse, _Gleanings_, &c., ii., p. 281.

[216] _Reasoning Power in Animals_, p. 293.

[217] _Loc. cit._

[218] Jesse, _Gleanings_, iii., p. 176.

[219] _Introduction to Arctic Zoology_, p 70.

[220] Dr. Henderson, _Journal of a Residence in Iceland in 1814 and
1815_, vol. ii., p. 187.

[221] _The American Beaver and his Works_ (Lippincott & Co. 1868).

[222] To obviate this possibility, they often select as their site a
place where a spring happens to rise in the bottom of the lake or pond.

[223] In times of considerable 'freshet' the former case sometimes
occurs; the beavers not being able to provide for a very considerable
overflow through their dams, the latter become then wholly submerged.
When again exposed, the animals take great pains in repairing the
injuries sustained.

[224] Note on Beaver Dams (_Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist._, 1869, p. 101,
_et seq._).



THE intelligence of the elephant is no doubt considerable, although
there is equally little doubt that it is generally exaggerated. Some of
the most notorious instances of the display of remarkable sagacity by
this animal are probably fabulous, or at least are not sufficiently
corroborated to justify belief. Such, for instance, is the celebrated
story told by Pliny with all the assurance of a '_certum est_,'[225] and
repeated by Plutarch,[226] of the elephant, who having been beaten for not
dancing properly, was afterwards found practising his steps alone in the
light of the moon. Although this story cannot, in the absence of
corroboration, be accepted as fact, we ought to remember, in connection
with it, that many talking and piping birds unquestionably practise in
solitude the accomplishments which they desire to learn.

Quitting, however, the enormous multitude of anecdotes, more or less
doubtful, and which may or may not be true, I shall select a few
well-authenticated instances of the display of elephant intelligence.


As regards memory, several cases are on record of tamed elephants having
become wild, and, on again being captured after many years, returning to
all their old habits under domestication. Mr. Corse publishes in the
'Philosophical Transactions'[227] an instance which came under his own
notice. He saw an elephant, which was carrying baggage, take fright at
the smell of a tiger and run off. Eighteen months afterwards this
elephant was recognised by its keepers among a herd of wild companions,
which had been captured and were confined in an enclosure. But when
anyone approached the animal he struck out with his trunk, and seemed as
fierce as any of the wild herd. An old hunter then mounted a tame
elephant, went up to the feral one, seized his ear and ordered him to
lie down. Immediately the force of old associations broke through all
opposition, the word of command was obeyed, and the elephant while lying
down gave a certain peculiar squeak which he had been known to utter in
former days. The same author gives another and more interesting account
of an elephant which, after having been for only two years tamed, ran
wild for fifteen years, and on being then recaptured, remembered in all
details the words of command. This, with several other well-authenticated
facts of the same kind,[228] shows that the elephant certainly has an
exceedingly tenacious memory, rendering credible the statement of Pliny,
that in their more advanced age these animals recognise men who were
their drivers when young.[229]


Concerning emotions, the elephant seems to be usually actuated by the
most magnanimous of feelings. Even his proverbial vindictiveness appears
only to be excited under a sense of remembered injustice. The
universally known story of the tailor and the elephant doubtless had a
foundation in fact, for there are several authentic cases on record of
elephants resenting injuries in precisely the same way;[230] and Captain
Shipp[231] personally tested the matter by giving to an elephant a
sandwich of bread, butter, and cayenne pepper. He then waited for six
weeks before again visiting the animal, when he went into the stable and
began to fondle the elephant as he had previously been accustomed to do.
For a time no resentment was shown, so that the Captain began to think
that the experiment had failed; but at last, watching for an
opportunity, the elephant filled his trunk with dirty water, and
drenched the Captain from head to foot.

Griffiths says that at the siege of Bhurtpore, in 1805, the British army
had been a long time before the city, and, owing to the hot dry winds,
the ponds and tanks had dried up. There used therefore to be no little
struggle for priority in procuring water at one of the large wells which
still contained water:--

      On one occasion two elephant-drivers, each with his
      elephant, the one remarkably large and strong, and the
      other comparatively small and weak, were at the well
      together; the small elephant had been provided by his
      master with a bucket for the occasion, which he
      carried on the end of his proboscis, but the larger
      animal, being destitute of this necessary vessel,
      either spontaneously, or by the desire of his keeper,
      seized the bucket, and easily wrested it from his less
      powerful fellow-servant; the latter was too sensible
      of his inferiority openly to resent the insult, though
      it is obvious that he felt it; but great squabbling
      and abuse ensued between the keepers. At length the
      weaker animal, watching the opportunity when the other
      was standing with his side to the well, retired
      backwards a few paces in a very quiet and unsuspicious
      manner, and then, rushing forward with all his might,
      drove his head against the side of the other, and
      fairly pushed him into the well.

Great trouble was experienced in extricating this elephant from the
well--a task which would, indeed, have been impossible but for the
intelligence of the animal itself. For when a number of fascines, which
had been employed by the army in conducting the siege, were thrown down
the well, the elephant showed sagacity enough to arrange them with his
trunk so as to construct a continuously rising platform, by which he
gradually raised himself to a level with the ground.

Allied to vindictiveness for small injuries is revenge for large ones,
and this is often shown in a terrible manner by wounded elephants. For
instance, Sir E. Tennent writes:--

      Some years ago an elephant which had been wounded by a
      native, near Hambangtotte, pursued the man into the
      town, followed him along the street, trampled him to
      death in the bazaar before a crowd of terrified
      spectators, and succeeded in making good its retreat
      to the jungle.

Many other cases of vindictiveness, more or less well authenticated, may
be found mentioned by Broderip,[232] Bingley,[233] Mrs. Lee,[234]
Swainson,[235] and Watson.[236] This trait of emotional character seems
to be more generally present in the elephant than in any other animal,
except perhaps the monkey.

Another emotion strongly developed in the elephant is sympathy.
Numberless examples on this head might be adduced, but one or two may
suffice. Bishop Huber saw an old elephant fall down from weakness, and
another elephant was brought to assist the fallen one to rise. Huber
says he was much struck with the almost human expression of surprise,
alarm, and sympathy manifested by the second elephant on witnessing the
condition of the first. A chain was fastened round the neck and body of
the sick animal, which the other was directed to pull. For a minute or
two the healthy elephant pulled strongly; but on the first groan given
by its distressed companion it stopped abruptly, 'turned fiercely round
with a loud roar, and with trunk and fore-feet began to loosen the chain
from the neck.'

Again, Sir E. Tennent says:--

      The devotion and loyalty which the herd evince to
      their leader are very remarkable. This is more readily
      seen in the case of a tusker than any other, because
      in a herd he is generally the object of the keenest
      pursuit by the hunters. On such occasions the others
      do their utmost to protect him from danger: when
      driven to extremity they place their leader in the
      centre and crowd so eagerly in front of him that the
      sportsmen have to shoot a number which they might
      otherwise have spared. In one instance a tusker, which
      was badly wounded by Major Rogers, was promptly
      surrounded by his companions, who supported him
      between their shoulders, and actually succeeded in
      covering his retreat to the forest.

Lastly, allusion may be made to the celebrated observation of M. le
Baron de Lauriston, who was at Laknaor during an epidemic which
stretched a number of natives sick and dying upon the road. The Nabob
riding his elephant over the road was careless whether or not the animal
crushed the men and women to death, but not so the elephant, which took
great pains to pick his steps among the people so as not to injure them.

The following account of emotion and sagacity is quoted from the Rev.
Julius Young's Memoirs of his father, Mr. Charles Young, the actor. The
animal mentioned is the one that subsequently attained such widespread
notoriety at Exeter Change, not only on account of his immense size, but
still more because of his cruel death:--

      In July 1810, the largest elephant ever seen in
      England was advertised as 'just arrived.' As soon as
      Henry Harris, the manager of Covent Garden Theatre,
      heard of it, he determined, if possible, to obtain it;
      for it struck him that if it were to be introduced
      into the new pantomime of 'Harlequin Padmenaba,' which
      he was about to produce at great cost, it would add
      greatly to its attraction. Under this impression, and
      before the proprietor of Exeter Change had seen it, he
      purchased it for the sum of 900 guineas. Mrs. Henry
      Johnston was to ride it, and Miss Parker, the
      columbine, was to play up to it. Young happened to be
      one morning at the box-office adjoining Covent Garden
      Theatre, when his ears were assailed by a strange and
      unusual uproar within the walls. On asking one of the
      carpenters the cause of it, he was told 'it was
      something going wrong with the elephant; he could not
      exactly tell what.' I am not aware what the usage may
      be nowadays, but then, whenever a new piece had been
      announced for presentation on a given night, and there
      was but scant time for its preparation, a rehearsal
      would take place after the night's regular performance
      was over, and the audience had been dismissed. One
      such there had been the night before my father's
      curiosity had been roused. As it had been arranged
      that Mrs. Henry Johnston, seated in a howdah on the
      elephant's back, should pass over a bridge in the
      centre of a numerous group of followers, it was
      thought expedient that the unwieldy monster's
      tractability should be tested. On stepping up to the
      bridge, which was slight and temporary, the sagacious
      brute drew back his fore-feet and refused to budge. It
      is well known as a fact in natural history that the
      elephant, aware of his unusual bulk, will never trust
      its weight on any object which is unequal to its
      support. The stage-manager, seeing how resolutely the
      animal resisted every attempt made to compel or induce
      it to go over the bridge in question, proposed that
      they should stay proceedings till next day, when he
      might be in a better mood. It was during the
      repetition of the experiment that my father, having
      heard the extraordinary sounds, determined to go upon
      the stage, and see if he could ascertain the cause of
      them. The first sight that met his eyes kindled his
      indignation. There stood the high animal, with
      downcast eyes and flapping ears, meekly submitting to
      blow after blow from a sharp iron goad, which his
      keeper was driving ferociously into the fleshy part of
      his neck, at the root of the ear. The floor on which
      he stood was converted into a pool of blood. One of
      the proprietors, impatient at what he regarded as
      senseless obstinacy, kept urging the driver to proceed
      to still severer extremities, when Charles Young, who
      was a great lover of animals, expostulated with him,
      went up to the poor patient sufferer, and patted and
      caressed him; and when the driver was about to wield
      his instrument again, with even still more vigour, he
      caught him by the wrist as in a vice, and stayed his
      hand from further violence. While an angry altercation
      was going on between Young and the man of colour, who
      was the driver, Captain Hay, of the _Ashel_, who had
      brought over 'Chuny' in his ship, and had petted him
      greatly on the voyage, came in and begged to know what
      was the matter. Before a word of explanation could be
      given, the much-wronged creature spoke for himself;
      for, as soon as he perceived the entrance of his
      patron, he waddled up to him, and, with a look of
      gentle appeal, caught hold of his hand with his
      proboscis, plunged it into his bleeding wound, and
      then thrust it before his eyes. The gesture seemed to
      say, as plainly as if it had been enforced by speech,
      'See how these cruel men treat Chuny. Can _you_
      approve of it?' The hearts of the hardest present were
      sensibly touched by what they saw, and among them that
      of the gentleman who had been so energetic in
      promoting its harsh treatment. It was under a far
      better impulse that he ran out into the street,
      purchased a few apples at a stall, and offered them
      to him. Chuny eyed him askance, took them, threw them
      beneath his feet, and when he had crushed them to
      pulp, spurned them from him. Young, who had gone into
      Covent Garden on the same errand as the gentleman who
      had preceded him, shortly after re-entered, and also
      held out to him some fruit, when, to the astonishment
      of the bystanders, the elephant ate every morsel, and
      after he had done so, twined his trunk with studied
      gentleness around Young's waist, marking by his action
      that, though he had resented a wrong, he did not
      forget a kindness.

      It was in the year 1814 that Harris parted with Chuny
      to Cross, the proprietor of the menagerie at Exeter
      Change. One of the purchaser's first acts was to send
      Charles Young a life ticket of admission to his
      exhibition; and it was one of his little innocent
      vanities, when passing through the Strand with any
      friend, to drop in on Chuny, pay him a visit in his
      den, and show the intimate relations which existed
      between them. Some years after, when the elephant's
      theatrical career was run, and he was reduced to play
      the part of captive in one of the cages of Exeter
      Change, a thoughtless dandy one day amused himself by
      teasing him with the repeated offer of lettuces--a
      vegetable for which he was known to have an antipathy.
      At last he presented him with an apple, but, at the
      moment of his taking it, drove a large pin into his
      trunk, and then sprang out of big reach. The keeper
      seeing that the poor creature was getting angry,
      warned the silly fellow off, lest he should become
      dangerous. With a contemptuous shrug of the shoulder,
      he trudged off to the other end of the gallery, and
      there displayed his cruel ingenuity on other humbler
      beasts, till, after the absence of half-an-hour, he
      once more approached one of the cages opposite the
      elephant's. By this time he had forgotten his pranks
      with Chuny, but Chuny had not forgotten him; and as he
      was standing with his back towards him, he thrust his
      proboscis through the bars of his prison, twitched off
      the offender's hat, dragged it in to him, tore it to
      shreds, then threw it into the face of the offending
      gaby, consummating his revenge with a loud guffaw of
      exultation. All present proclaimed their approbation
      of this act of retributive justice, and the
      discomfited coxcomb had to retreat from the scene in
      confusion, jump into a hackney coach, and betake
      himself to the hatter's in quest of a new tile for his
      unroofed skull. The tragic end of poor Chuny must be
      within the recollection of many of my readers. From
      some cause unknown he went mad, and after poison had
      been tried in vain it took 152 shots, discharged by a
      detachment of the Guards, to despatch him.[237]

The elephant in many respects displays strange peculiarities of
emotional temperament. Thus Mr. Corse says:--'If a wild elephant happens
to be separated from its young for only two or three days, though giving
suck, she never after recognises or acknowledges it;'[238] yet the young
one knows its dam, and cries plaintively for her assistance.

Again, in the wild state, the spirit of exclusiveness shown by members
of a herd (_i.e._ family) towards elephants of other herds is
remarkable. Sir E. Tennent writes:--

      If by any accident an elephant becomes hopelessly
      separated from his own herd, he is not permitted to
      attach himself to any other. He may browse in the
      vicinity, or frequent the same place to drink and to
      bathe; but the intercourse is only on a distant and
      conventional footing, and no familiarity or intimate
      association is under any circumstances permitted. To
      such a height is this exclusiveness carried, that even
      amidst the terror of an elephant corral, when an
      individual, detached from his own party in the _mêlée_
      and confusion, has been driven into the enclosure with
      an unbroken herd, I have seen him repulsed in every
      attempt to take refuge among them, and driven off by
      heavy blows with their trunks as often as he attempted
      to insinuate himself within the circle which they had
      formed for common security. There can be no reasonable
      doubt that this jealous and exclusive policy not only
      contributes to produce, but mainly serves to
      perpetuate, the class of solitary elephants which are
      known by the term _goondahs_ in India, and which from
      their vicious propensities and predatory habits are
      called _Hora_, or _Rogues_, in Ceylon.[239]

The emotional temper, or rather transformation of emotional psychology,
which is exhibited by the Rogues here mentioned, is as extraordinary as
it is notorious. From being a peaceable, sympathetic, and magnanimous
animal, the elephant, when excluded from the society of its kind,
becomes savage, cruel, and morose to a degree unequalled in any other
animal. The repulsive accounts of the bloodthirsty rage and wanton
destructiveness of Rogues show that their actions are not due to sudden
bursts of fury at the sight of man or his works, but rather to a
deliberate and brooding resolve to wage war on everything, so that the
animal patiently lies in wait for travellers, rushing from his ambush
only when he finds that the latter are within his power. As showing the
cold-blooded determination of this murderous desire, I may quote the
following case, as it was communicated to Sir E. Tennent:--

      We had, says the writer, calculated to come up with
      the brute where it had been seen half an hour before;
      but no sooner had one of our men, who was walking
      foremost, seen the animal at the distance of some
      fifteen or twenty fathoms, than he exclaimed, 'There!
      there!' and immediately took to his heels, and we all
      followed his example. The elephant did not see us
      until we had run some fifteen or twenty paces from the
      spot where we turned, when he gave us chase, screaming
      frightfully as he came on. The Englishman managed to
      climb a tree, and the rest of my companions did the
      same; as for myself, I could not, although I made one
      or two superhuman efforts. But there was no time to be
      lost. The elephant was running at me with his trunk
      bent down in a curve towards the ground. At this
      critical moment Mr. Lindsay held out his foot to me,
      with the help of which and then of the branches of the
      tree, which were three or four feet above my head, I
      managed to scramble up to a branch. The elephant came
      directly to the tree and attempted to force it down,
      which he could not. He first coiled his trunk round
      the stem, and pulled it with all his might, but with
      no effect. He then applied his head to the tree, and
      pushed for several minutes, but with no better
      success. He then trampled with his feet all the
      projecting roots, moving, as he did so, several times
      round and round the tree. Lastly, failing in all this,
      and seeing a pile of timber, which I had lately cut,
      at a short distance from us, he removed it all
      (thirty-six pieces) one at a time to the root of the
      tree, and piled them up in a regular business-like
      manner; then placing his hind feet on this pile, he
      raised the fore part of his body, and reached out his
      trunk, but still he could not touch us, as we were too
      far above him. The Englishman then fired, and the ball
      took effect somewhere on the elephant's head, but did
      not kill him. It made him only the more furious. The
      next shot, however, levelled him to the ground. I
      afterwards brought the skull of the animal to Colombo,
      and it is still to be seen at the house of Mr.

Another highly curious trait in the emotional psychology of the elephant
is the readiness with which the huge animal expires under the mere
influence of what the natives call a 'broken heart.' The facts on this
head are without a parallel in any other animal, and are the more
remarkable from the fact that, so far as natural length of life is any
token, the elephant may be said to have more vitality, or innate power
of living, than any other terrestrial mammal. Again, to quote from Sir
E. Tennent:--

      Amongst the last of the elephants noosed was the
      _rogue_. Though far more savage than the others, he
      joined in none of their charges and assaults on the
      fences, as they uniformly drove him off, and would not
      permit him to enter their circle. When dragged past
      another of his companions in misfortune, who was lying
      exhausted on the ground, he flew upon him and
      attempted to fasten his teeth in his head; this was
      the only instance of viciousness which occurred during
      the progress of the corral. When tied up and
      overpowered, he was at first noisy and violent, but
      soon lay down peacefully, a sign, according to the
      hunters, that his death was at hand. Their
      prognostication was correct; he continued for about
      twelve hours to cover himself with dust like the
      others, and to moisten it with water from his trunk;
      but at length he lay exhausted, and died so calmly,
      that having been moving but a few moments before, his
      death was only perceived by the myriads of black flies
      by which his body was almost instantly covered,
      although not one was visible a moment before.[241]

But this peculiarity is not confined to rogue elephants. Thus Captain
Yule, in his 'Narrative of an Embassy to Ava in 1855,' records an
illustration of this tendency of the elephant to sudden death. One newly
captured, the process of taming which was exhibited to the British
Envoy, 'made vigorous resistance to the placing of a collar on its neck,
and the people were proceeding to tighten it, when the elephant, which
had lain down as if quite exhausted, reared suddenly on the hind
quarters, and fell on its side--_dead_!'

Mr. Strachan noticed the same liability of the elephants to sudden death
from very slight causes. 'Of the fall,' he says, 'at any time, though
on plain ground, they either die immediately, or languish till they die;
their great weight occasioning them so much hurt by the fall.'[242]

And Sir E. Tennent observes that,--

      In the process of taming, the presence of the tame
      ones can generally be dispensed with after two months,
      and the captive may then be ridden by the driver
      alone; and after three or four months he may be
      entrusted with labour, so far as regards docility; but
      it is undesirable, and even involves the risk of life,
      to work an elephant too soon; it has frequently
      happened that a valuable animal has lain down and died
      the first time it was tried in harness, from what the
      natives believed to be 'broken heart,' certainly
      without any cause inferable from injury or previous

Nor is this tendency to die under the influence of mere emotion
restricted to the effect of a 'broken heart;' it seems also to occur
under the power of strong emotional disturbances of other kinds. For
instance, an elephant caught and trained by Mr. Cripps is thus alluded
to by Sir E. Tennent:--

      This was the largest elephant that had been tamed in
      Ceylon; he measured upwards of nine feet at the
      shoulders, and belonged to the caste so highly prized
      for the temples. He was gentle after his first
      capture, but his removal from the corral to the
      stables, though only a distance of six miles, was a
      matter of the extremest difficulty; his extraordinary
      strength rendering him more than a match for the
      attendant decoys. He on one occasion escaped, but was
      recaptured in the forest; and he afterwards became so
      docile as to perform a variety of tricks. He was at
      length ordered to be removed to Colombo; but such was
      his terror on approaching the fort, that on coaxing
      him to enter the gate he became paralysed in the
      extraordinary way elsewhere alluded to, and _died on
      the spot_.

_General Intelligence._

The higher mental faculties of the elephant are more advanced in their
development than in any other animal, except the dog and monkey. I
shall, therefore, devote some considerable space to the narration of
instances of its display. The general fact that elephants are habitually
employed in certain parts of India for the purposes of building, storing
timber, &c., in itself shows a level of docile intelligence which only
that of the dog can rival; but I shall here confine myself to stating
special instances of the display of sagacity unusually high, even for
the elephant.

Capt. Shipp, in his 'Memoirs,' gives the following incident, of which he
was an eye-witness. During a march with guns in the mountainous
districts of India, the force of which he was a member came to a steep
ascent. A staircase of logs was prepared to enable the elephants to
ascend the slope. When all was ready the first elephant was led to the
bottom of the staircase:--

      He looked up, shook his head, and when forced by his
      driver, roared piteously. There can be no question, in
      my opinion, but that this sagacious animal was
      competent instinctively to judge of the practicability
      of the artificial flight of steps thus constructed;
      for the moment some little alteration had been made,
      he seemed willing to approach. He then commenced his
      examination and scrutiny by pressing with his trunk
      the trees that had been thrown across; and after this
      he put his fore-leg on with great caution. . . . The next
      step for him to ascend by was a projecting rock, which
      he could not remove. Here the same sagacious
      examination took place, the elephant keeping his flat
      side close to the side of the trunk, and leaning
      against it. The next step was against a tree, but
      this, on the first pressure of his trunk, he did not
      like. Here the driver made use of the most endearing
      epithets, such as 'Wonderful,' 'My life,' 'Well done,
      my dear,' 'My dove,' 'My son,' 'My wife;' but all
      these endearing appellations, of which elephants are
      so fond, would not induce him to try again. Force was
      at length resorted to, and the elephant roared
      terrifically, but would not move.

Something was then altered, the elephant was satisfied, and at last
succeeded in mounting to the top of the staircase:--

      On reaching the top his delight was visible in a most
      eminent degree; he caressed his keepers, and threw
      dirt about in a most playful manner. Another elephant,
      a much younger animal, had now to follow. He had
      watched the ascent of the other with the utmost
      interest, making motions all the while as though he
      was assisting him by shouldering him up the acclivity,
      in such gestures as I have seen some men make when
      spectators of gymnastic exercises. When he saw his
      comrade up, he evinced his pleasure by giving a salute
      something like the sound of a trumpet. When called
      upon to take his turn, however, he seemed much
      alarmed, and would not act at all without force.

After a performance similar to that of the previous elephant, however,
he too neared the top, when 'the other, who had already performed his
task, extended his trunk to the assistance of his brother in distress,
round which the younger animal entwined his, and thus reached the
summit.' There was then a cordial greeting between the two animals, 'as
if they had been long separated from each other, and had just escaped
from some perilous achievement. They mutually embraced each other, and
stood face to face for a considerable time, as if whispering

Mr. Jesse says: 'I was one day feeding the poor elephant (who was so
barbarously put to death at Exeter Change) with potatoes, which he took
out of my hand. One of them, a round one, fell on the floor, just out of
reach of his proboscis.' After several ineffectual attempts to reach it,
'he at length _blew_ the potato against the opposite wall with
sufficient force to make it rebound, and he then without difficulty
secured it.'[245]

This remarkable observation has fortunately been corroborated by Mr.
Darwin. He writes:--

      I have seen, as I dare say have others, that when a
      small object is thrown on the ground beyond the reach
      of one of the elephants at the Zoological Gardens, he
      blows through his trunk on the ground beyond the
      object, so that the current reflected on all sides may
      drive the object within his reach.[246]

The observation has also been corroborated by other observers.[247]

The following is quoted from Mr. Watson's book:[248]--

      Of the elephant's sense and judgment the following
      instance is given as a well-known fact in a letter of
      Dr. Daniel Wilson, Bishop of Calcutta, to his son in
      England, printed in a Life of the bishop, published a
      few years ago. An elephant belonging to an Engineer
      officer in his diocese had a disease in his eyes, and
      had for three days been completely blind. His owner
      asked Dr. Webb, a physician intimate with the bishop,
      if he could do anything for the relief of the animal.
      Dr. Webb replied that he was willing to try, on one of
      the eyes, the effect of nitrate of silver, which was a
      remedy commonly used for similar diseases in the human
      eye. The animal was accordingly made to lie down, and
      when the nitrate of silver was applied, uttered a
      terrific roar at the acute pain which it occasioned.
      But the effect of the application was wonderful, for
      the eye was in a great degree restored, and the
      elephant could partially see. The doctor was in
      consequence ready to operate similarly on the other
      eye on the following day; and the animal, when he was
      brought out and heard the doctor's voice, lay down of
      himself, placed his head quietly on one side, curled
      up his trunk, drew in his breath like a human being
      about to endure a painful operation, gave a sigh of
      relief when it was over, and then, by motions of his
      trunk and other gestures, gave evident signs of
      wishing to express his gratitude. Here we plainly see
      in the elephant memory, understanding, and reasoning
      from one thing to another. The animal remembered the
      benefit that he had felt from the application to one
      eye, and when he was brought to the same place on the
      following day and heard the operator's voice, he
      concluded that a like service was to be done to his
      other eye.

The fact that elephants exhibit this sagacious fortitude under surgical
operations--thus resembling, as we shall afterwards observe, both dogs
and monkeys--is corroborated by another instance given in Bingley's
'Animal Biography,'[249] and serves to render credible the following story
given in the same work:--

      In the last war in India a young elephant received a
      violent wound in its head, the pain of which rendered
      it so frantic and ungovernable that it was found
      impossible to persuade the animal to have the part
      dressed. Whenever any one approached it ran off with
      fury, and would suffer no person to come within
      several yards of it. The man who had care of it at
      length hit upon a contrivance for securing it. By a
      few words and signs he gave the mother of the animal
      sufficient intelligence of what was wanted; the
      sensible creature immediately seized her young one
      with her trunk, and held it firmly down, though
      groaning with agony, while the surgeon completely
      dressed the wound; and she continued to perform this
      service every day till the animal was perfectly

Again, as still further corroboration of this point, I may quote the
following from Sir E. Tennent's 'Natural History of Ceylon:'--

      Nothing can more strongly exhibit the impulse to
      obedience in the elephant than the patience with
      which, at the order of his keeper, he swallows the
      nauseous medicines of the native elephant-doctors; and
      it is impossible to witness the fortitude with which
      (without shrinking) he submits to excruciating
      surgical operations for the removal of tumours and
      ulcers to which he is subject, without conceiving a
      vivid impression of his gentleness and intelligence.
      Dr. Davy when in Ceylon was consulted about an
      elephant in the Government stud, which was suffering
      from a deep, burrowing sore in the back, just over the
      back-bone, which had long resisted the treatment
      ordinarily employed. He recommended the use of the
      knife, that issue might be given to the accumulated
      matter, but no one of the attendants was competent to
      undertake the operation. 'Being assured,' he
      continues, 'that the creature would behave well, I
      undertook it myself. The elephant was not bound, but
      was made to kneel down at his keeper's command; and
      with an amputating knife, using all my force, I made
      the incision required through the tough integuments.
      The elephant did not flinch, but rather inclined
      towards me when using the knife; and merely uttered a
      low, and as it were suppressed groan. In short, he
      behaved as like a human being as possible, as if
      conscious (as I believe he was) that the operation was
      for his good, and the pain unavoidable.'

Major Skinner witnessed the following display of intelligent action by a
large herd of wild elephants. During the hot season at Nenera Kalama the
elephants have a difficulty in finding water, and are therefore obliged
to congregate in large numbers where water is to be obtained. Being
stationed near a water supply, and knowing that a large herd of
elephants were in the neighbourhood, Major Skinner resolved to watch
their proceedings. On a moonlight night, therefore, he

      climbed a tree about four hundred yards from the
      water, and waited patiently for two hours before he
      heard or saw anything of the elephants. At length he
      saw a huge beast issue from the wood, and advance
      cautiously across the open ground to within a hundred
      yards of the tank, where he stood perfectly
      motionless; and the rest of the herd, meanwhile, were
      so quiet that not the least sound was to be heard from
      them. Gradually, at three successive advances, halting
      some minutes after each, he moved up to the water's
      edge, in which, however, he did not think proper to
      quench his thirst, but remained for several minutes
      listening in perfect stillness. He then returned
      cautiously and slowly to the point at which he had
      issued from the wood, from whence he came back with
      five other elephants, with which he proceeded,
      somewhat less slowly than before, to within a few
      yards of the tank, where he posted them as patrols. He
      then re-entered the wood and collected the whole herd,
      which must have amounted to between eighty and a
      hundred, and led them across the open ground with the
      most extraordinary composure and quiet till they came
      up to the five sentinels, when he left them for a
      moment, and again made a reconnaissance at the edge of
      the tank. At last, being apparently satisfied that all
      was safe, he turned back, and obviously gave the order
      to advance; 'for in a moment,' says Major Skinner,
      'the whole herd rushed to the water with a degree of
      unreserved confidence so opposite to the caution and
      timidity which had marked their previous movements,
      that nothing will ever persuade me that there was not
      rational and preconcerted co-operation throughout the
      whole party, and a degree of responsible authority
      exercised by the patriarch-leader.'[251]

Mr. H. L. Jenkins writes to me:--

      What I particularly wish to observe is that there are
      good reasons for supposing that elephants possess
      abstract ideas; for instance, I think it is impossible
      to doubt that they acquire through their own
      experience notions of hardness and weight, and the
      grounds on which I am led to think this are as
      follows. A captured elephant after he has been taught
      his ordinary duty, say about three months after he is
      taken, is taught to pick up things from the ground and
      give them to his mahout sitting on his shoulders. Now
      for the first few months it is dangerous to require
      him to pick up anything but soft articles, such as
      clothes, because the things are often handed up with
      considerable force. After a time, longer with some
      elephants than others, they appear to take in a
      knowledge of the nature of the things they are
      required to lift, and the bundle of clothes will be
      thrown up sharply as before, but heavy things, such as
      a crowbar or piece of iron chain, will be handed up in
      a gentle manner; a sharp knife will be picked up by
      its handle and placed on the elephant's head, so that
      the mahout can also take it by the handle. I have
      purposely given elephants things to lift which they
      could never have seen before, and they were all
      handled in such a manner as to convince me that they
      recognised such qualities as hardness, sharpness, and
      weight. You are quite at liberty to make any use of
      these remarks you please if they are of service.

Again, as Dr. Lindley Kemp observes,[252] 'the manner in which tame
elephants assist in capturing wild ones affords us an instance of
reasoning in an animal,' &c.; and similarly, Mr. Darwin observes: 'It
is, I think, impossible to read the account given by Sir E. Tennent of
the behaviour of the female elephants used as decoys, without admitting
that they intentionally practise deceit.'[253]

The following is an extract from the more interesting of the
observations to which Mr. Darwin here alludes, and I think it is
impossible to read them without assenting to his judgment. Several herds
of wild elephants having been driven into a corral, two tame decoys were
ridden into it:--

      One was of prodigious age, having been in the service
      of the Dutch and English Governments in succession for
      upwards of a century. The other, called by her keeper
      'Siribeddi,' was about fifty years old, and
      distinguished for gentleness and docility. She was a
      most accomplished decoy, and evinced the utmost relish
      for the sport. Having entered the corral noiselessly,
      carrying a mahout on her shoulders with the headman
      of the noosers seated behind him, she moved slowly
      along with a sly composure and an assumed air of easy
      indifference; sauntering leisurely in the direction of
      the captives, and halting now and then to pluck a
      bunch of grass or a few leaves as she passed. As she
      approached the herd they put themselves in motion to
      meet her, and the leader, having advanced in front and
      passed his trunk gently over her head, turned and
      paced slowly back to his dejected companions.
      Siribeddi followed with the same listless step, and
      drew herself up close behind him, thus affording the
      nooser an opportunity to stoop under her and slip the
      noose over the hind foot of the wild one. The latter
      instantly perceived his danger, shook off the rope,
      and turned to attack the man. He would have suffered
      for his temerity had not Siribeddi protected him by
      raising her trunk and driving the assailant into the
      midst of the herd, when the old man, being slightly
      wounded, was helped out of the corral, and his son,
      Ranghanie, took his place.

      The herd again collected in a circle, with their heads
      towards the centre. The largest male was singled out,
      and two tame ones pushed boldly in, one on either side
      of him, till the three stood nearly abreast. He made
      no resistance, but betrayed his uneasiness by shifting
      restlessly from foot to foot. Ranghanie now crept up,
      and holding the rope open with both hands (its other
      extremity being made fast to Siribeddi's collar), and
      watching the instant when the wild elephant lifted its
      hind foot, succeeded in passing the noose over its
      leg, drew it close, and fled to the rear. The two tame
      elephants instantly fell back, Siribeddi stretched the
      rope to its full length, and whilst she dragged out
      the captive, her companion placed himself between her
      and the herd to prevent any interference.

      In order to tie him to a tree he had to be drawn
      backwards some twenty or thirty yards, making furious
      resistance, bellowing in terror, plunging on all
      sides, and crushing the smaller timber, which bent
      like reeds beneath his clumsy struggles. Siribeddi
      drew him steadily after her, and wound the rope round
      the proper tree, holding it all the time at its full
      tension, and stepping cautiously across it when, in
      order to give it a second turn, it was necessary to
      pass between the tree and the elephant. With a coil
      round the stem, however, it was beyond her strength to
      haul the prisoner close up, which was, nevertheless,
      necessary in order to make him perfectly fast; but the
      second tame one, perceiving the difficulty, returned
      from the herd, confronted the struggling prisoner,
      pushed him shoulder to shoulder, and head to head,
      forcing him backwards, whilst at every step Siribeddi
      hauled in the slackened rope till she brought him
      fairly up to the foot of the tree, where he was made
      fast by the cooroowe people. A second noose was then
      passed over the other hind-leg, and secured like the
      first, both legs being afterwards hobbled together by
      ropes made from the fibre of the kitool or jaggery
      palm, which, being more flexible than that of the
      cocoa-nut, occasions less formidable ulcerations. The
      two decoys then ranged themselves, as before, abreast
      of the prisoner on either side, thus enabling
      Ranghanie to stoop under them and noose the two
      fore-feet as he had already done the hind; and these
      ropes being made fast to the tree in front, the
      capture was complete, and the tame elephants and
      keepers withdrew to repeat the operation on another of
      the herd.

      The second victim singled out from the herd was
      secured in the same manner as the first. It was a
      female. The tame ones forced themselves in on either
      side as before, cutting her off from her companions,
      whilst Ranghanie stooped under them and attached the
      fatal noose, and Siribeddi dragged her out amidst
      unavailing struggles, when she was made fast by each
      leg to the nearest group of strong trees. When the
      noose was placed upon her fore-foot, she seized it
      with her trunk, and succeeded in carrying it to her
      mouth, where she would speedily have severed it had
      not a tame elephant interfered, and placing his foot
      on the rope pressed it downwards out of her jaws. . . .
      The conduct of the tame ones during all these
      proceedings was truly wonderful. They displayed the
      most perfect conception of every movement, both of the
      object to be attained and of the means to accomplish
      it. They manifested the utmost enjoyment in what was
      going on. There was no ill-humour, no malignity in the
      spirit displayed, in what was otherwise a heartless
      proceeding, but they set about it in a way that showed
      a thorough relish for it, as an agreeable pastime.
      Their caution was as remarkable as their sagacity;
      there was no hurrying, no confusion, they never ran
      foul of the ropes, were never in the way of the
      animals already noosed; and amidst the most violent
      struggles, when the tame ones had frequently to step
      across the captives, they in no instance trampled on
      them, or occasioned the slightest accident or
      annoyance. So far from this, they saw intuitively a
      difficulty or a danger, and addressed themselves
      unbidden to remove it. In tying up one of the larger
      elephants, he contrived, before he could be hauled
      close up to the tree, to walk once or twice round it,
      carrying the rope with him; the decoy, perceiving the
      advantage he had thus gained over the nooser, walked
      up of her own accord, and pushed him backwards with
      her head, till she made him unwind himself again; upon
      which the rope was hauled tight and made fast. More
      than once, when a wild one was extending his trunk,
      and would have intercepted the rope about to be placed
      over his leg, Siribeddi, by a sudden motion of her own
      trunk, pushed his aside, and prevented him; and on one
      occasion, when successive efforts had failed to put
      the noose over the fore-leg of an elephant which was
      already secured by one foot, but which wisely put the
      other to the ground as often as it was attempted to
      pass the noose under it, I saw the decoy watch her
      opportunity, and when his foot was again raised,
      suddenly push in her own leg beneath it, and hold it
      up till the noose was attached and drawn tight.

      One could almost fancy there was a display of dry
      humour in the manner in which the decoys thus played
      with the fears of the wild herd, and made light of
      their efforts at resistance. When reluctant they
      shoved them forward, when violent they drove them
      back; when the wild ones threw themselves down, the
      tame ones butted them with head and shoulders, and
      forced them up again. And when it was necessary to
      keep them down, they knelt upon them, and prevented
      them from rising, till the ropes were secured.

      At every moment of leisure they fanned themselves with
      a bunch of leaves, and the graceful ease with which an
      elephant uses his trunk on such occasions is very
      striking. It is doubtless owing to the combination of
      a circular with a horizontal movement in that flexible
      limb; but it is impossible to see an elephant fanning
      himself without being struck by the singular elegance
      of motion which he displays. The tame ones, too,
      indulged in the luxury of dusting themselves with
      sand, by flinging it from their trunks; but it was a
      curious illustration of their delicate sagacity, that
      so long as the mahout was on their necks, they
      confined themselves to flinging the dust along their
      sides and stomach, as if aware that to throw it over
      their heads and back would cause annoyance to their

Sir E. Tennent has also some observations on other uses to which tame
elephants are put, which are well worth quoting. Thus, speaking of the
labour of piling timber, he says that the elephant

      manifests an intelligence and dexterity which are
      surprising to a stranger, because the sameness of the
      operation enables the animal to go on for hours
      disposing of log after log, almost without a hint or
      direction from his attendant. For example, two
      elephants employed in piling ebony and satinwood in
      the yards attached to the commissariat stores at
      Colombo, were so accustomed to their work, that they
      were able to accomplish it with equal precision and
      with greater rapidity than if it had been done by
      dock-labourers. When the pile attained a certain
      height, and they were no longer able by their conjoint
      efforts to raise one of the heavy logs of ebony to the
      summit, they had been taught to lean two pieces
      against the heap, up the inclined plane of which they
      gently rolled the remaining logs, and placed them
      trimly on the top.

      It has been asserted that in their occupations
      'elephants are to a surprising extent the creatures of
      habit,' that their movements are altogether
      mechanical, and that 'they are annoyed by any
      deviation from their accustomed practice, and resent
      any constrained departure from the regularity of their
      course.' So far as my own observation goes, this is
      incorrect; and I am assured by officers of experience,
      that in regard to changing his treatment, his hours or
      his occupation, an elephant evinces no more
      consideration than a horse, but exhibits the same
      pliancy and facility.

      At one point, however, the utility of the elephant
      stops short. Such is the intelligence and earnestness
      he displays in work, which he seems to conduct almost
      without supervision, that it has been assumed that he
      would continue his labour, and accomplish his given
      task, as well in the absence of his keeper as during
      his presence. But here his innate love of ease
      displays itself, and if the eye of his attendant be
      withdrawn, the moment he has finished the thing
      immediately in hand, he will stroll away lazily, to
      browse or enjoy the luxury of fanning himself and
      blowing dust over his back.

      The means of punishing so powerful an animal is a
      question of difficulty to his attendants. Force being
      almost inapplicable, they try to work on his passions
      and feelings, by such expedients as altering the
      nature of his food or withholding it altogether for a
      time. On such occasions the demeanour of the creature
      will sometimes evince a sense of humiliation as well
      as of discontent. In some parts of India it is
      customary, in dealing with offenders, to stop their
      allowance of sugar canes or of jaggery; or to restrain
      them from eating their own share of fodder and leaves
      till their companions shall have finished; and in
      such cases the consciousness of degradation betrayed
      by the looks and attitudes of the culprit is quite
      sufficient to identify him, and to excite a feeling of
      sympathy and pity.

      The elephant's obedience to his keeper is the result
      of affection, as well as of fear; and although his
      attachment becomes so strong that an elephant in
      Ceylon has been known to remain out all night, without
      food, rather than abandon his mahout, lying
      intoxicated in the jungle, yet he manifests little
      difficulty in yielding the same submission to a new
      driver in the event of a change of attendants.[255]

Lastly, Sir E. Tennent writes:--

      One evening, whilst riding in the vicinity of Candy,
      towards the scene of the massacre of Major Dabies'
      party in 1803, my horse evinced some excitement at a
      noise which approached us in the thick jungle, and
      which consisted of a repetition of the ejaculation
      _urmph! urmph!_ in a hoarse and dissatisfied tone. A
      turn in the forest explained the mystery, by bringing
      us face to face with a tame elephant, unaccompanied by
      any attendant. He was labouring painfully to carry a
      heavy beam of timber, which he balanced across his
      tusks, but, the pathway being narrow, he was forced to
      bend his head to one side to permit it to pass
      endways; and the exertion and this inconvenience
      combined led him to utter the dissatisfied sounds
      which disturbed the composure of my horse. On seeing
      us halt, the elephant raised his head, reconnoitred us
      for a moment, then flung down the timber, and
      voluntarily forced himself backwards among the
      brushwood so as to leave a passage, of which he
      expected us to avail ourselves. My horse hesitated:
      the elephant observed it, and impatiently thrust
      himself deeper into the jungle, repeating his cry of
      _urmph!_ but in a voice evidently meant to encourage
      us to advance. Still the horse trembled; and, anxious
      to observe the instinct of the two sagacious animals,
      I forebore any interference: again the elephant of his
      own accord wedged himself further in amongst the
      trees, and manifested some impatience that we did not
      pass him. At length the horse moved forward; and when
      we were fairly past, I saw the wise creature stoop and
      take up its heavy burden, trim and balance it on its
      tusks, and resume its route as before, hoarsely
      snorting its discontented remonstrance.

Dr. Erasmus Darwin records an observation which was communicated to him
by a 'gentleman of undoubted veracity,' of an elephant in India which
the keeper was in the habit of leaving to play the part of nurse to his
child when he and his wife had occasion to go away from home. The
elephant was chained up, and whenever the child in its creeping about
came to the end of the elephant's tether, he used gently to draw it back
again with his trunk.

In 'Nature,' vol. xix., p. 385, Mr. J. J. Furniss writes:--

      In Central Park one very hot day my attention was
      drawn to the conduct of an elephant which had been
      placed in an enclosure in the open air. On the ground
      was a large heap of newly-mown grass, which the
      sagacious animal was taking up by the trunkful, and
      laying carefully upon his sun-heated back. He
      continued the operation until his back was _completely
      thatched_, when he remained quiet, apparently enjoying
      the result of his ingenuity.

Mr. Furniss in a later communication (vol. xx., p. 21) continues:--

      Since the publication of my former letter (as above),
      I have received additional data bearing on the subject
      from Mr. W. A. Conklin, the superintendent of the
      Central Park Menagerie. I am informed by him that he
      has frequently observed elephants, when out of doors
      in the hot sunshine, thatch their backs with hay or
      grass; that they do so to a certain extent when under
      cover in the summer time, and when the flies which
      then attack the animals, often so fiercely as to draw
      blood, are particularly numerous; but that they never
      attempt to thatch their backs in winter. This seems to
      prove that they act intelligently for the attainment
      of a definite end. It would be interesting to learn
      whether elephants in their wild state are in the habit
      of so thatching their backs. It seems more probable to
      suppose that in their native wilds they would avail
      themselves of the natural shade afforded by the
      jungle, and that the habit is one which has been
      developed in consequence of their changed surroundings
      in captivity.

Mr. G. E. Peal writes to 'Nature' (vol. xxi., p. 34):--

      One evening, soon after my arrival in Eastern Assam,
      and while the five elephants were as usual being fed
      opposite the bungalow, I observed a young and lately
      caught one step up to a bamboo-stake fence, and
      quietly pull one of the stakes up. Placing it under
      foot, it broke a piece off with the trunk, and after
      lifting it to its mouth threw it away. It repeated
      this twice or thrice, and then drew another stake and
      began again. Seeing that the bamboo was old and dry I
      asked the reason of this, and was told to wait and see
      what it would do. At last it seemed to get a piece
      that suited, and holding it in the trunk firmly, and
      stepping the left fore-leg well forward, passed the
      piece of bamboo under the armpit, so to speak, and
      began to scratch with some force. My surprise reached
      its climax when I saw a large elephant leech fall on
      the ground, quite six inches long and thick as one's
      finger, and which, from its position, could not easily
      be detached without this scraper or scratcher which
      was deliberately made by the elephant. I subsequently
      found that it was a common occurrence. Such scrapers
      are used by every elephant daily.

      On another occasion, when travelling at a time of the
      year when the large flies are so tormenting to an
      elephant, I noticed that the one I rode had no fan or
      wisp to beat them off with. The mahout, at my order,
      slackened pace and allowed her to go to the side of
      the road, when for some moments she moved along
      rummaging the smaller jungle on the bank; at last she
      came to a cluster of young shoots well branched, and
      after feeling among them and selecting one, raised her
      trunk and neatly stripped down the stem, taking off
      all the lower branches and leaving a fine bunch on
      top. She deliberately cleaned it down several times,
      and then laying hold at the lower end broke off a
      beautiful fan or switch about five feet long, handle
      included. With this she kept the flies at bay as we
      went along, flapping them off on each side.

      Say what we may, these are both really _bonâ fide_
      implements, each intelligently made for a definite

My friend Mrs. A. S. H. Richardson sends me the following. The Rev. Mr.
Townsend, who narrated the episode, is personally known to her:--

      An elephant was chained to a tree in the compound
      opposite Mr. Townsend's house. Its driver made an oven
      at a short distance, in which he put his rice-cakes to
      bake, and then covered them with stones and grass and
      went away. When he was gone, the elephant with his
      trunk unfastened the chain round his foot, went to the
      oven and uncovered it, took out and ate the cakes,
      re-covered the oven with the stones and grass as
      before, and went back to his place. He could not
      fasten the chain again round his own foot, so he
      twisted it round and round it, in order to look the
      same, and when the driver returned the elephant was
      standing with his back to the oven. The driver went to
      his cakes, discovered the theft, and, looking round,
      caught the elephant's eye as he looked back over his
      shoulder out of the corner of it. Instantly he
      detected the culprit, and condign punishment followed.
      The whole occurrence was witnessed from the windows by
      the family.


[225] Plin., _Hist. Nat._, viii. 1-13.

[226] _De Solert. Anim._, c. 12.

[227] _Philosophical Transactions_, 1799, p. 40.

[228] See Bingley, _loc. cit._, vol. i., pp. 148-51.

[229] _Hist. Nat._, viii., 5.

[230] For these and other cases of vindictiveness, see Bingley, _loc.
cit._, vol. i., pp. 156-8.

[231] _Memoirs_, vol. i., p. 448.

[232] _Zoological Recreations_, p. 315.

[233] _Animal Biography_, i., pp. 156-8.

[234] _Anecdotes of Animals_, p. 276.

[235] _Habits and Instincts of Animals_, p. 37.

[236] _Reasoning Power of Animals_, chap. iv.

[237] Quoted in _Animal World_, March 1882.

[238] _Philosophical Transactions_, 1873.

[239] _Natural History of Ceylon_, p. 114.

[240] _Natural History of Ceylon_, p. 140.

[241] _Natural History of Ceylon_, p. 196.

[242] _Phil. Trans._, A.D. 1701, vol. xxiii., p. 1052.

[243] _Loc. cit._, p. 216.

[244] _Memoirs_, vol. ii., p. 64 _et seq._

[245] Jesse, _Gleanings in Natural History_, vol. i, p. 19.

[246] _Descent of Man_, p. 96.

[247] See _Animal Kingdom_, vol. iii., p. 374.

[248] _Reasoning Power of Animals_, pp. 54-5.

[249] Bingley, _Animal Biography_, vol. i., p. 155.

[250] Bingley, _Animal Biography_, vol. i., p. 155.

[251] See his letter to Sir E. Tennent in _Nat. Hist. of Ceylon_, pp.

[252] _Indications of Instinct_, p. 129.

[253] _Descent of Man_, p. 69.

[254] _Natural History of Ceylon_, pp. 181-94.

[255] _Natural History of Ceylon_, pp. 181-94.



THE cat is unquestionably a highly intelligent animal, though when
contrasted with its great domestic rival, the dog, its intelligence,
from being cast in quite a different mould, is very frequently
underrated. Comparatively unsocial in temperament, wanderingly
predaceous in habits, and lacking in the affectionate docility of the
canine nature, this animal has never in any considerable degree been
subject to those psychologically transforming influences whereby a
prolonged and intimate association with man has, as we shall
subsequently see, so profoundly modified the psychology of the dog.
Nevertheless, as we shall immediately find, the cat is not only by
nature an animal remarkable for intelligence, but in spite of its
naturally imposed disadvantages of temperament, has not altogether
escaped those privileges of nurture which unnumbered centuries of
domestication could scarcely fail to supply. Thus, as contrasted with
most of the wild species of the genus when tamed from their youngest
days, the domestic cat is conspicuously of less uncertain temper towards
its masters--the uncertainty of temper displayed by nearly all the wild
members of the feline tribe when tamed being, of course, an expression
of the interference of individual with hereditary experience. And, as
contrasted with all the wild species of the genus when tamed, the
domestic cat is conspicuous in alone manifesting any exalted development
of affection towards the human kind; for in many individual cases such
affection, under favouring circumstances, reaches a level fully
comparable to that which it attains in the dog. We do not know the wild
stock from which the domestic cat originally sprang, and therefore
cannot estimate the extent of the psychological results which human
agency has here produced; but it is worth while in this connection to
remember that the nearest ally of the domestic cat is the wild cat, and
that this animal, while so closely resembling its congener in size and
anatomical structure, differs so enormously from it in the branch of
psychological structure which we are considering, that there is no
animal on the face of the earth so obstinately untamable.

As regards the wild species of the tribe in general, it may be said that
they all exhibit the same unsocial, fierce, and rapacious character.
Bold when brought to bay, they do not court battle with dangerous
antagonists, but prefer to seek safety in flight. Even the proverbial
courage of the lion is now known, as a rule, to consist in 'the better
part of valour;' and those exceptional individuals among tigers which
adopt a 'man-eating' propensity, snatch their human victims by stealth.
That the larger feline animals possess high intelligence would be shown,
even in the absence of information concerning their ordinary habits, by
the numerous tricks which they prove themselves capable of learning at
the hands of menagerie-keepers; though in such cases the conflict of
nature with nurture renders even the best-trained specimens highly
uncertain in their behaviour, and therefore always more or less
dangerous to the 'lion-kings.' The only wild species that is employed
for any practical purpose--the cheetah--is so employed by utilising
directly its natural instincts; it is shown the antelope, and runs it
down after the manner of all its ancestors.

Returning now to the domestic cat, it is commonly remarked as a peculiar
and distinctive trait in its emotional character that it shows a
strongly rooted attachment to places as distinguished from persons.
There can be no question that this peculiarity is a marked feature in
the psychology of domestic cats considered as a class, although of
course individual exceptions occur in abundance. Probably this feature
is a survival of an instinctive attachment to dens or lairs bequeathed
to our cats by their wild progenitors.

The only other feature in the emotional life of cats which calls for
special notice is that which leads to their universal and proverbial
treatment of helpless prey. The feelings that prompt a cat to torture a
captured mouse can only, I think, be assigned to the category to which
by common consent they are ascribed--delight in torturing for torture's
sake. Speaking of man, John S. Mill somewhere observes that there is in
some human beings a special faculty or instinct of cruelty, which is not
merely a passive indifference to the sight of physical sufferings, but
an active pleasure in witnessing or causing it. Now, so far as I have
been able to discover, the only animals in which there is any evidence
of a class of feelings in any way similar to these--if, indeed, in the
case even of such animals the feelings which prompt actions of
gratuitous cruelty really are similar to those which prompt it in
man--are cats and monkeys. With regard to monkeys I shall adduce
evidence on this point in the chapter which treats of these animals.
With regard to cats it is needless to dwell further upon facts so
universally known.

_General Intelligence._

Coming now to the higher faculties, it is to be noted as a general
feature of interest that all cats, however domesticated they may be,
when circumstances require it, and often even quite spontaneously, throw
off with the utmost ease the whole mental clothing of their artificial
experience, and return in naked simplicity to the natural habits of
their ancestors. This readiness of cats to become feral is a strong
expression of the shallow psychological influence which prolonged
domestication has here exerted, in comparison with that which it has
produced in the case of the dog. A pet terrier lost in the haunts of his
ancestors is almost as pitiable an object as a babe in the wood; a pet
cat under similar circumstances soon finds itself quite at home. The
reason of this difference is, of course, that the psychology of the cat,
never having lent itself to the practical uses of, and intelligent
dependency on, man, has never, as in the case of the dog, been under
the cumulative influence of human agency in becoming further and further
bent away from its original and naturally imposed position of
self-reliance; so that when now a severance takes place between a cat
and its human protectors, the animal, inheriting unimpaired the
transmitted experience of wild progenitors, knows very well how to take
care of itself.

Having made these general remarks, I shall now pass on to quote a few
instances showing the highest level of intelligence to which cats

As to observation, Mrs. Hubbard tells me of a cat which she possessed,
and which was in the habit of poaching young rabbits to 'eat privately
in the seclusion of a disused pigsty.' One day this cat caught a small
black rabbit, and instead of eating it, as she always did the brown
ones, brought it into the house unhurt, and laid it at the feet of her
mistress. 'She clearly recognised the black rabbit as an unusual
specimen, and apparently thought it right to show it to her mistress.'
Such was 'not the only instance this cat showed of zoological
discrimination,' for on another occasion, 'having caught another unusual
animal--viz., a stoat--she also brought this alive into the house for
the purpose of exhibiting it.'

Mr. A. Percy Smith informs me of a cat which he possesses, and which, to
test her intelligence, he used to punish whenever her kittens
misbehaved. Very soon this had the effect of causing the cat herself to
train the kittens, for whenever they misbehaved 'she swore at them and
boxed their ears, until she taught the kittens to be clean.'

Mr. Blackman, writing from the London Institution, tells me of a cat
which he has, and which without tuition began to 'beg' for food, in
imitation of a terrier in the same house whose begging gesture it must
have observed to be successful in the obtaining of tit-bits. The cat,
however, would never beg unless it was hungry;--

      And no coaxing could persuade it to do so unless it
      felt so inclined. The same cat also, whenever it
      wanted to go out, would come into the sitting-room,
      and make a peculiar noise to attract attention:
      failing that mode being successful, it would pull
      one's dress with its claw and then having succeeded in
      attracting the desired attention, it would walk to the
      street door and stop there, making the same cry until
      let out.

Coming now to cases indicative of reason in cats, Mr. John Martin,
writing from St. Clement's, Oxford, informs me: 'I have a cat which a
short time ago had kittens, and from some cause or other her milk
failed. My housekeeper saw her carrying a piece of bread to them.' The
process of reasoning here is obvious.

Mr. Bidie, writing from the Government Museum of Madras to 'Nature'
(vol. xx., p. 96), relates this instance of reasoning in a cat:--

      In 1877 I was absent from Madras for two months, and
      left in my quarters three cats, one of which, an
      English tabby, was a very gentle and affectionate
      creature. During my absence the quarters were occupied
      by two young gentlemen, who delighted in teasing and
      frightening the cats. About a week before my return
      the English cat had kittens, which she carefully
      concealed behind bookshelves in the library. On the
      morning of my return I saw the cat, and patted her as
      usual, and then left the house for about an hour. On
      returning to dress I found that the kittens were
      located in a corner of my dressing-room, where
      previous broods had been deposited and nursed. On
      questioning the servant as to how they came there, he
      at once replied, 'Sir, the old cat taking one by one
      in her mouth, brought them here.' In other words, the
      mother had carried them one by one in her mouth from
      the library to the dressing-room, where they lay quite
      exposed. I do not think I have heard of a more
      remarkable instance of reasoning and affectionate
      confidence in an animal, and I need hardly say that
      the latter manifestation gave me great pleasure. The
      train of reasoning seems to have been as follows: 'Now
      that my master has returned there is no risk of the
      kittens being injured by the two young savages in the
      house, so I will take them out for my protector to see
      and admire, and keep them in the corner in which all
      my former pets have been nursed in safety.'

Dr. Bannister writes me from Chicago, of a cat belonging to his friend
the late Mr. Meek, the palæontologist, who drew my correspondent's
attention to the fact:--

      He had fixed upright on his table a small
      looking-glass, from which he used to draw objects
      from nature, reversed on wood. The cat seeing her
      image in this glass made several attempts to
      investigate it, striking at it, &c. Then coming
      apparently to the conclusion that there was something
      between her and the other animal, she very slily and
      cautiously approached it, keeping her eye on it all
      the while, and struck her paw around behind the
      mirror, becoming seemingly much surprised at finding
      nothing there. This was done repeatedly, until she was
      at last convinced that it was beyond her
      comprehension, or she lost interest in the matter.

Mr. T. B. Groves communicates an almost precisely similar observation to
'Nature' (vol. xx., p. 291), of a cat which, on first seeing his own
reflection in a mirror, tried to fight it. Meeting with resistance from
the glass, the cat next ran behind the mirror. Not finding the object of
his search, he again came to the front, and while keeping his eyes
deliberately fixed on the image, felt round the edge of the glass with
one paw, whilst with his head twisted round to the front he assured
himself of the persistence of the reflection. He never afterwards
condescended to notice a mirror.

The following is communicated to me by a correspondent whose name I
cannot obtain permission to publish. I am sure, however, that it is
communicated in good faith, and the incident can scarcely be supposed to
have been due to accident. After describing the cat and the parrot in
their amiable relationship, my correspondent proceeds:--

      One evening there was no one in the kitchen. Cook had
      gone upstairs, and left a bowl full of dough to rise
      by the fire. Shortly after, the cat rushed up after
      her, mewing, and making what signs she could for her
      to go down; then she jumped up and seized her apron,
      and tried to drag her down. As she was in such a state
      of excitement cook went, and found 'Polly' shrieking,
      calling out, flapping her wings and struggling
      violently, 'up to her knees' in dough, and stuck quite

      No doubt if she had not been rescued she would have
      sunk in the morass and been smothered.

I shall here introduce two or three cases to show the ingenious devices
to which clever cats will resort for the purpose of capturing prey.

Mr. James Hutchings writes in 'Nature' (vol. xii., p. 330) an account of
an old tom cat using a young bird, which had fallen out of its nest, as
a decoy for the old birds. The cat touched the young bird with his paw
when it ceased to flutter and cry, in order that, by thus making it
display its terror, the old cock bird, which was all the while flying
about in great consternation, might be induced to approach near enough
to be caught. Many times the cock bird did so, and the cat made numerous
attempts to catch it, but without success. All the while a kitten had to
be kept from killing the young bird. As this scene continued for a long
time--in fact, till terminated by Mr. Hutchings--and as there does not
appear to have been any opportunity for errors of observation, I think
the case worth recording.

The following case is communicated to me by Mr. James G. Stevens, of St.
Stephen, New Brunswick:--

      Looking out on the garden in front of my residence, I
      observed a robin alight on a small tree: it was
      midwinter, the ground covered with about a foot of
      _light_ snow. A cat came stealthily along, with
      difficulty making her way through the snow until
      within about three feet of the tree where the bird
      was; the robin was sluggishly resting on a twig
      distant three feet from the ground or surface of snow;
      the cat could not well, owing to the softness of the
      snow, venture to make a spring. She crouched down and
      at first gently stirred herself, evidently with the
      purpose of causing the bird to move. The first attempt
      failed. She again more actively stirred herself by a
      shaking motion. She again failed, when she stirred
      herself vigorously again and started the bird, which
      flew about fifty feet away, and alighted on a small
      low bush on the _northern_ side of a _close-boarded_
      fence. The cat keenly watched the flight and the
      alighting of the bird; as quickly as she could cross
      through the snow, she then _took a circuit of about
      one hundred feet_, watching the place where the bird
      was all the while, and covering her march by making
      _available every bush to hide her_. When out of range
      of vision of the bird she more actively made for the
      fence, leaped over it, came up on the _southern_ side
      of it, and jumped on it, calculating her dista