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Title: Science from an Easy Chair
Author: Lankester, E. Ray (Edwin Ray), Sir
Language: English
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       *       *       *       *       *










K.C.B., F.R.S.




    _First Published April 14th 1910_
    _Second Edition  May        1910_


This volume is a collection of some of the papers which I have
contributed to the _Daily Telegraph_ during the years 1908-1909, under
the title “Science from an Easy Chair.” I have revised and corrected the
letterpress, and have added some illustrations. A smaller volume
containing earlier papers was published by Messrs. Constable in 1908,
with the title _From an Easy Chair_. It is my intention now to produce
additional volumes (under the title “Easy Chair Series”) as their
constituent articles accumulate, and I hope to be able to publish a
second and a third instalment at no distant date.

I should like to draw the special attention of the reader to the
Frontispiece (Plate I.), which is very beautifully executed, and is, I
believe, the first coloured drawing yet published showing the difference
between the adult “silver” eel and the more abundant immature “yellow”
eel—sometimes called the “frogmouthed eel.” The original drawings were
prepared for me through the kindness of Dr. Petersen, of Copenhagen, who
is the discoverer of many interesting facts about the common eel, and
is director of the Danish Biological Laboratory.

I also wish to draw the attention of any one who is kind enough to look
at this preface to one or two more of my illustrations, because they
are, I think, of exceptional interest, and should be looked at, at once,
before a decision not to read the book is made. These are the
prehistoric engraving of a horse’s head, with rope-bridle in place, on
page 81; the drawings of the leaves of the American Poison-vine and of
the Virginian Creeper on page 95; of the nettle-sting on page 113; of
the Dragon of the Hesperides on page 122; of the big tadpoles on page
217; of the jumping bean on page 298, and its moth on page 301; of the
ant milking a green-fly for its honey-dew on page 324; and lastly, the
accurate drawing on page 370 of the most ancient human skull yet
discovered, and the other drawings of skulls (all to the scale of
one-third the actual length), and those of prehistoric weapons and
carvings which follow it. These drawings have been made from original
scientific memoirs, or in some cases from actual specimens, for the
present volume.

    _February 1910_


     I. SCIENCE AND PRACTICE                                           1

    II. UNIVERSITY TRAINING                                            6

   III. DARWIN’S THEORY                                               12

    IV. DARWIN’S DISCOVERIES                                          18

     V. DARWIN’S THEORY UNSHAKEN                                      27

    VI. METCHNIKOFF AND TOLSTOI                                       38

   VII. THE LAND OF AZURE BLUE                                        46

  VIII. FRESH-WATER JELLY-FISHES                                      58

    IX. THE STORY OF THE COMMON EEL                                   65

     X. MODERN HORSES AND THEIR ANCESTORS                             77

     XI. A RIVAL OF THE FABLED UPAS TREE                              91


   XIII. THE DRAGON: A FANCY OR A FACT                               114

    XIV. OYSTERS                                                     128

     XV. MATERNAL CARE AND MOLLUSCS                                  143

    XVI. THE HEART’S BEAT                                            147

   XVII. SLEEP                                                       155


    XIX. PROTOPLASM, LIFE AND DEATH                                  180

     XX. CHEMISTRY AND PROTOPLASM                                    187

    XXI. THE SIMPLEST LIVING THINGS                                  193

   XXII. TADPOLES AND FROGS                                          209

  XXIII. ABOUT THE STARS                                             220

   XXIV. COMETS                                                      227

    XXV. ABOUT CHOLERA                                               237

   XXVI. SEA-BREEZES, MOUNTAIN AIR, AND OZONE                        251

  XXVII. OXYGEN GAS FOR ATHLETES AND OTHERS                          258


   XXIX. THE FEEBLE-MINDED                                           271

    XXX. DEATH-RATES                                                 283

   XXXI. GOSSAMER                                                    287

  XXXII. THE JUMPING BEAN                                            296

 XXXIII. PROTECTIVE COLOURING IN ANIMALS                             304

  XXXIV. HOP-BLIGHT                                                  314


  XXXVI. THE DEADLY PHYLLOXERA                                       334

 XXXVII. CLOTHES MOTHS                                               339

XXXVIII. STONE AND WOOD BORERS                                       346

  XXXIX. CHRISTMAS FARE                                              356

     XL. THE ORIGIN OF OPIUM                                         363

    XLI. THE MOST ANCIENT MEN                                        371

   XLII. THE CAVE-MEN’S SKULLS                                       391

  XLIII. MORE ABOUT THE NEANDER MEN                                  402

         INDEX                                                       413



FIG.                                                                PAGE

  (_HYLA ARBOREA_)                                                    51

2. THE COMMON JELLY-FISH (_AURELIA AURITA_)                           59

3. THE FRESH-WATER JELLY-FISH (_LIMNOCODIUM_)                         60

  OF A WATER-PLANT                                                    61


6. YOUNG STAGES OF THE COMMON EEL                                     72

7. DRAWING OF AN IVORY CARVING OF A FEMALE HEAD                       80

  OF THE HEAD OF A NEIGHING HORSE                                     80

  SHOWING TWISTED ROPE-BRIDLE AND TRAPPINGS                           81

10. FORE-FOOT OF THE HORSE-ANCESTOR, HIPPARION                        84

11. SKULLS OF HORSES AND OF DEER                                      86

12. FORE AND HIND LEGS OF HORSE AND ASS                               88

  AND HORSE                                                           89

  POISON-VINE (_RHUS TOXICODENDRON_)                                  95

  FROM BISKRA, NORTH AFRICA                                          109

  NETTLE                                                             113

16. THE HERALDIC DRAGON                                              115

17. THE HERALDIC GRIFFIN                                             116

18. HERCULES DESTROYING THE HYDRA                                    116

19. THE HERALDIC WYVERN                                              117


21. THE CHINESE IMPERIAL DRAGON                                      121

22. A FLYING SNAKE WITH TWO PAIRS OF WINGS                           121


24. A VOTIVE TABLET                                                  124


26. EGYPTIAN FOUR-WINGED SERPENT                                     125

27. TWO-WINGED SERPENT                                               125

28. AN OYSTER WITH THE RIGHT-SIDE SHELL REMOVED                      130

  GILLS OF THE OYSTER                                                131


31. THE EGGS OF THE OYSTER                                           133

32. THE SPERMS OR SPERMATOZOA OF A RIPE OYSTER                       134

33. DEVELOPMENT OF THE EGG OF THE COMMON OYSTER                      135

34. FREE-SWIMMING YOUNG OYSTER OR OYSTER LARVA                       136

  GILL-POUCH                                                         145

  AND TAKING IN SOLID FOOD PARTICLES                                 171

37. CELLS FORMING TISSUES                                            172

  OF CORK                                                            173

39. A PIECE OF CARTILAGE                                             174

40. THREE KINDS OF CELLS                                             175





45. THE COMET SHOWN IN THE BAYEUX TAPESTRY                           232


47. A YOUNG SPIDER                                                   288

  BURMESE SPIDER                                                     290


  (_EPEIRA DIADEMA_)                                                 292

  SPIDER (_EPEIRA DIADEMA_)                                          293

  REMOVED FROM THE JUMPING BEAN                                      299

  FROM THE JUMPING BEAN                                              300

54. THE MOTH (_CARPOCAPSA SALTITANS_)                                301

55. EARLY WINGED FEMALE HOP-LOUSE                                    316

56. MALE HOP-LOUSE                                                   317

57. ORDINARY WINGLESS FEMALE HOP-LOUSE                               318

58. FOUNDRESS OR STOCK-MOTHER OF THE HOP-LOUSE                       323



61. SINGLE EGG-TUBE OR OVARIAN TUBE OF AN INSECT                     329


63. THE SILVER-FISH INSECT (_LEPISMA SACCHARINA_)                    353

64. THE BOOK-LOUSE, OR _ATROPOS DIVINATORIA_                         354


  NEOLITHIC AGE                                                      374


68. HARPOONS OF THE PALÆOLITHIC PERIOD                               379


  FOUR FISHES                                                        381

71. PAINTING OF A BISON                                              382



  OF THE SOMME VALLEY                                                388

  OF THE CROMAGNARD RACE OR REINDEER MEN                             389

  KNOWN AS THE NEANDERTHAL SKULL                                     392


  SANDS IN JAVA, CALLED _PITHECANTHROPUS_                            400


  CHAPELLE-AUX-SAINTS                                                404

81. THE SKULL OF A MALE CHIMPANZEE                                   405

82. THE HEIDELBERG JAW                                               405



                                                         _Facing p._ 118




The delight which is experienced by those who discover new things in the
various branches of science is, no doubt, very great. To reveal to other
men processes, properties, existences in the natural world hitherto
unsuspected, or, if suspected, yet eluding the grasp of man, is to do
something which gives to him who does it a sense that he is of value in
the world—a sense which will uphold him and enable him to endure
adversity, and even persecution, with equanimity. But there is, perhaps,
a greater and more vivid satisfaction for those who do or make great and
splendid things which all men can see, and for which all men are
grateful. The great artist—poet, painter, builder, or musician—has
this satisfaction, and so also has the man who, by a combination of
personal energy and clearness of intellectual vision, applies scientific
knowledge to the accomplishment of great public works, and to the
acquirement of that control by mankind of the natural conditions hostile
to human progress which we may call, as did Lord Bacon, “the
establishing of the kingdom of man.”

The men who have expelled yellow fever from Cuba and Panama have not
merely done a piece of sanitary cleaning up; they have first imagined
and then created, by the force of human will, directed and maintained by
conviction of the reality of science, a new thing—the tropics without
deadly fever, the tropics as a healthy and welcome home for the white
man. That is comparable to the work of a great artist in the directness
of its appeal; it is in its actual detail the result of the combination
of the skill of the engineer with the foresight and absolute domination
of his human agents of a military genius.

For this magnificent work the highest credit is due to the United States
chief sanitary officer, Colonel Gorgas. It is well known how the
American Medical Commission in Cuba proved six years ago that yellow
fever is conveyed from man to man solely and entirely by a gnat common
in Central America, known as _Stegomyia_, and further, how by carrying
out measures for preventing the entrance of these gnats into
dwelling-houses, and especially by keeping them away from yellow fever
patients so that they fail to obtain and carry the yellow fever germ,
even if they do bite healthy men, Colonel Gorgas and his associates
practically eradicated yellow fever in Cuba. The bite of the _Stegomyia
gnat_ is the only way in which a man can acquire yellow fever, and the
gnat which bites him must have taken up the germs of yellow fever from
another man—twelve days (no less) previously.

The application of this knowledge and the methods devised to give it
effect is what has now rendered the construction of the Panama Canal by
the United States Government possible. The French Canal Company employed
an army of labourers, numbering from 15,000 to 18,000 men. They lost,
almost entirely by death from yellow fever and malaria, so many of their
workmen that others refused to undertake the deadly job, and there was a
general panic. The death-rate was in 1884 over 60 per 1000. In 1885 it
was over 70 per 1000. The work was abandoned. In May 1904 Colonel Gorgas
and his forces took possession of the canal zone. This is a zone of
territory running fifty miles north and south, with a good-sized
town—Colon—at one end of it and another—Panama—at the other end of
it. Many hundreds of men were at once organised and set to work to
destroy in both the towns the _Stegomyia gnat_. This was effected by
doing away with all the breeding-places of the gnat, that is, screening
and covering every water receptacle in the town, so that the gnats or
mosquitoes cannot breed. Then a fumigating process was carried out in
all houses and buildings, great and small, to destroy such gnats as were
still alive. No less than 200,000 lb. of pyrethrum and 400,000 lb. of
sulphur were used in this fumigation. In December 1905 the last case of
yellow fever occurred. It took sixteen months of the work just described
to effect this.

In a different way the _Anopheles gnat_ or mosquito, which carries the
germ of malaria from man to man, was got rid of. This gnat breeds in
clean water, where grass and weeds grow; it belongs chiefly to country
districts. As it rarely flies more than 200 yards it was sufficient to
destroy the breeding pools within that distance of the workmen’s houses,
camps, and villages. All the windows and doors of all houses were fitted
with wire-gauze screens, which prevent the entrance of the gnats, and
the population was furnished with quinin, a dose of 3 grs. a day being
ordered to bring the men into such condition that the malaria parasite
would not thrive in the blood even if introduced.

The object with which Colonel Gorgas and his associates started was
accomplished in less than two years. The control of yellow fever and
malaria has become even more complete in the two years which have
followed. It is two years since yellow fever disappeared from the
entire zone, including the two towns. Malaria has not been so completely
destroyed. The employés of the Canal Commission and Panama Railway now
number 45,000. The death-rate of this entire force, including both black
(33,000) and white (12,000) employés, was, in the month of December 1907
only 18 per 1000 per annum—less than that of the city of Liverpool,
which was 20, or that of Salford, which was over 19. Of all the white
employés the death-rate was only 13 per 1000 per annum. In the year 1906
(whole year), among the 6000 white employés who had come from the United
States, including some 1200 women and children, their families, the
death-rate from disease was only 4 per 1000. Pneumonia has been a chief
cause of death among the negro labourers, but seldom affects the whites.
Malaria caused, in the whole army of labourers, only six deaths in
December 1907, as against thirteen in the smaller army at work in the
same month in 1906. There were 800 cases of malaria in the whole army of
45,000 employés in December 1907.

It is thus apparent that Colonel Gorgas has converted this deadly zone
from which negroes and white men hurried in a panic of fear twenty years
ago into a region as healthy—that is to say, with as low a
death-rate—as an ordinary North American or English city. No doubt
allowance must be made in the comparison for the special nature of the
population brought together on the canal zone. This is favourable to a
low death-rate, in so far as it consists of strong adults, excluding old
people and very young children, but unfavourable in so far as it
consists of negroes and mean whites, who are even less amenable to
sanitary regulations and precautions than the population of an English
city. Colonel Gorgas writes that now that it is shown that any
population coming into the tropics can protect itself against yellow
fever and malaria by measures which are both simple and inexpensive,
the Anglo-Saxon will find life in the tropics more healthful than in the
temperate zones, and tropical countries which offer a much greater
return for man’s labour than do those of the chilly temperate zone, will
be in the course of the next two or three centuries occupied and
populated by the white races. Such an unpleasantly cold spring as that
which all Europe endured last year makes one wish that the tropics
generally were already arranged by Colonel Gorgas for our reception, and
provided with a sanitated white-faced population. We could go and live
there, warm and comfortable, all the year round, enjoying the rich
luxuriance of tropical nature without fear of either chill or fever.



At Manchester last year, when they installed Lord Morley, the Secretary
of State for India, as Chancellor of the University, the Right Hon.
Arthur Balfour delivered a very interesting address, in which he
declared himself a believer in the gospel of “Science the Master.” Mr.
Balfour’s speech did not imply any disregard for the pursuit of
historical knowledge and a training in literature and the use of
language, but it was a clear recognition of the fact that when the great
purpose for which universities exist is considered it must be asserted
in no hesitating terms that the discovery of new knowledge is the most
important activity which a university can foster. To train men (and
women, too) to use their faculties not merely to acquire knowledge of
what has been discovered by others in the past, but to discover new
things and to gain further control over the conditions in which we live,
and to secure further understanding not only of nature but of man—that
is the great business of the university.

It was fortunate that Mr. Balfour was present and able to strike this
note, for Lord Morley, the new Chancellor, had not expressed any such
conception of the aims of a university. He declared that, so long as the
Greeks have anything to teach us we should not cease to study the
Greeks. But, whilst we may agree to this, it is well to remember that,
though pleasure can still be obtained from Greek poetry and prose by
those who have thoroughly mastered the Greek language, yet almost all,
if not quite all, that the Greeks have to teach us has been by this time
translated and dealt with by our own writers. Consequently, although we
may cordially approve of the study of ancient civilisations and ancient
literatures and languages, both Greek and barbarian, as part of the
enterprise of a university, it is somewhat excessive, not to say
belated, to set up the study of Greek or of any other historic language
and civilisation as the chief and distinctive boon which universities
can offer to their scholars. The matter has, indeed, been thrashed out,
and Greek, together with what is called the “study of literature” (but
is usually an ineffective dabbling in it), has been put into its proper
subordinate place in all the universities of Europe and in most of those
of Great Britain. The illusion that flowers of speech and mastery of
phrase (though all very well if honestly used) are an indication of any
knowledge or capacity which can be of service to the community, has
been, in late years, to a very large extent, dispelled.

The concluding words of Mr. Balfour’s speech were: “The great
advancement of mankind is to be looked for in our ever-increasing
knowledge of the secrets of nature—secrets, however, which are not to
be unlocked by the men who pursue them for purely material ends, but
secrets which are open in their fulness only to men who pursue them in a
disinterested spirit. The motive power which is really going to change
the external surface of civilisation, which is going to add to the
well-being of mankind, which is going to stimulate the imagination of
all those who are interested in the universe in which our lot is
cast—that lies after all with science. I would rather be known as
having added to the sum of our knowledge of the truth of nature than
anything else I can imagine. Unfortunately for me, my opportunities have
lain in different directions.”

That is a splendid confession of faith. I do not remember that any
German statesman of like authority and standing has ever given
expression to so full and ample a belief in the value of science. Yet
German statesmen have acted, though they have not spoken. They have
arranged for, and continually are arranging for, a far larger
expenditure of public money upon scientific training and investigation
than is assigned to such purposes in this country. Every department of
government in Germany has its thoroughly trained, well-taught, well-paid
body of scientific experts and investigators, and, moreover, the whole
official world, from the Emperor downwards, has a real understanding of
what science is, of the folly of attempting to proceed without it, or
allowing persons who are ignorant of it to act as administrators. The
need for science is not merely recognised in words, but steps are taken,
and have been taken now for many years, actually to secure in German
public offices and public administration the predominance of that
scientific knowledge which the German statesmen, as well as Mr. Balfour,
consider so necessary. Is it too much to hope that in this country those
who recognise the value and importance of scientific knowledge will also
take steps to re-arrange our Government departments so as to give them
the advantage of guidance by men trained in the knowledge of nature,
rather than by men ignorant of the very existence of such knowledge?

The universities hold the central position in this matter, and it is
their influence and wealth which the State should insist on directing
towards the extension and diffusion of science. Those who address the
public on this subject not infrequently take what seems to me to be a
disastrous line at the start. They speak of the new universities as the
universities of the people, and hand over Oxford and Cambridge, with
their enormous endowments, their history and tradition, to the wealthy
class. Such usurpation cannot be tolerated. It is monstrous that the
endowments of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, which were
thoroughly popular and democratic in their foundation, should be, even
for a moment, regarded as the peculiar property of the wealthy. It is
also monstrous to suppose that it is anything less than disastrous to
consign the well-to-do classes in any community to an empty sham of
ancient “culture” rather than to imbue them with the real and inspiring
culture of the modern renaissance. It is because this notion is allowed
to gain ground that the enormous funds of the colleges and universities
of Oxford and Cambridge, amounting to more than three-quarters of a
million pounds annually, are to a large extent, though not exclusively,
employed in keeping up a couple of huge boarding-schools, which are shut
for six months in the year.

It is owing to this that it is the rarest thing to find in Oxford or in
Cambridge a great teacher who lectures or demonstrates to an eager
following of disciples. An overwhelming majority of the young men who go
as students to these universities have no intention of studying
anything. They are sent there in order to be submitted to college
discipline and to have, subject to that safeguard, a good time. A large
number are handsomely paid by scholarships in order to induce them to go
there—and would not go there at all unless they were so paid. They do
not find such teachers there and such an effective occupation of their
student years as would induce them, if unpaid, to seek the university,
or to pay fees out of their own pockets for the opportunities of
seriously pursuing any branch of learning or science within its walls.

The inefficiency of the old universities is to a large extent the cause
of the neglect and ignorance of science in the well-to-do class, who
furnish the men who become Government officials of all kinds and members
of professions which influence public opinion. But this inefficiency of
the old universities is not due to their devotion to literary studies
and to abstract science, nor to their objection to the pursuit of
practical and commercial studies. That excuse is sometimes put forward
for them, though at this moment they are, in fact, setting up
laboratories and lecture-rooms for engineering, agriculture, forestry,
mining, and such applications of science. Nor is it money which is
really wanting at either Oxford or Cambridge, although they are both
begging for it from the public. What Oxford and Cambridge want is not
money but men; men as teachers—“professors” is the usual title given to
them in a university—who must be the ablest, each in his own line, in
the whole world. If such professors existed in either Oxford or
Cambridge, and were allowed to teach, the town (if not the colleges!)
would be full to overflowing of students—eager to pay their fees and to
spend, not three short terms of seven weeks in each year, but the whole
year, and many years, in the laboratories and lecture-rooms of those
commanding men.

To obtain such men—to set the machinery at work—you must pay them
handsomely, and give them authority and the means of work. Once they
were at work, the mere fees of the students would furnish a splendid
revenue. There is plenty of money at Oxford and at Cambridge—a
superabundance, in fact—which could and should be applied to this
purpose, namely, that of securing and establishing there the greatest
teachers in the world. The money is at present administered by the
colleges according to the directions given in recent Acts of Parliament,
and by no means in any blind obedience to the original intentions of the
founders of the colleges. It is to a large extent wasted. That portion
of it paid out as “scholarships” is for the most part wasted in bringing
students to a place where they cannot get the best opportunities of
study, and the rest is unwisely applied (not so much by the tenants for
life or administrators of college funds as by rigid Act of Parliament)
to providing an excessive number of totally inadequate salaries by which
a corresponding number of young men are induced to enter upon the career
of teachers as underpaid college Fellows.



On Wednesday, the 1st of July 1908, half a century had passed since
Darwin’s Theory of the Origin of Species was made known to the world.
Fifty years have now been completed since that immortal book, _The
Origin of Species_, was published, and a hundred years since Charles
Darwin was born.

It is not every one who is in a position to understand how great and
momentous was the occasion when Sir Charles Lyell and Dr. Joseph Hooker
communicated to the Linnean Society of London, on the 1st of July 1858,
two papers, one by Charles Darwin, the other by Alfred Russel Wallace,
under the common title, “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties:
and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural means of
Selection.” The reason for this conjoint communication to the Linnean
Society was that Darwin, who had been working for years at the subject,
and had already, in 1842, drawn up a statement of his theory, not for
publication, but for the consideration and criticism of his friend
Hooker—unexpectedly received from Alfred Russel Wallace, who was, and
had been for some years, away in the Malay Archipelago—a manuscript of
an essay on the origin of species, containing views identical with his
own, and even phrases similar to those he had himself found it
necessary to invent. Thus Wallace speaks of the “struggle for
existence,” whilst Darwin had used the term “struggle for life.” Darwin
had been urged by his friends before this to publish an abstract or
statement of his conclusions, but now that he had received Wallace’s
manuscript, he declared in a letter to Hooker, “I would far rather burn
my whole book than that he or any other man should think that I had
behaved in a paltry spirit.” And so Lyell and Hooker took the matter in
hand, and communicated to the Linnean Society, accompanied by an
explanatory statement, the two independent papers, setting forth, as
they say, “the results of the investigations of the indefatigable
naturalists, Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. Alfred Wallace.” Such loyalty
and regard to each other as Darwin and Wallace showed then and ever
after form a delightful feature in the history of this great discovery.
A wonderful thing is that Hooker, now Sir Joseph Hooker, the greatest
botanist of the past century, the constant friend and comrade of Darwin,
is still alive, and that Alfred Russel Wallace, too, is still with us.
They both were present when the Linnean Society celebrated the meeting
of fifty years ago.

The views of Darwin and Wallace have now become the established doctrine
of science. They have led to the universal recognition of “the origin of
species by descent with modification.” That is a statement, in other
words, to the effect that all the various kinds of living things have
been gradually produced by natural birth from predecessors which differ
from them only slightly in the later stages of time, but become simpler
and less like their descendants as we go further back, until we reach
the simplest living things. It has led to the conviction that there has
been no exceptional or “miraculous” suspension of the order of Nature in
this process, but that all has come about in due and regular course, in
virtue of the properties of natural things, which we know as the laws
of physics and chemistry. Most important and dominating of all these
results is the inevitable one that man himself has come from animal
ancestors, in the same way, and—(this is the greatest and most
far-reaching conclusion of all)—that he is still subject to those
natural processes of change and development by which he has reached his
present phase; that he must completely understand them and control them
(so far as such control is possible) in order to maintain a healthy,
happy, and improving race of men on the face of the globe. This great
possession—the earth and all that lives on it—is, as Lord Bacon
phrased it three hundred years ago—the Kingdom of Man. Man has but to
use his intelligence in order to take control of it. The knowledge of
his own relation to it, and of the ways in which the human race is
affected for good and for ill, through the operation of the self-same
processes which affect the breeding, the improvement, the health, the
disease, the destruction, and the perfecting of other living things, has
once and for all been placed within man’s reach by the discoveries of
Darwin and Wallace.

Before Darwin—that is, before 1st July 1858—the origin of the
different species of animals and plants was called by great thinkers
like Sir John Herschel, the astronomer, “the mystery of mysteries.” The
word “species” was defined as “an animal or plant which in a state of
nature is distinguished by certain peculiarities of form, size, colour,
or other circumstance from any other animal or plant, and propagates
after its kind individuals perfectly resembling the parent, its
peculiarities being therefore permanent.” So wrote a great naturalist in
the days before Darwin. This definition may be illustrated by two common
English birds—the rook and the crow. They differ from each other in
slight peculiarities of form, structure, and habits, and, moreover,
rooks always produce rooks, and crows always produce crows, and they do
not interbreed. Therefore it was held that all the rooks in the world
had descended from a single pair of rooks, and all the crows in like
manner from a single pair of crows, while it was considered impossible
that crows could have descended from rooks, or rooks from crows. The
“origin” of the first pair of each kind was a mystery, and by many
persons was held to have been due to a miraculous and sudden act of
“creation.” But besides our crow and rook, there are about thirty other
birds in various parts of the world so much like our crow and rook that
they are commonly called crows, and are all regarded as “species” of the
genus crow (or _Corvus_). It was held before Darwin that all the
individuals of each of these “species” were descended from an ancestral
pair of crows of that species. There would have been thirty different
original kinds, the “origin” of which was unknown, and by naturalists
was regarded as a mystery. Now, on the contrary, it is held that all the
thirty living species are descended from one, not from thirty, ancestral
species, and have been gradually modified to their present character in
different parts of the world; and, further, that this ancestral species
was itself derived by slow process of change and natural birth from
preceding crow-like birds no longer existing.

As Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace has said in his most readable and
delightful book, _Darwinism_—where he gives all the credit and glory to
his great fellow-worker: “Darwin wrote for a generation which had not
accepted evolution—a generation which poured contempt on those who
upheld the derivation of species from species by any natural law of
descent. He did his work so well that ‘descent with modification’ is now
universally accepted as the order of nature in the organic world, and
the rising generation of naturalists can hardly realise the novelty of
this idea, or that their fathers considered it a scientific heresy to be
condemned rather than seriously discussed.”

For those who are not naturalists or men of science it is an
object-lesson of the highest importance, that the speculations and
observations which have led to the general acceptance of a new view as
to the origin of the species of birds, butterflies, and flowers—in
itself apparently a matter of no consequence to human life and
progress—should have necessarily led to a new epoch in philosophy, and
in the higher state-craft; in fact, to the establishment of the
scientific knowledge of life as the one sure guide and determining
factor of civilisation. How to breed a healthy, capable race of men, how
to preserve such a race, how to educate and to train it, so that its
best qualities of mind and body may be brought to activity and
perfection—this is what Darwinism can teach us, and will teach us when
the great subjects of inheritance and of variation are more fully
investigated by the aid of public funds, and when the human mind has
been as carefully examined and its laws as well ascertained, as are
those of the human body. There is no reason for delay; no excuse for it.
For two thousand years the learned men of Europe debated as to whether
this or that place was the site of ancient Troy, or whether there ever
was such a place at all. At last (only twenty-five years ago) a retired
man of business, named Schliemann, had a “happy thought”—it was not the
thought of a learned pedant, but of a scientific investigator. He said,
“Let us go and see.” And at the expense of a few thousand pounds he went
and found Troy and Mycenæ, and revealed—“dis-covered”—the whole
matter. That was the most tremendous and picturesque triumph of the
scientific method over mere talk and pretended historical learning which
has ever been seen since human record has existed. It ought to be told
to every boy and girl, for it is the greatest and most obvious proof of
the overwhelming power of the investigation of tangible things and the
futility of chatter, which has ever been seen. It is enough to inspire
hope and belief in experiment even in the breast of a Member of
Parliament, or of a Minister of the Crown.



A large proportion of the public are not aware of the amount of
experiment and observation carried out by the great naturalist whose
memory was honoured by a splendid ceremony at the University of
Cambridge in the summer of 1909. There are, I am sure, not a few who are
under the impression that Darwin, sitting in his study or walking round
his garden, had “a happy thought,” namely, that man is only a modified
and improved monkey, and proceeded to write an argumentative essay,
setting forth the conclusion that mankind are the descendants of some
remote ancestral apes. Of course there is an increasing number of more
careful and inquiring men and women who take advantage of the small
price at which Mr. Darwin’s wonderful book, _The Origin of Species_, is
now to be bought, and have read that and some of his other writings, and
accordingly know how far he was from being the hasty and fanciful
theorist they previously imagined him to be. It is the great distinction
of Darwin that he spent more than twenty years of his life in
accumulating the records of an enormous series of facts and observations
tending to show that the species or “kinds” of animals and plants in
nature can and do change slowly, and that there is, owing to the fact
that every pair produces a great number of offspring (sometimes many
thousand), of which only a single pair, on the average, survive, a
necessary selection of those which are to survive and breed, accompanied
by a rejection and destruction of the rest. This “natural selection” or
survival of favoured varieties, he was able to show, must operate like
the selection made by breeders, fanciers, and horticulturists, and has
in all probability (for in a history extending over hundreds of
thousands of years we must necessarily deal with “probabilities,” and
not with direct demonstration) produced new forms, new kinds, better
adapted to their surroundings than the parental forms from which they
are derived.

It was necessary, in order that Darwin should persuade other naturalists
that his views were correct, that he should show by putting examples “on
the table” that variations occur naturally and in great diversity;
further, that there is great pressure in the conditions of life, and a
consequent survival of the best-suited varieties; further, that there is
in reproduction a transmission of the peculiar favouring character or
quality which enables a variety to survive, and thus a tendency to
perpetuate the new quality. It was not enough for Darwin to “imagine”
that these things might be so, or to make the notion that they are so
plausible by arguments drawn from existing knowledge. He had to do that:
but also he had to make new inquiries and discover new things about
animals and plants which fitted in with his theory and would not fit in
either with the notion that all plants and animals were created—as the
poet Milton supposed—out of lumps of earth and muddy water, suddenly,
in the likeness of their present-day descendants, nor with some other
notions, such as that of the able and gifted French naturalist Lamarck.
And he spent the later twenty years of his life in doing so, just as he
had spent the previous twenty years in collecting a first series of
facts and observations justifying his theory before he announced it to
the world.

A great difference between Lamarck and Darwin exists, not only in their
two theories as to the mode of origin of the vast diversified series of
kinds or species of plants and animals, but in their way of stating and
dealing with the theory which each thought out and gave to the world.
Lamarck had a great knowledge of the species of plants and animals,
partly through having collected specimens himself when he was an officer
in the French Republican army which was employed on the Mediterranean
shores of France and Italy more than a hundred years ago, and partly
through his later official position in the great natural history museum
at Paris, where large collections passed through his hands. He was a man
of very keen insight and excellent method, and did more to plan out a
natural and satisfactory “classification” of animals than any one
between his own day and that of Linnæus. His theory of the origin of
species was essentially an opposition to the then popular view that the
species of living things have been made by the Creator so as to fit the
conditions in which they live. Lamarck contradicted this view, and said
in so many words that the real fact is that the peculiar specific
characters of animals or of plants have not been created for their
conditions, but, on the contrary, that the conditions in which they live
have created the peculiarities of living things. In so far his
conception was the same as Darwin’s. But Lamarck then said to himself:
How do the conditions create the peculiarities of different living
things? And he answered this question by an ingenious guess, which he
published to the world in a book called _Philosophical Zoology_, without
taking any steps to test the truth of his guess.

That is where Lamarck’s method and attitude as a scientific man is so
greatly inferior to that of Darwin. Lamarck, sitting in his study, said
animals (and plants too) must be affected by the conditions around them,
so that an individual as it lives and grows becomes to a certain degree
slightly changed by and adapted to those conditions. This, he said, we
all see in human beings and familiar animals and plants. Now, he said,
we have only to admit that the changes so acquired are (especially when
both parents have been similarly changed) transmitted to the young in
the process of generation, and to some degree “intensified,” in order to
recognise that of necessity there is in nature a constant change and
progression of living forms, consisting in a more and more elaborate
“adaptation” to the conditions of life, which will be varied and lead to
new adaptations as the living things spread over the earth or as
geological changes occur. He cited the long neck of the giraffe as an
example of what he meant. In regions where there was frequent and
extensive drought, a deer-like creature would eat the lower leaves of
trees when the grass was dried up and dead. It would strain and stretch
its neck in reaching after the higher leaves, and the individuals thus
straining and stretching would become an inch or two longer in the neck
in consequence. These individuals would, said Lamarck, transmit their
increased length of neck to their offspring, who again would strain and
stretch after higher leaves, and get a further increase of neck-length,
and so it would go on, little by little, over many thousand generations,
until the neck-stretchers had become well marked and distinguished by
their long necks from such of their ancestral stock as survived in other
regions where, the grass being good, there was no inducement to
straining and stretching the neck.

Now the great difference between Lamarck and Darwin is that Lamarck was
quite content to state the ingenious supposition illustrated by the
imaginary history of the giraffe, and to declare that this was the law
of Nature and is actually going on every day, without, so to speak,
getting out of his chair. He never attempted to show by observation or
experiment that such a change of form as the stretching of the neck by
straining after food could and did occur, or that if it did that it
could be transmitted by a parent or couple of parents to their
offspring. And consequently for many years no one attached much value to
Lamarck’s notions on the subject. When, fifty years later, Darwin’s very
different theory became widely received, based on the demonstrable fact
that congenital variations (not stretchings and warpings acquired in the
lifetime of a parent, but variations which are inborn, and occur in some
but not other individuals living under one and the same set of
conditions) are transmitted to offspring, and that those among these
variations which are favourable to success in life will enable their
possessor to survive and to produce young inheriting those favourable
variations—then it occurred to those naturalists who were inclined to
believe in Lamarck’s suggestion to inquire into the solid facts in
regard to that also, and to see whether his bare statement was true.
From that day to this, it has never been shown that it is true. It is,
indeed, to begin with, a rare thing to find instances of either wild
animals or wild plants which, growing up in unusual conditions, have
their structure altered and “adapted” so as to be more serviceable in
those unusual conditions than their usual structure would be; and in
those cases where such adaptive alterations have been produced, every
experimenter is agreed in stating that he has found that when (even
after several generations in the changed conditions) the young are
restored to their original conditions, they simply grow up into the
original forms: no permanent change in the stock or race has been
effected. Every attempt to show by experiment that a new character can
be acquired by the stock in this way, and show itself by heredity
alone—when the modifying adapting conditions are removed—has
completely failed.

On the other hand, Darwin himself and his followers have made almost
endless experiments and observations on plants and animals, establishing
facts as to structure and the relation of special kinds of living things
to their surroundings which can only be explained on the supposition
that Darwin’s theory is true in detail; that is to say, not merely that
the kinds of animals and plants have arisen from previous kinds by
natural descent—that supposition is much older than either Darwin or
Lamarck—but that the method by which the transformation has been
brought about is (_a_) the occurrence in every generation of every
animal and plant of minute variations in every, or nearly every, part,
and (_b_) the continual selection in the severe struggle for existence
of those individuals to grow to maturity and reproduce, which happen to
present favourable variations, which variations are accordingly
transmitted to the next generation, and may be intensified, so far as
intensification is of value, in each succeeding generation.

A book full of observations and reflections about the structure, habits,
and mode of occurrence and geography of a great number of plants and
animals is Darwin’s _Journal of Researches_, published in 1845, and now
republished as _A Naturalist’s Voyage_. In order to know very minutely
the differences and resemblances between all the kinds or species of one
group of living things Darwin studied for eight years the “cirrhipedes,”
the name given to the sea-acorns and ships’ barnacles which occur in all
parts of the world, some living on rocks, some on the backs of turtles,
others on whales, on the feet of birds, on bits of floating wood or of
pumice-stone, and some on one another! They are all hermaphrodites, but
Darwin found in several a most singular thing, namely, the existence of
minute males, complemental to and parasitic on the hermaphrodites. His
discovery was doubted and denied, but he had the pleasure of seeing it
at last fully confirmed thirty years after his book on cirrhipedes was

Darwin discovered that the presence of the same species of plants and of
some few animals on distant mountain summits and in the Arctic region is
due to the former extension of ice between these situations during the
last glacial period. He was, before everything else and by necessity for
the examination of his theory, a geologist, and wrote many valuable
geological memoirs. The history of the origin of the species of living
things consists largely in tracing them to extinct creatures, and in
showing what were the possible migrations and what the conditions of
land and water, temperature and vegetation, in past periods, and in
regard to given areas of the globe. The book on the _Fertilisation of
Orchids_ was the first published by Darwin after the _Origin of
Species_. In it he showed how the marvellous shapes and colours and
mechanisms of the flowers of orchids are adapted to ensure
cross-fertilisation by insects, and how they can be explained as
originating by the natural selection of variations—if the value of
cross-fertilisation is once recognised. The explanation of the reason
for the existence of two kinds of primrose flowers—the short-styled and
the long-styled—clearly arrived at by him as being a mechanism to
secure cross-fertilisation, delighted him in 1862, and led him to
discover the same sort of modification in other flowers. Then, in 1864,
he published his researches on _Climbing Plants_, and later a book on
the _Movements of Plants_, in which he discovered the mechanism and the
wonderful variety of movements of plants, and showed their value to the
plant, and consequent origin, by natural selection.

He especially loved to discover evidence that plants can do many things
which had been thought to be only within the powers of the other section
of living things—the animals; and finding during one summer holiday
that the beautiful little sun-dew moves its red-knobbed tentacles so as
to entrap minute insects, he discovered the whole history of
_Insectivorous Plants_, and showed that there are many plants of various
groups which catch insects and digest them in a sort of stomach, as an
animal might do. Thus the water-holding pitchers of the pitcher-plants
of tropical forests were explained as being food-catchers and digesters
of great value to the nutrition of the plant, and their gradual
formation by variation and natural selection rendered comprehensible.

His greatest book next to the _Origin_—containing an immense quantity
of original notes and observations and valuable information from all
kinds of breeders and fanciers—is the _Variation of Animals and Plants
under Domestication_ (1868). The facts recorded are discussed in the
light of the great theory, and honest, fair-minded consideration is
given to those which present difficulties as well as to those which
clearly favour it. In 1871 came the _Descent of Man_, followed in 1872
by the _Expression of the Emotions in Men and Animals_—in which, again,
it was shown that the facts as to the likeness between man and apes can
be explained on the theory that natural selection and survival of
favourable variations have been at work, and that the facts are
hopelessly without meaning or explanation on any other hypothesis. His
last published book was on _The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the
Action of Worms_, in which he not only showed what an important part
earthworms play in burying stones and rocks, and in fitting the ground
for the growth of plants, but recorded some discoveries as to the senses
of worms and as to their treatment of leaves by a digestive fluid exuded
from the mouth so as to soften a leaf before swallowing it.

Every one of Darwin’s books abounds with new facts and new points of
view disclosed by the application to first one thing and then another of
his vivifying discovery-causing theory of natural selection. The
subsidiary theory of the selection of brilliantly coloured males by
females in pairing, as a cause of the brilliant colours and patterns of
many birds and insects, is developed in his _Descent of Man_. It led him
to many important discoveries and observations as to the colouring and
ornamentation of animals, and when considered, together with Wallace’s
and Bates’s theory of mimicry and of the warning and protective
colourings of insects, goes far to explain all the specific colouring of
animals and plants as due to natural selection and survival. A theory
which has produced such prodigious results in the way of “explaining”
all forms, colours, habits, and occurrences of living things—as has
that of Charles Darwin—simply holds the field against all comers. When
Lamarck’s theory has been shown to be consistent with the most
elementary facts as to heredity, and further to afford a rational
explanation of any group of biological facts, it will be time to
consider how far it may be entertained in conjunction with Darwin’s
theory—but not until then.



It seems ill-mannered, if not ill-natured, that the year of the
centenary of Charles Darwin’s birth should have been chosen by owners of
anonymous pens in order to alarm the public mind with the preposterous
statement that his celebrated and universally accepted theory of the
origin of the species or kinds of plants and animals by natural
selection, or “the survival of favoured races in the struggle for life,”
is undermined and discredited. Such a statement once coolly made in the
public Press is necessarily believed by a large number of uninformed
readers, and, like all calumny, is none the less relished by the
foolish, and, for the moment, none the less harmful, because it is

Those who seek to belittle Darwin’s theory show, whenever they venture
to enter into particulars, that they do not know what Darwin’s theory
is. They confuse it with other theories, and even imagine that some
enthusiastic Darwinians who have tried to add a chapter here or there to
Darwin’s doctrine, are opponents of the great theory. Let me briefly
state what that theory is:

It rests on three groups of facts—matters of observation, which are not
theory or guess work at all—but admitted by every one and demonstrated
every day. These are—(1) Living things, each in its kind, produce a
far larger number of young than can possibly grow up to maturity, since
the kind of food and the situation necessary to each kind are limited
and already occupied. Only one oyster embryo out of every five million
produced (the reader may refer to p. 137 on this subject) grows up
through all the successive stages of youth to the adult state. The total
number of a species of animal or plant on the whole area where it is
found does not increase. Even in those which produce a small number of
young, there is great destruction, and taking all the individuals into
consideration, only a single pair of young arrive at maturity to replace
their parents. There is no exception to the rule that every organic
being naturally multiplies at so high a rate that, if not destroyed, the
progeny of a single pair would soon cover the earth. The elephant is
reckoned the slowest breeder of known animals; it commences to breed at
30 years of age, dies at 100, and has six young in the interval. After
750 years, supposing all the offspring of a single pair fulfilled the
rule and were not destroyed in an untimely way, there would be nearly
nineteen million elephants alive descended from the first pair. There is
then no doubt as to the enormous excess in the production of young
living things, nor as to their necessary competition with one another of
the most severe and inexorable kind; nor again as to the necessary
death, in many species, of hundreds and thousands, for every one which
survives to maturity and in its turn breeds.

(2) The second great fact is that among all the young born to a pair of
parents, no two are exactly alike, nor are any exactly like their
parents; nor are any two taken from all produced by all parents of that
species exactly alike. They all resemble their parents at the
corresponding age, in a general way and even very closely; but the
resemblance is far from amounting to identity. This is called
“variation.” It is familiar to us all in the case of the organism which
we know best, and observe most closely, namely, man. It is also a matter
of common observation in the case of dogs, cats, horses, and other
domesticated animals. Many of these “variations” are exhibited in points
of size, proportion, and colour, which are easily noted at once by the
eye. But “variation” is really a deep-seated thing, and depends on
causes which lie below the surface. We know that the offspring of men
and of animals and of plants, give evidence of variations in what we
call constitution, tendency, temperament, aptitude, strength, and that
the colour, and even size of this or that part, are really only
indications of a deep-seated difference in the living chemistry, the
forces of nutrition and growth which reside in the living substance. The
fact that many thousands of a species may be born and only a few
survive, means therefore that many thousand varieties, often varieties
not readily measured by the eye, are produced in each generation, from
which a few individuals are in some way “selected” for survival.

(3) The third great fact is that though there is variation, amongst all
the offspring in each generation, there is also a continual and definite
inheritance by offspring of the qualities and structure of their parents
to a degree which altogether preponderates over the variations. To put
it in another way, we all know that every parental organism transmits to
its young not only the qualities and structure of the species, or of the
race, or of the family, but also transmits its own peculiarities or
variations in which it departed from its parents, and from its brothers
and sisters. This is best illustrated by our daily experience of human

These facts being admitted, and abundantly illustrated and traced in
detail by years of observation and experimental breeding in all kinds
of living things by hundreds of careful observers who have published the
records of their studies, we come to the step where Darwin makes use of
supposition or hypothesis. The question is, “Does the one which, out of
the thousands of slightly different varieties, survives—do so by
haphazard? or is there a necessarily acting state of things which
selects that one special variety for survival?” Gardeners and breeders
of pigeons, dogs, and cattle deliberately select the variations which
they desire, breed from them, and so carry on by inheritance the special
variation—whilst they ruthlessly destroy or restrain from breeding the
numerous other variations in their “stock” which they do not desire.
“If,” said Darwin, “there is any necessarily selective mechanism in
Nature which could act as the breeder does, new varieties might be
‘naturally’ selected, and changes of form and appearance naturally
established, which in the course of long ages would amount to such
marked differences as separate what we call one species from another.”
He showed that there is a natural mechanism of the required kind.
“Since,” he says, “the competition among the members of any one kind or
species for a place in life is so very severe, and the hostile
circumstances so varied, and since all the competing offspring differ by
‘variation’ ever so little from one another, those varieties which are
better suited in even the smallest degree to hold their own not merely
in fighting with the others, but in withstanding injurious influences,
in escaping enemies, and in procuring food, will be the ones which will
survive, when a large number of cases, many thousands, extending over a
large area and many years, are considered. Those which are ‘best fitted’
to get through the exceedingly numerous dangers and difficulties of life
will be the survivors.” Hence we get the survival of the fit—the fit
variations—by natural selection in the struggle for life. This, it
will be observed, is an inference, and not a direct observation.

So long as the conditions remain practically or effectively unchanged,
the animal or plant already “fitted” to them will be succeeded by those
of its offspring which most resemble it in the essential points of
“fitness.” But we know that in the course of ages, more or less rapidly,
climates change, land emerges from the sea, islands join continents,
continents become scattered islands, animals and plants migrate into
regions previously uninhabited by them. As such changes gradually come
on, the natural selection of favoured varieties will necessarily lead to
the survival of others than those previously favoured, other variations
better suited to the new conditions will survive.

The natural selection of favoured variations would not amount to much,
were the variations not perpetuated by transmission to the young which
they produce. This, it is common knowledge [see (3)], does take place.
It is known also that a variation so established is as a result of the
regular process of variation presented in larger volume or emphasised in
character in some individuals of subsequent generations, and by
continued “natural selection” it may become more and more a prominent or
dominant feature of the race.

So far, the only assumption made by Mr. Darwin is that any or some of
the endless variations which occur in all the offspring of wild plants
and animals, in various combinations and degree in each individual, can
be sufficiently important to determine the survival or non-survival of
the organisms possessing them. That is a matter which has been largely
studied and discussed. The verdict of those who have studied on the spot
(as Darwin himself did) the teeming life of the tropics, the insects,
birds, and plants of those regions, is that we are justified in
considering that small variations are sufficiently important to turn
the scale in favour of survival or non-survival. It is not easy for a
man who is not a determined naturalist, constantly observing the ways of
wild living things, to appreciate the evidence as to the efficacy of
small variations, even were I able here to submit it to him. It is to be
found in the published works of an army of investigators. In any case it
is granted that effective variations—whether small or great—occur in
nature, and that natural selection favours and perpetuates the new and
fitter variety to the exclusion of the less fit.

The real difficulty to most people comes in the supposition next made by
Mr. Darwin—namely, that this slow process of change by natural
selection of favoured variations and their transmission and perpetuation
by inheritance is sufficient to effect by its continued operation
through enormous ages of time the conversion of a race of ancestral
three-toed zebras into the one-toed horse of to-day; before that, of
five-toed beasts into three-toed; at an earlier stage of fishlike
creatures into four-footed land animals, and so on. You have to picture
the whole series of animals and of plants which are now or ever have
been, as two gigantic family trees or pedigrees, meeting in common
ancestors of the simplest grade of microscopic life. All the diverging
branches and twigs of these great “family trees” have been determined by
the adaptation of living form to the endlessly varied conditions of life
on this planet, by the natural selection or survival of variations and
the transmission and accumulation of those variations from parent to
offspring. This is a tremendous demand on the imagination. It is,
however, not a difficult one to concede, when one is acquainted with the
facts and conclusions of geology. The history of the crust of the earth
was explained twenty years before the date of Darwin’s theory by Charles
Lyell as due to the continued action through immense periods of time of
the same natural forces which are now at work. And, moreover, the
examination of the successive stratified deposits of the earth’s crust
has yielded the remains of whole series of animals and of plants
(simpler in character the older and deeper the rock in which they
occur), which can be satisfactorily explained and interpreted as the
ancestral forms from which present organisms have been developed.

The theory of the natural selection of variations as the moving spring
in the gradual development of living forms from simplest living matter
is Darwin’s theory. It is not possible to find any naturalist of
consideration who does not accept it. There are various views held and
discussed as to the cause of variation, as to the importance of small
and of big variations, as to the non-transmissibility of some kinds of
variation, and as to various peculiarities in regard to inheritance.
They do not for the most part touch the main features of Mr. Darwin’s
theory. No doubt we are learning and shall learn more about the facts of
variation and the details of the process of hereditary transmission, but
such increase of knowledge has not tended to undermine Mr. Darwin’s
theory, and does not seem at all likely to do so.

On the occasion of the celebration at Cambridge in 1909 of the centenary
of Darwin’s birth, I was invited by the Vice-Chancellor, on behalf of
the University, to deliver in the Senate-house an address, others being
given by representatives of the United States (Prof. Osborne), of
Germany (Prof. Hertwig), and of Russia (Prof. Metchnikoff). The
following is the text of that address:—

“I feel it a great honour to be called upon to speak here to-day, and to
stand, on behalf of the naturalists of the British Empire, by the side
of the distinguished men whose orations you have just heard.

“I think that the one thing about Charles Darwin which the large
majority of British naturalists would wish to be to-day proclaimed, in
the first place—with no doubtful or qualifying phrase—is that, in
their judgment, after these fifty years of examination and testing, his
‘theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection or the
preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life’ remains whole
and sound and convincing, in spite of every attempt to upset it.

“I am not stating more than the simple truth when I say that, in the
judgment of those who are best acquainted with living things in their
actual living surroundings, ‘natural selection’ retains the position
which Mr. Darwin claimed for it of being the main means of the
modification of organic forms.

“Our admiration for the vast series of beautiful observations and
interesting inquiries carried out by Darwin during his long life must
not lead us to forget that they were devised by him in order to test the
truth of his theory and to meet objections to it, and that they were
triumphantly successful. They, together with the work of Alfred Russel
Wallace and many of their followers, have more and more firmly
established Darwin’s theory. On the other hand, no attempt to amend that
theory in any essential particular has been successful.

“The nature of organic variation and of the character of the variations
upon which natural selection can and does act was not, as we are
sometimes asked to believe, neglected or misapprehended by Darwin. The
notion that these variations are large and sudden was considered by him,
and for reasons set forth by him at considerable length rejected. That
notion has in recent years been resuscitated, but its truth has not been
rendered probable by evidence either of such an accurate character or of
such pertinence as would justify the rejection of Darwin’s fundamental
conception of the importance of minute and ubiquitous variations.

“Further, in regard to the important facts of heredity connected with
the cross-breeding of cultivated varieties, especially in regard to the
blending or non-blending of their characters in their offspring and as
to prepotency, it seems to me important that we should now and here call
to mind the full and careful consideration given to this subject by
Darwin. We cannot doubt that he would have been deeply interested in the
numerical and statistical results associated with the name of Mendel.
Those results tend to throw light on the mechanisms concerned in
hereditary transmission, but it cannot be shown that they are opposed in
any way to the truth of Darwin’s great theoretical structure—his
doctrine of the origin of species.

“It has often been urged against Darwin that he did not explain the
origin of variation, and especially that he has not shown how variations
of sufficient moment to be selected for preservation in the struggle for
existence have in the first place originated. The brief reply to the
first objection is that variation is a common attribute of many natural
substances of which living matter is only one. In regard to the second
point, I desire to remind this assembly that Darwin described with
special emphasis instances of what he calls ‘correlated variability.’ In
my opinion he has thus furnished the key to the explanation of what are
called useless specific characters and of incipient organs. That key
consists in the fact that a general physiological property or character
of utility is often selected and perpetuated, which carries with it
distinct, even remote, correlated growths and peculiarities obvious to
our eyes, yet having no functional value. At a later stage in the
history of such a form these correlated growths may acquire value and
become the subject of selection.

“It is thus, as it seems to me, and as, I believe, to the great body of
my brother naturalists, that Darwin’s theory stands after fifty years of
trial and application.

“The greatness of Charles Darwin’s work is, and will be for ever, one of
the glories of the University of Cambridge. It is fitting on the present
occasion that one who speaks on behalf of English men of science should
call to mind the nature of his connection with this great University and
the peculiarly English features of his life-story and of that fine
character which endears his memory to all of us as much as his genius
excites our admiration and reverence. Darwin was not, like so many a
distinguished son of Cambridge, a scholar or a fellow of his college,
nor a professor of the University. His connection with the University
and the influence which it had upon his life belong to a tradition and a
system which have survived longer in our old English universities than
in those of other lands. Darwin entered the University, not seeking a
special course of study with the view of professional training, nor
aiming at success in competitive examinations for honours and emolument.
He came to Cambridge intending to become a clergyman, but blessed with
sufficient means and leisure to enable him to pursue his own devices, to
collect beetles, to explore the fen country, and to cultivate his love
of nature. It was thus that he became acquainted with that rare spirit
Henslow, the Cambridge professor of botany, and it is through Henslow
and the influence of his splendid abilities and high personal character
upon Darwin that Cambridge acquired the right to claim the author of the
‘Origin of Species’ as a product of her beneficence and activity as a
seat of learning.

“As an Oxford man and a member of Exeter College, I may remind this
assembly that in precisely the same way Darwin’s dearest friend and
elder brother in science, Charles Lyell, had a few years earlier
entered at Exeter College, and by happy chance fallen under the
influence of the enthusiastic Buckland, the University reader in geology
and a Canon of Christ Church. The wise freedom of study permitted and
provided for in those long-passed days by Oxford and Cambridge is what
has given the right to claim the discovery, if not the making, of Lyell
to the one and of Darwin to the other.

“Darwin’s love of living nature and of the country life are especially
English characteristics; so, too, I venture to think, are the
unflinching determination and simple courage—I may even say the
audacity—with which he acquired, after he had left the University, the
wide range of detailed knowledge in various branches of science which he
found necessary in order to deal with the problem of the origin of the
species of plants and animals, the investigation of which became his

“The unselfish generosity and delicacy of feeling which marked Darwin’s
relations with a younger naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, are known to
all. I cannot let this occasion pass without citing those words of his
which tell us most clearly what manner of man he was and add to his
splendid achievements as an intellectual force—a light and a beauty of
which every Englishman must be proud. When in old age he surveyed his
life’s work he wrote:—‘I believe that I have acted rightly in steadily
following and devoting my life to science.’

“To have desired to act ‘rightly,’ and to be able to think of success in
life as measured by the fulfilment of that desire, is the indication and
warrant of true greatness of character. We Englishmen have ever loved to
recognise this noble kind of devotion in our national heroes.”



The Darwin celebration at Cambridge, in June 1909, brought a wonderful
assemblage of celebrated biologists from all parts of the world to this
country. There never has been seen such a company of great discoverers
of all nationalities in the field of natural history and the science of
living things, as were present in the University of Cambridge during
that week. Even philosophers, moralists, and jurists were present to
join with the one great political leader of our own country who really
knows and appreciates the importance of the scientific study of
Nature—the Right Hon. Arthur J. Balfour—in his fervent and heartfelt
tribute to the influence of Darwin’s work and theory in all departments
of human knowledge, thought, and activity. One of the most remarkable
men present was Elie Metchnikoff. He represented both Russia, the
country of his birth and earlier scientific work, and his adopted
country, France, where, as sub-director of the Institut Pasteur, his
later and most important researches have been carried on. Russia was
also represented by Salensky, late director of the Museum of St.
Petersburg, well known to us all as a discoverer in the embryology
(growth from the egg) of marine animals, and by Timiriazeff, the
botanist, renowned for his work on the mode in which leaf-green or
“chlorophyll” enables green plants to obtain their food from the gases
of the atmosphere. France had other representatives in Edmond Perrier,
director of the Paris Museum, and Prince Roland Bonaparte.

Metchnikoff was one of the four representatives selected by the
University to deliver orations in the Senate House in honour of Darwin.
He especially drew attention to the influence of Darwin’s theory on the
study of disease. The recognition of the derivation of man from animal
ancestors, and of the complete community of the structure and the
chemical activity of the organs of man with those of the organs of
animals, had made (he said) the study of the diseases of animals a
necessary feature in the understanding of the diseases of man. The
far-reaching principle of Darwin that the mechanisms and processes
observed in the bodies of plants and of animals (including man) must
have been selected in the struggle for existence and perpetuated,
because of their utility, led Metchnikoff to inquire what is the value
or use of the process called inflammation and of the “eating
corpuscles,” or “phagocytes” (so named by him), which wander from the
blood into inflamed tissues. This question had led him to the discovery
that the phagocytes engulf and destroy disease-germs, and are the great
protectors of the animal and human body against bacteria and other germs
which enter cut and wounded surfaces, and would start disease were there
not “inflammation,” which is nothing more nor less than a
nerve-regulated stagnation of the circulation of the blood at the
wounded spot, and the consequent arrival at this spot of thousands of
“phagocytes,” which pass out of the stagnant blood through the walls of
the fine blood-vessels. These armies of phagocytes proceed to eat up and
destroy all the germs which fall on to the wound—from the air, from
dirty surfaces, and from the skin. The utility of inflammation and its
gradual development, according to Darwinian principles, in the animal
series, was shown twenty years ago by Metchnikoff. His important work on
“immunity” and on infection and on protection against germ-caused
disease is thus seen to be one of the many flourishing and valuable
branches of knowledge which have originated from Darwin’s great
conception and his example in experiment and inquiry.

Metchnikoff is now devoting all his attention to the possibility of
prolonging human life. The facts seem to show that if we ate and drank
only what is best for us, and led lives regulated by reason and
knowledge, we should, nearly all, attain to 80 or even 100 years of age,
having healthy minds and healthy bodies. We should die quietly and
comfortably at the end, with much the same feeling of contentment in
well-earned final repose as that which we now experience in going to
sleep at the end of a long and happy day of healthy exercise and
activity. Metchnikoff thinks that the causes of too early death may be
ascertained, and when ascertained avoided or removed. In 1870, in a
little book on _Comparative Longevity_, I distinguished what we may call
the “possible life,” or “potential longevity,” of any given human being
from his or her “expectation” of life. Potential longevity has been well
called our “lease” of life. It is probably not very different in
different races of men or individuals, and is probably higher than King
David thought, being 100 to 120 years, and not merely 70 years. We all,
or nearly all, fail to last out our “lease” owing to accidents,
violence, and avoidable, as well as unavoidable, disease; so that 70
years is named as our tenure when the injury done to us by unhealthy
modes of life and by actual disease are considered as inevitable.
Metchnikoff proposes to discover and to avoid those conditions which
“wear down” most of us and produce “senility” and “death” before we
have really run out our lease of life.

Human beings die most abundantly in the earliest years of life.
Statistics show that at birth the chance or expectation of life is only
45 years, whilst at 10 years old you may expect to live to be 61. At 30
you have not a much better chance—you will probably, if you are what is
called a “healthy” life, die when you are 65. But if you survive to be
50 you may expect, if you have not any obvious disease or signs of
“break up,” another twenty years, and will probably die at 70; surviving
to 60, you may expect, if you are what passes for “healthy,” to live to
73. Now, it is especially with regard to life after 40 or 50 years of
age that Metchnikoff is interested. Those who have survived the special
dangers and difficulties of youth, and have arrived at this mature age,
ought to be able to realise much more frequently than they do something
like the full “lease of life.” There seems to be no reason why they
should not avoid the usual rapid “senile changes” or weakness of old
age, and survive, as a few actually do, to something like 100. The
causes of “senile change” and the way to defeat their operation are what
Metchnikoff is studying. Hardening of the walls of the arteries set up
by certain avoidable diseases contracted in earlier life, and by the use
of alcohol (not only to the degree which we call “drunkenness,” but to
such a degree as to make one depend on it as a “pick-me-up”), is an
undoubted cause of that weakness and liability to succumb to other
diseases which is so general after 50 years of age. The causes which
produce hardened arteries can be avoided. Another cause of senile
changes is declared by Metchnikoff, to arise from the continual
absorption of poisonous substances produced by the decomposition of
partially digested food in the lower bowel or large intestine. This is
at present the chief subject of his study. It is to prevent the
formation of these poisons that he has introduced the use of sour milk,
prepared with the lactic ferment. Since the Cambridge celebration he has
been in London in order to examine the condition of certain patients
from whom a distinguished English surgeon has found it necessary to
remove the “large intestine.” Metchnikoff wishes to ascertain what
bacteria, poison-producing or other, are present in these patients, and
what is their general chemical condition now that this poison-producing
part of the digestive canal has been taken from them.

In Paris, Metchnikoff has some very interesting experiments in progress
with bats. He uses the large tropical fruit-eating bats, or “flying
foxes.” They have a very short intestine, and very few bacteria and of
very few kinds are to be found in its contents. On the other hand, there
are as many as thirty distinct kinds of bacteria producing putrefaction
or other chemical change in the digestive canal of man—and their
quantity is gigantic. They pervade the whole contents of the human
digestive canal by millions. By properly feeding the flying foxes in his
laboratory in Paris Metchnikoff has actually succeeded in getting rid of
all bacteria from their digestive canal, so that he now has adult
mammalian animals, not very remote from man in their structure, food,
and internal chemistry, which are absolutely free from the intestinal
parasitic bacteria which he supposes to cause poisoning and senile
changes in man. It is obvious, without pursuing the matter into further
detail here, that Metchnikoff is now in a position to test his views as
to the action of particular kinds of bacteria—he has animals which are
free from them. He can make an experiment, keeping some of his bats
still free from bacteria and causing some to be largely infected by this
or that kind, and he can compare the result in regard to the health and
chemical condition of the animals. So, too, the patients from whom the
lower intestine has been removed may very probably furnish him (through
his assistant who remains in London) with important facts for comparison
with the condition of persons who have not been deprived of this part of
the digestive apparatus.

I have given this sketch of what my friend is doing in order to furnish
some notion of the kind of investigation which he pursues. He does not
expect to extend the “lease” of human life, but by ascertaining in a
definite scientific way the true rules of internal and external
“hygiene” he does hope to give mankind an increased “expectation” of
life; in fact, to enable a vastly larger number of men and women to
enjoy that lease to the full, and to die without disappointment and
regret, even with contentment and pleasure, at the end of it.

Metchnikoff was in Russia in the spring of 1909, and spent a day with
Tolstoi. They were “fêted” and photographed together, the greatest
artist and the greatest scientist of Russia. Tolstoi is 81 years of age.
He took Metchnikoff out alone for a drive in his pony-cart so as to talk
with him without interruption. “What do you think of life?” was the
first question he asked, and one which it took my friend some time to
answer. In regard to vegetarianism the two great men did not agree. When
Metchnikoff declared that there was less cruelty on man’s part in
killing wild animals to eat them than in leaving them to die by the
tooth and claw of predaceous animals or from starvation, Tolstoi
observed that that was argument and reason, and that he paid no
attention to them; he only guided himself (he said) by sentiment, which
he felt sure told him what was good and right! He was, however, deeply
interested in an account of the cannibalism of savage races of men,
concerning which he seemed to be quite uninformed. He also was
profoundly interested in Metchnikoff’s view that Goethe, in the second
part of _Faust_, is chiefly bent upon depicting the persistence of the
amorous passion in old age—of which Goethe himself was an example—and
Tolstoi declared that this gave a new meaning to the poem, which he had
always hitherto found dull and unintelligible. But when Metchnikoff
described in glowing words the joy and even rapture with which man will
hereafter welcome the repose and mystery of death, having completed a
long and healthy life of some hundred years, Tolstoi declared that this
was indeed a fine conception, although it was entirely subversive of his
own notions as to the significance of life and death. Tolstoi also
stated that he had written his stories rapidly and without effort, but
that his essays on morality and religion had cost him great labour; and,
further, that he could not now remember the former, though the latter
still were developing and incessantly occupied his thought.

It was admitted with regret by Darwin that he ceased in middle age to
care for poetry and art, though there seems to be no doubt that he
mistook fatigue and preoccupation of mind for a real change in taste and
power of appreciation. It is interesting to place beside this the case
of the great literary artist, Tolstoi, who not only frankly confesses
that he refuses to be guided by reason and follows sentiment, but is
also profoundly ignorant upon all the most ordinary topics of human life
outside his own village, and of all Nature and her workings. Would
Tolstoi have been a greater or a smaller artist if he had had a larger
knowledge of the things that are? Was Darwin’s great scientific
achievement really related to an innate indifference to what is called
“poetry”? I will not now discuss the matter, but I am convinced that so
far as natural gift is concerned, the keenest scientific capacity is not
only compatible with the fullest sensibility to art and with the power
of poetical vision and expression, but is often accompanied by them;
and, further, that the work of an artist, if he is a great artist,
cannot be hampered by knowledge. It is only the small talent or the
feeble genius that can be paralysed rather than developed by the fullest
experience and the widest knowledge. Necessary incompatibility of mental
qualities has no place in this matter; what has led to the erroneous
assumption that it has, is the excessive exercise by exceptional
individuals of certain powers—a specialism necessary for effort and
success, but deliberately chosen, and not due to an inborn



The Côte d’Azur whither many of my readers will be travelling—in
thought, if not in reality—about Easter time, is well named the Land of
Azure Blue, for it is the blueness of the sea, of the sky, and of the
distant rocks and mountains, as well as much of the vegetation, which is
when the sun shines, its special charm. And although one has some wet
and some cloudy days, yet the sun does shine there with a strength and
brilliancy not to be enjoyed in the early part of the year on the
Atlantic and North Sea coast. This tract of country, more commonly known
to English people as the Riviera, has very special meteorological
conditions owing to its position as the narrow strip of shore-line
existing between the vast mass of the Western Alps and the Mediterranean
Sea. It is warmed by the sea, and lies too close under the mountains to
be caught by any winds from the north, and at many points is also
effectively protected from both east and west winds by rocky spurs of
the great mountain chain.

The Riviera is a constant source of delight to those who love flowers
and beautiful vegetation of all kinds. But few of its visitors
appreciate the fact that it is really from end to end one big garden,
cultivated for ages by its inhabitants, and full of plants introduced by
man which at present seem at first sight to be characteristic natives
of it, but are, in reality, quite distinct from its primitive
vegetation. This primitive vegetation is now represented only in what is
locally called the “maquis”—what we should, perhaps, term the “scrub”
or “bush” in English. It comprises some pines, the juniper, the lovely
rock roses, balsams, rosemary, the giant heath (bruyère), from which our
briar-root pipes are made, the larger thyme, the myrtle, the rose of
Provence, two kinds of lavender, and many aromatic plants with grey
hairy leaves, and often provided with sharp thorns as additional
defences against browsing goats. The delicious perfumes of these hardy
inhabitants of the dry, rocky grounds, where little or no grass can
flourish, are developed by them as a protection against browsing
animals, who cannot tolerate much of these pungent volatile oils,
although mankind extracts them and uses them in the manufacture of such
scents as eau-de-Cologne and also in cookery.

Many a visitor to the Riviera never strays from the cultivated fields
and roadways into this scrub-land. The olive tree, which forms so
prominent and beautiful a feature in the panorama of gardens which
unrolls itself as we steam or drive along the coast from Toulon to
Mentone and from Mentone to Genoa and Spezzia, is not a native plant; it
was introduced in prehistoric times, and has been again and again
re-established by emigrants from Italy; but it was brought to Italy from
the East. It is astonishing how many of the cultivated trees of the
Riviera have the same kind of history—the vine came from India in
prehistoric times, the fig tree more recently from Persia, the lemon
from India, the orange and the peach tree from China. All of them were
introduced in very ancient times to the eastern parts of the
Mediterranean basin, and so gradually were carried to the shores of the
Ligurian sea, and would die out here were they not to a certain extent
under the care of ownership.

The so-called “mimosa,” so abundant here, with its pretty,
sweet-scented, yellow blossom, is an Australian acacia, only introduced
some sixty years ago; whilst the eucalyptus—a most picturesque and
effective addition to the landscape—is a still later introduction from
Australia. The cypress, that darkest and most shapely of conifers, long
lines of which proclaim to the traveller as he passes Avignon his
arrival in the true “South,” is not a native of these parts, although it
flourishes in suitable situations. It was introduced in mediæval times
from the East. So, too, the palms, though some have been cultivated for
centuries, have been largely imported from extra European localities in
the last century. There is a native European palm. It is a kind of
fan-palm, and grows here. I have gathered it in Sicily. It does not
“rear its stately head” more than a foot from the ground, and is known
to botanists as _Chamærops humilis_. The gigantic Mexican agave and the
prickly-pear cactus were introduced in the seventeenth century from the
New World, though, according to Sir Herbert Tree’s scenery, they were
growing at Cape Miseno in the time of Antony and Cleopatra! Bamboos of
many kinds have been introduced here from the Far East, and flourish

The orange tree was brought from India (whither it was carried from
China) and established in Southern Europe in mediæval times, though
known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. There are as many as 120
different varieties of the orange tree now cultivated on the shores of
the Mediterranean, including, besides those which are valued for their
sweet juicy pulp, those which furnish bergamot oil and similar aromatic
products. The “issue pea” of old apothecaries, which was bound into a
cut made in a patient’s flesh for the purpose of producing inflammation
and suppuration, with the notion that such treatment was beneficial, was
a minute unripe orange dried, and, no doubt, to some extent, antiseptic.

Besides the introduced trees, we find, in ground which has been more or
less under cultivation, and not, therefore, of the nature of the
“maquis,” or scrub-land, some beautiful plants, such as the narcissus,
iris, and various lilies. One very small and graceful tulip is, I
believe, regarded as native to the soil, but a magnificent crimson
tulip, as large as the varieties cultivated in English gardens, which I
have found abundantly in open park-like land under olive trees at
Antibes, is said to have been introduced from Persia in the Middle Ages,
and to have taken kindly to the Riviera. It is the _Tulipa oculus
solis_. In the same locality were growing many brilliantly coloured
“stellate” anemones.

There is, of course, a third group or “lot” of plants on the Riviera,
which consists of those brought from all parts of the world during the
past century, and regularly cultivated and cared for in gardens. The
climate of the Riviera enables the gardener to grow all sorts of
sub-tropical plants in the open air, and a long list of them could be
given. The wonderfully brilliant crimson creeper, Bougainvillia, covers
walls by the roadways, and even the railway stations, with its rich
colour at this season. A delightful book by the distinguished botanist,
Professor Strasburger, describing and picturing in colours many of the
cultivated as well as the wild plants of the Riviera, has lately been
published (in English) at a small price.

The animals which come under the notice of those who go in search of
spring sunshine to the Riviera are far less numerous than the plants.
But there is one which is dear to all, although it makes such a noise
for an hour or so about sunset that some people are irritated or even
alarmed by it. This is the little green tree-frog, Fig. 1, which now
comes forth from its winter sleep, and assembles in thousands—guided by
the “croak” or “call” which is produced by the males. The females have a
very small voice comparatively. I kept two—a male and female—through a
winter in London, and when the spring came the male terrified the
household one night by unexpectedly uttering his cry—loud and sharp—to
which the female replied. “Wharr! biz” is the nearest expression I can
give in letters to the two sounds. After a great many evenings spent in
these rhythmical declamations, the little frogs collect round pools and
tanks, and at last drop from the trees into the water, and there deposit
their spawn. When producing his cry the male distends the skin of his
throat like a balloon. The air is driven alternately from it into the
lungs and back again over the vocal chords, which vibrate with no
uncertain sound. These little frogs are easy to keep in an inverted
bell-jar or in a fern-case, but must be fed regularly with flies and
spiders, which they catch by a sudden dab of the tongue at the moment of
alighting from a long leap on to the glass where the insect is crawling.
They can hold on to smooth glass or leaves by means of their sucker-like
toes (Fig. 1).

The colour of the upper surface of the South European tree-frog is a
most vivid and smoothly laid-on grass-green. Occasionally the colour
becomes altered to a brownish purple, but returns after a day or two to
its usual bright green tint. A great rarity is the blue variety of this
frog—the enchanted Prince of the Côte d’Azur—blue as the sky and the
sea around him—the true _genius loci_. I obtained one a few years ago
at Mentone, and kept it alive for three years in London. Its blue was
the blue of the forget-me-not or the finest turquoise. When it died (I
believe of old age, and not from discomfort or disease) I examined its
skin very carefully with the microscope, and compared it with that of
the ordinary green tree-frog, in order to make out the cause of their
difference in colour.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.—The little green tree-frog or “rainette” of the
Riviera (_Hyla arborea_). From Professor Gadow’s volume on _Reptiles and
Amphibia_—in the “Cambridge Natural History”—published by Macmillan &
Co., by whose permission this figure is here produced.]

At Mentone there is a little shop where one may purchase green
tree-frogs and ornamental cages in which to keep them. Every year the
dealer has two or three specimens of the blue variety on sale—their
backs and heads looking like bits of turquoise-blue kid. Visitors have
sometimes wrongly supposed that the blue frogs had been artificially
changed in colour, but they are real, natural varieties. A similar
substitution of blue for green has been noticed as a rare variation in
other kinds of frogs and toads in other countries. It really consists in
a suppression of yellow pigment.

The interesting thing about the colour of the little tree-frogs is that
we find, on careful examination of the skin of a dead specimen with the
microscope, that there is no green nor yet any blue “pigment” present in
it. I found, on examining the blue specimen which died after living
three years with me, that there is only black pigment overlaid by a
colourless, semi-transparent layer of skin. In this outer skin in the
ordinary green specimens there is scattered a quantity of excessively
minute yellow particles, which, mixed with the blue, produce the green
appearance. The fact is, that the wonderful “dead” turquoise-blue of the
blue frog is a colour-effect similar to that of the blue sky and the
blue of the human eye. It is produced by a peculiar reflection of the
light from minute colourless particles, without the assistance of any
blue-coloured substance. The distinction of these two modes of producing
blue colour is important.

Certain transparent bodies are so constituted that when a beam of light
is directed so as to pass through them, the red, yellow, green, and
purple rays which exist in colourless sunlight are stopped, and only the
blue rays come through. Such a body is blue copperas, or sulphate of
copper; another is methyl blue, one of the aniline dyes; another is pure
water, which gives only a slight advantage to the blue rays, so that the
light must pass through a thickness of 30 feet or more before the blue
tint is obvious. Thus, part of the blueness of the Côte d’Azur is
accounted for—namely, the blueness of the sea when the sunlight is
strong and is reflected from the white rocks and sand lying 30 feet to
100 feet below the surface of the water.

There are, of course, other self-coloured transparent bodies which allow
only rays of one colour to pass. Thus, blood-red, or hæmoglobin, the
pigment of the blood, allows chiefly red rays to pass through it. Yellow
rays only pass through a solution of saffron or of chromic acid; green
only or chiefly through green copperas (sulphate of iron) or through
leaf-green or chlorophyll. Colour is very generally due in natural
objects to such transparent bodies which absorb or stop all the coloured
rays of light as it passes through them, excepting those of one
tint—or, to be more correct, nearly all except those of one tint.

But the blue of the blue frog and a great deal of the blue in nature is
due to another cause. If you are a smoker, or the friend of a smoker,
watch the fine curling lines of smoke ascending from a cigar when it is
being consumed in bright sunshine. You will see that it has a blue, even
an azure blue, tint as the sunlight falls upon it. But if you let the
smoke get between the sun and your eyes you will notice that the little
curling clouds are no longer blue, but reddish-brown, in appearance. The
smoke is not a transparent blue; looked at as a transparent body, it is
brown! Further, when the smoke has passed into the smoker’s mouth and is
ejected after remaining there for a few seconds, the cloud no longer
looks blue, even when the sunlight falls on it and is reflected from it
to your eye. It is now opaque white or colourless, with, perhaps, a
faint tinge of blue. This change is due—as was shown by the experiments
of the late Professor Tyndall upon a variety of clouds and vapours—to
the cooling of the smoke and the increased size of the floating
particles which coalesce as the temperature falls. The larger particles
reflect white light, and the cloud is no longer blue. A cloud formed by
the finest particles gives the strongest blue to the light reflected
from it, and it is to this property of the finest particles of
water-cloud floating in our atmosphere that the blue colour of the sky
is due.

No doubt the question arises, “Why do clouds of the finest particles
reflect a predominant amount of blue light rather than yellow or green
or red?” That question is answered by mathematicians in accordance with
what is ascertained as to the nature and properties of light, but it
would require a long treatise to put those matters even in outline
before the reader. We may in the meanwhile accept the conclusions of the
physicists, and interest ourselves in seeing how they apply to some of
the concrete facts about colour in Nature.

There are other instances of “blueness” due to the reflection of light
from a cloud of excessively minute particles besides that of the azure
sky and the blue, curling smoke of a wood fire. A familiar instance is
the blueness of translucent bodies, such as the “white” of a boiled
plover’s egg, especially when a bit of it is placed on a dead-black
ground. The bluish appearance of watered London milk is another
instance. These bodies look blue owing to the fine, colourless particles
suspended in them, which act on light in the same way as do the fine
particles of newly-produced smoke. Another very interesting case is the
blue colour of the iris of the eye of man and other animals. It is not
due to any blue pigment, but to a reflection from fine particles in the
translucent, but turbid, tissue of the iris overlying the dark, black
chamber of the eye. White geese and white cats frequently have blue
eyes, the blue being thus produced. The only pigment which occurs in the
human eye is a brown one, which gives a colour varying from amber yellow
to very dark brown, almost black, according to the quantity present.
When a very little of it is present it gives, in combination with the
blue appearance of the unpigmented iris, a green tint, so that green
eyes owe their colour to the same combination of causes as does the
green skin of the little tree-frogs, or “rainettes.”

No solvent will extract any pigment from the skin of the blue frog—nor
by the finest trituration can one obtain any coloured particles from it;
only fine black granules can be separated. Alcohol removes the yellow
pigment from the skin of a green tree-frog (killed, of course, for the
experiment), and for a minute or two the skin becomes blue when its
yellow pigment is thus removed by immersion in spirit; but it rapidly
becomes a dull greyish-brown in colour, and so remains; the green cannot
be preserved in spirit-specimens. It is not fully explained how such a
uniform “dead” blue is produced by the reflection of light from fine
particles, as that observed in the blue frog’s skin.

It appears that the blue and the green colour in the feathers of birds
is in most, if not all, cases produced in the same way as the blue and
green of the tree-frog’s skin. It would be interesting were it found
possible to produce a full dead-blue colour by experimentally placing a
coat of a translucent but turbid colourless medium on a dead-black
plate. This, however, has not been done as a deliberate experiment. It
is, however, recorded that Goethe was delighted to find what he
considered to be a confirmation of his theory of colour when a friend
showed him an oil-painting of a gentleman in a black coat which when
wetted with a sponge turned bright blue. The picture had been recently
“restored,” and the varnish on the black coat was not “dry.” It was
precipitated by the water from the sponge, mixing with the spirit which
held it in solution. A fine colourless cloud was thus produced overlying
the black paint of the coat, and, as in the case of the cerulean frog, a
dead-blue colour, due to reflection of the light by the fine particles,
was the result. Some friendly physicist might repeat this experiment and
study the matter in detail. The red, orange, and yellow colours of
birds’ feathers are produced by pigments which are either insoluble or
only soluble with great difficulty in fluids of the nature of ether.
There is, however, an exception in the case of the African birds called
Turacous, or Plantain-eaters. These birds have some large quill-feathers
in the wing of a rich crimson colour. This splendid red pigment can be
washed out of the feathers by water which is slightly alkaline, and a
fine blood-red solution is obtained. Why this curious exception exists
we do not know. The extracted colour is found to contain the element
copper as one of its chemical components. Plantain-eaters kept in cages
have sometimes washed all the colour out of their feathers owing to the
water supplied to them for bathing and drinking having become foul and
ammoniacal, and thus capable of dissolving the red pigment.

The cultivation on the Riviera of flowers for sale as “cut flowers” in
Paris, London, and Berlin, in the colder months of the year, is now an
enormous business, bringing many thousands of pounds yearly to the small
gardeners around Hyères, St. Raphael, Nice, and Mentone. Roses, violets,
carnations, “mimosa” of various kinds, anemones, lilies, and narcissus
are sent literally in tons by quick trains several times a week from
these realms of sunshine to the dreary North. The commencement of this
trade was due to the suggestion made some fifty years ago by Alphonse
Karr, the French poet and journalist, who had a beautiful garden of his
own at St. Raphael, and found that he could produce flowers in profusion
through the winter. Two years ago I visited this garden (which now
belongs to a French painter) at the beginning of April, and found it
full of interesting flowers and shrubs, enormous bamboos, palm trees,
some twenty different “mimosas,” eucalyptus of several species, camellia
trees, and rose-bushes in quantity.

The influence of man on the vegetation of a favoured locality like the
Riviera is more striking than in the North. But it is worth remembering
that the most familiar tree in England—the common elm—is not a native,
but introduced from South Europe. Our native elm is the wych-elm, or
mountain elm—a much handsomer tree, in the opinion of many, than the
so-called “common elm.” There are doubts as to whether both the spruce
and the larch were not introduced by man at a very remote time, so that
the Scotch fir would be our only aboriginal pine. The oak, beech, birch,
ash, hawthorn, poplar, and alder are undoubted native English trees. The
holly-oak or evergreen oak, the sycamore, plane-tree, sweet chestnut,
horse chestnut, walnut, and probably the lime or linden tree have been
introduced by migrating men at various periods into our islands. With
the exception of rye and oats none of the plants which we cultivate for
food are derived from our own wild plants, and none of our domesticated
animals have been produced from native wild kinds.



Most people nowadays know a jelly-fish when they see one—and recognise
that it is eminently a product of the sea—one sees them washed up on
the seashore, soft discs of transparent jelly of the size of
cheese-plates (Fig. 2). They have a mouth in the centre of the disc,
often at the end of a depending trunk, like the clapper of a bell. Some
have tentacles, sometimes yards long, which sting like nettles. They
also have eye-spots, an internal system of canals and muscles which
enable them to swim by causing the edge of the disc or bell to contract
and expand in alternate strokes. There are hundreds of kinds of marine
jelly-fish varying in size from a sixpence to that of a dinner table,
and until twenty-five years ago none were known to live in ponds, lakes,
or rivers. Although they often are carried up estuaries, and may stay
for a time in brackish water, or even in fresh water, none were known
which really lived and bred in fresh water. They were regarded, as are
star-fishes and sea-urchins, as distinctively marine, and debarred by
the delicacy of their watery jelly-like substance from tolerating the
change from sea water to fresh water as a permanent thing. All
fresh-water animals—fishes, shell-fish, cray-fish, worms, and
polyps—are derived from closely similar marine animals, are in fact
sea-things which have suffered a change, and been able to stand it.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.—The common jelly-fish (_Aurelia aurita_)
one-third the natural size; _or_, one of the four arms or fleshy
tentacles surrounding the diamond-shaped mouth; _Tc_, one of the eight
eye-bearing tentacles at the edge of the disc; _GP_, opening of one of
the four sub-genital pouches, which bring sea-water close to the ovaries
and spermaries, which, however, do not open into these pouches; _x_ and
_y_, outline of the sub-genital pouches seen through the jelly.]

These being our preconceptions about jelly-fish, great was the
excitement when, in 1880, hundreds of beautiful little jelly-fish were
suddenly discovered briskly expanding and contracting, rising and
sinking in the water of a large fresh-water tank in the middle of London
(Fig. 3). You never know who or what may turn up in London. A badger, a
green parakeet, a whale, an African pigmy, an Indian scorpion, and a
voice worth ten thousand a year, have all, to my knowledge, been
stumbled upon unexpectedly at different times in the highways of London.
A new jelly-fish was perhaps one of the least expected “casual
visitors.” It was found in the large tank four feet deep in which the
great tropical water-lily—the Victoria regia—and other tropical water
plants are grown in the Botanic Gardens, Regent’s Park. It came up by
hundreds every year for some ten years after its first appearance, dying
down in six weeks or so each season.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.—The fresh-water jelly-fish (_Limnocodium_)
enlarged four times linear measurement, as it is seen dropping through
the water in a glass jar. _PT_, one of the four principal tentacles.
_MR_, the margin of the disc. _Ve_, the delicate muscular frill or

All the specimens were males, and the puzzle was to find out how it
reproduced itself. After a few seasons had passed I determined to solve
this problem. I made the guess that perhaps the jelly-fish were budded
off from a fixed weed-like polyp growing in the depths of the tank—as
is the case with many of the marine jelly-fishes. I remember that one
leading member of the council, which still presides over the destinies
of the Botanic Gardens, confided to me in a hushed whisper his belief
that Providence created this new jelly-fish year by year in the tank in
honour of the august patroness of the Botanic Society—Her Royal
Highness the Duchess of Teck. I was obliged to make an end of this
flattering theory when I discovered, after long searching with my
assistant—attached to the rootlets of floating water weeds a minute
three-branched polyp (Fig. 4), from which, as we subsequently were able
to observe, the jelly-fish were pinched off as tiny spheres about
one-sixteenth of an inch in diameter. No females of this jelly-fish were
ever discovered. The polyps lived on from year to year, and budded off
each season a swarm of pretty but futile male jelly-fish. They ripened
and died on attaining a diameter somewhat less than that of a shilling.
There were many most interesting points made out as to their structure,
mode of feeding, and growth. You could keep them in a tall glass jar
supported over a small gas-jet (they lived best at a temperature of 80°
Fahr.), and they would swim up by a series of strokes to the top of the
water, and then drop like little parachutes through the eighteen inches
of depth to the bottom—taking in water-fleas and such food on the
way—and immediately would start upwards again. I used to take them
alive in my pocket corked up in a test-tube to show to friends.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.—Four of the minute club-shaped polyps adhering
to a root-fibre of a water-plant. The rounded end becomes nipped off and
swims away, free, as a young jelly-fish.]

After they had disappeared from the tank in Regent’s Park (owing to some
unhappy cleaning of the tank) they suddenly, in 1903, appeared—it seems
incredible—at Sheffield! Then they briefly showed up in 1905 at Munich,
and at Lyons had been captured in 1901—always in a tepid water-lily
tank! We never could make out where they came from originally. Of
course, the polyp must have been brought into the tank with some bundle
of water plants from a tropical lake or river, but we never had any
indication as to when or which.

Since the days of the fresh-water jelly-fish of Regent’s Park, which was
called (a name, but why should it not have a name?) _Limnocodium
Sowerbii_—a jelly-fish of about the same size (Fig. 5) but very
different in shape and tentacles—was discovered in the great African
fresh-water lake Tanganyika—in enormous numbers, and was named
_Limnocnida Tanganyikæ_. Only five years ago the same jelly-fish was
discovered in the Victoria Nyanza, and a little earlier in backwaters of
the Niger. It is a curious and significant fact bearing upon the history
of these three areas of fresh water connected with the three greatest
African rivers—the Congo, the Nile, and the Niger—that the same little
jelly-fish is found in all of them.

[Illustration: FIG. 5.—The African fresh-water jelly-fish
(_Limnocnida_) found in Tanganyika, Victoria Nyanza, and the Niger.]

And now we have just been reminded of _Limnocodium_, the Regents Park
jelly-fish, from a remote and unexpected source. A thousand miles up
the Yang-tse-Kiang River, in China, in the province of Hupi, the
Japanese captain of a river steamer, plying there and belonging to a
Japanese company, captured ten jelly-fish in the muddy waters of the
river. He brought them home, preserved, I suppose, in alcohol or
formalin, and they have been described by Dr. Oka, a Japanese zoologist
of Tokio, in a publication bearing the Latin title _Annotationes
Zoologicæ niponenses_, issued in December 1907. European sea captains
have not rarely been ardent naturalists, but I think the Japanese is the
first captain of a river steamboat who has discovered a new animal on
his beat. I have not heard of Mississippi steamboat captains amusing
themselves in this way—other rivers, other tastes.

Dr. Oka describes the jelly-fish thus brought to him as a _Limnocodium_,
differing in a few details from that of Regent’s Park, so that he
distinguishes this Chinese species as _Limnocodium Kawaii_, naming it
after the naturalist captain, who must have a rare taste for picking up
strange and new things, and a rare goodwill in bringing them home with
him. So here is another fresh-water jelly-fish, for it is not the same
as the Regent’s Park one, though closely like it. Possibly _Limnocodium_
is an Asiatic genus, and the original Sowerby’s _Limnocodium_ will be
found in another Chinese river. But it may prove to be South American,
as is the water-lily Victoria regia.

A very small fresh-water jelly-fish was found some twelve years ago—in
1897—in the Delaware River at Philadelphia, United States, and was
lately described by the well-known naturalist, Mr. Potts. It was budded
off from a very minute polyp resembling that found in the Regent’s Park,
but the jelly-fish was totally different from _Limnocodium_. Only four
or five specimens of this jelly-fish have ever been seen, and the
Philadelphian naturalists ought certainly to look it up again.

An account of the Philadelphian jelly-fish and of other fresh-water
jelly-fishes, with illustrative plates, will be found in the _Quarterly
Journal of Microscopical Science_, 1906. Mr. Charles Boulenger has, in
the same Journal, 1908, described yet another fresh-water jelly-fish
from the Fayoum Lake in Egypt.



Though the Scotch Highlanders are said to have a profound objection to
eating eels on account of the resemblance of these fish to snakes (not a
very good reason, since the quality and not the shape of what one eats
is the important thing), yet eels have been a very popular delicacy in
England in past days. Eel-pie Island, at Richmond, is known to most
Londoners, and eel-pie shops were familiar in London less than a century
ago. A good Thames eel is still appreciated by the few people who
nowadays take some small amount of intelligent interest in what they
eat. Abroad, eels are still popular. Eel-traps are still worked in the
rivers. In such districts as the flat country, on the shores of the
Adriatic, near Venice, millions of young eels are annually “shepherded”
in lagoons and reservoirs, and reared to marketable size. The inland
eel-fisheries of Denmark and Germany are carefully regulated and
encouraged by the Government in those States.

The fact is that railways, ice-storage, and steam-trawling have, in
conjunction, revolutionised our habits in regard to the use of fish as a
daily article of diet. Fresh-water fish are now almost unknown as a
regular source of food in the British Islands. The splendid fish of the
North Sea, the Channel, and the Atlantic coast have pushed them out of
the market. Thirty-eight years ago, when I was a student in Leipzig and
Vienna, “baked carp” was the only fish to be had in the dining-rooms we
frequented. Once a week there were fresh haddock, for those who fancied
them, in the celebrated Auerbach’s Keller. Now the railway and packing
in ice have brought North Sea fish to the centre of Europe, and created
a taste for that excellent food. Even on the Mediterranean at Nice, I
lately saw North Sea turbot, soles, and haddock lying on the
marble-slabs in the fish market side by side with the handsome but small
bass, mullet, gurnards, and sea-bream of the local fishery, and the
carp, pike, trout, and eels of the fresh waters of the South of France.

Nevertheless the eel—the common fresh-water eel—is still valued on the
Continent, as is proved by the fact that the German Imperial Government
has recently sent an important official of the Fisheries Department to
Gloucester in order to make extensive purchases of the “elvers,” or
young eels which come up the river Severn in millions at this season.
The purpose of the German fisheries officials is to place many hundred
thousands of these young eels in German rivers which are not so well
supplied by natural immigration as is the Severn, and by so doing to
increase the supply of well-grown eels hereafter in the river fisheries
of North Germany.

This interesting practical attempt to increase the supply of eels in
Germany will be further appreciated when I relate what has been
discovered within the last twenty years as to the reproduction,
migrations, and habits of the common fresh-water eel. It has been known,
time out of mind, that in the early months of every year millions of
young eels a little over two inches in length, called “elvers” in
English and “civelles” in French, come up the estuaries of the rivers of
Europe in a dense body. They are so closely packed together as the
narrower parts of the stream are reached, that thousands may be taken
out of the water by merely dipping a bucket into the ranks of the
procession. I obtained a few thousand of these “elvers” lately from the
Severn and placed them on exhibition in the central court of the Natural
History Museum in London. The Anglo-Saxon name “eel-fare” is given to
this annual march or “swim” of the young eels from the sea to the fresh

Though riverside folk have never doubted that the elvers are young eels
which have been hatched from spawn deposited by parent eels in the sea,
and are “running up” to feed and grow to maturity in the rivers and
streams inland, yet country folk away from the big rivers have queer
notions as to the origin and breeding of eels. They catch large, plump
eels a couple of feet long in stagnant ponds hundreds of miles from the
sea, far from rivers, and more than a thousand feet above the sea-level.
They have no notion that those eels originally “ran up” as little eels
from the sea, nor that many of them make their way across wet grass and
by rain-filled ditches back to the rivers and to the sea when they are
seven years old. But that is now known to be the fact. Just as there are
fish, like the salmon, which “run down” to the sea to feed and grow big
and “run up” to breed in the small pools and rivulets far from the
river’s mouth, so there are other fishes, of which the eel is one, which
run up to feed and grow and run down to breed—that is to say, to
deposit and fertilise their eggs in the depths of the ocean.

Fishermen who work river-fisheries for eels (far more valued abroad than
in England) distinguish “yellow eels” and “silver eels” (see Plate I.
opposite title page). We used to distinguish also snigs and grigs, or
narrow-nosed and broad-nosed eels (probably males and females). The
remarkable fact, admitted by both fishermen and anatomists, was that you
could not really tell male from female, nor, indeed, ever find an eel
(that is, a common eel, as distinguished from the much larger and
well-known conger eel) which was ripe, or, indeed, showed any signs of
having either roe or milt within it. A popular legend exists that eels
are produced by the “vivification” of horse-hair. Occasionally in summer
a long, black, and very thin threadworm (called _Gordius_ by
naturalists) suddenly appears in great numbers in rivers, and these are
declared by the country-folk to be horse-hairs on their way to become
eels! I remember a sudden swarm of them one summer in the upper river at
Oxford. Really, they are parasitic worms which live inside insects for a
part of their lives, and leave them in summer, passing into the water.
Fanciful beliefs about aquatic creatures are common, because it is not
very easy to get at the truth when it is not merely at the bottom of a
well but at the bottom of a river or of the deep sea! The fishermen of
the east coast of Scotland, who think very highly of their own knowledge
and intelligence, believe that the little white sea-acorns or
rock-barnacles are the young of the limpets which live side by side with
them, and are scornful of those who deny the correctness of what they
consider an obvious conclusion!

A few years ago the Scandinavian naturalist, Petersen, showed that the
“silver” eels are a later stage of growth of the “yellow” eels; that
they acquire a silvery coat, and that the eye increases in size—as a
sort of “wedding dress,” just before they go down to the sea to breed. I
owe to Petersen’s kindness the coloured drawings of the heads of the
yellow and the silver eel reproduced in Plate I. These silver eels are
caught in some numbers about the Danish coast and river mouths, moving
downwards; and Petersen has been able to distinguish the males from
the females by finding the still incompletely formed milt and roe within
the silver eels. Not only that, but one of Petersen’s assistants at the
Danish Biological Station has found that you can tell the age of an eel
by the zones or rings shown by its scales, when examined with a
microscope, just as the age of trees can be told by the annual rings of
growth in the wood. Most people, even if familiar with eels, even cooks
who have skinned an eel, do not know that they have scales; but they
have,—very small ones. The age of other fishes has been similarly
ascertained by annual zones of growth marked on the scales; and lately
the age of plaice has been found to be conveniently given by zones of
growth formed annually on the little ear-stones which we find in the
liquid-holding sac of the internal ear. I am afraid many of my readers
will be surprised to learn that fishes have an internal hearing
apparatus similar to our own, also that they have olfactory organs, and,
in some cases, a well-grown tongue!

The power thus obtained of telling the age of an eel has led to the
following knowledge about them, namely, that female eels do not become
“silver” eels and “run down” before they are seven years old, and often
not till eight and a half years of age, or even sometimes eleven or
twelve years, when they are nearly 3 feet long. The male eel becomes
“silver” (instead of “yellow”) at an earlier age—four and a half
years,—and rarely defers his nuptial outburst until he is seven or
eight years old. The females of the same age are larger than the males;
a usual size for silver females of seven years old is a little over 2
feet, and of a silver male of the same age 20 inches.

The further facts which I am about to relate as to the migration and
reproduction of the common eel are of great interest. The common
“yellow” eels of our ponds and rivers, as we have seen, when they are
from five to seven years old and over, put on, as it were, a wedding
dress. They become “silver” eels, and descend the rivers to the sea.
There they produce their spawn. The young eels thus produced, when only
2 inches long, leave the sea. Every year they ascend the estuaries and
rivers of Europe as “elvers” in enormous numbers, their procession up
the rivers being known as “the eel-fare.”

Some eels, shut up in moats and ponds, never escape—they become more or
less “silver” and restless, but fail to get away. Others crawl up the
banks in wet, warm weather, when the ponds are full to the brim, and
over the meadows. They are found sometimes on their journey when they

        “... have to pass
  Through the dewy grass,”

and so to the river, and on to the marriage feast in the deep sea. The
fact is, that usually eels inhabit in large numbers the rivers and
streams, and have no difficulty in getting down to the sea when they are
adult. Those who, as young elvers, have wandered far off into sunken
ponds and reservoirs, are eccentric spirits who have lost the normal way
of life; like fellows of colleges in the old days, they have cut
themselves off from the matrimonial “running down,” but they have
compensations in quietude, abundant food, and a long life.

We now know where the silver eels go when they run down the rivers. They
go into the sea, of course; but we know more than that. It has now been
discovered that they make their way for many miles along the
sea-bottom—in some cases hundreds of miles—to no less a depth than 500
fathoms. In the Mediterranean they don’t have very far to go, for there
is very deep water near the land, and Professor Grassi found evidence of
their presence in the depths of the Straits of Messina. But the eels of
the rivers which empty into the North Sea and English Channel have much
farther to go; they have to go right out to the deep water of the
Atlantic, off the west coast of Ireland. That is the nearest point where
500 fathoms can be touched; there is no such depth in the North Sea nor
in the Channel. They never come back, and no one has ever yet tracked
them on their journey to the deep water. Yet we know that they go there,
and lay their eggs there, and that from these remote fastnesses a new
generation of eels, born in “the dark unfathomed depths of ocean,”
return every year in their millions as little “elvers” to the rivers
from which their parents swam forth in silver wedding dress. Soon, we
have reason to hope, by the use of suitable deep-sinking nets, we shall
intercept, in the English Channel, some of the silver eels on their way
to the Atlantic deeps. They must go in vast numbers, and yet no one has
yet come across them. How, then, do we know that the silver eels ever go
to this 500-fathom abysm?

[Illustration: FIG. 6.—Young stages of the common eel, drawn of the
natural size by Professor Grassi. A, The _Leptocephalus_, transparent
stage. D, the elver, or young eel, which is coloured, and of much
smaller size than the transparent, colourless creature by the change of
which it is produced. It is the elver which swims in millions up our
rivers. B and C are intermediate stages, showing the gradual change of A
into D.]

The answer is as follows: A very curious, colourless, transparent,
absolutely glass-like, little fish, 2½ inches long, oblong and
leaf-like in shape, has been known for many years as a rarity, to be
caught now and then, one at a time, floating near the top in summer seas
(Fig. 6). I used to get it at Naples occasionally many years ago, and it
has sometimes been taken in the English Channel. It is known by the name
“Leptocephalus.” Placed in a glass jar full of sea-water it is nearly
invisible on account of its transparency and freedom from colour. Even
its blood is colourless. The eyes alone are coloured, and one sees these
as two isolated black globes moving mysteriously to the right and the
left as the invisible ghostly fish swims around. Twenty years ago one of
these kept in an aquarium at Roscoff, in Brittany, gradually shrunk in
breadth, became cylindrical, coloured and opaque, and assumed the
complete characters of a young eel! To cut a long story short, these
Leptocephali were found twelve years ago in large numbers in the deep
water (400 fathoms) of the Straits of Messina by the Italian naturalists
Grassi and Calandruccio, and they conclusively showed that they were the
young phase—the tadpole, as it were—of eels. They showed that
different kinds of eels—conger eels, the Muræna, and the common
eel—have each their own kind of transparent “Leptocephalus-young-phase,”
living in but also above the very deep water, in which they are hatched
from the eggs of the parent eels. The Leptocephalus-young when hatched,
grow rapidly, and ascend to near the surface immediately above the deep
water, and are caught at depths of ten to a hundred fathoms. To become
“elvers,” or young eels, they have to undergo great change of shape and
colour, and actually shrink in bulk—a process which has now been
completely observed and described. It is not surprising that their true
nature was not at first recognised. The proof that the silver eels of
North and West Europe go down to the 500-fathom line off the Irish
coast, in order to lay their eggs, is that the Danish naturalist Schmidt
and his companions discovered there two years ago, above these great
depths (and nowhere else), by employing a special kind of fine-meshed
trawling net, many thousands of the flat, glass-like
“Leptocephalus-young-stage,” or tadpole of the common eel, and traced
them from there to their entrance into the various rivers. They showed
that the Leptocephali gradually change on the way landward into eel-like

The rivers nearest the deep water, such as those opening on the west
coast of Ireland and on the Spanish and French shores of the Bay of
Biscay, get their elvers “running up” as early as November, December,
and January. The farther off the river the farther the elvers have to
travel from the deep-sea nursery, so that in Denmark they don’t appear
until May. Not the least curious part of the migration of the eel is the
passage of the young elvers into the higher parts of rivers and remote
streams. They are sometimes seen a hundred miles from the sea, actually
wriggling in numbers up the face of a damp rock or wall ten or fifteen
feet high, pushing one another from below upwards, so as to scale the
obstacle and reach higher waters, like Japanese soldiers at a fort. I
found them (so long ago that I hesitate to name the date—it was a year
of cholera in London, followed by a great war) in a little rivulet which
comes down the cliff at Ecclesbourne, near Hastings, close to a cottage
frequented at that time by Douglas Jerrold. They were wriggling up in
the damp grass and overflow of the driblet 150 feet above the shore, a
stone’s throw below. They must have come out of the sea, attracted by
the tiny thread of fresh water entering it at this spot.

The Danube and its tributary streams contain no eels, although the
rivers which open into the Mediterranean are well stocked with them.
This is supposed to be due to the fact that the Black Sea does not
afford a suitable breeding-ground, and that the way through the
Dardanelles is closed to eels by some natural law, as it has been to
warships by treaty. Probably, however, it will be found that the
geological changes in the area of sea and land are intimately connected
with the migrations of the eel, and that the eel is originally a marine
fish which did not in remote ages travel far from the deep waters. Its
gradually acquired habit of running up fresh waters to feed has led it
step by step into a frequentation of certain rivers which have become
(by changes of land and sea) inconveniently remote from its ancestral
haunts. An interesting question is whether at the not very distant
period when there was continuous land joining England to France and the
Thames and the Rhine had a common mouth opening into the North Sea, eels
existed in the area drained by those two rivers; and, if so, by what
route did they pass as silver eels to the deep sea, and by what route
did the new generations of young eels hatched in the deep sea travel to
the Thames and Rhine. It seems most probable that in those days there
were no eels in the Thames and other North Sea rivers.

Our present knowledge of the romantic history of the common eel of our
own rivers we owe in large part to the work done by the International
Committee for the Investigation of the North Sea. Who would ever have
imagined when he caught a wriggling eel, with a hook and worm thrown
into a stagnant pool in the Midlands, that the muddy creature was some
five or six years ago living as a glass-like leaf-shaped prodigy in the
Atlantic depths, a hundred miles from Ireland? Who would have dreamed
that it had come all that long journey by its own efforts, and would
probably, if it had not been hooked, have wriggled one summer’s night
out of the pond, across wet meadows, into a ditch, and so to the river,
and back to the sea, and to the far-away orgy in the dark salt waters of
the ocean-floor, to the consummation of its life and its strange,
mysterious ending?

There are two points of interest to be mentioned in regard to the rivers
Danube and Thames in connection with eels. I have trustworthy reports of
the very rare occurrence of eels in streams connected with the Danube.
Since the young elvers do not ascend the Danube, where do these rare
specimens come from? There can be no doubt that they have made their way
individually into the Danube “system” by migration through canals or
ditches from tributaries of the Rhine or the Elbe. A similar explanation
has to be offered of the eels which at present inhabit the Thames. I
cannot find any evidence of the existence to-day of an “eel-fare”—that
is, “a running up of elvers” in the river Thames. Probably about the
same time as the foul poisoning of the Thames water by London sewage and
chemical works put an end to the ascent of the salmon (about the year
1830), the entrance of the myriad swarm of young eels in their annual
procession from the sea also ceased. The elvers were caught and made
into fish-cakes in London before the nineteenth century, just as they
are to-day at Gloucester. It would be interesting to know exactly when
they ceased to appear in the Thames. A curious fact, however, is that
young eels—not so small as “elvers,” but from three inches in length
upwards—are taken close above London even to-day. Four years ago I
obtained a number of this small size from Teddington. The question
arises as to whether these specimens represent just a small number of
elvers which have managed to swim through the foul water of London and
emerge into the cleaner part of the river above. This is improbable. It
is more likely that they have come into the Thames by travelling up
other rivers such as the Avon—which are connected by cuttings with the
Thames tributaries. But it certainly is remarkable that eels of only
three inches in length—and therefore very young—should have managed to
get not merely “into” the Thames (to the upper parts of which no doubt
many thus travel and remain during growth), but actually “down” the
Thames so far in the direction of its tidal water as is Teddington lock.
The specimens from Teddington were placed by me in the Natural History



The ever-increasing development of motor traffic leads to speculation as
to what is to be in the immediate future the fate of the horse. What is
its history in the past?

It is in nearly all cases a matter of great difficulty to trace the
animals and plants which mankind has domesticated or cultivated to the
original wild stock from which they have been derived. Lately we have
gained new knowledge on the origin of the domesticated breeds of the
horse. It is generally agreed that the Mongolian wild horse represents
the chief stock from which the horses of Europe and those conveyed by
Europeans to America were derived. This wild horse was formerly known as
inhabiting the Kirghiz steppes, and was called the Tarpan. It became
extinct there some seventy years ago. The natives of that district
asserted that the pure breed was only to be met with farther East in the
Gobi Desert of Central Asia. The Tarpan itself showed signs of mixed
blood in having a mouse-coloured coat, which is a sure indication
amongst horses of cross-breeding. Prevalsky, a Russian traveller, was
the first to obtain specimens of the pure-bred wild horse of the Gobi
Desert, which still exists. Live specimens have been brought to Europe,
and some are in the possession of the Duke of Bedford. A female is
mounted and exhibited in the Natural History Museum, and also a skeleton
and skulls. Prevalsky’s horse, or the Mongolian wild horse, is of small
stature, standing about twelve hands at the shoulder. The root of the
tail is short-haired, the mane short and upright, without forelock. The
body colour is yellow dun, the mane and tail black, as well as the lower
part of the legs, and there is a dark stripe down the back. The muzzle
in pure-bred specimens is white. The head is relatively large and the
muzzle thick and relatively short. A very decided character is shown by
the great size and relative length of the row of cheek-teeth, it being
one-third larger than the same row of teeth in a Dartmoor pony of the
same stature.

A very interesting fact, which goes a long way to establish the view
that the European domesticated horse is derived from the Mongolian wild
horse, comes to us in a most striking way from some of the most ancient
records of the human race. In the South of France the contents of caves
formerly inhabited by men have been dug out and examined with increasing
care and accuracy of late years, though first investigated fifty years
ago. Similar caves, though not so prolific of evidences of human
occupation, have been explored in England (Kent’s Cavern at Torquay, and
others). The astounding fact has now become quite clear that these caves
were inhabited by men of no mean capacity from 50,000 to 250,000 years
ago, when bone harpoons, flint knives, flint scrapers, and bone
javelin-throwers were the chief weapons in use, when these islands were
solidly joined to the European continent, when a sheet of glacial ice,
alternately retreating and extending, covered the whole of Northern
Europe, and when the mammoth, rhinoceros, hyena, lion, bear, bison,
great ox, horse, and later the reindeer, inhabited the land and were
hunted, eaten, and utilised for their bone, tusks, and skin by these
ancient men. I revert to this subject in a later article (page 371), but
would merely say now that it is all as certain and well-established a
chapter in man’s history as that of the ancient Egyptians, who are
really quite modern (dating from 8000 years at most) as compared with
these cave-men of 50,000 years ago, and the even earlier races which
preceded them in Europe.

The bones of the animals killed and eaten by the cave-men are found in
some cases in enormous quantities. In one locality in France the bones
of as many as 80,000 horses (which had been cooked and eaten) have been
dug up and counted! The most wonderful and extraordinary thing about
these cave-men is that they carved complete rounded sculptures, high
reliefs, low reliefs, and line-engravings on mammoth’s ivory, on
reindeer horn, on bones, and on stones—the line-engravings being the
latest in date, as shown by their position in the deposits on the floor
of the caves, which are often as much as twenty feet or thirty feet in
thickness! Not only that, but these carvings are often real works of
art, extremely well drawn, and showing not mere childish effort but work
which was done with the intention and control of an artist’s mind.

An immense number of these carvings are now known. I have before me one
of the most recent publications on the subject—a series of plates
showing the carvings collected from caves in the Pyrenees, the Dordogne,
and the Landes by M. Piette, who recently died. I have examined his
collection and others of the same kind in the great Museum of St.
Germain, near Paris. We have in London some of the earlier collections,
and especially that of the Vicomte de Lastic, to purchase which my old
friend Sir Richard Owen journeyed to the Dordogne in the winter of 1864.
Many animals, as well as some human beings (Fig. 7), are represented in
these carvings—the mammoth itself, carved on a piece of its own ivory,
is among them, and a good many represent the horse (Fig. 8). Now it is a
fact that the carvings of the horses of that period undoubtedly
represent a horse which is identical in proportions, shape of head,
mane, and tail, with the wild Mongolian horse, and is unlike in those
points to modern European horses, or to the Arabian horse.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.—Drawing (of the actual size of the original) of
an ivory carving (fully rounded) of a female head. The specimen was
found in the cavern of Brassempouy, in the Landes. It is of the earliest
reindeer period, and the arrangement of the hair or cap is remarkable.]

[Illustration: FIG. 8.—Drawing (of the actual size of the original) of
a fully rounded carving in reindeer’s antler of the head of a neighing
horse. The head resembles that of the Mongolian horse. This is one of
the most artistic of the cave-men’s carvings yet discovered. It is of
the Palæolithic age (early reindeer period), probably not less than
fifty thousand years old. It was found in the cavern of Mas d’Azil,
Ariège, France, and is now in the museum of St. Germain.]

It was, until the discoveries of M. Piette, held that though the
cave-men killed, ate, and made pictures of the horse of those remote
days, yet that they did not tame it, put a halter or a bridle on it, and
make use of it. Some of the carvings figured by M. Piette leave,
however, no room for doubt that the cave-men fitted a bridle to the head
and muzzle of the horse. These carvings (Fig. 9) show a twisted thong
placed round the nose and passing near the angle of the mouth where it
is possible, though not certain, that a “bit” was inserted. Connected
to this main encircling thong are four twisted cords (on each side of
the head), which run horizontally backwards, and the two lower of these
are joined by a flat, plate-like piece, which is ornamented. The whole
apparatus is further connected to a twisted cord on each side, which
runs towards the back of the head, but it is not shown in the carving
what becomes of it. Thus it seems clear not only that the cave-men of
these remote ages were wonderful artists, but that they mastered and
muzzled the horse.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.—Drawing (of the actual size of the original) of
a flat carving in shoulder-bone, of a horse’s head, showing twisted
rope-bridle and trappings. _a_ appears to represent a flat ornamented
band of wood or skin connecting the muzzling rope _b_ with other pieces
_c_ and _d_. This specimen is from the cave of St. Michel d’Arudy, and
is of the reindeer period. This, and others like it, are in the museum
of St. Germain.]

Some of the engravings of horses’ heads seem to indicate the existence
of a horse alongside the commoner form with a narrower, more tapering
face, and may possibly be due to the introduction, even at that remote
period, of another race distinct from the Northern or Mongolian wild
horse. That this admixture of a distinct and more slender horse with the
Northern horse has taken place over and over again in historical times
is a matter of knowledge. The question is, when did it first take place,
and where did the more slender horse come from? In later days we know
this more shapely breed as the Arab and the Barb, and the introduction
of its blood at various times into the more Northern stock is well
ascertained. The latest great historical case of such admixture is the
production of the English thoroughbred in the eighteenth century by
such sires as the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Barb, and the Brierley
Turk, whose blood is transmitted to modern racehorses through the great
historic sires, Herod, Matchem, and Eclipse, the ancestors of
practically all modern racehorses.

The horse of more Southern origin thus recognised as distinct from the
prehistoric European horse, it is now convenient to speak of as the
Southern or Arabian horse. There are certain curious structural features
which seem to mark these horses and their offspring, even when their
strain is blended with that of the more Northern horse. Probably from
the time of the cave-men onward the selective breeding of horses has
been carried on, so that in many breeds size has been vastly increased.
It is an important fact that the English racehorse has never been
selected and bred for “points” (as cattle and sheep are), but always by
performance on the racecourse. Thus it becomes an extremely interesting
matter to see what are the changes which the breeder of thoroughbred
stock has unconsciously produced—what are the differences between the
racehorse of to-day and that of 50, 100, and 150 years ago. This was
pointed out to me by the late Duke of Devonshire as a reason for
supporting my proposal to secure and place in the Natural History Museum
the skulls, limb-bones, hoofs, and other indestructible parts of great
racehorses (and of other breeds), and also for having very accurately
measured reduced models made of such horses, in order that we may after
some years compare the proportions and structure at present arrived at
with the later developments which the continual selection of winner’s
blood in breeding must unconsciously produce. Such a collection was
started by me in the museum, but it needs the assistance of owners of
horses—both as to placing record specimens in the museum and in paying
for the preparation of accurately reduced models by competent artists.
It already comprises the skulls of Stockwell, Bend Or, and Ormonde, and
several carefully made reduced models of celebrated horses. There is no
doubt that the English racehorse has increased in size. He is a bigger
animal to-day than he was 200 years ago, and the opinion of the best
authorities is that he has increased on the average an inch in height at
the withers in every twenty-five years. The racehorse has a much longer
thigh-bone and upper-arm bone (in proportion to the rest of the leg)
than has the cart-horse, and it is probable that this length has been
continually increased by the selection of winners for breeding.

There are other points of scientific interest as to modern horses and
their forefathers which are illustrated by valuable specimens and
preparations placed by me in the Natural History Museum.

All those hairy warm-blooded quadrupeds which suckle their young, and
are hence called mammals, are the descendants of small five-toed
ancestors about the size of a spaniel. This is equally true of the
elephant, the gorilla, the horse, and the ox. In the sands and clays
deposited since the time of the chalk-sea, the remains (bones and teeth)
of the ancestors of living mammals are found in great abundance. These
sands and clays are called “the Tertiaries,” and are divided into lower,
middle, and upper—whilst we recognise as “Post-Tertiaries” (or
Quaternary) the later formed gravel and cave deposits in which the
remains and weapons of the cave-men have been found. The Tertiaries
consist of a series of deposits amounting to about 3000 feet in
thickness, and they have taken several million years in depositing—no
one can say how many.

[Illustration: HIPPARION HORSE

FIG. 10.—To the left, the fore-foot of the horse-ancestor, Hipparion,
showing three toes: to the right, the back view of a long bone of a
modern horse’s foot, with rudiments of outer toes, called splint-bones.]

In the upper Tertiary we find the remains of a kind of horse (the
Hipparion), with well-developed “petti-toes” (like those of a pig) on
each side of the big central toe (Fig. 10). In the middle Tertiary we
find smaller ancestral horses, with three toes of nearly equal size, and
in the lower Tertiary a horse-ancestor as small as a fox-hound (the
Hyracotherium), with four toes on its front foot and three on its hind
foot. Coming very close to this in general character is another small
extinct animal of the same age, with five toes on each foot. As the toes
have dwindled in number and size, leaving at last only the big central
toe (as we pass upward from the small ancestors to the big modern
horse), so the cheek-teeth, too, have changed. At first they had shallow
crowns and divided fangs, and showed four prominences on the crown which
were little, if at all, worn down during life. But as the horse became a
bigger animal and took to eating coarse tooth-wearing grass, his teeth
became deeper, and continued to grow for a long time, whilst the crown
was rubbed down by the hard food, and a curiously complex pattern was
brought into view by the exposure of the irregular bosses of the crown
in cross section. And, meanwhile, the size and proportions of the
horse-ancestors changed until, after being pig-like, then tapir-like,
they acquired the perfect form and size for fleet and prolonged movement
over firm, grass-grown plains. Horses and other large animals have to
run, not only to escape pursuit by carnivorous enemies, but in order to
travel, before they die from thirst, from a region suddenly dried up by
drought to a region where water can be had. Many thousands of wild
animals perish every year from local droughts in Africa. No small
animals can exist in regions liable to be affected by sudden drought.

Three-toed horses, like the upper Tertiary Hipparion, are occasionally
born as “monstrosities” from ordinary horses at the present day. All
horses have the remnant of a toe on each side of the big central toe—in
the form of splint-bones—concealed beneath the skin. In some breeds,
for instance, in the “Shire” horses, which have enormous hairy feet in
proportion to their huge strength and weight, these splint-bones tend to
develop three little toe-joints, which are immovable, but obviously are
“petti-toes.” It is related by Suetonius that Julius Cæsar used to ride
a favourite horse which had several toes on each foot with claws like a
lion. This was one of the “monstrosities” alluded to above, a throw-back
to the ancestral many-toed condition. Specimens illustrating these, and
all else which I am here relating concerning horses, and much more which
I have not space to tell, may be seen in the North Hall of the Natural
History Museum.

[Illustration: FIG. 11.—Skulls of horses and of deer to show the
pre-orbital pit or cups _pf_, and its absence in the Mongolian
(Prevalsky’s) horse.]

The three-toed ancestral horse, Hipparion, attained a fair size (that of
a big donkey), and was shaped like the recent fleet one-toed horses. In
the skull in front of the orbit, the Hipparion has a strongly marked
depression in the bone, as long and broad as a hen’s egg, and in shape
like one-half of an egg cut through longwise (see Fig. 11 _pf_). These
pre-orbital cavities are known in deer, sheep, and antelopes; they lodge
a gland resembling the tear-gland, which has, itself, a separate
existence. Similar “glands” are found in the feet and ankle-joints of
sheep and deer. The fluid which they secrete probably has an odour (not
readily noticed by man) which helps to keep the herd together, or, on
certain tracks when the fluid is smeared on to herbage. It is a
remarkable fact that the skulls of the wild Mongolian horse and of the
fossil horse of the cave-men, as also those of the commoner European
breeds, have no trace of this pre-orbital cup or of the gland which
Hipparion, their three-toed ancestor, possessed. Nor, indeed, have the
asses and zebras. But the Southern horse, the Arab, and all the breeds
into which his blood has prominently entered—as, for instance, the
English racer (so-called “thoroughbred”) and the “Shire” horse (which
is derived from the old English war-horse, in the making of which
certainly four hundred years ago Arab blood and heavy Northern stock
were mingled), do show, as a rule, a well-marked if shallow, cup-like
depression in front of the orbit! In fact, as Mr. Lydekker has pointed
out, the presence of this “pre-orbital cup” is evidence of the descent
of its possessor from Arab ancestry. Many specimens of horses’ skulls
showing this “cup” are exhibited in the Natural History Museum. We have
not been able to find any trace of a gland like the “larmier” of deer
and the “crumen” of antelopes on examining the soft tissues which
overlie this cavity in horses of Arab descent, but it is not improbable
that occasional instances of such survival will some day come to light.
A very interesting fact in connection with this concavity and its
indication of a distinction between the Northern (Mongolian) and the
Southern (Arabian) horse is that in India a fossil horse of very late
Tertiary date has been found, a true one-toed horse, not a Hipparion,
which has the pre-orbital cup well marked, and is possibly the ancestor
of the Arab.

There is no very great difference between the wild horse and wild asses
and zebras. They are distinct “species,” but will breed together and
produce “mules,” which in rare cases appear to be themselves fertile,
although this is doubtful. The inner causes of the infertility of mules
are not really known or understood. Nor, in fact, do we know really and
experimentally what are the causes of fecundity and of infecundity in
normally paired animals, including mankind. It is of the utmost
importance to modern Statecraft that this subject should be studied, and
there is a great field for experimental inquiry.

A clear mark of difference between the horse and the other species of
the genus Equus (namely, the Asiatic and African asses and the zebras)
is found in the curious wart-like knobs[1] on the legs, which are called
“chestnuts.” These warty knobs appear to be the remains in a “dried up”
condition of glands, such as are found in the legs of deer in a similar
position, and secrete a glairy fluid. In new-born colts they sometimes
exude a fluid, and also more rarely in adult horses. The fluid attracts
other horses (probably by its smell), and also causes dogs to keep
quiet. The horse has one of these wart-like “chestnuts” above the wrist
joint (so-called knee) on the inner side of the fore-leg. And so have
all the asses and zebras. But the horse (Fig. 12) has also a similar
“chestnut” on the inner side of each of its hind-legs, below the
heel-bone, or “hock.” This hind-leg chestnut is absent in all asses and
zebras. This difference between the horse and ass can be tested by my
readers on any roadside by their own observation. The hind-leg chestnut
is also absent in certain breeds of ponies from Iceland and the
Hebrides. Its presence and absence are interesting in connection with
the disappearance of the face-gland or pre-orbital gland in all recent
horses, asses, and zebras.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.—Fore and hind legs of horse and ass, to show
the “chestnuts,” and the absence of that structure from the hind-leg of
the ass.]

The “chestnuts” of the horse have sometimes been compared erroneously to
the “pads” on the feet of other animals, and supposed to be survivals of
a “pad” in each foot corresponding to the inner of the three toes of
the Hipparion. The real representative, in the horse, of the chief pad
of the foot of animals which do not (as the horse does) walk on the very
tip of the toe, is a little knob called the “ergot.” The diagram, Fig.
13, shows how this ergot corresponds to the chief pad of the three-toed
tapir’s foot, and so to that of the dog also.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.—Diagram of the under surface of the foot in the
dog, tapir, and horse, to show that the horny knob of the horse’s foot,
called the “ergot,” corresponds to the central “pad” of the other two.]

The absence of living horses, or of any kind of ass or zebra, from the
American Continent, when first colonised by Europeans in the sixteenth
century, is a very singular fact. For we find a great number and variety
of fossil remains of extinct horses in both North and South America. It
seems possible that some epidemic disease swept them from the whole
Continent not very many centuries before Europeans arrived—for there is
evidence in South America of the co-existence there of peculiar kinds of
horse with the “Indian” natives. It is even alleged that Cabot, in 1530,
saw horses in Argentina, which were the last survivors of the native
South American species. And it is also said that the Araucanian Indians
of Patagonia have a peculiar breed of ponies, which may be derived in
part from a native South American stock. I have never been able to
procure a skull of this breed, or any detailed description of it. What
is quite certain is that in the great cave of Ultima Speranza, in
Patagonia—from which the hairy skin, dried flesh and blood, and
unaltered dung as well as the bones, of the giant sloth Mylodon were
obtained—a great number of the horny hoofs, and the teeth of a peculiar
horse were also found some eight years ago, and are preserved in the
Natural History Museum, together with the remains of the giant sloth.
The condition of these remains is such that they cannot be many
centuries old. The animals appear to have been contemporaneous with an
early race of Indians who made use of the cave before the arrival of
Europeans. A skull of one and a skeleton of another of the peculiar
extinct South American horses (called Onohippidium and Hippidium), which
survived until a late period in Patagonia and may possibly have been
seen by Cabot, are shown in the Natural History Museum. Their bones are
found in the superficial gravel and sand of the pampas.

To revert for a moment to the history of the English thoroughbred. It
appears that in England in the middle of the eighteenth century a happy
new infusion of the Arab race with that of existing stock (which already
contained some Arab blood mixed with that of the Northern race) produced
once and for all a very perfect and successful breed. That breed did not
derive speed from the Arab, but “stamina,”—probably a powerful heart.
It did not derive its size from the Arab, but the cross proved to be a
large horse. It has never been improved since by any further admixture
of Arab or Southern blood. Hence the (at first sight) misleading name
“thoroughbred.” This name is not intended to imply that the breed is not
originally a “blend,” but that those horses so called are pure-bred from
the happy and wonderful mixture which a hundred and fifty years ago was
embodied in the great sires Matchem, Herod, and Eclipse.


[1] The names “malander” and “salander” have been recently applied by
zoological writers, apparently by misconception, to these “callosities”
or “chestnuts.” Those names are used by veterinary surgeons to describe
a diseased condition of this part of the horse’s leg (Italian “_mal
andare_”), and do not apply to the “chestnut” itself, which is sometimes
called “castor.”



We are so accustomed nowadays to danger to life and health from minute,
invisible germs, and to exerting all our skill in order to destroy them,
that the knowledge of the existence of large and beautiful trees in our
midst which can, and do, cause terrible disease and suffering by their
mere presence, comes as a shock, and produces a peculiar sense of
insecurity greater even than that excited by unseen micro-organisms. For
the trees of which I am about to speak are cultivated in our gardens,
trained up against the walls of our houses with loving care, and admired
for the beautiful autumn tints of their leaves. Yet it is now certain
that they are the cause in many persons of most terrible suffering and
illness. I am glad to be able to warn my readers in regard to these
plants, and I shall be very much interested to hear whether the
information which I am about to give proves to be of value in any
particular case.

A married couple, friends of my own, went to live, about fourteen years
ago, in a newly built, detached house, standing in its own garden, in
the neighbourhood of an English city. After they had been there two
years the lady developed a very painful eruption or eczema on the face,
which, in the course of a few weeks, caused the eyes, nose, and lips to
swell to an extraordinary degree, accompanied by the formation of
blisters and breaking of the skin. The affection spread to the body, and
caused constant pain and corresponding prostration. Her medical
attendants were unable either to cure or to account for her condition.
After some months she left home, and entirely recovered. But every year
the same distressing and disfiguring illness attacked her (commencing in
the month of June), and disappeared as soon as she left her house, only
to return when she came back to it. The doctors spoke of her affliction
as a mysterious form of erysipelas, and even suggested blood-poisoning
as the cause. For long periods she was so ill and in so much pain that
she was unable to see her friends, and her life was at times in danger.

Two years ago a weekly newspaper published an account, written by a
correspondent, of an illness from which he had suffered—exactly
agreeing with that which had for so many years tortured my friend’s
wife. This writer stated that he had ascertained that the disease was
due to the action of a poison given off by a creeper which grew on the
walls of his house. He had supposed this plant to be a Virginian
creeper; but he had discovered that it was in reality the Californian
poison-vine called by botanists _Rhus toxicodendron_. The terribly
poisonous nature of this plant is well-known to the people of the United
States. It is one of the sumach trees, of which other poisonous kinds
are known, whilst more than one species is used (especially in Japan)
for preparing a resinous varnish which is used in the manufacture of
“lacquered” articles. The writer in the weekly paper stated that he had
cut down and burnt the poison-vine which grew on the walls of his house,
and that his sufferings had ceased. My friend happened to read this
account, and immediately examined his own house. He found a creeper
resembling a Virginian creeper, but having three leaflets or divisions
of the leaf instead of five, growing around his drawing-room window, and
actually spreading its branches and leaves over the window of his wife’s
bedroom. He sent specimens of the creeper to Kew, where it was at once
identified as the _Rhus toxicodendron_ or American poison-vine or
poison-ivy. He caused the plant to be removed and burnt, and, except for
a slight attack in July, due no doubt to fragments of the leaves still
carried about in the form of dust, his wife has recovered her health.

I have looked into this matter with care, and I find that (presumably in
ignorance) nurserymen in England have sold specimens of the poison-vine
for planting as creepers, under the name _Ampelopsis Hoggii_. The
smaller-leaved Virginian creeper, with self-attaching tendrils, is known
as _Ampelopsis Veitchii_, and is, like the larger Virginian creeper (_A.
quinquefoliata_), quite harmless. The poison-vine is not an Ampelopsis
at all, not even one of the Vitaceæ or vine family, as that genus is. It
is a Sumach or Rhus, and belongs to a distinct family, the
Terebinthaceæ. It has a three-split leaf, not five leaflets, as has the
large Virginian creeper, nor a small three-pointed leaf, as has the
_Ampelopsis Veitchii_. The _Veitchii_ frequently has the leaf also split
into three leaflets, but the stalk of the middle leaflet is not
relatively so long as it is in the poison-vine. The differences and
resemblances in the leaves of these plants are shown in the accompanying
illustration (Fig. 14), which has been prepared from actual specimens
for this book.

The people of the United States are on their guard against this plant,
knowing its terrible properties. Sir William Thiselton Dyer, formerly
director of Kew Gardens, tells me that specimens of the “American
poison-vine” are grown in the garden at Kew, and that he has been
present when American visitors (ladies) literally screamed with horror
on seeing it, and ran from it as from a mad dog. Several cases are on
record of the mysterious poisoning produced by this plant in England;
but it is strangely unfamiliar to medical practitioners—indeed,
practically unknown to them, although I have ascertained that many
English people, especially ladies, have been victims for some years to
its unsuspected influence.

At the University of Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they have
made quite recently a thorough examination of the poison-vine in the
laboratory, with the following results: The poison is an oil—a fixed
oil, not a volatile one, as we might have imagined from its mysterious
action at a distance. The oil exists in all parts of the plant, even in
the fine hairs and cuticle of the leaf. It can be extracted by means of
ether, and is one of the most virulent irritants known, having a very
curious penetrating and persistent action, and producing violent pain
and destruction of tissue when placed on the skin in quantity so minute
(one-thousandth of a milligram in two drops of olive oil) as to be
beyond the terms of everyday language. It seems to be usually brought to
the eyes, nose, lips, and skin of the face and body by the fingers which
have touched a leaf or fragments of a leaf in powder. The dead leaf in
winter still retains the oil, and minute dust-like particles can carry
it. The treatment for it is washing with soap, oil, and ether at an
early stage of the attack—especial care being taken to free the fingers
from any minute traces of the oil adhering to them.

[Illustration: FIG. 14.—Drawings, about half the natural size, of the
leaves of the common quinquefoliate Virginian creeper (1 and 2), of the
adherent “Ampelopsis Veitchii” (3 and 4), and of the poison-vine, _Rhus
toxicodendron_ (5 and 6). From specimens in the Botanical Department of
the Natural History Museum. Note especially the greater length of the
stalk of the central leaflet in the poison-vine. Note also that the
common Virginian creeper has sometimes only three leaflets (2) instead
of five, and that “Veitchii” has either three leaflets, as in 3, or has
the leaflets united into one three-pointed leaf, as in 4.]

The poison of the poison-vine only acts upon a limited number of
individuals, many people being perfectly immune. At the same time, the
effect upon susceptible people appears to be enhanced with every fresh
attack; even after the total removal of the poison-vine and its dust
from proximity to a susceptible person, he or she is apt for some
time—owing to the retention of some trace of the oil in the skin or
clothes—to have slight attacks. According to a writer who two years ago
gave in the _Spectator_ an account of his own case, the first symptom of
an attack is almost invariably a redness and irritation of the eyelids,
accompanied by shivering. In a few hours the eyelids are closed, the
features unrecognisable, and the skin covered with little blisters. Then
the lips swell enormously, the glands of the neck also. In four days the
arms and hands are reached, each finger appearing as if terribly scalded
and requiring separate bandaging. Then sometimes the lower limbs are
involved. After ten days the attack passes off, leaving the patient in a
pitiable state of weakness to grow a new skin and recover from other
painful results of the poisoning. But no immunity is conferred by an
attack; the unhappy victim (who is ignorant of the cause of his
sufferings) may, and frequently does, get a new dose of the poison as
soon as he has recovered, and the whole course of the illness has again
to be passed through. If this account should fall into the hands of any
one who is being unwittingly poisoned by the American poison-vine, and
may therefore be saved by what I have written from further suffering, I
shall be greatly pleased.

There are very few plants which have a power of diffusing poison around
them; usually it is necessary to touch or to eat portions of a plant
before it can exert any poisonous effect. The eighteenth-century story
of the upas-tree of Java, which was fabled to fill a whole valley with
its poisonous emanation, and to cause the death of animals and birds at
a distance of fifteen miles, is now known to be a romantic invention.
The tree in question is merely one having a poisonous juice which was
extracted and used by the wilder races of Java as an arrow poison. It is
stated that one of the stinging-nettles of tropical India has such
virulent poison and such an abundance of it in the hairs on its
surface, that explorers have been injured by merely approaching it, the
detached hairs probably floating in the air and getting into the eyes,
nose, and throat of any one coming near it. The poison of the poisonous
stings of both plants and of animals has been to some extent examined of
late years. It is a curious fact that there are proportionately few
plants which sting as compared with the number and variety of animals
which do so. On the other hand, there are an enormous number of plants
which are poisonous to man when eaten by him, but there are very few
animals which are so.

It will be of interest to my readers to know that I received, in
consequence of the publication of the foregoing account of the
“Poison-vine” or “Poison-ivy,” more than fifty letters and boxes
containing leaves. At Kew Gardens nearly a hundred applications were
made with a request for the identification of leaves. The proportion of
cases in which leaves of true poison-ivy (_Rhus toxicodendron_) were
sent to me seems to be the same as that which they observed at Kew—only
two samples of the leaves sent to me were those of the true poison-ivy.
Hence we may conclude that the plant has not been very largely
introduced in this country, and probably there are not many hundred
cases existing in England of the painful malady which it can, in certain
people, produce. I have, however, received information of several
instances of this poisoning from different parts of the country, which
are either now under treatment or have been cured, and in some cases the
poison-ivy has been discovered as the cause, owing to the description
which I published. It is certainly true that the illness caused by this
plant only attacks a small proportion of those who handle it, and it is
possible that the plant is more virulent at some seasons and in some
soils than in others. In the United States, even in the neighbourhood of
New York, it is a real danger, and is recognised as such, but as appears
from a letter which I quote below, the reason of the dread which the
“poison-ivy” excites in the States depends on the fact that it is not
there a mere garden plant, but grows wild in great abundance in the
woodlands frequented by holiday-makers and lovers of natural forest and
lakeside wilderness. The poisonous nature of the allied species of
_Rhus_ used for the manufacture of “lacquer” or varnish is recognised by
the Japanese and others who prepare this product and have to handle the
plant—they wear gloves to protect the hands.

As showing what kind of trouble the “poison-ivy” and “poison-oak”
(another kind of _Rhus_ or _Sumach_) give in the United States, I will
quote a letter I have received from an American lady well known in
London society. She says: “I have known, suffered, and struggled against
the poison-ivy in America from my earliest years, when my poor mother
lay for days with blinded and swollen eyes, having gathered it
inadvertently. The ‘poison-ivy,’ as we call it, is a curse to country
life, outside the purely artificial and cultivated gardens, and even
there it creeps in insidiously.” She describes a beautiful farm property
on Lake Champlain, on the Canadian border, where she and her family
would spend many weeks in summer in order to enjoy the delights of
complete seclusion in wild, unspoilt country: “The one and only drawback
to the place was,” she writes, “the inexhaustible quantity of
poison-ivy. Our first duty had been to teach my two daughters and their
governess how to distinguish and avoid contact with it. The one and only
rule was that the poison-ivy has the clusters of three leaflets (the
middle leaflet with a longer stalk, _E.R.L._), whereas the woodbine (not
the English woodbine, which is a convolvulus, _E.R.L._), or, as you
call it, ‘Virginian creeper,’ has five leaflets in a cluster. Every path
which we used frequently and necessarily, such as the path to the
boat-house, and to the cove where the bathing-house stood, we kept
cleared of the _Rhus_ for a sufficient width, but in the woods eternal
vigilance was the price of safety. To uproot and burn is the only way to
destroy it, but, of course, that involves danger to the one who does the
work, because contact with the spade used, and with the garments which
touched the ivy, might communicate the poison. The farmer and the
countryfolk about declared that the fumes from the burning plant could
and did poison those who breathed them. We used to turn a flock of sheep
into the most used parts. They prefer the poison-ivy to grass, and
greedily eat down every leaf within reach in hedge or path. But that, of
course, was a mere temporary safety, as the plant is most tenacious of
life. I personally had a most grievous experience one summer. I can only
suppose that my dress, though very short for wood and hill walking,
brushed over the poisonous plant, and then, when I undressed, came into
contact with my skin. Both legs became covered with the eruption,
eventually developing pustules, and the agony of itching, burning, and
smarting was indescribable. The first remedy applied is usually a
frequent use of baths of some alkali, generally common soda. With me it
was altogether inadequate, and the doctor carefully covered the affected
parts with a thick layer of bismuth, and bandaged them, so as to exclude
all air. But it took weeks to cure me. A very serious result in many
cases is that there is a recurrence of the itching for several years.”



To give an account of poisonous plants would require a whole volume.
Among plants of every degree and kind are many which produce special
chemical substances which are more or less poisonous, and yet often of
the greatest value to man when used in appropriate doses, though
injurious and even deadly if swallowed in large quantity. Plants are
laboratories which build up in a thousand varieties wonderful chemical
bodies, some crystalline, some oils, some volatile (as perfumes and
aromatic substances), some brilliantly coloured (used as dyes), some
pungent, some antiseptic, some of the greatest value as food, and some
even digestive, similar to or identical with those formed in the stomach
of an animal.

Man, the chemist, every year is learning how to produce in his own
laboratories, from coal and wood refuse, many of these bodies, so as to
become to an ever-increasing extent independent of the somewhat
capricious and costly services of the chemists supplied by nature—the
plants. In a recent exhibition there was a case showing on one side the
various essential oils used to make up a flask of eau-de-Cologne, and
specimens of the plants, flowers, leaves, and fruits from which they
are distilled. On the other side of the case was a series of bottles
showing the steps in the process by which the modern chemist
manufactures from coal-tar and coker-butter the same bodies which give
value to the vegetable extracts, and there was finally a bottle of what
is called “synthetic eau-de-Cologne”—that is, eau-de-Cologne put
together from the products manufactured by the human, instead of the
vegetable, chemist.

Whilst man has learnt to avoid swallowing poisonous plants, although
occasionally blundering over pretty-looking berries and deceptive
mushrooms, he has had little to fear in that way from animals. To a
small degree this is due to the fact that only parts of animals are
eaten by man, and those very generally are cooked before being eaten,
the heating often sufficing to destroy substances present in flesh,
fish, and fowl which would be poisonous if taken raw. But, as a matter
of fact, animals do not generally protect themselves from being eaten,
as plants largely do, by developing nasty or poisonous substances in
their flesh, though some do. They fight rather by claws, teeth, and
poison glands therewith connected, or else escape by extra quick
locomotion, a method not possible to plants. Many insects (butterflies,
beetles, and bugs), however, produce nasty aromatic substances which
cause animals like birds and lizards to reject them as food. The toad
and the salamander both produce a very deadly poison in their damp, soft
skins, which causes any animal to drop them from its mouth, and to
regret “bitterly” the attempt to swallow them. The frog has no such
poison in its skin, but can jump out of harm’s way. The strong yellow
and black marking of the European salamander is what is called a
“warning” coloration, just as is the yellow and black outfit of the
poisonous wasp. Animals learn to leave the yellow and black livery
untouched, and the creatures so marked escape the injury which would be
caused them by tentative bites.

There is a curious variation as to susceptibility on the part of man to
poison in the flesh of fishes and shell-fishes when taken by him as
food. The word “idiosyncrasy” is applied to such individual
susceptibility, and is, of course, applicable to the susceptibility
shown by some persons to the poison of the American poison-vine,
described in the last article, and of others to acute inflammation from
the dust of hayfields. Some persons cannot eat lobster, crab, or oysters
or mussels without being poisoned in a varying degree by certain
substances present in those “shell-fish” even when cooked. Often a
“rash” is caused on the skin, and colic. Others, again, cannot eat any
fish of any kind without being poisoned in a similar way, or possibly
are only liable to be poisoned by grey mullet or by mackerel. The most
curious cases of this individual variability are found in the rash and
fever caused by the vegetable drug quinine in rare instances, and the
violent excitement produced in some persons by the usually soporific
laudanum. All such cases have very great interest as showing us what a
small difference separates an agreeable flavour or a valuable medicine
from a rank poison, and how readily the chemical susceptibility of a
complex organism like man may vary between toleration and deathly
response, without any concomitant indication of such difference being
apparent (in our present state of knowledge), in two individuals, to one
of whom that is poison which to the other is meat. They also furnish a
parallel to that marvellous conversion of “toxin” into “anti-toxin,” in
consequence of which the blood of an animal injected with small,
increasing doses of deadly snake poison or diphtheria poison becomes an
antidote to the same poison taken into the blood of an unprepared

There is, over and above these special cases of fish foods which are
tolerated by some and are poison to others, a whole series of fishes
which cannot be eaten by any one without serious poisoning being the
result, even when the fish are carefully cooked. Happily, these fishes
are rarely, if ever, caught on our own coasts. They produce, when even
small bits are eaten, violent irritation of the intestine, and death,
the symptoms resembling in many respects those of cholera. The curious
bright-coloured, beaked fish of tropical seas and coral reefs, with two
or four large front teeth and spherical spine-covered bodies, and the
trigger fish of the same regions, are the chief of these poisonous fish.
But there is a true anchovy on the coast of Japan, and a small herring
in the West Indies, and a goby on the Indian coast (Pondicherry), all of
which are deadly poison even when cooked; and there are many others. So
one has to be careful about fish-eating in the remoter parts of the
world. The poisons of these fish with poisonous flesh have not been
carefully studied, but they seem to resemble chemically the poisons
produced by certain putrefactive microbes.

Let us now revert to the more special subject of poisonous stings. Every
one knows that although it is unpleasant to be pricked by the little
spines on the leaf of a thistle, it is not the same unpleasantness as
being “stung” by a nettle. There is no poison in the thistle. The hairs
which beset the leaves of the common nettle are firm, but brittle and
hollow; they break off in the skin, and a poison exudes from their
interior. Under the microscope—and it is quite easy to examine it with
a high power—the hollow nettle hair is seen to be partly occupied by
living protoplasm—a transparent, viscid substance which shows an active
streaming movement, and has embedded in it a dense kernel or nucleus
(see Fig. 15 _bis_). It is, in fact, a living “cell,” or life unit. The
space in the cell not occupied by protoplasm is filled with clear
liquid, which contains the poison. This has been examined chemically by
using a large quantity of nettle hairs, and is found to contain formic
acid—the same irritating acid which is secreted by ants when they
sting, whence its name. But later observations show that the juice of
the nettle hair contains also a special poison in minute quantities, an
albuminous substance, which resembles that contained in the poison-sacs
at the base of the teeth of snakes.

In tropical regions there are nettles far more powerful than that of our
own country. The one called _Urtica stimulans_, which is found in Java,
and that called _Laportea crenulata_, found in Hindostan, when bruised
emit an effluvium which poisonously affects the eyes and mouth, and if
handled produce convulsions and serious swelling and pain in the arms,
which may last for three or four weeks, and in some cases cause death.
They are not unknown in the hothouses of our botanical gardens, and
young gardeners are sometimes badly stung by them. There are other
plants provided with poisonous stinging hairs besides the true nettles
or _Urticaceæ_, though they are not numerous. The American plants called
_Loasa_ sting badly, so do some of the Spurges (_Euphorbiaceæ_), and
some _Hydrophylleæ_.

The Chinese primrose (_Primula obconica_), lately introduced into
greenhouses, has been found to be almost as injurious as the
poison-vine. Its effects, of course, are limited to a much smaller group
of sufferers. And it is worth while, in connection with poisoning by
primula and the poisoning by _Rhus toxicodendron_ of only certain
individuals predisposed to its influence, to point out that the malady
known as hay fever seems to be similar in its character to these
vegetable poisonings. It is, of course, well known that only certain
individuals are liable to the more violent and serious form of hay
fever. It is not at all improbable that this irritation of the air
passages, often attributed to the mechanical action of the pollen of
grass and other plants—really is due to minute quantities of a poison
like that of the poison-vine, present in the pollen of some hay plant
yet to be suspected, tried, and convicted.[2]

With regard to a poisonous action at a distance being possibly exerted
by plants, we must not overlook the effects of some perfumes discharged
into the air by flowers. Primarily such perfumes appear to serve the
flowers by attracting to them special insects, by whose movements and
search for honey in the flowers the pollen of one is conveyed to another
and fertilisation effected. Human beings are sometimes injuriously
affected by the heavy perfume given out by lilies and other flowers,
headache and even fainting being the result. No instance is known of
serious injury or death resulting in the regions where they grow from
the overpowering perfume of such flowers. But that admirable
story-teller, Mr. H. G. Wells, has made a legitimate use of scientific
possibilities in imagining the existence of a rare tropical orchid which
attracts large animals to it by its wonderful odour. The effects of the
perfume are narcotising; the animal, having sniffed at the orchid, drops
insensible at the foot of the tree trunk on which the orchid grows. Then
the orchid rapidly, with animal-like celerity, sends forth those smooth
green fingers or “suckers,” which you may see clinging to the pots and
shelves on which an orchid is growing. As they slowly creep, in their
growth, over the poisoned animal, they absorb its life’s blood
painlessly and without disturbing the death-slumber of the victim. Mr.
Wells supposes a retired civil-servant, with feeble health and a passion
for orchids, to have purchased an unknown specimen, which, after some
months of nursing, is about to blossom in the little hothouse of his
suburban home. He goes quietly and alone one afternoon, when his
housekeeper is preparing his tea, to enjoy the first sight and smell of
the unknown flower, and is found, some three hours later, lying
insensible before the orchid, which is giving out an intoxicating odour,
and is looking very vigorous and wicked. A blood-red tint pervades its
leaves and stalks, and it has already pushed some of its finger-like
shoots round the orchid-lover’s neck and beneath his shirt front. When
they are pulled away a few drops of blood flow from the skin where the
absorbent shoots had applied themselves. The victim recovers.

When we take a survey of the “stings” and poison-fangs and spurs of
animals, we find a much greater abundance and variety of these weapons
than in plants. They serve animals not only as a means of defence, but
very often for the purpose of attacking and paralysing their prey. We
have to distinguish broadly between (_a_) gut-poisons and (_b_)
wound-poisons. The slimy surface of the skin and the juices of animals
are often poisonous if introduced into wounds, but harmless if
swallowed, though in the toad and salamander the skin contains a poison
which acts on the mouth and stomach. Thus the blood of the eel is
poisonous to higher animals if injected beneath the skin, though not
poisonous when swallowed. Pasteur found that the saliva of a healthy
human baby a few weeks old produced convulsions when injected beneath
the skin of a rabbit. The fluid of the mouth in fishes (_Muræna_), in
some lizards (_Heloderma_), and some warm-blooded quadrupeds, like the
skunk, is often poisonous, and is introduced into the wound inflicted by
a bite. The elaboration of a sac of the mouth-surface secreting a
special quantity of poison to be injected by aid of a grooved tooth,
such as we find in poisonous snakes, is only a mechanical improvement of
this more general condition. The same general poisonous quality is found
in the slime of the skins of fishes which have spines by means of which
poisonous wounds are inflicted (sting-rays). And here, too, an
elaboration is effected in some fishes in which a sac is provided for
the accumulation of the poison, and a specially grooved spine, to convey
the poison into the wound inflicted by it. A common fish on our coasts,
the weever (probably the same word as viper), is provided with grooved,
stinging spines, but no special poison-sac. Some of the poison-carrying
spines support the front portion of the dorsal fin, which is of a deep
black colour, a striking instance of the warning coloration which
poisonous animals often possess.

The poison introduced into wounds by the spines or fangs of animals is
essentially similar to that of nettle hairs; it has the effect of
paralysing and of producing convulsions. It is a remarkable fact that
formic acid often in insects accompanies the paralysing poison—as it
does in the nettle—and produces intense pain and irritation, which the
more dangerous nerve-poison does not. Immunity to a given wound-poison
may be produced by the injection of doses of it, at first excessively
minute, but gradually increased in quantity. A remedial “anti-toxin” is
thus prepared from the blood of immunised animals, which is used as a
cure or as a protection by injecting it into other animals exposed to
bites or wounds conveying the particular poison by the use of which the
anti-toxin was produced. Bee-keepers who have often been stung become
in many cases immune, and do not suffer from bee-sting. Men who in
France pursue a business as viper-catchers, are said to become immune to
viper’s poison in the same way. Snakes and scorpions are but little, if
at all, affected by their own poison when it is injected into them. This
appears to be due to the fact that the poison-producing animal is always
absorbing into its blood very minute doses of the poison which it has
elaborated and stored up in its poison-sac connected with the
poison-gland. This small quantity of poison continually absorbed is
continually converted into an anti-toxin—just as happens when a horse
is treated with doses of snake-poison to prepare the remedial anti-toxin
for use in cases of snake-bite, or with diphtheria-poison in order to
prepare the diphtheria anti-toxin now so largely used. The anti-toxin is
a substance very closely similar in chemical constitution to the toxin
by the conversion of which it is formed in the blood. Its action on the
toxin (or essential poisonous substance of the venom) appears to be a
very delicate and slight chemical disturbance of the constitution of
that chemical body. Yet it is enough to cause the injurious quality of
the toxin to be suddenly and completely abrogated, although from the
point of view of chemical composition it is only, as it were, shaken or
given a twist! Such great practical differences in the action on living
creatures of chemical bodies having themselves so subtle a difference of
chemical structure as to almost defy our powers of detection, are now
well known.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.—Drawing from life of the desert scorpion
(_Buthus australis_, Lin.), from Biskra, N. Africa, of the natural size.
(From Lankester, _Journ. Linn. Soc. Zool._, vol. xvi. 1881.)]

I made some experiments a few years ago on the poison of scorpions,
which were published by the Linnæan Society. I obtained live
scorpions—a beautiful citron-coloured kind, of large size—from Biskra,
in Algeria (Fig. 15). The poison-gland and sac are double, and contained
in the last joint of the tail, which is swollen, and ends in a splendid
curved spine or sting. The scorpion carries its tail raised in a
graceful curve over its back, and strikes with the sting by a powerful
forward stroke. One can seize the tail by the last joint but one, and
thus safely hold the animal, and see the poison exude in drops from the
perforated sting. I found that if I pressed the sting thus held into the
scorpion’s own body, or into that of another scorpion, no harm resulted
to the wounded animal, although plenty of the poison entered the little
wound made by the sting. A large cockroach or a mouse similarly wounded
by the sting was paralysed, and died in a few minutes. It is a custom in
countries where scorpions abound, and are troublesome, and even
dangerous to human life, for the natives to make a circle of red-hot
charcoal, and to place a large scorpion in the centre of the enclosed
area. The scorpion, it is stated, runs round inside the circle, and,
finding that escape is impossible, deliberately drives its sting into
its back, and so commits suicide. My experiments showed that the
scorpion could not kill itself in this way, as its poison does not act
on itself. Moreover, it has been shown by Professor Bourne, of Madras,
that although scorpions constantly fight with one another, they never
attempt to use their stings in these battles, but only their powerful,
lobster-like claws. The stings would be useless, and are reserved for
their attacks on animals susceptible to the poison. I also found the
ground for the belief that the scorpion kills itself when enclosed in a
fiery circle. Incredible as it may appear in regard to such denizens of
the hot regions of the earth, both the desert scorpion and the large
dark-green Indian scorpions actually faint and become motionless and
insensible when exposed for a few minutes to a temperature a little
above that of the human body. This was carefully ascertained by using an
incubator and a thermometer. The scorpion in the fiery circle lashes
about with its sting, and then suddenly faints owing to the heat. If
removed from the heat it recovers completely; but, of course, when it is
supposed to have committed suicide, no one takes the trouble to remove
it. I made, several times, the actual experiment of placing a large
active scorpion within a ring-like wall, a foot in diameter, formed by
live coals. The scorpion never stung itself. On one occasion it walked
out over the coals, and on other occasions, after lashing its tail and
running about, fainted, and became motionless.

Jelly-fishes are often called “sea-nettles,” because of the microscopic
poison-bearing threads which they discharge from their skin. These are
used to paralyse their prey, and, in a few kinds only, are sufficiently
powerful to cause a “stinging” effect when they come into contact with a
bather’s skin. Sea-anemones are also armed with these minute threads,
and their poison has been extracted and studied. The spines of
star-fishes and sea-urchins have a very deadly poison associated with
them, which has recently been examined. Among insects we have the bees,
wasps, and ants, with their terminal stings; caterpillars, with
poisonous hairs; gnats, with poisonous mouth glands. Residents in
mosquito-infested countries become “immune” to the poison of gnat-bite,
but not to the deadly germs of malaria and yellow fever carried by the
gnats. The centipedes have powerful jaws, provided with poison-sacs; the
spiders have stabbing claws, fitted with poison-glands. Shell-fish, such
as crabs and lobsters, do not possess stings or poison-sacs, but some of
the whelk-like sea-snails have poison-glands, which secrete a fluid
deadly to other shell-fish. We have already spoken of the poison-spines
of fishes; among reptiles it is only some of the snakes which are
poisonous, and are known to have poison-glands connected with grooved
fangs. Only one kind of lizard—the Heloderm of North America, already
mentioned—has poison-glands in its mouth, but it has no special
poison-fangs, only small teeth. There is a most persistent and curious
popular error to the effect that the rapidly moving bifid tongue of
snakes and lizards is a “sting.” It is really quite innocuous. No sting
is known among birds, although some have fighting “spurs” on the leg,
and “claws” on the wing.

Only the lowest of the mammals or warm-blooded hairy quadrupeds—namely,
the Australian duck-mole (_Ornithorhynchus_) and the spiny ant-eater
(_Echidna_)—have poison-glands and related “spurs,” or stings. They
have on the hind-leg a “spur” of great size and strength, which is
perforated and connected with a gland which produces a poisonous milky
fluid. Recent observations, however, as to the poisonous character of
this fluid are wanting. Many mammals have large sac-like glands, which
open by definite apertures, in some cases between the toes, in others
upon the legs, at the side or back of the head (the elephant), in the
middle of the back or about the tail. The fluid secreted by these glands
is not poisonous nor acrid, but odoriferous, and seems to serve to
attract the individuals of a species to one another. They resemble in
structure and often in position the poison-glands of the spurs of the
duck-mole and spiny ant-eater.

Many insects produce a good deal of irritation, and even dangerous
sores, by biting and burrowing in the human skin, without secreting any
active poison. Often they introduce microscopic germs of disease in this
way from one animal to another, as, for instance, do gnats,
tsetze-flies, and horse-flies, and as do some small kinds of tics. The
bites of the flea, of midges, gnats, and bugs are comparatively harmless
unless germs of disease are introduced by them, an occurrence which,
though exceptional, is yet a great and terrible danger. We now know that
it is in this way, and this way only, that malaria or ague, yellow
fever, plague, sleeping-sickness, and some other diseases are carried
from infected to healthy men. Various diseases of horses and cattle are
propagated in the same way. The mere bites of insects may be treated
with an application of carbolic acid dissolved in camphor. The pain
caused by the acid stings of bees, wasps, ants, and nettles can be
alleviated by dabbing the wound with weak ammonia (hartshorn). Insects
which bury themselves in the skin, such as the jigger-flea of the West
Indies and tropical Africa, should be dug out with a needle or fine
blade. The minute creature, like a cheese-mite, which burrows and breeds
in the skin of man and causes the affliction known as the itch must be
poisoned by sulphurous acid—a result achieved by rubbing the skin
freely with sulphur ointment on two or three successive days. A serious
pest in the summer in many parts of England is a little animal known
as the harvest-man. These are the young of a small red spider-like
creature, called _Trombidium_. They get on to the feet of persons
walking in the grass, and crawl up the legs and burrow into the tender
skin. Benzine will keep them away if applied to the ankles or stockings
when they are about, and will also destroy them once they have effected
a lodgment.

[Illustration: FIG. 15 _bis_.—A. Highly magnified drawing of a stinging
hair of the common nettle. The hair is seen to be a single cell or
capsule of large size, tapering to its extremity, but ending in a little
knob. The hard case _e_ is filled with liquid _a_, and is lined with
slimy granular “protoplasm” _b_, which extends in threads across the
cavity to the “nucleus” _c_. The ordinary small cells of the nettle leaf
are marked _d_. B shows the knobbed end of the stinging hair, and the
way in which, owing to the thinness of its walls, it breaks off along
the line _xy_ when pressed, leaving a sharp projecting edge, which
penetrates the skin of an animal, whilst the protoplasm _p_, distended
with poisonous liquid, is shown in C, issuing from the broken end. It
would escape in this way when the sharp, freshly broken end had
penetrated some animal’s skin.]


[2] Since the above was written, I have seen the account by an American
physician—in a recently issued volume of Osler’s _Treatise on
Medicine_—of his recent discovery of the grass which produces in its
pollen the poison of hay fever, and of the preparation by him of an
anti-toxin which appears to give relief to those who suffer from hay



I am about to write of loathly dragons, “gorgons and hydras and chimæras
dire.” Every one knows what a dragon looks like, though probably most
people could not give a minute description of the beast. A number of
quite distinct creatures, some living on land, some in sea, are spoken
of in the Bible by a word which is translated as “dragon.” The ancient
Welsh chieftains, like many fighting princes of old days, bore a
“dragon” on their banners, and were themselves called “dragons”
(Pen-dragon), and when a knight slew such a chieftain fabulous stories
grew up as to his combat with and slaughter of a “dragon.”

The complete, legitimate dragon of the present day is the dragon of
heraldry, which is maintained in proper form and with authorised
attributes by the Heralds’ College. I have a drawing of this “official”
beast before me (Fig. 16). He is represented as of large size, but
whether theoretically the heralds of to-day consider him to be as large
as a lion or ten times as long and tall I do not know. His body is
lizard-like, and covered with scales resembling those of some lizards
(unlike a crocodile in this respect). His head is not unlike that of a
crocodile, excepting that he has a short, sharp horn on his nose, and a
beard on his chin, and also a pair of large pointed ears which no
living reptile possesses. His mouth is open, showing teeth like those of
a crocodile, and from it issues a remarkable tongue, terminating in an
arrow-head-shaped weapon (presumably a “sting”) unlike anything known in
any living animal. His tail is very long and snake-like (an important
fact when we come to consider his ancestry), and is thrown into coils.
It terminates in an arrow-head-shaped structure like that of the tongue,
quite unlike anything known in any real animal. He has four powerful
limbs, which are not like those of a lizard or a crocodile. They
resemble those of an eagle, and have grasping toes and claws, three
directed forward and one backward. In addition, he has a pair of wings,
which are leathery, and supported by several parallel bars, a structure
which gives the wings a remote resemblance to those of a bat. The wing
is quite unlike that of a pterodactyle (the great extinct flying
lizard), and has no resemblance whatever to that of a bird, which is, of
course, formed by separate quill feathers set in a row on the bones of
the fore-arm and hand. The wings are always represented (even in
illegitimate and Oriental dragons) as much too small to carry the dragon
in flight. The dragon has, further, a crest of separate triangular
plates set in a row along the mid-line of his back, extending from his
head to the end of his tail. Some lizards (but not crocodiles) have such
a crest. The most like it is that of the New Zealand lizard, called the

[Illustration: FIG. 16.—The heraldic dragon: observe the bat-like
wings, the ears, the horned nose, the beard, the arrow-like tongue and
tail-piece, the scaly body, the dorsal crest, the snake-like tail with
its unnatural arrow-like termination.]

[Illustration: FIG. 17.—The heraldic griffin. It alone of the
dragon-like monsters has feathery wings.]

[Illustration: FIG. 18.—Hercules destroying the hydra (copied from an
ancient Greek vase).]

Such is the creature called “the” dragon. But heraldry recognises some
other terrible beasts allied to the dragon; in fact, what zoologists
would call “allied species.” The griffin, for instance (Fig. 17), is a
four-legged beast like the dragon, but has the beak and wings and
forefeet of an eagle, and the hind-legs and tail of a lion. The heraldic
hydra is a dragon, such as I have above described, but with seven heads
and necks. The ancient Greek representation of the hydra destroyed by
Hercules (as painted on vases) was, on the contrary, based upon the
octopus, or eight-armed cuttle-fish, each arm carrying a snake-like head
(Fig. 18). The wyvern is an important variety of the dragon tribe, well
known to heralds, but not to be seen every day. It so far conforms to
natural laws that it has only two legs, the fore-limbs being the wings
(Fig. 19). The true dragon and the griffin, like the angel of
ecclesiastical art, have actually six limbs—namely, a pair of fore-legs
or arms, a pair of hind-legs, and, in addition, a pair of wings.
Occasionally an artist (even in ancient Egyptian works of art) has
attempted to avoid this redundance of limbs by representing an angel as
having the arms themselves provided with an expanse of quill feathers.
This is certainly a less extraordinary arrangement than the outgrowth of
wings (which in birds, bats, and pterodactyles actually are the
modified arms or fore-limbs), as an extra pair of limbs rooted in the
back. The wyvern and the cockatrice and the basilisk (Fig. 20) (which,
like the Gorgon Medusa, can strike a man dead by the mere glance of the
eye) are remarkable for conforming to the invariable vertebrate standard
of no more than two pairs of limbs, whether legs, wings, or fins. The
name “lind-worm” is given to a wyvern without wings (hence the Linton
Worm and the Laidley Worm of Lambton), and appears in various heraldic
devices and in legendary art; whilst in the arms of the Visconti of
Milan we climb down to a quite simple serpent-like creature without legs
or wings, known as the “guivre.”

[Illustration: FIG. 19.—The heraldic wyvern.]

[Illustration: FIG. 20.—The heraldic basilisk, also called the
Amphysian Cockatrice. Observe the second head at the end of its tail—a
feature due to perversion of the observation that there are some
snake-like creatures (Amphisbena) with so simple a head that it is at
first sight difficult to say which end of the creature is the head and
which is the tail.]

Without looking further into the strange and fantastic catalogue of
imaginary monsters, one must recognise that it is a matter of great
interest to trace the origin of these marvellous creations of human
fancy, and the way in which they have first of all been brought into
pictorial existence, and then variously modified and finally stereotyped
and maintained by tradition and art. It has not infrequently been
suggested, since geologists made us acquainted with the bones of huge
and strange-looking fossil reptiles dug from ancient rocks, that the
tradition of “the dragon” is really a survival of the actual knowledge
and experience of these extinct monsters on the part of “long-ago races
of men.” It is a curious fact, mentioned by a well-known writer, Mrs.
Jameson, that the bones of a great fossil reptile were preserved and
exhibited at Aix in France as the bones of the dragon slain by St.
Michael, just as the bones of a whale are shown as those of the mythical
Dun-cow of Warwick in that city.

There are three very good reasons for not entertaining the suggestion
that the tradition of the dragon and similar beasts is due to human
co-existence with the great reptiles of the past. The first is that the
age of the rocks known as cretaceous and jurassic (or oölitic), in which
are found the more or less complete skeletons of the great
saurians—many bigger in the body than elephants, and with huge tails in
addition, iguanodon, megalosaurus, diplodocus, as well as the winged
pterodactyles (see Plate II., where a representation is given of what we
know as to the form and bearing of two species of pterodactyle) and a
vast series of such creatures—is so enormously remote that not only man
but all the hairy warm-blooded animals like him, did not come into
existence until many millions of years after these rocks had been
deposited by water and the great reptiles buried in them had become
extinct. The cave-men of the Pleistocene period are modern, even close
to us, as compared with the age when the great saurians flourished. That
was just before the time when our chalk-cliffs were being formed as a
slowly growing sediment on the floor of a deep sea. No accurate measure
of the time which has elapsed since then is possible, but we find that
about 200 ft. thickness of deposit has been accumulated since the date
of the earliest human remains known to us—whilst over 5000 ft. have
accumulated since the chalk began to be deposited, and the great
saurians ceased to exist. If we reckon, in accordance with the most
moderate estimate, a quarter of a million years for the upper 200 ft. of
deposit or human period (Pleistocene), we must suppose that twenty or
thirty times as long a period has elapsed to allow time for the deposit
of the 5000 ft. of sand and rock since the great saurians ceased to
exist. This would be some six or seven million years—a long while for
tradition to run, even supposing man existed all that time, which he did
not. And the probability is that this estimate of the time is far too
small: a hundred million years is nearer the truth.

[Illustration: _PLATE II_



_From “Extinct Animals,” by Sir Ray Lankester. (Constable & Co.)_]

Suppose that man came into existence as an intelligent creature, capable
of handing on a tradition, as much as half a million or even a million
years before the date of the remains of the earliest cave-men discovered
in Europe, we yet get no long way down the avenue of past time. Man
would still be separated by millions of years and long ages of change
and development of the forms of animal life on the earth’s surface, from
the period of the great reptiles or saurians who flourished before the
chalk was deposited. And there is good evidence that none of those great
saurians survived the date of the chalk. They died out and their place
was taken by the earliest ancestors of elephants, rhinoceroses, horses,
cattle, lions, and monkeys, from which in the course of ages the animals
we know by those names were developed, whilst very late in the history
man was produced. The reptiles continued as small, furtive
creatures—the lizards and a few biggish snakes and crocodiles—but no
descendants of “the great Dinosaurs” survived.

Another reason against the supposed survival of a real tradition of
dragons is that, even in regard to much later—immensely
later—creatures, such as the mammoth or hairy elephant, which we know
was contemporary with man, there is no real tradition. The natives of
the sub-arctic regions in which the skeletons and whole carcases of the
mammoth are found in a frozen state, and from whence many hundreds of
tusks of the mammoth have been since the earliest times yearly exported
and used in Europe as ivory, have no “tradition” of these creatures.
They have fanciful stories about the ghosts of the mammoths, but they
call their tusks “horns,” and have no legends of the monster as a living
thing. The use of mammoth’s ivory in Northern Europe dates back for a
thousand years historically, and probably has never ceased since the
days of the cave-men. Three years ago I examined the richly carved
drinking horn of a Scandinavian hero, dating from the tenth century, and
preserved amongst the treasures of York Minster, and I have little doubt
that it is fashioned from the tusk of a mammoth.

A third reason for rejecting any connection of the dragon with a real
reminiscence of the great extinct saurians is that its origin and its
gradual building up in human fancy can be traced in the same way as that
of many other fanciful and legendary creatures by reference to the
regular operation of the imagination in successive ages of mankind. All
races of men have imagined monsters by combining into one several parts
of different animals. The centaur of the Greeks is a blend of man and
horse, the great “divine” chimera of the Greeks was a two-headed blend
of lion and goat, and any such mixed creature is technically called
nowadays “a chimera”. The dragon is classed by heralds as a chimera.
Sometimes one of these imaginary beasts has its origin in a terrible or
weird animal, which really exists in some distant land, and is
celebrated or even worshipped by the inhabitants of that distant land,
whose descriptions of it are carried in a distorted and exaggerated
form to regions where it does not exist.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.—The Chinese Imperial Dragon, from a drawing on
a tile of the old Imperial Palace of Nankin. It has five claws. No one
outside the Imperial service may use it, under penalty of death.
Ordinary people have to be content with a four-clawed dragon. Compare
this with the European heraldic dragon, Fig. 16.]

[Illustration: FIG. 22.—A flying snake with two pairs of wings—a
“fabulous” creature thus drawn in an ancient Chinese work, the “Shan Hai
King.” This book dates from about 350 A.D., but probably is based on
records of a thousand years’ earlier date.]

The dragon appears to be nothing more nor less in its origin than one of
the great snakes (pythons), often 25 ft. in length, which inhabit
tropical India and Africa. Its dangerous character and terrible
appearance and movement impressed primitive mankind, and traditions of
it have passed with migrating races both to the East and to the West, so
that we find the mythical dragon in ancient China and in Japan, no less
than in Egypt and in Greece. It retains its snake-like body and tail,
especially in the Chinese and Japanese representations (Figs. 21 and
22); but in both East and West, legs and wings have been gradually added
to it for the purpose of making it more terrible and expressing some of
its direful qualities. Chinese traditions indicate the mountains of
Central Asia as the home of the dragon, whilst the ancient Greeks
considered it to have come from the East. As a matter of fact, the
Greek word “drakon” actually meant plainly and simply a large snake, and
is so used by Aristotle and other writers. There is a beautiful Greek
vase-painting (Fig. 23) showing the dragon which guarded the golden
apples of the Hesperides as nothing more than a gigantic snake (without
legs or wings), coiled round the trunk of the tree on which the apples
are growing (like the later pictures of the serpent on the apple tree in
the Garden of Eden), whilst the ladylike Hesperides are politely
welcoming the robust Hercules to their garden.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.—The dragon guarding the tree in the garden of
the Hesperides on which grew the golden apples, in quest of which,
according to Greek legend, the hero Hercules went. The drawing is copied
from an ancient Greek vase, and the original includes figures of the
Hesperides and of Hercules, not reproduced here.]

The worship and propitiation of the serpent is an immensely old form of
religion (antecedent to Judaism), and exists, or has existed, in both
the old world and the new. The Egyptians revered a great serpent-god
called “Ha-her,” or “great Lord of fear and terror”; to him the wicked
were handed over after death to be bitten and tortured. The evil spirit
in the Scandinavian mythology was a huge snake—and the connection, not
to say confusion, of the terrible snake with the dragon on the part of
the early Christians is shown by the words in Revelation xx. 1, 2, “the
dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan.” The mediæval
devil with goat’s feet retained the dragon’s tail with its curious
triangular termination.

To the Greeks and Romans snakes were not such very terrible creatures,
since the kinds found in South Europe are small and harmless—only the
viper being poisonous—and they regarded the serpent as a beneficent
creature, the familiar of Esculapius the god of medicine, companion of
the household gods (the Lares), and guardian of sacred places, tombs,
and concealed treasure (Fig. 27). The snake was the special earth-god,
subterranean in habit, cunning, subtle, and gifted with powers of
divination. The conception of the serpent as an avenging monster kept
continually thrusting itself from the East into the popular mythology of
the Greeks, and finally led to the building up of the dragon as a winged
and clawed creature distinct from the harmless but cunning snake
familiar to them. Even in India there arose a sort of double attitude
towards the snake (as is not uncommon in regard to deities). On the one
hand he was regarded as all that was terrible, destructive, and evil,
and on the other as amiable, kindly, and wise. The services of the
beautiful rat-snake in destroying house rats rendered him and his kind
welcome and valued guests. In Egypt we find representations of small
winged snakes without legs, and the ancient traveller, Herodotus,
believed that they represented real creatures, as did the Roman
naturalist, Pliny. Very probably the belief in winged snakes is due to
the similarity of the snake and the eel in general form, since the
paired fins of the eel close to the head (see Figs. 24 and 25)
correspond in position with the wings shown in the Egyptian drawings of
winged serpents. The particular form of winged snake pictured on
Egyptian monuments (see Figs. 26, 27) appears to me to be a realisation
of stories and fancies based on real experience of the locust. It was
the terrible and destructive locust of which Herodotus tells—calling it
“a winged serpent.” The Egyptian pictures of winged serpents have wings
resembling those of an insect (see Figs. 26 and 27), and sometimes they
are represented with one and sometimes with two pairs.

[Illustration: FIG. 24.—A votive tablet (ancient Rome) showing what is
meant for a snake, but has been “improved” by the addition of fins like
those of the eel.]

[Illustration: FIG. 25.—Ancient Roman painting of a so-called marine
serpent—really an eel-like fish—inaccurately represented. The fins
show how, from such pictures, the belief in winged serpents might take
its origin.]

Aristotle says that, as a matter of common report in his time, there
were winged serpents in Africa. Herodotus, on the contrary, says there
were none except in Arabia, and he went across the Red Sea from the city
of Bats in order to see them. He did not, however, succeed in doing so,
though he says he saw their dead bodies and bones. He says that they
hang about the trees in vast numbers, are of small size and varied
colour, and that they are kept in check by the bird known as the Ibis,
which on that account is held sacred, since they increase so rapidly
that unless devoured they would render it impossible for man to maintain
himself on the earth. They invade Egypt in swarms, flying across the Red
Sea. All this agrees with my suggestion that the winged “serpents” heard
of by Herodotus were really locusts; and the creature drawn in Fig. 27
may well be a locust transformed by fancy into a winged snake.

[Illustration: FIG. 26.—Egyptian four-winged serpent—as drawn on
ancient Egyptian temples.]

[Illustration: FIG. 27.—Two-winged serpent, symbolic of the goddess
Eileithya, from a drawing on an Egyptian temple.]

It would be a very interesting but a lengthy task to trace out the
origin and history of the various traditional monsters, such as the
basilisk, the gorgon, the cockatrice, the salamander, and the epimacus,
which have come into European legend and belief, and to give some
account of the special deadly qualities of each. St. Michael and St.
George slaughtering each his dragon and rescuing a lovely maiden from
its clutches are only appropriations by the new religion of the similar
deeds ascribed to Greek heroes, such as Hercules, Bellerophon, and
Perseus. Often a belief in the existence of a monster has arisen by a
misunderstanding, on the part of a credulous people, of a drawing or
carving showing a strange mixture of the leading characteristics of
different animals, which was meant by the man who made it to be only
symbolic of a combination of qualities. Just as the Latins and mediæval
people credulously accepted Greek symbolic monsters as real, and
transmuted Greek heroes into Christian saints, so were the Greeks
themselves deluded by strange carvings and blood-curdling legends which
reached them at various dates from mysterious Asia into a belief in the
actual existence of a variety of fantastic monsters. “The Greeks,” says
M. E. Pottier, a distinguished French writer on Greek mythology, “often
copied Oriental representations without understanding them.” The
conventional dragon probably came from Indian sources through Persia to
China, on the one hand, spreading eastwards, and to the Latins of the
early Roman Empire, on the other hand, spreading westwards; but at what
date exactly it is difficult to make out.

In mediæval, as well as in earlier times, marvellous beasts were brought
into imaginary existence by the somewhat unscrupulous enterprise of an
artist in giving pictorial expression to the actual words by which some
traveller described a strange beast seen by him in a foreign land. Thus
the “unicorn,” which was really the rhinoceros, was seen by travellers
in the earliest times, and was described as an animal like a horse, but
with a single horn growing from its forehead. The heraldic draughtsman
accordingly takes the spirally twisted narwhal’s tusk, brought from the
northern seas by adventurous mariners (the narwhal being called “the
unicorn fish”) as his unicorn’s horn, and plants it on the forehead of a
horse, and says, “Behold! the unicorn.” Meanwhile the real “unicorn,”
the rhinoceros, became properly known as navigation and Eastern travel
extended, and true unicorns’ horns, the horns of the rhinoceros, richly
carved and made into drinking cups, not at all like the narwhal’s tusk,
were brought to Europe from India. One was sent to Charles II. by “the
Great Sophy,” and handed over to the Royal Society by the King for
experiment. These horns were asserted to be the most powerful antidote
or destroyer of poison, and a test for the presence of poison in drink.
There was no truth whatever in the assertion, as the Royal Society at
once showed. Yet they were valued at enormous prices, and pieces were
sold for their weight in gold. A German traveller in the time of Queen
Elizabeth saw one which was kept among the Queen’s jewels at Windsor,
and was valued, according to this writer, at £10,000.

Credulity, fancy, and hasty judgment are accountable for the belief in
mythical and legendary monsters. Yet they have great interest for the
scientific study of the growth of human thought and of the relationships
of the races of mankind. They are often presented to us in beautiful
stories, carvings, or pictures, having a childlike sincerity and a
concealed symbolism which give to the wondrous creatures charm and human



Oysters are delicate morsels—still appreciated by that class of the
population which nevertheless shudders at the thought of eating the
high-flavoured “whilk” or the gristly “periwinkle,” and neglects the
admirable mussel, so rightly valued by our French friends. There are a
number of interesting facts about the nature and life-history of
oysters, and the different kinds of them—a knowledge of which does not
diminish, but, on the contrary, rather adds to the pleasure with which
one swallows the shell-fish. I remember the time when “natives” were
sold in London at sixpence the score. When I was a schoolboy at St.
Paul’s they were no more than sixpence a dozen at the best shops in
Cheapside. That inevitable form of British enterprise which is known as
“monopoly,” many years since laid hold of the oyster business, and
rapidly raised the price of the best natives to eight times what it had
been, while the typhoid “scare” came subsequently as a sort of poetical
justice, and threatened to ruin the oyster monopolists. As a matter of
fact, there is no difficulty in freeing oysters from any possible
contamination by the typhoid germ. They have only to be kept for ten
days or a fortnight in large tanks of sea-water of unquestionable
purity—after removal from the fattening grounds (tanks or waterways),
and they rid themselves of any possible infection. It is the interest of
the oyster merchant to make sure that this treatment is strictly
enforced. It is a noteworthy fact that the anciently established habit
of drenching an oyster with vinegar before eating it is precisely the
best treatment, except cooking them, which could have been adopted in
order to destroy the vitality of typhoid germs—although the existence
of such germs was unknown when the practice arose, and vinegar or
lemon-juice was taken with uncooked oysters as a matter of taste, not as
a safeguard.

The oyster is sometimes grandiloquently styled “the succulent
mollusc”—and it is classed together with other bivalve shells and true
“shell-bearing” shell-fish, such as whelks and snails (not lobsters and
crabs, which are Crustacea), in a great division of animals known to
naturalists as the Mollusca. This word is only a Latin form of the name
_Malakia_, which was given to the cuttle-fishes by that wonderful man
Aristotle, the Greek—and means “soft creatures.” A bivalve, or
two-shelled mollusc, like the oyster, may be compared to an oblong
notebook. The hard covers correspond to the two shells and the back to a
horny piece by which the two shells are united, forming the hinge. If
you place a piece of indiarubber (a thickish bit) between the covers of
the notebook so that it lies near the back, and then try to shut the
book, you find that it requires some pressure to do so; when you leave
off pressing them the covers gape. The horny hinge-piece or ligament of
the shells of the oyster and other bivalves acts in this way. The shells
are only kept closed by a strong muscle, which runs across from shell to
shell (Figs. 28 and 30_m_). When the oyster is at rest or when it is
dead the muscle does not act, and the elastic hinge-piece or ligament
causes the shells to gape. The animal within the shells may be compared
to the leaves of the notebook. Suppose there are twenty-six leaves, then
the outermost leaf on each side corresponds to the two soft living
membraneous flaps which secrete the two shells or covers of the oyster
and lie closely on them (_a_, _b_, Figs. 28 and 30); the next two on
each side (rather shortened leaves, folded in from below) are the flat
gills or “gill-plates” of the mollusc (_g^1_ to _g^4_ in Fig. 28);
whilst we must suppose the twenty middle leaves to be “pulped” and fused
together to represent the body of the shell-fish.

[Illustration: FIG. 28.—An oyster with the right-side shell removed;
_c_, the pearly inner surface of the left-side shell; _d_, the horny
outer layer projecting beyond _c_; _a_, the thick edge of the
“mantle”-flap of the left side; _b_, the thick edge of the mantle-flap
of the right side thrown back towards the centre, so as to show what
underlies it; _e_, notch in the surface (pulled a little upwards and
forwards) where the ligament is formed; _h_, the hinge surface, where
the removed shell rested on the left-side shell; _g^1_ to _g^4_, the
four gill-plates or flaps, two right, two left—the so-called beard;
_l_, the four corresponding lip lobes: the mouth lies deeply between the
second and third—that is between the right pair and the left pair; _m_,
the central shell-muscle, which runs from one shell to the other.]

[Illustration: FIG. 29.—Part of a row of the lashing hairs or “cilia”
which cover the gills of the oyster. This represents part of a single
row, only the 1/400th of an inch long from one end to the other. The
whole surface of the gill and other parts is beset with these hairs, not
in single rows, but closely, as the hairs of fur are set. The drawing is
intended to show the way in which the hairs actively bend downwards (or
“lash”), and then rise up again in regular waves, the movement or wave
passing along in the same way as a wave of bending and returning to the
upright passes over a ripe cornfield when a light breeze blows across it
(see also Fig. 40).]

The oyster’s gill-plates, commonly called “the beard,” are covered on
the surface by microscopic hairs of a very remarkable kind (Fig. 29).
They are soft, living protoplasm, and are continually “lashing,” bending
forwards and straightening again at the rate of some three or four
hundred strokes to the minute. They all work rhythmically together, and
produce a strong current in the water, which bathes the surface of the
oyster when the shells are open. Such microscopic vibrating hairs are
very common in aquatic animals, and are called “cilia.” The current
which they produce causes oxygen-holding water to flow from without over
the gills, and so aerate the blood of the oyster, and also carries into
the chamber protected by the shells excessively minute particles,
chiefly microscopic plants, which are driven on to the small, open mouth
of the oyster, placed far up on its body. These microscopic
food-particles are wafted down the oyster’s throat by similar vibrating
hairs into the stomach and intestine. An oyster has no other means of
taking food, and almost without cessation, as the oyster lies on the sea
bottom with its muscle relaxed and its shell “gaping,” the nourishing
stream is kept going. If poisonous matter, bad water, or some violent
disturbance make themselves apparent, the shell-muscle acts, and the
oyster tightly closes his shell. Such things make themselves “apparent”
to the oyster, for it has a nervous system, and though it has no eyes
(the nearly allied “scallop” has a number of eyes) it has a delicate
sense of smell and touch, and also what is usually considered to be an
organ of hearing.

[Illustration: FIG. 30.—The animal of an oyster removed from the shell:
_a_, the thick edge of the left side mantle-flap or skirt; _b_, same of
the right side; _l_, position of the mouth; _m_, shell-muscle or
adductor-muscle, bringing the two shells tightly together when it

The oyster has also a heart and blood-vessels (Fig. 30) and blood; in
some few bivalves and snails the blood is red like our own. The beating
of the heart may be seen by careful examination of a freshly opened
specimen. The oyster has also a “liver,” or digestive gland, and a
kidney and a soft, branched, tubular structure embedded in the body,
within which the egg-cells and sperm-cells grow by means of which the
oyster propagates itself in the summer. Our north European oyster
produces in the same individual both egg-cells, and the male fertilising
sperm-cells or spermatozoa. The eggs are just visible to the unaided eye
(Fig. 31), and as many as a million are produced in the warm breeding
season by a single ripe oyster. About a fortnight after the eggs have
been shed, the same tubular chambers in the oyster’s body which produced
the eggs by growth from their inner walls, produce the spermatozoa, so
that they are too late to fertilise the eggs of the same oyster. They
pass out of the oyster into the sea water, and are carried within the
shelter of the shells, and so on to the surface of the protected bodies
of other neighbouring oysters by the currents created by the “ciliated”
gill-plates of these neighbours.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.—The eggs of the oyster—taken from a ripe
individual—magnified 500 times linear.]

The sperm particles or spermatozoa (Fig. 32) are produced by millions,
and form a cloud finer than dust in the sea water. They are carried
within the shells of both egg-producing and sperm-producing oysters, and
are driven along into the openings of the tubular reproductive sacs,
and into those sacs in the case of those oysters which are at the time
producing eggs. There they fertilise the eggs. The minute eggs begin to
develop whilst still within the parent’s body, and continue to do so
whilst remaining within the shelter of the shell, adhering to the
gill-plates (Fig. 33). In a day or two each fertilised egg has developed
into a very minute creature, provided with a tiny circlet of cilia or
vibratile hairs, the movements of which cause it to swim (Fig. 33F). The
parent oyster is now said to be “white-sick.” In the course of a couple
of days the young oyster still within its parent’s shell becomes dark in
colour, and has formed on its surface a pair of symmetrical shells, not
like those of an adult oyster, but convex (Fig. 34) like those of a clam
or a cockle. The head region, with its circlet of vibrating cilia, can
be projected between the open shells or withdrawn between them when the
shells are shut. The mother oyster, laden with these little dark specks,
is now said to be “black-sick.”

[Illustration: FIG. 32.—The sperms or spermatozoa of a ripe oyster, as
seen swimming in a drop of sea water: magnified 2000 times linear.]

[Illustration: FIG. 33.—Development of the egg of the common oyster,
after fertilisation within the tubular passage of the reproductive sacs.
A, surface view. B, section through a very early stage—the separate
cells or protoplasmic corpuscles which have resulted from the dividing
up of the fertilised single egg-cell are seen; _bl_, in-pushing to form
the gut; _sk_, in-pushing to form the rudiment of the double shell. C
and D, the same a few hours later. The mouth, _m_, is now seen. E, still
later stage surface view: a ring of cilia has appeared. F, the young
free-swimming oyster nearly ready to leave its mother’s protection, who
is now laden with such young, and is said to be “white-sick.” The top of
the head, _tp_, is now well marked and surrounded by a ring of lashing
cilia. The outline of the right-side shell is seen, and the foot, _ft_,
between the mouth, _m_, and the anus, _a_. The stomach, _st_, and the
intestine, _e_, show by transparency.]

In the course of a week or so the brood of dark young oysters escapes by
thousands from the parent’s shell into the surrounding water. They swim
by their circlet of vibrating hairs, or “velum,” as it is called,
towards the surface, and are carried far and wide by the tides. They are
active, transparent little “dots,” very unlike their parent (Fig. 34).
The next thing that happens to them—after a few days, perhaps weeks—is
that owing to the increasing weight of their shells, they sink to the
bottom. More than half perish by dropping thus on to bad ground; a
vast number have already been eaten by young fishes and shrimps. Those
which are lucky enough to fall on to something hard—stones, rocks, old
oyster-shells, or the shells of living oysters—become cemented to those
hard substances by the new shelly substance formed by the growing edge
of the lowermost of their little shells, which now spread out, lose
their cockle-like shape as they grow, and become, the one (the left by
which it is fixed) large, deep, and bossed, the other flat. The little
oysters are only one-fortieth of an inch in diameter when first they
become fixed, but they grow rapidly, feeding in the same way as their
parents. Vast numbers are eaten by other animals. In some localities in
two years, in others in three years, they have grown to a couple of
inches in length, and now produce in the summer breeding season a
certain quantity of eggs and sperm to start new generations. The oyster
continues to grow, and at five to seven years of age is in full vigour
and maturity; at ten years of age it produces few eggs, or sperm-cells;
and in the course of another year or so, under natural conditions, dies.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.—Free-swimming young oyster or oyster-larva,
showing the head, with its tuft of cilia projecting from between the two
shells, _l_ and _r_.]

Enormous as is the output of young by a single oyster—amounting to
something like a million a year in probably four or five successive
years—yet it must be remembered that on the whole, taking all the
various oyster-beds into account, some of which increase whilst others
dwindle or actually die out altogether, there is no increase in the
oyster population of the seas. Taking them all round, five million young
oysters start life in order that one may finally come to maturity, so
many and varied and incessant are the dangers, the predatory enemies,
the destructive effects of cold currents, bad ground, and other chances
of life and death on to which the swarming swimming young are launched.

The above brief history applies to the North Sea or Channel oyster,
which is also found (with other species) in the Mediterranean. The
American and the Portuguese oyster differ from it in being of distinct
sexes, and in the fact that the eggs are discharged into the sea by the
females, and are there fertilised by the sperm discharged by the male
oysters, instead of in the parent’s body.

Other “molluscs,” such as snails and whelks, enclose their fertilised
eggs, when they lay them, in egg-shells. Some snails enclose a single
egg in a shell which is filled up with clear liquid—corresponding to
the “white” of a bird’s egg—in which the egg floats and develops. The
eggs of the common snail are not bigger than a hemp-seed, but some
Indian snails lay eggs as big as those of a robin, with a hard,
calcareous shell, and the young snail has quite a large coiled shell of
its own before it escapes from the egg-shell. So that it looks, when one
of the big snail’s eggs is broken, as though a snail had managed to get
inside a bird’s egg without making a hole in it! The whelks and their
kind lay many eggs in one shell or capsule, and the sea-slugs produce a
sort of firm jelly, in cords like vermicelli, the jelly enclosing
hundreds of little sacs filled with liquid, in which the true germs or
fertilised egg-cells float. These are all methods for protecting the
young in their earliest condition. One of our pond-snails—the
_Paludina_—keeps her eggs, whilst they develop, inside the dilated end
of the tube which leads from the egg-producing organ or ovary to the
exterior. The young snails nearest the opening to the exterior are the
furthest advanced in development, and are as big as a dried pea. All
stages, from the minute germ just fertilised to well-formed young, may
be found in these snails, and the whole course of their development and
gradual change and growth can be minutely studied with the microscope in
one specimen.

Similar devices for protecting the young in their earliest helpless
stages of growth from the egg-shell are found in all classes of animals.
What is very curious is the fact that, of two closely allied animals,
one species will recklessly lay its eggs and leave them, whilst another
has special arrangements for retaining in the parent’s body the eggs as
they develop, and so preserving them from danger. Such parents are
called “viviparous.” Of course, in all viviparous animals, as well as in
those which lay their eggs in hard shells, the fertilisation of the egg
must be effected within the maternal body. Amongst our common fishes
there is the viviparous blenny, often found in pools at low tide on the
seashore. All the other British fresh-water and marine fishes lay their
eggs and abandon them, excepting some sharks, dog-fish, and skates,
which are viviparous; others of the shark and skate tribe lay eggs of
large size encased in hard, horny shells. Every one knows that frogs and
toads lay their eggs, but there are some kinds in which the eggs remain
inside the mother’s body during the development of the young, which only
escape into the world as well-formed little frogs. All the hairy,
warm-blooded quadrupeds known as “the mammals” are viviparous, except
the duck-mole and the spiny ant-eater of Australia. These extraordinary
little “beasts” lay eggs like those of a bird.

The most ingenious devices for the protection of the young are (as
perhaps those who believe in the superior intelligence of the male
would expect) put into practice by the male parent. Thus, there is a
large fish in tropical rivers which takes the eggs laid by the female
into his capacious mouth, and swims about with them for three or four
weeks, giving them the advantage of a current of water which runs
through his mouth to his gills. When the young hatch they swim out of
their fond father’s mouth. The male of pipe-fishes and of the little
“sea-horse” receives the eggs laid by the female into a pouch excavated
along his ventral surface. There the young hatch, and are guarded by the
nursing father. On the other hand, some fathers impartially eat their
own young, as well as those of other parents, and the mother has a hard
job to protect her offspring. A female octopus (the poulp or eight-armed
cuttle-fish) sits over her eggs in a nest built of pebbles at the bottom
of the sea (or of an aquarium tank in the instance studied by me many
years ago at Naples), and squirts a stream of pure sea-water over them.
She resents the approach of a fish or a crab or a landing-net with
splendid fury and recklessness of attack. Often the males of fishes,
frogs, and birds guard the eggs, or guard the nest where the female is
occupied in caring for the eggs or the young.

There are various species of oysters common in all parts of the world
which are eaten as delicacies. Primeval (Neolithic) man ate oysters (the
common sort) in Denmark in enormous quantity—great heaps of the
discarded oyster-shells are found, buried among which are discovered
stone axe-heads and bits of rude pottery. In the West Indies travellers
relate that the oysters “climb” the trees which overhang the water of
quiet creeks and inlets of the sea. The fact is that the branches of the
mangrove trees dip into the water, and the young oyster “spat” attaches
itself to the immersed twigs. After a year or two, the tree grows
vigorously, and raises its branches up in its growth, so that the
oysters are carried far up above the sea waves. Of course they die under
these conditions, but their position suggests the explanation that the
oysters have climbed up the trees. Ship barnacles fix themselves,
similarly, to the twigs of willow trees in the quiet sea lochs of the
West of Scotland, and this led 500 years ago to the belief that the
catkins of the willow tree ripen into barnacles. Since it was also held
that the little animal of the barnacle hatches out of its shell as a
young goose—the so-called “barnacle goose”—the marvellous story was
believed that these geese are actually budded from willow trees. I
believe that the supposed relationship of the goose and the ship’s
barnacle arose solely from the accidental similarity of the names of the
two animals—the “bernack” goose and the sea “barnacle” being names of
independent origin. The names were different originally in sound and
signification, but were corrupted by fisher-folk into one and the same
word. Hence a fantastic fable took its growth.

In Paris you may test and compare several local varieties of the common
oyster in a celebrated oyster-shop. There are Courseilles, Cancales,
Marennes, Ostend, Zeeland, Arcachon, English natives, Côtes Rouges (red
banks), and Black Rocks. And you can eat sea-urchins there, too, if you
wish. They have not, however, got the celebrated oysters from the Lake
Fusaro, near Naples. This was the ancient _Acherusia palus_, and in the
neighbouring Lake Avernus and the Lucrine lake oysters were cultivated
by the ancient Romans, the young oysters being made to affix themselves
at “the fall of the spat” to wooden “stands” or frames, which were then
placed in the lake (a salt-water lake), where they had abundant minute
vegetable food and grew large and fat. The same cultivation, with the
same shape of “stands,” is carried on at the present day in the Lake
Fusaro. My friend, Mr. Günther, of Magdalen College, Oxford, has
published pictures of Roman tiles from this neighbourhood showing the
oysters adhering in rows to the wooden frames. These tiles were
apparently sold to holiday visitors in the time of the Roman emperors as
a memento of a happy day spent at the Lucrine lake, just as a sugar
basin or a mug is now sold at our seaside resorts with the inscription,
“A present from Margate,” or Southport, or Blackpool, and the picture of
a shrimp above it.

The care of the breeding oyster and the plans adopted by the owners of
oyster-beds for catching the “spat,” or young oysters, when they fall to
the bottom, by placing movable tiles or frames for them to fix
themselves to, form an important part of the craft of the oyster-man. It
is a difficult business, and is variously carried out in England,
France, Holland, and America. The young oysters, when they have fixed
themselves, are carried on the movable tiles or frames from one region
to another for the purpose of encouraging their growth and avoiding a
variety of dangers to their life and health (sometimes from the Bay of
Biscay to the mouth of the Thames!). They are often—but not
always—finally fed up in sea-ponds or inlets, which are peculiar in
containing an enormous number of those very minute microscopic plants,
with beautifully shaped siliceous shells, which are known as diatoms.
These are so abundant in such ponds as to form a sort of powder or cloud
near the bottom, and the oysters draw them, day and night, by their
gill-currents into their mouths, digest them, and grow fine and fat. The
district of Marennes, on the west coast of France, is celebrated for
having sea-ponds or tanks in which a wonderful diatom of a bright blue
colour abounds; so abundant are they that the cloud produced by them
in the pools is of a deep cobalt-blue. When oysters are placed in these
tanks to fatten, their gills or beards become rich blue-green in colour.
They lose the colour after ten days, when removed to ordinary tanks.
These are the celebrated green oysters or “Marennes vertes” of French
restaurants. The colouring matter of the little diatoms—swallowed by
the million and digested—is taken up by the blood of the oyster from
its stomach, and is excreted by certain corpuscles on the surface of the
gills—as I showed some twenty-five years ago—just as red madder is
deposited in the bones of a pig fed upon madder, and as the feathers of
the canary take up the colour of cayenne pepper when it is mixed with
the canary’s food. It used to be thought that the green colour of the
green oyster is due to copper—and that opinion was supported by the
curious fact that the blood of all oysters and other molluscs, and also
of lobsters, scorpions, and king-crabs, does really contain a minute
quantity of copper, just as our blood contains iron! It was also
supported by the fact that occasionally a fraudulent fishmonger, when
asked to supply green oysters, has been convicted of colouring the
beards of ordinary oysters with green copper salt, so as to imitate the
real article! The real history of the green-bearded oysters is now quite
certain, and any one interested in the matter should look at the
coloured pictures of the beautiful little blue-coloured _Navicula
ostrearia_—the diatom on which this oyster feeds, published by me in
the _Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science_ in 1885.



The American and Portuguese species of oysters, which are called
respectively _Ostrea virginiana_ and _Ostrea angulata_, as opposed to
the common oyster, which is known as _Ostrea edulis_, are not
hermaphrodite like the latter, but have distinct males and females.
Moreover, the young are not fertilised within the parent’s body, nor do
they pass their earliest stages of growth within the parent’s shell
adhering to the “beard,” or gills, as in the common oyster. The eggs
(Fig. 31) are, on the contrary, discharged by the females into the sea,
and at the same time the males discharge a cloud of microscopic sperm
filaments, or spermatozoa (Fig. 32), which dart about in the water and
fertilise the eggs. That is a more prodigal and less certain process
than that pursued by the common oyster. The American and Portuguese
oyster have to pay for it. The female produces in one season not a
million eggs, as does the common oyster, but nine millions. And out of
every fifty million so produced (in some five or six years) only a
single male and a single female individual, taking the whole oyster
population of these species into consideration, survive to maturity.

This enormous excess of egg-production in order to ensure the survival
of a single pair to replace their parents is a very frequent thing in
aquatic animals. But there are many devices by which the necessity for
such lavish scattering of a new brood is avoided. The common oyster is
already a step in advance of the American in this matter, since it
protects its young in the very earliest stages within the shelter of its
shell. A further advance in this direction is found in the fresh-water
mussels (not to be confused with the very different sea-mussels, since
they are bitter and tough, and quite inedible, though used as bait in
sea-fishing). The pond-mussel (_Anodon_) and the river-mussel (_Unio_)
are of distinct sexes, and the gills of the female become swollen up at
the breeding season so as to form two large bags, into which the eggs
are laid by her, as many as 500,000 in number. They are fertilised by
the sperm filaments discharged by the males, which are carried into the
female’s shell by currents produced by the vibrating hairs on the gills,
as in the common oyster. But the young remain much longer in the
mussel’s gills than do the young oysters in those of their parent’s.
Late in the season you find the bag-like gills of the female pond- and
river-mussels full of extraordinary little creatures one-thirtieth of an
inch long, each provided with a pair of triangular shells. They are
discharged into the water, and swim very actively by rapidly opening and
shutting the little shells (Fig. 35). The common scallop (_Pecten_, or
Pilgrim’s shell) swims every now and then in the same way as do these
young mussels, and so do some other bivalves. The young fresh-water
mussels produce a long, sticky thread, which trails from the shell (Fig.
35 _by_). Very few have the good chance to get further on in life than
this stage, for all depends on their stumbling across fish—a
stickleback, or a perch, or a pike—as they blindly snap their shells
and wobble through the water. The lucky triangular mite whose sticky
thread happens to touch a fish’s body becomes immediately fastened by
it to the fish and then grips the skin with its snapping shells, the
edges of which are provided with a few long, sharp teeth. The fish
probably is quite unaware of the lodgment of the young mussel on its
skin, but there it remains, and gets buried for a time in the soft
tissues of the fish, becoming thus actually a parasite for some two or
three months during the winter season. It nourishes itself on the juices
of the fish, and grows to the size of a pin’s head, whilst it is carried
away from its birthplace by the peregrinations of its host, the fish.
Its shell now ceases to be triangular, and becomes like that of its
parents. Eventually the young mussel drops off the fish and rests on the
muddy bottom of pond or river, where it remains for many years, growing
vastly in size, and barely moving during its long life from the spot
where it fell.

[Illustration: FIG. 35.—Young of the pond-mussel after escaping from
the maternal gill-pouch: A, as it escapes, swimming by opening and
shutting the shells; _sh_, shell of one side; _al_, shell-muscle; _t_,
teeth of the shell’s edge; _by_, adhesive filament. B, after it has
fixed to a fish; _mt_, mantle; _f_, muscular foot; _br_, gill processes;
_pad_, _aad_, _al_, muscles; _auv_, heart. (From drawings by the late
Frank Balfour.)]

A beautiful little bivalve common in weedy streams in England is known
as _Cyclas_ (it has no English name); it has a pair of shells shaped
like those of a cockle, but smooth, and only half as big as one’s
little finger-nail. The nursing of the young in the gill-sacs is carried
to a much further point by _Cyclas_ than by the pond- or river-mussel.
Before they are ejected by the parent they are quite large—like their
parent in appearance, and half as big as a hemp-seed. Necessarily there
are not many produced in a season—there is not room for more than
twenty or thirty young in the gill-sacs.



The beat of the heart is one of those great and elemental features of
man’s life which, in spite of our familiarity with it and its momentary
recurrence, never loses its quality of mystery and isolation. The
ceaseless accompaniment to our lives which the heart is always beating,
like the inexorable stroke of an unseen pendulum, fills even the
stoutest and bravest at times with a sense of awe. It seems now and then
as though an independent living thing were in our breasts, and when it
quickens and struggles, as it were, with its work, or languishes and
hesitates in its efforts we have a sense of helpless domination by an
existence—a living thing—over whose vagaries we have no control.

The heart of man is no special endowment of the human race, nor even of
the higher animals. As I mentioned a few pages back, the oyster and
other shell-fish have a heart which keeps time and beats the seconds for
their uneventful lives, as does that of man for his more varied career.
Not only the molluscs, but the insects, the spiders, the crabs,
lobsters, and shrimps, and even the worms, have each a rhythmically
beating heart. In all of them the significance of this heart and its
beat are the same—it is driving the nourishing, oxygen-carrying blood
through the great vessels (arteries), which branch from it like a tree
into the living tissues of the body, whence it returns by other vessels
(the veins) back to the heart.

In man and the warm-blooded quadrupeds, in birds, reptiles, and fishes,
the blood is of a splendid red colour, and the transparent vessels can
be easily traced in their graceful ramifications and intricate networks,
in consequence of the red blood showing through their walls. The red
colour is due to a peculiar body, which can be easily separated from the
blood as crystals. It has the special duty of carrying oxygen gas
dissolved and attached to it; and of giving up that essential element to
cause slow burning or oxydation in all parts of the body whilst taking
up fresh supplies of oxygen on its passage through the lungs or the
gills. In many of the lower animals (for instance, the oyster) the blood
is devoid of this red crystalline substance (which, by the bye, is
called hæmoglobin), and accordingly we cannot easily catch sight either
of the heart or the blood-vessels (see, however, Fig. 30). But in
shell-fish the blood has a very pale blue tint, and this colour is due
to a substance like hæmoglobin, which also can be crystallised, and is
the oxygen-carrier. Some sea-worms have a green substance of a similar
nature dissolved in their blood, and one can trace their blood-vessels
as a beautiful green network. A good many worms, for instance the common
earth-worm and the leeches (a discovery made by Cuvier, and referred to
by him on his deathbed), and many sea-worms have deep-red-coloured
blood, due to the presence of the same crystalline substance which we
find in man’s blood. And even a snail, common in the ponds at Hampstead
and such places—the flat coiled snail known as _Planorbis_—has blood
of a fine crimson colour, due to the presence of the same red
oxygen-carrier, as an exception to the colourless or pale-blue blood
found in most shell-fish. Perhaps if oysters, too, had red blood,
there would be a prejudice against eating them in the uncooked

The heart is essentially an enlargement of the great stem or main
blood-vessel which, like the trunk of a tree, has branching roots at one
end of it and ordinary branches at the other. The trunk branches, and
roots of the “heart-tree” are, of course, hollow blood-holding tubes,
not solid fibrous structures, as are the woody branches and trunk of a
vegetable tree. Further, the finest rootlets and the finest terminal
branches in the case of the heart-tree are connected to one another by
the network of very fine branches or by great blood-holding cavities,
which occupy all parts of the body of an animal. The enlarged part of
the trunk of the tree-like system of blood-vessels—the heart—has
powerful muscles forming its walls, the fibres disposed so as to
surround the contained chamber. When these muscular fibres contract,
they squeeze the walls of the chamber together and drive the blood out
of it into the forward branches, called “arteries.” It is prevented from
going backwards into the hinder branches called “veins” (which we
compare to the roots of a tree) by flaps which are so set on the inside
of the great vessel at the entrance to those branches that the flaps are
made to move out across the space by the backward current, and thus
prevent any backward flow, whilst a forward current merely presses them
flat against the wall of the vessel, and thus no obstruction to a
forward flow is presented. These flaps are called the valves of the
heart. The consequence of this arrangement is that whilst blood flows
freely into the heart from the veins or hinder (root-like) set of
vessels, it is driven by the muscular contraction of the heart—only in
one direction—namely, forwards into the arteries. This movement in
one direction is helped in some elongated hearts by the contraction of
the wall of the heart beginning behind and spreading quickly forward
like a wave. The heart of the common earth-worm and of small transparent
worms with red blood like it, which are common in the mud of ponds and
rivers and can be easily watched with the microscope so that one can see
through their glass-like skin what is going on inside them, shows very
beautifully this wave of contraction. The heart in these worms is a long
contractile vessel which runs the whole length of the body along the
back. You can watch the red blood flowing into it through the veins in
each ring or segment of the worm’s body—slowly swelling it out—so that
it looks like a long red cord. Then, suddenly, there is a movement like
a flash in its rapidity, passing from behind forwards! The walls of the
red cord-like heart contract so as to drive the blood forward into the
arteries, which also are present in every ring of the worm’s body. At
the same time you can see the valves, which hang at the entrance of the
veins to the heart, swing with a sudden “chuck” and close those vessels
against the driven blood. The red cord becomes colourless progressively
from behind forwards, owing to the squeezing out of the blood, and by
the time the movement has reached the head of the worm, the hinder part
of the cord-like heart is beginning slowly to dilate again with the
influx of red blood from the veins.

What causes the muscles of the heart to contract at regular intervals?
There is no doubt that the “stimulus” which excites the heart muscles to
contraction is in these simpler animals merely the tension or strain
produced by the presence of a sufficient quantity of blood which has
flowed into the heart from the veins. The heart muscle, after its rapid
contraction, rests; it has no other rest, no sleep, as have all the
other parts of the body. It must rest and take refreshment after each
effort. Whilst it rests the blood quietly flows in and dilates the
heart’s cavity; then the rested muscular wall of the heart, gently
stretched by the recovery after compression of its elastic components,
nourished and oxygenated by the blood, is ready for another “stroke,”
and again it contracts tightly, emptying its cavity of blood, which is
driven into the arteries. So it goes on—effort and rest, effort and
rest alternating without cease. Whilst it is the stroke of the heart
which causes the blood to flow through the arteries into the finest
network of hair-like vessels, what is it that causes the blood to flow
on through the collecting veins, to reach the heart, and actually to
distend that collapsed cavity after its stroke? It must be remembered
that a very low pressure is enough to effect this. In the simplest
arrangements of worms and such-like animals, there is probably some
pressure transmitted to the blood in the veins by the heart-stroke; but
the elasticity of the heart-wall and its necessary tendency to resume
its dilated condition after its squeezing by its rings of muscle, is
what is chiefly effective in drawing on the blood in the veins into the

In man and the higher animals the whole mechanism of the heart is
greatly complicated by the action of the nervous system upon it and upon
the contraction or expansion of the blood vessels. In this way the rate
of the beat of the heart is affected and brought into relation with the
needs of the blood circulation in remote parts of the body. The beat of
the heart in the human species is more rapid in children than in adults,
and more rapid in women than in men, and it differs in all individuals
under differing conditions. Before birth it is 140 per minute, in the
first month after birth 130, and gradually diminishes to 90 at nine
years of age, and at twenty-one to 70 in man and to 80 in woman. But
these figures only represent a general average; there are healthy men
whose pulse usually is less than 45 per minute, and there are
individuals who, without being invalids, yet have the movement of the
heart so liable to increase in rapidity through mental or other
excitement, acting by nerves directly on the heart muscle, that the
pulse often goes up to 120. In the horse and the ox the pulse or heart
beat is 36 to 40 a minute; in the sheep 60 to 80; in the dog 100 to 120;
in the rabbit 150; and in small creatures, like mice and moles, 200, and
even more! I do not know what is the record for the elephant, but as it
seems that the larger the mammal the slower the pulse, one would not
expect more than 20 to 25 beats a minute in his case.

It is easy to watch the beating of the heart of a flea or other small
insects—under the microscope—since the skin is sufficiently
transparent. It is not usually much more rapid than in man, but in the
very transparent little fresh-water shrimps which are called water-fleas
(_Entomostraca_) I have seen the heart beating so rapidly that I could
not count its rate. The heart in insects and shrimps and their like is
remarkable for the fact that whilst it pumps out blood through arteries
both in front and behind, it has no actual veins opening into it. All
the veins, which in their ancestors entered the heart in a row on each
side of it, have united, and their walls broken down, so that the heart
lies in a sac full of venous blood from which it draws its fill, when it
dilates, through a series of valve-bearing openings on its surface,
openings which, in an earlier stage of development, were connected with
individual veins.

The heart of the _Ascidians_ or sea-squirts, common sac-like marine
creatures of most varied form, size, and colour, is perhaps the most
extraordinary in the whole animal series. I have often watched it in
transparent individuals of this group. It is an oblong sac with
branching vessels at either end. It beats for some thirty or forty
strokes so as to drive the blood forwards; it then pauses, and the
onlooker is astounded to see the wave of movement changed, and the heart
steadily beating the same number of strokes in the reversed direction.
What were arteries become veins, and the veins become arteries. Then
again there is a pause—which seems like a moment of hesitation and
doubt—and the original direction of movement is resumed; then again
there is a pause and a reversal, and so on, with absolute regularity. It
is still a matter for investigation as to why and how this altogether
exceptional alternating reversal of the heart’s action is brought about.

It is a curious fact in illustration of the essential character of the
heart and its beat that “hearts” are produced in some animals by
dilatation of the lymph-vessels—a system of delicate vessels, difficult
to see, which take up the colourless fluid which the blood-vessels exude
into the tissues and return it to the heart. The eel has a pair of these
“lymph-hearts” in its tail, and the common frog has a pair near the
shoulder-blades and another pair at the hips. These sacs have muscular
walls, and pulsate rhythmically like the blood-heart, driving on the
lymph fluid through the lymph vessels to join the blood-stream.

The simplest thing in the animal world which can claim the name of a
heart—or, at any rate, be compared with that organ—is found in those
microscopic animalcules which consist of only a single “cell” or
corpuscle of living protoplasm. These animalcules may be compared to a
single brick or unit of structure, whereas all other animals consist of
thousands, or even millions, of such corpuscles or units aggregated and
fitted together as are the bricks and planks of a house. In most of
these uni-cellular animalcules you may observe with a high-power
microscope a little spherical liquid-holding cavity, which slowly
enlarges, then bursts at the surface and collapses. After a brief
interval it forms again, and again bursts to the exterior. In the
“bell-animalcule”—a beautiful active little creature only
one-thousandth of an inch in diameter—it may be seen to form, swell,
collapse, and re-form as often as twenty times in a minute (see Fig.
41). Soluble colouring matter taken in by the animalcule with food is
excreted by the liquid accumulated in and ejected to the exterior by
this spherical chamber. It is called the “pulsating” or “contractile”
vacuole, and by its rhythmical pulsating movement of dilatation and
collapse presents definite points of similarity to the alternately
dilating and contracting hearts of higher animals. The entering flow of
liquid here, as in the veins and heart of higher animals, is continuous.
The rhythm is due, as is the rhythm of the heart, to the alternation of
a brief period of activity or contraction, and a brief period of
consequent exhaustion, rest, and repair on the part of living
contractile substance.



An enterprising journalist has recently published the replies of a
number of well-known men to an inquiry as to how many hours’ sleep they
are in the habit of taking, and what they find to be the best remedy for
sleeplessness. Such an inquiry naturally leads on to further thoughts
about “Sleep.” What a mysterious, yet sweet and lovable thing it is! How
strange it is that we all regularly and gladly abandon ourselves to it!
How terrible is the state of those who cannot do so! And then one is led
to ask, what is it? and why is it? Do all living things sleep for some
part of the twenty-four hours? How does it differ from mere resting, and
in what does its virtue consist?

Shakespeare has said the most beautiful words that have ever been
uttered about sleep, and that because he knew what it was to seek for it
in vain—

  “Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more!
  Macbeth does murder sleep,’ the innocent sleep;
  Sleep, that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care,
  The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,
  Balm of hurt minds, great Nature’s second course,
  Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”

And again, when the strenuous life of the great Bolingbroke has at last
overtaxed his brain, and he can no more find rest and unconsciousness
at night, Shakespeare makes him say—

  “How many thousand of my poorest subjects
  Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
  Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
  That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
  And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
  Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
  Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
  And hush’d with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
  Than in the perfum’d chambers of the great,
  Under the canopies of costly state,
  And lull’d with sound of sweetest melody?”

Poets have as a rule been too ready to make much of the likeness of
sleep and death, whereas there is an absolute difference in their mere
appearance. Sleep makes even those who are ill-favoured and coarse look
beautiful, imparts to its subjects a graciousness of expression and of
colour, and a gentle rhythmic movement, whilst suffusing them as it were
with an “aura” of contented trustfulness. These things are far from the
cold stillness of pallid death. And this depends upon the fact that in
sleep, though many of the activities of the body and mind are checked,
and even arrested, there are yet still present the never-ceasing pulse
of the heart, the flow of the blood, the intake and output of the
breath, and a certain subdued but still active tension of muscles, so
that though the body and limbs are relaxed they never assume the aspect
of complete mechanical collapse which we see in death. The pupils of the
eyes are strongly contracted during sleep, not relaxed and expanded as
are those of wide-awake people in the dark. There are some well-known
works of art—both painting and sculpture—in which the dead are not
truly represented, but are made to retain the resistfulness and pose of
living men and women; others show true observation in presenting the
startling and distinctive flaccidity of the newly dead, which is
followed after a few hours by the equally characteristic rigor mortis,
or stiffness of the dead. There are many fine studies of sleep by
sculptors, but none which to my thinking so delicately and truthfully
present its most beautiful and peculiar effects on the muscular “tone”
as a work in the Luxembourg Gallery in Paris, called “Le Nid”—a baby of
a year old and a little girl of three or four years, asleep side by side
on the cushion of a capacious arm-chair. The pose and the details of
muscular relaxation differ greatly and characteristically in the two
children. One would like to see sleep at different ages and under
various conditions of fatigue similarly portrayed, for there is a range
and variety of expression in those who sleep, not perhaps as extensive,
but as beautiful as that to be found in those who are awake.

All things on the earth may be said (if we use the term in a wide sense)
to sleep, for all are affected by the stimulation to activity caused by
sunlight and by its cessation during night. It is only of late years
that we have come to know of fishes, crabs, worms, and star-fishes (many
of them without eyes) which live in the depths of the ocean, where no
light penetrates and it is always night. The ultimate source of their
food is in the upper sunlit layers of water, to which they never
penetrate, and from which particles of dead but nutritious matter (the
bodies of those who have lived up there) rain down upon them
incessantly, like manna on the Israelites. All things accessible to the
sun’s rays are not equally, nor even similarly, affected by the
alternation of day and night, and some not directly at all, but only by
the sleeping and waking of other things. The food of all living things
comes ultimately from plants which, in the presence of sunlight, and
only in that presence, and in virtue of its action upon their green
leaves, manufacture starch and sugar from the carbonic acid which exists
in the air and water around them, whilst they are also thus enabled to
take up nitrogen, and so to form their living substance or protoplasm.
At night those particles or cells of the living protoplasm of plants
which are furnished with transparent green granules, so as to entangle
the sunlight, and by its aid feed on carbonic acid, cease this work.
They necessarily repose from their labour because the light has gone.
This is the simplest example of the sleep of living things. And that
here, too, as in higher creatures, sleep is not a merely negative
thing—a mere cessation—is shown by the fact that it is at night that
other changes go on in the plant. The manufactured food takes effect on
the cells or particles nourished by it; in the night the well-fed,
enlarged “cells” in the growing parts of many plants slowly divide each
one into two, and each of these again into two, and so on, so as to
increase their total number and produce growth and development of the
plant. This alternation of activities in day and night occurs even in
the invisible microscopic vegetation of pools and streams. Animals—even
the most minute, only visible with a strong microscope—move about in
search of “bits” of food—in fact, bits of other animals or of
plants—and they, too, are, with special exceptions, checked in their
search for food by the darkness, for even extremely minute and simple
animals are guided in their search by light—that is to say, by a more
or less efficient sense of sight. Thus we see that in a general way the
sun is truly the ruler of life, and that when he is hidden from us we
all become quiescent, a condition which may be rightly considered as
the elementary form—the simplest equivalent of the sleep of man. The
quiescence which falls on the earth with the setting of the sun has,
however, become the opportunity of two different classes of living
things to seize an advantage. Beasts of prey, many of them, sleep during
the day, and steal forth at night on velvet foot to pounce on the
slumbering animals which are their necessary food. Another group of
timid animals, moths and small beasts like mice, hedgehogs, and lemurs,
find their safety in the dark, and only then venture forth. Even so, the
moths are met by special nocturnal enemies, the bats. So that the
primitive arrangement is complicated by a wakefulness, exchanging day
for night.

It is natural to apply the word “sleep” to the state of profound repose
which other living things appear to enter upon at night, so far as we
can judge by changes of activity and attitude—although it must be
remembered that the sleep of man is what we really indicate by that
word, and that it is difficult to trace anything beyond a superficial
similarity between man’s sleep and the repose or quiescence following
upon activity in other living things—excepting those which by their
structure and the working of their mechanism are obviously comparable to
man, such as beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes. The “sleep of plants”
is the term applied to the closing of the flower, the drooping of the
flower-head and of the leaves of many of the common flowering plants,
which occurs at sunset or during the later hours of sunlight. But it
seems that this is not really comparable to man’s sleep. The closing of
the flower appears to be a protection of its perfume from useless
evaporation during the darkness, and the drooping a device to avoid the
settlement of dew and the injurious action of cold. Living things always
furnish us with examples of adaptations resisting the general law—and
as there are moths which fly by night, so also there are flowers which
remain closed by day and open at night to attract these moths, by whom
their pollen is carried and their fertilisation effected. The
tobacco-plants of our gardens are examples of these night-opening
flowers, which attract the nocturnal moths by their heavy perfume, and
there are many others.

The movements of plants are much more definite and varied than one is
apt to suppose. Leaves and flowers turn to or away from the sun, or to
or from the position which will favour a deposit of moisture; or, again,
their tendrils will explore and seize upon supports, enabling them to
secure a hold, and so to climb. The sensitive plant exhibits rapid
drooping movements of its leaflets and leaf-stalks when touched or
subjected to vibration.

An allied plant which shows slower but definite movement of its leaflets
has been supposed to furnish thereby prophetic indications of the
weather, and even to foretell earthquakes. This plant is the _Abrus
precatorius_, the seeds of which are called crab’s-eyes, and are used in
India by jewellers and druggists as weights—averaging a little less
than two grains. They are harmless when eaten, but contain a poison
called abrine, which causes them rapidly to produce fatal results when
introduced beneath the skin. Under the name “jequerity” they were
introduced into this country in 1882 for the treatment of ophthalmia.
This is the plant which was celebrated, about twenty years ago, as the
earthquake plant or weather plant, owing to the statements of an
Austrian naturalist as to its marvellous powers of prophecy by the
movement of its leaflets—statements which were carefully examined by
botanists at Kew Gardens at the time and shown to be devoid of
justification. Earth tremors, like other vibrations, cause the leaflets
to move and change their pose as they may cause animals to utter cries
of alarm, but the movements of the leaflets have no more prophetic
character than have those of the delicate pendulums, called
seismographs, by which it is now usual to register the constantly
occurring slight vibrations of the earth’s crust.

That beasts and birds enjoy a nocturnal sleep similar to that of man,
which is occasionally—like his sleep—transferred from night to
daytime, is a matter of common knowledge. These animals, like man, lower
the eyelids and adopt a position of ease when sleeping, even though they
often remain poised on their legs. The question has been raised as to
whether fishes sleep, since they have no eyelids and remain when at rest
poised in the water. We made some inquiries on this subject in the
laboratory of the Marine Biological Association at Plymouth some years
ago, and came to the conclusion, from the observation of various marine
fishes in the aquarium there, that fishes do sleep at night. They come
to rest on the bottom of the tanks, and are not so quickly responsive to
a touch or intrusion of any kind as they are in the daytime. It is
probable that this condition of repose is more definitely marked in some
kinds of fishes than in others, but in all shallow-water marine
organisms the absence of light produces a corresponding period of
quiescence. That there is a good deal more than this involved in the
sleep of the higher animals and of man will be apparent when we come to
study it more closely.

The sleep of man, and of animals which have, like man, a large and
well-developed nervous system—has for its salient feature the cessation
or extreme lowering of the “psychical” activity of the brain. When sleep
is at its height external agents (such as a touch, a sound, a flash of
light) which in the waking state set up through the nerves of the
organs of the senses complex changes in the brain, no longer do so. They
not only fail to excite consciousness and to leave their mark on the
memory, but they do not produce even a simple unconscious response. Yet
if they are of a sufficient degree of violence (varying according to the
depth of the sleep), they do reach the brain, and thus “awake” the
sleeper. Corresponding to the absence of receptive activity of the brain
in sleep is the absence of outgoing impulses from that organ; there is
no such control of the muscles as in the waking state, the head nods,
the eyelids droop, and the muscular action by which the erect posture is
maintained is in abeyance, although in a greatly lessened degree some
amount of muscular tone is unconsciously retained.

The passage from the waking state to that of deep sleep is not sudden
but graduated, and so is the process of awakening. In the intermediate
condition, either before or after deep sleep (often only a minute or two
in duration) the brain can still receive, more or less confusedly,
impressions from the exterior through the organs of sense, and it is in
this way that “dreams” are set going, and may be afterwards either
forgotten or remembered. In full sleep the mind is a blank. As a rule
healthy sleep becomes gradually more complete in the first hour, and
then very slowly less profound. But there are not any sufficient
observations on the “quality” of sleep after short or long duration. In
sleep it is not only the brain which is at rest: the whole body shares
in the condition. The pulse and breathing are slower, the digestive
organs and the bladder are more or less at rest. Both the intake of
oxygen into the lungs and the expiration of carbonic acid are lessened.
The chemical changes within the body are lessened though still
proceeding, and as a consequence the temperature is lowered.

It is curious how incomplete at present is the physiologist’s knowledge
of both the actual condition of the brain in sleep and of the immediate
causes which produce that condition. It is probably true (though it is
disputed) that the brain becomes pale during sleep, owing to a
contraction of the blood vessels, and that the inactivity of the brain
arises from this condition. But it is not obvious what determines the
contraction of these vessels at the definitely recurring period of
sleep. It is probable that the nervous tissue of the brain is, as are
the muscles of the body, poisoned or choked (as it were) by the chemical
products of the day’s activity, and so readily cease to be active until
the injurious products have had time to be carried away by the blood
stream. Muscular substance undoubtedly is affected in this way, and that
great muscle the heart, though never resting for a lengthened period,
rests after each pulse or contraction, and recovers itself in the brief

It is also probable that the exhaustion by the day’s activity of the
oxygen stored up in the various tissues of the body produces a condition
of quiescence whilst the store is replenished. Stimulation of the nerves
through the sense-organs of sight, hearing, and touch will prevent or
retard this natural quiescence, and the cessation of that stimulation is
favoured first of all by the darkness of night and by the closing of the
eyelid, as well as by the removal of clothes which more or less irritate
the skin; also by the would-be sleeper taking up a position of perfect
rest, and by the exercise of his will, withdrawing his brain as much as
possible from all external influences. The would-be sleeper also
controls, when possible, that internal stimulation of the brain which we
call attention. It is the failure (owing to unhealthy conditions) to
control the latter which leads to the most serious kind of
sleeplessness, when the brain gets for hours out of restraint and works
incessantly like an independent existence. The disturbance of the
nervous system set up by irritation of the digestive organs, whether
accompanied by pain or not, is an independent cause of sleeplessness
which often co-operates with the first, and is (through the mechanism of
the nerves) often set going (though it may arise independently) by an
unhealthy excess in the excitement of the brain’s activity. There is no
panacea for sleeplessness; the only thing to do is to consult a
first-rate physician, and strictly follow his advice.

There are many irregularities and abnormal manifestations of sleep.
There is the sleep which is induced by drugs such as opium, chloral, and
alcohol, and that induced by chloroform, ether, and nitric gas. There is
the heavy sleep accompanied by stertorous breathing, and there is the
unconscious condition called “coma.” Then there is the prolonged
sleeping called “trance,” of which that of the Sleeping Beauty, only to
be broken by a kiss, is an example. It is not possible, in the present
state of knowledge, to give an adequate account and explanation of the
condition of the brain in these different forms of sleep, nor of the
causes which induce that condition. One of the most interesting forms of
sleep is the condition called “somnambulism,” or sleep-walking, in which
part only of the brain is asleep, and other parts connected with various
degrees of mental activity are in waking order. Sleep-walking is a
condition which occurs spontaneously. On the other hand, “hypnotism” is
the name for a peculiar kind of sleep produced intentionally by an
operator on a patient by certain treatment and direction. In one of the
stages of artificially induced hypnotic or “mesmeric” sleep—called the
somnambulic stage—only so much of the brain is asleep as is concerned
with conscious memory. The brain receives stimulation through the
sense-organs, and the patient has the eyes open and appears to be
awake. In this state he is peculiarly open to suggestion by words, which
can be made to set up the most extraordinary illusions and consequent
behaviour. On “waking” the patient has no memory of what has occurred,
though a suggestion received in the somnambulic stage may persist in the
unconscious memory, and cause conduct on the part of the patient (many
hours after the brief hypnotic sleep has passed) which is entirely
inexplicable by the patient himself or by those who are not aware of the
fact that he had received a “suggestion” or “direction” when in the
hypnotised state. The senses of smell, hearing, and touch are often
abnormally acute in a hypnotised patient, but there is no evidence to
show that the brain of such a person can be influenced or “communicated
with” excepting through the ordinary channels of the sense-organs.
“Day-dreaming” and “reverie” are conditions resembling the hypnotic
sleep. The brain of each of us is constantly doing much of its work in a
state of partial hypnotism, and the term “unconscious cerebration” has
been used to describe it. A most interesting and difficult chapter of
the study of mental disease belongs here.

The prolonged sleep of some animals in the winter, called “hibernation,”
seems to be closely similar to ordinary sleep, but is set up by the
depressing action of continuous cold instead of by the daily recurring
quiescence of night and by the exhaustion due to the day’s activity.
Many animals—such as the marmot and dormouse, the frog and the
snail—exhibit this winter sleep. It has been found by experiment that
even in midsummer the dormouse can be made to “hibernate,” by exposing
it artificially to a low temperature, and hibernating animals can be
roused from their long sleep by bringing them into warmth. During the
winter sleep hibernating animals take no food, the pulse is slowed
down, and the body temperature falls. The scattered fat of the body, and
fatty matter and other material stored in special structures called
“hibernating glands,” are oxidised and slowly consumed during this
period, which may last for three or even four months. The animal on
waking is often in a very emaciated condition.

It is undoubtedly the case that the human natives of high latitudes
(such as the Norwegians), where there is no night in full summer, and
where there is prolonged darkness in winter, have acquired the habit of
keeping awake for many days in succession in summer, whilst making up
for the loss of sleep by excessive indulgence in it during the winter.
It is by no means clear how far man is capable of resisting the demand
for recurrent daily sleep without injury to health. Undoubtedly many men
are compelled by their avocations to sleep by day and wake by night. The
length and duration of “spells of sleep” and the power to sleep little
or not at all at one season, and almost uninterruptedly at another,
without injury to health, are matters of habit, occupation, and
circumstance. We have no ground for saying that every man “ought” to
sleep eight hours or more per diem, or, on the contrary, for insisting
that he should only sleep five or less. All depends on what he is doing
when he is awake, and what other people are doing (so as to disturb him)
when he is asleep; and we do not even know whether ten or twelve hours’
sleep would injure a man, were he able to take it, nor can we suggest
how it would injure him supposing it did not interfere with his feeding
and exercise.

As to quantities of sleep, there is the curious fact that the amount
habitually taken in the civilised communities of this part of the world
differs at different ages. Babies sleep a good part of the twenty-four
hours, and probably schoolboys and schoolgirls (under our present
conditions of life and work) ought to be given ten hours or more. Whilst
adult men sleep from six to eight or nine hours, it is a curious fact
that old people—not very old people, but those of sixty-five or
thereabouts—often find themselves unable to sleep more than four hours
at night, and take an hour or two in the daytime to make up for the
deficiency. I remember hearing Mr. Darwin state this as to himself to
his physician, Sir Andrew Clarke, who said it was very usual at his age,
and difficult to explain, since at a greater age, when a man is called
“very old,” a more or less continuous somnolent condition sets in. The
father of a great judicial dignitary of these days, himself a barrister
in large practice, when he was sixty years old would snatch fifteen or
twenty minutes’ sleep at any and every opportunity throughout the day,
even at the midday meal sometimes, so as altogether to disconcert those
who were with him, and he told me that he never slept more than four
hours at night, but got up and commenced work at four in the morning.
The cessation in early old age of the desire for more than half the
amount of sleep taken by younger men suggests that the regulating cause
of the number of hours which are needed for sleep may be simply and
directly the actual amount of work done by body and mind. This
imperceptibly becomes less as men grow older, and so less recuperative
sleep is necessary, though what work they do may be more effective and
better adjusted to its purpose when they have arrived at the condition
which is called “old age.”

We have seen that sleep in its widest sense comprises the simple
condition of quiescence brought about in even the minutest living things
by the recurring night, as well as the strangely elaborated varieties of
cessation of activity in the whole or parts of the brain of man and of
his body. Some of these cessations of activity naturally and
spontaneously occur in unsophisticated mankind, when darkness falls on
the earth at each succeeding evening. And it is hardly possible to doubt
that a tendency to periodic sleep has become fixed in the substance of
living things by the alternation of night and day—as well as in some
cases by the change of the seasons.

I must conclude these notes about sleep by relating a very curious case
of sleep, resembling the winter-sleep of higher animals, on the part of
a snail. This was the case of a desert snail from Egypt, which was
withdrawn into its shell, the mouth of the shell being closed with a
glistening film secreted by the snail, as is usual with snails in this
country in winter when they sleep. The desert snail in question was
affixed to a tablet of wood in a glass case in the natural history
department of the British Museum on March 25, 1846. On March 7, 1850,
that is four years afterwards, it was noticed by a visitor looking at
the case that the snail had emerged from his shell and discoloured the
paper around, but had again retired. So the officials unlocked the case
and removed the snail from the tablet and placed him in tepid water. He
rapidly and completely recovered, crawled about as a wide-awake snail
should, and sat for his portrait. This may be regarded as an instance of
unusually long sleep, natural to this species of snail, and related
probably to the frequently prolonged dryness of the snail’s

We are led by such a case as this on to what are called examples of
“suspended animation.” Wheel-animalcules, and some other minute
creatures which are found living in tiny pools of water, on the bark of
trees, and in the hollows of leaves, naturally dry up when the water
evaporates. You may dry them yourself in a watchglass; they appear as
nothing more than shapeless dust particles mixed with the dried mud of
a drop of dirty water. They may be kept in this state for months—even
years. I do not know that any limit has been ascertained. But when you
add pure rain-water to the dust in the watchglass, it softens, and in
less than an hour the little wheel-animalcules have softened too, and
expanded into life, swimming about whilst the delicate spikes on their
“wheels” vibrate regularly as though they had never ceased to do so, and
as though the animalcules had not for years been dried-up little

Of course, the term “suspended animation” has been applied in earlier
times to the often exaggerated stories of “trance” and deathlike sleep
in human beings. But it is now with more justice applied to these
instances of dried animalcules which return to life when wetted, and to
similar cases of prolonged retention of vitality by seeds, since it
would appear that in these dried animalcules life really is actually and
totally suspended, although the mechanism is there which resumes its
life when the necessary moisture is supplied. In cases of trance in man
and hibernation in animals, the heart is still very slowly and feebly
beating, and the breathing is still—almost imperceptibly—at work. The
chemical changes are still very slowly and gently proceeding. The buried
Indian wizard, and the snail, and the Sleeping Beauty are moist, and
chemically active, though feebly so; life is not absolutely suspended.
But in the dried animalcule (though complete chemical desiccation is not
effected), the removal of the water from the body actually arrests the
changes which we call life, just as a needle may arrest the
balance-wheel of a watch. Supply the water, or remove the needle, and
life ceases to be suspended; it goes on once more (as one of the rules
of Bridge ambiguously enacts) “as though no mistake had been made.”



Without doubt, the greatest and most important statement which can be
made about living things is that they are either separate minute
particles of living matter or (more commonly) are built up by thousands
of such minute particles which have in each individual animal and plant
originated from a single such particle (the fertilised germ), by its
division into two, and the subsequent division of these two each into
two, and of the four so produced each into two—and so on, until by
repeated division into two, millions of corpuscles, hanging together as
one mass, are the result.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.—Simple “cells,” consisting of naked protoplasm,
changing shape and taking in solid food particles. A, is a series of
four successive changes of shape of a fresh-water animalcule, the
proteus or amœba; B, is a similar series of three views of a separate
creeping kind of corpuscle found in the blood and lymph-spaces of
animals, and called a “phagocyte.” It is also said to be “amœboid,”
from its resemblance to the amœba or proteus-animalcule. B, is from
the blood of the guinea-pig. It is not a parasite, but one of the
various kinds of cells which build up the animal body, and are derived
from the single original egg-cell (see Fig. 31) by continued division.
The three drawings show three changes of shape occurring in the same
“phagocyte” in a few minutes. It is engulphing a fever-producing
blood-parasite, a spirillum, marked _a_, into its soft, slimy
protoplasm, to be there digested and destroyed. In the same way the
amœba, A, is seen in four stages of engulphing the vegetable
particle, _a_. In the fourth figure the letter _b_ points to water taken
into the amœba’s protoplasm with the food-particle _a_. In all the
figures, _c_ points to the “vacuole” or liquid-holding cavity, which
bursts and re-forms in A; the letter _d_ points to the cell-nucleus.]

The particles of living matter are spoken of as “cells” for a very
curious reason, to which I will revert. The living matter is called
“protoplasm” (primitive or fundamental slime). A “cell” in the language
of microscopists means a corpuscle or more or less rounded or
irregularly shaped particle of protoplasm. Cells commonly vary in size
from 1/5000th to 1/200th of an inch in breadth, and may be much larger.
Protoplasm—the living substance of “cells”—is a slimy body, almost
liquid, but yet tenacious. It is transparent, but clouded by fine
granules, and can often be seen with a very high power of the microscope
to consist of more and of less liquid matter, intermixed like an
emulsion. It often has within it large cavities filled with liquid, and
also often oil drops; in other cases hard concretions or coarse
granules. But apart from other things, the protoplasm of a “cell”
always contains within it a special, firmer, and denser part, enclosed
in an enveloping coat or skin. This dense body is the “nucleus,” or
kernel, and is of the very greatest importance in the chemical changes
and movements which constitute the life of the cell. It is usually
spherical, and in the living state often looks clear and bright. All
cells, whether they are found building up the bodies of plants and
animals like so many living bricks, or living freely and singly as
animalcules, have the essential structure just described—a semi-liquid
yet tenacious material enclosing a globular firmer body, the nucleus.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.—A, cells forming soft vegetable tissue; _a_,
cell-wall; _b_, protoplasm; _c_, liquid-holding cavity in the
protoplasm; _d_, the nucleus. B, a pigment-cell from the frog’s skin,
expanded. C, the same cell contracted. D, a nerve-cell: observe the
nucleus. E, a muscle-cell stretched. F, the same contracted: observe the

[Illustration: FIG. 38.—Copy of part of Robert Hook’s drawing of a
magnified piece of cork, showing the “cells” so named by him in 1665.]

How did these viscous nucleated corpuscles come to be called “cells”? It
was in this wise. At the end of the seventeenth century Dr. Robert Hook,
secretary of the Royal Society, published a beautiful book of folio
size, entitled _Micrographia_. In this he pictured various minute
insects and various natural products as seen under his microscope. Among
the objects figured and described was a piece of cork (Fig. 38). Hook
showed that it was built up of a number of empty, air-holding, box-like
chambers, less than the hundredth of an inch in length, and these he
called “cells,” comparing them to the “cells” of the bee’s honeycomb.
Later observers found that this “cellular” structure was very common in
plants—but it was not until more than a hundred years later that it was
observed that the “cells” which build up the soft stems and leaves of
plants are not empty or merely air-holding, but contain a liquid or
viscid matter. Robert Browne, a great botanist, who lived within the
memory of some of our older naturalists, first observed and described
the “nucleus,” or kernel, within the cells of some lily-like plants, and
gave it that name (Fig. 37 A, _d_). About the thirties of last century,
by aid of improved microscopes, a structure like that of the vegetable
“cell” and its “nucleus” was discovered in some animal materials, or
“tissues,” as they are termed—for instance, in cartilage (Fig. 39). The
word “tissue” is applied to each of the various layers and masses, such
as epiderm, fibrous tissue, muscle, nerve, cartilage, bone, which can be
distinguished in an animal body and separated from one another, just as
we may separate the “tissues” of a man’s clothes—the leathern, woollen,
silken, cotton, linen: the cords, laces, threads, and pads or stuffing.
The full meaning of this existence of “cells” or “cellular” structure in
the tissue of plants and animals only gradually became evident. A very
remarkable discoverer, Professor Schwann, of Liège (with whom when he
was an old man I spent an afternoon a great many years ago), was the
first to grasp the great facts and to put forward what has been ever
since called “the cell theory” of animal and vegetable structure and

[Illustration: FIG. 39.—A piece of cartilage, showing the cells which
have formed it embedded in the (shaded) firm substance, and connected to
one another by branching processes of protoplasm.]

Schwann, in 1836, showed that the important thing about a “cell” is not
the box or cell-wall so much as the viscid contents and the nucleus. But
the name “cell” was (strangely enough) retained for the contents, even
when the box-like chamber was absent—much as we speak of “a bottle of
wine,” meaning the contents of the bottle, and not the glass vessel
holding it. It was shown that the box-like case or cell-wall (the
original “cell” of Hook) is actually formed by the living nucleated
plasm or viscid matter within it, just as a snail forms its shell, by
the separation or “secretion” of a dead, firm, chemical deposit on its
living surface. Schwann showed that all—not merely special exceptional
instances, but all—the tissues of plants and of animals are built up by
nucleated cells, the cell-wall being often not hard and box-like, but
soft, gelatinous, irregular in shape, and sometimes very thin, sometimes
very thick. Every living cell is thus surrounded by the chemical
products of its own activity, or may deposit those products within
itself as in the goblet-cell and the fat-cell seen in Fig. 40, C and D,
and these products differ in different tissues. The cells of a tissue,
using the word to mean the soft nucleated particles or corpuscles of
protoplasm or “cell-substance,” must be regarded as the microscopic
living “weavers” or makers of the tissue. The cells in one tissue may
form a honeycomb of boxes; in another a jelly-like mass or a fibrous
network, with the cell-substance scattered as nucleated particles in it
(Fig. 39). Or the cells may be elongated and contractile (Fig. 37, E,
F). They may be more or less fused with one another, as in flesh or
muscular fibre; but we can always recognise the presence of the
individual cells under the microscope by their distinct and separate

[Illustration: FIG. 40.—Three kinds of cells, magnified a thousand
times linear. A, a row of cilia-bearing cells. B, a single detached
ciliated cell: observe the nucleus in each cell. C, a goblet-cell, from
a mucous surface, producing _c_, a slimy secretion; _d_, the wall of the
cell; _b_, the nucleus; _a_, the protoplasm in which the secretion _c_
was accumulated until it burst out at the free end of the cell. D, a
fat-cell; _a_, the nucleus surrounded by protoplasm; _e_, the thin layer
of protoplasm enveloping the great oil drop _f_, which has formed within

Schwann’s most important conclusion from this universal presence of soft
corpuscles of cell-substance, each with its globular nucleus, in all the
tissues and most varied parts of animals as well as plants, was that the
life of a living thing, the chemical and physical changes which go on in
it from birth to death, consist in chemical and physical changes in each
of these microscopic, nucleated bodies, and that the life of the whole
animal or plant is the sum of the lives of these microscopic units. If
we wish to know more about the real nature of the growth and activities
of living things, said Schwann, we must thoroughly study and ascertain
the chemical and physical changes, and the properties of the
cell-substance in all the different varieties of tissue. That is the
celebrated “cell-theory” of Schwann. And this examination of, and
experiment with, the cells of all kinds of tissues of plants and animals
has been going on ever since Schwann made his historic statement more
than seventy years ago. The branch of science called “histology” is the
outcome of that study.

Microscopes have been immensely improved since Schwann wrote, first in
England by the father of the present Lord Lister, then later in Germany
by Abbé and Zeiss, of Jena. A variety of methods have been devised for
making the “cells” in thick, solid tissues visible. Very thin
sections—thin enough to be transparent—were at first cut from the
fresh tissues, and examined by transmitted light. This did very well in
a rough way, but better results were obtained by hardening the tissues
in alcohol or chromic acid, when wonderfully fine sections could be cut
and rendered translucent by soaking in varnish, in which they were
preserved for study with the microscope, between two plates of glass.
The sections were stained with various dyes, such as carmine, log-wood,
the aniline dyes, etc., and it was found that the nuclei of the cells
and the granules and fibres both in the minute cells and in the
surrounding substance manufactured by them, could be distinguished more
clearly by means of their differing affinity for the dyes. And whilst
endless section-cutting and staining and careful drawing and record of
the structure discovered, was proceeding in hundreds of
laboratories—other observers especially devoted themselves to the
difficult task of seeing the cell-substance or protoplasm and its
nucleus under the highest power of the microscope, whilst still alive!
It would seem a hopeless task to examine with a high-power microscope
the cells (less than a thousandth of an inch broad) inside the solid
stem or leaves of a plant or of an animal’s body without killing the
plant or animal and the cells of which they consist. As most of my
readers know, the front lens (or “glass”) of a high-power microscope has
to be brought very close indeed to any object in order to bring it into
focus—as near as the one twenty-fifth of an inch. Then the object
examined must be very small and transparent, in order that the light may
pass through it, as through the slide-picture in a magic lantern, and so
form a clear, well-defined picture in the focus of the microscope, where
the eye receives it.

Fortunately, there are some facts about living cells or corpuscles of
protoplasm which enable us to examine living cells, in spite of these
difficulties. In the first place, there are a whole host of minute
animals and plants—of many different kinds—which consist of only one
cell or nucleated corpuscle of protoplasm (Fig. 36 A); they are
transparent, abound in fresh water and sea water, and can be searched
for with the microscope in a drop of water placed on a flat glass plate
and covered with a specially thin glass slip. Many of these have been
studied for hours—and even days—continuously, and the remarkable
internal currents and movements of their viscid “protoplasm,” its
changes of shape, its feeding and growth, and the details of the process
of division into two—by which it multiplies—have been ascertained, as
well as the action upon it of light, heat, electricity, and mechanical
shock, and of all sorts of chemical substances, carefully introduced
beneath the cover-glass. A second fact of great importance is that the
“cells” or protoplasmic corpuscles, which build up a complex plant or
animal, do not die at once when the plant or animal “dies,” that is to
say, the animal or plant may be “killed” and fine bits of transparent
tissue removed from it and placed beneath the microscope, where, with
proper care, the cells may be kept alive for some time. The hairs of
many plants are strings of transparent “cells,” or boxes, containing
living, streaming, active protoplasm. These hairs can be cut off, and
the cells will remain alive for a long time whilst they are under the
microscope (see Fig. 15 _bis_). The transparent wall of the eye—called
the cornea—can be removed from a frog after it has been killed, and the
still-living cells in the delicate glass-like tissue can be studied with
the highest powers of the microscope, and give evidence of their life by
their movements and other changes. Most convenient and important for
this study is the blood—for there the cells are loose, floating in the
liquid. The cells in a minute drop of human blood can be kept alive for
hours, if the glass slide is kept warm, as it easily can be, and I have
seen the cells in a drop of frog’s blood (skilfully treated) still
alive, and exhibiting active movements, a fortnight after the frog, from
which the drop of blood came, was dead and buried. These floating,
moving cells of the blood are the “phagocytes,” which engulf and digest
disease germs and other particles (Fig. 36 B). Other more numerous cells
of the blood are the oxygen-carriers, or red corpuscles, which do not
show any movements or changes of an active kind whilst alive.



The result of the study of living cell-substance, or protoplasm, is to
show that every cell has an individual life, and often makes this
manifest by its movement, change of shape, and internal currents of
granules, as well as by the special chemical substances it produces and
consumes. All depend for their activity upon the presence of free
oxygen; all are killed by heat far less than that of boiling water; they
continually imbibe water charged with the chemical substances which
nourish them and cause them to grow in bulk and to divide into two; and
they manufacture various chemical bodies in the protoplasm and emit
heat, electrical discharges, and sometimes light. Some or other of them,
in fact, do in their small microscopic way all that the complex, big
animal or plant, of which they are constituents, is seen to do. The
cells of the liver manufacture the bile, those of the salivary glands
the saliva, and those of the intestinal wall a mucous fluid, and squeeze
out or eject those products into the adjacent ducts (see Fig. 40 C).
Other cells lay down (as cell-wall or coating) fibrous and hard
substances which form the skeleton; others become converted into horn
and are shed from the surface of the skin in man as “scurf”; others form
the great contractile masses called muscles. One lot are told off to
control the other cells by something resembling a system of electrical
wires and batteries—these are the nerve-cells (Fig. 37 D), with their
fine, thread-like branches, the nerve-fibres, which are long enough to
permeate every part of the body and place it in connection with the
nerve-cells in the great centres called brain, spinal cord, and ganglia.

At one time it was thought that the cells in the tissues of plants and
animals could originate _de novo_ by a sort of precipitation of liquid
matter. But it is now known that every cell has originated by the
division of a pre-existing cell into two, the nucleus of the mother cell
first dividing and then the rest of the cell. “Every cell originates by
the fission of a preceding cell” is the law, and to that is added,
“Every individual organism, plant or animal, itself originates from a
single cell, the fertilised germ-cell.” These are two laws of
fundamental importance in the study of living things. They are true of
man as well as of the smallest worm; of the biggest tree as well as of
the most insignificant moss or water-weed. When the fertilised egg-cell
divides, and its progeny keep on dividing and growing in bulk by the
conversion of nutriment into protoplasm, the dividing cells do not
necessarily become entirely nipped off from one another. In large tracts
of cells (or tissues) we often find that the neighbouring cells are
connected to one another by excessively fine filaments of protoplasm.
Only twenty years ago it was supposed, whilst the neighbouring cells
were thus connected as a rule in animals, as well as being often
connected to the finest nerve-filaments, yet that in plants the firm,
box-like cases which surround the protoplasm—and when seen dried and
empty by Robert Hook led him to introduce the word “cell” to describe
them—form completely shut cases, so that the living protoplasm of each
plant-cell is entirely cut off from its neighbour. This has now been
found by improved methods of microscopic examination to be a mistake.
The cell-wall in a great many plants, though so firm and cleanly cut in
appearance, is yet perforated by fine threads of the cell protoplasm, so
that each cell is in living communication with its neighbour. Thus, in
plants as well as in animals, the individual cell-units form a more or
less continuous whole of living matter, separated by dead, inert
cell-walls and products of cell activity; but, nevertheless, connected
in definite tracts and regions to one another by continuity of the
living matter in the form of excessively fine threads.

Those animals and plants which are built up of many cells of many
varieties—that is to say, all but the microscopic unicellular
kinds—may be considered as composite organisms—cell-states or
communities in which the individual cells, all derived from one original
mother-cell, are the citizens, living in groups and habitations
(tissues), having their different occupations and capacities, carrying
on distinct operations and working together for the common good, the
“life,” as we call it, of the individual plant or animal which they
constitute. This comparison should serve merely as an illustration of
the individual character and co-ordinated activity of the cells of a
many-celled plant or animal. It must not be forgotten that the separate
cells are all derived by binary division from the original germ-cell,
that they have not come into juxtaposition from distinct sources, but
often are held together by threads of their living material, which
remain after the process of division of one cell into two.

Protoplasm has been called “the physical basis of life.” Since the
activities to which we give the name “life” reside in protoplasm, and
are chemical and physical activities like those of other bodies, even
though more subtle and complicated—we are justified in regarding
protoplasm as the substance in us and other organisms which “lives.”
Death consists in the destruction—the chemical undoing or decomposition
of protoplasm.[3] In simple microscopic unicellular animals and plants,
this is obvious—so long as the protoplasm retains its chemical
structure it is not “dead.” Thus, it is possible with many small simple
organisms—such as animalcules and the seeds of plants—to dry them, and
to expose them to extreme cold, and to deprive them (by aid of a vacuum
pump) of all access of free oxygen or other gases. All chemical change
is thus necessarily arrested. But the atomic structure of the chemical
molecules in the protoplasm is not destroyed. Sir James Dewar, M.
Becquerel, and others have shown this by most carefully conducted
experiments. Seeds of clover, mustard, and wheat so treated do not
“die”; the mechanism remains intact, and when, after many weeks, the
seeds are moistened, warmed, and admitted to contact with the
atmosphere, the mechanism again begins to work, the protoplasm resumes
its activity, the seed “sprouts.” Similarly Dewar has shown that
bacteria are not killed by extreme cold, the temperature of liquid
hydrogen. When thus frozen they remain inert—but are even in this
condition liable to be “killed” by exposure to the blue and ultra-blue
rays of sunlight! Life was defined by Herbert Spencer as “the
‘continuous’ adjustment of internal to external relations,” and this
implied that what is called “suspended animation” was not really a
possible thing, but that there could only be an apparent or approximate
suspension. On the contrary, it seems that just as we may stop a watch
by holding back the balance-wheel with a needle, and yet not “kill” the
watch—for it will resume its movement as soon as the needle is
removed—so the changes of the chemical molecules of protoplasm can be
arrested, but if the chemical “structure” is uninjured the mechanism of
protoplasm can resume its activity when the arresting causes are
removed. The inactive, unchanging protoplasm is not “dead,” it has not
been “killed” so long as its mechanism is intact.

On the other hand, it is the fact that this mechanism—the chemical
structure of protoplasm—is very easily destroyed. A unicellular
organism is chemically destroyed by crushing or disruption, and the
consequent admixture of an excess of water with its particles, also by a
temperature high enough to cause pain if applied to our skin, but yet
much below that of boiling water, also by strong sun-light, and by very
many varieties of chemical substances, especially acids, even when very
much diluted. Complex animals and plants are liable to have the
protoplasm of essential and important cells of the body destroyed,
whereupon the destruction or death of the other cells, not involved in
the original trouble, frequently and as a rule results. The protoplasm
of the cells of a complex animal is dependent on the proper activity of
many other cells besides those of its own tissue or locality in the
body. If the protoplasm of certain nerve-cells or of blood-cells or of
digestive-cells is poisoned or injured or chemically upset, other cells
lose as a consequence—not at once but after a short interval—their
necessary chemical food, their oxygen, their accustomed temperature, and
so bit by bit the great “body”—the complex organism—ceases to live,
that is to say, its protoplasm undergoes step by step and bit by bit
irrevocable chemical change or breaking down.

When a man enters upon that condition which we call “death,” the general
muscular movements first cease, then the movements of respiration (so
that a mirror held to the mouth was used to test the coming and going of
the breath, and the absence of a film of moisture on the mirror’s
surface was held to be a proof of death), then the movement of the
heart, which is followed by the awful pallor of the bloodless face and
lips, and the chilling of the whole body, no longer warmed by the
blood-stream. But for long after these changes have occurred the
protoplasm of the cells in many parts is not injured. The beard of a
corpse will grow after all the great arrests of movement above noted
have been established for hours. In cold-blooded animals, such as the
frog, the protoplasm of the muscles is still uninjured many hours after
decapitation, and they can be stimulated and made to contract. Death, in
fact, only occurs in the tissues of a multicellular animal, as their
protoplasm becomes chemically destroyed by injurious temperature,
poisonous accumulations, or active bacterial germs, which become
predominant owing to the stoppage of the great mechanisms of breathing,
circulation, and nerve control.

Is it, then, necessary to suppose that a something, an essence, a
spirit, an intangible existence called “life” or “vitality,” or the
“anima animans,” passes away, or, as it were, evaporates from a thing
which was living and is now dead? Assuredly no more than it is necessary
to suppose that an essence or thing called “death” takes possession of
it when it ceases to carry on the changes which we call “living.” It
must not be supposed that we regard the unique and truly awe-inspiring
processes which go on in the protoplasm of living things as something
simple, easily understood and accounted for, because we have given up
the notion that life is an entity which enters into living things from
without and escapes from them at death. The real fact is, that the
notion of “spirits,” whether of a lower or of a higher kind, supposed to
enter into and “affect” various natural objects, including trees,
rivers, and mountains, as well as animals and man, does not help us, and
only stands in the way of our gaining more complete knowledge of natural
processes. When we say that life and even its most tremendous
outcome—the mind of man—are to be studied and their gradual
development traced as part of the orderly unfolding of natural
processes, we are no whit less reverent, in no degree less impressed by
the wonder, immensity, and mystery of the universe, than those who, with
happy and obstinate adherence to primitive conceptions, think that they
can explain things by calling up vital essences and wandering spirits.


[3] Protoplasm is not a single chemical compound; it is the name given
to the soft, slimy substance of cells, and contains many chemical
compounds—proteids, fats, and others; some on the way to assume greater
chemical complexity; others in process of destruction. The critical
highest chemical body concealed in protoplasm has no generally
recognised name. It is a proteid-like body, consisting chiefly of
carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, with some saline constituents.
This is the real ultimate “living matter,” and I suggested in the
_Encyclopedia Britannica_ (article Protozoa) in 1886 that it should be
called “plasmogen.”



When the chemist examines living cell-substance or protoplasm—as free
as possible from dead envelopes and products of its own activity—so as
to make out, if he can, what it is chemically, he finds that it consists
of the elements carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, with some
sulphur. Phosphorus and some potash, soda and lime in small quantity,
are also very usually associated with the elements named. These are
combined in the protoplasm so as to form chemical compounds resembling
and including white of egg, and are called “proteids.” A chemical
compound is a very definite and special thing, and when one says
so-and-so is a definite chemical compound, one means that it is not a
mere “mixture,” but is composed of chemical elements (some out of the
long list of about eighty indestructible, undecomposable, “simple”
bodies—gases, liquids, metallic and non-metallic solids—recognised by
chemists and known as such), peculiarly united to, or “combined” with,
one another in definite proportions by weight.

Take, as an example, water. Water is a definite chemical compound,
formed by the chemical union of two pure elements, the gases hydrogen
and oxygen—eighteen ounces of water consist of two ounces of hydrogen
and sixteen ounces of oxygen. At a temperature above that of boiling
water the gases, when they unite, contract to form water-vapour, three
pints of the uniting gases (consisting of two pints of hydrogen and one
of oxygen) forming two pints only of water-vapour. This, when it is
cooled to a temperature below 212 deg. Fahr., suddenly contracts to a
few thimblefuls of pure liquid water. Neither oxygen nor hydrogen
“uncombined” liquefy till far below zero.

A proteid, in the same way, is a chemical combination of the elements
already mentioned—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur—but
the proportions by volume of these elements to each other are
represented by very high figures, not merely by two to one, as in the
case of water. It is the carbon in them that makes “proteids” turn black
when they are destroyed by burning, and it is the sulphur which causes
the smell of rotten eggs. Whilst an ultimate molecule or physical
particle of water consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one of
oxygen—the molecule of the proteid called “albumen” is built up by
seventy-two atoms of carbon, one hundred and twelve atoms of hydrogen,
eighteen atoms of nitrogen, twelve atoms of oxygen, all brought into
relation with one atom of sulphur. Probably in some other proteids the
number of these atoms must all be multiplied by three. The elaborate
“atomic composition” of a molecule of proteid renders it very unstable;
it easily falls to pieces, the elements combining, in other and simpler
proportions, to form less “delicate” bodies. Living protoplasm consists
chiefly of proteids and of compounds which are on the way up, forming
step by step more elaborate combinations till they reach the proteid
stage—and of many others which are degradation products, coming down,
as it were, from the giddy heights of the proteid combination. The
protoplasm of a cell contains finer and grosser granules, which are
these ascending and descending substances; it also contains others in
solution and invisible—for, like a lump of jelly (such as the cook
serves up shaped by a mould and soaked with flavour and colour),
protoplasm can soak up either a large or a small quantity of water, and
with the water (that is the important point) all sorts of chemical
bodies soluble in water. Just as a lump of quivering calves’-foot jelly
(which is a chemical compound of a lower grade than proteids, but like
them), when placed in a shallow dish of water coloured red by carmine,
does not dissolve in the water, but absorbs the water and the carmine,
allowing the coloured water and any chemical bodies in solution in it to
diffuse into and become physically, though not chemically, a part of its
substance, so protoplasm takes up water and the compounds dissolved by
it. Just as a “jelly” of water-holding gelatine can give up its water
and become hard and horny, so is protoplasm capable of gradually giving
up much of its water, and even in some cases of becoming hard and horny,
yet able to return, when remoistened, to its active state. Moreover, a
“jelly” can be made to “soak up” or take into itself water and let it
pass through its substance, so as to wash out from it all soluble
matters. In the same way the protoplasm of a living cell is supplied
with nourishing and oxygenating fluids which diffuse into it, and is
“washed out,” purified, and cleansed of waste or effete chemical
compounds by the water which first permeates it, and then diffuses out
of it into surrounding watery fluids carrying the excess of soluble
chemical bodies with it.

Whilst proteids are the compounds of the highest stage of chemical
complexity recognised in protoplasm, and appear to form the bulk of its
substance, we must carefully avoid the error (which is not uncommon) of
supposing that protoplasm is itself a definite chemical compound. It is
not. Cell-protoplasm includes the nucleus, that denser central body: and
is a structure consisting of “proteids” and of many granules and
dust-like particles, and of more and of less liquid or watery parts
which are less complex in chemical nature than are proteids. Some of the
visible granules and invisible liquids present in protoplasm are being
built up to the proteid stage of elaboration, whilst some are steps in
degradation and decomposition. We have no reason to suppose that the
molecules of any proteid known at present to the chemist really are the
highest degree of chemical complexity attained to in living protoplasm.
Probably there is present a further stage of elaboration, a chemical
body even more complex than is “proteid,” which is continually
attracting the lower chemical compounds to itself and as continually
breaking down. This is the ultimate chemical substance of life. It is
hidden invisibly in the protoplasm, yet all the chemical changes which
go on in the protoplasm of a cell are either leading up to this supreme
life-stuff or are leading downwards from it. This ultimate compound,
which we suppose to exist but have not demonstrated, has been called
“plasmogen.” It is this body in which resides the peculiar property of
living matter, namely, that of attracting to itself substances
containing the so-called “organic” elements—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen,
and nitrogen—and of acting on them in such a way that they “nourish”
it—that is to say, combine chemically with it to form more “plasmogen.”

The intermediate steps leading up to plasmogen and the products arising
from its incessant breaking down are formed under the influence of this
unique chemical body, and by it alone. Chemists have not yet succeeded
in making them; only the less elaborate kinds have been “artificially”
constructed without the aid of the living plasmogen. To construct
plasmogen itself is a task for the chemists of the distant future. In
early geological ages plasmogen came into being; it has gone on ever
since “nourishing” itself, maintaining itself, growing and spreading
over the earth. It is improbable that the conditions which led to its
formation have ever recurred. All subsequent plasmogen has been formed
by the growth and increase of that first sample of it, which once in a
remote period of the earth’s history was built up by chemical
conditions, which came to an end as soon as they had produced it.

The only process in nature of which we know, which resembles the
“building” action of plasmogen, the ultimate molecule of life, buried in
the cell’s protoplasm, is the selective action of crystals, which draw
to themselves from a solution or magma of all sorts of chemical bodies
those molecules of a chemical nature identical with their own, and build
them up into special and definite crystalline forms. But there is a very
wide gap between this process and even the mere assimilation by living
matter of the organic elements, so as to raise them from a lower to a
higher grade of chemical complexity of combination. And over and above
this we have added, in the case of living material, to the mere power of
assimilation and growth the almost unthinkable complications and
variations of specific form and quality, and yet further of individual
form and quality, which are determined by special complications and
variations of the plasmogen, that unique compound concealed in the

We cannot at present, if ever, picture to ourselves adequately the
mechanism of plasmogen, though the attempt has been, and must be, made.
But we can watch its workings closely; we can ascertain the conditions
which promote, check, or modify its activity; in fact, we can observe
its output and experiment on it in a thousand ways, and so get more and
more knowledge of it. We are not led to suppose that it is possessed by
a demon, nor that in it resides an elsewhere unknown essence. It is
enough for us to satisfy ourselves that its qualities, whilst they can
be grouped with the chemical and physical qualities of other bodies, so
far transcend them in complexity and in immensity of result—the whole
creation of plant and animal life—that their appearance constitutes in
effect a new departure, a sudden and, to us, unaccountable acquirement.
But then we must remember that it is also an unaccountable thing to us
that water suddenly becomes ice at a low temperature, and suddenly
becomes vapour at a high temperature, even if we are able to imagine the
mechanism which necessitates those changes. We cannot “explain” the
nature of things. Even though we can classify them and arrange them in
order, and more or less satisfactorily guess what their inner mechanism
is, we cannot, in our present state of knowledge, trace them in detail
to a first beginning. Even though we believe that such a history lies
behind us, we ourselves cannot as yet show how exactly every quality and
property and form of matter has developed in due order as a matter of
necessity during the cooling of the cosmic gas. All we can do is to
ascertain, bit by bit, some sequences, some lines of orderly development
and interaction, adding thus step by step to our knowledge of what has
taken place.



In old times, if one wanted to compare a man to the humblest and
simplest of animals, one called him “a worm.” But really a worm is a
very elaborate creature, with skin, muscles, blood-vessels, kidneys,
nervous system, pharynx, stomach, and an intestine, and is built up by
hundreds of thousands of protoplasmic cells. Shakespeare got nearer the
mark when he made one of his uncompromising professional “murderers”
exclaim, as he stabbed the young Macduff to the heart, “What, you egg!”
An egg is a single cell or corpuscle of protoplasm, and the simplest
living things are of the same structure—mere units, single corpuscles
of protoplasm, often less than the one-thousandth of an inch in
diameter, and invisible except with the microscope, though in some cases
big enough to be seen by the naked eye as they swim or crawl in a glass
of pond-water. Many thousands of kinds of these simplest animals and
plants have been carefully recorded, distinguished from one another, and
named by naturalists.

Many of these unicellular animals (or “Protozoa”) crawl by a curious
irregular flowing movement of the viscid tenacious protoplasm of which
they consist. There is no firm coat or cell-wall, only the thinnest
pellicle on the surface. The Proteus-animalcule (Fig. 36A) is so called
because of its constant change of shape; it is also called Amœba on
this account. It flows out into broad, sometimes elongated, finger-like
processes, of which one or several of different sizes may be formed at
the same time, and then quickly disappear as the whole creature moves.
Solid particles of food—minute unicellular plants—are engulfed by the
moving viscid protoplasm and digested within it—that is to say,
chemically dissolved, just as food is digested in the stomach of a big
animal. The colourless cells of our blood and lymph (Fig. 36B) are
called “amœboid,” because of their identity with an Amœba in shape
and movement and digestive power. In some of these animalcules
(sun-animalcules and others) the processes of the protoplasm are in the
form of very fine, long spreading threads which entangle a food
particle, and then contract, drawing it up into the disc-like central

A whole group or division of these simplest animals are provided with
special moving or vibrating hair-like extensions of the protoplasm
called “cilia,” that being the Latin name for “eyelashes,” to which they
are compared. These cilia are arranged with great regularity in rows,
circlets, or spirals, on the surface of the “cell.” They are found not
only on cells which are independent unicellular animals and plants, but
also on cells which form the clothing or surface layer of many larger
animals (Fig. 40A and B). Thus, in ourselves, they are found lining the
windpipe, and they also line the internal cavity of the brain and spinal
cord. The gills of the oyster, and such shell-fish, and other parts of
their skin, are paved with ciliated or cilia-bearing cells, set side by
side in thousands. A single “cilium” is like a little lash of a whip,
and is always making its lashing movement. For a fraction of a second it
is straight and upright, then suddenly curves over and bends to one side
with a “flick,” and immediately recovers its upright position (see Fig.
29, p. 131). All the cilia on one cell or one surface “beat” in the same
direction, and with a common rhythm, so that if the cell is a free,
independent animalcule it is driven along through the water by the rapid
strokes of these numberless tiny “oars,” or “paddles.” If the cilia are
on a surface—like the oyster’s gill—they drive the water along and
create a constant current. Each cilium consists of an elastic and a
contractile fibre closely fused together: the contraction of the one
part causes a flick or bending of the hair-like cilium, the elasticity
of the other substance causes it at once to straighten out again.

The ciliated unicellular animalcules (often called the infusoria,
because they flourish in decomposing “infusions”) not only swim by means
of their cilia, but have a definite mouth or opening in the firm outer
layer of the protoplasm of the cell, into which solid particles of food
are driven by whirlpool-like currents set up by special lines of cilia
(Fig. 41A_a_). The mouth leads through a definite “gullet” into the
interior of the cell. Remember that the whole creature is but a single
minute cell or corpuscle of protoplasm! It is only from the hundredth to
the thousandth of an inch long—with nucleus (_e_ in the figure) of
denser structure within—just like, in essential structure and
properties, one single cell of the many thousands which build up the
liver, or are packed in layers to form our outer skin, or are piled side
by side (by self-division) to make the stems and leaves of plants. Yet
here is such a cell—self-sufficing. When it divides (as it does) the
two resulting cells do not remain in contact as they do when a germ cell
(a fertilised egg-cell) divides. They simply separate, and each swims
away, and carries on its own life. Many of them are fitted out with
these cilia as a most serviceable locomotor apparatus, and as producers
of food currents driving the food right in to a permanent,
definitely-shaped mouth. Some have also a separate opening by which the
undigested remains of the food are extruded. They have also a
liquid-holding cavity or series of cavities which, when distended,
contract and discharge their contents to the exterior. This is an
apparatus for “washing out” the protoplasm of the unicellular animalcule
and getting rid of excretory products; it is definitely comparable in
its use, though so different in origin, to the many-celled kidneys and
bladder of higher animals.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.—Two specimens of a bell-animalcule
(_Vorticella_). A, extended. B, with retracted disc and coiled stalk.
_a_, the ciliated disc; _b_, the firm ring behind the disc, called
“peristome”; _c_, the pulsating chamber, called often the contractile
vacuole; _d_, a completely digested particle of food on its way to be
cast out through the gullet; _e_, the sausage-shaped nucleus; _f_, a
particle of food which has just sunk into the protoplasm from the
gullet, and is surrounded by a little water; _g_, the gullet; _h_, the
reservoir leading from the pulsating chamber to the gullet; _i_, the
hollow stalk; _k_, the spirally attached muscle within the stalk; _l_,
the attachment of the stalk to a weed _m_.]

One of the numerous kinds of “bell-animalcules” affords an excellent
example in which we can watch the structures and life-processes in a
single cell (Fig. 41). It is a pear or bell-shaped body, little more
than one-thousandth of an inch broad, supported on a long, hollow stalk
(though sometimes it breaks off from its stalk and swims freely); inside
the stalk is a muscle (_k_), so attached that when it contracts it
shortens the stalk by throwing it into a close-set, corkscrew spiral
(Fig. 41B). The bell-shaped body has a relatively firm surface, beneath
which is soft, viscid protoplasm and a large sausage-like nucleus. The
body can expand itself so as to look like a solid bell or trumpet-shaped
figure, with a flat, disc-like surface where the “hollow” of the bell
should be, or it can draw the edges of the disc together and assume the
shape of a ball. A line of “cilia” is set on the edge of the bell’s disc
(_a_) and takes a spiral course.

There is a deep pit on one side of the disc. This is the mouth. It is
easy to feed this minute “egg” of a creature! A powder of fine
particles—boiled bacteria, in fact, are what I have used—is introduced
into the water between two slips of glass in which the bell-animalcule
is displaying itself under our microscope. We see the particles whirling
about in a vortex, hitting the disc of the bell-animalcule and then
driven into the pit or cavity of the open mouth, whence they sink,
enclosed in a sphere or droplet of water (_f_) into the internal
protoplasm! If the “boiled bacteria,” before they are introduced, are
stained with an alkaline blue, such as blue litmus, they are seen in the
course of a few seconds to turn red—showing that an acid has been
secreted by the protoplasm (probably accompanied by a ferment) into the
little sphere of water, in which the digestion of the boiled bacteria
now goes on. In the course of a few minutes you will see the little
sphere of water dwindling in size—the nourishing liquid being absorbed
by the protoplasm—and then you will see the undigested fragments passed
on by a slow movement to the vestibule or “pit” of the mouth, extruded
through a temporary opening from the protoplasm, and whirled away by the
water currents! If you colour the “boiled bacteria” with water-soluble
anilin-blue—as I did many years ago—you will see that the colour
vanishes from the particles taken into the bell-animalcule’s protoplasm,
and presently an independent sphere of bright blue liquid begins to form
in the protoplasm. This sphere or globule is the renal organ mentioned
above—here very simple and single (Fig. 40_c_). It is called the
pulsating chamber or “contractile vacuole.” It enlarges rapidly, filling
with blue liquid (when special coloured food has not been supplied the
liquid is colourless), then suddenly contracts, squirting its blue
contents out through a special reservoir (_h_) into the mouth-pit (as
shown by an arrow in the figure).

The nucleus of these unicellular animals is often elongated (_e_), and
shaped according to the general shape of the animalcule; but it is the
same thing as the “nucleus” of all cells, whether of plants or
animals—a denser “kernel” of protoplasm, limited by its own delicate
sheath or membrane. It shows, like the cell-nucleus of ordinary cells, a
special affinity for certain dyes, which do not stain the rest of the
cell, so that it can be made very obvious and clear when the animalcule
is killed by alcohol, picric acid, or other preservative solutions, and
then stained; and it shows a curious breaking-up of its substance into
thread-like fibres when the animalcule is about to divide into two—as
is seen also in all cells when the regular process of division of one
cell into two commences. The larger animalcules have enabled us to find
out what are the special properties of the nucleus of cells, as
contrasted with those of the rest of the protoplasm. The trumpet
animalcule (Stentor) is a single cell, and though only one-thirtieth of
an inch long, is large enough to be cut into pieces by very skilful use
of a fine blade. It is found that, if we cut the Stentor into four or
five bits, all continue to “live”; that is to say, to swim about by the
vibration of the hair-like cilia on their surface. But those bits which
have no part of the nucleus in them die after a few hours. They cannot
take nourishment nor grow. On the other hand, all the bits which
comprise a slice of nucleus commence to contract, and shape themselves
like the original Stentor, then form a mouth, and take nourishment, and
grow up to be fully-sized, complete Stentors—animalcules like that by
the cutting-up of which they were formed. This and similar experiments
are held to prove that the processes of nutrition, growth, and
production of specific form are dependent on the nucleus. In its
absence, you may have contractility and active movement for a time, but
no repair, no building-up of new material, no directed or seemingly
“purposive” movement. Such movements, viz., advance in one direction,
arrest, hesitating, or exploring movement to the right and left,
followed by rapid retreat or advance in a straight line, are often
exhibited by these minute animalcules, and cannot be distinguished in
character from those, say, of a fly or even of a mouse.

These facts throw a great light on the significance of the structure of
the protoplasmic corpuscle which we call a “cell,” and show that the
universal presence of the nucleus in every “cell” is due to the fact
that it plays the most important part in the life of the cell. It is the
seat of control, and contains substances in virtue of which the changes
which constitute growth and form-production take place, and in the
absence of which the rest of the protoplasm cannot “carry on,” although
for a time it lives; that is to say, remains chemically undecomposed,
and shows active movement. At the same time, we must not underrate the
importance of the general protoplasm, without the presence of some of
which the nucleus cannot do its work, nor even exist. It is no wonder,
then, that when a cell divides, there are curious and elaborate
proceedings in the nucleus, by which each daughter cell gets its due
half of the all-important nuclear substance.

[Illustration: FIG. 42.—Six successive stages in the division of a
“cell,” to show the appearance of the V-shaped filaments of colourable
matter or chromatin. _a_, resting-cell, with chromatin dispersed as fine
irregular filaments in the nucleus; _b_, the chromatin takes the form of
a wreath with twelve loops—it lies horizontally across the cell; _c_,
the loops break from one another, and form twelve separate V-shaped
pieces; _d_, each of the twelve pieces divides along its length into two
parallel V-shaped pieces; _e_, the divided pieces now separate from one
another, so as to form two wreath-like groups of twelve V-shaped pieces
at each end of the cell; _f_, the wall of the cell forms across between
the separated groups of V-shaped pieces, which lose their regular
arrangement. Each group becomes enclosed in a capsule, and is the
nucleus of a new cell. This is the regular process of cell-division, and
the mode in which the chromatin of the nucleus is broken up, so as to be
equally shared by the two daughter cells. In some species of animals the
cells have as many as thirty-six V-shaped chromatin bodies; in others as
few as two. Different plants also show a similar difference in the
number of chromatin bodies characteristic of the species.]

When a cell divides the fission or splitting of the cell is preceded by
peculiar changes in the nucleus. There is a material in the nucleus of
every cell—of those which are simple animalcules, as well as of those
which are germ-cells and sperm-cells, and of those which form, heaped up
in enormous numbers, the living substance of larger animals and
plants—a material which is an elaborated sort of proteid (see p. 185)
and stains strongly with carmine, logwood, and such dyes, and is called
“chromatin.” It exists often in the shape of minute granules and
filaments (Fig. 42_a_), but always takes on, sooner or later, the form
of an irregularly undulated thread or threads. When the cell is about to
divide into two—as all growing and active cells do—the thread arranges
itself like a zigzagging girdle around the equator of the globular
nucleus (Fig. 42_b_). The margin of the nucleus then seems to melt away
into the general protoplasm, and the zigzag bits of the stainable thread
break from each other, forming a ring-like group of V-shaped pieces
(Fig. 42_c_). There is a remarkable fact as to the number of these
V-shaped pieces. They are identical in number in all the cells of one
species or kind of animal or plant, but may be of a different number in
allied species. The salamander has twenty-four of them; some worms have
only two, some insects thirty-six, some plants eight, others twelve, and
so on. When the V-shaped pieces have thus taken up their position in the
dividing cell, each splits longitudinally, so as to form two V-shaped
pieces lying one over the other (Fig. 42_d_). Then the halves separate
and travel away from each other. In this way two circlets, each made up
by the correct number of V-shaped pieces, come into place at opposite
sides of the cell (Fig. 42_e_). After this the protoplasm becomes nipped
in between the two circlets so as to separate the cell into two halves,
each with its circlet of exactly the correct number of V-shaped pieces
of “chromatin” formed by the splitting of those of the parent cell (Fig.
42_f_). It is in this way that the nuclei of the new cells are
accurately provided with not merely half of the nuclear chromatin of the
mother cell, but with half taken from all parts of it, owing to the
thread-like form of the chromatin and the longitudinal splitting of the

Fertilisation of the egg-cell by the sperm-cell consists essentially in
the junction or fusion of the nuclear chromatin threads of the egg-cell
with the nuclear chromatin threads of a single sperm-cell or
spermatozoon, which sinks into the egg-cell and fuses with it. This has
been witnessed and studied with the greatest care. The leading fact of
interest is that the egg-cell and the sperm-cell have only half the
number of V-shaped nuclear pieces which the ordinary cells of the same
animal or plant possess. Thus a salamander’s ripe egg and ripe
spermatozoid have each only twelve V-shaped pieces—not twenty-four.
This is brought about by the parent cells, which divide to form the
egg-cell of the female and the spermatozoid of the male, not splitting
their V-shaped nuclear bits; consequently, the number is reduced to
half (that is, twelve) in the daughter cells resulting from the
division. Accordingly, when the fusion of egg-cell and sperm-cell
occurs—each bringing twelve V-shaped pieces—the proper number is
re-established, namely, twenty-four. In the first division of this
fertilised germ-cell—the cell resulting from the fusion of egg-cell and
sperm-cell—the V-shaped nuclear pieces split in the regular way, and
the first two embryo-cells are formed, each with its twenty-four pieces.
Each of these cells undergoes the regular process, and so by continued
growth and division into two an immense series of cells are produced,
which may separate as they form, or in the case of multi-cellular
creatures, remain in continuity with one another as a bulky plant or
animal. Clearly the whole process arises from the value to the growing
mass of protoplasm of having its substance closely sown or dotted with
centres of nuclear matter—that specially active, co-ordinating
material—and of having those centres of equal volume and quality; and,
lastly, of having that nuclear matter equally, or nearly equally,
derived from the male and female parent. It is, however, not certain
from observation of what occurs when the twelve male and twelve female
V-shaped pieces (or whatever the number may be in any given animal or
plant which have become grouped together in the fertilised germ-cell)
split and separate to form the nucleus of two new cells—that exactly
twelve male and twelve female pieces go into each of the new cells. It
is certain that twenty-four pieces go into each, but although it is
possible that exactly half of them are male and half female in origin,
it is not certain from observation that this is necessarily so.
Supposing different proportions to obtain in each of the two first
embryo-cells, it would help to account for the facts that offspring are
not an exact blend of their parents in all their qualities, and that
all the offspring of the same two parents are not exactly alike, but
often very different from one another.

Some of the simplest living things, consisting of but one microscopic
cell, are animals, and some are plants. The essential difference between
an animal and a plant is shown very clearly by some of these microscopic
creatures. Animals feed on the flesh or “proteid” substances
manufactured by other animals or by plants; they also feed on oils or
fats, and on the sugar and starch manufactured by other animals or by
plants. But they cannot construct these “foods” themselves from the
simpler stable chemical compounds called “mineral bodies,” which,
nevertheless, contain the elements they require—carbon, nitrogen,
hydrogen, and oxygen. Such stable mineral bodies are carbonic acid,
ammonia, and water. In fact, ordinary “smelling salts” (which is
chemically carbonate of ammonia) dissolved in water, if we add to it a
trace of phosphates, sulphates, and chlorides of potash, soda and lime,
contain all the actual chemical elements that an animal needs. Yet no
animal can be nourished by such a “mineral” soup.

On the other hand, it is the special distinction of plants—of green
plants, be it noted—that they can feed on this simple diet, and,
moreover, cannot feed on anything else. The green colouring matter which
gives its beautiful tint to the grass and weeds and the leaves of the
big trees which clothe the earth is absolutely essential in this
process; so also is sunlight. The living protoplasm of the
green-coloured parts of plants is crowded with microscopic discs or
plates of a brilliant transparent green colour. The peculiar substance
causing the colour is called “leaf-green,” or “chlorophyll.” It can be
dissolved out of a leaf, not by water, but by spirit or by ether, and
separately studied. It may be seen in solution (to cite a commercial
instance) in the liqueur known as “crême de menthe,” being used to give
its fine green colour to that preparation. Sunlight shining on to the
green parts of plants is “screened” or “strained” by the leaf-green, so
that only some of the coloured rays pass through it, and it is only by
this peculiarly “strained” green sunlight that the protoplasm of the
cells of the leaf is stimulated to its remarkable chemical activity. The
carbonic acid in the air or in the water in which the green plant is
living is taken up by the protoplasm. Carbonic acid consists of oxygen
and of carbon. The protoplasm, when the green sunlight acts on it,
actually takes out of carbonic acid and throws off as a gas (seen as
bubbles in the case of a water plant) some of its constituent oxygen,
thus keeping up the supply of free oxygen in air and water. Then at the
same time it combines the carbon and the rest of the oxygen with water
(hydrogen and oxygen) inside itself, forming solid starch, which, with
the microscope, we can see actually manufactured as little oblong grains
in the green cells. Not only this, but the element nitrogen is, so to
speak, “forced” in other cells of the plant to combine with the three
elements of the newly-formed starch (carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen), and
thus the first steps leading to the building up of those wonderful
bodies, the proteids, are passed. Nothing of the sort can be done by the
protoplasm of an animal cell.

Consequently we distinguish among the simplest living things those which
are provided with leaf-green, and feed, as do the larger green plants,
on dissolved “mineral” solids and gases. There are many thousands of
kinds of them—single simple cells. Some are known to microscopists as
Diatoms and Desmids—often of curious spindle or crescent-shape, others
star-like. The diatoms form on their surface a delicate,
wonderfully-sculptured coat of glass-like silica (quartz), which
resists destruction and persists long after the protoplasm is dead and
washed away. They are favourite objects for examination with the
microscope on account of their great beauty and variety.

Those simplest living things which have not got leaf-green to enable
them to feed on mineral food must—unless they are parasites (as many
important kinds are)—get their food, as do bigger animals, by feeding
on the solid substance of other living things. All living things are, in
fact, ultimately dependent on the green plants—whether microscopic or
of larger kinds—not only for food, but for oxygen gas. If you could
take away green plants altogether from the world, the animals would eat
one another and use up the oxygen gas of the atmosphere, and at the last
there would be a few only of the strongest left, like the last survivor
of the shipwrecked crew of the _Nancy Bell_, and even they would be
suffocating for want of oxygen. The single cells, which are independent
animalcules, and feed like animals on whole creatures smaller than
themselves, or on bits of the fresh substance of other animals or of
plants, are of extraordinary diversity of form and activity. Unlike the
unicellular plants, whose food is dissolved in the water in which they
live, the single-cell animals of necessity take their food in “lumps”
into their inside and digest it, and so their cell-protoplasm has either
a soft surface which can take up a food-morsel at any point or it has a
firm surface with a definite mouth, or aperture, in it (see Fig. 41)
where the mouth is marked by an arrow. Many of them, especially those
with soft glutinous protoplasm, which extends from the main-mass in long
threads or branching processes searching for food-morsels, form
marvellous, perforated shells by chemical deposit, either of silica or
limestone (Radiolaria and Foraminifers). The kinds with a firm or tough
surface to the cell-protoplasm and a permanent mouth and gullet leading
into the cell-substance have very usually a single large lashing-whip
(Flagellata), which drives them through the water in search of prey, or
they are clothed with hundreds of such lashing threads of smaller
size—the “cilia” described above (p. 195)—arranged in rows or circles,
whence these animalcules are called “Ciliata.” The ciliates or
one-celled animals are enabled by their cilia to move with all the
grace, variety, facility, and apparent intelligence of the highest
animals, and also to create powerful vortex-currents by which food
particles are driven into the cell-mouth.

It is a most remarkable and thought-stirring fact that here we have
“animalcules” which are no more than isolated units of the kind and
structure which go by hundreds of thousands to build up a larger
animal—just as bricks are units of the kind which to the number of many
thousands build up a house. And yet each of these free-living units has
a complete organisation—mouth, pharynx, renal organ, locomotive organs,
and so on—similar in activity and general shape to the system of large,
capacious organs built up by the agglomeration of millions of cell-units
to form the body of a higher animal. It is as though a single brick were
provided with door, windows, staircase, fireplace, chimneys, and
wine-cellar! It is clear that there is only a resemblance and not an
identity of origin between the organs of the multicellular animal and
those of the single-celled animalcule. The history of the growth of an
animal from the single egg-cell, and also the series of existing
many-celled animals, leading from simple forms to the most complex,
proves this. And in view of that fact the wonderful elaboration of these
diminutive creatures—many of them so small as to be absolutely
invisible to the naked eye—is all the more curious and impressive. We
have, in fact, parallel organisation and elaboration of structures with
special uses, in two absolutely separated grades or strata of living
things—the one grade marked off by the limitation that only a single
cell, a single nucleated corpuscle of protoplasm, is to be the basis and
material of elaboration—the other and higher grade permitting the use
of millions of single cells, of endless variety and plasticity, capable
of hanging together and being grouped in layers and tissues, in such
enormous masses that an elephant or a whale is the result. And we see
that the same needs are met, not actually in the same way, but in the
same kind of way, in the two cases—the food-orifice, the cilia, and the
“pulsating vacuole” of the unicellular animalcule do the same services
as those done by the structurally different mouth, legs, and kidneys of
the elephant.



The season of tadpoles is not a season recognised by housekeepers and
gourmets (except in France, where frogs are eaten in April), but one
dear to schoolboys and all lovers of Nature. The ponds on heaths and in
the corners of meadows now show great masses of soft jelly-like balls of
the size of a marble, huddled together and marked each by a little black
spot at its centre, as big as a rape-seed. This is the “spawn” of our
common frog. The spawn of the common toad is very similar, but the black
spots are set in long strings of jelly, not in separate balls. The
little black body is precisely the same thing as the yellow part of a
hen’s egg, and the jelly around it corresponds to the “white” of the
bird’s egg; but there is nothing to represent the shell. The “yelk” of
the bird’s egg is, it is true, much larger, but corresponds to the black
sphere of the frog’s egg—the actual germ—and is like the latter a
single protoplasmic cell, distended with nourishing granular matter. It
is the excess of this matter which makes the yellow ball of the bird’s
egg so much bigger than the black or rather deep-brown germ of the frog.
The little black spheres elongate from day to day in the warm spring
weather, and at last the minute tadpoles (see Fig. 43 and its
explanation) break loose from the jelly, hanging on to its surface by
aid of a tiny sucker, and feeding on the minute green vegetable growths
which have appeared all over the jelly-like mass. Their rate of growth
depends very much on the temperature, and is much more rapid in Italy
and the South of France than in England. At first they are so small that
it is difficult to distinguish, except with a pocket-lens, the little
black plume-like gills on each side of the head, and it is only as they
grow bigger and lose these little plumes that the young things assume
the characteristic shape of a rounded head—really head and body—with a
long flattened tail which strikes vigorously to the right and left, and
enables the tadpole to swim like a fish.

[Illustration: FIG. 43.—Stages in the growth from the egg of the common
frog—drawn of the natural size. 1. Egg in its jelly-like envelope. 2.
Very young tadpoles adhering to weed by their suckers (placed just below
the mouth). 3. Very young tadpole, showing two pair of external gills: a
third pair is present, but so small as to be invisible without
magnification. 4, 5, 6. Stages in the later growth of the tadpole: the
external gills have disappeared, but the legs have not yet made their
appearance. 7. Tadpole of full size, with fore and hind legs. 8. The
tadpole has now become a small frog, and has left the water. The tail
has shrunk, but has not entirely disappeared: it remains throughout life
hidden by the skin and the large thighs of the growing frog. This figure
has been kindly supplied by Messrs. Macmillan & Co., from Dr. Gadow’s
volume on the “Amphibia and Reptiles,” in the _Cambridge Natural

I suppose that every one, or nearly every one, knows that these swarming
little black tadpoles are the young of frogs and toads. As the season
goes on they grow to as much as an inch and a quarter (sometimes an inch
and three-quarters) in length, and develop a number of golden
metallic-looking spots in the skin, which give them a brownish hue. Both
the fore and the hind limbs have now developed, but are hidden beneath
the skin, and all this time the tadpole is breathing, like a fish, by
means of gills, concealed from view by a fold of skin. Very early it
acquires a pair of lungs, and by the time the legs break through the
skin (the hind legs do so first) the lungs are inflated, and help in
respiration. Now the head becomes modelled like that of a young frog,
the tail ceases to grow, its flat transparent border is absorbed and
eaten by “phagocytes,” and the legs become strong and large. Soon the
gills atrophy, and the young creature crawls out of the water and spends
much of its time in the damp grass and herbage near its native pond,
rapidly assuming the shape of a frog. An interesting fact is that all
the time that it is a tadpole the little animal eats vegetable food or
soft animal food (even other tadpoles), has horny lips, and a very long
intestine, coiled like a watch-spring. But as soon as it leaves the
water it becomes purely carnivorous, feeding on small insects and worms,
and its intestine straightens out and becomes, relatively to the
increased size of the body, quite short.

Even those who know frog-spawn when they see it and something of the
history of the growth of the tadpole and its change into the young frog
or toad (as the case may be) do not, as a rule, know about the laying of
the eggs. In the early spring (end of March) the full-grown frogs and
toads which have passed the winter buried in holes and cracks in the
ground in a state of torpor wake up and make their way to neighbouring
good-sized ponds. In these the eggs are deposited. The male frogs wait
for the females whom they seize from behind, placing their arms under
hers and round the chest. They hold so firmly that nothing will persuade
them to let go. They often retain their hold for days or even weeks.
Sometimes by mistake they seize a fish and hold on securely to its
head—a fact which has led to the belief among country-folk that the
frog is an enemy of the carp, and tries to blind him by forcing his
hands into the carp’s eyes. At this season a frog will clasp your finger
or the handle of a stick so persistently that you can lift him out of
the water. A large pad of a black colour grows in the breeding-season on
the inside of the first finger of the frog’s hand, and is richly
supplied with nerves. It is this growth which is sensitive and when
touched sets up the cramp-like clasping action of the muscles of the
arms. The eggs are eventually squeezed from the female’s body, and are
fertilised by the spermatic fluid of the male as they pass into the
water. They are, when “laid,” covered with only a thin transparent layer
of albumen (or white of egg), and it is only after a few hours that this
imbibes water and swells up into a ball-like mass around each little
black egg.

Years ago I used to collect the spawning toads and frogs at Baden, near
Vienna, in order to observe (in the laboratory of the celebrated
microscopist, Professor Stricker, the most gifted of his day) the
earliest changes in the little black egg, the size of a rape-seed, which
follow upon fertilisation. Properly placed in a watch-glass full of
water under a low power of the microscope one little egg could be
watched for hours. If it had not been fertilised, nothing occurred. But
if it had been, then there were strange movements of its surface and a
puckering and sinking in along one definite line, coming and going, but
at last becoming well marked like a deep furrow. Without actually
splitting, the little sphere was divided by the cleft into two halves.
Then, at right angles to the first cleft, a second began to form, and so
on, until in the course of hours the sphere became divided on its
surface like a blackberry. The separate pieces thus marked out are the
first “cells,” or units, of living protoplasm of the young tadpole. They
continue to divide and to chemically convert the granular matter with
which they are charged into living material whilst the mass slowly, in
the course of days (taking up water for its increase in actual size),
becomes elongated, and shows the rudiments of head, eyes, ears, spinal
cord, and projecting tail. It is a fascinating task to watch this
gradual development—and a difficult, but necessary, one (which has now
been carried out in the minutest detail by patient students), to harden
with chemical solutions the growing embryos taken at successive stages,
to embed them in wax or paraffin (as Stricker was the first to do), and
to cut them into the finest slices, then to clarify these slices in
balsam-varnish, examine them with the microscope, and record and draw
every “cell,” every constituent unit, as they increase in number and
complication of arrangement. That wonderfully difficult feat has now
been carried out not only in the case of the frog and toad, but in the
case of hundreds of different kinds of animals of all sorts. Thus we
know the history of the growth from the egg in its minutest details in
every kind of animal—the “cell-lineage” of the tissues of the
full-grown animal traced back to the single original egg-cell.

The egg of animals is always originally a single “cell”—that is to say,
a minute corpuscle of slimy consistence, with a dense capsulated kernel
or “nucleus” within it. The kernel or nucleus divides into two, and the
cell itself divides; each of the daughter cells again divides, and so
the process continues, until thousands, and in larger animals millions,
of cells are the result, as the mass of cells takes up nourishment and
increases in volume. When (as is the case in many animals, _e.g._
starfishes, worms, and mammals) there is only a little granular
food-material mixed in with the protoplasm of the egg-cell, that cell is
of small size, only the one two-hundredth of an inch in diameter (see
Fig. 31). But in the frog there is much granular food-material, and the
egg-cell is distended to the size of a rape-seed. When there is still
more, as in the bird and many fishes, the egg-cell does not entirely
divide as it does in smaller eggs on commencing growth after
fertilisation. The protoplasm collects into a disc incompletely
separated from the food-material, and it is the disc only which divides
into two, four, eight, and ever so many more cells. Some of the cells
resulting from the division of the disc form the embryo’s body, and
others spread, as they multiply, all over the rest of the egg-ball from
its edges so as to enclose the granular food-material in a sac, called
the yelk sac. In the frog, on the contrary, the protoplasm does not
separate as a disc: the whole egg-cell or ball divides to form the
embryo-cells, and the food granules are included in the substance of the
dividing cells. “Growth from the egg” is a long story; we must revert
now to the tadpoles and their parents.

There is a tradition that Dr. Edwards, the father of Henri and
grandfather of Alphonse Milne Edwards, directors of the Natural History
Museum of Paris, kept some tadpoles in a sort of cage sunk in the Seine,
so that they could not come to the surface to breathe air nor escape on
to the land, and that they grew to be very big tadpoles, much larger
than the size at which tadpoles usually change into frogs. I tried to
repeat this experiment when I was a boy—without success—and I have
never heard of any one having succeeded with it.[4] It is not cited or
credited at the present day. But some thirty years ago it was discovered
that something of this kind happens in the case of the Mexican
salamander. The English “newts” and the so-called salamanders are
creatures of lizard-like shape, which are closely related to frogs and
toads. They lay eggs in the water, and the young are tadpoles, with
beautiful large plume-like gills on each side of the head. The tadpole
of the common English newt may either lose its gills and leave the water
in the summer, if it was hatched early in the season, or may remain
longer in the gilled condition, and grow to more than two inches in
length, if it was hatched late. In certain lakes in Mexico there is a
tadpole-like creature with gill-plumes, which grows to eight inches or
more in length, and becomes adult and breeds when in that condition. It
is known as the “axolotl,” and was considered to be a distinct kind of
gill-bearing adult tadpole-like animal similar to some few others which
are known (Siren and Necturus). When, however, they were brought to
Europe and kept in a cage with only a small provision of water, some of
these axolotls were found to leave the water, lose their gills, change
their colour and shape in several respects, and become, in fact,
transformed into a terrestrial salamander, of a kind already known in
North America. It was thus established that the axolotl of the Mexican
lake is nothing more nor less than the tadpole of a species of
salamander or newt, which has “given up” the habit of leaving the water,
and actually grows to full size, and lays its eggs without becoming
converted into a gill-less land-dwelling creature! The greatest interest
was excited forty years ago, when the discovery was made that, by
gradually drying up the water in which the axolotl is kept, it can be
induced to resume its transformation, and become changed into a
salamander. Thus, the notion of converting the tadpoles of the common
frog into very big tadpoles by preventing them from leaving the water,
seems not to have been an unreasonable one.

There are some very big kinds of tadpoles, which are the young of toads
of other kinds than our British species. In England we have only two
kinds of frogs—the common frog and the edible frog—and two kinds of
toads, the common toad and the natter-jack or crawling toad
(distinguished by the pale line along the middle of his back). But on
the Continent of Europe there are others besides those which we have.
There is the beautiful little green tree-frog, and there are the
fire-bellied toad, and the obstetric toad (the male of which carries the
eggs after they are laid, coiled in a string around his hind legs); and
then there is the little spur-heeled toad (_Pelobates fuscus_), which
smells like garlic, and is remarkable for having a broad, horny claw on
his heel. This toad is only about two inches and a half long (measured
from snout to vent) when full grown, but its tadpole often exceeds four
inches in length, and in rare cases attains the gigantic size of seven
inches, so that it actually shrinks in size when it ceases to be a
tadpole, and takes on the adult form. Many years ago I found some of
these huge tadpoles in a pond near Antwerp, and thought they must be a
realisation of Dr. Edwards’ experiment. They were enormous, and it was
only on bringing them home that I heard for the first time of the
spur-heeled toad and its gigantic tadpoles (Fig. 44 C).

[Illustration: FIG. 44.—Outline drawings of three European tadpoles of
the actual size of nature. A, a full-sized tadpole of the Common Frog,
_Rana temporaria_, one inch and three-tenths long. B, a fair-sized
tadpole of the Obstetric Toad, _Alytes obstetricans_, common near Paris,
two inches and four-fifths long. C, a tadpole of the Garlic Toad,
_Pelobates fuscus_, common in France, Belgium, and Germany, four inches
and a half long. Specimens of as much as seven inches in length have
been captured.]

Among frogs and toads from distant lands are some which bring forth
their young alive, the female retaining the eggs in her body instead of
laying them in water. The black-and-yellow salamander of Europe (which,
like the common toad, has a highly poisonous secretion in the skin)
retains its eggs inside its body until the tadpoles are well advanced in
development, when they pass from her—about seventy in number—into the
water. In the closely allied black Alpine salamander only two, out of
thirty or more eggs produced, develop. These two remain inside their
mother until they have ceased to have gills and have become terrestrial
air-breathing young salamanders like their mother. The Alpine salamander
lives where there are no pools suitable for the tadpoles, and so they
never enter the water, but remain inside the mother’s body. Some
experiments have recently been made with these two species of salamander
by varying the conditions as to moisture in which the young grow to
maturity, and results of considerable interest have been obtained. One
of the most curious arrangements in regard to the young is seen in the
Surinam toad, of which we had living specimens five or six years ago in
the London Zoological Gardens. In this toad the skin of the female’s
back becomes very soft and plastic at the breeding-season. As she lays
the eggs the male takes them one by one and presses them into the soft
skin of her back, into which they sink. The eggs are thus embedded
separately to the number of fifty or sixty, each in a little pit in the
mother’s back. They slowly develop, each in its “pit,” the orifice of
which is closed by a sort of lid. When the young have grown to the
condition of little toads, they push open the lids of the pits and swim
out of their mother’s back. Specimens of these toads, with the eggs and
young, in various stages, embedded in their mother’s back, are to be
seen in most museums of natural history. Toads and frogs catch their
prey by throwing forward the sticky tongue which is attached near the
front of the lower jaw, and so lick up their victim with startling
abruptness. The Cape frog of South Africa (_Xenopus_), like the Surinam
toad (_Pipa_), has no tongue, and is also remarkable for possessing
hard, pointed ends to its toes. It rarely, if ever, leaves the water.


[4] I am told by Mr. Boulenger, of the Natural History Museum, who is
the greatest authority on these animals, that the explanation of this is
that unawares Dr. Edwards made use of the young tadpoles of the
obstetric toad (_Alytes_), which is very common near Paris, though it
does not occur in England. These tadpoles regularly grow to be three
inches and more in length (see Fig. 44 B). Dr. Edwards thought he had
used the tadpoles of the common frog, but had, by accident, got hold of
those of _Alytes_.



The young astronomer in _Two on a Tower_—that bitter-sweet story in
which our great novelist Hardy tells of the weird fascination with which
the study of the stars appeals to a sensitive nature, exclaims: “The
imaginary picture of the sky as the concavity of a dome whose base
extends from horizon to horizon of our earth, is grand, simply grand,
and I wish I had never got beyond looking at it in that way. But the
actual sky is a horror.” “There is,” he continues, “a size at which
dignity begins; further on there is a size at which grandeur begins;
further on there is a size at which solemnity begins; further on a size
at which awfulness begins; further on a size at which ghastliness
begins. That size faintly approaches the size of the stellar universe.”
“If you are cheerful and wish to remain so,” he concludes, “leave the
study of astronomy alone. Of all the sciences, it alone deserves the
character of the terrible. If, on the other hand, you are restless and
anxious about the future, study astronomy at once—your troubles will be
reduced amazingly. But your study will reduce them in a singular way, by
reducing the importance of everything, so that the science is still
terrible, even as a panacea.” The facts revealed by the study of
astronomy which have this feature of ghastliness and terror relate to
the enormous distances in space at which the stars are placed, and to
their enormous number.

One may sometimes see on the coast or in some marshland a “pile-driver”
at work. At a quarter of a mile distance you can see the great weight
hoisted up by cranks and chains above the “pile,” which stands upright
but not yet driven very far into the ground. You see the weight let go;
it drops vertically on to the pile, and you watch it rising some two or
three feet on its return journey upwards, when suddenly you hear the
sound of a sharp blow, and only after an effort realise that the sound
was made more than a second ago, and that the workmen have had time to
raise the weight 3 ft. before the sound travelled to you. Sound travels
less than a quarter of a mile in a second. Light also takes time to
travel, but it advances ever so much more quickly than sound, namely,
186,000 miles (and a bit more) in a second. It is, therefore, easy to
calculate the number of miles traversed by light in a minute or in a
year. There are thirty million seconds in a year. The light of the sun
takes eight minutes to reach the earth, so, instead of stating the
number of miles of this distance, we may say that the sun is eight
“light-minutes” distant from the earth (about 89,000,000 miles). This is
an enormous figure. The sun and his planets may be represented
proportionately by a golden ball a foot in diameter, and a number of
little spheres varying in size from that of a dried pea to a boy’s
marble, placed at distances from the golden ball varying from 50 ft. to
200 ft. Such a model is shown in the Museum of Practical Geology in
Jermyn Street, London. Minute and scattered far apart as the planets of
the solar system appear when thus represented, yet the solar system is a
compact little group when we come to consider the distance from it of
the other suns—the “fixed stars,” which exist literally in millions
beyond it. The nearest of these stars (its name is Alpha Centauri) is no
less than three light-years distant from us. A light-year is five and a
half billion (that is, five and a half million million) miles. The
nearest sun to us after our own sun is, therefore, about sixteen billion
miles away, and if its light were suddenly extinguished, we should not
know of its extinction for three years.

How many—we may well ask—how many of these fixed stars—suns like our
own—are there? Roughly speaking, we can see with the naked eye,
reckoning both the northern hemisphere and the southern together (for
the stars seen from the former are other than those seen from the
latter), about 8000. Not many after all, one is inclined to say. But
stop a minute and hear what the telescope reveals. With the best
telescope about one hundred million can be seen, less and less brilliant
and more difficult to see in proportion to their remoteness. And now we
go further even than that. For within the last thirty years the great
science of astronomy has been rejuvenated by the application of
photography to its task. The invention of the “dry” plate, a sensitive
photographic plate which does not spoil by prolonged exposure as the
“wet” plate does, enables the astronomer to keep his telescope fixed by
slow-moving clockwork on to a given region of the sky for four or five
hours or more, and the very faint stars, invisible by the aid of the
most powerful telescope—stars the light from which is so feeble that it
could not affect the plate in a few seconds or minutes, have time by the
continued action of their faint light to print themselves on the plate
and sign, as it were, a definite record of their existence for man to
see and measure, though they are themselves for ever invisible to his
eye. It is not possible to say how many may be recorded in this way by
photography; it depends on length of exposure. But some thousands of
millions of stars can certainly be so recorded. These “unnumbered hosts”
are of various degrees of brightness, and by methods which astronomers
have invented, but cannot be described here, it is actually known how
they differ in size from one another (many are far bigger than our sun),
and with some approach to certainty, how far off they are. Stars of
four, five, ten, and more “light-years” away from us are well known.
Astronomers actually estimate the decreasing abundance in space of stars
as one passes from a sphere or spatial envelope of fifty light-years’
distance to one of 250 light-years. Finally, reasons have been given of
late for considering many of the “photographic” stars to be at a
distance of 32,000 light-years. I will not produce the awful figure in
miles, but the reader can refer back to the number of billion miles in a
light-year! And what is beyond that? No one has seen, nor can any one
guess. We cannot imagine a limit to space; neither can we imagine
unending space dotted with an infinity of suns!

It is a legitimate and, indeed, a necessary inference, from what we know
of these millions of suns—intensely hot, light-giving spheres—that
they, too, like our own sun, are accompanied by much smaller bodies,
planets which circle round them, as our sun’s planets circle round him.
Those planets have cooled down, as have those of the solar system, and
so do not give out light. In any case, they are too small to be seen at
so vast a distance. It is, on the whole, probable that the changes on
some—indeed, many—of these planets have led to the production of
living material similar to, but not necessarily identical with, that on
this earth. It is, on the whole, more likely than not that there are
intelligent beings existing on the planets of thousands of suns
invisible to our eyes: suns revealed only by the print on a photographic
plate of their light, which has taken thousands of years to travel from
the regions of unseen obscurity to us. To have arrived by sober
observation and reasoning at this conception is, indeed, a tremendous
flight of human thought and ingenuity!

It is the courage, the audacity—one may almost call it the superhuman
calmness—of astronomers, in the face of this truly overwhelming
immensity—that not only redeems their study from the oppressive and
terrifying character with which it at first assails the human spirit,
but gives to their proceedings and discoveries, so far as the ordinary
man can follow them, an unequalled fascination. The daring, the
patience, the accuracy, and the supreme intellectual gifts of the great
astronomers rightly fill other men with pride in the fact that there are
human minds capable of revealing things of such stupendous vastness and
of indicating their order and relation to one another. It is a splendid
fact, and one which must give hope and courage to all men, that the
astronomer’s mind does not totter—it is equal to his task. Astronomers
are, in fact, triumphant: they are very far indeed from suffering from
the depression which Mr. Hardy’s young star-gazer experienced.

Among the many conclusions of astronomers as to the movements of the
“heavenly bodies” none is more strange and mysterious in its suggestion
than that recently arrived at to the effect that in all this vast array
of millions of stars, the limits of which we can neither discover nor
imagine, there are two huge streams moving in opposite directions, and
in one or other all the stars are involved. Whence do they start? Where
are they going? There is no answer. Another conclusion, which is arrived
at quite simply by the examination with the spectroscope of the light
coming from the star named Vega by astronomers, is that our sun and its
attendant planets are moving towards that star. It is true that it is
many billions of miles away from us, but we are rushing towards it
somewhat rapidly according to mundane notions—namely, at the rate of
nineteen miles a second! That, I think, is a fact likely to make the
sentimental young astronomer as miserable as any of the records of
immensity. In fact, the only comfort to be got in view of this fact is
in the enormous distances which separate us from other stars, and the
length of time which must elapse before any serious consequence can
ensue from this alarming career. And there is further the probability
that the general result of attractions and repulsions in the vast
roadway of space will, when the time comes, take us safely past Vega,
just as a motor-car passes safely through the traffic and obstructing
“refuges” and lamp-standards of the London streets as you recline in it,
abandoned to the natural forces described as “chauffeurs.”

The spectroscope has done no less than photography to reanimate the
study of astronomy. The fact is that, with these two helping means of
observation, it has become possible for the ordinary man to witness and
appreciate some of the discoveries of astronomers, though the true and
accurate handling of all that is revealed concerning the stars is
essentially a matter of measurement, and therefore only to be dealt with
strictly by mathematicians. The desire to obtain ever more and more
accurate measurement of the movement and the size of the heavenly bodies
is the mainspring of all astronomical discovery, and, indeed, the
attempt to gain more and more detailed measurement of the factors at
work is the motive—more or less immediate—of all accurate
investigation of nature. Recently the astronomers of the Royal
Observatory at Greenwich have photographed the new comet (the third of
1907) in a way in which no comet has ever been photographed before. On
many consecutive nights for several weeks they were at work
photographing it on the dry plate, at intervals of two or three hours,
and the pictures obtained (which I have seen at the rooms of the Royal
Astronomical Society) show the most wonderful changes of form of its
tail, so that they look more like the record of the changes of some
living creature than those of a heavenly body. Already, in October 1909,
Halley’s comet, which has been anxiously awaited, has been seen, though
it is not expected to be bright and visible to all until May 1910.
Comets are among the exceptional delights of the astronomer—that is to
say, big comets, for two or three small comets visible only by a
telescope or by photography turn up every year. Some comets are expected
visitors, others make their appearance quite casually, some because they
apparently have no regular period, some because that period is as yet
undiscovered. Edmund Halley was the first to discover the law of
movement of a comet and to predict the return in 1758 of that seen in
1682. He did not live to witness the verification of his prediction.
This comet, now called Halley’s comet, was, he conjectured, the same
which had appeared in 1531 and in 1607. His prediction of its return
proved to be a year out (owing to perturbations caused by Neptune and
Uranus, two planets undiscovered in his day), but it appeared in 1759,
and went round once again and reappeared in 1835, and now is eagerly
expected by astronomers to appear in full brilliancy in 1910. Its period
is about seventy-five or seventy-six years.



A comet is so called from the hair-like stream of light or “tail,” which
stretches to a greater or less length from its bright head or “nucleus.”
A large comet, when seen to greatest advantage, may have a tail which
stretches across one-third of the “vault of heaven,” and may be reckoned
by astronomers at as much as one hundred and twenty million miles long.
Donati’s comet—which some of my readers will remember, as I do, when it
visited us in 1858—was of this imposing size. Halley’s comet, on the
other hand, when it was last “here,” namely, in 1835, showed a tail
estimated by astronomers to be fifty million miles long. The tail was
more than twice as long when Halley’s comet appeared in 1456. There was
a big comet “on view” in 1811—the year celebrated for its wine—and in
recent times a fine comet appeared in 1861, and another (Coggia’s comet)
in 1874.

The ancient records of comets are naturally full of exaggeration. Up to
Milton’s time—two hundred and fifty years ago—they caused the greatest
terror and excitement by their sudden appearance in the sky. This is due
to the fact that mankind from the very earliest periods of which we have
record has not merely gazed at the “starry host” by night in solemn
wonder, but even in early prehistoric times studied and watched the
stars so as to know much of their movements and regular comings and
goings. The earliest priests, the earliest “wise men,” were those who
knew the stars and could fix the seasons by their place; the earliest
temples—Stonehenge, and others older still—were star-temples or
observatories, and their priests were astronomers. To such a pitch did
reverence for star-knowledge attain that our ancestors confused the
astral signs of changing season and cycle with the cause itself of
change, and attributed all kinds of mundane events and each man’s fate
to “the influence of the stars.” Hence the sudden appearance of a
flaming comet was held to be a portent, and was always supposed either
to foretell or even to produce some very unpleasant event, such as a big
war or a pestilence, or the death of some one supposed to be of
consequence. The earliest Greek poetry enshrines the superstition, which
is handed on by Virgil, and finally by Milton. In Pope’s translation of
the _Iliad_ we find the helmet of the terrible Achilles described as

  “Like the red star, that from his flaming hair
  Shakes down diseases, pestilence, and war.”

And Milton, in 1665, in his _Paradise Lost_, wrote—

                        “On th’other side,
  Incenst with indignation, Satan stood
  Unterrifi’d; and like a comet burn’d,
  That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge
  In th’ Arctic sky, and from his horrid hair
  Shakes pestilence and war.”

In this year of the celebration of the tercentenary of Milton’s birth,
it is not a little curious to find that John Milton, himself a scholar
of St. Paul’s School, wrote those lines when Edmund Halley, the future
Astronomer Royal, had just entered the same great school, then standing
in St. Paul’s Churchyard, as it did when I was “one of the fishes,” and
used to see men hanging in the Old Bailey—I once saw five[5]—on
Monday mornings as I passed on my way to the school. To a Pauline it is
not without significance that the return of Halley’s comet is awaited
within a year of Milton’s tercentenary, and that the greatest astronomer
and the greatest poet of their age were London boys and Paulines.

Ancient records tell of comets of gigantic size, of the shape of a
sword, the head as big as the moon, and so on. There is no reason to
suppose that within historic times there have been any much bigger than
that of 1858. Milton, in the lines above quoted, was not referring to an
imaginary comet, but to one which actually did appear when he was a boy
of ten (1618), in the constellation called Ophiuchus. It was of enormous
size, the tail being recorded as longer even than that of 1858. It was
held responsible by educated and learned men of the day for disasters.
Evelyn says in his diary, “The effects of that comet, 1618, still
working in the prodigious revolutions now beginning in Europe,
especially in Germany.” The comet of 1665 was, with equal assurance,
regarded as the cause of the Great Plague of London. In that year was
published the first number of the _Philosophical Transactions_ of the
Royal Society of London, then recently founded “for the promotion of
natural knowledge.” It contains an account of a paper by a learned
French gentleman, M. Auzout, in which an attempt is made to predict the
movements among the stars of the comet of 1664. Astronomers had long
known and been able to predict the movements of the planets and the
swinging of the constellations, but, as the French author observes, “all
the world had been hitherto persuaded that the motions of comets were so
irregular that they could not be reduced to any laws.” He also hoped, by
examining the movements of the comets of 1664 and 1665, to determine
“the great question whether the earth moves or not.” At that time the
earth was “suspected” to move round the sun, but no proof of that motion
had been given. M. Auzout did not succeed in his laudable attempt,
simply because Newton’s great discovery of the law of gravitation had
not then been made.

Edmund Halley was the intimate friend and passionate admirer of Newton.
He paid out of his own pocket for the publication of Newton’s
_Principia_ by the Royal Society in 1686, the society having expended
all its available funds in printing a great work on _Fishes_ (which
shows how at the first, as now, the society cared for the whole range of
the study of Nature). Halley was able to show that comets move regularly
round the sun, in obedience to the same law of gravitation which
controls the movements of the planets and of our earth itself; so that
many of them are regular members of the solar system. Halley especially
calculated out the form of the orbit of the comet of 1682 as an ellipse,
and the time of its journey and recurrence, or “period,” as it is
called, which he showed to be about seventy-five or seventy-six years.
He predicted its recurrence in 1758. Halley died in 1742, at the ripe
age of eighty-six, having, amongst other good deeds, founded the Royal
Society Club, which still dines every Thursday in the session. His comet
reappeared in 1759, a few months later than he had, owing to incomplete
details used in his calculation, expected; but the accuracy of his
scheme of its movement was demonstrated. It duly appeared again in 1835,
and it is now awaited in the spring of 1910. Halley himself had
identified his comet with that of 1607 and of 1531, and lately, by the
aid of records from an ancient seat of astronomical observation—actually
from China—it has been traced back to the month of May in the year 240
B.C. It has caused consternation and terror times enough since then, of
some of which we have record. Finally, it has become the leading
instance of the triumph of scientific knowledge and accuracy over
ignorance and superstition. Halley’s comet caused great alarm in Rome in
the year 66 A.D. A thousand years later (1066) it was seen when William
the Conqueror was preparing to descend on the coast of England, and is
actually represented in the Bayeux tapestry. A number of men are drawn
(or rather “stitched”), with fingers pointed and eyes raised to a shape
in the sky which resembles a star-fish with a large triangular-ribbed
petticoat attached to it, ending in eight flames or tongues (Fig. 45).
The picture is labelled “Isti mirant stella.” There is now no doubt, as
accurate calculations have demonstrated, that William the Conqueror’s
“star” was Halley’s comet—a fact which must give its reappearance in
1910 an additional interest in the eyes of Englishmen.

The shape given to the representations of stars in old pictures and
engravings is a puzzle. Why do they represent a star by the shape of a
star-fish? No star ever looks like that, or produces a picture of that
shape on the retina. The thing is purely conventional. The shape which
we call “star-shaped”—a term we apply to flowers and other things—is
not in the least like a real star as seen by an unprejudiced person.
What one really sees is an ill-defined point of light. The pretended
conventional star of ancient drawings perhaps arose from the simple
artifice of picturing tongue-like flames around or upon any
representation of a fire or a source of light—“to show what it was
meant to be.” Then the notions of perfection and symmetry in regard to
the celestial bodies led to the “tongues” being arranged for the
purposes of draughtsmanship as perfectly symmetrical-pointed rays of a
six- or eight-limbed geometrical design—and latterly it is possible
that the mystical figure known as the “pentacle” was utilised by
astrologers and others as the emblem of a star. However they arose,
neither the weird and astonishing representations of mediæval times nor
the geometrical decorative “stars” of later date seem to have any
relation to an attempt to represent a star as it really appears to the
human eye and the interpreting brain behind it.

[Illustration: FIG. 45.—Copied from a portion of the Bayeux Tapestry,
showing Harold’s men looking with superstitious wonder at the comet
which appeared in the heavens immediately before the departure of
William the Conqueror’s expedition to England in A.D. 1066. That comet
was none other than Halley’s comet, and has now returned, and is visible
from the earth for the twelfth time since the Conquest. (From a lecture
on Halley’s comet, delivered in 1908, by Professor H. H. Turner, F.R.S.,
Halley’s successor in Oxford, published by the Clarendon Press.)]

The orbits of comets, says Professor Turner, of Oxford, in a delightful
lecture delivered in Dublin in the summer of 1908, from which I have
culled many interesting facts and presented them to my readers, “differ
from those of the planets in being far more highly elliptical. Our own
path round the sun is nearly a circle, so that our distance from him
remains nearly the same all the year round; but the distance of a comet
from the sun varies greatly from ‘perihelion,’ when it is near, and
consequently bright, to ‘aphelion,’ when he is so distant and faint that
we lose sight of him.” The sun is not at the centre of the ellipse
described by a comet’s path, but is quite near to one end of it, so that
comets approach the sun far more closely than do the planets, some
taking so close a turn round the sun that the heat from it to which they
are exposed is 2000 times as great as that which the earth receives. If
the orbit of a comet is really elliptic, then there at last comes a
time, though it may be only after thousands of years, when the comet,
having rounded the sun at close quarters, and journeyed off into space,
has his journey brought to a turning-point at the other end of the
ellipse, and begins to draw near again, advancing towards the sun. The
length of the orbit of Halley’s comet is about 3255 million miles, and
the breadth at its broadest is about 800 million miles, and he takes
about thirty-eight years to travel the full length (along the curve) and
thirty-eight years to come back again! Other comets have other lengths
and breadths of orbit, and take longer or shorter periods to go round.
But the conditions of attraction affecting a comet may be such that the
return journey never occurs. They may be such that the comet goes on
indefinitely travelling away from our sun, until he is caught by some
other star, and his orbit changes its shape, with the new sun as
attracting centre. These are the “wandering comets” as distinct from the
“periodic comets,” which have been shown to conform to Halley’s scheme
of their movement and recurrence.

And now some one will ask, perhaps impatiently, “What, after all, is a
comet?” We have seen that many are continuously, and others casually,
members of the solar system. What do they consist of? Spectrum-analysis
shows that they consist chiefly of the chemical element carbon.[6]
Though they have weight, and are attracted by the sun, yet they seem to
be for all their size and terrifying shape and glare incredibly light
and airy things. Herschel declared that the tail of a big comet
probably consisted of but two or three pounds of solid matter—diffused,
rarefied, and luminous. And the head or nucleus certainly does not weigh
many hundreds of tons. In the eighteenth century astronomers observed a
comet pass right in among the moons of the planet Jupiter. You might
expect the moons to be terribly knocked about by such an impact. They
were not; they were not deflected in the smallest appreciable degree
from their position and regular movement! One is naturally inclined to
look upon the tail of a comet as something like the smoke of a railway
engine trailing behind the advancing “head.” As a matter of fact, it
does not always trail behind, but is always turned away from the sun, so
that when the comet is travelling away from the sun the tail is in
front! It is now held that the tail is caused by the radiant energy
(light and heat) of the sun, blowing, as it were, the lighter particles
from the incandescent head, and causing them to spread out in a long
track of variable shape. The photographs of the third comet of the year
1908 show that the tail can vary to an astonishing extent and with great
rapidity—that is to say, in four or five hours. It is seen in those
photographs as a scimitar-like curved blade, then with a second head or
nucleus behind the leading one, then actually bent like the letter Z,
and then divided into seven distinct diverging “plumes,” and then it
returns to its former simple shape—all in the course of a few days.
Astronomers have now shown that there is a close connection between
comets and the showers of “shooting stars” or meteors which frequently
strike the earth’s atmosphere. It is considered probable that comets
eventually break down into streams of meteors, and that their “life” (if
one may use that term) is, relatively to that of other heavenly bodies
(which are all undergoing change and, in many cases, decay), not a very
long one. But there are no facts at present known which enable us to
tell whether a given comet is young or old, and it would have been a
decided shock had it been found that Halley’s comet, which has so
happily spent every seventy-sixth year with us for so many centuries,
had “burst up,” or by “indisposition” had been unable to pay his usual
visit as expected in 1910.


[5] The pirates of the _Flowery Land_.

[6] I am indebted to Mr. Rolston, of the Solar Physics Observatory,
South Kensington, for some information on this matter.

Generally speaking, it appears that the spectra of these bodies indicate
carbon—in some form—as the principal constituent.

As to the particular form of carbon, there is still a considerable
doubt, so much that, in describing the spectrum of Morehouse’s comet,
Professor Frost says (_Astrophysical Journal_, xxix., p. 59, 1909):—“We
avoid the still unsettled question of the ‘carbon’ bands (of the
so-called ‘Swan’ spectrum) which have been so often ascribed to a
hydrocarbon, specifically acetylene, and we use for them the simple
designation ‘carbon.’”

In addition to this “carbon” there is the cyanogen spectrum present in
most cases.

Sodium and iron have been detected in the spectra of some few comets,
_e.g._ Wells (1882, ii.), whilst Holmes (1892) showed only continuous

An interesting suggestion is made by Newall, namely, that the spectrum
is not indicative of the _comet’s_ composition, but of that of the
medium through which the body passes. Thus the persistent identification
of the cyanogen bands in cometary spectra is attributed, primarily, to
the “heating up” of cyanogen existing, free, in circum-solar space.

Till 1907 most of the cometary spectrograms showed only the “carbon” and
cyanogen radiations, but in Daniel’s comet of that year, and in
Morehouse’s of 1909, other lines were detected for which origins have
not, as yet, been found.

Thus, some form of carbon + unknown + (occasionally) sodium and iron
seems to sum up our present knowledge of cometary composition.



What is this terrible disease which every few years travels from the
banks of the Indian Ganges, where it is always present, and makes its
way to one or more of the great cities of Europe, killing its thousands
with horrifying rapidity? The word “cholera” is used by the great Greek
physician of antiquity, Hippocrates, and by his followers down to the
days of our own Sydenham, to describe a malady which occurs commonly in
summer, is often of severe character, but rarely fatal, and is
characterised by the exudation from the walls of the intestine of
copious fluid, usually accompanied by vomiting and sometimes by
“cramps.” This malady is now distinguished by physicians as “simple
cholera,” or European cholera, the last name being misleading, since the
disease occurs all over the world. It is caused by a special microbe,
which multiplies in the intestines and produces a poison. Other microbes
produce similar results. One which causes luminosity in foul salt water
has been found to produce cholera-like results when cultivated in a
state of purity and swallowed by man. Other poisons besides those
produced by microbes set up a sort of “cholera” in animals and man.
Drugs of both mineral and vegetable origin have this effect, as every
one knows, and are used in small quantities to produce purging.
Microbes which are noted for other obvious effects which they produce by
the poisons they form in man’s intestines—such as the microbe of
typhoid fever—also produce cholera-like purging.

But the name “cholera,” or “the cholera,” is now applied without any
further qualification to what would be more correctly described as
“Indian cholera,” or “epidemic cholera.” It is a disease which first
became known to Europeans in India in 1817, less than a hundred years
ago. It resembles “simple” cholera in its general features, but is
usually much more violent in its attack, and often causes complete
collapse in two or three hours from its onset, and death in as many
more. The main point about it is, however, that it is a quickly
spreading “epidemic” disease; it invades a whole population, and travels
from place to place along definite routes. Although the outbreak of
cholera in India in 1817 was the first to attract the attention of
Europeans, it was nothing new in India, and was recognised in distant
ages by Hindu writers. Its usual name on the delta of the Ganges is
“medno-neidan.” Ninety per cent. of the population perished of cholera
in some districts of India in 1817, and English troops were attacked by
it with terrible results.

Cholera gradually made its way in subsequent years through Persia to
Russia, and at last to Western Europe; but it was not until late in the
year 1831 that Indian cholera arrived for the first time in England, and
in the following year it caused something like a panic. There have been
at least three subsequent outbursts of Indian cholera (before that of
the year 1908) which have reached Europe, and two of these have reached
England and caused profound alarm and anxiety. That in 1854 reached us
just before the Crimean War, and caused such rapid and numerous deaths
in London, especially in the West End (St. James’s, Westminster), that
the corpses were removed in carts as in the days of the plague. It was
then that the Broad Street pump became famous, and the carefully
demonstrated history of a cesspool leaking into the well of the pump, of
the existence of a cholera patient in the house to which the cesspool
was attached and of the infection with cholera of healthy people who
sent all the way from Hampstead to fetch what they thought was the
beautifully pure, cool, and palatable water of Broad Street, St.
James’s, caused a most vivid and salutary impression on the public mind.
The “water-carriage” of the cholera infection was established as a fact,
and the subsequent abolition of surface wells and pumps, as well as of
cesspools, in London and other cities was the result. Indeed, the active
development of sanitation and sanitary measures of all kinds in Great
Britain may be traced to the panic caused by the cholera in 1854 and to
the well-founded conviction that it was in the power of the community,
by the construction of sewers and the provision of untainted
water-supply, to protect itself against such disaster in the future.

Years passed by, and still the actual germ of cholera was unknown. In
India it was not even admitted that its diffusion was especially
connected with water-supply. The methods of observing with the
microscope those minute swarming organisms which are called “bacteria”
became immensely improved. They were isolated, cultivated in purity, and
the activity of a vast number of different kinds of different shapes,
sizes, and modes of growth was ascertained. They were distinguished
according to their shape as bacilli, spirilla, micrococci, and so on,
and separate kinds were characterised—one producing ordinary
putrefaction, another the souring of milk, another the “cheesing” of the
same fluid, another the destruction of teeth and of bone, another the
terrible anthrax of cattle or wool-sorters’ disease, another (a spiral
thread in the blood this!) the recurrent fever of East Europe—each
producing its own special poison or other chemical substance.

So it went on till Koch, of Berlin, discovered the bacillus of tubercle
and Hansen that of leprosy. Others had failed to find what Koch now
found as the result of a special mission on behalf of the German
Imperial Government to India (undertaken as nearly as I can recollect
about the year 1884)—namely, the living organism (Fig. 46) which by its
growth in man’s intestine causes Indian cholera. Koch found a spiral
threadlike “bacterium” in cholera patients, which readily breaks up into
little curved segments like a comma (each less than the one
ten-thousandth of an inch in length), and swarms by the million in the
intestines of such patients. He showed that it can be cultivated in
dilute gelatinised broth, and obtained in spoonfuls. It was, however,
only with great difficulty that he could produce cholera in animals by
administering this pure concentrated growth of cholera germs to them.

Then a most courageous thing was done. A great and very acute
investigator of cholera in Munich, Pettenkofer by name—who did not
believe that Koch’s comma-bacillus was really the effective germ of
cholera—himself swallowed a whole spoonful—many millions—of the
cultivated cholera germ. His assistants did the same—and none of them
suffered any ill effect! Few, if any, of the investigators of this
question gave up, as a consequence, their conviction that Koch’s
bacillus was the real and active cause of cholera. They supposed that it
must be necessary for the human intestine to be in a favourable
condition—an unhealthy condition—for the Koch’s bacillus to multiply
in it. It was by this time known that bacteria of all kinds are
exceedingly sensitive in regard to the acidity or alkalinity, the
oxygenation or de-oxygenation of the fluids and organic substances in
which they can, when exactly suited, multiply with tremendous rapidity.
Thus the tubercle bacillus cannot be cultivated on pure blood-serum, but
if a trace of glycerine be added to the serum the tubercle bacillus
grows, divides, multiplies like yeast in a brewing-vat. A little later
Pettenkofer’s audacious experiment was repeated by Dr. Metchnikoff in
Paris. He swallowed a cultivated mass of the cholera germ on three
successive days, and had no injurious result. Others in his laboratory
did the same, with the result of only a slight intestinal disturbance.
But of a dozen who thus put the matter to the proof in the Institut
Pasteur, one individual acquired an attack of true Indian cholera,
accompanied by all the most violent symptoms, which very nearly caused
his death. This experiment put an end to all discussion, and
demonstrated, once for all, that the comma-bacillus (or spirillum) of
Koch is really capable of producing Indian cholera, and is the actual
agent of this disease.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.—_a_, _b_, _c_, _d_. The cholera spirillum, or
comma-bacillus of Koch; _a_, spirillum stage of growth, with vibrating
flagellum, by which it is driven along with screw-like movement; _b_,
the spirillum has lost its flagellum, and is motionless: it is marked
off into separate segments; _c_, the segments have separated from one
another as comma-shaped pieces, hence the name “comma-bacillus” given to
it by Koch; _d_, a number of comma-bacilli of cholera which have
developed tails of vibratile protoplasm (like a single cilium), and are
swimming about, being driven by the lashing of these tails; _e_, a
cubical packet of sarcina; _f_, a double row of the spherical units
(cocci or micrococci), which form a sarcina-packet; _g_, similar cocci

The circumstances which determine whether the cholera-bacillus, when it
gets into the human intestine, will develop and cause an attack of
cholera, or will simply be digested or will remain alive, but inactive,
for a time, have yet to be exactly determined. Obviously a knowledge of
them must be of immense importance. Certain experiments show that other
minute parasitic organisms—especially those called _Sarcina_ (Fig. 46,
_e_), which often, but by no means always, are abundant in the human
intestine—favour the growth of the cholera-bacillus—in fact, prepare
the ground or soil, as we may call it, for that deadly organism. This
has been shown experimentally by sowing cholera-bacillus on plates of
slightly acid gelatine, or jelly. It will not grow on this, but if at
certain points on the surface of the jelly the _Sarcina_ organism is
planted, then it is found that all around the points where the _Sarcina_
is growing the cholera-bacillus also flourishes and multiplies. And it
seems probable that, just as there are microbes which are adjuvant or
helpful to the cholera microbe, so there are others which are repressive
or destructive of it. We know that this is the case with regard to some
other microbes—namely, that a microbe which will flourish abundantly on
a prepared jelly if it is alone, is entirely repressed and arrested in
its growth by the presence of one other ascertained kind. It is, in
fact, thus that some of the commoner putrefactive kinds of microbes
occurring in river water are repressive of the typhoid-bacillus, which,
if it should get there, flourishes best in the purest water or in water
containing no other microbe. There is some ground for thinking that in
certain districts there may be microbes present which make their way
into the human intestine, and then actually repress the
cholera-bacillus, should it subsequently be taken in with food or water.
It would, of course, be of immense importance to discover such a
microbe, if it exist, and the inquiry is at the present moment
proceeding in Paris.

A very striking and at first sight astonishing fact in regard to this
subject is that there are a very large number and variety of microbes
habitually present in the human digestive tract. There are so many
different kinds—differing altogether from one another in their chemical
action—which are present in greater or less abundance in this tract
from one end to the other, that no one is at present able to say even
approximately how many there are, nor to give anything like a complete
account of their properties. The fact is that their isolation and study,
and the definite determination of their properties, is not an easy job.
Many workers are engaged on it, and it will be years before the matter
is threshed out. One most curious result of these studies is that a
person may have the cholera-bacillus in his intestine—not growing with
any activity, but still alive—and yet be perfectly well. He can,
therefore, carry the cholera-bacillus from one locality to another and
spread the disease, and yet be entirely devoid of suspicion, free
himself from disease, and certified as healthy! The same is true of the
bacillus of typhoid fever. Persons who have had typhoid fever have been
shown to retain the typhoid-bacillus flourishing for as long as fourteen
years afterwards in their intestine, without any ill effects to
themselves, and to have been the constant source of infection and
disease to those living in the same house with them by spreading the
bacillus. The classical case of this is that of a woman who carried on a
baker’s business at Strasburg. Infection by and protection from microbes
is by no means so simple a thing as it is sometimes represented to be.

Now that we are quite sure as to Koch’s comma-bacillus, or spirillum,
being the definite poison-producing agent causing Indian cholera, it is
comparatively easy to understand its mode of dispersal and infection,
and consequently how to avoid its attack. It is cultivated in the
laboratories devoted to the study of such matters—kept in confinement,
so to speak, for ten years and more—and its properties and conditions
of life are well known. For instance, it is destroyed by “dryness,”
hence it cannot be carried in a living infective state as “dust” in the
air. It is also destroyed by exposure to a heat a good deal below that
of boiling water, so that water itself can be freed from it by boiling,
and food dipped in boiling (or nearly boiling) water, or heated on a
metal tray beneath which a spirit or gas flame is burning, can be
rendered safe just before it is swallowed, even when cholera is rife in
the neighbourhood. Ordinary lime is a great destroyer of the bacillus,
and can be used on a large scale to abolish it in refuse.

When the cholera is near one cannot be too scrupulously clean. The
fingers must be carefully washed with antiseptic before a meal, and
everything purified by heat only a few moments before being put into the
mouth, since flies and careless handling may soil food or anything else
exposed in a cool condition even for a few minutes. It is best when
cholera is actually present in the house or town in which you live to
swallow nothing which has been allowed to get cool; everything should be
heated and eaten when hot. Mephistopheles, in Goethe’s _Faust_,
complains of the swarming, pullulating life on the earth. He—the great

  “How many have I sent to grass!
  Yet young, fresh blood, do what I will
  Keeps ever circulating still.
  In water, in the earth, in air,
  In wet, dry, cold—everywhere
  Germs without number are unfurl’d,
  And but for fire, and fire alone,
  There would be nothing in the world
  That I could truly call my own.”

The version is Sir Theodore Martin’s. Mephistopheles might be a
bacteriologist explaining the difficulty of dealing with disease germs.
In any case, it is the Mephistophelian spirit of annihilation, and flame
as its instrument, which man brings to his service in the contest with
cholera germs.

The great carriers of cholera are human beings themselves travelling in
caravans, pilgrimages, shiploads. For the fact has now been established
that a man may harbour inside him the cholera-bacillus without its
multiplying largely or rendering him seriously ill. Once it is brought
by such an individual into a favourable locality, it is spread by water
contaminated by him, and yet used for drink and domestic purposes; and
also it is spread by his touching things in which the bacillus can grow,
such as cooked food, fruits, etc., swallowed subsequently by
unsuspecting purchasers or employers. You have, in order to avoid
cholera (and similar infections), not only to have very clean fingers
yourself, but to see to it that your servants’ fingers are clean also,
or else that anything they touch is afterwards heated for a few minutes
to near boiling-point before you let it enter your mouth. A little
history illustrative of the need of this precaution is on record. In
Egypt during a recent outbreak of cholera there was a very wealthy lady
who lived alone in an isolated palace under the charge of a physician.
She had a delicate appetite; her food was most carefully prepared. She
drank and used only boiled sterilised water; no one was allowed to
approach her except her servants, who never left the palace grounds, and
were in good health. She sickened of cholera and died. It was a puzzle
as to how she had acquired the infection. Her physician at last
discovered that she daily partook of cold chicken-broth, prepared
carefully by her cook. The cook, though practically well, was found to
be infected with the cholera-bacillus, which had probably lodged in his
intestine some weeks previously at the commencement of the outbreak of
the disease in Egypt. Though living in him the cholera-bacilli had not
found a favourable field of growth. This man in handling the cold broth,
the cloth used to rub the spoon with which it was stirred, or the basin
itself, had, it was found by making the actual experiment, been able to
transfer the minute bacillus to the cold broth, a most favourable and
nourishing medium for its growth, and so his isolated carefully guarded
employer received an abundant crop of the bacilli and developed a fatal
attack of cholera. Had the lady taken the broth hot, there would have
been no living cholera-bacillus in it, and if she had thus guarded
herself in regard to all food, by the use of heat and great cleanliness,
she would have escaped infection.

The most interesting development of knowledge and speculation with
regard to the microbes which infest the human intestine and other
regions of the human body is (as I mentioned above) connected with the
fact that one kind or species of microbe has the power of favouring the
growth of another, if present alongside of it, and that another kind has
the power of checking or antagonising its growth. Thus common
putrefactive microbes of river water are hostile to the cholera-bacillus
and to the typhoid-bacillus. Those disease-producing bacilli live
longest and best in very pure water! Thus, too, it is found that the
microbe of sour milk—the lactic-bacillus—is antagonistic to the common
putrefactive microbe of the intestinal contents—the well-known bacillus
coli. In virtue of the acid which it produces, the microbe of sour milk
arrests the excessive growth and activity of the putrefactive bacillus
coli. Hence the utility of sour milk in many cases of intestinal
trouble. We contain within us a microbian flora of such variety and
abundance of kinds and so nicely balanced in their antagonisms and
co-operations in a healthy man, that one cannot wonder at the timidity
of the medical man who hesitates to interfere with their conflicts and
established _modus vivendi_. Yet that seems to be the direction in which
action will have to be taken. It seems likely that in different
localities—towns, forests, highlands, lowlands, seaboards—there are
prevalent different microbes which enter the bodies of human visitors
and act as disturbers of the native microbian flora previously
established in the stranger.

That there are great differences in the microbian flora (including
herein minute moulds and fungi as well as bacteria) of different
localities, is shown by the great experiment of cheese-making which
mankind carries on. Each kind of cheese—Stilton, Cheshire, Dutch,
Roquefort, Gruyère, Gorgonzola, etc.—is the result of the combined and
successive action on milk of a vast number of microbes; and it is the
fact that the combination which produces any given kind of cheese is
only found and (unconsciously of the exact nature of what he is doing)
brought into activity by man at certain places. You cannot make Cheshire
cheese in France nor Gruyère in Cheshire, and so on. It is
suggested—and the matter is being pursued by experiment and observation
at the present time in France—that possibly amongst the other things
which go to make up the qualities of the air which agrees or disagrees
with one in any given locality—are the local microbes. This must not be
regarded as a conclusion which has been fully worked out—it is an
ingenious and promising suggestion made by Metchnikoff as the result of
some observations, and will be fully inquired into. The fact which I
have mentioned above (p. 242)—that the presence of the microbe
_Sarcina_ favours the growth of the cholera-bacillus—indeed, enabling
it to grow and flourish in conditions in which it was inert until the
_Sarcina_ was “sown” alongside of it—renders it worth investigating
the question as to whether there are “local” germs or microbes which in
this or that region are abundant and get into man’s food and drink, and
so into his intestine, and become established there, helping or
antagonising the growth of other microbes already there or subsequently
introduced. Thus, to the various considerations in regard to the “air”
of a locality, such as rarefaction, moisture, temperature, movement,
ozone, and the perfumes and exhalations of pine trees, rosemary, and
sweet-smelling grasses, which seem to be those which are the most likely
to affect the health of inhabitants and visitors, it is not improbable
that we must add the influence of an invisible local flora of microbes.
The inquiry is a long and laborious one, but it will be carried through.
The microbes, whether in air or water, or on the surfaces of things, can
be collected by washing them into warm liquid gelatine. Then the
gelatine is poured out on a plate, and hardens as a thin sheet of jelly.
This is protected from all further contamination, and, after a few
hours, each invisible microbe embedded immovably in the jelly makes
itself apparent. It multiplies enormously whilst remaining stuck to one
spot, and is no longer invisible, but presents itself to the eye as a
little sphere, or disc, of characteristic shape, colour, and quality,
consisting of many hundred thousands of crowded microbes produced by the
growth and division of the original invisible one. Some dozens or some
hundreds of little growing “dots,” and of many various kinds, will thus
reveal themselves in the jelly according to the number and kinds of
utterly invisible parent microbes introduced by your “washings” into the
jelly. And so the investigator has the means of getting at each kind of
invisible microbe quite detached from the others, and of separating it
for further cultivation and experiment as to its chemical and
disease-producing qualities. These microbial gardens of jelly-plates
are, indeed, a wonderful revelation and a fitting “horticultural”
accompaniment to the dark and gloomy forests of rampant wild microbes in
our insides, where all are struggling for the soil, one crushing out
another by its sheer exuberance, a third choked by the encircling
luxuriance of a fourth, just as the trees, mosses, and climbers of a
tropical jungle are budding, pushing, grasping, destroying one another
in their irrepressible growth.

Pettenkofer, of Munich, when he found (as Metchnikoff did later) that
the cholera-bacillus could be swallowed in spoonfuls without producing
any harm, came to the conclusion that, though it was a necessary agent
of the disease “cholera,” yet that there was still an unknown additional
determining “cause” of a local character which must be present in order
to render the “cholera-bacillus” effective. Metchnikoff is now seeking
this “local” cause and parallel antagonistic causes, in the microbian
flora of localities which locally effect an entry into the human body,
and are, on the one hand, “favourable,” or on the other hand
“antagonistic.” Take as a concrete example Versailles. When cholera has
been rife in Paris, there has been no cholera at Versailles. There is
something at or about Versailles which does not permit cholera to
flourish in men who live there. The guess—the hypothesis—which is
being investigated at this moment, is that there is possibly a microbe
present at Versailles which enters into the microbial jungle of the
intestine of mankind there, and is inimical to, repressive of, the
cholera-bacillus when it also arrives there. Similarly, the suggestion
is entertained, and is being experimentally tested, that there is in
Paris a microbial inhabitant of the intestine which is favourable to the
energetic growth of the cholera-bacillus when it puts in an appearance,
but that this favouring (as yet undetermined) microbe does not exist at

These imaginings and guesses as to favouring and antagonising microbes
must not be confused with the definitely ascertained facts as to the
cholera-bacillus. But they are quite sufficiently important and probable
to justify their narration to a discreet and sympathetic public.



Fifty years ago people were very fond of talking about “ozone,” and the
word is popularly used nowadays to signify a mysterious attribute of the
air of the sea-coast or moorland without its real significance being
generally understood. When Sir Oliver Lodge the other day warned people
against hurting their nasal passages by sniffing up an unduly strong
dose of ozone produced by a special ozone-making apparatus, I am
inclined to think that most people who read what he said wondered what
“ozone” might be.

In the eighteenth century it was noticed that the sparks from a
frictional electrical machine are accompanied by a peculiar pungent
smell in the air. Many years after that, namely in 1840, the great
chemical experimenter, Schönbein, the friend and correspondent of
Faraday and discoverer of gun-cotton, found that the smell in question
is produced by a special gas, which is formed in the air when electric
discharges take place. He found that this gas was a powerful
oxydiser—would, in fact, oxydise iodide of potassium so as to set free
iodine—and thus its presence could be detected by means of paper slips
coated with a mixture of starch and iodide of potassium. When they were
exposed in air which contained even minute traces of this strange gas
they became purple-blue, owing to the liberation of iodine and the
formation of its well-known blue combination with the starch. Schönbein
found that in breezy, fresh places his test-papers turned blue, and
concluded from that (confirmed by other evidence) that this smelling
gas, to which he gave the name ozone—which simply means “the smelling
stuff”—is present in good, ordinary atmospheric air, as well as in
artificially “electrified” air. It is destroyed when such air is heated
above the boiling-point of water, and seems to be, as it were, “taken
out” of the air by all sorts of dead organic matter, so that it is not
present in the air of large cities. I remember that when I was a boy we
used to test the air for ozone with Schönbein’s papers (I am aware that
their colour change is not absolute proof of the presence of ozone, as
other oxydising gases might, if present, act in the same way), and we
used to find more ozone when a south-west wind was blowing than in a

Schönbein wrote sixty papers on ozone—but its real nature was made out
by others who succeeded him, chiefly by Andrews, of Belfast, and Tait,
of Edinburgh. It turns out that ozone is a condensed form of the
elemental gas oxygen—squeezed, as it were, and literally “intensified,”
so that three measures of oxygen gas become only two of ozone. It very
readily changes back again—two measures of ozone expanding to form
three of oxygen. It is produced by the action of an electric discharge
upon oxygen gas driven over the discharge and in greatest quantity when
that kind of gently-buzzing electric spark which is called “the silent
discharge” is used. It can be produced in quantity by passing
atmospheric air, or better, pure dry oxygen gas through a glass tube in
which such a silent discharge is made to take place. As much as
seventeen parts in a hundred of the gas can be thus converted into
“ozone,” and some twenty years ago two French chemists succeeded in
getting even a larger proportion, and by submitting it to a tremendous
pressure at a temperature of 100 degrees below the freezing-point of
water, they obtained pure ozone as a transparent liquid. It was of a
dark indigo-blue colour, and somewhat dangerous and explosive when the
pressure under which it had formed was removed. Ordinary oxygen gas has
since then been also liquefied in the laboratory: it is of a paler blue

The “smell” which old writers had noticed and Schönbein had named was
thus actually obtained as a distinct blue liquid. It is this which,
though present only in minute quantities, gives special oxydising
activity to fresh air. When pure, or present even to the small extent of
4 per cent. in air, ozone is a destructive agent, a sort of
extra-quality oxygen of triple instead of double power. Indiarubber is
rotted and destroyed by it in a few minutes—a sort of combustion or
quick oxydation taking place—and it is, of course, dangerous to the
softer parts of the human body, such as the air passages and lungs and
the eyes—when present in more than a minimal proportion. I believe that
no one has yet determined exactly how great a percentage of ozone can be
tolerated by a human being in the air taken into the lungs. In ordinary
fresh country or sea-coast air only one part by measure in 700,000 has
been found to be ozone, that is, 1/7000 per cent. But it is quite likely
that much more is occasionally present, since it is very difficult to
arrange a satisfactory examination of the air of any locality so as to
determine how much ozone it contains. It is said that at higher levels
the atmosphere contains more ozone than it does at lower levels.

It is not to be wondered at that ozone should thus have attracted
general attention and interest as the distinctive and specially active
agent present in the pure air of the sea-coast and the mountain-top.
People not infrequently, on arriving at the seaside, sniff up the
odours of decomposing seaweed (containing a little iodine), and think
they are smelling the “ozone.” It is doubtful whether enough ozone is
ever present in the atmosphere under simple natural conditions to affect
even a highly-sensitive nose. But it is easy to produce enough by
passing air over a silent electrical discharge to fill a large room with
its peculiar smell. Whether it really is of benefit to the human being
who inhales a properly limited percentage of it seems not to have been
clearly decided by experiment, although both in London and the United
States of America there are enterprising medical men who are convinced
of its value and are using it. It would certainly seem that if the
peculiar benefit which is often derived from sea air or from mountain
air is due to the presence of this extra oxygen in such air, then
nothing can be simpler or more rational than to introduce the proper and
useful percentage of ozone into the air of specially-arranged chambers
in London and other large towns, so that we can visit or even inhabit
them and breathe ozonised air at will without going on a journey for it.

But it is a remarkable fact that, as with various natural so-called
“mineral waters,” so with various “airs” which people find
beneficial—no one has yet clearly and decisively shown, in the first
place, whether they exert any chemical effect of a special kind on the
people who seem to benefit by drinking the one or breathing the other;
still less has any one shown what is the particular chemical ingredient
of the air or of the water of any given resort which exerts the
beneficial effect attributed to that air or that water.

The air in different localities differs most obviously and importantly
in four particulars, namely, as to whether it is still or windy, whether
it is cool or hot relatively to the local surface, whether it is heavy
or rarefied, whether it is dry or saturated with moisture. It is also an
important fact that the atmosphere consists of layers and currents
differing in these qualities, and that the higher layers can be reached
by ascending to high-lying lands. At the same time it seems that in a
flat country the ascent of a comparatively low hill brings you into a
layer or “stratum” of air differing more from that of the plain or
valley than would be the case were you to ascend to the same height in a
mountainous region. The seaside and the mountain may owe the beneficial
character of their air to some of the varying qualities noted above.
Chemical differences may or may not be important, and seem hardly to
have been as yet brought within the range of accurate knowledge. Ozone
may be more or less present, so may perfumes and volatile oils, such as
are given off by pine trees, and there may be more or less minute
quantities of carbonic acid and of sulphurous acid, and still minuter
quantities of the newly-discovered gases—argon and helium—which, for
all we know, may have some effect on the human body. There seems to be a
great field open for accurate investigations in regard to the action
upon human health of all these varying conditions of the air. In the
meantime, we proceed by guesswork, and are influenced by tradition and
beliefs which are based on a sort of experience, but are of a very vague
and unsatisfactory description.

The case is much the same with regard to the natural waters of
celebrated resorts. So far as their chemical composition is known, they
can be manufactured and applied for drinking or bathing anywhere. But
minute quantities of certain gases and other elements may be present in
these natural waters and have escaped until now the observation of the
chemist, and it is possible, though not demonstrated, that these rare
chemical constituents may have some action on those who drink or bathe
in the water. Ever since the time of the Romans natural mineral waters
have been sought, and the springs which discharge them have been
frequented, not because their chemical composition was known, but
because experience seemed to show that they produced a beneficial
result. It can hardly be doubted that the baths and springs frequented
at the present day are not so much themselves the cause of the benefit
to the cure-seekers as are the change of scene and diet, and the repose
and regular life willingly accepted by those who travel so far to reach
these springs.

With regard to ozone, there remains something more to be said, namely,
in regard to its application, in a far less diluted form than is
possible when it is taken into the lungs, to the destruction of
putrefying organic matter and putrefactive and disease-producing
bacteria. It is now some five or six years since air containing a high
percentage of ozone—produced by the action of the electric
discharge—was used for the purification of the water-supply of large
towns. It is a fact that river water into which such ozone containing
air is pumped becomes pure in the highest degree, in consequence of the
destruction by the ozone’s oxydising action, both of the bacterial germs
always present in vast numbers in river water and of the organic matter
on which the bacteria depend. This application of ozone is in use in
several large towns for the purification of drinking-water, for which
purpose it has very great advantages. It has also been successfully used
by Dr. Allen, the director of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, for
keeping the water of the marine aquarium there in a state of purity and
well charged with oxygen gas. A similar use has been made of oxygen
containing a considerable percentage of ozone by enterprising surgeons
for the cleansing of ulcer and abscess. It is clear that such a gas may
present mechanical advantages over any liquid application.

Ozone is not, apparently, in favour or fashion with the general body of
medical practitioners at the present day, but possibly further
examination and determination of its physiological properties may lead
to its receiving more attention in medicine. Already the peroxide of
hydrogen—which is more or less correctly described as “ozonised water,”
and is used (under the name “Auricomous hair-wash”) to change dark hair
by its oxydising action to a golden tint—is used by surgeons for
washing out purulent wounds and abscess. Those who use the gas itself
only go a step further. Some day we may see a more general use of ozone;
on the other hand, it remains to be seen by direct and accurate
experiment whether its properties are as valuable to man as we may hope
they will prove to be.



Since the preceding chapter on ozone was written I have learned that
this peculiar triple-condensed variety of oxygen (it is called by
chemists “O_{3}” whereas ordinary oxygen is “O_{2}”) is now being most
successfully applied to the purification of the water-supply of several
large cities. A notable case is that of the great winter resort, Nice.
Ozone gas is one of the most effective destroyers of organic impurity
known; it destroys both bacterial germs and the putrescible impurities
of water completely, and is itself converted in the process into
harmless health-giving oxygen, whilst the water is rendered absolutely
free of all germs. It is readily manufactured by treating oxygen with
the electric discharge, and is produced at a cost which renders its use
in water-purification an economical and financially satisfactory method.
The use of ozone gas as a medicinal application to cavities in the
living body in which disease-producing bacteria are lodged is making
progress. It has to be administered with great care by a medical expert,
and though there has been delay and opposition on account of the novelty
of the treatment, there are signs that ozone will become established as
a valuable therapeutic agent. It is a singular fact that so little has
been done of late by scientific observers either as to the presence of
ozone in the atmosphere or as to the action of ozone on the healthy
animal body when present in minute quantity in the air taken into the
lungs. The general opinion appears to be that it is either altogether
absent from the atmosphere or present only in quantity so minute as to
be negligible from the point of view of the physiologist except in very
high mountain regions, and there the exact quantity remains
undetermined. The only experiments in the last ten years on the subject
of its action on animals are some which led the inquirers to the
conclusion that constant exposure (in a closed chamber) to an atmosphere
containing 4 per cent. of ozone caused death after five or six days by
an inflammation of the lungs. Clearly it is desirable that further
investigation on this subject by competent authorities should be made,
and the effect of smaller quantities of ozone in the air respired,
whether continuously or at intervals, should be ascertained.

The action of ordinary oxygen gas is a separate matter. The atmosphere
which we breathe consists of one part by volume of this gas and of four
parts of nitrogen gas. It is the oxygen which is necessary to us and to
all animals, and the nitrogen is merely an inert diluting accompaniment
of the essential oxygen gas. It is, of course, easy to increase or to
diminish the proportion of oxygen in the air breathed accordingly as one
introduces additional pure oxygen or, on the other hand, diluting
nitrogen into a collapsible bag or sac from which one continuously draws
breath. Such a bag can be connected by a tube to a helmet or mask
enveloping the head. The expired air is discharged by a specially
provided passage. It used to be thought that it was dangerous to breathe
pure undiluted oxygen, although the proportion of oxygen to nitrogen in
the air taken into the lungs might be increased to as much as a half
without injury, and, indeed, with great benefit in some serious
conditions of collapse. Dr. Leonard Hill, F.R.S., of the London Hospital
Medical College, has, however, recently shown that oxygen gas, of 97 per
cent. purity, may be breathed continuously for as much as two hours
without any ill-effects or sense of inconvenience. Contrary to what has
been stated, it is neither exciting nor unpleasant. He has made the
experiment on himself and on some of his assistants, and in doing so has
made use of such an apparatus as that above-mentioned—so as to ensure
the in-take of undiluted oxygen.

Dr. Hill and Mr. Martin Flack have further found that the exhaustion and
labouring of the heart which is brought on by such special exertion as
that involved in running a hundred yards race or a quarter-mile race, is
almost completely avoided if the runner “fills his lungs” with oxygen
gas before starting. The runner takes the oxygen gas into the lungs for
some two or three minutes before starting to race; of course, the lungs
are not thus actually “filled” with oxygen, but a much larger proportion
of that gas is lodged in them than when ordinary air is breathed, and a
full supply is thus afforded to the blood. The “distress” caused by
violent athletic efforts appears to be entirely due to the using up of
the available oxygen by the unusual activity of the muscles. The heart
itself suffers most, the breathing becomes laboured, and there is a
sense of suffocation, due simply to the urgent demand by the blood,
heart and muscles for more oxygen. If, therefore, we ensure that there
is an extra supply of pure oxygen in the lungs before the unusual effort
is made, we avert these distressing symptoms: the unusual quantity of
oxygen needed is ready for use. Dr. Hill himself and young men who have
tried the plan of inspiration of oxygen before a foot-race, declare
that they cannot believe that they are really running hard, even when
surpassing their usual performance. They come in at the end of the
quarter-mile, having beaten their record; and with no sense of having
made a special effort; they feel fresh and ready to start again after
more oxygen and a short rest. Moreover, the after-effect on the muscles
is stated to be such that “stiffness” and what is called “grogginess”
(due in ordinary circumstances to the retention of lactic acid in the
muscle) do not supervene.

Swimming and diving, as one would expect, are greatly affected by the
preliminary oxygen inhalation; the length of time during which
submersion can be endured without discomfort is doubled, and the great
effort of fast swimming rendered less rapidly exhausting. Cycling uphill
at a rapid pace becomes, according to Dr. Hill’s own frequent
experience, possible after oxygen inhalation when in ordinary conditions
it was impossible. Hockey players and boxers he has found notably
benefited by oxygen given both in the intervals of and after the
exercise. It is, of course, to be expected that a wider practical
application should be made of this simple method of increasing our power
of sustaining muscular effort, and of enduring submersion. Dr. Hill
suggests that the divers of the Mediterranean, who, without any
apparatus, plunge into the shallow sea and remain below long enough to
find, cut, and bring to the surface the valuable sponges of commerce,
might use the method of preliminary inhalation of pure oxygen gas. He
has also tried the method with a young racehorse, but owing to the fact
that the course run was only a mile, and the animal perfectly fit and
strong, he tells me that no advantage was found to result from the
inhalation. With an older cart-horse somewhat tired by a day’s work—he
obtained the most satisfactory results, the animal becoming obviously
recuperated and working without distress.

The question has been raised as to whether the administration of oxygen
gas to a man or to a horse when about to run a race should be considered
as “doping.” It may perhaps be objected to by sportsmen, as involving
the provision of special apparatus which all competitors would not be
equally able to secure. But it is not “doping,” since that applies to
the use of a drug, which, whilst exciting to violent effort, produces an
injurious after-effect. Oxygen is not in this category; to take an extra
quantity of oxygen into the lungs before starting on a race is no more
unnatural or risky than to take an extra drink of water into the stomach
or to swallow meat extract and such special preparations before or
during a race. It would be interesting to see whether a runner in the
Marathon race would (as Dr. Hill would expect) be greatly assisted if
his trainer carried with him a supply of pure oxygen, and from time to
time refreshed him with it. Football players might also be given oxygen
at half-time; an oxygenated team would, one surmises, beat its
uninspired competitors. A Fife team is reported to have done so. On the
roads favoured by cyclists one may expect hereafter to find at the
bottom of a long ascent hawkers of “breaths of oxygen” provided with
gas-bags and calling out “Buy the lady a breff, sir!” It is, perhaps,
worth noting that the relief afforded by oxygen-breathing is no less
definite when the gas is taken immediately after a race or sustained
effort than when used as a preliminary. The excess of choke-gas or
carbonic acid formed during great muscular effort is not the principal
cause of the distress experienced. That gas is thrown off by increased
expiration. It is the using up of the oxygen and the insufficiency of
the supply in the atmospheric air inspired that causes, under these
circumstances, giddiness, exhaustion, and often collapse.

The difficulty in breathing and the prostration experienced by many
people in mountain-climbing is largely due, not merely to the muscular
effort of climbing, but to the fact that the rarefied atmosphere at
heights of 8000 ft. to 15,000 ft. and more gives into the lungs in every
inspiration but a fraction of the oxygen which is inspired at low
levels, and moreover, owing to the low pressure, much less is held in
the blood. Even when conveyed by mule, cog-rail, or balloon to these
heights—and, therefore, without muscular exertion, sensitive people
suffer severely from temporary “oxygen-starvation.” They as well as the
laborious mountaineer could be saved from all such inconvenience by the
use of a skilfully-constructed “traveller’s flask” of oxygen gas.

The observations and experiments as to the possible use of pure oxygen
by athletes suggest that we might all benefit by occasional if not
frequent use of such an atmosphere. Indeed, there are some
individuals—amongst others a well-known and distinguished actor—who
before making some special effort, or even when feeling tired and
unequal to their daily work, inhale under medical supervision a certain
quantity of oxygen gas. It would certainly seem that since country air,
sea air, and mountain air are useful and refreshing, an artificial
supply of extra oxygen might be inhaled in London, either in one’s own
house or in establishments provided for the purpose, with definite
benefit to health, especially if the inhalation were combined with

The experiments made by Dr. Hill have come about in connection with work
undertaken for the purpose of improving the diving and life-saving
apparatus named after its inventor, Fleuss. This invention consists
essentially in a water-tight helmet and jacket connected with a
cylinder of compressed oxygen gas which is carried by the diver. The
advantage of such an arrangement is that the diver is free from pumping
apparatus and can go where an ordinary diver could not. Mr. Fleuss was
able, by diving with this apparatus, to prevent an immense loss of
property by arresting the flooding of the Severn tunnel which was
imminent during its construction. A difficulty in regard to the Fleuss
apparatus has been that oxygen gas is a poison, causing inflammation of
the lungs and convulsions when under a pressure of from two to three
atmospheres—that is to say, at from 30 ft. to 60 ft. depth in water.
The pressure exercised by the air of the atmosphere at sea-level is
equal to that exercised by a column of water 30 ft. high, and hence at
30 ft. depth in the sea the oxygen gas would be under the pressure both
of the atmosphere itself and of water to the same amount—which is
expressed by saying that it is under two atmospheres’ pressure, or twice
the atmosphere’s pressure. The pressure of the atmosphere is, in plain
figures, 15 lb. on every square inch of surface. Of course, the oxygen
is compressed far beyond this point in the cylinders in which it is
carried. In using it, it is allowed to escape by opening a valve leading
into an elastic sac, and is then and there subject to the pressure
depending on the depth of water to which the diver has descended. It is
found to be dangerous for a diver with this apparatus to descend to a
depth of more than 30 ft. having pure oxygen in his apparatus, because
the oxygen is then compressed under a pressure of two atmospheres.
Accordingly, Dr. Haldane, of Oxford, has proposed that the oxygen should
be diluted with atmospheric air, so as to give a mixture of equal
volumes of oxygen and nitrogen. With this mixture the diver can safely
descend to a depth of 60 ft. The apparatus is provided with a partition
containing caustic soda, which absorbs the carbonic gas thrown out of
the lungs in expiration. With such an apparatus a diver can safely
remain under water at a depth of 60 ft., and walk about and explore for
as long as two hours. A most important application of this
self-contained diving apparatus is found in its use in the exploration
of mines, where smoke or gaseous products resulting from an explosion
render it impossible for rescue parties to penetrate without its use. It
has been the means of saving many lives in such circumstances. A form of
this apparatus is made in which the oxygen is supplied, not by a
cylinder of compressed gas, but by granules of a chemical compound
called pneumatogen, a peroxide of sodium and potassium, which when
breathed into absorbs carbonic acid from the air expired by the lungs,
and gives off pure oxygen. Submarine ships are now being provided with a
dress or outfit of this description for each member of the crew, so that
in the case of the entrance of water into the submarine, every man can
put on his “oxygen helmet,” and one by one, when the ship is full of
water, they can pass out by the conning tower and float to the surface.
The perfected diving dress, with self-contained diluted oxygen supply
and other improvements, has been constructed by Siebe, Gorman, and Co.,
and was exhibited by Dr. Leonard Hill at a soiree of the Royal Society.



The talk about the urgent need for the destruction of sparrows reminds
me that the word “sparrow” is applied commonly in this country to at
least two very different but common birds. No doubt farmers and
gardeners know well enough the house-sparrow (_Passer domesticus_ or
_Fringilla domestica_ of Linnæus), which is the one they consider
injurious. But some boys and some newly-fledged proprietors of country
places may inadvertently confuse the house-sparrow with a very different
bird, though only a little smaller and of a general brown colouring,
also called “sparrow,” namely, the hedge-sparrow (_Accentor modularis_).

The hedge-sparrow is a true denizen of the country. It does not live on
grain, but on insects and grubs, and is useful on that account to
agriculturists. Its eggs are pure blue. A spotted egg of a cuckoo laid
amongst them readily catches the eye, so that cuckoos’ eggs are often
found in hedge-sparrows’ nests. It seems that it is all a mistake on the
part of the cuckoo hen when this occurs. The strain of cuckoos properly
attached to hedge-sparrows lay a beautiful blue egg differing only in
its somewhat larger size from those of the hedge-sparrow itself, and
hence difficult to detect. These blue cuckoo-eggs—proper to cuckoos
which make use of the hedge-sparrow as foster-mother—escape detection
both by boys and the foster-parents, and successfully hatch out and
propagate the race of blue-egged cuckoos with a memory and a sense of
smell which bring them back if they are hen-birds to the little
hedge-sparrow’s nest when they are grown up and have an egg to dispose
of. The spotted grey or brownish eggs are, if not discovered by boys,
ejected (there is reason to believe) by the hedge-sparrows themselves.
They were deposited by mistake by some pippet-loving or warbler-seeking
strain of cuckoo in a hurry, or are throw-backs to a common ancestral
colouring of the egg due, perhaps, to the male parent not being of the
true blue strain. A very fine series of “clutches” and nests of
hedge-sparrow, robin, shrike, reed-warbler, pippet, yellow-hammer, and
other birds with the accompanying cuckoo’s egg may be seen in the
Natural History Museum, and they show how closely the parasitic egg
often resembles that of the foster-parent, though striking failures also

The hedge-sparrow is placed in that group of small birds which includes
the robin, the thrushes, and the warblers; it is not a finch. On the
other hand, the house-sparrow is a finch, allied to the chaffinch, the
goldfinch, and the brambling. It has, like all the finches, a very
powerful broad-based beak, and is more than a match for bigger birds
than itself. It is really a parasite or “commensal” (messmate) of man,
living and flourishing entirely by helping itself to the grain and the
young buds of shrubs grown by man, and in towns to the waste fragments
of his food and the grain left in horse-dung. Whether it does any good
in the early part of the year by eating grubs seems to be doubtful, but
the conclusion is justified that it does more harm than good, especially
as it drives away other small birds which are exclusively insectivorous.
It has gone with European man to all temperate climates. There are
Spanish, African, Italian and Indian species, closely related to the
common house-sparrow, which I should like to see put out side by side
with it and some of its varieties for the public edification in the
Natural History Museum. These are the true “sparrows,” and should be
compared side by side with the hedge-sparrow, and the differences
pointed out.

There is another true sparrow in England, called the “tree-sparrow,”
which is not nearly so common as the house-sparrow. They are, however,
so closely allied to one another that hybrids have been produced between
the two. On the other hand, the hedge-sparrow is a great deal too remote
from the finches to interbreed with the house-sparrow or any other of
the finch group.

There ought to be a careful report on the probable effects, in every
direction, of a great destruction of house-sparrows before any very
drastic measures are taken in that direction. The employers of
gamekeepers should remember that by destroying owls, hawks, and weasels
they may not only enable small injurious birds to flourish in excess,
but that they may encourage disease and weakness in the game-birds which
they so eagerly desire to multiply, since the natural extermination of
weakly birds by birds and animals of prey is put an end to when the
latter are abolished. In all such matters more knowledge is needed, and
reasonable people will not take irretrievable action until they have
taken the trouble to obtain thorough knowledge.

It is a curious fact that though the house-sparrow does not naturally
sing, yet hand-reared house-sparrows have been made, by association with
bull-finches, to acquire the song of that bird—a truly astonishing
instance of hidden or latent capacity.

A lover of trout-fishing has been writing lately upon the question as to
whether the trout in much-fished rivers and lakes do or do not exhibit
increased “wariness,” or even “intelligent caution” in avoiding the
flies so cunningly thrown before or above them by the skilful angler. It
is argued that there cannot really be any increased indisposition of
trout to take the fly based on experience, because on an estimate of the
number of trout in a river like the Test, and of the limited number of
anglers, every fisherman would have to hook and lose some thousands of
fish every year for the experience to be general among trout that the
horrid artificial flies “hide a still more horrid hook.” It is, of
course, held that the trout cannot communicate their experiences to one
another by any form of conversation (though leadership and imitative
habit might have some effect), and it is also not suggested that a trout
which had acquired an overpowering aversion to the angler’s fly as a
result of being hooked and breaking free, could transmit that aversion
to its offspring by the mere fact of reproduction. Hence it is
maintained that there is no such increasing “wariness” in English and
Scotch trout. It is a curious thing that in discussing this matter the
fundamental principle should have been overlooked by which Darwin and
Wallace have long ago explained to the satisfaction of naturalists, the
aversions and cautious proceedings of all kinds of animals, from the
smallest insects up to birds, beasts, and fishes. The principle of
natural selection and survival of the fittest accounts for the increased
caution of trout in well-fished rivers in the simplest way. Assume (as
is perfectly reasonable) that some trout are more shy than others “by
nature,” that is to say, are born so, that some are born with a slightly
more rapid response to the sight of food than others—as one sees often
enough with a lot of the young of any animal—then the increased shyness
or pretended “intelligence” of the trout after many years’ fishing
follows as a necessity. The rash fish are caught and destroyed, the shy
fish remain in the river, and—here is the important point, a
well-ascertained fundamental law of heredity—propagate their like. They
produce shy fish. Every year this selection goes on till you get a race
of fish in the well-fished river which are so shy that they cease to
rise at all! This unpleasant result is avoided by the proprietors of
trout streams to a certain extent by introducing a race of trout which
has not in consequence of over-fishing developed an innate shyness of
character (such as the Loch Leven and some others) to mix and breed with
the timid over-fished race.

It is in the same way that the human population of country villages,
most sad to see, is every year rendered less intelligent than it was a
hundred years ago. All the enterprising, intelligent young men and
maidens are “fished” away, drawn by baits and hooks to the great towns;
only the dull and relatively incapable are left in the village to marry
and produce a new generation. The village population necessarily becomes
made up of a dull stock—incapable, as appears from official reports, of
being educated beyond a very low stage. In some districts 70 per cent.
of the children are thus unintelligent, though not unhealthy or
imbecile. It is possible that the want of home-training and example in
very early childhood is to some extent a cause of the dullness of
village children. And so it goes on, generation after generation, as
facilities for leaving the village increase and inducements to stay or
return decrease. The 30 per cent. of the new generation who have any
“wits” leave the village, never to return. And no one re-stocks the
village. That must be taken in hand soon.



A considerable proportion of the young which are produced as a new
generation of either plants or animals are not merely unlike their
parents in some small particulars of colour, proportion, activity, and
so on, but are, as compared with the normal or usual standard of the
species, “defective”; that is to say, they are wanting in some organ or
part, as though maimed, or by some cause restricted or reduced in regard
to that part. This occurs in human beings, and in domesticated animals
more obviously than in wild animals and plants, for two reasons:
firstly, because in wild conditions the defective young die off very
early in the struggle for existence and so escape human observation;
whereas man protects his own “defective” young, and often, also, those
of domesticated animals, so that they are allowed to “grow up” more or
less; secondly, such defective structure appearing at birth, and
therefore called “congenital,” is carried on by heredity, more or less
completely, should the defective animal or plant be allowed to breed.
Such breeding of defective individuals is prevented in wild nature by
their early destruction; their defects cause their early death by
unfitting them for the competition and struggle which are in natural
conditions rigidly severe. Only a few survive among the many thousands
of each species born into conditions of limited food and
space—conditions which are not sufficient to support more than a very
small number so as to enable them to reach the adult or breeding stage
of life. But man, on the contrary, protects his own young, and often
those of his domesticated animals and plants, from this destructive
competition, and thus allows those which are to a certain extent
defective to breed.

The official returns of the Registrar-General record every year a
proportion of deaths of infants which are entered as due to “congenital
defects.” These defects are of many and various kinds. A frequent
“congenital defect” is one which does not necessarily cause death,
namely, the imperfection of the wonderfully elaborate organ of sight,
rendering it useless. Children often are born blind, and so are a
certain proportion of each species of animal normally provided with
eyes—dogs, horses, cattle, birds, fish. Even insects, lobsters, and
crabs are in quite considerable and definite number born blind. The
inborn or congenital defects of the eyes which result in blindness are
of several kinds. The whole of the eyeball or eye-structure may be
atrophied, that is to say, dwindled and incomplete, or one essential
part only may be defective, and the rest quite well-formed; or, again,
the nerves connecting the eye with the brain or the several parts of the
brain concerned in the function of sight may, one or more of them, be
defective. Wild animals born in this condition must perish, except when
they happen to be born in caverns or in the deep sea. Then they are no
worse off than animals with “good” eyes. But the animals with good eyes,
or even with only somewhat defective eyes, will follow up the gleams of
light which in moving about they have the fortune to encounter, and so
will escape from the cavern or dark depths of the sea, leaving behind in
the dark only those with defective eyes. These will breed together, and
perpetuate their defective eyes in a more and more marked degree in
successive generations. Always those which can see, or see only a
little, will leave the dark place, and so at last there will be a race
of animals established in such places with defective eyes (as in the
ocean, at a depth of two thousand fathoms, and in the great caves of
Europe, and notably in the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, U.S.A.), and often
the eyes will altogether disappear. This, however, is a digression.

The cause of congenital defect in eyes is not obvious. The failure of
the germinal substance of the reproductive egg or particle detached from
parents with sound eyes, to unfold itself—to develop—into a creature
with sound eyes like those of its parents, is apparently due, in some
instances, to one cause, and in other instances to other causes, of none
of which can it be said that we have a satisfactory and comprehensive
knowledge. The same want of full knowledge exists in regard to the
causation of other congenital defects. These are as numerous and varied
as the parts of the body which may be from birth onwards, in one
instance or another, distorted, devoid of some essential inner
structure, swollen to great size, or shrunken, or even absent
altogether. Such defects are sometimes caused by mechanical pressure or
nipping in early stages of growth before birth, but there are many which
cannot be accounted for in that way. The wonder really is not that the
inconceivably complex structure of higher animals should sometimes fail,
in this or that part, to develop in due course from the simple-looking
germ, destitute of visible structure, but that it should, on the
contrary, so regularly and completely come off successfully in millions
of instances every day. We can imagine or suggest disturbing agencies
which may be the causes of failure, but it is very difficult to
demonstrate with certainty the causes which have been at work in each
and every case.

One result of failure of the germ to “grow up” into the perfect likeness
of its parents is that it may “throw back,” as the breeders say, and
resemble in this or that quality a remote, even an extremely remote,
ancestor. It is suggested by some inquirers that the congenital or
inborn defect, frequent in human beings, which is called
“feeble-mindedness” is a reversion or throw-back to the condition of the
brain in the animal ancestors of man. That is possible, and, in view of
some cases, seems probable. But it must be noted that we do not know
what are the causes which favour throwing-back, or “atavism,” as it is
called, in regard to all sorts of structures, and that the mechanical
conditions connected with the growth of the cavity of the skull in which
the brain itself grows are so very elaborate that it is obvious that a
very slight disturbance of one element or another might arrest or turn
aside the growth of that vastly complex organ, which has become so much
larger and more delicate in man than in the animals from which he has,
at no remote period in the history of life on the earth, taken his

Mankind have always within the period of written records (a mere trifle
in the lapse of time since man became man) regarded mental defect and
aberration as due to fantastic causes. To this day we use the word
“lunatic” for one of the two typical forms of mental aberration: we
imply that the moon is concerned in its production. The other form of
brain-failure has appropriated the term “idiot,” which, it is surprising
to find, was less than two centuries ago applied in common speech to any
person who was characterised by independence of judgment. The term
“softy” is a common and really more suitable term for this class, whilst
“cracked” is the word applied to a lunatic. The notion that mental
aberration is due to “possession” by evil spirits, which can be expelled
and the patient accordingly cured, was prevalent a century ago, and the
belief is common at the present day (though quite erroneous) that people
“go mad” in virtue of some immaterial and unaccountable influence, and
may therefore “go sane” again. The lunacy laws and the laws relating to
the care of the feeble-minded in this country are admitted to be tainted
with ignorance and misconception, and both are in process of correction
by the Government of the day.

The approved professional terms used in distinguishing the varieties of
“the mind diseased” are not accepted with much favour by the public, and
it is unnecessary to introduce them here. The important fact is that
persons of diseased mind may be separated into two groups—(_a_) the
idiots or softies, and (_b_) the lunatics or cracked people. The idiotic
group are those with a defective amount or quality of brain substance
(whether the skull itself is small or abnormally distended by “water on
the brain”), and are more or less incapable of being educated. They are
often subject to epileptic fits, and are usually weakly in build, though
they sometimes have great muscular strength. The “feeble-minded,” of
whom so much has lately been written, owing to the recent report of a
Government Commission, belong to this group. They are distinguished from
the more marked section of idiots in that they are not absolutely devoid
of some intelligence, and are capable, under proper supervision, of some
degree of self-control. Some of them even can take part in industrial
operations, though they require constant direction when so employed, and
are never, even in the least serious cases, susceptible of mental
development beyond a strangely and abruptly limited degree. Contrasted
with the idiots are the lunatics; they often are gifted with the highest
receptivity, and frequently are men or women of the highest education
and intellect, normal in every feature of body and mind except that
their mental machinery works in a defective, “mad” way as to one or more
subjects—often only as to one subject or class of subjects. They
exhibit in different individuals a vast variety of illusions and
propensities which may be merely unreasonable or may be dangerous to
themselves and to others.

It seems that the idiotic and feeble-minded are devoid of, or defective
in, general mental receptivity, although in regard to a few things they
may have retentive but unintelligent memory. Even the less afflicted
among them are incapable of “thinking” at all, because their defective
memory or receptivity gives them nothing to think about. On the other
hand, the lunatic exhibits the ordinary receptivity of a healthy human
being, but thinks wrongly or absurdly upon one or a few lines, though
normally and soundly upon every other.

The State in civilised countries has long since made provision for the
proper medical care and restraint of lunatics and of the extreme cases
of the other class, the idiots. But by an oversight in this country,
which the gravedigger in _Hamlet_ would consider very natural, the less
extreme cases of idiocy—the so-called feeble-minded—have been left
without State guardianship. It is a fact that these cases occur both in
the wealthiest and the poorest class of the community, though they are
put away under medical care by well-to-do families, and are left by the
very poor to wander about and get into terrible mischief. Hence there
has grown up a belief that feeble-minded offspring are more frequently
produced by mentally sound parents who are very poor than by those who
are rich or well-to-do, though there are not facts or figures which
establish that conclusion. It has further been maintained that this
supposed large proportional rate of production of feeble-minded among
the poorest, ill-fed, ill-housed, and vicious dregs of the community is
due to the action of defective nutrition, alcoholism, and lack of fresh
air and healthy occupation upon the parents, and that a deterioration of
the reproductive material, a twist, as it were, of the inner substance
of the stock or breed in the direction of feeble-mindedness, has been
thus established.

In reply to this somewhat hasty but at first sight plausible conclusion,
we maintain (1) that the definite defect called feeble-mindedness is as
common in well-nourished, well-to-do families as in the poorest; (2)
that it is not proved that lack of food and good air can act upon the
germs contained in a parental animal, so as to alter it in such a way
that the brain of offspring begotten by that parent will not develop in
normal structure and proportion; and, moreover, that “it has not been
shown” (that is the important clause of the statement) that defective
food and air can so alter the germs in a parent as to cause other
deformation or structural defect in the young which grow from those
germs. It is, on the other hand, true that such defect of food and air
may cause the death of the parent, or may directly cause the death of
the young, if the young are subjected to such defective conditions of
life. It is necessary to point out, in reply to those who hold the
starvation theory, of feeble-mindedness that it is capable of being
handed on by hereditary transmission once it has appeared, and that in
the most wretched groups of the population, both in cities and in
country villages, the feeble-minded are not taken in charge by any
authority, but leave their parents and shift for themselves, and, owing
to their weakness, accompanied by unrestrained animal desires, they
become, in an irregular way and at a very early age, themselves the
parents of feeble-minded children. Thus feeble-mindedness is increased
in the poorest class, but not in that of the rich. The facts ascertained
are too horrible and painful for citation here. The recent Commission
has made it clear that it is absolutely necessary for the State to
interfere and prevent this terrible increase of helpless imbeciles.

There are eighty-four schools in London for the education of children
who are not included under the extreme terms idiots or imbeciles, but
are “feeble-minded and defective.” They are attended by 6000 children,
of whom about two-thirds learn some useful manual work, whilst the rest
are hopeless, and require permanent custodial care—which at present is
not to be had by those whose parents cannot pay for it—but will, there
is every reason to hope, soon be provided for them by the State. In its
absence they constitute a real and ghastly danger to the community,
since some of them are certain to propagate their kind, and not only
will thus add to the existing large body of imbeciles, but perpetuate
the taint of feeble-mindedness in the race.

It is an interesting question as to whether there is a definite gap—a
difference of kind between these poor, defective children and the
markedly stupid boys and girls of some village schools. I am inclined to
believe that there is. The one group does not pass by a gradual series
into the other. It has been stated that in some remote country districts
of England only one-third of the school children can be taught more than
the merest elements of writing, reading, and arithmetic; the majority
are immovably dull, only the minority are as bright as ordinary London
children. But even the dull village children get so far as to master the
elements of learning, and probably their brains are not structurally
defective, but only inactive for the time being. They may hereafter
become village Hampdens. It certainly does seem to be the fact that the
villages are continually deprived of the more intelligent members of
their population by the attractions of the big towns, and that only the
duller portion stay to breed in the village like the blind animals in a
cave. But dullness is not identical with feeble-mindedness.

It is maintained that even in towns the multiplication of the
hard-working, cautious, and capable section of the community is at a
standstill. Its members seek comfort, intellectual exercise, and
self-culture; they refuse to deprive themselves of these things, which
cost money, and to spend that money on bringing up large families. On
the other hand, the far more numerous “working-class” has no such
ambition as a rule, and no anxiety as to what is to become of its
offspring, however numerous. The more children the larger are the
earnings of the family, and all in turn shift for themselves at an early
age. The rates pay for such education as they require, and their parents
have no desire to push them up the social ladder; but food, lodging, and
clothes cost money. The working-man who desires to read, see things for
himself, and be more than an animated cog on a wheel, cannot afford to
have children and transmit to them that modicum of intelligence above
the average which distinguishes him from his fellows, and demands for
its cultivation the money with which he might keep a large family.
Consequently the population is more and more largely replenished by the
unenterprising poor and the unenterprising rich; the group which is
enterprising and capable, and directs the work and thought of the
civilised world, is, by the very qualities which make the increase of
its strain desirable, debarred from contributing its fair proportion to
the increase of the population. Is it possible for the community, by any
system or by legislation, to overcome or evade this unfortunate

The neglect by both the local and central government to provide any
supervision of feeble-minded children has had a special result of a
strange and unhappy description. Let me hasten to say that now that we
have secured by recent legislation the vitally important medical
inspection of children in connection with Board schools, and the
registration and official inspection of feeble-minded children which
will surely be made compulsory before another year has passed, the
danger of which I am about to speak will very shortly no longer exist.
It is this. Feeble-minded children (whose condition falls short of that
of actual idiocy) are almost impossible to manage as members of an
ordinary family or household. Their condition is often not properly
recognised; their parents or guardians find them to be obstinate,
unteachable, and dirty. Often, when the family is poor, they are, under
these circumstances, “boarded out” for a very small payment, or even
taken charge of, out of charity. None of the persons concerned in these
transactions know that they are dealing with a hopelessly unteachable
child, born with this defective brain. They find scolding has no effect
in guiding the child, mild chastisement fails, and the poor ignorant
foster-parent (sometimes even the child’s own mother) becomes
exasperated and determined to subdue what seems to be mere obstinacy and
indifference. The awful demon of cruelty is let loose. What seems at
first a virtuous determination to control and regulate the child’s
behaviour for its own good leads to the infliction upon it of blows of
savage violence, then to the less dangerous but revolting attempt to
enforce obedience by the pain caused by a burn, and to starvation as a
final instrument of discipline. A very large number of the cases of
cruelty to children and adolescents which from time to time are brought
into the law courts have their origin in the fact that the victim was
“feeble-minded,” and that the guardian found guilty of cruelty did not
(any more than do the judge and jury) understand or, indeed, know
anything at all about such a condition. Often the feeble-mindedness
itself has been attributed to the cruel treatment of the child, whereas
the latter really was set going by the former. To a large extent the
community is to blame for allowing “feeble-minded” children to be
boarded out except in proper medical institutions, guaranteed and
inspected by State authority. It is the same story as that which was
once common enough in regard to “lunatics,” but has now been put an end
to by the law. The boarding-out of children, whether healthy or
weak-minded, should in all cases be illegal, except under proper
official sanction and guarantee. It is not only for the sake of the
children that this provision is necessary. It is certain that foolish
people have been led, in the absence of all restraint and interference
by public authority, to undertake without evil intention the care of
discarded children, and have been led on by the hopeless dullness and
obstinacy of a child with defective brain into cruel treatment of it;
and when in some cases the child has died as the natural consequence of
its congenital feebleness, the miserable guardians have been found
guilty of causing its death. Though little excuse can be made for such
miscreants, it is greatly to be desired that the law should step in at
an earlier period, and both ensure proper care for the feeble-minded
child and remove from unqualified guardians the chance of developing
from a state of mere ignorance into one of criminal responsibility.

The Government Commission on the Treatment of the Feeble-Minded, which
has recently reported, has adopted the view which I have explained in
this article as to the origin of feeble-mindedness. A large amount of
evidence was taken by the Commission from medical experts and others. A
certain number of the witnesses maintained the opinion that
feeble-mindedness arises from the action of deficiency of food, of
overcrowding, and possibly of drunkenness upon individuals of healthy
strain, whose offspring, as a consequence, exhibit feeble-mindedness.
Some naturalists, who have committed themselves to a pious belief in
what is vaguely called “the transmission of acquired characters,” think
themselves called upon to support this opinion, in consequence of a
notion that their belief would be rendered more reasonable than it is at
present were such an origin of feeble-mindedness demonstrated. Apart
from the fact that it is not demonstrated, it is difficult to see how,
supposing it were, such a causation could be considered as a
transmission of an acquired character. The ill-fed, drunken parent of a
feeble-minded child (when discovered and examined) is not found to have
“acquired” a condition of the brain agreeing with that of his or her
feeble-minded offspring, though sometimes such parent is found to have
been himself or herself born with a defective brain. No theory of
organic memory, of engrams, inscripts, or transfer of molecular
vibrations can enable us to present a plausible mechanical scheme of the
way in which the acquired general condition (restricting ourselves to
what is new and acquired) of an ill-fed parent can be definitely and
specifically re-embodied in his or her offspring, as the peculiar
structural condition of brain which is called “feeble-mindedness.” It
has not been shown, so far as I am aware, that privation in regard to
the food of a parental organism gives rise to new congenital qualities
in the reproductive germs which that organism throws off.



The chief index or measure of the health of any locality is what is
called “the death-rate” of that locality. Although there are several
other important evidences as to the healthiness or unhealthiness of any
given area, the “death-rate” is the chief and most obvious indication of
the advantageous or disadvantageous action of the conditions of any
given city or other chosen area upon human life. Its records are more
easily kept with an approach to accuracy than are records of cases of
sickness not terminating in death. The cause of death has to be
certified in civilised communities by a medical man; the total number of
deaths in a year is given by the number of burial certificates. The
death-rate is stated at so many per thousand of the population per
annum. Thus, in a city of 5 million inhabitants,—that is to say, 5
thousand thousands—a record of eighty thousand deaths in the year gives
16 deaths for every thousand persons living. That is called “an annual
death-rate of 16.” The record for any single month may be stated (as it
is stated at intervals in the newspapers) “as at the rate of so many in
the thousand per annum,” by multiplying the actual monthly number per
thousand by 12. Thus, in the case of the city just cited, if the
death-rate were the same in every month of the year—namely, 16—it
would mean that 6500 persons died regularly every month. But we should
probably find that in some month or other as few as 5417 persons died.
That would be reported “as at the rate of” 13 per thousand per annum;
since, if every month gave only 5417 deaths, we should get 65,000 deaths
a year, which works out at 13 in the thousand in a population of 5
millions. In other months it might run as high as 19 or 20 (representing
over 8000 deaths a month), although, taking all the months together, the
deaths are at the rate of 16 in the thousand for the year.

The bald statement of the death-rate, of course, admits of much analysis
where proper records are kept. Thus the death-rate from different
diseases and groups of diseases can be stated, and the death-rate in
each group at different ages and for the two sexes can be given where
proper records are kept. In this country the records of population in
various areas and for the whole country, and of the deaths from various
causes, and at different ages, are collected and tabulated by the
Registrar-General and his officials. The annual reports issued by him
show what an amazing progress has been made in increasing the security
of life in our great cities within the last fifty years. Thus, in
London, the death-rate was, fifty years ago, 24 in the thousand. In 1906
it was only 15.1 in the thousand—it has gradually fallen, year by year,
so that now it is less than two-thirds of what it was half a century
ago. In Manchester and Liverpool it was about 26 twenty years ago, and
has fallen to 19 in Manchester and to a little over 20 in Liverpool. In
the same period the improvement has been (omitting fractions) from 19 to
14 in Bristol; from 20 to 16 in Birmingham; from 20 to 14 in Leicester.
This great diminution in the death-rate has been coincident with the
expenditure of public funds on the improvement of the water supply and
the sewage arrangements of those cities, as well as with the
enforcement of regulations to prevent overcrowding, and with the
demolition of the most insanitary houses. Rules as to the removal of
filth from the neighbourhood of dwelling-houses have been obeyed, and
sick persons suffering from infectious diseases have been removed from
dwelling-houses and conveyed to special hospitals. There is no doubt
that the diminished death-rate is due to the action thus taken, and more
will be done in the future to the same end. The proper provision of pure
milk (at a reasonable price) for the food of the youngest children, of
regular meals for older children, and the protection of adults from the
too frequent inducement to indulge in the use of distilled spirits, will
be taken in hand by the municipalities, and lead to a further diminution
in the death-rate.

We may, indeed, soon have to ask whether, in a population which has
become so much less subject to diminution by death than was formerly the
case, there is not too great an increase by birth—too great, that is to
say, for the existing means of employment and food-production. A most
serious, indeed, an alarming fact, has recently come to light in the
study of this question, namely, that the increase of the population is
due (as pointed out on p. 279) to the proportionately larger number of
births amongst the poorer, and even destitute, sections of the community
who have not the means of training and rearing their children
satisfactorily, and are themselves likely to transmit incapacity of one
kind and another to their offspring; whilst those who have valuable
hereditary qualities and are prosperous have—it is clearly
established—relatively few children—and, in fact, do not increase the
population. Whether this condition of things constitutes a real danger,
how it will ultimately work out if left alone, and how the difficulty is
to be met, are problems for statesmen which cannot be solved off-hand,
but require knowledge not only of the crude facts of statistics, but
also of the causes at work. Scientific knowledge—that is to say,
thorough and unassailable knowledge—of the laws of heredity, of
psychology, and of the natural history of human populations, are among
the essential qualifications for those who have to face and deal with
this difficult matter. And who is there who has this knowledge or is
even trying to obtain it? Not the State in this country or its
officials: for in every department of government (however capable some
of the subordinates may be) there is a determined opposition to and fear
of Science on the part of the political and highly paid chiefs—the
jealous fear due to complete and deadly ignorance.



Fine as gossamer! Town-bred folks never see it, and do not believe in
its existence; they think it is a poetical figment, like “honey-dew.”
That, too, is nevertheless a real thing—a honey-like juice poured out
by the little plant-lice or aphides. Gossamer is a very real and a most
beautiful thing. You may see it on the hill-sides in fine October
weather, when the sun is bright but low enough to illuminate the
delicate threads and reveal the “veil of silk and silver thin” spread
over Nature’s loveliness. The innumerable threads glisten, and are so
fine that they shine with iridescent colours, as do the equally delicate
soap-bubbles fabricated by men and boys, and from the same cause. When
the eye gets accustomed to them and traces them—rippling and glimmering
over acres and acres of grass-land—one feels disconcerted, almost
awestruck, by the revelation of this vast network of threads. Sometimes
the gentle currents of air break them loose from the herbage, and they
float at a higher level and envelop the puzzled intruder in an almost
invisible entanglement of fairy lines. Sometimes they become felted
together in flakes and float or rest as incredibly delicate tissue,
woven by unseen mysterious agency.

[Illustration: FIG. 47.—A young spider (four times the natural length)
raising its body upwards, whilst the four silk threads (gossamer) spun
by it float in the air, and so draw out further liquid silk from the
spider. They increase in length to three or four yards, when they float
upwards, carrying the spider with them. (After McCook.)]

When the slopes of the new golf course at Wimbledon were covered last
autumn with gossamer, my friends were asking what was its origin, some
boldly asserting that it was impossible that such a vast acreage of
threads could be produced, as others maintained, by tiny unseen spiders!
Yet that is the true history of gossamer. Hundreds of thousands of
minute spiders, young, and of a small kind, are present in grass fields
in autumn, and throw out these marvellously fine threads from their
little bodies (Fig. 47). Those who at first sight doubt this origin of
gossamer are only in accordance with their forefathers. The French
peasants call it _fil de la Vierge_; old English writers held it to be
“dew evaporated.” A great discoverer and leader of science in his time,
Robert Hook, who was elected with Nehemiah Grew as secretary of the
Royal Society in 1677, and published a wonderful illustrated book called
_Micrographia_ (see p. 173), wrote of gossamer. He was so far from
recognising its true nature that he says: “It is not unlikely that those
great white clouds which appear all the summer time may be of the same
substance.” Yet it is now a simple and certain fact of observation that
the countless threads in question are the work of minute spiders!

The pretty name “gossamer” has puzzled the etymologists and led to some
far-fetched suggestions. That favoured by the authority of the great
Oxford dictionary of the English language is that it is a corruption of
“Go-summer,” because gossamer appears in autumn and is associated with
St. Martin’s summer. This is like saying that the word “cray-fish”
refers to fish that live in a “cray” or brook, instead of deriving it
from the French word _écrevisse_. The Germans call gossamer
_Sommerweben_. But the Latin word for cotton is _gossypium_; and there
is an Italian word, _gossampino_, which occurs in an English form,
_gossampine_, in the sixteenth century, and means a kind of silk or
cotton obtained from the fluffy hairs of a plant called bombax. We also
find “gossamer” spelt “gossamire” in English of that date; and it seems
to me most likely that an Italian word _gossamira_, signifying
“fairy-cotton” or “magic goose-down,” is the origin of our word.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.—View of the lower surface of the head and body
of a large Burmese spider, known as Liphistius, to show the spinnerets
(3 and 4), which are really reduced or rudimentary legs, and are in this
spider retained in their original position, instead of being pushed down
to the end of the body, as they are in all other spiders (see Fig. 49,
_spn_), I. to VI., the basal joints of the legs and palps of the
head-region; 1, the first abdominal segment; 2, the second; 3 and 4, the
legs of the third and fourth abdominal segments, which are the
spinnerets; 11, the eleventh abdominal segment—in front of it rudiments
of the segments 5 to 10 are seen; _an_, anus; _a_, _b_, inner and outer
lobes of the first pair of spinnerets.]

There are 500 different kinds of spider carefully described as occurring
in the British Islands, and about 2000 others from remoter regions.
Precisely which of them forms the “gossamer” of our meadows it is
difficult to say, as all have the habit of secreting a viscid fluid from
one or two pairs of projecting spinning knobs or stalks, which are seen
at the hinder end of the body (Figs. 48, 49, and 50). The viscid fluid
is poured out by a great number of minute tubes, and hardens at once
into a thread, which is wonderfully fine, yet strong. Different kinds of
spiders make use of these threads for different purposes, hence their
name “spinners.” Some make burrows in the ground and line them with a
felt of these threads, others enclose their eggs in a case formed by
winding them round the eggs, others form “snares” of the most marvellous
mechanical ingenuity with them, by which insects are entangled and are
then paralysed by the poisonous stab of the spider’s claws, and have
their juices sucked out of them at the spider’s leisure. The snares of
spiders are in some species merely irregular webs fastened and suspended
by threads, in other cases they are gracefully-modelled funnels or cups,
whilst a third kind, the disc-like webs made up of radiating and
circularly-disposed threads fixed in a geometrical pattern, excel—in
the mechanical precision of their workmanship and the masterly treatment
of engineering difficulties—the constructions of any other kind of
animal. It is amongst this kind of spiders that the formation by the
spinning knobs of threads or lines and their use in various ways is
most general and frequent. The smaller spiders expel the viscid thread,
drawing it out from their bodies by their own movement away from the
object to which it at first adhered. When it breaks loose from that
support it is carried upwards by air-currents and drawn out from the
spinners body to many yards’ length (Fig. 47). It then becomes a
“flying-line,” and the spider may sail away on it or run up it and
disappear. The celebrated story of the Indian juggler’s
performance—traditional and even solemnly attested by witnesses, but
failing to pass the test of photography—must have been suggested by
this common, yet wonderful, proceeding of small spiders. The juggler,
standing in an open place, surrounded by a ring of spectators, uncoils a
rope, 50 feet long, from his waist, and holding one end, throws the
other up into the air. The rope, without any support, remains stretched
and upright. A small boy now enters the ring and climbs up the rope,
draws it up after him, and disappears with it in the upper air! That is
an illusion, but it is precisely what thousands of small spiders are
continually doing. A big spider—the well-grown female of the common
garden spider, for instance, cannot do this—her thread is not strong
enough, and her weight is too great. But the male of the same species,
who is much smaller, fortunately for him, can safely run on a hanging
line—and thus can rapidly escape from the side of his mistress, who,
after receiving his caresses, has an unpleasant habit of seizing,
killing, and sucking the blood of the adventurous male, should he linger
longer in her company, and fail in the agility and rapidity of his exit.

[Illustration: FIG. 49.—Section through the body of a spider to show
the spinning organs. _h_, heart connected by four big veins with _b_,
the lung-bosks or air-gills; _f_, genital lid; _ov_, ovary; _a_, the
anus; _spn_, the three pairs of spinnerets or spinning warts; _c_, _e_,
and _d_, the three kinds of glands producing liquid silk, viz.,
cylindrical, tree-form, and pyriform. These are one thousand in number
in the common garden spider, and each has its separate spout or spigot
standing up on one of the spinnerets (see next figure).]

[Illustration: FIG. 50.—One of the two middle spinnerets of the common
garden spider (_Epeira diadema_), to show the three kinds of spouts or
spigots (one thousand in all) corresponding to the three kinds of
silk-glands. Each kind of “spigot” pours out a different kind and size
of thread. _sp.c_, one of the big spigots of the cylindrical glands;
_sp.t_, middle-sized spigots belonging to the tree-form glands; _ss_ and
_s.ss_, the small-sized spigots of the very numerous pyriform glands.]

The threads of the garden spider (the _Porte-croix_ of the French,
white-cross spider, _Epeira diadema_, Fig. 51) are fixed by astronomers
in their telescopes for the purpose of giving fine lines in the field of
view, by which the relative positions of stars may be accurately
measured. For a century astronomers desired to make use of such lines of
the greatest possible fineness, and procured at first silver wire drawn
out to the extreme limit of tenuity attainable with that metal. They
also tried hairs (1/500th of an inch thick) and threads of a silk-worm’s
cocoon, which are split into two component threads each only 1/2000th of
an inch thick. But in 1820 an English instrument maker named Troughton
introduced the spider’s line. This can be readily obtained three or four
times smaller in breadth than the silk-worm’s thread, and has also
advantages in its strength and freedom from twist. In order to obtain
the thread, the spider is carefully fixed on a miniature “rack,” and the
thread, which at the moment of issue from the body is a viscid liquid,
is made to adhere to a winder, by turning which the desired length of
firm but elastic thread can be procured. It has been proposed to use
spiders’ silk in manufactures as a substitute for silk-worms’ silk, and
pioneers have woven gloves, stockings, and other articles from it. It
appears that there are species of spider in other parts of the world
whose thread is coarser and more suitable for this purpose than that of
any of our British spiders. But it is estimated that the expense in
feeding the spiders—which require insect food—would make the thread
obtained from them far too costly to compete with silk-worm silk.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.—The common garden spider, more correctly called
the white cross spider (_Epeira diadema_): a female drawn a little
(one-fifth) larger than life.]

A number of different kinds of the lower animals besides spiders have
the power of producing threads. The caterpillars of some moths are
especially noted for this, since their thread is familiar to us all as
“silk.” It is secreted as a viscid fluid by a pair of tubes opening at
the mouth, and hardens on escape. Even some marine creatures—the
mussels—produce threads, in this case from a gland or sac in the
muscular foot, by means of which they fix themselves to rocks. A very
big mussel—the _Pinna_—called _Capo lungo_ by the Mediterranean
fishermen and _Capy longy_ at Plymouth, where they are also found,
produces a sufficient quantity of fine horny threads to be used in
weaving, and gloves have been made at Genoa from the shell-fish silk.

The threads produced by the hardening of the tenacious fluid exuded by
these various animals were probably simply protective in origin. The
curious caterpillar-like creature _Peripatus_ spits out a viscid fluid
when it is disturbed, which hardens into threads, and hopelessly
entangles any small enemy which may venture to attack it. Threads of a
poisonous nature are thrown out by jelly-fishes, polyps, and sea
anemones, and serve them both as defence and as means of paralysing and
capturing prey. A later stage in the use of such threads is their
“felting” to form a case or tube (as in the sea anemone called
_Cerianthus_), and so their application has gradually developed to the
formation of egg-cases, snares, and the wonderful web of the geometric
spider, and the countless “flying-lines” of smaller spiders, which make
up the mysterious thing we call “gossamer.”

As to the limits of the tenuity of the threads of gossamer there are no
direct observations. Probably they are often as fine as the 1/16,000th
or 1/20,000th of an inch in diameter. The condensation of a very minute
quantity of moisture on gossamer threads and spiders’ webs no doubt
helps to make them more readily visible to us in October weather than
they are in full summer, when such moisture would not condense except in
early morning or at sunset. It seems strange that man should have been
unable to produce a thread so fine as that of the spider, but this
reproach has now been removed. Spun glass is easily obtained 1/1000th of
a inch in diameter; but Mr. C. V. Boys, F.R.S., has, by fusing quartz
(rock-crystal) by the oxy-hydrogen flame, and drawing it out by means of
a small arrow (a straw), discharged from a bow—the near end of the
arrow being adherent to a fused droplet of quartz which is held
fast—produced threads of great strength and of extraordinary tenuity.
The fineness can be regulated by the rapidity with which the drawing is
effected. The threads are prepared (for use in suspending swinging bars
in delicate measurements of force) of a thickness of 1/10,000th of an
inch. Some have been made so fine as to be not only invisible to the
naked eye, but to be only vaguely indicated by the highest powers of the
microscope. They are estimated to be only one-millionth of an inch in
diameter. It is difficult to form any mental picture or conception of
these finest quartz threads spun by Mr. Boys. But the following fact
helps us to realise how delicate they are. A grain of sand just visible
to the eye—that is to say, 1/100th an inch long, the same in breadth,
and the same in height—would make twenty miles of such thread.



One way of thinking of the six hundred thousand kinds or species of
insects—those tiny, ubiquitous fellow-creatures of ours which inhabit
nearly every corner and cranny of the earth’s surface—is to associate
them with the plants upon which, either for food or protection, the
greater number of them are dependent. This makes them appear less
overwhelming in their astonishing and, at first sight, meaningless
variety, than when one calls them to mind pinned out in long lines in
innumerable drawers and cases, or assorted, like with like, in the
wonderfully accurate and interminable pictures of them produced by those
patient benefactors of mankind the systematic entomologists. Every plant
of any size has a number of insects associated with it, living more or
less completely on its substance, or making its home in some part of the
plant. Some trees are known to have more than a hundred and fifty kinds
or species of insects thus dependent on them, those which are vegetarian
serving in their turn as food to a variety of carnivorous insects.

The ways in which insects are associated with plants may be briefly
stated. It must be remembered that often, though not always, one
particular species of plant, and that only, is capable of serving the
needs of a given species of insect. Thus, the leaves of a given plant
are the necessary food of the grubs of one or more insects which bite
their food; its internal juices serve others which suck; its roots
others; its nectar in the flower others, which in return serve the plant
by carrying away its pollen and fertilising the other plants of the same
species which they visit. Protection is sought and obtained from the
same plant by insects which burrow in its leaves, or roll them up, or
cut them into slices and carry them away, or hide in its bark, or in the
flowers, or in other parts—or burrow for food and shelter into its
wood. Others lay their eggs in the soft buds, producing or not producing
according to their kind distorted growths, known as “galls” (one plant
is known to have as many as thirty species of gall-flies which make use
of it). Other insects lay their eggs in the flower-buds and immature
fruits, or place them on the plant so that the young grubs, when
hatched, can at once eat into those soft parts. Others bore into the
wood or into hard or fleshy fruits expressly to lay their eggs, or into
the ripe seeds. Certain ants live in chambers specially provided by the
woody parts of the plant for them, and benefit both themselves and the
plant by devouring other insects which seek the plant in order to devour
it. In a museum of natural history there should be exhibited at least
one plant with specimens and enlarged models of all the insects which
depend upon it for food, protection, or nursery, and with accompanying
illustrations of the way in which those purposes are served.

[Illustration: FIG. 52.—On the right two jumping beans; on the left the
caterpillar removed from a jumping bean. The figures are a little larger
than life-size, as is shown by the line drawn near the caterpillar
giving its actual length. The shape of the “beans,” as segments of a
tripartite sphere, is seen. One shows a round hole, with a lid-like
piece marked _a_, removed from the hole. This hole did not exist when
the bean first came into my possession in November 1908. At that time
the caterpillar within was active, and the bean or fruit-segment often
jumped. In April the caterpillar cut this round hole from within,
leaving the circular lid in place, and became a chrysalis. The lid was
pushed out, as shown in the drawing, by the moth when it escaped from
the chrysalis in July. (Drawn from nature for this work.)]

A curious product of the relationship of an insect and a plant is the
so-called “jumping bean,” which is brought to this country from Mexico,
and may be purchased in some of the London shops which deal in
“miscellaneous” articles. They have been known for some years, but are
becoming now a regular article of commerce. As one buys them (Fig. 52)
they are segments of a globular fruit which has divided into three,
comparable to the familiar segments of an orange, but less numerous.
They are about one-third of an inch long, light, quite dry, and
apparently hollow, without any visible opening. Two sides of the little
capsule are flat, and the third side is bulged and rounded, so that the
capsule easily rocks when resting on that side. When these dry fruits or
segments of a fruit are brought into a warm room or placed near a fire
so as to make them as warm as the hand, they commence to rock and move
with curious little jerks. They jump as much as one-eighth of an inch
from the ground, and advance as much as a quarter of an inch at a time,
though by rolling they may progress a good deal more. They will often
move seven or eight times in the same direction so as to make a progress
of a couple of inches on a flat surface, and I have found that if a cool
surface or protection from warmth is within reach they will in the
course of time arrive at that cool area and come to rest. When the plate
on which they are placed becomes cool or the temperature of the room
falls to what we should call “chilly,” they cease to move, but can be
roused again by renewed warmth.

How and why do these “beans,” or, rather, fruit-segments (for they are
not beans), move in this determined purposeful manner? The whole
proceeding has a mysterious and uncanny aspect. They have no legs, no
spring; they are simple little smooth capsules, and yet they jump and
seemingly “walk” about. The explanation is that there is a grub inside
each so-called “bean.” Cut one of the beans or capsules open, and you
find that it is a very thin-walled and hollow case, but coiled on itself
in the cavity you open, and about half filling it, is a yellowish white
grub (Figs. 52 and 53). It is not a “maggot,” but a “caterpillar,” that
is to say, it is not legless, but has eight pairs of legs—namely, three
pairs of short walking legs in front, four pairs of sucker-like legs,
and a hinder pair of larger size called “claspers.” It has a hard brown
plate on its head, and possesses hard jaws. It refuses to leave the
opened capsule, and crawls back again if forcibly removed, and in the
course of a few hours spins a silken cover to replace the piece of
“shell” you have cut away. Mr. Rollo has lately succeeded in getting the
caterpillar to patch up its injured residence with a thin piece of
glass, such as is used by microscopists, which he put in place of a side
of the capsule removed by a knife. He was thus able subsequently to
watch through the glass the movements of the little creature when it
causes the mended capsule or “bean” to jump. It rears itself from the
lower surface of the capsule, and gives a series of sharp blows to the
roof, projecting its body with each blow, and thus overbalances the
capsule, or, if the flat side is lying downwards, jerks it along much as
one may sit with one’s feet on the rail of a chair and cause it to jerk
along the floor by the swinging movements of the body. The caterpillar
does not die at once when removed from the capsule; it has been kept
alive in a glass tube for a month.

[Illustration: FIG. 53.—The caterpillar of the moth, _Carpocapsa
saltitans_, removed from the jumping bean: magnified three diameters.
Observe the jaws (with which the circular plate is cut in the bean
before the grub becomes a chrysalis), eyes, three pairs of pointed legs,
four sucker legs placed in the middle region, and followed by three
segments without legs, and a terminal segment with a pair of suckers.
(Drawn from nature for this work.)]

So far so good. The next questions are: What Mexican plant is it that
forms the capsule or tripartite fruit in which the caterpillar is found?
How did the caterpillar get there? What kind of an insect does it turn
into, and when? I will answer the last question first. The caterpillar
turns into a chrysalis in the early part of the year, having first cut a
perfectly circular ring in the shell of the capsule. The circular plate
thus within the ring is not disturbed, and cannot be observed without
very close inspection. The making of this perfectly circular cut without
removing the piece marked out must be effected by a rotation of the
caterpillar’s head and jaws as a centre-bit—an astonishing performance.
But when the moth emerges from the chrysalis, a gentle push is enough to
cause the little circular plate to fall out, and the moth creeps through
the hole to the outer world. The moth, which comes out of the
chrysalis-coat, is a very pretty little creature (see Fig. 54),
measuring two-thirds of an inch across the opened wings, which are
marked with dark and reddish-brown-coloured bands. It is a close ally of
the British codling moth, the caterpillar of which eats its way into the
core of apples, and is familiar to all growers and eaters of that fruit.
The codling moth and the Mexican “jumper” belong to a group of small
moths called _Tortricinæ_, and they are named respectively _Carpocapsa
saltitans_ (the one whose grub or caterpillar inhabits the “jumping
bean”) and _Carpocapsa pomonana_, the codling moth. There are other
British species of _Carpocapsa_, the grubs of which eat into the acorn,
the walnut, the chestnut, and the beechnut—a distinct kind or species
for each. None of these grubs cause the nuts they attack to “jump.”

[Illustration: FIG. 54.—The moth, _Carpocapsa saltitans_, which escapes
from the jumping bean or segment of the fruit of the Mexican spurge,
_Sebastiana palmeri_, in which its caterpillar and chrysalis have passed
their lives. The crossed lines indicate the natural size of the moth.
(Drawn from nature for this work.)]

The “jumping bean” of Mexico is a segment of the triply divided fruit of
a large spurge, which is called _Sebastiana palmeri_. The spurges are
known in England as little green-leaved annuals, with yellow-green
flowers and a milky juice. Botanists call them the _Euphorbiaceæ_, and
in that “natural order” are included the boxwood tree and some tropical
trees of great value and importance. None other than the Brazilian
indiarubber tree, Hevea, of which we hear so much nowadays, its rubber
to the value of £14,000,000 being exported every year from Brazil, is
one of them. So also is the Chinese candle-tree, which furnishes a
tallow-like fat, made into candles in China. Others are the croton oil
and the castor oil shrubs, natives of India, and the manihot or tapioca
plant. The fruits of _Sebastiana_ (the jumping bean) are very much like
those of the croton; and as there are crotons (though not the one of the
purgative oil) in abundance in Mexico, it has taken some time to make
sure that the “jumping bean” is not the fruit of a croton, but that of
the allied plant _Sebastiana_. It appears that there is no commercial
value for this plant, and that those capsules which happen to contain a
grub and move are collected from the ground by the native Mexican boys
and sold as curiosities.

The moth (_Carpocapsa saltitans_) lays its eggs on the Sebastian shrub,
and the young grub, on hatching, eats its way into the young fruit when
the latter is still quite soft and the seed unformed, and so leaves no
hole to mark its entrance. As the fruit swells the grub eats out the
seed and surrounding pulp of the segment of the fruit into which it
entered early in life. By the time the fruits are dry and fall to the
ground the caterpillar is fully grown. Of course, it is only a very few
of the capsules which are thus invaded by a grub.

The question very naturally arises, “Why should the caterpillar put
itself to the great muscular effort of making the little capsule in
which it is contained jump and move over the ground?” It seems probable
that these movements are made in order to bring the capsule from an
exposed position when it falls on to the ground—where it might be
crushed or eaten by some animal—into a position of shelter, either into
a hole, or under some stone or fallen wood. The warmth of the sun in an
exposed position excites the caterpillar to activity, which ceases when
it has reached the shade offered by some protecting cranny. In the same
way I have applied artificial heat and, alternatively, shelter from
heat, so as to cause the movements or the resting of the jumping bean in
a London sitting-room.

These things and others of absorbing interest may be seen in the truly
wonderful museum of Kew Gardens, where perhaps the visitor will be
disposed to spend more time in cold weather than in the summer. The park
at Kew Gardens, with its splendid forest and lakes, and its Italian
tower, is one of the beautiful things of England, and it has a special
quality even in this season of mist and veiled sunshine. I found there
recently, under the trees, as I did fifty years ago, a rare and
strange-looking fungus, the _Phallus impudicus_ of botanists,—a furtive
denizen of the glades which in late spring are purple with wild
hyacinths. The same spot in June presents within a few minutes’ journey
from the smoke and smell and noise of Piccadilly a perfect sample of
what is, perhaps, the most beautiful sight in Nature—bright sunlight
breaking through the young green leaves of a forest on to green herbage.
And close by are the azaleas!



Every one is familiar with some of the instances in which the natural
colour of an animal helps to hide it from view. Green caterpillars, for
instance, are less visible when among the green leaves which they eat
than they would be were they brown, blue, red, yellow, or black. The
little green tree-frog is difficult to see when he is clinging to a
leaf, because his colour is the same as that of the leaf.
Sandy-brown-coloured animals, birds, reptiles, and beasts of prey, are
found on the sands of the desert; white birds, foxes, hares, and bears
on the Arctic snow. The similarity of the colouring of these animals to
that of the ground on which they live results in their escaping the
observation of man’s eye, and we are entitled to believe that they
escape for the same reason the observation of other animals. They are
thus in many cases protected from the attacks of enemies searching for
them as prey, or in other cases they may themselves be enabled the more
easily in consequence of their concealing colour to creep upon other
animals and seize them as food. Some of the simpler cases of this
resemblance between an animal and its surroundings are easy to observe,
and the value of the resemblance as protection, or as a means of secret
attack, is plain enough.

But there are far more numerous cases in which the significance of
colour as concealment, is not so immediately obvious. There are the
curious stick insects, with long bodies and delicate long legs,
sometimes with bud-like knobs on the body which look like bits of the
branches of trees, not merely on account of their colour, but on account
of their shape. Shape or modelling has a great deal to do with the
effective concealment of an animal. Then, too, there is the curious fact
that some insects (and also some birds) when at rest on the stems of
trees, are practically invisible, but if they spread their wings are
conspicuous. The beech-leaf butterfly of Assam and Africa is of a purple
colour, marked with a great orange-coloured bar on each fore-wing when
the wings are open, and it is obvious enough. But when the wings are
closed and the insect is at rest, the undersides only are seen, and are
coloured so as to represent the veining and fungus marks of a dry brown
leaf, so that not even a human observer, let alone a bird or a lizard,
can distinguish at two-feet distance the butterfly from dried leaves
placed near it.

A well-known little moth, with pale green mottled wings, is the only
case in which I have myself watched the protection afforded by colour at
work. It was on a summer’s evening, when I saw this little moth
zigzagging up and down with the most extraordinarily irregular flight,
and a bird pursuing it. Twice the bird swooped and just missed his prey
owing to a sudden turn and drop on the part of the moth. And then to my
great delight the moth flopped against the stem of a tree on which was
growing a greenish-grey lichen. The bird swooped again close to the
tree, but failed to see the insect, and quitted the chase. It took me an
appreciable time to detect the little moth resting against the lichen,
and closely matching it in colour. There are endless examples known of
such “protective resemblances,” some of them (such as that of the
buff-tip moth, which, with its wings closed, looks like a broken birch
twig) being most unexpected and fascinating. In the forests of
Madagascar, the whitish-grey tree lichens are imitated by thread-like
growths on beetles, tree-bugs, locusts, and even lizards, with a
wonderful concealing effect, and some other flat membrane-like insects
are so much like the greenish and yellowish bark of trees, that we
actually lost a specimen for some time in the case labelled “Mimicry,”
in which a series of these things was arranged by me for the edification
of visitors to the Natural History Museum. It was found, after a day or
two, to have been present all the time with other specimens on a piece
of bark, from which it was indistinguishable.

Some eight years ago a distinguished American painter, Mr. Abbott
Thayer, was able to add very importantly to our knowledge of the ways in
which colour serves to conceal animals when in their natural
surroundings. Mr. Thayer was able to do this owing to the fact that he
was a devoted student of woodland life. This, however, alone was not
enough. Mr. Thayer had the special ability to deal with this subject
which comes from the trained eye of an artist. He had, above all, the
knowledge of “tone values” and of the illusive and delusive effects of
false shading and of colour-spots and bars, and of complementary colours
and “irradiation”—which only a painter who deals every day in the most
practical way with these matters can attain to. Mr. Thayer showed eight
years ago—and demonstrated conclusively by means of models, one of
which he presented to the Natural History Museum at my request—that in
very many cases it is of no use for an animal to be of the same colour
as its surroundings, since if the animal (a bird, or a quadruped, or a
fish) is of plump and rounded shape and is observed under the open
canopy of heaven, a deep shadow will exist on its lower surface and make
it as obvious as a shaded charcoal drawing on a piece of light-brown
paper. But if the back of the animal is of a dark tint and its belly
white or whitish, then the effect of light and shade is (Mr. Thayer
showed) completely counteracted and the animal becomes totally invisible
in its natural surroundings.

Mr. Thayer’s model demonstrating this consists of two life-size wooden
models of ducks seated on a stick—one to the left, the other to the
right. The stick, with the two models on it, is fixed horizontally in a
box, which is open above (that is, has no lid) and is also open in
front. The box is, in fact, a little stage, lit from above by the light
of the sky, and its three remaining sides are sufficiently high to form
a complete background to the model ducks, whose perch runs across the
“scene” at some 7 in. or 8 in. from the floor of the box. The box itself
is lined with a pale purplish-brown flannel, and each bird is tightly
covered with the same material. When so prepared the box is placed on a
table under a skylight (where it is to stay), the table being high
enough to bring the ducks just below the line of sight. Of course, deep
shadows are formed by the top-light on the under side of the beak, head,
and body of the models, and in spite of their colour being itself
identical with that of the walls of the box, they are as obvious as it
is possible for anything to be. Now Mr. Thayer takes his paints and very
carefully darkens the back of one of the ducks and whitens its belly and
the under side of its head and beak. The light and dark regions merge
into one another along the side of the bird by skilful gradation. When
this shading and whitening is finished (and, of course, the perfection
of the result depends on the continuance of the right amount of
sunlight, which is not a thing one can always ensure in a London
museum) the duck-model so treated is absolutely invisible at a distance
of 10 ft. or 15 ft.—and even when one is nearer escapes notice—looking
like a haze or vague shadow of a bird even to an observer who knows
nevertheless that it is there and is really as solid and large as the
untreated model by its side. If now some one stretches out his hand so
as to cut off the top-light falling on the painted model, it immediately
becomes as solid to the eye as the untreated one, and when the hand is
withdrawn it melts away again like Banquo’s ghost. The models made by
Mr. Thayer were, so long as I was director, exhibited in the small room
between the fish gallery and the central hall of the Natural History
Museum, and, if they have not yet been removed, are well worth a visit.

Mr. Thayer’s models work perfectly, and astonish every one who sees
them. The great point of interest about them, however, is, that the bird
with dark back and light belly is really in the condition which is quite
common in a number of birds, especially ducks and wading birds, where it
must act as a means of concealing the bird—just as it does in the
painted model. Of course, there are vast numbers of birds not so shaded,
but it is possible to explain the darker and lighter colouring, in
various arrangements seen in birds, as helping to produce concealment or
disappearance from view, when the habits and natural surroundings of the
bird are known. So, too, with many hairy quadrupeds (mammals, or
“animals,” or “beasts,” as they are often called). The white hair under
the tail and about the rump, helps a running animal to escape the vision
of its pursuer—blending, as Mr. Thayer shows that it does—with the
white colour of the sky-line. In the case of fish—especially
fresh-water fish—the dark back and light belly are very common, and
although they do not help to conceal the fish when seen from above,
swimming over a light-coloured river-bed, yet when looked at by other
fishes or by otters in the water, the effect of the light from above on
this disposition of dark and light tints on the fish’s body must be the
same as that demonstrated by Mr. Thayer’s “disappearing duck,” and must
often render the fish absolutely invisible, even at close quarters.

Mr. Thayer has pursued this subject during the past seven years, and
last autumn he gave some interesting demonstrations in the Zoological
Gardens in London. He showed a model of a white egret, which was but
little noticeable when standing up clear against a bright, white-clouded
sky. The long plumes on the wings, developed in the breeding season,
were shown (by putting them on and taking them off) to assist in causing
invisibility, since they made the side of the body flat and concealed
the shadow on its rounded underside. A similar bird-model marked with
strong black on the neck and legs—the rest being white—refused (so to
speak) to shape itself as a bird at all, and looked at a distance of
twenty yards like a bit of rock or stump of wood with a twig and dead
leaf attached. The effect of different tones of brown cardboard cut into
the form of a butterfly, when seen on different backgrounds, was shown;
but the most interesting experiment was made with a black-green piece of
cloth cut to the shape of a butterfly and fastened on to a sheet of
dead-black cloth in the open air, in the presence of white cloud light
of moderate brilliancy. At five yards one could see the outline of the
dark-green butterfly-shaped piece; at fifteen yards one could just
distinguish the edge separating the dark-green piece from the black
cloth. Now Mr. Thayer stuck in the middle of the dark-green
butterfly-wing a small circle of pure white (about one-third of an inch
across). The effect was entirely to obliterate the previously visible
edge; one could no longer see the dark-green area at all—one only saw
a white spot on a continuous dark ground, the dark-green and the black
were merged into one. That is no doubt due to the powerful stimulation
of the sensitive “retina” of the eye by the white light of the spot; the
feeble stimulation by the dark-green and black, though these remain
physically as distinct from one another as before, ceases to affect the
brain, which is, as it were, entirely occupied with the strong white
spot. This, according to Mr. Thayer, is the value to butterflies and
other animals of a violently contrasted white spot or band on a dark
general colouring. The fringe of white dots and connected white flakes
nearer the centre of the wing—common on the wings of butterflies—has,
similarly, the result of rendering the wing-outline imperceptible and
the butterfly invisible. Many such relations of colour spots and bands,
as well as of dark and light markings, have been elucidated by Mr.
Thayer, and will be illustrated by coloured drawings in the book which
he is preparing on the subject.

While it is the fact that Mr. Thayer has thrown new light on the
colour-protection and invisibility of animals, it must be remembered
that there are other explanations of certain cases of brilliant
colouring in animals besides that which he has so well illustrated.
“Warning” colours, recognition marks, and sexually attractive colouring
all certainly and demonstrably exist in well-known and well-studied
kinds of animals. It is very possible that some of these colour-markings
have been produced by a slight change in what were previously
“concealing” patterns or colour-markings. The tendency of the human
observer is to regard any colour, spot, or pattern on a bird, fish,
beast, or insect as a “mark” or distinguishing “sign.” We examine these
things at close quarters, and do not, unless we reflect a good deal on
the matter and experiment with the object, realise that what is a mark
of distinction or recognition when seen at a few inches’ distance may be
an illusive and obscuring colour-scheme when seen at a distance of some
feet, and in natural and habitual surroundings. It is not unlikely that
we shall arrive at definite knowledge of the psychological “sight
interpretations” of animals by a further study of this subject. It is in
the highest degree probable that the retinal picture produced in an
animal’s eye by certain spots of colour, shade, and light exhibited by
another animal, are not interpreted by the receptive animal in the same
way as they would be by a scrutinising, inquiring, reasoning man, even
one who is what we call a “savage.” Moreover, though many English
naturalists have travelled and seen “life and light” in the sunny
regions of the earth, there are few students of the colour-markings of
animals in our museums, especially in great cities, who have adequate
experience of what colour-markings really can effect in the way of
concealment and illusion when light and surrounding objects are as they
are, in the tropics or sub-tropical regions. It is a fashion nowadays in
the best-provided museums of natural history to exhibit stuffed beasts,
birds, and insects in what are called “their natural surroundings.” The
fatal objection to such exhibitions is that were the beasts, birds, and
insects placed in their most usual “natural surroundings,” they would be

It is the merit of Mr. Thayer to have drawn attention to these
considerations, and to have carried out some interesting demonstrations
of the more frequent significance of colour-markings as means of
concealment and illusion than had been recognised before his work. At
the same time, it is not possible to consider the yellow and black
livery of wasps, of certain evil-tasting grubs, and of poisonous
salamanders as anything but a “danger-flag,” a warning to other animals
that the yellow and black animal had better not be bitten and tasted. So
the previous experience of animals who have bitten yellow and black
creatures is appealed to, and ensures the safety of the yellow and black
gentry from tentative bites which would kill them. Other recognition
marks by which ill-tasting, nauseous butterflies are distinguished, and
in consequence of which they escape attack, and, not only that, but are
“mimicked” (as the yellow and black poisonous wasp is mimicked by some
innocuous flies which thus escape attack) by other pleasant-tasting
butterflies which fly with them, are considered by Mr. Thayer to be
wrongly interpreted as recognition or “warning” marks. He shows, with
more or less success, that the markings of the butterflies known as
Heliconiæ are effective as concealment, and is therefore inclined to
deny their value as “warning” marks, serving to indicate a noxious
quarry best left untasted.

It is, of course, quite possible that what are “concealment markings”
when viewed by an aggressive bird or lizard at a distance, may be
recognised as “warning marks” when seen by the same observers at close
quarters, and it is also possible that the latter may have become the
more important or only important result of the colour marks of a given
butterfly which were once useful as “concealment.” The possible change
of significance of colour spots and markings in wild animals may be
illustrated by the effect on human beings of the burglar’s crêpe mask.
At the present moment probably the most prominent result of the
appearance in a house full of people in the dead of night of a man with
a crêpe mask over his face would be terror to those who saw him. The
mask would be interpreted as a “mark” or “sign” of evil, not to say
violent intentions on the part of the masked man. It would be a “warning
colour,” and most unathletic individuals would severely avoid it; in
fact, retire from it in alarm. But actually, the burglar’s mask—as
possibly some noxious insects’ distinctive markings—was not invented
for the purpose of causing alarm. Far from it! The burglar, or nocturnal
malefactor, dons his crêpe mask in order to cover the white glitter of
his face, and so to escape observation. In origin it is a protective
coloration leading to invisibility, and only secondarily has it become a
“warning colour” or “mark” at close quarters. There will be much more
ascertained, and much instructive discussion as to the colours and
markings of not only animals, but also of flowers and foliage, before
this wonderful subject is thrashed out. I have only been able here to
indicate its outlines.



Hops have for many years now been a very uncertain investment for those
who, in England, devote capital to the growing, drying, and marketing of
this crop. In some years a fortune may be made, in some years a dead
loss, in many a bare return of expenditure. Hence, it is not surprising
that English hop-growers should wish for legislation which shall make
their business more secure by taxing the hops produced in other
countries, and imported by our brewers. The whole subject of “hops” is a
very complicated one. It is the fact that every plant and animal
cultivated by civilised man has led to the accumulation of an
astonishing amount of detailed knowledge and experience in each case,
and that there are increasing difficulties and surprises in regard to
varieties, and the competition of new supplies brought from all quarters
of the globe. New areas of cultivation, new methods of transport, new
fashion and taste continually disturb, and even destroy, old-established
industries. It is for statesmen to consider how far the remorseless
current of unforeseen changes should be checked and manipulated, so as
to prevent disaster in the old-established and flourishing industries of
the countryside.

The hop (called _Humulus lupulus_ by botanists) is a native of this
country, and of the more temperate parts of Europe. The Greeks and
Romans never made “beer,” and were unacquainted with the use of the hop.
More than a thousand years ago the German and Scandinavian peoples made
use of various fragrant herbs (sweet gale, bark of tamarisk and oak) to
flavour the sweet beer which they brewed from malted grain, just as
borage, cucumber, and other plants are still used to flavour “cups.”
Wild hops were used, amongst other herbs, for this purpose, and
gradually—but only gradually—became the favourite source of flavour.
The hop owes its selection not merely to its bitter tonic quality, but
also to its wonderful and most delicate perfume. Not only that, but the
hop is found to be effective in checking continued fermentation and
souring—and also to have a narcotic sleep-producing quality, for which
it is still used medicinally. Distinct chemical compounds are found in
hops to which these several properties are due. A warm “hop-pillow”—a
pillow stuffed with dried hop-flowers—has given, and still gives, sleep
to many a wakeful countryman. The older use of other fragrant plants in
the making of beer survives in some foreign beers, such as the Norwegian
ale, the beer of Louvain, and the “green” spruce-beer of Jena.

Hops were first cultivated with a view to obtaining varieties which
would furnish abundant and large, well-flavoured flower-heads. The
flower-heads are “cones,” consisting of numerous minute flowers,
protected by overlapping green-coloured scales or bracts. The cultivated
hop was brought to this country in the time of Henry VIII, and the
cultivation of hops in hop-gardens and the skilful drying of the
flower-heads in large bulk was commenced, and regulated by law. The male
or pollen-producing hop-vine is distinct from the female seed-bearing
hop-vine; it is the female flower-cone which carries the valuable
fragrant and resinous products which the brewer desires. Hops are
artificially propagated by root-cuttings, and it is interesting to note
that the hop-grower finds that it is not desirable to allow the female
flowers to be fertilised, since, although the hops weigh more after the
setting of the seed, the valuable extractive substances contained in the
flower are diminished, used up in the growth of the seed. Hence, often
only one male hop-vine to every 200 female hop-vines is allowed in a

[Illustration: FIG. 55.—Early winged female hop-louse, produced
viviparously by the first generation of daughters of the “Foundress,”
Fig. 58. These winged females migrate from the plum tree, where they
were born, to the hop-vines by aid of their wings, and produce
viviparously the form drawn in Fig. 57.]

[Illustration: FIG. 56.—Male hop-louse, not appearing until late

It does not follow because a plant is a native of a given country that
it can be easily cultivated anywhere in that country, or that its finest
cultivated varieties will be hardy. Only a few limited territories
(owing to the nature of the soil, climate, and exposure) in Germany
(chiefly in Bavaria), and in Kent, Sussex, Worcestershire, and
Herefordshire, seem to be really favourable to hop-growing in Europe.
Certain parts of the Pacific coast of the United States have of late
years proved a very successful ground, although hops were introduced
from Europe and first cultivated with considerable success in the State
of New York. The same dangers and troubles attend the hop-crop in all
these regions. These are blight, red-spider, mildew and mould, besides
several less important insect pests. The hop-blight, or “black-blight,”
is a plant-louse or aphis (Fig. 55) like the rose-aphis, and does great
and increasing damage to the hop-crop in England, destroying the young
and tender shoots in the months of June and July. In 1882 the hop-crop
was reduced from 459,000 cwt. (of the preceding year) to 115,000 cwt. by
this insect, and the wages paid for hop-picking from £350,000 to
£150,000. These figures give an idea both of the damage done by blight
and of the amount and value of the annual crop, for the mere picking of
which so large a payment is made. Red-spider is a small mite or acarid
which has done a good deal of damage in Kent. But mildew and mould are
more serious. These are due to a delicate, thread-like kind of fungus,
which spreads on the leaf. Many kinds are known in various parts of the
world and on various plants. They may grow on one kind of plant without
doing injury to it, but if they get on to another, cause deadly
destruction of the foliage. It was an otherwise harmless mould, or
leaf-fungus, which destroyed the coffee plantations of Ceylon. It had
lived in the Ceylon forests on other plants without attracting notice;
but when the coffee tree was introduced and cultivated in large areas,
this little fungus seized on it, grew with terrible activity, and
received the name “vastatrix” from the botanists who traced its history,
and showed that it was the destroyer of the coffee plantations.

[Illustration: FIG. 57.—Ordinary wingless female hop-louse, multiplying
parthenogenetically throughout the summer.]

Hop-growers are constantly contending with these pests in the same way
as other growers of crops have to contend with similar pests, but the
hop-growers have the more difficult and delicate “patient” to steer
through its diseases. The finest kinds of hops are not robust; it is a
chance whether or no they will suffer from a wet and cold season, or
other irregularity of climate, to such a degree as to fall ready victims
to blight and mildew. Yet they pay better, provided the season is
favourable, and so the grower risks planting the fine, delicate variety
instead of being content with the more certain but smaller profits
yielded by a more robust variety of hop. The hop-lice, or blight
insects, are destroyed by washing with soft soap and quassia—a process
requiring, even when a machine is used, a good deal of care and labour.
Mildew and mould are destroyed and also prevented by dusting the
hop-vines in hot summer weather with finely powdered sulphur. But both
diseases can be combated by keeping the source of infection away from
the hop-garden. The mould-fungus can be checked by burning all leaves
and plants attacked by it within the hop-garden. If the infected leaves
are left to rot they carry on the parasitic fungus to a new season.

An interesting fact has been discovered about the hop-blight aphis
(called by zoologists _Phorodon humuli_). It appears that the winter
brood of this little insect (when the hop-vine has died down) deposit
their eggs on the bark of the sloe (the wild plum), and also that any
cultivated plum trees serve them for the same purpose. When the hop is
dead they must of necessity get nourishment and shelter from the plum
tree. Clearly, then, if you can keep all plum trees at a distance of
half a mile from your hop-garden you will render it very difficult, if
not impossible, for the blight aphis to carry on from season to season.
It will rarely, if ever, travel half a mile, and not in any number. But
hop-growers have not always the control of the cultivation for half a
mile around their hop-fields, though large growers should be able to
acquire it. The skilful grower even finds it useful to leave one or two
plum trees in the hop-field, so as to attract the winter brood of the
blight aphis to them, and then he falls upon the devastating but minute
rascals with quassia and other poisons, and ensures their destruction.
The increase of plum orchards in the neighbourhood of hop-gardens is
probably a chief cause of the increased loss by hop-blight of late years
in Kent.

The hop-louse has other enemies besides the grower. These are the
lady-birds (less prettily called “lady-bugs”), which feed greedily on
the parasites, so that when the hop-grower sees plenty of them on a
hop-vine he does not trouble to wash it. And there are other predaceous
insects which tend to keep the hop-lice down. Cultivation and excessive
production have resulted in putting, as it were, too heavy a task upon
the natural enemies of the pest, whilst the more delicate but valuable
varieties of hop cannot withstand the attacks of blight, which less
valuable varieties would tolerate without fatal injury.

Another complicated and difficult problem for the hop-grower is the
“curing” of the hops when gathered. He has to arrange to grow a number
of varieties which will not be all ready for picking at the same moment,
so that the hop-pickers may be employed for some six weeks, and gather
each kind at the exact time of ripeness. Then the gathered hops have to
be “dried” and “cured.” In Germany (where the highest-priced hops are
produced) small cultivators dry them in the sun, and they are “cured” by
the purchaser, but in England they are dried in kilns (called “oasts” in
Kent) near the hop-grounds. They are cured with sulphur fumes on the
spot as soon as dried. The object of the drying and curing is quickly to
get rid of the water, which forms 75 per cent. of the weight of the
green flower-heads, but is reduced by drying to 10 per cent., and to
destroy the “mould” (fungus) which may be present, and to keep the hops
free from new access of mould by the slight deposit of sulphur fumes on
their surface. The drying and fumigating require a great deal of skill,
and a fine crop may be injured or even rendered worthless by want of
care, rapidity, and judgment in treating the freshly gathered
flower-cones. It is said that it takes years to acquire the art, and
that skilled hop-curers are more difficult to obtain than formerly.

The natural difficulties and fluctuations with which the English
hop-grower has to contend are made far more serious by the fact that he
does not know what will be the yield of the American and German
hop-plantations, and so cannot prepare beforehand for the demands of the
market. It appears that ice-storage is now being made use of in some
districts to hold over any excess of produce of particular kinds of hop
beyond the special demand for those kinds. But a formidable source of
trouble exists (and, it appears, must always exist) in the enormous
changes and expansion of the brewing industry in all parts of the globe.
It is actually the case that there has been a greatly increased and
unforeseen demand for hops of less highly developed aroma, for the
purpose of brewing light ales with little of the perfume given by the
finest and hitherto most highly priced hops. So that, having expended
skill and money to produce the finest hops, and having been favoured by
the weather, a grower may find that his pains have been thrown away, and
that there is a sudden falling-off in the demand for the beautiful
high-priced crop which he has gathered in. There is no remedy for these
world-wide fluctuations in the market, and the only way in which the
grower can protect himself is by combining with others to procure
information from every part of the world as to the probable production
and the probable demand of the various qualities of hops a year or more
in advance of his planting. More has been done in America and in Germany
in this way than in England, and it is probable that the future success
or failure of hop-growing in this country depends more on the
possibility of obtaining correct information in regard to the tendencies
of production in all hop-growing countries, and in regard to the demand
in all the brewing industries of the world, than on anything else.

This brief sketch of the hop-growing industry is sufficient to show what
a very difficult problem is before those who desire to take legislative
measures for the preservation of the old industry of the hop-garden in
this country. But it must not be at once assumed, because the case is a
difficult and complicated one, that nothing can be done, and that the
beautiful hop-vines and the finest hops are necessarily to be banished
from the English soil.



The minute “green-flies” which attack all kinds of plants, and among
which are ranked the hop-louse or hop-blight, the rose aphis or
green-fly of rose trees, the woolly blight or aphis of apple trees and
pear trees, and the terrible vine-killer—the _Phylloxera
vastatrix_—form a special group of bug-like insects known as the
Aphides. They have soft cylindrical bodies, six legs, sometimes two
pairs of transparent wings, sometimes none, and a sharp beak (in some
kinds this is one and a half times as long as the body), with which they
prick the soft parts of plants, when they suck up the juices which issue
from the wound (Fig. 59). There is in the temperate regions of the world
a special kind of aphis or plant-louse peculiar to each of many kinds of
flowering plants, including most trees. A very complete, illustrated
account of the kinds or species of British aphides, amounting to some
two hundred, was produced by the late Mr. Buckton, F.R.S., and published
by the Ray Society.

There are many facts of extraordinary interest about these tiny swarming
insects. In the first place, they are closely related to the minute
scale-insects or _Coccidæ_, several species of which produce the
celebrated lac of lacquer-work and the dyes known as lake, cochineal,
and kermes, the latter a dye manufactured in South Europe and used to
colour wool and cloth crimson before cochineal reached us from Mexico.
The _Coccidæ_ include also the “mussel-scale” and other destructive
diseases of fruit trees. A beautiful purple colour can be extracted from
crushed masses of some kinds of aphides (as well as from _Coccidæ_), and
has been used as a dye. The aphides have very generally a green colour,
like many insects (caterpillars and leaf insects) which pass their lives
upon green leaves and feed on them. It is often supposed that this green
colour is merely the green colouring matter (so-called chlorophyll) of
the leaf, taken up by the insects in feeding on the leaf. But this is
not so; it is a peculiar substance derived in a crude state from the
plant-juice, but digested in the stomach and completed in the insects’
blood and tissues. Then, again, the aphides produce curious secretions,
often in great abundance, which surround them as the lac surrounds the
lac-insect. The threads which are produced in such abundance, by the
woolly aphis of apple trees, as to look like masses of cotton wool
adhering to the twigs of the tree, are of this nature.

[Illustration: FIG. 58.—Foundress or stock-mother of the hop-louse: the
individual hatched from a winter egg, laid on the bark of a plum tree,
who produces viviparously a wingless virgin brood. That brood produces
wing-bearing young, which fly off to the hop-plants.]

[Illustration: FIG. 59.—Side view of winged viviparous female of the
hop-louse, _b_, the stabbing beak.]

[Illustration: FIG. 60.—An ant “milking” a “plant-louse” or “green-fly”
for honey-dew. The drop of honey-dew is seen exuding from one of the two
long tubes or spouts (called “cornicles”) on the back of the plant-louse
at _a_. These spouts are seen at the hinder part of the body in the
drawings of the hop-louse (Figs. 55 to 59). The ant is causing the aphis
to pour out its honey-dew (in fact “milking” it) by “drumming” on the
body of the plant-louse with its clubbed antennæ, and has taken the drop
of honey-dew between its jaws. This drawing was made from life by the
late Mr. Buckton, F.R.S., a great student of these creatures. The ant is
that kind known as _Myrinica rubra_. The plant-louse is the _Aphis
sambuci_ or blight of the elder-tree.]

Another curious production of the aphides—common on the leaves of elms
and other trees infested by them—is known as “honey-dew.” It is sticky
and sweet, and was supposed by old writers to have distilled from the
stars, or otherwise to have dropped from heaven. It is this sweet
secretion which has led to the establishment of a most curious
friendship between ants and aphides, or plant-lice. It has long been
known that an ant will approach an aphis, and tickle it, when at once
the aphis exudes from its cornicles (see Fig. 60) a drop of sweet
honey-dew, which the ant swallows—just as a man may milk a cow and
drink the milk. And the resemblance goes further, for the ants take
possession of certain aphides, and keep them either underground or in
specially constructed chambers, where they can gain ready access to them
and “milk” them for honey-dew. There has been a certain amount of
exaggeration in the description of these facts by some of the older
writers; but it is undoubtedly true that some species of ants keep
special flocks or herds of aphides, and feed on their sweet secretion.

Other small insects nourish themselves on the enormous swarms of
plant-lice in a less gentle way, but a way which man is very glad to see
in active operation, namely, by biting them and sucking out their soft
entrails—thus destroying them in great numbers. The lady-bird beetle is
especially active in this matter, both when it is a grub and on
attaining its adult form. A trustworthy observer saw as many as forty
aphides consumed by a lady-bird in an hour. Where the plant-lice or
aphides abound, there come also in countless swarms the beetles known as
lady-birds. In the year 1869, such a cloud of these beetles passed over
and settled on the fields and gardens of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, as to
cause something like terror; it was impossible to walk in the lanes
without crushing hundreds under foot. But the little lady-birds are not
like the terrible locust, which appears in millions and devours all
vegetation before it; on the contrary, they are what are called
“beneficials,” and come solely to feed on and destroy the plant-lice of
the hops, plum trees, and apple trees. A first-rate hop crop in the year
1870 was the consequence of the abundance of lady-birds in 1869. It is
this beneficent activity of the lady-birds which has given them their
name. In Italy they are called _Bestioline del Signore_, also
_Madonnine_, and _Marioline_, and in France _Bête à Dieu_. In English
they are “our lady’s blessed bugs,” which save the crops from

The exertions of the aphides in pricking the plants they infest so as to
get at their juices lead to the growth of galls on the leaves, and also
on the rootlets of many plants, and often the leaves become rolled up
into bag-like bodies filled with aphides. Many trees and smaller plants
are killed by these attacks, but it is probable that where the plants
have not been rendered delicate by nursing and cultivation, and where
the aphides are not a strange foreign kind, introduced by man’s
carelessness or by some rarely (if ever) occurring wind or flood, the
aphides do not actually destroy any plants by their visitation,
excepting the weaklings, and that their numbers are kept within bounds
by their natural enemies the lady-birds and other such carnivorous

We must now notice the most interesting of all the wonderful things
which have been discovered about these tiny insects, which are even
smaller than fleas. Any one who has a rose-garden and chooses to spend
some hours a day in studying the “green-fly” can follow out the facts.
They reproduce themselves—that is to say, propagate—with astounding
rapidity. The great Linnæus, a hundred and fifty years ago, came to the
conclusion, from his observation of one kind or species, that in one
year a single aphis would produce a quintillion of descendants! Without
insisting upon the exact numbers in different kinds of aphides, we may
say that that is a fair indication of the rate at which they produce
young. No sooner does a mother aphis produce some thirty or forty young,
than in a few hours or days, according to the warmth of the season and
the abundance of food, these young have grown to full size and
themselves each produce the same number of young, and so on through the
summer, and even into the autumn. Nineteen generations in sixteen weeks
have been counted in some kinds of the plant-lice. Hence it is no wonder
that these little creatures increase exceedingly and cover the leaves
and shoots on which they feed; no wonder that they furnish a plentiful
nourishment for the lady-birds which prey on them. But the most curious
thing is this, that these abundant and rapidly reproducing broods of
aphis are _all females_, and that they do not lay eggs, but extrude
their young in a more or less complete state of development, that is to
say, they are viviparous. They are all females! It is only late in the
season that males are produced!

In fact, the summer broods of the “green-fly” and other aphides which do
so much damage to rose bushes, hops, and other cultivated plants, are
produced by females alone, without the intervention of a male. These
minute insects present true instances of that very remarkable and
interesting occurrence which is called “parthenogenesis,” or virginal
propagation. It is further a noteworthy thing that the virginal aphis
mothers do not lay or deposit eggs, but that the young grow from the
eggs inside their mothers (Fig. 61), and are only extruded when they are
complete little six-legged insects, capable of walking, and ready to
feed themselves by stabbing the soft leaves of the plant on which they
find themselves, and sucking up its juices. The summer aphides are
spoken of as being both “viviparous” and “parthenogenetic.” The words
are really useful, and we cannot get on without them.

No case is known to medical men or to naturalists of the birth of young
from an unimpregnated or virgin mother among what are called the higher
animals—those which are classed as vertebrates, and include mankind,
mammals, birds, reptiles, batrachians, and fishes. But though uncommon,
this virginal reproduction (or “parthenogenesis”) does occur constantly
in a very few kinds of small insects and in some small shrimp-like
creatures. It has excited the greatest interest amongst naturalists from
the early days when it was first observed until the present, and it has
been very carefully studied in the past thirty years.

In order to appreciate this matter it is necessary to know the chief
facts about the ordinary process of reproduction in animals and plants.
All animals and plants are built up of minute particles of living matter
called “cells” (see p. 170). Really, these are not cells, or hollow
boxes, or cases. We use the word “cell” for the contents of a cell. Each
is a droplet of protoplasm or living matter lying in a small or large
envelope or case of dead matter which it has produced around itself
(Fig. 61). Observers using their microscopes saw at first only the case,
and called it a “cell,” and the word “cell” is now used almost
universally for the soft stuff within the cell (see p. 173). Each soft
cell of “plasm” or “protoplasm” has a very special structure. The
existence in it of a central kernel, or “nucleus” of peculiarly active
substance, is the most obvious feature. These “cells” are so small (for
instance, those which build up the human body) that from one to two
thousand could be placed side by side on a line an inch long. They are
the “units” which make up the body of an animal or plant, just as bricks
and planks and rods make up a building constructed by human contrivance.
Two most important things about them are—first, that each is always the
seat of chemical activity, absorbing liquid material, changing it and
either fixing it or throwing it out in a new chemical condition; and,
second, that as a result each cell grows, and after a very little growth
divides into two. This “dividing into two” is immensely important, for
in this way the number of cells forming a very young or small animal or
plant is increased from a few thousands to many millions whilst the
organism grows. And not only that, but we find on tracing the young
animal or plant back to its beginning as an individual that it actually
started as a single cell. The germ of every living thing, then, is a
single nucleated particle of protoplasm—a cell which we call the
“egg-cell,” because “eggs” are merely shells and packing to hold and
protect this all-important egg-cell.

[Illustration: FIG. 61.—A single egg-tube or ovarian tube (usually
there are many) of an insect. The youngest and smallest eggs are at the
narrow end. _o_ _o_ are larger egg-cells with a striated shell or
envelope; _g_, nucleus of the egg-cell. The unshaded egg is one grown to
full size, and in the parthenogenetic aphis would develop where it is
without fertilisation into a young aphis.]

Every individual flower, tree, insect, snail, fish, and man started as a
single egg-cell, which became detached from the mother’s body. Take the
case of a common marine animal, the star-fish. At the breeding season,
early in the year, the female star-fish discharges thousands of these
egg-cells into the sea-water. Each floats separately in a delicate case
of its own. Before any one of those floating egg-cells can commence to
divide so as to build up a new mass of cells—a new young star-fish—it
must undergo the process of “fertilisation.” That is to say, its
substance must fuse with that of a “sperm-cell.” These “sperm-cells” are
discharged into the sea-water in countless thousands by the male
star-fishes. They are excessively minute, actively wriggling threads,
swollen out at one end to form a little knob, the “nucleus” of the
sperm-cell (see p. 134 for figures of the spermatozoa, and eggs of the
oyster). The water is rendered cloudy by the abundance of these
microscopic filaments, which are called “spermatozoa.” One sperm-cell,
or spermatozoon comes into contact, in the sea-water, with each of the
discharged floating egg-cells. It burrows into it and fuses or melts
and mixes with the substance of the egg-cell. The whole process is easy
to watch with a microscope, and I am writing of what I, in common with
many others, have actually seen.

The egg-cell after this process consists really of the substance of two
equal cells—the egg-cell and the sperm-cell—completely fused so as to
form a single cell, having a single “nucleus,” which has resulted from
the fusion of the nucleus of the egg-cell with that of the sperm-cell.
Now, and not before, the egg-cell can divide, take up nourishment, and
continue to divide and grow, so as to form a constantly increasing mass
of young cells, a young animal which gradually assumes the form of a
star-fish. All animals, and plants, too, reproduce themselves in this
way. When the animal or plant is not aquatic in its habits the
sperm-cell and the egg-cell cannot be discharged and take their chance
of coming into contact with one another outside the parent’s body; the
sperm-cells are, in such cases, received into a chamber of the
egg-producing parent’s body, and there the fusion of the egg-cells with
them, one sperm-cell to one egg-cell, takes place. Parthenogenesis then
consists in the omission of the fusion of a sperm-cell with the
egg-cell. The egg-cell develops, divides again and again, and produces
the young animal without the addition to it of a sperm-cell—without, in
fact, being “fertilised,” as it is called. That is what happens in the
summer broods of the little plant-lice or aphides (Fig. 57). When,
however, the cold weather comes the virgin mothers suddenly produce two
kinds of young—males as well as females—and then the solitary winter
egg, which the late autumn females lay to last through winter until
spring, is fertilised by a sperm-cell derived from the late produced
autumn male (Fig. 56) in the ordinary way.

Another parthenogenetic animal is the rare little fresh-water shrimp
called _Apus_, which goes on multiplying in this manner in wayside ponds
for years, thousands of female individuals being produced in successive
seasons, laying their eggs and carrying on the race for an indefinite
time until at last—one fine day—we do not know why then and not
before, that rare creature a male _Apus_ is hatched. Why these and one
or two other such small shrimps and insects are able to set aside the
almost universal law as to the necessity for fertilisation of the
egg-cell by a sperm-cell, naturalists have not yet found out. It is
quite certain that these exceptional creatures have been derived from
ancestors which had their eggs fertilised in the regular way, and that
this elimination of the male is a special device, an innovation.

There are incomplete attempts at it in other insects. Thus it has been
discovered that the queen bee produces only females from the eggs which
are fertilised before she lays them. When the stock of sperm-cells which
she received from a drone in her nuptial flight is exhausted, or if we
carefully remove by a painless operation the internal sac in which they
are stored, the eggs are no longer fertilised, but they are not rendered
sterile or abortive. They develop into drones! And drones or male bees
are produced in no other way, and only drones are so produced, never
worker-females (so-called neuters) nor queens.

Another curious fact is that in rearing moths in captivity some
naturalists have quite unexpectedly found that when they have hatched
out female moths from the chrysalids and kept them from the moment of
hatching quite apart from the male moths (which are of another size and
colour, and easily distinguished), these females will sometimes lay
eggs—unfertilised eggs—which give birth to caterpillars, which feed
and complete all their changes. The second generation of moths so
produced are male and female, but the females, being kept apart again,
produce a parthenogenetic brood, and the process has been repeated to a
third generation. These instances are very rare. The remarkable thing
about them is that, apparently, the parthenogenesis is only due to the
experimental interference of an entomologist, and that unless some such
accident had befallen the moths, the eggs would have been fertilised in
the usual way, since there was no deficiency of male moths. These facts
have led to many interesting speculations, and are particularly curious
in regard to the inquiry as to what determines the sex of offspring,
about which sensational announcements are sometimes made in the foreign
correspondence columns of our newspapers. Here we find the
parthenogenetic eggs of the moths producing both males and females,
those of the aphides and the pond-shrimp producing predominantly
females, and those of the queen bee producing exclusively males
(drones). Biologists have not yet arrived at a solution of the problem
raised by these divergent results.

It is necessary, in regard to this subject, to remember that many lower
animals and plants can reproduce or propagate by separating “buds,” or
large bits of their bodies, built up of thousands of cells, and,
therefore, not to be confused with the single egg-cell. The egg-cell is
a cell specially prepared for fusion with a sperm-cell,
necessitating—except in very rare instances—the union in the new
individual or young of living material from two separate parental
organisms, and, therefore, in many cases, from two widely separate lines
of ancestry. A snippet, or bit cut from a begonia leaf, will produce a
new individual plant; a bit cut or torn from a polyp will similarly give
rise to a new individual: but the parthenogenetic egg is not to be
confused with these masses of cells. It is a true egg-cell which might
have been fertilised, and it is found in animals such as insects and
crustaceans, which are more highly elaborated in structure than any
which, like the polyps and zoophytes, multiply by buds and cuttings.



It was only after long and patient investigation that the various broods
of the terrible Phylloxera which, between 1868 and 1888, destroyed half
the vineyards of France, became known, their relations to one another
determined, and the final cure for the devastation caused by them
decided upon and put into practice.

In all ordinary plant-lice or green-fly (aphides) at the end of the
summer, the last parthenogenetic brood produces a generation of distinct
males and females, which differ a good deal in appearance from the
virginal broods of the spring and summer. Each female, after receiving
sperm-cells from a male, lays a single egg, which consists of a
fertilised egg-cell enclosed in an egg-shell. It is deposited in a safe
place in a crack of the bark of a tree, or on the rootlets of some
plant, and remains unchanged through the winter. In the spring from
every such egg hatches a single female aphis, which feeds and increases
in size. In a very short time (a week or so) this solitary female (Fig.
58) proceeds to produce, without male intervention, young which grow
from true egg-cells which are not laid but remain inside her. The young
are born or pass out of her as small six-legged insects. They feed and
grow up, and in turn produce “parthenogenetically” and viviparously
broods of young like themselves. The first female thus hatched from the
winter egg is called a “foundress,” or “stock-mother,” because she
starts a whole colony of young which, by virginal propagation of
successive broods, may number many millions in a season. These are known
as “virgin-mothers” (Fig. 57), and eventually their later generations
always produce males and females, so that we distinguish, in the course
of a year, four sets of aphides, starting from the egg, namely (1) the
foundresses, (2) the numerous generations of virgin-mothers, (3) the
males, and (4) the egg-laying females.

In different kinds of plant-lice any of these “sets” may be either
winged or wingless (Figs. 55, 56, 59); many generations of the
virgin-mothers are wingless, but not all, in all species. According to
the species or kind of aphis and its requirements in regard to the
plants on which it feeds, wings are developed so as to enable the aphis
to fly from one tree or locality to another, or are not developed if the
aphis has to remain where it was born. The whole series of successive
broods of some kinds of aphis remain on one plant and about the same
part of it, and then there is little need for wings. Others have their
summer broods on the twigs or leaves, but the later broods descend in
winter to the roots of the same plant. The woolly aphis of the apple
trees and pear trees behaves in this way; other species again produce a
late-winged brood, which leaves the plant on which its parents were
feeding, and travels some distance to the twigs or to the roots of a
quite distinct kind of plant to produce an autumn brood, and from these
the final males and females are born, and the winter eggs are then
deposited. The hop-louse leaves the hop when the hop-vine dies down in
autumn. The abundant wingless form (Fig. 58) of which there have usually
been ten generations, produces at last a winged “migrant” brood (Fig.
59) which flies away to plum trees and sloe bushes, perhaps a quarter of
a mile distant. There the migrants produce wingless females on the plum
tree. They are followed to the plum trees by a final migrant brood from
the dying hops which are males—the first yet seen (Fig. 56). The males
fertilise the wingless females born on the plum tree—and the latter lay
each one fertilised egg in the crevices of the bark of the plum tree
near the young buds. Winter now sets in: all are dead except the eggs.
In the following late spring a foundress hatches out from each egg so
deposited. The “foundress” (Fig. 58) in this species, the hop aphis, is
wingless. She produces parthenogenetically and viviparously a brood of
wingless females. They similarly produce on the plum tree a third
generation of virgin females, but these have wings! (Fig. 55). They fly
back to the hop-vines, which are now well risen from the ground and
offer abundant juice to the wingless virgin brood which escapes from the
winged migrants as soon as they have settled on the hop, and feed and
grow and produce new wingless broods (Fig. 57) in rapid succession.

The phylloxera of the vine is a plant-louse or aphis, which exhibits an
interesting adaptation of winged and wingless broods to the requirements
of the insect’s nutrition and multiplication. A “foundress” hatches from
an egg on the bark of the vine where it has passed the winter. It
proceeds to attack the young leaves and to produce a brood of young. The
leaves of the vine when thus attacked swell up and produce galls, in
which the young phylloxera are enclosed, and there the phylloxeras
continue to multiply, producing more galls and thus destroying the
leaves. Some of the young broods now crawl down the vine to its roots;
others stay on the leaves and continue their destructive work there.
There are several varieties of form and size amongst these broods. Those
which go to the roots attack the rootlets and produce knobs and
swellings on them, leading to their destruction as feeding organs.
Meanwhile the root-phylloxeras multiply exceedingly, and those on the
leaves are still feeding and multiplying. From one foundress mother as
many as twenty-five millions are produced in six months. At last in the
autumn the root-parasites produce a winged generation of virgin-mothers,
which come up from the ground and fly away to other vines, upon which
they produce males and females. These females each lay a fertilised egg
on the bark of the previously healthy vine, and so the infection is
spread. The root-infesting forms continue to multiply, and in warm
climates there is no cessation of this process even in winter.

This parasite—the _Phylloxera vastatrix_—was introduced with some
American species of grape-vine—brought over as experimental samples
from Colorado—about 1864. In its native country it does comparatively
little harm, for the roots of the American species of vine are, though
attacked by it, not seriously injured. They have the property of
throwing out new rootlets when those already existing are punctured and
injured by the phylloxera, and so are not killed by the attack, as is
the European grape-vine.

The introduction of this deadly parasite to Europe was a mere chance,
due to ignorance and stupid want of supervision of importations on the
part of the Government, such as is common in this country, though less
so in France and Germany—part of the blind mixing-up of the nicely
adjusted products of all parts of the earth which civilised man is
always bringing about with disastrous and terrifying results. In twenty
years France lost 400 million pounds in consequence; three million acres
of vineyards were destroyed. Other countries—Germany, Italy, and the
Cape—also suffered. All sorts of remedies were suggested and tried,
such as the application of poisons to the roots and the sinking of the
vineyards under water. Gradually the only effective method of dealing
with the case has been established. The old European vine-stocks or
standards have been grubbed up in all but the very choicest vineyards,
and American vines have been planted in their place. On to these have
been grafted cuttings of the local French vines, and they have taken
kindly to their new conditions. The produce of the French vineyards is
now greater than it has ever been. It had fallen from an annual yield of
1,300,000,000 gallons to 650,000,000—but in 1900 it had risen again to
a yield of more than 1,400,000,000 gallons.

This history is a striking instance of the vast importance to civilised
communities of a knowledge and control of even such minute living things
as the plant-lice, and of the extraordinarily large results which
obscure living things may produce. It must tend to convince reasonable
men of the importance of accurate knowledge as to living things and of
the necessity of expending public money in constantly improving and
extending that knowledge.

An ingenious illustration of the enormous fecundity of the plant-lice
occurs to me as worth giving in conclusion. The late Professor Huxley—a
careful and trustworthy authority—calculated that the produce of a
single aphis would, in the course of ten generations, supposing all the
individuals to survive, “contain more ponderable substance than five
hundred millions of stout men; that is, more than the whole population
of China.” And this calculation is held by some authorities to be below
rather than above the mark!



The way in which the lives of all animals and plants are interwoven with
that of other animals and plants, often in obscure and unsuspected ways,
comes home to man when he contemplates the numbers and variety of living
things which exist with him and upon him—that is to say, at his expense
and to the detriment of the stores which he accumulates, the clothing
with which he covers himself, and the buildings which he constructs. Man
not only has carefully taken a number of animals and plants in hand and
cultivated them as food-givers, as sources of clothing, and other useful
material, but, much to his annoyance, he finds, per contra, that other
animals (and plants, too), with similar self-seeking habit, make use of
him in his turn, and of his belongings, with a complete disregard of his
convenience, treating him and his arrangements as so much available
“food-stuff,” and showing no atom of respect to him as the lord of
creation. Just as in dealing with the more deadly attacks of
disease-producing parasites, so in meeting the destructive invasions
made by his fellow-creatures of all sizes and kinds in search of food
and shelter—man has to be continually on the alert, and to wage a
constant warfare, unless he will consent to see himself and his
possessions moth-eaten, fly-blown, worm-burrowed, reduced to fragments
and powder. And this warfare he has incessantly carried on with
increasing skill and knowledge from the earliest times of which we have
any record.

The sparrow and the rat, of which there has lately been much talk, are
examples of fairly large, easily detected enemies of this kind. The
almost ultra-microscopic bacteria—similar to those which produce
disease by multiplying in the living body—are examples of the most
minute living pests which injure man by causing sourness, putrefaction,
and destructive rot in his food and stores. Every year civilised man is
gaining greater knowledge of these “ferment organisms,” and vastly
increased skill in preserving his possessions, such as food and drink,
from the attacks of their ubiquitous swarms. Between the larger
depredators, such as birds and rats, and the smallest, such as the
microscopic bacteria and moulds (to whom alone putrefaction is due, and
without whom it would never occur), there are a host of small
troublesome creatures, which belong chiefly to the group of animals
called “insects”—beetles, moths, flies, and bugs—which give man
incessant occupation in warding off their attacks upon his food, his
clothes, his furniture, his buildings, his crops and fruit trees, and
his domesticated animals. The study of these things and of the means of
grappling with them is the fascinating occupation of those who are
called “economic” zoologists and botanists. Of course, in order to carry
on their inquiries successfully they have to bring to bear on the
questions they investigate as complete and thorough a knowledge as
possible of all the kinds of animals and plants, and of their ways of
feeding, reproducing, and protecting themselves in natural conditions.

One of the most widely celebrated and anciently detested of insect pests
is the clothes moth. It is the caterpillar of this moth which is
objectionable—biting off, eating, and using to weave a case the hair of
furs and the fine filaments of woollen fabrics. Not every one is able to
recognise the clothes moth, which is a very small creature of a
greyish-yellow colour. The wings when set for flying measure only half
an inch in expanse, and when the moth is walking or at rest, shut
closely to the body so as to give it an almost cylindrical shape, with
an attenuated snout. Much bigger moths occasionally get into our rooms,
but do no harm. These little clothes moths lay their eggs on fur or
wool, and the caterpillars which hatch from them do the damage. The
moths themselves have no jaws and take no food. But the caterpillar or
grub, though soft and readily crushed, has a pair of very hard, minute,
dark-coloured jaws, with which it works away, cropping the fur and wool
on which it lives. The moths are seen in houses commonly between January
and October, and it is, of course, the object of the victimised
householder to destroy them before they can lay eggs, or, what is more
practical, to keep woollen and fur clothes away from their reach. Things
which are in daily use are not very liable to receive a deposit of eggs
from the clothes moth, and as a rule the enemy may be kept at bay by
daily shaking and beating the things in question, and hanging them up in
the air. But coats, flannels, etc., which are hidden away, left quietly
in drawers or cupboards, offer the undisturbed conditions which the
clothes moth seeks. There is no safety for them unless they are wrapped
up or shut in with a quantity of naphtol or of camphor, or, as is
nowadays more usual, placed in a refrigerating chamber.

The little caterpillar which does all the damage is of a dull white
colour, with a reddish head. It is remarkable for the fact that it makes
a sort of movable tunic or case for itself out of the hair or wool which
it crops, and it crawls about protected by this case. There are not
many insects which thus construct portable cases for themselves when in
the grub or caterpillar state of life. Such “cases” must not be confused
with the very similar “cocoons” by which some moth-grubs surround
themselves (as, for instance, the silkworm moth) when their growth is
completed, and they become quiescent and hard, and are known as
chrysalids. Such “cocoons” are constructed in the same way as the lining
of the clothes moth’s case, by threads of silk secreted by the
caterpillar, but they are made once for all when the grub has ceased
activity. The little clothes moth caterpillar, on the other hand, has
continually to enlarge its tunic or case as it itself increases in size.
There is a hole at the end, from which the head and three legs of the
caterpillar emerge, so that it can crawl and feed freely. The outer
surface of the case consists of cut lengths of the fibre on which the
grub is living, and so is protective in resembling the surrounding
material and hiding the minute ravager. It is easy enough for the little
grub to add a bit to the case at the end from which its head protrudes,
and, being very flexible, it can turn right round in the tube and put
its head out at the other end and secrete a bit more there, cementing
cut hairs to the outer surface. But in order to increase the breadth of
the tube or case, the caterpillar has, from time to time, to undertake a
formidable operation. It actually slits up the case lengthwise for about
half its extent, and fills in the gaping space with new material; then
it cuts up the opposite face of the same half of the tube, and puts in a
new patch there. And after that, it has to treat the remaining half of
the tube in the same way, making two more cuts, one opposite the other,
and filling in the gap in each case as before. Students of these little
creatures have amused themselves by changing the position of the
caterpillar and its case, from fur or wool of one colour to fur or wool
of another colour, and in this way the industrious caterpillar is made
to work in different coloured fibre in successive enlargements of his
case, so that it becomes a Joseph’s coat of many colours.

An interesting fact about the movable case made by the clothes moth
caterpillar is that the nearest thing in nature to it is the case made
by the aquatic grubs or caterpillars of another kind of insects—the
caddis-worms (“case-worms”) which are common in ponds and streams. They
show extraordinary powers in making their cases so that they balance
nicely in the water, as the animal crawls along on the bottom of a pool,
with his head and six legs emerging from one end of the case.
Caddis-worms are of various kinds or species, and some attach to their
cases little broken sticks, others minute empty snail-shells, others the
fine green threads of water-plants. The caddis-worm becomes changed into
a delicate fly, with transparent wings, just as the clothes-grub becomes
changed into a moth—and it is an interesting fact that the
caddis-flies, though they are classed with the May-flies and such
net-winged insects, and not with the moths and butterflies (the
_Lepidoptera_, or insects with wings covered with dust-like scales,
which give the colour and patterns to the wings), yet agree with moths
in having some scales on the wings and with one kind of minute moth,
namely, the clothes moth, in having grubs which make movable cases.

The clothes moth caterpillar was known to the Romans by the name
_Tinea_, and is described with correct detail by the Roman naturalist
Pliny. Modern naturalists have accepted this name _Tinea_ as that of the
genus to which the clothes moth belongs. There are thirty different
British species of _Tinea_, of which four are guilty of attacking animal
fabric, and so causing trouble to man. The one which builds a case and
is the titular chief of the clan of clothes moths—“the” clothes moth,
just as one may say “the” Macintosh—is scientifically indicated by the
name _Tinea pellionella_. The other three do not form movable cases when
in the caterpillar stage, and attack coarser stuff than fur and fine
wool. One of them is known as the “tapestry moth,” because its
caterpillar establishes itself in old tapestry and carpets, and
burrowing into these thickish materials is concealed without the aid of
any self-provided tunic or case. The name _Tinea_ is often used by
entomologists in an expanded form as _Tineina_, to indicate the whole
series of minute moths of which the genus _Tinea_ is only one little
group. Many of these moths are much smaller even than the clothes moth,
and they are found in all parts of the world and in all sorts and
conditions of life—in relation to trees, shrubs, and plants of all
kinds. It has been estimated that there are as many as 200,000
distinctly marked different kinds of these minute creatures. The insect
collectors and students who occupy themselves with the magnificent
butterflies and larger moths (of which there are an enormous variety of
kinds) refuse to deal with the somewhat dull-looking and almost
innumerable minute moths which are classed as _Micro-lepidoptera_, in
contrast to the _Macro-lepidoptera_ (or big moths and butterflies).
Consequently they have become the favourite study of a few enthusiasts,
who are known as Micro-lepidopterists, and have a wide but not
uninteresting field of exploration all to themselves. The
_Micro-lepidoptera_ include, besides the _Tineina_, a group of less
minute though small moths, with narrow, fringed wings, amongst which are
the window moth, the milk moth, the tabby moth, the meal moth, and the
grease moth. Though the clothes moths may well be described as “tiny”
moths, yet the word _Tinea_, as applied to them, has no such origin, but
is the name given to the destructive grub by the Romans. The same word
has unfortunately been applied by medical men and botanists to a
vegetable parasite which causes a skin disease (ringworm) resulting in
baldness. The _Tinea calvans_ of the doctors has only this in common
with the moth _Tinea pellionella_—that it causes hair to disappear and
baldness to ensue; but the vegetable parasite attacks the hair on a
living man’s head, the caterpillar that on his fur coat.



Boring into wood is a favourite proceeding on the part of many small
creatures, insects, shrimps, and ship-worms, by which they not only
acquire nourishment, but at the same time penetrate more and more deeply
into safe quarters and concealment. It is not surprising that it has
become the necessary and regular mode of life of a host of small
animals, and consequently that man who wants wood in good sound blocks
and planks for his various constructions is a good deal put out by the
voracity of the wood-boring community. To some extent he has given up
the task of checking their proceedings, and now uses metal where he
formerly used wood, but that only applies to a limited field. Wood is
still the great material of rough construction, and the main substance
used in fittings and furniture.

In our own country and in most parts of the world there are large grubs
or caterpillars, such as those of the goat moth, three inches long and
as thick as one’s finger, which eat into the stems of trees and spoil
the timber. The grub of the handsome moth known as the wood leopard is
another of these. It attacks poplar trees, and we used to take it in
numbers in the London parks and squares when I was a collector. The goat
moth is specially destructive to willow trees. But there are a very
large series of smaller grubs and adult insects which injure trees or
bore or devour wood already cut and dried. Among these are the saw-flies
and a number of beetles, and in Sicily and the tropics there are the
wonderful white ants which are not ants at all, but more like May-flies.
The destruction caused by these borers and eaters of wood is increased
by the fact that when they have riddled a piece of wood, moisture
penetrates it, and vegetable “moulds” flourish within it and complete
the break-up. Among the most destructive borers of wood are those which
attack the ships and piers of wood placed by man in the sea. These are
certain shell-fish, called ship-worms (_Teredo_), which are really
peculiarly modified mussels. There is also a tiny shrimp-like creature,
the _Limnoria terebrans_, which does enormous damage by its borings to
piers of wood erected in the sea. True insects do not flourish in the
sea. There are marine bivalve shell-fish which bore into clay,
sandstone, chalk, and even into hard granite-like rock. They do not use
jaws or teeth for this purpose, but the surface of their shells, which
are sharp and spiny, and also the sand which adheres to their soft
muscular bodies like emery powder to the pewter-plate of a lapidary’s
wheel. You may see the large and small holes made by _Pholas_ (called
also “the piddock”) and other bivalve shell-fish in the clay and chalk
rocks of the seashore on most parts of the English coast.

Most boring animals swallow the material which they excavate in the act
of boring, just as the earth-worm swallows the soil into which it bores,
and as many sand-worms do, throwing out from the hind end of the body,
in the form of a little coiled-up heap, a vast quantity of undigested
matter which has passed through them. But many insects which swallow
some of the material disengaged by their jaws remove, in addition, a
large quantity which is ejected from the boring as powder, like
sawdust, and others do not swallow any of the material into which they
bore. So, too, the _Pholas_ and marine-boring mussels do not swallow the
material which they loosen. It is a very slow process, the boring in
rock, and the fine particles rubbed away by incessant movement are
carried off in the sea-water.

To some extent the marine creatures which bore in rocks seem to be
helped by chemical action, since they show a preference for chalk and
limestone, easily dissolved by weak acid secreted by the borer, though,
clearly enough, they are not dependent on such chemical aid since we
find them also boring in insoluble granite rock and shale and clay.
There is one true worm-borer which perforates hard limestone pebbles and
chalk rocks, so as to give them the appearance which we call
“worm-eaten” when caused by another sort of worm and observed in a very
different material, namely, old furniture and woodwork. At Tenby, in
South Wales, the limestone pebbles on the beach are quite commonly
riddled with these worm-holes, truly “worm-eaten.” When they are not too
abundant one can see that the holes are arranged in pairs like a figure
8, about half the size here printed. On splitting the rock or stone one
finds a deeply-running U-shaped double tube excavated in the stone. In
this the little worm lived. It is easiest to get at the worms in a fresh
and living state on a coast where there are chalk-rocks and sea-washed
lumps of chalk. The chalk is easy to split and cut at low tide, and then
the little key-hole apertures can be broken across and the soft red worm
extracted. It is a beautiful red-blooded little worm—little more than
half an inch long—with two tactile horns on its head and little
bristles and gills on the rings of its annulated body. It is a true
“worm,” like the earth-worm, what naturalists call by the not
displeasing name an “annelid.” It seems at first sight impossible that
this delicate little thing should “worm-eat” the hardest limestone. It
has no jaws, but one of the rings or segments of the front part of the
body has two of its bristles swollen to relatively gigantic size, hard
and black. These are its boring organs, but I have no doubt that it is
helped, especially in its young state when commencing to bore, by an
acid secretion from the surface of the body.

Curiously enough, in the strict sense of the word “worm,” the boring of
chalk and stones by the little marine creature just mentioned (whose
name is _Polydora_) is the only instance of a “worm-eaten” condition
being produced by a real worm. The worm-eaten condition of wood is
produced either by the grub of a minute beetle (which is not in the
strict sense a “worm”) or by an ingenious human maker of “antiques” who
imitates the little holes on the surface of the woodwork of old
furniture, so as to pass off clever reproductions for really ancient
cabinet work. The little holes to imitate those of the true insect
furniture-borer are sometimes produced by discharging a gun loaded with
fine shot at the piece of furniture which is to be passed off as
ancient. But knowing purchasers probe the holes so made with a carpet
needle, and discover the lead-shot sunk in the wood. Hence there has
arisen a profession of specially-skilled “worm-eaters,” who, by careful
boring, imitate the holes made by insect grubs.

And now we come at last to the actual, real furniture worm or grub. It
is the grub of a small beetle—the _Anobium domesticum_, scarcely
one-fifth of an inch long (Fig. 62_c_), greyish-brown in colour, of a
cylindrical shape, with the head completely concealed or overhung by the
next division of the body, the thorax. The grubs are longer, soft, pale,
and fleshy. The sign of the presence of the _Anobium_ in your furniture
is the existence of small circular holes here and there on the surface
of the wood, with occasionally a little heap of yellow dust on the
ground beneath them. This last sign is in fact the only proof you can
have that the holes are not ancient and the burrows deserted, and that
the enemy is still alive and at work. Rarely, if ever, can you see
either the grub or the completed beetle into which it changes after
forming a cocoon within the burrows, for they very seldom leave their
excavations. But if you break up the wood you will find a surprising
number of long, cylindrical passages, running side by side, and for many
inches, through the deeper part of the wood, so that it may be quite
rotten and ready to crumble, although presenting an uninjured surface
save for the little round holes here and there. In these passages you
will find both the grubs and the adult beetles.

[Illustration: FIG. 62.—_a_, the death-watch beetle (_Xestobium
tessellatum_) of the natural size (one-third of an inch long); _b_, the
same beetle enlarged; _c_, the beetle (_Anobium domesticum_) whose grub
is the furniture-worm, of the natural size, a side view.]

A closely-allied and somewhat smaller species of _Anobium_ common in
houses is of a more voracious character, not confining itself to dry
wood, but eating bread, biscuits, rhubarb, ginger, and even cayenne
pepper. This second kind, called _Anobium paniceum_, is the real
“book-worm”; it gets into old libraries, and the grubs bore their
cylindrical tunnels from cover to cover of the undisturbed volumes. In a
public library twenty-seven folio volumes standing side by side were
perforated in a straight line by one individual _Anobium_ grub or
book-worm, and so regular was the tunnel thus eaten out that a string
could be passed through the whole length of it, and the entire set of
twenty-seven volumes lifted up at once by it.

There are one or two other grubs which less commonly injure books, and
pass as “book-worms.” But the most notable of the insect enemies of
books and papers is a curious little wingless insect which never passes
through a grub stage of existence, but hatches out in the complete form
of his parents. He is about a third of an inch long, has the shape of an
elongated kite, with a long tail and six legs, and is called by old
writers “the silver-fish,” and by entomologists _Lepisma_ (Fig. 63).
This little pest does not burrow, but nibbles, and has destroyed many a
valuable old document and ancient book. Paste and sugar are a great
attraction to him, and he will destroy a boxful of printed labels or a
valuable manuscript, leaving only the ink-marked parts untouched, but
ready to crumble.

Closely allied to the book-worm beetle, _Anobium_, is a larger beetle,
called _Xestobium tessellatum_ (Fig. 62 _a_) which infests old woodwork,
its grubs making correspondingly larger tunnels. The entire woodwork of
a house has had to be removed and replaced in consequence of this
creature’s depredation, and such pieces of furniture as a four-post
bedstead have been riddled and made rotten in two or three years by its
burrowing. It is still common in England in old wood-panelled rooms and
in wooden mantelpieces. The most interesting fact about it is that it is
the maker of those nocturnal tappings which are known as the
“death-watch.” It is the beetle itself (Fig. 62 _a_), not the grub,
which makes these sounds. It makes them by deliberately striking the
wood on which it stands, with its head. The taps are usually from five
to seven in quick succession, the sound dying away in intensity in the
later strokes. A second, and even a third, beetle will then reply with
similar taps from the woodwork of some other part of the room. Years
ago I used to be gently lulled to sleep by these “raps” in my rooms at
Oxford, accompanied by the sound of spasmodic rushes of mice behind the
woodwork. At first I thought the tapping was caused by the falling of
drops of water through a leaky roof, but soon ascertained the actual
cause. One does not notice these tappings until the dead of night when
all else is still, and they are so mysterious and persistent that one
can understand superstition arising in connection with them, and that
the nerves of any one already overwrought, might be so affected by them
as to lead to the belief that evil spirits are “rapping,” or that a
ghostly coffin is being nailed together for a dying man. The little
beetle has often been tracked by a naturalist, and discovered in some
concealed position nodding its diminutive but hard head with sharp
jerks, and producing an almost incredible volume of sound in proportion
to its size. If the beetle, when discovered, is kept in captivity in a
wooden box, it is easy to set it “tapping” or “rapping” by tapping
oneself with a pencil on the table on which the box is placed, when the
faithful little death-watch will unfailingly reply. Possibly some of the
“raps” recorded by the pioneers of spirit-rapping, when not produced by
the toes of designing mediums like the young ladies of Rochester, N.Y.,
were actually made by death-watch beetles. It is certain that the
somewhat eccentric supposition that disembodied spirits endeavour to
make signals to living humanity by “rapping” owes its origin (long
before the nineteenth-century craze for “spirit-rapping”) to the
measured tap-tap-tapping of the death-watch beetle, and the consequent
superstition at a time when the beetle was not known to be the “tapper.”

Whilst the bigger beetle, _Xestobium_, is the common death-watch, it has
been proved that the little furniture beetle, _Anobium_, is also a
tapper, making regular and persistent strokes like the ticking of a
watch. Another insect, called the book-louse (_Atropos divinatoria_),
very minute, only one-twentieth of an inch, soft, white, and wingless,
not a beetle at all, but also a devourer of literature (Fig. 64), is
declared by some good observers to be a “ticker” or “tapper,” but other
naturalists deny that it can make such sounds. It seems unlikely on
account of the extremely small size and softness of the book-louse, but
the matter needs further investigation.

[Illustration: FIG. 63.—The silver-fish insect (_Lepisma saccharina_).
The line to the right shows its natural size.]

A curious fact is that the grubs of beetles such as _Anobium_ and
_Xestobium_ (or other closely allied kinds) are not arrested in their
tunnelling by soft metal. They cannot tackle iron plate or brass
sheeting, but they will penetrate tinfoil and, what is more astonishing,
lead plate and leaden waterpipes. Specimens showing such perforations
are in the museums of Oxford and London, and I have received an account
of a lead pipe packed in wood in the wall of a house being perforated by
these beetle-grubs. Once at work on the wood, “the straightforward
intentions” of the grub are not to be diverted by such an obstacle as
lead: it goes straight on through the lead as it would through the cover
of a book or a knot in the wood.

[Illustration: FIG. 64.—The book-louse, or _Atropos divinatoria_, a
soft, cream-coloured, wingless insect smaller than a flea. It is
believed by some observers to be capable of making sounds like the
ticking of a watch.]

I have sometimes been asked to give advice as to the best method of
destroying the furniture worm or grub. If the piece of furniture (or its
pieces) can without injury be “baked” in a hot chamber for twenty-four
hours, at a temperature a little above that of boiling water, that is
the easiest method of destroying the pest. Or, again, I should suggest
placing the piece of furniture in a refrigerating chamber for a week or
two. If neither of these methods can be used, the piece of furniture
should be placed in a very hot room, and creosote or bisulphide of
carbon or solution of cyanide of potassium should be injected with a
very fine-nosed syringe into the little circular holes of the burrows on
the surface of the wood; then the piece of furniture must be at once
exposed to the cold, which will cause the air to be drawn into the
burrows and diffuse the volatile poison within. The “worm holes” on the
surface should, as soon as the piece of furniture is quite cold, be
closed by melted paraffin. If the piece of wood which it is desired to
“cure” will stand submersion in water for a few minutes, and is not
larger than a cricket bat, it is, of course, easy, by first warming it
through and then plunging it into water containing corrosive sublimate
or other poison, fairly to impregnate the burrows, and make an end of
the beetles and their grubs. Painting is the common and approved means
of protecting wood against these attacks, and in some positions metal
sheathing is used. The method most largely used for protecting wood in
the open air against “worm” and “mould” is that of forcing creosote into
its pores—an improvement on the old system of painting with coal tar. A
more expensive but beautiful method of protecting wood is to force hard
paraffin in a melted condition by pressure into the pores. The wood
becomes wonderfully firm and waterproof. Neither damp and mould, nor
boring insect, nor shrimp can then penetrate it. This method was
introduced some years ago, but I do not know whether it has been largely



Most English people who can afford it eat more than is good for them on
Christmas Day, and consider it more or less of a religious duty to do
so, even though they shrink from the ordeal. It is an interesting
tendency, and at the same time one readily explained. Primitive men, and
our own remote ancestors, had few, if any, joys greater than those
afforded by an abundant meal of roasted meat. When a great beast such as
a mammoth was taken in a skilfully-prepared pitfall, and slaughtered,
the whole tribe of palaeolithic huntsmen assembled and gorged themselves
with its flesh, which, it seems fairly certain, they cooked on open
fires. The strongest seized the most and ate the most, and were able to
bear up the longest in something like full vigour until such time as
another big beast should be killed, and another opportunity for
“gorging” should arise, when they would naturally again get the largest
share, having eaten most on the previous occasion, and so being least
famished. Hence the belief that a great appetite is a fine thing, and
that the more you can eat, the stronger and better you are, is one of
the deeply-laid traditions of humanity which civilised men have
inherited from barbarians, and are only slowly commencing to criticise
and to put aside. The negroes who accompany European sportsmen in
Central Africa gorge themselves when elephants are killed, and a recent
account tells of the serious illness and danger to an expedition caused
by the whole countryside flocking to the carcasses of twenty-three
elephants killed by an ivory-hunter. The blacks continued to eat the
flesh of the elephants for three weeks, when it had become decidedly
“high,” and many died, whilst others took weeks to recover, in
consequence. The notion of “festivity,” which, especially in England,
has been, even in recent times, that of eating and drinking to excess,
is prehistoric and barbaric. Serious physiologists and medical men have
expressed the opinion that we shall never arrive at a satisfactory mode
of nourishing ourselves so as to take neither too much nor what is in
itself injurious to health, until the practice of seeking gaiety and
celebrating a memory or honouring a friend or friends by means of
profuse eating (often followed by wearisome speeches) has given place to
a mode of rejoicing which is more likely to produce hilarity and
lightness of heart, and less certain to be followed by painful and
injurious results. We certainly eat less and drink less of intoxicating
liquors than we did, but there is, it seems, still room for improvement.

To connect heavy feeding with Christmas, the third in rank of the great
festivals of the Church, is not a universal custom, and is, in fact, a
peculiarity of our own country, arising from the rearing and management
of cattle in early times, when English pasture land furnished a splendid
means of enriching its owners by the production of “hides” and leather.
Large numbers of cattle had to be stalled during winter and fed on
stored herbage, and a great many were at this season killed and the meat
“salted down,” since it would not pay to keep them on stored food. It
was not until the introduction of “root-crops” that oxen could be kept
in any number through the winter months. Hence there was an excess of
fresh meat and fat about Christmas time, and the “roast beef,” plum
puddings, and mincemeat of Christmas fare were abundant. The true
Christmas pudding and mince-pie had meat as part of their components,
and, of course, beef-suet enters largely into their composition at the
present day.

The practice of eating sweet fruits and preserves with meat (as in the
true mince-pie) still lingers in this country, but has become less
general than it is in Germany. We still eat red-currant jelly with roast
mutton, and also with hare, and apple sauce is considered appropriate to
roast pork and to goose; but pickled plums and cherries and sugared
crab-apples, which are usually taken with meat in Germany, are not known
to us. I have heard a schoolboy express indignation at being given plums
with roast meat. Mincemeat, for mince-pies, was originally (like a
“Cornish pasty,” in which raisins are mixed with meat) one of these
combinations of sweetness and strength—of sugar and meat—the taste for
which has unaccountably disappeared in these days of mechanical
uniformity and lack of “homely cheer.”

The introduction of the turkey as a Christmas dish dates from the early
time of the importation of that bird into Europe, namely, about 1550. It
is already spoken of in connection with Christmas fare in 1570. The
“turkey-cock,” as its full name was, is an American bird, and was
brought originally from Mexico to Europe, though it is possible that the
more northern American species may have been also introduced by the
navigator, Jean Cabot. There is a very gorgeous turkey-cock of
iridescent bright blue and green, with orange-red warts on his head and
neck, found in Honduras. But he has never been acclimatised. He is on
view in the Natural History Museum. The turkey belongs to the pheasant
family, and is compared by old writers to the peacock, and also to the
guinea-fowl (_Numida meleagris_ of ornithologists). Indeed, there was
great confusion when the turkey first arrived between it and the
guinea-fowl, and it appears to be owing to this mixing up of the two
birds that the American bird was called a turkey-cock, since the
guinea-fowl is an African bird, and came into the hands of Europeans
through Mussulman traders or “Turks.” So far did the confusion go that
the great Linnæus applied the Latin name _Meleagris_, which was that of
the guinea-fowl, to the “turkey” of America! Some people think that the
turkey-cock established his misleading name by his cry, which they say
is represented by the words “Turk-turk-turk.” Probably the turkey-cock,
though an American bird, was imported by traders who were called “Turkey
merchants” because their chief business was with the Levantine and
Morocco ports. Another mistake or vagueness as to the native home of the
turkey was hit upon by the French, who called it the _Poule d’Inde_,
whence their modern name for it, _Dindon_; and the same error is found
in an old German name for it, _Kalkuttisch Hün_ (from Calicut, on the
Malabar coast of India, where the turkey was introduced from America in
the seventeenth century, and has flourished ever since). The Swedish
name for the turkey is _Kalcon_, and is only a modification of this old
German name. Probably few animals or birds have been so persistently
misrepresented by the names given to them as the American bird which we
call the turkey.

Our farmyard names for him are far better. In Scotland they call him the
“Bubbly-jock,” which vividly suggests his airs and graces, whilst in
Suffolk we call him a “Gobble-cock.” I know an old farmhouse near
Woodbridge, in Suffolk, which bears the delightful name of “Gobblecock
Hall.” “The squire of Gobblecock Hall” would have furnished Randolph
Caldecott with inspiration for a Christmas picture story; and so,
indeed, would the country round the “Hall,” with its vast sandy tract,
ten miles long, known as Hollesley Heath, ending on the seashore near
Orford Castle.

The misleading indication as to the native land of an animal—due to the
name commonly applied to it—is remarkable in the case of the
guinea-pig. Though the guinea-fowl is correctly so called, since it
comes from the Guinea Coast of Africa, the guinea-pig has nothing to do
with that coast, but comes from South America! It is not a pig, but a
rodent, and it does not come from Guinea. It appears that the ships of
the “Guinea merchants” of this country established trading relations
with South American ports, and hence the little “pig” (Shakespeare calls
the hedgehog “hedge-pig”) which they brought home was called a
“guinea-pig,” just as the big “cock” imported by Turkey merchants was
called a “Turkey-cock.” The guinea-pig suffers other “indignities of
appellation.” The Germans call him _Meerschweinchen_, that is, “little
sea-pig.” Apparently “sea” pig, because he was brought over the sea. But
this leads to unjustifiable suggestions as to the guinea-pig’s
character. For the Germans call the porpoise _Meerschwein_, which would
seem to mean “pig of the sea”; and those imperfectly acquainted with the
German language have been known to take allusions made by German writers
to the former animal as intended to apply to the young of the latter.
Thus one reads in an English medical book of a number of “young
porpoises” being fed upon carrots when it was really “guinea-pigs” which
consumed this nutriment. The German physiologists, who often make use of
guinea-pigs in their investigations, now call them _Cobayas_, so as to
avoid any further misunderstanding. The French word for a porpoise,
_marsouin_, is a corruption of the German name _Meerschwein_.

I have pointed out above the origin of heavy feeding at Christmas.
Whether it is necessary or not to continue that precise mode of
celebration, the sentiments of peace and goodwill which belong to
Christmas, the meeting of kinsmen,—and, above all, the dedication of
many of its customs to children,—are things to be cherished and treated
tenderly. The 25th day of December was fixed by the Church for the
celebration of the birth of Christ, but it is fairly certain that the
period of the year indicated in the Gospel as that when the shepherds
were watching their flocks and saw the star of Bethlehem, was not
December, but October. It is also certain that the children owe their
share in Christmas to the combination with it of customs proper to the
Epiphany, which celebrates the bringing of gifts to the child Christ by
the wise men of the East. It appears that the greatest and gayest of the
feasts of pagan Rome—the “Saturnalia”—was held at the end of December,
and that the early Church in this, as in many other cases, adapted a
pagan custom to its own uses, and fixed the feast of the Nativity at
this date expressly in order to take over, as it were, the gaiety of the
Saturnalia. The brilliant foliage and berries of the holly-tree were
used for decorations at the Saturnalia, and thus became a Christmas
emblem. The fun and frolic of the Saturnalia were transferred to the
name of Christmas, and thus it comes about that the Yule Log and the
Lord of Misrule and the Abbot of Unreason, and also snapdragon and
clown, harlequin and columbine, are found in full swing at
Christmas-tide. Later St. Nicholas, who took the place of Neptune, and
was the patron saint of sailors, became associated with Christmas
celebrations as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. His regular day was at
the beginning of December, and so it was easy to postpone his
festivities to three weeks later.

Mistletoe is not a Christmas decoration. It comes to us from the Druids,
and belongs to the New Year. It is not allowed to appear in church, and
should not be hung up in private houses till Christmas is over and the
New Year has come. The hanging up of the mistletoe is in itself a
beautiful survival of an ancient worship, and should be associated in
our minds with Stonehenge and the prehistoric star temples, whose
priests were astronomers. On New Year’s Day they solemnly distributed
branches of the mistletoe to the people as a charm ensuring fertility.
In December there are many hundredweight of mistletoe cut down and
despatched from the ancient Druidical haunts of the Welsh border, and
from over-sea Brittany, to all-devouring London, where it is heedlessly
nailed up in doorways, and made the excuse for much giggling and
embracing. May those who read these lines treat it with due reverence,
and when they kiss beneath the beautiful strange branch with its white
berries, think of our ancestors—the noble youths and lovely maidens of
prehistoric days, who kissed three thousand years ago, and sent this
living token of their happy lives down the long ages—to us, distracted
hustlers of the motor-car. Prehistoric feeding may not be good for us,
but the prehistoric rite of the mistletoe must not be neglected in these
days of strange political aspirations on the part of those who have not
discovered its sedative virtue.



That Europe is the original home of the opium-poppy, and not Asia, is
even more contradictory of our settled traditions and belief than the
fact that Europeans gave tobacco to the East. Yet it is the fact that
opium, like tobacco, came to the Far East from Europe. The opium-poppy
does not grow wild in Asia; it is a cultivated variety of a
Mediterranean poppy, the _Papaver setigerum_, which has a pale purple
flower, and was conveyed, long ago, by man from the Levant to Asia. We
have true poppies of four species which grow wild in England, all with
splendid scarlet or crimson petals, easily distinguished from one
another by the shape of the seedboxes, or capsules, which they form. If
you scratch the surface of the seed capsule of one of these poppies a
milky juice appears. It is this which is collected from the capsules of
the much larger opium-poppy in India and China, and when dried forms a
hard brown cake, which is called “opium.” It consists of resinous
matter, in which is contained a small quantity of the invaluable
narcotic called “morphia,” and also small quantities of other powerful

The pale-purple poppy of the Mediterranean (_Papaver setigerum_) was
cultivated hundreds—even thousands—of years ago in the South of Europe
and on the Mediterranean shores of Africa—not for opium, but for the
oil which can be expressed from the seed, “poppy-seed oil.” The oil is
free from narcotic properties. The purple poppy is still cultivated for
that oil in France, and poppy-seed oil is an article of commerce used as
food, both in the pure state and for adulterating other oils. The
earliest cultivation of this poppy is even as remote in Europe as 7000
years, for we find that the Swiss lake-dwellers of the Stone Age
cultivated it, and that the variety they obtained was nearer to the wild
_Papaver setigerum_ than to its cultivated derivative, the modern
opium-poppy, _Papaver somniferum_. How and when it first was recognised
that the narcotic substance “opium” could be prepared from the juice
exuding from the cut capsule is not exactly known, but it is probable
that it was not until the early Middle Ages that the poppy was
cultivated for the habitual use of opium as a narcotic indulgence, and
that its earlier cultivation was, as to some extent at the present day,
for the sake of the oil contained in the seed, its use in medicine
requiring but a very small supply. The ancient Greeks were well
acquainted with the cultivated poppy. Homer mentions it, and at a much
later period Theophrastus and Dioscorides do so. They call it “mekon,”
and were aware of the somniferous properties of the sap. Dioscorides,
whose wonderful book on plants dates from the first century of our era,
speaks of the drug derived from the sap by the name “opos,” and it is
from that word that the name “opium” has come. The Romans cultivated the
poppy before the republic, and mixed its seeds with their flour in
making bread. The story of King Tarquin taking the governor of a
rebellious province into a poppy-field, lopping off the heads of the
taller poppies with his stick, and then turning to his visitor, without
a word, but with a look which said, “That is the way to govern”—is
evidence of the very early cultivation of the poppy by the Romans.
Hebrew writings do not mention the opium poppy, though it seems to be
certain that it has been cultivated in Asia Minor for at least 3000
years. There is no evidence that the plant was cultivated in more
ancient times in Egypt, although in Pliny’s time the Egyptians used the
juice of the poppy medicinally. In the Middle Ages it was, and in our
own day it is, one of the chief objects of cultivation in that country,
especially for the manufacture of opium.

The cultivated variety _P. somniferum_ of the present day differs from
the wild _P. setigerum_, in having the seed-capsule surmounted by ten or
twelve stigmas (the free ends of the leaves which are united to form the
capsule), instead of by eight as in the wild form. It seems that the
introduction of the poppy from the shores of the Mediterranean into
Persia, India, and China is due to Arab traders, and is coincident with
the rise of Mohammedanism; and it is probable that it was valued and
cultivated from that time onwards, not so much for the sake of its seed
and oil, as for the narcotic juice, which was made up by Arabian
“confectioners” into a kind of paste, and eaten, as were other vegetable
extracts—such as “bang,” from hemp—for the sake of the pleasurable
effects produced by its poisonous action on the nervous system. It is
certain that the opium poppy does not occur at all in the wild state in
the Middle and Far East. In 1516 opium was already an article of trade
from India to China. The poppy was cultivated, and the use of opium
known and frequent in India for some five centuries before that date.
Probably the cultivation of the plant in China was not started until the
eighteenth century.

It was the Chinese who hit upon the mode of indulging in opium by
smoking it in a pipe. There is no record, written or pictorial, of this
practice earlier than 1730, about fifty years before which date (1680)
we find the smoking of tobacco represented on Chinese pottery. Very soon
the Chinese were not content to import their opium from India, but large
areas were put under cultivation with the Indian poppy in China and
Manchuria. For a century or more the export of opium from India to China
continued and increased as the consumption of the drug increased, the
native Chinese production not being sufficient to meet the demand. In
1730 and 1796 the Chinese Government issued edicts forbidding the
smoking of opium, and in the last century the efforts of the Chinese
authorities to prevent the importation of Indian opium, whether with a
view to suppress a dangerous vice or to favour the home-grown article,
led to war with England. In some parts of China—for instance,
Amoy—three-fourths of the population are, or were until lately,
opium-smokers. Now it is believed that the Chinese Government is
genuinely determined to put a stop to the dangerous and enervating
indulgence in this narcotic, and the opium-growers of India will have to
limit their output, and employ their land and labour for other crops.

It is the fact that the eating of opium (for it is not “smoked” there)
does very little harm in India, since it is not used by a large
proportion of the people nor in excess. Many persons who have studied
the subject maintain that the widely-spread injury caused by opium in
China is due to the short time during which it has been in use there as
compared with India. It is held that a population after a few centuries
becomes immune to such poisonous but attractive indulgences by the
killing out of those who cannot resist excess—and the suggestion is
that the simplest way of dealing with such cravings for poison is to let
those who have them and cannot resist their demand, freely indulge and
die, and their stock with them. This is, however, a slow and tedious way
of eradicating an evil tendency. It may, perhaps, be the only way, and
hereafter, when the production by careful and restricted breeding of a
sound and healthy population becomes recognised as being part of the
duty of the makers and administrators of the law in civilised states, it
is not improbable that we shall see something of the kind deliberately
put into practice.

The opium-pipe and the mode of smoking at present in use in China are
very different from the pipe and smoking of tobacco used there or
elsewhere. I investigated the matter myself twenty years ago in an
opium-den near the London Docks, under the instruction of a polite
Chinaman. The opium-pipe has a very narrow cavity, about one-sixth of an
inch wide. The prepared opium, in a condition resembling treacle, is
smeared on the walls of the cavity with a pin, and the pipe is held to a
lighted lamp. The flame drawn into the pipe causes the opium to frizzle
and give off smoke, but it does not “light” and continue to burn. Each
whiff which the smoker inhales has to be procured by applying the pipe
to the lamp. The smoke is tasteless, and it requires a good deal of
patience and several re-smearings of the inside of the pipe before the
smoker begins to experience the pleasant effects of the drug. These
consist in the production of a sense of perfect contentment and
indifference to all trouble and care, whilst the imagination gives a
rose-colour, or an even more alluring aspect, to all that one sees or
thinks of—until a gentle sleep closes the scene.

The Chinese, having obtained the seeds, cultivated the opium-poppy, and
made opium before the prepared article was imported in any great
quantity from India. There is, of course, no doubt as to the injury
which is done to a population by the habitual use of opium. At the same
time, there is no one who knows anything about medicine and the use of
drugs who does not speak of opium with reverence and even affection.
Forty years ago, at a dinner-party where the leading physicians of
London were present, it was suggested that they should each write down
in order of merit the ten drugs to which they attached the greatest
value. I heard from one who was present that they all put opium in the
first place, and that mercury, iodide of potassium, and ipecacuanha
followed in that order in the majority of the lists. The value of opium
as a medicinal agent is one thing; its deadly effect on those who have
become victims to its daily use is another. The origin of the medicinal
use of opium can be traced to Egypt in Pliny’s time, but beyond that
nothing is known.

As I am writing of botanical matters, I may briefly refer to an
ambiguity about the names “banana” and “plantain.” There is no
difference (as is sometimes suggested) between the fruits indicated by
these two words. Our word “plantain” is merely a corruption of the
Spanish word _platano_, which is the name of the plane-tree. It was
loosely applied in South America by the Spanish colonists to the banana
palm (_Musa sapientum_), just as they called the North American bison a
buffalo, and as the Anglo-Americans call a stag an elk, and a red thrush
a robin. The banana palm is not an American tree, but was introduced
there from the East Indies by the early navigators, and was very soon
cultivated by the South American Indians as well as by the colonists.
There have been great authorities—for instance, Humboldt—who have
believed that there is a native South American banana palm as well as an
East Indian one; but the definite conclusion of botanists, after careful
inquiry, is that there is only one species, and that it is of South
Asian origin. There are an enormous number of cultivated
varieties—forty-four are described; they can all be arranged in two
groups, the large-fruited bananas (fruit 7 inches to 15 inches long),
and the small-fruited bananas, commonly called fig-bananas (fruits 1
inch to 6 inches long). All are equally entitled to the name “plantain”
as well as “banana.” The finest flavoured varieties are cultivated in
Hindustan, and there only, being often of very great value and rarity.
Those which come into the English market are chiefly, if not entirely,
of West Indian production. The foliage of the banana palm consists of
oblong leaves of magnificent size and unbroken surface; small trees are
to be seen in hothouses (they bear fruit at Kew), and are frequently
used for decorative purposes.

[Illustration: FIG. 65.—The human skull from the Chapelle-aux-Saints,
now in the Museum of Natural History, Paris. One-third the size (linear)
of nature. _a-b_ is a line drawn from a point above the brow ridges
(_a_) to a point on the exterior of the skull corresponding to the inner
attachment of the membrane called the “tentorium” which separates the
cerebrum above from the cerebellum beneath it. The part of the skull
above this line (or rather the horizontal plane, the edge of which it
represents) is the cranial dome, and is in this skull comparatively
shallow. Compare it with the same line and the cranial dome in Fig. 75
of a Reindeer Man, which agrees with a modern European skull in the
greater height of the dome above the line _a-b_. The line drawn from the
line _a-b_ to the point _e_ is the vertical line erected at the middle
point of the line _a-b_. It gives the measure of the greatest height of
the cranial dome. The line from _f_ similarly falls on to the point
half-way between the line _e_ and the point _b_. It measures the height
of the back part of the cranial dome. Compare these and the other lines
in the other figures of human skulls and that of the chimpanzee (Fig.
81), which are all drawn to the same scale as this figure, namely,
one-third the linear measurement. _c_ is the point on the top of the
skull known as the “bregma”; it is the point where the frontal bone
meets the two parietal bones. The line _c-a_ cuts off a curved area
lying in front of it. This is “the frontal boss,” and the vertical line
to _d_, drawn from its most prominent point to the line _a-c_, gives a
very good measure of the amount of prominence and volume of the
forehead. Compare this area and the line _d_ in the other skulls
figured, especially in the well-developed skull of the Reindeer Man
(Fig. 75) and in the chimpanzee’s skull. The reader is referred also in
regard to these measurements to my _Kingdom of Man_ (Constable & Co.).
Besides these lines of measurement, the reader should note the great
brow ridges, the prominence of the whole face below the orbits (not
merely of the teeth-sockets). Fig. 65 gives the actual state of the
skull. In Fig. 80 the same skull is drawn as restored by Prof. Marcelin



In the winter of 1908-09 a very interesting discovery was announced in
the daily newspapers—the discovery of a human skull and some bones
buried in a cave called the Grotto of the Chapelle-aux-Saints, in the
central department of France, known as the Corrèze, not very far from
Perigueux, in the Dordogne. An account was given of this discovery by
Professor Marcelin Boule, of the Paris Museum, to the Académie des
Sciences, and the description of the bones, which had been carefully
pieced together, and were exhibited to the meeting of the Academy, was
sent by him to me (see Fig. 65). Some exaggerated statements as to the
monkey-like character of the race to which these bones belonged
(exaggerated, but not altogether devoid of truth) were circulated by
imaginative correspondents in the newspapers. It is the fact that these
human remains are of enormous antiquity, and belong to a very peculiar
and primitive race known as the Neander Men, so called because a skull
and some bones of this same race were found fifty years ago in a cave in
the Neander valley,[7] near Elberfeld, on the Rhine.

The French archæologists, or “prehistorians,” as we now call them—are
the leading discoverers in all that relates to very early man. The caves
in Central and Southern France (Dordogne, Pyrenees, and Riviera) and the
gravels in the north have furnished the most wonderful and interesting
evidences of the existence of human beings at an immensely remote period
in this part of Europe. Enthusiastic excavators and collectors of French
nationality have discovered, preserved, and described the weapons,
carvings, and drawings made by the old cave-dwellers of Southern France,
buried by the accumulated deposits of ages deep in the caverns where the
human artists who made these things used to live. In England only two
such caves containing the implements of prehistoric men have been
found—whilst a few are known in Belgium, Moravia, and Switzerland.

Although we know an immense number of the flint instruments, bone
harpoons, and carvings and drawings of the ancient cave-dwellers, yet
skulls and bones of the men themselves are extremely rare. Bones,
skulls, and teeth of the animals they killed and ate are abundant in the
caves—such as those of great bulls, deer, and horses. The bones also of
animals which lived in these caves and contended with the ancient men
for the possession of the shelter afforded by them, are abundant: bones
of hyæna, of bear, of lion, and wolf. But human bones are exceedingly
rare. This arises partly from the fact that human bones are not so thick
and strong as those of large animals, and more easily soften, break up,
and are lost. It is also due partly to the fact that the men were not
nearly so numerous as the wild animals; but it is chiefly due to the
fact that these people usually, but not always, buried their dead in the
open; and whilst the bones of animals which had been eaten were left
about in heaps on the floor of the caves, and became cemented together
by the petrifying deposit caused by water dripping from the walls of
these limestone caverns or by streams actually flooding the caverns, the
bodies of the men themselves were removed when they died by their
friends and families, and buried in the open ground, where they have
gradually dissolved and broken up. Only a few here and there of the more
ancient races were buried in a cave, and are in consequence preserved
until the present day. Obviously, it would only be an exceptional honour
or superstition which would cause the giving up of a cave to the
interment of a dead body, or only rarely that a corpse could be
tolerated in the floor of the cave still inhabited by living men.

It is a mistake to suppose that all the bones of all the men and animals
which have lived on the earth’s surface are naturally and as a matter of
course permanent enduring things. On the contrary, when they are buried
in soil or sand permeated by water, they slowly soften and decay,
dissolve and disappear. When washed into streams and rivers or into the
sea, they break up and dissolve. No bones were dredged up from the floor
of the ocean by the explorers of the Challenger expedition. A bone sunk
in the sea gradually dissolves. Only those bones (and the same is true
of shells) are permanently preserved which happen to get into certain
favourable positions, embedded in clay or hard deposit, which is not
disturbed, and becomes slowly raised up and free from soaking water
before the bone is dissolved; or, again, those which have been protected
in the accumulated deposits of the floor of a cavern covered in by
layers of hard calcareous slab or stalagmite, which usually is formed by
the water dripping from the limestone roof and walls. The limestone is
dissolved like sugar, and is deposited when the water evaporates—“petrifying”
the floor of the cave. It is owing to this rarity of the natural
preservation of bones that we never find more than a few of those of
extinct animals of various degrees of antiquity, and never more than a
very few of those of the ancient men who lived in caverns and made
“flint implements.”

[Illustration: FIG. 66.—An unpolished but beautifully chipped flint
knife, of the Neolithic Age, from Denmark. (This figure and Fig. 67 are
from the guide to the antiquities of the Stone Age in the British

As a preliminary to dealing below with the story of “the Neander
Men”—to which race the newly-found skull and bones from the Corrèze
belong—it will help to make the importance of that skeleton obvious if
I very briefly and dogmatically state what are the great periods in the
prehistoric record of man, and the probable distance in time from us of
those periods. It must be remembered that what I have to say applies
only to the “prehistoric history” of man in Western Europe and the
Mediterranean region, for it is only this part of the world which has
been sufficiently carefully examined to yield any definite conclusions.
Let us suppose that we can travel back through the ages, and proceed to
do so. We find that there are three well-marked successive periods in
Europe—which are called the Iron Age, the Bronze Age, and the Stone
Age. When we go back to Julius Cæsar conquering Gaul and parts of
Germany and Britain, we find that the Romans had steel swords, and
freely made use of that metal for a variety of tools and constructive
purposes. The Gauls and Belgi and Allemanni and Britons were still in
the Bronze Age; they had beautifully made bronze swords and daggers and
helmets and shields, which were weaker and softer than those of iron
used by the Romans. The use of iron was soon spread by the conquerors,
and the rest of Europe entered on the Iron Age. When the Anglo-Saxons
arrived in England they had iron weapons. At what date precisely the
Romans themselves took to the use of iron is not known, probably they
learnt its use from the peoples of Africa; but at no distant date, a few
hundred years before Christ, they, too, and the Greeks were in the
Bronze Age. In Western Europe we see the Bronze Age, as we travel back
in time, disappearing, and we come to the Stone Age, about 2000 B.C.
Copper was used at the later stage of the Stone Age, and then the alloy
with tin, which is called “bronze.” At the time that the big stones of
Stonehenge were set up (the smaller stones of the outer circle are more
ancient) the Stone Age was coming to its end, and the Bronze Age coming

[Illustration: FIG. 67.—A polished flint axe-head, of Neolithic Age,
from Denmark.]

Everywhere, but not always within the same thousand years or so, we see
as we go still farther back, the use of metal giving place to the use of
stone. In Europe we see a highly-developed material civilisation from
three to seven thousand years ago. The people till the land, sow crops,
keep herds, build houses (of wood), make pottery, combs for the hair,
necklaces of amber and of shells, and other ornaments, but they have no
metal weapons or implements. They sometimes use native gold to make
decorative ornaments; but their knives, daggers, swords, saws, and
hammers are all of stone, either flint or dense greenstone. We reach
this purely Stone Age in Europe at 2000 B.C.; in Egypt we do not get
back to it so soon, but, about 5000 B.C., we there come upon a
pre-Pharaonic population which made use of beautifully-finished stone
knives in place of metal. The first people we come upon in Europe as we
pass from the Bronze to the Stone Age had a great deal of skill and an
elaborate social organisation. Their stone weapons were beautifully
chipped and often highly polished (Figs. 66 and 67). We find the slabs
of grit upon which they rubbed the chipped flint adzes in order to make
them smooth. But soon we find, as we go back, that polishing is unknown,
and that the chipped flint adzes are used in a rough state. On entering
the Stone Age we find that we are only on the fringe of an immense
period of “stone-weaponed humanity,” extending back for tens of
thousands of generations of men, when stone (and in Europe especially,
that stone which we call “flint”) was the one great stand-by of the
human race—the one hard cutting material which man learnt to shape and
apply to his own purposes—so as to make holes with it, saw with it,
scrape with it, cut with it, kill with it. On account of its prodigious
range in time it is found necessary to divide the Stone Age into two
periods—a later, called the “Neolithic” (the new stone period), and an
older, stretching back until the traces of it are lost in geologic
changes of the earth, which is called the “Palæolithic” (the old stone

Thus if we start on a time-journey to explore the earliest traces of man
in Europe, we pass along the centuries back, through the Iron and the
Bronze Ages of humanity, and arrive at the vast Stone Age, which
stretches away into the obscurity of more than a hundred thousand,
probably of many hundred thousand, years. The later or newer fringe of
the Stone Age is called the “Neolithic,” or newer Stone Age, or Age of
Polished Stone, because the men of that period polished their stone
implements after chipping them into shape. That which we dimly see
beyond is the “Palæolithic,” or older period of “stone-weaponed”
humanity, when polishing was unknown.

The Neolithic civilisation comprised the Swiss and Glastonbury
lake-dwellers, who built houses on piles in the water: also the makers
of the kitchen-middens of Denmark, and the builders of the great stone
avenues, circles, and cromlechs, and the elevators of the solitary big
stones called “menhirs”—most of them rougher and probably two thousand
or three thousand years older than the big stones of Stonehenge. Our
journey has now brought us into the full darkness of prehistoric times.
We cannot tell how far back this “Neolithic” period reaches, but there
are things found which make it certain that it reaches to 7000 B.C., and
probably a good deal farther. We are now far in time behind the most
ancient Greeks and the more ancient Egyptians. Europe is a rich, moist
pasture-land, peat bogs are abundant and luxuriant woodlands; the
climate is mild; the wild animals are those which to-day inhabit Central
Europe, but more abundant. The domesticated animals kept by the men are
those which we have to-day, and many of the crops and cultivated plants
are those of our own time, such as wheat, barley, oats, and rye. We know
also by their remains that the Neolithic men fed on chestnuts, hazel
nuts, walnuts, plums, apples, pears, and strawberries, and cultivated
the vine, the pale opium-poppy, and the narrow-leaved flax. Hemp was not
known to them.

As we push back still farther into the night of antiquity—we cannot say
at how many thousand years from to-day, whether ten, twenty, or fifty
thousand—the climate becomes very cold, the glaciers extend far down
the valleys, and we note that the level of sea and land has changed.
Great Britain and Ireland are part of the Continent of Europe. There are
strange animals in the south of what was England, and there, as well as
in France, reindeer abound, wild horses, the bison, the Siberian saiga
antelope, the great ox, bears, gluttons, and wolves; and there are men
living in caves—the natural caverns which form in limestone rock. These
men are chipping flints (but do not polish them) and carving bones, but
now have no herds, nor cultivated fields, nor pottery (some very rough
fragments have been found), nor buildings, nor earthworks. They are like
some modern savages, Nature’s gentlemen, “who toil not, neither do they
spin,” but they hunt and fish. They live entirely on the produce of the
chase and on fish, wild fruits, and roots.

They wear undressed skins and furs, and paint or tattoo their faces.
They make twisted ropes (probably of skin) which they fix as a halter
round the head and jaw of the wild horse, as shown by their own carvings
(Figs. 8 and 9). Probably they ride him. They certainly eat him. At
Solutré, near Mâcon, the bones of no less than a hundred thousand horses
were found piled up as a sort of kitchen-midden round a camp of
Palæolithic men! They have the art of making fire, and have a wonderful
artistic skill in carving and drawing on bone and ivory and on stones,
and in painting on the walls of their caves, the animals which surround
them and are hunted by them (Fig. 71). They make great numbers of carved
harpoons or toothed spear-heads (Fig. 68) from bone, and also needles
for sewing skins; whilst from flint they chip spear-heads, knives,
hand-hatchets, and saws. They decorate their carvings with spirals,
lozenges, and circles cut in low relief (Fig. 69). But their truly
astonishing skill and mental development is shown in their carvings and
engravings of animals and fish (Fig. 70), which are executed either on
bones or stones, or on pieces of the ivory of the mammoth. Besides the
reindeer, horses, goats, saiga antelope, rhinoceros, mammoth, and seal,
their carvings include statuettes and drawings of men and women (Fig.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.—_A._ Perforated harpoon of the transition
period (Azilian or Red Deer period), between Palæolithic and Neolithic,
made from antler of red deer, found in quantity in the upper layers of
deposit in the cavern of the Mas d’Azil (Ariège). _B_ and _C_.
Imperforate harpoons or lance heads made from reindeer antler of the
Magdalenian period (Reindeer epoch). _B_ from Bruniquel Cave
(Tarn-et-Garonne). _C_ from a cavern in the Hautes Pyrenées. Same size
as the objects.]

At the best period some of these carvings show a mastery of the
material, a directness and a simplicity and beauty of essential line,
together with true observation of characteristic form, which separate
these works from those of the ordinary savage of modern times, and have
caused living artists of authority to declare that these craftsmen had
those definite gifts which entitle them to be recognised as brother
artists—an assurance which confirms my own impression based on a long
study of large series of the actual specimens. The best works of their
later period (for their skill took time to develop, and follows the laws
of growth of all art) represent animals, such as deer, in movement and
often turning round or foreshortened (Fig. 70); some of their carvings
of horses’ heads are worthy of the Parthenon (Fig. 9). On the other
hand, as is often observed in primitive art, their representations of
the human face and figure are very inferior, and tend to caricature.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.—A piece of mammoth ivory carved with spirals
and scrolls from the cave of Arudy (Hautes Pyrenées). Same size as the

We are now in the Palæolithic period, and, what is more, we have quitted
what geologists call the recent or modern epoch, and have entered on
“geologic” times; this is the Pleistocene or Quaternary epoch. It is a
legitimate and useful thing thus to draw a strong line between the
Neolithic and the Palæolithic portions of the Stone Age. The Neolithic
men belong, so to speak, to our own days. They were, even seven thousand
years ago, only a little rougher in their tools than were the peasants
of the remoter parts of Central Europe a few hundred years ago. They had
not even as much tendency to or gift for artistic work as the ploughmen
of our own days, and have left none behind them. Excepting that they
used stone axes and knives instead of steel ones, they really led the
life of mediæval country-folk. But once you pass them in your journey
backwards—once you enter the Pleistocene circle—you find that climate,
land surface, animals, plants, mode of life are as utterly changed as
were you suddenly transferred from the English countryside to Terra del
Fuego or to an Eskimo village. The Palæolithic men and their whole
surroundings and arts of life have no touch of familiarity for the
modern inhabitants of Europe.

[Illustration: FIG. 70.—Carving on an antler of a group of three red
deer and four fishes, remarkable for the attitude and movement of the
deer: _a_, hind legs of front deer, the rest broken away: _bf_, second
deer: _c_, third deer looking back: _d_, lozenge marks, supposed to be
the artist’s signature: _bh_, the hind legs of the second deer,
wonderfully true to nature in their “hanging” pose. From the cavern of
Lorthet, near Lourdes (Hautes Pyrenées), deposit of the Reindeer epoch.
The carving runs all round a cylindrical rod of bone (as very many of
these carvings do), and is here represented as “un-rolled” or
“developed,” that is to say, laid out flat. The drawing is a little
reduced as compared with the actual carving.]

When we explore this Palæolithic, Pleistocene, or Quaternary epoch—the
last of the geologists’ long series of epochs and deposits—we find that
it represents by no means a trivial episode in the world’s long change.
It is true that compared to geologic periods which follow on below
it—namely, the Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene of the Tertiary, the Chalk
and the vast ages below that white sea-sediment, indicated by the sixty
thousand feet of stratified rock (Jurassic, Triassic, Carboniferous,
Devonian, Silurian, Cambrian!), the Pleistocene exhibits but a small
thickness of deposit (amounting to but two or three hundred feet of sand
and gravel) as its contribution to the earth’s crust.

[Illustration: FIG. 71.—Painting of a bison in orange-brown, grey,
black, and white, the outline partly engraved, from the roof of the cave
of Altamira, near Santander, in the north of Spain, upon which many
others as well as wild-boar, horses, and deer are depicted. The original
is about two and a half feet long. These drawings were executed by the
Reindeer Men in the period of the Upper or Post-Glacial Pleistocene.]

Yet, on account of the nearness to our own times of the events which
took place in the Pleistocene period, geologists and prehistorians have
studied its details with minute care, and have accumulated an immense
array of facts and specimens by digging and carefully collecting in
Western and Central Europe. They have divided up this Pleistocene period
and the deposits in river-valley and cave which have occurred within its
limits into three great consecutive ages. These are distinguished from
one another by the distinctive wild animals which flourished in each,
by the climate which is indicated, and by the progressive development of
the art and workmanship of the Palæolithic men discovered in successive
layers of deposit. Let me here refer the reader to the tabular statement
on page 384 _bis_.

These ages of the Pleistocene are:—No. 1. The Upper or Post-Glacial
Pleistocene, or =Epoch of the Reindeer=. The climate was cold and dry,
like that of the Russian steppes. The contents of the celebrated cave of
La Madeleine, in the Dordogne, and the upper layers of deposit in a
whole series of caves (including Kent’s Cavern and the Creswell Cave in
England) belong to this age. This was the period in which the caves were
inhabited by the artistic race “who came no one knows whence, and went
no one knows whither,” accompanied by the reindeer. Before them there
was no carving in the caves, or only very rough work, and we are
justified in concluding that the men who inhabited the caves before this
period belonged to a totally distinct and inferior race. The “Reindeer
Men” must have developed their art by gradual steps before they arrived
in the caves of Western Europe—where we do not know. At the end of this
period the climate became much milder, and the red deer of our own day
took the place of the reindeer, during a long transition in which the
“Reindeer Men” and their art disappeared, and the pastoral,
land-tilling, stone-building, pottery-making communities of the
Neolithic Age came into existence, showing no trace of the art of their
predecessors. The mammoth and rhinoceros, bison, and aurochs, and, in
fact, all the commoner animals of an earlier period were present nearly
all through the Reindeer period (they disappear in the late “transition
period” of the red deer, called “Azilian”), and were known to the
“Reindeer Men,” but great herds of reindeer and of horses occupied the
grassy lands in this age, which were not abundant previously. These
herds probably were to some extent protected by the men, whilst the
lion, bear, hyæna, mammoths, and rhinoceroses were diminishing in
number, and were kept at a distance.

[Illustration: FIG. 72.—Back and front view of a flint implement of the
Moustier type (period of the Neander Men or Middle Pliocene), half the
size (linear) of the object. Observe the bulb of percussion at _b_, and
the completion of one face by a single blow. Note also the fine edge and
point of the weapon.]

The next lower division of the Pleistocene is No. 2, the Middle
Pleistocene or Last Glacial Age, or better, the =Epoch of the Mammoth=.
The climate was cold and humid. For the third and last time great
glaciers existed over the whole of Northern Europe, and only bits of the
south of England and the central and southern parts of France were free
from the ice-covering, and carried a rich vegetation. Deeper deposits in
caves are of this age, and also much of the river gravels of the
lower terraces of English and French rivers. By the French it is often
called the Moustierian period, because it is well seen in the rich
deposits of the caves and plateau of Le Moustier, on the river Vezère
(an affluent of the Dordogne), which contain bones of mammoth and
rhinoceros, and flint implements of a special form (Fig. 72), but no
carvings or artistic work. Hyænas made some of the caverns into their
dens, and the cave-lion and the cave-bear were there too. The men of
this period actually contested with these carnivors for the possession
of the caves, and made great fires to keep out wild beasts, as well as
to grill the meat on which they fed. They were of an inferior race to
the Reindeer Men, and had not such command of the situation as their
successors. We find their remains, their flint weapons, and in rare
cases their own bones as well as the bones of the mammoth and hairy
rhinoceros (on which they fed), and the bones of their competitors, the
hyænas, bears, and lions, in the deeper deposits of some caves,
underlying, and separated often by calcareous deposit from, the layers
which belong to the subsequent and prosperous days of the Reindeer Men.
Most striking is the fact that in the layers of deposit of this older
age, there are no works of art nor any implements carved from bone or
ivory. These earlier men, devoid of art and living at a low level of
savagery, were the Neander Men. It is in this layer and under these
conditions that the few broken skulls, agreeing in shape and character
with that of the Neander Valley, have been found.

Lastly we come to division No. 3, the Lower Pleistocene, or =Epoch of the
Hippopotamus=. The later climate of this age was mild. It came between
two glacial periods, owing to the retreat of the glaciers, which had
earlier increased in extent so as to produce the second Great Glacial
period. The hippopotamus swam in the Thames and Severn in those days,
and left its bones and teeth in the older gravels of those and other
European rivers, where we now find them. The big almond-shaped and
leaf-shaped flint implements of the English (Fig. 73) and French gravels
(Fig. 74) belong to this period. We have no knowledge whatever of the
men who made them.[8] The mammoth was not there, but another species of
elephant (_E. antiquus_) and a peculiar rhinoceros (_R. merckii_). The
deepest and oldest deposits in some caves belong to this age, as well as
the high-lying gravels of St. Acheuil, of many English river-valleys,
and of Chelles on the Seine. This period is not represented by much
deposit in caves, though some caves contain very deep-lying layers
enclosing bones or teeth of the animals characterising this period.

Older than the Age of the Hippopotamus are deposits which are reckoned
by geologists as “Pliocene”—no longer Pleistocene—and are called
“Tertiary,” not “Quaternary.” The forest bed of Norfolk (regarded by
Professor Marcelin Boule as of transitional character, as shown in the
tabular view on p. 384 _bis_), the Norwich crag, the Suffolk red and
coralline crag, and very extensive sandy deposits all over Europe belong
to the Pliocene. The earliest or first great extension of glaciers
occurred late in this period. The animals are very different from those
of the Pleistocene; the great mastodon and the tapir are there, and the
sabre-toothed tiger. Implements manufactured by man are found in the
oldest Pleistocene, and there is no reason to doubt that we shall find
his workmanship in the Pliocene, too, though it is not admitted that
this has yet been done. It is a question still eagerly studied and
debated as to whether the roughly chipped flints found in gravels on
high downs in the south of England, and called “eoliths,” are (as I
think many of them are) the work of man, and whether the high-lying
gravels in which they are found are to be regarded as of the oldest
Pleistocene Age or as late Pliocene. It is an exciting and deeply
interesting field of practical exploration and reasoned inference.

[Illustration: FIG. 73.—Flint pick from the Lower Pleistocene of the
Thames Valley. Two-thirds the size of the object.]

It will have been gathered from what I have said that, in seeking for
knowledge of the sequence of events in the period of Palæolithic Man,
everything depends upon extreme care in removing the deposits from a
cave inch by inch, and keeping all objects found distinct from one
another and assigned to their proper layer. The same system is now
applied with great success to the exploration of ancient cities in Egypt
and Central Asia.

[Illustration: FIG. 74.—A rough type of flint implement from the Lower
Pleistocene of the Somme Valley (St. Acheuil). One-half the size of the

As to the actual bones and skulls of men discovered in these Pleistocene
deposits, they show us that the Reindeer Men were a fine, full-brained
people, as we should expect, with as large a brain cavity on the average
as that of modern Europeans. The skulls of this race, which do not
differ in character from those of highly developed modern races, were
first found at Cromagnon, and hence we may call them “the Cromagnards”
(Fig. 75). The Neander Men are the men of the middle period—the last
glacial period—who were displaced by the splendid and accomplished
Cromagnards. The Neander Men, of which the new French specimen (Fig. 65)
from the cave of the Chapelle-aux-Saints is one, were a very inferior
race, and so different from any living race of men as to justify the
recognition of them as a distinct species of man, the _Homo
Neanderthalensis_. Only a few other imperfect skulls and skeletons of
them are known (Figs. 76 and 77), and show them to have been short
people, with very low, flat heads and retreating foreheads. It is in
accordance with what one would expect, that they should make no works of
art, and should be displaced, as climatic conditions changed for the
better, by the arrival of the fine, full-brained Cromagnards or Reindeer
Men. But where did they, these delightful artists and happy hunters of
the Reindeer Epoch, come from? We cannot say. And what became of them?
We do not know. They did not give rise to the Neolithic race, but were
replaced, turned out by that race. To them, indeed, are appropriate the
words of the Roman poet—_Prolem sine matre creatam, mater sine prole

[Illustration: FIG. 75.—A profile and a front view of the skull and
lower jaw of a man of the Cromagnard race or Reindeer Men. This is the
type-skull from Cromagnon. The teeth have fallen out of their sockets,
and the articular condyle of the up-turned part of the lower jaw is
broken away. The cranial dome and the forehead are as large as in good
modern European skulls. Compare with Fig. 65, and refer to the
explanation of that figure for the meaning of the letters and dotted

_N.B._—This drawing, and one or two of the other figures of skulls, are
reversed, giving right side for left, to facilitate the comparison of
one with the other. All are one-third (linear) of the natural size.]

Table showing the Geologic History of Man in Western Europe


|  Geological   |   Geological     |    Characteristic    |  Human Industry.    |
|  Divisions.   |   Conditions     |      Animals.        |                     |
|               | and Formations.  |                      |                     |
|               |                  |                      |                     |
| QUATERNARY.   |                  |                      |  PERIOD OF METALS.  |
| {             | Recent alluvium, | The present species. |                     |
| {  PRESENT.   |  peat-bogs.      | Domesticated animals.| Age of iron.        |
| {             | Climate closely  |                      | Age of bronze.      |
| {             |  similar to      |                      | Age of copper.      |
| {             |  the present.    |                      |                     |
| {             |                  |                      | NEOLITHIC PERIOD,   |
| {             |                  |                      |  or period of       |
| {             |                  |                      |  polished stone.    |
| {             |                  |                      |                     |
| {             | Transitional Deposits—Red Deer, Beaver.| Transitional        |
| {             |                  |                      |   Industry          |
| {             |                  |                      |  (AZILIAN).         |
| { PLEISTOCENE |                  |                      |                     |
| {  {         {| Upper layers of  |EPOCH OF THE REINDEER.| PALÆOLITHIC PERIOD, |
| {  {         {|  cavern deposits.|                      |  OR, PERIOD OF      |
| {  {         {|  Upper part of   |                      |  CHIPPED FLINTS.    |
| {  {         {|  the loess of the|                      | {                   |
| {  {         {|  Rhine. Climate  | Reindeer, Bison,     | {                   |
| {  {         {|  cold and dry;   |  Horse, Saiga        | {  MAGDALENIAN.     |
| {  {         {|  conditions like |  antelope, wolf,     | {                   |
| {  { UPPER.  {|  those of the    |  fauna of the        | { Sculptures,       |
| {  {         {|  “steppes” of    |  steppes.            | {  engravings, and  |
| {  {         {|  Tartary and     |                      | {  paintings: small |
| {  {         {|  Russia.         |                      | {  and very varied  |
| {  {         {|                  |                      | {  chipped flints.  |
| {  {         {|                  |                      | { CROMAGNARD RACE.  |
| {  {         {|                  |                      | {                   |
| {  {—-—-—--+—-—-—-—-—-—-+—-—-—-—-—-—-—--+-{—-—-—-—-—-—--+
| {  {         {| Deposits formed  | EPOCH OF THE MAMMOTH.| {  MOUSTIERIAN.     |
| {  {         {|  by the filling  |                      | {                   |
| {  {         {|  of caverns.     | Mammoth, Rhinoceros  | { Commencement of   |
| {  {         {|  Loess of the    |  with partitioned    | {  work in bone:    |
| {  {         {|  Rhine. Gravels  |  nostrils (R.        | {  flints usually   |
| {  {         {|  of low-levels   |  tichorhinus), bear, | {  worked only on   |
| {  { MIDDLE. {|   and of the     |  hyena, and lion of  | {  one face.        |
| {  {         {|inferior terraces.|  the caverns, wolf,  | {  NEANDER RACE=    |
| {  {         {|                  |  etc. Musk ox.       | { _Homo_            |
| {  {         {|=Moraines of the= |                      | {_Neanderthalensis_.|
| {  {         {| =third great=    |                      | {                   |
| {  {         {| =glacial period.=|                      | {                   |
| {  {         {| Climate cold and |                      | {                   |
| {  {         {|  humid.          |                      | {                   |
| {  {—-—-—--+—-—-—-—-—-—-+—-—-—-—-—-—-—--+ {—-—-—-—-—-—--+
| {  {          |                  |                      | {                   |
| {  {         {| Gravels of the   |    EPOCH OF THE      | {  CHELLEAN.        |
| {  {         {|  middle terraces.|    HIPPOPOTAMUS.     | {                   |
| {  {         {|  Calcareous tufa.|                      | { First indisputable|
| {  {         {|  Climate warm.   | Elephas antiquus,    | {  traces of man in |
| {  {  LOWER. {|                  |  Rhinoceros merckii, | {  Europe: the large|
| {  {         {|=Moraines of the= |  Hippopotamus major, | {  flint weapons are|
| {  {         {| =second great=   |  Sabre-toothed Tiger,| {  chipped on both  |
| {  {         {| =glacial period.=|  monkeys, etc.       | {  faces.           |
| {  {         {| Climate cold and |                      | { (Heidelberg human |
| {  {         {|  humid.          |                      | {  jaw probably of  |
| |             |                  |                      | {  Neander race.)   |
| |    Transitional Deposits of the Norfolk FOREST BEDS,  |                     |
+-+    of St. Prest and of Solilhac. Climate temperate.   +—-—-—-—-—-—-—-+
|               |                  |                      |                     |
|TERTIARY.      |                  |                      |                     |
| {            {| Plateau (high    | EPOCH OF THE ELEPHAS |                     |
| {   UPPER    {|  level) gravels. |   MERIDIONALIS.      |     Eoliths of      |
| {  PLIOCENE. {|                  |                      |     Prestwich.      |
| {            {|=Moraines of the= | Rhinoceros etruscus, |                     |
| {            {| =first great=    |  Equus Stenonis,     |                     |
| {            {| =extension of=   |  Sabre-toothed Tiger,|                     |
| {            {| =glaciers.=      |  etc.                |                     |
| {            {|                  |                      |                     |

    _N.B._—The horse, the bison (_Bison Europæus_), the great ox or
    aurochs (_Bos primigenius_), the ibex, the chamois, the great Irish
    deer (_Megaceros_), the large carnivors and others, appear
    throughout the middle and upper Pleistocene, but are more abundant
    at one period than at another, and in one locality than another.
    Thus the bison abounded in the north of Spain in late Magdalenian
    times, whilst the reindeer was rare or absent, and its place taken
    by the red deer, which later replaced the reindeer in France. The
    horse has been found in tens of thousands at Solutré, near Mâcon
    (Middle Pliocene), whilst the great Irish deer abounded at a very
    late period in Ireland (Azilian?), and is rare at any time
    elsewhere. I must clearly state that, whilst this table is
    practically that published by my friend Professor Marcelin Boule, he
    is not responsible for the recognition of the Eoliths of Prestwich,
    nor for the terms “Cromagnard” and “Neander.”


[7] So named after one Neumann, a religious enthusiast, who inhabited
the cave.

[8] See, however, farther on as to the lower jaw found at Heidelberg.



A certain number of human skulls and a few complete skeletons have been
found in the cave-deposits, and even in open ground (as at Predmost, in
Moravia) associated with the bones of extinct animals, or with carvings
and ornaments like those which occur abundantly in the caverns. The
ancient cave-men of the Cromagnard type—often called “the Reindeer
Men”—buried their dead sometimes in the caves, but more usually in the
open. Sometimes the skeletons are found in a crouching position, as
though tied up when buried; more rarely (as in some examples found in
the caves at Mentone) they are stretched out and decorated with a
necklace or wreath made of shells, or of the teeth or small bones of
animals. In many cases the flesh was removed from the corpse, and red
ochre was smeared on the bones (as by some recent savages). The
“Reindeer” people used red ochre and charcoal to colour the engravings
of animals (Fig. 71) which they made on the walls of their caves, and
probably for painting or tattooing their own faces. The existence of
these wall paintings, wonderful representations of bison, great ox,
deer, and other animals, proves that these men had artificial light
(lamps or torches) to send fitful gleams on to the paintings, and it is
probable that the “wall pictures” had to do with some kind of
witchcraft. Stone lamps have actually been discovered in the caves.
Their ceremonial treatment of the dead shows that already the lines were
laid for that worship of the “spirits of the departed,” which became
general, and is especially familiar to us in the comparatively modern
civilisation of Rome and the Etruscans. There is also evidence that they
made simple musical instruments.

[Illustration: FIG. 76.—Three views of the skull-top from near
Elberfeld on the Rhine, known as the Neanderthal skull—(Middle
Pleistocene, Moustierian, or last Glacial Period: epoch of the Mammoth).
These figures are partly copied by kind permission of Mr. Worthington G.
Smith, F.L.S., from excellent figures published by him in his
interesting book, _Man, the Primitive Savage_ (Stanford, 1899). In all
respects the measurements of this skull-top agree very closely with
those of the skull from the Chapelle-aux-Saints. _A._ A view from in
front. _B._ Side view showing the line _a-b_, and the other lines,
_a-c_, _d_, _e_, and _f_, exactly as in Fig. 65. The shallowness of the
cranial dome and the small projection of the frontal boss _d_, agree
exactly with the measurements of the Chapelle skull shown in Fig. 65.
_C._ View of the skull-top from below. This gives the outline of the
Neander-man’s skull as seen from above, and shows the curious vizor-like
expansion of the ridges over the orbits, the pinching in just behind
them, and the elongate shape of the skull, with its great breadth in the
hinder region. The French skull from the Chapelle agrees exactly in
outline with this, and in both the volume of the cranial cavity given by
this large expanse amounts to 1600 cubic centimetres, in spite of the
flatness of the cranial dome—a greater volume than that of the
Cromagnon skull drawn in Fig. 75, or of the average modern European.]

In the cave-deposits of the Post-Glacial or Reindeer Age, the human
skulls and skeletons which have been found (not indicating more than
thirty or forty individuals altogether from widely separate localities)
show a very well-developed race, with large brain-case (Fig. 75), quite
equal to that of modern Europeans. Some of these men were very tall, one
of the skeletons from the Mentone caves being that of a man 6 ft. 3½
in. in height. The cavity of the skull (which corresponds very closely
in size with that of the brain which it contained) would hold about 1550
units of water (the unit referred to is a cubic centimetre, 1550 of
which are equal to a little less than two and a half English pints). It
is not surprising that these Reindeer Men had fine brains, for their
carvings and pictures show them to have been real artists, not mere
savage scrawlers. This race is called the “Cromagnards,” after the first
skulls discovered at Cromagnon, in Central France. They had big, strong
lower jaws, with prominent chins, like many fine modern races (_e.g._
the New Zealanders), and fine, narrow noses. The face and upper jaws
were somewhat prominent, though not nearly so much so as in modern
negroes. The skull-bones were thick and strong. The brain-case or
cranial part of the skull was oblong rather than round.

[Illustration: FIG. 77.—The Gibraltar skull from a cave in Gibraltar,
now preserved in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London. It
is of the Neander race. Compare the dotted lines and lettering with
those of Fig. 65, and the explanation there given. The drawing is
one-third (linear) of the natural size.]

The skulls of the older race—that of the Last Glacial or Moustierian
Age—the Neander Men, were long skulls, too, but had a peculiarly
flattened shape and a retreating forehead. The bony ridges over the
eyes, corresponding to the eyebrows, were enormous, and projected
forwards like the vizor of a cap (Figs. 65, 76, and 77). There are but
few specimens to guide our conclusions, but they show that though of
short stature (some not more than 5 ft. 4 in.), these people were very
muscular. The top of a skull from the cave in the Neander Valley, known
as the Neanderthal skull, two imperfect skulls from the cave of Spy, in
Belgium, an imperfect skull from Brunn, in Moravia, and other fragments
from Krapina, in Croatia, and, lastly, one from a cave in Gibraltar, are
the best known. Others, including fragments of several skeletons less
fully described, which have been found at Predmost, in Moravia, probably
belong to this race. But the newly obtained skull and bones from the
centre of France (Chapelle-aux-Saints) are the most important of all
yet discovered. They all date from the middle Pleistocene period, the
age of the last great glaciers, earlier than the age of the Reindeer.
The Gibraltar skull (Fig. 77) we have all known for a long time; it has
been in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons for forty years, and
two years ago was very carefully examined and figured by Professor
Sollas, of Oxford. It is a specially valuable specimen, because it shows
the bones of the face as well as the brain-case. From other specimens we
know the lower jaw. The lower jaw was deep and powerful, but, like that
of an ape, had a receding chin, or rather, we should say, had no
“chin-prominence” at all (compare Figs. 79, 80, 81, and 82). The new
French specimen (Fig. 65) is strongly prognathous. The orbits are
enormous, and the nose very flat and quite unique in its great breadth.
One of the two Neander-man skulls from the Belgian cave of Spy shows the
face bones, and these agree with what has just been stated as to the
French skull.

Hence it appears that a short race with a very strange and low-browed
type of skull preceded the men of the Reindeer Age. When, thirty years
ago, only the original skull-top from the Neander cave (Fig. 76) was
known, Virchow, of Berlin, considered it to be probably that of an
idiot, whilst Huxley expressed the opinion that it indicates a race of
men with decidedly low development, and in some respects more ape-like
characters than modern Europeans; but he held that it is not to be
considered as “a missing link,” nor as taking us appreciably nearer from
modern man to the apes, since it is most closely approached by the flat
skulls, already well known, of some of the South Australian natives,
both in shape and in the cubical capacity of the brain-cavity. What I
mean by the flatness of the skull may be understood by looking at a side
view of a monkey’s skull (Fig. 81) and of an ordinary European human
skull (take the Cromagnon skull as equivalent, Fig. 75) placed upright,
so that the eyes are looking forward. If in an outline or photograph of
each of these skulls you draw a straight line from a point between the
eyebrows back to a point just below the most projecting ridge of the
hindermost region of the skull, you will find that above that line in
the monkey’s skull is a slightly curved surface—the roof of the
brain-case. But in the human skull above the similarly drawn line the
roof bulges so as to form an almost hemispherical dome, rising sometimes
vertically in the front region to form “the straight, high forehead”
(which Shakespeare commended, even in woman). It swells out in the
hinder region also. Now the Neander skulls, and to a less extent the
skulls of many of the Australian aborigines, are more like the monkey’s
in this matter; the dome of the roof is shallow and flat, and the
forehead does not rise up, but slopes backwards, so that the whole
contents of the brain-case are lessened by the reduction of the frontal
and upper region. And there is reason to consider this frontal region of
the brain as specially connected with some of the higher intellectual
qualities of the mind.

We know a little more about the skull of the Neander race since Huxley
wrote, owing to the further discovery of specimens. The Australian’s
skull has usually a more projecting upper jaw and upper front teeth than
has the Neander Man’s. The Neander skulls stand alone in the great
breadth of the orbits and of the nasal region as compared with all known
skulls. They are also alone (the Gibraltar skull and the new French
specimen are the only ones which show it) in the contour of the upper
jaw. In other human skulls there is a broad depression of the surface—a
nipping-in, as it were—behind the root of the canine tooth on each
side. This is absent in the Neander race; the bone here is flat, and
not in-pushed. This absence of “modelling,” absence of the canine
“fossa” or valley (as it is called), is seen in the larger apes as well
as in the Neander Men. This point does not show in our figures. Some
writers think it probable that the Neander Men of the late Glacial Age
were the ancestors of the Cromagnards of the Reindeer Age, and also that
the artistic Cromagnards were transformed, after many thousand years,
into the comparatively dull and inartistic people of the Neolithic
period. It seems to me, on the contrary, more probable (as is held by
some of the French prehistorians) that the Reindeer Men died out, and
were replaced by the Neolithic herdsmen who migrated into Western Europe
as the climate became milder. The notion that the Esquimaux of to-day
are the Reindeer Men of France who have migrated northwards with their
reindeer, following the receding ice, has been entertained, but is
regarded by the most careful inquirers as untenable. As to the earlier
change of race, I hold that it is not possible to contend that the
Neander Men developed into the Cromagnards of the Reindeer Age actually
in the south of France. If the lower race or species gave rise to the
higher, the enormous transformation did not occur here nor in Europe at
all, nor during the later Pleistocene period. Human skulls of the
Reindeer Age are known which present an approach to the characters of
the Neander race, such as the heavy bony eyebrows. But it seems that
this is accounted for by the survival of some Neander families alongside
of the powerful Cromagnard men and the interbreeding of the two. The
Cromagnards had probably lived with their reindeer in some more southern
area during the late Glacial Age, and arrived in southern France as the
climate improved and became suitable to their accustomed quarry. How and
where they developed from a lower type of men we have at present no

A very remarkable discovery of the last five years made in the course of
the careful excavation of the four caverns of Mentone by the Prince of
Monaco, where as many as sixteen human skeletons of the Pleistocene Age
have been brought to light, gives us a new point of view as to the
presence of more than one race in Europe in these immensely remote
times, as in later periods. In one of the caves, and in a position
showing them to date from the deepest layer of the middle Pleistocene,
or late Glacial Age, two complete skeletons have been found (and may be
seen alongside those of the Cromagnon race in the museum at Monaco),
which are obviously different from those of both the Neander and the
Cromagnon people. They have skulls which decidedly resemble that of the
modern negro race, so that they have been definitely assigned to a new
race hitherto unknown in European caves, and are spoken of as “the
negroid skeletons” and “the Grimaldi race.” This is indeed a startling
fact. There was land stretching across the Mediterranean in those days,
and these skeletons suggest that already there was a negroid race in
Africa, individuals of which had wandered north as far as the maritime
Alps.[9] Two or three negroid skulls of Neolithic (therefore very much
later) Age have been found in Brittany and in Switzerland. When we
reflect that the negroid skeletons of Mentone and those of the
contemporary Neander Men are probably more than 100,000 years old, we
are at once impressed with the important conclusion that already in that
remote period three great branches of the human race had come into
existence—the negroid, the Neander, and probably, at a more distant
spot, also the highly developed Cromagnards. The origin of the really
primitive race of man is thrown back in time by these facts to a still
more remote period, in fact, to an earlier geologic epoch. And it is to
be noted over and above these facts that we have no indication as to
where the much later race, the Neolithic Men, came from, nor who were
their contemporaries outside the European area; nor again do we know
where the historic races who succeeded the Neolithic Men took their
origin. When other regions of the earth have been examined as carefully
as Western Europe has been, we shall no longer be in such complete

When one ventures to speculate as to the story of the earliest men in
Europe, one can but feel, even after handling the specimens and
carefully following the excavations, how small and fragmentary and
difficult to interpret is the evidence at present brought to light. And
yet there the evidence is, gathered with the utmost care and intelligent
method, discussed and interpreted by men of rare knowledge and
experience, who, after long comparison of contending opinions and the
discovery of an ever-increasing body of fact, have arrived at a definite
certainty as to the sequence of arts, races, animals, and climates which
I have given above, and is again summarised in the tabular statement on
page 384 _bis_.

Hereafter these conclusions will be modified and extended by excavations
in other parts of the world, at present untouched. The one point upon
which the best authorities will not commit themselves is the exact, or
even approximately exact, number of thousands of years which these
events have occupied. The whole story, so far as it is at present worked
out, is a marvellous result of patient research and scientific
reasoning. Some of the cave collections upon which it is based are to
be seen in London, in the British Museum.

[Illustration: FIG. 78.—The skull-top of the primitive kind of man from
Pleistocene sands in Java, called _Pithecanthropus_. One-third (linear)
of the natural size. Compare with Fig. 65, and refer to that figure for
the explanation of the letters and dotted lines.]

There is one other discovery of a fossil man which comes properly at
this point, to cap and confirm what has already been said. Fifteen years
ago a skull-top and a thigh-bone were found by Dr. Dubois at Trinil, in
the island of Java, at a depth of thirty feet in a sandy deposit,
considered by good authority (but not certainly) to be of Pliocene age.
From recent reports on the deposit it seems that it may very well be of
Pleistocene age. These remains have become celebrated as those of a
monkey-like man, and the name Pithecanthropus has been given to the
creature to which they belonged. This skull-top (or cranial roof) is now
in Utrecht, and is well known (Fig. 78). It indicates a race of men or
men-like creatures, with the flatness of skull, receding forehead, and
large bony eye-ridges, such as we see in the Neander Men and in some
South Australians, but greatly exaggerated. The skull was so low and
flat as greatly to resemble that of the Gibbon, though much larger. The
volume of the cranial cavity (showing the size of the brain) was about
900 units—far smaller than that of the average Australian—the skull of
smallest cavity among living races of men. The volume of the
brain-cavity of the largest ape (gorilla) amounts to about 500 units
(cubic centimetres); so that, allowing for rare individual fluctuations
of as much as one-fourth more or one-fourth less (an amount of variation
which, great as it is, is definitely known and recorded in specimens of
the skulls of human races), we get the following list of “cranial
capacities” or brain-sizes, forming a nearly unbroken series between the
highest European and the ape. The middle figure represents the normal or
average, and the first and last figure in each group the constant,
though rare, minimum and maximum. Gorilla, 350, 500, 650; Java race,
675, 900, 1125; Australians, 900, 1200, 1500; Cromagnard and European,
1165, 1550, 1940 (European skulls of this great capacity are known). The
Neander-man skulls are left out of the above list—although the Corrèze
specimen allows of a satisfactory measurement of its capacity—for a
very curious reason, which is explained in the next chapter.


[9] In this connection it seems to be important to note the “Ethiopic”
character of the arrangement of the hair in the little carving of a
woman’s head from the Brassempouy Cave (dep. Landes), shown in Fig. 7.



Since writing what precedes I have been able more than once to gratify
my keen desire to examine the wonderful human skull from the
Chapelle-aux-Saints in the Corrèze (Central France). The skull has been
photographed, and an excellent figure of it is reproduced in our Fig.
65. But it is one thing to look at a picture of such a specimen, and
another to take it into one’s hands and closely examine it. The skull is
in the care of my friend, Professor Marcelin Boule, who is at the head
of the great collection of remains of extinct animals in the Jardin des

It has been treated by him with great skill so as to render the bone
firm and hard, whilst detached portions have been fitted into place, so
that it is fairly complete (Fig. 65). The skull was found (together with
many bones of the skeleton of the same individual) by two enthusiastic
local archæologists buried at such depth and in such position in the
cave known as the Chapelle-aux-Saints as to leave no doubt as to its
belonging to one of a race of men contemporary with the mammoth and
hairy rhinoceros—a race which inhabited Europe in the great glacial
period—called by prehistorians “the Moustierian period,” which cannot
be less than a hundred thousand years behind us, and probably is more.
The chief importance of this skull lies in the fact not only that its
position in the cave-deposits, and therefore its relative age, was
carefully ascertained, but that it agrees in its very peculiar form with
the Neanderthal skull (from the Rhineland), the Spy skulls (Belgium),
and the Gibraltar skull. It, in fact, confirms the conclusion that at
this period the caves of Western Europe were inhabited by a race of men
with peculiar skulls, which may be called the Neander race in reference
to the first-discovered skull of the kind. They were altogether
different from the Reindeer Men, or Cromagnards, who came later upon the

[Illustration: FIG. 79.—Drawing one-third the size of nature, of the
left side of the lower jaw of a modern European. Observe the small size
as compared with the jaw in Figs. 80, 81, and 82, also the prominent
chin: the small breadth of the up-turned ramus, and the deep bay or
notch (not seen in the other lower jaws) separating the coronoid process
from the condyle.]

[Illustration: FIG. 80.—Outline (one-third the size of nature) of the
skull of the Neander Man from the Chapelle-aux-Saints, with all
fractures and defects made good. The bony sockets of the teeth and the
teeth themselves (lost and atrophied by inflammatory disease in the
actual skull) are here given their full size and healthy condition. The
lower jaw is seen to be very similar to that from Heidelberg (Fig. 82).
From a photograph taken by Professor Marcelin Boule from a cast of the
actual skull. The cast was “made good” by modelling upon it the
deficient parts.]

The fact was published some four months ago that the new Corrèze skull
agrees with the celebrated skull-top (called a “calvaria” by anatomists)
of the Neanderthal (Fig. 76) in the extraordinary shallowness or absence
of “dome,” in the retreating forehead, the thick prominent eyebrow
ridges, and in the excessive “lowness,” or want of elevation of the back
region. But further study of the new skull has enabled Professor Boule
to show, as he demonstrated to me, that the outline of the new skull
looked at from above coincides not merely approximately, but exactly
with that of the Neanderthal skull. There is the same great length from
eyebrows to occiput, and the same great breadth at a series of
corresponding regions. The curious thing is that both these skulls are
of enormous size—a good deal bigger in length and breadth than modern
European skulls, and not small and ape-like, though they are far
shallower (that is, less high in the dome) than any skulls of living
men. I had, myself, always been astonished by the great breadth and
length of the casts of the Neanderthal skull which we possess in
England, and supposed that possibly the casts were carelessly made. Now
Professor Boule shows that both the Neanderthal and the Corrèze skull
are so much larger in breadth and length than average European skulls,
that in spite of its flat, depressed shape, the Corrèze skull (and
consequently the Neanderthal skull, too) has a brain-cavity holding 1600
cubic centimetres, whilst the average modern European skull only holds
1500 to 1550. The estimate given by former observers for the Neanderthal
skull was as low as 1200. This calculation was based on the diminution
of volume caused by the flatness of the skull, and would be correct were
the skull of the Neander race no longer or broader than an ordinary
European skull. If we imagine a skull of the ordinary European
proportionate height, but as long and as broad as the Neander skulls,
then its volume would be something like 2000 cubic centimetres. This is
a very remarkable result. The ancient Neander Men’s brain was not
smaller, but actually a little bigger than that of modern Europeans; it
was bigger in regions where the modern European is small, and smaller
where that is large!

[Illustration: FIG. 81.—The skull of a male chimpanzee. Drawn one-third
the natural size (linear) to compare with the human skulls and jaws here
figured. The dotted lines and the letters _a_, _b_, _c_, _d_, _e_, and
_f_ have the same signification as in Fig. 65, to which reference should
be made. The flatness of the cranial dome and the reduction of the
frontal boss (_d_) are very marked. So are the relatively large size of
the jaws and teeth. Compare the shape of the lower jaw with that from
Heidelberg (Fig. 82), and with that of a modern European (Fig. 79).]

[Illustration: FIG. 82.—The Heidelberg jaw, from a lower Pleistocene
deposit, near Heidelberg. Observe the absence of chin and the great
breadth of the up-turned part of the jaw. Compare with the lower jaws
drawn to the same scale in Figs. 79, 80, and 81. One-third the size of

If we had any sufficient knowledge of the mental qualities which belong
to different regions of the brain (if, indeed, such localisation of
qualities is possible), we might draw some interesting conclusions from
this difference between the two races. But unfortunately our knowledge
on that matter is very defective. We are not in a position to say that
length and breadth of the brain either can or cannot compensate (so to
speak) for shallowness. It is probable that the mental qualities of the
two forms of brain were in important respects different, but that is all
that can at present be said. No accredited brain student would, until
more is known, venture to draw conclusions as to mental quality from
such facts as mere breadth, length, and depth of the cranial cavity.

The Corrèze skull has a strongly-projecting face, depending not merely
on a protrusion of the dentary border of the upper jaw, but on a forward
thrust of the entire face. This is not shown by the Gibraltar skull
(Fig. 77). It is not improbable that this region has been flattened in
the Gibraltar skull whilst it was buried in the cave deposit and
softened by water. The lower jaw is preserved in the new French
specimen, and is very remarkable on account of the retreating chin and
the lowness and backward flexion of the articular process, as well as
for the large size of the surface by which it articulates with the
skull. All the cheek-teeth have been shed (see Fig. 65), and the sockets
closed owing to inflammation, showing that primitive European man was
subject to the same trouble with his teeth from which civilised men of
to-day suffer. In comparing the skull with the skulls of modern races,
Professor Boule is not inclined to insist much on the resemblance to
Australian and Tasmanian skulls presented by the thick and large
brow-ridges. A careful study of the skull is giving to Professor Boule
many facts of importance which will be published ere long. The articular
surfaces or “condyles” of the skull (for instance) by which it was set
on the neck vertebræ are so set that the head must have been habitually
carried with a droop like that of an animal, and not poised upright on
the neck as in modern races of man.

Not less important than the skull are some of the bones of the arm and
leg. Indeed, they show more novel characters than the skull, and
definitely distinguish the Neander Men so as to justify us in regarding
them as a distinct species, _Homo Neanderthalensis_. The thigh-bone is
very short: as compared with that of a modern European, it is as 14 to
18. Also it is thick and _curved_. This was already known in the Neander
Man of the Spy cave, and its confirmation by the specimen from the
Corrèze establishes this shortness of the thigh as a specific character.
There are also strange features in the articulation of the bones of the
thumb and of the heel which Professor Boule will make known when he
publishes his full account of this most astonishing skeleton.

It is worth noting here that another skull of the same race—that of a
young individual—was dug out in 1908 at Moustier by Mr. Hauser, a Swiss
explorer. The specimen was broken into many fragments and has not been
satisfactorily put together, so that at present it is not possible to
say whether it gives any further information as to the Neander Man. Also
in 1909 the French explorers have found another skull and skeleton of
the same age and race at Ferassi, near Moustier, on the Veyzere. It has
been carefully removed, but not yet studied. The bones of the hand and
of the foot are complete, and will be available for confirming the
observations made on the skeleton of the Chapelle-aux-Saints.

We have, a few pages back, noted that behind the Glacial or Moustierian
period of the Pleistocene (the second of our list, the Reindeer period
being the latest), geologists recognise a third or warm period which is
represented by deeper cave-deposits and by some of the older sands,
clays, and gravels of our river valleys. As in the Moustierian deposits,
so in these older deposits (called “Chellean” after a French township)
we find abundant large flint implements (Figs. 73, 74) indicating the
presence of man. But the animals associated with him were not the
mammoth and the hairy rhinoceros; they were the _Elephas antiquus_ and a
distinct kind of rhinoceros, and most distinctively the hippopotamus.
These beds and their animal remains and worked flints occur abundantly
in the South of England, and have been more or less mistaken for and
confused with the glacial Moustierian deposits which also are common in
England. No bones or skulls of the men of this Chellean period have been
found, excepting a lower jaw, which was not long ago discovered in a
deposit of this warmer and earlier age, near Heidelberg (Fig. 82). This
jaw-bone is remarkably well preserved, and the great difference between
it and that of a modern European may be seen by comparing our Figures 79
and 82. In the absence of chin, the great breadth of the up-turned part
of the jaw and the shallowness of the notch separating the condyle or
articulating knob from the more forwardly placed “coronoid” process (a
well-marked triangular process in the modern European jaw), the
Heidelberg jaw differs from the modern European, and resembles that of
the chimpanzee (Fig. 81).

Dr. Schoettensack of Heidelberg, who has described this remarkable
jaw-bone and has very kindly presented casts of it to the Natural
History Museum, to Oxford, to Cambridge, and to myself, was of the
opinion that it indicated a distinct race or even a distinct species of
man. But Professor Marcelin Boule has found that when the lower jaw of
the skull from the Chapelle-aux-Saints is “reconstructed,” not only by
replacing the parts broken away, but by restoring the teeth and the
absorbed sockets of the teeth, it comes out very closely identical with
the Heidelberg jaw. In Fig. 80 I have reproduced the profile of
Professor Boule’s complete restoration of the “Chapelle” skull, and it
will be seen that the lower jaw differs very little from that of the
Heidelberg specimen. Indeed, Professor Boule has published a photograph
in which he attaches the Heidelberg lower jaw to the restored Chapelle
skull in place of its own, and the similarity of the two becomes very

As will be seen by the drawings which I give here, the Heidelberg jaw
is even more powerful than that of the Chapelle skull. The lower jaw of
a modern European (Fig. 79), drawn to the same scale as the other two,
and as that of the chimpanzee (Fig. 81), is an elegant little thing with
its forwardly-projecting chin, its short measurement from front to back,
and the narrowness and delicacy of its up-turned part or ramus, with its
well-marked angle at the lower corner and deeply cut upper border
between the condyle (hindermost projection with knob) and the coronoid.

The imperfect lower jaw (without teeth and with the articular condyle
broken away) of the Cromagnon skull, drawn in Fig. 75, should also be
compared: it is, though broken, similar to that of the modern European.
Lower jaws differ in some of the points which we have been looking at,
from one another, but there is no known living race of men the lower jaw
of which is not far nearer to that of the modern European (Fig. 79),
than to that from the Chapelle-aux-Saints or from Heidelberg (Fig. 82);
and I may add that the imperfect lower jaw of the Neander-man skull,
from the Spy Cave in Belgium, agrees in the absence of chin and in other
points with that of Heidelberg and of the Chapelle skull. There is not
sufficient ground afforded by the characters of the lower jaw for
considering that the race indicated by the Heidelberg specimen was
distinct from the Neander race, as may be seen by comparing Fig. 80 with
Fig. 82.

As these pages are going to press, I am able to add that I have seen in
Paris a very interesting and striking restoration of the appearance in
the flesh or during life of the head of the man of the Chapelle-aux-Saints,
carefully modelled in Professor Boule’s laboratory by a young sculptor,
by applying his clay to a cast of the completed restoration of the
skull. It is, I understand, proposed to publish this restoration firstly
as strictly determined by anatomical fact and devoid of hair, and then
to add the hair of the scalp, the eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, and to
place artificial eyes in position. We shall thus get a representation of
this ancient race or species of man, based on the sure foundation of the
actual bones. Fanciful portraits of “primitive man” have before to-day
been produced by some imaginative artists, but this will be the first
portrait of him with an inner framework of truth.


Amœba, term applied to proteus animalcule, 194

Andrews, discoveries of, with regard to ozone, 252

Animalcules, bell, unicellular structure exemplified in, 197-199
  ciliated unicellular, graceful movements of, 207
  dried, examples of “suspended animation” in, 168, 169
  proteus, processes of protoplasm in, 195
  sun, processes of protoplasm in, 195
  unicellular plants and, essential differences between, 204-207

Animals, aquatic, excess of egg production to ensure survival
                                                 to maturity, 143, 144
  aversions and cautious proceedings of, 269
  blindness of, congenital, 272, 273
  colour-protection and invisibility of, 304, 312
  “concealment” and “warning” marks, distinction between, 310-313
  destructive invasions made by various, 339, 340
  devices adopted for protection of young by, 138, 139, 144
  domesticated, reasons for continued congenital defects in, 271, 272
  hibernation of, 165, 166
  lower, various thread-producing, 293, 294
  mankind and, causes of congenital defects in, 273
  parthenogenetic powers possessed by certain, 330, 331
  poisonous, methods of self-protection used by, 101
    “warning” coloration possessed by, 107
  propagation of, 132-137, 144-145, 329-330
  sleep of, salient features connected with, 161-164
  structure of multicellular and unicellular, comparisons between, 207-208
  unicellular, uses made of cilia by, 194-197, 207
  wild, congenital defects less obvious in, 271, 272
  wood-boring, 346, 347

_Anopheles_ Gnat, 3

Ants, aphides and, friendship between, 324, 325

  enemies of, 319, 325
  hop-blight caused by species of, 317, 319
  parthenogenetic propagation of, 326-327, 330, 334, 336
  rapid propagation of, 326, 338
  relationship of _Coccidæ_ to, 322, 323
  secretive productions of, 323-325
  various species of, 322

Archæology, discoveries in connection with pre-historic man, 371-372, 391,
  394-395, 398, 400, 402

Art, knowledge compatible with, 45

Astronomers, stupendous nature of work, 224

Astronomy, Halley’s discoveries in connection with, 226
  Newton’s discovery of law of gravitation as affecting, 230
  photography as affecting study of, 222
  spectroscope as affecting study of, 224, 225

Atavism, feeble-mindedness resulting from, suggestion as to, 274

Athletes, experiments as to possible use of pure oxygen by, 260-263

Auzout, M., astronomical predictions attempted by, 229, 230

Bacon, Lord, quotation from, 1, 14

Bacteria, destructive invasion made by, 340
  microscopic observation of, improvement in, 239

Balfour, Rt. Hon. Arthur, speech at Manchester by, 6, 7 (quotation)

Bananas, cultivated varieties of, 369
  plantains and, identity of, 368

Bayeux tapestry, 231

Becquerel, M., experiments of, 183

Beetles, book-worm, depredations of, 350-351
  death-watch, tapping made by, 351, 352
    wood-boring, 351, 352
  wood-boring, 349-350
  lady-bird, beneficial activity of, 319, 325, 326
    origin of name, 325
  perforation of soft metal by grubs of, 353

Bell-animalcules, 197

Birth-rate, increased, amongst poorer classes, 285, 286

Blood, lack of red colour in, cause of, 148, 149
  red-coloured, cause and special duty of, 148

Bonaparte, Prince Roland, French representative at Darwin Centenary
                                                       Celebration, 39

Book-worm beetle, 350

Boulenger, Charles, Egyptian fresh-water jelly-fish described by, 64

Boys, C. V., fine quartz threads spun by, 294, 295

Caddis-worms, movable cases made by grubs of, 343

Calandruccio, discovery of young of the eel by, 71-72

Cambridge—Darwin Centenary Celebration, Address by Sir Ray Lankester at, 33-37
    held at, 18, 33, 38
    notable representatives at, 33, 38, 39

Cave-men, ancient, artistic skill of, 80, 81
  horse mastered and muzzled by, 80, 81

Caves, care taken in excavation of, 388
  discoveries of human remains in deposits of, 371, 374, 383, 393, 395, 402,
  discovery of bones of ancient men in, rarity of, 372-374
  French and English, evidences of human occupation found in, 78-79

Cells, definition and origin of term, 170-173, 328
  egg-cell, process of fertilisation, 202-204, 330, 332
  important part played by nucleus in life of, 198-200, 328, 329
  individual character and co-ordinated activity of, 170, 180-182, 184, 328
  process of division, 200-202, 328

“Cell-theory,” explanation of Professor Schwann’s, 174-176

Chapelle-aux-Saints, discovery at, important, 371, 374, 390, 402

Children, feeble-minded, number attending schools provided for, 278
    result of neglect to provide supervision for, 279-281

China, introduction of opium smoking into, 366, 367

Chinese primrose, similarity between poisonous properties of _Rhus
                                               toxicodendron_ and, 104

Cholera, bacillus of, organisms favouring or checking growth, 242, 243, 246-249
    carriers of, 245
    causes of, 237
    Metchnikoff’s and Pettenkofer’s experiments in connection with, 240-241
  definition of word, 237, 238
  germs, destruction of, 244, 245
  Indian, active development of sanitation in Great Britain,
                                           due to panic caused by, 239
    date of first appearance in England, 238
    diffusion through water-supply, 239
    discovery by Koch of bacillus producing, 240
    epidemic nature of, 238
    Europeans first attacked by, 238
    recognition of, by Hindu writers, 238
  precautions to be observed for prevention of, 244, 245, 246

Cholera-bacillus. See Cholera

Christmas fare, origin of, 356-358

Cilia, animals provided with, and action of, 194, 195, 207
  definition of term, 194
  uses made of, by unicellular animals, 195-197, 207

“Cirrhipedes,” Darwin’s discovery with regard to, 23, 24

Civilisation, scientific knowledge as affecting, 16

Clothes moths, 341

_Coccidæ_, relationship of aphides to, 323

Colour, in bird’s feathers, 55, 56
  nature and properties of light as affecting, 52-55

Comets, ancient records of, exaggeration in, 227, 229
  composition of, 234, 235
  Donati’s, imposing size of, 227
  early superstitions with regard to, 227, 228
  elliptical orbits of, 233
  Halley’s—Chinese astronomical observations relating to antiquity of, 230
    length and breadth of orbit, 233
    length of tail, 227
    predicted recurrences by discoverer of, 226, 230
    recent appearance of, 226, 230, 236
    significance of date of return, 228, 229
    superstition and consternation caused by, 230, 231
    William the Conqueror’s “star,” identical with, 231
  important, various, 227
  Milton’s reference in _Paradise Lost_ to, 228, 229
  periodic and wandering, distinction between, 233, 234
  photographs obtained at Royal Observatory, Greenwich, of new, 225, 226
  shooting stars and, connection between, 235, 236
  signification of name, 227
  superstitions with regard to, 229

Corrèze skull, 371

Cromagnards, designation of Reindeer men as, reason for, 390

Cuba, measures adopted for prevention of yellow fever and malaria in, 2, 3

Darwin Centenary Celebration at Cambridge, 18, 33, 38

Darwin, Charles—
  comparison between theories of Lamarck and, 19, 20
  connection with University of Cambridge, 36
  establishment of “natural selection” theory, 34
  extent of time spent in experiments and observations, 18-19, 22-23
  friendly relations between Wallace and, 13, 37
  geological discoveries of, 24
  Henslow’s influence upon, 36
  “Natural selection” theory explained, 27-29
  study of disease influenced by discoveries and research of, 39, 40

_Darwinism_ (Wallace), 15, 16 (quotation)

Death-rate, diminished, reasons accountable for, 284, 285
  health of locality determined by, 283
  records of, methods of keeping, 283, 284

Death-watch beetle, 351, 352

De Lastic, Vicomte, carvings from caves in collection of, 79

Dewar, Sir James, experiments of, 183

Divers, Mediterranean, suggested inhalation of pure oxygen gas by, 261

Diving, Fleuss apparatus, diluted oxygen supply to, 263-265

Donati’s comet, 227

Dragon, heraldic, description of, 114, 115

Dragons, classification of, by heralds, 120
  conventional, probable sources of, 126
  probable origin, 121-123
  snakes and, connection between, 120-123
  tradition of, reasons for discrediting suggested, 118-120

Drugs, individual variability (idiosyncrasy) with regard to, 102

Eau-de-Cologne, volatile oils from aromatic plants of Riviera used
                                                  in manufacturing, 47

“Eel-fare,” term for annual “running up” of young eels, 67, 70, 73, 75

Eel-fisheries, regulation and encouragement by Danish Government of inland, 65
  German Government of inland, 65, 66

Eels, age of, knowledge resulting from power of telling, 69
    shown by scales, 69
  common, period when change from “yellow” to “silver” takes place in, 67, 69, 70
    reproduction, migrations and habits of, 66-67, 69-76
  “leptocephalus-young-phase” or tadpole of, 71-73, 75
  migrations of, geological changes as affecting, 74
  Petersen’s researches with regard to “silver,” 68, 69
  popularity of, abroad, 65, 66
  rare occurrence of, in river Danube, 74, 75

“Elvers,” term for young eels, 66, 67, 70, 71, 73, 75, 76

Europe, iron, stone, and bronze ages of, 375-377

Evelyn, diary of, 229 (quotations)

Feeble-minded, distinctions between lunatics and, 274-276
  laws relating to lunatics and, need for improvement in, 275
  necessity for state guardianship of, 276-278

Feeble-minded children, 278

Feeble-mindedness, atavism suggested cause of, 274
  hereditary transmission of, 277
  occurrence of cases in all classes of community, 276
  views of Government Commission on origin of, 281

Festivals, Christmas, origin of children’s customs associated with, 361-362
  English Christmas, introduction of turkey in connection with, 358
    origin of heavy feeding at, 357
    prehistoric and barbaric customs in connection with, 356-357

Fever, yellow, comparative death-rate from, in Panama Canal zone, 2-4
  measures adopted in Cuba and Panama for prevention of, 2, 3

Fish, shell-fish and, individual susceptibility to poison from, 102, 103

Fishes, age of, method of telling, 69
  poisonous, 103
  poison-spines of, 107, 111

Fixed stars, 221

Flack, Mr. Martin, experiments of, with regard to oxygen gas, 260

Fleuss apparatus, 263-265

Flowers, perfumes discharged into the air by, various effects of, 105, 106

France, cultivation of purple variety of poppy in, 364

French archæologists, leading discoveries with regard to prehistoric
                                                 man made by, 371, 372

Frogs, common, eggs of, 209, 212
    growth from the egg, 213-215
  English species, 216
  European species, 216, 219
  green tree-frog of Riviera, 49, 50, 52, 55
  method of catching prey, 219

Furniture worm, 351, 352

  oxygen, action of ordinary, 259
    experiments as to possible use by athletes, 260-263
    Fleuss diving apparatus and diluted supply of, 263-265
  ozone, destructive powers of, 253
    discoveries of Andrews and Tait with regard to, 252
    experiments of Schönbein with regard to, 251, 252
    methods of producing, 252, 253, 258
    nature of, 252
    proportion of, to fresh country or sea-coast air, 253
    result of experiments with regard to, 259
    signification of name, 252
    therapeutic value and uses of, 258, 259
    use in water-purification, 256, 258

Geology, Darwin’s discoveries in, 24
  table showing history of man in Western Europe, 384 _bis_

Germany, custom of eating preserves with meat in, prevalent, 358
  predominance of scientific knowledge in, 8

Gnats, _Anopheles_, malaria germ carried by, 3
  _Stegomyia_, yellow fever germs carried by, 2, 3

Gorgas, Colonel, work of, in connection with yellow fever and malaria, 2-5

“Gossamer,” origin of term, 289

Grassi, discovery of the history of the eel by, 70-72

Green-flies, 322

Green tree-frog, 49, 50

Griffin, heraldic, 116

Guinea-pig, native home and original introduction of, 360, 361
  various names given to, 360, 361

Halley, Edmund, astronomical discoveries of, 226
  date of death, 230
  foundation of Royal Society Club by, 230
  law of movement of comets discovered by, 226, 230
  Milton and, scholars of St. Paul’s School, 228, 229
  Newton and, friendship of, 230

Halley’s comet, 226, 230

Hansen, leprosy-bacillus discovered by, 240

Hay fever, individual susceptibility to, 102, 104, 105
  probable cause, 105
  similarity between vegetable poisonings and, 105

Heart, action of nervous system upon, in man and higher animals, 151
  muscular contraction, cause of, 150, 151
  rate of beat in higher and lower animals, 152-154
    in human species, 151, 152
  significance of its beat, 147, 148
  valves, action of, 149

Hedge-sparrow, 267

Henslow, Professor, Darwin as influenced by, 36

Herschel, Sir John, definition of word “species” by, 14, 15

Hertwig, Professor, German representative at Darwin Centenary Celebration, 33

Hill, Dr. Leonard, experiments of, with regard to use of oxygen gas, 260-265

Hipparion horse, 84, 85, 86

Hippopotamus age, 380, 386

Histology, origin of, 176

Hook, Robert, _Micrographia_ by, 173, 288, 289

Hooker, Sir Joseph, Darwin and Wallace papers communicated to
                                            Linnean Society by, 12, 13

Hop-blight, causes of, 317-319
  prevention of, 318, 319

Hop-louse, 317

Hops, brewing industry as affecting growers of, 321
  cultivation of, 315-316
  curing of, 320
  English growers as affected by American and German hop-plantations, 320, 321
  uses made of, 315

Horses, absence from American continent in fifteenth century of
                                         living asses, zebras, and, 89
  ancestral, change in size and proportions of, 84, 85
    lower Tertiary Hyracotherium, 84
    middle Tertiary, 84
    “pre-orbital cup” in Hipparion, 85, 86
    upper Tertiary Hipparion, 84-86
  ancestry of, scientific points of interest with regard to, 83-90
  descent from Arab ancestry evidenced by presence of “pre-orbital cup” in, 86
  English thoroughbred, history and ancestors of, 82, 90
  “Ergot” of, 89
  European, stock from which derived, 77-78
  fossil remains of extinct, in North and South America, 89, 90
  mark of difference between asses, zebras, and, 87, 88
  mastery and muzzling of, by ancient cave-dwellers, 80, 81
  Mongolian wild, absence of “pre-orbital cup” in, 86
    derivation of European horses from, 77-78
    description of, 78
  prehistoric European, verified by ancient carvings found in caves, 79-81
  selective breeding of, from time of cave-men onward, 82, 83
  Southern or Arabian breeds of, presence of “pre-orbital cup” in, 86, 87

House-sparrows, 266

Huxley, Professor, calculation of, with regard to fecundity of plant-lice, 338

Hydra, heraldic, derivation of, 116

Hyracotherium horse, 84

India, practice of opium eating in, 366

Infants, blindness of, congenital, 272
  mortality of, varied congenital defects causing, 272

Insects, association of, with plants, 296
  colour-protection and invisibility of, 304-312
  destructive invasions made by various, 339-345
  jumping bean as exemplifying association of plants and, 297, 298-300, 302
  parthenogenetic powers possessed by certain, 331, 332
  poisonous, methods of self-protection used by, 101, 102
    various weapons of, 111
  “silver-fish,” depredations of, 351
  skin burrowing, 112, 113
  wood-boring, 346-354

Jelly-fishes, common, description of, 58
  fresh-water, discovery of African, 61, 62
    Chinese, 63
    Philadelphian, 63, 64
    Regent’s Park, 59, 60
    reproduction of, 60, 61
  poison-bearing threads of sea-anemones and, 110

Jumping bean, Mexican, caterpillar contained in, 229, 300, 302
  movements of, 298, 299, 302
  plant from which derived, 301, 302
  relationship of insect and plant exemplified in, 297, 298-300, 302

Kew Gardens, beauty and interest of, 302, 303
  specimens of _Rhus toxicodendron_ at, 93, 94

Koch (Berlin), cholera-bacillus discovered by, 240
  tubercle-bacillus discovered by, 240

Ladybird, 325

Lamarck, inferiority of scientific methods, as compared with Darwin, 19-22, 26
  _Philosophical Zoology_ by, 20

Lankester, Sir Ray, address by, Darwin Centenary Celebration at Cambridge, 33-37

Leprosy, bacillus of, discovery by Hansen, 240

“Leptocephali,” discovery of, 70-72

Life, protoplasm the seat of, 182-184, 328
  Herbert Spencer’s definition of, 183, 184

Light, rate at which it travels, 221

Locusts, winged serpents and, probable connection between, 124-125

Lunatics, distinctions between feeble-minded and, 274-276
  laws relating to feeble-minded and, need for improvement in, 275

Lyell, Sir Charles, Darwin and Wallace papers communicated to
                                            Linnean Society by, 12, 13

Malaria, comparative death-rate from, in Panama Canal zone, 2-4
  measures adopted in Cuba and Panama for prevention of, 2, 3

Mammoth age, 380, 386

Man, sleep of, compared with repose or quiescence of other living things, 159-161

Mankind, congenital defects in, causes of, 273

Mental defect, 274

Metchnikoff, Professor, discoveries with regard to use and value
                                                   of “phagocytes,” 39
  experiment by, in connection with cholera-bacillus, 241
  experiments and investigations of, for prevention of
                                                “senile change,” 40-43
  influence of Darwin’s discoveries upon study of disease by, 39, 40
  researches of, with regard to microbian flora of localities, 249
  Russian and French representative at Darwin Centenary Celebration, 33, 38
  Tolstoi’s meeting with, 43, 44
  use of sour milk prepared with lactic ferment introduced by, 41, 42

_Micrographia_ (Hook), 173, 289

Microscopes, improvements in, 173, 176-178

Milton, celebration of tercentenary of birth, Halley’s comet in relation to, 228
  Halley and, scholars of St. Paul’s School, 228, 229

Mistletoe, pre-historic rites associated with, 362

Mollusca, animals classed as, and definition of word, 129

Molluscs, protection of young, 137-139, 144, 146

Mongolian wild horses, 86

Morley, Lord, installation of, as Chancellor of Manchester University, 6

Morphia, product of opium poppy, 363

Moths, British species allied to Mexican “jumper,” 300, 301
  clothes, mischief effected by caterpillar of, 341-343
    movable case made by caterpillar of, 341-343
    propagation of, 341
    various species of, 343-345
  Mexican “jumper,” 300, 301
  silk threads produced by caterpillars of certain, 293

Mountain-climbing, use of oxygen gas in, suggested, 263

Moustierian period, definition of, 384, 385, 408
  skulls and skeletons found in cave-deposits allotted to, 371, 385,
                                                     393-395, 406, 408

Mussels, pond and river, propagation of, 144, 145
  protection of young, 144

Mycenæ, discovery of, by Schliemann, 16

Neander men, comparison between skulls of Australian aborigines and, 396, 397
  inferiority of, as compared with Cromagnards, 390
  reasons for recognition of, as distinct and primitive species, 371,
                                                  385, 390, 402-403, 407

Neolithic Period, civilisation comprised in, 377-378, 380
  definition of, 377

Nettles, poisonous stinging hairs of, 103, 104

Newton, Sir Isaac, discovery of law of gravitation, 230
  Halley and, friendship of, 230

Opium, derivation of word, 364
  eating, practice in India of, 366
  medicinal value of, 368
  poppy used for manufacture of, 363, 364
  smoking, introduction by Chinese of, 366-367

Osborne, Professor, United States representative at Darwin
                                             Centenary Celebration, 33

Oxygen gas, 259

Oysters, care of breeding, methods adopted for, 141
  classification of, 129
  common, protection of young, 134, 144
  destruction of typhoid germs in, 128, 129
  French “green,” 141, 142
  gill-plates or “beard,” 131
  growth and maturity of, 134, 136
  heart and blood-vessels, 132
  lake, cultivation by ancient Romans, 140, 141
  nervous system, 132
  primeval man and, 139
  propagation of American and Portuguese species, 137, 143, 144
    common or North Sea and Channel species, 132-137, 143
  structure and nature of, 129-137

Ozone gas, 251

Palæolithic period, definition of, 377
  period of chipped flints, primitive arts and surroundings of, 378-381

Panama, measures adopted for prevention of yellow fever and malaria in, 2, 3

Perrier, Edmond, French representative at Darwin Centenary Celebration, 39

Petersen, researches of, with regard to “silver” eels, 68, 69

Pettenkofer (Munich), experiment by, in connection with cholera-bacillus, 240

“Phagocytes,” use and importance of, 39, 179

_Philosophical Transactions_, date of first published number, 229

_Philosophical Zoology_ (Lamarck), 20

Phylloxera, 336
  injury and loss caused by, 334, 337
  introduction into Europe, 337
  parasitic nature of, 337
  propagation of, 336, 337

Piette, M., carvings from caves in collection of the late, 79, 80

Planets, changes on, probable result of, 223, 224

Plant-lice, 322

Plants, American, poisonous stinging hairs possessed by certain, 104
  association of, with insects, 296
  jumping bean as exemplifying association of insects and, 297, 298-300, 302
  movements of, definite and varied, 160, 161
  poisonous, special chemical substances produced from, 100
  use of, in manufacture of Eau-de-Cologne, 100, 101

Plasmogen, formation of, 190-192

Pleistocene period, discovery of remains belonging to, 383, 385, 386
  skeletons, found in caverns of Mentone, 398-399
  epochs, table of, 384 _bis_

Pliocene period, discovery of remains belonging to, 386, 388
  distinctions between Pleistocene and, 386-387

Poisonous animals, 101
  fish, 103
  insects, 102
  plants, 92, 100, 104

Poisons, distinctions between gut-poisons and wound-poisons, 106-107
  immunity from wound-poisons, method of producing, 107, 108

Poppies, cultivated variety from which opium manufactured, 363
  cultivation of, in remote ages, 364, 365
  earliest cultivation of, for oil, 363, 364
  English varieties of, 363
  opium, introduction from Europe into Far East of, 363-365
  origin of medicinal uses of, 364, 365

Population, increased, due to higher birth-rate amongst
                                         poorer classes, 279, 285, 286

Post-Tertiaries (or Quaternary), gravel and cave-deposits termed, 83

Proteids, building up of, in plants, 204, 205
  cell-protoplasm consisting of, 189, 190
  chemical composition of, 188, 189

“Proteus,” definition of term as applied to unicellular animals, 193, 194

Protoplasm, chemical elements contained in, 187
  death caused by destruction of, 183-185
  active life of, 182-184, 328
  explanation of term, 170-172, 328

Quaternary (Post-Tertiaries), 384 _bis_

Reindeer age, 384 _bis_

Reindeer men (or Cromagnards), artistic work of, 383, 390, 391, 393
  brain cavity of, comparable with modern European, 388, 390
  customs of, 391, 393
  skulls and skeletons of, found in cave-deposits, 391, 393

_Rhus toxicodendron_, American poison-vine or, poisonous nature of, 92
  case of poisoning by, recorded in _The Spectator_, 96
  differences and resemblances between Virginian creeper, Veitchii, and, 93
  individual susceptibility to poison of, 94, 96, 102
  painful malady produced in certain persons by poison of, 91, 92
  recognition in United States and Japan of danger of, 92, 98
  results of examination in laboratory at University of
                                   Harvard (Mass.), with regard to, 94
  similarity between poisonous properties of Chinese primrose and, 104
  specimens at Kew Gardens, 93, 94
  use in Japan, 92

Riviera, cultivated trees and plants of, 47-49
  flowers for sale, cultivated in, 56, 57
  green tree-frog of, 49, 50, 52, 55
  meteorological conditions of, 46
  primitive vegetation of, 46, 47
  tree-frog, blue variety of, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56
  vegetation of, influence of man upon, 57

Salamanders, European species, various, 218
  Mexican, various species of, 215, 216

Sanitation, active development in Great Britain, cholera panic as affecting, 239

Schliemann, discovery of Troy and Mycenæ by, 16

Schönbein, experiments of, with regard to ozone, 251, 252

Schwann, Professor, “cell theory” of, explained, 174-176

Science, discoveries in, satisfaction experienced by those making, 1
  sensibility to art compatible with capacity for, 44
  state officials’ opposition to, 286
  value and importance of, 7, 8

Scorpions, poison of, experiments with regard to, 108-110

Sea-anemones, poison-bearing threads of jelly-fishes and, 110

Serpents, winged, probable connection between locusts and, 124-125
  worship and propitiation of, 122-123

Shell-fish, poison-glands of, 111
  boring in stone, 347, 348

Siebe, Gorman and Co., perfected diving dress constructed by, 265

“Silver-fish” book-worm. See Insects

Skulls, ancient and modern, comparison between, 410
  comparison between, of various periods, 393-401
  Corrèze, comparison between Neanderthal and, 403-406
    discovery of, 371, 374, 390, 402
    restoration of, 410-411
  European, compared with Neanderthal and Corrèze, 406

Sleep, alternation of night and day in its bearing upon periodic, 157-158,
                                                               159, 167, 168
  animals’ winter, 165, 166
  artists’ varied portrayal of, 156, 157
  definition of term, varied, 157-161
  irregularities and abnormal manifestations of, 164-166
  length and duration of, conditions affecting, 166-167
  man’s, compared with repose or quiescence of other living things, 159-161
  salient feature connected with, 161-164
  Shakespeare on, 155, 156 (quotations)

Snails, whelks and propagation of, 137, 138
  protection of young, 137, 138

Snakes, dragons and, connection between, 120-123
  winged serpents, and probable origin of, 121-125

Solar system, comparative distance from “fixed stars,” 221-222

Sound, rate at which it travels, 221

  hedge and house, distinction between, 267
    differences between, 266-268
    cuckoo eggs laid in nests of, 266, 267
    use to agriculturists, 267
  house and tree, close connection between, 268
    harm done by, 267, 268
    hidden or latent capacity in, 268
    probable effects of destroying, 268
    various species related to, 268

_Spectator, The_, case of poisoning by _Rhus toxicodendron_ recorded in, 96

Spiders, garden, use made by astronomers of thread of, 262, 263
  gossamer threads of minute autumn, 287-289
  spinnerets of, 289-291
  threads produced by, various uses made of, 289-292
  various species of, 289

Spurges (_Euphorbiaceæ_), various species of, 301

Star-fishes, propagation of, 329-330

Stars, early superstitions with regard to, 227, 228
  fixed, comparative distance of solar system from, 221
  estimated number of, 222
  measurement of, 225
  “photographic,” estimated distance of, 223
  shape of, 231, 233
  “Vega,” position of, 224, 225

_Stegomyia_ Gnat, 2, 3

Stings, poisonous, American plants possessing, 104
    comparison between plants and animals possessing, 97, 106
    nettles and other plants provided with, 103, 104

Stone-borers, shell-fish and worm, 347-349

“Suspended animation,” examples of, 168, 169

Symbolism, legendary monsters in relation to, 125, 127

Tadpoles, food of, 211, 212
  growth and development of, 210,211
  gigantic, 218

Tait, discoveries of, with regard to ozone, 252

Tapestry, Bayeux, representation of Halley’s comet in, 231

Tertiaries, the, sand and clay deposits termed, 83

Thayer, Abbott, colour-protection and invisibility of animals
                                           as demonstrated by, 306-312

Troughton, use of spider’s lines in telescopes introduced by, 292

Tissue, explanation of term, 174

Toads, English species, 216
  European species, various, 216-219
  gigantic tadpoles of spur-heeled, 216-218
  method of catching prey, 219

Tolstoi, Metchnikoff’s meeting with, 43, 44

“Toxin,” conversion into “anti-toxin,” 102

Trees, English, derivation of various, 57

Tree-sparrows, 268

Trout, “natural selection” theory in relation to increased caution of, 269, 270

Troy, discovery of, by Schliemann, 16

Tubercle-bacillus, discovery by Koch, 240

Turkey-cock, native home and original introduction of, 358-359
  various names given to, 359

_Two on a Tower_ (Hardy), quotation from, 220

Unicorn, heraldic, origin of, 127

Universities, extension and diffusion of science by, need for, 6, 8, 9
  Oxford and Cambridge, reasons for inefficiency of, 10
  Oxford and Cambridge, result of usurpation by wealthy classes, 9, 10

Upas-tree, Java, fabled effect of, 96

“Vega,” position of our sun and planets with regard to star, 224, 225

Village population, increasing degeneracy of, 270, 278, 279

Wallace, Alfred Russel, _Darwinism_ by, 15, 16 (quotation)
  friendly relations between Darwin and, 13, 37
  theories of, 12-14, 26

Wood, protection against “worm” and “mould,” methods advocated for, 354, 355
  “worm-eaten,” production of, 349

Wood-borers, animal, 346-347
  death-watch beetle, 351-352
  furniture beetle, 348-350

Worms, stone-boring, 347-349

Wyvern, heraldic, 116

Yellow fever, 2-4

       _Printed by_

       *       *       *       *       *



General Literature                                                     2
  Ancient Cities                                                      15
  Antiquary’s Books                                                   15
  Arden Shakespeare                                                   15
  Classics of Art                                                     16
  “Complete” Series                                                   16
  Connoisseur’s Library                                               16
  Handbooks of English Church History                                 17
  Illustrated Pocket Library of Plain and Coloured Books              17
  Leaders of Religion                                                 18
  Library of Devotion                                                 18
  Little Books on Art                                                 19
  Little Galleries                                                    19
  Little Guides                                                       19
  Little Library                                                      20
  Little Quarto Shakespeare                                           21
  Miniature Library                                                   21
  New Library of Medicine                                             21
  New Library of Music                                                22
  Oxford Biographies                                                  22
  Romantic History                                                    22
  Handbooks of Theology                                               22
  Westminster Commentaries                                            23

Fiction                                                               23
  Books for Boys and Girls                                            28
  Novels of Alexandre Dumas                                           29
  Methuen’s Sixpenny Books                                            29



In this Catalogue the order is according to authors. An asterisk denotes
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=Baring-Gould (S).= FURZE BLOOM.














=Barr (Robert).= JENNIE BAXTER.




=Benson (E. F.).= DODO.


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=Brownell (C. L.).= THE HEART OF JAPAN.

=Burton (J. Bloundelle).= ACROSS THE SALT SEAS.

=Caffyn (Mrs.).= ANNE MAULEVERER.

=Capes (Bernard).= THE LAKE OF WINE.

=Clifford (Mrs. W. K.).= A FLASH OF SUMMER.



=Croker (Mrs. B. M.).= ANGEL.




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=Eliot (George).= THE MILL ON THE FLOSS.


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=Gaskell (Mrs.).= CRANFORD.



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=Hornung (E. W.).= DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES.

=Ingraham (J. H.).= THE THRONE OF DAVID.


=Levett-Yeats (S. K.).= THE TRAITOR’S WAY.



=Lyall (Edna).= DERRICK VAUGHAN.

=Malet (Lucas).= THE CARISSIMA.


=Mann (Mrs. M. E.).= MRS. PETER HOWARD.






=Marchmont (A. W.).= MISER HOADLEY’S SECRET.


=Marryat (Captain).= PETER SIMPLE.


=March (Richard).= A METAMORPHOSIS.




=Mason (A. E. W.).= CLEMENTINA.

=Mathers (Helen).= HONEY.




=Meade (Mrs. L. T.).= DRIFT.

=Miller (Esther).= LIVING LIES.

=Mitford (Bertram).= THE SIGN OF THE SPIDER.

=Montresor (F. F.).= THE ALIEN.

=Morrison (Arthur).= THE HOLE IN THE WALL.

=Nesbit (E.).= THE RED HOUSE.

=Norris (W. E.).= HIS GRACE.






=Oliphant (Mrs.).= THE LADY’S WALK.




=Oppenheim (E. P.).= MASTER OF MEN.






=Phillpotts (Eden).= THE HUMAN BOY.




=‘Q’ (A. T. Quiller Couch).= THE WHITE WOLF.

=Ridge (W. Pett).= A SON OF THE STATE.




=Russell (W. Clark).= ABANDONED.




=Sergeant (Adeline).= THE MASTER OF BEECHWOOD.




=Sidgwick (Mrs. Alfred).= THE KINSMAN.

=Surtees (R. S.).= HANDLEY CROSS.



=Walford (Mrs. L. B.).= MR. SMITH.




=Wallace (General Lew).= BEN-HUR.


=Watson (H. B. Marriott).= THE ADVENTURERS.


=Weekes (A. B.).= PRISONERS OF WAR.

=Wells (H. G.).= THE SEA LADY.



       *       *       *       *       *

[Transcriber’s Note: the following changes have been made to this text.

Page 69—added missing word “to”: “from five to seven”

Page 101—“form” changed to “from”: “drop them from its”

Fig. 33 caption—“arius” changed to “anus”: “and the anus,”

Page 166—“disburb” changed to “disturb”: “to disturb him”

Page 188—“hyrodgen” changed to “hydrogen”: “twelve atoms of hydrogen”

Page 197—“microsope” changed to “microscope”: “under our microscope”

Page 234—“Herschell” changed to “Herschel”: “Herschel declared that”

Fig. 65 caption—“Fig. 64” changed to “Fig. 65”: “Fig. 65 gives the actual”

Page 379—“Arriège” changed to “Ariège”: “Mas d’Azil (Ariège)”

Page 391—“Predmont” changed to “Predmost”: “as at Predmost”

Page 394—“Predmort” changed to “Predmost”: “found at Predmost”

Page 423—“Throughton” changed to “Troughton”: “Troughton, use of spider’s lines”]

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