Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/34

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

other multitudinous deaths caused by scarcity of food, which, if not wholly, still in large measure, carries off good and bad alike. Among low types, too, enemies are causes of death which so operate that superior as well as inferior are sacrificed. And the like holds with invasions by parasites, often widely fatal. These attack, and frequently destroy, the most perfect individuals as readily as the least perfect.

The high rate of multiplication required to balance the immense mortality among low animals, at once shows us that among them long survival is not insured by superiority; and that thus the subhuman justice, which consists in continued receipt of the results of conduct, holds individually in but few cases.

 

And here we come upon a truth of great significance—the truth that sub-human justice becomes more decided as organization becomes higher.

Whether this or that fly is taken by a swallow, whether among a brood of caterpillars an ichneumon settles on this or that, whether out of a shoal of herrings this or that is swallowed by a cetacean, is an event quite independent of individual peculiarity: good and bad samples fare alike. With high types of creatures it is otherwise. Keen senses, sagacity, agility, give a particular carnivore special power to secure prey. In a herd of herbivorous creatures, the one with quickest hearing, clearest vision, most sensitive nostril, or greatest speed, is the one most likely to save itself.

Evidently, in proportion as the endowments, mental and bodily, of a species are high, and as, consequently, its ability to deal with the incidents of the environment is great, the continued life of each individual is less dependent on accidents against which it can not guard. And, evidently, in proportion as this result of general superiority becomes marked, the results of special superiorities are felt. Individual differences of faculty play larger parts in determining individual fates. Now deficiency of a power shortens life, and now a large endowment prolongs it. That is to say, individuals experience more fully the results of their own natures—the justice is more decided.

 

With creatures which lead solitary lives, the nature of subhuman justice is thus sufficiently expressed; but on passing to gregarious creatures, there enters into it a new element.

Simple association, as of sheep or deer, profits the individual and the species only by that more efficient safeguarding which results from the superiority of a multitude of eyes, ears, and noses over the eyes, ears, and nose of a single individual. Through the alarms more quickly given, all benefit by the senses of the most acute. Where this, which we may call passive co-operation, rises