The Zoologist/4th series, vol 4 (1900)/Issue 705/Biological Suggestions. Mimicry, Distant

Biological Suggestions. Mimicry (1900)
by William Lucas Distant
3303446Biological Suggestions. Mimicry1900William Lucas Distant


By W.L. Distant.

(Concluded from vol. iii. p. 553.)

Active mimicry naturally predicates intelligence, and is not equivalent to what is generally described as instinct,[1] so universally applied to any other animal than man. Prof. Lloyd Morgan remarks on the many who believe that instinct is neither more nor less than inherited habit, but concludes that, "while still believing that there is some connection between habit and instinct, admit that the connection is indirect and permissive rather than direct and transmissive."[2] Every attempt is made to minimise this faculty. In birds, Mr. Orr has warned us not to overrate the intelligence implied by nest-building "of an animal which has not sufficient intelligence to loosen a slip-knot tied around its leg."[3] But man himself has very slowly and laboriously acquired—and has not yet altogether the desire to possess—the intelligence to loosen the artificial slip-knots that bind him to many errors and much superstition. If, however, some would minimise animal intelligence, there are others who maintain the purposive acts of plants. Thus Mr. Grant Allen, in describing the wonderful life-history of the common gorse, and allowing that "the intelligence is here no doubt unconscious and inherited," still remarks: "Gorse, in short, may fairly be called a clever and successful plant, just as the Bee may be called a clever and successful insect, because it works out its own way through life with such conspicuous wisdom."[4] The same spirit runs throughout Dr. J.E. Taylor's 'Sagacity and Morality of Plants.'

Animal intelligence has been opposed by two great factors—the philosophy of Descartes[5] and theological dogma. The first is clearly intelligible and ably stated; the second is more of an implication, but both are based on the belief of man's special immortality; and, although divines are found[6] who are willing to extend the promise of a future life to the whole animal kingdom, and have discovered texts to advocate that view, the Hebrew Scriptures can scarcely be said to strongly support it. Even the poor untutored Todas of India, who are alone valued as an ethnological study, have at least a kinder and more sympathetic heart for their cattle. The sum of their belief is, that they were born—they and their cattle somehow rose out of the earth. When they die they go to Amnôr (the next world), which is a world exactly like this, whither their Buffaloes join them, to supply milk as in this state.[7] Sir Herbert Maxwell, in discussing our obligations to wild animals, states, as a "remarkable and perplexing fact, that neither the chosen people nor Christians are bound by their religion to pay the slightest regard to the feelings of animals. . . . There is not a word about mercy towards dumb animals in the Sermon on the Mount; not a word in all the writings of the Fathers (so far as known to me); not a word, apparently, from all the teachers of Christianity until we reach the dawn of rationalism in the eighteenth century, when an English country clergyman—the Rev. Mr. Grainger—scandalized his congregation and jeopardized his reputation for orthodoxy by preaching the duty of humane treatment of beasts and birds."[8] But if evolution is not a farce, and man has been derived from more lowly ancestors, then the possession of a soul—using the term in the ordinary signification as taught to ordinary people—must imply either its existence in the whole animal world, or its gradual evolution[9] with the specialization of type, both of which premises are outside scientific reasoning, and therefore quite beyond the cognizance of plain folk. To deny conscious intelligence is a corollary to denying immortality to animals, and it is often the desire to monopolise the last that so frequently ensures the denial of the first.[10] The writer of 'Ecclesiastes' had nursed the thought—"Who knoweth the spirit of man whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast whether it goeth downward to the earth."

That animal intelligence is sufficient to prove much mimicry of an active and not of a merely passive character, is abundantly advocated by facts. That an insect or bird should seek and obtain concealment by its own volition, and by a sense of adaptation in bringing into juxtaposition its own peculiarly-coloured body with some material object with which it closely assimilates, is an exemplification of intellect, though inferior to that shown in the general psychology of Bees, Wasps, and Ants. In Birds it would rank lower than the acquired and more complicated knowledge of the African Honey-bird, which is able to associate the appearance of Man with that of a honey-seeking creature, and to lure and lead him to the nest of the Bee, in order that his assistance and strength may wreck the nest and leave the bird what it requires in the débris that remains after the auxiliary's wants are satisfied. "A Green Frog will with predilection rest on green leaves. The advantages of concealment are obvious, and in this case he 'adapts himself' to the surroundings by making for green localities; if he did not he would be eaten up sooner than his more circumspect comrades. But this making for, and sitting in, the green has has not necessarily made him of that colour."[11] As Dr. Reid forcibly enquires, "By what term shall we designate the action of the Spider when he builds his web? Does the animal not know for what purpose he constructs it? Was there ever a web-building in which there were not circumstances novel alike to the experience of the individual and to that of the species? Or, when he runs along a thread to capture his prey, or cuts loose a dangerous captive, does he not consciously adapt means to ends, just as much as a man who runs to secure a snared bird, or who builds a 'golden bridge' for a flying enemy?"[12] What angler does not know the greater difficulty in filling a basket from a stream much fished, than from one little visited by anglers, and how the greater skill required is not an incident of fewer fish, but of the greater caution acquired by the same? The Marquess of Granby truly observes: "Of course, at the date when Canon Kingsley went a-fishing, Trout were easy to catch compared with what they are now, at any rate in the best known English rivers." .... "Trout, being very much fished over," in many cases from over-weed-cutting, &c, "are highly educated and more difficult to kill than ever they were before."[13] A recent writer has illustrated this fact. Mr. Basil Field, describing his experience in fly-fishing, states:— "If a fly be cast in one of Mr. Andrew's stock-ponds at Guildford, there is a rush and fight for it among all the Trout within whose range of vision it falls. If it be cast again a few minutes after a Trout has been caught and returned to the water, two or three fish only will compete for it. Repeat the process, and perhaps one may come, slowly, shyly, and in a half-hearted manner. But when several have been taken and returned—although the pond is large and crowded with fish—cast the fly where you will, the Trout are shy, suspicious, and hard to catch."[14] Prof. Mcintosh, with reference to the absence of the cortex of the brain in fishes, observes, "Who has proved that the function of memory depends on the brain-cortex of the human subject? I have seen many a curious case in the pathological room, the history of which would not have have led us to this conclusion."[15] According to Livingstone, the Hippopotamuses in the rivers of Londa, where they are much in danger of being shot, gain wit by experience; for while those in the Zambesi put up their heads openly to blow, those referred to keep their noses among water-plants, and breathe so quietly that one would not dream of their existence in the river, except by footprints on the banks."[16] In the Leeba, Crocodiles possess more of the fear of man than in the Leeambye. The Balonda have taught them by their poisoned arrows to keep out of sight. "We did not see one basking in the sun."[17] Nansen remarks:—"Curiously enough, one can, as a rule, get nearer to the Seal with the larger vessel than with the boats. They have learned to fear the latter, and often take to the water quite out of range, while one can sometimes bring the ship right up to the floe on which they lie before they decamp."[18] On the solitary St. Paul's Rocks, situated between the equatorial coasts of Africa and South America, Sir C. Wyville Thomson, at the visit of the 'Challenger,' writes: "In the morning both the Booby and the Noddy were quite tame, but towards afternoon even these few hours' contact with humanity had rendered them more wary, and it was now no longer possible to knock them down with sticks or stones."[19] Semon had a similar experience in Queensland. "On removing my camp to new hunting-grounds, I used to have no difficulty during the first days in stealing up to the water-birds so as to get within shooting range. In an incredibly short time, however, they became shy, and then they were by no means inferior to their European relations in prudence and caution."[20] Sir Joseph Banks, when in New South Wales with Capt. Cook, found most of the birds "extremely shy, so that it was with difficulty that we shot any of them."[21] The few travellers who have had the great good fortune to visit a little known and unfrequented island have told us what small fear other animals have for their colleague Man, till they have experienced his destructive propensities, and then how quickly reserve, shyness, caution, and fear rapidly become dominant factors in a hitherto peaceful existence.

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, especially among birds. According to Mr. Macpherson, the tameness of the Ortolan Bunting as observed by him in Spain "is almost ludicrous. So little do they apprehend injury, that they will allow visitors to lie on the grass while they forage round for earthworms."[22] The writer's own experience in the Transvaal is precisely similar with respect to the Pied Babbling-Thrush (Crateropus bicolor). If I lay down at the edge of bush and kept quiet, these birds would not only come close to me, but remain there. Again, Curlews and Golden Pheasants are wild in whatever part of the world they are found, even where the report of a gun has never been heard.[23] According to Dr. Leith Adams, in Canada "the Purple Swallow has now such a predilection for man's society, on account of the preponderance of insect life which invariably surrounds him wherever he goes, that he has only to construct a small cot with several chambers, and place it on a pole at the door of any solitary shanty in the wild wilderness, when year after year, with the certainty of the seasons, it will be tenanted by these birds in preference to any other situation."[24] The sound of firearms does not at first universally create terror in birds. D'Albertis relates that, when "fishing with dynamite," "an Haliastur sphenurus, with its female, and a young one already able to fly, were perched on the branch of a tree, interested at this novel method of fishing, and not in the least alarmed by the detonation. When I had finished, the male and female picked up the little fishes which I left, and took them to their young one."[25] Eimer, when staying in the Dutch island of Rottum, in West Friesland, found the Water-Rail (Rallus aquaticus), "which is usually so shy, ran about close to me in the ditches so fearlessly that I could almost have caught it with my hands. This island is let by the Dutch Government to an egg-bailiff, whose duty consists in collecting birds' eggs, and therefore no bird is allowed to be hunted there; it is especially forbidden to shoot at them."[26]

On the other hand, wild animals have chosen to seek the protection of man when pursued by their enemies. The African traveller Anderson once had a Blesbok take refuge at his camp-fire when pursued by Wild Dogs. He also states:—"I have known small birds fly to my waggon and into it, on several occasions, when pursued by Hawks."[27] Andrew Steedman once witnessed a herd of Gnus pursued by a Lion. "The affrighted animals seemed to seek the vicinity of our waggon as a protection from their formidable enemy."[28] A lady, describing a great grass and forest fire which took place in South Africa in February, 1869, writes: "The poor Hares and Wild Bucks came to the houses for protection from the flames."[29] Another narrator elsewhere states: "Wild Bucks from the surrounding bush came and crouched about, terror-stricken, and one, half scorched to death, took refuge on the stoop of the building."[30] Col. Ward, describing the "hawking" of Jackdaws in the Peshawur Valley, says that a Jackdaw, when closely pressed, "would make straight for the nearest human beings he saw, fly round the men, under the horses' girths, into a dog-cart or buggy, if there was one, and do his utmost to dodge his pursuer, often causing a regular stampede among the horses, for they could not at all understand the two birds flying about among them in this way."[31] According to the Comte de Canteleu, Stags nearly always make for the abodes of men when they are sinking.[32]

On the other hand, "the Cattle-Heron (Ardea russata), in Egypt, when fleeing before the sportsman, shelters itself under the Oxen and Buffaloes, because it knows that it is there protected from his gun."[33] Bonitos and Albicores may be often observed to congregate about the stern of a ship to escape the attacks of Sword-fish.[34]

Audubon relates that in the Missouri region of North America, while a number of Indian chiefs were conferring with, and angrily talking to, Mr. Chardon, "he sitting with his arms on a table between them, a Dove, being pursued by a Hawk, flew in through the open door, and sat panting and worn out on Mr. Chardon's arm for more than a minute, when it flew off."[35] Baldwin saw a broken-winged Golden-Goose chased by three Crocodiles. Eventually the bird took to the bank, and the poor thing "allowed me to catch him on land sooner than face his enemies in the water again."[36]

To fully understand mimicry we must appreciate general animal intelligence, and then we shall probably comprehend how much activity has been displayed by animals seeking protection by adaptive and assimilative efforts. This in no way contradicts, but supports, the doctrine of Natural Selection. The animal survives that can best hide from its enemies,[37] and this implies that the variations that tend to adaptive and assimilative efforts not only succeed in the battle of life, but by the selective process become dominant, and more and more accentuated with a greater need. Mimicry in the lower animals finds its equivalent in what is described as "tact" among men. Few possess it strongly, many slightly, and more not at all; while others in the struggle for existence depend on different means, and use more varied stratagems. Tact is often a silence which mimics the modest reticence of a learned man and thus conceals the ignorant. It appears as the bluster of the psychological moment when the coward receives an immunity from his protective resemblance to the brave; the rogue often succeeds by mimicking the devout; the sneak assumes the garb of frankness; the lie only triumphs when it simulates the truth.[38] On the other hand, we must not overvalue the efficacy of all these attempted concealments. They are not all successful,—nothing is, absolutely,—but are still means to an end. We are too apt to consider a disguise perfect because we have only accidentally discovered it, while at the same time our existence does not depend upon the result of the search. An amateur or an arm-chair naturalist is speechless with wonder at the least exhibition of wood-craft, a common attribute of many agricultural labourers and gypsies. Jefferies has accurately diagnosed the sense perceptions of a young gamekeeper:—"He will decide at once, as if by a kind of instinct, where any particular bird or animal will be found at that hour." And in a similar manner, but in a greater degree, will be formed the destructive experience of the bird or mammal whose life depends upon the discovery of its prey. Mimicry makes the successful search more difficult, the accidental escape more frequent, and actual extermination by such means alone, impossible. The enemy in his close pursuit finds other prey to satisfy his hunger, like the gold prospector who in his quest may come across non-auriferous minerals which tend to assuage his financial longings; and so an average of destruction is reached, and none alone are compelled to be "confessors" to nature's inexorable rule.

It is probable that highly protected or mimicking species are only destroyed by their most acutely sense-organized enemies, and have a general immunity from the attacks of the ordinary animal pirates. We have no more reason to predicate a dead level in the intelligence of a single species or genus of animals than we have to believe that the same character exists in Homo sapiens himself. For in nature, pace Ecclesiastes, the race is to the swift, and the battle is to the strong, though the exceptions of "time and chance" may prove the rule. Stroll along a trout stream when anglers are at work, and notice how empty baskets reward the majority, or those who perceive not. Now observe the skilled killer of Trout, how he will detect a hidden fish under the opposite bank, and soon possess the same.[39] Knowledge of habits combined with power of eye and hand are successful, and command the intense respect of the ordinary floggers of the stream. We may possess the most accurate knowledge of whist, and play according to the strictest rules, but one of the quartette is a Napoleon in the game, he judges and acts with an instinctive finesse, and the odd trick is won. Or take the boys in a large stable who are trained to ride racehorses at exercise: how few become jockeys; to possess "hands," judgment, nerve, and a knowledge of pace is only an occasional gift of the gods. And so in nature at large; all are not masters of the game, and the mimicking species have a general immunity from attack, save from those incontestable creatures who amongst all animal life, including our own, levy their own rates, successfully collect their own tithe, and command the attention, if not always the love, of their fellows. Animal disguise and mimicry serve an ever purpose, if they do not constitute a constant end; they are often partial and exceptional, and not in result universal. Like human impostors, they are by such means frequently able to live, thrive, and perpetuate their kind. But all depends upon not being found out; there must be many Mr. Pickwicks and few Sherlock Holmes. To believe that a gradual mimicry can slowly arise by the process of natural selection which shall be anything but a very partial defence of the eatable from the eaters, is to imagine our most intelligent and civilized communities capable of being made invulnerable from the depredations of thieves and swindlers. An example is afforded by the colour of the Common Hare. Prof. Poulton makes much of this. He remarks: "It would be hardly possible to meet with a better example of protective colouring and attitude than that of the Hare as it sits motionless, exactly resembling a lump of brown earth, for which indeed it is frequently mistaken."[40] But the protection thus assumed appears to be founded on partial observation. To a casual evolutionist in search of evidence, whose knowledge of the animal is not intimate, and whose pursuit of the same is a chase not sharpened by necessity, the Hare affords illustrative importance. But let a sportsman, a poacher, or a farmer speak on the subject, and the whole conclusion vanishes. Jefferies may at least be quoted as a good and careful observer:—"It is not easy to distinguish a Hare when crouching in a ploughed field, his colour harmonises so well with the clods, so that an unpractised eye generally fails to note him. An old hand with the gun cannot pass a field without involuntarily glancing along the furrows made by the plough, to see if their regular grooves are broken by anything hiding therein." .... "If you watch the farmers driving to market, you will see that they glance up the furrows to note the workmanship and look for game; you may tell from a distance if they espy a Hare, by the check of the rein and the extended hand pointing."[41] Though the American Hare has the colour of its pile turned grey in winter, it is still much persecuted by the Great Virginian and Snowy Owls, "which prey extensively on the animal, keeping it in a constant state of dread, especially during winter, when, in common with other rodents, it seeks to evade the stoop of rapacious birds by diving instantly headlong into the snow, thus escaping them, but ensuring destruction by man, and such animals as the Fisher-cat and Lynx, who can easily dig it out."[42] It must not be overlooked that many zoologists and evolutionists estimate the survival of the Hare as due to the protection acquired by their speed, the animals having lived under conditions in which only the swift could escape the attacks of their enemies. Besides this aspect, the animal trusts to its highly developed cunning. Mr. Kearton, a good and practical observer, writes:—"When Hares are going to seek their day or sleeping quarters, they practise a very ingenious trick in order to mislead and baffle their enemies. This consists of travelling for some distance in a direction they have no intention of pursuing, and then doubling back exactly along their own track for a good way, and suddenly leaving it by making a tremendous sideward bound to right or left. This being accomplished to their satisfaction, they trot off at right angles to the path they have just left, and go to their forms."[43] The Hare itself seems to be well aware that the safety gained by colourconcealment is very precarious. The poet Somerville knew this.

"So the wise Hares
Oft quit their seats, lest some more curious eye
Should mark their haunts, and by dark treacherous wiles
Plot their destruction."—('The Chase,' Book II.).[44]

The test of protection is concealment from the keen search of enemies, not merely an assimilative process, as noted by casual observers. Of course a partial concealment is a partial protection, but it is difficult to see how this applies to the Hare, and in the Transvaal, where most of these lines were written, I found it as foolish an animal, and one as easy to discover and shoot, as in England. Dietrich de Winckell, who according to Prince Kropotkin "is considered to be among the best acquainted with the habits of Hares, describes them as passionate players, becoming so intoxicated by their play that a Hare has been known to take an approaching Fox for a playmate."[45] Describers are often carried away by their enthusiasm for the theory of mimicry and give their pens great licence. Thus, Dr. Meyer, speaking of the neighbourhood of Kilima-njaro, writes: "The insects, too, have their 'magic mantle' of invisibility. No wonder it is difficult to make a collection, when the Butterflies and Crickets look like leaves and dry blades, the Cicadæ like leaf-stems, the Spiders like thorns, the Phasmodeæ like bare twigs, the Beetles like stones and bits of earth, the Moths like mosses and lichens."[46] Much, very much, has been made of the mimetic resemblance of the upper surface of Flatfishes to the bottom on which they rest. Mr. C.L. Jackson has given the result of a most interesting experiment he made by placing a number of small Flatfish in a tank which contained ten or twelve large Cod averaging fully twenty pounds weight each. These at once dashed after the Flatfish, "which instantly covered themselves with sand and apparently disappeared. The Cod, however, knew better. They commenced to hunt for them, carefully and systematically quartering their ground as a well-trained pointer would do, and affording a beautiful illustration of the use of the curious 'beard' possessed by many members of the Cod family. By-and-by, one of them, by means of this feeler, detected one of the youngsters and put it up. Away it went, full speed, followed by one, two, or three of the huge monsters. No Greyhound fancier ever saw a better bit of coursing as the little chap doubled and turned with the greatest agility, while over and over again the great lumbering Cod overshot their mark, and the little fish went to earth, only, however, to be again routed out and hunted until not one was left."[47]

The theory of mimicry is probably the still imperfect recognition of a great truth which is struggling to survive a mass of more or less irrelevant evidence too frequently offered in its support. It has long been regarded as an unconscious registration of a preservative action of Natural Selection; it is here suggested that it is largely an act of conscious animal volition. Whatever view be held, this alone is certain, that the theory in either its demonstrated or suggestive enunciation has been the means of a vast record of facts pertaining to the life-histories of animals and plants which would otherwise have remained either unobserved or disregarded.

  1. The true teleological definition of the term was defined by Paley: "An instinct is a propensity, prior to experience, and independent of instruction" ('Natural Theology').
  2. 'Habit and Instinct,' p. 322.
  3. 'A Theory of Development and Heredity,' p, 19.
  4. 'Flashlights on Nature,' pp. 282–3.
  5. In discussing a philosophy like that of Descartes one must not trust alone to his own impressions and reading of the philosopher, or a critic may soon be found to prove that either he has not such an intimate acquaintance with the language in which it was written as to prevent misunderstanding, or that his mind is not sufficiently attuned to escape misconception. I will therefore quote some authorities to whom these objections do not, or should not, apply. According to Dr. Martineau, Descartes taught that "the soul, i.e. the thinking principle, though united with the whole body, exercises its chief functions in the brain." "But the soul he pronounced to be exclusively human, and, in the human being, a substance entirely distinct from the body." Hence animals are automata. "All the things that you make Dogs or Horses or Monkeys do are only movements of their fear, their hope, or their joy, which can be made without any thought" ('Types of Ethical Theory,' 3rd edit. vol. i. pp. 141, 144, 145).—Prof. Mahaffy, describing Descartes' opinion on the point, and in respect to the supposition that other animals, from the likeness of their organs to ours, may have some thought, though less perfect than our own, makes him, in rejoinder, to say:—"To this I have nothing to reply, except that, if they thought as we do, they must have an immortal soul, which is not likely, as we have no reason to extend it to some animals without extending it to all, such as Worms, Oysters, Sponges, &c." Thus, as Prof. Mahaffy further remarks:—"The difficulty which the opponents of Descartes felt most strongly was the possible extension of souls to Oysters and Worms. Thus theological questions determined the questions on both sides" ('Descartes,' pp. 180 and 182). It is a relief to turn to Kenan, who describes Francis of Assisi as "far removed from the brutality of the false spiritualism of the Cartesians; he only acknowledged one sort of life; he recognized degrees in the scale of being, but no sudden interruption; like the sages of India, he could not admit that false classification which places man on one side, and, on the other, those thousand forms of life of which we only see the outside, and in which, though our eyes detect only uniformity, there may lie infinite diversity. For Francis, nature had but one voice" ('Studies in Religious History,' p. 313).
    Even Weismann may be considered no supporter of the view of animal intelligence, judging from the following remarks:—"It is usually considered that the origin and variation of instincts are also dependent upon the exercise of certain groups of muscles and nerves during a single life-time, and that the gradual improvement which is thus caused by practice is accumulated by hereditary transmission. I believe that this is an entirely erroneous view, and I hold that all instinct is entirely due to the operation of natural selection, and has its foundation, not upon inherited experiences, but upon the variations of the germ" ('Lectures on Heredity,' &c, Eng. transl., 2nd edit. vol. i. p. 92).
  6. "Bishop Butler urges that every argument by which we maintain the immortality of man is of equal validity to maintain the immortality of the lower animals" (Canon Wilberforce).
  7. W.E. Marshall, 'A Phrenologist among the Todas,' p. 125.—It is a long flight from a Toda to an Agassiz, but we may quote the opinion of that eminent and not undevout zoologist:—"Most of the arguments of philosophy in favour of the immortality of man apply equally to the permanency of this principle in other living beings. May I not add that a future life in which man would be deprived of that great source of enjoyment and intellectual and moral improvement which result from the contemplation of the harmonies of the organic world would involve a lamentable loss; and may we not look to a spiritual concert of the combined worlds and all their inhabitants in presence of their Creator as the highest conception of paradise?" ('An Essay on Classification,' p. 99).
  8. 'Blackwood's Magazine,' August, 1899, p. 228.
  9. "I believe that the spirit of man was developed out of the anima or conscious principle of animals, and that this, again, was developed out of the lower forms of life-force, and that this in its turn out of the chemical and physical forces of nature; and that at a certain stage in this gradual development, viz. with man, it acquired the property of immortality precisely as it now, in the individual history of each man at a certain stage, acquires the capacity of abstract thought" (Josh. Le Conte, 'Evolution and its Relation to Religious Thought,' p. 295).
  10. The Hon. L.A. Tollemache has contributed some original remarks on this subject:—"I sometimes think that the lower animals bear the same sort of relation to man that the Apocrypha bears to the Bible. Theologians are apt to regard the human soul and the Bible as having a right (so to speak), each in its own way, to say 'Noli me tangere' to science. The lower animals and (though in a very different manner) the Apocrypha bar such exorbitant claims. They serve as intermediate links, and thus tend to evolutionize Religion. In other words, the lower animals are half-human, just as the Apocrypha is half-Biblical" ('Benjamin Jowett,' p. 37, note).
  11. Haeckel and Gadow, 'The Last Link,' pp. 125–6.
  12. 'The Present Evolution of Man,' p. 138.
  13. 'The Trout' (Fur, Feather, and Fin Series), pp. 87–8.
  14. 'Fortnightly Review,' April, 1894.—A curious instance of intelligence in fish is given by Frank Buckland. He was told, on good authority, that the Salmon in the Seame always jump at the weir at 11 o'clock on Sunday morning when they hear the church bells ring. Of course that is not the cause of their activity, "but it so happens that on Sunday morning, the mills being shut down, the water comes down over the weirs in greater abundance than on any other day of the week; the Salmon find this out, and, like wise fish, make the best of their time in endeavouring to get over the weir" ('Life of Frank Buckland,' by Bompas, 2nd edit., pp. 156–7).
  15. 'Journ. Mental Science,' April, 1898.
  16. 'Mission. Travels and Researches in S. Africa,' p. 242.
  17. Ibid. p. 273.
  18. 'First Crossing of Greenland,' Eng. transl., new edit., p. 85.
  19. 'Voyage of the Challenger.'—The Atlantic, vol. ii. p. 103.
  20. 'In the Australian Bush,' p. 53.
  21. 'Journal,' edited by Sir J. Hooker, p. 302.
  22. 'Roy. Nat. Hist.' vol. iii. p. 414.
  23. Sir S. Baker, 'Wild Beasts and their Ways,' vol. i. p. 180.
  24. 'Field and Forest Rambles,' p. 150.
  25. 'New Guinea,' vol. ii. p. 329.
  26. 'Organic Evolution,' Engl. transl. p. 227.
  27. 'Twenty-five Years in a Waggon,' pp. 88-9.
  28. 'Wanderings and Adventures in Int. S. Africa,' vol. i. p. 154.
  29. Quoted by J. Croumbie Brown, 'Hydrology of S. Africa,' p. 184.
  30. Ibid. p. 186.
  31. 'Badminton Mag.' vol. ii. p. 582.
  32. Cf. Viscount Ebrington, in 'Red Deer' (Fur and Feath. Ser.), p. 245.
  33. Cf. Eimer, ' Organic Evolution,' Engl, transl., p. 237.
  34. Bennett, 'Gatherings of a Naturalist in Australia,' p. 23.
  35. 'Audubon and His Journals,' vol. ii. p. 44.—A delightful legend is related by Renan on this subject:—"One of the early Buddhas who preceded Sakya-Mouni obtained the nirvana in a singular way. He saw one day a Falcon chasing a little bird. 'I beseech thee,' he said to the bird of prey, 'leave this little creature in peace: I will give thee its weight from my own flesh.' A small pair of scales descended from the heavens, and the transaction was carried out. The little bird settled upon one side of the scales, and the saint placed in the other platter a good slice of his flesh, but the beam did not move. Bit by bit the whole of his body went into the scales, but still the scales were motionless. Just as the last shred of the holy man's body touched the scale the beam fell, the little bird flew away, and the saint entered into nirvana" ('Recollections of my Youth,' Engl, transl., p. 116).
  36. 'African Hunting and Adventures,' 3rd edit. p. 15.
  37. A British lepidopterist has recently remarked: "It is well known how different species of Lepidoptera differ in their habits adopted for protection, some relying on very acute vision, others on their resemblance to their surroundings" ('Entomologist,' vol. xxviii. p. 278).
  38. An observation made by that keen political and social notist, Greville, illustrates what is here meant:—"I could not help reflecting what an extraordinary thing success is in the world, when a man so gifted as Mackintosh has failed completely in public life, never having attained honours, reputation, or wealth, while so many ordinary men have reaped an abundant harvest of all. What a consolation this affords to mediocrity! None can approach Mackintosh without admiring his extraordinary powers, and at the same time wondering why they have not produced greater effects in the world, either of literature or politics. His virtues are obstacles to his success; he has not the art of pushing or of making himself feared; he is too doucereux and complimentary; and from some accident or defect in the composition of his character, and in the course of events which have influenced his circumstances, he has always been civilly neglected" ('Greville Memoirs,' 2nd edit., vol. i. p. 242). Ruskin places tact in a purer and higher plane when he describes it as "sympathy,—of quick understanding,—of all that, in deep insistence on the common but most accurate term, may be called the 'tact' or 'touch-faculty,' of body and soul: that tact which the mimosa has in trees, which the pure woman has above all creatures,—fineness and fulness of sensation, beyond reason,—the guide and sanctifier of reason itself" ('Sesame and Lilies,' edit. 1893, p. 43). Nor must we forget the advice of the old Roman courtier to Sir Henry Wotton, as related by him to Milton,—pensieri stretti, ed il viso sciolto (thoughts close, countenance open).
  39. "Some persons' eyes seem to have an extraordinary power of seeing through water, and of distinguishing at a glance a fish from a long swaying strip of dead brown flag, or the rotting pieces of wood which lie at the bottom. The ripple of the breeze, the eddy at the curve, or the sparkle of the sunshine cannot deceive them; while others, and by far the greater number, are dazzled and see nothing."—(Jefferies, 'Gamekeeper at Home.').
  40. 'Colours of Animals,' p. 67.
  41. 'Wild Life in a Southern County,' new edit., pp. 7–8.
  42. A. Leith Adams, 'Field and Forest Rambles,' p. 80.
  43. 'Wild Life at Home,' p. 114.
  44. Cf. C.C. Coe, 'Nature versus Natural Selection,' p. 184.
  45. 'Nineteenth Century,' vol. xxviii. p. 706.
  46. 'Across East African Glaciers,' p. 80.
  47. 'Lancashire Sea Fisheries,' pp. 34–5.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

Public domainPublic domainfalsefalse