Life and Habit
by Samuel Butler
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The above view would remove all difficulties out of the way of evolution, in so far as the sterility of hybrids is concerned. For it would thus appear that this sterility has nothing to do with any supposed immutable or fixed limits of species, but results simply from the same principle which prevents old friends, no matter how intimate in youth, from returning to their old intimacy after a lapse of years, during which they have been subjected to widely different influences, inasmuch as they will each have contracted new habits, and have got into new ways, which they do not like now to alter.

We should expect that our domesticated plants and animals should vary most, inasmuch as these have been subjected to changed conditions which would disturb the memory, and, breaking the chain of recollection, through failure of some one or other of the associated ideas, would thus directly and most markedly affect the reproductive system. Every reader of Mr. Darwin will know that this is what actually happens, and also that when once a plant or animal begins to vary, it will probably vary a good deal further; which, again, is what we should expect—the disturbance of the memory introducing a fresh factor of disturbance, which has to be dealt with by the offspring as it best may. Mr. Darwin writes: "All our domesticated productions, with the rarest exceptions, vary far more than natural species" ("Plants and Animals," &c., vol ii. p. 241, ed. 1875).

On my third supposition, i.e., when the difference between parents has not been great enough to baffle reproduction on the part of the first cross, but when the histories of the father and mother have been, nevertheless, widely different—as in the case of Europeans and Indians—we should expect to have a race of offspring who should seem to be quite clear only about those points, on which their progenitors on both sides were in accord before the manifold divergencies in their experiences commenced; that is to say, the offspring should show a tendency to revert to an early savage condition.

That this indeed occurs may be seen from Mr. Darwin's "Plants and Animals under Domestication" (vol ii. p. 21, ed. 1875), where we find that travellers in all parts of the world have frequently remarked "ON THE DEGRADED STATE AND SAVAGE CONDITION OF CROSSED RACES OF MAN." A few lines lower down Mr. Darwin tells us that he was himself "struck with the fact that, in South America, men of complicated descent between Negroes, Indians, and Spaniards seldom had, whatever the cause might be, a good expression." "Livingstone" (continues Mr. Darwin) "remarks, 'It is unaccountable why half-castes are so much more cruel than the Portuguese, but such is undoubtedly the case.' An inhabitant remarked to Livingstone, 'God made white men, and God made black men, but the devil made half-castes.'" A little further on Mr. Darwin says that we may "perhaps infer that the degraded state of so many half-castes IS IN PART DUE TO REVERSION TO A PRIMITIVE AND SAVAGE CONDITION, INDUCED BY THE ACT OF CROSSING, even if mainly due to the unfavourable moral conditions under which they are generally reared." Why the crossing should produce this particular tendency would seem to be intelligible enough, if the fashion and instincts of offspring are, in any case, nothing but the memories of its past existences; but it would hardly seem to be so upon any of the theories now generally accepted; as, indeed, is very readily admitted by Mr. Darwin himself, who even, as regards purely-bred animals and plants, remarks that "we are quite unable to assign any proximate cause" for their tendency to at times reassume long lost characters.

If the reader will follow for himself the remaining phenomena of reversion, he will, I believe, find them all explicable on the theory that they are due to memory of past experiences fused, and modified— at times specifically and definitely—by changed conditions. There is, however, one apparently very important phenomenon which I do not at this moment see how to connect with memory, namely, the tendency on the part of offspring to revert to an earlier impregnation. Mr. Darwin's "Provisional Theory of Pangenesis" seemed to afford a satisfactory explanation of this; but the connection with memory was not immediately apparent. I think it likely, however, that this difficulty will vanish on further consideration, so I will not do more than call attention to it here.

The instincts of certain neuter insects hardly bear upon reversion, but will be dealt with at some length in Chapter XII.

V. We should expect to find, as was insisted on in the preceding section in reference to the sterility of hybrids, that it required many, or at any rate several, generations of changed habits before a sufficiently deep impression could be made upon the living being (who must be regarded always as one person in his whole line of ascent or descent) for it to be unconsciously remembered by him, when making himself anew in any succeeding generation, and thus to make him modify his method of procedure during his next embryological development. Nevertheless, we should expect to find that sometimes a very deep single impression made upon a living organism, should be remembered by it, even when it is next in an embryonic condition.

That this is so, we find from Mr. Darwin, who writes ("Plants and Animals under Domestication," vol. ii. p. 57, ed. 1875)—"There is ample evidence that the effect of mutilations and of accidents, especially, or perhaps exclusively, when followed by disease" (which would certainly intensify the impression made), "are occasionally inherited. There can be no doubt that the evil effects of the long continued exposure of the parent to injurious conditions are sometimes transmitted to the offspring." As regards impressions of a less striking character, it is so universally admitted that they are not observed to be repeated in what is called the offspring, until they have been confirmed in what is called the parent, for several generations, but that after several generations, more or fewer as the case may be, they often are transmitted—that it seems unnecessary to say more upon the matter. Perhaps, however, the following passage from Mr. Darwin may be admitted as conclusive:-

"That they" (acquired actions) "are inherited, we see with horses in certain transmitted paces, such as cantering and ambling, which are not natural to them—in the pointing of young pointers, and the setting of young setters—in the peculiar manner of flight of certain breeds of the pigeon, &c. We have analogous cases with mankind in the inheritance of tricks or unusual gestures." . . . ("Expression of the Emotions," p. 29).

In another place Mr. Darwin writes:-

"How again can we explain THE INHERITED EFFECTS of the use or disuse of particular organs? The domesticated duck flies less and walks more than the wild duck, and its limb bones have become diminished and increased in a corresponding manner in comparison with those of the wild duck. A horse is trained to certain paces, and the colt inherits similar consensual movements. The domesticated rabbit becomes tame from close confinement; the dog intelligent from associating with man; the retriever is taught to fetch and carry; and these mental endowments and bodily powers are all inherited" ("Plants and Animals," &c., vol. ii. p. 367, ed. 1875).

"Nothing," he continues, "in the whole circuit of physiology is more wonderful. How can the use or disuse of a particular limb, or of the brain, affect a small aggregate of reproductive cells, seated in a distant part of the body in such a manner that the being developed from these cells inherits the character of one or both parents? Even an imperfect answer to this question would be satisfactory" ("Plants and Animals," &c. vol. ii. p. 367, ed. 1875).

With such an imperfect answer will I attempt to satisfy the reader, as to say that there appears to be that kind of continuity of existence and sameness of personality, between parents and offspring, which would lead us to expect that the impressions made upon the parent should be epitomised in the offspring, when they have been or have become important enough, through repetition in the history of several so-called existences to have earned a place in that smaller edition, which is issued from generation to generation; or, in other words, when they have been made so deeply, either at one blow or through many, that the offspring can remember them. In practice we observe this to be the case—so that the answer lies in the assertion that offspring and parent, being in one sense but the same individual, there is no great wonder that, in one sense, the first should remember what had happened to the latter; and that too, much in the same way as the individual remembers the events in the earlier history of what he calls his own lifetime, but condensed, and pruned of detail, and remembered as by one who has had a host of other matters to attend to in the interim.

It is thus easy to understand why such a rite as circumcision, though practised during many ages, should have produced little, if any, modification tending to make circumcision unnecessary. On the view here supported such modification would be more surprising than not, for unless the impression made upon the parent was of a grave character—and probably unless also aggravated by subsequent confusion of memories in the cells surrounding the part originally impressed—the parent himself would not be sufficiently impressed to prevent him from reproducing himself, as he had already done upon an infinite number of past occasions. The child, therefore, in the womb would do what the father in the womb had done before him, nor should any trace of memory concerning circumcision be expected till the eighth day after birth, when, but for the fact that the impression in this case is forgotten almost as soon as made, some slight presentiment of coming discomfort might, after a large number of generations, perhaps be looked for as a general rule. It would not, however, be surprising, that the effect of circumcision should be occasionally inherited, and it would appear as though this was sometimes actually the case.

The question should turn upon whether the disuse of an organ has arisen:-

1. From an internal desire on the part of the creature disusing it, to be quit of an organ which it finds troublesome.

2. From changed conditions and habits which render the organ no longer necessary, or which lead the creature to lay greater stress on certain other organs or modifications.

3. From the wish of others outside itself; the effect produced in this case being perhaps neither very good nor very bad for the individual, and resulting in no grave impression upon the organism as a whole.

4. From a single deep impression on a parent, affecting both himself as a whole, and gravely confusing the memories of the cells to be reproduced, or his memories in respect of those cells—according as one adopts Pangenesis and supposes a memory to "run" each gemmule, or as one supposes one memory to "run" the whole impregnate ovum—a compromise between these two views being nevertheless perhaps possible, inasmuch as the combined memories of all the cells may possibly BE the memory which "runs" the impregnate ovum, just as we ARE ourselves the combination of all our cells, each one of which is both autonomous, and also takes its share in the central government. But within the limits of this volume it is absolutely impossible for me to go into this question.

In the first case—under which some instances which belong more strictly to the fourth would sometimes, but rarely, come—the organ should soon go, and sooner or later leave no rudiment, though still perhaps to be found crossing the life of the embryo, and then disappearing.

In the second it should go more slowly, and leave, it may be, a rudimentary structure.

In the third it should show little or no sign of natural decrease for a very long time.

In the fourth there may be absolute and total sterility, or sterility in regard to the particular organ, or a scar which shall show that the memory of the wound and of each step in the process of healing has been remembered; or there may be simply such disturbance in the reproduced organ as shall show a confused recollection of injury. There may be infinite gradations between the first and last of these possibilities.

I think that the facts, as given by Mr. Darwin ("Plants and Animals," &c., vol i. pp. 466-472, ed. 1875), will bear out the above to the satisfaction of the reader. I can, however, only quote the following passage:-

" . . . Brown Sequard has bred during thirty years many thousand guinea-pigs, . . . nor has he ever seen a guinea-pig born without toes which was not the offspring of parents WHICH HAD GNAWED OFF THEIR OWN TOES, owing to the sciatic nerve having been divided. Of this fact thirteen instances were carefully recorded, and a greater number were seen; yet Brown Sequard speaks of such cases as among the rarer forms of inheritance. It is a still more interesting fact— 'that the sciatic nerve in the congenitally toeless animal has inherited the power of passing through ALL THE DIFFERENT MORBID STATES which have occurred in one of its parents FROM THE TIME OF DIVISION till after its reunion with the peripheric end. It is not therefore the power of simply performing an action which is inherited, but the power of performing a whole series of actions in a certain order.'"

I feel inclined to say it is not merely the original wound that is remembered, but the whole process of cure which is now accordingly repeated. Brown Sequard concludes, as Mr. Darwin tells us, "that what is transmitted is the morbid state of the nervous system," due to the operation performed on the parents.

A little lower down Mr. Darwin writes that Professor Rolleston has given him two cases—"namely, of two men, one of whom had his knee, and the other his cheek, severely cut, and both had children born with exactly the same spot marked or scarred."

VI. When, however, an impression has once reached transmission point—whether it be of the nature of a sudden striking thought, which makes its mark deeply then and there, or whether it be the result of smaller impressions repeated until the nail, so to speak, has been driven home—we should expect that it should be remembered by the offspring as something which he has done all his life, and which he has therefore no longer any occasion to learn; he will act, therefore, as people say, INSTINCTIVELY. No matter how complex and difficult the process, if the parents have done it sufficiently often (that is to say, for a sufficient number of generations), the offspring will remember the fact when association wakens the memory; it will need no instruction, and—unless when it has been taught to look for it during many generations—will expect none. This may be seen in the case of the humming-bird sphinx moth, which, as Mr. Darwin writes, "shortly after its emergence from the cocoon, as shown by the bloom on its unruffled scales, may be seen poised stationary in the air with its long hair-like proboscis uncurled, and inserted into the minute orifices of flowers; AND NO ONE I BELIEVE HAS EVER SEEN this moth learning to perform its difficult task, which requires such unerring aim" ("Expression of the Emotions," p. 30).

And, indeed, when we consider that after a time the most complex and difficult actions come to be performed by man without the least effort or consciousness—that offspring cannot be considered as anything but a continuation of the parent life, whose past habits and experiences it epitomises when they have been sufficiently often repeated to produce a lasting impression—that consciousness of memory vanishes on the memory's becoming intense, as completely as the consciousness of complex and difficult movements vanishes as soon as they have been sufficiently practised—and finally, that the real presence of memory is testified rather by performance of the repeated action on recurrence of like surroundings, than by consciousness of recollecting on the part of the individual—so that not only should there be no reasonable bar to our attributing the whole range of the more complex instinctive actions, from first to last, to memory pure and simple, no matter how marvellous they may be, but rather that there is so much to compel us to do so, that we find it difficult to conceive how any other view can have been ever taken—when, I say, we consider all these facts, we should rather feel surprise that the hawk and sparrow still teach their offspring to fly, than that the humming-bird sphinx moth should need no teacher.

The phenomena, then, which we observe are exactly those which we should expect to find.

VII. We should also expect that the memory of animals, as regards their earlier existences, was solely stimulated by association. For we find, from Prof. Bain, that "actions, sensations, and states of feeling occurring together, or in close succession, tend to grow together or cohere in such a way that when any one of them is afterwards presented to the mind, the others are apt to be brought up in idea" ("The Senses and the Intellect," 2d ed. 1864, p. 332). And Prof. Huxley says ("Elementary Lessons in Physiology," 5th ed. 1872, p. 306), "It may be laid down as a rule that if any two mental states be called up together, or in succession, with due frequency and vividness, the subsequent production of the one of them will suffice to call up the other, AND THAT WHETHER WE DESIRE IT OR NOT." I would go one step further, and would say not only whether we desire it or not, but WHETHER WE ARE AWARE THAT THE IDEA HAS EVER BEFORE BEEN CALLED UP IN OUR MINDS OR NOT. I should say that I have quoted both the above passages from Mr. Darwin's "Expression of the Emotions" (p. 30, ed. 1872).

We should, therefore, expect that when the offspring found itself in the presence of objects which had called up such and such ideas for a sufficient number of generations, that is to say, "with due frequency and vividness"—it being of the same age as its parents were, and generally in like case as when the ideas were called up in the minds of the parents—the same ideas should also be called up in the minds of the offspring "WHETHER THEY DESIRE IT OR NOT;" and, I would say also, "whether they recognise the ideas as having ever before been present to them or not."

I think we might also expect that no other force, save that of association, should have power to kindle, so to speak, into the flame of action the atomic spark of memory, which we can alone suppose to be transmitted from one generation to another.

That both plants and animals do as we should expect of them in this respect is plain, not only from the performance of the most intricate and difficult actions—difficult both physically and intellectually— at an age, and under circumstances which preclude all possibility of what we call instruction, but from the fact that deviations from the parental instinct, or rather the recurrence of a memory, unless in connection with the accustomed train of associations, is of comparatively rare occurrence; the result, commonly, of some one of the many memories about which we know no more than we do of the memory which enables a cat to find her way home after a hundred-mile journey by train, and shut up in a hamper, or, perhaps even more commonly, of abnormal treatment.

VIII. If, then, memory depends on association, we should expect two corresponding phenomena in the case of plants and animals—namely, that they should show a tendency to resume feral habits on being turned wild after several generations of domestication, and also that peculiarities should tend to show themselves at a corresponding age in the offspring and in the parents. As regards the tendency to resume feral habits, Mr. Darwin, though apparently of opinion that the tendency to do this has been much exaggerated, yet does not doubt that such a tendency exists, as shown by well authenticated instances. He writes: "It has been repeatedly asserted in the most positive manner by various authors that feral animals and plants invariably return to their primitive specific type."

This shows, at any rate, that there is a considerable opinion to this effect among observers generally.

He continues: "It is curious on what little evidence this belief rests. Many of our domesticated animals could not subsist in a wild state,"—so that there is no knowing whether they would or would not revert. "In several cases we do not know the aboriginal parent species, and cannot tell whether or not there has been any close degree of reversion." So that here, too, there is at any rate no evidence AGAINST the tendency; the conclusion, however, is that, notwithstanding the deficiency of positive evidence to warrant the general belief as to the force of the tendency, yet "the simple fact of animals and plants becoming feral does cause some tendency to revert to the primitive state," and he tells us that "when variously- coloured tame rabbits are turned out in Europe, they generally re- acquire the colouring of the wild animal;" there can be no doubt," he says, "that this really does occur," though he seems inclined to account for it by the fact that oddly-coloured and conspicuous animals would suffer much from beasts of prey and from being easily shot. "The best known case of reversion:" he continues, "and that on which the widely-spread belief in its universality apparently rests, is that of pigs. These animals have run wild in the West Indies, South America, and the Falkland Islands, and have everywhere re- acquired the dark colour, the thick bristles, and great tusks of the wild boar; and the young have re-acquired longitudinal stripes." And on page 22 of "Plants and Animals under Domestication" (vol. ii. ed. 1875) we find that "the re-appearance of coloured, longitudinal stripes on young feral pigs cannot be attributed to the direct action of external conditions. In this case, and in many others, we can only say that any change in the habits of life apparently favours a tendency, inherent or latent, in the species to return to the primitive state." On which one cannot but remark that though any change may favour such tendency, yet the return to original habits and surroundings appears to do so in a way so marked as not to be readily referable to any other cause than that of association and memory—the creature, in fact, having got into its old groove, remembers it, and takes to all its old ways.

As regards the tendency to inherit changes (whether embryonic, or during post-natal development as ordinarily observed in any species), or peculiarities of habit or form which do not partake of the nature of disease, it must be sufficient to refer the reader to Mr. Darwin's remarks upon this subject ("Plants and Animals Under Domestication," vol. ii. pp. 51-57, ed. 1875). The existence of the tendency is not likely to be denied. The instances given by Mr. Darwin are strictly to the point as regards all ordinary developmental and metamorphic changes, and even as regards transmitted acquired actions, and tricks acquired before the time when the offspring has issued from the body of the parent, or on an average of many generations does so; but it cannot for a moment be supposed that the offspring knows by inheritance anything about what happens to the parent subsequently to the offspring's being born. Hence the appearance of diseases in the offspring, at comparatively late periods in life, but at the same age as, or earlier, than in the parents, must be regarded as due to the fact that in each case the machine having been made after the same pattern (which IS due to memory), is liable to have the same weak points, and to break down after a similar amount of wear and tear; but after less wear and tear in the case of the offspring than in that of the parent, because a diseased organism is commonly a deteriorating organism, and if repeated at all closely, and without repentance and amendment of life, will be repeated for the worse. If we do not improve, we grow worse. This, at least, is what we observe daily.

Nor again can we believe, as some have fancifully imagined, that the remembrance of any occurrence of which the effect has been entirely, or almost entirely mental, should be remembered by offspring with any definiteness. The intellect of the offspring might be affected, for better or worse, by the general nature of the intellectual employment of the parent; or a great shock to a parent might destroy or weaken the intellect of the offspring; but unless a deep impression were made upon the cells of the body, and deepened by subsequent disease, we could not expect it to be remembered with any definiteness, or precision. We may talk as we will about mental pain, and mental scars, but after all, the impressions they leave are incomparably less durable than those made by an organic lesion. It is probable, therefore, that the feeling which so many have described, as though they remembered this or that in some past existence, is purely imaginary, and due rather to unconscious recognition of the fact that we certainly have lived before, than to any actual occurrence corresponding to the supposed recollection.

And lastly, we should look to find in the action of memory, as between one generation and another, a reflection of the many anomalies and exceptions to ordinary rules which we observe in memory, so far as we can watch its action in what we call our own single lives, and the single lives of others. We should expect that reversion should be frequently capricious—that is to say, give us more trouble to account for than we are either able or willing to take. And assuredly we find it so in fact. Mr. Darwin—from whom it is impossible to quote too much or too fully, inasmuch as no one else can furnish such a store of facts, so well arranged, and so above all suspicion of either carelessness or want of candour—so that, however we may differ from him, it is he himself who shows us how to do so, and whose pupils we all are—Mr. Darwin writes: "In every living being we may rest assured that a host of long-lost characters lie ready to be evolved under proper conditions" (does not one almost long to substitute the word "memories" for the word "characters?") "How can we make intelligible, and connect with other facts, this wonderful and common capacity of reversion—this power of calling back to life long-lost characters?" ("Plants and Animals," &c., vol. ii. p. 369, ed. 1875). Surely the answer may be hazarded, that we shall be able to do so when we can make intelligible the power of calling back to life long-lost memories. But I grant that this answer holds out no immediate prospect of a clear understanding.

One word more. Abundant facts are to be found which point inevitably, as will appear more plainly in the following chapter, in the direction of thinking that offspring inherits the memories of its parents; but I know of no single fact which suggests that parents are in the smallest degree affected (other than sympathetically) by the memories of their offspring AFTER THAT OFFSPRING HAS BEEN BORN. Whether the unborn offspring affects the memory of the mother in some particulars, and whether we have here the explanation of occasional reversion to a previous impregnation, is a matter on which I should hardly like to express an opinion now. Nor, again, can I find a single fact which seems to indicate any memory of the parental life on the part of offspring later than the average date of the offspring's quitting the body of the parent.


I have already alluded to M. Ribot's work on "Heredity," from which I will now take the following passages.

M. Ribot writes:-

"Instinct is innate, i.e., ANTERIOR TO ALL INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE." This I deny on grounds already abundantly apparent; but let it pass. "Whereas intelligence is developed slowly by accumulated experience, instinct is perfect from the first" ("Heredity," p. 14).

Obviously the memory of a habit or experience will not commonly be transmitted to offspring in that perfection which is called "instinct," till the habit or experience has been repeated in several generations with more or less uniformity; for otherwise the impression made will not be strong enough to endure through the busy and difficult task of reproduction. This of course involves that the habit shall have attained, as it were equilibrium with the creature's sense of its own needs, so that it shall have long seemed the best course possible, leaving upon the whole and under ordinary circumstances little further to be desired, and hence that it should have been little varied during many generations. We should expect that it would be transmitted in a more or less partial, varying, imperfect, and intelligent condition before equilibrium had been attained; it would, however, continually tend towards equilibrium, for reasons which will appear more fully later on.

When this stage has been reached, as regards any habit, the creature will cease trying to improve; on which the repetition of the habit will become stable, and hence become capable of more unerring transmission—but at the same time improvement will cease; the habit will become fixed, and be perhaps transmitted at an earlier and earlier age, till it has reached that date of manifestation which shall be found most agreeable to the other habits of the creature. It will also be manifested, as a matter of course, without further consciousness or reflection, for people cannot be always opening up settled questions; if they thought a matter over yesterday they cannot think it all over again to-day, but will adopt for better or worse the conclusion then reached; and this, too, even in spite sometimes of considerable misgiving, that if they were to think still further they could find a still better course. It is not, therefore, to be expected that "instinct" should show signs of that hesitating and tentative action which results from knowledge that is still so imperfect as to be actively self-conscious; nor yet that it should grow or vary, unless under such changed conditions as shall baffle memory, and present the alternative of either invention—that is to say, variation—or death. But every instinct must have poised through the laboriously intelligent stages through which human civilisations AND MECHANICAL INVENTIONS are now passing; and he who would study the origin of an instinct with its development, partial transmission, further growth, further transmission, approach to more unreflecting stability, and finally, its perfection as an unerring and unerringly transmitted instinct, must look to laws, customs, AND MACHINERY as his best instructors. Customs and machines are instincts AND ORGANS now in process of development; they will assuredly one day reach the unconscious state of equilibrium which we observe in the structures and instincts of bees and ants, and an approach to which may be found among some savage nations. We may reflect, however, not without pleasure, that this condition—the true millennium—is still distant. Nevertheless the ants and bees seem happy; perhaps more happy than when so many social questions were in as hot discussion among them, as other, and not dissimilar ones, will one day be amongst ourselves.

And this, as will be apparent, opens up the whole question of the stability of species, which we cannot follow further here, than to say, that according to the balance of testimony, many plants and animals do appear to have reached a phase of being from which they are hard to move—that is to say, they will die sooner than be at the pains of altering their habits—true martyrs to their convictions. Such races refuse to see changes in their surroundings as long as they can, but when compelled to recognise them, they throw up the game because they cannot and will not, or will not and cannot, invent. And this is perfectly intelligible, for a race is nothing but a long-lived individual, and like any individual, or tribe of men whom we have yet observed, will have its special capacities and its special limitations, though, as in the case of the individual, so also with the race, it is exceedingly hard to say what those limitations are, and why, having been able to go so far, it should go no further. Every man and every race is capable of education up to a certain point, but not to the extent of being made from a sow's ear into a silk purse. The proximate cause of the limitation seems to lie in the absence of the wish to go further; the presence or absence of the wish will depend upon the nature and surroundings of the individual, which is simply a way of saying that one can get no further, but that as the song (with a slight alteration) says:-

"Some breeds do, and some breeds don't, Some breeds will, but this breed won't, I tried very often to see if it would, But it said it really couldn't, and I don't think it could."

It may perhaps be maintained, that with time and patience, one might train a rather stupid plough-boy to understand the differential calculus. This might be done with the help of an inward desire on the part of the boy to learn, but never otherwise. If the boy wants to learn or to improve generally, he will do so in spite of every hindrance, till in time he becomes a very different being from what he was originally. If he does not want to learn, he will not do so for any wish of another person. If he feels that he has the power he will wish; or if he wishes, he will begin to think he has the power, and try to fulfil his wishes; one cannot say which comes first, for the power and the desire go always hand in hand, or nearly so, and the whole business is nothing but a most vicious circle from first to last. But it is plain that there is more to be said on behalf of such circles than we have been in the habit of thinking. Do what we will, we must each one of us argue in a circle of our own, from which, so long as we live at all, we can by no possibility escape. I am not sure whether the frank acceptation and recognition of this fact is not the best corrective for dogmatism that we are likely to find.

We can understand that a pigeon might in the course of ages grow to be a peacock if there was a persistent desire on the part of the pigeon through all these ages to do so. We know very well that this has not probably occurred in nature, inasmuch as no pigeon is at all likely to wish to be very different from what it is now. The idea of being anything very different from what it now is, would be too wide a cross with the pigeon's other ideas for it to entertain it seriously. If the pigeon had never seen a peacock, it would not be able to conceive the idea, so as to be able to make towards it; if, on the other hand, it had seen one, it would not probably either want to become one, or think that it would be any use wanting seriously, even though it were to feel a passing fancy to be so gorgeously arrayed; it would therefore lack that faith without which no action, and with which, every action, is possible.

That creatures have conceived the idea of making themselves like other creatures or objects which it was to their advantage or pleasure to resemble, will be believed by any one who turns to Mr. Mivart's "Genesis of Species," where he will find (chapter ii.) an account of some very showy South American butterflies, which give out such a strong odour that nothing will eat them, and which are hence mimicked both in appearance and flight by a very different kind of butterfly; and, again, we see that certain birds, without any particular desire of gain, no sooner hear any sound than they begin to mimick it, merely for the pleasure of mimicking; so we all enjoy to mimick, or to hear good mimicry, so also monkeys imitate the actions which they observe, from pure force of sympathy. To mimick, or to wish to mimick, is doubtless often one of the first steps towards varying in any given direction. Not less, in all probability, than a full twenty per cent. of all the courage and good nature now existing in the world, derives its origin, at no very distant date, from a desire to appear courageous and good-natured. And this suggests a work whose title should be "On the Fine Arts as bearing on the Reproductive System," of which the title must suffice here.

Against faith, then, and desire, all the "natural selection" in the world will not stop an amoeba from becoming an elephant, if a reasonable time be granted; without the faith and the desire, neither "natural selection" nor artificial breeding will be able to do much in the way of modifying any structure. When we have once thoroughly grasped the conception that we are all one creature, and that each one of us is many millions of years old, so that all the pigeons in the one line of an infinite number of generations are still one pigeon only—then we can understand that a bird, as different from a peacock as a pigeon is now, could yet have wandered on and on, first this way and then that, doing what it liked, and thought that it could do, till it found itself at length a peacock; but we cannot believe either that a bird like a pigeon should be able to apprehend any ideal so different from itself as a peacock, and make towards it, or that man, having wished to breed a bird anything like a peacock from a bird anything like a pigeon, would be able to succeed in accumulating accidental peacock-like variations till he had made the bird he was in search of, no matter in what number of generations; much less can we believe that the accumulation of small fortuitous variations by "natural selection" could succeed better. We can no more believe the above, than we can believe that a wish outside a plough-boy could turn him into a senior wrangler. The boy would prove to be too many for his teacher, and so would the pigeon for its breeder.

I do not forget that artificial breeding has modified the original type of the horse and the dog, till it has at length produced the dray-horse and the greyhound; but in each case man has had to get use and disuse—that is to say, the desires of the animal itself—to help him.

We are led, then, to the conclusion that all races have what for practical purposes may be considered as their limits, though there is no saying what those limits are, nor indeed why, in theory, there should be any limits at all, but only that there are limits in practice. Races which vary considerably must be considered as clever, but it may be speculative, people who commonly have a genius in some special direction, as perhaps for mimicry, perhaps for beauty, perhaps for music, perhaps for the higher mathematics, but seldom in more than one or two directions; while "inflexible organisations," like that of the goose, may be considered as belonging to people with one idea, and the greater tendency of plants and animals to vary under domestication may be reasonably compared with the effects of culture and education: that is to say, may be referred to increased range and variety of experience or perceptions, which will either cause sterility, if they be too unfamiliar, so as to be incapable of fusion with preceding ideas, and hence to bring memory to a sudden fault, or will open the door for all manner of further variation—the new ideas having suggested new trains of thought, which a clever example of a clever race will be only too eager to pursue.

Let us now return to M. Ribot. He writes (p. 14):- "The duckling hatched by the hen makes straight for water." In what conceivable way can we account for this, except on the supposition that the duckling knows perfectly well what it can, and what it cannot do with water, owing to its recollection of what it did when it was still one individuality with its parents, and hence, when it was a duckling before?

"The squirrel, before it knows anything of winter, lays up a store of nuts. A bird when hatched in a cage will, when given its freedom, build for itself a nest like that of its parents, out of the same materials, and of the same shape."

If this is not due to memory, even an imperfect explanation of what else it can be due to, "would be satisfactory."

"Intelligence gropes about, tries this way and that, misses its object, commits mistakes, and corrects them."

Yes. Because intelligence is of consciousness, and consciousness is of attention, and attention is of uncertainty, and uncertainty is of ignorance or want of consciousness. Intelligence is not yet thoroughly up to its business.

"Instinct advances with a mechanical certainty."

Why mechanical? Should not "with apparent certainty" suffice?

"Hence comes its unconscious character."

But for the word "mechanical" this is true, and is what we have been all along insisting on.

"It knows nothing either of ends, or of the means of attaining them; it implies no comparison, judgment, or choice."

This is assumption. What is certain is that instinct does not betray signs of self-consciousness as to its own knowledge. It has dismissed reference to first principles, and is no longer under the law, but under the grace of a settled conviction.

"All seems directed by thought."

Yes; because all HAS BEEN in earlier existences directed by thought.

"Without ever arriving at thought."

Because it has GOT PAST THOUGHT, and though "directed by thought" originally, is now travelling in exactly the opposite direction. It is not likely to reach thought again, till people get to know worse and worse how to do things, the oftener they practise them.


"Instinct appears stationary. It does not, like intelligence, seem to grow and decay, to gain and to lose. It does not improve."

Naturally. For improvement can only as a general rule be looked for along the line of latest development, that is to say, in matters concerning which the creature is being still consciously exercised. Older questions are settled, and the solution must be accepted as final, for the question of living at all would be reduced to an absurdity, if everything decided upon one day was to be undecided again the next; as with painting or music, so with life and politics, let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind, for decision with wrong will be commonly a better policy than indecision—I had almost added with right; and a firm purpose with risk will be better than an infirm one with temporary exemption from disaster. Every race has made its great blunders, to which it has nevertheless adhered, inasmuch as the corresponding modification of other structures and instincts was found preferable to the revolution which would be caused by a radical change of structure, with consequent havoc among a legion of vested interests. Rudimentary organs are, as has been often said, the survivals of these interests—the signs of their peaceful and gradual extinction as living faiths; they are also instances of the difficulty of breaking through any cant or trick which we have long practised, and which is not sufficiently troublesome to make it a serious object with us to cure ourselves of the habit.

"If it does not remain perfectly invariable, at least it only varies within very narrow limits; and though this question has been warmly debated in our day, and is yet unsettled, we may yet say that in instinct immutability is the law, variation the exception."

This is quite as it should be. Genius will occasionally rise a little above convention, but with an old convention immutability will be the rule.

"Such," continues M. Ribot, "are the admitted characters of instinct."

Yes; but are they not also the admitted characters of actions that are due to memory?

At the bottom of p. 15, M. Ribot quotes the following from Mr. Darwin:-

"We have reason to believe that aboriginal habits are long retained under domestication. Thus with the common ass, we see signs of its original desert-life in its strong dislike to cross the smallest stream of water, and in its pleasure in rolling in the dust. The same strong dislike to cross a stream is common to the camel which has been domesticated from a very early period. Young pigs, though so tame, sometimes squat when frightened, and then try to conceal themselves, even in an open and bare place. Young turkeys, and occasionally even young fowls, when the hen gives the danger-cry, run away and try to hide themselves, like young partridges or pheasants, in order that their mother may take flight, of which she has lost the power. The musk duck in its native country often perches and roosts on trees, and our domesticated musk ducks, though sluggish birds, are fond of perching on the tops of barns, walls, &c. . . . We know that the dog, however well and regularly fed, often buries like the fox any superfluous food; we see him turning round and round on a carpet as if to trample down grass to form a bed. . . . In the delight with which lambs and kids crowd together and frisk upon the smallest hillock we see a vestige of their former alpine habits."

What does this delightful passage go to show, if not that the young in all these cases must still have a latent memory of their past existences, which is called into an active condition as soon as the associated ideas present themselves?

Returning to M. Ribot's own observations, we find he tells us that it usually requires three or four generations to fix the results of training, and to prevent a return to the instincts of the wild state. I think, however, it would not be presumptuous to suppose that if an animal after only three or four generations of training be restored to its original conditions of life, it will forget its intermediate training and return to its old ways, almost as readily as a London street Arab would forget the beneficial effects of a weeks training in a reformatory school, if he were then turned loose again on the streets. So if we hatch wild ducks' eggs under a tame duck, the ducklings "will have scarce left the egg-shell when they obey the instincts of their race and take their flight." So the colts from wild horses, and mongrel young between wild and domesticated horses, betray traces of their earlier memories.

On this M. Ribot says: "Originally man had considerable trouble in taming the animals which are now domesticated; and his work would have been in vain had not heredity" (memory) "come to his aid. It may be said that after man has modified a wild animal to his will, there goes on in its progeny a silent conflict between two heredities" (memories), "the one tending to fix the acquired modifications and the other to preserve the primitive instincts. The latter often get the mastery, and only after several generations is training sure of victory. But we may see that in either case heredity" (memory) "always asserts its rights."

How marvellously is the above passage elucidated and made to fit in with the results of our recognised experience, by the simple substitution of the word "memory" for "heredity."

"Among the higher animals"—to continue quoting—"which are possessed not only of instinct, but also of intelligence, nothing is more common than to see mental dispositions, which have evidently been acquired, so fixed by heredity, that they are confounded with instinct, so spontaneous and automatic do they become. Young pointers have been known to point the first time they were taken out, sometimes even better than dogs that had been for a long time in training. The habit of saving life is hereditary in breeds that have been brought up to it, as is also the shepherd dog's habit of moving around the flock and guarding it."

As soon as we have grasped the notion, that instinct is only the epitome of past experience, revised, corrected, made perfect, and learnt by rote, we no longer find any desire to separate "instinct" from "mental dispositions, which have evidently been acquired and fixed by heredity," for the simple reason that they are one and the same thing.

A few more examples are all that my limits will allow—they abound on every side, and the difficulty lies only in selecting—M. Ribot being to hand, I will venture to lay him under still further contributions.

On page 19 we find:- "Knight has shown experimentally the truth of the proverb, 'a good hound is bred so,' he took every care that when the pups were first taken into the field, they should receive no guidance from older dogs; yet the very first day, one of the pups stood trembling with anxiety, having his eyes fixed and all his muscles strained AT THE PARTRIDGES WHICH THEIR PARENTS HAD BEEN TRAINED TO POINT. A spaniel belonging to a breed which had been trained to woodcock-shooting, knew perfectly well from the first how to act like an old dog, avoiding places where the ground was frozen, and where it was, therefore, useless to seek the game, as there was no scent. Finally, a young polecat terrier was thrown into a state of great excitement the first time he ever saw one of these animals, while a spaniel remained perfectly calm.

"In South America, according to Roulin, dogs belonging to a breed that has long been trained to the dangerous chase of the peccary, when taken for the first time into the woods, know the tactics to adopt quite as well as the old dogs, and that without any instruction. Dogs of other races, and unacquainted with the tactics, are killed at once, no matter how strong they may be. The American greyhound, instead of leaping at the stag, attacks him by the belly, and throws him over, as his ancestors had been trained to do in hunting the Indians.

"Thus, then, heredity transmits modification no less than natural instincts."

Should not this rather be—"thus, then, we see that not only older and remoter habits, but habits which have been practised for a comparatively small number of generations, may be so deeply impressed on the individual that they may dwell in his memory, surviving the so-called change of personality which he undergoes in each successive generation"?

"There is, however, an important difference to be noted: the heredity of instincts admits of no exceptions, while in that of modifications there are many."

It may be well doubted how far the heredity of instincts admits of no exceptions; on the contrary, it would seem probable that in many races geniuses have from time to time arisen who remembered not only their past experiences, as far as action and habit went, but have been able to rise in some degree above habit where they felt that improvement was possible, and who carried such improvement into further practice, by slightly modifying their structure in the desired direction on the next occasion that they had a chance of dealing with protoplasm at all. It is by these rare instances of intellectual genius (and I would add of moral genius, if many of the instincts and structures of plants and animals did not show that they had got into a region as far above morals—other than enlightened self-interest—as they are above articulate consciousness of their own aims in many other respects)—it is by these instances of either rare good luck or rare genius that many species have been, in all probability, originated or modified. Nevertheless inappreciable modification of instinct is, and ought to be, the rule.

As to M. Ribot's assertion, that to the heredity of modifications there are many exceptions, I readily agree with it, and can only say that it is exactly what I should expect; the lesson long since learnt by rote, and repeated in an infinite number of generations, would be repeated unintelligently, and with little or no difference, save from a rare accidental slip, the effect of which would be the culling out of the bungler who was guilty of it, or from the still rarer appearance of an individual of real genius; while the newer lesson would be repeated both with more hesitation and uncertainty, and with more intelligence; and this is well conveyed in M. Ribot's next sentence, for he says—"It is only when variations have been firmly rooted; when having become organic, they constitute a second nature, which supplants the first; when, like instinct, they have assumed a mechanical character, that they can be transmitted."

How nearly M. Ribot comes to the opinion which I myself venture to propound will appear from the following further quotation. After dealing with somnambulism, and saying, that if somnambulism were permanent and innate, it would be impossible to distinguish it from instinct, he continues:-

"Hence it is less difficult than is generally supposed, to conceive how intelligence may become instinct; we might even say that, leaving out of consideration the character of innateness, to which we will return, we have seen the metamorphosis take place. THERE CAN THEN BE NO GROUND FOR MAKING INSTINCT A FACULTY APART, sui generis, a phenomenon so mysterious, so strange, that usually no other explanation of it is offered but that of attributing it to the direct act of the Deity. This whole mistake is the result of a defective psychology which makes no account of the unconscious activity of the soul."

We are tempted to add—"and which also makes no account of the bona fide character of the continued personality of successive generations."

"But we are so accustomed," he continues, "to contrast the characters of instinct with those of intelligence—to say that instinct is innate, invariable, automatic, while intelligence is something acquired, variable, spontaneous—that it looks at first paradoxical to assert that instinct and intelligence are identical.

"It is said that instinct is innate. But if, on the one hand, we bear in mind that many instincts are acquired, and that, according to a theory hereafter to be explained" (which theory, I frankly confess, I never was able to get hold of), "ALL INSTINCTS ARE ONLY HEREDITARY HABITS" (italics mine); "if, on the other hand, we observe that intelligence is in some sense held to be innate by all modern schools of philosophy, which agree to reject the theory of the tabula rasa" (if there is no tabula rasa, there is continued psychological personality, or words have lost their meaning), "and to accept either latent ideas, or a priori forms of thought" (surely only a periphrasis for continued personality and memory) "or pre-ordination of the nervous system and of the organism; IT WILL BE SEEN THAT THIS CHARACTER OF INNATENESS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AN ABSOLUTE DISTINCTION BETWEEN INSTINCT AND INTELLIGENCE.

"It is true that intelligence is variable, but so also is instinct, as we have seen. In winter, the Rhine beaver plasters his wall to windward; once he was a builder, now a burrower; once he lived in society, now he is solitary. Intelligence itself can scarcely be more variable . . . instinct may be modified, lost, reawakened.

"Although intelligence is, as a rule, conscious, it may also become unconscious and automatic, without losing its identity. Neither is instinct always so blind, so mechanical, as is supposed, for at times it is at fault. The wasp that has faultily trimmed a leaf of its paper begins again. The bee only gives the hexagonal form to its cell after many attempts and alterations. It is difficult to believe that the loftier instincts" (and surely, then, the more recent instincts) "of the higher animals are not accompanied BY AT LEAST A CONFUSED CONSCIOUSNESS. There is, therefore, no absolute distinction between instinct and intelligence; there is not a single characteristic which, seriously considered, remains the exclusive property of either. The contrast established between instinctive acts and intellectual acts is, nevertheless, perfectly true, but only when we compare the extremes. AS INSTINCT RISES IT APPROACHES INTELLIGENCE—AS INTELLIGENCE DESCENDS IT APPROACHES INSTINCT."

M. Ribot and myself (if I may venture to say so) are continually on the verge of coming to an understanding, when, at the very moment that we seem most likely to do so, we fly, as it were, to opposite poles. Surely the passage last quoted should be, "As instinct falls," i.e., becomes less and less certain of its ground, "it approaches intelligence; as intelligence rises," i.e., becomes more and more convinced of the truth and expediency of its convictions— "it approaches instinct."

Enough has been said to show that the opinions which I am advancing are not new, but I have looked in vain for the conclusions which, it appears to me, M. Ribot should draw from his facts; throughout his interesting book I find the facts which it would seem should have guided him to the conclusions, and sometimes almost the conclusions themselves, but he never seems quite to have reached them, nor has he arranged his facts so that others are likely to deduce them, unless they had already arrived at them by another road. I cannot, however, sufficiently express my obligations to M. Ribot.

I cannot refrain from bringing forward a few more instances of what I think must be considered by every reader as hereditary memory. Sydney Smith writes:-

"Sir James Hall hatched some chickens in an oven. Within a few minutes after the shell was broken, a spider was turned loose before this very youthful brood; the destroyer of flies had hardly proceeded more than a few inches, before he was descried by one of these oven- born chickens, and, at one peck of his bill, immediately devoured. This certainly was not imitation. A female goat very near delivery died; Galen cut out the young kid, and placed before it a bundle of hay, a bunch of fruit, and a pan of milk; the young kid smelt to them all very attentively, and then began to lap the milk. This was not imitation. And what is commonly and rightly called instinct, cannot be explained away, under the notion of its being imitation" (Lecture xvii. on Moral Philosophy).

It cannot, indeed, be explained away under the notion of its being imitation, but I think it may well be so under that of its being memory.

Again, a little further on in the same lecture, as that above quoted from, we find:-

"Ants and beavers lay up magazines. Where do they get their knowledge that it will not be so easy to collect food in rainy weather, as it is in summer? Men and women know these things, because their grandpapas and grandmammas have told them so. Ants hatched from the egg artificially, or birds hatched in this manner, have all this knowledge by intuition, without the smallest communication with any of their relations. Now observe what the solitary wasp does; she digs several holes in the sand, in each of which she deposits an egg, though she certainly knows not (?) that an animal is deposited in that egg, and still less that this animal must be nourished with other animals. She collects a few green flies, rolls them up neatly in several parcels (like Bologna sausages), and stuffs one parcel into each hole where an egg is deposited. When the wasp worm is hatched, it finds a store of provision ready made; and what is most curious, the quantity allotted to each is exactly sufficient to support it, till it attains the period of wasphood, and can provide for itself. This instinct of the parent wasp is the more remarkable as it does not feed upon flesh itself. Here the little creature has never seen its parent; for by the time it is born, the parent is always eaten by sparrows; and yet, without the slightest education, or previous experience, it does everything that the parent did before it. Now the objectors to the doctrine of instinct may say what they please, but young tailors have no intuitive method of making pantaloons; a new-born mercer cannot measure diaper; nature teaches a cook's daughter nothing about sippets. All these things require with us seven years' apprenticeship; but insects are like Moliere's persons of quality—they know everything (as Moliere says), without having learnt anything. 'Les gens de qualite savent tout, sans avoir rien appris.'"

How completely all difficulty vanishes from the facts so pleasantly told in this passage when we bear in mind the true nature of personal identity, the ordinary working of memory, and the vanishing tendency of consciousness concerning what we know exceedingly well.

My last instance I take from M. Ribot, who writes:- "Gratiolet, in his Anatomie Comparee du Systeme Nerveux, states that an old piece of wolf's skin, with the hair all worn away, when set before a little dog, threw the animal into convulsions of fear by the slight scent attaching to it. The dog had never seen a wolf, and we can only explain this alarm by the hereditary transmission of certain sentiments, coupled with a certain perception of the sense of smell" ("Heredity," p. 43).

I should prefer to say "we can only explain the alarm by supposing that the smell of the wolf's skin"—the sense of smell being, as we all know, more powerful to recall the ideas that have been associated with it than any other sense—"brought up the ideas with which it had been associated in the dog's mind during many previous existences"— he on smelling the wolf's skin remembering all about wolves perfectly well.


In this chapter I will consider, as briefly as possible, the strongest argument that I have been able to discover against the supposition that instinct is chiefly due to habit. I have said "the strongest argument;" I should have said, the only argument that struck me as offering on the face of it serious difficulties.

Turning, then, to Mr. Darwin's chapter on instinct ("Natural Selection," ed. 1876, p. 205), we find substantially much the same views as those taken at a later date by M. Ribot, and referred to in the preceding chapter. Mr. Darwin writes:-

"An action, which we ourselves require experience to enable us to perform, when performed by an animal, more especially a very young one, without experience, and when performed by many animals in the same way without their knowing for what purpose it is performed, is usually said to be instinctive."

The above should strictly be, "without their being conscious of their own knowledge concerning the purpose for which they act as they do;" and though some may say that the two phrases come to the same thing, I think there is an important difference, as what I propose distinguishes ignorance from over-familiarity, both which states are alike unself-conscious, though with widely different results.

"But I could show," continues Mr. Darwin, "that none of these characters are universal. A little dose of judgement or reason, as Pierre Huber expresses it, often comes into play even with animals low in the scale of nature.

"Frederick Cuvier and several of the older metaphysicians have compared instinct with habit."

I would go further and would say, that instinct, in the great majority of cases, is habit pure and simple, contracted originally by some one or more individuals; practised, probably, in a consciously intelligent manner during many successive lives, until the habit has acquired the highest perfection which the circumstances admitted; and, finally, so deeply impressed upon the memory as to survive that effacement of minor impressions which generally takes place in every fresh life-wave or generation.

I would say, that unless the identity of offspring with their parents be so far admitted that the children be allowed to remember the deeper impressions engraved on the minds of those who begot them, it is little less than trilling to talk, as so many writers do, about inherited habit, or the experience of the race, or, indeed, accumulated variations of instincts.

When an instinct is not habit, as resulting from memory pure and simple, it is habit modified by some treatment, generally in the youth or embryonic stages of the individual, which disturbs his memory, and drives him on to some unusual course, inasmuch as he cannot recognise and remember his usual one by reason of the change now made in it. Habits and instincts, again, may be modified by any important change in the condition of the parents, which will then both affect the parent's sense of his own identity, and also create more or less fault, or dislocation of memory, in the offspring immediately behind the memory of his last life. Change of food may at times be sufficient to create a specific modification—that is to say, to affect all the individuals whose food is so changed, in one and the same way—whether as regards structure or habit. Thus we see that certain changes in food (and domicile), from those with which its ancestors have been familiar, will disturb the memory of a queen bee's egg, and set it at such disadvantage as to make it make itself into a neuter bee; but yet we find that the larva thus partly aborted may have its memories restored to it, if not already too much disturbed, and may thus return to its condition as a queen bee, if it only again be restored to the food and domicile, which its past memories can alone remember.

So we see that opium, tobacco, alcohol, hasheesh, and tea produce certain effects upon our own structure and instincts. But though capable of modification, and of specific modification, which may in time become inherited, and hence resolve itself into a true instinct or settled question, yet I maintain that the main bulk of the instinct (whether as affecting structure or habits of life) will be derived from memory pure and simple; the individual growing up in the shape he does, and liking to do this or that when he is grown up, simply from recollection of what he did last time, and of what on the whole suited him.

For it must be remembered that a drug which should destroy some one part at an early embryonic stage, and thus prevent it from development, would prevent the creature from recognising the surroundings which affected that part when he was last alive and unmutilated, as being the same as his present surroundings. He would be puzzled, for he would be viewing the position from a different standpoint. If any important item in a number of associated ideas disappears, the plot fails; and a great internal change is an exceedingly important item. Life and things to a creature so treated at an early embryonic stage would not be life and things as he last remembered them; hence he would not be able to do the same now as he did then; that is to say, he would vary both in structure and instinct; but if the creature were tolerably uniform to start with, and were treated in a tolerably uniform way, we might expect the effect produced to be much the same in all ordinary cases.

We see, also, that any important change in treatment and surroundings, if not sufficient to kill, would and does tend to produce not only variability but sterility, as part of the same story and for the same reason—namely, default of memory; this default will be of every degree of intensity, from total failure, to a slight disturbance of memory as affecting some one particular organ only; that is to say, from total sterility, to a slight variation in an unimportant part. So that even THE SLIGHTEST CONCEIVABLE VARIATIONS SHOULD BE REFERRED TO CHANGED CONDITIONS, EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL, AND TO THEIR DISTURBING EFFECTS UPON THE MEMORY; and sterility, without any apparent disease of the reproductive system, may be referred not so much to special delicacy or susceptibility of the organs of reproduction as to inability on the part of the creature to know where it is, and to recognise itself as the same creature which it has been accustomed to reproduce.

Mr. Darwin thinks that the comparison of habit with instinct gives "an accurate notion of the frame of mind under which an instinctive action is performed, but not," he thinks, "of its origin."

"How unconsciously," Mr. Darwin continues, "many habitual actions are performed, indeed not rarely in direct opposition to our conscious will! Yet they may be modified by the will or by reason. Habits easily become associated with other habits, with certain periods of time and states of body. When once acquired, they often remain constant throughout life. Several other points of resemblance between instincts and habits could be pointed out. As in repeating a well-known song, so in instincts, one action follows another by a sort of rhythm. If a person be interrupted in a song or in repeating anything by rote, he is generally forced to go back to recover the habitual train of thought; so P. Huber found it was with a caterpillar, which makes a very complicated hammock. For if he took a caterpillar which had completed its hammock up to, say, the sixth stage of construction, and put it into a hammock completed up only to the third stage, the caterpillar simply re-performed the fourth, fifth, and sixth stages of construction. If, however, a caterpillar were taken out of a hammock made up, for instance, to the third stage, and were put into one finished up to the sixth stage, so that much of its work was already done for it, far from deriving any benefit from this, it was much embarrassed, and in order to complete its hammock, seemed forced to start from the third stage, where it had left off, and thus tried to complete the already finished work."

I see I must have unconsciously taken my first chapter from this passage, but it is immaterial. I owe Mr. Darwin much more than this. I owe it to him that I believe in evolution at all. I owe him for almost all the facts which have led me to differ from him, and which I feel absolutely safe in taking for granted, if he has advanced them. Nevertheless, I believe that the conclusion arrived at in the passage which I will next quote is a mistaken one, and that not a little only, but fundamentally. I shall therefore venture to dispute it.

The passage runs:-

"If we suppose any habitual action to become inherited—and it can be shown that this does sometimes happen—then the resemblance between what originally was a habit and an instinct becomes so close as not to be distinguished. . . . BUT IT WOULD BE A SERIOUS ERROR TO SUPPOSE THAT THE GREATER NUMBER OF INSTINCTS HAVE BEEN ACQUIRED BY HABIT IN ONE GENERATION, AND THEN TRANSMITTED BY INHERITANCE TO SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS. IT CAN BE CLEARLY SHOWN THAT THE MOST WONDERFUL INSTINCTS WITH WHICH WE ARE ACQUAINTED—NAMELY, THOSE OF THE HIVE-BEE AND OF MANY ANTS, COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN ACQUIRED BY HABIT." ("Origin of Species," p. 206, ed. 1876.) The italics in this passage are mine.

No difficulty is opposed to my view (as I call it, for the sake of brevity) by such an instinct as that of ants to milk aphids. Such instincts may be supposed to have been acquired in much the same way as the instinct of a farmer to keep a cow. Accidental discovery of the fact that the excretion was good, with "a little dose of judgement or reason" from time to time appearing in an exceptionally clever ant, and by him communicated to his fellows, till the habit was so confirmed as to be capable of transmission in full unself- consciousness (if indeed the instinct be unself-conscious in this case), would, I think, explain this as readily as the slow and gradual accumulations of instincts which had never passed through the intelligent and self-conscious stage, but had always prompted action without any idea of a why or a wherefore on the part of the creature itself.

For it must be remembered, as I am afraid I have already perhaps too often said, that even when we have got a slight variation of instinct, due to some cause which we know nothing about, but which I will not even for a moment call "spontaneous"—a word that should be cut out of every dictionary, or in some way branded as perhaps the most misleading in the language—we cannot see how it comes to be repeated in successive generations, so as to be capable of being acted upon by "natural selection" and accumulated, unless it be also capable of being remembered by the offspring of the varying creature. It may be answered that we cannot know anything about this, but that "like father like son" is an ultimate fact in nature. I can only answer that I never observe any "like father like son" without the son's both having had every opportunity of remembering, and showing every symptom of having remembered, in which case I decline to go further than memory (whatever memory may be) as the cause of the phenomenon.

But besides inheritance, teaching must be admitted as a means of at any rate modifying an instinct. We observe this in our own case; and we know that animals have great powers of communicating their ideas to one another, though their manner of doing this is as incomprehensible by us as a plant's knowledge of chemistry, or the manner in which an amoeba makes its test, or a spider its web, without having gone through a long course of mathematics. I think most readers will allow that our early training and the theological systems of the last eighteen hundred years are likely to have made us involuntarily under-estimate the powers of animals low in the scale of life, both as regards intelligence and the power of communicating their ideas to one another; but even now we admit that ants have great powers in this respect.

A habit, however, which is taught to the young or each successive generation, by older members of the community who have themselves received it by instruction, should surely rank as an inherited habit, and be considered as due to memory, though personal teaching be necessary to complete the inheritance.

An objection suggests itself that if such a habit as the flight of birds, which seems to require a little personal supervision and instruction before it is acquired perfectly, were really due to memory, the need of instruction would after a time cease, inasmuch as the creature would remember its past method of procedure, and would thus come to need no more teaching. The answer lies in the fact, that if a creature gets to depend upon teaching and personal help for any matter, its memory will make it look for such help on each repetition of the action; so we see that no man's memory will exert itself much until he is thrown upon memory as his only resource. We may read a page of a book a hundred times, but we do not remember it by heart unless we have either cultivated our powers of learning to repeat, or have taken pains to learn this particular page.

And whether we read from a book, or whether we repeat by heart, the repetition is still due to memory; only in the one case the memory is exerted to recall something which one saw only half a second ago, and in the other, to recall something not seen for a much longer period. So I imagine an instinct or habit may be called an inherited habit, and assigned to memory, even though the memory dates, not from the performance of the action by the learner when he was actually part of the personality of the teacher, but rather from a performance witnessed by, or explained by the teacher to, the pupil at a period subsequent to birth. In either case the habit is inherited in the sense of being acquired in one generation, and transmitted with such modifications as genius and experience may have suggested.

Mr. Darwin would probably admit this without hesitation; when, therefore, he says that certain instincts could not possibly have been acquired by habit, he must mean that they could not, under the circumstances, have been remembered by the pupil in the person of the teacher, and that it would be a serious error to suppose that the greater number of instincts can be thus remembered. To which I assent readily so far as that it is difficult (though not impossible) to see how some of the most wonderful instincts of neuter ants and bees can be due to the fact that the neuter ant or bee was ever in part, or in some respects, another neuter ant or bee in a previous generation. At the same time I maintain that this does not militate against the supposition that both instinct and structure are in the main due to memory. For the power of receiving any communication, and acting on it, is due to memory; and the neuter ant or bee may have received its lesson from another neuter ant or bee, who had it from another and modified it; and so back and back, till the foundation of the habit is reached, and is found to present little more than the faintest family likeness to its more complex descendant. Surely Mr. Darwin cannot mean that it can be shewn that the wonderful instincts of neuter ants and bees cannot have been acquired either, as above, by instruction, or by some not immediately obvious form of inherited transmission, but that they must be due to the fact that the ant or bee is, as it were, such and such a machine, of which if you touch such and such a spring, you will get a corresponding action. If he does, he will find, so far as I can see, no escape from a position very similar to the one which I put into the mouth of the first of the two professors, who dealt with the question of machinery in my earlier work, "Erewhon," and which I have since found that my great namesake made fun of in the following lines:-

. . . "They now begun To spur their living engines on. For as whipped tops and bandy'd balls, The learned hold are animals: So horses they affirm to be Mere engines made by geometry, And were invented first from engines As Indian Britons were from Penguins." —Hudibras, Canto ii. line 53, &c.

I can see, then, no difficulty in the development of the ordinary so- called instincts, whether of ants or bees, or the cuckoo, or any other animal, on the supposition that they were, for the most part, intelligently acquired with more or less labour, as the case may be, in much the same way as we see any art or science now in process of acquisition among ourselves, but were ultimately remembered by offspring, or communicated to it. When the limits of the race's capacity had been attained (and most races seem to have their limits, unsatisfactory though the expression may very fairly be considered), or when the creature had got into a condition, so to speak, of equilibrium with its surroundings, there would be no new development of instincts, and the old ones would cease to be improved, inasmuch as there would be no more reasoning or difference of opinion concerning them. The race, therefore, or species would remain in statu quo till either domesticated, and so brought into contact with new ideas and placed in changed conditions, or put under such pressure, in a wild state, as should force it to further invention, or extinguish it if incapable of rising to the occasion. That instinct and structure may be acquired by practice in one or more generations, and remembered in succeeding ones, is admitted by Mr. Darwin, for he allows ("Origin of Species," p. 206) that habitual action does sometimes become inherited, and, though he does not seem to conceive of such action as due to memory, yet it is inconceivable how it is inherited, if not as the result of memory.

It must be admitted, however, that when we come to consider the structures as well as the instincts of some of the neuter insects, our difficulties seem greatly increased. The neuter hive-bees have a cavity in their thighs in which to keep the wax, which it is their business to collect; but the drones and queen, which alone bear offspring, collect no wax, and therefore neither want, nor have, any such cavity. The neuter bees are also, if I understand rightly, furnished with a proboscis or trunk for extracting honey from flowers, whereas the fertile bees, who gather no honey, have no such proboscis. Imagine, if the reader will, that the neuter bees differ still more widely from the fertile ones; how, then, can they in any sense be said to derive organs from their parents, which not one of their parents for millions of generations has ever had? How, again, can it be supposed that they transmit these organs to the future neuter members of the community when they are perfectly sterile?

One can understand that the young neuter bee might be taught to make a hexagonal cell (though I have not found that any one has seen the lesson being given) inasmuch as it does not make the cell till after birth, and till after it has seen other neuter bees who might tell it much in, qua us, a very little time; but we can hardly understand its growing a proboscis before it could possibly want it, or preparing a cavity in its thigh, to have it ready to put wax into, when none of its predecessors had ever done so, by supposing oral communication, during the larvahood. Nevertheless, it must not be forgotten that bees seem to know secrets about reproduction, which utterly baffle ourselves; for example, the queen bee appears to know how to deposit male or female, eggs at will; and this is a matter of almost inconceivable sociological importance, denoting a corresponding amount of sociological and physiological knowledge generally. It should not, then, surprise us if the race should possess other secrets, whose working we are unable to follow, or even detect at all.

Sydney Smith, indeed, writes:-

"The warmest admirers of honey, and the greatest friends to bees, will never, I presume, contend that the young swarm, who begin making honey three or four months after they are born, and immediately construct these mathematical cells, should have gained their geometrical knowledge as we gain ours, and in three months' time outstrip Mr. Maclaurin in mathematics as much as they did in making honey. It would take a senior wrangler at Cambridge ten hours a day for three years together to know enough mathematics for the calculation of these problems, with which not only every queen bee, but every undergraduate grub, is acquainted the moment it is born." This last statement may be a little too strong, but it will at once occur to the reader, that as we know the bees DO surpass Mr. Maclaurin in the power of making honey, they may also surpass him in capacity for those branches of mathematics with which it has been their business to be conversant during many millions of years, and also in knowledge of physiology and psychology in so far as the knowledge bears upon the interests of their own community.

We know that the larva which develops into a neuter bee, and that again which in time becomes a queen bee, are the same kind of larva to start with; and that if you give one of these larvae the food and treatment which all its foremothers have been accustomed to, it will turn out with all the structure and instincts of its foremothers—and that it only fails to do this because it has been fed, and otherwise treated, in such a manner as not one of its foremothers was ever yet fed or treated. So far, this is exactly what we should expect, on the view that structure and instinct are alike mainly due to memory, or to medicined memory. Give the larva a fair chance of knowing where it is, and it shows that it remembers by doing exactly what it did before. Give it a different kind of food and house, and it cannot be expected to be anything else than puzzled. It remembers a great deal. It comes out a bee, and nothing but a bee; but it is an aborted bee; it is, in fact, mutilated before birth instead of after- -with instinct, as well as growth, correlated to its abortion, as we see happens frequently in the case of animals a good deal higher than bees that have been mutilated at a stage much later than that at which the abortion of neuter bees commences.

The larvae being similar to start with, and being similarly mutilated—i.e., by change of food and dwelling, will naturally exhibit much similarity of instinct and structure on arriving at maturity. When driven from their usual course, they must take SOME new course or die. There is nothing strange in the fact that similar beings puzzled similarly should take a similar line of action. I grant, however, that it is hard to see how change of food and treatment can puzzle an insect into such "complex growth" as that it should make a cavity in its thigh, grow an invaluable proboscis, and betray a practical knowledge of difficult mathematical problems.

But it must be remembered that the memory of having been queen bees and drones—which is all that according to my supposition the larvae can remember, (on a first view of the case), in their own proper persons—would nevertheless carry with it a potential recollection of all the social arrangements of the hive. They would thus potentially remember that the mass of the bees were always neuter bees; they would remember potentially the habits of these bees, so far as drones and queens know anything about them; and this may be supposed to be a very thorough acquaintance; in like manner, and with the same limitation, they would know from the very moment that they left the queen's body that neuter bees had a proboscis to gather honey with, and cavities in their thighs to put wax into, and that cells were to be made with certain angles—for surely it is not crediting the queen with more knowledge than she is likely to possess, if we suppose her to have a fair acquaintance with the phenomena of wax and cells generally, even though she does not make any; they would know (while still larvae—and earlier) the kind of cells into which neuter bees were commonly put, and the kind of treatment they commonly received— they might therefore, as eggs—immediately on finding their recollection driven from its usual course, so that they must either find some other course, or die—know that they were being treated as neuter bees are treated, and that they were expected to develop into neuter bees accordingly; they might know all this, and a great deal more into the bargain, inasmuch as even before being actually deposited as eggs they would know and remember potentially, but unconsciously, all that their parents knew and remembered intensely. Is it, then, astonishing that they should adapt themselves so readily to the position which they know it is for the social welfare of the community, and hence of themselves, that they should occupy, and that they should know that they will want a cavity in their thighs and a proboscis, and hence make such implements out of their protoplasm as readily as they make their wings?

I admit that, under normal treatment, none of the above-mentioned potential memories would be kindled into such a state of activity that action would follow upon them, until the creature had attained a more or less similar condition to that in which its parent was when these memories were active within its mind: but the essence of the matter is, that these larvae have been treated ABNORMALLY, so that if they do not die, there is nothing for it but that they must vary. One cannot argue from the normal to the abnormal. It would not, then, be strange if the potential memories should (owing to the margin for premature or tardy development which association admits) serve to give the puzzled larvae a hint as to the course which they had better take, or that, at any rate, it should greatly supplement the instruction of the "nurse" bees themselves by rendering the larvae so, as it were, inflammable on this point, that a spark should set them in a blaze. Abortion is generally premature. Thus the scars referred to in the last chapter as having appeared on the children of men who had been correspondingly wounded, should not, under normal circumstances, have appeared in the offspring till the children had got fairly near the same condition generally as that in which their fathers were when they were wounded, and even then, normally, there should have been an instrument to wound them, much as their fathers had been wounded. Association, however, does not always stick to the letter of its bond.

The line, again, might certainly be taken that the difference in structure and instincts between neuter and fertile bees is due to the specific effects of certain food and treatment; yet, though one would be sorry to set limits to the convertibility of food and genius, it seems hard to believe that there can be any untutored food which should teach a bee to make a hexagonal cell as soon as it was born, or which, before it was born, should teach it to prepare such structures as it would require in after life. If, then, food be considered as a direct agent in causing the structures and instinct, and not an indirect agent, merely indicating to the larva itself that it is to make itself after the fashion of neuter bees, then we should bear in mind that, at any rate, it has been leavened and prepared in the stomachs of those neuter bees into which the larva is now expected to develop itself, and may thus have in it more true germinative matter—gemmules, in fact—than is commonly supposed. Food, when sufficiently assimilated (the whole question turning upon what IS "sufficiently"), becomes stored with all the experience and memories of the assimilating creature; corn becomes hen, and knows nothing but hen, when hen has eaten it. We know also that the neuter working-bees inject matter into the cell after the larva has been produced; nor would it seem harsh to suppose that though devoid of a reproductive system like that of their parents, they may yet be practically not so neuter as is commonly believed. One cannot say what gemmules of thigh and proboscis may not have got into the neutral bees' stomachs, if they assimilate their food sufficiently, and thus into the larva.

Mr. Darwin will be the first to admit that though a creature have no reproductive system, in any ordinary sense of the word, yet every unit or cell of its body may throw off gemmules which may be free to move over every part of the whole organism, and which "natural selection" might in time cause to stray into food which had been sufficiently prepared in the stomachs of the neuter bees.

I cannot say, then, precisely in what way, but I can see no reason for doubting that in some of the ways suggested above, or in some combination of them, the phenomena of the instincts of neuter ants and bees can be brought into the same category as the instincts and structure of fertile animals. At any rate, I see the great fact that when treated as they have been accustomed to be treated, these neuters act as though they remembered, and accordingly become queen bees; and that they only depart from their ancestral course on being treated in such fashion as their ancestors can never have remembered; also, that when they have been thrown off their accustomed line of thought and action, they only take that of their nurses, who have been about them from the moment of their being deposited as eggs by the queen bee, who have fed them from their own bodies, and between whom and them there may have been all manner of physical and mental communication, of which we know no more than we do of the power which enables a bee to find its way home after infinite shifting and turning among flowers, which no human powers could systematise so as to avoid confusion.

Or take it thus: We know that mutilation at an early age produces an effect upon the structure and instincts of cattle, sheep, and horses; and it might be presumed that if feasible at an earlier age, it would produce a still more marked effect. We observe that the effect produced is uniform, or nearly so. Suppose mutilation to produce a little more effect than it does, as we might easily do, if cattle, sheep, and horses had been for ages accustomed to a mutilated class living among them, which class had been always a caste apart, and had fed the young neuters from their own bodies, from an early embryonic stage onwards; would any one in this case dream of advancing the structure and instincts of this mutilated class against the doctrine that instinct is inherited habit? Or, if inclined to do this, would he not at once refrain, on remembering that the process of mutilation might be arrested, and the embryo be developed into an entire animal by simply treating it in the way to which all its ancestors had been accustomed? Surely he would not allow the difficulty (which I must admit in some measure to remain) to outweigh the evidence derivable from these very neuter insects themselves, as well as from such a vast number of other sources—all pointing in the direction of instinct as inherited habit. {5}

Lastly, it must be remembered that the instinct to make cells and honey is one which has no very great hold upon its possessors. Bees CAN make cells and honey, nor do they seem to have any very violent objection to doing so; but it is quite clear that there is nothing in their structure and instincts which urges them on to do these things for the mere love of doing them, as a hen is urged to sit upon a chalk stone, concerning which she probably is at heart utterly sceptical, rather than not sit at all. There is no honey and cell- making instinct so strong as the instinct to eat, if they are hungry, or to grow wings, and make themselves into bees at all. Like ourselves, so long as they can get plenty to eat and drink, they will do no work. Under these circumstances, not one drop of honey nor one particle of wax will they collect, except, I presume, to make cells for the rearing of their young.

Sydney Smith writes:-

"The most curious instance of a change of instinct is recorded by Darwin. The bees carried over to Barbadoes and the Western Isles ceased to lay up any honey after the first year, as they found it not useful to them. They found the weather so fine, and materials for making honey so plentiful, that they quitted their grave, prudent, and mercantile character, became exceedingly profligate and debauched, ate up their capital, resolved to work no more, and amused themselves by flying about the sugar-houses and stinging the blacks" (Lecture XVII. on Moral Philosophy). The ease, then, with which the honey-gathering and cell-making habits are relinquished, would seem to point strongly in the direction of their acquisition at a comparatively late period of development.

I have dealt with bees only, and not with ants, which would perhaps seem to present greater difficulty, inasmuch as in some families of these there are two, or even three, castes of neuters with well- marked and wide differences of structure and instinct; but I think the reader will agree with me that the ants are sufficiently covered by the bees, and that enough, therefore, has been said already. Mr. Darwin supposes that these modifications of structure and instinct have been effected by the accumulation of numerous slight, profitable, spontaneous variations on the part of the fertile parents, which has caused them (so, at least, I understand him) to lay this or that particular kind of egg, which should develop into a kind of bee or ant, with this or that particular instinct, which instinct is merely a co-ordination with structure, and in no way attributable to use or habit in preceding generations.

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