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These, and similar actions necessary for the development and growth of the individual, are prompted by hunger, or some other natural want; and their analogues may be found in every living creature, beginning with these humble forms of life and ending with man.
And mark, reader, how strikingly the principle is here illustrated that we quoted with reference to the comparative physical and mental development of animals. The instinct that prompts the Actinia, one of the lowest forms of animal life, to stretch out its tentacles in search of prey in the same mechanical manner throughout its whole life, and which is therefore one of the mental characteristics of its perfect nature, this instinct, we say, is repeated, with but little variation, in the human infant during the earliest stage of its existence, when it turns to the mother's breast for food as mechanically as the Polype extends its feelers in the water with the same object,-namely, that of obtaining a supply of nou... rishment.
As before remarked, we are not going to attempt a formal classification of the mental attributes of animals; but the most appropriate term that occurs to us, as a designation of this class of psychical properties, is “natural or animal instinct,” by reason of its immediate relation to all the most urgent requirements of the animal nature.
But as we travel upwards in the animal scale, and look around us amongst the insect races, we cannot fail to observe in these a class of actions prompted by
mental impulses, and resulting from psychical powers that are as distinct in their nature from those just described as are the active and highly organised creatures themselves from the Anemone, growing, as it were, upon the rock. And is this not perfectly natural, and in accordance with the progressive development exhibited in the structure of the animals ? In the radiate types we have a set of tentacles, long or short, thick or thin, hard or soft, but always tentacles, and nothing more.
Their office is to seize the food with which they come into contact, and convey it to the stomach, and for this object their simple form is amply sufficient.
But now, turning to the insect tribes, we find in the Mantis* and others, certain parts of the members of locomotion, &c., transformed into powerful blades or claws, with which they are enabled to capture and despatch their prey. The Spider, again, possesses a set of spinarets wherewith to weave a web for the same purpose, and a combing apparatus upon each foot, to aid it in its operations. The suctorial insects are furnished with probosces, or suction-pumps, and the parasites with lancets, that are used to extract the juices from plants and animals.
* Mantis religiosa is an interesting and well-known insect of prey, a native of the South of France, that usually assumes the attitude of prayer (hence its name) whilst watching for passing flies, which it strikes down with its scythe-shaped fore-legs.
Now, as each of these weapons must be wielded in a particular way, is it not quite obvious that the owners must be taught how to employ them? or, in other words, must they not all possess varying powers of mind, to enable them to attain the same end by different means? Is it reasonable to suppose that one and the same impulse or psychical endowment, implanted in the Spider and in the Bee, will cause the former to weave its web and wait patiently for the approach of its prey, and the other to fly off to distant meadows or gardens, and there penetrate the nectaries of flowers in search of honey? Would it be wise to assume that both these instincts resemble, in their psychical character, the imperfect faculty whereby the Actinia is prompted to extend and retract its tentacles ? Certainly not. Such a theory would be just as absurd as to suppose that the same powers of mind as those which direct the Bee and other insects in the use of their natural implements would suffice to enable man to deal with all subjects in connexion with the arts and sciences.
When we contemplate the mode in which the various insects employ their exquisitely constructed instruments, of widely differing character, we cannot help perceiving that the Creator has endowed each of these His creatures with a circumscribed mental capacity; but, at the same time, one that enables it to perform its complicated operations to the best advantage. Nor must we forget that not only has He centred in us all these psychical endowments, placing
us at the same time in a position to form similar instruments for our own use, but He has in His mercy crowned us with reasoning faculties, that we may appreciate His goodness, and assist in the fulfilment of His great ends by their wise and judicious employment.
But there are other reasons why the mind of an insect should be differently constituted to that of an Actinia. The latter is fixed upon a rock in the sea ; and, though it certainly possesses limited powers of locomotion, yet there it is, always at the mercy of a passing fish or Crustacean; these browse upon it, just as a sheep grazes upon the meadows. But with the insect it is otherwise. The Bee, for example, has been placed in a completely different natural sphere; it builds for itself a dwelling to afford it protection from the weather, fortifies it to exclude enemies, and cements it down firmly that it may not be left at the control of the wind, as the Actinia is tossed about by every passing wave. For this purpose it has to seek certain natural substances, which serve the little architect as bricks and mortar; and these operations necessarily require discrimination, or what in ourselves we term judgment; for, as it sometimes happens that the proper materials are not within reach, the Bee is then obliged to employ substitutes, and in so doing it never blindly chooses the less efficient substance when a better one is at hand, but invariably uses “ the right thing in the right place.”
And, moreover, Bees communicate information to one another, and they also possess emotion as well as sensation.
Do you doubt this assertion? Then go to a beehive, and lay a small twig, or some other obstacle to the free passage of the inmates, across its entrance. As the labourers pass in and out of the hive, they inspect it carefully, and first you will see one or two Bees crawl over, and examine it with their antennæ; then they enter and inform, probably, the Police-bees inside.
Presently a few more make their appearance from within, and, if you have the courage to stand your ground, two or three detectives will fly about your head, and by their angry hum will give you a hint that it would be advisable for you to remove the stick, or make yourself scarce.
But you may leave the twig a little longer, for the Bees won't attack you at once, unless you show signs of fear; and when you find the number increase about the entrance of the hive, withdraw the stick and go away to a considerable distance. You will then see them come forth in masses just as though they were going to swarm, and had you dared to stay you would have been attacked and seriously stung, for daring to disturb the even tenor of their existence.
On one occasion we ventured to stand near the hive a little longer than was discreet whilst trying this experiment, and were actually attacked by some of the Bees, one of which few against our face