Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/24
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
stinctive faculties; every thing seems to be instinct with the insects, and, if Cuvier's idea be adopted, it ought in general to be very poorly endowed as regards intelligence. We shall presently see that the truth is completely the reverse.
Besides, Cuvier had no very accurate knowledge of insects, which in his classification he degraded to a place below molluscs. We cannot address the same reproach to M. Emile Blanchard, who pursues the natural history of articulated animals, at the Jardin des Plantes. We regret keenly that in his late work on the "Transformations, Habits, and Instincts of Insects," he has not thought fit to follow the suggestions of such a title, and to dwell a little on that twofold subject of intelligence and instinct which would gain by being clearly stated. His usual studies and the direction of his labors enable M. Blanchard better than any one else to complete a blank which must be supposed one of choice only, in his work. The learned professor of the museum goes on from Cuvier's starting-point with him, and, with Flourens in his last work ("Comparative Psychology," 1865), M. Blanchard distinguishes instinct from intelligence, but he stops there. He makes no attempt whatever to measure the reciprocal influence of these two kinds of faculties in the very complex acts of insect-life; and, above all, he refrains from the study of their intelligence, full of interest as it is. "Individuals of the same species," he says, "always perform the same works without having learned any thing; instinct alone guides them." Yet, together with this instinct, as M. Blanchard himself admits, there are faculties of intellect, which offer greater difficulties of study by reason of the existence of those instinctive faculties. These very difficulties make the study more worthy of attention. How are the two classes of faculties combined? If that winged mite had nothing but the instincts that urge it, those alone would make it interesting; how is that interest increased, when in that tiny body instinct is paired with reflection that analyzes sensations, and will that determines movements! what a study might we find in these intellectual faculties used by so perfect an instinct! Does it not become indispensable to measure these faculties exactly in the case in which instinct is most developed? Suppose we were to find, contrary to Cuvier's opinion, that instinct, far from being inversely proportioned to the degree of intelligence, is just the reverse, and is greater, according as intelligence is more active.
This really is the truth, and it is important to fix this first point clearly in the study of instinct. Human inferiority in point of instinct is perhaps only apparent, since education hardly allows us to guess what we should be without it. We know from the history of more than one child found wild in the woods, especially from that of the idiot boy so well studied by Itard, what amazing instincts may be displayed by a human creature, even one absolutely without understanding, when abandoned to itself. Among all animals, insects are assuredly