Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/30

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

panions, which all drop down into the place pointed out, combine their efforts, drag out the ball, and set it on its path again. What did the scarabee say to its comrades? how did it make itself understood? how did it bring them back with it? It is not possible to make any positive answer to these questions; what is beyond dispute is, that there was in this case a concert of intelligences knowing how to understand each other and to come together. Nothing more is needed for the assertion that the insect judges, wills, and perhaps speaks, a language of which we know as yet neither the signs nor the organs.

Cuvier, then, was in error when he announced that instinct in animals is in an inverse ratio to their intelligence. The contrary seems rather to be true, and it is at least probable that in those intelligences of insects which feel, will, understand, deliberate, there are, on a finer scale, differences similar to those we remark in the higher animals. The faculty is common to all, but with shades as marked among the wild beasts of menageries as among our domestic animals. One is cross, and another jealous; this one is good-tempered, that other quarrelsome, faithful to the house, or a vagabond in the streets—all are more or less intelligent. In the lower animals these differences have not been as closely observed; in the first place, they are probably less distinctly marked, and in any case they are much more difficult to observe for reasons of all kinds. The small size of the being, its life wholly alien to our own, the predominance of instinct, are all so many impediments; but, on the other hand, the acts we see them perform under our very eyes, the admitted existence of faculties that may be compared with our own, and those of a relatively high order, allow of very little doubt that not only do insects possess a remarkably-developed intelligence, but that this intelligence presents, in consequence of its very development, individual variations, just as in the higher animals.

This is already a great advance upon Descartes, whose strange theory no one at this day, that we are aware of, undertakes to defend; but this is not all—a new step has been taken in these later times. We are beginning, with our better knowledge, to ask whether those intellectual and instinctive faculties, arranged by Cuvier in two parallel series, may not have some common bond, so that one would flow from the other, and instinct, after all, be definitely a product of intelligence. The question has its importance. Instinct would then no longer be one of those essential properties of living beings which absolutely elude our comprehension, such as thought in the brain, contraction in the muscles, the electricity of the eel, or the gleam of the glow-worm; it would be accessible, like all dependent phenomena, to our processes of experiment and investigation.

Darwin is entitled to the credit of having taken the question into this entirely new region. This bold attempt to found the scientific study of instinct is found rather indefinitely in the "Origin of Spe-