Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/149

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139
COLONIES AND THE MOTHER COUNTRY.
COLONIES AND THE MOTHER COUNTRY. (I.)
By JAMES COLLIER.

WE may conceive a country, with its colonies and dependencies grouped round it at unequal distances and in different directions, as a giant organism, which has its laws of growth' and development, its phases of expansion, activity and decay, like all other organisms. We see it enlarging in mass, but to the last remaining amorphous, or assimilable to no known forms. We observe the heart and brain fostering, helping and sometimes hindering, directing, controlling and guarding the evolution of the nearer or remoter portions. We perceive on scrutiny threads of relationship being woven, new nervous, muscular and circulatory systems being developed, which connect the extremities with the center and unite both into an organic whole. We are struck at times with the rupture of the mass and the permanent separation of parts of it; at times we are impressed by an unexpected augmentation in previously unknown areas, as if to repair the loss of the old. We witness the extremities reacting on the original nucleus, to some extent remodeling the heart and brain and thus creating a type of organism unprecedented in Nature. And we find that of a limited number of such colossal types, ever battling for predominance, one or another gains an ascendency and the rest are reduced to a secondary rank, or, being lopped of their colonial extensions, cease to be world-wide organisms and shrink into the merely national organisms from which they sprang.

Snails put out their feelers as they go. The bolder insects and the more adventurous birds fly small or great distances in search of a feeding ground; some are carried out to sea, and become involuntary 'discoverers' of new lands.[1] The social organism puts out its feelers and extends in mass. The community pushes out its scouts, and a portion of it, at longer or shorter intervals, follows their lead. Thus the mother country discovers many of the territories it colonizes. Cadiz was unknown to the Eastern world till a Phœnician merchant ship was blown thither. The West African coast and the mouth of the Rhone were discovered by the Carthaginians. Libya (west of Egypt) was a terra incognita to the Greeks till a Greek sailor who had been driven on its inhospitable coast informed the emigrant Theræans of its existence. The Portuguese discovered the Azores. The Span-

  1. Examples of insects are given in Darwin's 'Journal,' and of birds in Wallace's 'Malay Archipelago.'