Ants, Bees, and Wasps. A Record of Observations on the Habits of the Social Hymenoptera. With Illustrations and Colored Plates. By Sir John Lubbock, Bart., M. P., F. R. S., etc. D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 448. Price, $2.
When, some ten years ago, the author of this work was solicited to contribute a volume to the "International Scientific Series," he cordially consented, on the condition that he might take his time. Nothing could be more reasonable, for Sir John is a very busy man, and occupied by many duties. But, now that his book has appeared, the surprise is that he should have done it so quickly. The most expeditious way of producing a book is, of course, with the scissors; the next is with the pen, where the work is spun from the fancy; but the slowest method is where the author strikes into original inquiry, which involves long-continued observation and experiment before he can bring the subject into shape for literary presentation. It is in this sense that Sir John Lubbock has made the present work. How it has originated, and what is its object, are thus stated in the preface: "This volume contains the record of various experiments made with ants, bees, and wasps, during the past ten years. Other occupations, and many interruptions, political and professional, have prevented me from making them as full and complete as I had hoped. My parliamentary duties in particular have absorbed most of my time just at the season of year when these insects can be most profitably studied. I have, therefore, whenever it seemed necessary, carefully recorded the month during which the observations were made, for the instincts and behavior of ants, bees, and wasps are by no means the same throughout the year. My object has been, not so much to describe the usual habits of these insects, as to test their mental conditions and powers of sense."
The work has, therefore, a twofold interest. In the first place, it is a contribution to comparative psychology; a subject which requires much more cautious and discriminating study than it has formerly received. The insects to which Sir John Lubbock has devoted himself exhibit remarkable mental traits, but it is by no means so easy a thing to interpret them rightly. Much, of course, was critically and accurately known of their habits and characters before our author took up the inquiry, as his copious bibliography and numerous citations show; but there was also so much loose and exaggerated statement in the popular natural history of these creatures, and so much serious deficiency in their scientific study, that a close and systematic re-examination of the phenomena was necessary. Sir John devised various ingenious methods of dealing with his insects, and by taking the ample time necessary to educate himself in their manipulation, and in getting familiarly acquainted with their ways, he has been enabled to qualify many previous opinions respecting their intelligence, and very much to extend our accurate knowledge upon the subject.
But while the problems which Sir John Lubbock had here to solve were those of comparative psychology, they have another interesting aspect. The insects being gregarious and eminently social, all their mental manifestations were in social relation, so that the inquiry ran inevitably into comparative sociology. It is this fact which gives