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but not of its origin. How unconsciously many habitual actions are performed, indeed not rarely in direct opposition to our conscious will 1 yet they may be modified by the will or reason. Habits easily become associated with other habits, and with certain periods of time and states of the body. When once acquired, they often remain constant throughout life. Several other points of resemblance between instincts and habits could be pointed out. As in repeating a well-known song, so in instincts, one action follows another by a sort of rhythm ; if a person be interrupted in a song, or in repeating anything by rote, he is generally forced to go back to recover the habitual train of thought: so P. Huber found it was with a caterpillar, which makes a very complicated hammock; for if he took a caterpillar which had completed its hammock up to, say, the sixth stage of construction, and put it into a hammock completed up only to the third stage, the caterpillar simply re-performed the fourth, fifth, and sixth stages of construction. If, however, a caterpillar were taken out of a hammock made up, for instance, to the third stage, and were put into one finished up to the sixth stage, so that much of its work was already done for it, far from feeling the benefit of this, it was much embarrassed, and, in order to complete its hammock, seemed forced to start from the third stage, where it had left off, and thus tried to complete the already finished work. * If we suppose any habitual action to become inherited ——-and I think it can be shown that this does sometimes happenéthen the resemblance between what originally was a habit and an instinct becomes so close as not to be distinguished. If Mozart, instead of playing the pianoforte at three years old with wonderfully littlepractice, had played a tune with no practice at all, he might truly be said to have done so instinctively. But it would be the most serious error to suppose that the greater number of instincts have been acquired by habit in one generation, and then transmitted by inheritance to succeeding generations. It can be clearly shown that the most wonderful instincts with which we are acquainted, namely, those of the hive-bee and of many ants, could not possibly have been thus acquired.
It will be universally admitted that instincts are as important as corporeal structure for the welfare of each species, under its present conditions of life. Under changed
conditions of life, it is at least possible that slight modifications of instinct might be profitable to a species ; 'and if it can be shown that instincts do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty in natural selection preserving and continually accumulating variations of instinct to any extent that was profitable. It is thus, as I.believe, that all the most complex and wonderful instincts have originated. As modifications of corporeal structure arise from, and are increased by, use or habit, and are diminished or lost by disuse, so I do not doubt it has been with instincts. But I believe that the efiects of habit are of quite subordinate importance to the effects of the natural selection of what may be called accidental variations of instincts ;—that is of variations produced by the same unknown causes which produce slight deviations of bodily structure.
No complex instinct can possibly be produced through natural selection, except by the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous, slight, yet profitable, variations. Hence, as in the case of corporeal structures, we ought to find in nature, not the actual transitional gradations by which each complex instinct has been acquired—for these could be found only in the lineal ancestors of each species—but we ought to find in the collateral lines of descent some evidence of such gradations; or we ought at least to be able to show that gradations of some kind are possible; and this we certainly can do. I have been surprised to find,‘ making allowance for the instincts of animals having been but little observed except in Europe . and North America, and for no instinct being known amongst extinct species, how very generally gradations, leading to the most complex instincts, can be discovered. Changes of instinct may sometimes be facilitated by the same species having difierent instincts at difierent periods of life, or at diiierent seasons of the year, or when placed under different circumstances, &c.; in which case either one or the other instinct might be preserved by natural selection. And such instances of diversity of instinct in the same species can be shown to occur in nature.
Again as in the case of corporeal structure, and
*conformably with my theory, the instinct of each species is good for itself, but has never, as far as we can judge, been produced for the exclusive good of others. One of the strongest instances of an animal apparently performing an action for the sole good of another, with
‘which I am acquainted, is that of aphides voluntarily yielding, as was first observed by Huber, their sweet excretion to ants : that they do so voluntarily, the following facts show. I removed all the ants from a group of about a dozen aphides on a dock-plant, and prevented their attendance during several hours. After this interval, I felt sure that the aphides would want to excrete. I watched them for some time through a lens, but not one excreted; I then tickled, and stroked them with a hair in the same manner, as well as I could, as the ants do with their antennae; but not one excreted. Afterwards IEallowed an ant to visit them, and it immediately seemed, by its eager way of running about, to be well aware what a rich flock it had discovered; it then began to play with its antennae on the abdomen first of one aphis and then of another; and each, as soon as it felt the antennae, immediately lifted up its abdomen. and excreted a limpid drop of sweet juice, which was eagerly devoured by the ant. Even the quite young aphides behaved in this manner, showing that the action was instinctive, and not the result of experience. It is certain, from the observations of Huber, that the aphides show no dislike to the ants: if the latter be.,not present, they are at last compelled to eject their excretion. But as the excretion is extremely viscid, it is probably a convenience to the aphides to have it removed; and therefore probably they do not instinctively excrete for the sole good of the ants. Although there is no evidence that any animal performs an action for the exclusive good of another of a distinct species, yet each species tries, to take advantage of the instincts of others, as each takes advantage of the weaker bodily structure of others. So again, in some few cases, certain instincts cannot be considered as absolutely perfect; but as details on this, and other such points are not indispensable,,they_ may be here passed over. , 4
As some degree of variation in instincts under a state of nature, and the. inheritance of such variations, are indispensable for the action of natural selection, as many instances as possible ought to be here given; but want of space prevents me. I can only assert, that instincts certainly do vary—for instance, the migratory instinct, both in extentand direction, and in its total loss. So it is with the nestsiof birds, which vary partly in dependence on the situations chosen, and on the nature and temperature of the country inhabited, but often from causes wholly unknown to us: Audubon has given several remarkable cases of differences in the nests of the same species in the northern and southern United States. Why, it has been asked, if instinct be variable, has it not given to the bee “the ability to use some other material when wax was deficient”? But what other material could bees use ‘2 They will work with and use, as I have seen, wax hardened with vermilion and softened with lard. Andrew Knight observed that his bees, instead of laboriously collecting propolis, used a cement of wax and turpentine, with which he had covered decorticated trees. It has lately been shown that bees, instead of searching flowers for their pollen, will gladly use a very different substance, namely, oatmeal. Fear of any particular enemy is certainly an instinctive quality, as may be seen in nestling birds, though it is strengthened by experience, and by the sight of fear of the same enemy in other animals. But fear of man is slowly acquired, as I have elsewhere shown, by various animals inhabiting desert islands; and we may see an instance of this, even in England, in the greater wildness of all our large birds than of our small birds; for the large birds have been most persecuted by man. We may safely attribute the greater wildness of our large birds to this cause; for in uninhabited islands large birds are not more fearful than small; and the magpie, so wary in England, is tame in Norway, as is the hooded crow in Egypt.
That the general disposition of individuals of the same species, born-in a state of nature, is extremely diversified, can be shown by a multitude of facts. Several cases, also, could be given of occasional and strange habits in certain species, which might, if advantageous to the species, give rise, through natural selection, to quite new instincts. But I am well aware that these general statements, without facts given in detail, can produce but a feeble effect on the reader’s mind. I can only repeat my assurance, that I do not speak without good evidence.
The possibility, or even probability, of inherited variations of instinct in a state of nature will be strengthened by briefly considering a few cases under domestication. We shall thus also be enabled to see the respective parts which habit and the selection of so-called accipental variations have played in modifying the mental
qualities of our domestic animals. A number of curious and authentic instances could be given of the inheritance of all shades of disposition and tastes, and likewise of the oddest tricks, associated with certain frames of mind or periods of time. But let us look to the familiar case of the several breeds of dogs: it cannot be doubted that young pointers (I have myself seen a striking instance) will sometimes point and even back other dogs the very first time that they are taken out; retrieving is certainly in some degree inherited by retrievers; and a tendency to run round, instead of at, a flock of sheep, by shepherddogs. I cannot see that these actions, performed without experience by the young, and in nearly the same manner by each individual, performed with eager delight by each breed, and without the end being known—for the young pointer can no more know that he points to aid his master, than the white butterfly knows why she lays her eggs on the leaf of the cabbage—I cannot see that these actions differ essentially from true instincts. If we were to behold one kind of wolf, when young and Without any training, as soon as it scented its prey, stand motionless like a statue, and then slowly crawl forward with a peculiar gait; and another kind of wolf rushing round, instead of at, a herd of deer, and driving them to a distant point, we should assuredly call these actions instinctive. Domestic instincts, as they may be called, are certainly far less fixed than natural instincts; but they have been acted on by far less rigorous selection, and have been transmitted for an incomparably shorter period, under less fixed conditions of life.
How strongly these domestic instincts, habits, and dispositions are inherited, and how curiously they become mingled, is Well shown when different breeds of dogs are crossed. Thus it is known that a cross with a bulldog has affected for many generations the courage and obstinacy of greyhounds; and a cross with a greyhound has given to a whole family 03 shepherd-dogs a tendency to hunt hares. These domestic instincts, when thus tested by crossing, resemble natural instincts, which in a like manner become curiously blended together, and for a long period exhibit traces o the instincts of either parent: for example, Le Roy escribes a dog, whose great-grandfather was a wolf, and this dog showed a trace of its wild parentage only in one way, by not coming in a straight line to his master when called.