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and Kellogg in their "Animal Life," removed the moss and the other assimilative material from the door and found that the spider always replaced it. Then he removed it again, and with it the moss and débris from the ground in a large circle about the nest. This, of course, left the door as well concealed as before because it made it one with its surroundings. Did the spider leave it so? Not a bit of it. She fetched more moss and bits of bark and sticks and covered it as before, which gave away her secret completely. If she had done otherwise, or had covered her door with soil so as to make it one with its environment, we should have had to credit her with a faculty higher than instinct.
While speaking of insects in connection with this subject of the automatic character of animal intelligence, I am reminded of the habit of one of the solitary wasps as described by Fabre. When the wasp brings an insect to its hole, it lays it down at the entrance and backs down into the hole, apparently to make some examination, then comes out and drags in its prey. Fabre watched his opportunity, and, when the wasp had disappeared in her den, removed her game a few inches away. The wasp came out, hunted for her bug, found it and drew it back to its former position, then dropped it and retreated into her den as before. Fabre again drew the insect away, and again the wasp came out and repeated her former behavior. Time after
time this little scene was enacted; the wasp must go into her den and make her preliminary survey before dragging in her prey. That habit had become fixed and there could be no deviation from it, and yet the wasps in many ways seem so surprisingly intelligent!
Another bee upon which Fabre experimented builds a cell of masonry, fills it with honey, lays her egg in it, and then seals it up. When the bee was away, Fabre punctured the half-filled cell and let the honey flow out. When the bee returned, she appeared to be disturbed to find her honey gone; she examined the hole through which it had escaped curiously, but made no attempt to repair it, and continued to pour in the honey the same as before. After she had brought the usual quantity - the quantity her forbears had always brought she laid her egg in the empty cell and sealed it up. The machine had done its work, and it could do nothing not down in the ancestral specifications.
Dan Beard tells of an ichneumon-fly that tried all one day to thrust its ovipositor into a nail-head in a board in his cabin, mistaking the dark spot which the nail-head made for a hole that led to the burrow of a certain wood-borer which is the host of the ichneumon. Beard thinks the fly desisted only when it had seriously dulled the point of its instrument. I am reminded of one of our well-known wild flowers, the erythronium or fawn lily, that will persist in a
certain habit, no matter how many times defeated. This plant forms a new bulb each spring by sending out a big tap-root, that bores down into the ground and plants the new bulb deeper and deeper each season till the required depth of six or eight inches is reached. When the ground is so hard that the pioneer root cannot penetrate it, it wanders in loops over the surface and forms the new bulb no deeper than the old one was, and keeps this habit up spring after spring, groping its way blindly about over the hard surface.
As further illustration of the automatic character of animal instinct, take the case of the migrating lemmings in Norway and Sweden. At times the country gets overstocked with these rodents, when vast numbers of them migrate down from the hills toward the sea, swimming the lakes and rivers in their way. This seems a reasonable course, and is very much what men would do under like circumstances; their instincts accord with reason. But mark what follows: when the lemmings reach the sea, they plunge in and swim till they perish. Having got in motion, they go on, like any other natural force, till they have spent themselves. It is said that steamships have at times encountered these bands of swimming rodents and been half an hour in steaming through them. I do not suppose they mistake the sea for another lake or river such as they have already crossed; I do not suppose any notions
or comparisons exist in their minds about it. An impulse to migrate, which is like a decree of nature, has taken possession of them, and they obey it blindly, to their own destruction. These incidents, which recur at intervals, afford another illustration of how radically animal instinct differs from human reason, It is a kind of fate.
Instinct may be thwarted in its efforts, but it cannot be convinced that its effort is wrong, or has failed. One spring, as I have elsewhere related, a pair of English sparrows, in searching for a nestingplace, tried to effect an entrance into the interior of a horizontal timber upon my porch, through a large crack. Not being able to do this, they brought straws and weed stalks and filled up the crack from one end of the porch to the other, working at it day after day notwithstanding their rubbish was repeatedly swept away. It was nesting-time, the opening in the timber stimulated them, and they kept going as did the birds I have mentioned above. I do not suppose they had any knowledge that their efforts were futile; they only had the impulse to build, and of that impulse they did not know the purpose.
I have not cited the foregoing incidents to show the stupidity of bird or beast or insect that were as great an error as to seek to prove their reasoning powers but simply to illustrate the automatic character of animal behavior; to show that, if the lower orders are not mere automata, as Des Cartes
long ago taught and as Huxley came to believe, adding only the qualifying adjective “conscious," making them "conscious automata," then they come so near to it that it is difficult without exaggeration to credit them with any higher powers. At any rate, they reveal an order of mind that differs fundamentally from our own. Unless we are to abandon that comparison and classification which is the basis of all our knowledge, we must call it by another name we must call it blind instinct. It does not see the why of anything which it does.
My dog and I are boon companions. I can live with him almost as with a brother, and yet I see him across a gulf. I catch a glimpse of that gulf, for example, when I see by his manner that he wants to lie down before the open fire, but, the poker or a stick of wood being in the way, instead of removing or pushing it to one side, as he could so easily do, he sits or half reclines there, and looks helplessly at the obstacle in his way. I get up and remove it and he lies down. The removal of that poker on his part would require a certain detachment and viewing of himself in relation to other things, of which he is not capable; and yet I know, had the obstacle barred the way to the retreat of a mouse or a chipmunk, he would have removed it in a hurry, because the scent of the