Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

esting results. These results we should ants from the pupä bred in one division describe generally as showing that the and put them into the second division, ants display, first, a preternaturally keen and one previously marked ant from the sense of consanguinity ; next, a good pupæ bred in the second division and deal of that narrow conservatism which put it into the first ; in both cases the is so often the result of too much belief ants, which could never have been seen in the family and too little receptivity in any stage of their life by any of the for the ideas of the external world ; in ants in that division, were welcomed as the third place, a thorough distrust of friends, cleared of Sir John's paint, and revolution, so that they are almost equal- accepted as members of the family. The

ly afraid of establishing a new dynasty same thing happened again and again. , and of destroying an old one; and But whenever a stranger was introduced

finally, a good deal of the scepticism after the same fashion, it was immediwhich narrow conservatism inevitably ately attacked and destroyed. This engenders toward all suggestions not confirmed still more remarkably a series fitting easily into the established grooves. of less crucial experiments formerly The ant, it is evident, does not, like made by Sir John Lubbock on the same Lord Beaconsfield, believe mainly in subject. By some inscrutable sense or race, but, on the contrary, like the Eng- other, the ants, it is clear, know the delish squire, ' acred up to his lips, con- scendants--at least in the first degreesolled up to his chin,” believes chiefly of those which have once belonged to in family, and, we must add, has shown their own nest, even though they were much more amazing instincts than any neither born nor thought of when their English squire in discriminating the pro- parents left the nest. So much for the geny of one group of families from the profound instinct of consanguinity in progeny of another.

That a strange the ant, as well as for the unconquerant, though of the same species, putable hostility they show to those ants into any nest, will be at once attacked who are not connected with them, withand killed, Sir John Lubbock has in recognizable degrees at least, by blood. proved again and again. Like the Eng- But now as to the intense political lish rustic who, on assuring himself that conservatism which this bigoted sort of a man is a stranger to the district, im- family feeling produces. Sir John Lubmediately proposes to “ 'eave 'alf a bock has discovered, it appears, that brick at him, the ants pay no regard to once let an ants' nest get accustomed to species at all, if they find an ant who living without a queen-once let it organcannot trace his descent to their own ize democratic institutions—and nothnest intruding upon it. They make a ing will induce it to admit a queen for principle of hostility to aliens, drawing the future. Queens introduced into no distinction between aliens of their queenless nests were always ruthlessly own species and aliens of another spe- killed, even though in one case Sir John cies. But the remarkable thing appears exhibited the queen for three days to the to be their special instinct for iden- ant-democracy in a wire cage which protifying the descendants of their own tected her from them, in order to accus tribe. Sir John Lubbock separated tom them to the sight of royalty. The into two parts, in February, 1879, a nest moment the protecting wire was reof ants which contained two queens, giv- moved, the queen was attacked and ing about the same number of ants and slain, just as if she had been an ordinary one queen to each. In February the alien. Sir John, however, was occanest contains neither young nor eggs, so sionally able, by the help of a little inthat the division was made before the trigue-of the Marshal MacMahon kind earliest stage of being for the next gen- but more successful-to obtain a throne eration began. In April both queens for a wandering queen. The way he began to lay eggs. In July Sir John managed was this. He took a few ants Lubbock took a lot of pupæ from each from their nest, and put them, in that division, and placed each lot on a sepa- disorganized state, with a strange queen. rate glass, with attendants from the same The ants were then in a timorous and division of the nest. . At the end of diffident mood. They had no fixed inAugust he took four previously marked stitutions to fall back upon. They felt

wanderers in the world. And feeling fellows, and cannot reach the store of this, they did not attack the queen, but provisions too soon. But on the hearrather regarded her as the nucleus of a ing of the ear they act with the utmost possible organization. By thus grad- languor. They follow, but so slowly that ually adding a few ants at a time to a they never keep up with their eager disorganized mob which had accepted guide, soon drop behind, and generally the queen as the starting-point for a new give up the expedition, as one beyond polity, “I succeeded,” says Sir John their courage or strength, or at least too Lubbock, “in securing the throne for much for their half-faith. Let us hear her.But this success speaks as much Sir John's curious delineation of the sort for the conservatism of the ants, as the of authority which one ant's information former unanimous rejection of the queen appears to carry to his fellow-ants : by an organized community. They re- “I selected a specimen of Atta testaceo-pilosa, pudiated a queen when they knew that belonging to a nest which I had brought back their institutions were in working order with me from Algeria. She was out hunting without her. They accepted her, when about six feet from home, and I placed before they felt at sea and in peril of anarchy, her a large dead bluebottle fly, which she at

once began to drag to the nest. I then pinned as the germ of a new system. It was a the fly to a piece of cork, in a small box, so that timid conservatism which dictated their no ant could see the fly until she had climbed policy in each case. In the former, they up the side of the box. The ant struggled, of rejected with horror the prospect of a

course in vain, to move the fly. She pulled

first in one direction and then in another, but, change of constitution ; in the latter, finding her efforts fruitless, she at length started they accepted, not, perhaps, without off back to the nest empty-handed. At this eagerness, the prospect of a more rapid time there were no ants coming out of the nest. political development than, without any ing, but for at least a quarter of an hour no ant

Probably there were some few others out huntready-made leader, they could have had left the nest. My ant entered the nest, but counted upon.

For the ants then, the did not remain there ; in less than a minute she throne was, as M. Thiers said of a Re- emerged, accompanied by seven sriends. I never public, under dissimilar circumstances,

saw so many come out of that nest together bethe constitution“ which divided them fore. In her excitement the first ant soon dis

tanced her companions, who took the matter least."

with much sang-froid, and had all the appearAnd it is to be inferred, we think, ance of having come out reluctantly, or as if they that the languid scepticism which is one had been asleep and were only half awake. of the commonest causes or effects-it is The first ant ran on ahead, going straight to the difficult to say which—of that intense meanderings ; so slowly, indeed, that for twenty

fly. The others followed slowly and with many timidity which is so often connected minutes the first ant was alone at the fly, trying with Conservatism, affects these wonder- in every way to move it. Finding this still imful little creatures also. Sir John shows possible, she again returned to the nest, not

chancing to meet any of her friends by the way. us most satisfactorily that the ants un

Again she emerged in less than a minute with derstand each other—that when an ant eight friends, and hurried on to the fly. They goes back from a bit of food which she were even less energetic than the first party ; is unable by her own strength to stir, and when they found they had lost sight of their she can and does communicate in some

guide, they one and all returned to the nest.

In the mean time several of the first detachway to her fellow-ants the need of help.

ment had found the fly, and one of them sucThey clearly understand her message, ceeded in detaching a leg, with which she reand they prepare to assist her ; but they turned in triumph to the nest, coming out again have, it appears, no real confidence in directly with four or five companions. These lat. her information. What they see with and returned to the nest. I do not think so much

ter, with one exception, soon gave up the chase their own eyes fills them with the utmost of this last case, because as the ant carried in eagerness, but what they learn from a substantial piece of booty in the shape of the others they do not more than half be- fly's leg, it is not surprising that her friends

should some of them accompany her on her re. lieve. They usually go with the mes

turn; but surely the other two cases indicate senger, but they go without any real a distinct power of communication. Lest, élan, without any of that earnestness however, it should be supposed that the result which they display after getting personal was accidental, I determined to try it again. experience of the existence of the store Accordingly, on the following day I put another of food. After that they are

large dead fly before an ant belonging to the all

same nest, pinning it to a piece of cork as beurgency. After that they outrun their fore. After trying in vain for ten minutes to

move the fly, my ant started off home. At experience, and of the ants trusting to that time I could only see two other ants of

the report of another? Obviously, the that species outside the nest. Yet in a few seconds, considerably less than a minute, she latter had a very languid belief in the emerged with no less than twelve friends. As statements of their friends, just enough in the previous case, she ran on ahead, and they to make them enter on the enterprise, followed very slowly and by no means directly, but not enough to make them prosecute taking, in fact, nearly half an hour to reach the it even so far as to hasten their pace, in fly. The first ant, after vainly laboring for about a quarter of an hour to move the fly, order to keep up with their eager friend. started off again to the nest. Meeting one of Clearly, the ants are not very good her friends on the way she talked with her a judges of character. Their predisposilittle, then continued toward the nest, but after tion to distrust sanguine statements, like going about a foot, changed her mind, and returned with her friend to the fly. After some

the predisposition of timid Conservatives minutes, during which two or three other ants in general, is so deep, that at the first came up, one of them detached a leg, which obstacle they fall away, perhaps quesshe carried off to the nest, coming out again tioning the use of tasking themselves for almost immediately with six friends, one of whom, curiously enough, seemed to lead the

news that sounds so improbable as that way, tracing it, I presume, by scent. I then of a treasure-trove. Sir John Lubbock removed the pin, and they carried off the fly in even reports one case in which a slave triumph. Again, on June 15th, another ant be, ant, of the Polyergus species, twice relonging to the same nest had found a dead

turned to her nest in search of co-opspider, about the same distance from the nest. I pinned down the spider as before. The ant

eration in vain. Nothing she could say did all in her power to move it ; but after try- would induce her fellow-slaves to enter ing for twelve minutes, she went off to the on a new bit of work, without better nest.

For a quarter of an hour no other ant evidence of its remunerative character had come out, but in some seconds she came out again with ten companions. As in the

than a wandering fellow-servant's report preceding case, they followed very leisurely. gave them Twice she returned alone She ran on ahead, and worked at the spider for to the unequal task, reproaching bitterten minutes; when, as none of her friends had ly, no doubt, the faithlessness of her asarrived to her assistance, though they were

sociates, wandering about evidently in search of something, she started back home again. In three

Those who doubt our reports of the quarters of a minute after entering the nest she extremely timid political caution of these reappeared, this time with fifteen friends, who insect tribes, will convince themselves came on somewhat more rapidly than the pre- that we are not exaggerating, if they ceding batch, though still but slowly. By degrees, however, they all came up, and after will but refer to Sir John's very intermost persevering efforts carried off the spider esting account of these formican Conpiecemeal. On July 7th I tried the same ex- servatives-- Tories they are not, for obperiment with a soldier of Pheidole megacephala viously there is no blatant element in the She pulled at the fly for no less than fifty mini politics of the ants. Their democracy, utes, after which she went brought five friends exactly as the Atta had

when they are democrats, is the democdone."

racy of the Swiss Republic, not the Can anything be more remarkable democracy of the Imperialists, still less than the extraordinary difference in the the democracy of the French Revoludemeanor of the ants taught by personal tion. --The Spectator.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Is England, as a nation, musical? to whether Germany is or is not a musiFew questions can be the subject of cal country, and to collect every scrap more frequent and vehement discussion of evidence which may help to vindiamong us, the English people, ourselves; cate her claim to be so called ? Until and by this very fact we point with an we have quite made up our own minds unconscious finger to our inherent weak- whether we think ourselves musical or ness. Qui s'excuse, s'accuse. When not, we cannot be surprised if our conwould a German writer find it to his in- tinental neighbors politely pass us terest to indulge in long dissertations as over in their mu calculations-pulitely, we say, because we enter into these to naturalize the thing, like the potatocalculations as a business item, impor- plant ; for, short of this, we know it tant exactly in proportion to the number can have no vitality, no organic growth, of pounds sterling we are ready to pay or individual existence here. It has befor the article, music.

come as indispensable a luxury as our Certainly, if to hear much music, to tea or coffee, and we can apparently as have the first of European performers, little make it grow here as we can these. and the luxury of paying the highest We import and import, but each imporprices for them, could constitute a claim tation leaves us, in the main, where we to a musical disposition, then England were. would be the most musical country in Still we go on, undaunted by diffithe world. Yet, were an earthquake to culty. It is hard to believe that where sweep away the whole of this musical so strong a wish exists, there is not also fabric that we raise here with so much much latent capacity. Those of the trouble and cost, what would the art cultivated classes who love and practise lose ? Imagine for a moment that the music have such a profound faith in its German race were to be blotted out softening and elevating influence that from the face of the earth! We feel at they are beginning to exert themselves once that music would be left like a to bring its benefits within easy reach of watch without a mainspring. Nor could all. The last few years have witnessed France, nor modern Italy, nor the Po- the rapid rise and spread of people's lish and Hungarian peoples, nor even concerts, series of which have been Russia and Scandinavia, disappear with- started in London and some of the chief out leaving a sensible gap somewhere. provincial towns by a sort of simultaneNone of these but have produced artists ous impulse, and which, tried at first as or works of art whose influence has experiments, have already in many cases acted and reacted beyond the limits of developed into what seem likely to be the respective countries that gave them permanent institutions. The success birth, and who, however various in de- attending this remarkable movement has gree and in quality of merit, may be varied indeed in amount and in kind accalled cosmopolitan. What does Eng- cording to circumstances, but has unlard contribute to the general store ? questionably been great, and sufficient to A considerable number of musical exec- set speculation at work as to the causes utants-instrumental executants, vocal of the need for establishing such conexecutants, and executants in composi- certs, as it were, from outside. How is tion. Not those phenomenal executants it that the demand which seems to of whom the world possesses but a few, exist, is inadequate to create its own and who are, in their way, as truly cre- supply? Why, seeing that the artisan ators in art as are great composers. classes enjoy music so much, have they But accomplished executants of a very hitherto made so little effort to get it for high class, nevertheless, worthy of re- themselves ? And the question naturally spect and of admiration.

follows, “Will this existing state of Still, we cannot disguise from our things be permanently modified by these selves the unpalatable fact that the his- attempts to bring music to people who tory of art would be unaffected by the have not found it out for themselves ? disappearance from the world of the Will they make it their own, or still go whole mass of this English execution. on waiting till it comes to them ?" It All we so far succeed in doing is in min- may help us in feeling our way to some istering (and that only in part) to our sort of answer if we look, in the first own needs. We do not enrich other place, at what is actually being done by nations.

a few of these societies. And yet it is undeniable that there is Chief among London undertakings of in Great Britain an intense wish for the kind are the People's Entertainment music, seemingly rendered keener by Society, the Kyrle Society, and the the fact of its being an alien growth, People's Concert Society. These three and by its tardiness in taking root here. differ somewhat from each other both in The craving has, as we know, persisted their aims and their methods of workunabated for many centuries. We want ing.

The object of the first is expressed in torios, cantatas, and other choral works its own prospectus as being “ io provide of the highest class, with a view to their good high - class amusement for the gratuitous performance in churches, poorer classes in London during the school-rooms, and halls situated in the winter, in the hope of withdrawing them poorest parishes of London.” These from lower places of resort.' It has, performances are all free, as it is an intherefore, a distinctly philanthropic end ; tegral part of the society's scheme to beand while at the entertainments, stow beauty' on the people as freely which are the means to this end, music as nature bestows it. Between the beis the chief, often the only attraction, ginning of 1878 and the present time others, such as readings, recitations, or sixty-six of them have been given, ineven dramatic performances, have an oc- cluding oratorios, such as the “Mescasional place. No less than sixty-six siah, Creation,” “Elijah," and of these entertainments were given in many others (which when performed in the first four months of 1879, in some churches have formed part of the reof the poorest districts in London, such ligious service), and smaller miscellaneas Lambeth, Westminster, Battersea, ous concerts, some of them in hospital etc. ; and during this last spring six or wards. All these have proved, and conseven such concerts were being organized tinue to prove, attractive to large numweekly by the society. At some places bers of the people. a small charge was made for admission, The People's Concert Society aims at at others the entertainments were free; “the- popularization of good music by but in this, as in both the other societies means of cheap concerts. By "good" mentioned, the bulk of the expense is music is here to be understood classical met by voluntary subscriptions and do- music, and that instrumental. Songs nations from well-wishers. The per- are given, by way of variety, but the formers at the concerts are amateurs, main feature of the programmes is corand professionals who generously give certed chamber music, quartettes and their services, or at most accept such trios, such as are heard at the Monday remuneration as covers their expenses. Popular Concerts ; with this difference, Songs and ballads, interpersed with in- that only short portions of these works strumental solos, and now and then a are performed at a time, so as not to comic song, constitute the staple of the tax too severely the attention of an unprogrammes. This excellent undertak- trained audience. Such

Such programmes ing has been rewarded by a most en- cannot compete with those of the musiccouraging amount of success, the halls halls, for they are not amusing ; neither and rooms being, as a rule, well filled, with oratorios, as they are not a form and the audiences numbering several of devotion. This society, recognizing hundreds. The appreciation by these music as a good in itself, holds it out as audiences of the efforts made in their its own reward. The concerts are not behalf was shown as Battersea, in the given gratis, but the prices of admis. presentation to the earnest and ener- sion, varying from one penny to one shilgetic treasurer (and founder) of the so- ling, make them accessible to all but the ciety of an address signed by 200 work- utterly destitute. Presenting music, as ing-men, expressive of their pleasure and they do, in its severest, if also its purest their gratitude.

form, they cannot hope to vie in wide Similar societies, in connection with popularity with the People's Entertainthis, have been recently started at Man- ments ; still the fact is encouraging that chester and Winchester, with every pros- the society's second season has been pect of success.

more prosperous than its first. Between The Kyrle Society's expressed object November and April last it had twentyis “ to bring Beauty home to the peo- five concerts, among which the most sucple.” While fulfilling a philanthropic cessful were a series of six, given in the purpose this is, therefore, an art society, Chelsea Vestry Hall, and repeated in and music is but one among the many Bishopsgate School-room ; and, more forms of beauty with which it deals. Its especially, three single concerts at the musical branch consists of an amateur South Place Institute, Finsbury, all of choir, formed for “the practice of ora- which attracted numerous and apparent

« VorigeDoorgaan »