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a natural law that wherever the members of a corporation become the licensed exponents of a subject, whether it be divinity, natural science, or what you will, they develop the spirit of the custodian, if not of the proprietor, and tend to regard all others who meddle with it with a certain amount of jealousy.
But it will be a disastrous day for science if natural history ever becomes a close preserve of specialists and professors. For a brief review of the progress of knowledge in this direction shows that many of the most important discoveries have been made by the despised amateur. Furthermore, it is from the ranks of these enthusiastic volunteers that by far the best material in the great army of regulars is recruited. The true naturalist, like poet, is born, not made. No amount of scholastic hammering, or Government patronage, or societies for the organisation of research, can evolve a Cuvier or a Darwin.
Yet if it be true that the oldfashioned amateur is trending towards extinction, he has chiefly himself to thank. Should he fail to adapt himself to his changed environment, he must go the way of all flesh which has proved its unfitness in the struggle for existence. His weakest point hitherto has been his lack of versatility. We shall find the cause of many failures in attempts to apply the principles of Darwinism in this want of power to accord with new conditions. In some cases it is evident that efforts to keep pace with the times have ended in confusion because there has been an attempt to pile new bricks upon an old and sapped foundation. In many others failure has resulted because the
to inform themselves from such
sources. If the amateur naturalist is to profit by the new doctrine his information must be thorough and based upon experience, even although it may not be extensive. When we are going to make use of knowledge for some practical purpose, we generally find that it is necessary to have a much more thorough grip of our subject than can be gained from studying verbal statements and formulæ. It is often absolutely impossible. to obtain from books the kind of knowledge which is demanded in practice. What traveller about to undertake an expedition in which a knowledge of horsemanship or cycling was necessary could expect to reach his goal if he contented himself with reading exhaustive treatises on these arts? The very act of walking, which we deem so simple, would, if taught in an abstract and academic way, tax the faculties of a Newton or a Kelvin.
But if there are a good many amateur naturalists whose knowledge of evolution is too imperfect to be of any practical value, there are probably still more who may be said to possess none at all. If any one doubts this statement, let him commence a discussion on Darwinism with any average schoolboy, sportsman, or country parson, and it will meet with abundant support. I mention these three classes because from them, probably more than from
any others one can name, are drawn the people who make a hobby of some branch of natural history. The failure of the schoolboy is owing partly to the inveterate conservatism of our educational methods, and partly to the slovenly way in which science is still taught in schools. To the sportsman, as a rule, reading is uncongenial; and books bristling with new and technical terms and full of half-digested theories are an abomination. As to the average country parson, he still seems to think not only that the Darwinian Theory is a disputable doctrine, but that, unless filtered and diluted by ecclesiastical wisdom, it smacks of infidelity. By-and-by, when doctrines which are still novel to most people (although forty years old, and to many of us as much a matter of course as the laws of gravitation) find a place in the elements of knowledge absorbed by every youth, we may expect most of these difficulties to disappear. But in the meantime they may be depriving us of some second Gilbert White, who from his country parsonage might send us news of a thousand delightful and invaluable facts which would be beyond the reach of any but a cultured observer who lives among the fields and woods.
For the latter-day Gilbert White must be an evolutionist down to the tips of his toes. The Darwinian way must be as familiar to him as the footpath from his rectory to his church. His very spectacles must be tinged with the doctrine, and his mind must employ its methods as easily as his lungs breathe the air. There is every reason to hope that the future will bring us seers of this type, and it is with the desire that I may in some slight measure hasten their advent that I here invite attention to the light which
VOL. CLXI.NO. DCCCCLXXVIII.
Darwinism throws upon the everyday world about us.
It will be a good way to show how wonderfully the amateur student may gain both in pleasure and knowledge from the new philosophy-and at the same time will be consistent with the methods I am recommending-if we briefly discuss some points in the natural history of the naturalist himself. Undoubtedly his passion for outdoor life, and for watching and recording natural phenomena, dates back to the time when the existence of our forefathers depended upon success in hunting. We are all of us aware that only a few thousand years ago the ancestors of the modern European and American had only reached a stage of culture still found among savages which depend entirely upon the chase. Plentiful evidences are discovered in limestone caves, in the banks of ancient rivers, and in the shell-mounds around the Danish coast, that prehistoric Europeans lived almost precisely the life now lived by the Fuegians or the Australian blacks. But few of us, I imagine, have realised the enormous length of the epoch throughout which this stage of utter savagery lasted. It is utterly impossible to measure its length in years. Probably it would be no exaggeration to say that if you took the last line of this article as representing the era of civilisation, you might take all the other lines as representing, in equal proportion, different stages of the epoch of pristine savagery. Now since man had to live by the chase, and by the chase only, throughout the greater part of this period, it is no wonder that all his faculties of mind and body became moulded to the environment of the hunter. To such primitive savages the habits of taking note of every
thing around them, and of drawing conclusions from what they observed, were as essential from a strictly business point of view as are any modern habits which lead to commercial success. In deed they were even more so, for nowadays if one becomes bankrupt there are many mitigating circumstances; but in prehistoric times there were no poor laws or charities, and failure in business meant extinction. Even the miscarriage of a single enterprise, such as the throwing of a spear at a cave-bear or a bison, often involved a deathpenalty.
We owe our instinctive liking and aptitude for naturalising in the open air to the fact that the practical study of natural history was at one time of saving value to our race. Not only did such accomplishments stave off imminent death—as when the recognition of a footprint or a faint sound in the forest told of the presence of some terrible enemy-but they acted surely if slowly in many other ways to the advantage of their possessor. Among the Esquimaux the hunter who could be depended upon to bring home his seal at the end of a day's business on the icefloe could not only have the pick of the girls in marriage, but gained other privileges which tend to make a family prosperous.
Now let us inquire somewhat more in detail as to the faculties which every savage hunter must possess in order to be successful. First of all he must have a general knowledge of natural phenomena, accurate and inconceivably extensive; so that, when he is afield, every item among his innumerable surroundings is so familiar that the least unusual circumstance at
once arrests his attention. Next he must have acquired, in addition to his general knowledge, a complete mastery of the complex arts of tracking and stalking, so that he may approach near enough to his wary game for his rude weapons to take effect. If we go no further than this we find that the untutored savage in his native wilds almost comes up to that formula which defines culture as "knowing something of everything and everything of something." But other gifts are required beyond mere knowledge and skill. There must be an infinite capacity for taking pains (which has been given as a definition of genius), and also, and above all, there must be a power to reason accurately from the facts observed. I think that many people who have spoken with contempt of the mental capacity of the Bosjesman and the Black Fellow can never have estimated the mental resources quired for ordinary "spooring." Each minute item of evidenceoften so faint that civilised senses can no more apprehend it than the unassisted eye can detect the microbes in a drop of water — has not only to be observed but to be weighed, and given its exact value in a long and intricate argument.
If I may be allowed to digress from the " spoor" of our present argument for a moment, I should like to point out what seems to have been one exceedingly important factor in the development of the human intellect. On a future occasion I shall discuss, in comparing a man's mental processes with a dog's, the probable psychic effect of the comparative size of the olfactory lobe. I mean by the olfactory lobe that part of the brain
1 Wild Traits in Tame Animals (shortly to be published by W. Blackwood
-so remarkably developed in the Canida which receives impressions from the nerves of smell.
was imitating-viz., that whereas the latter were able both to detect and to follow their quarry by scent, he found his nose practically of no use as an aid to a living. Had he developed, during his early earthwalking career, olfactory powers anything like equal to those of the dog, I make bold to say that 'Maga' would have neither readers nor contributors, and that most of us, if we were now existing, would be getting our livings by sniffing for roots and grubs like a badger, or by yelping along a trail like a pack of jackals! Because, happily, he could not profitably follow his nose, primitive man was obliged to exercise his wits. Where the dog or the wolf gallops blindly and without thought along the tainted line left by the feet of his quarry, the primeval hunter had, from the first, not only to learn to notice each displaced twig, or shifted stone, or shaken dew-drop, but had also-from these and a thousand other data to infer what had passed that way, when it had passed, and often, in the case of one wounded animal in a herd, how it had passed, and whether it were sufficiently disabled to make pursuit a profitable speculation. As far as I can see, this faculty, engendered and necessitated by olfactory shortcomings, formed the basis of much of our vaunted reasoning power.
Now, why has man no olfactory lobe to speak of? And what may possibly be the outcome of the deficiency? The answer to the first question is, that man's progenitors were fruit-eating creatures which lived in trees. Now, a frugivorous animal obviously does not need a keen power of scent for detecting and following prey. It usually discovers its food by means of the eye, and one finds that Nature has adapted herself to this state of things by making most fruits of conspicuous colours. Although this may partly explain why man and all the apes have the organ of smell so very slightly developed, it is plain that hereditary vegetarianism will not fully account for their olfactory poverty. For we find that very many graminivorous animals such as antelopes, deer, wild horses, and wild cattle-have an exceedingly acute power of scent, and can detect the approach of an invisible enemy at several hundred yards' distance. But a little thought will show that the life of a creature living high in the trees is never threatened by a foe approaching stealthily from afar off, and hence such a means of protection is unnecessary. And, moreover, in such a situation this sense would be very untrustworthy, for air among the tree-tops moves in eddies and veering gusts, owing to the continual obstructions it meets with, and hence would not tell the direction from which the taint of danger came. Now, when man left his trees and his vegetarianism behind him, and became an amateur carnivore, there was this great distinction between him and the predatory beasts whose habits he
When we analyse not only the hobby of the naturalist but almost any other form of pastime, we find that it is founded upon certain primitive tastes or instincts which we possess in common with the uncivilised races. Civilised man when at play always reverts somewhat towards the condition of the savage. LOUIS ROBINSON.
THE NAVY ESTIMATES.
A WEEK or two ago Lord Salisbury compared the Government of the British empire to the administration of a trust or public company, of which her Majesty's Ministers stand for the trustees or directors. The simile was duly rebuked by a halfpenny evening paper for its want of exaltation and its cold neglect of the ideal. This was wrong, for the British empire is nothing so uninspiring as a Limited Liability Company paying a cash dividend. The liability is unlimited, extending to the whole fortune and life of every shareholder, and though calls are paid in cash, dividends come usually in the form of national security and national self-esteem. These peculiarities of the concern undoubtedly lay a heavier responsibility on the directors than generally accompanies the office. The interests are so much vaster, the profits to be made so necessary to tolerable existence, the losses to be insured against so utter and irreparable, that the directors of the British empire are surely called upon to exercise a more than usually unsleeping vigilance over the operations put in their charge.
What would the world say of trustees so careless of their trust that in a matter of insurance they took no trouble to satisfy themselves either of the amount of the property to be protected, of the dangers to be forestalled, or of the extent of the insurance necessary to cover these dangers? What would the world say of directors so haphazard in their direction that they let an important branch of their business run on without being clear in their own minds what amount of plant it needed for its
efficient working, and what number of hands were required to do justice to the plant? In the relatively small and unimportant sphere of a Limited Company such men would be branded as culpably incompetent, if nothing worse. Yet in the matter of the security and defensive force of the British empire we have seen within the last few days a strange sight. The First Lord of the Admiralty has proposed to Parliament the Estimates he requires to run his department. These may be adequate or they may not; but the wonderful thing is that the First Lord does not seem to know whether they are adequate or not. If the Estimates for 1897-98 are sufficient it is by a lucky chance, since assuredly Mr Goschen can give no coherent demonstration of their sufficiency. And more wonderful still, it seems nobody's business or interest to ask for such a demonstration. Leaving aside a few isolated protests-far fewer and more isolated than usual the country has accepted this rough guess at its most indispensable requirements in a spirit of the happiest-at any rate the happiest-go-lucky-confidence. In whom it reposes the confidence it is difficult to say. It can hardly be Mr Goschen-first, because Mr Goschen has contradicted himself, and secondly, because on the whole neither the House of Commons nor the country has taken the trouble to hear or see whether he contradicts himself or not. To go minutely into the shiftings and windings of this year's official statements concerning the Navy would be a long and useless task., Some of them will have to be considered presently,