Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:41 pm


Numerals are occasionally seen in Arabic or other figures, not disposed in any particular Form, but coloured. An instance of this is represented in Fig. 69 towards the middle part of the column, but as I shall have shortly to enter at length into the colour associations of the author, I will pass over this portion of them, and will quote in preference from the letter of another correspondent.

Baron von Osten Sacken, of whom I have already spoken, writes:--

"The localisation of numerals, peculiar to certain persons, is foreign to me. In my mind's eye the figures appear in front of me, within a limited space. My peculiarity, however, consists in the fact that the numerals from 1 to 9 are differently coloured; (1) black, (2) yellow, (3) pale brick red, (4) brown, (5) blackish gray, (6) reddish brown, (7) green, (8) bluish, (9) reddish brown, somewhat like 6. These colours appear very distinctly when I think of these figures separately; in compound figures they become less apparent. But the most remarkable manifestation of these colours appears in my recollections of chronology. When I think of the events of a given century they invariably appear to me on a background coloured like the principal figure in the dates of that century; thus events of the eighteenth century invariably appear to me on a greenish ground, from the colour of the figure 7. This habit clings to me most tenaciously, and the only hypothesis I can form about its origin is the following:--My tutor, when I was ten to twelve years old, taught me chronology by means of a diagram on which the centuries were represented by squares, subdivided in 100 smaller squares; the squares representing centuries had narrow coloured borders; it may be that in this way the recollection of certain figures became associated with certain colours. I venture this explanation without attaching too much importance to it, because it seems to me that if it was true, my direct recollection of those coloured borders would have been stronger than it is; still, the strong association of my chronology with colour seems to plead in favour of that explanation."

Figs. 66, 67. These two are selected out of a large collection of coloured Forms in which the months of the year are visualised. They will illustrate the gorgeousness of the mental imagery of some favoured persons. Of these Fig. 66 is by the wife of an able London physician, and Fig. 67 is by Mrs. Kempe Welch, whose sister, Miss Bevington, a well-known and thoughtful writer, also sees coloured imagery in connection with dates. This Fig. 67 was one of my test cases, repeated after the lapse of two years, and quite satisfactorily. The first communication was a descriptive account, partly in writing, partly by word of mouth; the second, on my asking for it, was a picture which agreed perfectly with the description, and explained much that I had not understood at the time. The small size of the Fig. in the Plate makes it impossible to do justice to the picture, which is elaborate and on a large scale, with a perspective of similar hills stretching away to the far distance, and each standing for a separate year. She writes:--

"It is rather difficult to give it fully without making it too definite; on each side there is a total blank."

The instantaneous association of colour with sound characterises a small percentage of adults, and it appears to be rather common, though in an ill-developed degree, among children. I can here appeal not only to my own collection of facts, but to those of others, for the subject has latterly excited some interest in Germany. The first widely known case was that of the brothers Nussbaumer, published in 1873 by Professor Bruhl of Vienna, of which the English reader will find an account in the last volume of Lewis's Problems of Life and Mind (p. 280). Since then many occasional notices of similar associations have appeared. A pamphlet containing numerous cases was published in Leipsic in 1881 by two Swiss investigators, Messrs. Bleuler and Lehmann.[9] One of the authors had the faculty very strongly, and the other had not; so they worked conjointly with advantage. They carefully tabulated the particulars of sixty-two cases. As my present object is to subordinate details to the general impression that I wish to convey of the peculiarities of different minds, I will simply remark--First, that the persistence of the colour association with sounds is fully as remarkable as that of the Number-Form with numbers. Secondly, that the vowel sounds chiefly evoke them. Thirdly, that the seers are invariably most minute in their description of the precise tint and hue of the colour. They are never satisfied, for instance, with saying "blue," but will take a great deal of trouble to express or to match the particular blue they mean. Fourthly, that no two people agree, or hardly ever do so, as to the colour they associate with the same sound. Lastly, that the tendency is very hereditary. The publications just mentioned absolve me from the necessity of giving many extracts from the numerous letters I have received, but I am particularly anxious to bring the brilliancy of these colour associations more vividly before the reader than is possible by mere description. I have therefore given the elaborately-coloured diagrams in Plate IV., which were copied by the artist directly from the original drawings, and which have been printed by the superimposed impressions of different colours from different lithographic stones. They have been, on the whole, very faithfully executed, and will serve as samples of the most striking cases. Usually the sense of colour is much too vague to enable the seer to reproduce the various tints so definitely as those in this Plate. But this is by no means universally the case.

Fig. 68 is an excellent example of the occasional association of colours with letters. It is by Miss Stones, the head teacher in a high school for girls, who, as I have already mentioned, obtained useful information for me, and has contributed several suggestive remarks of her own. She says:--

"The vowels of the English language always appear to me, when I think of them, as possessing certain colours, of which I enclose a diagram. Consonants, when thought of by themselves, are of a purplish black; but when I think of a whole word, the colour of the consonants tends towards the colour of the vowels. For example, in the word 'Tuesday,' when I think of each letter separately, the consonants are purplish-black, u is a light dove colour, e is a pale emerald green, and a is yellow; but when I think of the whole word together, the first part is a light gray-green, and the latter part yellow. Each word is a distinct whole. I have always associated the same colours with the same letters, and no effort will change the colour of one letter, transferring it to another. Thus the word 'red' assumes a light-green tint, while the word 'yellow' is light-green at the beginning and red at the end. Occasionally, when uncertain how a word should be spelt, I have considered what colour it ought to be, and have decided in that way. I believe this has often been a great help to me in spelling, both in English and foreign languages. The colour of the letters is never smeared or blurred in any way. I cannot recall to mind anything that should have first caused me to associate colours with letters, nor can my mother remember any alphabet or reading-book coloured in the way I have described, which I might have used as a child. I do not associate any idea of colour with musical notes at all, nor with any of the other senses."

She adds:--

"Perhaps you may be interested in the following account from my sister of her visual peculiarities: 'When I think of Wednesday I see a kind of oval flat wash of yellow emerald green; for Tuesday, a gray sky colour; for Thursday, a brown-red irregular polygon; and a dull yellow smudge for Friday.'"

The latter quotation is a sample of many that I have; I give it merely as another instance of hereditary tendency.

I will insert just one description of other coloured letters than those represented in the Plate. It is from Mrs. H., the married sister of a well-known man of science, who writes:--

"I do not know how it is with others, but to me the colours of vowels are so strongly marked that I hardly understand their appearing of a different colour, or, what is nearly as bad, colourless to any one. To me they are and always have been, as long as I have known them, of the following tints:--"

A, pure white, and like china in texture.

E, red, not transparent; vermilion, with china-white would represent it.

I, light bright yellow; gamboge.

O, black, but transparent; the colour of deep water seen through thick clear ice.

U, purple.

Y, a dingier colour than I.

"The shorter sounds of the vowels are less vivid and pure in colour. Consonants are almost or quite colourless to me, though there is some blackness about M.

"Some association with U in the words blue and purple may account for that colour, and possibly the E in red may have to do with that also; but I feel as if they were independent of suggestions of the kind.

"My first impulse is to say that the association lies solely in the sound of the vowels, in which connection I certainly feel it the most strongly; but then the thought of the distinct redness of such a [printed or written] word as 'great' shows me that the relation must be visual as well as aural. The meaning of words is so unavoidably associated with the sight of them, that I think this association rather overrides the primitive impression of the colour of the vowels, and the word 'violet' reminds me of its proper colour until I look at the word as a mere collection of letters.

"Of my two daughters, one sees the colours quite differently from this (A, blue; E, white; I, black; O, whity-brownish; U, opaque brown). The other is only heterodox on the A and O; A being with her black, and O white. My sister and I never agreed about these colours, and I doubt whether my two brothers feel the chromatic force of the vowels at all."

I give this instance partly on account of the hereditary interest. I could add cases from at least three different families in which the heredity is quite as strongly marked.

Fig. 69 fills the whole of the middle column of Plate IV., and contains specimens from a large series of coloured illustrations, accompanied by many pages of explanation from a correspondent, Dr. James Key of Montagu, Cape Colony. The pictures will tell their own tale sufficiently well. I need only string together a few brief extracts from his letters, as follows:--

"I confess my inability to understand visualised numerals; it is otherwise, however, with regard to colour associations with letters. Ever since childhood these have been distinct and unchanging in my consciousness; sometimes, although very seldom, I have mentioned them, to the amazement of my teachers and the scorn of my comrades. A is brown. I say it most dogmatically, and nothing will ever have the effect, I am convinced, of making it appear otherwise! I can imagine no explanation of this association. [He goes into much detail as to conceivable reasons connected with his childish life to show that none of these would do.] Shades of brown accompany to my mind the various degrees of openness in pronouncing A. I have never been destitute in all my conscious existence of a conviction that E is a clear, cold, light-gray blue. I remember daubing in colours, when quite a little child, the picture of a jockey, whose shirt received a large share of E, as I said to myself while daubing it with grey. [He thinks that the letter I may possibly be associated with black because it contains no open space, and O with white because it does.] The colour of R has been invariably of a copper colour, in which a swarthy blackness seems to intervene, visually corresponding to the trilled pronunciation of R. This same appearance exists also in J, X, and Z."

The upper row of Fig. 69 shows the various shades of brown, associated with different pronunciations of the letter A, as in "fame," "can," "charm," and "all" respectively. The second, third and fourth rows similarly refer to the various pronunciations of the other vowels. Then follow the letters of the alphabet, grouped according to the character of the appearance they suggest. After these come the numerals. Then I give three lines of words such as they appear to him. The first is my own name, the second is "London," and the third is "Visualisation." Proceeding conversely, Dr. Key collected scraps of various patterns of wall paper, and sent them together with the word that the colour of the several patterns suggested to him. Specimens of these are shown in the three bottom lines of the Fig. I have gone through the whole of them with care, together with his descriptions and reasons, and can quite understand his meaning, and how exceedingly complex and refined these associations are. The patterns are to him like words in poetry, which call up associations that any substituted word of a like dictionary meaning would fail to do. It would not, for example, be possible to print words by the use of counters coloured like those in Fig. 69, because the tint of each influences that of its neighbours. It must be understood that my remarks, though based on Dr. Key's diagrams and statements as on a text, do not depend, by any means, wholly upon them, but on numerous other letters from various quarters to the same effect. At the same time I should say that Dr. Key's elaborate drawings and ample explanations, to which I am totally unable to do justice in a moderate space, are the most full and striking of any I have received. His illustrations are on a large scale, and are ingeniously arranged so as to express his meaning.

Persons who have colour associations are unsparingly critical. To ordinary individuals one of these accounts seems just as wild and lunatic as another, but when the account of one seer is submitted to another seer, who is sure to see the colours in a different way, the latter is scandalised and almost angry at the heresy of the former. I submitted this very account of Dr. Key to a lady, the wife of an ex-governor of one of the most important British possessions, who has vivid colour associations of her own, and who, I had some reason to think, might have personal acquaintance with the locality where Dr. Key lives. She could not comprehend his account at all, his colours were so entirely different to those that she herself saw.

I have now completed as much as I propose to say about the quaint phenomena of Visualised Forms of numbers and of dates, and of coloured associations with letters. I shall not extend my remarks to such subjects as a musician hearing mental music, of which I have many cases, nor to fancies concerning the other senses, as none of these are so noteworthy. I am conscious that the reader may desire even more assurance of the trustworthiness of the accounts I have given than the space now at my disposal admits, or than I could otherwise afford without wearisome iteration of the same tale, by multiplying extracts from my large store of material. I feel, too, that it may seem ungracious to many obliging correspondents not to have made more evident use of what they have sent than my few and brief notices permit. Still their end and mine will have been gained, if these remarks and illustrations succeed in leaving a just impression of the vast variety of mental constitution that exists in the world, and how impossible it is for one man to lay his mind strictly alongside that of another, except in the rare instances of close hereditary resemblance.



[Footnote 9: Zwangmässige Lichtempfindungen durch Schall und verwandte Erscheinungen, von E. Bleuler und K. Lehmann. Leipsig, Fues' Verlag (R. Reisland), 1881.]
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:42 pm


In the course of my inquiries into visual memory, I was greatly struck by the frequency of the replies in which my informants described themselves as subject to "visions." Those of whom I speak were sane and healthy, but were subject notwithstanding to visual presentations, for which they could not account, and which in a few cases reached the level of hallucinations. This unexpected prevalence of a visionary tendency among persons who form a part of ordinary society seems to me suggestive and well worthy of being put on record. The images described by different persons varied greatly in distinctness, some were so faint and evanescent as to appear unworthy of serious notice; others left a deep impression, and others again were so vivid as actually to deceive the judgment. All of these belong to the same category, and it is the assurance of their common origin that affords justification for directing scientific attention to what many may be inclined to contemptuously disregard as the silly vagaries of vacant minds.

The lowest order of phenomena that admit of being classed as visions are the "Number-Forms" to which I have just drawn attention. They are in each case absolutely unchangable, except through a gradual development in complexity. Their diversity is endless, and the Number-Forms of different persons are mutually unintelligible. These strange "visions," for such they must be called, are extremely vivid in some cases, but are almost incredible to the vast majority of mankind, who would set them down as fantastic nonsense; nevertheless, they are familiar parts of the mental furniture of the rest, in whose imaginations they have been unconsciously formed, and where they remain unmodified and unmodifiable by teaching. I have received many touching accounts of their childish experiences from persons who see the Number-Forms, and other curious visions of which I have spoken or shall speak. As is the case with the colour-blind, so with these seers. They imagined at first that everybody else had the same way of regarding things as themselves. Then they betrayed their peculiarities by some chance remark that called forth a stare of surprise, followed by ridicule and a sharp scolding for their silliness, so that the poor little things shrank back into themselves, and never ventured again to allude to their inner world. I will quote just one of many similar letters as a sample. I received it, together with much interesting information, immediately after a lecture I gave to the British Association at Swansea, in which I had occasion to speak of the Number-Forms. The writer says:--

"I had no idea for many years that every one did not imagine numbers in the same positions as those in which they appear to me. One unfortunate day I spoke of it, and was sharply rebuked for my absurdity. Being a very sensitive child I felt this acutely, but nothing ever shook my belief that, absurd or not, I always saw numbers in this particular way. I began to be ashamed of what I considered a peculiarity, and to imagine myself, from this and various other mental beliefs and states, as somewhat isolated and peculiar. At your lecture the other night, though I am now over twenty-nine, the memory of my childish misery at the dread of being peculiar came over me so strongly that I felt I must thank you for proving that, in this particular at any rate, my case is most common."

The next sort of vision that flashes unaccountably into existence is the instant association in some persons of colour with sound, which was spoken of in the last chapter, and on which I need not say more now.

A third curious and abiding fantasy of certain persons is invariably to connect visualised pictures with words, the same picture to the same word. These are perceived by many in a vague, fleeting, and variable way, but to a few they appear strangely vivid and permanent. I have collected many cases of this peculiarity, and am much indebted to the authoress, Mrs. Haweis, who sees these pictures, for her kindness in sketching some of them for me, and for permitting me to use her name in guarantee of their genuineness. She says:--

"Printed words have always had faces to me; they had definite expressions, and certain faces made me think of certain words. The words had no connection with these except sometimes by accident. The instances I give are few and ridiculous. When I think of the word Beast, it has a face something like a gargoyle. The word Green has also a gargoyle face, with the addition of big teeth. The word Blue blinks and looks silly, and turns to the right. The word Attention has the eyes greatly turned to the left. It is difficult to draw them properly because, like Alice's 'Cheshire cat,' which at times became a grin without a cat, these faces have expression without features. The expression of course" [note the naïve phrase "of course."--F.G.] "depends greatly on those of the letters, which have likewise their faces and figures. All the little a's turn their eyes to the left, this determines the eyes of Attention. Ant, however, looks a little down. Of course these faces are endless as words are, and it makes my head ache to retain them long enough to draw."

Some of the figures are very quaint. Thus the interrogation "what?" always excites the idea of a fat man cracking a long whip. They are not the capricious creations of the fancy of the moment, but are the regular concomitants of the words, and have been so as far back as the memory is able to recall.

When in perfect darkness, if the field of view be carefully watched, many persons will find a perpetual series of changes to be going on automatically and wastefully in it. I have much evidence of this. I will give my own experience the first, which is striking to me, because I am very unimpressionable in these matters. I visualise with effort; I am peculiarly inapt to see "after-images," "phosphenes," "light-dust," and other phenomena due to weak sight or sensitiveness; and, again, before I thought of carefully trying, I should have emphatically declared that my field of view in the dark was essentially of a uniform black, subject to an occasional light-purple cloudiness and other small variations. Now, however, after habituating myself to examine it with the same sort of strain that one tries to decipher a signpost in the dark, I have found out that this is by no means the case, but that a kaleidoscopic change of patterns and forms is continually going on, but they are too fugitive and elaborate for me to draw with any approach to truth. I am astonished at their variety, and cannot guess in the remotest degree the cause of them. They disappear out of sight and memory the instant I begin to think about anything, and it is curious to me that they should often be so certainly present and yet be habitually overlooked. If they were more vivid, the case would be very different, and it is most easily conceivable that some very slight physiological change, short of a really morbid character, would enhance their vividness. My own deficiencies, however, are well supplied by other drawings in my possession. These are by the Rev. George Henslow, whose visions are far more vivid than mine. His experiences are not unlike those of Goethe, who said, in an often-quoted passage, that whenever he bent his head and closed his eyes and thought of a rose, a sort of rosette made its appearance, which would not keep its shape steady for a moment, but unfolded from within, throwing out a succession of petals, mostly red but sometimes green, and that it continued to do so without change in brightness and without causing him any fatigue so long as he cared to watch it. Mr. Henslow, when he shuts his eyes and waits, is sure in a short time to see before him the clear image of some object or other, but usually not quite natural in its shape. It then begins to change from one form to another, in his case also for as long a time as he cares to watch it. Mr. Henslow has zealously made repeated experiments on himself, and has drawn what he sees. He has also tried how far he is able to mould the visions according to his will. In one case, after much effort, he contrived to bring the imagery back to its starting-point, and thereby to form what he terms a "visual cycle." The following account is extracted and condensed from his very interesting letter, and will explain the illustrations copied from his drawings that are given in Plate IV.

Fig. 70. The first image that spontaneously presented itself was a cross-bow (1); this was immediately provided with an arrow (2), remarkable for its pronounced barb and superabundance of feathering. Some person, but too indistinct to recognise much more of him than the hands, appeared to shoot the arrow from the bow. The single arrow was then accompanied by a flight of arrows from right to left, which completely occupied the field of vision. These changed into falling stars, then into flakes of a heavy snowstorm; the ground gradually appeared as a sheet of snow where previously there had been vacant space. Then a well-known rectory, fish-ponds, walls, etc., all covered with snow, came into view most vividly and clearly defined. This somehow suggested another view, impressed on his mind in childhood, of a spring morning, brilliant sun, and a bed of red tulips: the tulips gradually vanished except one, which appeared now to be isolated and to stand in the usual point of sight. It was a single tulip, but became double. The petals then fell off rapidly in a continuous series until there was nothing left but the pistil (3), but (as is almost invariably the case with his objects) that part was greatly exaggerated. The stigmas then changed into three branching brown horns (4); then into a knob (5), while the stalk changed into a stick. A slight bend in it seems to have suggested a centre-bit (6); this passed into a sort of pin passing through a metal plate (7), this again into a lock (8), and afterwards into a nondescript shape (9), distantly suggestive of the original cross-bow. Here Mr. Henslow endeavoured to force his will upon the visions, and to reproduce the cross-bow, but the first attempt was an utter failure. The figure changed into a leather strap with loops (10), but while he still endeavoured to change it into a bow the strap broke, the two ends were separated, but it happened that an imaginary string connected them (11). This was the first concession of his automatic chain of thoughts to his will. By a continued effort the bow came (12), and then no difficulty was felt in converting it into the cross-bow, and thus returning to the starting-point. Fig. 71. Mr. Henslow writes:--

"Though I can usually summon up any object thought of, it not only is somewhat different from the real thing, but it rapidly changes. The changes are in many cases clearly due to a suggestiveness in the article of something else, but not always so, as in some cases hereafter described. It is not at all necessary to think of any particular object at first, as something is sure to come spontaneously within a minute or two. Some object having once appeared, the automatism of the brain will rapidly induce the series of changes. The images are sometimes very numerous, and very rapid in succession: very frequently of great beauty and highly brilliant. Cut glass (far more elaborate than I am conscious of ever having seen), highly chased gold and silver filigree ornaments; gold and silver flower-stands, etc.; elaborate coloured patterns of carpets in brilliant tints are not uncommon.

"Another peculiarity resides in the extreme restlessness of my visual objects. It is often very difficult to keep them still, as well as from changing in character. They will rapidly oscillate or else rotate to a most perplexing degree, and when the characters change at the same time a critical examination is almost impossible. When the process is in full activity, I feel as if I were a mere spectator at a diorama of a very eccentric kind, and was in no way concerned with the getting up of the performance.

"When a succession of images has been passing, I sometimes determine to introduce an object, say a watch. Very often it is next to impossible to succeed. There is an evident struggle. The watch, pure and simple, will not come; but some hybrid structure appears--something round, perhaps--but it lapses into a warming-pan or other unexpected object.

"This practice has brought to my mind very clearly the distinction between at least one form of automatism of the brain and volition; but the strength of the former is enormous, for the visual objects, when in full career of the change, are imperative in their refusal to be interfered with.

"I will now describe the cases illustrated. Fig. 71. I thought of a gun. The stock came into view, the metal plate on the end very distinct towards the left (1). The wood was elaborately carved. I cannot recall the pattern. As I scrutinised it, the stock oscillated up and down, and crumpled up. The metallic plate sank inwards: and the stock contracted so that it looked not unlike a tuning-fork (2). I gave up the stock and proceeded cautiously to examine the lock. I got it well into view, but no more of the gun. It turned out to be an old-fashioned flint-lock. It immediately began to nod backwards and forwards in a manner suggestive of the beak of a bird pecking. Consequently it forthwith became converted into the head of a bird with a long curved beak, the knob on the lock (3) becoming the head of the bird. I then looked to the right expecting to find the barrel, but the snout of a saw-fish with the tip distinctly broken off appeared instead. I had not thought either of a flint-lock or of a saw-fish: both came spontaneously.

"Fig. 72. I have several times thought of a rosebud, as Goethe is said to have been able to see one at will, and to observe it expand. The following are some of the results:--The bud appeared unexpectedly a moss rosebud. Its only abnormal appearance was the inordinately elongated sepals (1). I tried to force it to expand. It enlarged but only partially opened (2), when all of a sudden it burst open and the petals became reflexed (3).[10]

"Fig. 73. The spontaneous appearance of a poppy capsule (1) dehiscing as usual by 'pores,' but with inordinately long and arching valves over the pores. These valves were eminently suggestive of hooded flowers. Hence they changed to a whorl of salvias (2). Each blossom now gyrated rapidly in a vertical plane. Concentrating observation on one rotating flower, it became a 'rotating haze,' as the rapid motion rendered the flower totally indistinct. The 'haze' now shaped itself into a circle of moss with a deep funnel-like cavity. This was suggestive of a bird's nest. It became lined with hair, but the nest was a deep, pointed cavity. A nest was suggestive of eggs. Hence a series appeared (4); the two rows meeting in one at the apex appears to have arisen from the perspective view of the nest. The eggs all disappeared but one (5), which increased in size; the bright point of light now shone with great intensity like a star; then it gradually grew dimmer and dimmer till it disappeared into the usual hazy obscurity into which all [my] visual objects ultimately vanish."

I have a sufficient variety of cases to prove the continuity between all the forms of visualisation, beginning with an almost total absence of it, and ending with a complete hallucination. The continuity is, however, not simply that of varying degrees of intensity, but of variations in the character of the process itself, so that it is by no means uncommon to find two very different forms of it concurrent in the same person. There are some who visualise well, and who also are seers of visions, who declare that the vision is not a vivid visualisation, but altogether a different phenomenon. In short, if we please to call all sensations due to external impressions "direct" and all others "induced" then there are many channels through which the "induction" of the latter may take place, and the channel of ordinary visualisation in the persons just mentioned is different from that through which their visions arise.

The following is a good instance of this condition. A friend writes: --

"These visions often appear with startling vividness, and so far from depending on any voluntary effort of the mind, [10] they remain when I often wish them very much to depart, and no effort of the imagination can call them up. I lately saw a framed portrait of a face which seemed more lovely than any painting I have ever seen, and again I often see fine landscapes which bear no resemblance to any scenery I have ever looked upon. I find it difficult to define the difference between a waking vision and a mental image, although the difference is very apparent to myself. I think I can do it best in this way. If you go into a theatre and look at a scene--say of a forest by moonlight--at the back part of the stage you see every object distinctly and sufficiently illuminated (being thus unlike a mere act of memory), but it is nevertheless vague and shadowy, and you might have difficulty in telling afterwards all the objects you have seen. This resembles a mental image in point of clearness. The waking vision is like what one sees in the open street in broad daylight, when every object is distinctly impressed on the memory. The two kinds of imagery differ also as regards voluntariness, the image being entirely subservient to the will, the visions entirely independent of it. They differ also in point of suddenness, the images being formed comparatively slowly as memory recalls each detail, and fading slowly as the mental effort to retain them is relaxed, the visions appearing and vanishing in an instant. The waking visions seem quite close, filling as it were the whole head, while the mental image seems farther away in some far-off recess of the mind."

The number of sane persons who see visions no less distinctly than this correspondent is much greater than I had any idea of when I began this inquiry. I have received an interesting sketch of one, prefaced by a description of it by Mrs. Haweis. She says:--

"All my life long I have had one very constantly-recurring vision, a sight which came whenever it was dark or darkish, in bed or otherwise. It is a flight of pink roses floating in a mass from left to right, and this cloud or mass of roses is presently effaced by a flight of 'sparks' or gold speckles across them. The sparks totter or vibrate from left to right, but they fly distinctly upwards; they are like tiny blocks, half gold, half black, rather symmetrically placed behind each other, and they are always in a hurry to efface the roses; sometimes they have come at my call, sometimes by surprise, but they are always equally pleasing. What interests me most is that, when a child under nine, the flight of roses was light, slow, soft, close to my eyes, roses so large and brilliant and palpable that I tried to touch them; the scent was overpowering, the petals perfect, with leaves peeping here and there, texture and motion all natural. They would stay a long time before the sparks came, and they occupied a large area in black space. Then the sparks came slowly flying, and generally, not always, effaced the roses at once, and every effort to retain the roses failed. Since an early age the flight of roses has annually grown smaller, swifter, and farther off, till by the time I was grown up my vision had become a speck, so instantaneous that I had hardly time to realise that it was there before the fading sparks showed that it was past. This is how they still come. The pleasure of them is past, and it always depresses me to speak of them, though I do not now, as I did when a child, connect the vision with any elevated spiritual state. But when I read Tennyson's Holy Grail, I wondered whether anybody else had had my vision, 'Rose-red, with beatings in it.' I may add, I was a London child who never was in the country but once, and I connect no particular flowers with that visit. I may almost say that I had never seen a rose, certainly not a quantity of them together."

A common form of vision is a phantasmagoria, or the appearance of a crowd of phantoms, sometimes hurrying past like men in a street. It is occasionally seen in broad daylight, much more often in the dark; it may be at the instant of putting out the candle, but it generally comes on when the person is in bed, preparing to sleep, but by no means yet asleep. I know no less than three men, eminent in the scientific world, who have these phantasmagoria in one form or another. It will seem curious, but it is a fact that I know of no less than five editors of very influential newspapers who experience these night visitations in a vivid form. Two of them have described the phenomena very forcibly in print, but anonymously, and two others have written on cognate experiences.

A near relative of my own saw phantasmagoria very frequently. She was eminently sane, and of such good constitution that her faculties were hardly impaired until near her death at ninety. She frequently described them to me. It gave her amusement during an idle hour to watch these faces, for their expression was always pleasing, though never strikingly beautiful. No two faces were ever alike, and no face ever resembled that of any acquaintance. When she was not well the faces usually came nearer to her, sometimes almost suffocatingly close. She never mistook them for reality, although they were very distinct. This is quite a typical case, similar in most respects to many others that I have.[11]

A notable proportion of sane persons have had not only visions, but actual hallucinations of sight, sound, or other sense, at one or more periods of their lives. I have a considerable packet of instances contributed by my personal friends, besides a large number communicated to me by other correspondents. One lady, a distinguished authoress, who was at the time a little fidgeted, but in no way overwrought or ill, assured me that she once saw the principal character of one of her novels glide through the door straight up to her. It was about the size of a large doll, and it disappeared as suddenly as it came. Another lady, the daughter of an eminent musician, often imagines she hears her father playing. The day she told me of it the incident had again occurred. She was sitting in her room with her maid, and she asked the maid to open the door that she might hear the music better. The moment the maid got up the hallucination disappeared. Again, another lady, apparently in vigorous health, and belonging to a vigorous family, told me that during some past months she had been plagued by voices. The words were at first simple nonsense; then the word "pray" was frequently repeated; this was followed by some more or less coherent sentences of little import, and finally the voices left her. In short, the familiar hallucinations of the insane are to be met with far more frequently than is commonly supposed, among people moving in society and in good working health.

I have now nearly done with my summary of facts; it remains to make a few comments on them.

The weirdness of visions lies in their sudden appearance, in their vividness while present, and in their sudden departure. An incident in the Zoological Gardens struck me as a helpful simile. I happened to walk to the seal-pond at a moment when a sheen rested on the unbroken surface of the water. After waiting a while I became suddenly aware of the head of a seal, black, conspicuous, [12] and motionless, just as though it had always been there, at a spot on which my eye had rested a moment previously and seen nothing. Again, after a while my eye wandered, and on its returning to the spot the seal was gone. The water had closed in silence over its head without leaving a ripple, and the sheen on the surface of the pond was as unbroken as when I first reached it. Where did the seal come from, and whither did it go? This could easily have been answered if the glare had not obstructed the view of the movements of the animal under water. As it was, a solitary link in a continuous chain of actions stood isolated from all the rest. So it is with the visions; a single stage in a series of mental processes emerges into the domain of consciousness. All that precedes and follows lies outside of it, and its character can only be inferred. We see in a general way that a condition of the presentation of visions lies in the over-sensitiveness of certain tracks or domains of brain action and the under-sensitiveness of others, certain stages in a mental process being represented very vividly in consciousness while the other stages are unfelt; also that individualism is changed to dividualism.

I do not recollect seeing it remarked that the ordinary phenomena of dreaming seem to show that partial sensitiveness is a normal condition during sleep. They do so because one of the most marked characteristics of the dreamer is the absence of common sense. He accepts wildly incongruous visions without the slightest scepticism. Now common sense consists in the comprehension of a large number of related circumstances, and implies the simultaneous working of many parts of the brain. On the other hand, the brain is known to be imperfectly supplied with blood during sleep, and cannot therefore be at full work. It is probable enough, from hydraulic analogies, that imperfect irrigation would lead to partial irrigation, and therefore to suppression of action in some parts of the brain, and that this is really the case seems to be proved by the absence of common sense during dreams.

A convenient distinction is made between hallucinations and illusions. Hallucinations are defined as appearances wholly due to fancy; illusions, as fanciful perceptions of objects actually seen. There is also a hybrid case which depends on fanciful visions fancifully perceived. The problems we have to consider are, on the one hand, those connected with "induced" vision, and, on the other hand, those connected with the interpretation of vision, whether the vision be direct or induced.

It is probable that much of what passes for hallucination proper belongs in reality to the hybrid case, being an illusive interpretation of some induced visual cloud or blur. I spoke of the ever-varying patterns in the optical field; these, under some slight functional change, may become more consciously present, and be interpreted into fantasmal appearances. Many cases could be adduced to support this view.

I will begin with illusions. What is the process by which they are established? There is no simpler way of understanding it than by trying, as children often do, to see "faces in the fire," and to carefully watch the way in which they are first caught. Let us call to mind at the same time the experience of past illnesses, when the listless gaze wandered over the patterns on the wall-paper and the shadows of the bed-curtains, and slowly evoked the appearances of faces and figures that were not easily laid again. The process of making the faces is so rapid in health that it is difficult to analyse it without the recollection of what took place more slowly when we were weakened by illness. The first essential element in their construction is, I believe, the smallness of the area covered by the glance at any instant, so that the eye has to travel over a long track before it has visited every part of the object towards which the attention is directed generally. It is as with a plough, that must travel many miles before the whole of a small field can be tilled, but with this important difference--the plough travels methodically up and down in parallel furrows; the eye wanders in devious curves, with abrupt bends, and the direction of its course at any instant depends on four causes: (1) on the easiest sequence of muscular motion, speaking in a general sense, (2) on idiosyncrasy, (3) on the mood, and (4) on the associations current at the moment. The effect of idiosyncrasy ft excellently illustrated by the "Number-Forms," where we observe that a very special sharply-defined track of mental vision is preferred by each individual who sees them. The influence of the mood of the moment is shown in the curves that are felt appropriate to the various emotions, as the lank drooping lines of grief, which make the weeping willow so fit an emblem of it. In constructing fire-faces it seems to me that the eye in its wanderings tends to follow a favourite course, and it especially dwells upon the marks that happen to coincide with that course. It feels its way, easily diverted by associations based on what has just been noticed, until at last, by the unconscious practice of a system of "trial and error," it hits upon a track that will suit--one that is easily run over and that strings together accidental marks in a way that happens to form a well-connected picture. This fancy picture is then dwelt upon; all that is incongruous with it becomes disregarded, while all deficiencies in it are supplied by the fantasy. The latest stages of the process might be represented by a diorama. Three lanterns would converge on the same screen. The first throws an image of what the imagination will discard, the second of that which it will retain, the third of that which it will supply. Turn on the first and second, and the picture on the screen will be identical with that which fell on the retina. Shut off the first and turn on the third, and the picture will be identical with the illusion.

Turner the painter made frequent use of a practice analogous to that of looking for fire-faces in the burning coals; he was known to give colours to children to daub in play on paper, while he keenly watched for suggestive but accidental combinations.

I have myself had frequent experience of the automatic construction of fantastic figures, through a practice I have somewhat encouraged for the purpose, of allowing my hand to scribble at its own will, while I am giving my best attention to what is being said by others, as at small committees. It is always a surprise to me to see the result whenever I turn my thoughts on what I have been subconsciously doing. I can rarely recollect even a few of the steps by which the drawings were made; they grew piece-meal, with some almost forgotten notice, from time to time, of the sketch as a whole. I can trace no likeness between what I draw and the images that present themselves to me in dreams, and I find that a very trifling accident, such as a chance dot on the paper, may have great influence on the general character of any one of these automatic sketches.

Visions, like dreams, are often mere patchworks built up of bits of recollections. The following is one of these:--

"When passing a shop in Tottenham Court Road, I went in to order a Dutch cheese, and the proprietor (a bullet-headed man whom I had never seen before) rolled a cheese on the marble slab of his counter, asking me if that one would do. I answered 'Yes,' left the shop, and thought no more of the incident. The following evening, on closing my eyes, I saw a head detached from the body rolling about slightly on a white surface. I recognised the face, but could not remember where I had seen it, and it was only after thinking about it for some time that I identified it as that of the cheesemonger who had sold me the cheese on the previous day. I may mention that I have often seen the man since, and that I found the vision I saw was exactly like him, although if I had been asked to describe the man before I saw the vision I should have been unable to do so."

Recollections need not be combined like mosaic work; they may be blended, on the principle of composite portraiture. I suspect that the phantasmagoria may be in some part due to blended memories; the number of possible combinations would be practically endless, and each combination would give a new face. There would thus be no limit to the dies in the coinage of the brain.

I have found that the peculiarities of visualisation, such as the tendency to see Number-Forms, and the still rarer tendency to associate colour with sound, is strongly hereditary, and I should infer, what facts seem to confirm, that the tendency to be a seer of visions is equally so. Under these circumstances we should expect that it would be unequally developed in different races, and that a large natural gift of the visionary faculty might become characteristic not only of certain families, as among the second-sight seers of Scotland, but of certain races, as that of the Gipsies.

It happens that the mere acts of fasting, of want of sleep, and of solitary musing, are severally conducive to visions. I have myself been told of cases in which persons accidentally long deprived of food became for a brief time subject to them. One was of a pleasure party driven out to sea, and not being able to reach the coast till nightfall, at a place where they got shelter but nothing to eat. They were mentally at ease and conscious of safety, but all were troubled with visions that were half dreams and half hallucinations. The cases of visions following protracted wakefulness are well known, and I have collected a few of them myself. I have already spoken of the maddening effect of solitariness: its influence may be inferred from the recognised advantages of social amusements in the treatment of the insane. It follows that the spiritual discipline undergone for purposes of self-control and self-mortification, have also the incidental effect of producing visions. It is to be expected that these should often bear a close relation to the prevalent subjects of thought, and although they may be really no more than the products of one portion of the brain, which another portion of the same brain is engaged in contemplating, they often, through error, receive a religious sanction. This is notably the case among half-civilised races.

The number of great men who have been once, twice, or more frequently, subject to hallucinations is considerable. A list, to which it would be easy to make large additions, is given by Brierre de Boismont (Hallucinations, etc., 1862), from whom I translate the following account of the star of the first Napoleon, which he heard, second-hand, from General Rapp:--

"In 1806 General Rapp, on his return from the siege of Dantzic, having occasion to speak to the Emperor, entered his study without being announced. He found him so absorbed that his entry was unperceived. The General seeing the Emperor continue motionless, thought he might be ill, and purposely made a noise. Napoleon immediately roused himself, and without any preamble, seizing Rapp by the arm, said to him, pointing to the sky, 'Look there, up there.' The General remained silent, but on being asked a second time, he answered that he perceived nothing. 'What!' replied the Emperor, 'you do not see it? It is my star, it is before you, brilliant;' then animating by degrees, he cried out, 'it has never abandoned me, I see it on all great occasions, it commands me to go forward, and it is a constant sign of good fortune to me.'"

Napoleon was no doubt a consummate actor, ready and unscrupulous in imposing on others, but I see no reason to distrust the genuineness of this particular outburst, seeing that it is not the only instance of his referring to the guidance of his star, as a literal vision and not as a mere phrase, and that his belief in destiny was notorious.

It appears that stars of this kind, so frequently spoken of in history, and so well known as a metaphor in language, are a common hallucination of the insane. Brierre de Boismont has a chapter on the stars of great men. I cannot doubt that visions of this description were in some cases the basis of that firm belief in astrology, which not a few persons of eminence formerly entertained.

The hallucinations of great men may be accounted for in part by their sharing a tendency which we have seen to be not uncommon in the human race, and which, if it happens to be natural to them, is liable to be developed in their overwrought brains by the isolation of their lives. A man in the position of the first Napoleon could have no intimate associates; a great philosopher who explores ways of thought far ahead of his contemporaries must have an inner world in which he passes long and solitary hours. Great men may be even indebted to touches of madness for their greatness; the ideas by which they are haunted, and to whose pursuit they devote themselves, and by which they rise to eminence, having much in common with the monomania of insanity. Striking instances of great visionaries may be mentioned, who had almost beyond doubt those very nervous seizures with which the tendency to hallucinations is intimately connected. To take a single instance, Socrates, whose daimon was an audible not a visual appearance, was, as has been often pointed out, subject to cataleptic seizure, standing all night through in a rigid attitude.

It is remarkable how largely the visionary temperament has manifested itself in certain periods of history and epochs of national life. My interpretation of the matter, to a certain extent, is this--That the visionary tendency is much more common among sane people than is generally suspected. In early life, it seems to be a hard lesson to an imaginative child to distinguish between the real and visionary world. If the fantasies are habitually laughed at and otherwise discouraged, the child soon acquires the power of distinguishing them; any incongruity or nonconformity is quickly noted, the visions are found out and discredited, and are no further attended to. In this way the natural tendency to see them is blunted by repression. Therefore, when popular opinion is of a matter-of-fact kind, the seers of visions keep quiet; they do not like to be thought fanciful or mad, and they hide their experiences, which only come to light through inquiries such as these that I have been making. But let the tide of opinion change and grow favourable to supernaturalism, then the seers of visions come to the front. The faintly-perceived fantasies of ordinary persons become invested by the authority of reverend men with a claim to serious regard; they are consequently attended to and encouraged, and they increase in definition through being habitually dwelt upon. We need not suppose that a faculty previously non-existent has been suddenly evoked, but that a faculty long smothered by many in secret has been suddenly allowed freedom to express itself, and to run into extravagance owing to the removal of reasonable safeguards.



[Footnote 10: The details and illustrations of four other experiments with the image of a rosebud have been given me. They all vary in detail.]

[Footnote 12: See some curious correspondence on this subject in the St. James' Gazette, Feb. 10, 15, and 20, 1882.]
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:43 pm


Man is so educable an animal that it is difficult to distinguish between that part of his character which has been acquired through education and circumstance, and that which was in the original grain of his constitution. His character is exceedingly complex, even in members of the simplest and purest savage race; much more is it so in civilised races, who have long since been exempted from the full rigour of natural selection, and have become more mongrel in their breed than any other animal on the face of the earth. Different aspects of the multifarious character of man respond to different calls from without, so that the same individual, and, much more, the same race, may behave very differently at different epochs. There may have been no fundamental change of character, but a different phase or mood of it may have been evoked by special circumstances, or those persons in whom that mood is naturally dominant may through some accident have the opportunity of acting for the time as representatives of the race. The same nation may be seized by a military fervour at one period, and by a commercial one at another; they may be humbly submissive to a monarch, or become outrageous republicans. The love of art, gaiety, adventure, science, religion may be severally paramount at different times.

One of the most notable changes that can come over a nation is from a state corresponding to that of our past dark ages into one like that of the Renaissance. In the first case the minds of men are wholly taken up with routine work, and in copying what their predecessors have done; they degrade into servile imitators and submissive slaves to the past. In the second case, some circumstance or idea has finally discredited the authorities that impeded intellectual growth, and has unexpectedly revealed new possibilities. Then the mind of the nation is set free, a direction of research is given to it, and all the exploratory and hunting instincts are awakened. These sudden eras of great intellectual progress cannot be due to any alteration in the natural faculties of the race, because there has not been time for that, but to their being directed in productive channels. Most of the leisure of the men of every nation is spent in rounds of reiterated actions; if it could be spent in continuous advance along new lines of research in unexplored regions, vast progress would be sure to be made. It has been the privilege of this generation to have had fresh fields of research pointed out to them by Darwin, and to have undergone a new intellectual birth under the inspiration of his fertile genius.

A pure love of change, acting according to some law of contrast as yet imperfectly understood, especially characterises civilised man. After a long continuance of one mood he wants to throw himself into another for the pleasure of setting faculties into action that have been long disused, but not yet paralysed by disuse, and which have become fidgety for employment. He has so many opportunities for procuring change, and has so complex a nature that he easily learns to neglect a more deeply-seated feeling that innovation is wicked, and which is manifest in children and barbarians. To a civilised man the varied interests of civilisation are temptations in as many directions; changes in dress and appliances of all kinds are comparatively inexpensive to him owing to the cheapness of manufactures and their variety; change of scene is easy from the conveniences of locomotion. But a barbarian has none of these facilities: his interests are few; his dress, such as it is, is intended to stand the wear and tear of years, and all weathers; it is relatively very costly, and is an investment, one may say, of his capital rather than of his income; the invention of his people is sluggish, and their arts are few, consequently he is perforce taught to be conservative, his ideas are fixed, and he becomes scandalised even at the suggestion of change.

The difficulty of indulging in variety is incomparably greater among the rest of the animal world. If a pea-hen should take it into her head that bars would be prettier than eyes in the tail of her spouse, she could not possibly get what she wanted. It would require hundreds of generations in which the pea-hens generally concurred in the same view before sexual selection could effect the desired alteration. The feminine delight of indulging her caprice in matters of ornament is a luxury denied to the females of the brute world, and the law that rules changes in taste, if studied at all, can only be ascertained by observing the alternations of fashion in civilised communities.

There are long sequences of changes in character, which, like the tunes of a musical snuff-box, are regulated by internal mechanism. They are such as those of Shakespeare's "Seven Ages," and others due to the progress of various diseases. The lives of birds are characterised by long chains of these periodic sequences. They are mostly mute in winter, after that they begin to sing; some species are seized in the early part of the year with so strong a passion for migrating that if confined in a cage they will beat themselves to death against its bars; then follow courtship and pairing, accompanied by an access of ferocity among the males and severe fighting for the females. Next an impulse seizes them to build nests, then a desire for incubation, then one for the feeding of their young. After this a newly-arisen tendency to gregariousness groups them into large flocks, and finally they fly away to the place whence they came, goaded by a similar instinct to that which drove them forth a few months previously. These remarkable changes are mainly due to the conditions of their natures, because they persist with more or less regularity under altered circumstances. Nevertheless, they are not wholly independent of circumstance, because the period of migration, though nearly coincident in successive years, is modified to some small extent by the weather and condition of the particular year.

The interaction of nature and circumstance is very close, and it is impossible to separate them with precision. Nurture acts before birth, during every stage of embryonic and pre-embryonic existence, causing the potential faculties at the time of birth to be in some degree the effect of nurture. We need not, however, be hypercritical about distinctions; we know that the bulk of the respective provinces of nature and nurture are totally different, although the frontier between them may be uncertain, and we are perfectly justified in attempting to appraise their relative importance.

I shall begin with describing some of the principal influences that may safely be ascribed to education or other circumstances, all of which I include under the comprehensive term of Nurture.
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:43 pm


The furniture of a man's mind chiefly consists of his recollections and the bonds that unite them. As all this is the fruit of experience, it must differ greatly in different minds according to their individual experiences. I have endeavoured to take stock of my own mental furniture in the way described in the next chapter, in which it will be seen how large a part consists of childish recollections, testifying to the permanent effect of many of the results of early education. The same fact has been strongly brought out by the replies from correspondents whom I had questioned on their mental imagery. It was frequently stated that the mental image invariably evoked by certain words was some event of childish experience or fancy. Thus one correspondent, of no mean literary and philosophical power, recollects the left hand by a mental reference to the rocking-horse which always stood by the side of the nursery wall with its head in the same direction, and had to be mounted from the side next the wall. Another, a politician, historian, and scholar, refers all his dates to the mental image of a nursery diagram of the history of the world, which has since developed huge bosses to support his later acquired information.

Our abstract ideas being mostly drawn from external experiences, their character also must depend upon the events of our individual histories. For example, the spoken words house and home must awaken ideas derived from the houses and the homes with which the hearer is, in one way or other, acquainted, and these could not be the same to persons of various social positions and places of residence. The character of our abstract ideas, therefore, depends, to a considerable degree, on our nurture.

I doubt, however, whether "abstract idea" is a correct phrase in many of the cases in which it is used, and whether "cumulative idea" would not be more appropriate. The ideal faces obtained by the method of composite portraiture appear to have a great deal in common with these so-called abstract ideas. The composite portraits consist, as was explained, of numerous superimposed pictures, forming a cumulative result in which the features that are common to all the likenesses are clearly seen; those that are common to a few are relatively faint and are more or less overlooked, while those that are peculiar to single individuals leave no sensible trace at all.

This analogy, which I pointed out in a Memoir on Generic Images, [11] has been extended and confirmed by subsequent experience of the process. One objection to my view was that our so-called generalisations are commonly no more than representative cases, our recollections being apt to be unduly influenced by particular events, and not by the totality of what we have seen; that the reason why some one recollection has prevailed is that the case was sharply defined, or had something unusual about it, or that our frame of mind was at the time of observation susceptible to that particular kind of impression. I have had exactly the same difficulties with the composites. If one of the individual portraits has sharp outlines, or if it is unlike the rest, or if the illumination is temporarily strong, it will assert itself unduly in the result. The cases seem to me exactly analogous. I get over my photographic difficulty very easily by throwing the sharp portrait a little out of focus, by eliminating such portraits as have exceptional features, and by toning down the illumination to a standard intensity.



[Footnote 11: "Generic Images," Proc. Royal Institute, Friday, April 25, 1879, partly reprinted in the Appendix.]
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:46 pm


When we attempt to trace the first steps in each operation of our minds, we are usually baulked by the difficulty of keeping watch, without embarrassing the freedom of its action. The difficulty is much more than the common and well-known one of attending to two things at once. It is especially due to the fact that the elementary operations of the mind are exceedingly faint and evanescent, and that it requires the utmost painstaking to watch them properly. It would seem impossible to give the required attention to the processes of thought, and yet to think as freely as if the mind had been in no way preoccupied. The peculiarity of the experiments I am about to describe is that I have succeeded in evading this difficulty. My method consists in allowing the mind to play freely for a very brief period, until a couple or so of ideas have passed through it, and then, while the traces or echoes of those ideas are still lingering in the brain, to turn the attention upon them with a sudden and complete awakening; to arrest, to scrutinise them, and to record their exact appearance. Afterwards I collate the records at leisure, and discuss them, and draw conclusions. It must be understood that the second of the two ideas was never derived from the first, but always directly from the original object. This was ensured by absolutely withstanding all temptation to reverie. I do not mean that the first idea was of necessity a simple elementary thought; sometimes it was a glance down a familiar line of associations, sometimes it was a well-remembered mental attitude or mode of feeling, but I mean that it was never so far indulged in as to displace the object that had suggested it from being the primary topic of attention.

I must add, that I found the experiments to be extremely trying and irksome, and that it required much resolution to go through with them, using the scrupulous care they demanded. Nevertheless the results well repaid the trouble. They gave me an interesting and unexpected view of the number of the operations of the mind, and of the obscure depths in which they took place, of which I had been little conscious before. The general impression they have left upon me is like that which many of us have experienced when the basement of our house happens to be under thorough sanitary repairs, and we realise for the first time the complex system of drains and gas and water pipes, flues, bell-wires, and so forth, upon which our comfort depends, but which are usually hidden out of sight, and with whose existence, so long as they acted well, we had never troubled ourselves.

The first experiments I made were imperfect, but sufficient to inspire me with keen interest in the matter, and suggested the form of procedure that I have already partly described. My first experiments were these. On several occasions, but notably on one when I felt myself unusually capable of the kind of effort required, I walked leisurely along Pall Mall, a distance of 450 yards, during which time I scrutinised with attention every successive object that caught my eyes, and I allowed my attention to rest on it until one or two thoughts had arisen through direct association with that object; then I took very brief mental note of them, and passed on to the next object. I never allowed my mind to ramble. The number of objects viewed was, I think, about 300, for I had subsequently repeated the same walk under similar conditions and endeavoured to estimate their number, with that result. It was impossible for me to recall in other than the vaguest way the numerous ideas that had passed through my mind; but of this, at least, I am sure, that samples of my whole life had passed before me, that many bygone incidents, which I never suspected to have formed part of my stock of thoughts, had been glanced at as objects too familiar to awaken the attention. I saw at once that the brain was vastly more active than I had previously believed it to be, and I was perfectly amazed at the unexpected width of the field of its everyday operations. After an interval of some days, during which I kept my mind from dwelling on my first experiences, in order that it might retain as much freshness as possible for a second experiment, I repeated the walk, and was struck just as much as before by the variety of the ideas that presented themselves, and the number of events to which they referred, about which I had never consciously occupied myself of late years. But my admiration at the activity of the mind was seriously diminished by another observation which I then made, namely, that there had been a very great deal of repetition of thought. The actors in my mental stage were indeed very numerous, but by no means so numerous as I had imagined. They now seemed to be something like the actors in theatres where large processions are represented, who march off one side of the stage, and, going round by the back, come on again at the other. I accordingly cast about for means of laying hold of these fleeting thoughts, and, submitting them to statistical analysis, to find out more about their tendency to repetition and other matters, and the method I finally adopted was the one already mentioned. I selected a list of suitable words, and wrote them on different small sheets of paper. Taking care to dismiss them from my thoughts when not engaged upon them, and allowing some days to elapse before I began to use them, I laid one of these sheets with all due precautions, under a book, but not wholly covered by it, so that when I leaned forward I could see one of the words, being previously quite ignorant of what the word would be. Also I held a small chronograph, which I started by pressing a spring the moment the word caught my eye, and which stopped of itself the instant I released the spring; and this I did so soon as about a couple of ideas in direct association with the word had arisen in my mind. I found that I could not manage to recollect more than two ideas with the needed precision, at least not in a general way; but sometimes several ideas occurred so nearly together that I was able to record three or even four of them, while sometimes I only managed one. The second ideas were, as I have already said, never derived from the first, but always direct from the word itself, for I kept my attention firmly fixed on the word, and the associated ideas were seen only by a half glance. When the two ideas had occurred,

I stopped the chronograph and wrote them down, and the time they occupied. I soon got into the way of doing all this in a very methodical and automatic manner, keeping the mind perfectly calm and neutral, but intent and, as it were, at full cock and on hair trigger, before displaying the word. There was no disturbance occasioned by thinking of the forthcoming revulsion of the mind the moment before the chronograph was stopped. My feeling before stopping it was simply that I had delayed long enough, and this in no way interfered with the free action of the mind. I found no trouble in ensuring the complete fairness of the experiment, by using a number of little precautions, hardly necessary to describe, that practice quickly suggested, but it was a most repugnant and laborious work, and it was only by strong self-control that I went through my schedule according to programme. The list of words that I finally secured was 75 in number, though I began with more. I went through them on four separate occasions, under very different circumstances, in England and abroad, and at intervals of about a month. In no case were the associations governed to any degree worth recording, by remembering what had occurred to me on previous occasions, for I found that the process itself had great influence in discharging the memory of what it had just been engaged in, and I, of course, took care between the experiments never to let my thoughts revert to the words. The results seem to me to be as trustworthy as any other statistical series that has been collected with equal care.

On throwing these results into a common statistical hotch-pot, I first examined into the rate at which these associated ideas were formed. It took a total time of 660 seconds to form the 505 ideas; that is, at about the rate of 50 in a minute, or 3000 in an hour. This would be miserably slow work in reverie, or wherever the thought follows the lead of each association that successively presents itself. In the present case, much time was lost in mentally taking the word in, owing to the quiet unobtrusive way in which I found it necessary to bring it into view, so as not to distract the thoughts. Moreover, a substantive standing by itself is usually the equivalent of too abstract an idea for us to conceive properly without delay. Thus it is very difficult to get a quick conception of the word "carriage," because there are so many different kinds--two-wheeled, four-wheeled, open and closed, and all of them in so many different possible positions, that the mind possibly hesitates amidst an obscure sense of many alternatives that cannot blend together. But limit the idea to say a laudau, and the mental association declares itself more quickly. Say a laudau coming down the street to opposite the door, and an image of many blended laudaus that have done so forms itself without the least hesitation.

Next, I found that my list of 75 words gone over 4 times, had given rise to 505 ideas and 13 cases of puzzle, in which nothing sufficiently definite to note occurred within the brief maximum period of about 4 seconds, that I allowed myself to any single trial. Of these 505 only 289 were different The precise proportions in which the 505 were distributed in quadruplets, triplets, doublets, or singles, is shown in the uppermost lines of Table I. The same facts are given under another form in the lower lines of the Table, which show how the 289 different ideas were distributed in cases of fourfold, treble, double, or single occurrences.


I was fully prepared to find much iteration in my ideas but had little expected that out of every hundred words twenty-three would give rise to exactly the same association in every one of the four trials; twenty-one to the same association in three out of the four, and so on, the experiments having been purposely conducted under very different conditions of time and local circumstances. This shows much less variety in the mental stock of ideas than I had expected, and makes us feel that the roadways of our minds are worn into very deep ruts. I conclude from the proved number of faint and barely conscious thoughts, and from the proved iteration of them, that the mind is perpetually travelling over familiar ways without our memory retaining any impression of its excursions. Its footsteps are so light and fleeting that it is only by such experiments as I have described that we can learn anything about them. It is apparently always engaged in mumbling over its old stores, and if any one of these is wholly neglected for a while, it is apt to be forgotten, perhaps irrecoverably. It is by no means the keenness of interest and of the attention when first observing an object, that fixes it in the recollection. We pore over the pages of a Bradshaw, and study the trains for some particular journey with the greatest interest; but the event passes by, and the hours and other facts which we once so eagerly considered become absolutely forgotten. So in games of whist, and in a large number of similar instances. As I understand it, the subject must have a continued living interest in order to retain an abiding place in the memory. The mind must refer to it frequently, but whether it does so consciously or unconsciously is not perhaps a matter of much importance. Otherwise, as a general rule, the recollection sinks, and appears to be utterly drowned in the waters of Lethe.

The instances, according to my personal experience, are very rare, and even those are not very satisfactory, in which some event recalls a memory that had lain absolutely dormant for many years. In this very series of experiments a recollection which I thought had entirely lapsed appeared under no less than three different aspects on different occasions. It was this: when I was a boy, my father, who was anxious that I should learn something of physical science, which was then never taught at school, arranged with the owner of a large chemist's shop to let me dabble at chemistry for a few days in his laboratory. I had not thought of this fact, so far as I was aware, for many years; but in scrutinising the fleeting associations called up by the various words, I traced two mental visual images (an alembic and a particular arrangement of tables and light), and one mental sense of smell (chlorine gas) to that very laboratory. I recognised that these images appeared familiar to me, but I had not thought of their origin. No doubt if some strange conjunction of circumstances had suddenly recalled those three associations at the same time, with perhaps two or three other collateral matters which may be still living in my memory, but which I no not as yet identify, a mental perception of startling vividness would be the result, and I should have falsely imagined that it had supernaturally, as it were, started into life from an entire oblivion extending over many years. Probably many persons would have registered such a case as evidence that things once perceived can never wholly vanish from the recollection, but that in the hour of death, or under some excitement, every event of a past life may reappear. To this view I entirely dissent. Forgetfulness appears absolute in the vast majority of cases, and our supposed recollections of a past life are, I believe, no more than that of a large number of episodes in it, to be reckoned perhaps in hundreds of thousands, but certainly not in tens of hundreds of thousands, that have escaped oblivion. Every one of the fleeting, half-conscious thoughts that were the subject of my experiments, admitted of being vivified by keen attention, or by some appropriate association, but I strongly suspect that ideas which have long since ceased to fleet through the brain, owing to the absence of current associations to call them up, disappear wholly. A comparison of old memories with a newly-met friend of one's boyhood, about the events we then witnessed together, show how much we had each of us forgotten. Our recollections do not tally. Actors and incidents that seem to have been of primary importance in those events to the one have been utterly forgotten by the other. The recollection of our earlier years are, in truth, very scanty, as any one will find who tries to enumerate them.

My associated ideas were for the most part due to my own unshared experiences, and the list of them would necessarily differ widely from that which another person would draw up who might repeat my experiments. Therefore one sees clearly, and I may say, one can see measurably, how impossible it is in a general way for two grown-up persons to lay their minds side by side together in perfect accord. The same sentence cannot produce precisely the same effect on both, and the first quick impressions that any given word in it may convey, will differ widely in the two minds.

I took pains to determine as far as feasible the dates of my life at which each of the associated ideas was first attached to the word. There were 124 cases in which identification was satisfactory, and they were distributed as in Table II.


It will be seen from the Table that out of the 48 earliest associations no less than 12, or one quarter of them, occurred in each of the four trials; of the 57 associations first formed in manhood, 10, or about one-sixth of them, had a similar recurrence, but as to the 19 other associations first formed in quite recent times, not one of them occurred in the whole of the four trials. Hence we may see the greater fixity of the earlier associations, and might measurably determine the decrease of fixity as the date of their first formation becomes less remote.

The largeness of the number 33 in the middle entry of the last column but one, which disconcerts the run of the series, is wholly due to a visual memory of places seen in manhood. I will not speak about this now, as I shall have to refer to it farther on. Neglecting, for the moment, this unique class of occurrences, it will be seen that one-half of the associations date from the period of life before leaving college; and it may easily be imagined that many of these refer to common events in an English education. Nay further, on looking through the list of all the associations it was easy to see how they are pervaded by purely English ideas, and especially such as are prevalent in that stratum of English society in which I was born and bred, and have subsequently lived. In illustration of this, I may mention an anecdote of a matter which greatly impressed me at the time. I was staying in a country house with a very pleasant party of young and old, including persons whose education and versatility were certainly not below the social average. One evening we played at a round game, which consisted in each of us drawing as absurd a scrawl as he or she could, representing some historical event; the pictures were then shuffled and passed successively from hand to hand, every one writing down independently their interpretation of the picture, as to what the historical event was that the artist intended to depict by the scrawl. I was astonished at the sameness of our ideas. Cases like Canute and the waves, the Babes in the Tower, and the like, were drawn by two and even three persons at the same time, quite independently of one another, showing how narrowly we are bound by the fetters of our early education. If the figures in the above Table may be accepted as fairly correct for the world generally, it shows, still in a measurable degree, the large effect of early education in fixing our associations. It will of course be understood that I make no absurd profession of being able by these very few experiments to lay down statistical constants of universal application, but that my principal object is to show that a large class of mental phenomena, that have hitherto been too vague to lay hold of, admit of being caught by the firm grip of genuine statistical inquiry. The results that I have thus far given are hotch-pot results. It is necessary to sort the materials somewhat before saying more about them.

After several trials I found that the associated ideas admitted of being divided into three main groups. First there is the imagined sound of words, as in verbal quotations or names of persons. This was frequently a mere parrot-like memory which acted instantaneously and in a meaningless way, just as a machine might act. In the next group there was every other kind of sense imagery; the chime of imagined bells, the shiver of remembered cold, the scent of some particular locality, and, much more frequently than all the rest put together, visual imagery. The last of the three groups contains what I will venture, for the want of a better name, to call "histrionic" representations. It includes those cases where I either act a part in imagination, or see in imagination a part acted, or, most commonly by far, where I am both spectator and all the actors at once, in an imaginary mental theatre. Thus I feel a nascent sense of some muscular action while I simultaneously witness a puppet of my brain--a part of myself--perform that action, and I assume a mental attitude appropriate to the occasion. This, in my case, is a very frequent way of generalising, indeed I rarely feel that I have secure hold of a general idea until I have translated it somehow into this form. Thus the word "abasement" presented itself to me, in one of my experiments, by my mentally placing myself in a pantomimic attitude of humiliation with half-closed eyes, bowed head, and uplifted palms, while at the same time I was aware of myself as of a mental puppet, in that position. This same word will serve to illustrate the other groups also. It so happened in connection with "abasement" that the word "David" or "King David" occurred to me on one occasion in each of three out of the four trials; also that an accidental misreading, or perhaps the merely punning association of the words "a basement," brought up on all four occasions the image of the foundations of a house that the builders had begun upon.

So much for the character of the association; next as to that of the words. I found, after the experiments were over, that the words were divisible into three distinct groups. The first contained "abbey," "aborigines," "abyss," and others that admitted of being presented under some mental image. The second group contained "abasement," "abhorrence," "ablution," etc., which admitted excellently of histrionic representation. The third group contained the more abstract words, such as "afternoon," "ability," "abnormal," which were variously and imperfectly dealt with by my mind. I give the results in the upper part of Table III., and, in order to save trouble, I have reduced them to percentages in the lower lines of the Table.


We see from this that the associations of the "abbey" series are nearly half of them in sense imagery, and these were almost always visual. The names of persons also more frequently occurred in this series than in any other. It will be recollected that in Table II. I drew attention to the exceptionally large number, 33, in the last column. It was perhaps 20 in excess of what would have been expected from the general run of the other figures. This was wholly due to visual imagery of scenes with which I was first acquainted after reaching manhood, and shows, I think, that the scenes of childhood and youth, though vividly impressed on the memory, are by no means numerous, and may be quite thrown into the background by the abundance of after experiences; but this, as we have seen, is not the case with the other forms of association. Verbal memories of old date, such as Biblical scraps, family expressions, bits of poetry, and the like, are very numerous, and rise to the thoughts so quickly, whenever anything suggests them, that they commonly outstrip all competitors. Associations connected with the "abasement" series are strongly characterised by histrionic ideas, and by sense imagery, which to a great degree merges into a histrionic character. Thus the word "abhorrence" suggested to me, on three out of the four trials, an image of the attitude of Martha in the famous picture of the raising of Lazarus by Sebastian del Piombo in the National Gallery. She stands with averted head, doubly sheltering her face by her hands from even a sidelong view of the opened grave. Now I could not be sure how far I saw the picture as such, in my mental view, or how far I had thrown my own personality into the picture, and was acting it as actors might act a mystery play, by the puppets of my own brain, that were parts of myself. As a matter of fact, I entered it under the heading of sense imagery, but it might very properly have gone to swell the number of the histrionic entries.

The "afternoon" series suggested a great preponderance of mere catch words, showing how slowly I was able to realise the meaning of abstractions; the phrases intruded themselves before the thoughts became defined. It occasionally occurred that I puzzled wholly over a word, and made no entry at all; in thirteen cases either this happened, or else after one idea had occurred the second was too confused and obscure to admit of record, and mention of it had to be omitted in the foregoing Table. These entries have forcibly shown to me the great imperfection in my generalising powers; and I am sure that most persons would find the same if they made similar trials. Nothing is a surer sign of high intellectual capacity than the power of quickly seizing and easily manipulating ideas of a very abstract nature. Commonly we grasp them very imperfectly, and cling to their skirts with great difficulty.

In comparing the order in which the ideas presented themselves, I find that a decided precedence is assumed by the histrionic ideas, wherever they occur; that verbal associations occur first and with great quickness on many occasions, but on the whole that they are only a little more likely to occur first than second; and that imagery is decidedly more likely to be the second than the first of the associations called up by a word. In short, gesture-language appeals the most quickly to my feelings,

It would be very instructive to print the actual records at length, made by many experimenters, if the records could be clubbed together and thrown into a statistical form; but it would be too absurd to print one's own singly. They lay bare the foundations of a man's thoughts with curious distinctness, and exhibit his mental anatomy with more vividness and truth than he would probably care to publish to the world.

It remains to summarise what has been said in the foregoing memoir. I have desired to show how whole strata of mental operations that have lapsed out of ordinary consciousness, admit of being dragged into light, recorded and treated statistically, and how the obscurity that attends the initial steps of our thoughts can thus be pierced and dissipated. I then showed measurably the rate at which associations sprung up, their character, the date of their first formation, their tendency to recurrence, and their relative precedence. Also I gave an instance showing how the phenomenon of a long-forgotten scene, suddenly starting into consciousness, admitted in many cases of being explained. Perhaps the strongest of the impressions left by these experiments regards the multifariousness of the work done by the mind in a state of half-unconsciousness, and the valid reason they afford for believing in the existence of still deeper strata of mental operations, sunk wholly below the level of consciousness, which may account for such mental phenomena as cannot otherwise be explained. We gain an insight by these experiments into the marvellous number and nimbleness of our mental associations, and we also learn that they are very far indeed from being infinite in their variety. We find that our working stock of ideas is narrowly limited and that the mind continually recurs to the same instruments in conducting its operations, therefore its tracks necessarily become more defined and its flexibility diminished as age advances.
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:47 pm


When I am engaged in trying to think anything out, the process of doing so appears to me to be this: The ideas that lie at any moment within my full consciousness seem to attract of their own accord the most appropriate out of a number of other ideas that are lying close at hand, but imperfectly within the range of my consciousness. There seems to be a presence-chamber in my mind where full consciousness holds court, and where two or three ideas are at the same time in audience, and an antechamber full of more or less allied ideas, which is situated just beyond the full ken of consciousness. Out of this antechamber the ideas most nearly allied to those in the presence-chamber appear to be summoned in a mechanically logical way, and to have their turn of audience.

The successful progress of thought appears to depend--first, on a large attendance in the antechamber; secondly, on the presence there of no ideas except such as are strictly germane to the topic under consideration; thirdly, on the justness of the logical mechanism that issues the summons. The thronging of the antechamber is, I am convinced, altogether beyond my control; if the ideas do not appear, I cannot create them, nor compel them to come. The exclusion of alien ideas is accompanied by a sense of mental effort and volition whenever the topic under consideration is unattractive, otherwise it proceeds automatically, for if an intruding idea finds nothing to cling to, it is unable to hold its place in the antechamber, and slides back again. An animal absorbed in a favourite occupation shows no sign of painful effort of attention; on the contrary, he resents interruption that solicits his attention elsewhere. The consequence of all this is that the mind frequently does good work without the slightest exertion. In composition it will often produce a better effect than if it acted with effort, because the essence of good composition is that the ideas should be connected by the easiest possible transitions. When a man has been thinking hard and long upon a subject, he becomes temporarily familiar with certain steps of thought, certain short cuts, and certain far-fetched associations, that do not commend themselves to the minds of other persons, nor indeed to his own at other times; therefore, it is better that his transitory familiarity with them should have come to an end before he begins to write or speak. When he returns to the work after a sufficient pause he is conscious that his ideas have settled; that is, they have lost their adventitious relations to one another, and stand in those in which they are likely to reside permanently in his own mind, and to exist in the minds of others.

Although the brain is able to do very fair work fluently in an automatic way, and though it will of its own accord strike out sudden and happy ideas, it is questionable if it is capable of working thoroughly and profoundly without past or present effort. The character of this effort seems to me chiefly to lie in bringing the contents of the antechamber more nearly within the ken of consciousness, which then takes comprehensive note of all its contents, and compels the logical faculty to test them seriatim before selecting the fittest for a summons to the presence-chamber.

Extreme fluency and a vivid and rapid imagination are gifts naturally and healthfully possessed by those who rise to be great orators or literary men, for they could not have become successful in those careers without it. The curious fact already alluded to of five editors of newspapers being known to me as having phantasmagoria, points to a connection between two forms of fluency, the literary and the visual. Fluency may be also a morbid faculty, being markedly increased by alcohol (as poets are never tired of telling us), and by various drugs; and it exists in delirium, insanity, and states of high emotions. The fluency of a vulgar scold is extraordinary.

In preparing to write or speak upon a subject of which the details have been mastered, I gather, after some inquiry, that the usual method among persons who have the gift of fluency is to think cursorily on topics connected with it, until what I have called the antechamber is well filled with cognate ideas. Then, to allow the ideas to link themselves in their own way, breaking the linkage continually and recommencing afresh until some line of thought has suggested itself that appears from a rapid and light glance to thread the chief topics together. After this the connections are brought step by step fully into consciousness, they are short-circuited here and extended there, as found advisable until a firm connection is found to be established between all parts of the subject. After this is done the mental effort is over, and the composition may proceed fluently in an automatic way. Though this, I believe, is a usual way, it is by no means universal, for there are very great differences in the conditions under which different persons compose most readily. They seem to afford as good evidence of the variety of mental and bodily constitutions as can be met with in any other line of inquiry.

It is very reasonable to think that part at least of the inward response to spiritual yearnings is of similar origin to the visions, thoughts, and phrases that arise automatically when the mind has prepared itself to receive them. The devout man attunes his mind to holy ideas, he excludes alien thoughts, and he waits and watches in stillness. Gradually the darkness is lifted, the silence of the mind is broken, and the spiritual responses are heard in the way so often described by devout men of all religions. This seems to me precisely analogous to the automatic presentation of ordinary ideas to orators and literary men, and to the visions of which I spoke in the chapter on that subject. Dividuality replaces individuality, and one portion of the mind communicates with another portion as with a different person.

Some persons and races are naturally more imaginative than others, and show their visionary tendency in every one of the respects named. They are fanciful, oratorical, poetical, and credulous. The "enthusiastic" faculties all seem to hang together; I shall recur to this in the chapter on enthusiasm.

I have already pointed out the existence of a morbid form of piety: there is also a morbid condition of apparent inspiration to which imaginative women are subject, especially those who suffer more or less from hysteria. It is accompanied in a very curious way, familiar to medical men, by almost incredible acts of deceit. It is found even in ladies of position apparently above the suspicion of vulgar fraud, and seems associated with a strange secret desire to attract notice. Ecstatics, seers of visions, and devout fasting girls who eat on the sly, often belong to this category.
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:47 pm


The child is passionately attached to his home, then to his school, his country, and religion; yet how entirely the particular home, school, country, and religion are a matter of accident! He is born prepared to attach himself as a climbing plant is naturally disposed to climb, the kind of stick being of little importance. The models upon whom the child or boy forms himself are the boys or men whom he has been thrown amongst, and whom from some incidental cause he may have learned to love and respect. The every-day utterances, the likes and dislikes of his parents, their social and caste feelings, their religious persuasions are absorbed by him; their views or those of his teachers become assimilated and made his own. If a mixed marriage should have taken place, and the father should die while the children are yet young, and if a question arise between the executors of his will and the mother as to the religious education of the children, application is made as a matter of course to the Court of Chancery, who decide that the children shall be brought up as Protestants or as Catholics as the case may be, or the sons one way and the daughters the other; and they are, and usually remain so afterwards when free to act for themselves.

It is worthy of note that many of the deaf-mutes who are first taught to communicate freely with others after they had passed the period of boyhood, and are asked about their religious feelings up to that time, are reported to tell the same story. They say that the meaning of the church service whither they had accompanied their parents, and of the kneeling to pray, had been absolutely unintelligible, and a standing puzzle to them. The ritual touched no chord in their untaught natures that responded in unison. Very much of what we fondly look upon as a natural religious sentiment is purely traditional.

The word religion may fairly be applied to any group of sentiments or persuasions that are strong enough to bind us to do that which we intellectually may acknowledge to be our duty, and the possession of some form of religion in this larger sense of the word is of the utmost importance to moral stability. The sentiments must be strong enough to make us ashamed at the mere thought of committing, and distressed during the act of committing any untruth, or any uncharitable act, or of neglecting what we feel to be right, in order to indulge in laziness or gratify some passing desire. So long as experience shows the religion to be competent to produce this effect, it seems reasonable to believe that the particular dogma is comparatively of little importance. But as the dogma or sentiments, whatever they be, if they are not naturally instinctive, must be ingrained in the character to produce their full effect, they should be instilled early in life and allowed to grow unshaken until their roots are firmly fixed. The consciousness of this fact makes the form of religious teaching in every church and creed identical in one important particular though its substance may vary in every respect. In subjects unconnected with sentiment, the freest inquiry and the fullest deliberation are required before it is thought decorous to form a final opinion; but wherever sentiment is involved, and especially in questions of religious dogma, about which there is more sentiment and more difference of opinion among wise, virtuous, and truth-seeking men than about any other subject whatever, free inquiry is peremptorily discouraged. The religious instructor in every creed is one who makes it his profession to saturate his pupils with prejudice. A vast and perpetual clamour arises from the pulpits of endless proselytising sects throughout this great empire, the priests of all of them crying with one consent, "This is the way, shut your ears to the words of those who teach differently; don't look at their books, do not even mention their names except to scoff at them; they are damnable. Have faith in what I tell you, and save your souls!" In which of these conflicting doctrines are we to place our faith if we are not to hear all sides, and to rely upon our own judgment in the end? Are we to understand that it is the duty of man to be credulous in accepting whatever the priest in whose neighbourhood he happens to reside may say? Is it to believe whatever his parents may have lovingly taught him? There are a vast number of foolish men and women in the world who marry and have children, and because they deal lovingly with their children it does not at all follow that they can instruct them wisely. Or is it to have faith in what the wisest men of all ages have found peace in believing? The Catholic phrase, "quod semper quod ubique quod omnibus"--"that which has been believed at all times, in all places, and by all men"--has indeed a fine rolling sound, but where is the dogma that satisfies its requirements? Or is it, such and such really good and wise men with whom you are acquainted, and whom, it may be, you have the privilege of knowing, have lived consistent lives through the guidance of these dogmas, how can you who are many grades their inferior in good works, in capacity and in experience, presume to set up your opinion against theirs? The reply is, that it is a matter of history and notoriety that other very good, capable, and inexperienced men have led and are leading consistent lives under the guidance of totally different dogmas, and that some of them a few generations back would have probably burned your modern hero as a heretic if he had lived in their times and they could have got hold of him. Also, that men, however eminent in goodness, intellect, and experience, may be deeply prejudiced, and that their judgment in matters where their prejudices are involved cannot thenceforward be trusted. Watches, as electricians know to their cost, are liable to have their steel work accidentally magnetised, and the best chronometer under those conditions can never again be trusted to keep correct time.

Lastly, we are told to have faith in our conscience? well we know now a great deal more about conscience than formerly. Ethnologists have studied the manifestations of conscience in different people, and do not find that they are consistent. Conscience is now known to be partly transmitted by inheritance in the way and under the conditions clearly explained by Mr. Darwin, and partly to be an unsuspected result of early education. The value of inherited conscience lies in its being the organised result of the social experiences of many generations, but it fails in so far as it expresses the experience of generations whose habits differed from our own. The doctrine of evolution shows that no race can be in perfect harmony with its surroundings; the latter are continually changing, while the organism of the race hobbles after, vainly trying to overtake them. Therefore the inherited part of conscience cannot be an infallible guide, and the acquired part of it may, under the influence of dogma, be a very bad one. The history of fanaticism shows too clearly that this is not only a theory but a fact. Happy the child, especially in these inquiring days, who has been taught a religion that mainly rests on the moral obligations between man and man in domestic and national life, and which, so far as it is necessarily dogmatic, rests chiefly upon the proper interpretation of facts about which there is no dispute,--namely, on those habitual occurrences which are always open to observation, and which form the basis of so-called natural religion.

It would be instructive to make a study of the working religion of good and able men of all nations, in order to discover the real motives by which they were severally animated,--men, I mean, who had been tried by both prosperity and adversity, and had borne the test; who, while they led lives full of interest to themselves, were beloved by their own family, noted among those with whom they had business relations for their probity and conciliatory ways, and honoured by a wider circle for their unselfish furtherance of the public good. Such men exist of many faiths and in many races.

Another interesting and cognate inquiry would be into the motives that have sufficed to induce men who were leading happy lives, to meet death willingly at a time when they were not particularly excited. Probably the number of instances to be found, say among Mussulmans, who are firm believers in the joys of Mahomet's Paradise, would not be more numerous than among the Zulus, who have no belief in any paradise at all, but are influenced by martial honour and patriotism. There is an Oriental phrase, as I have been told, that the fear of the inevitable approach of death is a European malady.

Terror at any object is quickly taught if it is taught consistently, whether the terror be reasonable or not. There are few more stupid creatures than fish, but they notoriously soon learn to be frightened at any newly-introduced method of capture, say by an artificial fly, which, at first their comrades took greedily. Some one fish may have seen others caught, and have learned to take fright at the fly. Whenever he saw it again he would betray his terror by some instinctive gesture, which would be seen and understood by others, and so instruction in distrusting the fly appears to spread.

All gregarious animals are extremely quick at learning terrors from one another. It is a condition of their existence that they should do so, as was explained at length in a previous chapter. Their safety lies in mutual intelligence and support. When most of them are browsing a few are always watching, and at the least signal of alarm the whole herd takes fright simultaneously. Gregarious animals are quickly alive to their mutual signals; it is beautiful to watch great flocks of birds as they wheel in their flight and suddenly show the flash of all their wings against the sky, as they simultaneously and suddenly change their direction. Much of the tameness or wildness of an animal's character is probably due to the placidity or to the frequent starts of alarm of the mother while she was rearing it. I was greatly struck with some evidence I happened to meet with, of the pervading atmosphere of alarm and suspicion in which the children of criminal parents are brought up, and which, in combination with their inherited disposition, makes them, in the opinion of many observers, so different to other children. The evidence of which I speak lay in the tone of letters sent by criminal parents to their children, who were inmates of the Princess Mary Village Homes, from which I had the opportunity, thanks to the kindness of the Superintendent, Mrs. Meredith, of hearing and seeing extracts. They were full of such phrases as "Mind you do not say anything about this," though the matters referred to were, to all appearance, unimportant.

The writings of Dante on the horrible torments of the damned, and the realistic pictures of the same subject in frescoes and other pictures of the same date, showing the flames and the flesh hooks and the harrows, indicate the transforming effect of those cruel times, fifteen generations ago, upon the disposition of men. Revenge and torture had been so commonly practised by rulers that they seemed to be appropriate attributes of every high authority, and the artists of those days saw no incongruity in supposing that a supremely powerful master, however beneficent he might be, would make the freest use of them.

Aversion is taught as easily as terror, when the object of it is neutral and not especially attractive to an unprejudiced taste. I can testify in my own person to the somewhat rapidly-acquired and long-retained fancies concerning the clean and unclean, upon which Jews and Mussulmans lay such curious stress. It was the result of my happening to spend a year in the East, at an age when the brain is very receptive of new ideas, and when I happened to be much impressed by the nobler aspects of Mussulman civilisation, especially, I may say, with the manly conformity of their every-day practice to their creed, which contrasts sharply with what we see among most Europeans, who profess extreme unworldliness and humiliation on one day of the week, and act in a worldly and masterful manner during the remaining six. Although many years have passed since that time, I still find the old feelings in existence--for instance, that of looking on the left hand as unclean.

It is difficult to an untravelled Englishman, who has not had an opportunity of throwing himself into the spirit of the East, to credit the disgust and detestation that numerous every-day acts, which appear perfectly harmless to his countrymen, excite in many Orientals.

To conclude, the power of nurture is very great in implanting sentiments of a religious nature, of terror and of aversion, and in giving a fallacious sense of their being natural instincts. But it will be observed that the circumstances from which these influences proceed, affect large classes simultaneously, forming a kind of atmosphere in which every member of them passes his life. They produce the cast of mind that distinguishes an Englishman from a foreigner, and one class of Englishman from another, but they have little influence in creating the differences that exist between individuals of the same class.
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:48 pm


The exceedingly close resemblance attributed to twins has been the subject of many novels and plays, and most persons have felt a desire to know upon what basis of truth those works of fiction may rest. But twins have a special claim upon our attention; it is, that their history affords means of distinguishing between the effects of tendencies received at birth, and of those that were imposed by the special circumstances of their after lives. The objection to statistical evidence in proof of the inheritance of peculiar faculties has always been: "The persons whom you compare may have lived under similar social conditions and have had similar advantages of education, but such prominent conditions are only a small part of those that determine the future of each man's life. It is to trifling accidental circumstances that the bent of his disposition and his success are mainly due, and these you leave wholly out of account--in fact, they do not admit of being tabulated, and therefore your statistics, however plausible at first sight, are really of very little use." No method of inquiry which I had previously been able to carry out--and I have tried many methods--is wholly free from this objection. I have therefore attacked the problem from the opposite side, seeking for some new method by which it would be possible to weigh in just scales the effects of Nature and Nurture, and to ascertain their respective shares in framing the disposition and intellectual ability of men. The life-history of twins supplies what I wanted. We may begin by inquiring about twins who were closely alike in boyhood and youth, and who were educated together for many years, and learn whether they subsequently grew unlike, and, if so, what the main causes were which, in the opinion of the family, produced the dissimilarity. In this way we can obtain direct evidence of the kind we want. Again, we may obtain yet more valuable evidence by a converse method. We can inquire into the history of twins who were exceedingly unlike in childhood, and learn how far their characters became assimilated under the influence of identical nurture, inasmuch as they had the same home, the same teachers, the same associates, and in every other respect the same surroundings.

My materials were obtained by sending circulars of inquiry to persons who were either twins themselves or near relations of twins. The printed questions were in thirteen groups; the last of them asked for the addresses of other twins known to the recipient, who might be likely to respond if I wrote to them. This happily led to a continually widening circle of correspondence, which I pursued until enough material was accumulated for a general reconnaisance of the subject.

There is a large literature relating to twins in their purely surgical and physiological aspect. The reader interested in this should consult Die Lehre von den Zwillingen, von L. Kleinwächter, Prag. 1871. It is full of references, but it is also unhappily disfigured by a number of numerical misprints, especially in page 26. I have not found any book that treats of twins from my present point of view.

The reader will easily understand that the word "twins" is a vague expression, which covers two very dissimilar events--the one corresponding to the progeny of animals that usually bear more than one at a birth, each of the progeny being derived from a separate ovum, while the other event is due to the development of two germinal spots in the same ovum. In the latter case they are enveloped in the same membrane, and all such twins are found invariably to be of the same sex. The consequence of this is, that I find a curious discontinuity in my results. One would have expected that twins would commonly be found to possess a certain average likeness to one another; that a few would greatly exceed that average likeness, and a few would greatly fall short of it. But this is not at all the case. Extreme similarity and extreme dissimilarity between twins of the same sex are nearly as common as moderate resemblance. When the twins are a boy and a girl, they are never closely alike; in fact, their origin is never due to the development of two germinal spots in the same ovum.

I received about eighty returns of cases of close similarity, thirty-five of which entered into many instructive details. In a few of these not a single point of difference could be specified. In the remainder, the colour of the hair and eyes were almost always identical; the height, weight, and strength were nearly so. Nevertheless, I have a few cases of a notable difference in height, weight, and strength, although the resemblance was otherwise very near. The manner and personal address of the thirty-five pairs of twins are usually described as very similar, but accompanied by a slight difference of expression, familiar to near relatives, though unperceived by strangers. The intonation of the voice when speaking is commonly the same, but it frequently happens that the twins sing in different keys. Most singularly, the one point in which similarity is rare is the handwriting. I cannot account for this, considering how strongly handwriting runs in families, but I am sure of the fact. I have only one case in which nobody, not even the twins themselves, could distinguish their own notes of lectures, etc.; barely two or three in which the handwriting was undistinguishable by others, and only a few in which it was described as closely alike. On the other hand, I have many in which it is stated to be unlike, and some in which it is alluded to as the only point of difference. It would appear that the handwriting is a very delicate test of difference in organisation--a conclusion which I commend to the notice of enthusiasts in the art of discovering character by the handwriting.

One of my inquiries was for anecdotes regarding mistakes made between the twins by their near relatives. The replies are numerous, but not very varied in character. When the twins are children, they are usually distinguished by ribbons tied round the wrist or neck; nevertheless the one is sometimes fed, physicked, and whipped by mistake for the other, and the description of these little domestic catastrophes was usually given by the mother, in a phraseology that is somewhat touching by reason of its seriousness. I have one case in which a doubt remains whether the children were not changed in their bath, and the presumed A is not really B, and vice versâ. In another case, an artist was engaged on the portraits of twins who were between three and four years of age; he had to lay aside his work for three weeks, and, on resuming it, could not tell to which child the respective likenesses he had in hand belonged. The mistakes become less numerous on the part of the mother during the boyhood and girlhood of the twins, but are almost as frequent as before on the part of strangers. I have many instances of tutors being unable to distinguish their twin pupils. Two girls used regularly to impose on their music teacher when one of them wanted a whole holiday; they had their lessons at separate hours, and the one girl sacrificed herself to receive two lessons on the same day, while the other one enjoyed herself from morning to evening. Here is a brief and comprehensive account:--

"Exactly alike in all, their schoolmasters never could tell them apart; at dancing parties they constantly changed partners without discovery; their close resemblance is scarcely diminished by age."

The following is a typical schoolboy anecdote:--

"Two twins were fond of playing tricks, and complaints were frequently made; but the boys would never own which was the guilty one, and the complainants were never certain which of the two he was. One head master used to say he would never flog the innocent for the guilty, and another used to flog both."

No less than nine anecdotes have reached me of a twin seeing his or her reflection in a looking-glass, and addressing it in the belief it was the other twin in person.

I have many anecdotes of mistakes when the twins were nearly grown up. Thus:--

"Amusing scenes occurred at college when one twin came to visit the other; the porter on one occasion refusing to let the visitor out of the college gates, for, though they stood side by side, he professed ignorance as to which he ought to allow to depart."

Children are usually quick in distinguishing between their parent and his or her twin; but I have two cases to the contrary. Thus, the daughter of a twin says:--

"Such was the marvellous similarity of their features, voice, manner, etc., that I remember, as a child, being very much puzzled, and I think, had my aunt lived much with us, I should have ended by thinking I had two mothers."

In the other case, a father who was a twin, remarks of himself and his brother:--

"We were extremely alike, and are so at this moment, so much so that our children up to five and six years old did not know us apart."

I have four or five instances of doubt during an engagement of marriage. Thus:--

"A married first, but both twins met the lady together for the first time, and fell in love with her there and then. A managed to see her home and to gain her affection, though B went sometimes courting in his place, and neither the lady nor her parents could tell which was which."

I have also a German letter, written in quaint terms, about twin brothers who married sisters, but could not easily be distinguished by them.[13] In the well-known novel by Mr. Wilkie Collins of Poor Miss Finch, the blind girl distinguishes the twin she loves by the touch of his hand, which gives her a thrill that the touch of the other brother does not. Philosophers have not, I believe, as yet investigated the conditions of such thrills; but I have a case in which Miss Finch's test would have failed. Two persons, both friends of a certain twin lady, told me that she had frequently remarked to them that "kissing her twin sister was not like kissing her other sisters, but like kissing herself--her own hand, for example."

It would be an interesting experiment for twins who were closely alike to try how far dogs could distinguish them by scent.

I have a few anecdotes of strange mistakes made between twins in adult life. Thus, an officer writes:--

"On one occasion when I returned from foreign service my father turned to me and said, 'I thought you were in London,' thinking I was my brother--yet he had not seen me for nearly four years--our resemblance was so great."

The next and last anecdote I shall give is, perhaps, the most remarkable of those I have; it was sent me by the brother of the twins, who were in middle life at the time of its occurrence:--

"A was again coming home from India, on leave; the ship did not arrive for some days after it was due; the twin brother B had come up from his quarters to receive A, and their old mother was very nervous. One morning A rushed in saying, 'Oh, mother, how are you?' Her answer was, 'No, B, it's a bad joke; you know how anxious I am!' and it was a little time before A could persuade her that he was the real man."

Enough has been said to prove that an extremely close personal resemblance frequently exists between twins of the same sex; and that, although the resemblance usually diminishes as they grow into manhood and womanhood, some cases occur in which the diminution of resemblance is hardly perceptible. It must be borne in mind that it is not necessary to ascribe the divergence of development, when it occurs, to the effect of different nurtures, but it is quite possible that it may be due to the late appearance of qualities inherited at birth, though dormant in early life, like gout. To this I shall recur.

There is a curious feature in the character of the resemblance between twins, which has been alluded to by a few correspondents; it is well illustrated by the following quotations. A mother of twins says:--

"There seemed to be a sort of interchangeable likeness in expression, that often gave to each the effect of being more like his brother than himself."

Again, two twin brothers, writing to me, after analysing their points of resemblance, which are close and numerous, and pointing out certain shades of difference, add--

"These seem to have marked us through life, though for a while, when we were first separated, the one to go to business, and the other to college, our respective characters were inverted; we both think that at that time we each ran into the character of the other. The proof of this consists in our own recollections, in our correspondence by letter, and in the views which we then took of matters in which we were interested."

In explanation of this apparent interchangeableness, we must recollect that no character is simple, and that in twins who strongly resemble each other, every expression in the one may be matched by a corresponding expression in the other, but it does not follow that the same expression should be the prevalent one in both cases. Now it is by their prevalent expressions that we should distinguish between the twins; consequently when one twin has temporarily the expression which is the prevalent one in his brother, he is apt to be mistaken for him. There are also cases where the development of the two twins is not strictly pari passu; they reach the same goal at the same time, but not by identical stages. Thus: A is born the larger, then B overtakes and surpasses A, and is in his turn overtaken by A, the end being that the twins, on reaching adult life, are of the same size. This process would aid in giving an interchangeable likeness at certain periods of their growth, and is undoubtedly due to nature more frequently than to nurture.

Among my thirty-five detailed cases of close similarity, there are no less than seven in which both twins suffered from some special ailment or had some exceptional peculiarity. One twin writes that she and her sister "have both the defect of not being able to come downstairs quickly, which, however, was not born with them, but came on at the age of twenty." Three pairs of twins have peculiarities in their fingers; in one case it consists in a slight congenital flexure of one of the joints of the little finger; it was inherited from a grandmother, but neither parents, nor brothers, nor sisters show the least trace of it. In another case the twins have a peculiar way of bending the fingers, and there was a faint tendency to the same peculiarity in the mother, but in her alone of all the family. In a third case, about which I made a few inquiries, which is given by Mr. Darwin, but is not included in my returns, there was no known family tendency to the peculiarity which was observed in the twins of having a crooked little finger. In another pair of twins, one was born ruptured, and the other became so at six months old. Two twins at the age of twenty-three were attacked by toothache, and the same tooth had to be extracted in each case. There are curious and close correspondences mentioned in the falling off of the hair. Two cases are mentioned of death from the same disease; one of which is very affecting. The outline of the story was that the twins were closely alike and singularly attached, and had identical tastes; they both obtained Government clerkships, and kept house together, when one sickened and died of Bright's disease, and the other also sickened of the same disease and died seven months later.

Both twins were apt to sicken at the same time in no less than nine out of the thirty-five cases. Either their illnesses, to which I refer, were non-contagious, or, if contagious, the twins caught them simultaneously; they did not catch them the one from the other. This implies so intimate a constitutional resemblance, that it is proper to give some quotations in evidence. Thus, the father of two twins says:--

"Their general health is closely alike; whenever one of them has an illness, the other invariably has the same within a day or two, and they usually recover in the same order. Such has been the case with whooping-cough, chicken-pox, and measles; also with slight bilious attacks, which they have successively. Latterly, they had a feverish attack at the same time."

Another parent of twins says:--

"If anything ails one of them, identical symptoms nearly always appear in the other; this has been singularly visible in two instances during the last two months. Thus, when in London, one fell ill with a violent attack of dysentery, and within twenty-four hours the other had precisely the same symptoms."

A medical man writes of twins with whom he is well acquainted:--

"Whilst I knew them, for a period of two years, there was not the slightest tendency towards a difference in body or mind; external influences seemed powerless to produce any dissimilarity."

The mother of two other twins, after describing how they were ill simultaneously up to the age of fifteen, adds, that they shed their first milk-teeth within a few hours of each other.

Trousseau has a very remarkable case (in the chapter on Asthma) in his important work Clinique M. édicale. (In the edition of 1873 it is in vol. ii. p. 473.) It was quoted at length in the original French, in Mr. Darwin's Variation under Domestication, vol. ii. p. 252. The following is a translation:--

"I attended twin brothers so extraordinarily alike, that it was impossible for me to tell which was which, without seeing them side by side. But their physical likeness extended still deeper, for they had, so to speak, a yet more remarkable pathological resemblance. Thus, one of them, whom I saw at the Néothermes at Paris, suffering from rheumatic ophthalmia, said to me, 'At this instant my brother must be having an ophthalmia like mine;' and, as I had exclaimed against such an assertion, he showed me a few days afterwards a letter just received by him from his brother, who was at that time at Vienna, and who expressed himself in these words--'I have my ophthalmia; you must be having yours.' However singular this story may appear, the fact is none the less exact; it has not been told to me by others, but I have seen it myself; and I have seen other analogous cases in my practice. These twins were also asthmatic, and asthmatic to a frightful degree. Though born in Marseilles, they were never able to stay in that town, where their business affairs required them to go, without having an attack. Still more strange, it was sufficient for them to get away only as far as Toulon in order to be cured of the attack caught at Marseilles. They travelled continually, and in all countries, on business affairs, and they remarked that certain localities were extremely hurtful to them, and that in others they were free from all asthmatic symptoms."

I do not like to pass over here a most dramatic tale in the Psychologie Morbide of Dr. J. Moreau (de Tours), M. édecin de l'Hospice de Bicêtre. Paris, 1859, p. 172. He speaks "of two twin brothers who had been confined, on account of monomania, at Bicêtre":--

"Physically the two young men are so nearly alike that the one is easily mistaken for the other. Morally, their resemblance is no less complete, and is most remarkable in its details. Thus, their dominant ideas are absolutely the same. They both consider themselves subject to imaginary persecutions; the same enemies have sworn their destruction, and employ the same means to effect it. Both have hallucinations of hearing. They are both of them melancholy and morose; they never address a word to anybody, and will hardly answer the questions that others address to them. They always keep apart, and never communicate with one another. An extremely curious fact which has been frequently noted by the superintendents of their section of the hospital, and by myself, is this: From time to time, at very irregular intervals of two, three, and many months, without appreciable cause, and by the purely spontaneous effect of their illness, a very marked change takes place in the condition of the two brothers. Both of them, at the same time, and often on the same day, rouse themselves from their habitual stupor and prostration; they make the same complaints, and they come of their own accord to the physician, with an urgent request to be liberated. I have seen this strange thing occur, even when they were some miles apart, the one being at Bicêtre, and the other living at Saint-Anne."

I sent a copy of this passage to the principal authorities among the physicians to the insane in England, asking if they had ever witnessed any similar case. In reply, I have received three noteworthy instances, but none to be compared in their exact parallelism with that just given. The details of these three cases are painful, and it is not necessary to my general purpose that I should further allude to them.

There is another curious French case of insanity in twins, which was pointed out to me by Sir James Paget, described by Dr. Baume in the Annales M. édico-Psychologiques, 4 série, vol. i., 1863, p. 312, of which the following is an abstract. The original contains a few more details, but is too long to quote: Francois and Martin, fifty years of age, worked as railroad contractors between Quimper and Châteaulin. Martin had twice slight attacks of insanity. On January 15 a box was robbed in which the twins had deposited their savings. On the night of January 23-24 both François (who lodged at Quimper) and Martin (who lived with his wife and children at St. Lorette, two leagues from Quimper) had the same dream at the same hour, three a.m., and both awoke with a violent start, calling out, "I have caught the thief! I have caught the thief! they are doing mischief to my brother!" They were both of them extremely agitated, and gave way to similar extravagances, dancing and leaping.

Martin sprang on his grandchild, declaring that he was the thief, and would have strangled him if he had not been prevented; he then became steadily worse, complained of violent pains in his head, went out of doors on some excuse, and tried to drown himself in the river Steir, but was forcibly stopped by his son, who had watched and followed him. He was then taken to an asylum by gendarmes, where he died in three hours. Francois, on his part, calmed down on the morning of the 24th, and employed the day in inquiring about the robbery. By a strange chance, he crossed his brother's path at the moment when the latter was struggling with the gendarmes; then he himself became maddened, giving way to extravagant gestures and using incoherent language (similar to that of his brother). He then asked to be bled, which was done, and afterwards, declaring himself to be better, went out on the pretext of executing some commission, but really to drown himself in the River Steir, which he actually did, at the very spot where Martin had attempted to do the same thing a few hours previously.

The next point which I shall mention in illustration of the extremely close resemblance between certain twins is the similarity in the association of their ideas. No less than eleven out of the thirty-five cases testify to this. They make the same remarks on the same occasion, begin singing the same song at the same moment, and so on; or one would commence a sentence, and the other would finish it. An observant friend graphically described to me the effect produced on her by two such twins whom she had met casually. She said: "Their teeth grew alike, they spoke alike and together, and said the same things, and seemed just like one person." One of the most curious anecdotes that I have received concerning this similarity of ideas was that one twin, A, who happened to be at a town in Scotland, bought a set of champagne glasses which caught his attention, as a surprise for his brother B; while, at the same time, B, being in England, bought a similar set of precisely the same pattern as a surprise for A. Other anecdotes of a like kind have reached me about these twins.

The last point to which I shall allude regards the tastes and dispositions of the thirty-five pairs of twins. In sixteen cases--that is, in nearly one-half of them--these were described as closely similar; in the remaining nineteen they were much alike, but subject to certain named differences. These differences belonged almost wholly to such groups of qualities as these: The one was the more vigorous, fearless, energetic; the other was gentle, clinging, and timid; or the one was more ardent, the other more calm and placid; or again, the one was the more independent, original, and self-contained; the other the more generous, hasty, and vivacious. In short, the difference was that of intensity or energy in one or other of its protean forms; it did not extend more deeply into the structure of the characters. The more vivacious might be subdued by ill health, until he assumed the character of the other; or the latter might be raised by excellent health to that of the former. The difference was in the key-note, not in the melody.

It follows from what has been said concerning the similar dispositions of the twins, the similarity in the associations of their ideas, of their special ailments, and of their illnesses generally, that the resemblances are not superficial, but extremely intimate. I have only two cases of a strong bodily resemblance being accompanied by mental diversity, and one case only of the converse kind. It must be remembered that the conditions which govern extreme likeness between twins are not the same as those between ordinary brothers and sisters, and that it would be incorrect to conclude from what has just been said about the twins that mental and bodily likeness are invariably co-ordinate, such being by no means the case.

We are now in a position to understand that the phrase "close similarity" is no exaggeration, and to realise the value of the evidence I am about to adduce. Here are thirty-five cases of twins who were "closely alike" in body and mind when they were young, and who have been reared exactly alike up to their early manhood and womanhood. Since then the conditions of their lives have changed; what change of Nurture has produced the most variation?

It was with no little interest that I searched the records of the thirty-five cases for an answer; and they gave an answer that was not altogether direct, but it was distinct, and not at all what I had expected. They showed me that in some cases the resemblance of body and mind had continued unaltered up to old age, notwithstanding very different conditions of life; and they showed in the other cases that the parents ascribed such dissimilarity as there was, wholly or almost wholly to some form of illness. In four cases it was scarlet fever; in a fifth, typhus; in a sixth, a slight effect was ascribed to a nervous fever; in a seventh it was the effect of an Indian climate; in an eighth, an illness (unnamed) of nine months' duration; in a ninth, varicose veins; in a tenth, a bad fracture of the leg, which prevented all active exercise afterwards; and there were three additional instances of undefined forms of ill health. It will be sufficient to quote one of the returns; in this the father writes:

"At birth they were exactly alike, except that one was born with a bad varicose affection, the effect of which had been to prevent any violent exercise, such as dancing or running, and, as she has grown older, to make her more serious and thoughtful. Had it not been for this infirmity, I think the two would have been as exactly alike as it is possible for two women to be, both mentally and physically; even now they are constantly mistaken for one another."

In only a very few cases is some allusion made to the dissimilarity being partly due to the combined action of many small influences, and in none of the thirty-five cases is it largely, much less wholly, ascribed to that cause. In not a single instance have I met with a word about the growing dissimilarity being due to the action of the firm free-will of one or both of the twins, which had triumphed over natural tendencies; and yet a large proportion of my correspondents happen to be clergymen, whose bent of mind is opposed, as I feel assured from the tone of their letters, to a necessitarian view of life.

It has been remarked that a growing diversity between twins may be ascribed to the tardy development of naturally diverse qualities; but we have a right, upon the evidence I have received, to go farther than this. We have seen that a few twins retain their close resemblance through life; in other words, instances do exist of an apparently thorough similarity of nature, in which such difference of external circumstances as may be consistent with the ordinary conditions of the same social rank and country do not create dissimilarity. Positive evidence, such as this, cannot be outweighed by any amount of negative evidence. Therefore, in those cases where there is a growing diversity, and where no external cause can be assigned either by the twins themselves or by their family for it, we may feel sure that it must be chiefly or altogether due to a want of thorough similarity in their nature. Nay, further, in some cases it is distinctly affirmed that the growing dissimilarity can be accounted for in no other way. We may, therefore, broadly conclude that the only circumstance, within the range of those by which persons of similar conditions of life are affected, that is capable of producing a marked effect on the character of adults, is illness or some accident which causes physical infirmity. The twins who closely resembled each other in childhood and early youth, and were reared under not very dissimilar conditions, either grow unlike through the development of natural characteristics which had lain dormant at first, or else they continue their lives, keeping time like two watches, hardly to be thrown out of accord except by some physical jar. Nature is far stronger than Nurture within the limited range that I have been careful to assign to the latter.

The effect of illness, as shown by these replies, is great, and well deserves further consideration. It appears that the constitution of youth is not so elastic as we are apt to think, but that an attack, say of scarlet fever, leaves a permanent mark, easily to be measured by the present method of comparison. This recalls an impression made strongly on my mind several years ago, by the sight of some curves drawn by a mathematical friend. He took monthly measurements of the circumference of his children's heads during the first few years of their lives, and he laid down the successive measurements on the successive lines of a piece of ruled paper, by taking the edge of the paper as a base. He then joined the free ends of the lines, and so obtained a curve of growth. These curves had, on the whole, that regularity of sweep that might have been expected, but each of them showed occasional halts, like the landing-places on a long flight of stairs. The development had been arrested by something, and was not made up for by after growth. Now, on the same piece of paper my friend had also registered the various infantile illnesses of the children, and corresponding to each illness was one of these halts. There remained no doubt in my mind that, if these illnesses had been warded off, the development of the children would have been increased by almost the precise amount lost in these halts. In other words, the disease had drawn largely upon the capital, and not only on the income, of their constitutions. I hope these remarks may induce some men of science to repeat similar experiments on their children of the future. They may compress two years of a child's history on one side of a ruled half-sheet of foolscap paper, if they cause each successive line to stand for a successive month, beginning from the birth of the child; and if they economise space by laying, not the 0-inch division of the tape against the edge of the pages, but, say, the 10-inch division.

The steady and pitiless march of the hidden weaknesses in our constitutions, through illness to death, is painfully revealed by these histories of twins. We are too apt to look upon illness and death as capricious events, and there are some who ascribe them to the direct effect of supernatural interference, whereas the fact of the maladies of two twins being continually alike shows that illness and death are necessary incidents in a regular sequence of constitutional changes beginning at birth, and upon which external circumstances have, on the whole, very small effect. In cases where the maladies of the twins are continually alike, the clocks of their two lives move regularly on at the same rate, governed by their internal mechanism. When the hands approach the hour, there are sudden clicks, followed by a whirring of wheels; the moment that they touch it, the strokes fall. Necessitarians may derive new arguments from the life-histories of twins.

We will now consider the converse side of our subject, which appears to me even the more important of the two. Hitherto we have investigated cases where the similarity at first was close, but afterwards became less; now we will examine those in which there was great dissimilarity at first, and will see how far an identity of nurture in childhood and youth tended to assimilate them. As has been already mentioned, there is a large proportion of cases of sharply-contrasted characteristics, both of body and mind, among twins. I have twenty such cases, given with much detail. It is a fact that extreme dissimilarity, such as existed between Esau and Jacob, is a no less marked peculiarity in twins of the same sex than extreme similarity. On this curious point, and on much else in the history of twins, I have many remarks to make, but this is not the place to make them.

The evidence given by the twenty cases above mentioned is absolutely accordant, so that the character of the whole may be exactly conveyed by a few quotations.

(1.) One parent says:--"They have had exactly the same nurture from their birth up to the present time; they are both perfectly healthy and strong, yet they are otherwise as dissimilar as two boys could be, physically, mentally, and in their emotional nature."

(2.) "I can answer most decidedly that the twins have been perfectly dissimilar in character, habits, and likeness from the moment of their birth to the present time, though they were nursed by the same woman, went to school together, and were never separated till the age of fifteen."

(3.) "They have never been separated, never the least differently treated in food, clothing, or education; both teethed at the same time, both had measles, whooping-cough, and scarlatina at the same time, and neither had had any other serious illness. Both are and have been exceedingly healthy, and have good abilities, yet they differ as much from each other in mental cast as any one of my family differs from another."

(4.) "Very dissimilar in body and mind: the one is quiet, retiring, and slow but sure; good-tempered, but disposed to be sulky when provoked;--the other is quick, vivacious, forward, acquiring easily and forgetting soon; quick-tempered and choleric, but quickly forgiving and forgetting. They have been educated together and never separated."

(5.) "They were never alike either in body or mind, and their dissimilarity increases daily. The external influences have been identical; they have never been separated."

(6.) "The two sisters are very different in ability and disposition. The one is retiring, but firm and determined; she has no taste for music or drawing. The other is of an active, excitable temperament: she displays an unusual amount of quickness and talent, and is passionately fond of music and drawing. From infancy, they have been rarely separated even at school, and as children visiting their friends, they always went together."

(7.) "They have been treated exactly alike both were brought up by hand; they have been under the same nurse and governess from their birth, and they are very fond of each other. Their increasing dissimilarity must be ascribed to a natural difference of mind and character, as there has been nothing in their treatment to account for it."

(8.) "They are as different as possible. [A minute and unsparing analysis of the characters of the two twins is given by their father, most instructive to read, but impossible to publish without the certainty of wounding the feelings of one of the twins, if these pages should chance to fall under his eyes.] They were brought up entirely by hand, that is, on cow's milk, and treated by one nurse in precisely the same manner."

(9.) "The home-training and influence were precisely the same, and therefore I consider the dissimilarity to be accounted for almost entirely by innate disposition and by causes over which we have no control."

(10.) "This case is, I should think, somewhat remarkable for dissimilarity in physique as well as for strong contrast in character. They have been unlike in body and mind throughout their lives. Both were reared in a country house, and both were at the same schools till aet. 16."

(11.) "Singularly unlike in body and mind from babyhood; in looks, dispositions, and tastes they are quite different. I think I may say the dissimilarity was innate, and developed more by time than circumstance."

(12.) "We were never in the least degree alike. I should say my sister's and my own character are diametrically opposed, and have been utterly different from our birth, though a very strong affection subsists between us."

(13.) The father remarks:--"They were curiously different in body and mind from their birth."

The surviving twin (a senior wrangler of Cambridge) adds:--"A fact struck all our school contemporaries, that my brother and I were complementary, so to speak, in point of ability and disposition. He was contemplative, poetical, and literary to a remarkable degree, showing great power in that line. I was practical, mathematical, and linguistic. Between us we should have made a very decent sort of a man."

I could quote others just as strong as these, in some of which the above phrase "complementary" also appears, while I have not a single case in which my correspondents speak of originally dissimilar characters having become assimilated through identity of nurture. However, a somewhat exaggerated estimate of dissimilarity may be due to the tendency of relatives to dwell unconsciously on distinctive peculiarities, and to disregard the far more numerous points of likeness that would first attract the notice of a stranger. Thus in case 11 I find the remark, "Strangers see a strong likeness between them, but none who knows them well can perceive it." Instances are common of slight acquaintances mistaking members, and especially daughters of a family, for one another, between whom intimate friends can barely discover a resemblance. Still, making reasonable allowance for unintentional exaggeration, the impression that all this evidence leaves on the mind is one of some wonder whether nurture can do anything at all, beyond giving instruction and professional training. It emphatically corroborates and goes far beyond the conclusions to which we had already been driven by the cases of similarity. In those, the causes of divergence began to act about the period of adult life, when the characters had become somewhat fixed; but here the causes conducive to assimilation began to act from the earliest moment of the existence of the twins, when the disposition was most pliant, and they were continuous until the period of adult life. There is no escape from the conclusion that nature prevails enormously over nurture when the differences of nurture do not exceed what is commonly to be found among persons of the same rank of society and in the same country. My fear is, that my evidence may seem to prove too much, and be discredited on that account, as it appears contrary to all experience that nurture should go for so little. But experience is often fallacious in ascribing great effects to trifling circumstances. Many a person has amused himself with throwing bits of stick into a tiny brook and watching their progress; how they are arrested, first by one chance obstacle, then by another; and again, how their onward course is facilitated by a combination of circumstances. He might ascribe much importance to each of these events, and think how largely the destiny of the stick had been governed by a series of trifling accidents. Nevertheless all the sticks succeed in passing down the current, and in the long-run, they travel at nearly the same rate. So it is with life, in respect to the several accidents which seem to have had a great effect upon our careers. The one element, that varies in different individuals, but is constant in each of them, is the natural tendency; it corresponds to the current in the stream, and inevitably asserts itself.

Much stress is laid on the persistence of moral impressions made in childhood, and the conclusion is drawn, that the effects of early teaching must be important in a corresponding degree. I acknowledge the fact, so far as has been explained in the chapter on Early Sentiments, but there is a considerable set-off on the other side. Those teachings that conform to the natural aptitudes of the child leave much more enduring marks than others. Now both the teachings and the natural aptitudes of the child are usually derived from its parents. They are able to understand the ways of one another more intimately than is possible to persons not of the same blood, and the child instinctively assimilates the habits and ways of thought of its parents. Its disposition is "educated" by them, in the true sense of the word; that is to say, it is evoked, not formed by them. On these grounds I ascribe the persistence of many habits that date from early home education, to the peculiarities of the instructors rather than to the period when the instruction was given. The marks left on the memory by the instructions of a foster-mother are soon sponged clean away. Consider the history of the cuckoo, which is reared exclusively by foster-mothers. It is probable that nearly every young cuckoo, during a series of many hundred generations, has been brought up in a family whose language is a chirp and a twitter. But the cuckoo cannot or will not adopt that language, or any other of the habits of its foster-parents. It leaves its birthplace as soon as it is able, and finds out its own kith and kin, and identifies itself henceforth with them. So utterly are its earliest instructions in an alien bird-language neglected, and so completely is its new education successful, that the note of the cuckoo tribe is singularly correct.



[Footnote 13: I take this opportunity of withdrawing an anecdote, happily of no great importance, published in Men of Science, p. 14, about a man personating his twin brother for a joke at supper, and not being discovered by his wife. It was told me on good authority; but I have reason to doubt the fact, as the story is not known to the son of one of the twins. However, the twins in question were extraordinarily alike, and I have many anecdotes about them sent me by the latter gentleman.]
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:49 pm


Before leaving the subject of Nature and Nurture, I would direct attention to evidence bearing on the conditions under which animals appear first to have been domesticated. It clearly shows the small power of nurture against adverse natural tendencies.

The few animals that we now possess in a state of domestication were first reclaimed from wildness in prehistoric times. Our remote barbarian ancestors must be credited with having accomplished a very remarkable feat, which no subsequent generation has rivalled. The utmost that we of modern times have succeeded in doing, is to improve the races of those animals that we received from our forefathers in an already domesticated condition.

There are only two reasonable solutions of this exceedingly curious fact. The one is, that men of highly original ideas, like the mythical Prometheus, arose from time to time in the dawn of human progress, and left their respective marks on the world by being the first to subjugate the camel, the llama, the reindeer, the horse, the ox, the sheep, the hog, the dog, or some other animal to the service of man. The other hypothesis is that only a few species of animals are fitted by their nature to become domestic, and that these were discovered long ago through the exercise of no higher intelligence than is to be found among barbarous tribes of the present day. The failure of civilised man to add to the number of domesticated species would on this supposition be due to the fact that all the suitable material whence domestic animals could be derived has been long since worked out.

I submit that the latter hypothesis is the true one for the reasons about to be given; and if so, the finality of the process of domestication must be accepted as one of the most striking instances of the inflexibility of natural disposition, and of the limitations thereby imposed upon the [15] choice of careers for animals, and by analogy for those of men.

My argument will be this:--All savages maintain pet animals, many tribes have sacred ones, and kings of ancient states have imported captive animals on a vast scale, for purposes of show, from neighbouring countries. I infer that every animal, of any pretensions, has been tamed over and over again, and has had numerous opportunities of becoming domesticated. But the cases are rare in which these opportunities have led to any result. No animal is fitted for domestication unless it fulfils certain stringent conditions, which I will endeavour to state and to discuss. My conclusion is, that all domesticable animals of any note have long ago fallen under the yoke of man. In short, that the animal creation has been pretty thoroughly, though half unconsciously, explored, by the every-day habits of rude races and simple civilisations.

It is a fact familiar to all travellers, that savages frequently capture young animals of various kinds, and rear them as favourites, and sell or present them as curiosities. Human nature is generally akin: savages may be brutal, but they are not on that account devoid of our taste for taming and caressing young animals; nay, it is not improbable that some races may possess it in a more marked degree than ourselves, because it is a childish taste with us; and the motives of an adult barbarian are very similar to those of a civilised child.

In proving this assertion, I feel embarrassed with the multiplicity of my facts. I have only space to submit a few typical instances, and must, therefore, beg it will be borne in mind that the following list could be largely reinforced. Yet even if I inserted all I have thus far been able to collect, I believe insufficient justice would be done to the real truth of the case. Captive animals do not commonly fall within the observation of travellers, who mostly confine themselves to their own encampments, and abstain from entering the dirty dwellings of the natives; neither do the majority of travellers think tamed animals worthy of detailed mention. Consequently the anecdotes of their existence are scattered sparingly among a large number of volumes. It is when those travellers are questioned who have lived long and intimately with savage tribes that the plenitude of available instances becomes most apparent.

I proceed to give anecdotes of animals being tamed in various parts of the world, at dates when they were severally beyond the reach of civilised influences, and where, therefore, the pleasure taken by the natives in taming them must be ascribed to their unassisted mother-wit. It will be inferred that the same rude races who were observed to be capable of great fondness towards animals in particular instances, would not unfrequently show it in others.

[North America.]--The traveller Hearne, who wrote towards the end of the last century, relates the following story of moose or elks in the more northern parts of North America. He says:--

"I have repeatedly seen moose at Churchill as tame as sheep and even more so.... The same Indian that brought them to the Factory had, in the year 1770, two others so tame that when on his passage to Prince of Wales's Fort in a canoe, the moose always followed him along the bank of the river; and at night, or on any other occasion when the Indians landed, the young moose generally came and fondled on them, as the most domestic animal would have done, and never offered to stray from the tents."

Sir John Richardson, in an obliging answer to my inquiries about the Indians of North America, after mentioning the bison calves, wolves, and other animals that they frequently capture and keep, said:--

"It is not unusual, I have heard, for the Indians to bring up young bears, the women giving them milk from their own breasts."

He mentions that he himself purchased a young bear, and adds:--

"The red races are fond of pets and treat them kindly; and in purchasing them there is always the unwillingness of the women and children to overcome, rather than any dispute about price. My young bear used to rob the women of the berries, they had gathered, but the loss was borne with good nature."

I will again quote Hearne, who is unsurpassed for his minute and accurate narratives of social scenes among the Indians and Esquimaux. In speaking of wolves he says:--

"They always burrow underground to bring forth their young, and though it is natural to suppose them very fierce at those times, yet I have frequently seen the Indians go to their dens and take out the young ones and play with them. I never knew a Northern Indian hurt one of them; on the contrary, they always put them carefully into the den again; and I have sometimes seen them paint the faces of the young wolves with vermilion or red ochre."

[South America.]--Ulloa, an ancient traveller, says:--

"Though the Indian women breed fowl and other domestic animals in their cottages, they never eat them: and even conceive such a fondness for them, that they will not sell them, much less kill them with their own hands. So that if a stranger who is obliged to pass the night in one of their cottages, offers ever so much money for a fowl, they refuse to part with it, and he finds himself under the necessity of killing the fowl himself. At this his landlady shrieks, dissolves into tears, and wrings her hands, as if it had been an only son, till seeing the mischief past mending, she wipes her eyes and quietly takes what the traveller offers her."

The care of the South American Indians, as Quiloa truly states, is by no means confined to fowls. Mr. Bates, the distinguished traveller and naturalist of the Amazons, has favoured me with a list of twenty-two species of quadrupeds that he has found tame in the encampments of the tribes of that valley. It includes the tapir, the agouti, the guinea-pig, and the peccari. He has also noted five species of quadrupeds that were in captivity, but not tamed. These include the jaguar, the great ant-eater, and the armadillo. His list of tamed birds is still more extensive.

[North Africa.]--The ancient Egyptians had a positive passion for tamed animals, such as antelopes, monkeys, crocodiles, panthers, and hyenas. Mr. Goodwin, the eminent Egyptologist, informed me that "they anticipated our zoological tastes completely," and that some of the pictures referring to tamed animals are among their very earliest monuments, viz. 2000 or 3000 years B.C. Mr. Mansfield Parkyns, who passed many years in Abyssinia and the countries of the Upper Nile, writes me word in answer to my inquiries;--

"I am sure that negroes often capture and keep alive wild animals. I have bought them and received them as presents--wild cats, jackals, panthers, the wild dog, the two best lions now in the Zoological Gardens, monkeys innumerable and of all sorts, and mongoose. I cannot say that I distinctly recollect any pets among the lowest orders of men that I met with, such as the Denkas, but I am sure they exist, and in this way. When I was on the White Nile and at Khartoum, very few merchants went up the White Nile; none had stations. They were little known to the natives; but none returned without some live animal or bird which they had procured from them. While I was at Khartoum, there came an Italian wild beast showman, after the Wombwell style. He made a tour of the towns up to Doul and Fazogly, Kordofan and the peninsula, and collected a large number of animals. Thus my opinion distinctly is, that negroes do keep wild animals alive. I am sure of it; though I can only vaguely recollect them in one or two cases. I remember some chief in Abyssinia who had a pet lion which he used to tease, and I have often seen monkeys about huts."

[Equatorial Africa.]--The most remarkable instance I have met with in modern Africa is the account of a menagerie that existed up to the beginning of the reign of the present king of the Wahumas, on the shores of Lake Nyanza. Suna, the great despot of that country, reigned till 1857. Captains Burton and Speke were in the neighbourhood in the following year, and Captain Burton thus describes (Journal R. G. Soc., xxix. 282) the report he received of Suna's collection:--

"He had a large menagerie of lions, elephants, leopards, and similar beasts of disport; he also kept for amusement fifteen or sixteen albinos; and so greedy was he of novelty, that even a cock of peculiar form or colour would have been forwarded by its owner to feed his eyes."

Captain Speke, in his subsequent journey to the Nile, passed many months at Uganda, as the guest of Suna's youthful successor, M'tese. The fame of the old menagerie was fresh when Captain Speke was there. He wrote to me as follows concerning it:--

"I was told Suna kept buffaloes, antelopes, and animals of all colours' (meaning 'sorts'), and in equal quantities. M'tese, his son, no sooner came to the throne, than he indulged in shooting them down before his admiring wives, and now he has only one buffalo and a few parrots left."

In Kouka, near Lake Tchad, antelopes and ostriches are both kept tame, as I was informed by Dr. Barth.

[South Africa.]--The instances are very numerous in South Africa where the Boers and half-castes amuse themselves with rearing zebras, antelopes, and the like; but I have not found many instances among the native races. Those that are best known to us are mostly nomad and in a chronic state of hunger, and therefore disinclined to nurture captured animals as pets; nevertheless, some instances can be adduced. Livingstone alludes to an extreme fondness for small tame singing-birds (pp. 324 and 453). Dr. (now Sir John) Kirk, who accompanied him in later years, mentions guinea-fowl--that do not breed in confinement, and are merely kept as pets--in the Shiré valley, and Mr. Oswell has furnished me with one similar anecdote. I feel, however, satisfied that abundant instances could be found if properly sought for. It was the frequency with which I recollect to have heard of tamed animals when I myself was in South Africa, though I never witnessed any instance, that first suggested to me the arguments of the present paper. Sir John Kirk informs me that:

"As you approach the coast or Portuguese settlements, pets of all kinds become very common; but then the opportunity of occasionally selling them to advantage may help to increase the number; still, the more settled life has much to do with it."

In confirmation of this view, I will quote an early writer, Pigafetta (Hakluyt Coll., ii. 562), on the South African kingdom of Congo, who found a strange medley of animals in captivity, long before the demands of semi-civilisation had begun to prompt their collection:--

The King of Congo, on being Christianised by the Jesuit missionaries in the sixteenth century, "signified that whoever had any idols should deliver them to the lieutenants of the country. And within less than a month all the idols which they worshipped were brought into court, and certainly the number of these toys was infinite, for every man adored what he liked without any measure or reason at all. Some kept serpents of horrible figures, some worshipped the greatest goats they could get, some leopards, and others monstrous creatures. Some held in veneration certain unclean fowls, etc. Neither did they content themselves with worshipping the said creatures when alive, but also adored the very skins of them when they were dead and stuffed with straw."

[Australia.]--Mr. Woodfield records the following touching anecdote in a paper communicated to the Ethnological Society, as occurring in an unsettled part of West Australia, where the natives rank as the lowest race upon the earth:--

"During the summer of 1858-9 the Murchison river was visited by great numbers of kites, the native country of these birds being Shark's Bay. As other birds were scarce, we shot many of these kites, merely for the sake of practice, the natives eagerly devouring them as fast as they were killed. One day a man and woman, natives of Shark's Bay, came to the Murchison, and the woman immediately recognising the birds as coming from her country, assured us that the natives there never kill them, and that they are so tame that they will perch on the shoulders of the women and eat from their hands. On seeing one shot she wept bitterly, and not even the offer of the bird could assuage her grief, for she absolutely refused to eat it. No more kites were shot while she remained among us."

The Australian women habitually feed the puppies they intend to rear from their own breasts, and show an affection to them equal, if not exceeding, that to their own infants. Sir Charles Nicholson informs me that he has known an extraordinary passion for cats to be demonstrated by Australian women at Fort Phillip.

[New Guinea Group.]--Captain Develyn is reported (Bennett, Naturalist in Australia, p. 244) to say of the island of New Britain, near Australia, that the natives consider cassowaries "to a certain degree sacred, and rear them as pets. They carry them in their arms, and entertain a great affection for them."

Professor Huxley informs me that he has seen sucking-pigs nursed at the breasts of women, apparently as pets, in islands of the New Guinea Group.

[Polynesia.]--The savage and cannibal Fijians were no exceptions to the general rule, for Dr. Seemann wrote me word that they make pets of the flying fox (bat), the lizard, and parroquet. Captain Wilkes, in his exploring expedition (ii. 122), says the pigeon in the Samoon islands "is commonly kept as a plaything, and particularly by the chiefs. One of our officers unfortunately on one occasion shot a pigeon, which caused great commotion, for the bird was a king pigeon, and to kill it was thought as great a crime as to take the life of a man."

Mr. Ellis, writing of these islands (Polynesian Researches, ii. 285), says:--

"Eels are great favourites, and are tamed and fed till they attain an enormous size. Taoarii had several in different parts of the island. These pets were kept in large holes, two or three feet deep, partially filled with water. I have been several times with the young chief, when he has sat down by the side of the hole, and by giving a shrill sort of whistle, has brought out an enormous eel, which has moved about the surface of the water and eaten with confidence out of his master's hand."

[Syria.]--I will conclude this branch of my argument by quoting the most ancient allusion to a pet that I can discover in writing, though some of the Egyptian pictured representations are considerably older. It is the parable spoken by the Prophet Samuel to King David, that is expressed in the following words:--

"The poor man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was to him as a daughter."

We will now turn to the next stage of our argument. Not only do savages rear animals as pets, but communities maintain them as sacred. The ox of India and the brute gods of Egypt occur to us at once; the same superstition prevails widely. The quotation already given from Pigafetta is in point; the fact is too well known to readers of travel to make it necessary to devote space to its proof. I will therefore simply give a graphic account, written by M. Jules Gérard, of Whydah in West Africa:--

"I visited the Temple of Serpents in this town, where thirty of these monstrous deities were asleep in various attitudes. Each day at sunset, a priest brings them a certain number of sheep, goats, fowls, etc., which are slaughtered in the temple and then divided among the 'gods.' Subsequently during the night they (? the priests) spread themselves about the town, entering the houses in various quarters in search of further offerings. It is forbidden under penalty of death to kill, wound, or even strike one of these sacred serpents, or any other of the same species, and only the priests possess the privilege of taking hold of them, for the purpose of reinstating them in the temple should they be found elsewhere."

It would be tedious and unnecessary to adduce more instances of wild animals being nurtured in the encampments of savages, either as pets or as sacred animals. It will be found on inquiry that few travellers have failed altogether to observe them. If we consider the small number of encampments they severally visited in their line of march, compared with the vast number that are spread over the whole area, which is or has been inhabited by rude races, we may obtain some idea of the thousands of places at which half-unconscious attempts at domestication are being made in each year. These thousands must themselves be multiplied many thousandfold, if we endeavour to calculate the number of similar attempts that have been made since men like ourselves began to inhabit the world.

My argument, strong as it is, admits of being considerably strengthened by the following consideration:--

The natural inclination of barbarians is often powerfully reinforced by an enormous demand for captured live animals on the part of their more civilised neighbours. A desire to create vast hunting-grounds and menageries and amphitheatrical shows, seems naturally to occur to the monarchs who preside over early civilisations, and travellers continually remark that, whenever there is a market for live animals, savages will supply them in any quantities. The means they employ to catch game for their daily food readily admits of their taking them alive. Pit-falls, stake-nets, and springes do not kill. If the savage captures an animal unhurt, and can make more by selling it alive than dead, he will doubtless do so. He is well fitted by education to keep a wild animal in captivity. His mode of pursuing game requires a more intimate knowledge of the habits of beasts than is ever acquired by sportsmen who use more perfect weapons. A savage is obliged to steal upon his game, and to watch like a jackal for the leavings of large beasts of prey. His own mode of life is akin to that of the creatures he hunts. Consequently, the savage is a good gamekeeper; captured animals thrive in his charge, and he finds it remunerative to take them a long way to market. The demands of ancient Rome appear to have penetrated Northern Africa as far or farther than the steps of our modern explorers. The chief centres of import of wild animals were Egypt, Assyria (and other Eastern monarchies), Rome, Mexico, and Peru. I have not yet been able to learn what were the habits of Hindostan or China. The modern menagerie of Lucknow is the only considerable native effort in those parts with which I am acquainted.

[Egypt.]--The mutilated statistical tablet of Karnak (Trans. R. Soc. Lit., 1847, p. 369, and 1863, p. 65) refers to an armed invasion of Armenia by Thothmes III., and the payment of a large tribute of antelopes and birds. When Ptolemy Philadelphus feted the Alexandrians (Athenoeus, v.), the Ethiopians brought dogs, buffaloes, bears, leopards, lynxes, a giraffe, and a rhinoceros. Doubtless this description of gifts was common. Live beasts are the one article of curiosity and amusement that barbarians can offer to civilised nations.

[Assyria.]--Mr. Fox Talbot thus translates (Journal Asiatic Soc., xix. 124) part of the inscription on the black obelisk of Ashurakbal found in Nineveh and now in the British Museum:--

"He caught in hunter's toils (a blank number) of armi, turakhi, nali, and yadi. Every one of these animals he placed in separate enclosures. He brought up their young ones and counted them as carefully as young lambs. As to the creatures called burkish, utrati (dromedaries?), tishani, and dagari, he wrote for them and they came. The dromedaries he kept in enclosures, where he brought up their young ones. He entrusted each kind of animal to men of their own country to tend them. There were also curious animals of the Mediterranean Sea, which the King of Egypt sent as a gift and entrusted to the care of men of their own land. The very choicest animals were there in abundance, and birds of heaven with beautiful wings. It was a splendid menagerie, and all the work of his own hands. The names of the animals were placed beside them."

[Rome.]--The extravagant demands for the amphitheatre of ancient Rome must have stimulated the capture of wild animals in Asia, Africa, and the then wild parts of Europe, to an extraordinary extent. I will quote one instance from Gibbon:--

"By the order of Probus, a vast quantity of large trees torn up by the roots were transplanted into the midst of the circus. The spacious and shady forest was immediately filled with a thousand ostriches, a thousand stags, a thousand fallow-deer, and a thousand wild boars, and all this variety of game was abandoned to the riotous impetuosity of the multitude. The tragedy of the succeeding day consisted in the massacre of a hundred lions, an equal number of lionesses, two hundred leopards, and three hundred bears."

Farther on we read of a spectacle by the younger Gordian of "twenty zebras, ten elks, ten giraffes, thirty African hyenas, ten Indian tigers, a rhinoceros, an hippopotamus, and thirty-two elephants."

[Mexico.]--Gomara, the friend and executor of Herman Cortes, states: --

"There were here also many cages made of stout beams, in some of which there were lions (pumas); in others, tigers (jaguars); in others, ounces; in others, wolves; nor was there any animal on four legs that was not there. They had for their rations deer and other animals of the chase. There were also kept in large jars or tanks, snakes, alligators, and lizards. In another court there were cages containing every kind of birds of prey, such as vultures, a dozen sorts of falcons and hawks, eagles, and owls. The large eagles received turkeys for their food. Our Spaniards were astonished at seeing such a diversity of birds and beasts; nor did they find it pleasant to hear the hissing of the poisonous snakes, the roaring of the lions, the shrill cries of the wolves, nor the groans of the other animals given to them for food."

[Peru.]--Garcilasso de la Vega (Commentaries Reales, v. 10), the son of a Spanish conqueror by an Indian princess, born and bred in Peru, writes:--

"All the strange birds and beasts which the chiefs presented to the Inca were kept at court, both for grandeur and also to please the Indians who presented them. When I came to Cuzco, I remember there were some remains of places where they kept these creatures. One was the serpent conservatory, and another where they kept the pumas, jaguars, and bears."

[Syria and Greece.]--I could have said something on Solomon's apes and peacocks, and could have quoted at length the magnificent order given by Alexander the Great (Pliny, Nat. Hist., viii. 16) towards supplying material for Aristotle's studies in natural history; but enough has been said to prove what I maintained, namely, that numerous cases occur, year after year, and age after age, in which every animal of note is captured and its capabilities of domestication unconsciously tested.

I would accept in a more stringent sense than it was probably intended to bear, the text of St. James, who wrote at a time when a vast variety and multitude of animals were constantly being forwarded to Rome and to Antioch for amphitheatrical shows. He says (James iii. 7), "Every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind."

I conclude from what I have stated that there is no animal worthy of domestication that has not frequently been captured, and might ages ago have established itself as a domestic breed, had it not been deficient in certain necessary particulars which I shall proceed to discuss. These are numerous and so stringent as to leave no ground for wonder that out of the vast abundance of the animal creation, only a few varieties of a few species should have become the companions of man.

It by no means follows that because a savage cares to take home a young fawn to amuse himself, his family, and his friends, that he will always continue to feed or to look after it. Such attention would require a steadiness of purpose foreign to the ordinary character of a savage. But herein lie two shrewd tests of the eventual destiny of the animal as a domestic species.

Hardiness.--It must be able to shift for itself and to thrive, although it is neglected; since, if it wanted much care, it would never be worth its keep.

The hardiness of our domestic animals is shown by the rapidity with which they establish themselves in new lands. The goats and hogs left on islands by the earlier navigators throve excellently on the whole. The horse has taken possession of the Pampas, and the sheep and ox of Australia. The dog is hardly repressible in the streets of an Oriental town.

Fondness of Man.--Secondly, it must cling to man, notwithstanding occasional hard usage and frequent neglect. If the animal had no natural attachment to our species, it would fret itself to death, or escape and revert to wildness. It is easy to find cases where the partial or total non-fulfilment of this condition is a corresponding obstacle to domestication. Some kinds of cattle are too precious to be discarded, but very troublesome to look after. Such are the reindeer to the Lapps. Mr. Campbell of Islay informed me that the tamest of certain herds of them look as if they were wild; they have to be caught with a lasso to be milked. If they take fright, they are off to the hills; consequently the Lapps are forced to accommodate themselves to the habits of their beasts, and to follow them from snow to sea and from sea to snow at different seasons. The North American reindeer has never been domesticated, owing, I presume, to this cause. The Peruvian herdsmen would have had great trouble to endure had the llama and alpaca not existed, for their cogeners, the huanacu and the vicuna, are hardly to be domesticated.

Zebras, speaking broadly, are unmanageable. The Dutch Boers constantly endeavour to break them to harness, and though they occasionally succeed to a degree, the wild mulish nature of the animal is always breaking out, and liable to balk them.

It is certain that some animals have naturally a greater fondness for man than others; and as a proof of this, I will again quote Hearne about the moose, who are considered by him to be the easiest to tame and domesticate of any of the deer tribe. Formerly the closely-allied European elks were domesticated in Sweden, and used to draw sledges, as they are now occasionally in Canada; but they have been obsolete for many years. Hearne says:--

"The young ones are so simple that I remember to have seen an Indian paddle his canoe up to one of them, and take it by the poll, without experiencing the least opposition, the poor harmless animal seeming at the same time as contented alongside the canoe as if swimming by the side of its dam, and looking up in our faces with the same fearless innocence that a house lamb would."

On the other hand, a young bison will try to dash out its brains against the tree to which it is tied, in terror and hatred of its captors.

It is interesting to note the causes that conduce to a decided attachment of certain animals to man, or between one kind of animal and another. It is notorious that attachments and aversions exist in nature. Swallows, rooks, and storks frequent dwelling houses; ostriches and zebras herd together; so do bisons and elks. On the other hand, deer and sheep, which are both gregarious, and both eat the same food and graze within the same enclosure, avoid one another. The spotted Danish dog, the Spitz dog, and the cat, have all a strong attachment to horses, and horses seem pleased with their company; but dogs and cats are proverbially discordant. I presume that two species of animals do not consider one another companionable, or clubable, unless their behaviour and their persons are reciprocally agreeable. A phlegmatic animal would be exceedingly disquieted by the close companionship of an excitable one. The movements of one beast may have a character that is unpleasing to the eyes of another; his cries may sound discordant; his smell may be repulsive. Two herds of animals would hardly intermingle, unless their respective languages of action and of voice were mutually intelligible. The animal which above all others is a companion to man is the dog, and we observe how readily their proceedings are intelligible to each other. Every whine or bark of the dog, each of his fawning, savage, or timorous movements is the exact counterpart of what would have been the man's behaviour, had he felt similar emotions. As the man understands the thoughts of the dog, so the dog understands the thoughts of the man, by attending to his natural voice, his countenance, and his actions. A man irritates a dog by an ordinary laugh, he frightens him by an angry look, or he calms him by a kindly bearing; but he has less spontaneous hold over an ox or a sheep. He must study their ways and tutor his behaviour before he can either understand the feelings of those animals or make his own intelligible to them. He has no natural power at all over many other creatures. Who, for instance, ever succeeded in frowning away a mosquito, or in pacifying an angry wasp by a smile?

Desire of Comfort.--This is a motive which strongly attaches certain animals to human habitations, even though they are unwelcome: it is a motive which few persons who have not had an opportunity of studying animals in savage lands are likely to estimate at its true value. The life of all beasts in their wild state is an exceedingly anxious one. From my own recollection, I believe that every antelope in South Africa has to run for its life every one or two days upon an average, and that he starts or gallops under the influence of a false alarm many times in a day. Those who have crouched at night by the side of pools in the desert, in order to have a shot at the beasts that frequent them, see strange scenes of animal life; how the creatures gambol at one moment and fight at another; how a herd suddenly halts in strained attention, and then breaks into a maddened rush, as one of them becomes conscious of the stealthy movements or rank scent of a beast of prey. Now this hourly life-and-death excitement is a keen delight to most wild creatures, but must be peculiarly distracting to the comfort-loving temperament of others. The latter are alone suited to endure the crass habits and dull routine of domesticated life. Suppose that an animal which has been captured and half-tamed, received ill-usage from his captors, either as punishment or through mere brutality, and that he rushed indignantly into the forest with his ribs aching from blows and stones. If a comfort-loving animal, he will probably be no gainer by the change, more serious alarms and no less ill-usage awaits him; he hears the roar of the wild beasts and the headlong gallop of the frightened herds, and he finds the buttings and the kicks of other animals harder to endure than the blows from which he fled. He has the disadvantage of being a stranger, for the herds of his own species which he seeks for companionship constitute so many cliques, into which he can only find admission by more fighting with their strongest members than he has spirit to undergo. As a set-off against these miseries, the freedom of savage life has no charms for his temperament; so the end of it is, that with a heavy heart he turns back to the habitation he had quitted. When animals thoroughly enjoy the excitement of wild life, I presume they cannot be domesticated, they could only be tamed, for they would never return from the joys of the wilderness after they had once tasted them through some accidental wandering.

Gallinas, or guinea-fowl, have so little care for comfort, or indeed for man, that they fall but a short way within the frontier of domestication. It is only in inclement seasons that they take contentedly to the poultry-yards.

Elephants, from their size and power, are not dependent on man for protection; hence, those that have been reared as pets from the time they were calves, and have never learned to dread and obey the orders of a driver, are peculiarly apt to revert to wildness if they once are allowed to wander and escape to the woods. I believe this tendency, together with the cost of maintenance and the comparative uselessness of the beasts, are among the chief causes why Africans never tame them now; though they have not wholly lost the practice of capturing them when full-grown, and of keeping them imprisoned for some days alive. Mr. Winwood Reade's account of captured elephants, seen by himself near Glass Town in Equatorial Western Africa, is very curious.

Usefulness to Man.--To proceed with the list of requirements which a captured animal must satisfy before it is possible he could be permanently domesticated: there is the very obvious condition that he should be useful to man; otherwise, in growing to maturity, and losing the pleasing youthful ways which had first attracted his captors and caused them to make a pet of him, he would be repelled. As an instance in point, I will mention seals. Many years ago I used to visit Shetland, when those animals were still common, and I heard many stories of their being tamed: one will suffice:--A fisherman caught a young seal; it was very affectionate, and frequented his hut, fishing for itself in the sea. At length it grew self-willed and unwieldy; it used to push the children and snap at strangers, and it was voted a nuisance, but the people could not bear to kill it on account of its human ways. One day the fisherman took it with him in his boat, and dropped it in a stormy sea, far from home; the stratagem was unsuccessful; in a day or two the well-known scuffling sound of the seal, as it floundered up to the hut, was again heard; the animal had found its way home. Some days after the poor creature was shot by a sporting stranger, who saw it basking and did not know it was tame. Now had the seal been a useful animal and not troublesome, the fisherman would doubtless have caught others, and set a watch over them to protect them; and then, if they bred freely and were easy to tend, it is likely enough he would have produced a domestic breed.

The utility of the animals as a store of future food is undoubtedly the most durable reason for maintaining them; but I think it was probably not so early a motive as the chief's pleasure in possessing them. That was the feeling under which the menageries, described above, were established. Whatever the despot of savage tribes is pleased with becomes invested with a sort of sacredness. His tame animals would be the care of all his people, who would become skilful herdsmen under the pressure of fear. It would be as much as their lives were worth if one of the creatures were injured through their neglect. I believe that the keeping of a herd of beasts, with the sole motive of using them as a reserve for food, or as a means of barter, is a late idea in the history of civilisation. It has now become established among the pastoral races of South Africa, owing to the traffickings of the cattle-traders, but it was by no means prevalent in Damara-Land when I travelled there in 1852. I then was surprised to observe the considerations that induced the chiefs to take pleasure in their vast herds of cattle. They were valued for their stateliness and colour, far more than for their beef. They were as the deer of an English squire, or as the stud of a man who has many more horses than he can ride. An ox was almost a sacred beast in Damara-Land, not to be killed except on momentous occasions, and then as a sort of sacrificial feast, in which all bystanders shared. The payment of two oxen was hush-money for the life of a man. I was considerably embarrassed by finding that I had the greatest trouble in buying oxen for my own use, with the ordinary articles of barter. The possessor would hardly part with them for any remuneration; they would never sell their handsomest beasts.

One of the ways in which the value of tamed beasts would be soon appreciated would be that of giving milk to children. It is marvellous how soon goats find out children and tempt them to suckle. I have had the milk of my goats, when encamping for the night in African travels, drained dry by small black children, who had not the strength to do more than crawl about, but nevertheless came to some secret understanding with the goats and fed themselves. The records of many nations have legends like that of Romulus and Remus, who are stated to have been suckled by wild beasts. These are surprisingly confirmed by General Sleeman's narrative of six cases where children were nurtured for many years by wolves in Oude. (Journey through Oude in 1849-50, i. 206.)

Breeding freely.--Domestic animals must breed freely under confinement. This necessity limits very narrowly the number of species which might otherwise have been domesticated. It is one of the most important of all the conditions that have to be satisfied. The North American turkey, reared from the eggs of the wild bird, is stated to be unknown in the third generation, in captivity. Our turkey comes from Mexico, and was abundantly domesticated by the ancient Mexicans.

The Indians of the Upper Amazon took turtle and placed them in lagoons for use in seasons of scarcity. The Spaniards who first saw them called these turtle "Indian cattle." They would certainly have become domesticated like cattle, if they had been able to breed in captivity.

Easy to tend.--They must be tended easily. When animals reared in the house are suffered to run about in the companionship of others like themselves, they naturally revert to much of their original wildness. It is therefore essential to domestication that they should possess some quality by which large numbers of them may be controlled by a few herdsmen. The instinct of gregariousness is such a quality. The herdsman of a vast troop of oxen grazing in a forest, so long as he is able to see one of them, knows pretty surely that they are all within reach. If oxen are frightened and gallop off, they do not scatter, but remain in a single body. When animals are not gregarious, they are to the herdsman like a falling necklace of beads whose string is broken, or as a handful of water escaping between the fingers.

The cat is the only non-gregarious domestic animal. It is retained by its extraordinary adhesion to the comforts of the house in which it is reared.

An animal may be perfectly fitted to be a domestic animal, and be peculiarly easy to tend in a general way, and yet the circumstances in which the savages are living may make it too troublesome for them to maintain a breed. The following account, taken from Mr. Scott Nind's paper on the Natives of King George's Sound in Australia, and printed in the first volume of the Journal of the Geographical Society, is particularly to the point. He says:--

"In the chase the hunters are assisted by dogs, which they take when young and domesticate; but they take little pains to train them to any particular mode of hunting. After finding a litter of young, the natives generally carry away one or two to rear; in this case, it often occurs that the mother will trace and attack them; and, being large and very strong, she is rather formidable. At some periods, food is so scanty as to compel the dog to leave his master and provide for himself; but in a few days he generally returns."

I have also evidence that this custom is common to the wild natives of other parts of Australia.

The gregariousness of all our domestic species is, I think, the primary reason why some of them are extinct in a wild state. The wild herds would intermingle with the tame ones, some would become absorbed, the others would be killed by hunters, who used the tame cattle as a shelter to approach the wild. Besides this, comfort-loving animals would be less suited to fight the battle of life with the rest of the brute creation; and it is therefore to be expected that those varieties which are best fitted for domestication, would be the soonest extinguished in a wild state. For instance, we could hardly fancy the camel to endure in a land where there were large wild beasts.

Selection.--The irreclaimably wild members of every flock would escape and be utterly lost; the wilder of those that remained would assuredly be selected for slaughter, when ever it was necessary that one of the flock should be killed. The tamest cattle--those that seldom ran away, that kept the flock together and led them homewards--would be preserved alive longer than any of the others. It is therefore these that chiefly become the parents of stock, and bequeath their domestic aptitudes to the future herd. I have constantly witnessed this process of selection among the pastoral savages of South Africa. I believe it to be a very important one, on account of its rigour and its regularity. It must have existed from the earliest times, and have been in continuous operation, generation after generation, down to the present day.

Exceptions.--I have already mentioned the African elephant, the North American reindeer, and the apparent, but not real exception of the North American turkey. I should add the ducks and geese of North America, but I cannot consider them in the light of a very strong case, for a savage who constantly changes his home is not likely to carry aquatic birds along with him. Beyond these few, I know of no notable exceptions to my theory.


I see no reason to suppose that the first domestication of any animal, except the elephant, implies a high civilisation among the people who established it. I cannot believe it to have been the result of a preconceived intention, followed by elaborate trials, to administer to the comfort of man. Neither can I think it arose from one successful effort made by an individual, who might thereby justly claim the title of benefactor to his race; but, on the contrary, that a vast number of half-unconscious attempts have been made throughout the course of ages, and that ultimately, by slow degrees, after many relapses, and continued selection, our several domestic breeds became firmly established.

I will briefly restate what appear to be the conditions under which wild animals may become domesticated:--1, they should be hardy; 2, they should have an inborn liking for man; 3, they should be comfort-loving; 4, they should be found useful to the savages; 5, they should breed freely; 6, they should be easy to tend. It would appear that every wild animal has had its chance of being domesticated, that those few which fulfilled the above conditions were domesticated long ago, but that the large remainder, who fail sometimes in only one small particular, are destined to perpetual wildness so long as their race continues. As civilisation extends they are doomed to be gradually destroyed off the face of the earth as useless consumers of cultivated produce. I infer that slight differences in natural dispositions of human races may in one case lead irresistibly to some particular career, and in another case may make that career an impossibility.



[Footnote 14: This memoir is reprinted from the Transactions of the Ethnological Society]

[Footnote 15: Transactions of the Ethnological Society, 1865, with an alteration in the opening and concluding paragraphs, and with a few verbal emendations. If I had discussed the subject now for the first time I should have given extracts from the and with a few verbal emendations. If I had discussed the subject now for the first time I should have given extracts from the works of the travellers of the day, but it seemed needless to reopen the inquiry merely to give it a more modern air. I have also preferred to let the chapter stand as it was written, because considerable portions of it have been quoted by various authors (e.g. Bagehot, Economic Studies, pp. 161 to 166: Longman, 1880), and the original memoir is not easily accessible.]
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Re: Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development

Postby admin » Wed May 23, 2018 10:49 pm


There is nothing as yet observed in the order of events to make us doubt that the universe is bound together in space and time, as a single entity, and there is a concurrence of many observed facts to induce us to accept that view. We may, therefore, not unreasonably profess faith in a common and mysterious whole, and of the laborious advance, under many restrictions, of that infinitely small part of it which falls under our observation, but which is in itself enormously large, and behind which lies the awful mystery of the origin of all existence.

The conditions that direct the order of the whole of the living world around us, are marked by their persistence in improving the birthright of successive generations. They determine, at much cost of individual comfort, that each plant and animal shall, on the general average, be endowed at its birth with more suitable natural faculties than those of its representative in the preceding generation. They ensure, in short, that the inborn qualities of the terrestrial tenantry shall become steadily better adapted to their homes and to their mutual needs. This effect, be it understood, is not only favourable to the animals who live long enough to become parents, but is also favourable to those who perish in earlier life, because even they are on the whole better off during their brief career than if they had been born still less adapted to the conditions of their existence. If we summon before our imagination in a single mighty host, the whole number of living things from the earliest date at which terrestrial life can be deemed to have probably existed, to the latest future at which we may think it can probably continue, and if we cease to dwell on the miscarriages of individual lives or of single generations, we shall plainly perceive that the actual tenantry of the world progresses in a direction that may in some sense be described as the greatest happiness of the greatest number.

We also remark that while the motives by which individuals in the lowest stages are influenced are purely self regarding, they broaden as evolution goes on. The word "self" ceases to be wholly personal, and begins to include subjects of affection and interest, and these become increasingly numerous as intelligence and depth of character develop, and as civilisation extends. The sacrifice of the personal desire for repose to the performance of domestic and social duties is an everyday event with us, and other sacrifices of the smaller to the larger self are by no means uncommon. Life in general may be looked upon as a republic where the individuals are for the most part unconscious that while they are working for themselves they are also working for the public good.

We may freely confess ignorance of the outcome in the far future of that personal life to which we each cling passionately in the joyous morning of the affections, but which, as these and other interests fail, does not seem so eminently desirable in itself. We know that organic life can hardly be expected to flourish on this earth of ours for so long a time as it has already existed, because the sun will in all probability have lost too much of its heat and light by then, and will have begun to grow dark and therefore cold, as other stars have done. The conditions of existence here, which are now apparently in their prime, will have become rigorous and increasingly so, and there will be retrogression towards lower types, until the simplest form of life shall have wholly disappeared from the ice-bound surface. The whole living world will then have waxed and waned like an individual life.

Neither can we discover whether organisms here are capable of attaining the average development of organisms in other of the planets that are probably circling round most of the myriads of stars, whose physical constitution, whereever it has as yet been observed spectroscopically, does not differ much from that of our sun. But we perceive around us a countless number of abortive seeds and germs; we find out of any group of a thousand men selected at random, some who are crippled, insane, idiotic, and otherwise born incurably imperfect in body or mind, and it is possible that this world may rank among other worlds as one of these.

We as yet understand nothing of the way in which our conscious selves are related to the separate lives of the billions of cells of which the body of each of us is composed. We only know that the cells form a vast nation, some members of which are always dying and others growing to supply their places, and that the continual sequence of these multitudes of little lives has its outcome in the larger and conscious life of the man as a whole. Our part in the universe may possibly in some distant way be analogous to that of the cells in an organised body, and our personalities may be the transient but essential elements of an immortal and cosmic mind.

Our views of the object of life have to be framed so as not to be inconsistent with the observed facts from which these various possibilities are inferred; it is safer that they should not exclude the possibilities themselves. We must look on the slow progress of the order of evolution, and the system of routine by which it has thus far advanced, as due to antecedents and to inherent conditions of which we have not as yet the slightest conception. It is difficult to withstand a suspicion that the three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time may be four independent variables of a system that is neither space nor time, but something else wholly unconceived by us. Our present enigma as to how a First Cause could itself have been brought into existence--how the tortoise of the fable, that bears the elephant that bears the world, is itself supported,--may be wholly due to our necessary mistranslation of the four or more variables of the universe, limited by inherent conditions, into the three unlimited variables of Space and the one of Time.

Our ignorance of the goal and purport of human life, and the mistrust we are apt to feel of the guidance of the spiritual sense, on account of its proved readiness to accept illusions as realities, warn us against deductive theories of conduct. Putting these, then, at least for the moment, to one side, we find ourselves face to face with two great and indisputable facts that everywhere force themselves on the attention and compel consideration. The one is that the whole of the living world moves steadily and continuously towards the evolution of races that are progressively more and more adapted to their complicated mutual needs and to their external circumstances. The other is that the process of evolution has been hitherto apparently carried out with, what we should reckon in our ways of carrying out projects, great waste of opportunity and of life, and with little if any consideration for individual mischance. Measured by our criterion of intelligence and mercy, which consists in the achievement of result without waste of time or opportunity, without unnecessary pain, and with equitable allowance for pure mistake, the prtocess of evolution on this earth, so far as we can judge, has been carried out neither with intelligence nor ruth, but entirely through the routine of various sequences, commonly called "laws," established or necessitated we know not how.

An incalculable amount of lower life has been certainly passed through before that human organisation was attained, of which we and our generation are for the time the holders and transmitters. This is no mean heritage, and I think it should be considered as a sacred trust, for, together with man, intelligence of a sufficiently high order to produce great results appears, so far as we can infer from the varied records of the prehistoric past, to have first dawned upon the tenantry of the earth. Man has already shown his large power in the modifications he has made on the surface of the globe, and in the distribution of plants and animals. He has cleared such vast regions of forest that his work that way in North America alone, during the past half century, would be visable to an observer as far off as the moon. He has dug and drained; he has exterminated plants and animals that were mischievous to him; he has domesticated those that serve his purpose, and transplanted them to great distances from their native places. Now that this new animal man, finds himself somehow in existence, endowed with a little power and intelligence, he ought, I submit, to awake to a fuller knowledge of his relatively great position, and begin to assume a deliberate part in furthering the great work of evolution. He may infer the course it is bound to pursue, from his observation of that which it has already followed, and he might devote his modicum of power, intelligence, and kindly feeling to render its future progress less slow and painful. Man has already furthered evolution very considerably, half unconsciously, and for his own personal advantages, but he has not yet risen to the conviction that it is his religious duty to do so deliberately and systematically.
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