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Mutual Aid by P. Kropotkin

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Two aspects of animal life impressed me most during the
journeys which I made in my youth in Eastern Siberia and Northern
Manchuria. One of them was the extreme severity of the struggle
for existence which most species of animals have to carry on
against an inclement Nature; the enormous destruction of life
which periodically results from natural agencies; and the
consequent paucity of life over the vast territory which fell
under my observation. And the other was, that even in those few
spots where animal life teemed in abundance, I failed to find--
although I was eagerly looking for it--that bitter struggle for
the means of existence, among animals belonging to the same
species, which was considered by most Darwinists (though not
always by Darwin himself) as the dominant characteristic of
struggle for life, and the main factor of evolution.

The terrible snow-storms which sweep over the northern
portion of Eurasia in the later part of the winter, and the
glazed frost that often follows them; the frosts and the
snow-storms which return every year in the second half of May,
when the trees are already in full blossom and insect life swarms
everywhere; the early frosts and, occasionally, the heavy
snowfalls in July and August, which suddenly destroy myriads of
insects, as well as the second broods of the birds in the
prairies; the torrential rains, due to the monsoons, which fall
in more temperate regions in August and September--resulting in
inundations on a scale which is only known in America and in
Eastern Asia, and swamping, on the plateaus, areas as wide as
European States; and finally, the heavy snowfalls, early in
October, which eventually render a territory as large as France
and Germany, absolutely impracticable for ruminants, and destroy
them by the thousand--these were the conditions under which I
saw animal life struggling in Northern Asia. They made me realize
at an early date the overwhelming importance in Nature of what
Darwin described as "the natural checks to over-multiplication,"
in comparison to the struggle between individuals of the same
species for the means of subsistence, which may go on here and
there, to some limited extent, but never attains the importance
of the former. Paucity of life, under-population--not
over-population--being the distinctive feature of that immense
part of the globe which we name Northern Asia, I conceived since
then serious doubts--which subsequent study has only confirmed--
as to the reality of that fearful competition for food and
life within each species, which was an article of faith with most
Darwinists, and, consequently, as to the dominant part which this
sort of competition was supposed to play in the evolution of new

On the other hand, wherever I saw animal life in abundance,
as, for instance, on the lakes where scores of species and
millions of individuals came together to rear their progeny; in
the colonies of rodents; in the migrations of birds which took
place at that time on a truly American scale along the Usuri; and
especially in a migration of fallow-deer which I witnessed on the
Amur, and during which scores of thousands of these intelligent
animals came together from an immense territory, flying before
the coming deep snow, in order to cross the Amur where it is
narrowest--in all these scenes of animal life which passed
before my eyes, I saw Mutual Aid and Mutual Support carried on to
an extent which made me suspect in it a feature of the greatest
importance for the maintenance of life, the preservation of each
species, and its further evolution.

And finally, I saw among the semi-wild cattle and horses in
Transbaikalia, among the wild ruminants everywhere, the
squirrels, and so on, that when animals have to struggle against
scarcity of food, in consequence of one of the above-mentioned
causes, the whole of that portion of the species which is
affected by the calamity, comes out of the ordeal so much
impoverished in vigour and health, that no progressive evolution
of the species can be based upon such periods of keen

Consequently, when my attention was drawn, later on, to the
relations between Darwinism and Sociology, I could agree with
none of the works and pamphlets that had been written upon this
important subject. They all endeavoured to prove that Man, owing
to his higher intelligence and knowledge, may mitigate the
harshness of the struggle for life between men; but they all
recognized at the same time that the struggle for the means of
existence, of every animal against all its congeners, and of
every man against all other men, was "a law of Nature." This
view, however, I could not accept, because I was persuaded that
to admit a pitiless inner war for life within each species, and
to see in that war a condition of progress, was to admit
something which not only had not yet been proved, but also lacked
confirmation from direct observation.

On the contrary, a lecture "On the Law of Mutual Aid," which
was delivered at a Russian Congress of Naturalists, in January
1880, by the well-known zoologist, Professor Kessler, the then
Dean of the St. Petersburg University, struck me as throwing a
new light on the whole subject. Kessler's idea was, that besides
the law of Mutual Struggle there is in Nature the law of Mutual
Aid, which, for the success of the struggle for life, and
especially for the progressive evolution of the species, is far
more important than the law of mutual contest. This suggestion--
which was, in reality, nothing but a further development of the
ideas expressed by Darwin himself in The Descent of Man--seemed
to me so correct and of so great an importance, that since I
became acquainted with it (in 1883) I began to collect materials
for further developing the idea, which Kessler had only cursorily
sketched in his lecture, but had not lived to develop. He died in

In one point only I could not entirely endorse Kessler's
views. Kessler alluded to "parental feeling" and care for progeny
(see below, Chapter I) as to the source of mutual inclinations in
animals. However, to determine how far these two feelings have
really been at work in the evolution of sociable instincts, and
how far other instincts have been at work in the same direction,
seems to me a quite distinct and a very wide question, which we
hardly can discuss yet. It will be only after we have well
established the facts of mutual aid in different classes of
animals, and their importance for evolution, that we shall be
able to study what belongs in the evolution of sociable feelings,
to parental feelings, and what to sociability proper--the
latter having evidently its origin at the earliest stages of the
evolution of the animal world, perhaps even at the
"colony-stages." I consequently directed my chief attention to
establishing first of all, the importance of the Mutual Aid
factor of evolution, leaving to ulterior research the task of
discovering the origin of the Mutual Aid instinct in Nature.

The importance of the Mutual Aid factor--"if its generality
could only be demonstrated"--did not escape the naturalist's
genius so manifest in Goethe. When Eckermann told once to Goethe--
it was in 1827--that two little wren-fledglings, which had
run away from him, were found by him next day in the nest of
robin redbreasts (Rothkehlchen), which fed the little ones,
together with their own youngsters, Goethe grew quite excited
about this fact. He saw in it a confirmation of his pantheistic
views, and said:--"If it be true that this feeding of a
stranger goes through all Nature as something having the
character of a general law--then many an enigma would be
solved. "He returned to this matter on the next day, and most
earnestly entreated Eckermann (who was, as is known, a zoologist)
to make a special study of the subject, adding that he would
surely come "to quite invaluable treasuries of results"
(Gesprache, edition of 1848, vol. iii. pp. 219, 221).
Unfortunately, this study was never made, although it is very
possible that Brehm, who has accumulated in his works such rich
materials relative to mutual aid among animals, might have been
inspired by Goethe's remark.

Several works of importance were published in the years
1872-1886, dealing with the intelligence and the mental life of
animals (they are mentioned in a footnote in Chapter I of this
book), and three of them dealt more especially with the subject
under consideration; namely, Les Societes animales, by Espinas
(Paris, 1877); La Lutte pour l'existence et l'association pout la
lutte, a lecture by J.L. Lanessan (April 1881); and Louis
Buchner's book, Liebe und Liebes-Leben in der Thierwelt, of which
the first edition appeared in 1882 or 1883, and a second, much
enlarged, in 1885. But excellent though each of these works is,
they leave ample room for a work in which Mutual Aid would be
considered, not only as an argument in favour of a pre-human
origin of moral instincts, but also as a law of Nature and a
factor of evolution. Espinas devoted his main attention to such
animal societies (ants, bees) as are established upon a
physiological division of labour, and though his work is full of
admirable hints in all possible directions, it was written at a
time when the evolution of human societies could not yet be
treated with the knowledge we now possess. Lanessan's lecture has
more the character of a brilliantly laid-out general plan of a
work, in which mutual support would be dealt with, beginning with
rocks in the sea, and then passing in review the world of plants,
of animals and men. As to Buchner's work, suggestive though it is
and rich in facts, I could not agree with its leading idea. The
book begins with a hymn to Love, and nearly all its illustrations
are intended to prove the existence of love and sympathy among
animals. However, to reduce animal sociability to love and
sympathy means to reduce its generality and its importance, just
as human ethics based upon love and personal sympathy only have
contributed to narrow the comprehension of the moral feeling as a
whole. It is not love to my neighbour--whom I often do not know
at all--which induces me to seize a pail of water and to rush
towards his house when I see it on fire; it is a far wider, even
though more vague feeling or instinct of human solidarity and
sociability which moves me. So it is also with animals. It is not
love, and not even sympathy (understood in its proper sense)
which induces a herd of ruminants or of horses to form a ring in
order to resist an attack of wolves; not love which induces
wolves to form a pack for hunting; not love which induces kittens
or lambs to play, or a dozen of species of young birds to spend
their days together in the autumn; and it is neither love nor
personal sympathy which induces many thousand fallow-deer
scattered over a territory as large as France to form into a
score of separate herds, all marching towards a given spot, in
order to cross there a river. It is a feeling infinitely wider
than love or personal sympathy--an instinct that has been
slowly developed among animals and men in the course of an
extremely long evolution, and which has taught animals and men
alike the force they can borrow from the practice of mutual aid
and support, and the joys they can find in social life.

The importance of this distinction will be easily appreciated
by the student of animal psychology, and the more so by the
student of human ethics. Love, sympathy and self-sacrifice
certainly play an immense part in the progressive development of
our moral feelings. But it is not love and not even sympathy upon
which Society is based in mankind. It is the conscience--be it
only at the stage of an instinct--of human solidarity. It is
the unconscious recognition of the force that is borrowed by each
man from the practice of mutual aid; of the close dependency of
every one's happiness upon the happiness of all; and of the sense
of justice, or equity, which brings the individual to consider
the rights of every other individual as equal to his own. Upon
this broad and necessary foundation the still higher moral
feelings are developed. But this subject lies outside the scope
of the present work, and I shall only indicate here a lecture,
"Justice and Morality" which I delivered in reply to Huxley's
Ethics, and in which the subject has been treated at some length.

Consequently I thought that a book, written on Mutual Aid as
a Law of Nature and a factor of evolution, might fill an
important gap. When Huxley issued, in 1888, his
"Struggle-for-life" manifesto (Struggle for Existence and its
Bearing upon Man), which to my appreciation was a very incorrect
representation of the facts of Nature, as one sees them in the
bush and in the forest, I communicated with the editor of the
Nineteenth Century, asking him whether he would give the
hospitality of his review to an elaborate reply to the views of
one of the most prominent Darwinists; and Mr. James Knowles
received the proposal with fullest sympathy. I also spoke of it
to W. Bates. "Yes, certainly; that is true Darwinism," was his
reply. "It is horrible what 'they' have made of Darwin. Write
these articles, and when they are printed, I will write to you a
letter which you may publish. "Unfortunately, it took me nearly
seven years to write these articles, and when the last was
published, Bates was no longer living.

After having discussed the importance of mutual aid in
various classes of animals, I was evidently bound to discuss the
importance of the same factor in the evolution of Man. This was
the more necessary as there are a number of evolutionists who may
not refuse to admit the importance of mutual aid among animals,
but who, like Herbert Spencer, will refuse to admit it for Man.
For primitive Man--they maintain--war of each against all was
the law of life. In how far this assertion, which has been too
willingly repeated, without sufficient criticism, since the times
of Hobbes, is supported by what we know about the early phases of
human development, is discussed in the chapters given to the
Savages and the Barbarians.

The number and importance of mutual-aid institutions which
were developed by the creative genius of the savage and
half-savage masses, during the earliest clan-period of mankind
and still more during the next village-community period, and the
immense influence which these early institutions have exercised
upon the subsequent development of mankind, down to the present
times, induced me to extend my researches to the later,
historical periods as well; especially, to study that most
interesting period--the free medieval city republics, of which
the universality and influence upon our modern civilization have
not yet been duly appreciated. And finally, I have tried to
indicate in brief the immense importance which the mutual-support
instincts, inherited by mankind from its extremely long
evolution, play even now in our modern society, which is supposed
to rest upon the principle: "every one for himself, and the State
for all," but which it never has succeeded, nor will succeed in

It may be objected to this book that both animals and men are
represented in it under too favourable an aspect; that their
sociable qualities are insisted upon, while their anti-social and
self-asserting instincts are hardly touched upon. This was,
however, unavoidable. We have heard so much lately of the "harsh,
pitiless struggle for life," which was said to be carried on by
every animal against all other animals, every "savage" against
all other "savages," and every civilized man against all his
co-citizens--and these assertions have so much become an
article of faith--that it was necessary, first of all, to
oppose to them a wide series of facts showing animal and human
life under a quite different aspect. It was necessary to indicate
the overwhelming importance which sociable habits play in Nature
and in the progressive evolution of both the animal species and
human beings: to prove that they secure to animals a better
protection from their enemies, very often facilities for getting
food and (winter provisions, migrations, etc.), longevity,
therefore a greater facility for the development of intellectual
faculties; and that they have given to men, in addition to the
same advantages, the possibility of working out those
institutions which have enabled mankind to survive in its hard
struggle against Nature, and to progress, notwithstanding all the
vicissitudes of its history. It is a book on the law of Mutual
Aid, viewed at as one of the chief factors of evolution--not on
all factors of evolution and their respective values; and this
first book had to be written, before the latter could become

I should certainly be the last to underrate the part which
the self-assertion of the individual has played in the evolution
of mankind. However, this subject requires, I believe, a much
deeper treatment than the one it has hitherto received. In the
history of mankind, individual self-assertion has often been, and
continually is, something quite different from, and far larger
and deeper than, the petty, unintelligent narrow-mindedness,
which, with a large class of writers, goes for "individualism"
and "self-assertion." N or have history-making individuals been
limited to those whom historians have represented as heroes. My
intention, consequently, is, if circumstances permit it, to
discuss separately the part taken by the self-assertion of the
individual in the progressive evolution of mankind. I can only
make in this place the following general remark:--When the
Mutual Aid institutions--the tribe, the village community, the
guilds, the medieval city--began, in the course of history, to
lose their primitive character, to be invaded by parasitic
growths, and thus to become hindrances to progress, the revolt of
individuals against these institutions took always two different
aspects. Part of those who rose up strove to purify the old
institutions, or to work out a higher form of commonwealth, based
upon the same Mutual Aid principles; they tried, for instance, to
introduce the principle of "compensation," instead of the lex
talionis, and later on, the pardon of offences, or a still higher
ideal of equality before the human conscience, in lieu of
"compensation," according to class-value. But at the very same
time, another portion of the same individual rebels endeavoured
to break down the protective institutions of mutual support, with
no other intention but to increase their own wealth and their own
powers. In this three-cornered contest, between the two classes
of revolted individuals and the supporters of what existed, lies
the real tragedy of history. But to delineate that contest, and
honestly to study the part played in the evolution of mankind by
each one of these three forces, would require at least as many
years as it took me to write this book.

Of works dealing with nearly the same subject, which have
been published since the publication of my articles on Mutual Aid
among Animals, I must mention The Lowell Lectures on the Ascent
of Man, by Henry Drummond (London, 1894), and The Origin and
Growth of the Moral Instinct, by A. Sutherland (London, 1898).
Both are constructed chiefly on the lines taken in Buchner's
Love, and in the second work the parental and familial feeling as
the sole influence at work in the development of the moral
feelings has been dealt with at some length. A third work dealing
with man and written on similar lines is The Principles of
Sociology, by Prof. F.A. Giddings, the first edition of which was
published in 1896 at New York and London, and the leading ideas
of which were sketched by the author in a pamphlet in 1894. I
must leave, however, to literary critics the task of discussing
the points of contact, resemblance, or divergence between these
works and mine.

The different chapters of this book were published first in
the Nineteenth Century ("Mutual Aid among Animals," in September
and November 1890; "Mutual Aid among Savages," in April 1891;
"Mutual Aid among the Barbarians," in January 1892; "Mutual Aid
in the Medieval City," in August and September 1894; and "Mutual
Aid amongst Modern Men," in January and June 1896). In bringing
them out in a book form my first intention was to embody in an
Appendix the mass of materials, as well as the discussion of
several secondary points, which had to be omitted in the review
articles. It appeared, however, that the Appendix would double
the size of the book, and I was compelled to abandon, or, at
least, to postpone its publication. The present Appendix includes
the discussion of only a few points which have been the matter of
scientific controversy during the last few years; and into the
text I have introduced only such matter as could be introduced
without altering the structure of the work.

I am glad of this opportunity for expressing to the editor of
the Nineteenth Century, Mr. James Knowles, my very best thanks,
both for the kind hospitality which he offered to these papers in
his review, as soon as he knew their general idea, and the
permission he kindly gave me to reprint them.

Bromley, Kent, 1902.



Struggle for existence. Mutual Aid a law of Nature and chief factor
of progressive evolution. Invertebrates. Ants and Bees. Birds,
hunting and fishing associations. Sociability. Mutual protection
among small birds. Cranes, parrots.

The conception of struggle for existence as a factor of
evolution, introduced into science by Darwin and Wallace, has
permitted us to embrace an immensely wide range of phenomena in
one single generalization, which soon became the very basis of
our philosophical, biological, and sociological speculations. An
immense variety of facts:--adaptations of function and
structure of organic beings to their surroundings; physiological
and anatomical evolution; intellectual progress, and moral
development itself, which we formerly used to explain by so many
different causes, were embodied by Darwin in one general
conception. We understood them as continued endeavours--as a
struggle against adverse circumstances--for such a development
of individuals, races, species and societies, as would result in
the greatest possible fulness, variety, and intensity of life. It
may be that at the outset Darwin himself was not fully aware of
the generality of the factor which he first invoked for
explaining one series only of facts relative to the accumulation
of individual variations in incipient species. But he foresaw
that the term which he was introducing into science would lose
its philosophical and its only true meaning if it were to be used
in its narrow sense only--that of a struggle between separate
individuals for the sheer means of existence. And at the very
beginning of his memorable work he insisted upon the term being
taken in its "large and metaphorical sense including dependence
of one being on another, and including (which is more important)
not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving

While he himself was chiefly using the term in its narrow
sense for his own special purpose, he warned his followers
against committing the error (which he seems once to have
committed himself) of overrating its narrow meaning. In The
Descent of Man he gave some powerful pages to illustrate its
proper, wide sense. He pointed out how, in numberless animal
societies, the struggle between separate individuals for the
means of existence disappears, how struggle is replaced by
co-operation, and how that substitution results in the
development of intellectual and moral faculties which secure to
the species the best conditions for survival. He intimated that
in such cases the fittest are not the physically strongest, nor
the cunningest, but those who learn to combine so as mutually to
support each other, strong and weak alike, for the welfare of the
community. "Those communities," he wrote, "which included the
greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish
best, and rear the greatest number of offspring" (2nd edit., p.
163). The term, which originated from the narrow Malthusian
conception of competition between each and all, thus lost its
narrowness in the mind of one who knew Nature.

Unhappily, these remarks, which might have become the basis
of most fruitful researches, were overshadowed by the masses of
facts gathered for the purpose of illustrating the consequences
of a real competition for life. Besides, Darwin never attempted
to submit to a closer investigation the relative importance of
the two aspects under which the struggle for existence appears in
the animal world, and he never wrote the work he proposed to
write upon the natural checks to over-multiplication, although
that work would have been the crucial test for appreciating the
real purport of individual struggle. Nay, on the very pages just
mentioned, amidst data disproving the narrow Malthusian
conception of struggle, the old Malthusian leaven reappeared--
namely, in Darwin's remarks as to the alleged inconveniences of
maintaining the "weak in mind and body" in our civilized
societies (ch. v). As if thousands of weak-bodied and infirm
poets, scientists, inventors, and reformers, together with other
thousands of so-called "fools" and "weak-minded enthusiasts,"
were not the most precious weapons used by humanity in its
struggle for existence by intellectual and moral arms, which
Darwin himself emphasized in those same chapters of Descent of

It happened with Darwin's theory as it always happens with
theories having any bearing upon human relations. Instead of
widening it according to his own hints, his followers narrowed it
still more. And while Herbert Spencer, starting on independent
but closely allied lines, attempted to widen the inquiry into
that great question, "Who are the fittest?" especially in the
appendix to the third edition of the Data of Ethics, the
numberless followers of Darwin reduced the notion of struggle for
existence to its narrowest limits. They came to conceive the
animal world as a world of perpetual struggle among half-starved
individuals, thirsting for one another's blood. They made modern
literature resound with the war-cry of woe to the vanquished, as
if it were the last word of modern biology. They raised the
"pitiless" struggle for personal advantages to the height of a
biological principle which man must submit to as well, under the
menace of otherwise succumbing in a world based upon mutual
extermination. Leaving aside the economists who know of natural
science but a few words borrowed from second-hand vulgarizers, we
must recognize that even the most authorized exponents of
Darwin's views did their best to maintain those false ideas. In
fact, if we take Huxley, who certainly is considered as one of
the ablest exponents of the theory of evolution, were we not
taught by him, in a paper on the 'Struggle for Existence and its
Bearing upon Man,' that,

"from the point of view of the moralist, the animal world is on
about the same level as a gladiators' show. The creatures are
fairly well treated, and set to, fight hereby the strongest, the
swiftest, and the cunningest live to fight another day. The
spectator has no need to turn his thumb down, as no quarter is

Or, further down in the same article, did he not tell us
that, as among animals, so among primitive men,

"the weakest and stupidest went to the wall, while the toughest
and shrewdest, those who were best fitted to cope with their
circumstances, but not the best in another way, survived. Life
was a continuous free fight, and beyond the limited and temporary
relations of the family, the Hobbesian war of each against all
was the normal state of existence."(2)

In how far this view of nature is supported by fact, will be
seen from the evidence which will be here submitted to the reader
as regards the animal world, and as regards primitive man. But it
may be remarked at once that Huxley's view of nature had as
little claim to be taken as a scientific deduction as the
opposite view of Rousseau, who saw in nature but love, peace, and
harmony destroyed by the accession of man. In fact, the first
walk in the forest, the first observation upon any animal
society, or even the perusal of any serious work dealing with
animal life (D'Orbigny's, Audubon's, Le Vaillant's, no matter
which), cannot but set the naturalist thinking about the part
taken by social life in the life of animals, and prevent him from
seeing in Nature nothing but a field of slaughter, just as this
would prevent him from seeing in Nature nothing but harmony and
peace. Rousseau had committed the error of excluding the
beak-and-claw fight from his thoughts; and Huxley committed the
opposite error; but neither Rousseau's optimism nor Huxley's
pessimism can be accepted as an impartial interpretation of

As soon as we study animals--not in laboratories and
museums only, but in the forest and the prairie, in the steppe
and the mountains--we at once perceive that though there is an
immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst
various species, and especially amidst various classes of
animals, there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even
more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defence amidst
animals belonging to the same species or, at least, to the same
society. Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual
struggle. Of course it would be extremely difficult to estimate,
however roughly, the relative numerical importance of both these
series of facts. But if we resort to an indirect test, and ask
Nature: "Who are the fittest: those who are continually at war
with each other, or those who support one another?" we at once
see that those animals which acquire habits of mutual aid are
undoubtedly the fittest. They have more chances to survive, and
they attain, in their respective classes, the highest development
of intelligence and bodily organization. If the numberless facts
which can be brought forward to support this view are taken into
account, we may safely say that mutual aid is as much a law of
animal life as mutual struggle, but that, as a factor of
evolution, it most probably has a far greater importance,
inasmuch as it favours the development of such habits and
characters as insure the maintenance and further development of
the species, together with the greatest amount of welfare and
enjoyment of life for the individual, with the least waste of

Of the scientific followers of Darwin, the first, as far as I
know, who understood the full purport of Mutual Aid as a law of
Nature and the chief factor of evolution, was a well-known
Russian zoologist, the late Dean of the St. Petersburg
University, Professor Kessler. He developed his ideas in an
address which he delivered in January 1880, a few months before
his death, at a Congress of Russian naturalists; but, like so
many good things published in the Russian tongue only, that
remarkable address remains almost entirely unknown.(3)

"As a zoologist of old standing," he felt bound to protest
against the abuse of a term--the struggle for existence--
borrowed from zoology, or, at least, against overrating its
importance. Zoology, he said, and those sciences which deal with
man, continually insist upon what they call the pitiless law of
struggle for existence. But they forget the existence of another
law which may be described as the law of mutual aid, which law,
at least for the animals, is far more essential than the former.
He pointed out how the need of leaving progeny necessarily brings
animals together, and, "the more the individuals keep together,
the more they mutually support each other, and the more are the
chances of the species for surviving, as well as for making
further progress in its intellectual development." "All classes
of animals," he continued, "and especially the higher ones,
practise mutual aid," and he illustrated his idea by examples
borrowed from the life of the burying beetles and the social life
of birds and some mammalia. The examples were few, as might have
been expected in a short opening address, but the chief points
were clearly stated; and, after mentioning that in the evolution
of mankind mutual aid played a still more prominent part,
Professor Kessler concluded as follows:--

"I obviously do not deny the struggle for existence, but I
maintain that the progressive development of the animal kingdom,
and especially of mankind, is favoured much more by mutual
support than by mutual struggle.... All organic beings have two
essential needs: that of nutrition, and that of propagating the
species. The former brings them to a struggle and to mutual
extermination, while the needs of maintaining the species bring
them to approach one another and to support one another. But I am
inclined to think that in the evolution of the organic world--
in the progressive modification of organic beings--mutual
support among individuals plays a much more important part than
their mutual struggle."(4)

The correctness of the above views struck most of the Russian
zoologists present, and Syevertsoff, whose work is well known to
ornithologists and geographers, supported them and illustrated
them by a few more examples. He mentioned sone of the species of
falcons which have "an almost ideal organization for robbery,"
and nevertheless are in decay, while other species of falcons,
which practise mutual help, do thrive. "Take, on the other side,
a sociable bird, the duck," he said; "it is poorly organized on
the whole, but it practises mutual support, and it almost invades
the earth, as may be judged from its numberless varieties and

The readiness of the Russian zoologists to accept Kessler's
views seems quite natural, because nearly all of them have had
opportunities of studying the animal world in the wide
uninhabited regions of Northern Asia and East Russia; and it is
impossible to study like regions without being brought to the
same ideas. I recollect myself the impression produced upon me by
the animal world of Siberia when I explored the Vitim regions in
the company of so accomplished a zoologist as my friend Polyakoff
was. We both were under the fresh impression of the Origin of
Species, but we vainly looked for the keen competition between
animals of the same species which the reading of Darwin's work
had prepared us to expect, even after taking into account the
remarks of the third chapter (p. 54). We saw plenty of
adaptations for struggling, very often in common, against the
adverse circumstances of climate, or against various enemies, and
Polyakoff wrote many a good page upon the mutual dependency of
carnivores, ruminants, and rodents in their geographical
distribution; we witnessed numbers of facts of mutual support,
especially during the migrations of birds and ruminants; but even
in the Amur and Usuri regions, where animal life swarms in
abundance, facts of real competition and struggle between higher
animals of the same species came very seldom under my notice,
though I eagerly searched for them. The same impression appears
in the works of most Russian zoologists, and it probably explains
why Kessler's ideas were so welcomed by the Russian Darwinists,
whilst like ideas are not in vogue amidst the followers of Darwin
in Western Europe.

The first thing which strikes us as soon as we begin studying
the struggle for existence under both its aspects--direct and
metaphorical--is the abundance of facts of mutual aid, not only
for rearing progeny, as recognized by most evolutionists, but
also for the safety of the individual, and for providing it with
the necessary food. With many large divisions of the animal
kingdom mutual aid is the rule. Mutual aid is met with even
amidst the lowest animals, and we must be prepared to learn some
day, from the students of microscopical pond-life, facts of
unconscious mutual support, even from the life of
micro-organisms. Of course, our knowledge of the life of the
invertebrates, save the termites, the ants, and the bees, is
extremely limited; and yet, even as regards the lower animals, we
may glean a few facts of well-ascertained cooperation. The
numberless associations of locusts, vanessae, cicindelae,
cicadae, and so on, are practically quite unexplored; but the
very fact of their existence indicates that they must be composed
on about the same principles as the temporary associations of
ants or bees for purposes of migration. As to the beetles, we
have quite well-observed facts of mutual help amidst the burying
beetles (Necrophorus). They must have some decaying organic
matter to lay their eggs in, and thus to provide their larvae
with food; but that matter must not decay very rapidly. So they
are wont to bury in the ground the corpses of all kinds of small
animals which they occasionally find in their rambles. As a rule,
they live an isolated life, but when one of them has discovered
the corpse of a mouse or of a bird, which it hardly could manage
to bury itself, it calls four, six, or ten other beetles to
perform the operation with united efforts; if necessary, they
transport the corpse to a suitable soft ground; and they bury it
in a very considerate way, without quarrelling as to which of
them will enjoy the privilege of laying its eggs in the buried
corpse. And when Gleditsch attached a dead bird to a cross made
out of two sticks, or suspended a toad to a stick planted in the
soil, the little beetles would in the same friendly way combine
their intelligences to overcome the artifice of Man. The same
combination of efforts has been noticed among the dung-beetles.

Even among animals standing at a somewhat lower stage of
organization we may find like examples. Some land-crabs of the
West Indies and North America combine in large swarms in order to
travel to the sea and to deposit therein their spawn; and each
such migration implies concert, co-operation, and mutual support.
As to the big Molucca crab (Limulus), I was struck (in 1882, at
the Brighton Aquarium) with the extent of mutual assistance which
these clumsy animals are capable of bestowing upon a comrade in
case of need. One of them had fallen upon its back in a corner of
the tank, and its heavy saucepan-like carapace prevented it from
returning to its natural position, the more so as there was in
the corner an iron bar which rendered the task still more
difficult. Its comrades came to the rescue, and for one hour's
time I watched how they endeavoured to help their
fellow-prisoner. They came two at once, pushed their friend from
beneath, and after strenuous efforts succeeded in lifting it
upright; but then the iron bar would prevent them from achieving
the work of rescue, and the crab would again heavily fall upon
its back. After many attempts, one of the helpers would go in the
depth of the tank and bring two other crabs, which would begin
with fresh forces the same pushing and lifting of their helpless
comrade. We stayed in the Aquarium for more than two hours, and,
when leaving, we again came to cast a glance upon the tank: the
work of rescue still continued! Since I saw that, I cannot refuse
credit to the observation quoted by Dr. Erasmus Darwin--namely,
that "the common crab during the moulting season stations as
sentinel an unmoulted or hard-shelled individual to prevent
marine enemies from injuring moulted individuals in their
unprotected state."(5)

Facts illustrating mutual aid amidst the termites, the ants,
and the bees are so well known to the general reader, especially
through the works of Romanes, L. Buchner, and Sir John Lubbock,
that I may limit my remarks to a very few hints.(6) If we take
an ants' nest, we not only see that every description of
work-rearing of progeny, foraging, building, rearing of aphides,
and so on--is performed according to the principles of
voluntary mutual aid; we must also recognize, with Forel, that
the chief, the fundamental feature of the life of many species of
ants is the fact and the obligation for every ant of sharing its
food, already swallowed and partly digested, with every member of
the community which may apply for it. Two ants belonging to two
different species or to two hostile nests, when they occasionally
meet together, will avoid each other. But two ants belonging to
the same nest or to the same colony of nests will approach each
other, exchange a few movements with the antennae, and "if one of
them is hungry or thirsty, and especially if the other has its
crop full... it immediately asks for food." The individual thus
requested never refuses; it sets apart its mandibles, takes a
proper position, and regurgitates a drop of transparent fluid
which is licked up by the hungry ant. Regurgitating food for
other ants is so prominent a feature in the life of ants (at
liberty), and it so constantly recurs both for feeding hungry
comrades and for feeding larvae, that Forel considers the
digestive tube of the ants as consisting of two different parts,
one of which, the posterior, is for the special use of the
individual, and the other, the anterior part, is chiefly for the
use of the community. If an ant which has its crop full has been
selfish enough to refuse feeding a comrade, it will be treated as
an enemy, or even worse. If the refusal has been made while its
kinsfolk were fighting with some other species, they will fall
back upon the greedy individual with greater vehemence than even
upon the enemies themselves. And if an ant has not refused to
feed another ant belonging to an enemy species, it will be
treated by the kinsfolk of the latter as a friend. All this is
confirmed by most accurate observation and decisive

In that immense division of the animal kingdom which embodies
more than one thousand species, and is so numerous that the
Brazilians pretend that Brazil belongs to the ants, not to men,
competition amidst the members of the same nest, or the colony of
nests, does not exist. However terrible the wars between different
species, and whatever the atrocities committed at war-time,
mutual aid within the community, self-devotion grown into a
habit, and very often self-sacrifice for the common welfare, are
the rule. The ants and termites have renounced the "Hobbesian
war," and they are the better for it. Their wonderful nests,
their buildings, superior in relative size to those of man; their
paved roads and overground vaulted galleries; their spacious
halls and granaries; their corn-fields, harvesting and "malting"
of grain;(8) their, rational methods of nursing their eggs and
larvae, and of building special nests for rearing the aphides
whom Linnaeus so picturesquely described as "the cows of the
ants"; and, finally, their courage, pluck, and, superior
intelligence--all these are the natural outcome of the mutual
aid which they practise at every stage of their busy and
laborious lives. That mode of life also necessarily resulted in
the development of another essential feature of the life of ants:
the immense development of individual initiative which, in its
turn, evidently led to the development of that high and varied
intelligence which cannot but strike the human observer.(9)

If we knew no other facts from animal life than what we know
about the ants and the termites, we already might safely conclude
that mutual aid (which leads to mutual confidence, the first
condition for courage) and individual initiative (the first
condition for intellectual progress) are two factors infinitely
more important than mutual struggle in the evolution of the
animal kingdom. In fact, the ant thrives without having any of
the "protective" features which cannot be dispensed with by
animals living an isolated life. Its colour renders it
conspicuous to its enemies, and the lofty nests of many species
are conspicuous in the meadows and forests. It is not protected
by a hard carapace, and its stinging apparatus, however dangerous
when hundreds of stings are plunged into the flesh of an animal,
is not of a great value for individual defence; while the eggs
and larvae of the ants are a dainty for a great number of the
inhabitants of the forests. And yet the ants, in their thousands,
are not much destroyed by the birds, not even by the ant-eaters,
and they are dreaded by most stronger insects. When Forel emptied
a bagful of ants in a meadow, he saw that "the crickets ran away,
abandoning their holes to be sacked by the ants; the grasshoppers
and the crickets fled in all directions; the spiders and the
beetles abandoned their prey in order not to become prey
themselves; "even the nests of the wasps were taken by the ants,
after a battle during which many ants perished for the safety of
the commonwealth. Even the swiftest insects cannot escape, and
Forel often saw butterflies, gnats, flies, and so on, surprised
and killed by the ants. Their force is in mutual support and
mutual confidence. And if the ant--apart from the still higher
developed termites--stands at the very top of the whole class
of insects for its intellectual capacities; if its courage is
only equalled by the most courageous vertebrates; and if its
brain--to use Darwin's words--"is one of the most marvellous
atoms of matter in the world, perhaps more so than the brain of
man," is it not due to the fact that mutual aid has entirely
taken the place of mutual struggle in the communities of ants?

The same is true as regards the bees. These small insects,
which so easily might become the prey of so many birds, and whose
honey has so many admirers in all classes of animals from the
beetle to the bear, also have none of the protective features
derived from mimicry or otherwise, without which an isolatedly
living insect hardly could escape wholesale destruction; and yet,
owing to the mutual aid they practise, they obtain the wide
extension which we know and the intelligence we admire, By
working in common they multiply their individual forces; by
resorting to a temporary division of labour combined with the
capacity of each bee to perform every kind of work when required,
they attain such a degree of well-being and safety as no isolated
animal can ever expect to achieve however strong or well armed it
may be. In their combinations they are often more successful than
man, when he neglects to take advantage of a well-planned mutual
assistance. Thus, when a new swarm of bees is going to leave the
hive in search of a new abode, a number of bees will make a
preliminary exploration of the neighbourhood, and if they
discover a convenient dwelling-place--say, an old basket, or
anything of the kind--they will take possession of it, clean
it, and guard it, sometimes for a whole week, till the swarm
comes to settle therein. But how many human settlers will perish
in new countries simply for not having understood the necessity
of combining their efforts! By combining their individual
intelligences they succeed in coping with adverse circumstances,
even quite unforeseen and unusual, like those bees of the Paris
Exhibition which fastened with their resinous propolis the
shutter to a glass-plate fitted in the wall of their hive.
Besides, they display none of the sanguinary proclivities and
love of useless fighting with which many writers so readily endow
animals. The sentries which guard the entrance to the hive
pitilessly put to death the robbing bees which attempt entering
the hive; but those stranger bees which come to the hive by
mistake are left unmolested, especially if they come laden with
pollen, or are young individuals which can easily go astray.
There is no more warfare than is strictly required.

The sociability of the bees is the more instructive as
predatory instincts and laziness continue to exist among the bees
as well, and reappear each. time that their growth is favoured by
some circumstances. It is well known that there always are a
number of bees which prefer a life of robbery to the laborious
life of a worker; and that both periods of scarcity and periods
of an unusually rich supply of food lead to an increase of the
robbing class. When our crops are in and there remains but little
to gather in our meadows and fields, robbing bees become of more
frequent occurrence; while, on the other side, about the sugar
plantations of the West Indies and the sugar refineries of
Europe, robbery, laziness, and very often drunkenness become
quite usual with the bees. We thus see that anti-social instincts
continue to exist amidst the bees as well; but natural selection
continually must eliminate them, because in the long run the
practice of solidarity proves much more advantageous to the
species than the development of individuals endowed with
predatory inclinations. The cunningest and the shrewdest are
eliminated in favour of those who understand the advantages of
sociable life and mutual support.

Certainly, neither the ants, nor the bees, nor even the
termites, have risen to the conception of a higher solidarity
embodying the whole of the species. In that respect they
evidently have not attained a degree of development which we do
not find even among our political, scientific, and religious
leaders. Their social instincts hardly extend beyond the limits
of the hive or the nest. However, colonies of no less than two
hundred nests, belonging to two different species (Formica
exsecta and F. pressilabris) have been described by Forel on
Mount Tendre and Mount Saleve; and Forel maintains that each
member of these colonies recognizes every other member of the
colony, and that they all take part in common defence; while in
Pennsylvania Mr. MacCook saw a whole nation of from 1,600 to
1,700 nests of the mound-making ant, all living in perfect
intelligence; and Mr. Bates has described the hillocks of the
termites covering large surfaces in the "campos"--some of the
nests being the refuge of two or three different species, and
most of them being connected by vaulted galleries or
arcades.(10) Some steps towards the amalgamation of larger
divisions of the species for purposes of mutual protection are
thus met with even among the invertebrate animals.

Going now over to higher animals, we find far more instances
of undoubtedly conscious mutual help for all possible purposes,
though we must recognize at once that our knowledge even of the
life of higher animals still remains very imperfect. A large
number of facts have been accumulated by first-rate observers,
but there are whole divisions of the animal kingdom of which we
know almost nothing. Trustworthy information as regards fishes is
extremely scarce, partly owing to the difficulties of
observation, and partly because no proper attention has yet been
paid to the subject. As to the mammalia, Kessler already remarked
how little we know about their manners of life. Many of them are
nocturnal in their habits; others conceal themselves underground;
and those ruminants whose social life and migrations offer the
greatest interest do not let man approach their herds. It is
chiefly upon birds that we have the widest range of information,
and yet the social life of very many species remains but
imperfectly known. Still, we need not complain about the lack of
well-ascertained facts, as will be seen from the following.

I need not dwell upon the associations of male and female for
rearing their offspring, for providing it with food during their
first steps in life, or for hunting in common; though it may be
mentioned by the way that such associations are the rule even
with the least sociable carnivores and rapacious birds; and that
they derive a special interest from being the field upon which
tenderer feelings develop even amidst otherwise most cruel
animals. It may also be added that the rarity of associations
larger than that of the family among the carnivores and the birds
of prey, though mostly being the result of their very modes of
feeding, can also be explained to some extent as a consequence of
the change produced in the animal world by the rapid increase of
mankind. At any rate it is worthy of note that there are species
living a quite isolated life in densely-inhabited regions, while
the same species, or their nearest congeners, are gregarious in
uninhabited countries. Wolves, foxes, and several birds of prey
may be quoted as instances in point.

However, associations which do not extend beyond the family
bonds are of relatively small importance in our case, the more so
as we know numbers of associations for more general purposes,
such as hunting, mutual protection, and even simple enjoyment of
life. Audubon already mentioned that eagles occasionally
associate for hunting, and his description of the two bald
eagles, male and female, hunting on the Mississippi, is well
known for its graphic powers. But one of the most conclusive
observations of the kind belongs to Syevertsoff. Whilst studying
the fauna of the Russian Steppes, he once saw an eagle belonging
to an altogether gregarious species (the white-tailed eagle,
Haliactos albicilla) rising high in the air for half an hour it
was describing its wide circles in silence when at once its
piercing voice was heard. Its cry was soon answered by another
eagle which approached it, and was followed by a third, a fourth,
and so on, till nine or ten eagles came together and soon
disappeared. In the afternoon, Syevertsoff went to the place
whereto he saw the eagles flying; concealed by one of the
undulations of the Steppe, he approached them, and discovered
that they had gathered around the corpse of a horse. The old
ones, which, as a rule, begin the meal first--such are their
rules of propriety-already were sitting upon the haystacks of the
neighbourhood and kept watch, while the younger ones were
continuing the meal, surrounded by bands of crows. From this and
like observations, Syevertsoff concluded that the white-tailed
eagles combine for hunting; when they all have risen to a great
height they are enabled, if they are ten, to survey an area of at
least twenty-five miles square; and as soon as any one has
discovered something, he warns the others.(11) Of course, it
might be argued that a simple instinctive cry of the first eagle,
or even its movements, would have had the same effect of bringing
several eagles to the prey. but in this case there is strong
evidence in favour of mutual warning, because the ten eagles came
together before descending towards the prey, and Syevertsoff had
later on several opportunities of ascertaining that the
whitetailed eagles always assemble for devouring a corpse, and
that some of them (the younger ones first) always keep watch
while the others are eating. In fact, the white-tailed eagle--
one of the bravest and best hunters--is a gregarious bird
altogether, and Brehm says that when kept in captivity it very
soon contracts an attachment to its keepers.

Sociability is a common feature with very many other birds of
prey. The Brazilian kite, one of the most "impudent" robbers, is
nevertheless a most sociable bird. Its hunting associations have
been described by Darwin and other naturalists, and it is a fact
that when it has seized upon a prey which is too big, it calls
together five or six friends to carry it away. After a busy day,
when these kites retire for their night-rest to a tree or to the
bushes, they always gather in bands, sometimes coming together
from distances of ten or more miles, and they often are joined by
several other vultures, especially the percnopters, "their true
friends," D'Orbigny says. In another continent, in the
Transcaspian deserts, they have, according to Zarudnyi, the same
habit of nesting together. The sociable vulture, one of the
strongest vultures, has received its very name from its love of
society. They live in numerous bands, and decidedly enjoy
society; numbers of them join in their high flights for sport.
"They live in very good friendship," Le Vaillant says, "and in
the same cave I sometimes found as many as three nests close
together."(12) The Urubu vultures of Brazil are as, or perhaps
even more, sociable than rooks.(13) The little Egyptian vultures
live in close friendship. They play in bands in the air, they
come together to spend the night, and in the morning they all go
together to search for their food, and never does the slightest
quarrel arise among them; such is the testimony of Brehm, who had
plenty of opportunities of observing their life. The red-throated
falcon is also met with in numerous bands in the forests of
Brazil, and the kestrel (Tinnunculus cenchris), when it has left
Europe, and has reached in the winter the prairies and forests of
Asia, gathers in numerous societies. In the Steppes of South
Russia it is (or rather was) so sociable that Nordmann saw them
in numerous bands, with other falcons (Falco tinnunculus, F.
oesulon, and F. subbuteo), coming together every fine afternoon
about four o'clock, and enjoying their sports till late in the
night. They set off flying, all at once, in a quite straight
line, towards some determined point, and. having reached it,
immediately returned over the same line, to repeat the same

To take flights in flocks for the mere pleasure of the
flight, is quite common among all sorts of birds. "In the Humber
district especially," Ch. Dixon writes, "vast flights of dunlins
often appear upon the mud-flats towards the end of August, and
remain for the winter.... The movements of these birds are most
interesting, as a vast flock wheels and spreads out or closes up
with as much precision as drilled troops. Scattered among them
are many odd stints and sanderlings and ringed-plovers."(15)

It would be quite impossible to enumerate here the various
hunting associations of birds; but the fishing associations of
the pelicans are certainly worthy of notice for the remarkable
order and intelligence displayed by these clumsy birds. They
always go fishing in numerous bands, and after having chosen an
appropriate bay, they form a wide half-circle in face of the
shore, and narrow it by paddling towards the shore, catching all
fish that happen to be enclosed in the circle. On narrow rivers
and canals they even divide into two parties, each of which draws
up on a half-circle, and both paddle to meet each other, just as
if two parties of men dragging two long nets should advance to
capture all fish taken between the nets when both parties come to
meet. As the night comes they fly to their resting-places--
always the same for each flock--and no one has ever seen them
fighting for the possession of either the bay or the resting
place. In South America they gather in flocks of from forty to
fifty thousand individuals, part of which enjoy sleep while the
others keep watch, and others again go fishing.(16) And finally,
I should be doing an injustice to the much-calumniated
house-sparrows if I did not mention how faithfully each of them
shares any food it discovers with all members of the society to
which it belongs. The fact was known to the Greeks, and it has
been transmitted to posterity how a Greek orator once exclaimed
(I quote from memory):--"While I am speaking to you a sparrow
has come to tell to other sparrows that a slave has dropped on
the floor a sack of corn, and they all go there to feed upon the
grain." The more, one is pleased to find this observation of old
confirmed in a recent little book by Mr. Gurney, who does not
doubt that the house sparrows always inform each other as to
where there is some food to steal; he says, "When a stack has
been thrashed ever so far from the yard, the sparrows in the yard
have always had their crops full of the grain."(17) True, the
sparrows are extremely particular in keeping their domains free
from the invasions of strangers; thus the sparrows of the Jardin
du Luxembourg bitterly fight all other sparrows which may attempt
to enjoy their turn of the garden and its visitors; but within
their own communities they fully practise mutual support, though
occasionally there will be of course some quarrelling even
amongst the best friends.

Hunting and feeding in common is so much the habit in the
feathered world that more quotations hardly would be needful: it
must be considered as an established fact. As to the force
derived from such associations, it is self-evident. The strongest
birds of prey are powerless in face of the associations of our
smallest bird pets. Even eagles--even the powerful and terrible
booted eagle, and the martial eagle, which is strong enough to
carry away a hare or a young antelope in its claws--are
compelled to abandon their prey to bands of those beggars the
kites, which give the eagle a regular chase as soon as they see
it in possession of a good prey. The kites will also give chase
to the swift fishing-hawk, and rob it of the fish it has
captured; but no one ever saw the kites fighting together for the
possession of the prey so stolen. On the Kerguelen Island, Dr.
Coues saw the gulls to Buphogus--the sea-hen of the sealers--
pursue make them disgorge their food, while, on the other side,
the gulls and the terns combined to drive away the sea-hen as
soon as it came near to their abodes, especially at
nesting-time.(18) The little, but extremely swift lapwings
(Vanellus cristatus) boldly attack the birds of prey. "To see
them attacking a buzzard, a kite, a crow, or an eagle, is one of
the most amusing spectacles. One feels that they are sure of
victory, and one sees the anger of the bird of prey. In such
circumstances they perfectly support one another, and their
courage grows with their numbers."(19) The lapwing has well
merited the name of a "good mother" which the Greeks gave to it,
for it never fails to protect other aquatic birds from the
attacks of their enemies. But even the little white wagtails
(Motacilla alba), whom we well know in our gardens and whose
whole length hardly attains eight inches, compel the sparrow-hawk
to abandon its hunt. "I often admired their courage and agility,"
the old Brehm wrote, "and I am persuaded that the falcon alone is
capable of capturing any of them.... When a band of wagtails has
compelled a bird of prey to retreat, they make the air resound
with their triumphant cries, and after that they separate." They
thus come together for the special purpose of giving chase to
their enemy, just as we see it when the whole bird-population of
a forest has been raised by the news that a nocturnal bird has
made its appearance during the day, and all together--birds of
prey and small inoffensive singers--set to chase the stranger
and make it return to its concealment.

What an immense difference between the force of a kite, a
buzzard or a hawk, and such small birds as the meadow-wagtail;
and yet these little birds, by their common action and courage,
prove superior to the powerfully-winged and armed robbers! In
Europe, the wagtails not only chase the birds of prey which might
be dangerous to them, but they chase also the fishing-hawk
"rather for fun than for doing it any harm;" while in India,
according to Dr. Jerdon's testimony, the jackdaws chase the
gowinda-kite "for simple matter of amusement." Prince Wied saw
the Brazilian eagle urubitinga surrounded by numberless flocks of
toucans and cassiques (a bird nearly akin to our rook), which
mocked it. "The eagle," he adds, "usually supports these insults
very quietly, but from time to time it will catch one of these
mockers." In all such cases the little birds, though very much
inferior in force to the bird of prey, prove superior to it by
their common action.(20)

However, the most striking effects of common life for the
security of the individual, for its enjoyment of life, and for
the development of its intellectual capacities, are seen in two
great families of birds, the cranes and the parrots. The cranes
are extremely sociable and live in most excellent relations, not
only with their congeners, but also with most aquatic birds.
Their prudence is really astonishing, so also their intelligence;
they grasp the new conditions in a moment, and act accordingly.
Their sentries always keep watch around a flock which is feeding
or resting, and the hunters know well how difficult it is to
approach them. If man has succeeded in surprising them, they will
never return to the same place without having sent out one single
scout first, and a party of scouts afterwards; and when the
reconnoitring party returns and reports that there is no danger,
a second group of scouts is sent out to verify the first report,
before the whole band moves. With kindred species the cranes
contract real friendship; and in captivity there is no bird, save
the also sociable and highly intelligent parrot, which enters
into such real friendship with man. "It sees in man, not a
master, but a friend, and endeavours to manifest it," Brehm
concludes from a wide personal experience. The crane is in
continual activity from early in the morning till late in the
night; but it gives a few hours only in the morning to the task
of searching its food, chiefly vegetable. All the remainder of
the day is given to society life. "It picks up small pieces of
wood or small stones, throws them in the air and tries to catch
them; it bends its neck, opens its wings, dances, jumps, runs
about, and tries to manifest by all means its good disposition of
mind, and always it remains graceful and beautiful."(21) As it
lives in society it has almost no enemies, and though Brehm
occasionally saw one of them captured by a crocodile, he wrote
that except the crocodile he knew no enemies of the crane. It
eschews all of them by its proverbial prudence; and it attains,
as a rule, a very old age. No wonder that for the maintenance of
the species the crane need not rear a numerous offspring; it
usually hatches but two eggs. As to its superior intelligence, it
is sufficient to say that all observers are unanimous in
recognizing that its intellectual capacities remind one very much
of those of man.

The other extremely sociable bird, the parrot, stands, as
known, at the very top of the whole feathered world for the
development of its intelligence. Brehm has so admirably summed up
the manners of life of the parrot, that I cannot do better than
translate the following sentence:--

"Except in the pairing season, they live in very numerous
societies or bands. They choose a place in the forest to stay
there, and thence they start every morning for their hunting
expeditions. The members of each band remain faithfully attached
to each other, and they share in common good or bad luck. All
together they repair in the morning to a field, or to a garden,
or to a tree, to feed upon fruits. They post sentries to keep
watch over the safety of the whole band, and are attentive to
their warnings. In case of danger, all take to flight, mutually
supporting each other, and all simultaneously return to their
resting-place. In a word, they always live closely united."

They enjoy society of other birds as well. In India, the jays and
crows come together from many miles round, to spend the night in
company with the parrots in the bamboo thickets. When the parrots
start hunting, they display the most wonderful intelligence,
prudence, and capacity of coping with circumstances. Take, for
instance, a band of white cacadoos in Australia. Before starting to
plunder a corn-field, they first send out a reconnoitring party
which occupies the highest trees in the vicinity of the field, while
other scouts perch upon the intermediate trees between the field and
the forest and transmit the signals. If the report runs "All right,"
a score of cacadoos will separate from the bulk of the band, take a
flight in the air, and then fly towards the trees nearest to the
field. They also will scrutinize the neighbourhood for a long while,
and only then will they give the signal for general advance, after
which the whole band starts at once and plunders the field in no
time. The Australian settlers have the greatest difficulties in
beguiling the prudence of the parrots; but if man, with all his art
and weapons, has succeeded in killing some of them, the cacadoos
become so prudent and watchful that they henceforward baffle all

There can be no doubt that it is the practice of life in
society which enables the parrots to attain that very high level
of almost human intelligence and almost human feelings which we
know in them. Their high intelligence has induced the best
naturalists to describe some species, namely the grey parrot, as
the "birdman." As to their mutual attachment it is known that
when a parrot has been killed by a hunter, the others fly over
the corpse of their comrade with shrieks of complaints and
"themselves fall the victims of their friendship," as Audubon
said; and when two captive parrots, though belonging to two
different species, have contracted mutual friendship, the
accidental death of one of the two friends has sometimes been
followed by the death from grief and sorrow of the other friend.
It is no less evident that in their societies they find
infinitely more protection than they possibly might find in any
ideal development of beak and claw. Very few birds of prey or
mammals dare attack any but the smaller species of parrots, and
Brehm is absolutely right in saying of the parrots, as he also
says of the cranes and the sociable monkeys, that they hardly
have any enemies besides men; and he adds: "It is most probable
that the larger parrots succumb chiefly to old age rather than
die from the claws of any enemies." Only man, owing to his still
more superior intelligence and weapons, also derived from
association, succeeds in partially destroying them. Their very
longevity would thus appear as a result of their social life.
Could we not say the same as regards their wonderful memory,
which also must be favoured in its development by society--life
and by longevity accompanied by a full enjoyment of bodily and
mental faculties till a very old age?

As seen from the above, the war of each against all is not
the law of nature. Mutual aid is as much a law of nature as
mutual struggle, and that law will become still more apparent
when we have analyzed some other associations of birds and those
of the mammalia. A few hints as to the importance of the law of
mutual aid for the evolution of the animal kingdom have already
been given in the preceding pages; but their purport will still
better appear when, after having given a few more illustrations,
we shall be enabled presently to draw therefrom our conclusions.


1. Origin of Species, chap. iii, p. 62 of first edition.

2. Nineteenth Century, Feb. 1888, p. 165.

3. Leaving aside the pre-Darwinian writers, like Toussenel, Fee,
and many others, several works containing many striking instances
of mutual aid--chiefly, however, illustrating animal
intelligence were issued previously to that date. I may mention
those of Houzeau, Les facultes etales des animaux, 2 vols.,
Brussels, 1872; L. Buchner's Aus dem Geistesleben der Thiere, 2nd
ed. in 1877; and Maximilian Perty's Ueber das Seelenleben der
Thiere, Leipzig, 1876. Espinas published his most remarkable
work, Les Societes animales, in 1877, and in that work he pointed
out the importance of animal societies, and their bearing upon
the preservation of species, and entered upon a most valuable
discussion of the origin of societies. In fact, Espinas's book
contains all that has been written since upon mutual aid, and
many good things besides. If I nevertheless make a special
mention of Kessler's address, it is because he raised mutual aid
to the height of a law much more important in evolution than the
law of mutual struggle. The same ideas were developed next year
(in April 1881) by J. Lanessan in a lecture published in 1882
under this title: La lutte pour l'existence et l'association pour
la lutte. G. Romanes's capital work, Animal Intelligence, was
issued in 1882, and followed next year by the Mental Evolution in
Animals. About the same time (1883), Buchner published another
work, Liebe und Liebes-Leben in der Thierwelt, a second edition
of which was issued in 1885. The idea, as seen, was in the air.

4. Memoirs (Trudy) of the St. Petersburg Society of Naturalists,
vol. xi. 1880.

5. George J. Romanes's Animal Intelligence, 1st ed. p. 233.

6. Pierre Huber's Les fourmis indigees, Geneve, 1861; Forel's
Recherches sur les fourmis de la Suisse, Zurich, 1874, and J.T.
Moggridge's Harvesting Ants and Trapdoor Spiders, London, 1873
and 1874, ought to be in the hands of every boy and girl. See
also: Blanchard's Metamorphoses des Insectes, Paris, 1868; J.H.
Fabre's Souvenirs entomologiques, Paris, 1886; Ebrard's Etudes
des moeurs des fourmis, Geneve, 1864; Sir John Lubbock's Ants,
Bees, and Wasps, and so on.

7. Forel's Recherches, pp. 244, 275, 278. Huber's description of
the process is admirable. It also contains a hint as to the
possible origin of the instinct (popular edition, pp. 158, 160).
See Appendix II.

8. The agriculture of the ants is so wonderful that for a long
time it has been doubted. The fact is now so well proved by Mr.
Moggridge, Dr. Lincecum, Mr. MacCook, Col. Sykes, and Dr. Jerdon,
that no doubt is possible. See an excellent summary of evidence
in Mr. Romanes's work. See also Die Pilzgaerten einiger
Sud-Amerikanischen Ameisen, by Alf. Moeller, in Schimper's Botan.
Mitth. aus den Tropen, vi. 1893.

9. This second principle was not recognized at once. Former
observers often spoke of kings, queens, managers, and so on; but
since Huber and Forel have published their minute observations,
no doubt is possible as to the free scope left for every
individual's initiative in whatever the ants do, including their

10. H.W. Bates, The Naturalist on the River Amazons, ii. 59 seq.

11. N. Syevertsoff, Periodical Phenomena in the Life of Mammalia,
Birds, and Reptiles of Voroneje, Moscow, 1855 (in Russian).

12. A. Brehm, Life of Animals, iii. 477; all quotations after the
French edition.

13. Bates, p. 151.

14. Catalogue raisonne des oiseaux de la faune pontique, in
Demidoff's Voyage; abstracts in Brehm, iii. 360. During their
migrations birds of prey often associate. One flock, which H.
Seebohm saw crossing the Pyrenees, represented a curious
assemblage of "eight kites, one crane, and a peregrine falcon"
(The Birds of Siberia, 1901, p. 417).

15. Birds in the Northern Shires, p. 207.

16. Max. Perty, Ueber das Seelenleben der Thiere (Leipzig, 1876),
pp. 87, 103.

17. G. H. Gurney, The House-Sparrow (London, 1885), p. 5.

18. Dr. Elliot Coues, Birds of the Kerguelen Island, in
Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. xiii. No. 2, p. 11.

19. Brehm, iv. 567.

20. As to the house-sparrows, a New Zealand observer, Mr. T.W.
Kirk, described as follows the attack of these "impudent" birds
upon an "unfortunate" hawk.--"He heard one day a most unusual
noise, as though all the small birds of the country had joined in
one grand quarrel. Looking up, he saw a large hawk (C. gouldi--
a carrion feeder) being buffeted by a flock of sparrows. They
kept dashing at him in scores, and from all points at once. The
unfortunate hawk was quite powerless. At last, approaching some
scrub, the hawk dashed into it and remained there, while the
sparrows congregated in groups round the bush, keeping up a
constant chattering and noise" (Paper read before the New Zealand
Institute; Nature, Oct. 10, 1891).

21. Brehm, iv. 671 seq.

22. R. Lendenfeld, in Der zoologische Garten, 1889.



Migrations of birds. Breeding associations. Autumn
societies. Mammals: small number of unsociable species.
Hunting associations of wolves, lions, etc. Societies of
rodents; of ruminants; of monkeys. Mutual Aid in the struggle
for life. Darwin's arguments to prove the struggle for life
within the species. Natural checks to over-multiplication.
Supposed extermination of intermediate links. Elimination of
competition in Nature.

As soon as spring comes back to the temperate zone, myriads
and myriads of birds which are scattered over the warmer regions
of the South come together in numberless bands, and, full of
vigour and joy, hasten northwards to rear their offspring. Each
of our hedges, each grove, each ocean cliff, and each of the
lakes and ponds with which Northern America, Northern Europe, and
Northern Asia are dotted tell us at that time of the year the
tale of what mutual aid means for the birds; what force, energy,
and protection it confers to every living being, however feeble
and defenceless it otherwise might be. Take, for instance, one of
the numberless lakes of the Russian and Siberian Steppes. Its
shores are peopled with myriads of aquatic birds, belonging to at
least a score of different species, all living in perfect
peace--all protecting one another.

"For several hundred yards from the shore the air is filled with
gulls and terns, as with snow-flakes on a winter day. Thousands
of plovers and sand-coursers run over the beach, searching their.
food, whistling, and simply enjoying life. Further on, on almost
each wave, a duck is rocking, while higher up you notice the
flocks of the Casarki ducks. Exuberant life swarms

And here are the robbers--the strongest, the most cunning
ones, those "ideally organized for robbery." And you hear their
hungry, angry, dismal cries as for hours in succession they watch
the opportunity of snatching from this mass of living beings one
single unprotected individual. But as soon as they approach,
their presence is signalled by dozens of voluntary sentries, and
hundreds of gulls and terns set to chase the robber. Maddened by
hunger, the robber soon abandons his usual precautions: he
suddenly dashes into the living mass; but, attacked from all
sides, he again is compelled to retreat. From sheer despair he
falls upon the wild ducks; but the intelligent, social birds
rapidly gather in a flock and fly away if the robber is an erne;
they plunge into the lake if it is a falcon; or they raise a
cloud of water-dust and bewilder the assailant if it is a
kite.(2) And while life continues to swarm on the lake, the
robber flies away with cries of anger, and looks out for carrion,
or for a young bird or a field-mouse not yet used to obey in time
the warnings of its comrades. In the face of an exuberant life,
the ideally-armed robber must be satisfied with the off-fall of
that life.

Further north, in the Arctic archipelagoes,

"you may sail along the coast for many miles and see all the
ledges, all the cliffs and corners of the mountain-sides, up to a
height of from two to five hundred feet, literally covered with
sea-birds, whose white breasts show against the dark rocks as if
the rocks were closely sprinkled with chalk specks. The air, near
and far, is, so to say, full with fowls."(3)

Each of such "bird-mountains" is a living illustration of mutual
aid, as well as of the infinite variety of characters, individual
and specific, resulting from social life. The oyster-catcher is
renowned for its readiness to attack the birds of prey. The barge
is known for its watchfulness, and it easily becomes the leader
of more placid birds. The turnstone, when surrounded by comrades
belonging to more energetic species, is a rather timorous bird;
but it undertakes to keep watch for the security of the
commonwealth when surrounded by smaller birds. Here you have the
dominative swans; there, the extremely sociable kittiwake-gulls,
among whom quarrels are rare and short; the prepossessing polar
guillemots, which continually caress each other; the egoist
she-goose, who has repudiated the orphans of a killed comrade;
and, by her side, another female who adopts any one's orphans,
and now paddles surrounded by fifty or sixty youngsters, whom she
conducts and cares for as if they all were her own breed. Side by
side with the penguins, which steal one another's eggs, you have
the dotterels, whose family relations are so "charming and
touching" that even passionate hunters recoil from shooting a
female surrounded by her young ones; or the eider-ducks, among
which (like the velvet-ducks, or the coroyas of the Savannahs)
several females hatch together in the same, nest. or the lums,
which sit in turn upon a common covey. Nature is variety itself,
offering all possible varieties of characters, from the basest to
the highest: and that is why she cannot be depicted by any
sweeping assertion. Still less can she be judged from the
moralist's point of view, because the views of the moralist are
themselves a result--mostly unconscious--of the observation
of Nature.

Coming together at nesting-time is so common with most birds
that more examples are scarcely needed. Our trees are crowned
with groups of crows' nests; our hedges are full of nests of
smaller birds; our farmhouses give shelter to colonies of
swallows; our old towers are the refuge of hundreds of nocturnal
birds; and pages might be filled with the most charming
descriptions of the peace and harmony which prevail in almost all
these nesting associations. As to the protection derived by the
weakest birds from their unions, it is evident. That excellent
observer, Dr. Coues, saw, for instance, the little cliff-swallows
nesting in the immediate neighbourhood of the prairie falcon
(Falco polyargus). The falcon had its nest on the top of one of
the minarets of clay which are so common in the canons of
Colorado, while a colony of swallows nested just beneath. The
little peaceful birds had no fear of their rapacious neighbour;
they never let it approach to their colony. They immediately
surrounded it and chased it, so that it had to make off at

Life in societies does not cease when the nesting period is
over; it begins then in a new form. The young broods gather in
societies of youngsters, generally including several species.
Social life is practised at that time chiefly for its own sake--
partly for security, but chiefly for the pleasures derived from
it. So we see in our forests the societies formed by the young
nuthatchers (Sitta caesia), together with tit-mouses,
chaffinches, wrens, tree-creepers, or some wood-peckers.(5) In
Spain the swallow is met with in company with kestrels,
fly-catchers, and even pigeons. In the Far West of America the
young horned larks live in large societies, together with another
lark (Sprague's), the skylark, the Savannah sparrow, and several
species of buntings and longspurs.(6) In fact, it would be much
easier to describe the species which live isolated than to simply
name those species which join the autumnal societies of young
birds--not for hunting or nesting purposes, but simply to enjoy
life in society and to spend their time in plays and sports,
after having given a few hours every day to find their daily

And, finally, we have that immense display of mutual aid
among birds-their migrations--which I dare not even enter upon
in this place. Sufficient to say that birds which have lived for
months in small bands scattered over a wide territory gather in
thousands; they come together at a given place, for several days
in succession, before they start, and they evidently discuss the
particulars of the journey. Some species will indulge every
afternoon in flights preparatory to the long passage. All wait
for their tardy congeners, and finally they start in a certain
well chosen direction--a fruit of accumulated collective
experience--the strongest flying at the head of the band, and
relieving one another in that difficult task. They cross the seas
in large bands consisting of both big and small birds, and when
they return next spring they repair to the same spot, and, in
most cases, each of them takes possession of the very same nest
which it had built or repaired the previous year.(7)

This subject is so vast, and yet so imperfectly studied; it
offers so many striking illustrations of mutual-aid habits,
subsidiary to the main fact of migration--each of which would,
however, require a special study--that I must refrain from
entering here into more details. I can only cursorily refer to
the numerous and animated gatherings of birds which take place,
always on the same spot, before they begin their long journeys
north or south, as also those which one sees in the north, after
the birds have arrived at their breeding-places on the Yenisei or
in the northern counties of England. For many days in succession--
sometimes one month--they will come together every morning
for one hour, before flying in search of food--perhaps
discussing the spot where they are going to build their
nests.(8) And if, during the migration, their columns are
overtaken by a storm, birds of the most different species will be
brought together by common misfortune. The birds which are not
exactly migratory, but slowly move northwards and southwards with
the seasons, also perform these peregrinations in flocks. So far
from migrating isolately, in order to secure for each separate
individual the advantages of better food or shelter which are to
be found in another district--they always wait for each other,
and gather in flocks, before they move north or south, in
accordance with the season.(9)

Going now over to mammals, the first thing which strikes us
is the overwhelming numerical predominance of social species over
those few carnivores which do not associate. The plateaus, the
Alpine tracts, and the Steppes of the Old and New World are
stocked with herds of deer, antelopes, gazelles, fallow deer,
buffaloes, wild goats and sheep, all of which are sociable
animals. When the Europeans came to settle in America, they found
it so densely peopled with buffaloes, that pioneers had to stop
their advance when a column of migrating buffaloes came to cross
the route they followed; the march past of the dense column
lasting sometimes for two and three days. And when the Russians
took possession of Siberia they found it so densely peopled with
deer, antelopes, squirrels, and other sociable animals, that the
very conquest of Siberia was nothing but a hunting expedition
which lasted for two hundred years; while the grass plains of
Eastern Africa are still covered with herds composed of zebra,
the hartebeest, and other antelopes.

Not long ago the small streams of Northern America and
Northern Siberia were peopled with colonies of beavers, and up to
the seventeenth century like colonies swarmed in Northern Russia.
The flat lands of the four great continents are still covered
with countless colonies of mice, ground-squirrels, marmots, and
other rodents. In the lower latitudes of Asia and Africa the
forests are still the abode of numerous families of elephants,
rhinoceroses, and numberless societies of monkeys. In the far
north the reindeer aggregate in numberless herds; while still
further north we find the herds of the musk-oxen and numberless
bands of polar foxes. The coasts of the ocean are enlivened by
flocks of seals and morses; its waters, by shoals of sociable
cetaceans; and even in the depths of the great plateau of Central
Asia we find herds of wild horses, wild donkeys, wild camels, and
wild sheep. All these mammals live in societies and nations
sometimes numbering hundreds of thousands of individuals,
although now, after three centuries of gunpowder civilization, we
find but the debris of the immense aggregations of old. How
trifling, in comparison with them, are the numbers of the
carnivores! And how false, therefore, is the view of those who
speak of the animal world as if nothing were to be seen in it but
lions and hyenas plunging their bleeding teeth into the flesh of
their victims! One might as well imagine that the whole of human
life is nothing but a succession of war massacres.

Association and mutual aid are the rule with mammals. We find
social habits even among the carnivores, and we can only name the
cat tribe (lions, tigers, leopards, etc.) as a division the
members of which decidedly prefer isolation to society, and are
but seldom met with even in small groups. And yet, even among
lions "this is a very common practice to hunt in company."(10)
The two tribes of the civets (Viverridae) and the weasels
(Mustelidae) might also be characterized by their isolated life,
but it is a fact that during the last century the common weasel
was more sociable than it is now; it was seen then in larger
groups in Scotland and in the Unterwalden canton of Switzerland.
As to the great tribe of the dogs, it is eminently sociable, and
association for hunting purposes may be considered as eminently
characteristic of its numerous species. It is well known, in
fact, that wolves gather in packs for hunting, and Tschudi left
an excellent description of how they draw up in a half-circle,
surround a cow which is grazing on a mountain slope, and then,
suddenly appearing with a loud barking, make it roll in the
abyss.(11) Audubon, in the thirties, also saw the Labrador
wolves hunting in packs, and one pack following a man to his
cabin, and killing the dogs. During severe winters the packs of
wolves grow so numerous as to become a danger for human
settlements, as was the case in France some five-and-forty years
ago. In the Russian Steppes they never attack the horses
otherwise than in packs; and yet they have to sustain bitter
fights, during which the horses (according to Kohl's testimony)
sometimes assume offensive warfare, and in such cases, if the
wolves do not retreat promptly, they run the risk of being
surrounded by the horses and killed by their hoofs. The
prairie-wolves (Canis latrans) are known to associate in bands of
from twenty to thirty individuals when they chase a buffalo
occasionally separated from its herd.(12) Jackals, which are
most courageous and may be considered as one of the most
intelligent representatives of the dog tribe, always hunt in
packs; thus united, they have no fear of the bigger
carnivores.(13) As to the wild dogs of Asia (the Kholzuns, or
Dholes), Williamson saw their large packs attacking all larger
animals save elephants and rhinoceroses, and overpowering bears
and tigers. Hyenas always live in societies and hunt in packs,
and the hunting organizations of the painted lycaons are highly
praised by Cumming. Nay, even foxes, which, as a rule, live
isolated in our civilized countries, have been seen combining for
hunting purposes.(14) As to the polar fox, it is--or rather
was in Steller's time--one of the most sociable animals; and
when one reads Steller's description of the war that was waged by
Behring's unfortunate crew against these intelligent small
animals, one does not know what to wonder at most: the
extraordinary intelligence of the foxes and the mutual aid they
displayed in digging out food concealed under cairns, or stored
upon a pillar (one fox would climb on its top and throw the food
to its comrades beneath), or the cruelty of man, driven to
despair by the numerous packs of foxes. Even some bears live in
societies where they are not disturbed by man. Thus Steller saw
the black bear of Kamtchatka in numerous packs, and the polar
bears are occasionally found in small groups. Even the
unintelligent insectivores do not always disdain association.

However, it is especially with the rodents, the ungulata, and
the ruminants that we find a highly developed practice of mutual
aid. The squirrels are individualist to a great extent. Each of
them builds its own comfortable nest, and accumulates its own
provision. Their inclinations are towards family life, and Brehm
found that a family of squirrels is never so happy as when the
two broods of the same year can join together with their parents
in a remote corner of a forest. And yet they maintain social
relations. The inhabitants of the separate nests remain in a
close intercourse, and when the pine-cones become rare in the
forest they inhabit, they emigrate in bands. As to the black
squirrels of the Far West, they are eminently sociable. Apart
from the few hours given every day to foraging, they spend their
lives in playing in numerous parties. And when they multiply too
rapidly in a region, they assemble in bands, almost as numerous
as those of locusts, and move southwards, devastating the
forests, the fields, and the gardens; while foxes, polecats,
falcons, and nocturnal birds of prey follow their thick columns
and live upon the individuals remaining behind. The ground-squirrel--
a closely-akin genus--is still more sociable. It is given to
hoarding, and stores up in its subterranean halls large amounts
of edible roots and nuts, usually plundered by man in the autumn.
According to some observers, it must know something of the joys
of a miser. And yet it remains sociable. It always lives in large
villages, and Audubon, who opened some dwellings of the hackee
in the winter, found several individuals in the same apartment;
they must have stored it with common efforts.

The large tribe, of the marmots, which includes the three
large genuses of Arctomys, Cynomys, and Spermophilus, is still
more sociable and still more intelligent. They also prefer having
each one its own dwelling; but they live in big villages. That
terrible enemy of the crops of South Russia--the souslik--of
which some ten millions are exterminated every year by man alone,
lives in numberless colonies; and while the Russian provincial
assemblies gravely discuss the means of getting rid of this enemy
of society, it enjoys life in its thousands in the most joyful
way. Their play is so charming that no observer could refrain
from paying them a tribute of praise, and from mentioning the
melodious concerts arising from the sharp whistlings of the males
and the melancholic whistlings of the females, before--suddenly
returning to his citizen's duties--he begins inventing the most
diabolic means for the extermination of the little robbers. All
kinds of rapacious birds and beasts of prey having proved
powerless, the last word of science in this warfare is the
inoculation of cholera! The villages of the prairie-dogs in
America are one of the loveliest sights. As far as the eye can
embrace the prairie, it sees heaps of earth, and on each of them
a prairie-dog stands, engaged in a lively conversation with its
neighbours by means of short barkings. As soon as the approach of
man is signalled, all plunge in a moment into their dwellings;
all have disappeared as by enchantment. But if the danger is
over, the little creatures soon reappear. Whole families come out
of their galleries and indulge in play. The young ones scratch
one another, they worry one another, and display their
gracefulness while standing upright, and in the meantime the old
ones keep watch. They go visiting one another, and the beaten
footpaths which connect all their heaps testify to the frequency
of the visitations. In short, the best naturalists have written
some of their best pages in describing the associations of the
prairie-dogs of America, the marmots of the Old World, and the
polar marmots of the Alpine regions. And yet, I must make, as
regards the marmots, the same remark as I have made when speaking
of the bees. They have maintained their fighting instincts, and
these instincts reappear in captivity. But in their big
associations, in the face of free Nature, the unsociable
instincts have no opportunity to develop, and the general result
is peace and harmony.

Even such harsh animals as the rats, which continually fight
in our cellars, are sufficiently intelligent not to quarrel when
they plunder our larders, but to aid one another in their
plundering expeditions and migrations, and even to feed their
invalids. As to the beaver-rats or musk-rats of Canada, they are
extremely sociable. Audubon could not but admire "their peaceful
communities, which require only being left in peace to enjoy
happiness." Like all sociable animals, they are lively and
playful, they easily combine with other species, and they have
attained a very high degree of intellectual development. In their
villages, always disposed on the shores of lakes and rivers, they
take into account the changing level of water; their domeshaped
houses, which are built of beaten clay interwoven with reeds,
have separate corners for organic refuse, and their halls are
well carpeted at winter time; they are warm, and, nevertheless,
well ventilated. As to the beavers, which are endowed, as known,
with a most sympathetic character, their astounding dams and
villages, in which generations live and die without knowing of
any enemies but the otter and man, so wonderfully illustrate what
mutual aid can achieve for the security of the species, the
development of social habits, and the evolution of intelligence,
that they are familiar to all interested in animal life. Let me
only remark that with the beavers, the muskrats, and some other
rodents, we already find the feature which will also be
distinctive of human communities--that is, work in common.

I pass in silence the two large families which include the
jerboa, the chinchilla, the biscacha, and the tushkan, or
underground hare of South Russia, though all these small rodents
might be taken as excellent illustrations of the pleasures
derived by animals from social life.(15) Precisely, the
pleasures; because it is extremely difficult to say what brings
animals together--the needs of mutual protection, or simply the
pleasure of feeling surrounded by their congeners. At any rate,
our common hares, which do not gather in societies for life in
common, and which are not even endowed with intense parental
feelings, cannot live without coming together for play. Dietrich
de Winckell, who is considered to be among the best acquainted
with the habits of hares, describes them as passionate players,
becoming so intoxicated by their play that a hare has been known
to take an approaching fox for a playmate.(16) As to the rabbit,
it lives in societies, and its family life is entirely built upon
the image of the old patriarchal family; the young ones being
kept in absolute obedience to the father and even the
grandfather.(17) And here we have the example of two very
closely-allied species which cannot bear each other--not
because they live upon nearly the same food, as like cases are
too often explained, but most probably because the passionate,
eminently-individualist hare cannot make friends with that
placid, quiet, and submissive creature, the rabbit. Their tempers
are too widely different not to be an obstacle to friendship.

Life in societies is again the rule with the large family of
horses, which includes the wild horses and donkeys of Asia, the
zebras, the mustangs, the cimarrones of the Pampas, and the
half-wild horses of Mongolia and Siberia. They all live in
numerous associations made up of many studs, each of which
consists of a number of mares under the leadership of a male.
These numberless inhabitants of the Old and the New World, badly
organized on the whole for resisting both their numerous enemies
and the adverse conditions of climate, would soon have
disappeared from the surface of the earth were it not for their
sociable spirit. When a beast of prey approaches them, several
studs unite at once; they repulse the beast and sometimes chase
it: and neither the wolf nor the bear, not even the lion, can
capture a horse or even a zebra as long as they are not detached
from the herd. When a drought is burning the grass in the
prairies, they gather in herds of sometimes 10,000 individuals
strong, and migrate. And when a snow-storm rages in the Steppes,
each stud keeps close together, and repairs to a protected
ravine. But if confidence disappears, or the group has been
seized by panic, and disperses, the horses perish and the
survivors are found after the storm half dying from fatigue.
Union is their chief arm in the struggle for life, and man is
their chief enemy. Before his increasing numbers the ancestors of
our domestic horse (the Equus Przewalskii, so named by Polyakoff)
have preferred to retire to the wildest and least accessible
plateaus on the outskirts of Thibet, where they continue to live,
surrounded by carnivores, under a climate as bad as that of the
Arctic regions, but in a region inaccessible to man.(18)

Many striking illustrations of social life could be taken
from the life of the reindeer, and especially of that large
division of ruminants which might include the roebucks, the
fallow deer, the antelopes, the gazelles, the ibex, and, in fact,
the whole of the three numerous families of the Antelopides, the
Caprides, and the Ovides. Their watchfulness over the safety of
their herds against attacks of carnivores; the anxiety displayed
by all individuals in a herd of chamois as long as all of them
have not cleared a difficult passage over rocky cliffs. the
adoption of orphans; the despair of the gazelle whose mate, or
even comrade of the same sex, has been killed; the plays of the
youngsters, and many other features, could be mentioned. But
perhaps the most striking illustration of mutual support is given
by the occasional migrations of fallow deer, such as I saw once
on the Amur. When I crossed the high plateau and its border
ridge, the Great Khingan, on my way from Transbaikalia to
Merghen, and further travelled over the high prairies on my way
to the Amur, I could ascertain how thinly-peopled with fallow
deer these mostly uninhabited regions are.(19) Two years later I
was travelling up the Amur, and by the end of October reached the
lower end of that picturesque gorge which the Amur pierces in the
Dousse-alin (Little Khingan) before it enters the lowlands where
it joins the Sungari. I found the Cossacks in the villages of
that gorge in the greatest excitement, because thousands and
thousands of fallow deer were crossing the Amur where it is
narrowest, in order to reach the lowlands. For several days in
succession, upon a length of some forty miles up the river, the
Cossacks were butchering the deer as they crossed the Amur, in
which already floated a good deal of ice. Thousands were killed
every day, and the exodus nevertheless continued. Like migrations
were never seen either before or since, and this one must have
been called for by an early and heavy snow-fall in the Great
Khingan, which compelled the deer to make a desperate attempt at
reaching the lowlands in the east of the Dousse mountains.
Indeed, a few days later the Dousse-alin was also buried under
snow two or three feet deep. Now, when one imagines the immense
territory (almost as big as Great Britain) from which the
scattered groups of deer must have gathered for a migration which
was undertaken under the pressure of exceptional circumstances,
and realizes the difficulties which had to be overcome before all
the deer came to the common idea of crossing the Amur further
south, where it is narrowest, one cannot but deeply admire the
amount of sociability displayed by these intelligent animals. The
fact is not the less striking if we remember that the buffaloes
of North America displayed the same powers of combination. One
saw them grazing in great numbers in the plains, but these
numbers were made up by an infinity of small groups which never
mixed together. And yet, when necessity arose, all groups,
however scattered over an immense territory, came together and
made up those immense columns, numbering hundreds of thousands of
individuals, which I mentioned on a preceding page.

I also ought to say a few words at least about the "compound
families" of the elephants, their mutual attachment, their
deliberate ways in posting sentries, and the feelings of sympathy
developed by such a life of close mutual support.(20) I might
mention the sociable feelings of those disreputable creatures the
wild boars, and find a word of praise for their powers of
association in the case of an attack by a beast of prey.(21) The
hippopotamus and the rhinoceros, too, would occupy a place in a
work devoted to animal sociability. Several striking pages might
be given to the sociability and mutual attachment of the seals
and the walruses; and finally, one might mention the most
excellent feelings existing among the sociable cetaceans. But I
have to say yet a few words about the societies of monkeys, which
acquire an additional interest from their being the link which
will bring us to the societies of primitive men.

It is hardly needful to say that those mammals, which stand
at the very top of the animal world and most approach man by
their structure and intelligence, are eminently sociable.
evidently we must be prepared to meet with all varieties of
character and habits in so great a division of the animal kingdom
which includes hundreds of species. But, all things considered,
it must be said that sociability, action in common, mutual
protection, and a high development of those feelings which are
the necessary outcome of social life, are characteristic of most
monkeys and apes. From the smallest species to the biggest ones,
sociability is a rule to which we know but a few exceptions. The
nocturnal apes prefer isolated life; the capuchins (Cebus
capucinus), the monos, and the howling monkeys live but in small
families; and the orang-outans have never been seen by A.R.
Wallace otherwise than either solitary or in very small groups of
three or four individuals, while the gorillas seem never to join
in bands. But all the remainder of the monkey tribe--the
chimpanzees, the sajous, the sakis, the mandrills, the baboons,
and so on--are sociable in the highest degree. They live in
great bands, and even join with other species than their own.
Most of them become quite unhappy when solitary. The cries of
distress of each one of the band immediately bring together the
whole of the band, and they boldly repulse the attacks of most
carnivores and birds of prey. Even eagles do not dare attack
them. They plunder our fields always in bands--the old ones
taking care for the safety of the commonwealth. The little
tee-tees, whose childish sweet faces so much struck Humboldt,
embrace and protect one another when it rains, rolling their
tails over the necks of their shivering comrades. Several species
display the greatest solicitude for their wounded, and do not
abandon a wounded comrade during a retreat till they have
ascertained that it is dead and that they are helpless to restore
it to life. Thus James Forbes narrated in his Oriental Memoirs a
fact of such resistance in reclaiming from his hunting party the
dead body of a female monkey that one fully understands why "the
witnesses of this extraordinary scene resolved never again to
fire at one of the monkey race."(22) In some species several
individuals will combine to overturn a stone in order to search
for ants' eggs under it. The hamadryas not only post sentries,
but have been seen making a chain for the transmission of the
spoil to a safe place; and their courage is well known. Brehm's
description of the regular fight which his caravan had to sustain
before the hamadryas would let it resume its journey in the
valley of the Mensa, in Abyssinia, has become classical.(23) The
playfulness of the tailed apes and the mutual attachment which
reigns in the families of chimpanzees also are familiar to the
general reader. And if we find among the highest apes two
species, the orang-outan and the gorilla, which are not sociable,
we must remember that both--limited as they are to very small
areas, the one in the heart of Africa, and the other in the two
islands of Borneo and Sumatra have all the appearance of being
the last remnants of formerly much more numerous species. The
gorilla at least seems to have been sociable in olden times, if
the apes mentioned in the Periplus really were gorillas.

We thus see, even from the above brief review, that life in
societies is no exception in the animal world; it is the rule,
the law of Nature, and it reaches its fullest development with
the higher vertebrates. Those species which live solitary, or in
small families only, are relatively few, and their numbers are
limited. Nay, it appears very probable that, apart from a few
exceptions, those birds and mammals which are not gregarious now,
were living in societies before man multiplied on the earth and
waged a permanent war against them, or destroyed the sources from
which they formerly derived food. "On ne s'associe pas pour
mourir," was the sound remark of Espinas; and Houzeau, who knew
the animal world of some parts of America when it was not yet
affected by man, wrote to the same effect.

Association is found in the animal world at all degrees of
evolution; and, according to the grand idea of Herbert Spencer,
so brilliantly developed in Perrier's Colonies Animales, colonies
are at the very origin of evolution in the animal kingdom. But,
in proportion as we ascend the scale of evolution, we see
association growing more and more conscious. It loses its purely
physical character, it ceases to be simply instinctive, it
becomes reasoned. With the higher vertebrates it is periodical,
or is resorted to for the satisfaction of a given want--
propagation of the species, migration, hunting, or mutual
defence. It even becomes occasional, when birds associate against
a robber, or mammals combine, under the pressure of exceptional
circumstances, to emigrate. In this last case, it becomes a
voluntary deviation from habitual moods of life. The combination
sometimes appears in two or more degrees--the family first,
then the group, and finally the association of groups, habitually
scattered, but uniting in case of need, as we saw it with the
bisons and other ruminants. It also takes higher forms,
guaranteeing more independence to the individual without
depriving it of the benefits of social life. With most rodents
the individual has its own dwelling, which it can retire to when
it prefers being left alone; but the dwellings are laid out in
villages and cities, so as to guarantee to all inhabitants the
benefits and joys of social life. And finally, in several
species, such as rats, marmots, hares, etc., sociable life is
maintained notwithstanding the quarrelsome or otherwise egotistic
inclinations of the isolated individual. Thus it is not imposed,
as is the case with ants and bees, by the very physiological
structure of the individuals; it is cultivated for the benefits
of mutual aid, or for the sake of its pleasures. And this, of
course, appears with all possible gradations and with the
greatest variety of individual and specific characters--the
very variety of aspects taken by social life being a consequence,
and for us a further proof, of its generality.(24)

Sociability--that is, the need of the animal of associating
with its like--the love of society for society's sake, combined
with the "joy of life," only now begins to receive due attention
from the zoologists.(25) We know at the present time that all
animals, beginning with the ants, going on to the birds, and
ending with the highest mammals, are fond of plays, wrestling,
running after each other, trying to capture each other, teasing
each other, and so on. And while many plays are, so to speak, a
school for the proper behaviour of the young in mature life,
there are others, which, apart from their utilitarian purposes,
are, together with dancing and singing, mere manifestations of an
excess of forces--"the joy of life," and a desire to
communicate in some way or another with other individuals of the
same or of other species--in short, a manifestation of
sociability proper, which is a distinctive feature of all the
animal world.(26) Whether the feeling be fear, experienced at
the appearance of a bird of prey, or "a fit of gladness" which
bursts out when the animals are in good health and especially
when young, or merely the desire of giving play to an excess of
impressions and of vital power--the necessity of communicating
impressions, of playing, of chattering, or of simply feeling the
proximity of other kindred living beings pervades Nature, and is,
as much as any other physiological function, a distinctive
feature of life and impressionability. This need takes a higher
development and attains a more beautiful expression in mammals,
especially amidst their young, and still more among the birds;
but it pervades all Nature, and has been fully observed by the
best naturalists, including Pierre Huber, even amongst the ants,

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