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The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex by Charles Darwin

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learns to pronounce single words, and even short sentences, more readily
than almost any other British bird; yet, as he adds, after long and closely
investigating its habits, he has never known it, in a state of nature,
display any unusual capacity for imitation. 'Researches in Zoology,' 1834,
p. 158.) If it be asked why apes have not had their intellects developed
to the same degree as that of man, general causes only can be assigned in
answer, and it is unreasonable to expect any thing more definite,
considering our ignorance with respect to the successive stages of
development through which each creature has passed.

The formation of different languages and of distinct species, and the
proofs that both have been developed through a gradual process, are
curiously parallel. (67. See the very interesting parallelism between the
development of species and languages, given by Sir C. Lyell in 'The
Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man,' 1863, chap. xxiii.) But we
can trace the formation of many words further back than that of species,
for we can perceive how they actually arose from the imitation of various
sounds. We find in distinct languages striking homologies due to community
of descent, and analogies due to a similar process of formation. The
manner in which certain letters or sounds change when others change is very
like correlated growth. We have in both cases the reduplication of parts,
the effects of long-continued use, and so forth. The frequent presence of
rudiments, both in languages and in species, is still more remarkable. The
letter m in the word am, means I; so that in the expression I am, a
superfluous and useless rudiment has been retained. In the spelling also
of words, letters often remain as the rudiments of ancient forms of
pronunciation. Languages, like organic beings, can be classed in groups
under groups; and they can be classed either naturally according to
descent, or artificially by other characters. Dominant languages and
dialects spread widely, and lead to the gradual extinction of other
tongues. A language, like a species, when once extinct, never, as Sir C.
Lyell remarks, reappears. The same language never has two birth-places.
Distinct languages may be crossed or blended together. (68. See remarks
to this effect by the Rev. F.W. Farrar, in an interesting article, entitled
'Philology and Darwinism,' in 'Nature,' March 24th, 1870, p. 528.) We see
variability in every tongue, and new words are continually cropping up; but
as there is a limit to the powers of the memory, single words, like whole
languages, gradually become extinct. As Max Muller (69. 'Nature,' January
6th, 1870, p. 257.) has well remarked:--"A struggle for life is constantly
going on amongst the words and grammatical forms in each language. The
better, the shorter, the easier forms are constantly gaining the upper
hand, and they owe their success to their own inherent virtue." To these
more important causes of the survival of certain words, mere novelty and
fashion may be added; for there is in the mind of man a strong love for
slight changes in all things. The survival or preservation of certain
favoured words in the struggle for existence is natural selection.

The perfectly regular and wonderfully complex construction of the languages
of many barbarous nations has often been advanced as a proof, either of the
divine origin of these languages, or of the high art and former
civilisation of their founders. Thus F. von Schlegel writes: "In those
languages which appear to be at the lowest grade of intellectual culture,
we frequently observe a very high and elaborate degree of art in their
grammatical structure. This is especially the case with the Basque and the
Lapponian, and many of the American languages." (70. Quoted by C.S. Wake,
'Chapters on Man,' 1868, p. 101.) But it is assuredly an error to speak of
any language as an art, in the sense of its having been elaborately and
methodically formed. Philologists now admit that conjugations,
declensions, etc., originally existed as distinct words, since joined
together; and as such words express the most obvious relations between
objects and persons, it is not surprising that they should have been used
by the men of most races during the earliest ages. With respect to
perfection, the following illustration will best shew how easily we may
err: a Crinoid sometimes consists of no less than 150,000 pieces of shell
(71. Buckland, 'Bridgewater Treatise,' p. 411.), all arranged with perfect
symmetry in radiating lines; but a naturalist does not consider an animal
of this kind as more perfect than a bilateral one with comparatively few
parts, and with none of these parts alike, excepting on the opposite sides
of the body. He justly considers the differentiation and specialisation of
organs as the test of perfection. So with languages: the most symmetrical
and complex ought not to be ranked above irregular, abbreviated, and
bastardised languages, which have borrowed expressive words and useful
forms of construction from various conquering, conquered, or immigrant

From these few and imperfect remarks I conclude that the extremely complex
and regular construction of many barbarous languages, is no proof that they
owe their origin to a special act of creation. (72. See some good remarks
on the simplification of languages, by Sir J. Lubbock, 'Origin of
Civilisation,' 1870, p. 278.) Nor, as we have seen, does the faculty of
articulate speech in itself offer any insuperable objection to the belief
that man has been developed from some lower form.


This sense has been declared to be peculiar to man. I refer here only to
the pleasure given by certain colours, forms, and sounds, and which may
fairly be called a sense of the beautiful; with cultivated men such
sensations are, however, intimately associated with complex ideas and
trains of thought. When we behold a male bird elaborately displaying his
graceful plumes or splendid colours before the female, whilst other birds,
not thus decorated, make no such display, it is impossible to doubt that
she admires the beauty of her male partner. As women everywhere deck
themselves with these plumes, the beauty of such ornaments cannot be
disputed. As we shall see later, the nests of humming-birds, and the
playing passages of bower-birds are tastefully ornamented with gaily-
coloured objects; and this shews that they must receive some kind of
pleasure from the sight of such things. With the great majority of
animals, however, the taste for the beautiful is confined, as far as we can
judge, to the attractions of the opposite sex. The sweet strains poured
forth by many male birds during the season of love, are certainly admired
by the females, of which fact evidence will hereafter be given. If female
birds had been incapable of appreciating the beautiful colours, the
ornaments, and voices of their male partners, all the labour and anxiety
exhibited by the latter in displaying their charms before the females would
have been thrown away; and this it is impossible to admit. Why certain
bright colours should excite pleasure cannot, I presume, be explained, any
more than why certain flavours and scents are agreeable; but habit has
something to do with the result, for that which is at first unpleasant to
our senses, ultimately becomes pleasant, and habits are inherited. With
respect to sounds, Helmholtz has explained to a certain extent on
physiological principles, why harmonies and certain cadences are agreeable.
But besides this, sounds frequently recurring at irregular intervals are
highly disagreeable, as every one will admit who has listened at night to
the irregular flapping of a rope on board ship. The same principle seems
to come into play with vision, as the eye prefers symmetry or figures with
some regular recurrence. Patterns of this kind are employed by even the
lowest savages as ornaments; and they have been developed through sexual
selection for the adornment of some male animals. Whether we can or not
give any reason for the pleasure thus derived from vision and hearing, yet
man and many of the lower animals are alike pleased by the same colours,
graceful shading and forms, and the same sounds.

The taste for the beautiful, at least as far as female beauty is concerned,
is not of a special nature in the human mind; for it differs widely in the
different races of man, and is not quite the same even in the different
nations of the same race. Judging from the hideous ornaments, and the
equally hideous music admired by most savages, it might be urged that their
aesthetic faculty was not so highly developed as in certain animals, for
instance, as in birds. Obviously no animal would be capable of admiring
such scenes as the heavens at night, a beautiful landscape, or refined
music; but such high tastes are acquired through culture, and depend on
complex associations; they are not enjoyed by barbarians or by uneducated

Many of the faculties, which have been of inestimable service to man for
his progressive advancement, such as the powers of the imagination, wonder,
curiosity, an undefined sense of beauty, a tendency to imitation, and the
love of excitement or novelty, could hardly fail to lead to capricious
changes of customs and fashions. I have alluded to this point, because a
recent writer (73. 'The Spectator,' Dec. 4th, 1869, p. 1430.) has oddly
fixed on Caprice "as one of the most remarkable and typical differences
between savages and brutes." But not only can we partially understand how
it is that man is from various conflicting influences rendered capricious,
but that the lower animals are, as we shall hereafter see, likewise
capricious in their affections, aversions, and sense of beauty. There is
also reason to suspect that they love novelty, for its own sake.


There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling
belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God. On the contrary there is
ample evidence, derived not from hasty travellers, but from men who have
long resided with savages, that numerous races have existed, and still
exist, who have no idea of one or more gods, and who have no words in their
languages to express such an idea. (74. See an excellent article on this
subject by the Rev. F.W. Farrar, in the 'Anthropological Review,' Aug.
1864, p. ccxvii. For further facts see Sir J. Lubbock, 'Prehistoric
Times,' 2nd edit., 1869, p. 564; and especially the chapters on Religion in
his 'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870.) The question is of course wholly
distinct from that higher one, whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of
the universe; and this has been answered in the affirmative by some of the
highest intellects that have ever existed.

If, however, we include under the term "religion" the belief in unseen or
spiritual agencies, the case is wholly different; for this belief seems to
be universal with the less civilised races. Nor is it difficult to
comprehend how it arose. As soon as the important faculties of the
imagination, wonder, and curiosity, together with some power of reasoning,
had become partially developed, man would naturally crave to understand
what was passing around him, and would have vaguely speculated on his own
existence. As Mr. M'Lennan (75. 'The Worship of Animals and Plants,' in
the 'Fortnightly Review,' Oct. 1, 1869, p. 422.) has remarked, "Some
explanation of the phenomena of life, a man must feign for himself, and to
judge from the universality of it, the simplest hypothesis, and the first
to occur to men, seems to have been that natural phenomena are ascribable
to the presence in animals, plants, and things, and in the forces of
nature, of such spirits prompting to action as men are conscious they
themselves possess." It is also probable, as Mr. Tylor has shewn, that
dreams may have first given rise to the notion of spirits; for savages do
not readily distinguish between subjective and objective impressions. When
a savage dreams, the figures which appear before him are believed to have
come from a distance, and to stand over him; or "the soul of the dreamer
goes out on its travels, and comes home with a remembrance of what it has
seen." (76. Tylor, 'Early History of Mankind,' 1865, p. 6. See also the
three striking chapters on the 'Development of Religion,' in Lubbock's
'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870. In a like manner Mr. Herbert Spencer, in
his ingenious essay in the 'Fortnightly Review' (May 1st, 1870, p. 535),
accounts for the earliest forms of religious belief throughout the world,
by man being led through dreams, shadows, and other causes, to look at
himself as a double essence, corporeal and spiritual. As the spiritual
being is supposed to exist after death and to be powerful, it is
propitiated by various gifts and ceremonies, and its aid invoked. He then
further shews that names or nicknames given from some animal or other
object, to the early progenitors or founders of a tribe, are supposed after
a long interval to represent the real progenitor of the tribe; and such
animal or object is then naturally believed still to exist as a spirit, is
held sacred, and worshipped as a god. Nevertheless I cannot but suspect
that there is a still earlier and ruder stage, when anything which
manifests power or movement is thought to be endowed with some form of
life, and with mental faculties analogous to our own.) But until the
faculties of imagination, curiosity, reason, etc., had been fairly well
developed in the mind of man, his dreams would not have led him to believe
in spirits, any more than in the case of a dog.

The tendency in savages to imagine that natural objects and agencies are
animated by spiritual or living essences, is perhaps illustrated by a
little fact which I once noticed: my dog, a full-grown and very sensible
animal, was lying on the lawn during a hot and still day; but at a little
distance a slight breeze occasionally moved an open parasol, which would
have been wholly disregarded by the dog, had any one stood near it. As it
was, every time that the parasol slightly moved, the dog growled fiercely
and barked. He must, I think, have reasoned to himself in a rapid and
unconscious manner, that movement without any apparent cause indicated the
presence of some strange living agent, and that no stranger had a right to
be on his territory.

The belief in spiritual agencies would easily pass into the belief in the
existence of one or more gods. For savages would naturally attribute to
spirits the same passions, the same love of vengeance or simplest form of
justice, and the same affections which they themselves feel. The Fuegians
appear to be in this respect in an intermediate condition, for when the
surgeon on board the "Beagle" shot some young ducklings as specimens, York
Minster declared in the most solemn manner, "Oh, Mr. Bynoe, much rain, much
snow, blow much"; and this was evidently a retributive punishment for
wasting human food. So again he related how, when his brother killed a
"wild man," storms long raged, much rain and snow fell. Yet we could never
discover that the Fuegians believed in what we should call a God, or
practised any religious rites; and Jemmy Button, with justifiable pride,
stoutly maintained that there was no devil in his land. This latter
assertion is the more remarkable, as with savages the belief in bad spirits
is far more common than that in good ones.

The feeling of religious devotion is a highly complex one, consisting of
love, complete submission to an exalted and mysterious superior, a strong
sense of dependence (77. See an able article on the 'Physical Elements of
Religion,' by Mr. L. Owen Pike, in 'Anthropological Review,' April 1870, p.
lxiii.), fear, reverence, gratitude, hope for the future, and perhaps other
elements. No being could experience so complex an emotion until advanced
in his intellectual and moral faculties to at least a moderately high
level. Nevertheless, we see some distant approach to this state of mind in
the deep love of a dog for his master, associated with complete submission,
some fear, and perhaps other feelings. The behaviour of a dog when
returning to his master after an absence, and, as I may add, of a monkey to
his beloved keeper, is widely different from that towards their fellows.
In the latter case the transports of joy appear to be somewhat less, and
the sense of equality is shewn in every action. Professor Braubach goes so
far as to maintain that a dog looks on his master as on a god. (78.
'Religion, Moral, etc., der Darwin'schen Art-Lehre,' 1869, s. 53. It is
said (Dr. W. Lauder Lindsay, 'Journal of Mental Science,' 1871, p. 43),
that Bacon long ago, and the poet Burns, held the same notion.)

The same high mental faculties which first led man to believe in unseen
spiritual agencies, then in fetishism, polytheism, and ultimately in
monotheism, would infallibly lead him, as long as his reasoning powers
remained poorly developed, to various strange superstitions and customs.
Many of these are terrible to think of--such as the sacrifice of human
beings to a blood-loving god; the trial of innocent persons by the ordeal
of poison or fire; witchcraft, etc.--yet it is well occasionally to reflect
on these superstitions, for they shew us what an infinite debt of gratitude
we owe to the improvement of our reason, to science, and to our accumulated
knowledge. As Sir J. Lubbock (79. 'Prehistoric Times,' 2nd edit., p. 571.
In this work (p. 571) there will be found an excellent account of the many
strange and capricious customs of savages.) has well observed, "it is not
too much to say that the horrible dread of unknown evil hangs like a thick
cloud over savage life, and embitters every pleasure." These miserable and
indirect consequences of our highest faculties may be compared with the
incidental and occasional mistakes of the instincts of the lower animals.



The moral sense--Fundamental proposition--The qualities of social animals--
Origin of sociability--Struggle between opposed instincts--Man a social
animal--The more enduring social instincts conquer other less persistent
instincts--The social virtues alone regarded by savages--The self-regarding
virtues acquired at a later stage of development--The importance of the
judgment of the members of the same community on conduct--Transmission of
moral tendencies--Summary.

I fully subscribe to the judgment of those writers (1. See, for instance,
on this subject, Quatrefages, 'Unite de l'Espece Humaine,' 1861, p. 21,
etc.) who maintain that of all the differences between man and the lower
animals, the moral sense or conscience is by far the most important. This
sense, as Mackintosh (2. 'Dissertation an Ethical Philosophy,' 1837, p.
231, etc.) remarks, "has a rightful supremacy over every other principle of
human action"; it is summed up in that short but imperious word "ought," so
full of high significance. It is the most noble of all the attributes of
man, leading him without a moment's hesitation to risk his life for that of
a fellow-creature; or after due deliberation, impelled simply by the deep
feeling of right or duty, to sacrifice it in some great cause. Immanuel
Kant exclaims, "Duty! Wondrous thought, that workest neither by fond
insinuation, flattery, nor by any threat, but merely by holding up thy
naked law in the soul, and so extorting for thyself always reverence, if
not always obedience; before whom all appetites are dumb, however secretly
they rebel; whence thy original?" (3. 'Metaphysics of Ethics,' translated
by J.W. Semple, Edinburgh, 1836, p. 136.)

This great question has been discussed by many writers (4. Mr. Bain gives
a list ('Mental and Moral Science,' 1868, pp. 543-725) of twenty-six
British authors who have written on this subject, and whose names are
familiar to every reader; to these, Mr. Bain's own name, and those of Mr.
Lecky, Mr. Shadworth Hodgson, Sir J. Lubbock, and others, might be added.)
of consummate ability; and my sole excuse for touching on it, is the
impossibility of here passing it over; and because, as far as I know, no
one has approached it exclusively from the side of natural history. The
investigation possesses, also, some independent interest, as an attempt to
see how far the study of the lower animals throws light on one of the
highest psychical faculties of man.

The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable--namely,
that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts (5.
Sir B. Brodie, after observing that man is a social animal ('Psychological
Enquiries,' 1854, p. 192), asks the pregnant question, "ought not this to
settle the disputed question as to the existence of a moral sense?"
Similar ideas have probably occurred to many persons, as they did long ago
to Marcus Aurelius. Mr. J.S. Mill speaks, in his celebrated work,
'Utilitarianism,' (1864, pp. 45, 46), of the social feelings as a "powerful
natural sentiment," and as "the natural basis of sentiment for utilitarian
morality." Again he says, "Like the other acquired capacities above
referred to, the moral faculty, if not a part of our nature, is a natural
out-growth from it; capable, like them, in a certain small degree of
springing up spontaneously." But in opposition to all this, he also
remarks, "if, as in my own belief, the moral feelings are not innate, but
acquired, they are not for that reason less natural." It is with
hesitation that I venture to differ at all from so profound a thinker, but
it can hardly be disputed that the social feelings are instinctive or
innate in the lower animals; and why should they not be so in man? Mr.
Bain (see, for instance, 'The Emotions and the Will,' 1865, p. 481) and
others believe that the moral sense is acquired by each individual during
his lifetime. On the general theory of evolution this is at least
extremely improbable. The ignoring of all transmitted mental qualities
will, as it seems to me, be hereafter judged as a most serious blemish in
the works of Mr. Mill.), the parental and filial affections being here
included, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as
its intellectual powers had become as well, or nearly as well developed, as
in man. For, FIRSTLY, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure
in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with
them, and to perform various services for them. The services may be of a
definite and evidently instinctive nature; or there may be only a wish and
readiness, as with most of the higher social animals, to aid their fellows
in certain general ways. But these feelings and services are by no means
extended to all the individuals of the same species, only to those of the
same association. SECONDLY, as soon as the mental faculties had become
highly developed, images of all past actions and motives would be
incessantly passing through the brain of each individual: and that feeling
of dissatisfaction, or even misery, which invariably results, as we shall
hereafter see, from any unsatisfied instinct, would arise, as often as it
was perceived that the enduring and always present social instinct had
yielded to some other instinct, at the time stronger, but neither enduring
in its nature, nor leaving behind it a very vivid impression. It is clear
that many instinctive desires, such as that of hunger, are in their nature
of short duration; and after being satisfied, are not readily or vividly
recalled. THIRDLY, after the power of language had been acquired, and the
wishes of the community could be expressed, the common opinion how each
member ought to act for the public good, would naturally become in a
paramount degree the guide to action. But it should be borne in mind that
however great weight we may attribute to public opinion, our regard for the
approbation and disapprobation of our fellows depends on sympathy, which,
as we shall see, forms an essential part of the social instinct, and is
indeed its foundation-stone. LASTLY, habit in the individual would
ultimately play a very important part in guiding the conduct of each
member; for the social instinct, together with sympathy, is, like any other
instinct, greatly strengthened by habit, and so consequently would be
obedience to the wishes and judgment of the community. These several
subordinate propositions must now be discussed, and some of them at
considerable length.

It may be well first to premise that I do not wish to maintain that any
strictly social animal, if its intellectual faculties were to become as
active and as highly developed as in man, would acquire exactly the same
moral sense as ours. In the same manner as various animals have some sense
of beauty, though they admire widely-different objects, so they might have
a sense of right and wrong, though led by it to follow widely different
lines of conduct. If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were
reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly
be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it
a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill
their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering. (6. Mr.
H. Sidgwick remarks, in an able discussion on this subject (the 'Academy,'
June 15, 1872, p. 231), "a superior bee, we may feel sure, would aspire to
a milder solution of the population question." Judging, however, from the
habits of many or most savages, man solves the problem by female
infanticide, polyandry and promiscuous intercourse; therefore it may well
be doubted whether it would be by a milder method. Miss Cobbe, in
commenting ('Darwinism in Morals,' 'Theological Review,' April 1872, pp.
188-191) on the same illustration, says, the PRINCIPLES of social duty
would be thus reversed; and by this, I presume, she means that the
fulfilment of a social duty would tend to the injury of individuals; but
she overlooks the fact, which she would doubtless admit, that the instincts
of the bee have been acquired for the good of the community. She goes so
far as to say that if the theory of ethics advocated in this chapter were
ever generally accepted, "I cannot but believe that in the hour of their
triumph would be sounded the knell of the virtue of mankind!" It is to be
hoped that the belief in the permanence of virtue on this earth is not held
by many persons on so weak a tenure.) Nevertheless, the bee, or any other
social animal, would gain in our supposed case, as it appears to me, some
feeling of right or wrong, or a conscience. For each individual would have
an inward sense of possessing certain stronger or more enduring instincts,
and others less strong or enduring; so that there would often be a struggle
as to which impulse should be followed; and satisfaction, dissatisfaction,
or even misery would be felt, as past impressions were compared during
their incessant passage through the mind. In this case an inward monitor
would tell the animal that it would have been better to have followed the
one impulse rather than the other. The one course ought to have been
followed, and the other ought not; the one would have been right and the
other wrong; but to these terms I shall recur.


Animals of many kinds are social; we find even distinct species living
together; for example, some American monkeys; and united flocks of rooks,
jackdaws, and starlings. Man shews the same feeling in his strong love for
the dog, which the dog returns with interest. Every one must have noticed
how miserable horses, dogs, sheep, etc., are when separated from their
companions, and what strong mutual affection the two former kinds, at
least, shew on their reunion. It is curious to speculate on the feelings
of a dog, who will rest peacefully for hours in a room with his master or
any of the family, without the least notice being taken of him; but if left
for a short time by himself, barks or howls dismally. We will confine our
attention to the higher social animals; and pass over insects, although
some of these are social, and aid one another in many important ways. The
most common mutual service in the higher animals is to warn one another of
danger by means of the united senses of all. Every sportsman knows, as Dr.
Jaeger remarks (7. 'Die Darwin'sche Theorie,' s. 101.), how difficult it
is to approach animals in a herd or troop. Wild horses and cattle do not,
I believe, make any danger-signal; but the attitude of any one of them who
first discovers an enemy, warns the others. Rabbits stamp loudly on the
ground with their hind-feet as a signal: sheep and chamois do the same
with their forefeet, uttering likewise a whistle. Many birds, and some
mammals, post sentinels, which in the case of seals are said (8. Mr. R.
Brown in 'Proc. Zoolog. Soc.' 1868, p. 409.) generally to be the females.
The leader of a troop of monkeys acts as the sentinel, and utters cries
expressive both of danger and of safety. (9. Brehm, 'Thierleben,' B. i.
1864, s. 52, 79. For the case of the monkeys extracting thorns from each
other, see s. 54. With respect to the Hamadryas turning over stones, the
fact is given (s. 76), on the evidence of Alvarez, whose observations Brehm
thinks quite trustworthy. For the cases of the old male baboons attacking
the dogs, see s. 79; and with respect to the eagle, s. 56.) Social animals
perform many little services for each other: horses nibble, and cows lick
each other, on any spot which itches: monkeys search each other for
external parasites; and Brehm states that after a troop of the
Cercopithecus griseo-viridis has rushed through a thorny brake, each monkey
stretches itself on a branch, and another monkey sitting by,
"conscientiously" examines its fur, and extracts every thorn or burr.

Animals also render more important services to one another: thus wolves
and some other beasts of prey hunt in packs, and aid one another in
attacking their victims. Pelicans fish in concert. The Hamadryas baboons
turn over stones to find insects, etc.; and when they come to a large one,
as many as can stand round, turn it over together and share the booty.
Social animals mutually defend each other. Bull bisons in N. America, when
there is danger, drive the cows and calves into the middle of the herd,
whilst they defend the outside. I shall also in a future chapter give an
account of two young wild bulls at Chillingham attacking an old one in
concert, and of two stallions together trying to drive away a third
stallion from a troop of mares. In Abyssinia, Brehm encountered a great
troop of baboons who were crossing a valley: some had already ascended the
opposite mountain, and some were still in the valley; the latter were
attacked by the dogs, but the old males immediately hurried down from the
rocks, and with mouths widely opened, roared so fearfully, that the dogs
quickly drew back. They were again encouraged to the attack; but by this
time all the baboons had reascended the heights, excepting a young one,
about six months old, who, loudly calling for aid, climbed on a block of
rock, and was surrounded. Now one of the largest males, a true hero, came
down again from the mountain, slowly went to the young one, coaxed him, and
triumphantly led him away--the dogs being too much astonished to make an
attack. I cannot resist giving another scene which was witnessed by this
same naturalist; an eagle seized a young Cercopithecus, which, by clinging
to a branch, was not at once carried off; it cried loudly for assistance,
upon which the other members of the troop, with much uproar, rushed to the
rescue, surrounded the eagle, and pulled out so many feathers, that he no
longer thought of his prey, but only how to escape. This eagle, as Brehm
remarks, assuredly would never again attack a single monkey of a troop.
(10. Mr. Belt gives the case of a spider-monkey (Ateles) in Nicaragua,
which was heard screaming for nearly two hours in the forest, and was found
with an eagle perched close by it. The bird apparently feared to attack as
long as it remained face to face; and Mr. Belt believes, from what he has
seen of the habits of these monkeys, that they protect themselves from
eagles by keeping two or three together. 'The Naturalist in Nicaragua,'
1874, p. 118.)

It is certain that associated animals have a feeling of love for each
other, which is not felt by non-social adult animals. How far in most
cases they actually sympathise in the pains and pleasures of others, is
more doubtful, especially with respect to pleasures. Mr. Buxton, however,
who had excellent means of observation (11. 'Annals and Magazine of
Natural History,' November 1868, p. 382.), states that his macaws, which
lived free in Norfolk, took "an extravagant interest" in a pair with a
nest; and whenever the female left it, she was surrounded by a troop
"screaming horrible acclamations in her honour." It is often difficult to
judge whether animals have any feeling for the sufferings of others of
their kind. Who can say what cows feel, when they surround and stare
intently on a dying or dead companion; apparently, however, as Houzeau
remarks, they feel no pity. That animals sometimes are far from feeling
any sympathy is too certain; for they will expel a wounded animal from the
herd, or gore or worry it to death. This is almost the blackest fact in
natural history, unless, indeed, the explanation which has been suggested
is true, that their instinct or reason leads them to expel an injured
companion, lest beasts of prey, including man, should be tempted to follow
the troop. In this case their conduct is not much worse than that of the
North American Indians, who leave their feeble comrades to perish on the
plains; or the Fijians, who, when their parents get old, or fall ill, bury
them alive. (12. Sir J. Lubbock, 'Prehistoric Times,' 2nd ed., p. 446.)

Many animals, however, certainly sympathise with each other's distress or
danger. This is the case even with birds. Captain Stansbury (13. As
quoted by Mr. L.H. Morgan, 'The American Beaver,' 1868, p. 272. Capt.
Stansbury also gives an interesting account of the manner in which a very
young pelican, carried away by a strong stream, was guided and encouraged
in its attempts to reach the shore by half a dozen old birds.) found on a
salt lake in Utah an old and completely blind pelican, which was very fat,
and must have been well fed for a long time by his companions. Mr. Blyth,
as he informs me, saw Indian crows feeding two or three of their companions
which were blind; and I have heard of an analogous case with the domestic
cock. We may, if we choose, call these actions instinctive; but such cases
are much too rare for the development of any special instinct. (14. As
Mr. Bain states, "effective aid to a sufferer springs from sympathy
proper:" 'Mental and Moral Science,' 1868, p. 245.) I have myself seen a
dog, who never passed a cat who lay sick in a basket, and was a great
friend of his, without giving her a few licks with his tongue, the surest
sign of kind feeling in a dog.

It must be called sympathy that leads a courageous dog to fly at any one
who strikes his master, as he certainly will. I saw a person pretending to
beat a lady, who had a very timid little dog on her lap, and the trial had
never been made before; the little creature instantly jumped away, but
after the pretended beating was over, it was really pathetic to see how
perseveringly he tried to lick his mistress's face, and comfort her. Brehm
(15. 'Thierleben,' B. i. s. 85.) states that when a baboon in confinement
was pursued to be punished, the others tried to protect him. It must have
been sympathy in the cases above given which led the baboons and
Cercopitheci to defend their young comrades from the dogs and the eagle. I
will give only one other instance of sympathetic and heroic conduct, in the
case of a little American monkey. Several years ago a keeper at the
Zoological Gardens shewed me some deep and scarcely healed wounds on the
nape of his own neck, inflicted on him, whilst kneeling on the floor, by a
fierce baboon. The little American monkey, who was a warm friend of this
keeper, lived in the same large compartment, and was dreadfully afraid of
the great baboon. Nevertheless, as soon as he saw his friend in peril, he
rushed to the rescue, and by screams and bites so distracted the baboon
that the man was able to escape, after, as the surgeon thought, running
great risk of his life.

Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other qualities connected with
the social instincts, which in us would be called moral; and I agree with
Agassiz (16. 'De l'Espece et de la Classe,' 1869, p. 97.) that dogs
possess something very like a conscience.

Dogs possess some power of self-command, and this does not appear to be
wholly the result of fear. As Braubach (17. 'Die Darwin'sche Art-Lehre,'
1869, s. 54.) remarks, they will refrain from stealing food in the absence
of their master. They have long been accepted as the very type of fidelity
and obedience. But the elephant is likewise very faithful to his driver or
keeper, and probably considers him as the leader of the herd. Dr. Hooker
informs me that an elephant, which he was riding in India, became so deeply
bogged that he remained stuck fast until the next day, when he was
extricated by men with ropes. Under such circumstances elephants will
seize with their trunks any object, dead or alive, to place under their
knees, to prevent their sinking deeper in the mud; and the driver was
dreadfully afraid lest the animal should have seized Dr. Hooker and crushed
him to death. But the driver himself, as Dr. Hooker was assured, ran no
risk. This forbearance under an emergency so dreadful for a heavy animal,
is a wonderful proof of noble fidelity. (18. See also Hooker's 'Himalayan
Journals,' vol. ii. 1854, p. 333.)

All animals living in a body, which defend themselves or attack their
enemies in concert, must indeed be in some degree faithful to one another;
and those that follow a leader must be in some degree obedient. When the
baboons in Abyssinia (19. Brehm, 'Thierleben,' B. i. s. 76.) plunder a
garden, they silently follow their leader; and if an imprudent young animal
makes a noise, he receives a slap from the others to teach him silence and
obedience. Mr. Galton, who has had excellent opportunities for observing
the half-wild cattle in S. Africa, says (20. See his extremely interesting
paper on 'Gregariousness in Cattle, and in Man,' 'Macmillan's Magazine,'
Feb. 1871, p. 353.), that they cannot endure even a momentary separation
from the herd. They are essentially slavish, and accept the common
determination, seeking no better lot than to be led by any one ox who has
enough self-reliance to accept the position. The men who break in these
animals for harness, watch assiduously for those who, by grazing apart,
shew a self-reliant disposition, and these they train as fore-oxen. Mr.
Galton adds that such animals are rare and valuable; and if many were born
they would soon be eliminated, as lions are always on the look-out for the
individuals which wander from the herd.

With respect to the impulse which leads certain animals to associate
together, and to aid one another in many ways, we may infer that in most
cases they are impelled by the same sense of satisfaction or pleasure which
they experience in performing other instinctive actions; or by the same
sense of dissatisfaction as when other instinctive actions are checked. We
see this in innumerable instances, and it is illustrated in a striking
manner by the acquired instincts of our domesticated animals; thus a young
shepherd-dog delights in driving and running round a flock of sheep, but
not in worrying them; a young fox-hound delights in hunting a fox, whilst
some other kinds of dogs, as I have witnessed, utterly disregard foxes.
What a strong feeling of inward satisfaction must impel a bird, so full of
activity, to brood day after day over her eggs. Migratory birds are quite
miserable if stopped from migrating; perhaps they enjoy starting on their
long flight; but it is hard to believe that the poor pinioned goose,
described by Audubon, which started on foot at the proper time for its
journey of probably more than a thousand miles, could have felt any joy in
doing so. Some instincts are determined solely by painful feelings, as by
fear, which leads to self-preservation, and is in some cases directed
towards special enemies. No one, I presume, can analyse the sensations of
pleasure or pain. In many instances, however, it is probable that
instincts are persistently followed from the mere force of inheritance,
without the stimulus of either pleasure or pain. A young pointer, when it
first scents game, apparently cannot help pointing. A squirrel in a cage
who pats the nuts which it cannot eat, as if to bury them in the ground,
can hardly be thought to act thus, either from pleasure or pain. Hence the
common assumption that men must be impelled to every action by experiencing
some pleasure or pain may be erroneous. Although a habit may be blindly
and implicitly followed, independently of any pleasure or pain felt at the
moment, yet if it be forcibly and abruptly checked, a vague sense of
dissatisfaction is generally experienced.

It has often been assumed that animals were in the first place rendered
social, and that they feel as a consequence uncomfortable when separated
from each other, and comfortable whilst together; but it is a more probable
view that these sensations were first developed, in order that those
animals which would profit by living in society, should be induced to live
together, in the same manner as the sense of hunger and the pleasure of
eating were, no doubt, first acquired in order to induce animals to eat.
The feeling of pleasure from society is probably an extension of the
parental or filial affections, since the social instinct seems to be
developed by the young remaining for a long time with their parents; and
this extension may be attributed in part to habit, but chiefly to natural
selection. With those animals which were benefited by living in close
association, the individuals which took the greatest pleasure in society
would best escape various dangers, whilst those that cared least for their
comrades, and lived solitary, would perish in greater numbers. With
respect to the origin of the parental and filial affections, which
apparently lie at the base of the social instincts, we know not the steps
by which they have been gained; but we may infer that it has been to a
large extent through natural selection. So it has almost certainly been
with the unusual and opposite feeling of hatred between the nearest
relations, as with the worker-bees which kill their brother drones, and
with the queen-bees which kill their daughter-queens; the desire to destroy
their nearest relations having been in this case of service to the
community. Parental affection, or some feeling which replaces it, has been
developed in certain animals extremely low in the scale, for example, in
star-fishes and spiders. It is also occasionally present in a few members
alone in a whole group of animals, as in the genus Forficula, or earwigs.

The all-important emotion of sympathy is distinct from that of love. A
mother may passionately love her sleeping and passive infant, but she can
hardly at such times be said to feel sympathy for it. The love of a man
for his dog is distinct from sympathy, and so is that of a dog for his
master. Adam Smith formerly argued, as has Mr. Bain recently, that the
basis of sympathy lies in our strong retentiveness of former states of pain
or pleasure. Hence, "the sight of another person enduring hunger, cold,
fatigue, revives in us some recollection of these states, which are painful
even in idea." We are thus impelled to relieve the sufferings of another,
in order that our own painful feelings may be at the same time relieved.
In like manner we are led to participate in the pleasures of others. (21.
See the first and striking chapter in Adam Smith's 'Theory of Moral
Sentiments.' Also 'Mr. Bain's Mental and Moral Science,' 1868, pp. 244,
and 275-282. Mr. Bain states, that, "sympathy is, indirectly, a source of
pleasure to the sympathiser"; and he accounts for this through reciprocity.
He remarks that "the person benefited, or others in his stead, may make up,
by sympathy and good offices returned, for all the sacrifice." But if, as
appears to be the case, sympathy is strictly an instinct, its exercise
would give direct pleasure, in the same manner as the exercise, as before
remarked, of almost every other instinct.) But I cannot see how this view
explains the fact that sympathy is excited, in an immeasurably stronger
degree, by a beloved, than by an indifferent person. The mere sight of
suffering, independently of love, would suffice to call up in us vivid
recollections and associations. The explanation may lie in the fact that,
with all animals, sympathy is directed solely towards the members of the
same community, and therefore towards known, and more or less beloved
members, but not to all the individuals of the same species. This fact is
not more surprising than that the fears of many animals should be directed
against special enemies. Species which are not social, such as lions and
tigers, no doubt feel sympathy for the suffering of their own young, but
not for that of any other animal. With mankind, selfishness, experience,
and imitation, probably add, as Mr. Bain has shewn, to the power of
sympathy; for we are led by the hope of receiving good in return to perform
acts of sympathetic kindness to others; and sympathy is much strengthened
by habit. In however complex a manner this feeling may have originated, as
it is one of high importance to all those animals which aid and defend one
another, it will have been increased through natural selection; for those
communities, which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic
members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.

It is, however, impossible to decide in many cases whether certain social
instincts have been acquired through natural selection, or are the indirect
result of other instincts and faculties, such as sympathy, reason,
experience, and a tendency to imitation; or again, whether they are simply
the result of long-continued habit. So remarkable an instinct as the
placing sentinels to warn the community of danger, can hardly have been the
indirect result of any of these faculties; it must, therefore, have been
directly acquired. On the other hand, the habit followed by the males of
some social animals of defending the community, and of attacking their
enemies or their prey in concert, may perhaps have originated from mutual
sympathy; but courage, and in most cases strength, must have been
previously acquired, probably through natural selection.

Of the various instincts and habits, some are much stronger than others;
that is, some either give more pleasure in their performance, and more
distress in their prevention, than others; or, which is probably quite as
important, they are, through inheritance, more persistently followed,
without exciting any special feeling of pleasure or pain. We are ourselves
conscious that some habits are much more difficult to cure or change than
others. Hence a struggle may often be observed in animals between
different instincts, or between an instinct and some habitual disposition;
as when a dog rushes after a hare, is rebuked, pauses, hesitates, pursues
again, or returns ashamed to his master; or as between the love of a female
dog for her young puppies and for her master,--for she may be seen to slink
away to them, as if half ashamed of not accompanying her master. But the
most curious instance known to me of one instinct getting the better of
another, is the migratory instinct conquering the maternal instinct. The
former is wonderfully strong; a confined bird will at the proper season
beat her breast against the wires of her cage, until it is bare and bloody.
It causes young salmon to leap out of the fresh water, in which they could
continue to exist, and thus unintentionally to commit suicide. Every one
knows how strong the maternal instinct is, leading even timid birds to face
great danger, though with hesitation, and in opposition to the instinct of
self-preservation. Nevertheless, the migratory instinct is so powerful,
that late in the autumn swallows, house-martins, and swifts frequently
desert their tender young, leaving them to perish miserably in their nests.
(22. This fact, the Rev. L. Jenyns states (see his edition of 'White's
Nat. Hist. of Selborne,' 1853, p. 204) was first recorded by the
illustrious Jenner, in 'Phil. Transact.' 1824, and has since been confirmed
by several observers, especially by Mr. Blackwall. This latter careful
observer examined, late in the autumn, during two years, thirty-six nests;
he found that twelve contained young dead birds, five contained eggs on the
point of being hatched, and three, eggs not nearly hatched. Many birds,
not yet old enough for a prolonged flight, are likewise deserted and left
behind. See Blackwall, 'Researches in Zoology,' 1834, pp. 108, 118. For
some additional evidence, although this is not wanted, see Leroy, 'Lettres
Phil.' 1802, p. 217. For Swifts, Gould's 'Introduction to the Birds of
Great Britain,' 1823, p. 5. Similar cases have been observed in Canada by
Mr. Adams; 'Pop. Science Review,' July 1873, p. 283.)

We can perceive that an instinctive impulse, if it be in any way more
beneficial to a species than some other or opposed instinct, would be
rendered the more potent of the two through natural selection; for the
individuals which had it most strongly developed would survive in larger
numbers. Whether this is the case with the migratory in comparison with
the maternal instinct, may be doubted. The great persistence, or steady
action of the former at certain seasons of the year during the whole day,
may give it for a time paramount force.


Every one will admit that man is a social being. We see this in his
dislike of solitude, and in his wish for society beyond that of his own
family. Solitary confinement is one of the severest punishments which can
be inflicted. Some authors suppose that man primevally lived in single
families; but at the present day, though single families, or only two or
three together, roam the solitudes of some savage lands, they always, as
far as I can discover, hold friendly relations with other families
inhabiting the same district. Such families occasionally meet in council,
and unite for their common defence. It is no argument against savage man
being a social animal, that the tribes inhabiting adjacent districts are
almost always at war with each other; for the social instincts never extend
to all the individuals of the same species. Judging from the analogy of
the majority of the Quadrumana, it is probable that the early ape-like
progenitors of man were likewise social; but this is not of much importance
for us. Although man, as he now exists, has few special instincts, having
lost any which his early progenitors may have possessed, this is no reason
why he should not have retained from an extremely remote period some degree
of instinctive love and sympathy for his fellows. We are indeed all
conscious that we do possess such sympathetic feelings (23. Hume remarks
('An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals,' edit. of 1751, p. 132),
"There seems a necessity for confessing that the happiness and misery of
others are not spectacles altogether indifferent to us, but that the view
of the former...communicates a secret joy; the appearance of the latter...
throws a melancholy damp over the imagination."); but our consciousness
does not tell us whether they are instinctive, having originated long ago
in the same manner as with the lower animals, or whether they have been
acquired by each of us during our early years. As man is a social animal,
it is almost certain that he would inherit a tendency to be faithful to his
comrades, and obedient to the leader of his tribe; for these qualities are
common to most social animals. He would consequently possess some capacity
for self-command. He would from an inherited tendency be willing to
defend, in concert with others, his fellow-men; and would be ready to aid
them in any way, which did not too greatly interfere with his own welfare
or his own strong desires.

The social animals which stand at the bottom of the scale are guided almost
exclusively, and those which stand higher in the scale are largely guided,
by special instincts in the aid which they give to the members of the same
community; but they are likewise in part impelled by mutual love and
sympathy, assisted apparently by some amount of reason. Although man, as
just remarked, has no special instincts to tell him how to aid his fellow-
men, he still has the impulse, and with his improved intellectual faculties
would naturally be much guided in this respect by reason and experience.
Instinctive sympathy would also cause him to value highly the approbation
of his fellows; for, as Mr. Bain has clearly shewn (24. 'Mental and Moral
Science,' 1868, p. 254.), the love of praise and the strong feeling of
glory, and the still stronger horror of scorn and infamy, "are due to the
workings of sympathy." Consequently man would be influenced in the highest
degree by the wishes, approbation, and blame of his fellow-men, as
expressed by their gestures and language. Thus the social instincts, which
must have been acquired by man in a very rude state, and probably even by
his early ape-like progenitors, still give the impulse to some of his best
actions; but his actions are in a higher degree determined by the expressed
wishes and judgment of his fellow-men, and unfortunately very often by his
own strong selfish desires. But as love, sympathy and self-command become
strengthened by habit, and as the power of reasoning becomes clearer, so
that man can value justly the judgments of his fellows, he will feel
himself impelled, apart from any transitory pleasure or pain, to certain
lines of conduct. He might then declare--not that any barbarian or
uncultivated man could thus think--I am the supreme judge of my own
conduct, and in the words of Kant, I will not in my own person violate the
dignity of humanity.


We have not, however, as yet considered the main point, on which, from our
present point of view, the whole question of the moral sense turns. Why
should a man feel that he ought to obey one instinctive desire rather than
another? Why is he bitterly regretful, if he has yielded to a strong sense
of self-preservation, and has not risked his life to save that of a fellow-
creature? or why does he regret having stolen food from hunger?

It is evident in the first place, that with mankind the instinctive
impulses have different degrees of strength; a savage will risk his own
life to save that of a member of the same community, but will be wholly
indifferent about a stranger: a young and timid mother urged by the
maternal instinct will, without a moment's hesitation, run the greatest
danger for her own infant, but not for a mere fellow-creature.
Nevertheless many a civilised man, or even boy, who never before risked his
life for another, but full of courage and sympathy, has disregarded the
instinct of self-preservation, and plunged at once into a torrent to save a
drowning man, though a stranger. In this case man is impelled by the same
instinctive motive, which made the heroic little American monkey, formerly
described, save his keeper, by attacking the great and dreaded baboon.
Such actions as the above appear to be the simple result of the greater
strength of the social or maternal instincts rather than that of any other
instinct or motive; for they are performed too instantaneously for
reflection, or for pleasure or pain to be felt at the time; though, if
prevented by any cause, distress or even misery might be felt. In a timid
man, on the other hand, the instinct of self-preservation might be so
strong, that he would be unable to force himself to run any such risk,
perhaps not even for his own child.

I am aware that some persons maintain that actions performed impulsively,
as in the above cases, do not come under the dominion of the moral sense,
and cannot be called moral. They confine this term to actions done
deliberately, after a victory over opposing desires, or when prompted by
some exalted motive. But it appears scarcely possible to draw any clear
line of distinction of this kind. (25. I refer here to the distinction
between what has been called MATERIAL and FORMAL morality. I am glad to
find that Professor Huxley ('Critiques and Addresses,' 1873, p. 287) takes
the same view on this subject as I do. Mr. Leslie Stephen remarks ('Essays
on Freethinking and Plain Speaking,' 1873, p. 83), "the metaphysical
distinction, between material and formal morality is as irrelevant as other
such distinctions.") As far as exalted motives are concerned, many
instances have been recorded of savages, destitute of any feeling of
general benevolence towards mankind, and not guided by any religious
motive, who have deliberately sacrificed their lives as prisoners(26. I
have given one such case, namely of three Patagonian Indians who preferred
being shot, one after the other, to betraying the plans of their companions
in war ('Journal of Researches,' 1845, p. 103).), rather than betray their
comrades; and surely their conduct ought to be considered as moral. As far
as deliberation, and the victory over opposing motives are concerned,
animals may be seen doubting between opposed instincts, in rescuing their
offspring or comrades from danger; yet their actions, though done for the
good of others, are not called moral. Moreover, anything performed very
often by us, will at last be done without deliberation or hesitation, and
can then hardly be distinguished from an instinct; yet surely no one will
pretend that such an action ceases to be moral. On the contrary, we all
feel that an act cannot be considered as perfect, or as performed in the
most noble manner, unless it be done impulsively, without deliberation or
effort, in the same manner as by a man in whom the requisite qualities are
innate. He who is forced to overcome his fear or want of sympathy before
he acts, deserves, however, in one way higher credit than the man whose
innate disposition leads him to a good act without effort. As we cannot
distinguish between motives, we rank all actions of a certain class as
moral, if performed by a moral being. A moral being is one who is capable
of comparing his past and future actions or motives, and of approving or
disapproving of them. We have no reason to suppose that any of the lower
animals have this capacity; therefore, when a Newfoundland dog drags a
child out of the water, or a monkey faces danger to rescue its comrade, or
takes charge of an orphan monkey, we do not call its conduct moral. But in
the case of man, who alone can with certainty be ranked as a moral being,
actions of a certain class are called moral, whether performed
deliberately, after a struggle with opposing motives, or impulsively
through instinct, or from the effects of slowly-gained habit.

But to return to our more immediate subject. Although some instincts are
more powerful than others, and thus lead to corresponding actions, yet it
is untenable, that in man the social instincts (including the love of
praise and fear of blame) possess greater strength, or have, through long
habit, acquired greater strength than the instincts of self-preservation,
hunger, lust, vengeance, etc. Why then does man regret, even though trying
to banish such regret, that he has followed the one natural impulse rather
than the other; and why does he further feel that he ought to regret his
conduct? Man in this respect differs profoundly from the lower animals.
Nevertheless we can, I think, see with some degree of clearness the reason
of this difference.

Man, from the activity of his mental faculties, cannot avoid reflection:
past impressions and images are incessantly and clearly passing through his
mind. Now with those animals which live permanently in a body, the social
instincts are ever present and persistent. Such animals are always ready
to utter the danger-signal, to defend the community, and to give aid to
their fellows in accordance with their habits; they feel at all times,
without the stimulus of any special passion or desire, some degree of love
and sympathy for them; they are unhappy if long separated from them, and
always happy to be again in their company. So it is with ourselves. Even
when we are quite alone, how often do we think with pleasure or pain of
what others think of us,--of their imagined approbation or disapprobation;
and this all follows from sympathy, a fundamental element of the social
instincts. A man who possessed no trace of such instincts would be an
unnatural monster. On the other hand, the desire to satisfy hunger, or any
passion such as vengeance, is in its nature temporary, and can for a time
be fully satisfied. Nor is it easy, perhaps hardly possible, to call up
with complete vividness the feeling, for instance, of hunger; nor indeed,
as has often been remarked, of any suffering. The instinct of self-
preservation is not felt except in the presence of danger; and many a
coward has thought himself brave until he has met his enemy face to face.
The wish for another man's property is perhaps as persistent a desire as
any that can be named; but even in this case the satisfaction of actual
possession is generally a weaker feeling than the desire: many a thief, if
not a habitual one, after success has wondered why he stole some article.
(27. Enmity or hatred seems also to be a highly persistent feeling, perhaps
more so than any other that can be named. Envy is defined as hatred of
another for some excellence or success; and Bacon insists (Essay ix.), "Of
all other affections envy is the most importune and continual." Dogs are
very apt to hate both strange men and strange dogs, especially if they live
near at hand, but do not belong to the same family, tribe, or clan; this
feeling would thus seem to be innate, and is certainly a most persistent
one. It seems to be the complement and converse of the true social
instinct. From what we hear of savages, it would appear that something of
the same kind holds good with them. If this be so, it would be a small
step in any one to transfer such feelings to any member of the same tribe
if he had done him an injury and had become his enemy. Nor is it probable
that the primitive conscience would reproach a man for injuring his enemy;
rather it would reproach him, if he had not revenged himself. To do good
in return for evil, to love your enemy, is a height of morality to which it
may be doubted whether the social instincts would, by themselves, have ever
led us. It is necessary that these instincts, together with sympathy,
should have been highly cultivated and extended by the aid of reason,
instruction, and the love or fear of God, before any such golden rule would
ever be thought of and obeyed.)

A man cannot prevent past impressions often repassing through his mind; he
will thus be driven to make a comparison between the impressions of past
hunger, vengeance satisfied, or danger shunned at other men's cost, with
the almost ever-present instinct of sympathy, and with his early knowledge
of what others consider as praiseworthy or blameable. This knowledge
cannot be banished from his mind, and from instinctive sympathy is esteemed
of great moment. He will then feel as if he had been baulked in following
a present instinct or habit, and this with all animals causes
dissatisfaction, or even misery.

The above case of the swallow affords an illustration, though of a reversed
nature, of a temporary though for the time strongly persistent instinct
conquering another instinct, which is usually dominant over all others. At
the proper season these birds seem all day long to be impressed with the
desire to migrate; their habits change; they become restless, are noisy and
congregate in flocks. Whilst the mother-bird is feeding, or brooding over
her nestlings, the maternal instinct is probably stronger than the
migratory; but the instinct which is the more persistent gains the victory,
and at last, at a moment when her young ones are not in sight, she takes
flight and deserts them. When arrived at the end of her long journey, and
the migratory instinct has ceased to act, what an agony of remorse the bird
would feel, if, from being endowed with great mental activity, she could
not prevent the image constantly passing through her mind, of her young
ones perishing in the bleak north from cold and hunger.

At the moment of action, man will no doubt be apt to follow the stronger
impulse; and though this may occasionally prompt him to the noblest deeds,
it will more commonly lead him to gratify his own desires at the expense of
other men. But after their gratification when past and weaker impressions
are judged by the ever-enduring social instinct, and by his deep regard for
the good opinion of his fellows, retribution will surely come. He will
then feel remorse, repentance, regret, or shame; this latter feeling,
however, relates almost exclusively to the judgment of others. He will
consequently resolve more or less firmly to act differently for the future;
and this is conscience; for conscience looks backwards, and serves as a
guide for the future.

The nature and strength of the feelings which we call regret, shame,
repentance or remorse, depend apparently not only on the strength of the
violated instinct, but partly on the strength of the temptation, and often
still more on the judgment of our fellows. How far each man values the
appreciation of others, depends on the strength of his innate or acquired
feeling of sympathy; and on his own capacity for reasoning out the remote
consequences of his acts. Another element is most important, although not
necessary, the reverence or fear of the Gods, or Spirits believed in by
each man: and this applies especially in cases of remorse. Several
critics have objected that though some slight regret or repentance may be
explained by the view advocated in this chapter, it is impossible thus to
account for the soul-shaking feeling of remorse. But I can see little
force in this objection. My critics do not define what they mean by
remorse, and I can find no definition implying more than an overwhelming
sense of repentance. Remorse seems to bear the same relation to
repentance, as rage does to anger, or agony to pain. It is far from
strange that an instinct so strong and so generally admired, as maternal
love, should, if disobeyed, lead to the deepest misery, as soon as the
impression of the past cause of disobedience is weakened. Even when an
action is opposed to no special instinct, merely to know that our friends
and equals despise us for it is enough to cause great misery. Who can
doubt that the refusal to fight a duel through fear has caused many men an
agony of shame? Many a Hindoo, it is said, has been stirred to the bottom
of his soul by having partaken of unclean food. Here is another case of
what must, I think, be called remorse. Dr. Landor acted as a magistrate in
West Australia, and relates (28. 'Insanity in Relation to Law,' Ontario,
United States, 1871, p. 1.), that a native on his farm, after losing one of
his wives from disease, came and said that, "he was going to a distant
tribe to spear a woman, to satisfy his sense of duty to his wife. I told
him that if he did so, I would send him to prison for life. He remained
about the farm for some months, but got exceedingly thin, and complained
that he could not rest or eat, that his wife's spirit was haunting him,
because he had not taken a life for hers. I was inexorable, and assured
him that nothing should save him if he did." Nevertheless the man
disappeared for more than a year, and then returned in high condition; and
his other wife told Dr. Landor that her husband had taken the life of a
woman belonging to a distant tribe; but it was impossible to obtain legal
evidence of the act. The breach of a rule held sacred by the tribe, will
thus, as it seems, give rise to the deepest feelings,--and this quite apart
from the social instincts, excepting in so far as the rule is grounded on
the judgment of the community. How so many strange superstitions have
arisen throughout the world we know not; nor can we tell how some real and
great crimes, such as incest, have come to be held in an abhorrence (which
is not however quite universal) by the lowest savages. It is even doubtful
whether in some tribes incest would be looked on with greater horror, than
would the marriage of a man with a woman bearing the same name, though not
a relation. "To violate this law is a crime which the Australians hold in
the greatest abhorrence, in this agreeing exactly with certain tribes of
North America. When the question is put in either district, is it worse to
kill a girl of a foreign tribe, or to marry a girl of one's own, an answer
just opposite to ours would be given without hesitation." (29. E.B.
Tylor, in 'Contemporary Review,' April 1873, p. 707.) We may, therefore,
reject the belief, lately insisted on by some writers, that the abhorrence
of incest is due to our possessing a special God-implanted conscience. On
the whole it is intelligible, that a man urged by so powerful a sentiment
as remorse, though arising as above explained, should be led to act in a
manner, which he has been taught to believe serves as an expiation, such as
delivering himself up to justice.

Man prompted by his conscience, will through long habit acquire such
perfect self-command, that his desires and passions will at last yield
instantly and without a struggle to his social sympathies and instincts,
including his feeling for the judgment of his fellows. The still hungry,
or the still revengeful man will not think of stealing food, or of wreaking
his vengeance. It is possible, or as we shall hereafter see, even
probable, that the habit of self-command may, like other habits, be
inherited. Thus at last man comes to feel, through acquired and perhaps
inherited habit, that it is best for him to obey his more persistent
impulses. The imperious word "ought" seems merely to imply the
consciousness of the existence of a rule of conduct, however it may have
originated. Formerly it must have been often vehemently urged that an
insulted gentleman OUGHT to fight a duel. We even say that a pointer OUGHT
to point, and a retriever to retrieve game. If they fail to do so, they
fail in their duty and act wrongly.

If any desire or instinct leading to an action opposed to the good of
others still appears, when recalled to mind, as strong as, or stronger
than, the social instinct, a man will feel no keen regret at having
followed it; but he will be conscious that if his conduct were known to his
fellows, it would meet with their disapprobation; and few are so destitute
of sympathy as not to feel discomfort when this is realised. If he has no
such sympathy, and if his desires leading to bad actions are at the time
strong, and when recalled are not over-mastered by the persistent social
instincts, and the judgment of others, then he is essentially a bad man
(30. Dr. Prosper Despine, in his Psychologie Naturelle, 1868 (tom. i. p.
243; tom. ii. p. 169) gives many curious cases of the worst criminals, who
apparently have been entirely destitute of conscience.); and the sole
restraining motive left is the fear of punishment, and the conviction that
in the long run it would be best for his own selfish interests to regard
the good of others rather than his own.

It is obvious that every one may with an easy conscience gratify his own
desires, if they do not interfere with his social instincts, that is with
the good of others; but in order to be quite free from self-reproach, or at
least of anxiety, it is almost necessary for him to avoid the
disapprobation, whether reasonable or not, of his fellow-men. Nor must he
break through the fixed habits of his life, especially if these are
supported by reason; for if he does, he will assuredly feel
dissatisfaction. He must likewise avoid the reprobation of the one God or
gods in whom, according to his knowledge or superstition, he may believe;
but in this case the additional fear of divine punishment often supervenes.


The above view of the origin and nature of the moral sense, which tells us
what we ought to do, and of the conscience which reproves us if we disobey
it, accords well with what we see of the early and undeveloped condition of
this faculty in mankind. The virtues which must be practised, at least
generally, by rude men, so that they may associate in a body, are those
which are still recognised as the most important. But they are practised
almost exclusively in relation to the men of the same tribe; and their
opposites are not regarded as crimes in relation to the men of other
tribes. No tribe could hold together if murder, robbery, treachery, etc.,
were common; consequently such crimes within the limits of the same tribe
"are branded with everlasting infamy" (31. See an able article in the
'North British Review,' 1867, p. 395. See also Mr. W. Bagehot's articles
on the Importance of Obedience and Coherence to Primitive Man, in the
'Fortnightly Review,' 1867, p. 529, and 1868, p. 457, etc.); but excite no
such sentiment beyond these limits. A North-American Indian is well
pleased with himself, and is honoured by others, when he scalps a man of
another tribe; and a Dyak cuts off the head of an unoffending person, and
dries it as a trophy. The murder of infants has prevailed on the largest
scale throughout the world (32. The fullest account which I have met with
is by Dr. Gerland, in his 'Ueber den Aussterben der Naturvolker,' 1868; but
I shall have to recur to the subject of infanticide in a future chapter.),
and has met with no reproach; but infanticide, especially of females, has
been thought to be good for the tribe, or at least not injurious. Suicide
during former times was not generally considered as a crime (33. See the
very interesting discussion on suicide in Lecky's 'History of European
Morals,' vol. i. 1869, p. 223. With respect to savages, Mr. Winwood Reade
informs me that the negroes of West Africa often commit suicide. It is
well known how common it was amongst the miserable aborigines of South
America after the Spanish conquest. For New Zealand, see the voyage of the
"Novara," and for the Aleutian Islands, Muller, as quoted by Houzeau, 'Les
Facultes Mentales,' etc., tom. ii. p. 136.), but rather, from the courage
displayed, as an honourable act; and it is still practised by some semi-
civilised and savage nations without reproach, for it does not obviously
concern others of the tribe. It has been recorded that an Indian Thug
conscientiously regretted that he had not robbed and strangled as many
travellers as did his father before him. In a rude state of civilisation
the robbery of strangers is, indeed, generally considered as honourable.

Slavery, although in some ways beneficial during ancient times (34. See
Mr. Bagehot, 'Physics and Politics,' 1872, p. 72.), is a great crime; yet
it was not so regarded until quite recently, even by the most civilised
nations. And this was especially the case, because the slaves belonged in
general to a race different from that of their masters. As barbarians do
not regard the opinion of their women, wives are commonly treated like
slaves. Most savages are utterly indifferent to the sufferings of
strangers, or even delight in witnessing them. It is well known that the
women and children of the North-American Indians aided in torturing their
enemies. Some savages take a horrid pleasure in cruelty to animals (35.
See, for instance, Mr. Hamilton's account of the Kaffirs, 'Anthropological
Review,' 1870, p. xv.), and humanity is an unknown virtue. Nevertheless,
besides the family affections, kindness is common, especially during
sickness, between the members of the same tribe, and is sometimes extended
beyond these limits. Mungo Park's touching account of the kindness of the
negro women of the interior to him is well known. Many instances could be
given of the noble fidelity of savages towards each other, but not to
strangers; common experience justifies the maxim of the Spaniard, "Never,
never trust an Indian." There cannot be fidelity without truth; and this
fundamental virtue is not rare between the members of the same tribe: thus
Mungo Park heard the negro women teaching their young children to love the
truth. This, again, is one of the virtues which becomes so deeply rooted
in the mind, that it is sometimes practised by savages, even at a high
cost, towards strangers; but to lie to your enemy has rarely been thought a
sin, as the history of modern diplomacy too plainly shews. As soon as a
tribe has a recognised leader, disobedience becomes a crime, and even
abject submission is looked at as a sacred virtue.

As during rude times no man can be useful or faithful to his tribe without
courage, this quality has universally been placed in the highest rank; and
although in civilised countries a good yet timid man may be far more useful
to the community than a brave one, we cannot help instinctively honouring
the latter above a coward, however benevolent. Prudence, on the other
hand, which does not concern the welfare of others, though a very useful
virtue, has never been highly esteemed. As no man can practise the virtues
necessary for the welfare of his tribe without self-sacrifice, self-
command, and the power of endurance, these qualities have been at all times
highly and most justly valued. The American savage voluntarily submits to
the most horrid tortures without a groan, to prove and strengthen his
fortitude and courage; and we cannot help admiring him, or even an Indian
Fakir, who, from a foolish religious motive, swings suspended by a hook
buried in his flesh.

The other so-called self-regarding virtues, which do not obviously, though
they may really, affect the welfare of the tribe, have never been esteemed
by savages, though now highly appreciated by civilised nations. The
greatest intemperance is no reproach with savages. Utter licentiousness,
and unnatural crimes, prevail to an astounding extent. (36. Mr. M'Lennan
has given ('Primitive Marriage,' 1865, p. 176) a good collection of facts
on this head.) As soon, however, as marriage, whether polygamous, or
monogamous, becomes common, jealousy will lead to the inculcation of female
virtue; and this, being honoured, will tend to spread to the unmarried
females. How slowly it spreads to the male sex, we see at the present day.
Chastity eminently requires self-command; therefore it has been honoured
from a very early period in the moral history of civilised man. As a
consequence of this, the senseless practice of celibacy has been ranked
from a remote period as a virtue. (38. Lecky, 'History of European
Morals,' vol. i. 1869, p. 109.) The hatred of indecency, which appears to
us so natural as to be thought innate, and which is so valuable an aid to
chastity, is a modern virtue, appertaining exclusively, as Sir G. Staunton
remarks (38. 'Embassy to China,' vol. ii. p. 348.), to civilised life.
This is shewn by the ancient religious rites of various nations, by the
drawings on the walls of Pompeii, and by the practices of many savages.

We have now seen that actions are regarded by savages, and were probably so
regarded by primeval man, as good or bad, solely as they obviously affect
the welfare of the tribe,--not that of the species, nor that of an
individual member of the tribe. This conclusion agrees well with the
belief that the so-called moral sense is aboriginally derived from the
social instincts, for both relate at first exclusively to the community.

The chief causes of the low morality of savages, as judged by our standard,
are, firstly, the confinement of sympathy to the same tribe. Secondly,
powers of reasoning insufficient to recognise the bearing of many virtues,
especially of the self-regarding virtues, on the general welfare of the
tribe. Savages, for instance, fail to trace the multiplied evils
consequent on a want of temperance, chastity, etc. And, thirdly, weak
power of self-command; for this power has not been strengthened through
long-continued, perhaps inherited, habit, instruction and religion.

I have entered into the above details on the immorality of savages (39.
See on this subject copious evidence in Chap. vii. of Sir J. Lubbock,
'Origin of Civilisation,' 1870.), because some authors have recently taken
a high view of their moral nature, or have attributed most of their crimes
to mistaken benevolence. (40. For instance Lecky, 'History of European
Morals,' vol. i. p. 124.) These authors appear to rest their conclusion on
savages possessing those virtues which are serviceable, or even necessary,
for the existence of the family and of the tribe,--qualities which they
undoubtedly do possess, and often in a high degree.


It was assumed formerly by philosophers of the derivative (41. This term
is used in an able article in the 'Westminster Review,' Oct. 1869, p. 498.
For the "Greatest happiness principle," see J.S. Mill, 'Utilitarianism,' p.
17.) school of morals that the foundation of morality lay in a form of
Selfishness; but more recently the "Greatest happiness principle" has been
brought prominently forward. It is, however, more correct to speak of the
latter principle as the standard, and not as the motive of conduct.
Nevertheless, all the authors whose works I have consulted, with a few
exceptions (42. Mill recognises ('System of Logic,' vol. ii. p. 422) in
the clearest manner, that actions may be performed through habit without
the anticipation of pleasure. Mr. H. Sidgwick also, in his Essay on
Pleasure and Desire ('The Contemporary Review,' April 1872, p. 671),
remarks: "To sum up, in contravention of the doctrine that our conscious
active impulses are always directed towards the production of agreeable
sensations in ourselves, I would maintain that we find everywhere in
consciousness extra-regarding impulse, directed towards something that is
not pleasure; that in many cases the impulse is so far incompatible with
the self-regarding that the two do not easily co-exist in the same moment
of consciousness." A dim feeling that our impulses do not by any means
always arise from any contemporaneous or anticipated pleasure, has, I
cannot but think, been one chief cause of the acceptance of the intuitive
theory of morality, and of the rejection of the utilitarian or "Greatest
happiness" theory. With respect to the latter theory the standard and the
motive of conduct have no doubt often been confused, but they are really in
some degree blended.), write as if there must be a distinct motive for
every action, and that this must be associated with some pleasure or
displeasure. But man seems often to act impulsively, that is from instinct
or long habit, without any consciousness of pleasure, in the same manner as
does probably a bee or ant, when it blindly follows its instincts. Under
circumstances of extreme peril, as during a fire, when a man endeavours to
save a fellow-creature without a moment's hesitation, he can hardly feel
pleasure; and still less has he time to reflect on the dissatisfaction
which he might subsequently experience if he did not make the attempt.
Should he afterwards reflect over his own conduct, he would feel that there
lies within him an impulsive power widely different from a search after
pleasure or happiness; and this seems to be the deeply planted social

In the case of the lower animals it seems much more appropriate to speak of
their social instincts, as having been developed for the general good
rather than for the general happiness of the species. The term, general
good, may be defined as the rearing of the greatest number of individuals
in full vigour and health, with all their faculties perfect, under the
conditions to which they are subjected. As the social instincts both of
man and the lower animals have no doubt been developed by nearly the same
steps, it would be advisable, if found practicable, to use the same
definition in both cases, and to take as the standard of morality, the
general good or welfare of the community, rather than the general
happiness; but this definition would perhaps require some limitation on
account of political ethics.

When a man risks his life to save that of a fellow-creature, it seems also
more correct to say that he acts for the general good, rather than for the
general happiness of mankind. No doubt the welfare and the happiness of
the individual usually coincide; and a contented, happy tribe will flourish
better than one that is discontented and unhappy. We have seen that even
at an early period in the history of man, the expressed wishes of the
community will have naturally influenced to a large extent the conduct of
each member; and as all wish for happiness, the "greatest happiness
principle" will have become a most important secondary guide and object;
the social instinct, however, together with sympathy (which leads to our
regarding the approbation and disapprobation of others), having served as
the primary impulse and guide. Thus the reproach is removed of laying the
foundation of the noblest part of our nature in the base principle of
selfishness; unless, indeed, the satisfaction which every animal feels,
when it follows its proper instincts, and the dissatisfaction felt when
prevented, be called selfish.

The wishes and opinions of the members of the same community, expressed at
first orally, but later by writing also, either form the sole guides of our
conduct, or greatly reinforce the social instincts; such opinions, however,
have sometimes a tendency directly opposed to these instincts. This latter
fact is well exemplified by the LAW OF HONOUR, that is, the law of the
opinion of our equals, and not of all our countrymen. The breach of this
law, even when the breach is known to be strictly accordant with true
morality, has caused many a man more agony than a real crime. We recognise
the same influence in the burning sense of shame which most of us have
felt, even after the interval of years, when calling to mind some
accidental breach of a trifling, though fixed, rule of etiquette. The
judgment of the community will generally be guided by some rude experience
of what is best in the long run for all the members; but this judgment will
not rarely err from ignorance and weak powers of reasoning. Hence the
strangest customs and superstitions, in complete opposition to the true
welfare and happiness of mankind, have become all-powerful throughout the
world. We see this in the horror felt by a Hindoo who breaks his caste,
and in many other such cases. It would be difficult to distinguish between
the remorse felt by a Hindoo who has yielded to the temptation of eating
unclean food, from that felt after committing a theft; but the former would
probably be the more severe.

How so many absurd rules of conduct, as well as so many absurd religious
beliefs, have originated, we do not know; nor how it is that they have
become, in all quarters of the world, so deeply impressed on the mind of
men; but it is worthy of remark that a belief constantly inculcated during
the early years of life, whilst the brain is impressible, appears to
acquire almost the nature of an instinct; and the very essence of an
instinct is that it is followed independently of reason. Neither can we
say why certain admirable virtues, such as the love of truth, are much more
highly appreciated by some savage tribes than by others (43. Good
instances are given by Mr. Wallace in 'Scientific Opinion,' Sept. 15, 1869;
and more fully in his 'Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection,'
1870, p. 353.); nor, again, why similar differences prevail even amongst
highly civilised nations. Knowing how firmly fixed many strange customs
and superstitions have become, we need feel no surprise that the self-
regarding virtues, supported as they are by reason, should now appear to us
so natural as to be thought innate, although they were not valued by man in
his early condition.

Not withstanding many sources of doubt, man can generally and readily
distinguish between the higher and lower moral rules. The higher are
founded on the social instincts, and relate to the welfare of others. They
are supported by the approbation of our fellow-men and by reason. The
lower rules, though some of them when implying self-sacrifice hardly
deserve to be called lower, relate chiefly to self, and arise from public
opinion, matured by experience and cultivation; for they are not practised
by rude tribes.

As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger
communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought
to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the
same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once
reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies
extending to the men of all nations and races. If, indeed, such men are
separated from him by great differences in appearance or habits, experience
unfortunately shews us how long it is, before we look at them as our
fellow-creatures. Sympathy beyond the confines of man, that is, humanity
to the lower animals, seems to be one of the latest moral acquisitions. It
is apparently unfelt by savages, except towards their pets. How little the
old Romans knew of it is shewn by their abhorrent gladiatorial exhibitions.
The very idea of humanity, as far as I could observe, was new to most of
the Gauchos of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with which man
is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more
tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient
beings. As soon as this virtue is honoured and practised by some few men,
it spreads through instruction and example to the young, and eventually
becomes incorporated in public opinion.

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognise that we
ought to control our thoughts, and "not even in inmost thought to think
again the sins that made the past so pleasant to us." (44. Tennyson,
Idylls of the King, p. 244.) Whatever makes any bad action familiar to the
mind, renders its performance by so much the easier. As Marcus Aurelius
long ago said, "Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the
character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts." (45. 'The
Thoughts of the Emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus,' English translation, 2nd
edit., 1869. p. 112. Marcus Aurelius ws born A.D. 121.)

Our great philosopher, Herbert Spencer, has recently explained his views on
the moral sense. He says (46. Letter to Mr. Mill in Bain's 'Mental and
Moral Science,' 1868, p. 722.), "I believe that the experiences of utility
organised and consolidated through all past generations of the human race,
have been producing corresponding modifications, which, by continued
transmission and accumulation, have become in us certain faculties of moral
intuition--certain emotions responding to right and wrong conduct, which
have no apparent basis in the individual experiences of utility." There is
not the least inherent improbability, as it seems to me, in virtuous
tendencies being more or less strongly inherited; for, not to mention the
various dispositions and habits transmitted by many of our domestic animals
to their offspring, I have heard of authentic cases in which a desire to
steal and a tendency to lie appeared to run in families of the upper ranks;
and as stealing is a rare crime in the wealthy classes, we can hardly
account by accidental coincidence for the tendency occurring in two or
three members of the same family. If bad tendencies are transmitted, it is
probable that good ones are likewise transmitted. That the state of the
body by affecting the brain, has great influence on the moral tendencies is
known to most of those who have suffered from chronic derangements of the
digestion or liver. The same fact is likewise shewn by the "perversion or
destruction of the moral sense being often one of the earliest symptoms of
mental derangement" (47. Maudsley, 'Body and Mind,' 1870, p. 60.); and
insanity is notoriously often inherited. Except through the principle of
the transmission of moral tendencies, we cannot understand the differences
believed to exist in this respect between the various races of mankind.

Even the partial transmission of virtuous tendencies would be an immense
assistance to the primary impulse derived directly and indirectly from the
social instincts. Admitting for a moment that virtuous tendencies are
inherited, it appears probable, at least in such cases as chastity,
temperance, humanity to animals, etc., that they become first impressed on
the mental organization through habit, instruction and example, continued
during several generations in the same family, and in a quite subordinate
degree, or not at all, by the individuals possessing such virtues having
succeeded best in the struggle for life. My chief source of doubt with
respect to any such inheritance, is that senseless customs, superstitions,
and tastes, such as the horror of a Hindoo for unclean food, ought on the
same principle to be transmitted. I have not met with any evidence in
support of the transmission of superstitious customs or senseless habits,
although in itself it is perhaps not less probable than that animals should
acquire inherited tastes for certain kinds of food or fear of certain foes.

Finally the social instincts, which no doubt were acquired by man as by the
lower animals for the good of the community, will from the first have given
to him some wish to aid his fellows, some feeling of sympathy, and have
compelled him to regard their approbation and disapprobation. Such
impulses will have served him at a very early period as a rude rule of
right and wrong. But as man gradually advanced in intellectual power, and
was enabled to trace the more remote consequences of his actions; as he
acquired sufficient knowledge to reject baneful customs and superstitions;
as he regarded more and more, not only the welfare, but the happiness of
his fellow-men; as from habit, following on beneficial experience,
instruction and example, his sympathies became more tender and widely
diffused, extending to men of all races, to the imbecile, maimed, and other
useless members of society, and finally to the lower animals,--so would the
standard of his morality rise higher and higher. And it is admitted by
moralists of the derivative school and by some intuitionists, that the
standard of morality has risen since an early period in the history of man.
(48. A writer in the 'North British Review' (July 1869, p. 531), well
capable of forming a sound judgment, expresses himself strongly in favour
of this conclusion. Mr. Lecky ('History of Morals,' vol. i. p. 143) seems
to a certain extent to coincide therein.)

As a struggle may sometimes be seen going on between the various instincts
of the lower animals, it is not surprising that there should be a struggle
in man between his social instincts, with their derived virtues, and his
lower, though momentarily stronger impulses or desires. This, as Mr.
Galton (49. See his remarkable work on 'Hereditary Genius,' 1869, p. 349.
The Duke of Argyll ('Primeval Man,' 1869, p. 188) has some good remarks on
the contest in man's nature between right and wrong.) has remarked, is all
the less surprising, as man has emerged from a state of barbarism within a
comparatively recent period. After having yielded to some temptation we
feel a sense of dissatisfaction, shame, repentance, or remorse, analogous
to the feelings caused by other powerful instincts or desires, when left
unsatisfied or baulked. We compare the weakened impression of a past
temptation with the ever present social instincts, or with habits, gained
in early youth and strengthened during our whole lives, until they have
become almost as strong as instincts. If with the temptation still before
us we do not yield, it is because either the social instinct or some custom
is at the moment predominant, or because we have learnt that it will appear
to us hereafter the stronger, when compared with the weakened impression of
the temptation, and we realise that its violation would cause us suffering.
Looking to future generations, there is no cause to fear that the social
instincts will grow weaker, and we may expect that virtuous habits will
grow stronger, becoming perhaps fixed by inheritance. In this case the
struggle between our higher and lower impulses will be less severe, and
virtue will be triumphant.


There can be no doubt that the difference between the mind of the lowest
man and that of the highest animal is immense. An anthropomorphous ape, if
he could take a dispassionate view of his own case, would admit that though
he could form an artful plan to plunder a garden--though he could use
stones for fighting or for breaking open nuts, yet that the thought of
fashioning a stone into a tool was quite beyond his scope. Still less, as
he would admit, could he follow out a train of metaphysical reasoning, or
solve a mathematical problem, or reflect on God, or admire a grand natural
scene. Some apes, however, would probably declare that they could and did
admire the beauty of the coloured skin and fur of their partners in
marriage. They would admit, that though they could make other apes
understand by cries some of their perceptions and simpler wants, the notion
of expressing definite ideas by definite sounds had never crossed their
minds. They might insist that they were ready to aid their fellow-apes of
the same troop in many ways, to risk their lives for them, and to take
charge of their orphans; but they would be forced to acknowledge that
disinterested love for all living creatures, the most noble attribute of
man, was quite beyond their comprehension.

Nevertheless the difference in mind between man and the higher animals,
great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind. We have seen
that the senses and intuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as
love, memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason, etc., of which man
boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even sometimes in a well-developed
condition, in the lower animals. They are also capable of some inherited
improvement, as we see in the domestic dog compared with the wolf or
jackal. If it could be proved that certain high mental powers, such as the
formation of general concepts, self-consciousness, etc., were absolutely
peculiar to man, which seems extremely doubtful, it is not improbable that
these qualities are merely the incidental results of other highly-advanced
intellectual faculties; and these again mainly the result of the continued
use of a perfect language. At what age does the new-born infant possess
the power of abstraction, or become self-conscious, and reflect on its own
existence? We cannot answer; nor can we answer in regard to the ascending
organic scale. The half-art, half-instinct of language still bears the
stamp of its gradual evolution. The ennobling belief in God is not
universal with man; and the belief in spiritual agencies naturally follows
from other mental powers. The moral sense perhaps affords the best and
highest distinction between man and the lower animals; but I need say
nothing on this head, as I have so lately endeavoured to shew that the
social instincts,--the prime principle of man's moral constitution (50.
'The Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius,' etc., p. 139.)--with the aid of active
intellectual powers and the effects of habit, naturally lead to the golden
rule, "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye to them likewise;" and
this lies at the foundation of morality.

In the next chapter I shall make some few remarks on the probable steps and
means by which the several mental and moral faculties of man have been
gradually evolved. That such evolution is at least possible, ought not to
be denied, for we daily see these faculties developing in every infant; and
we may trace a perfect gradation from the mind of an utter idiot, lower
than that of an animal low in the scale, to the mind of a Newton.



Advancement of the intellectual powers through natural selection--
Importance of imitation--Social and moral faculties--Their development
within the limits of the same tribe--Natural selection as affecting
civilised nations--Evidence that civilised nations were once barbarous.

The subjects to be discussed in this chapter are of the highest interest,
but are treated by me in an imperfect and fragmentary manner. Mr. Wallace,
in an admirable paper before referred to (1. Anthropological Review, May
1864, p. clviii.), argues that man, after he had partially acquired those
intellectual and moral faculties which distinguish him from the lower
animals, would have been but little liable to bodily modifications through
natural selection or any other means. For man is enabled through his
mental faculties "to keep with an unchanged body in harmony with the
changing universe." He has great power of adapting his habits to new
conditions of life. He invents weapons, tools, and various stratagems to
procure food and to defend himself. When he migrates into a colder climate
he uses clothes, builds sheds, and makes fires; and by the aid of fire
cooks food otherwise indigestible. He aids his fellow-men in many ways,
and anticipates future events. Even at a remote period he practised some
division of labour.

The lower animals, on the other hand, must have their bodily structure
modified in order to survive under greatly changed conditions. They must
be rendered stronger, or acquire more effective teeth or claws, for defence
against new enemies; or they must be reduced in size, so as to escape
detection and danger. When they migrate into a colder climate, they must
become clothed with thicker fur, or have their constitutions altered. If
they fail to be thus modified, they will cease to exist.

The case, however, is widely different, as Mr. Wallace has with justice
insisted, in relation to the intellectual and moral faculties of man.
These faculties are variable; and we have every reason to believe that the
variations tend to be inherited. Therefore, if they were formerly of high
importance to primeval man and to his ape-like progenitors, they would have
been perfected or advanced through natural selection. Of the high
importance of the intellectual faculties there can be no doubt, for man
mainly owes to them his predominant position in the world. We can see,
that in the rudest state of society, the individuals who were the most
sagacious, who invented and used the best weapons or traps, and who were
best able to defend themselves, would rear the greatest number of
offspring. The tribes, which included the largest number of men thus
endowed, would increase in number and supplant other tribes. Numbers
depend primarily on the means of subsistence, and this depends partly on
the physical nature of the country, but in a much higher degree on the arts
which are there practised. As a tribe increases and is victorious, it is
often still further increased by the absorption of other tribes. (2.
After a time the members or tribes which are absorbed into another tribe
assume, as Sir Henry Maine remarks ('Ancient Law,' 1861, p. 131), that they
are the co-descendants of the same ancestors.) The stature and strength of
the men of a tribe are likewise of some importance for its success, and
these depend in part on the nature and amount of the food which can be
obtained. In Europe the men of the Bronze period were supplanted by a race
more powerful, and, judging from their sword-handles, with larger hands (3.
Morlot, 'Soc. Vaud. Sc. Nat.' 1860, p. 294.); but their success was
probably still more due to their superiority in the arts.

All that we know about savages, or may infer from their traditions and from
old monuments, the history of which is quite forgotten by the present
inhabitants, shew that from the remotest times successful tribes have
supplanted other tribes. Relics of extinct or forgotten tribes have been
discovered throughout the civilised regions of the earth, on the wild
plains of America, and on the isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean. At
the present day civilised nations are everywhere supplanting barbarous
nations, excepting where the climate opposes a deadly barrier; and they
succeed mainly, though not exclusively, through their arts, which are the
products of the intellect. It is, therefore, highly probable that with
mankind the intellectual faculties have been mainly and gradually perfected
through natural selection; and this conclusion is sufficient for our
purpose. Undoubtedly it would be interesting to trace the development of
each separate faculty from the state in which it exists in the lower
animals to that in which it exists in man; but neither my ability nor
knowledge permits the attempt.

It deserves notice that, as soon as the progenitors of man became social
(and this probably occurred at a very early period), the principle of
imitation, and reason, and experience would have increased, and much
modified the intellectual powers in a way, of which we see only traces in
the lower animals. Apes are much given to imitation, as are the lowest
savages; and the simple fact previously referred to, that after a time no
animal can be caught in the same place by the same sort of trap, shews that
animals learn by experience, and imitate the caution of others. Now, if
some one man in a tribe, more sagacious than the others, invented a new
snare or weapon, or other means of attack or defence, the plainest self-
interest, without the assistance of much reasoning power, would prompt the
other members to imitate him; and all would thus profit. The habitual
practice of each new art must likewise in some slight degree strengthen the
intellect. If the new invention were an important one, the tribe would
increase in number, spread, and supplant other tribes. In a tribe thus
rendered more numerous there would always be a rather greater chance of the
birth of other superior and inventive members. If such men left children
to inherit their mental superiority, the chance of the birth of still more
ingenious members would be somewhat better, and in a very small tribe
decidedly better. Even if they left no children, the tribe would still
include their blood-relations; and it has been ascertained by
agriculturists (4. I have given instances in my Variation of Animals under
Domestication, vol. ii. p. 196.) that by preserving and breeding from the
family of an animal, which when slaughtered was found to be valuable, the
desired character has been obtained.

Turning now to the social and moral faculties. In order that primeval men,
or the ape-like progenitors of man, should become social, they must have
acquired the same instinctive feelings, which impel other animals to live
in a body; and they no doubt exhibited the same general disposition. They
would have felt uneasy when separated from their comrades, for whom they
would have felt some degree of love; they would have warned each other of
danger, and have given mutual aid in attack or defence. All this implies
some degree of sympathy, fidelity, and courage. Such social qualities, the
paramount importance of which to the lower animals is disputed by no one,
were no doubt acquired by the progenitors of man in a similar manner,
namely, through natural selection, aided by inherited habit. When two
tribes of primeval man, living in the same country, came into competition,
if (other circumstances being equal) the one tribe included a great number
of courageous, sympathetic and faithful members, who were always ready to
warn each other of danger, to aid and defend each other, this tribe would
succeed better and conquer the other. Let it be borne in mind how all-
important in the never-ceasing wars of savages, fidelity and courage must
be. The advantage which disciplined soldiers have over undisciplined
hordes follows chiefly from the confidence which each man feels in his
comrades. Obedience, as Mr. Bagehot has well shewn (5. See a remarkable
series of articles on 'Physics and Politics,' in the 'Fortnightly Review,'
Nov. 1867; April 1, 1868; July 1, 1869, since separately published.), is of
the highest value, for any form of government is better than none. Selfish
and contentious people will not cohere, and without coherence nothing can
be effected. A tribe rich in the above qualities would spread and be
victorious over other tribes: but in the course of time it would, judging
from all past history, be in its turn overcome by some other tribe still
more highly endowed. Thus the social and moral qualities would tend slowly
to advance and be diffused throughout the world.

But it may be asked, how within the limits of the same tribe did a large
number of members first become endowed with these social and moral
qualities, and how was the standard of excellence raised? It is extremely
doubtful whether the offspring of the more sympathetic and benevolent
parents, or of those who were the most faithful to their comrades, would be
reared in greater numbers than the children of selfish and treacherous
parents belonging to the same tribe. He who was ready to sacrifice his
life, as many a savage has been, rather than betray his comrades, would
often leave no offspring to inherit his noble nature. The bravest men, who
were always willing to come to the front in war, and who freely risked
their lives for others, would on an average perish in larger numbers than
other men. Therefore, it hardly seems probable, that the number of men
gifted with such virtues, or that the standard of their excellence, could
be increased through natural selection, that is, by the survival of the
fittest; for we are not here speaking of one tribe being victorious over

Although the circumstances, leading to an increase in the number of those
thus endowed within the same tribe, are too complex to be clearly followed
out, we can trace some of the probable steps. In the first place, as the
reasoning powers and foresight of the members became improved, each man
would soon learn that if he aided his fellow-men, he would commonly receive
aid in return. From this low motive he might acquire the habit of aiding
his fellows; and the habit of performing benevolent actions certainly
strengthens the feeling of sympathy which gives the first impulse to
benevolent actions. Habits, moreover, followed during many generations
probably tend to be inherited.

But another and much more powerful stimulus to the development of the
social virtues, is afforded by the praise and the blame of our fellow-men.
To the instinct of sympathy, as we have already seen, it is primarily due,
that we habitually bestow both praise and blame on others, whilst we love
the former and dread the latter when applied to ourselves; and this
instinct no doubt was originally acquired, like all the other social
instincts, through natural selection. At how early a period the
progenitors of man in the course of their development, became capable of
feeling and being impelled by, the praise or blame of their fellow-
creatures, we cannot of course say. But it appears that even dogs
appreciate encouragement, praise, and blame. The rudest savages feel the
sentiment of glory, as they clearly shew by preserving the trophies of
their prowess, by their habit of excessive boasting, and even by the
extreme care which they take of their personal appearance and decorations;
for unless they regarded the opinion of their comrades, such habits would
be senseless.

They certainly feel shame at the breach of some of their lesser rules, and
apparently remorse, as shewn by the case of the Australian who grew thin
and could not rest from having delayed to murder some other woman, so as to
propitiate his dead wife's spirit. Though I have not met with any other
recorded case, it is scarcely credible that a savage, who will sacrifice
his life rather than betray his tribe, or one who will deliver himself up
as a prisoner rather than break his parole (6. Mr. Wallace gives cases in
his 'Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection,' 1870, p. 354.),
would not feel remorse in his inmost soul, if he had failed in a duty,
which he held sacred.

We may therefore conclude that primeval man, at a very remote period, was
influenced by the praise and blame of his fellows. It is obvious, that the
members of the same tribe would approve of conduct which appeared to them
to be for the general good, and would reprobate that which appeared evil.
To do good unto others--to do unto others as ye would they should do unto
you--is the foundation-stone of morality. It is, therefore, hardly
possible to exaggerate the importance during rude times of the love of
praise and the dread of blame. A man who was not impelled by any deep,
instinctive feeling, to sacrifice his life for the good of others, yet was
roused to such actions by a sense of glory, would by his example excite the
same wish for glory in other men, and would strengthen by exercise the
noble feeling of admiration. He might thus do far more good to his tribe
than by begetting offspring with a tendency to inherit his own high

With increased experience and reason, man perceives the more remote
consequences of his actions, and the self-regarding virtues, such as
temperance, chastity, etc., which during early times are, as we have before
seen, utterly disregarded, come to be highly esteemed or even held sacred.
I need not, however, repeat what I have said on this head in the fourth
chapter. Ultimately our moral sense or conscience becomes a highly complex
sentiment--originating in the social instincts, largely guided by the
approbation of our fellow-men, ruled by reason, self-interest, and in later
times by deep religious feelings, and confirmed by instruction and habit.

It must not be forgotten that although a high standard of morality gives
but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over
the other men of the same tribe, yet that an increase in the number of
well-endowed men and an advancement in the standard of morality will
certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another. A tribe
including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of
patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready
to aid one another, and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would
be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection.
At all times throughout the world tribes have supplanted other tribes; and
as morality is one important element in their success, the standard of
morality and the number of well-endowed men will thus everywhere tend to
rise and increase.

It is, however, very difficult to form any judgment why one particular
tribe and not another has been successful and has risen in the scale of
civilisation. Many savages are in the same condition as when first
discovered several centuries ago. As Mr. Bagehot has remarked, we are apt
to look at progress as normal in human society; but history refutes this.
The ancients did not even entertain the idea, nor do the Oriental nations
at the present day. According to another high authority, Sir Henry Maine
(7. 'Ancient Law,' 1861, p. 22. For Mr. Bagehot's remarks, 'Fortnightly
Review,' April 1, 1868, p. 452.), "the greatest part of mankind has never
shewn a particle of desire that its civil institutions should be improved."
Progress seems to depend on many concurrent favourable conditions, far too
complex to be followed out. But it has often been remarked, that a cool
climate, from leading to industry and to the various arts, has been highly
favourable thereto. The Esquimaux, pressed by hard necessity, have
succeeded in many ingenious inventions, but their climate has been too
severe for continued progress. Nomadic habits, whether over wide plains,
or through the dense forests of the tropics, or along the shores of the
sea, have in every case been highly detrimental. Whilst observing the
barbarous inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, it struck me that the possession
of some property, a fixed abode, and the union of many families under a
chief, were the indispensable requisites for civilisation. Such habits
almost necessitate the cultivation of the ground; and the first steps in
cultivation would probably result, as I have elsewhere shewn (8. 'The
Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,' vol. i. p. 309.),
from some such accident as the seeds of a fruit-tree falling on a heap of
refuse, and producing an unusually fine variety. The problem, however, of
the first advance of savages towards civilisation is at present much too
difficult to be solved.


I have hitherto only considered the advancement of man from a semi-human
condition to that of the modern savage. But some remarks on the action of
natural selection on civilised nations may be worth adding. This subject
has been ably discussed by Mr. W.R. Greg (9. 'Fraser's Magazine,' Sept.
1868, p. 353. This article seems to have struck many persons, and has
given rise to two remarkable essays and a rejoinder in the 'Spectator,'
Oct. 3rd and 17th, 1868. It has also been discussed in the 'Quarterly
Journal of Science,' 1869, p. 152, and by Mr. Lawson Tait in the 'Dublin
Quarterly Journal of Medical Science,' Feb. 1869, and by Mr. E. Ray
Lankester in his 'Comparative Longevity,' 1870, p. 128. Similar views
appeared previously in the 'Australasian,' July 13, 1867. I have borrowed
ideas from several of these writers.), and previously by Mr. Wallace and
Mr. Galton. (10. For Mr. Wallace, see 'Anthropological Review,' as before
cited. Mr. Galton in 'Macmillan's Magazine,' Aug. 1865, p. 318; also his
great work, 'Hereditary Genius,' 1870.) Most of my remarks are taken from
these three authors. With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon
eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of
health. We civilised men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the
process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and
the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost
skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to
believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak
constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak
members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has
attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be
highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of
care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic
race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so
ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an
incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally
acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the
manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor
could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without
deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden
himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for
the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak
and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an
overwhelming present evil. We must therefore bear the undoubtedly bad
effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears
to be at least one check in steady action, namely that the weaker and
inferior members of society do not marry so freely as the sound; and this
check might be indefinitely increased by the weak in body or mind
refraining from marriage, though this is more to be hoped for than

In every country in which a large standing army is kept up, the finest
young men are taken by the conscription or are enlisted. They are thus
exposed to early death during war, are often tempted into vice, and are
prevented from marrying during the prime of life. On the other hand the
shorter and feebler men, with poor constitutions, are left at home, and
consequently have a much better chance of marrying and propagating their
kind. (11. Prof. H. Fick ('Einfluss der Naturwissenschaft auf das Recht,'
June 1872) has some good remarks on this head, and on other such points.)

Man accumulates property and bequeaths it to his children, so that the
children of the rich have an advantage over the poor in the race for
success, independently of bodily or mental superiority. On the other hand,
the children of parents who are short-lived, and are therefore on an
average deficient in health and vigour, come into their property sooner
than other children, and will be likely to marry earlier, and leave a
larger number of offspring to inherit their inferior constitutions. But
the inheritance of property by itself is very far from an evil; for without
the accumulation of capital the arts could not progress; and it is chiefly
through their power that the civilised races have extended, and are now
everywhere extending their range, so as to take the place of the lower
races. Nor does the moderate accumulation of wealth interfere with the
process of selection. When a poor man becomes moderately rich, his
children enter trades or professions in which there is struggle enough, so
that the able in body and mind succeed best. The presence of a body of
well-instructed men, who have not to labour for their daily bread, is
important to a degree which cannot be over-estimated; as all high
intellectual work is carried on by them, and on such work, material
progress of all kinds mainly depends, not to mention other and higher
advantages. No doubt wealth when very great tends to convert men into
useless drones, but their number is never large; and some degree of
elimination here occurs, for we daily see rich men, who happen to be fools
or profligate, squandering away their wealth.

Primogeniture with entailed estates is a more direct evil, though it may
formerly have been a great advantage by the creation of a dominant class,
and any government is better than none. Most eldest sons, though they may
be weak in body or mind, marry, whilst the younger sons, however superior
in these respects, do not so generally marry. Nor can worthless eldest
sons with entailed estates squander their wealth. But here, as elsewhere,
the relations of civilised life are so complex that some compensatory
checks intervene. The men who are rich through primogeniture are able to
select generation after generation the more beautiful and charming women;
and these must generally be healthy in body and active in mind. The evil
consequences, such as they may be, of the continued preservation of the
same line of descent, without any selection, are checked by men of rank
always wishing to increase their wealth and power; and this they effect by
marrying heiresses. But the daughters of parents who have produced single
children, are themselves, as Mr. Galton (12. 'Hereditary Genius,' 1870, pp.
132-140.) has shewn, apt to be sterile; and thus noble families are
continually cut off in the direct line, and their wealth flows into some
side channel; but unfortunately this channel is not determined by
superiority of any kind.

Although civilisation thus checks in many ways the action of natural
selection, it apparently favours the better development of the body, by
means of good food and the freedom from occasional hardships. This may be
inferred from civilised men having been found, wherever compared, to be
physically stronger than savages. (13. Quatrefages, 'Revue des Cours
Scientifiques,' 1867-68, p. 659.) They appear also to have equal powers of
endurance, as has been proved in many adventurous expeditions. Even the
great luxury of the rich can be but little detrimental; for the expectation
of life of our aristocracy, at all ages and of both sexes, is very little
inferior to that of healthy English lives in the lower classes. (14.
See the fifth and sixth columns, compiled from good authorities, in the
table given in Mr. E.R. Lankester's 'Comparative Longevity,' 1870, p. 115.)

We will now look to the intellectual faculties. If in each grade of
society the members were divided into two equal bodies, the one including
the intellectually superior and the other the inferior, there can be little
doubt that the former would succeed best in all occupations, and rear a
greater number of children. Even in the lowest walks of life, skill and
ability must be of some advantage; though in many occupations, owing to the
great division of labour, a very small one. Hence in civilised nations
there will be some tendency to an increase both in the number and in the
standard of the intellectually able. But I do not wish to assert that this
tendency may not be more than counterbalanced in other ways, as by the
multiplication of the reckless and improvident; but even to such as these,
ability must be some advantage.

It has often been objected to views like the foregoing, that the most
eminent men who have ever lived have left no offspring to inherit their
great intellect. Mr. Galton says, "I regret I am unable to solve the
simple question whether, and how far, men and women who are prodigies of
genius are infertile. I have, however, shewn that men of eminence are by
no means so." (15. 'Hereditary Genius,' 1870, p. 330.) Great lawgivers,
the founders of beneficent religions, great philosophers and discoverers in
science, aid the progress of mankind in a far higher degree by their works
than by leaving a numerous progeny. In the case of corporeal structures,
it is the selection of the slightly better-endowed and the elimination of
the slightly less well-endowed individuals, and not the preservation of
strongly-marked and rare anomalies, that leads to the advancement of a
species. (16. 'Origin of Species' (fifth edition, 1869), p. 104.) So it
will be with the intellectual faculties, since the somewhat abler men in
each grade of society succeed rather better than the less able, and
consequently increase in number, if not otherwise prevented. When in any
nation the standard of intellect and the number of intellectual men have
increased, we may expect from the law of the deviation from an average,
that prodigies of genius will, as shewn by Mr. Galton, appear somewhat more
frequently than before.

In regard to the moral qualities, some elimination of the worst
dispositions is always in progress even in the most civilised nations.
Malefactors are executed, or imprisoned for long periods, so that they
cannot freely transmit their bad qualities. Melancholic and insane persons
are confined, or commit suicide. Violent and quarrelsome men often come to
a bloody end. The restless who will not follow any steady occupation--and
this relic of barbarism is a great check to civilisation (17. 'Hereditary
Genius,' 1870, p. 347.)--emigrate to newly-settled countries; where they
prove useful pioneers. Intemperance is so highly destructive, that the
expectation of life of the intemperate, at the age of thirty for instance,
is only 13.8 years; whilst for the rural labourers of England at the same
age it is 40.59 years. (18. E. Ray Lankester, 'Comparative Longevity,'
1870, p. 115. The table of the intemperate is from Neison's 'Vital
Statistics.' In regard to profligacy, see Dr. Farr, 'Influence of Marriage
on Mortality,' 'Nat. Assoc. for the Promotion of Social Science,' 1858.)
Profligate women bear few children, and profligate men rarely marry; both
suffer from disease. In the breeding of domestic animals, the elimination
of those individuals, though few in number, which are in any marked manner
inferior, is by no means an unimportant element towards success. This
especially holds good with injurious characters which tend to reappear
through reversion, such as blackness in sheep; and with mankind some of the
worst dispositions, which occasionally without any assignable cause make
their appearance in families, may perhaps be reversions to a savage state,
from which we are not removed by very many generations. This view seems
indeed recognised in the common expression that such men are the black
sheep of the family.

With civilised nations, as far as an advanced standard of morality, and an
increased number of fairly good men are concerned, natural selection
apparently effects but little; though the fundamental social instincts were
originally thus gained. But I have already said enough, whilst treating of
the lower races, on the causes which lead to the advance of morality,
namely, the approbation of our fellow-men--the strengthening of our
sympathies by habit--example and imitation--reason--experience, and even
self-interest--instruction during youth, and religious feelings.

A most important obstacle in civilised countries to an increase in the
number of men of a superior class has been strongly insisted on by Mr. Greg
and Mr. Galton (19. 'Fraser's Magazine,' Sept. 1868, p. 353. 'Macmillan's
Magazine,' Aug. 1865, p. 318. The Rev. F.W. Farrar ('Fraser's Magazine,'
Aug. 1870, p. 264) takes a different view.), namely, the fact that the very
poor and reckless, who are often degraded by vice, almost invariably marry
early, whilst the careful and frugal, who are generally otherwise virtuous,
marry late in life, so that they may be able to support themselves and
their children in comfort. Those who marry early produce within a given
period not only a greater number of generations, but, as shewn by Dr.
Duncan (20. 'On the Laws of the Fertility of Women,' in 'Transactions of
the Royal Society,' Edinburgh, vol. xxiv. p. 287; now published separately
under the title of 'Fecundity, Fertility, and Sterility,' 1871. See, also,
Mr. Galton, 'Hereditary Genius,' pp. 352-357, for observations to the above
effect.), they produce many more children. The children, moreover, that
are borne by mothers during the prime of life are heavier and larger, and
therefore probably more vigorous, than those born at other periods. Thus
the reckless, degraded, and often vicious members of society, tend to
increase at a quicker rate than the provident and generally virtuous
members. Or as Mr. Greg puts the case: "The careless, squalid, unaspiring
Irishman multiplies like rabbits: the frugal, foreseeing, self-respecting,
ambitious Scot, stern in his morality, spiritual in his faith, sagacious
and disciplined in his intelligence, passes his best years in struggle and
in celibacy, marries late, and leaves few behind him. Given a land
originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts--and in a
dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-
sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the
one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal 'struggle for
existence,' it would be the inferior and LESS favoured race that had
prevailed--and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its

There are, however, some checks to this downward tendency. We have seen
that the intemperate suffer from a high rate of mortality, and the
extremely profligate leave few offspring. The poorest classes crowd into
towns, and it has been proved by Dr. Stark from the statistics of ten years
in Scotland (21. 'Tenth Annual Report of Births, Deaths, etc., in
Scotland,' 1867, p. xxix.), that at all ages the death-rate is higher in
towns than in rural districts, "and during the first five years of life the
town death-rate is almost exactly double that of the rural districts." As
these returns include both the rich and the poor, no doubt more than twice
the number of births would be requisite to keep up the number of the very
poor inhabitants in the towns, relatively to those in the country. With
women, marriage at too early an age is highly injurious; for it has been
found in France that, "Twice as many wives under twenty die in the year, as
died out of the same number of the unmarried." The mortality, also, of
husbands under twenty is "excessively high" (22. These quotations are
taken from our highest authority on such questions, namely, Dr. Farr, in
his paper 'On the Influence of Marriage on the Mortality of the French
People,' read before the Nat. Assoc. for the Promotion of Social Science,
1858.), but what the cause of this may be, seems doubtful. Lastly, if the
men who prudently delay marrying until they can bring up their families in

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