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bones of a dead mouse, mole, or squirrel, as
bare as a specimen in the British Museum.
Their favourite food, however, seems to be
honey, and those juicy portions of flowers,
which the bee selects for the manufacture
of this article. They are also partial to
"honey-dew,"* which, by the way, has no
relation to honey, but is a sweet filmy
substance ejected and thinly spread over
the leaves of many plants by the aphis,
or puceron, of which there are many
varieties, some of which infest the rose,
some the hop, some the cabbage, some
the turnip, and all of which are known
under the generic appellations of "fly," or
"blight." When the grubs, after a due
course of feeding by the nurses, have grown
large and strong enough for the purpose,
they set to work and spin for themselves a
"cocoon," before mentioned, about as large
as a barleycorn, in which they lie dormant
until the time comes when they are to
"burst their cerements" and become
complete formicans, entitled to all the rights of
citizenship in the republic. But even in
this the last stage of their adolescence, the
care of the nurses is not withheld. Whether
the cocoons contain males, females, or
neuters, it is all the same to the busy little
working creatures; they are ants, whatever
they may be, and if they are too
weakly, as often happens, to make their
way out of their temporary grave-clothes,
the affectionate and anxious nurses bite
holes in the cocoon, by means of which the
imprisoned captives may emerge into life,
light, and liberty. After this process, each
individual has to shift for itself, subject
to the unalterable laws of the community,
and become a male or a female aristocrat,
or a member of the working classes, as
Fate and Nature intended.
* Coleridge, in his beautiful Dream Poem of Kubla
Khan, seems to have had but vague notions of honey-
dew, when he exclaims:
    Weave a circle round him thrice,
      And close your eyes with holy dread:
      For he on honey-dew hath fed,
    And drank the milk of Paradise!

It is well established by the researches of
Huber, and confirmed by the observations
of other philosophers and students during
the last hundred years, that the formican
republics not only make war against each
other, for purposes surmised rather than
known, most probably for no better reason
than those which prevail among men,
difference of tribe, race, or colour; but that
when their own working classes diminish
unduly from disease or accident, they
invade the neighbouring mounds and
hillocks, and, if successful in their aggression,
take the vanquished into captivity and
compel them to aid the victors in the everyday
work of the state. And they not only
make war for the sake of obtaining
adolescent or adult captives; but they form
expeditions to carry off the cocoons of a
community that has been more prolific
than their own. The battles of the ants
have often been described. Those who are
curious to learn more about them will find
information in all the encyclopædias, as
well as in the writings of the worthy Huber,
who nearly seventy years ago first gave to
the world the results of his studies on the
formicans, and enabled the encyclopædists
to draw upon him for stores of information
which but for his reverential curiosity and
patient assiduity might never have been
known or suspected.

Instead of going over this new ground,
which possibly may be familiar to many
who read these lines, let me describe what
I myself saw among a colony of wood ants,
or formica rufa, to which nothing similar
is recorded by Huber or the encyclopædists.
The battles of the ants, and the building
of their cities, their care for the perpetuation
of the race, are facts of every-day
occurrence, and may be seen by all who
have the time or the taste for such small,
but highly interesting studies. My experience
was accidental, and perhaps all the
more curious on that account, and what I
saw, seems to prove the possession of
something more than instinct, and of something
very much like reason, in these strange
little beings. I stayed for a day and night
a few summers ago at the little inn of
Rowardennan in Dumbartonshire, at the
foot of Ben Lomond, of which, with two
companions, I proposed to make the ascent at the
first favourable opportunity. We walked
out in the evening after dinner, proposing
to scale the sublime altitudes of the Ben
in the morning, if the day promised to
be fair, and on the skirt of a plantation
of larch and fir, we came suddenly upon a
very large ant-hill, surrounded at short
distances by several others, somewhat smaller
than itself. It was composed mainly of
twigs, straw, and pine spiculæ, and swarmed
with insect life. Poking our walking-
sticks into the top of the mound, and laying
bare the upper surface, the formicans,
who, up till then had been wholly unaware
of our presence, began to understand that
calamity had come upon them. Betaking
themselves, as is their wont, to the care of
the young, countless thousands of them