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suddenly appeared, each, carrying a cocoon
much bigger than itself, which it was
evidently anxious to deposit in some place out
of the reach of a danger which, although
they could not comprehend, they knew to
be both formidable and imminent. Such a
hurry skurry, such a running to and fro,
such a getting up and down-stairs, as the
song says, such a commotion could scarcely
have been known even at Brussels on the
memorable night of the ball, on the eve of
the great battle of Waterloo, when it was
suddenly announced to the officers of the
allied armies that the French were
advancing upon the city

When thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering with white lips, "The foethey come!
    they come!"

We all looked on with interested curiosity,
and one of my companions having finished
his first cigar, drew a box of lucifers from
his pocket, and leisurely proceeded to light
a second. This done, he carelessly threw
the burning match upon the ant-hill. It
was an act as cruel as it would have been
in Lemuel Gulliver, had that mountainous
traveller wilfully set fire to the city of
Lilliput. The formicans were for an
instant confused, and appeared not to know
what to do. But their perplexity was
of short duration. In less than half a
minute scores and hundreds of ants rushed
upon the blazing beamfor such it must
have appeared in their eyesand exerting
their strength simultaneously upon it,
endeavoured to thrust it from their city.
Many of them were burned to death in the
gallant endeavour, but the survivors,
nothing daunted, pressed forward over their
dead or writhing bodies, as if conscious
that there was no safety for those who still
lived as long as the awful combustible
was permitted to blaze and crackle in the
midst of them. I was apprehensive that
the whole mound, built as it was of dry
twigs, would take fire; but the mists had
lain upon the mountain and the valley,
the air was moist, and the flame of the
match burnt upwards. Onwards rushed
the resolute firemen, score upon score,
hundred upon hundred, till at last they
rolled the match over and over, and out of
their precincts, charred and blackened, and
incapable of further mischief. We all,
more or less, mistrusted our eyes, and the
youngest, most thoughtless, and therefore
the most cruel, of our company, suggested
that if there were intelligence and design
on the part of the ants in acting as we
supposed they had done, there would be
no harm in making a second experiment.
No sooner said than done. Another match
was ignited and thrown upon the heap,
and again, precisely as on the first occasion,
the ants rushed pell-mell upon the
blazing intruder, to prevent a conflagration,
which, had it taken firm hold, it
would have been impossible for them to
extinguish. Again, some of the foremost
champions of the public safety lost their
limbs, and many more of them their lives;
and again, by the mere force and pressure
of numbers acting with a common
purpose, the match was extruded before much
harm had been done. I opposed myself to
a third renewal of the experiment, and
succeeded in persuading my companions,
although not without difficulty, that enough
had been done for curiosity and natural
history; that the truly merciful man was
as merciful to the smallest as to the largest
of God's creatures; and that we had no
right, in the mere wantonness of scientific
observation, to take away the life which it
was impossible for us to bestow.

It struck me at the time that, supposing
an ant had a mind, as no doubt it has of
some sort or degree, to fancy what idea it
would form to itself of this awful visitation,
being as it was in total ignorance of
man's presence and agency in the matter?
We cannot easily put ourselves into the
minds of our human fellow-creatures, of
different ages, ranks, countries, modes of
life, and degrees of education. To do so
effectually and dramatically is one of the
highest efforts of literary genius, yet we may
by a little stretch of imagination, figure to
ourselves an ant reasoning upon the things
of his little world (great to him however)
as an ant might be supposed to reason, and
saying to its fellows, if it were a preacher
or a philosopher, or a leading statesman
among them: "We ants are wonderful
creatures. We are in point of fact the
most civilised and industrious people in the
world. The flies, for instance, do no work.
They are a very inferior race; they build
no cities, they are mere savages. Besides
they possess no government. Around us
we see no such intelligent creatures as
ourselves. The world was made for us, and
for us it produces aphides, honey-dew, and
succulent fruits. Occasionally we are
afflicted with visitations of Nature which
create much havoc in our community, the
causes of which we are as yet too ignorant
to discover. Our cities are overthrown
and levelled to the earth by convulsions
for which we cannot account; and the fire