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quite sure that an excess of light has had nothing to do with the development of these exceptionally bright and handsome flowers. Unfortunately we have no information as to the insects of these islands, but from their scarcity in New Zealand we can hardly expect them to be othervise than very scarce. There are however two species of honey-sucking birds (Prosthemadera and Anthornis) as well as a small warbler (WIyiomoira), and we may be pretty sure that the former at least visit these large and handsome flowers, and so effect their fertilization. The most abundant tree on the islands is a species of Metrosideros, and we know that trees of this genus are common in the Pacific islands, where they are almost certainly fertilized by the same family of Meliphagidæ or honeysucking birds.
I have now concluded this sketch of the general phenomena of colour in the organic world. I have shown reasons for believing that its presence, in some of its infinitely-varied hues, is more probable than its absence; and that variation of colour is an almost necessary concomitant of variation of structure, of development, and of growth. It has also been shown how colour has been appropriated and modified both in the animal and vegetable worlds for the advantage of the species in a great variety of ways, and that there is no need to call in the aid of any other laws than those of organic development and “natural selection ” to explain its countless modifications. From the point of view here taken it seems at once improbable and unnecessary that the lower animals should have the same delicate appreciation of the infinite variety and beauty of the
delicate contrasts and subtle harmonies of colour, which are possessed by the more intellectual races of mankind, since even the lower human races do not possess it. All that seems required in the case of animals, is a perception of distinctness or contrast of colours ; and the dislike of so many creatures to scarlet may perhaps be due to the rarity of that colour in nature, and to the glaring contrast it offers to the sober greens and browns which form the general clothing of the earth's surface, though it may also have a direct irritating effect on the retina.
The general view of the subject now given must convince us that, so far from colour being—as it has sometimes been thought to be-unimportant, it is intimately connected with the very existence of a large proportion of the species of the animal and vegetable worlds. The gay colours of the butterfly and of the alpine flower which it unconsciously fertilizes while seeking for its secreted honey, are each beneficial to its possessor, and have been shown to be dependent on the same class of general laws as those which have determined the form, the structure, and the habits of every living thing. The
The complex laws and unexpected relations which we have seen to be involved in the production of the special colours of flower, bird, and insect, must give them an additional interest for every thoughtful mind; while the knowledge that, in all probability, cach style of coloration, and sometimes the smallest details, have a meaning and a use, must add a new charm to the study of nature.
Throughout the preceding discussion we have accepted the subjective phenomena of colour—that is, our perception of varied hues and the mental emotions excited by them, ils ultimate facts needing no explanation. Yet they present certain features well worthy of attention, a brief consideration of which will form a fitting sequel to the present essay.
The perception of colour seems, to the present writer, the most wonderful and the most mysterious of our sensations. Its extreme diversities and exquisite beauties seem out of proportion to the causes that are supposed to have produced them, or the physical needs to which they minister. If we look at pure tints of red, green, blue, and yellour, they appear so absolutely contrasted and unlike cach other, that it is almost impossible to believe (what we nevertheless know to be the fact) that the rays of light producing these very distinct sensations differ only in wave-length and rate of vibration ; and that there is from one to the other a continuous series and gradation of such vibrating waves.
The positive diversity we see in them must then depend upon special adaptations in ourselves; and the question arises—for what purpose have our visual organs and mental perceptions become so highly specialised in this respect ?
When the sense of sight was first developed in the animal kingdom, we can hardly doubt that what was perceived was light only, and its more or less complete withdrawal. As the sense became perfected, more delicate gradations of light and shade would be perceived;
and there seems no reason why a visual capacity might not have been developed as perfect as our own, or even more so in respect of light and shade, but entirely insensible to differences of colour except in so far as these implied a difference in the quantity of light. The world would in that case appear somewhat as we see it in good stereoscopic photographs; and we all know how exquisitely beautiful such pictures are, and how completely they give us all requisite information as to form, surface-texture, solidity, and distance, and even to some extent as to colour; for almost all colours are distinguishable in a photograph by some differences of tint, and it is quite conceivable that visual organs might exist which would differeutiate what we term colour by delicate gradations of some one characteristic neutral tint. Now such a capacity of vision would be simple as compared with that which we actually possess; which, besides distinguishing infinite gradations of the quantity of light, distinguishes also, by a totally distinct set of sensations, gradations of quality, as determined by differences of wave-lengths or rate of vibration. At what grade in animal development this new and more complex sense first began to appear we have no means of determining. The fact that the higher vertebrates, and even some insects, distinguish what are to us diversities of colour, by no means proves that their sensations of colour bear any resemblance whatever to
An insect's capacity to distinguish red from blue or yellow may be (and probably is) due to percepticus of a totally distinct nature, and quite unaccompanied by any of that sense of enjoyment or even of radical distinctness which pure colours excite in us. Mammalia
and birds, whose structure and cmotions are so similar to our own, do probably receive somewhat similar impressions of colour ; but we have no evidence to show that they experience pleasurable emotions from colour itself, when not associated with the satisfaction of their wants or the gratification of their passions.
The primary necessity which led to the development of the sense of colour, was probably the need of distinguishing objects much alike in form and size, but differing in important properties ;-such as ripe and unripe, or catable and poisonous fruits; flowers with honey or without; the sexes of the same or of closely allied species. In most cases the strongest contrast would be the most useful, especially as the colours of the objects to be distinguished would form but minute spots or points when compared with the broad masses of tint of sky, carth, or foliage against which they would be set.
Throughout the long cpochs in which the sense of sight was being gradually developed in the higher animals, their visual organs would be mainly subjected to two groups of rays -the green from vegetation, and the blue from the sky. The immense preponderance of these over all other
rays would naturally lead the eye to become specially adapted for their perception ; and it is quite possible that at first these were the only kinds of light-vibrations which could be perceived at all. When the need for differentiation of colour arose, rays of greater and of smaller wave-lengths would necessarily be made use of to excite the new sensations required; and we can thus understand why green and blue form the central portion of the visible spectrum, and are the colours which are most agreeable to us in large surfaces ;