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and patches of colour, that harmonious blending of hues in lines and bands and shaded spots, which are so general a feature in insects. It is the opinion of Mr. Darwin that we owe much of the beauty of flowers to the necessity of attracting insects to aid in their fertilisation, and that much of the development of colour in the animal world is due to “sexual selection,” colour being universally attractive, and thus leading to its propagation and increase; but while fully admitting this, it will be evident from the facts and arguments here brought forward, that very much of the variety both of colour and markings among animals is due to the supreme importance of concealment, and thus the various tints of minerals and vegetables have been directly reproduced in the animal kingdom, and again and again modified as more special protection became necessary. We shall thus have two causes for the development of colour in the animal world, and shall be better enabled to understand how, by their combined and separate action, the immense variety we now behold has been produced. Both causes, however, will come under the general law of “Utility,” the advocacy of which, in its broadest sense, we owe almost entirely to Mr. Darwin. A more accurate knowledge of the varied phenomena connected with this subject may not improbably give us some information both as to the senses and the mental faculties of the lower animals. For it is evident that if colours which please us also attract them, and if the various disguises which have been here enumerated are equally deceptive to them as to ourselves, then both their powers of vision and their faculties of perception and emotion, must be essentially of the same nature as our own—a fact of high philosophical importance in the study of our own nature and our true relations to the lower animals.


Although such a variety of interesting facts have been already accumulated, the subject we have been discussing is one of which comparatively little is really known. The natural history of the tropics has never yet been studied on the spot with a full appreciation of “what to observe '' in this matter. The varied ways in which the colouring and form of animals serve for their protection, their strange disguises as vegetable or mineral substances, their wonderful mimicry of other beings, offer an almost unworked and inexhaustible field of discovery for the zoologist, and will assuredly throw much light on the laws and conditions which have resulted in the wonderful variety of colour, shade, and marking which constitutes one of the most pleasing characteristics of the animal world, but the immediate causes of which it has hitherto been most difficult to explain. If I have succeeded in showing that in this wide and picturesque domain of nature, results which have hitherto been supposed to depend either upon those incalculable combinations of laws which we term chance or upon the direct volition of the Creator, are really due to the action of comparatively well-known and simple causes, I shall have attained my present purpose, which has been to extend the interest so generally felt in the more striking facts of natural history to a large class of curious but much neglected details; and to further, in however slight a degree, our knowledge of the subjection of the phenomena of life to the “Reign of Law.”




Special Value of the Diurnal Lepidoptera for enquiries of this nature.

WHEN the naturalist studies the habits, the structure, or the affinities of animals, it matters little to which group he especially devotes himself; all alike offer him endless materials for observation and research. But, for the purpose of investigating the phenomena of geographical distribution and of local, sexual, or general variation, the several groups differ greatly in their value and importance. Some have too limited a range, others are not sufficiently varied in specific forms, while, what is of most importance, many groups have not received that amount of attention over the whole region they inhabit, which could furnish materials sufficiently approaching to completeness to enable us to arrive at any accurate conclusions as to the phenomena they present as a whole. It is in those groups which are, and have long been, favourites with collectors, that the student of distribution and variation will find his materials the most satisfactory, from their comparative completeness.

Pre-eminent among such groups are the diurnal Lepidoptera or Butterflies, whose extreme beauty and endless diversity have led to their having been assiduously collected in all parts of the world, and to the numerous species and varieties having been figured in a series of magnificent works, from those of Cramer, the contemporary of Linnaeus, down to the inimitable productions of our own Hewitson.* But, besides their abundance, their universal distribution, and the great attention that has been paid to them, these insects have other qualities that especially adapt them to elucidate the branches of inquiry already alluded to. These are, the immense development and peculiar structure of the wings, which not only vary in form more than those of any other insects, but offer on both surfaces an endless variety of pattern, colouring, and texture. The scales, with which they are more or less completely covered, imitate the rich hues and delicate surfaces of satin or of velvet, glitter with metallic lustre, or glow with the changeable tints of the opal. This delicately painted surface acts as a register of the minutest differences of organization—a shade of colour, an additional streak or spot, a slight modification of outline continually recurring with the greatest regularity and fixity, while the body and all its other

* W. C. Hewitson, Esq., of Oatlands, Walton-on-Thames, author of “Exotic Butterflies * and several other works, illustrated by exquisite coloured figures drawn by himself; and owner of the finest collection of Butterflies in the world.

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