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ants, much larger than all those I had already seen; but they were not so well provided with corn, nor under so good a government. I made a hole in the box like that of an ant's nest, and laid, as it were, the foundation of a new city. Afterwards I got as many ants as I could out of the nest in the terrace, and put them into a bottle, to give them a new habitation in my box; and because I was afraid they would return to the terrace, I destroyed their old nest, pouring boiling water into the hole, to kill those ants that remained in it. In the next place, I filled the new hole with the ants that were in the bottle; but none of them would stay in it. They went away in less than two hours; which made me believe, that it was impossible to make a fourth settlement in my box.
Two or three days after, going accidentally over the terrace, I was much surprised to see the ants' nest which I had destroyed, very artfully repaired. I resolved then to destroy it entirely, and to settle those ants in my box. To succeed in my design, I put some gunpowder and brimstone into their hole, and sprung a mine, whereby the whole nest was overthrown; and then I carried as many ants as I could get, into the place which I design-, ed for them. It happened to be a very rainy day, and it rained all night; and therefore they remained in the new hole all that time. In the morning when the rain was over, most of them went away. to repair their old habitation; but finding it impracticable by reason of the smell of the powder and brimstone, which kills them, they came back again, and settled in the place I had appointed for them. They quickly grew acquainted with their neighbours, and received from them all manner of assistance out of their holes. As for the inside of
their nest, none but themselves were concerned in it, according to the inviolable laws established among those animals.
An ant never goes into any other nest but her own; and if she should venture to do it, she would be turned out, and severely punished. I have often taken an ant out of one nest, and put her into another; but she quickly came out, being warmly pursued by two or three other ants. I tried the same experiment several times with the same ant; but at last the other ants grew impatient, and tore her to pieces. I have often frighted some ants with my fingers, and pursued them as far as another hole, stopping all the passages to prevent their going to their own nest. It was very natural for them to fly into the next hole. Many a man would not be so cautious, and would throw himself out of the windows, or into a well, if he were pursued by assassins. But the ants I am speaking of avoided going into any other hole but their own, and rather tried all other ways of making their escape. They never fled into another nest, but at the last extremity; and sometimes chose rather to be taken, as I have often experienced. It is therefore an inviolable custom among those insects, not to go into any other hole but their own. They do not exercise hospitality; but they are very ready to help one another out of their holes. They put down their loads at the entrance of a neighbouring nest; and those that live in it carry them in.
They keep up a sort of trade among themselves; and it is not true that those insects are not for lending: I know the contrary. They lend their corn; they make exchanges; they are always ready to serve one another; and I can assure you, that more time and patience would have enabled
me to observe a thousand things more curious and wonderful than what I have mentioned. For instance how they lend and recover loans; whether it be in the same quantity, or with usury: whether they pay the strangers that work for them, &c. I do not think it impossible to examine all those things: and it would be a great curiosity to know by what maxims they govern themselves. Perhaps such a knowledge might be of some use to us.
They are never attacked by any enemies in a body, as it is reported of bees. Their only fear proceeds from birds, which sometimes eat their corn when they lay it out in the sun; but they keep. it under ground when they are afraid of thieves. It is said that some birds eat them; but I never saw any instance of it. They are also infested by small worms; but they turn them out and kill them. I observed that they punish those ants which probably had been wanting to their duty; nay, sometimes they killed them; which they did in the following manner. Three or four ants fell upon one, and pulled her several ways, until she was torn in pieces. Generally speaking they live very quietly; from whence I infer that they have a very severe discipline among themselves, to keep so good an order; or that they are great lovers of peace, if they have no occasion for any discipline.
Was there ever a greater union in any commonwealth? Every thing is common among them; which is not to be seen any where else. Bees, of which we are told so many wonderful things, have each of them a hole in their hives; their honey is their own; every bee minds her own concerns. The same may be said of all other animals, They frequently fight, to deprive one another of their portion. It is not so with ants: they have nothing
of their own; a grain of corn which an ant carries home, is deposited in a common stock. It is not designed for her own use, but for the whole community; there is no distinction between a private and a common interest. An ant never works for herself, but for the society.
• Whatever misfortune happens to them, their care and industry find out a remedy for it; nothing discourages them. If you destroy their nests, they will be repaired in two days. Any body may easily see how difficult it is to drive them out of their habitations, without destroying the inhabitants; for as long as there are any left, they will maintain their ground.
I had almost forgot to tell you, sir, that mercury has hitherto proved a mortal poison for them; and that it is the most effectual way of destroying those insects. I can do something for them in this case: perhaps you will hear in a little time that I have reconciled them to mercury.'
N° 158. FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1713.
Gnossius hæc Rhadamanthus habet durissima regna,
VIRG. Æn. vi. 566.
These are the realms of unrelenting fate :
From the first moment of his vital breath,
I WAS yesterday pursuing the hint which I mentioned in my last paper, and comparing together the industry of man with that of other creatures; in which I could not but observe, that notwithstanding we are obliged by duty to keep ourselves in constant employ, after the same manner as inferior animals are prompted to it by instinct, we fall very short of them in this particular. We are here the more inexcusable, because there is a greater variety of business to which we may apply ourselves. Reason opens to us a large field of affairs, which other creatures are not capable of. Beasts of prey, and I believe all other kinds, in their natural state of being, divide their time between action and rest. They are always at work, or asleep. In short their waking hours are wholly