22 MARCH 1935, Page 18

Unselfish Parents The maternal or parental sense in animals of

most sorts seems to destroy all the easy generalizations about instinct. No less a person than the last Headmaster of Eton recently ventured to maintain in the public Press that animals were wholly selfish, that altruism was not in their nature. This may be true in certain references ; but we ca--1 all quote abundant examples of both thoughtfulness for others and indeed of self-sacrifice. I have seen a hedge-sparrow attack an adder, in defence of her nestlings. To give a very d:frarent sort of example I have seen a pig devote itself completely to the service of a companion pig which was blind. A hedgehog has been known to keep up a long vendetta against an adder that had killed one of its young. The tricks practised, for example, by tits and eagles in persuading their young to fly is marked by little ingenuities that are very much more like reason than instinct. It is hardly too much to say that a sort of conversation goes on. As to the horse, it is nervous and apt to lose its head, as easily as some people ; and doubtless many other animals are cleverer. But it has strong affections ; and these affections, as in the mother bird, appear to breed an intelli- gence that quite transcends the usual scope of the animal's

mind. * * * *