Power


The great problem of the hive confronts us again in the termitary, where it becomes even more insoluble for the rea- son that the organisation is more complex. Not the sovereigns, those miserable slaves to their duties, dependent for their food on the good will of the workers; the sovereigns are imprisoned in their cages, they alone in the city have not the right to circulate within its precincts. As for the queen, she is perhaps the most pitiful victim of an organisation in which there are only victims, sacrificed to an unknown god. Is it this horde which forms the Soviet of the city? But do the blind members of the termitary act in concert? In their republic silence does not prevail, as in the ant-hill.

Further, there is no doubt that these blind citizens regulate as they please the fecundity of the queen; retarding or speeding it by increasing or reducing the salivary secretions which they bestow on her. Their sex, their wings and eyes, are sacrificed to the common good; they are charged with all the various tasks, they are the harvesters, navvies, masons, architects, carpenters, gardeners, chemists, nurses, undertakers. Others, such as the Formica sanguinea, send their warriors out to battle, with the one idea of capturing hordes of slaves.

The Polyergus rufescens entrusts its serfs with the bringing up of its larae; while the Anergates have given up working and are fed by captive colonies of Tetramorium Cespitum, Then there are the mushroom-growing ants of tropical America, which burrow rectilinear tunnels sometimes more than a hundred yards long; and, by chopping leaves up very small, make a manure on which, by some special secret process of their own, they grow and cultivate a remarkable mushroom that has never been produced elsewhere.

All that we know-and this is a knowledge we have but recently acquired-is that the most important functions of our organs are performed by our endocrinous glands with their internal secretions or hormones, the existence of which was hitherto hardly suspected; and more particularly by the thyroid gland, which checks or restrains the action of the conjunctive cells, by the pituitary gland which regulates the respiration and the temperature, by the pineal gland, the suprarenal glands, the genital gland which distributes energy to our countless millions of cells. But what is it that controls the functions of these glands?