There is not, in my opinion, anything more mysterious in nature than this instinct in animals, which thus rise above reason, and yet fall infinitely short of it.
Who taught the parrot his "Welcome"? Who taught the raven in a drought to throw pebbles into a hollow tree where she espied water, that the water might rise so as she might come to it? Who taught the bee to sail through such a vast sea of air, and to find the way from a flower in a field to her hive? Who taught, the ant to bite every grain of corn that she burieth in her hill, lest it should take root and grow?
Improvable reason is the distinction between man and the animal.
Though reason is progressive, instinct is stationary. Five thousand years have added no improvement to the hive of the bee, or the house of the beaver.
All our progress is an unfolding like the vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.
A goose flies by a chart which the Royal Geographical Society could not mend.
The instinctive feeling of a great people is often wiser than its wisest men.
We only listen to those instincts which are our own, and only give credit to the evil when it has befallen us.
The active part of man consists of powerful instincts, some of which are gentle and continuous; others violent and short; some baser, some nobler, and all necessary.
The instinct of brutes and insects can be the effect of nothing else than the wisdom and skill of a powerful ever living agent.
Raise reason over instinct as you can; in this 'tis God directs; in that 'tis man.
Honest instinct comes a volunteer, sure never to overshoot, but just to hit, while still too wide, or short of human wit.
Who taught the natives of the field and wood to shun their poison, and to choose their food,—prescient, the tides and tempests to withstand; build on the wave, or arch beneath the sand?
By a divine instinct men's minds distrust ensuing danger, as by proof we see the waters swell before a boisterous storm.
Beasts, birds, and insects, even to the minutest and meanest of their kind, act with the unerring providence of instinct; man, the while, who possesses a higher faculty, abuses it, and therefore goes blundering on. They, by their unconscious and unhesitating obedience to the laws of nature, fulfill the end of their existence; he, in willful neglect of the laws of God, loses sight of the end of his.