By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Evolution, Old & New - Or, the Theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, - as compared with that of Charles Darwin
Author: Butler, Samuel, 1835-1902
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Evolution, Old & New - Or, the Theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, - as compared with that of Charles Darwin" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Evolution, Old & New

    "The want of a practical acquaintance with Natural History leads the
    author to take an erroneous view of the bearing of his own theories
    on those of Mr. Darwin.--_Review of 'Life and Habit,' by Mr. A. R.
    Wallace, in 'Nature,' March 27, 1879._

    "Neither lastly would our observer be driven out of his conclusion,
    or from his confidence in its truth, by being told that he knows
    nothing at all about the matter. He knows enough for his argument;
    he knows the utility of the end; he knows the subserviency and
    adaptation of the means to the end. These points being known, his
    ignorance concerning other points, his doubts concerning other
    points, affect not the certainty of his reasoning. The consciousness
    of knowing little need not beget a distrust of that which he does

    Paley's '_Natural Theology_,' chap. i.

Evolution, Old & New

Or the Theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck,
as compared with that of Charles Darwin


Samuel Butler

  New York
  E. P. Dutton & Company
  681 Fifth Avenue

_Made and printed in Great Britain_


    The demand for a new edition of "Evolution, Old and New," gives me
    an opportunity of publishing Butler's latest revision of his work.
    The second edition of "Evolution, Old and New," which was published
    in 1882 and re-issued with a new title-page in 1890, was merely a
    re-issue of the first edition with a new preface, an appendix, and
    an index. At a later date, though I cannot say precisely when,
    Butler revised the text of the book in view of a future edition. The
    corrections that he made are mainly verbal and do not, I think,
    affect the argument to any considerable extent. Butler, however,
    attached sufficient importance to them to incur the expense of
    having the stereos of more than fifty pages cancelled and new
    stereos substituted. I have also added a few entries to the index,
    which are taken from a copy of the book, now in my possession, in
    which Butler made a few manuscript notes.


    _October, 1911._




Since the proof-sheets of the Appendix to this book left my hands,
finally corrected, and too late for me to be able to recast the first of
the two chapters that compose it, I hear, with the most profound regret,
of the death of Mr. Charles Darwin.

It being still possible for me to refer to this event in a preface, I
hasten to say how much it grates upon me to appear to renew my attack
upon Mr. Darwin under the present circumstances.

I have insisted in each of my three books on Evolution upon the
immensity of the service which Mr. Darwin rendered to that
transcendently important theory. In "Life and Habit," I said: "To the
end of time, if the question be asked, 'Who taught people to believe in
Evolution?' the answer must be that it was Mr. Darwin." This is true;
and it is hard to see what palm of higher praise can be awarded to any

I have always admitted myself to be under the deepest obligations to Mr.
Darwin's works; and it was with the greatest reluctance, not to say
repugnance, that I became one of his opponents. I have partaken of his
hospitality, and have had too much experience of the charming simplicity
of his manner not to be among the readiest to at once admire and envy
it. It is unfortunately true that I believe Mr. Darwin to have behaved
badly to me; this is too notorious to be denied; but at the same time I
cannot be blind to the fact that no man can be judge in his own case,
and that after all Mr. Darwin may have been right, and I wrong.

At the present moment, let me impress this latter alternative upon my
mind as far as possible, and dwell only upon that side of Mr. Darwin's
work and character, about which there is no difference of opinion among
either his admirers or his opponents.

_April 21, 1882._


Contrary to the advice of my friends, who caution me to avoid all
appearance of singularity, I venture upon introducing a practice, the
expediency of which I will submit to the judgment of the reader. It is
one which has been adopted by musicians for more than a century--to the
great convenience of all who are fond of music--and I observe that
within the last few years two such distinguished painters as Mr.
Alma-Tadema and Mr. Hubert Herkomer have taken to it. It is a matter for
regret that the practice should not have been general at an earlier
date, not only among painters and musicians, but also among the people
who write books. It consists in signifying the number of a piece of
music, picture, or book by the abbreviation "Op." and the number
whatever it may happen to be.

No work can be judged intelligently unless not only the author's
relations to his surroundings, but also the relation in which the work
stands to the life and other works of the author, is understood and
borne in mind; nor do I know any way of conveying this information at a
glance, comparable to that which I now borrow from musicians. When we
see the number against a work of Beethoven, we need ask no further to be
informed concerning the general character of the music. The same holds
good more or less with all composers. Handel's works were not
numbered--not at least his operas and oratorios. Had they been so, the
significance of the numbers on Susanna and Theodora would have been at
once apparent, connected as they would have been with the number on
Jephthah, Handel's next and last work, in which he emphatically
repudiates the influence which, perhaps in a time of self-distrust, he
had allowed contemporary German music to exert over him. Many painters
have dated their works, but still more have neglected doing so, and some
of these have been not a little misconceived in consequence. As for
authors, it is unnecessary to go farther back than Lord Beaconsfield,
Thackeray, Dickens, and Scott, to feel how much obliged we should have
been to any custom that should have compelled them to number their works
in the order in which they were written. When we think of Shakespeare,
any doubt which might remain as to the advantage of the proposed
innovation is felt to disappear.

My friends, to whom I urged all the above, and more, met me by saying
that the practice was doubtless a very good one in the abstract, but
that no one was particularly likely to want to know in what order my
books had been written. To which I answered that even a bad book which
introduced so good a custom would not be without value, though the value
might lie in the custom, and not in the book itself; whereon, seeing
that I was obstinate, they left me, and interpreting their doing so into
at any rate a modified approbation of my design, I have carried it into

The edition of the 'Philosophie Zoologique' referred to in the following
volume, is that edited by M. Chas. Martins, Paris, Librairie F. Savy,
24, Rue de Hautefeuille, 1873.

The edition of the 'Origin of Species' is that of 1876, unless another
edition be especially named.

The italics throughout the book are generally mine, except in the
quotations from Miss Seward, where they are all her own.

I am anxious also to take the present opportunity of acknowledging the
obligations I am under to my friend Mr. H. F. Jones, and to other
friends (who will not allow me to mention their names, lest more errors
should be discovered than they or I yet know of), for the invaluable
assistance they have given me while this work was going through the
press. If I am able to let it go before the public with any comfort or
peace of mind, I owe it entirely to the carefulness of their

I am also greatly indebted to Mr. Garnett, of the British Museum, for
having called my attention to many works and passages of which otherwise
I should have known nothing.

_March 31, 1879._



  Statement of the Question--Current Opinion adverse to
  Teleology                                                          1


  The Teleology of Paley and the Theologians                        12


  Impotence of Paley's Conclusion--The Teleology of the
  Evolutionist                                                      24


  Failure of the First Evolutionists to see their Position
  as Teleological                                                   34


  The Teleological Evolution of Organism--The Philosophy
  of the Unconscious                                                43


  Scheme of the Remainder of the Work--Historical Sketch
  of the Theory of Evolution                                        60


  Pre-Buffonian Evolution, and some German Writers                  68


  Buffon--Memoir                                                    74


  Buffon's Method--The Ironical Character of his Work               78


  Supposed Fluctuations of Opinion--Causes or Means of
  the Transformation of Species                                     97


  Buffon--Puller Quotations                                        107


  Sketch of Dr. Erasmus Darwin's Life                              173


  Philosophy of Dr. Erasmus Darwin                                 195


  Fuller Quotations from the 'Zoonomia'                            214


  Memoir of Lamarck                                                235


  General Misconception concerning Lamarck--His
  Philosophical Position                                           244


  Summary of the 'Philosophie Zoologique'                          261


  Mr. Patrick Matthew, MM. Étienne and Isidore Geoffroy
  St. Hilaire, and Mr. Herbert Spencer                             315


  Main Points of Agreement and of Difference between the
  Old and New Theories of Evolution                                335


  Natural Selection considered as a Means of Modification--The
  Confusion which this Expression occasions                        345


  Mr. Darwin's Defence of the Expression, Natural
  Selection--Professor Mivart and Natural Selection                362


  The Case of the Madeira Beetles as illustrating the
  Difference between the Evolution of Lamarck and
  of Mr. Charles Darwin--Conclusion                                373

APPENDIX                                                           385

INDEX                                                              409




Of all the questions now engaging the attention of those whose destiny
has commanded them to take more or less exercise of mind, I know of none
more interesting than that which deals with what is called
teleology--that is to say, with design or purpose, as evidenced by the
different parts of animals and plants.

The question may be briefly stated thus:--

Can we or can we not see signs in the structure of animals and plants,
of something which carries with it the idea of contrivance so strongly
that it is impossible for us to think of the structure, without at the
same time thinking of contrivance, or design, in connection with it?

It is my object in the present work to answer this question in the
affirmative, and to lead my reader to agree with me, perhaps mainly, by
following the history of that opinion which is now supposed to be fatal
to a purposive view of animal and vegetable organs. I refer to the
theory of evolution or descent with modification.

Let me state the question more at large.

When we see organs, or living tools--for there is no well-developed
organ of any living being which is not used by its possessor as an
instrument or tool for the effecting of some purpose which he considers
or has considered for his advantage--when we see living tools which are
as admirably fitted for the work required of them, as is the carpenter's
plane for planing, or the blacksmith's hammer and anvil for the
hammering of iron, or the tailor's needle for sewing, what conclusion
shall we adopt concerning them?

Shall we hold that they must have been designed or contrived, not
perhaps by mental processes indistinguishable from those by which the
carpenter's saw or the watch has been designed, but still by processes
so closely resembling these that no word can be found to express the
facts of the case so nearly as the word "design"? That is to say, shall
we imagine that they were arrived at by a living mind as the result of
scheming and contriving, and thinking (not without occasional mistakes)
which of the courses open to it seemed best fitted for the occasion, or
are we to regard the apparent connection between such an organ, we will
say, as the eye, and the sight which is affected by it, as in no way due
to the design or plan of a living intelligent being, but as caused
simply by the accumulation, one upon another, of an almost infinite
series of small pieces of good fortune?

In other words, shall we see something for which, as Professor Mivart
has well said, "to us the word 'mind' is the least inadequate and
misleading symbol," as having given to the eagle an eyesight which can
pierce the sun, but which, in the night is powerless; while to the owl
it has given eyes which shun even the full moon, but find a soft
brilliancy in darkness? Or shall we deny that there has been any purpose
or design in the fashioning of these different kinds of eyes, and see
nothing to make us believe that any living being made the eagle's eye
out of something which was not an eye nor anything like one, or that
this living being implanted this particular eye of all others in the
eagle's head, as being most in accordance with the habits of the
creature, and as therefore most likely to enable it to live contentedly
and leave plenitude of offspring? And shall we then go on to maintain
that the eagle's eye was formed little by little by a series of
accidental variations, each one of which was thrown for, as it were,
with dice?

We shall most of us feel that there must have been a little cheating
somewhere with these accidental variations before the eagle could have
become so great a winner.

I believe I have now stated the question at issue so plainly that there
can be no mistake about its nature, I will therefore proceed to show as
briefly as possible what have been the positions taken in regard to it
by our forefathers, by the leaders of opinion now living, and what I
believe will be the next conclusion that will be adopted for any length
of time by any considerable number of people.

In the times of the ancients the preponderance of opinion was in favour
of teleology, though impugners were not wanting. Aristotle[1] leant
towards a denial of purpose, while Plato[2] was a firm believer in
design. From the days of Plato to our own times, there have been but few
objectors to the teleological or purposive view of nature. If an animal
had an eye, that eye was regarded as something which had been designed
in order to enable its owner to see after such fashion as should be most
to its advantage.

This, however, is now no longer the prevailing opinion either in this
country or in Germany.

Professor Haeckel holds a high place among the leaders of German
philosophy at the present day. He declares a belief in evolution and in
purposiveness to be incompatible, and denies purpose in language which
holds out little prospect of a compromise.

"As soon, in fact," he writes, "as we acknowledge the exclusive activity
of the physico-chemical causes in living (organic) bodies as well as in
so-called inanimate (inorganic) nature,"--and this is what Professor
Haeckel holds we are bound to do if we accept the theory of descent with
modification--"we concede exclusive dominion to that view of the
universe, which we may designate as _mechanical_, and which is opposed
to the teleological conception. If we compare all the ideas of the
universe prevalent among different nations at different times, we can
divide them all into two sharply contrasted groups--a _causal_ or
_mechanical_, and a _teleological_ or _vitalistic_. The latter has
prevailed generally in biology until now, and accordingly the animal and
vegetable kingdoms have been considered as the products of a creative
power, acting for a definite purpose. In the contemplation of every
organism, the unavoidable conviction seemed to press itself upon us,
that such a wonderful machine, so complicated an apparatus for motion as
exists in the organism, could only be produced by a power analogous to,
but infinitely more powerful than the power of man in the construction
of his machines."[3]

A little lower down he continues:--

"_I maintain with regard to_" this "_much talked of 'purpose in nature'
that it has no existence but for those persons who observe phenomena in
plants and animals in the most superficial manner_. Without going more
deeply into the matter, we can see at once that the rudimentary organs
are a formidable obstacle to this theory. And, indeed, anyone who makes
a really close study of the organization and mode of life of the various
animals and plants, ... must necessarily come to the conclusion, that
this 'purposiveness' no more exists than the much talked of
'beneficence' of the Creator."[4]

Professor Haeckel justly sees no alternative between, upon the one hand,
the creation of independent species by a Personal God--by a "Creator,"
in fact, who "becomes an organism, who designs a plan, reflects upon and
varies this plan, and finally forms creatures according to it, as a
human architect would construct his building,"[5]--and the denial of all
plan or purpose whatever. There can be no question but that he is right
here. To talk of a "designer" who has no tangible existence, no organism
with which to think, no bodily mechanism with which to carry his
purposes into effect; whose design is not design inasmuch as it has to
contend with no impediments from ignorance or impotence, and who thus
contrives but by a sort of make-believe in which there is no
contrivance; who has a familiar name, but nothing beyond a name which
any human sense has ever been able to perceive--this is an abuse of
words--an attempt to palm off a shadow upon our understandings as though
it were a substance. It is plain therefore that there must either be a
designer who "becomes an organism, designs a plan, &c.," or that there
can be no designer at all and hence no design.

We have seen which of these alternatives Professor Haeckel has adopted.
He holds that those who accept evolution are bound to reject all
"purposiveness." And here, as I have intimated, I differ from him, for
reasons which will appear presently. I believe in an organic and
tangible designer of every complex structure, for so long a time past,
as that reasonable people will be incurious about all that occurred at
any earlier time.

Professor Clifford, again, is a fair representative of opinions which
are finding favour with the majority of our own thinkers. He writes:--

"There are here some words, however, which require careful definition.
And first the word purpose. A thing serves a purpose when it is adapted
for some end; thus a corkscrew is adapted to the end of extracting corks
from bottles, and our lungs are adapted to the end of respiration. We
may say that the extraction of corks is the purpose of the corkscrew,
and that respiration is the purpose of the lungs, but here we shall have
used the word in two different senses. A man made the corkscrew with a
purpose in his mind, and he knew and intended that it should be used for
pulling out corks. _But nobody made our lungs with a purpose in his mind
and intended that they should be used for breathing._ The respiratory
apparatus was adapted to its purpose by natural selection, namely, by
the gradual preservation of better and better adaptations, and by the
killing-off of the worse and imperfect adaptations."[6]

No denial of anything like design could be more explicit. For Professor
Clifford is well aware that the very essence of the "Natural Selection"
theory, is that the variations shall have been mainly accidental and
without design of any sort, but that the adaptations of structure to
need shall have come about by the accumulation, through natural
selection, of any variation that _happened_ to be favourable.

It will be my business on a later page not only to show that the lungs
are as purposive as the corkscrew, but furthermore that if drawing corks
had been a matter of as much importance to us as breathing is, the list
of our organs would have been found to comprise one corkscrew at the
least, and possibly two, twenty, or ten thousand; even as we see that
the trowel without which the beaver cannot plaster its habitation in
such fashion as alone satisfies it, is incorporate into the beaver's own
body by way of a tail, the like of which is to be found in no other

To take a name which carries with it a far greater authority, that of
Mr. Charles Darwin. He writes:--

"It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye with a telescope. We
know that this instrument has been perfected by the long-continued
efforts of the highest human intellects; and we naturally infer that the
eye has been formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not this
inference be presumptuous? Have we any right to declare that the Creator
works by intellectual powers like those of man?"[7]

Here purposiveness is not indeed denied point-blank, but the intention
of the author is unmistakable, it is to refer the wonderful result to
the gradual accumulation of small accidental improvements which were not
due as a rule, if at all, to anything "analogous" to design.

"Variation," he says, "will cause the slight alterations;" that is to
say, the slight successive variations whose accumulation results in such
a marvellous structure as the eye, are caused by--variation; or in other
words, they are indefinite, due to nothing that we can lay our hands
upon, and therefore certainly not due to design. "Generation," continues
Mr. Darwin, "will multiply them almost infinitely, and natural selection
will pick out with unerring skill each improvement. Let this process go
on for millions of years, and during each year on millions of
individuals of many kinds; and may we not believe that a living optical
instrument might be thus formed as superior to one of glass, as the
works of the Creator are to those of man?"[8]

The reader will observe that the only skill--and this involves
design--supposed by Mr. Darwin to be exercised in the foregoing process,
is the "unerring skill" of natural selection. Natural selection,
however, is, as he himself tells us, a synonym for the survival of the
fittest, which last he declares to be the "more accurate" expression,
and to be "sometimes" equally convenient.[9] It is clear then that he
only speaks metaphorically when he here assigns "unerring skill" to the
fact that the fittest individuals commonly live longest and transmit
most offspring, and that he sees no evidence of design in the numerous
slight successive "alterations"--or variations--which are "caused by

It were easy to multiply quotations which should prove that the denial
of "purposiveness" is commonly conceived to be the inevitable
accompaniment of a belief in evolution. I will, however, content myself
with but one more--from Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire.

"Whoever," says this author, "holds the doctrine of final causes, will,
if he is consistent, hold also that of the immutability of species; and
again, the opponent of the one doctrine will oppose the other also."[10]

Nothing can be plainer; I believe, however, that even without quotation
the reader would have recognized the accuracy of my contention that a
belief in the purposiveness or design of animal and vegetable organs is
commonly held to be incompatible with the belief that they have all been
evolved from one, or at any rate, from not many original, and low, forms
of life. Generally, however, as this incompatibility is accepted, it is
not unchallenged. From time to time a voice is uplifted in protest,
whose tones cannot be disregarded.

"I have always felt," says Sir William Thomson, in his address to the
British Association, 1871, "that this hypothesis" (natural selection)
"does not contain the true theory of evolution, if indeed evolution
there has been, in biology. Sir John Herschel, in expressing a
favourable judgment on the hypothesis of zoological evolution (with
however some reservation in respect to the origin of man), objected to
the doctrine of natural selection on the ground that it was too like the
Laputan method of making books, and that it did not sufficiently take
into account a continually guiding and controlling intelligence. This
seems to me a most valuable and instructive criticism. _I feel
profoundly convinced that the argument of design has been greatly too
much lost sight of in recent zoological speculations._ Reaction against
the frivolities of teleology such as are to be found in the notes of the
learned commentators on Paley's 'Natural Theology,' has, I believe, had
a temporary effect in turning attention from the solid and irrefragable
argument so well put forward in that excellent old book. But
overpoweringly strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie
all around us,"[11] &c. Sir William Thomson goes on to infer that all
living beings depend on an ever-acting Creator and Ruler--meaning, I am
afraid, a Creator who is not an organism. Here I cannot follow him, but
while gladly accepting his testimony to the omnipresence of intelligent
design in almost every structure, whether of animal or plant, I shall
content myself with observing the manner in which plants and animals act
and with the consequences that are legitimately deducible from their


[1] See note to Mr. Darwin, Historical Sketch, &c., 'Origin of Species,
p. xiii. ed. 1876, and Arist. 'Physicæ Auscultationes,' lib. ii. cap.
viii. s. 2.

[2] See Phædo and Timæus.

[3] 'History of Creation,' vol. i. p. 18 (H. S. King and Co., 1876).

[4] Ibid. p. 19.

[5] 'History of Creation,' vol. i. p. 73 (H. S. King and Co., 1876).

[6] 'Fortnightly Review,' new series, vol. xviii. p. 795.

[7] 'Origin of Species,' p. 146, ed. 1876.

[8] 'Origin of Species,' p. 146, ed. 1876.

[9] Page 49.

[10] 'Vie et Doctrine scientifique d'Étienne Geoffroy St. Hilaire,' by
Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire. Paris, 1847, p. 344.

[11] Address to the British Association, 1871.



Let us turn for a while to Paley, to whom Sir W. Thomson has referred
us. His work should be so well known that an apology is almost due for
quoting it, yet I think it likely that at least nine out of ten of my
readers will (like myself till reminded of it by Sir W. Thomson's
address) have forgotten its existence.

"In crossing a heath," says Paley, "suppose I pitched my foot against a
stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly
answer that for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for
ever; nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this
answer. But suppose I had found a _watch_ upon the ground, and it should
be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly
think of the answer I had before given--that for anything I knew the
watch might have been always there. Yet, why should not this answer
serve for the watch as well as for the stone? Why is it not as
admissible in the second case as in the first? For this reason, and for
no other, viz. that when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what
we could not discover in the stone) that its several parts are framed
and put together for a purpose, e. g. that they are so formed and
adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point
out the hour of the day: that if the different parts had been
differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what
they are, or placed after any other manner, or in any other order, than
that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been
carried on in the machine, or none that would have answered the use
which is now served by it. To reckon up a few of the plainest of these
parts, and of their offices all tending to one result: we see a
cylindrical box containing a coiled elastic spring, which, by its
endeavours to relax itself, turns round the box. We next observe a
flexible chain (artificially wrought for the sake of flexure)
communicating the action of the spring from the box to the fusee. We
then find a series of wheels the teeth of which catch in, and apply to
each other, conducting the motion from the fusee to the balance, and
from the balance to the pointer; and at the same time by the size and
shape of those wheels so regulating the motion as to terminate in
causing an index, by an equable and measured progression, to pass over a
given space in a given time. We take notice that the wheels are made of
brass in order to keep them from rust; the springs of steel, no other
metal being so elastic; that over the face of the watch there is placed
a glass, a material employed on no other part of the work, but in the
room of which if there had been any other than a transparent substance,
the hour could not have been observed without opening the case. This
mechanism being observed, ... the inference, we think, is inevitable
that the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at
_some time, and at some place or other, an artificer_ or artificers who
formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who
comprehended its construction and designed its use."[12]

     . . . . . .

"That an animal is a machine, is a proposition neither correctly true
nor wholly false.... I contend that there is a mechanism in animals;
that this mechanism is as properly such, as it is in machines made by
art; that this mechanism is intelligible and certain; that it is not the
less so because it often begins and terminates with something which is
not mechanical; that wherever it is intelligible and certain, it
demonstrates intention and contrivance, as well in the works of nature
as in those of art; and that it is the best demonstration which either
can afford."[13]

There is only one legitimate inference deducible from these premises if
they are admitted as sound, namely, that there must have existed "_at
some time, and in some place, an artificer_" who formed the animal
mechanism after much the same mental processes of observation,
endeavour, successful contrivance, and after a not wholly unlike
succession of bodily actions, as those with which a watchmaker has made
a watch. Otherwise the conclusion is impotent, and the whole argument
becomes a mere juggle of words.

"Now, supposing or admitting," continues Paley, "that we know nothing of
the proper internal constitution of a gland, or of the mode of its
acting upon the blood; then our situation is precisely like that of an
unmechanical looker-on who stands by a stocking loom, a corn mill, a
carding machine, or a threshing machine, at work, the fabric and
mechanism of which, as well as all that passes within, is hidden from
his sight by the outside case; or if seen, would be too complicated for
his uninformed, uninstructed understanding to comprehend. And what is
that situation? This spectator, ignorant as he is, sees at one end a
material enter the machine, as unground grain the mill, raw cotton the
carding machine, sheaves of unthreshed corn the threshing machine, and
when he casts his eye to the other end of the apparatus, he sees the
material issuing from it in a new state and what is more, a state
manifestly adapted for its future uses: the grain in meal fit for the
making of bread, the wool in rovings fit for the spinning into threads,
the sheaf in corn fit for the mill. Is it necessary that this man, in
order to be convinced that design, that intention, that contrivance has
been employed about the machine, should be allowed to pull it to pieces,
should be enabled to examine the parts separately, explore their action
upon one another, or their operation, whether simultaneous or
successive, upon the material which is presented to them? He may long to
do this to satisfy his curiosity; he may desire to do it to improve his
theoretic knowledge; ... but for the purpose of ascertaining the
existence of counsel and design in the formation of the machine, he
wants no such intromission or privity. The effect upon the material, the
change produced in it, the utility of the change for future
applications, abundantly testify, be the concealed part of the machine,
or of its construction, what it will, _the hand and agency of a

This is admirably put, but it will apply to the mechanism of animal and
vegetable bodies only, if it is used to show that they too must have had
a contriver who has a hand, or something tantamount to one; who does
act; who, being a contriver, has what all other contrivers must have, if
they are to be called contrivers--a body which can suffer more or less
pain or chagrin if the contrivance is unsuccessful. If this is what
Paley means, his argument is indeed irrefragable; but if he does not
intend this, his words are frivolous, as so clear and acute a reasoner
must have perfectly well known.

Whether Paley's argument will prove a source of lasting strength to
himself or no, is a point which my readers will decide presently; but I
am very clear about its usefulness to my own position. I know few
writers whom I would willingly quote more largely, or from whom I find
it harder to leave off quoting when I have once begun. A few more
passages, however, must suffice.

"I challenge any man to produce in the joints and pivots of the most
complicated or the most flexible machine that ever was contrived, a
construction _more artificial_" (here we have it again), "or more
evidently artificial than the human neck. Two things were to be done.
The head was to have the power of bending forward and backward as in the
act of nodding, stooping, looking upwards or downwards; and at the same
time of turning itself round upon the body to a certain extent, the
quadrant, we will say, or rather perhaps a hundred and twenty degrees of
a circle. For these two purposes two distinct contrivances are employed.
First the head rests immediately upon the uppermost part of the
vertebra, and is united to it by a hinge-joint; upon this joint the head
plays freely backward and forward as far either way as is necessary or
as the ligaments allow, which was the first thing required.

"But then the rotatory motion is thus unprovided for; therefore,
secondly, to make the head capable of this a further mechanism is
introduced, not between the head and the uppermost bone of the neck,
where the hinge is, but between that bone and the next underneath it. It
is a mechanism resembling a tenon and mortise. This second or uppermost
bone but one has what the anatomists call a process, viz. a projection
somewhat similar in size and shape to a tooth, which tooth, entering a
corresponding hollow socket in the bone above it, forms a pivot or axle,
upon which that upper bone, together with the head which it supports,
turns freely in a circle, and as far in the circle as the attached
muscles permit the head to turn. Thus are both motions perfect without
interfering with each other. When we nod the head we use the
hinge-joint, which lies between the head and the first bone of the neck.
When we turn the head round, we use the tenon and mortise, which runs
between the first bone of the neck and the second. We see the same
contrivance and the same principle employed in the frame or mounting of
a telescope. It is occasionally requisite that the object end of the
instrument be moved up and down as well as horizontally or equatorially.
For the vertical motion there is a hinge upon which the telescope plays,
for the horizontal or equatorial motion, an axis upon which the
telescope and the hinge turn round together. And this is exactly the
mechanism which is applied to the action of the head, nor will anyone
here doubt of the existence of counsel and design, except it be by that
debility of mind which can trust to its own reasonings in nothing."[15]

     . . . . . .

"The patella, or knee-pan, is a curious little bone; in its form and
office unlike any other bone in the body. It is circular, the size of a
crown-piece, pretty thick, a little convex on both sides, and covered
with a smooth cartilage. It lies upon the front of the knee, and the
powerful tendons by which the leg is brought forward pass through it (or
rather make it a part of their continuation) from their origin in the
thigh to their insertion in the tibia. It protects both the tendon and
the joint from any injury which either might suffer by the rubbing of
one against the other, or by the pressure of unequal surfaces. It also
gives to the tendons a very considerable mechanical advantage by
altering the line of their direction, and by advancing it farther out of
the centre of motion; and this upon the principles of the resolution of
force, upon which all machinery is founded. These are its uses. But what
is most observable in it is that it appears to be supplemental, as it
were, to the frame; added, as it should almost seem, afterwards; not
quite necessary, but very convenient. It is separate from the other
bones; that is, it is not connected with any other bones by the common
mode of union. It is soft, or hardly formed in infancy; and is produced
by an ossification, of the inception or progress of which no account can
be given from the structure or exercise of the part."[16]

It is positively painful to me to pass over Paley's description of the
joints, but I must content myself with a single passage from this
admirable chapter.

"The joints, or rather the ends of the bones which form them, display
also in their configuration another use. The nerves, blood-vessels, and
tendons which are necessary to the life, or for the motion of the limbs,
must, it is evident in their way from the trunk of the body to the place
of their destination, travel over the moveable joints; and it is no less
evident that in this part of their course they will have from sudden
motions, and from abrupt changes of curvature, to encounter the danger
of compression, attrition, or laceration. To guard fibres so tender
against consequences so injurious, their path is in those parts
protected with peculiar care; and that by a provision in the figure of
the bones themselves. The nerves which supply the fore arm, especially
the inferior cubital nerves, are at the elbow conducted by a kind of
covered way, between the condyle, or rather under the inner
extuberances, of the bone which composes the upper part of the arm. At
the knee the extremity of the thigh-bone is divided by a sinus or cliff
into two heads or protuberances; and these heads on the back part stand
out beyond the cylinder of the bone. Through the hollow which lies
between the hind parts of these two heads, that is to say, under the
ham, between the ham strings, and within the concave recess of the bone
formed by the extuberances on either side; in a word, along a defile
between rocks pass the great vessels and nerves which go to the leg. Who
led these vessels by a road so defended and secured? In the joint at the
shoulder, in the edge of the cup which receives the head of the bone, is
a notch which is covered at the top with a ligament. Through this hole
thus guarded the blood-vessels steal to their destination in the arm
instead of mounting over the edge of the concavity."[17]

     . . . . . .

"What contrivance can be more mechanical than the following, viz.: a
slit in one tendon to let another tendon pass through it? This structure
is found in the tendons which move the toes and fingers. The long
tendon, as it is called in the foot, which bends the first joint of the
toe, passes through the short tendon which bends the second joint; which
course allows to the sinews more liberty and a more commodious action
than it would otherwise have been capable of exerting. There is nothing,
I believe, in a silk or cotton mill, in the belts or straps or ropes by
which the motion is communicated from one part of the machine to another
that is more artificial, or more evidently so, than this perforation.

"The next circumstance which I shall mention under this head of
muscular arrangement, is so decidedly a mark of intention, that it
always appeared to me to supersede in some measure the necessity of
seeking for any other observation upon the subject; and that
circumstance is the tendons which pass from the leg to the foot being
bound down by a ligament at the ankle, the foot is placed at a
considerable angle with the leg. It is manifest, therefore, that
flexible strings passing along the interior of the angle, if left to
themselves, would, when stretched, start from it. The obvious" (and it
must not be forgotten that the preventive _was_ obvious) "preventive is
to tie them down. And this is done in fact. Across the instep, or rather
just above it, the anatomist finds a strong ligament, under which the
tendons pass to the foot. The effect of the ligament as a bandage can be
made evident to the senses, for if it be cut the tendons start up. The
simplicity, yet the clearness of this contrivance, its exact resemblance
to established resources of art, place it amongst the most indubitable
manifestations of design with which we are acquainted."

Then follows a passage which is interesting, as being the earliest
attempt I know of to bring forward an argument against evolution, which
was, even in Paley's day, called "Darwinism," after Dr. Erasmus Darwin
its propounder.[18] The argument, I mean, which is drawn from the
difficulty of accounting for the incipiency of complex structures. This
has been used with greater force by the Rev. J. J. Murphy, Professor
Mivart, and others, against that (as I believe) erroneous view of
evolution which is now generally received as Darwinism.

"There is also a further use," says Paley, "to be made of this present
example, and that is as it precisely contradicts the opinion, that the
parts of animals may have been all formed by what is called appetency,
i. e. endeavour, perpetuated and imperceptibly working its effect
through an incalculable series of generations. We have here no
endeavour, but the reverse of it; a constant resistency and reluctance.
The endeavour is all the other way. The pressure of the ligament
constrains the tendons; the tendons react upon the pressure of the
ligament. It is impossible that the ligament should ever have been
generated by the exercise of the tendons, or in the course of that
exercise, forasmuch as the force of the tendon perpendicularly resists
the fibre which confines it, and is constantly endeavouring not to form
but to rupture and displace the threads of which the ligament is

This must suffice.

"True theories," says M. Flourens, inspired by a passage from
Fontenelle, which he proceeds to quote, "true theories make themselves,"
they are not made, but are born and grow; they cannot be stopped from
insisting upon their vitality by anything short of intellectual
violence, nor will a little violence only suffice to kill them. "True
theories," he continues, "are but the spontaneous mental coming
together of facts, which have combined with one another by virtue only
of their own natural affinity."[20]

When a number of isolated facts, says Fontenelle, take form, group
themselves together coherently, and present the mind so vividly with an
idea of their interdependence and mutual bearing upon each other, that
no matter how violently we tear them asunder they insist on coming
together again; then, and not till then, have we a theory.

Now I submit that there is hardly one of my readers who can be
considered as free from bias or prejudice, who will not feel that the
idea of design--or perception by an intelligent living being, of ends to
be obtained and of the means of obtaining them--and the idea of the
tendons of the foot and of the ligament which binds them down, come
together so forcibly, that no matter how strongly Professors Haeckel and
Clifford and Mr. Darwin may try to separate them, they are no sooner
pulled asunder than they straightway fly together again of themselves.

I shall argue, therefore, no further upon this head, but shall assume it
as settled, and shall proceed at once to the consideration that next
suggests itself.


[12] 'Natural Theology,' ch. i. § 1.

[13] Ch. vii.

[14] Ch. vii.

[15] 'Natural Theology.' ch. viii.

[16] 'Natural Theology,' ch. viii.

[17] 'Natural Theology,' ch. viii.

[18] "What!" says Coleridge, in a note on Stillingfleet, to which Mr.
Garnett, of the British Museum, has kindly called my attention, "Did Sir
Walter Raleigh believe that a male and female ounce (and if so why not
two tigers and lions, &c.?) would have produced in course of generations
a cat, or a cat a lion? This is Darwinising with a vengeance."--See
'Athenæum,' March 27, 1875, p. 423.

[19] 'Natural Theology,' ch. ix.

[20] "La vraie théorie n'est que l'enchaînement naturel des faits, qui
dès qu'ils sont assez nombreux, se touchent, et se lient, les uns aux
autres par leur seule vertu propre."--Flourens, 'Buffon, Hist. de ses
Travaux.' Paris, 1844, p. 82.



Though the ideas of design, and of the foot, have come together in our
minds with sufficient spontaneity, we yet feel that there is a
difference--and a wide difference if we could only lay our hands upon
it--between the design and manufacture of the ligament and tendons of
the foot on the one hand, and on the other the design, manufacture, and
combination of artificial strings, pieces of wood, and bandages, whereby
a model of the foot might be constructed.

If we conceive of ourselves as looking simultaneously upon a real foot,
and upon an admirably constructed artificial one, placed by the side of
it, the idea of design, and design by an intelligent living being with a
body and soul (without which, as has been already insisted on, the use
of the word design is delusive), will present itself strongly to our
minds in connection both with the true foot, and with the model; but we
find another idea asserting itself with even greater strength, namely,
that the design of the true foot is far more intricate, and yet is
carried into execution in far more masterly manner than that of the
model. We not only feel that there is a wider difference between the
ability, time, and care which have been lavished on the real foot and
upon the model, than there is between the skill and the time taken to
produce Westminster Abbey, and that bestowed upon a gingerbread cake
stuck with sugar plums so as to represent it, but also that these two
objects must have been manufactured on different principles. We do not
for a moment doubt that the real foot was designed, but we are so
astonished at the dexterity of the designer that we are at a loss for
some time to think who could have designed it, where he can live, in
what manner he studied, for how long, and by what processes he carried
out his design, when matured, into actual practice. Until recently it
was thought that there was no answer to many of these questions, more
especially to those which bear upon the mode of manufacture. For the
last hundred years, however, the importance of a study has been
recognized which does actually reveal to us in no small degree the
processes by which the human foot is manufactured, so that in the
endeavour to lay our hands upon the points of difference between the
kind of design with which the foot itself is designed, and the design of
the model, we turn naturally to the guidance of those who have made this
study their specialty; and a very wide difference does this study,
embryology, at once reveal to us.

Writing of the successive changes through which each embryo is forced to
pass, the late Mr. G. H. Lewes says that "none of these phases have any
adaptation to the future state of the animal, but are in positive
contradiction to it or are simply purposeless; whereas all show stamped
on them the unmistakable characters of _ancestral_ adaptation, and the
progressions of organic evolution. What does the fact imply? There is
not a single known example of a complex organism which is not developed
out of simpler forms. Before it can attain the complex structure which
distinguishes it, there must be an evolution of forms similar to those
which distinguish the structure of organisms lower in the series. On the
hypothesis of a plan which prearranged the organic world, nothing could
be more unworthy of a supreme intelligence than this inability to
construct an organism at once, without making several previous tentative
efforts, undoing to-day what was so carefully done yesterday, and
_repeating for centuries the same tentatives in the same succession_. Do
not let us blink this consideration. There is a traditional phrase much
in vogue among the anthropomorphists, which arose naturally enough from
a tendency to take human methods as an explanation of the Divine--a
phrase which becomes a sort of argument--'The Great Architect.' But if
we are to admit the human point of view, a glance at the facts of
embryology must produce very uncomfortable reflections. For what should
we say to an architect who was unable, or being able was obstinately
unwilling, to erect a palace except by first using his materials in the
shape of a hut, then pulling them down and rebuilding them as a cottage,
then adding story to story and room to room, _not_ with any reference to
the ultimate purposes of the palace, but wholly with reference to the
way in which houses were constructed in ancient times? What should we
say to the architect who could not form a museum out of bricks and
mortar, but was forced to begin as if going to construct a mansion, and
after proceeding some way in this direction, altered his plan into a
palace, and that again into a museum? Yet this is the sort of succession
on which organisms are constructed. The fact has long been familiar; how
has it been reconciled with infinite wisdom? Let the following passage
answer for a thousand:--'The embryo is nothing like the miniature of the
adult. For a long while the body in its entirety and in its details,
presents the strangest of spectacles. Day by day and hour by hour, the
aspect of the scene changes, and this instability is exhibited by the
most essential parts no less than by the accessory parts. One would say
that nature feels her way, and only reaches the goal after many times
missing the path' (on dirait que la nature tâtonne et ne conduit son
oeuvre à bon fin, qu'après s'être souvent trompée)."[21]

The above passage does not, I think, affect the evidence for design
which we adduced in the preceding chapter. However strange the process
of manufacture may appear, when the work comes to be turned out the
design is too manifest to be doubted.

If the reader were to come upon some lawyer's deed which dealt with
matters of such unspeakable intricacy, that it baffled his imagination
to conceive how it could ever have been drafted, and if in spite of this
he were to find the intricacy of the provisions to be made, exceeded
only by the ease and simplicity with which the deed providing for them
was found to work in practice; and after this, if he were to discover
that the deed, by whomsoever drawn, had nevertheless been drafted upon
principles which at first seemed very foreign to any according to which
he was in the habit of drafting deeds himself, as for example, that the
draftsman had begun to draft a will as a marriage settlement, and so
forth--yet an observer would not, I take it, do either of two things. He
would not in the face of the result deny the design, making himself
judge rather of the method of procedure than of the achievement. Nor yet
after insisting in the manner of Paley, on the wonderful proofs of
intention and on the exquisite provisions which were to be found in
every syllable--thus leading us up to the highest pitch of
expectation--would he present us with such an impotent conclusion as
that the designer, though a living person and a true designer, was yet
immaterial and intangible, a something, in fact, which proves to be a
nothing: an omniscient and omnipotent vacuum.

Our observer would feel he need not have been at such pains to establish
his design if this was to be the upshot of his reasoning. He would
therefore admit the design, and by consequence the designer, but would
probably ask a little time for reflection before he ventured to say who,
or what, or where the designer was. Then gaining some insight into the
manner in which the deed had been drawn, he would conclude that the
draftsman was a specialist who had had long practice in this particular
kind of work, but who now worked almost as it might be said
automatically and without consciousness, and found it difficult to
depart from a habitual method of procedure.

We turn, then, on Paley, and say to him: "We have admitted your design
and your designer. Where is he? Show him to us. If you cannot show him
to us as flesh and blood, show him as flesh and sap; show him as a
living cell; show him as protoplasm. Lower than this we should not
fairly go; it is not in the bond or _nexus_ of our ideas that something
utterly inanimate and inorganic should scheme, design, contrive, and
elaborate structures which can make mistakes: it may elaborate low
unerring things, like crystals, but it cannot elaborate those which have
the power to err. Nevertheless, we will commit such abuse with our
understandings as to waive this point, and we will ask you to show him
to us as air which, if it cannot be seen, yet can be felt, weighed,
handled, transferred from place to place, be judged by its effects, and
so forth; or if this may not be, give us half a grain of hydrogen,
diffused through all space and invested with some of the minor
attributes of matter; or if you cannot do this, give us an imponderable
like electricity, or even the higher mathematics, but give us something
or throw off the mask and tell us fairly out that it is your paid
profession to hoodwink us on this matter if you can, and that you are
but doing your best to earn an honest living."

We may fancy Paley as turning the tables upon us and as saying: "But you
too have admitted a designer--you too then must mean a designer with a
body and soul, who must be somewhere to be found in space, and who must
live in time. Where is this your designer? Can you show him more than I
can? Can you lay your finger on him and demonstrate him so that a child
shall see him and know him, and find what was heretofore an isolated
idea concerning him, combine itself instantaneously with the idea of the
designer, we will say, of the human foot, so that no power on earth
shall henceforth tear those two ideas asunder? Surely if you cannot do
this, you too are trifling with words, and abusing your own mind and
that of your reader. Where, then, is your designer of man? Who made him?
And where, again, is your designer of beasts and birds, of fishes, and
of plants?"

Our answer is simple enough; it is that we can and do point to a living
tangible person with flesh, blood, eyes, nose, ears, organs, senses,
dimensions, who did of his own cunning after infinite proof of every
kind of hazard and experiment scheme out, and fashion each organ of the
human body. This is the person whom we claim as the designer and
artificer of that body, and he is the one of all others the best fitted
for the task by his antecedents, and his practical knowledge of the
requirements of the case--for he is man himself.

Not man, the individual of any given generation, but man in the entirety
of his existence from the dawn of life onwards to the present moment. In
like manner we say that the designer of all organisms is so incorporate
with the organisms themselves--so lives, moves, and has its being in
those organisms, and is so one with them--they in it, and it in
them--that it is more consistent with reason and the common use of
words to see the designer of each living form in the living form itself,
than to look for its designer in some other place or person.

Thus we have a third alternative presented to us.

Mr. Charles Darwin and his followers deny design, as having any
appreciable share in the formation of organism at all.

Paley and the theologians insist on design, but upon a designer outside
the universe and the organism.

The third opinion is that suggested in the first instance, and carried
out to a very high degree of development by Buffon. It was improved,
and, indeed, made almost perfect by Dr. Erasmus Darwin, but too much
neglected by him after he had put it forward. It was borrowed, as I
think we may say with some confidence, from Dr. Darwin by Lamarck, and
was followed up by him ardently thenceforth, during the remainder of his
life, though somewhat less perfectly comprehended by him than it had
been by Dr. Darwin. It is that the design which has designed organisms,
has resided within, and been embodied in, the organisms themselves.

With but a very little change in the present signification of words, the
question resolves itself into this.

Shall we see God henceforth as embodied in all living forms; as dwelling
in them; as being that power in them whereby they have learnt to fashion
themselves, each one according to its ideas of its own convenience, and
to make itself not only a microcosm, or little world, but a little
unwritten history of the universe from its own point of view into the
bargain? From everlasting, in time past, only in so far as life has
lasted; invisible, only in so far as the ultimate connection between the
will to do and the thing which does is invisible; imperishable, only in
so far as life as a whole is imperishable; omniscient and omnipotent,
within the limits only of a very long and large experience, but ignorant
and impotent in respect of all else--limited in all the above respects,
yet even so incalculably vaster than anything that we can conceive?

Or shall we see God as we were taught to say we saw him when we were
children--as an artificial and violent attempt to combine ideas which
fly asunder and asunder, no matter how often we try to force them into

"The true mainspring of our existence," says Buffon, "lies not in those
muscles, veins, arteries, and nerves, which have been described with so
much minuteness, it is to be found in the more hidden forces which are
not bounden by the gross mechanical laws which we would fain set over
them. Instead of trying to know these forces by their effects, we have
endeavoured to uproot even their very idea, so as to banish them utterly
from philosophy. But they return to us and with renewed vigour; they
return to us in gravitation, in chemical affinity, in the phenomena of
electricity, &c. Their existence rests upon the clearest evidence; the
omnipresence of their action is indisputable, but that action is hidden
away from our eyes, and is a matter of inference only; we cannot
actually see them, therefore we find difficulty in admitting that they
exist; we wish to judge of everything by its exterior; we imagine that
the exterior is the whole, and deeming that it is not permitted us to
go beyond it, we neglect all that may enable us to do so."[22]

Or may we not say that the unseen parts of God are those deep buried
histories, the antiquity and the repeatedness of which go as far beyond
that of any habit handed down to us from our earliest protoplasmic
ancestor, as the distance of the remotest star in space transcends our
distance from the sun?

By vivisection and painful introspection we can rediscover many a long
buried history--rekindling that sense of novelty in respect of its
action, whereby we can alone become aware of it. But there are other
remoter histories, and more repeated thoughts and actions, before which
we feel so powerless to reawaken fresh interest concerning them, that we
give up the attempt in despair, and bow our heads, overpowered by the
sense of their immensity. Thus our inability to comprehend God is
coextensive with our difficulty in going back upon the past--and our
sense of him is a dim perception of our own vast and now inconceivably
remote history.


[21] Quatrefages, 'Metamorphoses de l'Homme et des Animaux,' 1862, p.
42; G. H. Lewes, 'Physical Basis of Mind,' 1877, p. 83.

[22] Tom. ii. p. 486, 1794.



It follows necessarily from the doctrine of Dr. Erasmus Darwin and
Lamarck, if not from that of Buffon himself, that the greater number of
organs are as purposive to the evolutionist as to the theologian, and
far more intelligibly so. Circumstances, however, prevented these
writers from acknowledging this fact to the world, and perhaps even to
themselves. Their _crux_ was, as it still is to so many evolutionists,
the presence of rudimentary organs, and the processes of embryological
development. They would not admit that rudimentary and therefore useless
organs were designed by a Creator to take their place once and for ever
as part of a scheme whose main idea was, that every animal structure was
to serve some useful end in connection with its possessor.

This was the doctrine of final causes as then commonly held; in the face
of rudimentary organs it was absurd. Buffon was above all things else a
plain matter of fact thinker, who refused to go far beyond the obvious.
Like all other profound writers, he was, if I may say so, profoundly
superficial. He felt that the aim of research does not consist in the
knowing this or that, but in the easing of the desire to know or
understand more completely--in the peace of mind which passeth all
understanding. His was the perfection of a healthy mental organism by
which over effort is felt instinctively to be as vicious and
contemptible as indolence. He knew this too well to know the grounds of
his knowledge, but we smaller people who know it less completely, can
see that such felicitous instinctive tempering together of the two great
contradictory principles, love of effort and love of ease, has underlain
every step of all healthy growth through all conceivable time. Nothing
is worth looking at which is seen either too obviously or with too much
difficulty. Nothing is worth doing or well done which is not done fairly
easily, and some little deficiency of effort is more pardonable than any
very perceptible excess; for virtue has ever erred rather on the side of
self-indulgence than of asceticism, and well-being has ever advanced
through the pleasures rather than through austerity.

According to Buffon, then--as also according to Dr. Darwin, who was just
such another practical and genial thinker, and who was distinctly a
pupil of Buffon, though a most intelligent and original one--if an organ
after a reasonable amount of inspection appeared to be useless, it was
to be called useless without more ado, and theories were to be ordered
out of court if they were troublesome. In like manner, if animals bred
freely _inter se_ before our eyes, as for example the horse and ass, the
fact was to be noted, but no animals were to be classed as capable of
interbreeding until they had asserted their right to such classification
by breeding with tolerable certainty. If, again, an animal looked as if
it felt, that is to say, if it moved about pretty quickly or made a
noise, it must be held to feel; if it did neither of these things, it
did not look as if it felt and therefore it must be said not to feel.
_De non apparentibus et non existentibus eadem est lex_ was one of the
chief axioms of their philosophy; no writers have had a greater horror
of mystery or of ideas that have not become so mastered as to be, or to
have been, superficial. Lamarck was one of those men of whom I believe
it has been said that they have brain upon the brain. He had his theory
that an animal could not feel unless it had a nervous system, and at
least a spinal marrow--and that it could not think at all without a
brain--all his facts, therefore, have to be made to square with this.
With Buffon and Dr. Darwin we feel safe that however wrong they may
sometimes be, their conclusions have always been arrived at on that
fairly superficial view of things in which, as I have elsewhere said,
our nature alone permits us to be comforted.

To these writers, then, the doctrine of final causes for rudimentary
organs was a piece of mystification and an absurdity; no less fatal to
any such doctrine were the processes of embryological development. It
was plain that the commonly received teleology must be given up; but the
idea of design or purpose was so associated in their minds with
theological design that they avoided it altogether. They seem to have
forgotten that an internal teleology is as much teleology as an external
one; hence, unfortunately, though their whole theory of development is
intensely purposive, it is the fact rather than the name of teleology
which has hitherto been insisted upon, even by the greatest writers on
evolution--the name having been denied even by those who were most
insisting on the thing itself.

It is easy to understand the difficulty felt by the fathers of evolution
when we remember how much had to be seen before the facts could lie well
before them. It was necessary to attain, firstly, to a perception of the
unity of person between parents and offspring in successive generations;
secondly, it must be seen that an organism's memory goes back for
generations beyond its birth, to the first beginnings in fact, of which
we know anything whatever; thirdly, the latency of that memory, as of
memory generally till the associated ideas are reproduced, must be
brought to bear upon the facts of heredity; and lastly, the
unconsciousness with which habitual actions come to be performed, must
be assigned as the explanation of the unconsciousness with which we grow
and discharge most of our natural functions.

Buffon was too busy with the fact that animals descended with
modification at all, to go beyond the development and illustration of
this great truth. I doubt whether he ever saw more than the first, and
that dimly, of the four considerations above stated.

Dr. Darwin was the first to point out the first two considerations with
some clearness, but he can hardly be said to have understood their full
importance: the two latter ideas do not appear to have occurred to him.

Lamarck had little if any perception of any one of the four. When,
however, they are firmly seized and brought into their due bearings one
upon another, the facts of heredity become as simple as those of a man
making a tobacco pipe, and rudimentary organs are seen to be essentially
of the same character as the little rudimentary protuberance at the
bottom of the pipe to which I referred in 'Erewhon.'[23]

These organs are now no longer useful, but they once were so, and were
therefore once purposive, though not so now. They are the expressions of
a bygone usefulness; sayings, as it were, about which there was at one
time infinite wrangling, as to what both the meaning and the expression
should best be, so that they then had living significance in the mouths
of those who used them, though they have become such mere shibboleths
and cant formulæ to ourselves that we think no more of their meaning
than we do of Julius Cæsar in the month of July. They continue to be
reproduced through the force of habit, and through indisposition to get
out of any familiar groove of action until it becomes too unpleasant for
us to remain in it any longer. It has long been felt that embryology and
rudimentary structures indicated community of descent. Dr. Darwin and
Lamarck insisted on this, as have all subsequent writers on evolution;
but the explanation of why and how the structures come to be
repeated--namely, that they are simply examples of the force of
habit--can only be perceived intelligently by those who admit so much
unity between parents and offspring that the self-development of the
latter can be properly called habitual (as being a repetition of an act
by one and the same individual), and can only be fully sympathized with
by those who recognize that if habit be admitted as the key to the fact
at all, the unconscious manner in which the habit comes to be repeated
is only of a piece with all our other observations concerning habit. For
the fuller development of the foregoing, I must refer the reader to my
work 'Life and Habit.'

The purposiveness, which even Dr. Darwin, and Lamarck still less, seem
never to have quite recognized in spite of their having insisted so much
on what amounts to the same thing, now comes into full view. It is seen
that the organs external to the body, and those internal to it are, the
second as much as the first, things which we have made for our own
convenience, and with a prevision that we shall have need of them; the
main difference between the manufacture of these two classes of organs
being, that we have made the one kind so often that we can no longer
follow the processes whereby we make them, while the others are new
things which we must make introspectively or not at all, and which are
not yet so incorporate with our vitality as that we should think they
grow instead of being manufactured. The manufacture of the tool, and the
manufacture of the living organ prove therefore to be but two species of
the same genus, which, though widely differentiated, have descended as
it were from one common filament of desire and inventive faculty. The
greater or less complexity of the organs goes for very little. It is
only a question of the amount of intelligence and voluntary
self-adaptation which we must admit, and this must be settled rather by
an appeal to what we find in organism, and observe concerning it, than
by what we may have imagined _à priori_.

Given a small speck of jelly with some kind of circumstance-suiting
power, some power of slightly varying its actions in accordance with
slightly varying circumstances and desires--given such a jelly-speck
with a power of assimilating other matter, and thus, of reproducing
itself, given also that it should be possessed of a memory, and we can
show how the whole animal world can have descended it may be from an
amoeba without interference from without, and how every organ in every
creature is designed at first roughly and tentatively but finally
fashioned with the most consummate perfection, by the creature which has
had need of that organ, which best knew what it wanted, and was never
satisfied till it had got that which was the best suited to its varying
circumstances in their entirety. We can even show how, if it becomes
worth the Ethiopian's while to try and change his skin, or the leopard's
to change his spots, they can assuredly change them within a not
unreasonable time and adapt their covering to their own will and
convenience, and to that of none other; thus what is commonly conceived
of as direct creation by God is moved back to a time and space
inconceivable in their remoteness, while the aim and design so obvious
in nature are shown to be still at work around us, growing ever busier
and busier, and advancing from day to day both in knowledge and power.

It was reserved for Mr. Darwin and for those who have too rashly
followed him to deny purpose as having had any share in the development
of animal and vegetable organs; to see no evidence of design in those
wonderful provisions which have been the marvel and delight of observers
in all ages. The one who has drawn our attention more than perhaps any
other living writer to those very marvels of coadaptation, is the
foremost to maintain that they are the result not of desire and design,
either within the creature or without it, but of blind chance, working
no whither, and due but to the accumulation of innumerable lucky

"There are men," writes Professor Tyndall in the 'Nineteenth Century,'
for last November, "and by no means the minority, who, however wealthy
in regard to facts, can never rise into the region of principles; and
they are sometimes intolerant of those that can. They are formed to plod
meritoriously on in the lower levels of thought; unpossessed of the
pinions necessary to reach the heights, they cannot realize the mental
act--the act of inspiration it might well be called--by which a man of
genius, after long pondering and proving, reaches a theoretic conception
which unravels and illuminates the tangle of centuries of observation
and experiment. There are minds, it may be said in passing, who, at the
present moment, stand in this relation to Mr. Darwin."

The more rhapsodical parts of the above must go for what they are worth,
but I should be sorry to think that what remains conveyed a censure
which might fall justly on myself. As I read the earlier part of the
passage I confess that I imagined the conclusion was going to be very
different from what it proved to be. Fresh from the study of the older
men and also of Mr. Darwin himself, I failed to see that Mr. Darwin had
"unravelled and illuminated" a tangled skein, but believed him, on the
contrary, to have tangled and obscured what his predecessors had made in
great part, if not wholly, plain. With the older writers, I had felt as
though in the hands of men who wished to understand themselves and to
make their reader understand them with the smallest possible exertion.
The older men, if not in full daylight, at any rate saw in what quarter
of the sky the dawn was breaking, and were looking steadily towards it.
It is not they who have put their hands over their own eyes and ours,
and who are crying out that there is no light, but chance and blindness


[23] Page 210, first edition.



I have stated the foregoing in what I take to be an extreme logical
development, in order that the reader may more easily perceive the
consequences of those premises which I am endeavouring to re-establish.
But it must not be supposed that an animal or plant has ever conceived
the idea of some organ widely different from any it was yet possessed
of, and has set itself to design it in detail and grow towards it.

The small jelly-speck, which we call the amoeba, has no organs save
what it can extemporize as occasion arises. If it wants to get at
anything, it thrusts out part of its jelly, which thus serves it as an
arm or hand: when the arm has served its purpose, it is absorbed into
the rest of the jelly, and has now to do the duty of a stomach by
helping to wrap up what it has just purveyed. The small round
jelly-speck spreads itself out and envelops its food, so that the whole
creature is now a stomach, and nothing but a stomach. Having digested
its food, it again becomes a jelly-speck, and is again ready to turn
part of itself into hand or foot as its next convenience may dictate. It
is not to be believed that such a creature as this, which is probably
just sensitive to light and nothing more, should be able to form a
conception of an eye and set itself to work to grow one, any more than
it is believable that he who first observed the magnifying power of a
dew drop, or even he who first constructed a rude lens, should have had
any idea in his mind of Lord Rosse's telescope with all its parts and
appliances. Nothing could be well conceived more foreign to experience
and common sense. Animals and plants have travelled to their present
forms as man has travelled to any one of his own most complicated
inventions. Slowly, step by step, through many blunders and mischances
which have worked together for good to those that have persevered in
elasticity. They have travelled as man has travelled, with but little
perception of a want till there was also some perception of a power, and
with but little perception of a power till there was a dim sense of
want; want stimulating power, and power stimulating want; and both so
based upon each other that no one can say which is the true foundation,
but rather that they must be both baseless and, as it were, meteoric in
mid air. They have seen very little ahead of a present power or need,
and have been then most moral, when most inclined to pierce a little
into futurity, but also when most obstinately declining to pierce too
far, and busy mainly with the present. They have been so far blindfolded
that they could see but for a few steps in front of them, yet so far
free to see that those steps were taken with aim and definitely, and not
in the dark.

"Plus il a su," says Buffon, speaking of man, "plus il a pu, mais aussi
moins il a fait, moins il a su." This holds good wherever life holds
good. Wherever there is life there is a moral government of rewards and
punishments understood by the amoeba neither better nor worse than by
man. The history of organic development is the history of a moral

We know nothing as yet about the origin of a creature able to feel want
and power, nor yet what want and power spring from. It does not seem
worth while to go into these questions until an understanding has been
come to as to whether the interaction of want and power in some low form
or forms of life which could assimilate matter, reproduce themselves,
vary their actions, and be capable of remembering, will or will not
suffice to explain the development of the varied organs and desires
which we see in the higher vertebrates and man. When this question has
been settled, then it will be time to push our inquiries farther back.

But given such a low form of life as here postulated, and there is no
force in Paley's pretended objection to the Darwinism of his time.

"Give our philosopher," he says, "appetencies; give him a portion of
living irritable matter (a nerve or the clipping of a nerve) to work
upon; give also to his incipient or progressive forms the power of
propagating their like in every stage of their alteration; and if he is
to be believed, he could replenish the world with all the vegetable and
animal productions which we now see in it."[24]

After meeting this theory with answers which need not detain us, he

"The senses of animals appear to me quite incapable of receiving the
explanation of their origin which this theory affords. Including under
the word 'sense' the organ and the perception, we have no account of
either. How will our philosopher get at vision or make an eye? Or,
suppose the eye formed, would the perception follow? The same of the
other senses. And this objection holds its force, ascribe what you will
to the hand of time, to the power of habit, to changes too slow to be
observed by man, or brought within any comparison which he is able to
make of past things with the present. Concede what you please to these
arbitrary and unattested superstitions, how will they help you? Here is
no inception. No laws, no course, no powers of nature which prevail at
present, nor any analogous to these would give commencement to a new
sense; and it is in vain to inquire how that might proceed which would
never _begin_."

In answer to this, let us suppose that some inhabitants of another world
were to see a modern philosopher so using a microscope that they should
believe it to be a part of the philosopher's own person, which he could
cut off from and join again to himself at pleasure, and suppose there
were a controversy as to how this microscope had originated, and that
one party maintained the man had made it little by little because he
wanted it, while the other declared this to be absurd and impossible; I
ask, would this latter party be justified in arguing that microscopes
could never have been perfected by degrees through the preservation of
and accumulation of small successive improvements, inasmuch as men
could not have begun to want to use microscopes until they had had a
microscope which should show them that such an instrument would be
useful to them, and that hence there is nothing to account for the
_beginning_ of microscopes, which might indeed make some progress when
once originated, but which could never originate?

It might be pointed out to such a reasoner, firstly, that as regards any
acquired power the various stages in the acquisition of which he might
be supposed able to remember, he would find that, logic notwithstanding,
the wish did originate the power, and yet was originated by it, both
coming up gradually out of something which was not recognisable as
either power or wish, and advancing through vain beating of the air, to
a vague effort, and from this to definite effort with failure, and from
this to definite effort with success, and from this to success with
little consciousness of effort, and from this to success with such
complete absence of effort that he now acts unconsciously and without
power of introspection, and that, do what he will, he can rarely or
never draw a sharp dividing line whereat anything shall be said to
begin, though none less certain that there has been a continuity in
discontinuity, and a discontinuity in continuity between it and certain
other past things; moreover, that his opponents postulated so much
beginning of the microscope as that there should be a dew drop, even as
our evolutionists start with a sense of touch, of which sense all the
others are modifications, so that not one of them but is resolvable into
touch by more or less easy stages; and secondly, that the question is
one of fact and of the more evident deductions therefrom, and should not
be carried back to those remote beginnings where the nature of the facts
is so purely a matter of conjecture and inference.

No plant or animal, then, according to our view, would be able to
conceive more than a very slight improvement on its organization at a
given time, so clearly as to make the efforts towards it that would
result in growth of the required modification; nor would these efforts
be made with any far-sighted perception of what next and next and after,
but only of what next; while many of the happiest thoughts would come
like all other happy thoughts--thoughtlessly; by a chain of reasoning
too swift and subtle for conscious analysis by the individual, as will
be more fully insisted on hereafter. Some of these modifications would
be noticeable, but the majority would involve no more noticeable
difference than can be detected between the length of the shortest day,
and that of the shortest but one.

Thus a bird whose toes were not webbed, but who had under force of
circumstances little by little in the course of many generations learned
to swim, either from having lived near a lake, and having learnt the art
owing to its fishing habits, or from wading about in shallow pools by
the sea-side at low water, and finding itself sometimes a little out of
its depth and just managing to scramble over the intermediate yard or so
between it and safety--such a bird did not probably conceive the idea of
swimming on the water and set itself to learn to do so, and then
conceive the idea of webbed feet and set itself to get webbed feet. The
bird found itself in some small difficulty, out of which it either saw,
or at any rate found that it could extricate itself by striking out
vigorously with its feet and extending its toes as far as ever it could;
it thus began to learn the art of swimming and conceived the idea of
swimming synchronously, or nearly so; or perhaps wishing to get over a
yard or two of deep water, and trying to do so without being at the
trouble of rising to fly, it would splash and struggle its way over the
water, and thus practically swim, though without much perception of what
it had been doing. Finding that no harm had come to it, the bird would
do the same again, and again; it would thus presently lose fear, and
would be able to act more calmly; then it would begin to find out that
it could swim a little, and if its food lay much in the water so that it
would be of great advantage to it to be able to alight and rest without
being forced to return to land, it would begin to make a practice of
swimming. It would now discover that it could swim the more easily
according as its feet presented a more extended surface to the water; it
would therefore keep its toes extended whenever it swam, and as far as
in it lay, would make the most of whatever skin was already at the base
of its toes. After very many generations it would become web-footed, if
doing as above described should have been found continuously convenient,
so that the bird should have continuously used the skin about its toes
as much as possible in this direction.

For there is a margin in every organic structure (and perhaps more than
we imagine in things inorganic also), which will admit of references,
as it were, side notes, and glosses upon the original text. It is on
this margin that we may err or wander--the greatness of a mistake
depending rather upon the extent of the departure from the original
text, than on the direction that the departure takes. A little error on
the bad side is more pardonable, and less likely to hurt the organism
than a too great departure upon the right one. This is a fundamental
proposition in any true system of ethics, the question what is too much
or too sudden being decided by much the same higgling as settles the
price of butter in a country market, and being as invisible as the link
which connects the last moment of desire with the first of power and
performance, and with the material result achieved.

It is on this margin that the fulcrum is to be found, whereby we obtain
the little purchase over our structure, that enables us to achieve great
results if we use it steadily, with judgment, and with neither too
little effort nor too much. It is by employing this that those who have
a fancy to move their ears or toes without moving other organs learn to
do so. There is a man at the Agricultural Hall now playing the violin
with his toes, and playing it, as I am told, sufficiently well. The eye
of the sailor, the wrist of the conjuror, the toe of the professional
medium, are all found capable of development to an astonishing degree,
even in a single lifetime; but in every case success has been attained
by the simple process of making the best of whatever power a man has had
at any given time, and by being on the look out to take advantage of
accident, and even of misfortune. If a man would learn to paint, he must
not theorize concerning art, nor think much what he would do beforehand,
but he must do _something_--it does not matter what, except that it
should be whatever at the moment will come handiest and easiest to him;
and he must do that something as well as he can. This will presently
open the door for something else, and a way will show itself which no
conceivable amount of searching would have discovered, but which yet
could never have been discovered by sitting still and taking no pains at
all. "Dans l'animal," says Buffon, "il y a moins de jugement que de

It may appear as though this were blowing hot and cold with the same
breath, inasmuch as I am insisting that important modifications of
structure have been always purposive; and at the same time am denying
that the creature modified has had any purpose in the greater part of
all those actions which have at length modified both structure and
instinct. Thus I say that a bird learns to swim without having any
purpose of learning to swim before it set itself to make those movements
which have resulted in its being able to do so. At the same time I
maintain that it has only learned to swim by trying to swim, and this
involves the very purpose which I have just denied. The reconciliation
of these two apparently irreconcilable contentions must be found in the
consideration that the bird was not the less trying to swim, merely
because it did not know the name we have chosen to give to the art
which it was trying to master, nor yet how great were the resources of
that art. A person, who knew all about swimming, if from some bank he
could watch our supposed bird's first attempt to scramble over a short
space of deep water, would at once declare that the bird was trying to
swim--if not actually swimming. Provided then that there is a very
little perception of, and prescience concerning, the means whereby the
next desired end may be attained, it matters not how little in advance
that end may be of present desires or faculties; it is still reached
through purpose, and must be called purposive. Again, no matter how many
of these small steps be taken, nor how absolute was the want of purpose
or prescience concerning any but the one being actually taken at any
given moment, this does not bar the result from having been arrived at
through design and purpose. If each one of the small steps is purposive
the result is purposive, though there was never purpose extended over
more than one, two, or perhaps at most three, steps at a time.

Returning to the art of painting for an example, are we to say that the
proficiency which such a student as was supposed above will certainly
attain, is not due to design, merely because it was not until he had
already become three parts excellent that he knew the full purport of
all that he had been doing? When he began he had but vague notions of
what he would do. He had a wish to learn to represent nature, but the
line into which he has settled down has probably proved very different
from that which he proposed to himself originally. Because he has taken
advantage of his accidents, is it, therefore, one whit the less true
that his success is the result of his desires and his design? The
'Times' pointed out not long ago that the theory which now associates
meteors and comets in the most unmistakable manner, was suggested by one
accident, and confirmed by another. But the writer added well that "such
accidents happen only to the zealous student of nature's secrets." In
the same way the bird that is taking to the habit of swimming, and of
making the most of whatever skin it already has between its toes, will
have doubtless to thank accidents for no small part of its progress; but
they will be such accidents as could never have happened to, or been
taken advantage of by any creature which was not zealously trying to
make the most of itself--and between such accidents as this, and design,
the line is hard to draw; for if we go deep enough we shall find that
most of our design resolves itself into as it were a shaking of the bag
to see what will come out that will suit our purpose, and yet at the
same time that most of our shaking of the bag resolves itself into a
design that the bag shall contain only such and such things, or

Again, the fact that animals are no longer conscious of
design and purpose in much that they do, but act unreflectingly,
and as we sometimes say concerning ourselves "automatically" or
"mechanically"--that they have no idea whatever of the steps whereby
they have travelled to their present state, and show no sign of doubt
about what must have been at one time the subject of all manner of
doubts, difficulties, and discussions--that whatever sign of reflection
they now exhibit is to be found only in case of some novel feature or
difficulty presenting itself; these facts do not bar that the results
achieved should be attributed to an inception in reason, design, and
purpose, no matter how rapidly and as we call it instinctively, the
creatures may now act.

For if we look closely at such an invention as the steam engine in its
latest and most complicated developments, about which there can be no
dispute but that they are achievements of reason, purpose, and design,
we shall find them present us with examples of all those features the
presence of which in the handiwork of animals is too often held to bar
reason and purpose from having had any share therein.

Assuredly such men as the Marquis of Worcester and Captain Savery had
very imperfect ideas as to the upshot of their own action. The simplest
steam engine now in use in England is probably a marvel of ingenuity as
compared with the highest development which appeared possible to these
two great men, while our newest and most highly complicated engines
would seem to them more like living beings than machines. Many, again,
of the steps leading to the present development have been due to action
which had but little heed of the steam engine, being the inventions of
attendants whose desire was to save themselves the trouble of turning
this or that cock, and who were indifferent to any other end than their
own immediate convenience. No step in fact along the whole route was
ever taken with much perception of what would be the next step after the
one being taken at any given moment.

Nor do we find that an engine made after any old and well-known pattern
is now made with much more consciousness of design than we can suppose a
bird's nest to be built with. The greater number of the parts of any
such engine, are made by the gross as it were like screws and nuts,
which are turned out by machinery and in respect of which the labour of
design is now no more felt than is the design of him who first invented
the wheel. It is only when circumstances require any modification in the
article to be manufactured that thought and design will come into play
again; but I take it few will deny that if circumstances compel a bird
either to give up a nest three-parts built altogether, or to make some
trifling deviation from its ordinary practice, it will in nine cases out
of ten make such deviation as shall show that it had thought the matter
over, and had on the whole concluded to take such and such a course,
that is to say, that it had reasoned and had acted with such purpose as
its reason had dictated.

And I imagine that this is the utmost that anyone can claim even for
man's own boasted powers. Set the man who has been accustomed to make
engines of one type, to make engines of another type without any
intermediate course of training or instruction, and he will make no
better figure with his engines than a thrush would do if commanded by
her mate to make a nest like a blackbird. It is vain then to contend
that the ease and certainty with which an action is performed, even
though it may have now become matter of such fixed habit that it cannot
be suddenly and seriously modified without rendering the whole
performance abortive, is any argument against that action having been an
achievement of design and reason in respect of each one of the steps
that have led to it; and if in respect of each one of the steps then as
regards the entire action; for we see our own most reasoned actions
become no less easy, unerring, automatic, and unconscious, than the
actions which we call instinctive when they have been repeated a
sufficient number of times.

This has been often pointed out, but I insisted upon it and developed it
in 'Life and Habit,' more I believe than has been done hitherto, at the
same time making it the key to many phenomena of growth and heredity
which without such key seem explained by words rather than by any
corresponding peace of mind in our ideas concerning them. Seeing that I
dwelt much on the importance of bearing in mind the vanishing tendency
of consciousness, volition, and memory upon their becoming intense, a
tendency which no one after five minutes' reflection will venture to
deny, some reviewers have imagined that I am advocating the same views
as have been put forward by Von Hartmann under the title of 'the
Philosophy of the Unconscious.' Unless, however, I am much mistaken,
their opinion is without foundation. For so far as I can gather, Von
Hartmann personifies the unconscious and makes it act and think--in fact
deifies it--whereas I only infer a certain history for certain of our
growths and actions in consequence of observing that often repeated
actions come in time to be performed unconsciously. I cannot think I
have done more than note a fact which all must acknowledge, and drawn
from it an inference which may or may not be true, but which is at any
rate perfectly intelligible, whereas if Von Hartmann's meaning is
anything like what Mr. Sully says it is,[26] I can only say that it has
not been given to me to form any definite conception whatever as to what
that meaning may be. I am encouraged moreover to hope that I am not in
the same condemnation with Von Hartmann--if, indeed, Von Hartmann is to
be condemned, about which I know nothing--by the following extract from
a German Review of 'Life and Habit.'

     "Der erste dieser beiden Erklärungsversuche, ist eine wahre
     'Philosophie des Unbewussten' nicht des Hartmann'schen Unbewussten
     welches hellsehend und wunderthätig von aussen in die natürliche
     Entwickelung der Organismen eingreift, sondern eines Unbewussten
     welches wie der Verfasser zeigt, in allen organischen Wesen
     anzunehmen unsere eigene Erfahrung und die Stufenfolge der
     Organismen von den Moneren und Amoeben bis zu den höchsten
     Pflanzen und Thieren und uns selbst aufwärts--uns gestattet, wenn
     nicht uns nöthigt. Der Gedankengang dieser neuen oder wenigstens in
     diesem Sinne wohl zum ersten Male consequent im Einzelnen
     durchgeführten Philosophie des Unbewussten ist, seinen Hauptzügen
     nach kurz angedeutet, folgender."[27]

Even here I am made to personify more than I like; I do not wish to say
that the unconscious does this or that, but that when we have done this
or that sufficiently often we do it unconsciously.

If the foregoing be granted, and it be admitted that the unconsciousness
and seeming automatism with which any action may be performed is no bar
to its having a foundation in memory, reason, and at one time
consciously recognized effort--and this I believe to be the chief
addition which I have ventured to make to the theory of Buffon and Dr.
Erasmus Darwin--then the wideness of the difference between the
Darwinism of eighty years ago and the Darwinism of to-day becomes
immediately apparent, and it also becomes apparent, how important and
interesting is the issue which is raised between them.

According to the older Darwinism the lungs are just as purposive as the
corkscrew. They, no less than the corkscrew, are a piece of mechanism
designed and gradually improved upon and perfected by an intelligent
creature for the gratification of its own needs. True there are many
important differences between mechanism which is part of the body, and
mechanism which is no such part, but the differences are such as do not
affect the fact that in each case the result, whether, for example,
lungs or corkscrew, is due to desire, invention, and design.

And now I will ask one more question, which may seem, perhaps, to have
but little importance, but which I find personally interesting. I have
been told by a reviewer, of whom upon the whole I have little reason to
complain, that the theory I put forward in 'Life and Habit,' and which I
am now again insisting on, is pessimism--pure and simple. I have a very
vague idea what pessimism means, but I should be sorry to believe that I
am a pessimist. Which, I would ask, is the pessimist? He who sees love
of beauty, design, steadfastness of purpose, intelligence, courage, and
every quality to which success has assigned the name of "worth," as
having drawn the pattern of every leaf and organ now and in all past
time, or he who sees nothing in the world of nature but a chapter of
accidents and of forces interacting blindly?


[24] 'Nat. Theol.,' ch. xxiii.

[25] 'Oiseaux,' vol. i. p. 5.

[26] 'Westminster Review,' vol. xlix. p. 124.

[27] Translation: "The first of these two attempts is a true 'philosophy
of the unconscious,' not Hartmann's unconscious, which influences the
natural evolution of organism from without as though by Providence and
miracle, but of an unconscious, which, as the author shows, our own
experience and the progressive succession of organisms from the monads
and amoebæ up to the highest plants and animals, including ourselves,
allows, if it does not compel us to assume [as obtaining] in all organic
beings. This philosophy of the unconscious is new, or at any rate now
for the first time carried out consequentially in detail; its main
features, briefly stated are as follows."



I have long felt that evolution must stand or fall according as it is
made to rest or not on principles which shall give a definite purpose
and direction to the variations whose accumulation results in specific,
and ultimately in generic differences. In other words, according as it
is made to stand upon the ground first clearly marked out for it by Dr.
Erasmus Darwin and afterwards adopted by Lamarck, or on that taken by
Mr. Charles Darwin.

There is some reason to fear that in consequence of the disfavour into
which modern Darwinism is seen to be falling by those who are more
closely watching the course of opinion upon this subject, evolution
itself may be for a time discredited as something inseparable from the
theory that it has come about mainly through "the means" of natural
selection. If people are shown that the arguments by which a somewhat
startling conclusion has been reached will not legitimately lead to that
conclusion, they are very ready to assume that the conclusion must be
altogether unfounded, especially when, as in the present case, there is
a vast mass of vested interests opposed to the conclusion. Few know that
there are other great works upon descent with modification besides Mr.
Darwin's. Not one person in ten thousand has any distinct idea of what
Buffon, Dr. Darwin, and Lamarck propounded. Their names have been
discredited by the very authors who have been most indebted to them;
there is hardly a writer on evolution who does not think it incumbent
upon him to warn Lamarck off the ground which he at any rate made his
own, and to cast a stone at what he will call the "shallow speculations"
or "crude theories" or the "well-known doctrine" of the foremost
exponent of Buffon and Dr. Darwin. Buffon is a great name, Dr. Darwin is
no longer even this, and Lamarck has been so systematically laughed at
that it amounts to little less than philosophical suicide for anyone to
stand up in his behalf. Not one of our scientific elders or chief
priests but would caution a student rather to avoid the three great men
whom I have named than to consult them. It is a perilous task therefore
to try and take evolution from the pedestal on which it now appears to
stand so securely, and to put it back upon the one raised for it by its
propounders; yet this is what I believe will have to be done sooner or
later unless the now general acceptance of evolution is to be shaken
more rudely than some of its upholders may anticipate. I propose
therefore to give a short biographical sketch of the three writers whose
works form new departures in the history of evolution, with a somewhat
full _résumé_ of the positions they took in regard to it. I will also
touch briefly upon some other writers who have handled the same subject.
The reader will thus be enabled to follow the development of a great
conception as it has grown up in the minds of successive men of genius,
and by thus growing with it, as it were, through its embryonic stages,
he will make himself more thoroughly master of it in all its bearings.

I will then contrast the older with the newer Darwinism, and will show
why the 'Origin of Species,' though an episode of incalculable value,
cannot, any more than the 'Vestiges of Creation,' take permanent rank in
the literature of evolution.

It will appear that the evolution of evolution has gone through the
following principal stages:--

I. A general conception of the fact that specific types were not always

This was common to many writers, both ancient and modern; it has been
occasionally asserted from the times of Anaximander and Lucretius to
those of Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh.

II. A definite conception that animal and vegetable forms were so
extensively mutable that few (and, if so, perhaps but one) could claim
to be of an original stock; the direct effect of changed conditions
being assigned as the cause of modification, and the important
consequences of the struggle for existence being in many respects fully
recognized. The fact of design or purpose in connection with organism,
as causing habits and thus as underlying all variation, was also
indicated with some clearness, but was not thoroughly understood.

This phase must be identified with the name of Buffon, who, as I will
show reason for believing, would have carried his theory much further if
he had not felt that he had gone as far in the right direction as was
then desirable. Buffon put forward his opinions, with great reserve and
yet with hardly less frankness, in volume after volume from 1749 to
1788, the year of his death, but they do not appear to have taken root
at once in France. They took root in England, and were thence
transplanted back to France.

III. A development in England of the Buffonian system, marked by
glimpses of the unity between offspring and parents, and broad
suggestions to the effect that the former must be considered as capable
of remembering, under certain circumstances, what had happened to it,
and what it did, when it was part of the personality of those from whom
it had descended.

A definite belief, openly expressed, that not only are many species
mutable, but that all living forms, whether animal or vegetable, are
descended from a single, or at any rate from not many, original low
forms of life, and this as the direct consequence of the actions and
requirements of the living forms themselves, and as the indirect
consequence of changed conditions. A definite cause is thus supposed to
underlie variations, and the resulting adaptations become purposive; but
this was not said, nor, I am afraid, seen.

This is the original Darwinism of Dr. Erasmus Darwin. It was put forward
in his 'Zoonomia,' in 1794, and was adopted almost in its entirety by
Lamarck, who, when he had caught the leading idea (probably through a
French translation of the 'Loves of the Plants,' which appeared in
1800), began to expound it in 1801; in 1802, 1803, 1806, and 1809, he
developed it with greater fulness of detail than Dr. Darwin had done,
but perhaps with a somewhat less nice sense of some important points.
Till his death, in 1831, Lamarck, as far as age and blindness would
permit, continued to devote himself to the exposition of the theory of
descent with modification.

IV. A more distinct perception of the unity of parents and offspring,
with a bolder reference of the facts of heredity (whether of structure
or instinct), to memory pure and simple; a clearer perception of the
consequences that follow from the survival of the fittest, and a just
view of the relation in which those consequences stand to "the
circumstance-suiting" power of animals and plants; a reference of the
variations whose accumulation results in species, to the volition of the
animal or plant which varies, and perhaps a dawning perception that all
adaptations of structure to need must therefore be considered as

This must be connected with Mr. Matthew's work on 'Naval Timber and
Arboriculture,' which appeared in 1831. The remarks which it contains in
reference to evolution are confined to an appendix, but when brought
together, as by Mr. Matthew himself, in the 'Gardeners' Chronicle' for
April 7, 1860, they form one of the most perfect yet succinct
expositions of the theory of evolution that I have ever seen. I shall
therefore give them in full.[28] This book was well received, and was
reviewed in the 'Quarterly Review,'[29] but seems to have been valued
rather for its views on naval timber than on evolution. Mr. Matthew's
merit lies in a just appreciation of the importance of each one of the
principal ideas which must be present in combination before we can have
a correct conception of evolution, and of their bearings upon one
another. In his scheme of evolution I find each part kept in due
subordination to the others, so that the whole theory becomes more
coherent and better articulated than I have elsewhere found it; but I do
not detect any important addition to the ideas which Dr. Darwin and
Lamarck had insisted upon.

I pass over the 'Vestiges of Creation,' which should be mentioned only
as having, as Mr. Charles Darwin truly says, "done excellent service in
this country, in calling attention to this subject, in removing
prejudice, and in thus preparing the ground for the reception of
analogous views."[30] The work neither made any addition to ideas which
had been long familiar, nor arranged old ones in a satisfactory manner.
Such as it is, it is Dr. Darwin and Lamarck, but Dr. Darwin and Lamarck
spoiled. The first edition appeared in 1844.

I also pass over Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire's 'Natural History,' which
appeared 1854-62, and the position of which is best described by calling
it intermediate between the one which Buffon thought fit to pretend to
take, and that actually taken by Lamarck. The same may be said also of
Étienne Geoffroy. I will, however, just touch upon these writers later

A short notice, again, will suffice for the opinions of Goethe,
Treviranus, and Oken, none of whom can I discover as having originated
any important new idea; but knowing no German, I have taken this
opinion from the résumé of each of these writers, given by Professor
Haeckel in his 'History of Creation.'

V. A time of retrogression, during which we find but little apparent
appreciation of the unity between parents and offspring; no reference to
memory in connection with heredity, whether of instinct or structure; an
exaggerated view of the consequences which may be deduced from the fact
that the fittest commonly survive in the struggle for existence; the
denial of any known principle as underlying variations; comparatively
little appreciation of the circumstance-suiting power of plants and
animals, and a rejection of purposiveness. By far the most important
exponent of this phase of opinion concerning evolution is Mr. Charles
Darwin, to whom, however, we are more deeply indebted than to any other
living writer for the general acceptance of evolution in one shape or
another. The 'Origin of Species' appeared in 1859, the same year, that
is to say, as the second volume of Isidore Geoffroy's 'Histoire
Naturelle Générale.'

VI. A reaction against modern Darwinism, with a demand for definite
purpose and design as underlying variations. The best known writers who
have taken this line are the Rev. J. J. Murphy and Professor Mivart,
whose 'Habit and intelligence' and 'Genesis of Species' appeared in 1869
and 1871 respectively. In Germany Professor Hering has revived the idea
of memory as explaining the phenomena of heredity satisfactorily,
without probably having been more aware that it had been advanced
already than I was myself when I put it forward recently in 'Life and
Habit.' I have never seen the lecture in which Professor Hering has
referred the phenomena of heredity to memory, but will give an extract
from it which appeared in the 'Athenæum,' as translated by Professor Ray
Lankester.[31] The only new feature which I believe I may claim to have
added to received ideas concerning evolution, is a perception of the
fact that the unconsciousness with which we go through our embryonic and
infantile stages, and with which we discharge the greater number and
more important of our natural functions, is of a piece with what we
observe concerning all habitual actions, as well as concerning memory;
an explanation of the phenomena of old age; and of the main principle
which underlies longevity. I may, perhaps, claim also to have more fully
explained the passage of reason into instinct than I yet know of its
having been explained elsewhere.[32]


[28] See ch. xviii. of this volume.

[29] Vol. xlix. p. 125.

[30] 'Origin of Species,' Hist. Sketch, xvii.

[31] See page 199 of this volume.

[32] Apropos of this, a friend has kindly sent me the following extract
from Balzac:--"Historiquement, les paysans sont encore au lendemain de
la Jacquerie, leur défaite est restée inscrite dans leur cervelle. _Ils
ne se souviennent plus du fait, il est passé à l'état d'idée
instinctive._"--Balzac, 'Les Paysans,' v.



Let us now proceed to the fuller development of the foregoing sketch.

"Undoubtedly," says Isidore Geoffroy, "from the most ancient times many
philosophers have imagined vaguely that one species can be transformed
into another. This doctrine seems to have been adopted by the Ionian
school from the sixth century before our era.... Undoubtedly also the
same opinion reappeared on several occasions in the middle ages, and in
modern times; it is to be found in some of the hermetic books, where the
transmutation of animal and vegetable species, and that of metals, are
treated as complementary to one another. In modern times we again find
it alluded to by some philosophers, and especially by Bacon, whose
boldness is on this point extreme. Admitting it as 'incontestable that
plants sometimes degenerate so far as to become plants of another
species,' Bacon did not hesitate to try and put his theory into
practice. He tried, in 1635, to give 'the rules' for the art of changing
'plants of one species into those of another.'"

This must be an error. Bacon died in 1626. The passage of Bacon referred
to is in 'Nat. Hist.,' Cent. vi. ("Experiments in consort touching the
degenerating of plants, and the transmutation of them one into
another"), and is as follows:--

"518. This rule is certain, that plants for want of culture degenerate
to be baser in the same kind; and sometimes so far as to change into
another kind. 1. The standing long and not being removed maketh them
degenerate. 2. Drought unless the earth, of itself, be moist doth the
like. 3. So doth removing into worse earth, or forbearing to compost the
earth; as we see that water mint turneth into field mint, and the
colewort into rape by neglect, &c."

"525. It is certain that in very steril years corn sown will grow to
another kind:--

    'Grandia sæpe quibus mandavimus hordea sulcis,
    Infelix lolium, et steriles dominantur avenæ.'

And generally it is a rule that plants that are brought forth for
culture, as corn, will sooner change into other species, than those that
come of themselves; for that culture giveth but an adventitious nature,
which is more easily put off."

Changed conditions, according to Bacon (though he does not use these
words), appear to be "the first rule for the transmutation of plants."

"But how much value," continues M. Geoffroy, "ought to be attached to
such prophetic glimpses, when they were neither led up to, nor justified
by any serious study? They are conjectures only, which, while bearing
evidence to the boldness or rashness of those who hazarded them, remain
almost without effect upon the advance of science. Bacon excepted, they
hardly deserve to be remembered. As for De Maillet, who makes birds
spring from flying fishes, reptiles from creeping fishes, and men from
tritons, his dreams, taken in part from Anaximander, should have their
place not in the history of science, but in that of the aberrations of
the human mind."[33]

A far more forcible and pregnant passage, however, is the following,
from Sir Walter Raleigh's 'History of the World,' which Mr. Garnett has
been good enough to point out to me:--

"For mine owne opinion I find no difference but only in magnitude
between the Cat of Europe, and the Ounce of India; and even those dogges
which are become wild in Hispagniola, with which the Spaniards used to
devour the naked Indians, are now changed to Wolves, and begin to
destroy the breed of their Cattell, and doe often times teare asunder
their owne children. The common crow and rooke of India is full of red
feathers in the droun'd and low islands of Caribana, and the blackbird
and thrush hath his feathers mixt with black and carnation in the north
parts of Virginia. The Dog-fish of England is the Sharke of the South
Ocean. For if colour or magnitude made a difference of Species, then
were the Negroes, which wee call the Blacke-Mores, _non animalia
rationalia_, not Men but some kind of strange Beasts, and so the giants
of the South America should be of another kind than the people of this
part of the World. We also see it dayly that the nature of fruits are
changed by transplantation."[34]

For information concerning the earliest German writers on evolution, I
turn to Professor Haeckel's 'History of Creation,' and find Goethe's
name to head the list. I do not gather, however, that Goethe added much
to the ideas which Buffon had already made sufficiently familiar.
Professor Haeckel does not seem to be aware of Buffon's work, and quotes
Goethe as making an original discovery when he writes, in the year
1796:--"Thus much then we have gained, that we may assert without
hesitation that all the more perfect organic natures, such as fishes,
amphibious animals, birds, mammals, and man at the head of the last,
were all formed upon one original type, which only varies more or less
in parts which were none the less permanent, and still daily changes and
modifies its form by propagation."[35] But these, as we shall see, are
almost Buffon's own words--words too that Buffon insisted on for many
years. Again Professor Haeckel quotes Goethe as writing in the year

"If we consider plants and animals in their most imperfect condition,
they can hardly be distinguished." This, however, had long been insisted
upon by Bonnet and Dr. Erasmus Darwin, the first of whom was a
naturalist of world-wide fame, while the 'Zoonomia' of Dr. Darwin had
been translated into German between the years 1795 and 1797, and could
hardly have been unknown to Goethe in 1807, who continues: "But this
much we may say, that the creatures which by degrees emerge as plants
and animals out of a common phase where they are barely distinguishable,
arrive at perfection in two opposite directions, so that the plant in
the end reaches its highest glory in the tree, which is immovable and
stiff, the animal in man who possesses the greatest elasticity and
freedom." Professor Haeckel considers this to be a remarkable passage,
but I do not think it should cause its author to rank among the founders
of the evolution theory, though he may justly claim to have been one of
the first to adopt it. Goethe's anatomical researches appear to have
been more important, but I cannot find that he insisted on any new
principle, or grasped any unfamiliar conception, which had not been long
since grasped and widely promulgated by Buffon and by Dr. Erasmus

Treviranus (1776-1837), whom Professor Haeckel places second to Goethe,
is clearly a disciple of Buffon, and uses the word "degeneration" in the
same sense as Buffon used it many years earlier, that is to say, as
"descent with modification," without any reference to whether the
offspring was, as Buffon says, "perfectionné ou dégradé." He cannot
claim, any more than Goethe, to rank as a principal figure in the
history of evolution.

Of Oken, Professor Haeckel says that his 'Naturphilosophie,' which
appeared in 1809--in the same year, that is to say, as the 'Philosophie
Zoologique' of Lamarck--was "the nearest approach to the natural theory
of descent, newly established by Mr. Charles Darwin," of any work that
appeared in the first decade of our century. But I do not detect any
important difference of principle between his system and that of Dr.
Erasmus Darwin, among whose disciples he should be reckoned.

"We now turn," says Professor Haeckel after referring to a few more
German writers who adopted a belief in evolution, "from the German to
the French nature-philosophers who have likewise held the theory of
descent, since the beginning of this century. At their head stands Jean
Lamarck, who occupies the first place next to Darwin and Goethe in the
history of the doctrine of Filiation."[36] This is rather a surprising
assertion, but I will leave the reader of the present volume to assign
the value which should be attached to it.

Professor Haeckel devotes ten lines to Dr. Erasmus Darwin, who he
declares "expresses views very similar to those of Goethe and Lamarck,
without, however, _then_ knowing anything about these two men;" which is
all the more strange inasmuch as Dr. Darwin preceded them, and was a
good deal better known to them, probably, than they to him; but it is
plain Professor Haeckel has no acquaintance with the 'Zoonomia' of Dr.
Erasmus Darwin. From all, then, that I am able to collect, I conclude
that I shall best convey to the reader an idea of the different phases
which the theory of descent with modification has gone through, by
confining his attention almost entirely to Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin,
Lamarck, and Mr. Charles Darwin.


[33] 'Hist. Nat. Gen.,' vol. ii. p. 385, 1859.

[34] 'History of the World,' bk. i. ch. vii. § 9 ('Athenæum,' March 27,

[35] 'History of Creation,' vol. i. p. 91.

[36] 'History of Creation,' bk. i. ch. iii. (H. S. King, 1876).



Buffon, says M. Flourens, was born at Montbar, on the 7th of September,
1707; he died in Paris, at the Jardin du Roi, on the 16th of April,
1788, aged 81 years. More than fifty of these years, as he used himself
to say, he had passed at his writing-desk. His father was a councillor
of the parliament of Burgundy. His mother was celebrated for her wit,
and Buffon cherished her memory.

He studied at Dijon with much _éclat_, and shortly after leaving became
accidentally acquainted with the Duke of Kingston, a young Englishman of
his own age, who was travelling abroad with a tutor. The three travelled
together in France and Italy, and Buffon then passed some months in

Returning to France, he translated Hales's 'Vegetable Statics' and
Newton's 'Treatise on Fluxions.' He refers to several English writers on
natural history in the course of his work, but I see he repeatedly
spells the English name Willoughby, "Willulghby." He was appointed
superintendent of the Jardin du Roi in 1739, and from thenceforth
devoted himself to science.

In 1752 Buffon married Mdlle. de Saint Bélin, whose beauty and charm of
manner were extolled by all her contemporaries. One son was born to
him, who entered the army, became a colonel, and I grieve to say, was
guillotined at the age of twenty-nine, a few days only before the
extinction of the Reign of Terror.

Of this youth, who inherited the personal comeliness and ability of his
father, little is recorded except the following story. Having fallen
into the water and been nearly drowned when he was about twelve years
old, he was afterwards accused of having been afraid: "I was so little
afraid," he answered, "that though I had been offered the hundred years
which my grandfather lived, I would have died then and there, if I could
have added one year to the life of my father;" then thinking for a
minute, a flush suffused his face, and he added, "but I should petition
for one quarter of an hour in which to exult over the thought of what I
was about to do."

On the scaffold he showed much composure, smiling half proudly, half
reproachfully, yet wholly kindly upon the crowd in front of him.
"Citoyens," he said, "Je me nomme Buffon," and laid his head upon the

The noblest outcome of the old and decaying order, overwhelmed in the
most hateful birth frenzy of the new. So in those cataclysms and
revolutions which take place in our own bodies during their development,
when we seem studying in order to become fishes and suddenly make, as it
were, different arrangements and resolve on becoming men--so, doubtless,
many good cells must go, and their united death cry comes up, it may be,
in the pain which an infant feels on teething.

But to return. The man who could be father of such a son, and who could
retain that son's affection, as it is well known that Buffon retained
it, may not perhaps always be strictly accurate, but it will be as well
to pay attention to whatever he may think fit to tell us. These are the
only people whom it is worth while to look to and study from.

"Glory," said Buffon, after speaking of the hours during which he had
laboured, "glory comes always after labour if she can--_and she
generally can_." But in his case she could not well help herself. "He
was conspicuous," says M. Flourens, "for elevation and force of
character, for a love of greatness and true magnificence in all he did.
His great wealth, his handsome person, and graceful manners seemed in
correspondence with the splendour of his genius, so that of all the
gifts which Fortune has it in her power to bestow she had denied him

Many of his epigrammatic sayings have passed into proverbs: for example,
that "genius is but a supreme capacity for taking pains." Another and
still more celebrated passage shall be given in its entirety and with
its original setting.

"Style," says Buffon, "is the only passport to posterity. It is not
range of information, nor mastery of some little known branch of
science, nor yet novelty of matter that will ensure immortality. Works
that can claim all this will yet die if they are conversant about
trivial objects only, or written without taste, genius and true nobility
of mind; for range of information, knowledge of details, novelty of
discovery are of a volatile essence and fly off readily into other
hands that know better how to treat them. The matter is foreign to the
man, and is not of him; the manner is the man himself."[37]

"Le style, c'est l'homme même." Elsewhere he tells us what true style
is, but I quote from memory and cannot be sure of the passage. "Le
style," he says, "est comme le bonheur; il vient de la douceur de

Is it possible not to think of the following?--

"But whether there be prophecies they shall fail; whether there be
tongues they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish
away ... and now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the
greatest of these is charity."[38]


[37] 'Discours de Réception à l'Académie Française.'

[38] 1 Cor. xiii. 8, 13.



Buffon's idea of a method amounts almost to the denial of the
possibility of method at all. "The true method," he writes, "is the
complete description and exact history of each particular object,"[39]
and later on he asks, "is it not more simple, more natural and more true
to call an ass an ass, and a cat a cat, than to say, without knowing
why, that an ass is a horse, and a cat a lynx."[40]

He admits such divisions as between animals and vegetables, or between
vegetables and minerals, but that done, he rejects all others that can
be founded on the nature of things themselves. He concludes that one who
could see things in their entirety and without preconceived opinions,
would classify animals according to the relations in which he found
himself standing towards them:--

"Those which he finds most necessary and useful to him will occupy the
first rank; thus he will give the precedence among the lower animals to
the dog and the horse; he will next concern himself with those which
without being domesticated, nevertheless occupy the same country and
climate as himself, as for example stags, hares, and all wild animals;
nor will it be till after he has familiarized himself with all these
that curiosity will lead him to inquire what inhabitants there may be in
foreign climates, such as elephants, dromedaries, &c. The same will hold
good for fishes, birds, insects, shells, and for all nature's other
productions; he will study them in proportion to the profit which he can
draw from them; he will consider them in that order in which they enter
into his daily life; he will arrange them in his head according to this
order, which is in fact that in which he has become acquainted with
them, and in which it concerns him to think about them. This order--the
most natural of all--is the one which I have thought it well to follow
in this volume. My classification has no more mystery in it than the
reader has just seen ... it is preferable to the most profound and
ingenious that can be conceived, for there is none of all the
classifications which ever have been made or ever can be, which has not
more of an arbitrary character than this has. Take it for all in all,"
he concludes, "it is more easy, more agreeable, and more useful, to
consider things in their relation to ourselves than from any other

"Has it not a better effect not only in a treatise on natural history,
but in a picture or any work of art to arrange objects in the order and
place in which they are commonly found, than to force them into
association in virtue of some theory of our own? Is it not better to let
the dog which has toes, come after the horse which has a single hoof,
in the same way as we see him follow the horse in daily life, than to
follow up the horse by the zebra, an animal which is little known to us,
and which has no other connection with the horse than the fact that it
has a single hoof?"[42]

Can we suppose that Buffon really saw no more connection than this? The
writer whom we shall presently find[43] declining to admit any essential
difference between the skeletons of man and of the horse, can here see
no resemblance between the zebra and the horse, except that they each
have a single hoof. Is he to be taken at his word?

It is perhaps necessary to tell the reader that Buffon carried the
foregoing scheme into practice as nearly as he could in the first
fifteen volumes of his 'Natural History.' He begins with man--and then
goes on to the horse, the ass, the cow, sheep, goat, pig, dog, &c. One
would be glad to know whether he found it always more easy to decide in
what order of familiarity this or that animal would stand to the
majority of his readers than other classifiers have found it to know
whether an individual more resembles one species or another; probably he
never gave the matter a thought after he had gone through the first
dozen most familiar animals, but settled generally down into a
classification which becomes more and more specific--as when he treats
of the apes and monkeys--till he reaches the birds, when he openly
abandons his original idea, in deference, as he says, to the opinion of
"le peuple des naturalistes."

Perhaps the key to this piece of apparent extravagance is to be found
in the word "mystérieuse."[44] Buffon wished to raise a standing protest
against mystery mongering. Or perhaps more probably, he wished at once
"to turn to animals and plants under domestication," so as to insist
early on the main object of his work--the plasticity of animal forms.

I am inclined to think that a vein of irony pervades the whole, or much
the greater part of Buffon's work, and that he intended to convey, one
meaning to one set of readers, and another to another; indeed, it is
often impossible to believe that he is not writing between his lines for
the discerning, what the undiscerning were not intended to see. It must
be remembered that his 'Natural History' has two sides,--a scientific
and a popular one. May we not imagine that Buffon would be unwilling to
debar himself from speaking to those who could understand him, and yet
would wish like Handel and Shakespeare to address the many, as well as
the few? But the only manner in which these seemingly irreconcilable
ends could be attained, would be by the use of language which should be
self-adjusting to the capacity of the reader. So keen an observer can
hardly have been blind to the signs of the times which were already
close at hand. Free-thinker though he was, he was also a powerful member
of the aristocracy, and little likely to demean himself--for so he would
doubtless hold it--by playing the part of Voltaire or Rousseau. He would
help those who could see to see still further, but he would not dazzle
eyes that were yet imperfect with a light brighter than they could
stand. He would therefore impose upon people, as much as he thought was
for their good; but, on the other hand, he would not allow inferior men
to mystify them.

"In the private character of Buffon," says Sir William Jardine in a
characteristic passage, "we regret there is not much to praise; his
disposition was kind and benevolent, and he was generally beloved by his
inferiors, followers, and dependents, which were numerous over his
extensive property; he was strictly honourable, and was an affectionate
parent. In early youth he had entered into the pleasures and
dissipations of life, and licentious habits seem to have been retained
to the end. But the great blemish in such a mind was his declared
infidelity; it presents one of those exceptions among the persons who
have been devoted to the study of nature; and it is not easy to imagine
a mind apparently with such powers, scarcely acknowledging a Creator,
and when noticed, only by an arraignment for what appeared wanting or
defective in his great works. So openly, indeed, was the freedom of his
religious opinions expressed, that the indignation of the Sorbonne was
provoked. He had to enter into an explanation which he in some way
rendered satisfactory; and while he afterwards attended to the outward
ordinances of religion, he considered them as a system of faith for the
multitude, and regarded those most impolitic who most opposed them."[45]

This is partly correct and partly not. Buffon was a free-thinker, and as
I have sufficiently explained, a decided opponent of the doctrine that
rudimentary and therefore useless organs were designed by a Creator in
order to serve some useful end throughout all time to the creature in
which they are found.

He was not, surely, to hide the magnificent conceptions which he had
been the first to grasp, from those who were worthy to receive them; on
the other hand he would not tell the uninstructed what they would
interpret as a license to do whatever they pleased, inasmuch as there
was no God. What he did was to point so irresistibly in the right
direction, that a reader of any intelligence should be in no doubt as to
the road he ought to take, and then to contradict himself so flatly as
to reassure those who would be shocked by a truth for which they were
not yet ready. If I am right in the view which I have taken of Buffon's
work, it is not easy to see how he could have formed a finer scheme, nor
have carried it out more finely.

I should, however, warn the reader to be on his guard against accepting
my view too hastily. So far as I know I stand alone in taking it.
Neither Dr. Darwin nor Flourens, nor Isidore Geoffroy, nor Mr. Charles
Darwin see any subrisive humour in Buffon's pages; but it must be
remembered that Flourens was a strong opponent of mutability, and
probably paid but little heed to what Buffon said on this question;
Isidore Geoffroy is not a safe guide, as will appear presently; Mr.
Charles Darwin seems to have adopted the one half of Isidore Geoffroy's
conclusions without verifying either; and Dr. Erasmus Darwin, who has no
small share of a very pleasant conscious humour, yet sometimes rises to
such heights of unconscious humour, that Buffon's puny labour may well
have been invisible to him. Dr. Darwin wrote a great deal of poetry,
some of which was about the common pump. Miss Seward tells us, as we
shall see later on, that he "illustrated this familiar object with a
picture of Maternal Beauty administering sustenance to her infant."
Buffon could not have done anything like this.

Buffon never, then, "arraigned the Creator for what was wanting or
defective in His works;" on the contrary, whenever he has led up by an
irresistible chain of reasoning to conclusions which should make men
recast their ideas concerning the Deity, he invariably retreats under
cover of an appeal to revelation. Naturally enough, the Sorbonne
objected to an artifice which even Buffon could not conceal completely.
They did not like being undermined; like Buffon himself, they preferred
imposing upon the people, to seeing others do so. Buffon made his peace
with the Sorbonne immediately, and, perhaps, from that time forward,
contradicted himself a little more impudently than heretofore.

It is probably for the reasons above suggested that Buffon did not
propound a connected scheme of evolution or descent with modification,
but scattered his theory in fragments up and down his work in the
prefatory remarks with which he introduces the more striking animals or
classes of animals. He never wastes evolutionary matter in the preface
to an uninteresting animal; and the more interesting the animal, the
more evolution will there be commonly found. When he comes to describe
the animal more familiarly--and he generally begins a fresh chapter or
half chapter when he does so--he writes no more about evolution, but
gives an admirable description, which no one can fail to enjoy, and
which I cannot think is nearly so inaccurate as is commonly supposed.
These descriptions are the parts which Buffon intended for the general
reader, expecting, doubtless, and desiring that such a reader should
skip the dry parts he had been addressing to the more studious. It is
true the descriptions are written _ad captandum_, as are all great
works, but they succeed in captivating, having been composed with all
the pains a man of genius and of great perseverance could bestow upon
them. If I am not mistaken, he looked to these parts of his work to keep
the whole alive till the time should come when the philosophical side of
his writings should be understood and appreciated.

Thus the goat breeds with the sheep, and may therefore serve as the text
for a dissertation on hybridism, which is accordingly given in the
preface to this animal. The presence of rudimentary organs under a pig's
hoof suggests an attack upon the doctrine of final causes in so far as
it is pretended that every part of every animal or plant was specially
designed with a view to the wants of the animal or plant itself once and
for ever throughout all time. The dog with his great variety of breeds
gives an opportunity for an article on the formation of breeds and
sub-breeds by man's artificial selection. The cat is not honoured with
any philosophical reflections, and comes in for nothing but abuse. The
hare suggests the rabbit, and the rabbit is a rapid breeder, although
the hare is an unusually slow one; but this is near enough, so the hare
shall serve us for the theme of a discourse on the geometrical ratio of
increase and the balance of power which may be observed in nature. When
we come to the carnivora, additional reflections follow upon the
necessity for death, and even for violent death; this leads to the
question whether the creatures that are killed suffer pain; here, then,
will be the proper place for considering the sensations of animals

Perhaps the most pregnant passage concerning evolution is to be found in
the preface to the ass, which is so near the beginning of the work as to
be only the second animal of which Buffon treats after having described
man himself. It points strongly in the direction of his having believed
all animal forms to have been descended from one single common ancestral
type. Buffon did not probably choose to take his very first opportunity
in order to insist upon matter that should point in this direction; but
the considerations were too important to be deferred long, and are
accordingly put forward under cover of the ass, his second animal.

When we consider the force with which Buffon's conclusion is led up to;
the obviousness of the conclusion itself when the premises are once
admitted; the impossibility that such a conclusion should be again lost
sight of if the reasonableness of its being drawn had been once
admitted; the position in his scheme which is assigned to it by its
propounder; the persistency with which he demonstrates during forty
years thereafter that the premises, which he has declared should
establish the conclusion in question, are indisputable;--when we
consider, too, that we are dealing with a man of unquestionable genius,
and that the times and circumstances of his life were such as would go
far to explain reserve and irony--is it, I would ask, reasonable to
suppose that Buffon did not, in his own mind, and from the first, draw
the inference to which he leads his reader, merely because from time to
time he tells the reader, with a shrug of the shoulders, that _he_ draws
no inferences opposed to the Book of Genesis? Is it not more likely that
Buffon intended his reader to draw his inferences for himself, and
perhaps to value them all the more highly on that account?

The passage to which I am alluding is as follows:--

"If from the boundless variety which animated nature presents to us, we
choose the body of some animal or even that of man himself to serve as a
model with which to compare the bodies of other organized beings, we
shall find that though all these beings have an individuality of their
own, and are distinguished from one another by differences of which the
gradations are infinitely subtle, there exists at the same time a
primitive and general design which we can follow for a long way, and the
departures from which (_dégénérations_) are far more gentle than those
from mere outward resemblance. For not to mention organs of digestion,
circulation, and generation, which are common to all animals, and
without which the animal would cease to be an animal, and could neither
continue to exist nor reproduce itself--there is none the less even in
those very parts which constitute the main difference in outward
appearance, a striking resemblance which carries with it irresistibly
the idea of a single pattern after which all would appear to have been
conceived. The horse, for example--what can at first sight seem more
unlike mankind? Yet when we compare man and horse point by point and
detail by detail, is not our wonder excited rather by the points of
resemblance than of difference that are to be found between them? Take
the skeleton of a man; bend forward the bones in the region of the
pelvis, shorten the thigh bones, and those of the leg and arm, lengthen
those of the feet and hands, run the joints together, lengthen the jaws,
and shorten the frontal bone, finally, lengthen the spine, and the
skeleton will now be that of a man no longer, but will have become that
of a horse--for it is easy to imagine that in lengthening the spine and
the jaws we shall at the same time have increased the number of the
vertebræ, ribs, and teeth. It is but in the number of these bones, which
may be considered accessory, and by the lengthening, shortening, or mode
of attachment of others, that the skeleton of the horse differs from
that of the human body.... We find ribs in man, in all the quadrupeds,
in birds, in fishes, and we may find traces of them as far down as the
turtle, in which they seem still to be sketched out by means of furrows
that are to be found beneath the shell. Let it be remembered that the
foot of the horse, which seems so different from a man's hand, is,
nevertheless, as M. Daubenton has pointed out, composed of the same
bones, and that we have at the end of each of our fingers a nail
corresponding to the hoof of a horse's foot. Judge, then, whether this
hidden resemblance is not more marvellous than any outward
differences--whether this constancy to a single plan of structure which
we may follow from man to the quadrupeds, from the quadrupeds to the
cetacea, from the cetacea to birds, from birds to reptiles, from
reptiles to fishes--in which all such essential parts as heart,
intestines, spine, are invariably found--whether, I say, this does not
seem to indicate that the Creator when He made them would use but a
single main idea, though at the same time varying it in every
conceivable way, so that man might admire equally the magnificence of
the execution and the simplicity of the design.[46]

"If we regard the matter thus, not only the ass and the horse, _but even
man himself, the apes, the quadrupeds, and all animals might be regarded
but as forming members of one and the same family_. But are we to
conclude that within this vast family which the Creator has called into
existence out of nothing, there are other and smaller families,
projected as it were by Nature, and brought forth by her in the natural
course of events and after a long time, of which some contain but two
members, as the ass and the horse, others many members, as the weasel,
martin, stoat, ferret, &c., and that on the same principle there are
families of vegetables, containing ten, twenty, or thirty plants, as the
case may be? If such families had any real existence they could have
been formed only by crossing, by the accumulation of successive
variations (_variation successive_), and by degeneration from an
original type; but if we once admit that there are families of plants
and animals, so that the ass may be of the family of the horse, and
that the one may only differ from the other through degeneration from a
common ancestor, we might be driven to admit that the ape is of the
family of man, that he is but a degenerate man, and that he and man have
had a common ancestor, even as the ass and horse have had. It would
follow then that every family, whether animal or vegetable, had sprung
from a single stock, which after a succession of generations, had become
higher in the case of some of its descendants and lower in that of

What inference could be more aptly drawn? But it was not one which
Buffon was going to put before the general public. He had said enough
for the discerning, and continues with what is intended to make the
conclusions they should draw even plainer to them, while it conceals
them still more carefully from the general reader.

"The naturalists who are so ready to establish families among animals
and vegetables, do not seem to have sufficiently considered the
consequences which should follow from their premises, for these would
limit direct creation to as small a number of forms as anyone might
think fit (reduisoient le produit immédiat de la création, à un nombre
d'individus aussi petit que l'on voudroit). _For if it were once shown
that we had right grounds for establishing these families; if the point
were once gained that among animals and vegetables there had been, I do
not say several species, but even a single one, which had been produced
in the course of direct descent from another species; if for example it
could be once shown that the ass was but a degeneration from the
horse--then there is no further limit to be set to the power of nature,
and we should not be wrong in supposing that with sufficient time she
could have evolved all other organized forms from one primordial type
(et l'on n'auroit pas tort de supposer, que d'un seul être elle a su
tirer avec le temps tous les autres êtres organisés)._"

Buffon now felt that he had sailed as near the wind as was desirable.
His next sentence is as follows:--

"But no! It is certain _from revelation_ that all animals have alike
been favoured with the grace of an act of direct creation, and that the
first pair of every species issued full formed from the hands of the

This might be taken as _bonâ fide_, if it had been written by Bonnet,
but it is impossible to accept it from Buffon. It is only those who
judge him at second hand, or by isolated passages, who can hold that he
failed to see the consequences of his own premises. No one could have
seen more clearly, nor have said more lucidly, what should suffice to
show a sympathetic reader the conclusion he ought to come to. Even when
ironical, his irony is not the ill-natured irony of one who is merely
amusing himself at other people's expense, but the serious and
legitimate irony of one who must either limit the circle of those to
whom he appeals, or must know how to make the same language appeal
differently to the different capacities of his readers, and who trusts
to the good sense of the discerning to understand the difficulty of his
position, and make due allowance for it.

The compromise which he thought fit to put before the public was that
"Each species has a type of which the principal features are engraved in
indelible and eternally permanent characters, while all accessory
touches vary."[48] It would be satisfactory to know where an accessory
touch is supposed to begin and end.

And again:--

"The essential characteristics of every animal have been conserved
without alteration in their most important parts.... The individuals of
each genus still represent the same forms as they did in the earliest
ages, especially in the case of the larger animals" (so that the generic
forms even of the larger animals prove not to be the same, but only
'especially' the same as in the earliest ages).[49]

This transparently illogical position is maintained ostensibly from
first to last, much in the same spirit as in the two foregoing passages,
written at intervals of thirteen years. But they are to be read by the
light of the earlier one--placed as a lantern to the wary upon the
threshold of his work in 1753--to the effect that a single, well
substantiated case of degeneration would make it conceivable that all
living beings were descended from a single common ancestor. If after
having led up to this by a remorseless logic, a man is found
five-and-twenty years later still substantiating cases of degeneration,
as he has been substantiating them unceasingly in thirty quartos during
the whole interval, there should be little question how seriously we
are to take him when he wishes us to stop short of the conclusions he
has told us we ought to draw from the premises that he has made it the
business of his life to establish--especially when we know that he has a
Sorbonne to keep a sharp eye upon him.

I believe that if the reader will bear in mind the twofold, serious and
ironical, character of Buffon's work he will understand it, and feel an
admiration for it which will grow continually greater and greater the
more he studies it, otherwise he will miss the whole point.

Buffon on one of the early pages of his first volume protested against
the introduction of either "_plaisanterie_" or "_équivoque_" (p. 25)
into a serious work. But I have observed that there is an unconscious
irony in most disclaimers of this nature. When a writer begins by saying
that he has "an ineradicable tendency to make things clear," we may
infer that we are going to be puzzled; so when he shows that he is
haunted by a sense of the impropriety of allowing humour to intrude into
his work, we may hope to be amused as well as interested. As showing how
far the objection to humour which he expressed upon his twenty-fifth
page succeeded in carrying him safely over his twenty-sixth and
twenty-seventh, I will quote the following, which begins on page

"Aldrovandus is the most learned and laborious of all naturalists; after
sixty years of work he has left an immense number of volumes behind him,
which have been printed at various times, the greater number of them
after his death. It would be possible to reduce them to a tenth part if
we could rid them of all useless and foreign matter, and of a prolixity
which I find almost overwhelming; were this only done, his books should
be regarded as among the best we have on the subject of natural history
in its entirety. The plan of his work is good, his classification
distinguished for its good sense, his dividing lines well marked, his
descriptions sufficiently accurate--monotonous it is true, but
painstaking; the historical part of his work is less good; it is often
confused and fabulous, and the author shows too manifestly the credulous
tendencies of his mind.

"While going over his work, I have been struck with that defect, or
rather excess, which we find in almost all the books of a hundred or a
couple of hundred years ago, and which prevails still among the
Germans--I mean with that quantity of useless erudition with which they
intentionally swell out their works, and the result of which is that
their subject is overlaid with a mass of extraneous matter on which they
enlarge with great complacency, but with no consideration whatever for
their readers. They seem, in fact, to have forgotten what they have to
say in their endeavour to tell us what has been said by other people.

"I picture to myself a man like Aldrovandus, after he has once conceived
the design of writing a complete natural history. I see him in his
library reading, one after the other, ancients, moderns, philosophers,
theologians, jurisconsults, historians, travellers, poets, and reading
with no other end than with that of catching at all words and phrases
which can be forced from far or near into some kind of relation with his
subject. I see him copying all these passages, or getting them copied
for him, and arranging them in alphabetical order. He fills many
portfolios with all manner of notes, often taken without either
discrimination or research, and at last sets himself to write with a
resolve that not one of all these notes shall remain unused. The result
is that when he comes to his account of the cow or of the hen, he will
tell us all that has ever yet been said about cows or hens; all that the
ancients ever thought about them; all that has ever been imagined
concerning their virtues, characters, and courage; every purpose to
which they have ever yet been put; every story of every old woman that
he can lay hold of; all the miracles which certain religions have
ascribed to them; all the superstitions they have given rise to; all the
metaphors and allegories which poets have drawn from them; the
attributes that have been assigned to them; the representations that
have been made of them in hieroglyphics and armorial bearings, in a word
all the histories and all fables in which there was ever yet any mention
either of a cow or hen. How much natural history is likely to be found
in such a lumber room? and how is one to lay one's hand upon the little
that there may actually be?"[50]

It is hoped that the reader will see Buffon, much us Buffon saw the
learned Aldrovandus. He should see him going into his library, &c., and
quietly chuckling to himself as he wrote such a passage as the one in
which we lately found him saying that the larger animals had
"especially" the same generic forms as they had always had. And the
reader should probably see Daubenton chuckling also.


[39] Tom. i. p. 24, 1749.

[40] Tom. i. p. 40, 1749.

[41] Vol. i. p. 34, 1749.

[42] Tom. i. p. 36.

[43] See p. 88 of this volume; see also p. 155, and 164.

[44] Tom. i. p. 33.

[45] 'The Naturalist's Library,' vol. ii. p. 23, Edinburgh, 1843.

[46] Tom. iv. p. 381, 1753.

[47] Tom. iv. p. 383, 1753 (this was the first volume on the lower

[48] Tom. xiii. p. ix. 1765.

[49] Sup. tom. v. p. 27, 1778.

[50] Tom. i. p. 28, 1749.



Enough, perhaps, has been already said to disabuse the reader's mind of
the common misconception of Buffon, namely, that he was more or less of
an elegant trifler with science, who cared rather about the language in
which his ideas were clothed than about the ideas themselves, and that
he did not hold the same opinions for long together; but the accusation
of instability has been made in such high quarters that it is necessary
to refute it still more completely.

Mr. Darwin, for example, in his "Historical Sketch of the Recent
Progress of Opinion on the Origin of Species" prefixed to all the later
editions of his own 'Origin of Species,' says of Buffon that he "was the
first author who, in modern times, has treated" the origin of species
"in a scientific spirit. But," he continues, "as his opinions fluctuated
greatly at different periods, and as he does not enter on the causes or
means of the transformation of species, I need not here enter on

Mr. Darwin seems to have followed the one half of Isidore Geoffroy St.
Hilaire's "full account of Buffon's conclusions" upon the subject of
descent with modification,[52] to which he refers with approval on the
second page of his historical sketch.[53]

Turning, then, to Isidore Geoffroy's work, I find that in like manner he
too has been following the one half of what Buffon actually said. But
even so, he awards Buffon very high praise.

"Buffon," he writes, "is to the doctrine of the mutability of species
what Linnæus is to that of its fixity. It is only since the appearance
of Buffon's 'Natural History,' and in consequence thereof, that the
mutability of species has taken rank among scientific questions."[54]

     . . . . . .

"Buffon, who comes next in chronological order after Bacon, follows him
in no other respect than that of time. He is entirely original in
arriving at the doctrine of the variability of organic types, and in
enouncing it after long hesitation, during which one can watch the
labour of a great intelligence freeing itself little by little from the
yoke of orthodoxy.

"But from this source come difficulties in the interpretation of
Buffon's work which have misled many writers. Buffon expresses
absolutely different opinions in different parts of his natural
history--so much so that partisans and opponents of the doctrine of the
fixity of species have alike believed and still believe themselves at
liberty to claim Buffon as one of the great authorities upon their

Then follow the quotations upon which M. Geoffroy relies--to which I
will return presently--after which the conclusion runs thus:--

"The dates, however, of the several passages in question are sufficient
to explain the differences in their tenor, in a manner worthy of Buffon.
Where are the passages in which Buffon affirms the immutability of
species? At the beginning of his work. His first volume on animals[55]
is dated 1753. The two following are those in which Buffon still shares
the views of Linnæus; they are dated 1755 and 1756. Of what date are
those in which Buffon declares for variability? From 1761 to 1766. And
those in which, after having admitted variability and declared in favour
of it, he proceeds to limit it? From 1765 to 1778.

"The inference is sufficiently simple. Buffon does but correct himself.
He does not fluctuate. He goes once for all from one opinion to the
other, from what he accepted at starting on the authority of another to
what he recognized as true after twenty years of research. If while
trying to set himself free from the prevailing notions, he in the first
instance went, like all other innovators, somewhat to the opposite
extreme, he essays as soon as may be to retrace his steps in some
measure, and thenceforward to remain unchanged.

"Let the reader cast his eye over the general table of contents wherein
Buffon, at the end of his 'Natural History,' gives a _résumé_ of all of
it that he is anxious to preserve. He passes over alike the passages in
which he affirms and those in which he unreservedly denies the
immutability of species, and indicates only the doctrine of the
permanence of essential features and the variability of details (toutes
les touches accessoires); he repeats this eleven years later in his
'Époques de la Nature'" (published 1778).[56]

But I think I can show that the passages which M. Geoffroy brings
forward, to prove that Buffon was in the first instance a supporter of
invariability, do not bear him out in the deduction he has endeavoured
to draw from them.

"What author," he asks, "has ever pronounced more decidedly than Buffon
in favour of the invariability of species? Where can we find a more
decided expression of opinion than the following?

"'The different species of animals are separated from one another by a
space which Nature cannot overstep.'"

On turning, however, to Buffon himself, I find the passage to stand as

"_Although_ the different species of animals are separated from one
another by a space which Nature cannot overstep--_yet some of them
approach so nearly to one another in so many respects that there is only
room enough left for the getting in of a line of separation between
them_,"[57] and on the following page he distinctly encourages the idea
of the mutability of species in the following passage:--

"In place of regarding the ass as a degenerate horse, there would be
more reason in calling the horse a more perfect kind of ass (un âne
perfectionné), and the sheep a more delicate kind of goat, that we have
tended, perfected, and propagated for our use, and that the more perfect
animals in general--especially the domestic animals--_draw their origin
from some less perfect species of that kind of wild animal which they
most resemble. Nature alone not being able to do as much as Nature and
man can do in concert with one another_."[58]

But Buffon had long ago declared that if the horse and the ass could be
considered as being blood relations there was no stopping short of the
admission that all animals might also be blood relations--that is to
say, descended from common ancestors--and now he tells us that the ass
and horse _are_ in all probability descended from common ancestors. Will
a reader of any literary experience hold that so laborious, and yet so
witty a writer, and one so studious of artistic effect, could ignore the
broad lines he had laid down for himself, or forget how what he had said
would bear on subsequent passages, and subsequent passages on it? A less
painstaking author than Buffon may yet be trusted to remember his own
work well enough to avoid such literary bad workmanship as this. If
Buffon had seen reason to change his mind he would have said so, and
would have contradicted the inference he had originally pronounced to be
deducible from an admission of kinship between the ass and the horse.
This, it is hardly necessary to say, he never does, though he frequently
thinks it well to remind his reader of the fact that the ass and the
horse are in all probability closely related. This is bringing two and
two together with sufficient closeness for all practical purposes.

Should not M. Geoffroy's question, then, have rather been "Who has ever
pronounced more grudgingly, even in an early volume, &c., &c., and who
has more completely neutralized whatever concession he might appear to
have been making?"

Nor does the only other passage which M. Geoffroy brings forward to
prove that Buffon was originally a believer in the fixity of species
bear him out much better. It is to be found on the opening page of a
brief introduction to the wild animals. M. Geoffroy quotes it thus: "We
shall see Nature dictating her laws, so simple yet so unchangeable, and
imprinting her own immutable characters upon every species." But M.
Geoffroy does not give the passage which, on the same page, admits
mutability among domesticated animals, in the case of which he declares
we find Nature "rarement perfectionnée, souvent alterée, défigurée;" nor
yet does he deem it necessary to show that the context proves that this
unchangeableness of wild animals is only relative; and this he should
certainly have done, for two pages later on Buffon speaks of the
American tigers, lions, and panthers as being "degenerated, if their
original nature was cruel and ferocious; or, rather, they have
experienced the effect of climate, and under a milder sky have assumed a
milder nature, their excesses have become moderated, and by the changes
which they have undergone they have become more in conformity with the
country they inhabit."[59]

And again:--

"If we consider each species in the different climates which it
inhabits, we shall find perceptible varieties as regards size and form:
they all derive an impress to a greater or less extent from the climate
in which they live. _These changes are only made slowly and
imperceptibly._ Nature's great workman is Time. He marches ever with an
even pace, and does nothing by leaps and bounds, but by degrees,
gradations, and succession he does all things; and the changes which he
works--at first imperceptible--become little by little perceptible, and
show themselves eventually in results about which there can be no

"Nevertheless animals in a free, wild state are perhaps less subject
than any other living beings, man not excepted, to alterations, changes,
and variations of all kinds. Being free to choose their own food and
climate, they vary less than domestic animals vary."[60] The conditions
of their existence, in fact, remaining practically constant, the animals
are no less constant themselves.

The writer of the above could hardly be claimed as a very thick and thin
partisan of immutability, even though he had not shown from the first
how clearly he saw that there was no middle position between the denial
of all mutability, and the admission that in the course of sufficient
time any conceivable amount of mutability is possible. I will give a
considerable part of what I have found in the first six volumes of
Buffon to bear one way or the other on his views concerning the
mutability of species; and I think the reader, so far from agreeing with
M. Isidore Geoffroy that Buffon began his work with a belief in the
fixity of species, will find, that from the very first chapter onward,
he leant strongly to mutability, even if he did not openly avow his
belief in it.

In support of this assertion, one quotation must suffice:--

"Nature advances by gradations which pass unnoticed. She passes from one
species, and often from one genus to another by imperceptible degrees,
so that we meet with a great number of mean species and objects of such
doubtful characters that we know not where to place them."[61]

The reader who turns to Buffon himself will find the idea that Buffon
took a less advanced position in his old age than he had taken in middle
life is also without foundation.

Mr. Darwin has said that Buffon "does not enter into the causes or means
of the transformation of species." It is not easy to admit the justice
of this. Independently of his frequently insisting on the effect of all
kinds of changed surroundings, he has devoted a long chapter of over
sixty quarto pages to this very subject; it is to be found in his
fourteenth volume, and is headed "De la Dégénération des Animaux," of
which words "On descent with modification" will be hardly more than a
literal translation. I shall give a fuller but still too brief outline
of the chapter later on, and will confine myself here to saying that the
three principal causes of modification which Buffon brings forward are
changes of climate, of food, and the effects of domestication. He may
be said to have attributed variation to the direct and specific action
of changed conditions of life, and to have had but little conception of
the view which he was himself to suggest to Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and
through him to Lamarck.

Isidore Geoffroy, writing of Lamarck, and comparing his position with
that taken by Buffon, says, on the whole truly, that "what Buffon
ascribes to the general effects of climate, Lamarck maintains to be
caused, especially in the case of animals, by the force of habits; _so
that, according to him, they are not, properly speaking, modified by the
conditions of their existence, but are only induced by these conditions
to set about modifying themselves_."[62] But it is very hard to say how
much Buffon saw and how much he did not see. He may be trusted to have
seen that if he once allowed the thin end of this wedge into his system,
he could no more assign limits to the effect which living forms might
produce upon their own organisms by effort and ingenuity in the course
of long time, than he could set limits to what he had called the power
of Nature if he was once to admit that an ass and a horse might, through
that power, have been descended from a common ancestor. Nevertheless, he
shows no unwillingness or recalcitrancy about letting the wedge enter,
for he speaks of domestication as inducing modifications "sufficiently
profound to become constant and hereditary in successive generations ...
_by its action on bodily habits it influences also their natures,
instincts, and most inward qualities_."[63]

This is a very thick thin end to have been allowed to slip in unawares;
but it is astonishing how little Buffon can see when he likes. I hardly
doubt but he would have been well enough pleased to have let the wedge
enter still farther, but this fluctuating writer had assigned himself
his limits some years before, and meant adhering to them. Again, in this
very chapter on Degeneration, to which M. Geoffroy has referred, there
are passages on the callosities on a camel's knees, on the llama, and on
the haunches of pouched monkeys which might have been written by Dr.
Darwin himself.[64] They will appear more fully presently. Buffon now
probably felt that he had said enough, and that others might be trusted
to carry the principle farther when the time was riper for its


[51] 'Origin of Species,' p. xiii. ed. 1876.

[52] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. p. 405, 1859.

[53] 'Origin of Species,' p. xiv. 1876.

[54] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. p. 383.

[55] Tom. iv.

[56] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. p. 391, 1859.

[57] Tom. v. p. 59, 1755.

[58] Tom. v. p. 60.

[59] Tom. vi. p. 58, 1756.

[60] Tom. vi. pp. 59-60, 1756.

[61] Tom. i. p. 13, 1749.

[62] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. p. 411, 1859.

[63] Tom. xi. p. 290, 1764 (misprinted on title-page 1754).

[64] See tom. xiv. p. 326, 1766; and p. 162 of this volume.



Let us now proceed to those fuller quotations which may answer the
double purpose of bearing me out in the view of Buffon's work which I
have taken in the foregoing pages, and of inducing the reader to turn to
Buffon himself.

I have already said that from the very commencement of his work Buffon
showed a proclivity towards considerations which were certain to lead
him to a theory of evolution, even though he had not, as I believe he
had, already taken a more comprehensive view of the subject than he
thought fit to proclaim unreservedly.

In 1749, at the beginning of his first volume he writes:--

"The first truth that makes itself apparent on serious study of Nature,
is one that man may perhaps find humiliating; it is this--that he, too,
must take his place in the ranks of animals, being, as he is, an animal
in every material point. It is possible also that the instinct of the
lower animals will strike him as more unerring, and their industry more
marvellous than his own. Then, running his eye over the different
objects of which the universe is composed, he will observe with
astonishment that we can descend by almost imperceptible degrees from
the most perfect creature to the most formless matter--from the most
highly organized animal to the most entirely inorganic substance. He
will recognize this gradation as the great work of Nature; and he will
observe it not only as regards size and form, but also in respect of
movements, and in the successive generations of every species.[65]

"Hence," he continues, "arises the difficulty of arriving at any perfect
system or method in dealing either with Nature as a whole or even with
any single one of her subdivisions. The gradations are so subtle that we
are often obliged to make arbitrary divisions. Nature knows nothing
about our classifications, and does not choose to lend herself to them
without reserve. We therefore see a number of intermediate species and
objects which it is very hard to classify, and which of necessity
derange our system whatever it may be."[66]

"The attempt to form perfect systems has led to such disastrous results
that it is now more easy to learn botany than the terminology which has
been adopted as its language."[67]

After saying that "_la marche de la Nature_" has been misunderstood, and
that her progress has ever been by a succession of slow steps, he
maintains that the only proper course is to class together whatever
objects resemble one another, and to separate those which are unlike. If
individual specimens are absolutely alike, or differ so little that the
differences can hardly be perceived, they must be classed as of the same
species; if the differences begin to be perceptible, but if at the same
time there is more resemblance than difference, the individuals
presenting these features should be classed as of a different species,
but as of the same genus; if the differences are still more marked, but
nevertheless do not exceed the resemblances, then they must be taken as
not only specific but generic, though as not sufficient to warrant
the individuals in which they appear, being placed in different
classes. If they are still greater, then the individuals are not even
of the same class; but it should be always understood that the
resemblances and differences are to be considered in reference to the
entirety of the plant or animal, and not in reference to any particular
part only.[68] The two rocks which are equally to be avoided are, on
the one hand, absence of method, and, on the other, a tendency to

Like Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and more recently Mr. Francis Darwin, Buffon is
more struck with the resemblances than with the differences between
animals and plants, but he supposes the vegetable kingdom to be a
continuation of the animal, extending lower down the scale, instead of
holding as Dr. Darwin did, that animals and vegetables have been
contemporaneous in their degeneration from a common stock.

"We see," he writes, "that there is no absolute and essential difference
between animals and vegetables, but that Nature descends by subtle
gradations from what we deem the most perfect animal to one which is
less so, and again from this to the vegetable. The fresh-water polypus
may perhaps be considered as the lowest animal, and as at the same time
the highest plant."[70]

Looking to the resemblances between animals and plants, he declares that
their modes of reproduction and growth involve such close analogy that
no difference of an essential nature can be admitted between them.[71]

On the other hand, Buffon appears, at first sight, to be more struck
with the points of difference between the mental powers of the lower
animals and man than with those which they present in common. It is
impossible, however, to accept this as Buffon's real opinion, on the
strength of isolated passages, and in face of a large number of others
which point stealthily but irresistibly to an exactly opposite
conclusion. We find passages which show a clear apprehension of facts
that the world is only now beginning to consider established, followed
by others which no man who has kept a dog or cat will be inclined to
agree with. I think I have already explained this sufficiently by
referring it to the impossibility of his taking any other course under
the circumstances of his own position and the times in which he lived.
Buffon does not deal with such pregnant facts, as, for example, the
geometrical ratio of increase, in such manner as to suggest that he was
only half aware of their importance and bearing. On the contrary, in the
very middle of those passages which, if taken literally, should most
shake confidence in his judgment, there comes a sustaining sentence, so
quiet that it shall pass unnoticed by all who are not attentive
listeners, yet so encouraging to those who are taking pains to
understand their author that their interest is revived at once.

Thus, he has insisted, and means insisting much further, on the many
points of resemblance between man and the lower animals, and it has now
become necessary to neutralize the effect of what he has written upon
the minds of those who are not yet fitted to see instinct and reason as
differentiations of a single faculty. He accordingly does this, and, as
is his wont, he does it handsomely; so handsomely that even his most
admiring followers begin to be uncomfortable. Whereon he begins his next
paragraph with "Animals have excellent senses, but not _generally, all
of them_, as good as man's."[72] We have heard of damning with faint
praise. Is not this to praise with faint damnation? Yet we can lay hold
of nothing. It was not Buffon's intention that we should. An ironical
writer, concerning whom we cannot at once say whether he is in earnest
or not, is an actor who is continually interrupting his performance in
order to remind the spectator that he is acting. Complaint, then,
against an ironical writer on the score that he puzzles us, is a
complaint against irony itself; for a writer is not ironical unless he
puzzles. He should not puzzle unless he believes that this is the best
manner of making his reader understand him in the end, or without having
a _bonne bouche_ for those who will be at the pains to puzzle over him;
and he should make it plain that for long parts of his work together he
is to be taken according to the literal interpretation of his words;
but if he has observed the above duly, he is a successful or
unsuccessful writer according as he puzzles or fails to do so, and
should be praised or blamed accordingly. To condemn irony entirely, is
to say that there should be no people allowed to go about the world but
those to whom irony would be an impertinence.

Having already in some measure reassured us by the faintness with which
he disparages the senses of the lower animals, Buffon continues, that
these senses, whether in man or in animals, may be greatly developed by
exercise: which we may suppose that a man of even less humour than
Buffon must know to be great nonsense, unless it be taken to involve
that animals as well as man can reflect and remember; it now, therefore,
becomes necessary to reassure the other side, and to maintain that
animals cannot reflect, and have no memory. "_Je crois_," he writes,
"_qu'on peut démontrer que les animaux n'ont aucune connaissance du
passé, aucune idée du temps, et que par conséquent ils n'ont pas la

I am ashamed of even arguing seriously against the supposition that this
was Buffon's real opinion. The very sweepingness of the assertion, the
baldness, and I might say brutality with which it is made, are
convincing in their suggestiveness of one who is laughing very quietly
in his sleeve.

"Society," he continues, later on, "considered even in the case of a
single human family, involves the power of reason; it involves feeling
in such of the lower animals as form themselves into societies freely
and of their own accord, but it involves nothing whatever in the case of
bees, who have found themselves thrown together through no effort of
their own. Such societies can only be, and it is plain have only been,
the results--neither foreseen, nor ordained, nor conceived by those who
achieve them--of the universal mechanism and of the laws of movement
established by the Creator."[74] A hive of bees, in fact, is to be
considered as composed of "ten thousand animated automata."[75] Years
later he repeats these views with little if any modification.[76] A
still more remarkable passage is to be found a little farther on. "If,"
he asks, "animals have neither understanding, mind, nor memory, if they
are wholly without intelligence, and if they are limited to the exercise
and experience of feeling only," and it must be remembered that Buffon
has denied all these powers to the inferior animals, "whence comes that
remarkable prescient instinct which so many of them exhibit? Is the mere
power of feeling sensations sufficient to make them garner up food
during the summer, on which food they may subsist in winter? Does not
this involve the power of comparing dates, and the idea of a coming
future, an '_inquiétude raisonnée_'? Why do we find in the hole of the
field-mouse enough acorns to keep him until the following summer? Why do
we find such an abundant store of honey and wax within the bee-hive? Why
do ants store food? Why should birds make nests if they do not know that
they will have need of them? Whence arise the stories that we hear of
the wisdom of foxes, which hide their prey in different spots, that they
may find it at their need and live upon it for days together? Or of the
subtilty of owls, which husband their store of mice by biting off their
feet, so that they cannot run away? Or of the marvellous penetration of
bees, which know beforehand that their queen should lay so many eggs in
such and such a time, and that so many of these eggs should be of a kind
which will develop into drones, and so many more of such another kind as
should become neuters; and who in consequence of this their
foreknowledge build so many larger cells for the first, and so many
smaller for the second?"[77]

Buffon answers these questions thus:--

"Before replying to them," he says, "we should make sure of the facts
themselves;--are they to be depended upon? Have they been narrated by
men of intelligence and philosophers, or are they popular fables only?"
(How many delightful stories of the same character does he not soon
proceed to tell us himself). "I am persuaded that all these pretended
wonders will disappear, and the cause of each one of them be found upon
due examination. But admitting their truth for a moment, and granting to
the narrators of them that animals have a presentiment, a forethought,
and even a certainty concerning coming events, does it therefore follow
that this should spring from intelligence? If so, theirs is assuredly
much greater than our own. For our foreknowledge amounts to conjecture
only; the vaunted light of our reason doth but suffice to show us a
little probability; whereas the forethought of animals is unerring, and
must spring from some principle far higher than any we know of through
our own experience. Does not such a consequence, I ask, _prove repugnant
alike to religion and common sense_?"[78]

This is Buffon's way. Whenever he has shown us clearly what we ought to
think, he stops short suddenly on religious grounds. It is incredible
that the writer who at the very commencement of his work makes man take
his place among the animals, and who sees a subtle gradation extending
over all living beings "from the most perfect creature"--who must be
man--"to the most entirely inorganic substance"--I say it is incredible
that such a writer should not see that he had made out a stronger case
in favour of the reason of animals than against it.

According to him, the test whether a thing is to have such and such a
name is whether it looks fairly like other things to which the same name
is given; if it does, it is to have the name; if it does not, it is not.
No one accepted this lesson more heartily than Dr. Darwin, whose shrewd
and homely mind, if not so great as Buffon's, was still one of no common
order. Let us see the view he took of this matter. He writes:--

"If we were better acquainted with the histories of those insects which
are formed into societies, as the bees, wasps, and ants, I make no doubt
but we should find that their arts and improvements are not so similar
and uniform as they now appear to us, but that they arose in the same
manner from experience and tradition, as the arts of our own species;
though their reasoning is from fewer ideas, is busied about fewer
objects, and is executed with less energy."[79]

And again, a little later:--

"According to the late observations of Mr. Hunter, it appears that
beeswax is not made from the dust of the anthers of flowers, which they
bring home on their thighs, but that this makes what is termed
bee-bread, and is used for the purpose of feeding the bee-maggots; in
the same way butterflies live on honey, but the previous caterpillar
lives on vegetable leaves, while the maggots of large flies require
flesh for their food. What induces the bee, who lives on honey, to lay
up vegetable powder for its young? What induces the butterfly to lay its
eggs on leaves when itself feeds on honey?... If these are not
deductions from their own previous experience or observation, all the
actions of mankind must be resolved into instincts."[80]

Or again:--

"Common worms stop up their holes with leaves or straws to prevent the
frost from injuring them, or the centipes from devouring them. The
habits of peace or the stratagems of war of these subterranean nations
are covered from our view; but a friend of mine prevailed on a
distressed worm to enter the hole of another worm on a bowling green,
and he presently returned much wounded about the head, ... which
evinces they have design in stopping the mouths of their

Does it not look as if Dr. Darwin had in his mind the very passage of
Buffon which I have been last quoting? and is it likely that the facts
which were accepted by Dr. Darwin without question, or the conclusions
which were obvious to him, were any less accepted by or obvious to

_The Goat--Hybridism._

In his prefatory remarks upon the goat, Buffon complains of the want of
systematic and certified experiment as to what breeds and species will
be fertile _inter se_, and with what results. The passage is too long to
quote, but is exceedingly good, and throughout involves belief in a very
considerable amount of modification in the course of successive
generations. I may give the following as an example:--

"We do not know whether or no the zebra would breed with the horse or
ass--whether the large-tailed Barbary sheep would be fertile if crossed
with our own--whether the chamois is not a wild goat; and whether it
would not form an intermediate breed if crossed with our domesticated
goats; we do not know whether the differences between apes are really
specific, or whether apes are not like dogs, one single species, of
which there are many different breeds.... Our ignorance concerning all
these facts is almost inevitable, as the experiments which would decide
them require more time, pains, and money than can be spared from, the
life and fortune of an ordinary man. I have spent many years in
experiments of this kind, and will give my results when I come to my
chapter on mules; but I may as well say at once that they have thrown
but little light upon the subject, and have been for the most part

"But these," he continues, "are the very points which must determine our
whole knowledge concerning animals, their right division into species,
and the true understanding of their history." He proposes therefore, in
the present lack of knowledge, "to regard all animals as different
species which do not breed together under our eyes," and to leave time
and experiment to correct mistakes.[83]

_The Pig--Doctrine of Final Causes._

We have seen that the doctrine of the mutability of species has been
unfortunately entangled with that of final causes, or the belief that
every organ and every part of each animal or plant has been designed to
serve some purpose useful to the animal, and this not only useful at
some past time, but useful now, and for all time to come. He who
believes species to be mutable will see in many organs signs of the
history of the individual, but nothing more. Buffon, as I have said, is
explicit in his denial of final causes in the sense expressed above.
After pointing out that the pig is an animal whose relation to other
animals it is difficult to define, he says:--

"In a word, it is of a nature altogether equivocal and ambiguous, or,
rather, it must appear so to those who believe the hypothetical order of
their own ideas to be the real order of things, and who see nothing in
the infinite chain of existences but a few apparent points to which they
will refer everything.

"But we cannot know Nature by inclosing her action within the narrow
circle of our own thoughts.... Instead of limiting her action, we should
extend it through immensity itself; we should regard nothing as
impossible, but should expect to find all things--supposing that all
things are possible--nay, _are_. Doubtful species, then, irregular
productions, anomalous existences will henceforth no longer surprise us,
and will find their place in the infinite order of things as duly as any
others. They fill up the links of the chain; they form knots and
intermediate points, and also they mark its extremities: they are of
especial value to human intelligence, as providing it with cases in
which Nature, being less in conformity with herself, is taken more
unawares, so that we can recognize singular characters and fleeting
traits which show us that her ends are much more general than are our
own views of those ends, and that, though she does nothing in vain, yet
she does but little with the designs which we ascribe to her."[84]

"The pig," he continues, "is not formed on an original, special, and
perfect type; its type is compounded of that of many other animals. It
has parts which are evidently useless, or which at any rate it cannot
use--such as toes, all the bones of which are perfectly formed but
which are yet of no service to it. Nature then is far from subjecting
herself to final causes in the composition of her creatures. Why should
she not sometimes add superabundant parts, seeing she so often omits
essential ones?" "How many animals are there not which lack sense and
limbs? Why is it considered so necessary that every part in an
individual should be useful to the other parts and to the whole animal?
Should it not be enough that they do not injure each other nor stand in
the way of each other's fair development? All parts coexist which do not
injure each other enough to destroy each other, and perhaps in the
greater number of living beings the parts which must be considered as
relative, useful, or necessary, are fewer than those which are
indifferent, useless, and superabundant. But we--ever on the look out to
refer all parts to a certain end--when we can see no apparent use for
them suppose them to have hidden uses, and imagine connections which are
without foundation, and serve only to obscure our perception of Nature
as she really is: we fail to see that we thus rob philosophy of her true
character, which is to inquire into the 'how' of things--into the manner
in which Nature acts--and that we substitute for this true object a vain
idea, seeking to divine the 'why'--the ends which she has proposed in

_The Dog--Varieties in consequence of Man's Selection._

"Of all animals the dog is most susceptible of impressions, and becomes
most easily modified by moral causes. He is also the one whose nature
is most subject to the variations and alterations caused by physical
influences: he varies to a prodigious extent, in temperament, mental
powers, and in habits: his very form is not constant;" ... but presents
so many differences that "dogs have nothing in common but conformity of
interior organization, and the power of interbreeding freely."...

... "How then can we detect the characters of the original race? How
recognize the effects produced by climate, food, &c.? How, again,
distinguish these from those other effects which come from the
intermixture of races, either when wild or in a state of domestication?
All these causes, in the course of time, alter even the most constant
forms, so that the imprint of Nature does not preserve its sharpness in
races which man has dealt with largely. Those animals which are free to
choose climate and food for themselves can best conserve their original
character, ... but those which man has subjected to his own
influence--which he has taken with him from clime to clime, whose food,
habits, and manner of life he has altered--must also have changed their
form far more than others; and as a matter of fact we find much greater
variety in the species of domesticated animals than in those of wild
ones. Of all these, however, the dog is the one most closely attached to
man, living like man the least regular manner of life; he is also the
one whose feelings so master him as to make him docile, obedient,
susceptible of every kind of impression, and even of every kind of
constraint; it is not surprising, then, that he should of all animals
present us with the greatest variety in shape, stature, colour, and all
physical and mental qualities."

Here again the direct cause of modification is given as being the inner
feelings of the animal modified, change of conditions being the indirect
cause as with Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck.

"Other circumstances, however, concur to produce these results. The dog
is short-lived: he breeds often and freely: he is perpetually under the
eye of man; hence when--by some chance common enough with Nature--a
variation or special feature has made its appearance, man has tried to
perpetuate it by uniting together the individuals in which it has
appeared, as people do now who wish to form new breeds of dogs and other
animals. Moreover, though species were all formed at the same time, yet
the number of generations since the creation has been much greater in
the short-lived than in the long-lived species: hence variations,
alterations, and departure from the original type, may be expected to
have become more perceptible in the case of animals which are so much
farther removed from their original stock.

"Man is now eight times nearer Adam than the dog is to the first
dog--for man lives eighty years, while the dog lives but ten. If, then,
these species have an equal tendency to depart from their original type,
the departure should be eight times more apparent with the dog than with

Here follow remarks upon the great variability of ephemeral insects and
of animal plants, on the impossibility of discovering the parent-stock
of our wheat and of others of our domesticated plants,[87] and on the
tendency of both plants and animals to resume feral characteristics on
becoming wild again after domestication.[88]

_The Hare--Geometrical Ratio of Increase._

We have already seen that it was Buffon's pleasure to consider the hare
a rabbit for the time being, and to make it the text for a discourse
upon fecundity. I have no doubt he enjoyed doing this, and would have
found comparatively little pleasure in preaching the same discourse upon
the rabbit. Speaking of the way in which even the races of mankind have
struggled and crowded each other out, Buffon says:--

"These great events--these well-marked epochs in the history of the
human race--are yet but ripples, as it were, on the current of life;
which, as a general rule, flows onward evenly and in equal volume.

"It may be said that the movement of Nature turns upon two immovable
pivots--one, the illimitable fecundity which she has given to all
species; the other, the innumerable difficulties which reduce the
results of that fecundity, and leave throughout time nearly the same
quantity of individuals in every species.[89]... Taking the earth as a
whole, and the human race in its entirety, the numbers of mankind, like
those of animals, should remain nearly constant throughout time; for
they depend upon an equilibrium of physical causes which has long since
been reached, and which neither man's moral nor his physical efforts can
disturb, inasmuch as these moral efforts do but spring from physical
causes, of which they are the special effects. No matter what care man
may take of his own species, he can only make it more abundant in one
place by destroying it or diminishing its numbers in another. When one
part of the globe is overpeopled, men emigrate, spread themselves over
other countries, destroy one another, and establish laws and customs
which sometimes only too surely prevent excess of population. In those
climates where fecundity is greatest, as in China, Egypt, and Guinea,
they banish, mutilate, sell, or drown infants. Here, we condemn them to
a perpetual celibacy. Those who are in being find it easy to assert
rights over the unborn. Regarding themselves as the necessary, they
annihilate the contingent, and suppress future generations for their own
pleasure and advantage. Man does for his own race, without perceiving
it, what he does also for the inferior animals: that is to say, he
protects it and encourages it to increase, or neglects it according to
his sense of need--according as advantage or inconvenience is expected
as the consequence of either course. And since all these moral effects
themselves depend upon physical causes, which have been in permanent
equilibrium ever since the world was formed, it follows that the numbers
of mankind, like those of animals, should remain constant.

"Nevertheless, this fixed state, this constant number, is not absolute,
all physical and moral causes, and all the results which spring from
them, balance themselves, as though, upon a see-saw, which has a certain
play, but never so much as that equilibrium should be altogether lost.
As everything in the universe is in movement, and as all the forces
which are contained in matter act one against the other and
counterbalance one another, all is done by a kind of oscillation; of
which the mean points are those to which we refer as being the ordinary
course of nature, while the extremes are the periods which deviate from
that course most widely. And, as a matter of fact, with animals as much
as with plants, a time of unusual fecundity is commonly followed by one
of sterility; abundance and dearth come alternately, and often at such
short intervals that we may foretell the production of a coming year by
our knowledge of the past one. Our apples, pears, oaks, beeches, and the
greater number of our fruit and forest trees, bear freely but about one
year in two. Caterpillars, cockchafers, woodlice, which in one year may
multiply with great abundance, will appear but sparsely in the next.
What indeed would become of all the good things of the earth, what would
become of the useful animals, and indeed of man himself, if each
individual in these years of excess was to leave its quotum of
offspring? This, however, does not happen, for destruction and sterility
follow closely upon excessive fecundity, and, independently of the
contagion which follows inevitably upon overcrowding, each species has
its own special sources of death and destruction, which are of
themselves sufficient to compensate for excess in any past generation.

"Nevertheless the foregoing should not be taken in an absolute sense,
nor yet too strictly,--especially in the case of those races which are
not left entirely to the care of Nature. Those which man takes care
of--commencing with his own--are more abundant than they would be
without his care, yet, as his power of taking this care is limited, the
increase which has taken place is also fixed, and has long been
restrained within impassable boundaries. Again, though in civilized
countries man, and all the animals useful to him, are more numerous than
in other places, yet their numbers never become excessive, for the same
power which brings them into being destroys them as soon as they are
found inconvenient."[90]

_The Carnivora--Sensation._

Buffon begins his seventh volume with some remarks on the _carnivora_ in
general, which I would gladly quote at fuller length than my space will
allow. He dwells on the fact that the number, as well as the fecundity
of the insect races is greater than that of the mammalia, and even than
of plants; and he points out that "violent death is almost as necessary
an usage as is the law that we must all, in one way or another, die."
This leads him to the question whether animals can feel. "To speak
seriously," (au réel) he says (and why this, if he had always spoken
seriously?[91]), "can we doubt that those animals whose organization
resembles our own, feel the same sensations as we do? They must feel,
for they have senses, and they must feel more and more in proportion as
their senses are more active and more perfect." Those whose organ of any
sense is imperfect, have but imperfect perception in respect of that
sense; and those that are entirely without the organ want also all
corresponding sensation. "Movement is the necessary consequence of acts
of perception. I have already shown that in whatever manner a living
being is organized, if it has perceptions at all, it cannot fail to show
that it has them by some kind of movement of its body. Hence plants,
though highly organized, have no feeling, any more than have those
animals which, like plants, manifest no power of motion. Among animals
there are those which, like the sensitive plant, have but a certain
power of movement about their own parts, and which have no power of
locomotion; such animals have as yet but little perception. Those,
again, which have power of locomotion, but which, like automata, do but
a small number of things, and always after the same fashion, can have
only small powers of perception, and these limited to a small number of
objects. But in the case of man, what automata, indeed, have we not
here! How much do not education and the intercommunication of ideas
increase our powers and vivacity of perception. What difference can we
not see in this respect between civilized and uncivilized races, between
the peasant girl, and the woman of the world? And in like manner among
animals, those which live with us have their perceptions increased in
range, while those that are wild have but their natural instinct, which
is often more certain but always more limited in range than is the
intelligence of domesticated animals."[92]

     . . . . . .

"For perception to exist in its fullest development in any animal body,
that body must form a whole--an _ensemble_, which shall not only be
capable of feeling in all its parts, but shall be so arranged that all
these feeling parts shall have a close correspondence with one another,
and that no one of them can be disturbed without communicating a portion
of that disturbance to every other part. There must also be a single
chief centre, with which all these different disturbances may be
connected, and from which, as from a common _point d'appui_, the
reactions against them may take their rise. Hence man, and those animals
whose organization most resembles man's, will be the most capable of
perceptions, while those whose unity is less complete, whose parts have
a less close correspondence with each other--which have several centres
of sensation, and which seem, in consequence, less to envelope a single
existence in a single body than to contain many centres of existence
separated and different from one another--these will have fewer and
duller perceptions. The polypus, which can be reproduced by fission; the
wasp, whose head even after separation from the body still moves, lives,
acts, and even eats as heretofore; the lizard which we deprive neither
of sensation nor movement by cutting off part of its body; the lobster
which can restore its amputated limbs; the turtle whose heart beats long
after it has been plucked out, in a word all the animals whose
organization differs from our own, have but small powers of perception,
and the smaller the more they differ from us."[93]

This is Buffon's way of satirizing our inability to bear in mind that we
are compelled to judge all things by our own standards. He also wishes
to reassure those who might be alarmed at the tendency of some of his
foregoing remarks, and who he knew would find comfort in being told that
a thing which does not express itself as they do does not feel at all.

The diaphragm according to Buffon appears to be the centre of the powers
of sensation; the slightest injury "even to the attachments of the
diaphragm is followed by strong convulsions, and even by death. The
brain which has been called the seat of 'sensations' is yet not the
centre of 'perception,' since we can wound it, and even take
considerable parts of it away, without death's ensuing, and without
preventing an animal from living, moving and feeling in all its parts."

Buffon thus distinguishes between "sensation" and "perception."
"Sensation," he says, "is simply the activity of a sense, but perception
is the pleasantness or unpleasantness of this sensation," "perceived by
its being propagated and becoming active throughout the entire system."
I have therefore several times, when translating from Buffon, rendered
the word "_sentiment_" by "perception," and shall continue to do so. "I
say," writes Buffon, "the pleasantness or unpleasantness, because this
is the very essence of perception; the one feature of perception
consists in perceiving either pain or pleasure; and though movements
which do not affect us in either one or the other of these two ways may
indeed take place within us, yet we are indifferent to them, and do not
perceive that we are affected by them. All external movement, and all
exercise of the animal powers, spring from perception; its action is
proportionate to the extent of its excitation, to the extent of the
feeling which is being felt.[94] And this same part, which we regard as
the centre of sensation, will also be that of all the animal powers; or,
if it is preferred to call it so, it will be the common _point d'appui_
from which they all take rise. The diaphragm is to the animal what the
'stock' is to the plant; both divide an organism transversely, both
serve as the _point d'appui_ of opposing forces; for the forces which
push upward those parts of a tree which should form its trunk and
branches, bear upon and are supported by the 'stock,' as do those
opposing forces, which drive the roots downwards.

     . . . . . .

"Even on a cursory examination we can see that all our innermost
affections, our most lively emotions, our most expansive moments of
delight, and, on the other hand, our sudden starts, pains, sicknesses,
and swoons--in fact, all our strong impressions concerning the pleasure
or pain of any sensation--make themselves felt within the body, and
about the region of the diaphragm. The brain, on the contrary, shows no
sign of being a seat of perception. In the head there are pure
sensations and nothing else, or rather, there are but the
representations of sensations stripped of the character of perception;
that is to say, we can remember and call to mind whether such and such a
sensation was pleasant to us or otherwise, and if this operation, which
goes on in the head, is followed by a vivid perception, then the
impression made is perceived in the interior of the body, and always in
the region of the diaphragm. Hence, in the foetus where this membrane
is without use, there is no perception, or so little that nothing comes
of it, the movements of the foetus, such as they are, being rather
mechanical than dependent on sensation and will.

"Whatever the matter may be which serves as the vehicle of perception,
and produces muscular movement, it is certain that it is propagated
through the nerves, and that it communicates itself instantaneously from
one extremity of the system to the other. In whatever manner this
operation is conducted, whether by the vibrations, as it were, of
elastic cords or by a subtle fire, or by a matter resembling
electricity, which not only resides in animal as in all other bodies,
but is being continually renewed in them by the movements of the heart
and lungs, by the friction of the blood within the arteries, and also by
the action of exterior causes upon our organs of sense--in whatever
manner, I say, the operation is conducted, it is nevertheless certain
that the nerves and membranes are the only parts in an animal body that
can feel. The blood, lymphs, and all other fluids, the fats, bone,
flesh, and all other solids, are of themselves void of sensation. And
so also is the brain; it is a soft and inelastic substance, incapable
therefore of producing or of propagating the movement, vibrations, or
concussions which, result in perception. The meninges, on the other
hand, are exceedingly sensitive, and are the envelopes of all the
nerves; like the nerves, they take rise in the head; and, dividing
themselves like the branches of the nerves, they extend even to their
smallest ramifications: they are, so to speak, flattened nerves; they
are of the same substance as the nerves, are nearly of the same degree
of elasticity, and form a necessary part of the system of sensation. If,
then, the seat of the sensations must be placed in the head, let it be
placed in the meninges, and not in the medullary part of the brain,
which is of an entirely different substance."[95]

If this is so, it appears from what will follow as though the meninges
must be the "stock" rather than the diaphragm.

"What perhaps has given rise to the opinion that the seat of all
sensations and the centre of all sensibility is in the brain, is the
fact that the nerves, which are the organs of perception, all attach
themselves to the brain, which has hence come to be regarded as the one
common centre which can receive all their vibrations and impressions.
This fact alone has sufficed to indicate the brain as the origin of
perceptions--as the essential organ of sensations; in a word, as the
common sensorium. This supposition has appeared so simple and natural
that its physical impossibility has been overlooked, an impossibility,
however, which should be sufficiently apparent. For how can a part
which cannot feel--a soft inactive substance like the brain--be the very
organ of perception and movement? How can this soft and perceptionless
part not only receive impressions, but preserve them for a length of
time, and transmit their undulatory movements (_en propage les
ébranlements_) throughout all the solid and feeling parts of the body?
It may perhaps be maintained with Descartes and M. de Peyronie that the
principle of sensation does not reside in the brain, but in the pineal
gland or in the _corpus callosum_; but a glance at the conformation of
the brain itself will suffice to show that these parts do not join on to
the nerves, but that they are entirely surrounded by those parts of the
brain which do not feel, and are so separated from the nerves that they
cannot receive any movement from them; whence it follows that this
second supposition is as groundless as the first."[96]

What, then, asks Buffon, _is_ the use of the brain? Man, the quadrupeds,
and birds all have larger brains, and at the same time more extended
perceptions, than fishes, insects, and those other living beings whose
brains are smaller in proportion. "When the brain is compressed, there
is suspension of all power of movement. If this part is not the source
of our powers of motion, why is it so necessary and so essential? Why,
again, does it seem so proportionate in each animal to the amount of
perceiving power which that animal possesses?

"I think I can answer this question in a satisfactory manner, difficult
though it seems; but in order that I may do so, I would ask the reader
to lend me his attention for a few moments while we regard the brain
simply _as brain_, and have no other idea concerning it than we can
derive from inspection and reflection. The brain, as well as the
_medulla oblongata_ and the spinal marrow, which are but prolongations
of the brain itself, is only a kind of hardly organized mucilage; we
find in it nothing but the extremities of small arteries, which run into
it in very great numbers, but which convey a white and nourishing lymph
instead of blood. When the parts of the brain are disunited by
maceration, these same small arteries, or lymphatic vessels, appear as
very delicate threads throughout their whole length. The nerves, on the
contrary, do not penetrate the substance of the brain; they abut upon
its surface only; before reaching it they lose their elasticity and
solidity, and the extremities of the nerves which are nearest to the
brain are soft, and nearly mucilaginous. From this exposition, in which
there is nothing hypothetical, it appears that the brain, which is
nourished by the lymphatic arteries, does in its turn provide
nourishment for the nerves, and that we must regard these as a kind of
vegetation which rises as trunks and branches from the brain, and become
subsequently subdivided into an infinite number, as it were, of twigs.
The brain is to the nerves what the earth is to plants: the last
extremities of the nerves are the roots, which with every vegetable are
more soft and tender than the trunk or branches; they contain a ductile
matter fit for the growth and nourishment of the nervous tree or fibre;
they draw the ductile matter from the substance of the brain itself, to
which the arteries are continually bringing the lymph that is necessary
to supply it. The brain, then, instead of being the seat of the
sensations, and the originator of perception, is an organ of secretion
and nutrition only, though a very essential organ, without which the
nerves could neither grow nor be maintained.

"This organ is greater in man, in quadrupeds, and in birds, because the
number or bulk of the nerves is greater in these animals than in fishes
or insects, whose power of perception is more feeble, for this very
reason, that they have but a small brain; one, in fact, that is
proportioned to the small quantity of nerves which that brain must
support. Nor can I omit to state here that man has not, as has been
pretended by some, a larger brain than has any other animal; for there
are apes and cetacea which have more brain than man in proportion to the
volume of their bodies--another fact which proves that the brain is
neither the seat of sensations nor the originator of perception, since
in that case these animals would have more sensations and perception
than man.

"If we consider the manner in which plants derive their nourishment, we
shall find that they do not draw up the grosser parts either of earth or
water; these parts must be reduced by warmth into subtle vapours before
the roots can suck them up into the plant. In like manner the nutrition
of the nerves is only effected by means of the more subtle parts of the
humidity of the brain, which are sucked up by the roots or extremities
of the nerves, and are carried thence through all the branches of the
sensory system. This system forms, as we have said, a whole, all whose
parts are interconnected by so close a union that we cannot wound one
without communicating a violent shock to all the others; the wounding or
simply pulling of the smallest nerve is sufficient to cause lively
irritation to all the others, and to put the body in convulsion; nor can
we ease this pain and convulsion except by cutting the nerve higher up
than the injured part; but on this all the parts abutting on this nerve
become thenceforward senseless and immovable for ever. The brain should
not be considered as of the same character, nor as an organic portion of
the nervous system, for it has not the same properties nor the same
substance, being neither solid nor elastic, nor yet capable of feeling.
I admit that on its compression perception ceases, but this very fact
shows it to be a body foreign to the nervous system itself, which,
acting by its weight, or pressure, against the extremities of the
nerves, oppresses them and stupefies them in the same way as a weight
placed upon the arm, leg, or any other part of the body, stupefies the
nerves and deadens the perceptions of that part. And it is evident that
this cessation of sensation on compression is but a suspension and
temporary stupefaction, for the moment the compression of the brain
ceases, perception and the power of movement returns. Again, I admit
that on tearing the medullary substance, and on wounding the brain till
the _corpus callosum_ is reached, convulsion, loss of sensation, and
death ensue; but this is because the nerves are so entirely deranged
that they are, so to speak, torn up by the roots and wounded all
together, and at their source.

"In further proof that the brain is neither the centre of perception nor
the seat of the sensations, I may remind the reader that animals and
even children have been born without heads and brains, and have yet had
feeling, movement, and life. There are also whole classes of animals,
like insects and worms, with a brain that is by no means a distinct mass
nor of sensible volume, but with only something which corresponds with
the _medulla oblongata_ and the spinal marrow. There would be more
reason, then, in placing the seat of the feelings and perceptions in the
spinal marrow, which no animal is without, than in the brain which is
not an organ common to all creatures that can feel."

If Buffon's ideas concerning the brain are as just as they appear to be,
the resemblance between plants and animals is more close than is
apparent, even to a superficial observer, on a first inspection of the
phenomena. Such an observer, however, on looking but a little more
intently, will see the higher _vertebrata_ as perambulating vegetables
planted upside down. So the man who had been born blind, on being made
to see, and on looking at the objects before him with unsophisticated
eyes, said without hesitation that he saw "men as trees walking," thus
seeing with more prophetic insight than either he or the bystanders
could interpret. For our skull is as a kind of flower-pot, and holds the
soil from which we spring, that is to say the brain; our mouth and
stomach are roots, in two stories or stages; our bones are the
trellis-work to which we cling while going about in search of
sustenance for our roots; or they are as the woody trunk of a tree; _we_
are the nerves which are rooted in the brain, and which draw thence the
sustenance which is supplied it by the stomach; our lungs are leaves
which are folded up within us, as the blossom of a fig is hidden within
the fruit itself.

This is what should follow if Buffon's theory of the brain is allowed to
stand, which I hope will prove to be the case, for it is the only
comfortable thought concerning the brain that I have met with in any
writer. I have given it here at some length on account of its
importance, and for the illustration it affords of Buffon's hatred of
mystery, rather than for its bearing upon evolution. The fact that our
leading men of science have adopted other theories will weigh little
with those who have watched scientific orthodoxy with any closeness.
What Buffon thought of that orthodoxy may be gathered from the

"The greatest obstacles to the advancement of human knowledge lie less
in things themselves than in man's manner of considering them. However
complicated a machine the human body may be, it is still less
complicated than are our own ideas concerning it. It is less difficult
to see Nature as she is, than as she is presented to us. She carries a
veil only, while we would put a mask over her face; we load her with our
own prejudices, and suppose her to act and to conduct her operations
even after the same fashion as ourselves.[97]

     . . . . . .

"I am by no means speaking of those purely arbitrary systems which we
are able at a glance to detect as chimeras that are being pretended to
us as realities, but I refer to the methods whereby people have set
themselves seriously to study nature. Even the experimental method
itself has been more fertile of error than of truth, for though it is
indeed the surest, yet is it no surer than the hand of him who uses it.
No matter how little we incline out of the straight path, we soon find
ourselves wandering in a sterile wilderness, where we can see but a few
obscure objects scattered sparsely; nevertheless we do violence to these
facts and to ourselves, and resemble them together on a conceit of
analogies and common properties amongst them. Then, passing and
repassing complaisantly over the tortuous path which we have ourselves
beaten, we deem the road a worn one, and though it leads no whither, the
world follows it, adopts it, and accepts its supposed consequences as
first principles. I could show this by laying bare the origin of that
which goes by the name of 'principle' in all the sciences, whether
abstract or natural. In the case of the former, the basis of principle
is abstraction--that is to say, one or more suppositions: in that of the
second, principles are but the consequences, better or worse, of the
methods which may have been followed. And to speak here of anatomy only,
did not he who first surmounted his natural repugnance and set himself
to work to open a human body--did he not believe that through going all
over it, dissecting it, dividing it into all its parts, he would soon
learn its structure, mechanism, and functions? But he found the task
greater than he had expected, and renouncing such pretensions, was fain
to content himself with a method--not for seeing and judging, but for
seeing after an orderly fashion. This method ... is still the sole
business of our ablest anatomists, but it is not science. It is the road
which should lead scienceward, and might perhaps have reached science
itself, if instead of walking ever on a single narrow path men had set
the anatomy of man and that of animals face to face with one another.
For, what real knowledge can be drawn from an isolated pursuit? Is not
the foundation of all science seen to consist in the comparison which
the human mind can draw between different objects in the matter of their
resemblances and differences--of their analogous or conflicting
properties, and of all the relations in which they stand to one another?
The absolute, if it exist at all, is but of the concurrence of man's own
knowledge; we judge and can judge of things only by their bearings one
upon another; hence whenever a method limits us to only a single
subject, whenever we consider it in its solitude and without regard to
its resemblances or to its differences from other objects, we can attain
to no real knowledge, nor yet, much less, reach any general principle.
We do but give names, and make descriptions of a thing, and of all its
parts. Hence comes it that, after three thousand years of dissection,
anatomy is still but a nomenclature, and has hardly advanced a step
towards its true object, which is the science of animal economy.
Furthermore, what defects are there not in the method itself, which
should above all things else be simple and easy to be understood,
depending as it does upon inspection and having denominations only for
its end! For seeing that nomenclature has been mistaken for knowledge,
men have made it their chief business to multiply names, instead of
limiting things; they have crushed themselves under the burden of
details, and been on the look out for differences where there was no
distinction. When they had given a new name they conceived of it as a
new thing, and described the smallest parts with the most minutious
exactness, while the description of some still smaller part, forgotten
or neglected by previous anatomists, has been straightway hailed as a
discovery. The denominations themselves being often taken from things
which had no relation to the object that it was desired to denominate,
have served but to confound confusion. The part of the brain, for
example, which is called testes and nates, wherein does it so differ
from the rest of the brain that it should deserve a name? These names,
taken at haphazard or springing from some preconceived opinion, have
themselves become the parents of new prejudices and speculations; other
names given to parts which have been ill observed, or which are even
non-existent, have been sources of new errors. What functions and uses
has it not been attempted to foist upon the pineal gland, and on the
alleged empty space in the brain which is called the arch, the first of
which is but a gland, while the very existence of the other is
doubtful,--the empty space being perhaps produced by the hand of the
anatomist and the method of dissection."[98]

_The Genus felis._

In his preliminary remarks upon the lion, Buffon while still professing
to believe in some considerable mutability of species, seems very far
from admitting that all living forms are capable of modification. But he
has shown us long since how clearly he saw the impossibility of limiting
mutability, if he once admitted so much of the thin end of the wedge as
that a horse and an ass might be related. It is plain, therefore, that
he is not speaking "_au réel_" here, and we accordingly find him talking
clap-trap about the nobleness of the lion in having no species
immediately allied to it. A few lines lower on he reminds us in a casual
way that the ass and horse are related.

He writes:--

"Added to all these noble individual features the lion has also what may
be called a _specific_ nobility. For I call those species noble which
are constant, invariable, and which are above suspicion of having
degenerated. These species are commonly isolated, and the only ones of
their genus. They are distinguished by such well-marked features that
they cannot be mistaken, nor confounded with any other species. To begin
for example with man, the noblest of created beings; he is but of a
single species, inasmuch as men and women will breed freely _inter se_
in spite of all existing differences of race, climate and colour; and
also inasmuch as there is no other animal which can claim either a
distant or near relationship with him. The horse, on the other hand, is
more noble as an individual than as a species, for he has the ass as
his near neighbour, _and seems himself to be nearly enough related to
it_; ... the dog is perhaps of even less noble species, approaching as
he does to the wolf, fox, and jackal, _which we can only consider to be
the degenerated species of a single family_"[99]--all which may seem
very natural opinions for a French aristocrat in the days before the
Revolution, but which cannot for a moment be believed to have been
Buffon's own. I have not ascertained the date of Buffon's little quarrel
with the Sorbonne, but I cannot doubt that if we knew the inner history
of the work we are considering, we should find this passage and others
like it explained by the necessity of quieting orthodox adversaries. He
concludes the paragraph from which I have just been quoting by saying,
"To class man and the ape together, or the lion with the cat, and to say
that the lion is a _cat with a mane and a long tail_--this were to
degrade and disfigure nature instead of describing her and denominating
her species." Buffon very rarely uses italics, but those last given are
his, not mine; could words be better chosen to make us see the lion and
the cat as members of the same genus? No wonder the Sorbonne considered
him an infelicitous writer; why could he not have said "cat," and have
done with it, instead of giving a couple of sly but telling touches,
which make the cat as like a lion as possible, and then telling us that
we must not call her one? Sorbonnes never do like people who write in
this way.

"The lion, then, belongs to a most noble species, standing as he does
alone, and incapable of being confounded with the tiger, leopard,
ounce, &c., while, on the contrary, those species, which appear to be
least distant from the lion, are very sufficiently indistinguishable, so
that travellers and nomenclators are continually confounding them."[100]

If this is not pure malice, never was a writer more persistently
unfortunate in little ways. Why remind us here that the species which
come nearest to the lion are so hard to distinguish? Why not have said
nothing about it? As it is, the case stands thus: we are required to
admit close resemblance between the leopard and the tiger, while we are
to deny it between the tiger and the lion, in spite of there being no
greater outward difference between the first than between the second
pair, and in spite of the hurried whisper "_cat with a mane and a long
tail_" still haunting our ears. Isidore Geoffroy and his followers may
consent to this arrangement, but I hope the majority of my readers will
not do so.

I went on to the account of the tiger with some interest to see the line
which Buffon would take concerning it. I anticipated that we should find
cats, pumas, lynxes, &c., to be really very like tigers, and was
surprised to learn that the "true" tiger, though certainly not unlike
these animals, was still to be distinguished from "many others which had
since been called tigers." He is on no account to be confounded with
these, in spite of the obvious temptation to confound him. He is "a rare
animal, little known to the ancients, and badly described by the
moderns." He is a beast "of great ferocity, of terrible swiftness, and
surpassing even the proportions of the lion." The effect of the
description is that we no longer find the lion standing alone, but with
the tiger on a par with him if not above him; but at the same time we
fall easy victims to the temptation to confound the tiger with "the many
other animals which are also called tigers." A surface stream has swept
the members of the cat family in different directions, but a stealthy
undercurrent has seized them from beneath, and they are now happily

_Animals of the Old and New World--Changed Geographical Distribution._

Writing upon the animals of the old world,[101] and referring to the
humps of the camel and the bison, Buffon shows that very considerable
modification may be effected in some animals within even a few
generations, but he attributes the effect produced to the direct
influence of climate. Buffon concludes his sketch of the animals of the
new world by pointing out that the larger animals of the African torrid
zone have been hindered by sea and desert from finding their way to
America, and by claiming to be the first "even to have suspected" that
there was not a single denizen of the torrid zone of one continent which
was common also to the other.[102]

The animals common to both continents are those which can stand the cold
and which are generally suited for a temperate climate. These, Buffon
believes, to have travelled either over some land still unknown, or
"more probably," over territory which has long since been submerged. The
species of the old and new world are never without some well-marked
difference, which however should not be held sufficient for us to refuse
to admit their practical identity. But he maintains, I imagine wilfully,
that there is a tendency in all the mammalia to become smaller on being
transported to the new world, and refers the fact to the quality of the
earth, the condition of the climate, the degrees of heat and humidity,
to the height of mountains, amounts of running or stagnant waters,
extent of forest, and above all to the brutal condition of nature in a
new country, which he evidently regards with true aristocratic

Then follows a passage which I had better perhaps give in full:--

The mammoth "was certainly the greatest and strongest of all quadrupeds;
but it has disappeared; and if so, how many smaller, feebler, and less
remarkable species must have also perished without leaving us any traces
or even hints of their having existed? How many other species have
changed their nature, that is to say, become perfected or degraded,
through great changes in the distribution of land and ocean, through the
cultivation or neglect of the country which they inhabit, through the
long-continued effects of climatic changes, so that they are no longer
the same animals that they once were? Yet of all living beings after
man, the quadrupeds are the ones whose nature is most fixed and form
most constant: birds and fishes vary much more easily; insects still
more again than these, and if we descend to plants, which certainly
cannot be excluded from animated nature, we shall be surprised at the
readiness with which species are seen to vary, and at the ease with
which they change their forms and adopt new natures.

"It is probable then that all the animals of the new world are derived
from congeners in the old, without any deviation from the ordinary
course of nature. We may believe that having become separated in the
lapse of ages, by vast oceans and countries which they could not
traverse, they have gradually been affected by, and derived impressions
from, a climate which has itself been modified so as to become a new one
through the operation of those same causes which dissociated the
individuals of the old and new world from one another; thus in the
course of time they have grown smaller and changed their characters.
This, however, should not prevent our classifying them as different
species now, for the difference is no less real whether it is caused by
time, climate and soil, or whether it dates from the creation. _Nature I
maintain is in a state of continual flux and movement. It is enough for
man if he can grasp her as she is in his own time, and throw but a
glance or two upon the past and future, so as to try and perceive what
she may have been in former times and what one day she may attain

_The Buffalo--Animals under Domestication._

"The bison and the aurochs," says Buffon, "differ only in unessential
characteristics, and are, by consequence, of the same species as our
domestic cattle, so that I believe all the pretended species of the ox,
whether ancient or modern, may be reduced to three--the bull, the
buffalo, and the bubalus.

"The case of animals under domestication is in many respects different
from that of wild ones; they vary much more in disposition, size and
shape, especially as regards the exterior parts of their bodies: the
effects of climate, so powerful throughout nature, act with far greater
effect upon captive animals than upon wild ones. Food prepared by man,
and often ill chosen, combined with the inclemency of an uncongenial
climate--these eventuate in modifications sufficiently profound to
become constant and hereditary in successive generations. I do not
pretend to say that this general cause of modification is so powerful as
to change radically the nature of beings which have had their impress
stamped upon them in that surest of moulds--heredity; but it
nevertheless changes them in not a few respects; it masks and transforms
their outward appearance; it suppresses some of their parts, and gives
them new ones; it paints them with various colours, and _by its action
on bodily habits influences also their natures, instincts, and most
inward qualities_" (and what is this but "radically changing their
nature"?). "The modification of but a single part, moreover, in a whole
as perfect as an animal body, will necessitate a correlative
modification in every other part, and it is from this cause that our
domestic animals differ almost as much in nature and instinct, as in
form, from those from which they originally sprung."[105]

Buffon confirms this last assertion by quoting the sheep as an
example--an animal which can now no longer exist in a wild state. Then
returning to cattle, he repeats that many varieties have been formed by
the effects--"diverse in themselves, and diverse in their
combinations--of climate, food, and treatment, whether under
domestication or in their wild state." These are the main causes of
variation ("causes générales de variété"),[106] among our domesticated
animals, but by far the greatest is changed climate in consequence of
their accompanying man in his migrations. The effects of the foregoing
causes of modification, especially the last of them, are repeatedly
insisted on in the course of the forty pages which complete the
preliminary account of the buffalo.

What holds good for the buffalo does so also for the mouflon or wild
sheep. This, Buffon declares to be the source of all our domesticated
breeds: of these there are in all some four or five, "all of them being
but degenerations from a single stock, produced by man's agency, and
propagated for his convenience."[107] At the same time that man has
protected them he has hunted out the original race which was "less
useful to him,"[108] so that it is now to be found only in a few
secluded spots, such as the mountains of Greece, Cyprus, and Sardinia.
Buffon does not consider even the differences between sheep and goats to
be sufficiently characteristic to warrant their being classed as
different species.

"I shall never tire," he continues, "of repeating--seeing how important
the matter is--that we must not form our opinions concerning nature, nor
differentiate (différencier) her species, by a reference to minor
special characteristics. And, again, that systems, far from having
illustrated the history of animals, have, on the contrary, served rather
to obscure it ... leading, as they do, to the creation of arbitrary
species which nature knows nothing about; perpetually confounding real
and hypothetical existences; giving us false ideas as to the very
essence of species; uniting them and separating them without foundation
or knowledge, and often without our having seen the animal with which we
are dealing."[109]

_First and Second Views of Nature._

The twelfth volume begins with a preface, entitled "A First View of
Nature," from which I take the following:--

"What cannot Nature effect with such means at her disposal? She can do
all except either create matter or destroy it. These two extremes of
power the deity has reserved for himself only; creation and destruction
are the attributes of his omnipotence. To alter and undo, to develop and
to renew--these are powers which he has handed over to the charge of

The thirteenth volume opens with a second view of nature. After
describing what a man would have observed if he could have lived during
many continuous ages, Buffon goes on to say:--

"And as the number, sustenance, and balance of power among species is
constant, Nature would present ever the same appearance, and would be in
all times and under all climates absolutely and relatively the same, if
it were not her fashion to vary her individual forms as much as
possible. The type of each species is founded in a mould of which the
principal features have been cut in characters that are ineffaceable and
eternally permanent, but all the accessory touches vary; no one
individual is the exact facsimile of any other, and no species exists
without a large number of varieties. In the human race on which the
divine seal has been set most firmly, there are yet varieties of black
and white, large and small races, the Patagonian, Hottentot, European,
American, Negro, which, though all descended from a common father,
nevertheless exhibit no very brotherly resemblance to one another."[111]

On an earlier page there is a passage which I may quote as showing
Buffon to have not been without some--though very imperfect--perception
of the fact which evidently made so deep an impression upon his
successor, Dr. Erasmus Darwin. I refer to that continuity of life in
successive generations, and that oneness of personality between parents
and offspring, which is the only key that will make the phenomena of
heredity intelligible.

"Man," he says, "and especially educated man, is no longer a single
individual, but represents no small part of the human race in its
entirety. He was the first to receive from his fathers the knowledge
which their own ancestors had handed down to them. These, having
discovered the divine art of fixing their thoughts so that they can
transmit them to their posterity, become, as it were, one and the same
people with their descendants (_se sont, pour ainsi dire, identifiés
avec leur neveux_); while our descendants will in their turn be one and
the same people with ourselves (_s'identifieront avec nous_). This
reunion in a single person of the experience of many ages, throws back
the boundaries of man's existence to the utmost limits of the past; he
is no longer a single individual, limited as other beings are to the
sensations and experiences of to-day. In place of the individual we have
to deal, as it were, with the whole species."[112]

"Differences in exterior are nothing in comparison with those in
interior parts. These last must be regarded as the causes, while the
others are but the effects. The interior parts of living beings are the
foundation of the plan of their design; this is their essential form,
their real shape, their exterior is only the surface, or rather the
drapery in which their true figure is enveloped. How often does not the
study of comparative anatomy show us that two exteriors which differ
widely conceal interiors absolutely like each other, and, on the
contrary, that the smallest internal difference is accompanied by the
most marked differences of outward appearance, changing as it does even
the natural habits, faculties and attributes of the animal?"[113]

_Apes and Monkeys._

The fourteenth volume is devoted to apes and monkeys, and to the chapter
with which the volumes on quadrupeds are brought to a conclusion--a
chapter for which perhaps the most important position in the whole work
is thus assigned. It is very long, and is headed "On Descent with
Modification" ("De la Dégénération des Animaux"). This is the chapter in
which Buffon enters more fully into the "causes or means" of the
transformation of species.

At the opening of the chapter on the nomenclature of monkeys, the theory
is broached that there is a certain fixed amount of life-substance as of
matter in nature; and that neither can be either augmented or
diminished. Buffon maintains this organic and living substance to be as
real and durable as inanimate matter; as permanent in its state of life
as the other in that of death; it is spread over the whole of nature,
and passes from vegetables to animals by way of nutrition, and from
animals back to vegetables through putrefaction, thus circulating
incessantly to the animation of all that lives.

As might be expected, Buffon is loud in his protest against any real
similarity between man and the apes--man has had the spirit of the Deity
breathed into his nostrils, and the lowest creature with this is higher
than the highest without it. Having settled this point, he makes it his
business to show how little difference in other respects there is
between the apes and man.

"One who could view," he writes, "Nature in her entirety, from first to
last, and then reflect upon the manner in which these two
substances--the living and the inanimate--act and react upon one
another, would see that every living being is a mould which casts into
its own shape those substances upon which it feeds; that it is this
assimilation which constitutes the growth of the body, whose development
is not simply an augmentation of volume, but an extension in all its
dimensions, a penetration of new matter into all parts of its mass: he
would see that these parts augment proportionately with the whole, and
the whole proportionately with these parts, while general configuration
remains the same until the full development is accomplished.... He would
see that man, the quadruped, the cetacean, the bird, reptile, insect,
tree, plant, herb, all are nourished, grow, and reproduce themselves on
this same system, and that though their manner of feeding and of
reproducing themselves may appear so different, this is only because the
general and common cause upon which these operations depend can only
operate in the individual agreeably with the form of each species.
Travelling onward (for it has taken the human mind ages to arrive at
these great truths, from which all others are derived), he would compare
living forms, give them names to distinguish them, and other names to
connect them with each other. Taking his own body as the model with
which all living forms should be compared, and having measured them,
explained them thoroughly, and compared them in all their parts, he
would see that there is but small difference between the forms of living
beings; that by dissecting the ape he could arrive at the anatomy of
man, and that taking some other animal we find always the same ultimate
plan of organization, the same senses, the same viscera, the same bones,
the same flesh, the same movements of the fluids, the same play and
action of the solids; he would find all of them with a heart, veins,
arteries, in all the same organs of circulation, respiration, digestion,
nutrition, secretion; in all of them a solid frame, composed of pieces
put together in nearly the same manner; and he would find this system
always the same, from man to the ape, from the ape to the quadrupeds,
from the quadrupeds to the cetacea, birds, fishes, reptiles; this system
or plan then, I say, if firmly laid hold of and comprehended by the
human mind, is a true copy of nature; it is the simplest and most
general point of view from which we can consider her, and if we extend
our view, and go on from what lives to what vegetates, we may see this
plan--which originally did but vary almost imperceptibly--change its
scope and descend gradually from reptiles to insects, from insects to
worms, from worms to zoophytes, from zoophytes to plants, and yet
keeping ever the same fundamental unity in spite of differences of
detail, insomuch that nutrition, development, and reproduction remain
the common traits of all organic bodies; traits eternally essential and
divinely implanted; which time, far from effacing or destroying, does
but make plainer and plainer continually."

This is the writer who can see nothing in common between the horse and
the zebra except that each has a solid hoof.[114] He continues:--

"If from this grand tableau of resemblances, in which the living
universe presents itself to our eyes as though it were a single family,
we pass to a tableau rather of the differences between living forms, we
shall see that, with the exception of some of the greater species, such
as the elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, tiger, lion, which must each
have their separate place, the other races seem all to blend with
neighbouring forms, and to fall into groups of likenesses, greater or
lesser, and of genera which our nomenclators represent to us by a
network of shapes, of which some are held together by the feet, others
by the teeth, horns, and skin, and others by points of still minor
importance. And even those whose form strikes us as most perfect, as
approaching most nearly to our own--even the apes--require some
attention before they can be distinguished from one another, for the
privilege of being an isolated species has been assigned less to form
than to size; and man himself, though of a separate species and
differing infinitely from all or any others, has but a medium size, and
is less isolated and has nearer neighbours than have the greater
animals. If we study the Orang-outang with regard only to his
configuration, we might regard him, with equal justice, as either the
highest of the apes or as the lowest of mankind, because, with the
exception of the soul, he wants nothing of what we have ourselves, and
because, as regards his body, he differs less from man than he does from
other animals which are still called apes."[115]

The want of a soul Buffon maintains to be the only essential difference
between the Orang-outang and man--"his body, limbs, senses, brain and
tongue are the same as ours. He can execute whatever movements man can
execute; yet he can neither think nor speak, nor do any action of a
distinctly human character. Is this merely through want of training? or
may it not be through wrong comparison on our own parts? We compare the
wild ape in the woods to the civilized citizen of our great towns. No
wonder the ape shows to disadvantage. He should be compared with the
hideous Hottentot rather, who is himself almost as much above the lowest
man, as the lowest man is above the Orang-outang."[116]

The passage is a much stronger one than I have thought it fit to quote.
The reader can refer to it for himself. After reading it I entertain no
further doubt that Buffon intended to convey the impression that men and
apes are descended from common ancestors. He was not, however, going to
avow this conclusion openly.

"I admit," he continues, "that if we go by mere structure the ape might
be taken for a variety of the human race; the Creator did not choose to
model mankind upon an entirely distinct system from the other animals:
He comprised their form and man's under a plan which is in the main
uniform."[117] Buffon then dwells upon the possession of a soul by man;
"even the lowest creature," he avers, "which had this, would have become
man's rival."

"The ape then is purely an animal, far from being a variety of our own
species, he does not even come first in the order of animals, since he
is not the most intelligent: the high opinion which men have of the
intelligence of apes is a prejudice based only upon the resemblance
between their outward appearance and our own."[118] But the undiscerning
were not only to be kept quiet, they were to be made happy. With this
end, if I am not much mistaken, Buffon brings his chapter on the
nomenclature of apes to the following conclusion:--

"The ape, which the philosopher and the uneducated have alike regarded
as difficult to define, and as being at best equivocal, and midway
between man and the lower animals, proves in fact to be an animal and
nothing more; he is masked externally in the shape of man, but
internally he is found incapable of thought, and of all that constitutes
man; apes are below several of the other animals in respect of qualities
corresponding to their own, and differ essentially from man, in nature,
temperament, the time which must be spent upon their gestation and
education, in their period of growth, duration of life, and in fact in
all those profounder habits which constitute what is called the 'nature'
of any individual existence."[119] This is handsome, and leaves the more
timorous reader in full possession of the field.

Buffon is accordingly at liberty in the following chapter to bring
together every fact he can lay his hands on which may point the
resemblance between man and the Orang-outang most strongly; but he is
careful to use inverted commas here much more freely than is his wont.
Having thus made out a strong case for the near affinity between man and
the Orang-outang, and having thrown the responsibility on the original
authors of the passages he quotes, he excuses himself for having quoted
them on the ground that "everything may seem important in the history of
a brute which resembles man so nearly," and then insists upon the points
of difference between the Orang-outang and ourselves. They do not,
however, in Buffon's hands come to much, until the end of the chapter,
when, after a _résumé_ dwelling on the points of resemblance, the
differences are again emphatically declared to have the best of it.

I need not follow Buffon through his description of the remaining
monkeys. It comprises 250 pp., and is confined to details with which we
have no concern; but the last chapter--"De la Dégénération des
Animaux"--deserves much fuller quotation than my space will allow me to
make from it. The chapter is very long, comprising, as I have said, over
sixty quarto pages. It is impossible, therefore, for me to give more
than an outline of its contents.

_Causes or Means of the Transformation of Species._

The human race is declared to be the one most capable of modification,
all its different varieties being descended from a common stock, and
owing their more superficial differences to changes of climate, while
their profounder ones, such as woolly hair, flat noses, and thick lips,
are due to differences of diet, which again will vary with the nature of
the country inhabited by any race. Changes will be exceedingly gradual;
it will take centuries of unbroken habit to bring about modifications
which can be transmitted with certainty so as to eventuate in national
characteristics.[120] It is a pleasure to find that here, too, habit is
assigned as the main cause which underlies heredity.

Modification will be much prompter with animals. When compelled to
abandon their native land, they undergo such rapid and profound
modification, that at first sight they can hardly be recognized as the
same race, and cannot be detected in their disguise till after the most
careful inspection, and on grounds of analogy only. Domestication will
produce still more surprising results; the stigmata of their captivity,
the marks of their chains, can be seen upon all those animals which man
has enslaved; the older and more confirmed the servitude, the deeper
will be its scars, until at length it will be found impossible to
rehabilitate the creature and restore to it its lost attributes.

"Temperature of climate, quality of food, and the ills of slavery--here
are the three main causes of the alteration and degeneration of animals.
The consequences of each of these should be particularly considered, so
that by examining Nature as she is to-day we may thus perceive what she
was in her original condition."[121]

I have more than once admitted that there is a wide difference between
this opinion, which assigns modification to the direct influence of
climate, food, and other changed conditions of life, and that of Dr.
Erasmus Darwin, which assigns only an indirect effect to these, while
the direct effect is given to changed actions in consequence of changed
desires; but it is surprising how nearly Buffon has approached the later
and truer theory, which may perhaps have been suggested to Dr. Darwin by
the following pregnant passage--as pregnant, probably, to Buffon himself
as to another:--

"The camel is the animal which seems to me to have felt the weight of
slavery most profoundly. He is born with wens upon his back and
callosities upon his knees and chest; these callosities are the
unmistakable results of rubbing, for they are full of pus and of
corrupted blood. The camel never walks without carrying a heavy burden,
and the pressure of this has hindered, for generations, the free
extension and uniform growth of the muscular parts of the back; whenever
he reposes or sleeps his driver compels him to do so upon his folded
legs, so that little by little this position becomes habitual with him.
All the weight of his body bears, during several hours of the day
continuously, upon his chest and knees, so that the skin of these parts,
pressed and rubbed against the earth, loses its hair, becomes bruised,
hardened, and disorganized.

"The llama, which like the camel passes its life beneath burdens, and
also reposes only by resting its weight upon its chest, has similar
callosities, which again are perpetuated in successive generations.
Baboons, and pouched monkeys, whose ordinary position is a sitting one,
whether waking or sleeping, have callosities under the region of the
haunches, and this hard skin has even become inseparable from the bone
against which it is being continually pressed by the weight of the body;
in the case, however, of these animals the callosities are dry and
healthy, for they do not come from the constraint of trammels, nor from
the burden of a foreign weight, but are the effects only of the natural
habits of the animal, which cause it to continue longer seated than in
any other position. There are callosities of these pouched monkeys which
resemble the double sole of skin which we have ourselves under our feet;
this sole is a natural hardness which our continued habit of walking or
standing upright will make thicker or thinner according to the greater
or less degree of friction to which we subject our feet."[122]

This involves the whole theory of Dr. Darwin.

Wild animals would not change either their food or climate if left to
themselves, and in this case they would not vary, but either man or some
other enemies have harassed most of them into migrations; "those whose
nature was sufficiently flexible to lend itself to the new situation
spread far and wide, while others have had no resource but the deserts
in the neighbourhood of their own countries."[123]

Since food and climate, and still less man's empire over them, can have
but little effect upon wild animals, Buffon refers their principal
varieties in great measure to their sexual habits, variations being much
less frequent among animals that pair and breed slowly, than among those
which do not mate and breed more freely. After running rapidly over
several animals, and discussing the flexibility or inflexibility of
their organizations, he declares the elephant to be the only one on
which a state of domestication has produced no effect, inasmuch as "it
refuses to breed under confinement, and cannot therefore transmit the
badges of its servitude to its descendants."[124]

Here is an example of Buffon's covert manner, in the way he maintains
that descent with modification may account not only for specific but for
generic differences.

"But after having taken a rapid survey of the varieties which indicate
to us the alterations that each species has undergone, there arises a
broader and more important question, how far, namely, species themselves
can change--how far there has been an older degeneration, immemorial
from all antiquity, which has taken place in every family, or, if the
term is preferred, _in all the genera_ under which those species are
comprehended which neighbour one another without presenting points of
any very profound dissimilarity? We have only a few isolated species,
such as man, which form at once the species and the whole genus; the
elephant, the rhinoceros, the hippopotamus, and the giraffe form genera,
or simple species, which go down in a single line, with no collateral
branches. All other races appear to form families, in which we may
perceive a common source or stock from which the different branches seem
to have sprung in greater or less numbers according as the individuals
of each species are smaller and more fecund."[125]

I can see no explanation of the introduction of this passage unless that
it is intended to raise the question whether modification may be not
only specific but generic, the point of the paragraph lying in the
words "dans chaque famille, _ou si l'on veut, dans chacun des genres_."
We are told in the next paragraph, that if we choose to look at the
matter in this light, well--in that case--we ought to see not only the
ass and the horse, but _the zebra too_, as members of the same family;
"the number of their points of resemblance being infinitely greater than
those in respect of which they differ."[126] Thus, at the close of his
work on the quadrupeds, he thinks it well, as at the commencement
seventeen years earlier, to emphasize--in his own quiet way--his
perception that the principles on which he has been insisting should be
carried much farther than he has chosen to carry them.

His conclusion is, that "after comparing all the animals and bringing
them each under their proper genus, we shall find the two hundred
species we have already described to be reducible into a sufficiently
small number of families or main stocks from which it is not impossible
that all the others may be derived."[127]

The chapter closes thus:--

"To account for the origin of these animals" (certain of those peculiar
to America), "we must go back to the time when the two continents were
not yet separated, and call to mind the earliest geological changes. At
the same time, we must consider the two hundred existing species of
quadrupeds as reduced to thirty-eight families. And though this is not
at all the state of Nature as she is in our time, and as she has been
represented in this volume, and though, in fact, it is a condition which
we can only arrive at by induction, and by analogies almost as
difficult to lay hold of as is the time which has effaced the greater
number of their traces, I shall, nevertheless, endeavour to ascend to
these first ages of Nature by the aid of facts and monuments which yet
remain to us, and to represent the epochs which these facts seem to

The fifteenth volume contains a description of a few more monkeys, as
also of some animals which Buffon had never actually seen, a great part
being devoted to indices.


The first four volumes of the Supplement to Buffon's 'Natural History,'
1774-1789, contain little which throws additional light upon his
opinions concerning the mutability of species. At the beginning,
however, of the fifth volume I find the following:--

"On comparing these ancient records of the first ages of life [fossils]
with the productions of to-day, we see with sufficient clearness that
the essential form has been preserved without alteration in its
principal parts: there has been no change whatever in the general type
of each species; the plan of the inner parts has been preserved without
variation. However long a time we may imagine for the succession of
ages, whatever number of generations we may suppose, the individuals of
to-day present to us in each genus the same forms as they did in the
earliest ages; and this is more especially true of the greater species,
whose characters are more invariable and nature more fixed; for the
inferior species have, as we have said, experienced in a perceptible
manner all the effects of different causes of degeneration. Only it
should be remarked in regard to these greater species, such as the
elephant and hippopotamus, that in comparing their fossil remains with
the existing forms we find the earlier ones to have been larger. Nature
was then in the full vigour of her youth, and the interior heat of the
earth gave to her productions all the force and all the extent of which
they were capable ... if there have been lost species, that is to say
animals which existed once, but no longer do so, these can only have
been animals which required a heat greater than that of our present
torrid zone."[129]

The context proves Buffon to have been thinking of such huge creatures
as the megatherium and mastodon, but his words seem to limit the
extinction of species to the denizens of a hot climate which had turned
colder. It is not at all likely that Buffon meant this, as the passage
quoted at p. 146 of this work will suffice to show. The whole paragraph
is ironical.

I can see nothing to justify the conclusion drawn from this passage by
Isidore Geoffroy, that Buffon had modified his opinions, and was
inclined to believe in a more limited mutability than he had done a few
years earlier. His exoteric position is still identical with what it was
in the outset, and his esoteric may be seen from the spirit which is
hardly concealed under the following:--

"I shall be told that analogy points towards the belief that our own
race has followed the same path, and dates from the same period as
other species; that it has spread itself even more widely than they; and
that if man's creation has a later date than that of the other animals,
nothing shows that he has not been subjected to the same laws of nature,
the same alterations, and the same changes as they. We will grant that
the human species does not differ essentially from others in the matter
of bodily organs, and that, in respect of these, our lot has been much
the same as that of other animals."[130]

_Plants under Domestication._

"If more modern and even recent examples are required in order to prove
man's power over the vegetable kingdom, it is only necessary to compare
our vegetables, flowers, and fruits with the same species such as they
were a hundred and fifty years ago; this can be done with much ease and
certainty by running the eye over the great collection of coloured
drawings begun in the time of Gaston of Orleans, and continued to the
present day at the Jardin du Roi. We find with surprise that the finest
flowers of that date, as the ranunculuses, pinks, tulips, bear's ears,
&c., would be rejected now, I do not say by our florists, but by our
village gardeners. These flowers, though then already cultivated, were
still not far above their wild condition. They had a single row of
petals only, long pistils, colours hard and false; they had little
velvety texture, variety, or gradation of tints, and, in fact, presented
all the characteristics of untamed nature. Of herbs there was a single
kind of endive, and two of lettuce--both bad--while we can now reckon
more than fifty lettuces and endives, all excellent. We can even name
the very recent dates of our best pippins and kernel fruits--all of them
differing from those of our forefathers, which they resemble in name
only. In most cases things remain while names change; here, on the
contrary, it is the names that have been constant while the things have

     . . . . . .

"It is not that every one of these good varieties did not arise from the
same wild stock; but how many attempts has not man made on Nature before
he succeeded in getting them. How many millions of germs has he not
committed to the earth, before she has rewarded him by producing them?
It was only by sowing, tending, and bringing to maturity an almost
infinite number of plants of the same kind that he was able to recognize
some individuals with fruits sweeter and better than others; and this
first discovery, which itself involves so much care, would have remained
for ever fruitless if he had not made a second, which required as much
genius as the first required patience--I mean the art of grafting those
precious individuals, which, unfortunately, cannot continue a line as
noble as their own, nor themselves propagate their rare and admirable
qualities? And this alone proves that these qualities are purely
individual, and not specific, for the pips or stones of these excellent
fruits bring forth the original wild stock, so that they do not form
species essentially different from this. Man, however, by means of
grafting, produces what may be called secondary species, which he can
propagate at will; for the bud or small branch which he engrafts upon
the stock contains within itself the individual quality which cannot be
transmitted by seed, but which needs only to be developed in order to
bring forth the same fruits as the individual from which it was taken in
order to be grafted on to the wild stock. The wild stock imparts none of
its bad qualities to the bud, for it did not contribute to the forming
thereof, being, as it were, a wet nurse, and no true mother.

"In the case of animals, the greater number of those features which
appear individual, do not fail to be transmitted to offspring, in the
same way as specific characters. It was easier then for man to produce
an effect upon the natures of animals than of plants. The different
breeds in each animal species are variations that have become constant
and hereditary, while vegetable species on the other hand present no
variations that can be depended on to be transmitted with certainty.

"In the species of the fowl and the pigeon alone, a large number of
breeds have been formed quite recently, which are all constant, and in
other species we daily improve breeds by crossing them. From time to
time we acclimatize and domesticate some foreign and wild species. All
these examples of modern times prove that man has but tardily discovered
the extent of his own power, and that he is not even yet sufficiently
aware of it. It depends entirely upon the exercise of his intelligence;
the more, therefore, he observes and cultivates nature the more means he
will find of making her subservient to him, and of drawing new riches
from her bosom without diminishing the treasures of her inexhaustible


In the preface to his volumes upon birds, Buffon says that these are not
only much more numerous than quadrupeds, but that they also exhibit a
far larger number of varieties, and individual variations.

"The diversities," he declares, "which arise from the effects of climate
and food, of domestication, captivity, transportation, voluntary and
compulsory migration--all the causes in fact of alteration and
degeneration--unite to throw difficulties in the way of the

He points out the infinitely keener vision of birds than that of man and
quadrupeds, and connects it with their habits and requirements.[134] He
does not appear to consider it as caused by those requirements, though
it is quite conceivable that he saw this, but thought he had already
said enough. He repeatedly refers to the effects of changed climate and
of domestication, but I find nothing in the first volume which modifies
the position already taken by him in regard to descent with
modification: it is needless, therefore, to repeat the few passages
which are to be found bearing at all upon the subject. The chapter on
the birds that cannot fly, contains a sentence which seems to be the
germ that has been developed, in the hands of Lamarck, into the
comparison between nature and a tree. Buffon says that the chain of
nature is not a single long chain, but is comparable rather to something
woven, "which at certain intervals throws out a branch sideways that
unites it with the strands of some other weft."[135] On the following
page there is a passage which has been quoted as an example of Buffon's
contempt for the men of science of his time. The writer maintains that
the most lucid arrangement of birds, would have been to begin with those
which most resembled quadrupeds. "The ostrich, which approaches the
camel in the shape of its legs, and the porcupine in the quills with
which its wings are armed, should have immediately followed the
quadrupeds, but philosophy is often obliged to make a show of yielding
to popular opinions, and _the tribe of naturalists_ is both numerous and
impatient of any disturbance of its methods. It would only, then, have
regarded this arrangement as an unreasonable innovation caused by a
desire to contradict and to be singular."[136]

It is, I believe, held not only by "_le peuple des naturalistes_," but
by most sensible persons, that the proposed arrangement would not have
been an improvement. I find, however, in the preface to the third volume
on birds that M. Gueneau de Montbeillard described all the birds from
the ostrich to the quail, so the foregoing passage is perhaps his and
not Buffon's. If so, the imitation is fair, but when we reflect upon it
we feel uncertain whether it is or is not beneath Buffon's dignity.

Here, as often with pictures and music, we cannot criticise justly
without taking more into consideration than is actually before us. We
feel almost inclined to say that if the passage is by Buffon it is
probably right, and if by M. Gueneau de Montbeillard, probably wrong. It
must also be remembered that, as we learn from the preface already
referred to, Buffon was seized at this point in his work with a long and
painful illness, which continued for two years; a single hasty passage
in so great a writer may well be pardoned under such circumstances.

Looking through the third and remaining volumes on birds, the greater
part of which was by Gueneau de Montbeillard, and bearing in mind that
in point of date they are synchronous with some of those upon quadrupeds
from which I have already extracted as much as my space will allow, and
not seeing anything on a rapid survey which promises to throw new light
upon the author's opinions, I forbear to quote further. I therefore
leave Buffon with the hope that I have seen him more justly than some
others have done, but with the certainty that the points I have caught
and understood are few in comparison with those that I have missed.


[65] 'Hist. Nat.,' tom. i. p. 13, 1749.

[66] Ibid.

[67] Ibid. p. 16.

[68] Tom. i. p. 21.

[69] Ibid. p. 23.

[70] Tom. ii. p. 9, 1749.

[71] Ibid. p. 10.

[72] Tom. iv. p. 31, 1753.

[73] Tom. iv. p. 55.

[74] Tom. iv. p. 98, 1753.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Tom. viii. p. 283, &c., 1760.

[77] Tom. iv. p. 102, 1760.

[78] Tom. iv. p. 103, 1753.

[79] Dr. Darwin, 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 183, 1796.

[80] Ibid. p. 184.

[81] Dr. Darwin,'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 186.

[82] Tom. v. p. 63, 1755.

[83] Ibid. p. 64.

[84] Tom. v. p. 103, 1755.

[85] Tom. v. p. 104, 1755.

[86] Tom. v. pp. 192-195, 1755.

[87] Tom. v. p. 195.

[88] Tom. v. pp. 196, 197.

[89] This passage would seem to be the one which has suggested the
following to the author of 'The Vestiges of Creation':--

"He [the Deity] has endowed the families which enjoy His bounty with an
almost infinite fecundity, ... but the limitation of the results of this
fecundity ... is accomplished in a befitting manner by His ordaining
that certain other animals shall have endowments sure so to act as to
bring the rest of animated beings to a proper balance" (p. 317, ed.

[90] Tom. vi. p. 252, 1756.

[91] 'Discours sur la Nature des Animaux,' vol. iv. and p. 113 of
this vol.

[92] Tom. vii. p. 9, 1758.

[93] Tom. vii. p. 10, 1758.

[94] Tom. vii. p. 12, 1758.

[95] Tom. vii. p. 14, 1758

[96] Tom. vii. p. 15, 1758.

[97] Tom. vii. p. 19, 1758.

[98] Tom. vii. p. 23, 1758. See Sténon's Discourse upon this subject.

[99] Tom. ix. p. 10, 1761.

[100] Tom. ix. p. 11, 1761.

[101] Tom. ix. p. 68, 1761.

[102] Ibid. p. 96, 1761.

[103] Tom. ix. p. 107 and following pages (during which he rails at the
new world generally), 1761.

[104] Tom. ix. p. 127, 1761.

[105] Tom. xi. p. 290, 1764 (misprinted on title-page 1754).

[106] Ibid. p. 296.

[107] Ibid. p. 363.

[108] Ibid. p. 363.

[109] Tom. xi. p. 370, 1764.

[110] Ibid. xii., preface, iv. 1764.

[111] Tom. xiii., preface, x. 1765.

[112] Tom. xiii., preface, iv. 1765.

[113] Ibid. xiii. p. 37.

[114] See p. 80 of this volume.

[115] Tom. xiv. p. 30, 1766.

[116] Tom. xiv. p. 31, 1766.

[117] Ibid. p. 32, 1766.

[118] Tom. xiv. p. 38, 1766.

[119] Ibid. p. 42, 1766.

[120] Tom. xiv. p. 316, 1766.

[121] Ibid. p. 317.

[122] Tom. xiv. p. 326, 1766.

[123] Ibid. p. 327.

[124] Tom. xiv. p. 333.

[125] Ibid. p. 335, 1766.

[126] See p. 80 of this volume.

[127] Tom. xiv. p. 358, 1766.

[128] Tom. xiv. p. 374, 1766.

[129] 'Hist. Nat.,' Sup. tom. v. p. 27, 1778.

[130] Sup. tom. v. p. 187, 1778.

[131] Sup. tom. v. p. 250, 1778.

[132] Sup. tom. v. p. 253, 1778.

[133] 'Oiseaux,' tom. i., preface, v. 1770.

[134] Ibid. pp. 9-11.

[135] 'Oiseaux,' tom. i. pp. 394, 395.

[136] Ibid. p. 396, 1771.



Proceeding now to the second of the three founders of the theory of
evolution, I find, from a memoir by Dr. Dowson, that Dr. Erasmus Darwin
was born at Elston, near Newark, in Nottinghamshire, on the 12th of
December, 1731, being the seventh child and fourth son of Robert Darwin,
"a private gentleman, who had a taste for literature and science, which
he endeavoured to impart to his sons. Erasmus received his early
education at Chesterfield School, and later on was entered at St. John's
College, Cambridge, where he obtained a scholarship of about 16_l._ a
year, and distinguished himself by his poetical exercises, which he
composed with uncommon facility. He took the degree of M.B. there in
1755, and afterwards prepared himself for the practice of medicine by
attendance on the lectures of Dr. Hunter in London, and a course of
studies in Edinburgh.

"He first settled as a physician at Nottingham; but meeting with no
success there, he removed in the autumn of 1756, his twenty-fifth year,
to Lichfield, where he was more fortunate; for a few weeks after his
arrival, to use the words of Miss Seward, 'he brilliantly opened his
career of fame.' A young gentleman of family and fortune lay sick of a
dangerous fever. A physician who had for many years possessed the
confidence of Lichfield and the neighbourhood attended, but at length
pronounced the case hopeless, and took his leave. Dr. Darwin was then
called in, and by 'a reverse and entirely novel kind of treatment' the
patient recovered."[137]

Of Dr. Darwin's personal appearance Miss Seward says:--

"He was somewhat above the middle size; his form athletic, and inclined
to corpulence; his limbs were too heavy for exact proportion; the traces
of a severe smallpox disfigured features and a countenance which, when
they were not animated by social pleasure, were rather saturnine than
sprightly; a stoop in the shoulders, and the then professional
appendage--a large full-bottomed wig--gave at that early period of life
an appearance of nearly twice the years he bore. Florid health and the
earnest of good humour, a funny smile on entering a room and on first
accosting his friends, rendered in his youth that exterior agreeable, to
which beauty and symmetry had not been propitious.

"He stammered extremely, but whatever he said, whether gravely or in
jest, was always well worth waiting for, though the inevitable
impression it made might not be always pleasant to individual self-love.
Conscious of great native elevation above the general standard of
intellect, he became early in life sore upon opposition, whether in
argument or conduct, and always resented it by sarcasm of very keen
edge. Nor was he less impatient of the sallies of egotism and vanity,
even when they were in so slight a degree that strict politeness would
rather tolerate than ridicule them. Dr. Darwin seldom failed to present
their caricature in jocose but wounding irony. If these ingredients of
colloquial despotism were discernible in _unworn_ existence, they
increased as it advanced, fed by an ever growing reputation within and
without the pale of medicine."[138]

I imagine that this portrait is somewhat too harshly drawn. Dr. Darwin's
taste for English wines is the worst trait which I have been able to
discover in his character. On this head Miss Seward tells us that "he
despised the prejudice which deems foreign wines more wholesome than the
wines of the country. 'If you must drink wine,' said he, 'let it be
home-made.'" "It is well known," she continues, "that Dr. Darwin's
influence and example have sobered the county of Derby; that
intemperance in fermented fluid of every species is almost unknown among
its gentlemen,"[139] which, if he limited them to cowslip wine, is
hardly to be wondered at.

Dr. Dowson, quoting Miss Edgeworth, says that Dr. Darwin attributed
almost all the diseases of the upper classes to the too great use of
fermented liquors. "This opinion he supported in his writings with the
force of his eloquence and reason; and still more in conversation by all
those powers of wit, satire, and peculiar humour, which never appeared
fully to the public in his works, but which gained him strong
ascendancy in private society.... When he heard that my father was
bilious, he suspected that this must be the consequence of his having,
since his residence in Ireland, and in compliance with the fashion of
the country, indulged too freely in drinking. His letter, I remember,
concluded with, 'Farewell, my dear friend; God keep you from whisky--if
He can.'"[140]

On the other hand, Dr. Darwin seems to have been a very large eater.
"Acid fruits with sugar, and all sorts of creams and butter were his
luxuries; but he always ate plentifully of animal food. This liberal
alimentary regimen he prescribed to people of every age where unvitiated
appetite rendered them capable of following it; even to infants."

Dr. Dowson writes:--

"I have mentioned already that he had in his carriage a receptacle for
paper and pencils, with which he wrote as he travelled, and in one
corner a pile of books; but he had also a receptacle for a knife, fork,
and spoon, and in the other corner a hamper, containing fruit and
sweetmeats, cream and sugar. He provided also for his horses by having a
large pail lashed to his carriage for watering them, as well as hay and
oats to be eaten on the road. Mrs. Schimmelpenninck says that when he
came on a professional visit to her father's house they had, as was the
custom whenever he came, 'a luncheon-table set out with hothouse fruits
and West India sweetmeats, clotted cream, stilton cheese, &c. While the
conversation went on, the dishes in his vicinity were rapidly emptied,
and what,' she adds, 'was my astonishment when, at the end of the three
hours during which the meal had lasted, he expressed his joy at hearing
the dressing bell, and hoped dinner would soon be announced.' This was
not mere gluttony; he thought an abundance, or what most people would
consider a superabundance of food, conducive to health. '_Eat or be
eaten_' is said to have been often his medical advice. He had especially
a very high opinion of the nutritive value of sugar, and said 'that if
ever our improved chemistry should discover the art of making sugar from
fossil or aerial matter without the assistance of vegetation, food for
animals would then become as plentiful as water, and mankind might live
upon the earth as thick as blades of grass, with no restraint to their
numbers but want of room.'--Botanic Garden, vol. i. p. 470."[141]

"Professional generosity," says Miss Seward, "distinguished Dr. Darwin's
practice. Whilst resident in Lichfield he always cheerfully gave to the
priest and lay vicars of its cathedral and their families _his advice_,
but never took fees from any of them. Diligently also did he attend the
health of the poor in that city, and afterwards at Derby, and supplied
their necessities by food, and all sort of charitable assistance. In
each of those towns _his_ was the cheerful board of almost open-housed
hospitality, without extravagance or parade; generosity, wit, and
science were his household gods."[142]

Of his first marriage the following account is given:--

"In 1757 he married Miss Howard, of the Close of Lichfield, a blooming
and lovely young lady of eighteen.... Mrs. Darwin's own mind, by nature
so well endowed, strengthened and expanded in the friendship,
conversation, and confidence of so beloved a preceptor. But alas! upon
her too early youth, and too delicate constitution, the frequency of her
maternal situation, during the first five years of her marriage, had
probably a baneful effect. The potent skill and assiduous cares of _him_
before whom disease daily vanished from the frame of _others_, could not
expel it radically from that of her he loved. It was, however, kept at
bay during thirteen years.

"Upon the distinguished happiness of those years she spoke with fervour
to two intimate female friends in the last week of her existence, which
closed at the latter end of the summer 1770. 'Do not weep for my
impending fate,' said the dying angel with a smile of unaffected
cheerfulness. 'In the short term of my life a great deal of happiness
has been comprised. The maladies of my frame were peculiar; those of my
head and stomach which no medicine could eradicate, were spasmodic and
violent; and required stronger measures to render them supportable while
they lasted than my constitution could sustain without injury. The
periods of exemption from those pains were frequently of several days'
duration, and in my intermissions I felt no indications of malady. Pain
taught me the value of ease, and I enjoyed it with a glow of spirit,
seldom, perhaps, felt by the habitually healthy. While Dr. Darwin
combated and assuaged my disease from time to time, his indulgence to
all my wishes, his active desire to see me amused and happy, proved
incessant. His house, as you know, has ever been the resort of people of
science and merit. If, from my husband's great and extensive practice, I
had much less of his society than I wished, yet the conversation of his
friends, and of my own, was ever ready to enliven the hours of his
absence. As occasional malady made me doubly enjoy health, so did those
frequent absences give a zest even to delight, when I could be indulged
with his company. My three boys have ever been docile and affectionate.
Children as they are, I could trust them with important secrets, so
sacred do they hold every promise they make. They scorn deceit and
falsehood of every kind, and have less selfishness than generally
belongs to childhood. Married to any other man, I do not suppose I could
have lived a third part of the years which I have passed with Dr.
Darwin; he has prolonged my days, and he has blessed them.'

"Thus died this superior woman, in the bloom of life, sincerely
regretted by all who knew how to value her excellence, and
_passionately_ regretted by the selected few whom she honoured with her
personal and confidential friendship."[143]

I find Miss Seward's pages so fascinating, that I am in danger of
following her even in those parts of her work which have no bearing on
Dr. Darwin. I must, however, pass over her account of Mr. Edgeworth and
of his friend Mr. Day, the author of 'Sandford and Merton,' "which, by
wise parents, is put into every youthful hand," but the description of
Mr. Day's portrait cannot be omitted.

"In the course of the year 1770, Mr. Day stood for a full-length picture
to Mr. Wright, of Derby. A strong likeness and a dignified portrait were
the result. Drawn in the open air, the surrounding sky is tempestuous,
lurid, dark. He stands leaning his left arm against a column inscribed
to Hambden (_sic_). Mr. Day looks upwards, as enthusiastically
meditating on the contents of a book held in his dropped right hand. The
open leaf is the oration of that virtuous patriot in the senate, against
the grant of ship money, demanded by King Charles I. A flash of
lightning plays in Mr. Day's hair, and illuminates the contents of the
volume. The poetic fancy and what were _then_ the politics of the
original, appear in the choice of subject and attitude. Dr. Darwin sat
to Mr. Wright about the same period. _That_ was a simply contemplative
portrait, of the most perfect resemblance."[144]

     . . . . . .

"In the year 1768, Dr. Darwin met with an accident of irretrievable
injury to the human frame. His propensity to mechanics had unfortunately
led him to construct a very singular carriage. It was a platform with a
seat fixed upon a very high pair of wheels, and supported in the front
upon the back of the horse, by means of a kind of proboscis which,
forming an arch, reached over the hind-quarters of the horse, and passed
through a ring, placed on an upright piece of iron, which worked in a
socket fixed in the saddle. The horse could thus move from one side of
the road to the other, quartering, as it is called, at the will of the
driver, whose constant attention was necessarily employed to regulate a
piece of machinery contrived, but _not well_ contrived, for that

I cannot help the reader to understand the foregoing description. "From
this whimsical carriage, however, the doctor was several times thrown,
and the last time he used it had the misfortune, from a similar
accident, to break the patella of his right knee, which caused, as it
must always cause, an incurable weakness in the fractured part, and a
lameness not very discernible, indeed, when walking on even

Miss Seward presently tells a story which reads as though it might have
been told by Plutarch of some Greek or Roman sage. Much as we must
approve of Dr. Darwin's habitual sobriety, we shall most of us be agreed
that a few more such stories would have been cheaply purchased by a
corresponding number of lapses on the doctor's part.

Miss Seward writes:--

"Since these memoirs commenced, an odd anecdote of Dr. Darwin's early
residence at Lichfield, was narrated to a friend of the author by a
gentleman, who was of the party in which it happened. Mr. Sneyd, then of
Bishton, and a few more gentlemen of Staffordshire, prevailed upon the
doctor to join them in an expedition by water from Burton to Nottingham,
and on to Newark. They had cold provisions on board, and plenty of wine.
It was midsummer; the day ardent and sultry. The noon-tide meal had
been made, and the glass had gone gaily round. It was one of those _few_
instances in which the medical votary of the Naiads transgressed his
general and strict sobriety," in which, in fact, he may be said to
have--remembered himself.

"If not absolutely intoxicated, his spirits were in a high state of
vinous exhilaration. On the boat approaching Nottingham, within the
distance of a few fields, he surprised his companions by stepping,
without any previous notice, from the boat into the middle of the river,
and swimming to shore. They saw him get upon the bank, and walk coolly
over the meadows towards the town: they called to him in vain, but he
did not once turn his head.

"Anxious lest he should take a dangerous cold by remaining in his wet
clothes, and uncertain whether or not he intended to desert the party,
they rowed instantly to the town at which they had not designed to have
touched, and went in search of their river-god.

"In passing through the market-place they saw him standing upon a tub,
encircled by a crowd of people, and resisting the entreaties of an
apothecary of the place, one of his old acquaintances, who was
importuning him to his house, and to accept other raiments till his own
could be dried.

"The party on pressing through the crowd were surprised to hear him
speaking without any degree of his usual stammer:--'Have I not told you,
my friend, that I had drank a considerable quantity of wine before I
committed myself to the river. You know my general sobriety, and as a
professional man you _ought_ to know that the _unusual_ existence of
internal stimulus would, in its effects upon the system, counteract the
_external_ cold and moisture.'"

"Then perceiving his companions near him, he nodded, smiled, and waived
his hand, as enjoining them silence, thus, without hesitation,
addressing the populace:--

"'Ye men of Nottingham, listen to me. You are ingenious and industrious
mechanics. By your industry life's comforts are procured for yourselves
and families. If you lose your health the power of being industrious
will forsake you. _That_ you know, but you may _not_ know that to
breathe fresh and changed air constantly, is not less necessary to
preserve health than sobriety itself. Air becomes unwholesome in a few
hours if the windows are shut. Open those of your sleeping rooms
whenever you quit them to go to your workshops. Keep the windows of your
workshops open whenever the weather is not insupportably cold. I have no
_interest_ in giving you this advice; remember what I, your countryman
and a physician, tell you. If you would not bring infection and disease
upon yourselves, and to your wives and little ones, change the air you
breathe, change it many times a day, by opening your windows.'

"So saying, he stepped down from the tub, and, returning with his party
to their boat, they pursued their voyage."[146]

Could any missionary be more perfectly sober and sensible, or more alive
to the immorality of trying to effect too sudden a modification in the
organisms he was endeavouring to influence? If the men of Nottingham
want a statue in their market-place, I would respectfully suggest that a
subject is here afforded them.

     *     *     *     *     *

"Dr. Johnson was several times at Lichfield on visits to Mrs. Lucy
Porter, his daughter-in-law, while Dr. Darwin was one of the
inhabitants. They had one or two interviews, but never afterwards sought
each other. Mutual and strong dislike subsisted between them. It is
curious that in Johnson's various letters to Mrs. Thrale, now Mrs.
Piozzi, published by that lady after his death, many of them dated from
Lichfield, the name of Darwin cannot be found, nor, indeed, that of any
of the ingenious and lettered people who lived there; while of its mere
common-life characters there is frequent mention, with many hints of
Lichfield's intellectual barrenness, while it could boast a Darwin and
other men of classical learning, poetic talents, and liberal

Here there follows a pleasant sketch of the principal Lichfield
notabilities, which I am compelled to omit.

"_These_ were the men," exclaims Miss Seward, "whose intellectual
existence passed unnoticed by Dr. Johnson in his depreciating estimate
of Lichfield talents. But Johnson liked only _worshippers_. Archdeacon
Vyse, Mr. Seward, and Mr. Robinson paid all the respect and attention to
Dr. Johnson, on these his visits to their town, due to his great
abilities, his high reputation, and to whatever was estimable in his
_mixed_ character; but they were not in the herd that 'paged his heels,'
and sunk in servile silence under the force of his dogmas, when their
hearts and their judgments bore _contrary_ testimony.

"Certainly, however, it was an arduous hazard to the feelings of the
company to oppose in the slightest degree Dr. Johnson's opinions. His
stentor lungs; that combination of wit, humour, and eloquence, which
'could make the _worse_ appear the _better_ reason,' that sarcastic
contempt of his antagonist, never suppressed or even softened by the due
restraints of good breeding, were sufficient to close the lips in his
presence, of men who could have met him in fair argument, on _any_
ground, literary or political, moral or characteristic.

"Where Dr. Johnson was, Dr. Darwin had no chance of being heard, though
at least his equal in genius, his superior in science; nor, indeed, from
his impeded utterance, in the company of any overbearing declaimer; and
he was too intellectually great to be an humble listener to Johnson.
Therefore he shunned him on having experienced what manner of man he
was. The surly dictator felt the mortification, and revenged it by
_affecting_ to avow his disdain of powers too distinguished to be
objects of _genuine_ scorn.

"Dr. Darwin, in his turn, was not much more just to Dr. Johnson's
genius. He uniformly spoke of him in terms which, had they been
deserved, would have justified Churchill's 'immane Pomposo' as an
appellation of _scorn_; since if his person was huge, and his manners
pompous and violent, so were his talents vast and powerful, in a degree
from which only prejudice and resentment could withhold respect.

"Though Dr. Darwin's hesitation in speaking precluded his flow of
colloquial eloquence, it did not impede, or at all lessen, the force of
that conciser quality, _wit_. Of satiric wit he possessed a very
peculiar species. It was neither the dead-doing broadside of Dr.
Johnson's satire, nor the aurora borealis of Gray ... whose arch yet coy
and quiet fastidiousness of taste and feeling, as recorded by Mason,
glanced bright and cold through his conversation, while it seemed
difficult to define its nature; and while its effects were rather
_perceived_ than _felt_, exciting surprise more than mirth, and never
awakening the pained sense of being the object of its ridicule. That
unique in humorous verse, the Long Story, is a complete and beautiful
specimen of Gray's singular vein.

"Darwinian wit is not more easy to be defined; instances will best
convey an idea of its character to those who never conversed with its

"Dr. Darwin was conversing with a brother botanist concerning the plant
kalmia, then a just imported stranger in our greenhouses and gardens. A
lady who was present, concluding he had seen it, which in fact he had
not, asked the doctor what were the colours of the plant. He replied,
'Madam, the kalmia has precisely the colours of a seraph's wing.' So
fancifully did he express his want of consciousness concerning the
appearance of a flower, whose name and rareness were all he knew of the

"Dr. Darwin had a large company at tea. His servant announced a
stranger, lady and gentleman. The female was a conspicuous figure,
ruddy, corpulent, and tall. She held by the arm a little, meek-looking,
pale, effeminate man, who, from his close adherence to the side of the
lady, seemed to consider himself as under her protection.

"'Dr. Darwin, I seek you not as a physician, but as a _Belle Esprit_. I
make this husband of mine,' and she looked down with a side glance upon
the animal, 'treat me every summer with a tour through one of the
British counties, to explore whatever it contains worth the attention of
ingenious people. On arriving at the several inns in our route I always
search out the man of the vicinity most distinguished for his genius and
taste, and introduce myself, that he may direct as the objects of our
examination, whatever is curious in nature, art, or science. Lichfield
will be our headquarters during several days. Come, doctor, whither must
we go; what must we investigate to-morrow, and the next day, and the
next? Here are my tablets and pencil.'

"'You arrive, madam, at a fortunate juncture. To-morrow you will have an
opportunity of surveying an annual exhibition perfectly worthy your
attention. To-morrow, madam, you will go to Tutbury bull-running.'

"The satiric laugh with which he stammered out the last word more keenly
pointed this sly, yet broad rebuke to the vanity and arrogance of her
speech. She had been up amongst the boughs, and little expected they
would break under her so suddenly, and with so little mercy. Her large
features swelled, and her eyes flashed with anger--'I was recommended to
a man of genius, and I find him insolent and ill-bred.' Then, gathering
up her meek and alarmed husband, whom she had loosed when she first
spoke, under the shadow of her broad arm and shoulder, she strutted out
of the room.

"After the departure of this curious couple, his guests told their host
he had been very unmerciful. 'I chose,' replied he, 'to avenge the cause
of the little man, whose nothingness was so ostentatiously displayed by
his lady-wife. Her vanity has had a smart emetic. If it abates the
symptoms, she will have reason to thank her physician who administered
without hope of a fee.'"[148]

"In the spring of 1778 the children of Colonel and Mrs. Pole of Radburn,
in Derbyshire, had been injured by a dangerous quantity of the cicuta,
injudiciously administered to them in the hooping-cough by a physician
of the neighbourhood. Mrs. Pole brought them to the house of Dr. Darwin
in Lichfield, remaining with them there a few weeks, till by his art the
poison was expelled from their constitutions and their health restored.

"Mrs. Pole was then in the full bloom of her youth and beauty. Agreeable
features; the glow of health; a fine form, tall and graceful; playful
sprightliness of manner; a benevolent heart, and maternal affection, in
all its unwearied cares and touching tenderness, contributed to inspire
Dr. Darwin's admiration, and to secure his esteem."[149]

"In the autumn of this year" (1778) "Mrs. Pole of Radburn was taken ill;
her disorder a violent fever. Dr. Darwin was called in, and never
perhaps since the death of Mrs. Darwin, prescribed with such deep
anxiety. Not being requested to continue in the house during the ensuing
night, which he apprehended might prove critical, he passed the
remaining hours till day-dawn beneath a tree opposite her apartment,
watching the passing and repassing lights in the chamber. During the
period in which a life so passionately valued was in danger, he
paraphrased Petrarch's celebrated sonnet, narrating a dream whose
prophecy was accomplished by the death of Laura. It took place the night
on which the vision arose amid his slumber. Dr. Darwin extended the
thought of that sonnet into the following elegy:--

    "Dread dream, that, hovering in the midnight air,
      Clasp'd with thy dusky wing my aching head,
    While to imagination's startled ear
      Toll'd the slow bell, for bright Eliza dead.

    "Stretched on her sable bier, the grave beside,
      A snow-white shroud her breathless bosom bound,
    O'er her wan brow the mimic lace was tied,
      And loves and virtues hung their garlands round.

    "From those cold lips did softest accents flow?
      Round that pale mouth did sweetest dimples play?
    On this dull cheek the rose of beauty blow,
      And those dim eyes diffuse celestial day?

    "Did this cold hand, unasking Want relieve,
      Or wake the lyre to every rapturous sound?
    How sad for other's woe this breast would heave!
      How light this heart for other's transport bound!

    "Beats not the bell again?--Heavens, do I wake?
      Why heave my sighs, why gush my tears anew?
    Unreal forms my trembling doubts mistake,
      And frantic sorrow fears the vision true.

    "Dreams to Eliza bend thy airy flight,
      Go, tell my charmer all my tender fears,
    How love's fond woes alarm the silent night,
      And steep my pillow in unpitied tears."

Unwilling as I am to extend this memoir, I must give Miss Seward's
criticism on the foregoing.

"The second verse of this charming elegy affords an instance of Dr.
Darwin's too exclusive devotion to distinct picture in poetry; that it
sometimes betrayed him into bringing objects so precisely to the eye as
to lose in such precision their power of striking forcibly on the heart.
The pathos in the second verse is much injured by the words 'mimic
lace,' which allude to the perforated borders on the shroud. The
expression is too minute for the solemnity of the subject. Certainly it
cannot be natural for a shocked and agitated mind to observe, or to
describe with such petty accuracy. Besides, the allusion is not
sufficiently obvious. The reader pauses to consider what the poet means
by 'mimic lace.' Such pauses deaden sensation and break the course of
attention. A friend of the doctor's pleaded greatly that the line might
run thus:--

    "On her wan brow the _shadowy crape_ was tied;"

but the alteration was rejected. Inattention to the rules of grammar in
the first verse was also pointed out to him at the same time. The dream
is addressed:

    "Dread dream, that clasped my aching head,"

but nothing is said to it, and therefore the sense is left unfinished,
while the elegy proceeds to give a picture of the lifeless beauty. The
same friend suggested a change which would have remedied the defect.

    "Dread _was the dream_ that in the midnight air
      Clasped with its dusky wing my aching head,
    While to" &c., &c.

"Hence not only the grammatic error would have been done away, but the
grating sound produced by the near alliteration of the harsh _dr_ in
'_dr_ead _dr_eam' removed, by placing those words at a greater distance
from each other.

"This alteration was, for the same reason, rejected. The doctor would
not spare the word _hovering_, which he said strengthened the picture;
but surely the image ought not to be elaborately precise, by which a
dream is transformed into an animal with black wings."[150]

Then Mrs. Pole got well, and the doctor wrote more verses and Miss
Seward more criticism. It was not for nothing that Dr. Johnson came down
to Lichfield.

     *     *     *     *     *

In 1780 Colonel Pole died, and his widow, still young, handsome, witty,
and--for those days--rich, was in no want of suitors.

"Colonel Pole," says Miss Seward, "had numbered twice the years of his
fair wife. His temper was said to have been peevish and suspicious; yet
not beneath those circumstances had her kind and cheerful attentions to
him grown cold or remiss. He left her a jointure of 600_l._ per annum, a
son to inherit his estate, and two female children amply portioned.

"Mrs. Pole, it has already been remarked, had much vivacity and sportive
humour, with very engaging frankness of temper and manners. Early in her
widowhood she was rallied in a large company upon Dr. Darwin's passion
for her, and was asked what she would do with her captive philosopher.
'He is not very fond of churches, I believe,' said she, 'and even if he
would go there for my sake, I shall scarcely follow him. He is too old
for me.' 'Nay, Madam,' was the answer, 'what are fifteen years on the
right side?' She replied, with an arch smile, 'I have had so _much_ of
that right side.'

"This confession was thought inauspicious for the doctor's hopes, but it
did not prove so. The triumph of intellect was complete."[151]

Mrs. Pole had taken a strong dislike to Lichfield, and had made it a
condition of her marriage that Dr. Darwin should not reside there after
he had married her. In 1781, therefore, immediately after his marriage,
he removed to Derby, and continued to live there till a fortnight before
his death.

Here he wrote 'The Botanic Garden' and a great part of the 'Zoonomia.'
Those who wish for a detailed analysis of 'The Botanic Garden' can
hardly do better than turn to Miss Seward's pages. Opening them at
random, I find the following:--

"The mention of Brindley, the father of commercial canals, has propriety
as well as happiness. Similitude for their course to the sinuous track
of a serpent, produces a fine picture of a gliding animal of that
species, and it is succeeded by these supremely happy lines:--

    "'So with strong arms immortal Brindley leads
    His long canals, and parts the velvet meads;
    Winding in lucid lines, the watery mass
    Mines the firm rock, or loads the deep morass;'[152]
      &c. &c. &c.

     . . . . . .

"The mechanism of the pump is next described with curious ingenuity.
Common as is the machine, it is not unworthy a place in this splendid
composition, as being, after the sinking of wells, the earliest of those
inventions, which in situations of exterior aridness gave ready
accession to water. This familiar object is illustrated by a picture of
Maternal Beauty administering sustenance to her infant."[153]

Here we will leave the poetical part of the 'Botanic Garden.' The notes,
however, to which are "still," as Dr. Dowson says, "instructive and
amusing," and contain matter which, at the time they were written, was
for the most part new.

Of the 'Zoonomia' there is no occasion to speak here, as a sufficient
number of extracts from those parts that concern us as bearing upon
evolution will be given presently.

On the 18th of April, 1802, Dr. Darwin had written "one page of a very
sprightly letter to Mr. Edgeworth, describing the Priory and his
purposed alterations there, when the fatal signal was given. He rang the
bell and ordered the servant to send Mrs. Darwin to him. She came
immediately, with his daughter, Miss Emma Darwin. They saw him shivering
and pale. He desired them to send to Derby for his surgeon, Mr. Hadley.
They did so, but all was over before he could arrive.

"It was reported at Lichfield that, perceiving himself growing rapidly
worse, he said to Mrs. Darwin, 'My dear, you must bleed me instantly.'
'Alas! I dare not, lest--' 'Emma, will you? There is no time to be
lost.' 'Yes, my dear father, if you will direct me.' At that moment he
sank into his chair and expired."[154]

Dr. Dowson gives the letter to Mr. Edgeworth, which is as follows:--

     "Dear Edgeworth,

     "I am glad to find that you still amuse yourself with mechanism, in
     spite of the troubles of Ireland.

     "The _use_ of turning aside or downwards the claw of a table, I
     don't see; as it must then be reared against a wall, for it will
     not stand alone. If the use be for carriage, the feet may shut up,
     like the usual brass feet of a reflecting telescope.

     "We have all been now removed from Derby about a fortnight, to the
     Priory, and all of us like our change of situation. We have a
     pleasant house, a good garden, ponds full of fish, and a pleasing
     valley, somewhat like Shenstone's--deep, umbrageous, and with a
     talkative stream running down it. Our house is near the top of the
     valley, well screened by hills from the east and north, and open to
     the south, where at four miles distance we see Derby tower.

     "Four or more strong springs rise near the house, and have formed
     the valley which, like that of Petrarch, may be called Val Chiusa,
     as it begins, or is shut at the situation of the house. I hope you
     like the description, and hope farther that yourself and any part
     of your family will sometimes do us the pleasure of a visit.

     "Pray tell the authoress" (Miss Maria Edgeworth) "that the
     water-nymphs of our valley will be happy to assist her next novel.

     "My bookseller, Mr. Johnson, will not begin to print the 'Temple of
     Nature' till the price of paper is fixed by Parliament. I suppose
     the present duty is paid...."

At these words Dr. Darwin's pen stopped. What followed was written on
the opposite side of the paper by another hand.


[137] 'Sketch, &c., of Erasmus Darwin,' pp. 3, 4.

[138] Miss Seward's 'Memoirs of Dr. Darwin,' p. 3.

[139] Ibid.

[140] Dr. Dowson's 'Sketch of Dr. Erasmus Darwin,' p. 50.

[141] Dr. Dowson's 'Sketch of Dr. Darwin,' p. 53.

[142] Miss Seward's 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 6.

[143] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 14.

[144] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 21.

[145] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 62.

[146] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 68.

[147] Miss Seward's 'Memoirs,' p. 69.

[148] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 84.

[149] Ibid., p. 105.

[150] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 120.

[151] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 149.

[152] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 249.

[153] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 250.

[154] 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 426.



Considering the wide reputation enjoyed by Dr. Darwin at the beginning
of this century, it is surprising how completely he has been lost sight
of. The 'Botanic Garden' was translated into Portuguese in 1803; the
'Loves of the Plants' into French and Italian in 1800 and 1805; while,
as I have already said, the 'Zoonomia' had appeared some years earlier
in Germany. Paley's 'Natural Theology' is written throughout at the
'Zoonomia,' though he is careful, _more suo_, never to mention this work
by name. Paley's success was probably one of the chief causes of the
neglect into which the Buffonian and Darwinian systems fell in this
country. Dr. Darwin is as reticent about teleology as Buffon, and
presumably for the same reason, but the evidence in favour of design was
too obvious; Paley, therefore, with his usual keen-sightedness seized
upon this weak point, and had the battle all his own way, for Dr. Darwin
died the same year as that in which the 'Natural Theology' appeared. The
unfortunate failure to see that evolution involves design and purpose as
necessarily and far more intelligibly than the theological view of
creation, has retarded our perception of many important facts for
three-quarters of a century.

However this may be, Dr. Darwin's name has been but little before the
public during the controversies of the last thirty years. Mr. Charles
Darwin, indeed, in the "historical sketch" which he has prefixed to the
later editions of his 'Origin of Species,' says, "It is curious how
largely my grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, anticipated the views and
erroneous grounds of opinion of Lamarck in his 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. pp.
500-510, published in 1794."[155] And a few lines lower Mr. Darwin adds,
"It is rather a singular instance of the manner in which similar views
arise at about the same time, that Goethe in Germany, and Geoffroy St.
Hilaire (as we shall immediately see) in France, came to the same
conclusion on the 'Origin of Species' in the years 1794-1796."
Acquaintance with Buffon's work will explain much of the singularity,
while those who have any knowledge of the writings of Dr. Darwin and
Étienne Geoffroy St. Hilaire will be aware that neither would admit the
other as "coming to the same conclusion," or even nearly so, as himself.
Dr. Darwin goes beyond his successor, Lamarck, while Étienne Geoffroy
does not even go so far as Dr. Darwin's predecessor, Buffon, had thought
fit to let himself be known as going. I have found no other reference to
Dr. Darwin in the 'Origin of Species,' except the two just given from
the same note. In the first edition I find no mention of him.

The chief fault to be found with Dr. Darwin's treatise on evolution is
that there is not enough of it; what there is, so far from being
"erroneous," is admirable. But so great a subject should have had a book
to itself, and not a mere fraction of a book. If his opponents, not
venturing to dispute with him, passed over one book in silence, he
should have followed it up with another, and another, and another, year
by year, as Buffon and Lamarck did; it is only thus that men can expect
to succeed against vested interests. Dr. Darwin could speak with a
freedom that was denied to Buffon. He took Buffon at his word as well as
he could, and carried out his principles to what he conceived to be
their logical conclusion. This was doubtless what Buffon had desired and
reckoned on, but, as I have said already, I question how far Dr. Darwin
understood Buffon's humour; he does not present any of the phenomena of
having done so, and therefore I am afraid he must be said to have missed

Like Buffon, Dr. Darwin had no wish to see far beyond the obvious; he
missed good things sometimes, but he gained more than he lost; he knew
that it is always on the margin, as it were, of the self-evident that
the greatest purchase against the nearest difficulty is obtainable. His
life was not one of Herculean effort, but, like the lives of all those
organisms that are most likely to develop and transmit a useful
modification, it was one of well-sustained activity; it was a
long-continued keeping open of the windows of his own mind, much after
the advice he gave to the Nottingham weavers. Dr. Darwin knew, and, I
imagine, quite instinctively, that nothing tends to oversight like
overseeing. He does not trouble himself about the origin of life; as
for the perceptions and reasoning faculties of animals and plants, it is
enough for him that animals and plants do things which we say involve
sensation and consciousness when we do them ourselves or see others do
them. If, then, plants and animals appear as if they felt and
understood, let the matter rest there, and let us say they feel and
understand--being guided by the common use of language, rather than by
any theories concerning brain and nervous system. If any young writer
happens to be in want of a subject, I beg to suggest that he may find
his opportunity in a 'Philosophy of the Superficial.'

Though Dr. Darwin was more deeply impressed than Buffon with the oneness
of personality between parents and offspring, so that these latter are
not "new" creatures, but "elongations of the parents," and hence "may
retain some of the habits of the parent system," he did not go on to
infer definitely all that he might easily have inferred from such a
pregnant premiss. He did not refer the repetition by offspring, of
actions which their parents have done for many generations, but which
they can never have seen those parents do, to the memory (in the strict
sense of the word) of their having done those actions when they were in
the persons of their parents; which memory, though dormant until
awakened by the presence of associated ideas, becomes promptly kindled
into activity when a sufficient number of these ideas are reproduced.

This, I gather, is the theory put forward by Professor Hering, of whose
work, however, I know no more than is told us by Professor Ray
Lankester in an article which, appeared in 'Nature,' July 13th, 1876.
This theory seems to be adopted by Professor Haeckel, and to receive
support from Professor Ray Lankester himself. Knowing no German, I have
been unable to make myself acquainted with Professor Hering's position
in detail, but its similarity to, if not identity with, that taken by
myself subsequently, but independently, in 'Life and Habit,' seems
sufficiently established by the following extracts; it is to be wished,
however, that a full account of this lecture were accessible to English
readers. The extracts are as follows:--

"Professor Hering has the merit of introducing some striking phraseology
into his treatment of the subject which serves to emphasize the leading
idea. He points out that since all transmission of 'qualities' from cell
to cell in the growth and repair of one and the same organ, or from
parent to offspring, is a transmission of vibrations or affections of
material particles, whether these qualities manifest themselves as form,
or as a facility for entering on a given series of vibrations, we may
speak of all such phenomena as 'memory,' whether it be the conscious
memory exhibited by the nerve cells of the brain or the unconscious
memory we call habit, or the inherited memory we call instinct; or
whether, again, it be the reproduction of parental form and minute
structure. All equally may be called the 'memory of living matter.' From
the earliest existence of protoplasm to the present day the memory of
living matter is continuous. Though individuals die, the universal
memory of living matter is carried on.

"Professor Hering, in short, helps us to a comprehensive conception of
the nature of heredity and adaptation, by giving us the term 'memory'
conscious or unconscious, for the continuity of Mr. Herbert Spencer's
polar forces, or polarities of physiological units.

     . . . . . .

"The undulatory movement of the plastidules is the key to the mechanical
explanation of all the essential phenomena of life. The plastidules are
liable to have their undulations affected by every external force, and,
once modified, the movement does not return to its pristine condition.
By assimilation they continually increase to a certain point in size,
and then divide, and thus perpetuate in the undulatory movement of
successive generations, the impressions or resultants due to the action
of external agencies on individual plastidules. This is Memory. All
plastidules possess memory; and Memory which we see in its ultimate
analysis is identical with reproduction, is the distinguishing feature
of the plastidule; is that which it alone of all molecules possesses, in
addition to the ordinary properties of the physicist's molecule; is, in
fact, that which distinguishes it as vital. To the sensitiveness of the
movement of plastidules is due Variability--to their unconscious Memory
the power of Hereditary Transmission. As we know them to-day they may
'have learnt little, and forgotten nothing' in one organism, and 'have
learnt much, and forgotten much' in another; but in all, their memory if
sometimes fragmentary, yet reaches back to the dawn of life upon the
earth.--E. Ray Lankester."

Nothing can well be plainer and more uncompromising than the above.
Professor Hering would, I gather, no less than myself, refer the
building of its nest by a bird to the intense--but unconscious, owing to
its very perfection and intensity--recollection by the bird of the nests
it built when it was in the persons of its ancestors; this memory would
begin to stimulate action when the surrounding associations, such as
temperature, state of vegetation, &c., reminded it of the time when it
had been in the habit of beginning to build in countless past
generations. Dr. Darwin does not go so far as this. He says that wild
birds choose spring as their building time "from their _acquired_
knowledge that the mild temperature of the air is more convenient for
hatching their eggs," and a little lower down he speaks of the fact that
graminivorous animals generally produce their young in spring, as "part
of the traditional knowledge which they learn _from the example_ of
their parents."[156]

Again he says, that birds "seem to be instructed how to build their
nests _from their observation_ of that in which they were educated, and
from their knowledge of those things that are most agreeable to their
touch in respect to warmth, cleanliness, and stability."

Had Dr. Darwin laid firmly hold of two superficial facts concerning
memory which we can all of us test for ourselves--I mean its dormancy
until kindled by the return of a sufficient number of associated ideas,
and its unselfconsciousness upon becoming intense and perfect--and had
he connected these two facts with the unity of life through successive
generations--an idea which plainly haunted him--he would have been
saved from having to refer instinct to imitation, in the face of the
fact that in a thousand instances the creature imitating can never have
seen its model, save when it was a part of its parents,--seeing what
they saw, doing what they did, feeling as they felt, and remembering
what they remembered.

Miss Seward tells us that Dr. Darwin read his chapter on instinct "to a
lady who was in the habit of rearing canary birds. She observed that the
pair which he then saw building their nest in her cage, were a male and
female, who had been hatched and reared in that very _cage_, and were
not in existence when the mossy cradle was fabricated in which _they_
first saw light." She asked him, and quite reasonably, "how, upon his
principle of imitation, he could account for the nest he then saw
building, being constructed even to the precise disposal of every hair
and shred of wool upon the model of _that_ in which the pair were born,
and on which every other canary bird's nest is constructed, when the
proper materials are furnished. That of the pyefinch," she added, "is of
much compacter form, warmer, and more comfortable. Pull one of these
nests to pieces for its materials; and place another nest before these
canary birds as a pattern, and see if they will make the slightest
attempt to imitate their model! No, the result of their labour will,
upon instinctive hereditary impulse, be exactly the slovenly little
mansion of their race, the same with that which their parents built
before themselves were hatched. The Doctor could not do away the force
of that single fact, with which his system was incompatible, yet he
maintained that system with philosophic sturdiness, though experience
brought confutation from a thousand sources."[157]

As commonly happens in such disputes, both were right and both were
wrong. The lady was right in refusing to refer instinct to imitation,
and the Doctor was right in maintaining reason and instinct to be but
different degrees of perfection of the same mental processes. Had he
substituted "memory" for "imitation," and asked the lady to define
"sameness" or "personal identity," he would have soon secured his

The main fact, compared with which all else is a matter of detail, is
the admission that instinct is only reason become habitual. This
admission involves, consciously or unconsciously, the admission of all
the principles contended for in 'Life and Habit'; principles which, if
admitted, make the facts of heredity intelligible by showing that they
are of the same character as other facts which we call intelligible, but
denial of which makes nonsense of half the terms in common use
concerning it. For the view that instinct is habitual reason involves
sameness of personality and memory as common to parents and offspring;
it involves also the latency of that memory till rekindled by the return
of a sufficient number of its associated ideas, and points the
unconsciousness with which habitual actions are performed. These
principles being grasped, the infertility _inter se_ of widely distant
species, the commonly observed sterility of hybrids, the sterility of
certain animals and plants under confinement, the phenomena of old age
as well as those of growth, and the principle which underlies longevity
and alternate generations, follow logically and coherently, as I showed
in 'Life and Habit.' Moreover, we find that the terms in common use show
an unconscious sense that some such view as I have insisted on was
wanted and would come, for we find them made and to hand already; few if
any will require altering; all that is necessary is to take common words
according to their common meanings.

Dr. Darwin is very good on this head. Here, as everywhere throughout his
work, if things or qualities appear to resemble one another sufficiently
and without such traits of unlikeness, on closer inspection, as shall
destroy the likeness which was apparent at first, he connects them, all
theories notwithstanding. I have given two instances of his manner of
looking at instinct and reason.[158] "If these are not," he concludes,
"deductions _from their own previous experience, or observation_, all
the actions of mankind must be resolved into instincts."[159]

If by "previous experience" we could be sure that Dr. Darwin
persistently meant "previous experience in the persons of their
ancestors," he would be in an impregnable position. As it is, we feel
that though he had caught sight of the truth, and had even held it in
his hands, yet somehow or other it just managed to slip through his

Again he writes:--

"So flies burn themselves in candles, deceived like mankind by the
misapplication of their knowledge."


"An ingenious philosopher has lately denied that animals can enter into
contracts, and thinks this an essential difference between them and the
human creature: but does not daily observation convince us that they
form contracts of friendship with each other and with mankind? When
puppies and kittens play together is there not a tacit contract that
they will not hurt each other? And does not your favourite dog expect
you should give him his daily food for his services and attention to
you? And thus barters his love for your protection? In the same manner
that all contracts are made among men that do not understand each
other's arbitrary language."[160]

One more extract from a chapter full of excellent passages must suffice.

"One circumstance I shall relate which fell under my own eye, and showed
the power of reason in a wasp, as it is exercised among men. A wasp on a
gravel walk had caught a fly nearly as large as himself; kneeling on the
ground, I observed him separate the tail and the head from the body
part, to which the wings were attached. He then took the body part in
his paws, and rose about two feet from the ground with it; but a gentle
breeze wafting the wings of the fly turned him round in the air, and he
settled again with his prey upon the gravel. I then distinctly observed
him cut off with his mouth first one of the wings and then the other,
after which he flew away with it, unmolested by the wind.

"Go, proud reasoner, and call the worm thy sister!"[161]

Dr. Darwin's views on the essential unity of animal and vegetable life
are put forward in the following admirable chapter on "Vegetable
Animation," which I will give in full, and which is confirmed in all
important respects by the latest conclusions of our best modern
scientists, so, at least, I gather from Mr. Francis Darwin's interesting

"I. 1. The fibres of the vegetable world, as well as those of the
animal, are excitable into a variety of motion by irritations of
external objects. This appears particularly in the mimosa or sensitive
plant, whose leaves contract on the slightest injury: the _Dionæa
muscipula_, which was lately brought over from the marshes of America,
presents us with another curious instance of vegetable irritability; its
leaves are armed with spines on their upper edge, and are spread on the
ground around the stem; when an insect creeps on any of them in its
passage to the flower or seed, the leaf shuts up like a steel rat-trap,
and destroys its enemy.[163]

"The various secretions of vegetables as of odour, fruit, gum, resin,
wax, honey, seem brought about in the same manner as in the glands of
animals; the tasteless moisture of the earth is converted by the hop
plant into a bitter juice; as by the caterpillar in the nutshell, the
sweet powder is converted into a bitter powder. While the power of
absorption in the roots and barks of vegetables is excited into action
by the fluids applied to their mouths like the lacteals and lymphatics
of animals.

"2. The individuals of the vegetable world may be considered as inferior
or less perfect animals; a tree is a congeries of many living buds, and
in this respect resembles the branches of the coralline, which are a
congeries of a multitude of animals. Each of these buds of a tree has
its proper leaves or petals for lungs, produces its viviparous or its
oviparous offspring in buds or seeds; has its own roots, which,
extending down the stem of the tree, are interwoven with the roots of
the other buds, and form the bark, which is the only living part of the
stem, is annually renewed and is superinduced upon the former bark,
which then dies, and, with its stagnated juices gradually hardening into
wood, forms the concentric circles which we see in blocks of timber.

"The following circumstances evince the individuality of the buds of
trees. First, there are many trees whose whole internal wood is
perished, and yet the branches are vegete and healthy. Secondly, the
fibres of the bark of trees are chiefly longitudinal, resembling roots,
as is beautifully seen in those prepared barks that were lately brought
from Otaheita. Thirdly, in horizontal wounds of the bark of trees, the
fibres of the upper lip are always elongated downwards like roots, but
those of the lower lip do not approach to meet them. Fourthly, if you
wrap wet moss round any joint of a vine, or cover it with moist earth,
roots will shoot out from it. Fifthly, by the inoculation or engrafting
of trees many fruits are produced from one stem. Sixthly, a new tree is
produced from a branch plucked from an old one and set in the ground.
Whence it appears that the buds of deciduous trees are so many annual
plants, that the bark is a contexture of the roots of each individual
bud, and that the internal wood is of no other use but to support them
in the air, and that thus they resemble the animal world in their

"The irritability of plants, like that of animals, appears liable to be
increased or decreased by habit; for those trees or shrubs which are
brought from a colder climate to a warmer, put out their leaves and
blossoms a fortnight sooner than the indigenous ones.

"Professor Kalm, in his travels in New York, observes that the apple
trees brought from England blossom a fortnight sooner than the native
ones. In our country, the shrubs that are brought a degree or two from
the north are observed to flourish better than those which come from the
south. The Siberian barley and cabbage are said to grow larger in this
climate than the similar more southern vegetables; and our hoards of
roots, as of potatoes and onions, germinate with less heat in spring,
after they have been accustomed to the winter's cold, than in autumn,
after the summer's heat.

"II. The stamens and pistils of flowers show evident marks of
sensibility, not only from many of the stamens and some pistils
approaching towards each other at the season of impregnation, but from
many of them closing their petals and calyxes during the cold part of
the day. For this cannot be ascribed to irritation, because cold means
a defect of the stimulus of heat; but as the want of accustomed stimuli
produces pain, as in coldness, hunger, and thirst of animals, these
motions of vegetables in closing up their flowers must be ascribed to
the disagreeable sensation, and not to the irritation of cold. Others
close up their leaves during darkness, which, like the former, cannot be
owing to irritation, as the irritating material is withdrawn.

"The approach of the anthers in many flowers to the stigmas, and of the
pistils of some flowers to the anthers, must be ascribed to the passion
of love, and hence belongs to sensation, not to irritation.

"III. That the vegetable world possesses some degree of voluntary powers
appears from their necessity to sleep, which we have shown in Section
XVIII. to consist in the temporary abolition of voluntary power. This
voluntary power seems to be exerted in the circular movement of the
tendrils of the vines, and other climbing vegetables; or in the efforts
to turn the upper surfaces of their leaves, or their flowers, to the

"IV. The associations of fibrous motions are observable in the vegetable
world as well as in the animal. The divisions of the leaves of the
sensitive plant have been accustomed to contract at the same time from
the absence of light; hence, if by any other circumstance, as a slight
stroke or injury, one division is irritated into contraction, the
neighbouring ones contract also from their motions being associated with
those of the irritated part. So the various stamina of the class of
syngenesia have been accustomed to contract together in the evening, and
thence if you stimulate any one of them with a pin, according to the
experiment of M. Colvolo, they all contract from their acquired

"To evince that the collapsing of the sensitive plant is not owing to
any mechanical vibrations propagated along the whole branch when a
single leaf is struck with the finger, a leaf of it was slit with sharp
scissors, with as little disturbance as possible, and some seconds of
time passed before the plant seemed sensible of the injury, and then the
whole branch collapsed as far as the principal stem. This experiment was
repeated several times with the least possible impulse to the plant.

"V. 1. For the numerous circumstances in which vegetable buds are
analogous to animals, the reader is referred to the additional notes at
the end of 'Botanic Garden,' Part I. It is there shown that the roots of
vegetables resemble the lacteal system of animals; the sap vessels in
the early spring, before their leaves expand, are analogous to the
placental vessels of the foetus; that the leaves of land plants
resemble lungs, and those of aquatic plants the gills of fish; that
there are other systems of vessels resembling the vena portarum of
quadrupeds, or the aorta of fish; that the digestive power of vegetables
is similar to that of animals converting the fluids which they absorb
into sugar;[164] that their seeds resemble the eggs of animals, and
their buds and bulbs their viviparous offspring; and lastly, that the
anthers and stigmas are real animals attached to their parent tree like
polypi or coral insects, but capable of spontaneous motion; that they
are affected with the passion of love, and furnished with powers of
reproducing their species, and are fed with honey like the moths and
butterflies which plunder their nectaries.[165]

"The male flowers of Vallisneria approach still nearer to apparent
animality, as they detach themselves from the parent plant, and float on
the surface of the water to the female ones.[166] Other flowers of the
classes of monoecia and dioecia, and polygamia discharge the
fecundating farina, which, floating in the air, is carried to the stigma
of the female flowers, and that at considerable distances. Can this be
effected by any specific attraction? Or, like the diffusion of the
odorous particles of flowers, is it left to the currents of the winds,
and the accidental miscarriages of it counteracted by the quantity of
its production?

"2. This leads us to a curious inquiry, whether vegetables have ideas of
external things? As all our ideas are originally received by our senses,
the question may be changed to whether vegetables possess any organs of
sense? Certain it is that they possess a sense of heat and cold, another
of moisture and dryness, and another of light and darkness, for they
close their petals occasionally from the presence of cold, moisture, or
darkness. And it has been already shown that these actions cannot be
performed simply from irritation, because cold and darkness are negative
quantities, and on that account sensation, or volition are implied, and
in consequence a sensorium or union of their nerves. So when we go into
the light we contract the iris; not from any stimulus of the light on
the fine muscles of the iris, but from its motions being associated with
the sensation of too much light upon the retina, which could not take
place without a sensorium or centre of union of the nerves of the iris,
with those of vision.[167]

"Besides these organs of sense, which distinguish cold, moisture, and
darkness, the leaves of mimosa, and of dionæa, and of drosera, and the
stamens of many flowers, as of the berbery, and the numerous class of
syngenesia, are sensible to mechanic impact, that is, they possess a
sense of touch, as well as a common sensorium, by the medium of which
their muscles are excited into action. Lastly, in many flowers the
anthers, when mature, approach the stigma, in others the female organ
approaches to the male. In a plant of collinsonia, a branch of which is
now before me, the two yellow stamens are about three-eighths of an inch
high, and diverge from each other at an angle of about fifteen degrees,
the purple style is half an inch high, and in some flowers is now
applied to the stamen on the right hand, and in others to that of the
left; and will, I suppose, change place to-morrow in those, where the
anthers have not yet effused their powder.

"I ask by what means are the anthers in many flowers and stigmas in
other flowers directed to find their paramours? How do either of them
know that the other exists in their vicinity? Is this curious kind of
storge produced by mechanic attraction, or by the sensation of love? The
latter opinion is supported by the strongest analogy, because a
reproduction of the species is the consequence; and then another organ
of sense must be wanted to direct these vegetable amourettes to find
each other, one probably analogous to our sense of smell, which in the
animal world directs the new-born infant to its source of nourishment,
and they may thus possess a faculty of perceiving as well as of
producing odours.

"Thus, besides a kind of taste at the extremity of their roots, similar
to that of the extremities of our lacteal vessels, for the purpose of
selecting their proper food, and besides different kinds of irritability
residing in the various glands, which separate honey, wax, resin, and
other juices from their blood; vegetable life seems to possess an organ
of sense to distinguish the variations of heat, another to distinguish
the varying degrees of moisture, another of light, another of touch, and
probably another analogous to our sense of smell. To these must be added
the indubitable evidence of their passion of love, and I think we may
truly conclude that they are furnished with a common sensorium for each
bud, and that they must occasionally repeat those perceptions, either in
their dreams or waking hours, and consequently possess ideas of so many
of the properties of the external world, and of their own


[155] 'Origin of Species,' note on p. xiv.

[156] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 170.

[157] Miss Seward's 'Memoirs,' &c., p. 491.

[158] See p. 116 of this volume.

[159] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 184.

[160] 'Zoonomia,' p. 171.

[161] 'Zoonomia,' p. 187.

[162] 'Nature,' March 14 and 21, 1878.

[163] See 'Botanic Garden,' part ii., note on Silene.

[164] 'On the Digestive Powers of Plants.' See Mr. Francis Darwin's
lecture, already referred to.

[165] See 'Botanic Garden, part i., add. note, p. xxxix.

[166] Ibid., part ii., art. "Vallisneria."

[167] See 'Botanic Garden,' part i. cant 3, l. 440.

[168] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 107.



The following are the passages in the 'Zoonomia' which have the most
important bearing on evolution:--

"The ingenious Dr. Hartley, in his work on man, and some other
philosophers have been of opinion, that our immortal part acquires
during this life certain habits of action or of sentiment which become
for ever indissoluble, continuing after death in a future state of
existence; and add that if these habits are of the malevolent kind, they
must render their possessor miserable even in Heaven. I would apply this
ingenious idea to the generation or production of the embryon or new
animal, which partakes so much of the form and propensities of its

"_Owing to the imperfection of language the offspring is termed a new
animal, but is in truth a branch or elongation of the parent, since a
part of the embryon-animal is, or was, a part of the parent, and
therefore in strict language, cannot be said to be entirely new at the
time of its production; and, therefore, it may retain some of the habits
of the parent system._

"At the earliest period of its existence the embryon would seem to
consist of a living filament with certain capabilities of irritation,
sensation, volition, and association, and also with some acquired
habits or propensities peculiar to the parents; the former of these are
in common with other animals; the latter seem to distinguish or produce
the kind of animal, whether man or quadruped, with the similarity of
feature or form to the parent."[169]

     *     *     *     *     *

Going on to describe the gradual development of the embryo, Dr. Darwin

"As the want of this oxygenation of the blood is perpetual (as appears
from the incessant necessity of breathing by lungs or gills), the
vessels become extended by the efforts of pain or desire to seek this
necessary object of oxygenation, and to remove the disagreeable
sensations which this want occasions."[170]

     . . . . . .

"The lateral production of plants by wires, while each new plant is thus
chained to its parent, and continues to put forth another and another as
the wire creeps onward on the ground, is exactly resembled by the
tape-worm or tænia, so often found in the bowels, stretching itself in a
chain quite from the stomach to the rectum. Linnæus asserts 'that it
grows old at one extremity, while it continues to generate younger ones
at the other, proceeding _ad infinitum_ like a sort of grass; the
separate joints are called gourd worms, and propagate new joints like
the parent without end, each joint being furnished with its proper mouth
and organs of digestion.'"[171]

     . . . . . .

"Many ingenious philosophers have found so great difficulty in
conceiving the manner of the reproduction of animals, that they have
supposed all the numerous progeny to have existed in miniature in the
animal originally created; and that these infinitely minute forms are
only evolved or distended, as the embryon increases in the womb. This
idea, besides its being unsupported by any analogy we are acquainted
with, ascribes a greater tenuity to organized matter than we can readily
admit; as these included embryons are supposed each of them to consist
of the various and complicate parts of animal bodies, they must possess
a much greater degree of minuteness than that which was ascribed to the
devils which tempted St. Anthony, of whom 20,000 were said to have been
able to dance a saraband on the point of the finest needle without
incommoding one another."[172]

     . . . . . .

"I conceive the primordium or rudiment of the embryon as secreted from
the blood of the parent to consist of a simple living filament as a
muscular fibre; which I suppose to be an extremity of a nerve of
locomotion, as a fibre of the retina is an extremity of a nerve of
sensation; as, for instance, one of the fibrils which compose the mouth
of an absorbent vessel. I suppose this living filament of whatever form
it may be, whether sphere, cube, or cylinder, to be endued with the
capability of being excited into action by certain kinds of stimulus. By
the stimulus of the surrounding fluid in which it is received from the
male it may bend into a ring, and thus form the beginning of a tube.
Such moving filaments and such rings are described by those who have
attended to microscopic animalculæ. This living ring may now embrace or
absorb a nutritive particle of the fluid in which it swims; and by
drawing it into its pores, or joining it by compression to its
extremities, may increase its own length or crassitude, and by degrees
the living ring may become a living tube.

"With this new organization, or accretion of parts, new kinds of
irritability may commence; for so long as there was but one living organ
it could only be supposed to possess irritability; since sensibility may
be conceived to be an extension of the effect of irritability over the
rest of the system. These new kinds of irritability and of sensibility
in consequence of new organization appear from variety of facts in the
more mature animals; thus ... the lungs must be previously formed before
their exertions to obtain fresh air can exist; the throat, or
oesophagus, must be formed previous to the sensation or appetites of
hunger and thirst, one of which seems to reside at the upper end and the
other at the lower end of that canal."[173]

It seems to me Dr. Darwin is wrong in supposing that the organ must have
preceded the power to use it. The organ and its use--the desire to do
and the power to do--have always gone hand in hand, the organism finding
itself able to do more according as it advanced its desires, and
desiring to do more simultaneously with any increase in power, so that
neither appetency nor organism can claim precedence, but power and
desire must be considered as Siamese twins begotten together, conceived
together, born together, and inseparable always from each other. At the
same time they are torn by mutual jealousy; each claims, with some vain
show of reason, to have been the elder brother; each intrigues
incessantly from the beginning to the end of time to prevent the other
from outstripping him; each is in turn successful, but each is doomed to
death with the extinction of the other.

"So inflamed tendons and membranes, and even bones, acquire new
sensations; and the parts of mutilated animals, as of wounded snails and
polypi and crabs, are reproduced; and at the same time acquire
sensations adapted to their situation. Thus when the head of a snail is
reproduced after decollation with a sharp razor, those curious
telescopic eyes are also reproduced, and acquire their sensibility to
light, as well as their adapted muscles for retraction on the approach
of injury.

"With every change, therefore, of organic form or addition of organic
parts, I suppose a new kind of irritability or of sensibility to be
produced; such varieties of irritability or of sensibility exist in our
adult state in the glands; every one of which is furnished with an
irritability or a taste or appetency, and a consequent mode of action
peculiar to itself.

"In this manner I conceive the vessels of the jaws to produce those of
the teeth; those of the fingers to produce the nails; those of the skin
to produce the hair; in the same manner as afterwards, about the age of
puberty, the beard and other great changes in the form of the body and
disposition of the mind are produced in consequence of new developments;
for, if the animal is deprived of these developments, those changes do
not take place. These changes I believe to be formed not by elongation
or distension of primeval stamina, but by apposition of parts; as the
mature crab fish when deprived of a limb, in a certain space of time,
has power to regenerate it; and the tadpole puts forth its feet after
its long exclusion from the spawn, and the caterpillar in changing into
a butterfly acquires a new form with new powers, new sensations, and new

     . . . . . .

"From hence I conclude that with the acquisition of new parts, new
sensations and new desires, as well as new powers are produced; and this
by accretion to the old ones and not by distension of them. And finally,
that the most essential parts of the system, as the brain for the
purpose of distributing the powers of life, and the placenta for the
purpose of oxygenating the blood, and the additional absorbent vessels,
for the purpose of acquiring aliment, are first formed by the
irritations above mentioned, and by the pleasurable sensations attending
those irritations, and by the exertions in consequence of painful
sensations similar to those of hunger and suffocation. After these an
apparatus of limbs for future uses, or for the purpose of moving the
body in its present natant state, and of lungs for future respiration,
and of _testes_ for future reproduction, are formed by the irritations
and sensations and consequent exertions of the parts previously
existing, and to which the new parts are to be attached.[175]

     . . . . . .

"The embryon" must "be supposed to be a living filament, which acquires
or makes new parts, with new irritabilities as it advances in its

     . . . . . .

"From this account of reproduction it appears that all animals have a
similar origin, viz. a single living filament; and that the difference
of their forms and qualities has arisen only from the different
irritabilities and sensibilities, or voluntarities, or associabilities,
of this original living filament, and perhaps in some degree from the
different forms of the particles of the fluids by which it has at first
been stimulated into activity."[177]

     . . . . . .

"All animals, therefore, I contend, have a similar cause of their
organization, originating from a single living filament, endued with
different kinds of irritabilities and sensibilities, or of animal
appetencies, which exist in every gland, and in every moving organ of
the body, and are as essential to living organism as chemical affinities
are to certain combinations of inanimate matter.

"If I might be indulged to make a simile in a philosophical work, I
should say that the animal appetencies are not only perhaps less
numerous originally than the chemical affinities, but that, like these
latter, they change with every fresh combination; thus vital air and
azote, when combined, produce nitrous acid, which now acquires the
property of dissolving silver; so that with every new additional part to
the embryon, as of the throat or lungs, I suppose a new animal appetency
to be produced."[178]

     *     *     *     *     *

Here, again, it should be insisted on that neither can the "additional
part" precede "the appetency," nor the appetency precede the additional
part for long together--the two advance nearly _pari passu_; sometimes
the power a little ahead of the desire, stimulates the desire to an
activity it would not otherwise have known; as those who have more money
than they once had, feel new wants which they would not have known if
they had not obtained the power to gratify them; sometimes, on the other
hand, the desire is a little more active than the power, and pulls the
power up to itself by means of the effort made to gratify the desire--as
those who want a little more of this or that than they have money to pay
for, will try all manner of shifts to earn the additional money they
want, unless it is so much in excess of their present means that they
give up the endeavour as hopeless; but whichever gets ahead, immediately
sets to work to pull the other level with it, the getting ahead either
of power or desire being exclusively the work of external agencies,
while the coming up level of the other is due to agencies that are
incorporate with the organism itself. Thus an unusually abundant supply
of food, due to causes entirely beyond the control of the individual, is
an external agency; it will immediately set power a little ahead of
desire. On this the individual will eat as much as it can--thus learning
_pro tanto_ to be able to eat more, and to want more under ordinary
circumstances--and will also breed rapidly up to the balance of the
abundance. This is the work of the agencies incorporate in the organism,
and will bring desire level with power again. Famine, on the other hand,
puts desire ahead of power, and the incorporate agencies must either
bring power up by resource and invention, or must pull desire back by
eating less, both as individuals, and as the race, that is to say, by
breeding less freely; for breeding is an assimilation of outside matter
so closely akin to feeding, that it is only the feeding of the race, as
against that of the individual.

I do not think the reader will find any clearer manner of picturing to
himself the development of organism than by keeping the normal growth of
wealth continually in his mind. He will find few of the phenomena of
organic development which have not their counterpart in the acquisition
of wealth. Thus a too sudden acquisition, owing to accidental and
external circumstances and due to no internal source of energy, will be
commonly lost in the next few generations. So a sudden sport due to a
lucky accident of soil will not generally be perpetuated if the
offspring plant be restored to its normal soil. Again, if the advance in
power carry power suddenly far beyond any past desire, or be far greater
than any past-remembered advance of power beyond desire--then desire
will not come up level easily, but only with difficulty and all manner
of extravagance, such as is likely to destroy the power itself. Demand
and Supply are also good illustrations.

But to return to Dr. Darwin.

"When we revolve in our minds," he writes, "first the great changes
which we see naturally produced in animals after their nativity, as in
the production of the butterfly with painted wings from the crawling
caterpillar; or of the respiring frog from the subnatant tadpole; from
the boy to the bearded man, from the infant girl to the woman,--in both
which cases mutilation will prevent due development.

"Secondly, when we think over the great changes introduced into various
animals by artificial or accidental cultivation, as in horses, which we
have exercised for the different purposes of strength or swiftness, in
carrying burthens or in running races, or in dogs which have been
cultivated for strength and courage, as the bull-dog; or for acuteness
of his sense of smell, as the hound or spaniel; or for the swiftness of
his foot, as the greyhound; or for his swimming in the water or for
drawing snow sledges, as the rough-haired dogs of the north; or, lastly,
as a play dog for children, as the lapdog; with the changes of the forms
of the cattle which have been domesticated from the greatest antiquity,
as camels and sheep, which have undergone so total a transformation that
we are now ignorant from what species of wild animal they had their
origin. Add to these the great changes of shape and colour which we
daily see produced in smaller animals from our domestication of them, as
rabbits or pigeons, or from the difference of climates and even of
seasons; thus the sheep of warm climates are covered with hair instead
of wool; and the hares and partridges of the latitudes which are long
buried in snow become white during the winter months; add to these the
various changes produced in the forms of mankind by their early modes of
exertion, or by the diseases occasioned by their habits of life, both of
which become hereditary, and that through many generations. Those who
labour at the anvil, the oar, or the loom, as well as those who carry
sedan chairs or who have been educated to dance upon the rope, are
distinguishable by the shape of their limbs; and the diseases occasioned
by intoxication deform the countenance with leprous eruptions, or the
body with tumid viscera, or the joints with knots and distortions.

"Thirdly, when we enumerate the great changes produced in the species of
animals before their nativity, as, for example, when the offspring
reproduces the effects produced upon the parent by accident or
cultivation; or the changes produced by the mixture of species, as in
mules; or the changes produced probably by the exuberance of nourishment
supplied to the fetus, as in monstrous births with additional limbs;
many of these enormities of shape are propagated and continued as a
variety at least, if not as a new species of animal. I have seen a breed
of cats with an additional claw on every foot; of poultry also with an
additional claw, and with wings to their feet; and of others without
rumps. Mr. Buffon mentions a breed of dogs without tails which are
common at Rome and Naples--which he supposes to have been produced by a
custom long established of cutting their tails close off. There are many
kinds of pigeons admired for their peculiarities which are more or less
thus produced and propagated.[179]

     . . . . . .

"When we consider all these changes of animal form and innumerable
others which may be collected from the books of natural history, we
cannot but be convinced that the fetus or embryon is formed by
apposition of new parts, and not by the distention of a primordial nest
of germs included one within another like the cups of a conjurer.

"Fourthly, when we revolve in our minds the great similarity of
structure which obtains in all the warm-blooded animals, as well
quadrupeds, birds, and amphibious animals, as in mankind; from the mouse
and bat to the elephant and whale; one is led to conclude that they have
alike been produced from a similar living filament. In some this
filament in its advance to maturity has acquired hands and fingers with
a fine sense of touch, as in mankind. In others it has acquired claws or
talons, as in tigers and eagles. In others, toes with an intervening web
or membrane, as in seals and geese. In others it has acquired cloven
hoofs, as in cows and swine; and whole hoofs in others, as in the horse:
while in the bird kind this original living filament has put forth wings
instead of arms or legs, and feathers instead of hair. In some it has
protruded horns on the forehead instead of teeth in the fore part of the
upper jaw; in others, tusks instead of horns; and in the others, beaks
instead of either. And all this exactly as is seen daily in the
transmutation of the tadpole, which acquires legs and lungs when he
wants them, and loses his tail when it is no longer of service to him.

"Fifthly, from their first rudiment or primordium to the termination of
their lives, all animals undergo perpetual transformations; _which are
in part produced by their own exertions in consequence of their desires
and aversions, of their pleasures and their pains, or of irritations or
of associations; and many of these acquired forms or propensities are
transmitted to their posterity_.

"As air and water are supplied to animals in sufficient profusion, the
three great objects of desire which have changed the forms of many
animals by their desires to gratify them are those of lust, hunger, and
security. A great want of one part of the animal world has consisted in
the desire of the exclusive possession of the females; and these have
acquired weapons to combat each other for this purpose, as the very
thick, shield-like, horny skin on the shoulder of the boar is a defence
only against animals of his own species who strike obliquely upwards,
nor are his tusks for other purposes except to defend himself, as he is
not naturally a carnivorous animal. So the horns of the stag are sharp
to offend his adversary, but are branched for the purpose of parrying or
receiving the thrust of horns similar to his own, and have therefore
been formed for the purpose of combating other stags, for the exclusive
possession of the females; who are observed like the ladies in the times
of chivalry to attend the car of the victor.

"The birds which do not carry food to their young, and do not therefore
marry, are armed with spurs for the purpose of fighting for the
exclusive possession of the females, as cocks and quails. It is certain
that these weapons are not provided for their defence against other
adversaries, because the females of these species are without this
armour. The final cause of this contest among the males seems to be
_that the strongest and most active animal should propagate the species,
which should thence become improved_."[180]

Dr. Darwin would have been on stronger ground if he had said that the
_effect_ of the contest among the males was that the fittest should
survive, and hence transmit any fit modifications which had occurred to
them as vitally true, rather than that the desire to attain this end had
caused the contest; but either way the sentence just given is sufficient
to show that he was not blind to the fact that the fittest commonly
survive, and to the consequences of this fact. The use, however, of the
word "thence," as well as of the expression "final cause," is loose, as
Dr. Darwin would no doubt readily have admitted. Improvement in the
species is due quite as much, by Dr. Darwin's own showing, to the causes
which have led to such and such an animal's making itself the fittest,
as to the fact that if fittest it will be more likely to survive and
transmit its improvement. There have been two factors in modification;
the one provides variations, the other accumulates them; neither can
claim exclusive right to the word "thence," as though the modification
was due to it and to it only. Dr. Darwin's use of the word "thence"
here is clearly a slip, and nothing else; but it is one which brings him
for the moment into the very error into which his grandson has fallen
more disastrously.

"Another great want," he continues, "consists in the means of procuring
food, which has diversified the forms of all species of animals. Thus
the nose of the swine has become hard for the purpose of turning up the
soil in search of insects and of roots. The trunk of the elephant is an
elongation of the nose for the purpose of pulling down the branches of
trees for his food, and for taking up water without bending his knees.
Beasts of prey have acquired strong jaws or talons. Cattle have acquired
a rough tongue and a rough palate to pull off the blades of grass, as
cows and sheep. Some birds have acquired harder beaks to crack nuts, as
the parrot. Others have acquired beaks to break the harder seeds, as
sparrows. Others for the softer kinds of flowers, or the buds of trees,
as the finches. Other birds have acquired long beaks to penetrate the
moister soils in search of insects or roots, as woodcocks, and others
broad ones to filtrate the water of lakes and to retain aquatic insects.
All which seem to have been gradually produced during many generations
_by the perpetual endeavour of the creature to supply the want of food,
and to have been delivered to their posterity with constant improvement
of them for the purposes required_.

"The third great want among animals is that of security, which seems to
have diversified the forms of their bodies and the colour of them; these
consist in the means of escaping other animals more powerful than
themselves. Hence some animals have acquired wings instead of legs, as
the smaller birds, for purposes of escape. Others, great length of fin
or of membrane, as the flying fish and the bat. Others have acquired
hard or armed shells, as the tortoise and the _Echinus marinus_.

"Mr. Osbeck, a pupil of Linnæus, mentions the American frog-fish,
_Lophius Histrio_, which inhabits the large floating islands of sea-weed
about the Cape of Good Hope, and has fulcra resembling leaves, that the
fishes of prey may mistake it for the sea-weed, which it inhabits.[181]

"The contrivances for the purposes of security extend even to
vegetables, as is seen in the wonderful and various means of their
concealing or defending their honey from insects and their seeds from
birds. On the other hand, swiftness of wing has been acquired by hawks
and swallows to pursue their prey; and a proboscis of admirable
structure has been acquired by the bee, the moth, and the humming bird
for the purpose of plundering the nectaries of flowers. _All which seem
to have been formed by the original living filament, excited into action
by the necessities of the creatures which possess them_, and on which
their existence depends.

"From thus meditating on the great similarity of the structure of the
warm-blooded animals, and at the same time of the great changes they
undergo both before and after their nativity; and by considering in how
minute a portion of time many of the changes of animals above described
have been produced; would it be too bold to imagine that in the great
length of time since the earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages
before the commencement of the history of mankind--would it be too bold
to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living
filament, which the Great First Cause endued with animality, with the
power of attaining new parts, attended with new propensities, directed
by irritations, sensations, volitions, and associations; and thus
possessing the faculty of continuing to improve, by its own inherent
activity, and of delivering down those improvements by generation to its
posterity world without end!

"Sixthly, the cold-blooded animals, as the fish tribes, which are
furnished with but one ventricle of the heart, and with gills instead of
lungs, and with fins instead of feet or wings, bear a great similarity
to each other; but they differ nevertheless so much in their general
structure from the warm-blooded animals, that it may not seem probable
at first view that the same living filament could have given origin to
this kingdom of animals, as to the former. Yet are there some creatures
which unite or partake of both these orders of animation, as the whales
and seals; and more particularly the frog, who changes from an aquatic
animal furnished with gills to an aerial one furnished with lungs.

"The numerous tribes of insects without wings, from the spider to the
scorpion, from the flea to the lobster; or with wings, from the gnat or
the ant to the wasp and the dragon-fly, differ so totally from each
other, and from the red-blooded classes above described, both in the
forms of their bodies and in their modes of life; besides the organ of
sense, which they seem to possess in their antennæ or horns, to which
it has been thought by some naturalists that other creatures have
nothing similar; that it can scarcely be supposed that this nature of
animals could have been produced by the same kind of living filament as
the red-blooded classes above mentioned. And yet the changes which many
of them undergo in their early state to that of their maturity, are as
different as one animal can be from another. As those of the gnat, which
passes his early state in water, and then stretching out his new wings
and expanding his new lungs, rises in the air; as of the caterpillar and
bee-nymph, which feed on vegetable leaves or farina, and at length
bursting from their self-formed graves, become beautiful winged
inhabitants of the skies, journeying from flower to flower, and
nourished by the ambrosial food of honey.

"There is still another class of animals which are termed vermes by
Linnæus, which are without feet or brain, and are hermaphrodites, as
worms, leeches, snails, shell-fish, coralline insects, and sponges,
which possess the simplest structure of all animals, and appear totally
different from those already described. The simplicity of their
structure, however, can afford no argument against their having been
produced from a single living filament, as above contended.

"Last of all, the various tribes of vegetables are to be enumerated
amongst the inferior orders of animals. Of these the anthers and stigmas
have already been shown to possess some organs of sense, to be nourished
by honey, and to have the power of generation like insects, and have
thence been announced amongst the animal kingdom in Section XIII.; and
to these must be added the buds and bulbs, which constitute the
viviparous offspring of vegetation. The former I suppose to be beholden
to a single living filament for their seminal or amatorial procreation;
and the latter to the same cause for their lateral or branching
generation, which they possess in common with the polypus, tænia, and
volvox, and the simplicity of which is an argument in favour of the
similarity of its cause.

"Linnæus supposes, in the introduction to his natural orders, that very
few vegetables were at first created, and that their numbers were
increased by their intermarriages, and adds, 'Suaderet hæc Creatoris
leges a simplicibus ad composita.' Many other changes appear to have
arisen in them by their perpetual contest for light and air above
ground, and for food or moisture beneath the soil. As noted in the
'Botanic Garden,' Part II., note on Cuscuta. Other changes of vegetables
from climate or other causes are remarked in the note on Curcuma in the
same work. From these one might be led to imagine that each plant at
first consisted of a single bulb or flower to each root, as the
gentianella and daisy, and that in the contest for air and light, new
buds grew on the old decaying flower-stem, shooting down their elongated
roots to the ground, and that in process of ages tall trees were thus
formed, and an individual bulb became a swarm of vegetables. Other
plants which in this contest for light and air were too slender to rise
by their own strength, learned by degrees to adhere to their neighbours,
either by putting forth roots like the ivy, or by tendrils like the
vine, or by spiral contortions like the honeysuckle, or by growing upon
them like the mistleto, and taking nourishment from their barks, or by
only lodging or adhering on them and deriving nourishment from the air
as tillandsia.

"Shall we then say that the vegetable living filament was originally
different from that of each tribe of animals above described? And that
the productive living filament of each of those tribes was different
from the other? Or as the earth and ocean were probably peopled with
vegetable productions long before the existence of animals; and many
families of these animals, long before other families of them, shall we
conjecture _that one and the same kind of living filament is and has
been the cause of all organic life_?[182]

     . . . . . .

"The late Mr. David Hume in his posthumous works places the powers of
generation much above those of our boasted reason, and adds, that reason
can only make a machine, as a clock or a ship, but the power of
generation makes the maker of the machine; and probably from having
observed that the greatest part of the earth has been formed out of
organic recrements, as the immense beds of limestone, chalk, marble,
from the shells of fish; and the extensive provinces of clay, sandstone,
ironstone, coals, from decomposed vegetables; all of which have been
first produced by generation, or by the secretion of organic life; he
concludes that the world itself might have been generated rather than
created; that it might have been gradually produced from very small
beginnings, increasing by the activity of its inherent principles,
rather than by a sudden evolution of the whole by the Almighty fire.
What a magnificent idea of the infinite power of the great Architect!
The Cause of causes! Parent of parents! Ens entium!"[183]


[169] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 484.

[170] Ibid. p. 485.

[171] Ibid. p. 493.

[172] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 494.

[173] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 497.

[174] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 498.

[175] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 500.

[176] Ibid. p. 501.

[177] Ibid. p. 502.

[178] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 503.

[179] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 505.

[180] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 507.

[181] 'Voyage to China,' p. 113.

[182] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 511.

[183] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 513.



I take the following memoir of Lamarck entirely from the biographical
sketch prefixed by M. Martins to his excellent edition of the
'Philosophie Zoologique.'[184] From this sketch I find that "Lamarck was
born August 1, 1744, at Barenton, in Picardy, being the eleventh child
of Pierre de Monet, squire of the place, a man of old family, but poor.
His father intended him for the Church, the ordinary resource of younger
sons at that time, and accordingly placed him under the care of the
Jesuits at Amiens. But this was not his vocation: the annals of his
family spoke all to him of military glory; his eldest brother had died
in the breaches at the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom; two others were still
serving in the army, and France was exhausting her energies in an
unequal struggle. His father would not yield to his wishes, but on his
death, in 1760, Lamarck was left free to take his own line, and made his
way at once--upon a very bad horse--to the army of Germany, then
encamped at Lippstadt in Westphalia.

"He was the bearer of a letter written by Madame de Lameth, one of his
neighbours in the country, and recommending him to M. de Lastic, colonel
of the regiment of Beaujolais. This gentleman, on seeing before him a
lad of seventeen, whose somewhat stunted growth made him look still
younger than he really was, sent the youth immediately to his own
quarters. The next day a battle was immediately impending, and M. de
Lastic, on passing his regiment in review, saw his protégé in the first
rank of a company of grenadiers. The French army was under the orders of
the Marshal de Broglie and of the Prince de Soubise; the allied troops
were commanded by Ferdinand of Brunswick. The two French generals were
beaten owing to their divided counsels, and Lamarck's company, almost
annihilated by the enemy's fire, was forgotten in the confusion of the
retreat. All the officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, were
killed, and only fourteen men out of the whole company remained alive:
the eldest proposed to retreat, but Lamarck, improvising himself as
commander, declared that they ought not to retire without orders.
Presently the colonel seeing that this company did not rally sent an
orderly officer who made his way up to it by protected paths. Next day
Lamarck was made an officer, and shortly afterwards lieutenant.

"Fortunately for science," continues M. Martins, "this brilliant _début_
was not to decide his career. After peace had been signed he was sent
into garrison at Toulon and Monaco, where an inflammation of the
lymphatic ganglions of the neck necessitated an operation which left him
deeply scarred for life.

"The vegetation in the neighbourhood of Toulon and Monaco now arrested
the young officer's attention. He had already derived some little
knowledge of botany from the '_Traité des Plantes usuelles_' of Chomel.
Having retired from the service, and having nothing beyond his modest
pension of four hundred francs a year, he took a situation at Paris with
a banker; but drawn irresistibly to the study of nature, he used to
study from his attic window the forms and movements of clouds, and made
himself familiar with the plants in the Jardin du Roi or in the public
gardens. He began to feel that he was on his right path, and understood,
as Voltaire said of Condorcet, that discoveries of permanent value could
make him no less illustrious than military glory.

"Dissatisfied with the botanical systems of his time, in six months he
wrote his '_Flore française_,' preceded by the '_Clé dichotomique_,'
with the help of which it is easy even for a beginner to arrive with
certainty at the name of the plant before him." Of this work, M. Martins
tells us in a note, that the second edition, published by Candolle in
1815, is still the standard work on French plants.

"In 1778 Rousseau had brought botany into vogue. Women and men of
fashion took to it. Buffon had the three volumes of '_Flore française_'
printed at the royal press, and in the following year Lamarck entered
the Academy of Sciences. Buffon being anxious that his son should
travel, gave him Lamarck for his companion and tutor. He thus made a
trip through Holland, Germany, and Hungary, and became acquainted with
Gleditsch at Berlin, with Jacquin at Vienna, and with Murray at

"The '_Encyclopédie méthodique_,' begun by Diderot and D'Alembert, was
not yet completed. For this work Lamarck wrote four volumes, describing
all the then known plants whose names began with the letters from A to
P. This great work was completed by Poiret, and comprises twelve
volumes, which appeared between the years 1783 and 1817. A still more
important work, also part of the Encyclopedia, and continually quoted by
botanists, is the '_Illustration des Genres_.' In this work Lamarck
describes two thousand _genera_, and illustrates them, according to the
title-page, with nine hundred engravings. Only a botanist can form any
idea of the research in collections, gardens, and books, which such a
work must have involved. But Lamarck's activity was inexhaustible.
Sonnerat returned from India in 1781 with a very large number of dried
plants; no one except Lamarck thought it worth while to inspect them,
and Sonnerat, charmed with his enthusiasm, gave him the whole
magnificent collection.

"In spite, however, of his incessant toil, Lamarck's position continued
to be most precarious. He lived by his pen, as a publisher's hack, and
it was with difficulty that he obtained even the poorly paid post of
keeper of the king's cabinet of dried plants. Like most other
naturalists he had thus to contend with incessant difficulties during a
period of fifteen years.

"At length fortune bettered his condition while changing the direction
of his labours. France was now under the Convention; what Carnot had
done for the army Lakanal undertook to do for the natural sciences. At
his suggestion a museum of natural history was established. Professors
had been found for all the chairs save that of Zoology; but in that time
of enthusiasm, so different from the present, France could find men of
war and men of science wherever and whenever she had need of them.
Étienne Geoffroy St. Hilaire was twenty-one years old, and was engaged
in the study of mineralogy under Haüy. Daubenton said to him, 'I will
undertake the responsibility for your inexperience. I have a father's
authority over you. Take this professorship, and let us one day say that
you have made zoology a French science.' Geoffroy accepted, and
undertook the higher animals. Lakanal knew that a single professor could
not suffice for the task of arranging the collections of the entire
animal kingdom, and as Geoffroy was to class the vertebrate animals
only, there remained the invertebrata--that is to say, insects,
molluscs, worms, zoophytes--in a word, what was then the chaos of the
unknown. 'Lamarck,' says M. Michelet, 'accepted the unknown.' He had
devoted some attention to the study of shells with Bruguières, but he
had still everything to learn, or I should perhaps say rather,
everything to create in that unexplored territory into which Linnæus had
declined to enter, and into which he had thus introduced none of the
order he had so well known how to establish among the higher animals.

"Lamarck began his course of lectures at the museum in 1794, after a
year's preparation, and at once established that great division of
animals into vertebrate and invertebrate, which science has ever since

"Dividing the vertebrate animals--as Linnæus had already divided
them--into mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes, he divided the
invertebrates into molluscs, insects, worms, echinoderms, and polyps. In
1799 he separated the crustacea from the insects, with which they had
been classed hitherto; in 1800 he established the arachnids as a class
distinct from the insects; in 1802 that of the annelids, a subdivision
of the worms, and that of the radiata as distinct from the polyps. Time
has approved the wisdom of these divisions, founded all of them upon the
organic type of the creatures themselves--that is to say, upon the
rational method introduced into zoology by Cuvier, Lamarck, and Geoffroy
St. Hilaire.

"This introduction being devoted only to Lamarck's labours as a
naturalist, we will pass over certain works in which he treats of
physics and chemistry. These attempts--errors of a powerful mind which
thought itself able by the help of pure reason to establish truths which
rest only upon experience--attempts, moreover, which were some of them
but resuscitations of exploded theories, such as that of
'phlogistic'--had not even the honour of being refuted: they did not
deserve to be so, and should be a warning to all those who would write
upon a subject without the necessary practical knowledge.

     . . . . . .

"At the beginning of this century there was not yet any such science as
geology. People observed but little, and in lieu of observation made
theories to embrace the entire globe. Lamarck made his in 1802, and
twenty-three years later the judicious Cuvier still yielded to the
prevailing custom in publishing his 'Discoveries on the Earth's

"Lamarck's merit was to have discovered that there had been no
catastrophes, but that the gradual action of forces during thousands of
ages accounted for the changes observable upon the face of the earth,
better than any sudden and violent perturbations. 'Nature,' he writes,
'has no difficulty on the score of time; she has it always at command;
it is with her a boundless space in which she has room for the greatest
as for the smallest operations.'"

Here we must not forget Buffon's fine passage, "Nature's great workman
is Time," &c. See page 103.

"Lamarck," continues M. Martins, "was the first to distinguish littoral
from ocean fossils, but no one accepts his theory that oceans make their
beds deeper owing to the action of the tides, and distribute themselves
differently over the earth's surface without any change of level of the
different parts of that surface.

     . . . . . .

"Settling down to a single branch of science, in consequence of his
professorship, Lamarck now devoted himself to the twofold labour of
lecturing and classifying the collections at the museum. In 1802 he
published his 'Considerations on the Organization of Living Bodies'; in
1809 his '_Philosophie Zoologique_,' a development of the
'Considerations'; and from 1816 to 1822 his Natural History of the
invertebrate animals, in seven volumes. This is his great work, and,
being entirely a work of description and classification, was received
with the unanimous approbation of the scientific world. His 'Fossil
Shells of the Neighbourhood of Paris'--a work in which his profound
knowledge of existing shells enabled him to class with certainty the
remains of forms that had disappeared thousands of ages ago--met also
with a favourable reception.

"Lamarck was fifty years old before he began to study zoology; and
prolonged microscopic examinations first fatigued and at length
enfeebled his eyesight. The clouds which obscured it gradually
thickened, and he became quite blind. Married four times, the father of
seven children, he saw his small patrimony and even his earlier savings
swallowed up by one of those hazardous investments with which promoters
impose on the credulity of the public. His small endowment as professor
alone protected him from destitution. Men of science whom his reputation
as a botanist and zoologist had attracted near him, wondered at the
manner in which he was neglected.

     . . . . . .

"He passed the last ten years of his laborious life in darkness, tended
only by the affectionate care of his two daughters. The eldest wrote
from his dictation part of the sixth and seventh volumes of his work on
the invertebrate animals. From the time her father became confined to
his room his daughter never left the house; and when first she did so
after his death, she was distressed by the fresh air to which she had
been so long a stranger.

"Lamarck died December 18, 1829, at the age of eighty-five. Latreille
and Blainville were his successors at the museum. The incredible
activity of the first professor had so greatly increased the number of
the known invertebrata that it was found necessary to endow two
professors, where one had originally been sufficient.

"His two daughters were left penniless. In the year 1832 I myself saw
Mlle. Cornélie de Lamarck earning a scanty pittance by fastening dried
plants on to paper, in the museum of which her father had been a
professor. Many a species named and described by him must have passed
under her eyes and increased the bitterness of her regret."[185]


[184] Paris, 1873.

[185] Introduction Biographique to M. Martins' edition of the 'Phil.
Zool.,' pp. ix-xx.



"If Cuvier," says M. Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire,[186] "is the modern
successor of Linnæus, so is Lamarck of Buffon. But Cuvier does not go so
far as Linnæus, and Lamarck goes much farther than Buffon. Lamarck,
moreover, took his own line, and his conjectures are not only much
bolder, or rather more hazardous, but they are profoundly different from

"It is well known that the vast labours of Lamarck were divided between
botany and physical science in the eighteenth century, and between
zoology and natural philosophy in the nineteenth; it is, however, less
generally known that Lamarck was long a partisan of the immutability of
species. It was not till 1801, when he was already old, that he freed
himself from the ideas then generally prevailing. But Lamarck, having
once made up his mind, never changed it; in his ripe age he exhibits all
the ardour of youth in propagating and defending his new convictions.

"In the three years, 1801, 1802, 1803, he enounced them twice in his
lectures, and three times in his writings.[187] He returns to the
subject and states his views precisely in 1806,[188] and in 1809 he
devotes a great part of his principal work, the 'Philosophie
Zoologique,' to their demonstration.[189] Here he might have rested and
have quietly awaited the judgment of his peers; but he is too much
convinced; he believes the future of science to depend so much upon his
doctrine that to his dying day he feels compelled to explain it further
and insist upon it. When already over seventy years of age he enounces
it again, and maintains it as firmly as ever in 1815, in his 'Histoire
des Animaux sans Vertèbres,' and in 1820 in his 'Système des
Connaissances Positives.'[190]

"This doctrine, so dearly cherished by its author, and the conception,
exposition, and defence of which so laboriously occupied the second half
of his scientific career, has been assuredly too much admired by some,
who have forgotten that Lamarck had a precursor, and that that precursor
was Buffon. It has, on the other hand, been too severely condemned by
others who have involved it in its entirety in broad and sweeping
condemnation. As if it were possible that so great labour on the part of
so great a naturalist should have led him to 'a fantastic conclusion'
only--to a 'flighty error,' and, as has been often said, though not
written, to 'one absurdity the more.' Such was the language which
Lamarck heard during his protracted old age, saddened alike by the
weight of years and blindness; this was what people did not hesitate to
utter over his grave yet barely closed, and what, indeed, they are still
saying--commonly, too, without any knowledge of what Lamarck maintained,
but merely repeating at second hand bad caricatures of his teaching.

"When will the time come when we may see Lamarck's theory
discussed--and, I may as well at once say, refuted in some important
points--with at any rate the respect due to one of the most illustrious
masters of our science? And when will this theory, the hardihood of
which has been greatly exaggerated, become freed from the
interpretations and commentaries by the false light of which so many
naturalists have formed their opinion concerning it? If its author is to
be condemned, let it be, at any rate, not before he has been

It is not necessary for me to give the extracts from Lamarck which M.
Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire quotes in order to show what he really
maintained, inasmuch as they will be given at greater length in the
following chapter; but I may perhaps say that I have not found M.
Geoffroy refuting Lamarck in any essential point.

Professor Haeckel says that to Lamarck "will always belong the immortal
glory of having for the first time worked out the theory of descent as
an independent scientific theory of the first order, and as the
philosophical foundation of the whole science of Biology."

     . . . . . .

"The 'Philosophie Zoologique,'" continues Professor Haeckel, "is the
first connected exposition of the theory of descent carried out strictly
into all its consequences; ... and with the exception of Darwin's work,
which appeared exactly half a century later, we know of none which we
could in this respect place by the side of the 'Philosophie Zoologique.'
How far it was in advance of its time is perhaps best seen from the
circumstance that it was not understood by most men, and for fifty years
was not spoken of at all."[192]

This is an exaggeration, both as regards the originality of Lamarck's
work and the reception it has met with. It is probably more accurate to
say with M. Martins that Lamarck's theory has "never yet had the honour
of being discussed seriously,"[193] not, at least, in connection with
the name of its originators.

So completely has this been so that the author of the 'Vestiges of
Creation,' even in the edition of 1860, in which he unreservedly
acknowledges the adoption of Lamarck's views, not unfrequently speaks
disparagingly of Lamarck himself, and never gives him his due meed of
recognition. I am not, therefore, wholly displeased to find this author
conceiving himself to have been treated by Mr. Charles Darwin with some
of the injustice which he has himself inflicted on Lamarck.

In the 1859 edition of the 'Origin of Species,' and in a very prominent
place, Mr. Darwin says:--"The author of the 'Vestiges of Creation' would
I presume say, that after a certain number of unknown generations, some
bird had given birth to a woodpecker, and some plant to a misseltoe, and
that these had been produced perfect as we now see them."[194] This is
the only allusion to the 'Vestiges' which I have found in the first
edition of the 'Origin of Species.'

Those who have read the 1853 edition of the 'Vestiges' will not be
surprised to find the author rejoining, in his edition of 1860, that it
was to be regretted Mr. Darwin should have read the 'Vestiges' "nearly
as much amiss as though, like its declared opponents, he had an interest
in misunderstanding it." And a little lower he adds that Mr. Darwin's
book in no essential respect contradicts the 'Vestiges'; "on the
contrary, while adding to its explanations of nature, it expresses
substantially the same general ideas."[195] It is right to say that the
passage thus objected to is not to be found in later editions of the
'Origin of Species,' while in the historical sketch we now read as
follows:--"In my opinion it (the 'Vestiges of Creation') has done
excellent service in this country by calling attention to the subject,
removing prejudice, and in thus preparing the ground for the reception
of analogous views."

Mr. Darwin, the main part of whose work on the 'Origin of Species' is
taken up with supporting the theory of descent with modification (which
frequently in the recapitulation chapter of the 'Origin of Species' he
seems to treat as synonymous with natural selection), has fallen into
the common error of thinking that Lamarck can be ignored or passed over
in a couple of sentences. I only find Lamarck's name twice in the 1859
edition of the 'Origin,' once on p. 242, where Mr. Darwin writes: "I am
surprised that no one has advanced this demonstrative case of neuter
insects, against the well-known doctrine of Lamarck;" and again, p. 427,
where Lamarck is stated to have been the first to call attention to the
"very important distinction between real affinities and analogical or
adaptive resemblances." How far from demonstrative is the particular
case which in 1859 Mr. Darwin considered so fatal to "the well-known
doctrine of Lamarck"--which should surely, one would have thought,
include the doctrine of descent with modification, which Mr. Darwin is
himself supporting--I have attempted to show in 'Life and Habit,' but
had perhaps better recapitulate briefly here.

Mr. Darwin writes: "In the simpler case of neuter insects all of one
caste, _which, as I believe, have been rendered different from the
fertile males and females through natural selection_...."[196] He thus
attributes the sterility and peculiar characteristics, we will say, of
the common hive working bees--"neuter insects all of one caste"--to
natural selection. Now, nothing is more certain than that these
characteristics--sterility, a cavity in the thigh for collecting wax, a
proboscis for gathering honey, &c.--are due to the treatment which the
eggs laid by the queen bee receive after they have left her body. Take
an egg and treat it in a certain way, and it becomes a working bee;
treat the same egg in a certain other way, and it becomes a queen. If
the bees are in danger of becoming queenless they take eggs which were
in the way of being developed into working bees, and change their food
and cells, whereon they develop into queens instead. How Mr. Darwin
could attribute the neutralization of the working bees--an act which is
obviously one of abortion committed by the body politic of the hive on a
balance of considerations--to the action of what he calls "natural
selection," and how, again, he could suppose that what he was advancing
had any but a confirmatory bearing upon Lamarck's position, is
incomprehensible, unless the passage in question be taken as a mere
slip. That attention has been called to it is plain, for the words "the
well-known doctrine of Lamarck" have been changed in later editions into
"the well-known doctrine of inherited habit as advanced by
Lamarck,"[197] but this correction, though some apparent improvement on
the original text, does little indeed in comparison with what is wanted.

Mr. Darwin has since introduced a paragraph concerning Lamarck into the
"historical sketch," already more than once referred to in these pages.
In this he summarises the theory which I am about to lay before the
reader, by saying that Lamarck "upheld the doctrine that all species,
including man, are descended from other species." If Lamarck had been
alive he would probably have preferred to see Mr. Darwin write that he
upheld "the doctrine of descent with modification as the explanation of
all differentiations of structure and instinct." Mr. Darwin continues,
that Lamarck "seems" to have been chiefly led to his conclusion on the
gradual change of species, "by the difficulty of distinguishing species
and varieties, by the almost perfect gradation of forms in certain
groups, and by the analogy of domestic productions."

Lamarck would probably have said that though he did indeed turn--as Mr.
Darwin has done, and as Buffon and Dr. Darwin had done before him--to
animals and plants under domestication, in illustration and support of
the theory of descent with modification; and that though he did also
insist, as so many other writers have done, on the arbitrary and
artificial nature of the distinction between species and varieties, he
was mainly led to agree with Buffon and Dr. Darwin by a broad survey of
the animal kingdom, with the details also of which few naturalists have
ever been better acquainted.

"Great," says Mr. Darwin, "is the power of steady
misrepresentation,"--and greatly indeed has the just fame of Lamarck
been eclipsed in consequence; "but," as Mr. Darwin finely continues,
"the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long

That Lamarck anticipated it, was prepared to face it, and even felt that
things were thus, after all, as they should be, will appear from the
shrewd and pleasant passage which is to be found near the close of his

"So great is the power of preconceived opinion, especially when any
personal interest is enlisted on the same side as itself, that though
it is hard to deduce new truths from the study of nature, it is still
harder to get them recognized by other people.

"These difficulties, however, are on the whole more beneficial than
hurtful to the cause of science; for it is through them that a number of
eccentric, though perhaps plausible speculations, perish in their
infancy, and are never again heard of. Sometimes, indeed, valuable ideas
are thus lost; but it is better that a truth, when once caught sight of,
should have to struggle for a long time without meeting the attention it
deserves, than that every outcome of a heated imagination should be
readily received.

"The more I reflect upon the numerous causes which affect our judgments,
the more convinced I am that, with the exception of such physical and
moral facts as no one can now throw doubt upon, all else is matter of
opinion and argument; and we know well that there is hardly an argument
to be found anywhere, against which another argument cannot plausibly be
adduced. Hence, though it is plain that the various opinions of men
differ greatly in probability and in the weight which should be attached
to them, it seems to me that we are wrong when we blame those who differ
from us.

"Are we then to recognize no opinions as well founded but those which
are generally received? Nay--experience teaches us plainly that the
highest and most cultivated minds must be at all times in an exceedingly
small minority. No one can dispute this. Authority should be told by
weight and not by number--but in good truth authority is a hard thing
to weigh.

"Nor again--in spite of the many and severe conditions which a judgment
must fulfil before it can be declared good--is it quite certain that
those whom public opinion has declared to be authorities, are always
right in the conclusions they arrive at.

"Positive facts are the only solid ground for man; the deductions he
draws from them are a very different matter. Outside the facts of nature
all is a question of probabilities, and the most that can be said is
that some conclusions are more probable than others."

Lamarck's poverty was perhaps one main reason of the ease with which it
was found possible to neglect his philosophical opinions. Science is not
a kingdom into which a poor man can enter easily, if he happens to
differ from a philosopher who gives good dinners, and has "his sisters
and his cousins and his aunts" to play the part of chorus to him.
Lamarck's two daughters do not appear to have been the kind of persons
who could make effective sisters or cousins or aunts. Men of science are
of like passions even with the other holy ones who have set themselves
up in all ages as the pastors and prophets of mankind. The saint has
commonly deemed it to be for the interests of saintliness that he should
strain a point or two in his own favour--and the more so according as
his reputation for an appearance of candour has been the better earned.
If, then, Lamarck's opponents could keep choruses, while Lamarck had
nothing to fall back upon but the merits of his case only, it is not
surprising that he should have found himself neglected by the
scientists of his own time. Moreover he was too old to have undertaken
such an unequal contest. If he had been twenty years younger when he
began it, he would probably have enjoyed his full measure of success
before he died.

Not that Lamarck can claim, as a thinker, to stand on the same level
with Dr. Darwin, and still less so with Buffon. He attempted to go too
fast and too far. Seeing that if we accept descent with modification,
the question arises whether what we call life and consciousness may not
themselves be evolved from some thing or things which looked at one time
so little living and conscious that we call them inanimate--and being
anxious to see his theory reach, and to follow it, as far back as
possible, he speculates about the origin of life; having formed a theory
thereon, he is more inclined to interpret the phenomena of lower animal
life so as to make them fit in with his theory, than as he would have
interpreted them if there had been no theory at stake.

Thus his denial that sensation, and much more, intelligence and
deliberate action, can exist without a brain and a nervous system, has
led him to deny sensation, consciousness, and intelligence to many
animals which act in such manner as would certainly have made him say
that they feel and know what they are about, if he had formed no theory
about brains and nervous systems.

Nothing can be more different than the manners in which Lamarck and Dr.
Darwin wrote on this head. Lamarck over and over again maintains that
where there is no nervous system there can be no sensation. Combating,
for example, the assertion of Cabanis, that to live is to feel, he says
that "the greater number of the polypi and all the infusoria, having no
nervous system, it must be said of them as also of worms, that to live
is still not to feel; and so again of plants."[199]

How different from this is the un-theory-ridden language of Dr. Darwin,
quoted on p. 116 of this work.

Lamarck again writes:--

"The very imperfect animals of the lowest classes, having no nervous
system, are simply irritable, have nothing but certain habits,
experience no sensations, and never conceive ideas."

This, in the face of the performances of the amoeba--a minute jelly
speck, without any special organ whatever--in making its tests, cannot
be admitted. Is it possible that Lamarck was in some measure misled by
believing Buffon to be in earnest when he advanced propositions little
less monstrous?

"But," continues Lamarck, "the less imperfect animals which have a
nervous system, though they have not the organ of intelligence, have
instinct, habits, and proclivities; they feel sensations, and yet form
no ideas whatever. I venture to say that where there is no organ for a
faculty that faculty cannot exist."[200]

Who can tell what ideas a worm does or does not form? We can watch its
actions, and see that they are such as involve what we call design and a
perception of its own interest. Under these circumstances it seems
better to call the worm a reasonable creature with Dr. Darwin than to
say with Lamarck that because worms do not appear to have that organ
which he assumes to be the sole means of causing sensation and ideas,
therefore they can neither feel nor think. Doubtless they cannot feel
and think as many sensations and thoughts as we can, but our ideas of
what they can and cannot feel must be formed through consideration of
what we see them do, and must be biassed by no theories of what they
ought to be able to feel or not feel.

Again Lamarck, shortly after an excellent passage in which he points out
that the lower animals gain by experience just as man does (and here
probably he had in his mind the passage of Buffon referred to at p. 112
of this work), nevertheless writes:--

"If the facts and considerations put forward in this volume be held
worthy of attention, it will follow necessarily that there are some
animals which have neither reason nor instinct" (I should be glad to see
one of these animals and to watch its movements), "such as those which
have no power of feeling; that there are others which have instinct but
no degree whatever of reason" (whereas from Dr. Darwin's premises it
should follow, and would doubtless be readily admitted by him, that
instinct is reason, but reason many times repeated made perfect, and
finally repeated by rote; so that far from being prior to reason, as
Lamarck here implies, it can only come long afterwards), "such as those
which have a system enabling them to feel, but which still lack the
organ of intelligence; and finally, that there are those which have not
only instinct, but over and above this a certain degree of reasoning
power, such as those creatures which have one system for sensations and
another for acts involving intelligence. Instinct is with these last
animals the motive power of almost all their actions, and they rarely
use what little reason they have. Man, who comes next above them, is
also possessed of instincts which inspire some of his actions, but he
can acquire much reason, and can use it so as to direct the greater part
of his actions."[201]

All this will be felt to be less satisfactory than the simple directness
of Dr. Darwin. It comes in great measure from following Buffon without
being _en rapport_ with him. On the other hand, Lamarck must be admitted
to have elaborated the theory of "descent with modification" with no
less clearness than Dr. Darwin, and with much greater fulness of detail.
There is no substantial difference between the points they wish to
establish; Dr. Darwin has the advantage in that not content with
maintaining that there will be a power of adaptation to the conditions
of an animal's existence which will determine its organism, he goes on
to say what the principal conditions are, and shows more lucidly than
Lamarck has done (though Lamarck adopts the same three causes in a
passage which will follow), that struggle, and consequently
modification, will be chiefly conversant about the means of subsistence,
of reproduction, and of self-protection. Nevertheless, though Dr. Darwin
has said enough to show that he had the whole thing clearly before him,
and could have elaborated it as finely as or better than Lamarck
himself has done, if he had been so minded, yet the palm must be given
to Lamarck on the score of what he actually did, and this I observe to
be the verdict of history, for whereas Lamarck's name is still daily
quoted, Dr. Darwin's is seldom mentioned, and never with the applause
which it deserves.

The resemblance between the two writers--that is to say, the complete
coincidence of their views--is so remarkable that the question is forced
upon us how far Lamarck knew the substance of Dr. Darwin's theory.
Lamarck knew Buffon personally; he had been tutor to Buffon's son, and
Buffon had three of Lamarck's volumes on the French Flora printed at the
royal printing press;--how can we account for Lamarck's having had
Buffon's theory of descent with modification before him for so many
years, and yet remaining a partisan of immutability till 1801? Before
this year we find no trace of his having accepted evolution;
thenceforward he is one of the most ardent and constant exponents which
this doctrine has ever had. What was it that repelled him in Buffon's
system? How is it that in the 'Philosophie Zoologique' there is not, so
far as I can remember, a single reference to Buffon, from whom, however,
as we shall see, many paragraphs are taken with but very little

I am inclined to think that the secret of this sudden conversion must be
found in a French translation by M. Deleuze of Dr. Darwin's poem, 'The
Loves of the Plants' which appeared in 1800. Lamarck--the most eminent
botanist of his time--was sure to have heard of and seen this, and would
probably know the translator, who would be able to give him a fair idea
of the 'Zoonomia.'

I will give a few of the passages which Lamarck would find in this
translation. Speaking of Dr. Darwin, M. Deleuze says:--"Il falloit
encore qu'un nouvel observateur, entrant dans la route qui venoit de
s'ouvrir, s'y frayât des sentiers ignorés; que liant la physique
végétale à la botanique il nous montrât dans les plantes, non seulement
des corps organisés soumis à des lois constantes, mais des êtres doués
sinon de sensibilité, au moins d'une irritabilité particulière, d'un
principe de vie _qui leur fait exécuter des mouvements analogues à leurs

"Il est des animaux et des plantes qui par le laps du tems paroissent
avoir éprouvé des changemens dans leur organisation, _pour s'accommoder
à de nouveaux genres de nourriture et aux moyens de se la procurer_.
Peut-être les productions de la nature font elles des progrès vers la
perfection. Cette idée appuyée par les observations modernes sur
l'accroissement progressif des parties solides du globe, s'accorde avec
la dignité et la providence du créateur de l'univers."[203]

"La nature semble s'être fait un jeu d'établir entre tous les êtres
organisés une sorte de guerre qui entretient leur activité: si elle a
donné aux uns des moyens de défense, elle a donné aux autres des moyens

Turning to the 'Botanic Garden' itself, I find that this admirable
sentence belongs to M. Deleuze, and not to Dr. Darwin, who, however, has
said what comes to much the same thing,[205] as may be seen p. 227 of
this volume. But the authorship is immaterial; whether the passage was
by Dr. Darwin or M. Deleuze, it was, in all probability, known to
Lamarck before his change of front.

     *     *     *     *     *

The note on Trapa Natans again[206] suggests itself as the source from
which the passage in the 'Philosophie Zoologique' about the Ranunculus
aquatilis is taken,[207] while one of the most important passages in the
work, a summary, in fact, of the principal means of modification, seems
to be taken, the first half of it from Buffon, and the second from Dr.
Darwin. I have called attention to it on pp. 300, 301.

We may then suppose that Lamarck failed to understand Buffon, and
conceived that he ought either to have gone much farther, or not so far;
not being yet prepared to go the whole length himself, he opposed
mutability till Dr. Darwin's additions to Buffon's ostensible theory
reached him, whereon he at once adopted them, and having received
nothing but a few notes and hints, felt himself at liberty to work the
theory out independently and claim it. In so original a work as the
'_Philosophie Zoologique_' must always be considered, this may be
legitimate, but I find in it, as Isidore Geoffroy seems also to have
found, a little more claim to complete independence than is acceptable
to one who is fresh from Buffon and Dr. Darwin.


[186] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. p. 404, 1859.

[187] 'Système des Animaux sans Vertèbres,' Paris, in-8, an. ix. (1801);
'Discours d'Ouverture,' p. 12, &c.; 'Recherches sur l'Organisation des
Corps Vivants,' Paris, in-8, 1802, p. 50, &c.; 'Discours d'Ouverture
d'un Cours de Zoologie pour l'an ix.,' Paris, in-8, 1803. This discourse
is entirely devoted to the consideration of the question, "What is

[188] 'Discours d'Ouverture d'un Cours de Zoologie,' 1806, Paris, in-8,
p. 8, &c.

[189] See following chapter.

[190] 'Hist, des Anim. sans Vertèb.,' tom, i., Introduction, 1^re ed.,
1815; 'Syst. des Conn. Positives,' Paris, in-8, 1820, 1^re part,
2^me sect. ch. ii. p. 114, &c.

[191] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. p. 407.

[192] 'History of Creation,' English translation, vol. i. pp. 111, 112.

[193] M. Martins' edition of the 'Philosophie Zoologique,' Paris, 1873.
Introd., p. vi.

[194] 'Origin of Species,' p. 3, 1859.

[195] 'Vestiges of Creation,' ed. 1860, Proofs, Illustrations, &c., p.

[196] 'Origin of Species,' ed. 1, p. 239; ed. 6, p. 231.

[197] 'Origin of Species,' ed. 1, p. 242; ed. 6, 1876, p. 233.

[198] 'Origin of Species,' p. 421, ed. 1876.

[199] 'Phil. Zool.,' vol. i. p. 404.

[200] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 324.

[201] 'Phil. Zool.,' vol. ii. p. 410.

[202] 'Les Amours des Plantes,' Discours Prélim., p. 7. Paris, 1800.

[203] Ibid., Notes du chant i., p. 202.

[204] Ibid. p. 238.

[205] 'Zoonomia,' vol. i. p. 507.

[206] 'Les Amours des Plantes,' p. 360.

[207] Vol. i. p. 231, ed. M. Martins, 1873.



The first part of the '_Philosophie Zoologique_' is the one which deals
with the doctrine of evolution or descent with modification. It is to
this, therefore, that our attention will be confined. Yet only a
comparatively small part of the three hundred and fifty pages which
constitute Lamarck's first part are devoted to setting forth the reasons
which led him to arrive at his conclusions--the greater part of the
volume being occupied with the classification of animals, which we may
again omit, as foreign to our purpose.

I shall condense whenever I can, but I do not think the reader will find
that I have left out much that bears upon the argument. I shall also use
inverted commas while translating with such freedom as to omit several
lines together, where I can do so without suppressing anything essential
to the elucidation of Lamarck's meaning. I shall, however, throughout
refer the reader to the page of the original work from which I am

"The common origin of bodily and mental phenomena," says Lamarck in his
preliminary chapter, "has been obscured, because we have studied them
chiefly in man, who, as the most highly developed of living beings,
presents the problem in its most difficult and complicated aspect. If we
had begun our study with that of the lowest organisms, and had proceeded
from these to the more complex ones, we should have seen the progression
which is observable in organization, and the successive acquisition of
various special organs, with new faculties for every additional organ.
We should thus have seen that sense of needs--originally hardly
perceptible, but gradually increasing in intensity and variety--has led
to the attempt to gratify them; that the actions thus induced, having
become habitual and energetic, have occasioned the development of organs
adapted for their performance; that the force which excites organic
movements can in the case of the lowest animals exist outside them and
yet animate them; that this force was subsequently introduced into the
animals themselves, and fixed within them; and, lastly, that it gave
rise to sensibility and, in the end, to intelligence."[208] The reader
had better be on his guard here, and whenever Lamarck is speculating
about the lowest forms of action and sensation. I have thought it well,
however, to give enough of these speculations, as occasion arises, to
show their tendency.

"Sensation is not the proximate cause of organic movements. It may be so
with the higher animals, but it cannot be shown to be so with plants,
nor even with all known animals. At the outset of life there was none of
that sensation which could only arise where organic beings had already
attained a considerable development. Nature has done all by slow
gradations, both organs and faculties being the outcome of a progressive

"The mere composition of an animal is but a small part of what deserves
study in connection with the animal itself. The effects of its
surroundings in causing new wants, the effects of its wants in giving
rise to actions, those of its actions in developing habits and
tendencies, the effects of use and disuse as affecting any organ, the
means which nature takes to preserve and make perfect what has been
already acquired--these are all matters of the highest importance.[210]

"In their bearing upon these questions the invertebrate animals are more
important and interesting than the vertebrate, for they are more in
number, and being more in number are more varied; their variations are
more marked, and the steps by which they have advanced in complexity are
more easily observed.[211]

"I propose, therefore, to divide this work into three parts, of which
the first shall deal with the conventions necessary for the treatment of
the subject, the importance of analogical structures, and the meaning
which should be attached to the word species. I will point out on the
one hand the evidence of a graduated descending scale, as existing
between the highest and the lowest organisms; and, on the other, the
effect of surroundings and habits on the organs of living beings, as the
cause of their development or arrest of development. Lastly, I will
treat of the natural order of animals, and show what should be their
fittest classification and arrangement."[212]

It seems unnecessary to give Lamarck's intentions with regard to his
second and third parts, as they do not here concern us; they deal with
the origin of life and mind.

The first chapter of the work opens with the importance of bearing in
mind the difference between the conventional and the natural, that is to
say, between words and things. Here, as indeed largely throughout this
part of his work, he follows Buffon, by whom he is evidently influenced.

"The conventional deals with systems of arrangement, classification,
orders, families, genera, and the nomenclature, whether of different
sections or of individual objects.

"An arrangement should be called systematic, or arbitrary, when it does
not conform to the genealogical order taken by nature in the development
of the things arranged, and when, by consequence it is not founded upon
well-considered analogies. There is such a thing as a natural order in
every department of nature; it is the order in which its several
component items have been successively developed.[213]

"Some lines certainly seem to have been drawn by Nature herself. It was
hard to believe that mammals, for example, and birds, were not
well-defined classes. Nevertheless the sharpness of definition was an
illusion, and due only to our limited knowledge. The ornithorhynchus and
the echidna bridge the gulf.[214]

"Simplicity is the main end of any classification. If all the races, or
as they are called, species, of any kingdom were perfectly known, and if
the true analogies between each species, and between the groups which
species form, were also known, so that their approximations to each
other and the position of the several groups were in conformity with the
natural analogies between them--then classes, orders, sections, and
genera would be families, larger or smaller; for each division would be
a greater or smaller section of a natural order or sequence.[215] But in
this case it would be very difficult to assign the limits of each
division; they would be continually subjected to arbitrary alteration,
and agreement would only exist where plain and palpable gaps were
manifest in our series. Happily, however, for classifiers there are, and
will always probably remain, a number of unknown forms."[216]

That the foregoing is still felt to be true by those who accept
evolution, may be seen from the following passage, taken from Mr.
Darwin's 'Origin of Species':--

"As all the organic beings which have ever lived can be arranged within
a few great classes; and as all within each class have, according to our
theory, been connected together by fine gradations, the best, and if our
collections were nearly perfect, the only possible arrangement would be
genealogical: descent being the hidden bond of connection which
naturalists have been seeking under the term of the Natural System. On
this view, we can understand how it is that in the eyes of most
naturalists, the structure of the embryo is even more important for
classifications than that of the adult."[217]

In his second chapter Lamarck deals with the importance of comparative
anatomy, and the study of homologous structures. These indicate a sort
of blood relationship between the individuals in which they are found,
and are our safest guide to any natural system of classification. Their
importance is not confined to the study of classes, families, or even
species; they must be studied also in the individuals of each species,
as it is thus only, that we can recognize either identity or difference
of species. The results arrived at, however, are only trustworthy over a
limited period, for though the individuals of any species commonly so
resemble one another at any given time, as to enable us to generalize
from them, at the date of our observing them, yet species are not fixed
and immutable through all time: they change, though with such extreme
slowness that we do not observe their doing so, and when we come upon a
species that _has_ changed, we consider it as a new one, and as having
always been such as we now see it.[218]

"It is none the less true that when we compare the same kind of organs
in different individuals, we can quickly and easily tell whether they
are very like each other or not, and hence, whether the animals or
plants in which they are found, should be set down as members of the
same or of a different species. It is only therefore the general
inference drawn from the apparent immutability of species, that has
been too inconsiderately drawn.[219]

"The analogies and points of agreement between living organisms, are
always incomplete when based upon the consideration of any single organ
only. But though still incomplete, they will be much more important
according as the organ on which they are founded is an essential one or

"With animals, those analogies are most important which exist between
organs most necessary for the conservation of their life. With plants,
between their organs of generation. Hence, with animals, it will be the
interior structure which will determine the most important analogies:
with plants it will be the manner in which they fructify.[220]

"With animals we should look to nerves, organs of respiration, and those
of the circulation; with plants, to the embryo and its accessories, the
sexual organs of their flowers, &c.[221] To do this, will set us on to
the Natural Method, which is as it were a sketch traced by man of the
order taken by Nature in her productions.[222] Nevertheless the
divisions which we shall be obliged to establish, will still be
arbitrary and artificial, though presenting to our view sections
arranged in the order which Nature has pursued.[223]

"What, then," he asks,[224] "_is_ species--and can we show that species
has changed--however slowly?" He now covers some of the ground since
enlarged upon in Mr. Darwin's second chapter, in which the arbitrary
nature of the distinction between species and varieties is so well
exposed. "I shall show," says Lamarck (in substance, but I am compelled
to condense much), "that the habits by which we now recognize any
species, are due to the conditions of life [_circonstances_] under which
it has for a long time existed, and that these habits have had such an
influence upon the structure of each individual of the species, as to
have at length modified this structure, and adapted it to the habits
which have been contracted.[225]

"The individuals of any species," he continues, "certainly resemble
their parents; it is a universal law of nature that all offspring should
differ but little from its immediate progenitors, but this does not
justify the ordinary belief that species never vary. Indeed, naturalists
themselves are in continual difficulty as regards distinguishing species
from varieties; they do not recognize the fact that species are only
constant as long as the conditions in which they are placed are
constant. Individuals vary and form breeds which blend so insensibly
into the neighbouring species, that the distinctions made by naturalists
between species and varieties, are for the most part arbitrary, and the
confusion upon this head is becoming day by day more serious.[226]

"Not perceiving that species will not vary as long as the conditions in
which they are placed remain essentially unchanged, naturalists have
supposed that each species was due to a special act of creation on the
part of the Supreme Author of all things. Assuredly, nothing can exist
but by the will of this Supreme Author, but can we venture to assign
rules to him in the execution of his will? May not his infinite power
have chosen to create an order of things which should evolve in
succession all that we know as well as all that we do not know? Whether
we regard species as created or evolved, the boundlessness of his power
remains unchanged, and incapable of any diminution whatsoever. Let us
then confine ourselves simply to observing the facts around us, and if
we find any clue to the path taken by Nature, let us say fearlessly that
it has pleased her Almighty Author that she should take this path.[227]

"What applies to species applies also to genera; the further our
knowledge extends, the more difficult do we find it to assign its exact
limits to any genus. Gaps in our collections are being continually
filled up, to the effacement of our dividing lines of demarcation. We
are thus compelled to settle the limits of species and variety
arbitrarily, and in a manner about which there will be constant
disagreement. Naturalists are daily classifying new species which blend
into one another so insensibly that there can hardly be found words to
express the minute differences between them. The gaps that exist are
simply due to our not having yet found the connecting species.

"I do not, however, mean to say that animal life forms a simple and
continuously blended series. Life is rather comparable to a
ramification. In life we should see, as it were, a ramified continuity,
if certain species had not been lost. The species which, according to
this illustration, stands at the extremity of each bough, should bear a
resemblance, at least upon one side, to the other neighbouring species;
and this certainly is what we observe in nature.

"Having arranged living forms in such an order as this, let us take one,
and then, passing over several boughs, let us take another at some
distance from it; a wide difference will now be seen between the species
which the forms selected represent. Our earliest collections supplied us
with such distantly allied forms only; now, however, that we have such
an infinitely greater number of specimens, we can see that many of them
blend one into the other without presenting noteworthy differences at
any step."[228]

This has been well extended by Mr. Darwin in a passage which
begins:--"The affinities of all beings of the same class have sometimes
been represented by a great tree. I believe that this simile largely
speaks the truth."[229]

"What, then," continues Lamarck, "can be the cause of all this? Surely
the following: namely, that when individuals of any species change their
situation, climate, mode of existence, or habits [conditions of life],
their structure, form, organization, and in fact their whole being
becomes little by little modified, till in the course of time it
responds to the changes experienced by the creature."[230]

In his preface Lamarck had already declared that "the thread which gives
us a clue to the causes of the various phenomena of animal
organization, in the manifold diversity of its developments, is to be
found in the fact that Nature conserves in offspring all that their life
and environments has developed in parents." Heredity--"the hidden bond
of common descent"--tempered with the modifications induced by changed
habits--which changed habits are due to new conditions and
surroundings--this with Lamarck, as with Buffon and Dr. Darwin, is the
explanation of the diversity of forms which we observe in nature. He now
goes on to support this--briefly, in accordance with his design--but
with sufficient detail to prevent all possibility of mistake about his

"In the same climate differences in situation, and a greater or less
degree of exposure, affect simply, in the first instance, the
individuals exposed to them; but in the course of time, these repeated
differences of surroundings in individuals which reproduce themselves
continually under similar circumstances, induce differences which become
part of their very nature; so that after many successive generations,
these individuals, which were originally, we will say, of any given
species, become transformed into a different one."[231]

"Let us suppose that a grass growing in a low-lying meadow gets carried
by some accident to the brow of a neighbouring hill, where the soil is
still damp enough for the plant to be able to exist. Let it live here
for many generations, till it has become thoroughly accustomed to its
position, and let it then gradually find its way to the dry and almost
arid soil of a mountain side; if the plant is able to stand the change
and to perpetuate itself for many generations, it will have become so
changed that botanists will class it as a new species."[232]

"The same sort of process goes on in the animal kingdom, but animals are
modified more slowly than plants."[233]

The sterility of hybrids, to which Mr. Darwin devotes a great part of
the ninth chapter of his 'Origin of Species,'[234] is then touched
on--briefly, but sufficiently--as follows:--

"The idea that species were fixed and immutable involved the belief that
distinct species could not be fertile _inter se_. But unfortunately
observation has proved, and daily proves, that this supposition is
unfounded. Hybrids are very common among plants, and quite sufficiently
so among animals to show that the boundaries of these so-called
immutable species are not so well defined as has been supposed. Often,
indeed, there is no offspring between the individuals of what are called
distinct species, especially when they are widely different, and again,
the offspring when produced is generally sterile; but when there is less
difference between the parents, both the difficulty of breeding the
hybrid, and its sterility when produced, are found to disappear. In this
very power of crossing we see a source from which breeds, and ultimately
species, may arise."[235]

Mr. Darwin arrives at the same conclusion. He writes:--

"We must, therefore, either give up the belief of the universal
sterility of species when crossed, or we must look at this sterility in
animals, not as an indelible characteristic, but as one capable of being
removed by domestication.

"Finally, on considering all the ascertained facts on the intercrossing
of plants and animals, it may be concluded that some degree of
sterility, both in first crosses and in hybrids, is an exceedingly
general result, but that it cannot, under our present state of
knowledge, be considered as absolutely universal."[236]

Returning to Lamarck, we find him saying:--

"The limits, therefore, of so-called species are not so constant and
unvarying as is commonly supposed. Consider also the following. All
living forms upon the face of the globe have been brought forth in the
course of infinite time by the process of generation only. Nature has
directly created none but the lowest organisms; these she is still
producing every day, they being, as it were, the first sketches of life,
and produced by what is called spontaneous generation. Organs have been
gradually developed in these low forms, and these organs have in the
course of time increased in diversity and complexity. The power of
growth in each living body has given rise to various modes of
reproduction, and thus progress, already acquired, has been preserved
and handed down to offspring.[237] With sufficient time, favourable
conditions of life [_circonstances_], successive changes in the surface
of the globe, and the power of new surroundings and habits to modify the
organs of living bodies, all animal and vegetable forms have been
imperceptibly rendered such as we now see them. It follows that species
will be constant only in relation to their environments, and cannot be
as old as Nature herself.

"But what are we to say of instinct? Can we suppose that all the tricks,
cunning, artifices, precautions, patience, and skill of animals are due
to evolution only? Must we not see here the design of an all-powerful
Creator? No one certainly will assign limits to the Creator's power, but
it is a bold thing to say that he did not choose to work in this way or
that way, when his own handiwork declares to us that this is the way he
chose. I find proof in Nature--meaning by nature the _ensemble_ of all
that is,[238] but regarding her as herself the effect of an unknown
first cause[239]--that she is the author of organization, life, and even
sensation; that she has multiplied and diversified the organs and mental
powers of the creatures which she sustains and reproduces; that she has
developed in animals, through the sole instrumentality of sense of need
as establishing and directing their habits, all actions and all habits,
from the simplest up to those which constitute instinct, industry, and
finally reason.[240]

"Against this it is alleged that we have no reason to believe species to
have changed within any known era. The skeletons of some Egyptian birds,
preserved two or three thousand years ago, differ in no particular from
the same kind of creatures at the present day. But this is what we
should expect, inasmuch as the position and climate of Egypt itself do
not appear to have changed. If the conditions of life have not varied,
why should the species subjected to those conditions have done so?
Moreover, birds can move about freely, and if one place does not suit
them they can find another that does. All that these Egyptian mummies
really prove is, that there were animals in Egypt two or three thousand
years ago which are like the animals of to-day; but how short a space is
two or three thousand years, as compared with the time which Nature has
had at her disposal! A time infinitely great _quâ_ man, is still
infinitely short _quâ_ Nature.[241]

"If, however, we turn to animals under confinement, we find immediate
proof that the most startling changes are capable of being produced
after some generations of changed habits. In the sixth chapter we shall
have occasion to observe the power of changed conditions
[_circonstances_] to develop new desires in animals, and to induce new
courses of action; we shall see the power which these new actions will
have, after a certain amount of repetition, to engender new habits and
tendencies; and we shall also note the effects of use and disuse in
either fortifying and developing an organ, or in diminishing it and
causing it to disappear. With plants under domestication, we shall find
corresponding phenomena. Species will thus appear to be unchangeable for
comparatively short periods only."[242]

It is interesting to see that Mr. Darwin lays no less stress on the
study of animals and plants under domestication than Buffon, Dr. Darwin,
and Lamarck. Indeed, all four writers appear to have been in great
measure led to their conclusions by this very study. "At the
commencement of my investigations," writes Mr. Darwin, "it seemed to me
probable that a careful study of domesticated animals and of cultivated
plants would offer the best chance of making out this obscure problem.
Nor have I been disappointed; in this and in all other perplexing cases,
I have invariably found that our knowledge, imperfect though it be, of
variation under domestication, afforded the best and safest clue. I may
venture to express my conviction of the high value of such studies,
though they have been very commonly neglected by naturalists."[243]

In justice to the three writers whom I have named, it should be borne in
mind that they also ventured to express their conviction of the high
value of these studies. Buffon, indeed, as we have seen, gives animals
under domestication the foremost place in his work. He does not treat of
wild animals till he has said all he has to say upon our most important
domesticated breeds,--on whose descent from one or two wild stocks he is
never weary of insisting. It was doubtless because of the opportunities
they afforded him for demonstrating the plasticity of living organism
that the most important position in his work was assigned to them.

Lamarck professes himself unable to make up his mind about extinct
species; how far, that is to say, whole breeds must be considered as
having died out, or how far the difference between so many now living
and fossil forms is due to the fact that our living species are
modified descendants of the fossil ones. Such large parts of the globe
were still practically unknown in Lamarck's time, and the recent
discovery of the ornithorhynchus has raised such hopes as to what might
yet be found in Australia, that he was inclined to think that only such
creatures as man found hurtful to him, as, for example, the megatherium
and the mastodon, had become truly extinct, nor was he, it would seem,
without a hope that these would yet one day be discovered. The climatic
and geological changes that have occurred in past ages, would, he
believed, account for all the difference which we observe between living
and fossil forms, inasmuch as they would have changed the conditions
under which animals lived, and therefore their habits and organs would
have become correspondingly modified. He therefore rather wondered to
find so much, than so little, resemblance between existing and fossil

Buffon took a juster view of this matter; it will be remembered that he
concluded his remarks upon the mammoth by saying that many species had
doubtless disappeared without leaving any living descendants, while
others had left descendants which had become modified.

Lamarck anticipated Lyell in supposing geological changes to have been
due almost entirely to the continued operation of the causes which we
observe daily at work in nature: thus he writes:--

"Every observer knows that the surface of the earth has changed; every
valley has been exalted, the crooked has been made straight, and the
rough places plain; not even is climate itself stable. Hence changed
conditions; and these involve changed needs and habits of life; if such
changes can give rise to modifications or developments, it is clear that
every living body must vary, especially in its outward character, though
the variation can only be perceptible after several generations.

"It is not surprising then that so few living species should be
represented in the geologic record. It is surprising rather that we
should find any living species represented at all.[244]

"Catastrophes have indeed been supposed, and they are an easy way of
getting out of the difficulty; but unfortunately, they are not supported
by evidence. Local catastrophes have undoubtedly occurred, as
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, of which the effects can be
sufficiently seen; but why suppose any universal catastrophe, when the
ordinary progress of nature suffices to account for the phenomena?
Nature is never _brusque_. She proceeds slowly step by step,
and this with occasional local catastrophes will remove all our

In his fourth chapter Lamarck points out that animals move themselves,
or parts of themselves, not through impulsion or movement communicated
to them as from one billiard ball to another, but by reason of a cause
which excites their irritability, which cause is within some animals and
forms part of them, while it is wholly outside of others.[246]

I should again warn the reader to be on his guard against the opinion
that any animals can be said to live if they have no "inward motion" of
their own which prompts them to act. We cannot call anything alive which
moves only as wind and water may make it move, but without any impulse
from within to execute the smallest action and without any capacity of
feeling. Such a creature does not look sufficiently like the other
things which we call alive; it should be first shown to us, so that we
may make up our minds whether the facts concerning it have been truly
stated, and if so, what it most resembles; we may then classify it

"Some animals change their place by creeping, some by walking, some by
running or leaping; others again fly, while others live in the water and

"The origin of these different kinds of locomotion is to be found in the
two great wants of animal life: 1, the means of procuring food; 2, the
search after mates with a view to reproduction.

"Since then the power of locomotion was a matter affecting their
individual self-preservation, as well as that of their race, the
existence of the want led to the means of its being gratified."[247]

Lamarck is practically at one with Dr. Erasmus Darwin, that modification
will commonly travel along three main lines which spring from the need
of reproduction, of procuring food, and (Dr. Darwin has added) the power
of self-protection; but Dr. Darwin's treatment of this part of his
subject is more lucid and satisfactory than Lamarck's, inasmuch as he
immediately brings forward instances of various modifications which have
in each case been due to one of the three main desires above specified,
namely, reproduction, subsistence, and self-defence.

Lamarck concludes the chapter with some passages which show that he was
alive--as what Frenchman could fail to be after Buffon had written?--to
the consequences which must follow from the geometrical ratio of
increase, and to the struggle for existence, with consequent survival of
the fittest, which must always be one of the conditions of any wild
animal's existence. The paragraphs, indeed, on this subject are taken
with very little alteration from Buffon's work. As Lamarck's theory is
based upon the fact that it is on the nature of these conditions that
the habits and consequently the structure of any animal will depend, he
must have seen that the shape of many of its organs must vary greatly in
correlation to the conditions to which it was subjected in the matter of
self-protection. I do not see, then, that there is any substantial
difference between the positions taken by Dr. Erasmus Darwin and by
Lamarck in this respect.

"Let us conclude," he writes, "by showing the means employed by nature
to prevent the number of her creatures from injuring the conservation of
what has been produced already, and of the general order which should

     . . . . . .

"In consequence of the extremely rapid rate of increase of the smaller,
and especially of the most imperfect, animals, their numbers would
become so great as to prove injurious to the conservation of breeds, and
to the progress already made towards more perfect organization, unless
nature had taken precautions to keep them down within certain fixed
limits which she cannot exceed."[249]

This seems to contain, and in a nutshell, as much of the essence of what
Mr. Herbert Spencer and Mr. Charles Darwin have termed the survival of
the fittest in the struggle for existence, as was necessary for
Lamarck's purpose.

To Lamarck, as to Dr. Darwin and Buffon, it was perfectly clear that the
facts, that animals have to find their food under varying circumstances,
and that they must defend themselves in all manner of varying ways
against other creatures which would eat them if they could, were simply
some of the conditions of their existence. In saying that the
surrounding circumstances--which amount to the conditions of
existence--determined the direction in which any plant or animal should
be slowly modified, Lamarck includes as a matter of course the fact that
the "stronger and better armed should eat the weaker," and thus survive
and bear offspring which would inherit the strength and better armour of
its parents. Nothing therefore can be more at variance with the truth
than to represent Lamarck and the other early evolutionists as ignoring
the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest; these are
inevitably implied whenever they use the word "_circonstances_" or
environment, as I will more fully show later on, and are also expressly
called attention to by the greater number of them.[250]

"Animals, except those which are herbivorous, prey upon one another; and
the herbivorous are exposed to the attacks of the flesh-eating races.

"_The strongest and best armed for attack eat the weaker_, and the
greater kinds eat the smaller. Individuals of the same race rarely eat
one another; they war only with other races than their own."[251]

Dr. Darwin here again has the advantage over Lamarck; for he has pointed
out how the males contend with one another for the possession of the
females, which I do not find Lamarck to have done, though he would at
once have admitted the fact. Lamarck continues:--

"The smaller kinds of animals breed so numerously and so rapidly that
they would people the globe to the exclusion of other forms of life, if
nature had not limited their inconceivable multitude. As, however, they
are the prey of a number of other creatures, live but a short time, and
perish easily with cold, they are kept always within the proportions
necessary for the maintenance both of their own and of other races.[252]

"As regards the larger and stronger animals, they would become dominant,
and be injurious to the conservation of many other races, if they could
multiply in too great numbers. But as it is, they devour one another,
and breed but slowly, and few at a birth, so that equilibrium is duly
preserved among them. Man alone is the unquestionably dominant animal,
but men war among themselves, so that it may be safely said the world
will never be peopled to its utmost capacity."[253]

In his fifth chapter Lamarck returns to the then existing arrangement
and classification of animals.

"Naturalists having remarked that many species, and some genera and even
families present characters which as it were isolate them, it has been
imagined that these approached or drew further from each other according
as their points of agreement or difference seemed greater or less when
set down as it were on a chart or map. They regard the small well-marked
series which have been styled natural families, as groups which should
be placed between the isolated species and their nearest neighbours so
as to form a kind of reticulation. This idea, which some of our modern
naturalists have held to be admirable, is evidently mistaken, and will
be discarded on a profounder and more extended knowledge of
organization, and more especially when the distinction has been duly
drawn between what is due to the action of special conditions and to
general advance of organization."[254]

I take it that Lamarck is here attempting to express what Mr. Charles
Darwin has rendered much more clearly in the following excellent

"It should always be borne in mind what sort of intermediate forms must,
on the theory [what theory?], have formerly existed. I have found it
difficult when looking at any two species to avoid picturing to myself
forms _directly_ intermediate between them. But this is a wholly false
view; we should always look for forms intermediate between each species
and a common but unknown progenitor; and the progenitor will generally
have differed in some respects from all its modified descendants. To
give a simple illustration: the fantail and pouter pigeons are both
descended from the rock pigeon. If we possessed all the intermediate
varieties which have ever existed, we should have an extremely close
series, between both and the rock pigeon; but we should have no
varieties directly intermediate between the fantail and the pouter;
none, for instance, combining a tail somewhat expanded with a crop
somewhat enlarged, the characteristic features of these two breeds.
These two breeds, moreover, have become so much modified that, if we had
no historical or indirect evidence regarding their origin, it would not
have been possible to have determined, from a mere comparison of their
structure with that of the rock pigeon C. livia, whether they had
descended from this species, or from some other allied form, as C.

"So with natural species, if we look to forms very distinct--for
instance, to the horse and the tapir--we have no reason to suppose that
links directly intermediate between them ever existed, but between each
and an unknown common parent. The common parent will have had in its
whole organization much general resemblance to the tapir and the horse;
but in some points of structure it may have differed considerably from
both, even perhaps more than they differ from each other. Hence in all
such cases we should be unable to recognize the parent form of any two
or more species, even if we closely compared the structure of the parent
with that of its modified descendants, unless at the same time we had a
nearly perfect chain of the intermediate links.

     . . . . . .

"By the theory of natural selection [surely this is a slip for "by the
theory of descent with modification"] all living species have been
connected with the parent species of each genus, by differences not
greater than we see between the natural and domestic varieties of the
same species at the present day; and their parent species, now generally
extinct, have in their turn been similarly connected with more ancient
forms, and so on backwards, always converging to the common ancestor of
each great class; so that the number of intermediate and transitional
links between all living and extinct species must have been
inconceivably great. But assuredly if this theory [the theory of descent
with modification or that of "natural selection"?] be true, such have
lived upon the earth."[255]

To return, however, to Lamarck.

"Though Nature," he continues, "in the course of long time has evolved
all animals and plants in a true scale of progression, the steps of this
scale can be perceived only in the principal groups of living forms; it
cannot be perceived in species nor even in genera. The reason of this
lies in the extreme diversity of the surroundings in which each
different race of animals and plants has existed. These surroundings
have often been out of harmony with the growing organization of the
plants and animals themselves; this has led to anomalies, and, as it
were, digressions, which the mere development of organization by itself
could not have occasioned."[256] Or, in other words, to that divergency
of type which is so well insisted on by Mr. Charles Darwin.

"It is only therefore the principal groups of animal and vegetable life
which can be arranged in a vertical line of descent; species and even
genera cannot always be so--for these contain beings whose organization
has been dependent on the possession of such and such a special system
of essential organs.

"Each great and separate group has its own system of essential organs,
and it is these systems which can be seen to descend, within the limits
of the group, from their most complex to their simplest form. But each
organ, considered individually, does not descend by equally regular
gradation; the gradations are less and less regular according as the
organ is of less importance, and is more susceptible of modification by
the conditions which surround it. Organs of small importance, and not
essential to existence, are not always either perfected or degraded at
an equal rate, so that in observing all the species of any class we find
an organ in one species in the highest degree of perfection, while
another organ, which in this same species is impoverished or very
imperfect, is highly developed in another species of the same

The facts maintained in the preceding paragraph are in great measure
supported by Mr. Charles Darwin, who, however, assigns their cause to
natural selection.

Mr. Darwin writes, "Ordinary specific characters are more variable than
generic;" and again, a little lower down, "The points in which all the
species of a genus resemble each other, and in which they differ from
allied genera, are called generic characters; and these characters may
be attributed to inheritance from a common progenitor, for it can rarely
happen that natural selection will have modified several distinct
species fitted to more or less widely different habits, in exactly the
same manner; and as these so called generic characters have been
inherited from before the period when the several species first branched
off from their common progenitor, and subsequently have not varied or
come to differ in any degree, or only in a slight degree, it is not
probable that they should vary at the present day. On the other hand,
the points in which species differ from other species of the same genus
are called specific characters; and as these specific characters have
varied and come to differ since the period when the species branched off
from a common progenitor, it is probable that they should still often be
in some degree variable, or at least more variable than those parts of
the organization which have for a very long time remained

The fact, then, that it is specific characters which vary most is agreed
upon by both Lamarck and Mr. Darwin. Lamarck, however, maintains that it
is these specific characters which are most capable of being affected by
the habits of the creature, and that it is for this reason they will be
most variable, while Mr. Darwin simply says they _are_ most variable,
and that, this being so, the favourable variations will be preserved and
accumulated--an assertion which Lamarck would certainly not demur to.

"Irregular degrees of perfection," says Lamarck, "and degradation in the
less essential organs, are due to the fact that these are more liable
than the more essential ones to the influence of external circumstances:
these induce corresponding differences in the more outward parts of the
animal, and give rise to such considerable and singular difference in
species, that instead of being able to arrange them in a direct line of
descent, as we can arrange the main groups, these species often form
lateral ramifications round about the main groups to which they belong,
and in their extreme development are truly isolated."[259]

In his summary of the second chapter of his 'Origin of Species,' Mr.
Darwin well confirms this when he says, "In large genera the species are
apt to be closely, but unequally, allied together, forming little
clusters round other species."

"A longer time," says Lamarck, "and a greater influence of surrounding
conditions, is necessary in order to modify interior organs.
Nevertheless we see that Nature does pass from one system to another
without any sudden leap, when circumstances require it, provided the
systems are not too far apart. Her method is to proceed from the more
simple to the more complex.[260]

"She does this not only in the race, but in the individual." Here
Lamarck, like Dr. Erasmus Darwin, shows his perception of the importance
of embryology in throwing light on the affinities of animals--as since
more fully insisted on by the author of the 'Vestiges of Creation,' and
by Mr. Darwin,[261] as well as by other writers. "Breathing through
gills is nearer to breathing through lungs than breathing through
trachea is. Not only do we see Nature pass from gills to lungs in
families which are not too far apart, as may be seen by considering the
case of fishes and reptiles; but she does so during the existence of a
single individual, which may successively make use both of the one and
of the other system. The frog while yet a tadpole breathes through
gills; on becoming a frog it breathes through lungs; but we cannot find
that Nature in any case passes from trachea to lungs."[262]

Lamarck now rapidly reviews previous classifications, and propounds his
own, which stands thus:--I. Vertebrata, consisting of Mammals, Birds,
Fishes, and Reptiles. II. Invertebrata, consisting of Molluscs,
Centipedes, Annelids, Crustacea, Arachnids, Insects, Worms, Radiata,
Polyps, Infusoria.

"The degradation of organism," he concludes, "in this descending scale
is not perfectly even, and cannot be made so by any classification,
nevertheless there is such evidence of sustained degradation in the
principal groups as must point in the direction of some underlying
general principle."[263]

Lamarck's sixth chapter is headed "Degradation and Simplification of the
Animal Chain as we proceed downwards from the most complex to the most
simple Organisms."

"This is a positive fact, and results from the operation of a constant
law of nature; but a disturbing cause, which can be easily recognized,
varies the regular operation of the law from one end to the other of the
chain of life.[264]

"We can see, nevertheless, that special organs become more and more
simple the lower we descend; that they become changed, impoverished, and
attenuated little by little; that they lose their local centres, and
finally become definitely annihilated before we reach the lowest
extremity of the chain.[265]

"As has been said already, the degradation of organism is not always
regular; such and such an organ often fails or changes suddenly, and
sometimes in its changes assumes forms which are not allied with any
others by steps that we can recognize. An organ may disappear and
reappear several times before being entirely lost: but this is what we
might expect, for the cause which has led to the evolution of living
organisms has evolved many varieties, due to external influences.
Nevertheless, looking at organization broadly, we observe a descending

"If the tendency to progressive development was the only cause which had
influenced the forms and organs of animals, development would have been
regular throughout the animal chain; but it has not been so: Nature is
compelled to submit her productions to an environment which acts upon
them, and variation in environment will induce variation in organism:
this is the true cause of the sometimes strange deviations from the
direct line of progression which we shall have to observe.[267]

"If Nature had only called aquatic beings into existence, and if these
beings had lived always in the same climate, in the same kind of water,
and at the same depth, the organization of these animals would doubtless
have presented an even and regular scale of development. But there has
been fresh water, salt water, running and stagnant water, warm and cold
climates, an infinite variety of depth: animals exposed to these and
other differences in their surroundings have varied in accordance with
them.[268] In like manner those animals which have been gradually fitted
for living in air instead of water have been subjected to an endless
diversity in their surroundings. The following law, then, may be now
propounded, namely:--

"_That anomalies in the development of organism are due to the
influences of the environment and to the habits of the creature._[269]

"Some have said that the anomalies above mentioned are so great
as to disprove the existence of any scale which should indicate
descent; but the nearer we approach species, the smaller we see
differences become, till with species itself we find them at times
almost imperceptible."[270]

Lamarck here devotes about seventy pages to a survey of the animal
kingdom in its entirety, beginning with the mammals and ending with the
infusoria. He points out the manner in which organ after organ
disappears as we descend the scale, till we are left with a form which,
though presenting all the characteristics of life, has yet no special
organ whatever. I am obliged to pass this classification over, but do so
very unwillingly, for it is illustrative of Lamarck, both at his best
and at his worst.

The seventh chapter is headed--

"On the influence of their surroundings on the actions and habits of
animals, and on the effect of these habits and actions in modifying
their organization."

"The effect of different conditions of our organization upon our
character, tendencies, actions, and even our ideas, has been often
remarked, but no attention has yet been paid to that of our actions and
habits upon our organization itself. These actions and habits depend
entirely upon our relations to the surroundings in which we habitually
exist; we shall have occasion, therefore, to see how great is the effect
of environment upon organization.

"But for our having domesticated plants and animals we should never have
arrived at the perception of this truth; for though the influence of the
environment is at all times and everywhere active upon all living
bodies, its effects are so gradual that they can only be perceived over
long periods of time.[271]

"Taking the chain of life in the inverse order of nature--that is to
say, from man downwards--we certainly perceive a sustained but irregular
degradation of organism, with an increasing simplicity both in organism
and faculties.

"This fact should throw light upon the order taken by nature, but it
does not show us why the gradation is so irregular, nor why throughout
its extent we find so many anomalies or digressions which have
apparently no order at all in their manifold varieties.[272] The
explanation of this must be sought for in the infinite diversity of
circumstances under which organisms have been developed. On the one
hand, there is a tendency to a regular progressive development; on the
other, there is a host of widely different surroundings which tend
continually to destroy the regularity of development.

"It is necessary to explain what is meant by such expressions as 'the
effect of its environment upon the form and organization of an animal.'
It must not be supposed that its surroundings directly effect any
modification whatever in the form and organization of an animal.[273]
Great changes in surroundings involve great changes in the wants of
animals, and these changes in their wants involve corresponding changes
in their actions. If these new wants become permanent, or of very long
duration, the animals contract new habits, which last as long as the
wants which gave rise to them.[274] A great change in surroundings, if
it persist for a long time, must plainly, therefore, involve the
contraction of new habits. These new habits in their turn involve a
preference for the employment of such and such an organ over such and
such another organ, and in certain cases the total disuse of an organ
which is no longer wanted. This is perfectly self-evident.[275]

"On the one hand, new wants have rendered a part necessary, which part
has accordingly been created by a succession of efforts: use has kept it
in existence, gradually strengthening and developing it till in the end
it attains a considerable degree of perfection. On the other, new
circumstances having in some cases rendered such or such a part useless,
disuse has led to its gradually ceasing to receive the development which
the other parts attain to; on this it becomes reduced, and in time

"Plants have neither actions nor habits properly so called, nevertheless
they change in a changed environment as much as animals do. This is due
to changes in nutrition, absorption and transpiration, to degrees of
heat, light, and moisture, and to the preponderance over others which
certain of the vital functions attain to."

Lamarck is led into the statement that plants have neither actions nor
habits, by his theories about the nervous system and the brain. Plain
matter-of-fact people will prefer the view taken by Buffon, Dr. Darwin,
and, more recently, by Mr. Francis Darwin, that there is no radical
difference between plants and animals.

"The differences between well-nourished and ill-nourished plants become
little by little very noticeable. If individuals, whether animal or
vegetable, are continually ill-fed and exposed to hardships for several
generations, their organization becomes eventually modified, and the
modification is transmitted until a race is formed which is quite
distinct from those descendants of the common parent stock which have
been placed in favourable circumstances.[277] In a dry spring the meagre
and stunted herbage seeds early. When, on the other hand, the spring is
warm but with occasional days of rain, there is an excellent hay-crop.
If, however, any cause perpetuates unfavourable circumstances, plants
will vary correspondingly, first in appearance and general conditions,
and then in several particulars of their actual character, certain
organs having received more development than others, these differences
will in the course of time become hereditary.[278]

"Nature changes a plant or animal's surroundings gradually--man
sometimes does so suddenly. All botanists know that plants vary so
greatly under domestication that in time they become hardly
recognizable. They undergo so much change that botanists do not at all
like describing domesticated varieties. Wheat itself is an example.
Where can wheat be found as a wild plant, unless it have escaped from
some neighbouring cultivation? Where are our cauliflowers, our lettuces,
to be found wild, with the same characters as they possess in our
kitchen gardens?

"The same applies to our domesticated breeds of animals. What a variety
of breeds has not man produced among fowls and pigeons, of which we can
find no undomesticated examples!"[279]

The foregoing remarks on the effects of domestication seem to have been
inspired by those given p. 123 and pp. 168, 169 of this volume.[280]

"Some, doubtless, have changed less than others, owing to their having
undergone a less protracted domestication, and a less degree of change
in climate; nevertheless, though our ducks and geese, for example, are
of the same type as their wild progenitors, they have lost the power of
long and sustained flight, and have become in other respects
considerably modified.[281]

"A bird, after having been kept five or six years in a cage, cannot on
being liberated fly like its brethren which have been always free. Such
a change in a single lifetime has not effected any transmissible
modification of type; but captivity, continued during many successive
generations, would undoubtedly do so. If to the effects of captivity
there be added also those of changed climate, changed food, and changed
actions for the purpose of laying hold of food, these, united together
and become constant, would in the course of time develop an entirely new

This, again, is almost identical with the passage from Buffon,[282] p.
148 of this volume. See also pp. 169, 170.

"Where can our many domestic breeds of dogs be found in a wild state?
Where are our bulldogs, greyhounds, spaniels, and lapdogs, breeds
presenting differences which, in wild animals, would be certainly called
specific? These are all descended from an animal nearly allied to the
wolf, if not from the wolf itself. Such an animal was domesticated by
early man, taken at successive intervals into widely different climates,
trained to different habits, carried by man in his migrations as a
precious capital into the most distant countries, and crossed from time
to time with other breeds which had been developed in similar ways.
Hence our present multiform breeds."[283]

Here, also, it is impossible to forget Buffon's passages on the dog,
given pp. 121, 122. See also p. 223.

"Observe the gradations which are found between the _ranunculus
aquatilis_ and the _ranunculus hederaceus_: the latter--a land
plant--resembles those parts of the former which grow above the surface
of the water, but not those that grow beneath it.[284]

"The modifications of animals arise more slowly than those of plants;
they are therefore less easily watched, and less easily assignable to
their true causes, but they arise none the less surely. As regards these
causes, the most potent is diversity of the surroundings in which they
exist, but there are also many others.[285]

"The climate of the same place changes, and the place itself changes
with changed climate and exposure, but so slowly that we imagine all
lands to be stable in their conditions. This, however, is not true;
climatic and other changes induce corresponding changes in environment
and habit, and these modify the structure of the living forms which are
subjected to them. Indeed, we see intermediate forms and species
corresponding to intermediate conditions.

"To the above causes must be ascribed the infinite variety of existing
forms, independently of any tendency towards progressive

The reader has now before him a fair sample of "the well-known doctrine
of inherited habit as advanced by Lamarck."[287] In what way, let me ask
in passing, does "the case of neuter insects" prove "demonstrative"
against it, unless it is held equally demonstrative against Mr. Darwin's
own position? Lamarck continues:--

"The character of any habitable quarter of the globe is _quâ_ man
constant: the constancy of type in species is therefore also _quâ_ man
persistent. But this is an illusion. We establish, therefore, the three
following propositions:--

"1. That every considerable and sustained change in the surroundings of
any animal involves a real change in its needs.

"2. That such change of needs involves the necessity of changed action
in order to satisfy these needs, and, in consequence, of new

"3. It follows that such and such parts, formerly less used, are now
more frequently employed, and in consequence become more highly
developed; new parts also become insensibly evolved in the creature by
its own efforts from within.

"From the foregoing these two general laws may be deduced:--

"_Firstly. That in every animal which has not passed its limit of
development, the more frequent and sustained employment of any organ
develops and aggrandizes it, giving it a power proportionate to the
duration of its employment, while the same organ in default of constant
use becomes insensibly weakened and deteriorated, decreasing
imperceptibly in power until it finally disappears._[289]

"_Secondly. That these gains or losses of organic development, due to
use or disuse, are transmitted to offspring, provided they have been
common to both sexes, or to the animals from which the offspring have

Lamarck now sets himself to establish the fact that animals have
developed modifications which have been transmitted to their offspring.

"Naturalists," he says, "have believed that the possession of certain
organs has led to their employment. This is not so: it is need and use
which have developed the organs, and even called them into existence."
[I have already sufficiently insisted that it is impossible to dispense
with either of these two views. Demand and Supply have gone hand in
hand, each reacting upon the other.] "Otherwise a special act of
creation would be necessary for every different combination of
conditions; and it would be also necessary that the conditions should
remain always constant.

"If this were really so we should have no racehorses like those of
England, nor drayhorses so heavy in build and so unlike the racehorse;
for there are no such breeds in a wild state. For the same reason, we
should have no turnspit dogs with crooked legs, no greyhounds nor
water-spaniels; we should have no tailless breed of fowls nor fantail
pigeons, &c. Nor should we be able to cultivate wild plants in our
gardens, for any length of time we please, without fear of their

"'Habit,' says the proverb, 'is a second nature'; what possible meaning
can this proverb have, if descent with modification is unfounded?[291]

"As regards the circumstances which give rise to variation, the
principal are climatic changes, different temperatures of any of a
creature's environments, differences of abode, of habit, of the most
frequent actions; and lastly, of the means of obtaining food,
self-defence, reproduction, &c., &c."[292]

Here we have absolute agreement with Dr. Erasmus Darwin,[293] except
that there seems a tendency in this passage to assign more effect to the
direct action of conditions than is common with Lamarck. He seems to be
mixing Buffon and Dr. Darwin.

"In consequence of change in any of these respects, the faculties of an
animal become extended and enlarged by use: they become diversified
through the long continuance of the new habits, until little by little
their whole structure and nature, as well as the organs originally
affected, participate in the effects of all these influences, and are
modified to an extent which is capable of transmission to

This sentence alone would be sufficient to show that Lamarck was as much
alive as Buffon and Dr. Darwin were before him, to the fact that one of
the most important conditions of an animal's life, is the relation in
which it stands to the other inhabitants of the same neighbourhood--from
which the survival of the fittest follows as a self-evident proposition.
Nothing, therefore, can be more unfounded than the attempt, so
frequently made by writers who have not read Lamarck, or who think
others may be trusted not to do so, to represent him as maintaining
something perfectly different from what is maintained by modern writers
on evolution. The difference, in so far as there is any difference, is
one of detail only. Lamarck would not have hesitated to admit, that, if
animals are modified in a direction which is favourable to them, they
will have a better chance of surviving and transmitting their
favourable modifications. In like manner, our modern evolutionists
should allow that animals are modified not because they subsequently
survive, but because they have done this or that which has led to their
modification, and hence to their surviving.

Having established that animals and plants are capable of being
materially changed in the course of a few generations, Lamarck proceeds
to show that their modification is due to changed distribution of the
use and disuse of their organs at any given time.

"_The disuse of an organ_," he writes, "_if it becomes constant in
consequence of new habits, gradually reduces the organ, and leads
finally to its disappearance_."[295]

"Thus whales have lost their teeth, though teeth are still found in the
embryo. So, again, M. Geoffroy has discovered in birds the groove where
teeth were formerly placed. The ant-eater, which belongs to a genus that
has long relinquished the habit of masticating its food, is as toothless
as the whale."[296]

Then are adduced further examples of rudimentary organs, which will be
given in another place, and need not be repeated here. Speaking of the
fact, however, that serpents have no legs, though they are higher in the
scale of life than the batrachians, Lamarck attributes this "to the
continued habit of trying to squeeze through very narrow places, where
four feet would be in the way, and would be very little good to them,
inasmuch as more than four would be wanted in order to turn bodies that
were already so much elongated."[297]

If it be asked why, on Lamarck's theory, if serpents wanted more legs
they could not have made them, the answer is that the attempt to do this
would be to unsettle a question which had been already so long settled,
that it would be impossible to reopen it. The animal must adapt itself
to four legs, or must get rid of all or some of them if it does not like
them; but it has stood so long committed to the theory that if there are
to be legs at all, there are to be not more than four, that it is
impossible for it now to see this matter in any other light.

The experiments of M. Brown Séquard on guinea pigs, quoted by Mr.
Darwin,[298] suggest that the form of the serpent may be due to its
having lost its legs by successive accidents in squeezing through narrow
places, and that the wounds having been followed by disease, the
creature may have bitten the limbs off, in which case the loss might
have been very readily transmitted to offspring; the animal would
accordingly take to a sinuous mode of progression that would doubtless
in time elongate the body still further. M. Brown Séquard "carefully
recorded" thirteen cases, and saw even a greater number, in which the
loss of toes by guinea pigs which had gnawed their own toes off, was
immediately transmitted to offspring. Accidents followed by disease seem
to have been somewhat overlooked as a possible means of modification.
The missing forefinger to the hand of the potto[299] would appear at
first sight to have been lost by some such mishap. Returning to Lamarck,
we find him saying:--

"Even in the lifetime of a single individual we can see organic changes
in consequence of changed habits. Thus M. Tenon has constantly found the
intestinal canal of drunkards to be greatly shorter than that of people
who do not drink. This is due to the fact that habitual drunkards eat
but little solid food, so that the stomach and intestines are more
rarely distended. The same applies to people who lead studious and
sedentary lives. The stomachs of such persons and of drunkards have
little power, and a small quantity will fill them, while those of men
who take plenty of exercise remain in full vigour and are even

It becomes now necessary to establish the converse proposition, namely

"_The frequent use of an organ increases its power; it even develops the
organ itself, and makes it acquire dimensions and powers which it is not
found to have in animals which make no use of such an organ._

"In support of this we see that the bird whose needs lead it to the
water, in which to find its prey, extends the toes of its feet when it
wants to strike the water, and move itself upon the surface. The skin at
the base of the toes of such a bird contracts the habit of extending
itself from continual practice. To this cause, in the course of time,
must be attributed the wide membrane which unites the toes of ducks,
geese, &c. The same efforts to swim, that is to say, to push the water
for the purpose of moving itself forward, has extended the membrane
between the toes of frogs, turtles, the otter, and the beaver."[301]

[This is taken, I believe, from Dr. Darwin or Buffon, but I have lost
the passage, if, indeed, I ever found it. It had been met by Paley some
years earlier (1802) in the following:--

"There is nothing in the action of swimming as carried on by a bird upon
the surface of the water that should generate a membrane between the
toes. As to that membrane it is an action of constant resistance.... The
web feet of amphibious quadrupeds, seals, otters, &c., fall under the
same observation."[302]]

"On the other hand those birds whose habits lead them to perch on trees,
and which have sprung from parents that have long contracted this habit,
have their toes shaped in a perfectly different manner. Their claws
become lengthened, sharpened, and curved, so as to enable the creature
to lay hold of the boughs on which it so often rests. The shore bird
again, which does not like to swim, is nevertheless continually obliged
to enter the water when searching after its prey. Not liking to plunge
its body in the water, it makes every endeavour to extend and lengthen
its lower limbs. In the course of long time these birds have come to be
elevated, as it were, on stilts, and have got long legs bare of feathers
as far as their thighs, and often still higher. The same bird is
continually trying to extend its neck in order to fish without wetting
its body, and in the course of time its neck has become modified

"Swans, indeed, and geese have short legs and very long necks, but this
is because they plunge their heads as low in the water as they can in
their search for aquatic larvæ and other animalcules, but make no effort
to lengthen their legs."[304]

This too is taken from some passage which I have either never seen or
have lost sight of. Paley never gives a reference to an opponent, though
he frequently does so when quoting an author on his own side, but I can
hardly doubt that he had in his mind the passage from which Lamarck in
1809 derived the foregoing, when in 1802 he wrote § 5 of chapter xv. and
the latter half of chapter xxiii. of his 'Natural Theology.'

"The tongues of the ant-eater and the woodpecker," continues Lamarck,
"have become elongated from similar causes. Humming birds catch hold of
things with their tongues; serpents and lizards use their tongues to
touch and reconnoitre objects in front of them, hence their tongues have
come to be forked.

"Need--always occasioned by the circumstances in which an animal is
placed, and followed by sustained efforts at gratification--can not only
modify an organ, that is to say, augment or reduce it, but can change
its position when the case requires its removal.[305]

"Ocean fishes have occasion to see what is on either side of them, and
have their eyes accordingly placed on either side their head. Some
fishes, however, have their abode near coasts on submarine banks and
inclinations, and are thus forced to flatten themselves as much as
possible in order to get as near as they can to the shore. In this
situation they receive more light from above than from below, and find
it necessary to pay attention to whatever happens to be above them; this
need has involved the displacement of their eyes, which now take the
remarkable position which we observe in the case of soles, turbots,
plaice, &c. The transfer of position is not even yet complete in the
case of these fishes, and the eyes are not, therefore, symmetrically
placed; but they are so with the skate, whose head and whole body are
equally disposed on either side a longitudinal section. Hence the eyes
of this fish are placed symmetrically upon the uppermost side.[306]

"The eyes of serpents are placed on the sides and upper portions of the
head, so that they can easily see what is on one side of them or above
them; but they can only see very little in front of them, and supplement
this deficiency of power with their tongue, which is very long and
supple, and is in many kinds so divided that it can touch more than one
object at a time; the habit of reconnoitring objects in front of them
with their tongues has even led to their being able to pass it through
the end of their nostrils without being obliged to open their jaws.[307]

"Herbivorous mammals, such as the elephant, rhinoceros, ox, buffalo,
horse, &c., owe their great size to their habit of daily distending
themselves with food and taking comparatively little exercise. They
employ their feet for standing, walking, or running, but not for
climbing trees. Hence the thick horn which covers their toes. These toes
have become useless to them, and are now in many cases rudimentary only.
Some pachyderms have five toes covered with horn; some four, some
three. The ruminants, which appear to be the earliest mammals that
confined themselves to a life upon the ground, have but two hooves,
while the horse has only one.[308]

"Some herbivorous animals, especially among the ruminants, have been
incessantly preyed upon by carnivorous animals, against which their only
refuge is in flight. Necessity has therefore developed the light and
active limbs of antelopes, gazelles, &c. Ruminants, only using their
jaws to graze with, have but little power in them, and therefore
generally fight with their heads. The males fight frequently with one
another, and their desires prompt an access of fluids to the parts of
their heads with which they fight; thus the horns and bosses have arisen
with which the heads of most of these animals are armed.[309] The
giraffe owes its long neck to its continued habit of browsing upon
trees, whence also the great length of its fore legs as compared with
its hinder ones. Carnivorous animals, in like manner, have had their
organs modified in correlation with their desires and habits. Some
climb, some scratch in order to burrow in the earth, some tear their
prey; they therefore have need of toes, and we find their toes separated
and armed with claws. Some of them are great hunters, and also plunge
their claws deeply into the bodies of their victims, trying to tear out
the part on which they have seized; this habit has developed a size and
curvature of claw which would impede them greatly in travelling over
stony ground; they have therefore been obliged to make efforts to draw
back their too projecting claws, and so, little by little, has arisen
the peculiar sheath into which cats, tigers, lions, &c., withdraw their
claws when they no longer wish to use them.[310]

"We see then that the long-sustained and habitual exercise of any part
of a living organism, in consequence of the necessities engendered by
its environment, develops such part, and gives it a form which it would
never have attained if the exercise had not become an habitual action.
All known animals furnish us with examples of this.[311] If anyone
maintains that the especially powerful development of any organ has had
nothing to do with its habitual use--that use has added nothing, and
disuse detracted nothing from its efficiency, but that the organ has
always been as we now see it from the creation of the particular species
onwards--I would ask why cannot our domesticated ducks fly like wild
ducks? I would also quote a multitude of examples of the effects of use
and disuse upon our own organs, effects which, if the use and disuse
were constant for many generations, would become much more marked.

"A great number of facts show, as will be more fully insisted on, that
when its will prompts an animal to this or that action, the organs which
are to execute it receive an excess of nervous fluid, and this is the
determinant cause of the movements necessary for the required action.
Modifications acquired in this way eventually become permanent in the
breed that has acquired them, and are transmitted to offspring, without
the offspring's having itself gone through the processes of acquisition
which were necessary in the case of the ancestor.[312] Frequent crosses,
however, with unmodified individuals, destroy the effect produced. It is
only owing to the isolation of the races of man through geographical and
other causes, that man himself presents so many varieties, each with a
distinctive character.

"A review of all existing classes, orders, genera, and species would
show that their structure, organs, and faculties, are in all cases
solely attributable to the surroundings to which each creature has been
subjected by nature, and to the habits which individuals have been
compelled to contract; and that they are not at all the result of a form
originally bestowed, which has imposed certain habits upon the

"It is unnecessary to multiply instances; the fact is simply this, that
all animals have certain habits, and that their organization is always
in perfect harmony with these habits.[314] The conclusion hitherto
accepted is that the Author of Nature, when he created animals, foresaw
all the possible circumstances in which they would be placed, and gave
an unchanging organism to each creature, in accordance with its future
destiny. The conclusion, on the other hand, here maintained is that
nature has evolved all existing forms of life successively, beginning
with the simplest organisms and gradually proceeding to those which are
more complete. Forms of life have spread themselves throughout all the
habitable parts of the earth, and each species has received its habits
and corresponding modification of organs, from the influence of the
surroundings in which it found itself placed.[315]

"The first conclusion supposes an unvarying organism and unvarying
conditions. The second, which is my theory (_la mienne propre_),
supposes that each animal is capable of modifications which in the
course of generations amount to a wide divergence of type.

"If a single animal can be shown to have varied considerably under
domestication, the first conclusion is proved to be inadmissible, and
the second to be in conformity with the laws of nature."

This is a milder version of Buffon's conclusion (see _ante_, pp. 90,
91). It is a little grating to read the words "la mienne propre,"
and to recall no mention of Buffon in the 'Philosophie Zoologique.'

"Animal forms then are the result of conditions of life and of the
habits engendered thereby. With new forms new faculties are developed,
and thus nature has little by little evolved the existing
differentiations of animal and vegetable life."[316]

Lamarck makes no exception in man's favour to the rule of descent with
modification. He supposes that a race of quadrumanous apes gradually
acquired the upright position in walking, with a corresponding
modification of the feet and facial angle. Such a race having become
master of all the other animals, spread itself over all parts of the
world that suited it. It hunted out the other higher races which were in
a condition to dispute with it for enjoyment of the world's
productions, and drove them to take refuge in such places as it did not
desire to occupy. It checked the increase of the races nearest itself,
and kept them exiled in woods and desert places, so that their further
development was arrested, while itself, able to spread in all
directions, to multiply without opposition, and to lead a social life,
it developed new requirements one after another, which urged it to
industrial pursuits, and gradually perfected its capabilities.
Eventually this pre-eminent race, having acquired absolute supremacy,
came to be widely different from even the most perfect of the lower

"Certain apes approach man more nearly than any other animal approaches
him; nevertheless, they are far inferior to him, both in bodily and
mental capacity. Some of them frequently stand upright, but as they do
not habitually maintain this attitude, their organization has not been
sufficiently modified to prevent it from being irksome to them to stand
for long together. They fall on all fours immediately at the approach of
danger. This reveals their true origin.[317]

"But is the upright position altogether natural, even to man? He uses it
in moving from place to place, but still standing is a fatiguing
position, and one which can only be maintained for a limited time, and
by the aid of muscular contraction. The vertebrate column does not pass
through the axis of the head so as to maintain it in like equilibrium
with other limbs. The head, chest, stomach, and intestines weigh almost
entirely on the anterior part of the vertebrate column, and this column
itself is placed obliquely, so that, as M. Richerand has observed,
continual watchfulness and muscular exertion are necessary to avoid the
falls towards which the weight and disposition of our parts are
continually inclining us. 'Children,' he remarks, 'have a constant
tendency to assume the position of quadrupeds.'"[318]

"Surely these facts should reveal man's origin as analogous to that of
the other mammals, if his organization only be looked to. But the
following consideration must be added. New wants, developed in societies
which had become numerous, must have correspondingly multiplied the
ideas of this dominant race, whose individuals must have therefore
gradually felt the need of fuller communication with each other. Hence
the necessity for increasing and varying the number of the signs
suitable for mutual understanding. It is plain therefore that incessant
efforts would be made in this direction.[319]

"The lower animals, though often social, have been kept in too great
subjection for any such development of power. They continue, therefore,
stationary as regards their wants and ideas, very few of which need be
communicated from one individual to another. A few movements of the
body, a few simple cries and whistles, or inflexions of voice, would
suffice for their purpose. With the dominant race, on the other hand,
the continued multiplication of ideas which it was desirable to
communicate rapidly, would exhaust the power of pantomimic gesture and
of all possible inflexions of the voice--therefore by a succession of
efforts this race arrived at the utterance of articulate sounds. A few
only would be at first made use of, and these would be supplemented by
inflexions of the voice: presently they would increase in number,
variety, and appropriateness, with the increase of needs and of the
efforts made to speak. Habitual exercise would increase the power of the
lips and tongue to articulate distinctly.

"The diversity of language is due to geographical distribution, with
consequent greater or less isolation of certain races, and corruption of
the signs originally agreed upon for each idea. Man's own wants,
therefore, will have achieved the whole result. They will have given
rise to endeavour, and habitual use will have developed the organs of

How, let me ask again, is "the case of neuter insects" "demonstrative"
against the "well-known" theory put forward in the foregoing chapter?


[208] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i., edited by M. Martins, 1873, pp. 25, 26.

[209] 'Phil. Zool.' tom. i. pp. 26, 27.

[210] Page 28.

[211] Pages 28-31.

[212] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. pp. 34, 35.

[213] Page 42.

[214] Page 46.

[215] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 50.

[216] Pages 50, 51.

[217] 'Origin of Species,' p. 395, ed. 1876.

[218] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 61.

[219] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 62.

[220] Page 63.

[221] Page 64.

[222] Page 65.

[223] Page 67.

[224] Chap. iii.

[225] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 72.

[226] Pages 71-73.

[227] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 74, 75.

[228] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. pp. 75-77.

[229] 'Origin of Species,' p. 104, ed. 1876.

[230] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 79.

[231] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. pp. 79, 80.

[232] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 80.

[233] Page 80.

[234] Ed. 1876.

[235] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 81.

[236] 'Origin of Species,' p. 241.

[237] 'Phil. Zool.,' p. 82.

[238] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 83.

[239] Pages 349-351.

[240] Page 84.

[241] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 88.

[242] Page 90.

[243] 'Origin of Species,' p. 3.

[244] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 94.

[245] Pages 95-96.

[246] Page 97.

[247] Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 98.

[248] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 111.

[249] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 112.

[250] See pp. 227 and 259 of this book.

[251] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 113.

[252] Page 113.

[253] 'Phil Zool.,' tom. i. p. 113.

[254] This passage is rather obscure. I give it therefore in the

"Ainsi les naturalistes ayant remarqué que beaucoup d'espèces, certains
genres, et même quelques familles paraissent dans une sorte d'isolement,
quant à leurs caractères, plusieurs se sont imaginés que les êtres
vivants, dans l'un ou l'autre règne, s'avoisinaient, ou s'éloignaient
entre eux, relativement à leurs _rapports naturels_, dans une
disposition semblable aux differents points d'une carte de géographie ou
d'une mappemonde. Ils regardent les petites séries bien prononcées qu'on
a nommées familles naturelles, comme devant être disposées entre elles
de manière à former une réticulation. Cette idée qui a paru sublime à
quelques modernes, est évidemment une erreur, et, sans doute, elle se
dissipera dès qu'on aura des connaissances plus profondes et plus
générales de l'organisation, et surtout lorsqu'on distinguera ce qui
appartient à l'influence des lieux d'habitation et des habitudes
contractées, de ce qui résulte des progrès plus ou moins avancés dans la
composition ou le perfectionnement de l'organisation."--(p. 120).

[255] 'Origin of Species,' pp. 265, 266.

[256] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 121.

[257] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 122.

[258] 'Origin of Species,' pp. 122, 123.

[259] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 123.

[260] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 123.

[261] 'Origin of Species,' chap. xiv.

[262] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 123.

[263] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 140.

[264] Page 142.

[265] Page 143.

[266] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 143.

[267] Page 144.

[268] Ibid.

[269] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 145.

[270] Page 146.

[271] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 221.

[272] Page 222.

[273] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 223.

[274] Page 224.

[275] Page 223.

[276] Page 225.

[277] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 225.

[278] Page 226.

[279] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 228.

[280] See Buffon, 'Hist. Nat.,' tom. v. pp. 196, 197, and Supp. tom. v.
pp. 250-253.

[281] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 229.

[282] 'Hist. Nat.,' tom. xi. p. 290.

[283] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 231.

[284] Page 231. See Dr. Darwin's note on _Trapa natans_, 'Botanic
Garden,' part ii. canto 4, l. 204.

[285] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 232.

[286] Page 233. See Buffon on Climate, tom. ix., 'The Animals of the Old
and New Worlds.'

[287] 'Origin of Species,' p. 233, ed. 1876.

[288] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p 234.

[289] Page 235.

[290] Page 236.

[291] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 237.

[292] Page 238.

[293] See _ante_, pp. 220-228.

[294] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 239.

[295] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p 240.

[296] Page 241.

[297] Page 245.

[298] 'Animals and Plants under Domestication,' vol. i. p. 467, &c.

[299] See frontispiece to Professor Mivart's 'Genesis of Species.'

[300] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 247.

[301] Page 248.

[302] 'Nat. Theol.,' vol. xii., end of § viii.

[303] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 249.

[304] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 250.

[305] Page 250.

[306] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 251.

[307] Page 252.

[308] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 253.

[309] Page 254.

[310] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 256.

[311] Page 257.

[312] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 259.

[313] Page 260.

[314] Page 263.

[315] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 263.

[316] Page 265.

[317] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 343.

[318] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 343.

[319] Page 346.

[320] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 347.



The same complaint must be made against Mr. Matthew's excellent survey
of the theory of evolution, as against Dr. Erasmus Darwin's original
exposition of the same theory, namely, that it is too short. It may be
very true that brevity is the soul of wit, but the leaders of science
will generally succeed in burking new-born wit, unless the brevity of
its soul is found compatible with a body of some bulk.

Mr. Darwin writes thus concerning Mr. Matthew in the historical sketch
to which I have already more than once referred.

"In 1831 Mr. Patrick Matthew published his work on 'Naval Timber and
Arboriculture,' in which he gives precisely the same view on the origin
of species as that (presently to be alluded to) propounded by Mr.
Wallace and myself in the 'Linnean Journal,' and as that enlarged in the
present volume. Unfortunately the view was given by Mr. Matthew very
briefly, in scattered passages in an appendix to a work on a different
subject, so that it remained unnoticed until Mr. Matthew himself drew
attention to it in the 'Gardener's Chronicle' for April 7, 1860. The
differences of Mr. Matthew's view from mine are not of much importance;
he seems to consider that the world was nearly depopulated at successive
periods, and then re-stocked, and he gives as an alternative, that new
forms may be generated 'without the presence of any mould or germ of
former aggregates.' I am not sure that I understand some passages; but
it seems that he attributes much influence to the direct action of the
conditions of life. He clearly saw, however, the full force of the
principle of natural selection."[321]

Nothing could well be more misleading. If Mr. Matthew's view of the
origin of species is "precisely the same as that" propounded by Mr.
Darwin, it is hard to see how Mr. Darwin can call those of Lamarck and
Dr. Erasmus Darwin "erroneous"; for Mr. Matthew's is nothing but an
excellent and well-digested summary of the conclusions arrived at by
these two writers and by Buffon. If, again, Mr. Darwin is correct in
saying that Mr. Matthew "clearly saw the full force of the principle of
natural selection," he condemns the view he has himself taken of it in
his 'Origin of Species,' for Mr. Darwin has assigned a far more
important and very different effect to the fact that the fittest
commonly survive in the struggle for existence, than Mr. Matthew has
done. Mr. Matthew sees a cause underlying all variations; he takes the
most teleological or purposive view of organism that has been taken by
any writer (not a theologian) except myself, while Mr. Darwin's view, if
not the least teleological, is certainly nearly so, and his confession
of inability to detect any general cause underlying variations, leaves,
as will appear presently, less than common room for ambiguity. Here are
Mr. Matthew's own words:--

"There is a law universal in nature, tending to render every
reproductive being the best possibly suited to the condition that its
kind, or that organized matter is susceptible of, and which appears
intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive, powers to
their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains the
lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his
wiles. As nature in all her modifications of life has a power of
increase far beyond what is needed to supply the place of what falls by
Time's decay, those individuals who possess not the requisite strength,
swiftness, hardihood, or cunning, fall prematurely without
reproducing--either a prey to their natural devourers, or sinking under
disease, generally induced by want of nourishment, their place being
occupied by the more perfect of their own kind, who are pressing on the
means of existence.

"Throughout this volume, we have felt considerable inconvenience from
the adopted dogmatical classification of plants, and have all along been
floundering between species and variety, which certainly under culture
soften into each other. A particular conformity, each after its own
kind, when in a state of nature, termed species, no doubt exists to a
considerable degree. This conformity has existed during the last forty
centuries; geologists discover a like particular conformity--fossil
species--through the deep deposition of each great epoch; but they also
discover an almost complete difference to exist between the species or
stamp of life of one epoch from that of every other. We are therefore
led to admit either a repeated miraculous conception, or _a power of
change under change of circumstances_ to belong to living organized
matter, or rather to the congeries of inferior life which appears to
form superior." (By this I suppose Mr. Matthew to imply his assent to
the theory, that our personality or individuality is but as it were "the
consensus, or full flowing river of a vast number of subordinate
individualities or personalities, each one of which is a living being
with thoughts and wishes of its own.") "The derangements and changes in
organized existence, induced by a change of circumstances from the
interference of man, afford us proof of the plastic quality of superior
life; and the likelihood that circumstances have been very different in
the different epochs, though steady in each, tend strongly to heighten
the probability of the latter theory.

"When we view the immense calcareous and bituminous formations,
principally from the waters and atmosphere, and consider the oxidations
and depositions which have taken place, either gradually or during some
of the great convulsions, it appears at least probable that the liquid
elements containing life have varied considerably at different times in
composition and weight; that our atmosphere has contained a much greater
proportion of carbonic acid or oxygen; and our waters, aided by excess
of carbonic acid, and greater heat resulting from greater density of
atmosphere, have contained a greater quantity of lime, and other mineral
solutions. Is the inference, then, unphilosophic that living things
which are proved to have _a circumstance-suiting power_ (a very slight
change of circumstance by culture inducing a corresponding change of
character), may have gradually accommodated themselves to the variations
of the elements containing them, and without new creation, have
presented the diverging changeable phenomena of past and present
organized existence?

"The destructive liquid currents before which the hardest mountains have
been swept and comminuted into gravel, sand, and mud, which intervened
between and divided these epochs, probably extending over the whole
surface of the globe and destroying nearly all living things, must have
reduced existence so much that an unoccupied field would be formed for
new diverging ramifications of life, which from the connected sexual
system of vegetables, and the natural instinct of animals to herd and
combine with their own kind, would fall into specific groups--these
remnants in the course of time moulding and accommodating their being
anew to the change of circumstances, and to every possible means of
subsistence--and the millions of ages of regularity which appear to have
followed between the epochs, probably after this accommodation was
completed, affording fossil deposit of regular specific character.

     . . . . . .

"In endeavouring to trace ... the principle of these changes of fashion
which have taken place in the domiciles of life the following questions
occur: Do they arise from admixture of species nearly allied producing
intermediate species? Are they the diverging ramifications of the
living principle under modification of circumstance? or have they
resulted from the combined agency of both?

"_Is there only one living principle? Does organized existence, and
perhaps all material existence, consist of one Proteus principle of
life_ capable of gradual circumstance-suited modifications and
aggregations without bound, under the solvent or motion-giving principle
of heat or light? There is more beauty and unity of design in this
continual balancing of life to circumstance, and greater conformity to
those dispositions of nature that are manifest to us, than in total
destruction and new creation. It is improbable that much of this
diversification is owing to commixture of species nearly allied; all
change by this appears very limited and confined within the bounds of
what is called species; the progeny of the same parents under great
difference of circumstance, might in several generations even become
distinct species, incapable of co-reproduction.

"The self-regulating adaptive disposition of organized life may, in
part, be traced to the extreme fecundity of nature, who, as before
stated, has in all the varieties of her offspring a prolific power much
beyond (in many cases a thousand fold) what is necessary to fill up the
vacancies caused by senile decay. As the field of existence is limited
and preoccupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better suited to
circumstance individuals, who are able to struggle forward to maturity,
these inhabiting only the situations to which they have _superior
adaptation and greater power of occupancy than any other kind; the
weaker and less circumstance-suited being prematurely destroyed_. This
principle is in constant action; it regulates the colour, the figure,
the capacities, and instincts; those individuals in each species whose
colour and covering are best suited to concealment or protection from
enemies, or defence from inclemencies and vicissitudes of climate, whose
figure is best accommodated to health, strength, defence, and support;
whose capacities and instincts can best regulate the physical energies
to self-advantage according to circumstances--in such immense waste of
primary and youthful life those only come forward to maturity from the
strict ordeal by which nature tests their adaptation to her standard of
perfection and fitness to continue their kind by reproduction.

"From the unremitting operation of this law acting in concert with the
tendency which the progeny have to take the more particular qualities of
the parents, together with the connected sexual system in vegetables and
instinctive limitation to its own kind in animals, a considerable
uniformity of figure, colour, and character is induced constituting
species; the breed gradually acquiring the very best possible adaptation
of these to its condition which it is susceptible of, and when
alteration of circumstance occurs, thus changing in character to suit
these, as far as its nature is susceptible of change.

"This circumstance-adaptive law operating upon the slight but continued
natural disposition to sport in the progeny (seedling variety) _does not
preclude the supposed influence which volition or sensation may have had
over the configuration of the body_. To examine into the disposition to
sport in the progeny, even when there is only one parent as in many
vegetables, and to investigate how much variation is modified by the
mind or nervous sensation of the parents, or of the living thing itself
during its progress to maturity; how far it depends upon external
circumstance, and how far on the will, irritability, and muscular
exertion, is open to examination and experiment. In the first place, we
ought to examine its dependency upon the preceding links of the
particular chain of life, variety being often merely types or
approximations of former parentage; thence the variation of the family
as well as of the individual must be embraced by our experiments.

"This continuation of family type, not broken by casual particular
aberration, is mental as well as corporeal, and is exemplified in many
of the dispositions or instincts of particular races of men. _These
innate or continuous ideas or habits seem proportionally greater in the
insect tribes, and in those especially of shorter revolution; and
forming an abiding memory, may resolve much of the enigma of instinct,
and the foreknowledge which these tribes have of what is necessary to
completing their round of life, reducing this to knowledge or
impressions and habits acquired by a long experience._

"This greater continuity of existence, or rather continuity of
perceptions and impressions in insects, is highly probable; _it is even
difficult in some to ascertain the particular steps when each individual
commences_, under the different phases of egg, larva, pupa, or if much
consciousness of individuality exists. The continuation of reproduction
for several generations by the females alone in some of these tribes,
_tends to the probability of the greater continuity of existence; and
the subdivisions of life by cuttings (even in animal life), at any rate,
must stagger the advocate of individuality_.

"Among the millions of specific varieties of living things which occupy
the humid portions of the surface of our planet, as far back as can be
traced, there does not appear, with the exception of man, to have been
any particular engrossing race, but a pretty fair balance of power of
occupancy--or rather most wonderful variation of circumstance parallel
to the nature of every species, _as if circumstance and species had
grown up together_. There are, indeed, several races which have
threatened ascendancy in some particular regions; but it is man alone
from whom any general imminent danger to the existence of his brethren
is to be dreaded.

"As far back as history reaches, man had already had considerable
influence, and had made encroachments upon his fellow denizens, probably
occasioning the destruction of many species, and the production and
continuation of a number of varieties, and even species, which he found
more suited to supply his wants, but which from the infirmity of their
condition--_not having undergone selection by the law of nature_, of
which we have spoken--cannot maintain their ground without culture and

"It is only however in the present age that man has begun to reap the
fruits of his tedious education, and has proven how much 'knowledge is
power.' He has now acquired a dominion over the material world, and a
consequent power of increase, so as to render it probable that the whole
surface of the earth may soon be overrun by this engrossing anomaly, to
the annihilation of every wonderful and beautiful variety of animal
existence which does not administer to his wants, principally as
laboratories of preparation to befit cruder elemental matter for
assimilation by his organs.

     . . . . . .

"The consequences are being now developed of our deplorable ignorance
of, or inattention to, one of the most evident traits of natural
history--that vegetables, as well as animals, are generally liable to an
almost unlimited diversification, regulated by climate, soil,
nourishment, and new commixture of already-formed varieties. In those
with which man is most intimate, and where his agency in throwing them
from their natural locality and disposition has brought out this power
of diversification in stronger shades, it has been forced upon his
notice, as in man himself, in the dog, horse, cow, sheep, poultry,--in
the apple, pear, plum, gooseberry, potato, pea, which sport in infinite
varieties, differing considerably in size, colour, taste, firmness of
texture, period of growth, almost in every recognizable quality. In all
these kinds man is influential in preventing deterioration, by careful
selection of the largest or most valuable as breeders."[322]

_Étienne and Isidore Geoffroy._

"Both Cuvier and Étienne Geoffroy," says Isidore Geoffroy, "had early
perceived the philosophical importance of a question (evolution) which
must be admitted as--with that of unity of composition--the greatest in
natural history. We find them laying it down in the year 1795 in one of
their joint 'Memoirs' (on the Orangs), in the very plainest terms, in
the following question, 'Must we see,' they inquire, 'what we commonly
call species, as the modified descendants of the same original form?'

"Both were at that time doubtful. Some years afterwards Cuvier not only
answered this question in the negative, but declared, and pretended to
prove, that the same forms have been perpetuated from the beginning of
things. Lamarck, his antagonist _par excellence_ on this point,
maintained the contrary position with no less distinctness, showing that
living beings are unceasingly variable with change of their
surroundings, and giving with some boldness a zoological genesis in
conformity with this doctrine.

"Geoffroy St. Hilaire had long pondered over this difficult subject. The
doctrine which in his old age he so firmly defended, does not seem to
have been conceived by him till after he had completed his 'Philosophie
Anatomique,' and except through lectures delivered orally to the museum
and the faculty, it was not published till 1828; nor again in the work
then published do we find his theory in its neatest expression and
fullest development."

Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire tells us in a note that the work referred
to as first putting his father's views before the public in a printed
form, was a report to the Academy of Sciences on a memoir by M. Roulin;
but that before this report some indications of them are to be found in
a paper on the Gavials, published in 1825. Their best rendering,
however, and fullest development is in several memoirs, published in
succession, between the years 1828 and 1837.

"This doctrine," he continues, "is diametrically opposed to that of
Cuvier, and is not entirely the same as Lamarck's. Geoffroy St. Hilaire
refutes the one, he restrains and corrects the other. Cuvier, according
to him, sums up against the facts, while Lamarck goes further than they
will bear him out. Essentially however on questions of this nature he is
a follower of Lamarck, and took pleasure on several occasions in
describing himself as the disciple of his illustrious _confrère_."[323]

I have been unable to detect any substantial difference of opinion
between Geoffroy St. Hilaire and Lamarck, except that the first
maintained that a line must be drawn somewhere--and did not draw
it--while the latter said that no line could be drawn, and therefore
drew none. Mr. Darwin is quite correct in saying that Geoffroy St.
Hilaire "relied chiefly on the conditions of life, or the 'monde
ambiant,' as the cause of change." But this is only Lamarck over again,
for though Lamarck attributes variation directly to change of habits in
the creature, he is almost wearisome in his insistence on the fact that
the habit will not change, unless the conditions of life also do so.
With both writers then it is change in the relative positions of the
exterior circumstances, and of the organism, which results in variation,
and finally in specific modification.

Here is another sketch of Étienne Geoffroy, also by his son Isidore.

In 1795, while Lamarck was still a believer in immutability, Étienne
Geoffroy St. Hilaire "had ventured to say that species might well be
'degenerations from a single type,'" but, though he never lost sight of
the question, he waited more than a quarter of a century before passing
from meditation to action. "He at length put forward his opinion in
1825, he returned to it, but still briefly, in 1828 and 1829, and did
not set himself to develop and establish it till the year 1831--the year
following the memorable discussion in the Academy, on the unity of
organic composition."[324]

"If," says his son, "he began by paying homage to his illustrious
precursor, and by laying it down as a general axiom, that there is no
such thing as fixity in nature, and especially in animated nature, he
follows this adhesion to the general doctrine of variability by a
dissent which goes to the very heart of the matter. And this dissent
becomes deeper and deeper in his later works. Not only is Geoffroy St.
Hilaire at pains to deny the unlimited extension of variability which
is the foundation of the Lamarckian system, but he moreover and
particularly declines to explain those degenerations which he admits as
possible, by changes of action and habit on the part of the creature
varying--Lamarck's favourite hypothesis, which he laboured to
demonstrate without even succeeding in making it appear probable."[325]

Isidore Geoffroy then declares that his father, "though chronologically
a follower of Lamarck, should be ranked philosophically as having
continued the work of Buffon, to whom all his differences of opinion
with Lamarck serve to bring him nearer."[326] If he had understood
Buffon he would not have said so.

His conclusions are thus summed up:--"Geoffroy St. Hilaire maintains
that species are variable if the environment varies in character;
differences, then, more or less considerable according to the power of
the modifying causes _may have_ been produced in the course of time, and
the living forms of to-day _may be_ the descendants of more ancient

It is not easy to see that much weight should be attached to Geoffroy
St. Hilaire's opinion. He seems to have been a person of hesitating
temperament, under an impression that there was an opening just then
through which a judicious trimmer might pass himself in among men of
greater power. If his son has described his teaching correctly, it
amounts practically to a _bonâ fide_ endorsement of what Buffon can only
be considered to have pretended to believe. The same objection that must
be fatal to the view pretended by Buffon, is so in like manner to those
put forward seriously of both the Geoffroys--for Isidore Geoffroy
followed his father, but leant a little more openly towards Lamarck. He

"The characters of species are neither absolutely fixed, as has been
maintained by some; nor yet, still more, indefinitely variable as
according to others. They are fixed for each species as long as that
species continues to reproduce itself in an unchanged environment; but
they become modified if the environment changes."[328]

This is all that Lamarck himself would expect, as no one could be more
fully aware than M. Geoffroy, who, however, admits that degeneration may
extend to generic differences.[329]

I have been unable to find in M. Isidore Geoffroy's work anything like a
refutation of Lamarck's contention that the modifications in animals and
plants are due to the needs and wishes of the animals and plants
themselves; on the contrary, to some extent he countenances this view
himself, for he says, "hence arise notable differences of habitation and
climate, and these in their turn induce secondary differences in diet
_and even in habits_."[330] From which it must follow, though I cannot
find it said expressly, that the author attributes modification in some
measure to changed habits, and therefore to the changed desires from
which the change of habits has arisen; but in the main he appears to
refer modification to the direct action of a changed environment.

_Mr. Herbert Spencer._

"Those who cavalierly reject the theory of Lamarck and his followers as
not adequately supported by facts," wrote Mr. Herbert Spencer,[331]
"seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at
all"--inasmuch as no one pretends to have seen an act of direct
creation. Mr. Spencer points out that, according to the best
authorities, there are some 320,000 species of plants now existing, and
about 2,000,000 species of animals, including insects, and that if the
extinct forms which have successively appeared and disappeared be added
to these, there cannot have existed in all less than some ten million
species. "Which," asks Mr. Spencer, "is the most rational theory about
these ten millions of species? Is it most likely that there have been
ten millions of special creations? or, is it most likely that by
continual modification _due to change of circumstances_, ten millions of
varieties may have been produced as varieties are being produced still?"

     . . . . . .

"Even could the supporters of the development hypothesis merely show
that the production of species by the process of modification is
conceivable, they would be in a better position than their opponents.
But they can do much more than this; they can show that the process of
modification has effected and is effecting great changes in all
organisms, subject to modifying influences ... they can show that any
existing species--animal or vegetable--when placed under conditions
different from its previous ones, _immediately begins to undergo certain
changes of structure_ fitting it for the new conditions. They can show
that in successive generations these changes continue until ultimately
the new conditions become the natural ones. They can show that in
cultivated plants and domesticated animals, and in the several races of
men, these changes have uniformly taken place. They can show that the
degrees of difference, so produced, are often, as in dogs, greater than
those on which distinctions of species are in other cases founded. They
can show that it is a matter of dispute whether some of these modified
forms _are_ varieties or modified species. They can show too that the
changes daily taking place in ourselves; the facility that attends long
practice, and the loss of aptitude that begins when practice ceases; the
strengthening of passions habitually gratified, and the weakening of
those habitually curbed; the development of every faculty, bodily, moral
or intellectual, according to the use made of it, are all explicable on
this same principle. And thus they can show that throughout all organic
nature there _is_ at work a modifying influence of the kind they assign
as the cause of these specific differences, an influence which, though
slow in its action, does in time, if the circumstances demand it,
produce marked changes; an influence which, to all appearance, would
produce in the millions of years, and under the great varieties of
condition which geological records imply, any amount of change."

This leaves nothing to be desired. It is Buffon, Dr. Darwin, and
Lamarck, well expressed. Those were the days before "Natural Selection"
had been discharged into the waters of the evolution controversy, like
the secretion of a cuttle fish. Changed circumstances immediately induce
changed habits, and hence a changed use of some organs, and disuse of
others: as a consequence of this, organs and instincts become changed,
"and these changes continue in successive generations, until ultimately
the new conditions become the natural ones." This is the whole theory of
"development," "evolution," or "descent with modification." Volumes may
be written to adduce the details which warrant us in accepting it, and
to explain the causes which have brought it about, but I fail to see how
anything essential can be added to the theory itself, which is here so
well supported by Mr. Spencer, and which is exactly as Lamarck left it.
All that remains is to have a clear conception of the oneness of
personality between parents and offspring, of the eternity, and latency,
of memory, and of the unconsciousness with which habitual actions are
repeated, which last point, indeed, Mr. Spencer has himself touched

Mr. Spencer continues--"That by any series of changes a zoophyte should
ever become a mammal, seems to those who are not familiar with zoology,
and who have not seen how clear becomes the relationship between the
simplest and the most complex forms, when all intermediate forms are
examined, a very grotesque notion ... they never realize the fact that
by small increments of modification, any amount of modification may in
time be generated. That surprise which they feel on finding one whom
they last saw as a boy, grown into a man, becomes incredulity when the
degree of change is greater. Nevertheless, abundant instances are at
hand of the mode in which we may pass to the most diverse forms by
insensible gradations."

Nothing can be more satisfactory and straightforward. I will make one
more quotation from this excellent article:--

"But the blindness of those who think it absurd to suppose that complex
organic forms may have arisen by successive modifications out of simple
ones, becomes astonishing when we remember that complex organic forms
are daily being thus produced. A tree differs from a seed immeasurably
in every respect--in bulk, in structure, in colour, in form, in specific
gravity, in chemical composition--differs so greatly that no visible
resemblance of any kind can be pointed out between them. Yet is the one
changed in the course of a few years into the other--changed so
gradually that at no moment can it be said, 'Now the seed ceases to be,
and the tree exists.' What can be more widely contrasted than a
newly-born child, and the small, semi-transparent gelatinous spherule
constituting the human ovum? The infant is so complex in structure that
a cyclopædia is needed to describe its constituent parts. The germinal
vesicle is so simple, that a line will contain all that can be said of
it. Nevertheless, a few months suffices to develop the one out of the
other, and that too by a series of modifications so small, that were
the embryo examined at successive minutes, not even a microscope would
disclose any sensible changes. That the uneducated and ill-educated
should think the hypothesis that all races of beings, man inclusive, may
in process of time have been evolved from the simplest monad a ludicrous
one is not to be wondered at. But for the physiologist, who knows that
every individual being _is_ so evolved--who knows further that in their
earliest condition the germs of all plants and animals whatsoever are so
similar, 'that there is no appreciable distinction among them which
would enable it to be determined whether a particular molecule is the
germ of a conferva or of an oak, of a zoophyte or of a man'[332]--for
him to make a difficulty of the matter is inexcusable. Surely, if a
single structureless cell may, when subjected to certain influences,
become a man in the space of twenty years, there is nothing absurd in
the hypothesis that under certain other influences a cell may, in the
course of millions of years, give origin to the human race. The two
processes are generically the same, and differ only in length and

     *     *     *     *     *

The very important extract from Professor Hering's lecture should
perhaps have been placed here. The reader will, however, find it on page


[321] 'Origin of Species,' Hist. Sketch, p. xvi.

[322] See 'Naval Timber and Arboriculture,' by Patrick Matthew,
published by Adam and C. Black, Edinburgh, and Longmans and Co., London,
1831, pp. 364, 365, 381-388, and also 106-108, 'Gardeners' Chronicle,'
April 7, 1860.

[323] 'Vie et Doctrine Scientifique de Geoffroy Étienne St. Hilaire,'
Paris, Strasbourg, 1847, pp. 344-346.

[324] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. 413.

[325] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' tom. ii. p. 415.

[326] Ibid.

[327] Ibid. p. 421.

[328] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' vol. ii. p. 431, 1859.

[329] 'Origin of Species,' Hist. Sketch, p. xix.

[330] 'Hist. Nat. Gén.,' vol. ii. p. 432.

[331] See 'The Leader,' March 20, 1852, "The Haythorne Papers."

[332] Carpenter's 'Principles of Physiology', 3rd ed., p. 867.



Having put before the reader with some fulness the theories of the three
writers to whom we owe the older or teleological view of evolution, I
will now compare that view more closely with the theory of Mr. Darwin
and Mr. Wallace, to whom, in spite of my profound difference of opinion
with them on the subject of natural selection, I admit with pleasure
that I am under deep obligation. For the sake of brevity, I shall take
Lamarck as the exponent of the older view, and Mr. Darwin as that of the
one now generally accepted.

We have seen, that up to a certain point there is very little difference
between Lamarck and Mr. Darwin. Lamarck maintains that animals and
plants vary: so does Mr. Darwin. Lamarck maintains that variations
having once arisen have a tendency to be transmitted to offspring and
accumulated: so does Mr. Darwin. Lamarck maintains that the accumulation
of variations, so small, each one of them, that it cannot be, or is not
noticed, nevertheless will lead in the course of that almost infinite
time during which life has existed upon earth, to very wide differences
in form, structure, and instincts: so does Mr. Darwin. Finally, Lamarck
declares that all, or nearly all, the differences which we observe
between various kinds of animals and plants are due to this exceedingly
gradual and imperceptible accumulation, during many successive
generations, of variations each one of which was in the outset small: so
does Mr. Darwin. But in the above we have a complete statement of the
fact of evolution, or descent with modification--wanting nothing, but
entire, and incapable of being added to except in detail, and by way of
explanation of the causes which have brought the fact about. As regards
the general conclusion arrived at, therefore, I am unable to detect any
difference of opinion between Lamarck and Mr. Darwin. They are both bent
on establishing the theory of evolution in its widest extent.

The late Sir Charles Lyell, in his 'Principles of Geology,' bears me out
here. In a note to his _résumé_ of the part of the 'Philosophie
Zoologique' which bears upon evolution, he writes:--

"I have reprinted in this chapter word for word my abstract of Lamarck's
doctrine of transmutation, as drawn up by me in 1832 in the first
edition of the 'Principles of Geology.'[333] I have thought it right to
do this in justice to Lamarck, in order to show how nearly the opinions
taught by him at the commencement of this century resembled those now in
vogue amongst a large body of naturalists respecting the infinite
variability of species, and the progressive development in past time of
the organic world. The reader must bear in mind that when I made this
analysis of the 'Philosophie Zoologique' in 1832, I was altogether
opposed to the doctrine that the animals and plants now living were the
lineal descendants of distinct species, only known to us in a fossil
state, and ... so far from exaggerating, I did not do justice to the
arguments originally adduced by Lamarck and Geoffroy St. Hilaire,
especially those founded on the occurrence of rudimentary organs. There
is therefore no room for suspicion that my account of the Lamarckian
hypothesis, written by me thirty-five years ago, derived any colouring
from my own views tending to bring it more into harmony with the theory
since propounded by Darwin."[334] So little difference did Sir Charles
Lyell discover between the views of Lamarck and those of his successors.

With the identity, however, of the main proposition which, both Lamarck
and Mr. Darwin alike endeavour to establish, the points of agreement
between the two writers come to an end. Lamarck's great aim was to
discover the cause of those variations whose accumulation results in
specific, and finally in generic, differences. Not content with
establishing the fact of descent with modification, he, like his
predecessors, wishes to explain how it was that the fact came about. He
finds its explanation in changed surroundings--that is to say, in
changed conditions of existence--as the indirect cause, and in the
varying needs arising from these changed conditions as the direct cause.

According to Lamarck, there is a broad principle which underlies
variation generally, and this principle is the power which all living
beings possess of slightly varying their actions in accordance with
varying needs, coupled with the fact observable throughout nature that
use develops, and disuse enfeebles an organ, and that the effects,
whether of use or disuse, become hereditary after many generations.

This resolves itself into the effect of the mutual interaction of mind
on body and of body on mind. Thus he writes:--

"The physical and the mental are to start with undoubtedly one and the
same thing; this fact is most easily made apparent through study of the
organization of the various orders of known animals. From the common
source there proceeded certain effects, and these effects, in the outset
hardly separated, have in the course of time become so perfectly
distinct, that when looked at in their extremest development they appear
to have little or nothing in common.

"The effect of the body upon the mind has been already sufficiently
recognized; not so that of the mind upon the body itself. The two, one
in the outset though they were, interact upon each other more and more
the more they present the appearance of having become widely sundered,
and it can be shown that each is continually modifying the other and
causing it to vary."[335]

And again, later:--

"I shall show that the habits by which we now recognize any creature
are due to the environment (_circonstances_) under which it has for a
long while existed, _and that these habits have had such an influence
upon the structure of each individual of the species as to have at
length_" (that is to say, through many successive slight variations,
each due to habit engendered by the wishes of the animal itself),
"modified this structure and adapted it to the habits contracted."[336]

These quotations must suffice, for the reader has already had Lamarck's
argument sufficiently put before him.

Variation, and consequently modification, are, according to Lamarck, the
outward and visible signs of the impressions made upon animals and
plants in the course of their long and varied history, each organ
chronicling a time during which such and such thoughts and actions
dominated the creature, and specific changes being the effect of certain
long-continued wishes upon the body, and of certain changed surroundings
upon the wishes. Plants and animals are living forms of faith, or faiths
of form, whichever the reader pleases.

Mr. Darwin, on the other hand, repeatedly avows ignorance, and profound
ignorance, concerning the causes of those variations which, or nothing,
must be the fountain-heads of species. Thus he writes of "the complex
and _little known_ laws of variation."[337] "There is also _some
probability_ in the view propounded by Andrew Knight, that variability
_may be partly_ connected with excess of food."[338] "Many laws regulate
variation, _some few of which_ can be _dimly seen_."[339] "The results
of the _unknown_, or _but dimly understood_, laws of variation are
infinitely complex and diversified."[340] "We are _profoundly ignorant_
of the cause of each slight variation or individual difference."[341]
"We are _far too ignorant_ to speculate on the relative importance of
the several known and unknown causes of variation."[342] He admits,
indeed, the effects of use and disuse to have been important, but how
important we have no means of knowing; he also attributes considerable
effect to the action of changed conditions of life--but how considerable
again we know not; nevertheless, he sees no great principle underlying
the variations generally, and tending to make them appear for a length
of time together in any definite direction advantageous to the creature
itself, but either expressly, as at times, or by implication, as
throughout his works, ascribes them to accident or chance.

In other words, he admits his ignorance concerning them, and dwells only
on the accumulation of variations the appearance of which for any length
of time in any given direction he leaves unaccounted for.

Lamarck, again, having established his principle that sense of need is
the main direct cause of variation, and having also established that the
variations thus engendered are inherited, so that divergences accumulate
and result in species and genera, is comparatively indifferent to
further details. His work is avowedly an outline. Nevertheless, we have
seen that he was quite alive to the effects of the geometrical ratio of
increase, and of the struggle for existence which thence inevitably

Mr. Darwin, on the other hand, comparatively indifferent to, or at any
rate silent concerning the causes of those variations which appeared so
all-important to Lamarck, inasmuch as they are the raindrops which unite
to form the full stream of modification, goes into very full detail upon
natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, and maintains it to
have been "the most important but not the exclusive means of

It will be readily seen that, according to Lamarck, the variations which
when accumulated amount to specific and generic differences, will have
been due to causes which have been mainly of the same kind for long
periods together. Conditions of life change for the most part slowly,
steadily, and in a set direction; as in the direction of steady, gradual
increase or decrease of cold or moisture; of the steady, gradual
increase of such and such an enemy, or decrease of such and such a kind
of food; of the gradual upheaval or submergence of such and such a
continent, and consequent drying up or encroachment of such and such a
sea, and so forth. The thoughts of the creature varying will thus have
been turned mainly in one direction for long together; and hence the
consequent modifications will also be mainly in fixed and definite
directions for many successive generations; as in the direction of a
warmer or cooler covering; of a better means of defence or of attack in
relation to such and such another species; of a longer neck and longer
legs, or of whatever other modification the gradually changing
circumstances may be rendering expedient. It is easy to understand the
accumulation of slight successive modifications which thus make their
appearance in given organs and in a set direction.

With Mr. Darwin, on the contrary, the variations being accidental, and
due to no special and uniform cause, will not appear for any length of
time in any given direction, nor in any given organ, but will be just as
liable to appear in one organ as in another, and may be in one
generation in one direction, and in another in another.

In confirmation of the above, and in illustration of the important
consequences that will follow according as we adopt the old or the more
recent theory, I would quote the following from Mr. Mivart's 'Genesis of

Shortly before maintaining that two similar structures have often been
developed independently of one another, Mr. Mivart points out that if we
are dependent upon indefinite variations only, as provided for us by Mr.
Darwin, this would be "so improbable as to be practically
impossible."[344] The number of possible variations being indefinitely
great, "it is therefore an indefinitely great number to one against a
similar series of variations occurring and being similarly preserved in
any two independent instances." It will be felt (as Mr. Mivart presently
insists) that this objection does not apply to a system which maintains
that in case an animal feels any given want it will gradually develop
the structure which shall meet the want--that is to say, if the want be
not so great and so sudden as to extinguish the creature to which it has
become a necessity. For if there be such a power of self-adaptation as
thus supposed, two or more very widely different animals feeling the
same kind of want might easily adopt similar means to gratify it, and
hence develop eventually a substantially similar structure; just as two
men, without any kind of concert, have often hit upon like means of
compassing the same ends. Mr. Spencer's theory--so Mr. Mivart tells
us--and certainly that of Lamarck, whose disciple Mr. Spencer would
appear to be,[345] admits "a certain peculiar, but limited power of
response and adaptation in each animal and plant"--to the conditions of
their existence. "Such theories," says Mr. Mivart, "have not to contend
against the difficulty proposed, and it has been urged that even very
complex extremely similar structures have again and again been developed
quite independently one of the other, and this because the process has
taken place not by merely haphazard, indefinite variations in all
directions, but by the concurrence of some other internal natural law or
laws co-operating with external influences and with Natural Selection in
the evolution of organic forms.

"_It must never be forgotten that to admit any such constant operation
of any such unknown natural cause is to deny the purely Darwinian theory
which relies upon the survival of the fittest by means of minute
fortuitous indefinite variations._

"Among many other obligations which the author has to acknowledge to
Professor Huxley, are the pointing out of this very difficulty, and the
calling his attention to the striking resemblance between certain teeth
of the dog, and of the thylacine, as one instance, and certain ornithic
peculiarities of pterodactyles as another."[346]

In brief then, changed distribution of use and disuse in consequence of
changed conditions of the environment is with Lamarck the main cause of
modification. According to Mr. Darwin natural selection, or the survival
of favourable but accidental variations, is the most important means of
modification. In a word, with Lamarck the variations are definite; with
Mr. Darwin indefinite.


[333] Vol. ii. chap. i.

[334] Vol. ii. chap, xxxiv., ed. 1872.

[335] 'Philosophie Zoologique,' ed. M. Martins, Paris, Lyons, 1873, tom.
i. p. 24.

[336] 'Philosophie Zoologique,' tom. i. p. 72.

[337] 'Origin of Species,' p. 3.

[338] Ibid. p. 5.

[339] 'Origin of Species,' p. 8.

[340] Ibid. p. 9.

[341] Ibid. p. 158.

[342] Ibid. p. 159.

[343] 'Origin of Species,' p. 4.

[344] 'Genesis of Species,' p. 74, 1871.

[345] See _ante_, p. 330, line 1 after heading.

[346] 'Genesis of Species,' p. 76, ed. 1871.



When Mr. Darwin says that natural selection is the most important
"means" of modification, I am not sure that I understand what he wishes
to imply by the word "means." I do not see how the fact that those
animals which are best fitted for the conditions of their existence
commonly survive in the struggle for life, can be called in any special
sense a "means" of modification.

"Means" is a dangerous word; it slips too easily into "cause." We have
seen Mr. Darwin himself say that Buffon did not enter on "the _causes or
means_"[347] of modification, as though these two words were synonymous,
or nearly so. Nevertheless, the use of the word "means" here enables Mr.
Darwin to speak of Natural Selection as if it were an active cause
(which he constantly does), and yet to avoid expressly maintaining that
it is a cause of modification. This, indeed, he has not done in express
terms, but he does it by implication when he writes, "Natural Selection
_might be most effective in giving_ the proper colour to each kind of
grouse, and in _keeping_ that colour when once acquired." Such language,
says the late Mr. G. H. Lewes, "is misleading;" it makes "selection an

It is plain that natural selection cannot be considered a cause of
variation; and if not of variation, which is as the rain drop, then not
of specific and generic modification, which are as the river; for the
variations must make their appearance before they can be selected.
Suppose that it is an advantage to a horse to have an especially hard
and broad hoof, then a horse born with such a hoof will indeed probably
survive in the struggle for existence, but he was not born with the
larger and harder hoof _because of his subsequently surviving_. He
survived because he was born fit--not, he was born fit because he
survived. The variation must arise first and be preserved afterwards.

Mr. Darwin therefore is in the following dilemma. If he does not treat
natural selection as a cause of variation, the 'Origin of Species' will
turn out to have no _raison d'être_. It will have professed to have
explained to us the manner in which species has originated, but it will
have left us in the dark concerning the origin of those variations
which, when added together, amount to specific and generic differences.
Thus, as I said in 'Life and Habit,' Mr. Darwin will have made us think
we know the whole road, in spite of his having almost ostentatiously
blindfolded us at every step in the journey. The 'Origin of Species'
would thus prove to be no less a piece of intellectual sleight-of-hand
than Paley's 'Natural Theology.'

If, on the other hand, Mr. Darwin maintains natural selection to be a
cause of variation, this comes to saying that when an animal has varied
in an advantageous direction, the fact of its subsequently surviving in
the struggle for existence is the cause of its having varied in the
advantageous direction--or more simply still--that the fact of its
having varied is the cause of its having varied.

And this is what we have already seen Mr. Darwin actually to say, in a
passage quoted near the beginning of this present book. When writing of
the eye he says, "Variation will cause the slight alterations;"[349] but
the "slight alterations" _are_ the variations; so that Mr. Darwin's
words come to this--that "variation will cause the variations."

There does not seem any better way out of this dilemma than that which
Mr. Darwin has adopted--namely, to hold out natural selection as "a
means" of modification, and thenceforward to treat it as an efficient
cause; but at the same time to protest again and again that it is
not a cause. Accordingly he writes that "Natural Selection _acts
only by the preservation and accumulation_ of small inherited
modifications,"[350]--that is to say, it has had no share in inducing or
causing these modifications. Again, "What applies to one animal will
apply throughout all time to all animals--_that is, if they vary, for
otherwise natural selection can effect nothing_"[351]; and again, "for
natural selection only _takes advantage of such variations as
arise_"[352]--the variations themselves arising, as we have just seen,
from variation.

Nothing, then, can be clearer from these passages than that natural
selection is not a cause of modification; while, on the other hand,
nothing can be clearer, from a large number of such passages, as, for
instance, "natural selection may be _effective_ in _giving_ and
_keeping_ colour,"[353] than that natural selection is an efficient
cause; and in spite of its being expressly declared to be only a "means"
of modification, it will be accepted as cause by the great majority of

Mr. Darwin explains this apparent inconsistency thus:--He maintains that
though the advantageous modification itself is fortuitous, or without
known cause or principle underlying it, yet its becoming the predominant
form of the species in which it appears is due to the fact that those
animals which have been advantageously modified commonly survive in
times of difficulty, while the unmodified individuals perish: offspring
therefore is more frequently left by the favourably modified animal, and
thus little by little the whole species will come to inherit the
modification. Hence the survival of the fittest becomes a means of
modification, though it is no cause of variation.

It will appear more clearly later on how much this amounts to. I will
for the present content myself with the following quotation from the
late Mr. G. H. Lewes in reference to it. Mr. Lewes writes:--

"Mr. Darwin seems to imply that the external conditions which cause a
variation are to be distinguished from the conditions which accumulate
and perfect such variation, that is to say, he implies a radical
difference between the process of variation and the process of
selection. This I have already said does not seem to me acceptable; the
selection I conceive to be simply the variation which has

Certainly those animals and plants which are best fitted for their
environment, or, as Lamarck calls it, "_circonstances_"--those animals,
in fact, which are best fitted to comply with the conditions of their
existence--are most likely to survive and transmit their especial
fitness. No one would admit this more readily than Lamarck. This is no
theory; it is a commonly observed fact in nature which no one will
dispute, but it is not more "a means of modification" than many other
commonly observed facts concerning animals.

Why is "the survival of the fittest" more a means of modification than,
we will say, the fact that animals live at all, or that they live in
successive generations, being born, continuing their species, and dying,
instead of living on for ever as one single animal in the common
acceptation of the term; or than that they eat and drink?

The heat whereby the water is heated, the water which is turned into
steam, the piston on which the steam acts, the driving wheel, &c., &c.,
are all one as much as another a means whereby a train is made to go
from one place to another; it is impossible to say that any one of them
is the main means. So (_mutatis mutandis_) with modification. There is
no reason therefore why "the survival of the fittest" should claim to
be an especial "means of modification" rather than any other necessary
adjunct of animal or vegetable life.

I find that the late Mr. G. H. Lewes has insisted on this objection in
his 'Physical Basis of Mind.' I observe, also, that in the very passage
in which he does so, Mr. Lewes appears to have been misled by Mr.
Darwin's use of that dangerous word "means," and, at the same time, by
his frequent treatment of natural selection as though it were an active
cause; so that Mr. Lewes supposes Mr. Darwin to have fallen into the
very error of which, as I have above shown, he is evidently struggling
to keep clear--namely, that of maintaining natural selection to be a
"cause" of variation. Mr. Lewes then continues:--

"He [Mr. Darwin] separates Natural Selection from all the primary causes
of variation either internal or external--either as results of the laws
of growth, of the correlations of variation, of use and disuse, &c., and
limits it to the slow accumulation of such variations as are profitable
in the struggle with competitors. And for his purpose this separation is
necessary. But biological philosophy must, I think, regard the
distinction as artificial, _referring only to one of the great factors
in the production of species_."[355]

The fact that one in a brood or litter is born fitter for the conditions
of its existence than its brothers and sisters, and, again, the causes
that have led to this one's having been born fitter--which last is what
the older evolutionists justly dwelt upon as the most interesting
consideration in connection with the whole subject--are more noteworthy
factors of modification than the factor that an animal, if born fitter
for its conditions, will commonly survive longer in the struggle for
existence. If the first of these can be explained in such a manner as to
be accepted as true, or highly probable, we have a substantial gain to
our knowledge. The second is little--if at all--better than a truism.
Granted, if it were not generally the case that those forms are most
likely to survive which are best fitted for the conditions of their
existence, no adaptation of form to conditions of existence could ever
have come about. "The survival of the fittest" therefore, or, perhaps
better, "the fertility of the fittest," is thus a _sine quâ non_ for
modification. But, as we have just insisted, this does not render "the
fertility of the fittest" an especial "means of modification," rather
than any other _sine quâ non_ for modification.

But, to look at the matter in another light. Mr. Darwin maintains
natural selection to be "the most important but not the exclusive means
of modification."

For "natural selection" substitute the words "survival of the fittest,"
which we may do with Mr. Darwin's own consent abundantly given.

To the words "survival of the fittest" add what is elided, but what is,
nevertheless, unquestionably as much implied as though it were said
openly whenever these words are used, and without which "fittest" has no
force--I mean, "for the conditions of their existence."

We thus find that when Mr. Darwin says that natural selection is the
most important, but not exclusive means of modification, he means that
the survival in the struggle for existence of those creatures which are
best fitted to comply with the conditions of their existence is the most
important, but not exclusive means whereby the descendants of a
creature, we will say, A, have become modified, so as to be now
represented by a creature, we will say, B.

But the word "_circonstances_," so frequently used by Lamarck for the
conditions of an animal's existence, contains, by implication, the idea
of animals _which shall exist or not according as they fulfil those
conditions or fail to fulfil them_. Conditions of existence are
conditions which something capable of existing must fulfil if it would
exist at all, and nothing is a condition of an animal's existence which
that animal need not comply with and may yet continue to exist. Again,
the words "animals" and "plants" comprehend the ideas of "fit,"
"fitter," and "fittest," "unfit," "unfitter," and "unfittest" for
certain conditions, for we know of no animals or plants in which we do
not observe degrees of fitness or unfitness for their "_circonstances_"
or environment, or conditions of existence.

The use, therefore, of the term "conditions of existence" is sufficient
to show that the person using it intends to imply that those animals and
plants will live longest (or survive) and thrive best which are best
able to fulfil those conditions. Hence it implies neither more nor less
than what is implied by the words "struggle for existence, with
consequent survival of the fittest"--that is to say, if we hold the
complying with any condition of life to which difficulty is attached to
be part of "the struggle" for life, and this we should certainly do.

The words "conditions of existence" may, then, be used instead of the
"struggle for existence with consequent survival of the fittest," for as
they cannot imply any less than the "struggle, &c.," when they are set
out in full, and without suppression, so neither do they imply more; for
nothing is a condition of existence, in so far as its power of effecting
the modification of any animal is concerned, which does not also involve
more or less difficulty or struggle; for if there is no difficulty or
struggle there will be nothing to bring about change of habit, and hence
of structure. This identity of meaning may be also seen if we call to
mind that the conditions of existence can be only a synonym for "the
conditions of continuing to live," and "the conditions of continuing to
live" a synonym for "the conditions of continuing to live a longer
time," and "the conditions of continuing to live a longer time," for
"the conditions of survival," and "the conditions of survival," for "the
survival of the fittest," inasmuch as the being fittest is the condition
of being the longest survivor.

But we have already seen that "the survival of the fittest," is,
according to Mr. Darwin, a synonym for "natural selection"; hence it
follows that "the conditions of existence" imply neither more nor less
than what is implied by "natural selection" when this expression is
properly explained, and may be used instead of it; so that when Mr.
Darwin says that "natural selection" is the main but not exclusive means
of modification, he must mean, consciously or unconsciously, that "the
conditions of existence" are the main but not exclusive means of
modification. But this is only falling in with "the views and erroneous
grounds of opinion," as Mr. Darwin briefly calls them, of Lamarck
himself; a fact which Mr. Darwin's readers would have seen more readily
if he had kept to the use of the words "survival of the fittest" instead
of "natural selection." Of that expression Mr. Darwin says[356] that it
is "more accurate" than natural selection, but naively adds, "and
sometimes equally convenient."

I have said that there is a practical identity of meaning between
"natural selection" and "the conditions of existence," when both
expressions are fully extended. I say this, however, without prejudice
to my right of maintaining that, of the two expressions, the one is
accurate, lucid, and calculated to keep the thread of the argument well
in sight of the reader, while the other is inaccurate, and always, if I
may say so, less "convenient," as being always liable to lead the reader
astray. Nor should it be lost sight of that Lamarck and Dr. Erasmus
Darwin maintain that species and genera have arisen _because animals can
fashion themselves into accord with_ their conditions, so that, as
Lamarck is so continually insisting, the action of the conditions is
indirect only--changed use and disuse being the direct causes; while,
according to Mr. Darwin, it is natural selection itself (which, as we
have seen, is but another way of saying conditions of existence) that is
the most important means of modification.

The identity of meaning above insisted on was, on the face of it, almost
as obscure as that between "_evêque_ and bishop." Yet we know that
"_evêque_" is "episc" and "bishop" "piscop," and that "episcopus" is the
Latin for bishop; the words, therefore, are really one and the same, in
spite of the difference in their appearance. I think I can show,
moreover, that Mr. Darwin himself holds natural selection and the
conditions of existence to be one and the same thing. For he writes, "in
one sense," and it is hard to see any sense but one in what follows,
"the conditions of life may be said not only to cause variability" (so
that here Mr. Darwin appears to support Lamarck's main thesis) "either
directly or indirectly, but likewise to include natural selection; for
the conditions determine whether this or that variety shall
survive."[357] But later on we find that "the expression of conditions
of existence, so often insisted upon by the illustrious Cuvier" (and
surely also by the illustrious Lamarck, though he calls them
"_circonstances_") "is fully embraced by the principle of natural
selection."[358] So we see that the conditions of life "_include_"
natural selection, and yet the conditions of existence "_are fully
embraced by_" natural selection, which, I take it, is an enigmatic way
of saying that they are one and the same thing, for it is not until two
bodies absolutely coincide and occupy the same space that the one can be
said both to include and to be embraced by the other.

The difficulty, again, of understanding Mr. Darwin's meaning is enhanced
by his repeatedly writing of "natural selection," or the fact that the
fittest survive in the struggle for existence, as though it were the
same thing as "evolution" or the descent, through the accumulation of
small modifications in many successive generations, of one species from
another and different one. In the concluding and recapitulatory chapter
of the 'Origin of Species,' he writes:--

"Turning to geographical distribution, the difficulties encountered _on
the theory of descent with modification_ are serious enough;"[359] and
in the next paragraph, "As, according to _the theory of natural
selection, &c._," the context showing that in each case descent with
modification is intended.


"On the theory of the _natural selection_ of successive, slight, but
profitable, modifications,"[360] that is to say, on the theory of the
survival of the fittest; while on the next page we find "_the theory of
descent with modification_," and "_the principle of natural selection_,"
used as though they were convertible terms.


"The existence of closely allied or representative species in any two
areas implies, _on the theory of descent with modification, &c._;"[361]
and, in the next paragraph, "_the theory of natural selection_, with its
contingencies of extinction and divergence of character," is substituted
as though the two expressions were identical.

This is calculated to mislead. Independently of the fact that "natural
selection," or "the survival of the fittest," is in no sense a theory,
but simply an observed fact, yet even if the words are allowed to stand
for "descent with modification by means of natural selection," it is
still misleading to write as though this were synonymous with "the
theory of evolution," or "the theory of descent with modification." To
do this prevents the reader from bearing in mind that "evolution by
means of the circumstance-suiting power of plants and animals" as
advanced by the earlier evolutionists; and "evolution by means of lucky
accidents" with comparatively little circumstance-suiting power, are two
very different things, of which the one may be true and the other
untrue. It leads the reader to forget that evolution by no means stands
or falls with evolution by means of natural selection, and makes him
think that if he accepts evolution at all, he is bound to Mr. Darwin's
view of it. Hence, when he falls in with such writers as Professor
Mivart and the Rev. J. J. Murphy, who show, and very plainly, that the
survival of the fittest, unsupplemented by something which shall give a
definite aim to the variations which successively occur, fails to
account for the coadaptations of need and structure, he imagines that
evolution has much less to say for itself than it really has. If Mr.
Darwin, instead of taking the line which he has thought fit to adopt
towards Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and the author of the
'Vestiges,' had shown us what these men taught, why they taught it,
wherein they were wrong, and how he proposed to set them right, he would
have taken a course at once more agreeable with ordinary practice, and
more likely to clear misconception from his own mind and from those of
his readers.

Mr. Darwin says,[362] "it is easy to hide our ignorance under such
expressions as 'the plan of creation' and 'unity of design.'" Surely,
also, it is easy to hide want of precision of thought, and the absence
of any fundamental difference between his own main conclusion and that
of Dr. Darwin and Lamarck whom he condemns, under the term "natural

I assure the reader that I find the task of forming a clear,
well-defined conception of Mr. Darwin's meaning, as expressed in his
'Origin of Species,' comparable only to that of one who has to act on
the advice of a lawyer who has obscured the main issue as far as he can,
and whose chief aim has been to make as many loopholes as possible for
himself to escape through in case of his being called to account. Or,
again, to that of one who has to construe an Act of Parliament which was
originally framed so as to throw dust in the eyes of those who would
oppose the measure, and which, having been since found unworkable, has
had clauses repealed and inserted up and down it, till it is in an
inextricable tangle of confusion and contradiction.

As an example of my meaning, I will quote a passage to which I called
attention in 'Life and Habit.' It runs:--

"In the earlier editions of this work I underrated, as now seems
probable, the frequency and importance of modifications due to
spontaneous variability. But it is impossible to attribute to _this
cause_" (i. e. spontaneous variability, which is itself only an
expression for unknown causes) "the innumerable structures which are so
well adapted to the habits of life of each species. I can no more
believe in _this_" (i. e. that the innumerable structures, &c., can be
due to unknown causes) "than that the well adapted form of a racehorse
or greyhound, which, before the principle of selection by man was well
understood, excited so much surprise in the minds of the older
naturalists, can _thus_" (i. e. by attributing them to unknown causes)
"be explained."[363]

This amounts to saying that unknown causes can do so much, but cannot do
so much more. On this passage I wrote, in 'Life and Habit':--

"It is impossible to believe that, after years of reflection upon his
subject, Mr. Darwin should have written as above, especially in such a
place, if his mind was clear about his own position. Immediately after
the admission of a certain amount of miscalculation there comes a more
or less exculpatory sentence, which sounds so right that ninety-nine
people out of a hundred would walk through it, unless led by some
exigency of their own position to examine it closely, but which yet,
upon examination, proves to be as nearly meaningless as a sentence can

No one, to my knowledge, has impugned the justice of this criticism, and
I may say that further study of Mr. Darwin's works has only strengthened
my conviction of the confusion and inaccuracy of thought, which detracts
so greatly from their value.

So little is it generally understood that "evolution" and what is called
"Darwinism" convey indeed the same main conclusion, but that this
conclusion has been reached by two distinct roads, one of which is
impregnable, while the other has already fallen into the hands of the
enemy, that in the last November number of the 'Nineteenth Century'
Professor Tyndall, while referring to descent with modification or
evolution, speaks of it as though it were one and inseparable from Mr.
Darwin's theory that it has come about mainly by means of natural
selection. He writes:--

"_Darwin's theory_, as pointed out nine or ten years ago by Helmholtz
and Hooker, was then exactly in this condition of growth; and had they
to speak of the subject to-day they would be able to announce an
enormous strengthening of the theoretic fibre. Fissures in continuity
which then existed, and which left little hope of being ever spanned,
have been since bridged over, so that the further _the theory_ is tested
the more fully does it harmonize with progressive experience and
discovery. We shall never probably fill all the gaps; but this will not
prevent a profound belief in the truth of _the theory_ from taking root
in the general mind. Much less will it justify a total denial of _the
theory_. The man of science, who assumes in such a case the position of
a denier, is sure to be stranded and isolated."

This is in the true vein of the professional and orthodox scientist; of
that new orthodoxy which is clamouring for endowment, and which would
step into the Pope's shoes to-morrow, if we would only let it. If
Professor Tyndall means that those who deny evolution will find
themselves presently in a very small minority, I agree with him; but if
he means that evolution is Mr. Darwin's theory, and that he who rejects
what Mr. Darwin calls "the theory of natural selection" will find
himself stranded, his assertion will pass muster with those only who
know little of the history and literature of evolution.


[347] 'Origin of Species,' Hist. Sketch, p. xiii.

[348] 'Physical Basis of Mind,' p. 108.

[349] 'Origin of Species,' p. 146.

[350] Ibid. p. 75.

[351] Ibid. p. 88.

[352] 'Origin of Species,' p. 98.

[353] Ibid. p. 66.

[354] 'Physical Basis of the Mind,' p. 109, 1878.

[355] 'Physical Basis of the Mind,' p. 107, 1878.

[356] 'Origin of Species,' p. 49.

[357] 'Origin of Species,' p. 107.

[358] Ibid. p. 166.

[359] 'Origin of Species,' p. 406.

[360] Ibid, p. 416.

[361] Ibid. p. 419.

[362] 'Origin of Species,' p. 422.

[363] 'Origin of Species,' p. 171, ed. 1876.

[364] 'Life and Habit,' p. 260.



So important is it that we should come to a clear understanding upon the
positions taken by Mr. Darwin and Lamarck respectively, that at the risk
of wearying the reader I will endeavour to exhaust this subject here. In
order to do so, I will follow Mr. Darwin's answer to those who have
objected to the expression, "natural selection."

Mr. Darwin says:--

"Several writers have misapprehended or objected to the term 'natural
selection.' Some have even imagined that natural selection induces

And small wonder if they have; but those who have fallen into this error
are hardly worth considering. The true complaint is that Mr. Darwin has
too often written of "natural selection" as though it does induce
variability, and that his language concerning it is so confusing that
the reader is not helped to see that it really comes to nothing but a
cloak of difference from his predecessors, under which there lurks a
concealed identity of opinion as to the main facts. The reader is thus
led to look upon it as something positive and special, and, in spite of
Mr. Darwin's disclaimer, to think of it as an actively efficient cause.

Few will deny that this complaint is a just one, or that ninety-nine out
of a hundred readers of average intelligence, if asked, after reading
Mr. Darwin's 'Origin of Species,' what was the most important cause of
modification, would answer "natural selection." Let the same readers
have read the 'Zoonomia' of Dr. Erasmus Darwin, or the 'Philosophie
Zoologique' of Lamarck, and they would at once reply, "the wishes of an
animal or plant, as varying with its varying conditions," or more
briefly, "sense of need."

"Whereas," continues Mr. Darwin, "it" (natural selection) "implies only
the preservation of such variations as arise, and are beneficial to the
being under its conditions of life. No one objects to agriculturists
speaking of the potent effects of man's selection."

Of course not; for there _is_ an actual creature man, who actually does
select with a set purpose in order to produce such and such a result,
which result he presently produces.

"And in this case the individual differences given by nature, which man
for some object selects, must first occur."

This shows that the complaint has already reached Mr. Darwin, that in
not showing us how "the individual differences first occur," he is
really leaving us absolutely in the dark as to the cause of all
modification--giving us an 'Origin of Species' with "the origin" cut
out; but I do not think that any reader who has not been compelled to go
somewhat deeply into the question would find out that this is the real
gist of the objection which Mr. Darwin is appearing to combat. A general
impression is left upon the reader that some very foolish objectors are
being put to silence, that Mr. Darwin is the most candid literary
opponent in the world, and as just as Aristides himself; but if the
unassisted reader will cross-question himself what it is all about, I
shall be much surprised if he is ready with his answer.

"Others"--to resume our criticism on Mr. Darwin's defence--"have
objected that the term implies conscious choice in the animals which
become modified, and it has been even urged that as plants have no
volition, natural selection is not applicable to them!"

This--unfortunately--must have been the objection of a slovenly, or
wilfully misapprehending reader, and was unworthy of serious notice. But
its introduction here tends to draw the reader from the true ground of
complaint, which is that at the end of Mr. Darwin's book we stand much
in the same place as we did when we started, as regards any knowledge of
what is the "origin of species."

"In the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection is a
false term."

Then why use it when another, and, by Mr. Darwin's own admission, a
"more accurate" one is to hand in "the survival of the fittest"?[366]
This term is not appreciably longer than natural selection. Mr. Darwin
may say, indeed, that it is "sometimes" as convenient a term as natural
selection; but the kind of men who exercise permanent effect upon the
opinions of other people will bid such a passage as this stand aside
somewhat sternly. If a term is not appreciably longer than another, and
if at the same time it more accurately expresses the idea which is
intended to be conveyed, it is not sometimes only, but always, more
convenient, and should immediately be substituted for the less accurate

No one complains of the use of what is, strictly speaking, an inaccurate
expression, when it is nevertheless the best that we can get. It may be
doubted whether there is any such thing possible as a perfectly accurate
expression. All words that are not simply names of things are apt to
turn out little else than compendious false analogies; but we have a
right to complain when a writer tells us that he is using a less
accurate expression when a more accurate one is ready to his hand.
Hence, when Mr. Darwin continues, "Who ever objected to chemists
speaking of the elective affinities of the various elements? and yet an
acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it by
preference combines," he is beside the mark. Chemists do not speak of
"elective affinities" in spite of there being a more accurate and not
appreciably longer expression at their disposal.

"It has been said," continues Mr. Darwin, "that I speak of natural
selection as an active power or deity. But who objects to an author
speaking of the attraction of gravity? Everyone knows what is meant and
implied by such metaphorical expressions, and they are almost necessary
for brevity."

Mr. Darwin certainly does speak of natural selection "acting,"
"accumulating," "operating"; and if "every-one knew what was meant and
implied by this metaphorical expression," as they now do, or think they
do, in the case of the attraction of gravity, there might be less ground
of complaint; but the expression was known to very few at the time Mr.
Darwin introduced it, and was used with so much ambiguity, and with so
little to protect the reader from falling into the error of supposing
that it was the cause of the modifications which we see around us, that
we had a just right to complain, even in the first instance; much more
should we do so on the score of the retention of the expression when a
more accurate one had been found.

If the "survival of the fittest" had been used, to the total excision of
"natural selection" from every page in Mr. Darwin's book--it would have
been easily seen that "the survival of the fittest" is no more a cause
of modification, and hence can give no more explanation concerning the
origin of species, than the fact of a number of competitors in a race
failing to run the whole course, or to run it as quickly as the winner,
can explain how the winner came to have good legs and lungs. According
to Lamarck, the winner will have got these by means of sense of need,
and consequent practice and training, on his own part, and on that of
his forefathers; according to Mr. Darwin, the "most important means" of
his getting them is his "happening" to be born with them, coupled, with
the fact that his uncles and aunts for many generations could not run
so well as his ancestors in the direct line. But can the fact of his
uncles and aunts running less well than his fathers and mothers be a
means of his fathers and mothers coming to run _better than they used to

If the reader will bear in mind the idea of the runners in a race, it
will help him to see the point at issue between Mr. Darwin and Lamarck.
Perhaps also the double meaning of the word race, as expressing equally
a breed and a competition, may not be wholly without significance. What
we want to be told is, not that a runner will win the prize if he can
run "ever such a little" faster than his fellows--we know this--but by
what process he comes to be able to run ever such a little faster.

"So, again," continues Mr. Darwin, "it is difficult to avoid
personifying nature, but I mean by nature only the aggregate action and
product of many natural laws, and by laws the sequence of events as
ascertained by us."

This, again, is raising up a dead man in order to knock him down. Nature
has been personified for more than two thousand years, and every one
understands that nature is no more really a woman than hope or justice,
or than God is like the pictures of the mediæval painters; no one whose
objection was worth notice could have objected to the personification of

Mr. Darwin concludes:--

"With a little familiarity, such superficial objections will be

As a matter of fact, I do not see any greater tendency to acquiesce in
Mr. Darwin's claim on behalf of natural selection than there was a few
years ago, but on the contrary, that discontent is daily growing. To say
nothing of the Rev. J. J. Murphy and Professor Mivart, the late Mr. G.
H. Lewes did not find the objection a superficial one, nor yet did he
find it disappear "with a little familiarity"; on the contrary, the more
familiar he became with it the less he appeared to like it. I may even
go, without fear, so far as to say that any writer who now uses the
expression "natural selection," writes himself down thereby as behind
the age. It is with great pleasure that I observe Mr. Francis Darwin in
his recent lecture[368] to have kept clear of it altogether, and to have
made use of no expression, and advocated no doctrine to which either Dr.
Erasmus Darwin or Lamarck would not have readily assented. I think I may
affirm confidently that a few years ago any such lecture would have
contained repeated reference to Natural Selection. For my own part I
know of few passages in any theological writer which please me less than
the one which I have above followed sentence by sentence. I know of few
which should better serve to show us the sort of danger we should run if
we were to let men of science get the upper hand of us.

Natural Selection, then, is only another way of saying "Nature." Mr.
Darwin seems to be aware of this when he writes, "Nature, if I may be
allowed to personify the natural preservation or survival of the
fittest." And again, at the bottom of the same page, "It may
metaphorically be said that _natural selection is daily and hourly
scrutinizing_ throughout the world the slightest variations."[369] It
may be metaphorically said that _Nature_ is daily and hourly
scrutinizing, but it cannot be said consistently with any right use of
words, metaphorical or otherwise, that natural selection scrutinizes,
unless natural selection is merely a somewhat cumbrous synonym for
Nature. When, therefore, Mr. Darwin says that natural selection is the
"most important, but not the exclusive means" whereby any modification
has been effected, he is really saying that Nature is the most important
means of modification--which is only another way of telling us that
variation causes variations, and is all very true as far as it goes.

I did not read Professor Mivart's 'Lessons from Nature,' until I had
written all my own criticism on Mr. Darwin's position. From that work,
however, I now quote the following:--

"It cannot then be contested that the far-famed 'Origin of Species,'
that, namely, by 'Natural Selection,' has been repudiated in fact,
though not expressly even by its own author. This circumstance, which is
simply undeniable, might dispense us from any further consideration of
the hypothesis itself. But the "conspiracy of silence," which has
accompanied the repudiation tends to lead the unthinking many to suppose
that the same importance still attaches to it as at first. On this
account it may be well to ask the question, what, after all, _is_
'Natural Selection'?

"The answer may seem surprising to some, but it is none the less true,
that 'Natural Selection' is simply nothing. It is an apparently positive
name for a really negative effect, and is therefore an eminently
misleading term. By 'Natural Selection' is meant the result of all the
destructive agencies of Nature, destructive to individuals and to races
by destroying their lives or their powers of propagation. Evidently,
_the cause of the distinction of species_ (supposing such distinction to
be brought about in natural generation) _must be that which causes
variation, and variation in one determinate direction in at least
several individuals simultaneously_." I should like to have added here
the words "and during many successive generations," but they will go
very sufficiently without saying.

"At the same time," continues Professor Mivart, "it is freely conceded
that the destructive agencies in nature do succeed in preventing the
perpetuation of monstrous, abortive, and feeble attempts at the
performance of the evolutionary process, that they rapidly remove
antecedent forms when new ones are evolved more in harmony with
surrounding conditions, and that their action results in the formation
of new characters when these have once attained sufficient completeness
to be of real utility to their possessor.

"Continued reflection, and five years further pondering over the
problems of specific origin have more and more convinced me that the
conception, that the origin of all species 'man included' is due simply
to conditions which are (to use Mr. Darwin's own words) 'strictly
accidental,' is a conception utterly irrational."

     . . . . . .

"With regard to the conception as now put forward by Mr. Darwin, I
cannot truly characterize it but by an epithet which I employ only with
much reluctance. I weigh my words and have present to my mind the many
distinguished naturalists who have accepted the notion, and yet I cannot
hesitate to call it a '_puerile hypothesis_.'"[370]

I am afraid I cannot go with Professor Mivart farther than this point,
though I have a strong feeling as though his conclusion is true, that
"the material universe is always and everywhere sustained and directed
by an infinite cause, for which to us the word mind is the least
inadequate and misleading symbol." But I feel that any attempt to deal
with such a question is going far beyond that sphere in which man's
powers may be at present employed with advantage: I trust, therefore,
that I may never try to verify it, and am indifferent whether it is
correct or not.

Again, I should probably differ from Professor Mivart in finding this
mind inseparable from the material universe in which we live and move.
So that I could neither conceive of such a mind influencing and
directing the universe from a point as it were outside the universe
itself, nor yet of a universe as existing without there being
present--or having been present--in its every particle something for
which mind should be the least inadequate and misleading symbol. But the
subject is far beyond me.

As regards Professor Mivart's denunciations of natural selection, I
have only one fault to find with them, namely, that they do not speak
out with sufficient bluntness. The difficulty of showing the fallacy of
Mr. Darwin's position, is the difficulty of grasping a will-o'-the-wisp.
A concluding example will put this clearly before the reader, and at the
same time serve to illustrate the most tangible feature of difference
between Mr. Darwin and Lamarck.


[365] 'Origin of Species,' p. 62.

[366] 'Origin of Species,' p. 49.

[367] 'Origin of Species,' p. 63.

[368] 'Nature,' March 14 and 21, 1878.

[369] 'Origin of Species,' p. 65.

[370] 'Lessons from Nature,' p. 300.



An island of no very great extent is surrounded by a sea which cuts it
off for many miles from the nearest land. It lies a good deal exposed to
winds, so that the beetles which live upon it are in continual danger of
being blown out to sea if they fly during the hours and seasons when the
wind is blowing. It is found that an unusually large proportion of the
beetles inhabiting this island are either without wings or have their
wings in a useless and merely rudimentary state; and that a large number
of kinds which are very common on the nearest mainland, but which are
compelled to use their wings in seeking their food, are here entirely
wanting. It is also observed that the beetles on this island generally
lie much concealed until the wind lulls and the sun shines. These are
the facts; let us now see how Lamarck would treat them.

Lamarck would say that the beetles once being on this island it became
one of the conditions of their existence that they should not get blown
out to sea. For once blown out to sea, they would be quite certain to be
drowned. Beetles, when they fly, generally fly for some purpose, and do
not like having that purpose interfered with by something which can
carry them all-whithers, whether they like it or no. If they are flying
and find the wind taking them in a wrong direction, or seaward--which
they know will be fatal to them--they stop flying as soon as may be, and
alight on _terra firma_. But if the wind is very prevalent the beetles
can find but little opportunity for flying at all: they will therefore
lie quiet all day and do as best they can to get their living on foot
instead of on the wing. There will thus be a long-continued disuse of
wings, and this will gradually diminish the development of the wings
themselves, till after a sufficient number of generations these will
either disappear altogether, or be seen in a rudimentary condition only.
For each beetle which has made but little use of its wings will be
liable to leave offspring with a slightly diminished wing, some other
organ which has been used instead of the wing becoming proportionately
developed. It is thus seen that the conditions of existence are the
indirect cause of the wings becoming rudimentary, inasmuch as they
preclude the beetles from using them; the disuse however on the part of
the beetles themselves is the direct cause.

Now let us see how Mr. Darwin deals with the same case. He writes:--

"In some cases we might easily set down to disuse, modifications of
structure which are _wholly_ or _mainly_ due to natural selection." Then
follow the facts about the beetles of Madeira, as I have given them
above. While we are reading them we naturally make up our minds that
the winglessness of the beetles will prove due either wholly, or at any
rate mainly, to natural selection, and that though it would be easy to
set it down to disuse, yet we must on no account do so. The facts having
been stated, Mr. Darwin continues:--"These several considerations make
me believe that the wingless condition of so many Madeira beetles is
mainly due to the action of natural selection," and when we go on to the
words that immediately follow, "combined probably with disuse," we are
almost surprised at finding that disuse has had anything to do with the
matter. We feel a languid wish to know exactly how much and in what way
it has entered into the combination; but we find it difficult to think
the matter out, and are glad to take it for granted that the part played
by disuse must be so unimportant that we need not consider it. Mr.
Darwin continues:--

"For during many successive generations each individual beetle which
flew least, either from its wings having been ever so little less
perfectly developed, or from indolent habit, will have had the best
chance of surviving from not having been blown out to sea; and on the
other hand those beetles which most readily took to flight would
oftenest be blown out to sea and perish."[371]

So apt are we to believe what we are told, when it is told us gravely
and with authority, and when there is no statement at hand to contradict
it, that we fail to see that Mr. Darwin is all the time really
attributing the winglessness of the Madeira beetles either to the _quâ_
him _unknown causes_ which have led to the "ever so little less perfect
development of wing" on the part of the beetles that leave
offspring--that is to say, is admitting that he can give no account of
the matter--or else to the "indolent habit" of the parent beetles which
has led them to disuse their wings, and hence gradually to lose
them--which is neither more nor less than the "erroneous grounds of
opinion," and "well-known doctrine" of Lamarck.

For Mr. Darwin cannot mean that the fact of some beetles being blown out
to sea is the most important means whereby certain other beetles come to
have smaller wings--that the Madeira beetles in fact come to have
smaller wings mainly because their large winged uncles and aunts--go

But if he does not mean this, what becomes of natural selection?

For in this case we are left exactly where Lamarck left us, and must
hold that such beetles as have smaller wings have them because the
conditions of life or "circumstances" in which their parents were
placed, rendered it inconvenient to them to fly, and thus led them to
leave off using their wings.

Granted, that if there had been nothing to take unmodified beetles away,
there would have been less room and scope for the modified beetles; also
that unmodified beetles would have intermixed with the modified, and
impeded the prevalence of the modification. But anything else than such
removal of unmodified individuals would be contrary to our hypothesis.
The very essence of conditions of existence is that there _shall be_
something to take away those which do not comply with the conditions;
if there is nothing to render such and such a course a _sine quâ non_
for life, there is no condition of existence in respect of this course,
and no modification according to Lamarck could follow, as there would be
no changed distribution of use.

I think that if I were to leave this matter here I should have said
enough to make the reader feel that Lamarck's system is direct,
intelligible and sufficient--while Mr. Darwin's is confused and
confusing. I may however quote Mr. Darwin himself as throwing his theory
about the Madeira beetles on one side in a later passage, for he

"It is probable that _disuse has been the main agent in rendering organs
rudimentary_," or in other words that Lamarck was quite right--nor does
one see why if disuse is after all the main agent in rendering an organ
rudimentary, use should not have been the main agent in developing
it--but let that pass. "It (disuse) would at first lead," continues Mr.
Darwin, "by slow steps to the more and more complete reduction of a
part, until at last it became rudimentary--as in the case of the eyes of
animals inhabiting dark caverns, and of the wings of birds inhabiting
oceanic islands, which have seldom been forced by beasts of prey to take
flight, and have ultimately lost the power of flying. Again, an organ
useful under certain conditions, might become injurious under others,
_as with the wings of beetles living on small and exposed
islands_;"[372] so that the rudimentary condition of the Madeira
beetles' wings is here set down as mainly due to disuse--while above we
find it mainly due to natural selection--I should say that immediately
after the word "islands" just quoted, Mr. Darwin adds "and in this case
natural selection will have aided in reducing the organ, until it was
rendered harmless and rudimentary," but this is Mr. Darwin's manner, and
must go for what it is worth.

How refreshing to turn to the simple straightforward language of

"Long continued disuse," he writes, "in consequence of the habits which
an animal has contracted, gradually reduces an organ, and leads to its
final disappearance....

"Eyes placed in the head form an essential part of that plan on which we
observe all vertebrate organisms to be constructed. Nevertheless the
mole which uses its vision very little, has eyes which are only very
small and hardly apparent.

"The _aspalax_ of Olivier, which lives underground like the mole, and
exposes itself even less than the mole to the light of day, has wholly
lost the use of its sight, nor does it retain more than mere traces of
visual organs, these traces again being hidden under the skin and under
certain other parts which cover them up and leave not even the smallest
access to the light. The Proteus, an aquatic reptile akin to the
Salamander and living in deep and obscure cavities under water, has,
like the aspalax, no longer anything but traces of eyes
remaining--traces which are again entirely hidden and covered up.[373]

"The following consideration should be decisive.

"Light cannot penetrate everywhere, and as a consequence, animals which
live habitually in places which it cannot reach, do not have an
opportunity of using eyes, even though they have got them; but animals
which form part of a system of organization which comprises eyes as an
invariable rule among its organs, must have had eyes originally. Since
then we find among these animals some which have lost their eyes, and
which have only concealed traces of these organs, it is evident that the
impoverishment, and even disappearance of the organs in question, must
be the effect of long-continued disuse.

"A proof of this is to be found in the fact that the organ of hearing is
never in like case with that of sight; we always find it in animals of
whose system of organization hearing is a component part; and for the
following reason, namely, that sound, which is the effect of vibration
upon the ear, can penetrate everywhere, and pass even through massive
intermediate bodies. Any animal, therefore, with an organic system of
which the ear is an essential part, can always find a use for its ears,
no matter where it inhabits. We never, therefore, come upon rudimentary
ears among the vertebrata, and when, going down the scale of life lower
than the vertebrata, we come to a point at which the ear is no longer to
be found; we never come upon ears again in any lower class.

"Not so with the organ of sight: we see this organ disappear, reappear,
and disappear again with the possibility or impossibility of using eyes
on the part of the creature itself.[374]

"The great development of mantle in the acephalous molluscs has rendered
eyes, and even a head, entirely useless to them. These organs, though
belonging to the type of the organism, and by rights included in it,
have had to disappear and become annihilated owing to continued default
of use.

     . . . . . .

"Many insects which, by the analogy of their order and even genus,
should have wings, have nevertheless lost them more or less completely
through disuse. A number of coleoptera, orthoptera, hymenoptera, and
hemiptera give us examples, the habits of these animals never leading
them to use their wings."[375]

     *     *     *     *     *

I will here bring this present volume to a conclusion, hoping, however,
to return to the same subject shortly, but to that part of it which
bears upon longevity and the phenomena of old age. In 'Life and Habit' I
pointed out that if differentiations of structure and instinct are
considered as due to the different desires under different circumstances
of an organism, which must be regarded as a single creature, though its
development has extended over millions of years, and which is guided
mainly by habit and memory until some disturbing cause compels
invention--then the longevity of each generation or stage of this
organism should depend upon the lateness of the average age of
reproduction in each generation; so that an organism (using the word in
its usual signification) which did not upon the average begin to
reproduce itself till it was twenty, should be longer lived than one
that on the average begins to reproduce itself at a year old. I also
maintained that the phenomena of old age should be referred to failure
of memory on the part of the organism, which in the embryonic stages,
infancy, youth, and early manhood, leans upon the memory of what it did
when it was in the persons of its ancestors; in middle life, carries its
action onward by means of the impetus, already received, and by the
force of habit; and in old age becomes puzzled, having no experience of
any past existence at seventy-five, we will say, to guide it, and
therefore forgetting itself more and more completely till it dies. I
hope to extend this, and to bring forward arguments in support of it in
a future work.

Of the importance of the theory put forward in 'Life and Habit'--I am
daily more and more convinced. Unless we admit oneness of personality
between parents and offspring, memory of the often repeated facts of
past existences, the latency of that memory until it is rekindled by the
presence of the associated ideas, or of a sufficient number of them, and
the far-reaching consequences of the unconsciousness which results from
habitual action, evolution does not greatly add to our knowledge as to
how we shall live here to the best advantage. Add these considerations,
and its value as a guide becomes immediately apparent; a new light is
poured upon a hundred problems of the greatest delicacy and difficulty.
Not the least interesting of these is the gradual extension of human
longevity--an extension, however, which cannot be effected till many
many generations as yet unborn have come and gone. There is nothing,
however, to prevent man's becoming as long lived as the oak if he will
persevere for many generations in the steps which can alone lead to this
result. Another interesting achievement which should be more quickly
attainable, though still not in our own time, is the earlier maturity of
those animals whose rapid maturity is an advantage to us, but whose
longevity is not to our purpose.

     *     *     *     *     *

The question--Evolution or Direct Creation of all species?--has been
settled in favour of Evolution. A hardly less interesting and important
battle has now to be fought over the question whether we are to accept
the evolution of the founders of the theory--with the adjuncts hinted at
by Dr. Darwin and Mr. Matthew, and insisted on, so far as I can gather,
by Professor Hering and myself--or the evolution of Mr. Darwin, which
denies the purposiveness or teleology inherent in evolution as first
propounded. I am assured that such of my readers as I can persuade to
prefer the old evolution to the new will have but little reason to
regret their preference.

     *     *     *     *     *

P.S.--As these sheets leave my hands, my attention is called to a review
of Professor Haeckel's 'Evolution of Man,' by Mr. A. E. Wallace, in the
'Academy' for April 12, 1879. "Professor Haeckel maintains," says Mr.
Wallace, "_that the struggle for existence in nature evolves new forms
without design, just as the will of man produces new varieties in
cultivation with design_." I maintain in preference with the older
evolutionists, that in consequence of change in the conditions of their
existence, _organisms design new forms for themselves, and carry those
designs out in additions to, and modifications of, their own bodies_.

"The science of rudimentary organs," continues Mr. Wallace, "which
Haeckel terms 'dysteleology, or the doctrine of purposelessness,' is
here discussed, and a number of interesting examples are given, the
conclusion being that they prove the mechanical or monistic conception
of the origin of organisms to be correct, and the idea of any 'all-wise
creative plan an ancient fable.'" I see no reason to suppose, or again
not to suppose, an all-wise creative plan. I decline to go into this
question, believing it to be not yet ripe, nor nearly ripe, for
consideration. I see purpose, however, in rudimentary organs as much as
in useful ones, but a spent or extinct purpose--a purpose which has been
fulfilled, and is now forgotten--the rudimentary organ being repeated
from force of habit, indolence, and dislike of change, so long as it
does not, to use the words of Buffon, "stand in the way of the fair
development" of other parts which are found useful and necessary. I
demur, therefore, to the inference of "purposelessness" which I gather
that Professor Haeckel draws from these organs.

In the 'Academy' for April 19, 1879, Mr. Wallace quotes Professor
Haeckel as saying that our "highly purposive and admirably-constituted
sense-organs have developed without premeditated aim; that they have
originated by the same mechanical process of Natural Selection, by the
same constant interaction of Adaptation and Heredity [what _is_ Heredity
but another word for unknown causes, unless it is explained in some such
manner as in 'Life and Habit'?] by which all the other purposive
contrivances of the animal organization have been slowly and gradually
evolved during the struggle for existence."

I see no evidence for "premeditated aim" at any modification very far in
advance of an existing organ, any more than I do for "premeditated aim"
on man's part at any as yet inconceivable mechanical invention; but as
in the case of man's inventions, so also in that of the organs of
animals and plants, modification is due to the accumulation of small,
well-considered improvements, as found necessary in practice, and the
conduct of their affairs. Each step having been purposive, the whole
road has been travelled purposively; nor is the purposiveness of such an
organ, we will say, as the eye, barred by the fact that invention has
doubtless been aided by some of those happy accidents which from time to
time happen to all who keep their wits about them, and know how to turn
the gifts of Fortune to account.


[371] 'Origin of Species,' p. 109.

[372] 'Origin of Species, p. 401.

[373] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 242.

[374] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 244.

[375] 'Phil. Zool.,' tom. i. p. 245.




Those who have been at the pains to read the foregoing book will,
perhaps, pardon me if I put before them a short account of the reception
it has met with: I will not waste time by arguing with my critics at any
length; it will be enough if I place some of their remarks upon my book
under the same cover as the book itself, with here and there a word or
two of comment.

The only reviews which have come under my notice appeared in the
'Academy' and the 'Examiner,' both of May 17, 1879; the 'Edinburgh Daily
Review,' May 23, 1879; 'City Press,' May 21, 1879; 'Field,' May 26,
1879; 'Saturday Review,' May 31, 1879; 'Daily Chronicle,' May 31, 1879;
'Graphic' and 'Nature,' both June 12, 1879; 'Pall Mall Gazette,' June
18, 1879; 'Literary World,' June 20, 1879; 'Scotsman,' June 24, 1879;
'British Journal of Homoeopathy' and 'Mind,' both July 1, 1879;
'Journal of Science,' July 18, 1879; 'Westminster Review,' July, 1879;
'Athenæum,' July 26, 1879; 'Daily News,' July 29, 1879; 'Manchester
City News,' August 16, 1879; 'Nonconformist,' November 26, 1879;
'Popular Science Review,' Jan. 1, 1880; 'Morning Post,' Jan. 12, 1880.

Some of the most hostile passages in the reviews above referred to are
as follows:--

"From beginning to end, our eccentric author treats us to a dazzling
flood of epigram, invective, and what appears to be argument; and
finally leaves us without a single clear idea as to what he has been
driving at."

     . . . . . .

"Mr. Butler comes forward, as it were, to proclaim himself a
professional satirist, and a mystifier who will do his best to leave you
utterly in the dark with regard to his system of juggling. Is he a
teleological theologian making fun of evolution? Is he an evolutionist
making fun of teleology? Is he a man of letters making fun of science?
Or is he a master of pure irony making fun of all three, and of his
audience as well? For our part we decline to commit ourselves, and
prefer to observe, as Mr. Butler observes of Von Hartmann, that if his
meaning is anything like what he says it is, we can only say that it has
not been given us to form any definite conception whatever as to what
that meaning may be."--'Academy,' May 17, 1879, Signed Grant Allen.

     *     *     *     *     *

Here is another criticism of "Evolution, Old and New"--also, I believe I
am warranted in saying, by Mr. Grant Allen. These two criticisms
appeared on the same day; how many more Mr. Allen may have written later
on I do not know.

We find the writer who in the 'Academy' declares that he has been left
without "a single clear idea" as to what 'Evolution, Old and New,' has
been driving at saying on the same day in the 'Examiner' that
'Evolution, Old and New,' "has a more evident purpose than any of its
predecessors." If so, I am afraid the predecessors must have puzzled Mr.
Allen very unpleasantly. What the purpose of 'Evolution, Old and New,'
is, he proceeds to explain:--

"As to his (Mr. Butler's) main argument, it comes briefly to this:
natural selection does not originate favourable varieties, it only
passively permits them to exist; therefore it is the unknown cause which
produced the variations, not the natural selection which spared them,
that ought to count as the mainspring of evolution. That unknown cause
Mr. Butler boldly declares to be the will of the organism itself. An
intelligent ascidian wanted a pair of eyes,[376] so set to work and made
itself a pair, exactly as a man makes a microscope; a talented fish
conceived the idea of walking on dry land, so it developed legs, turned
its swim bladder into a pair of lungs, and became an amphibian; an
æsthetic guinea-fowl admired bright colours, so it bought a paint-box,
studied Mr. Whistler's ornamental designs, and, painting itself a gilded
and ocellated tail, was thenceforth a peacock. But how about plants? Mr.
Butler does not shirk even this difficulty. The theory must be
maintained at all hazards.... This is the sort of mystical nonsense
from which we had hoped Mr. Darwin had for ever saved us."--'Examiner,'
May 17, 1879.

     *     *     *     *     *

In this last article, Mr. Allen has said that I am a man of genius,
"with the unmistakable signet-mark upon my forehead." I have been
subjected to a good deal of obloquy and misrepresentation at one time or
another, but this passage by Mr. Allen is the only one I have seen that
has made me seriously uneasy about the prospects of my literary

I see Mr. Allen has been lately writing an article in the 'Fortnightly
Review' on the decay of criticism. Looking over it somewhat hurriedly,
my eye was arrested by the following:--

"Nowadays any man can write, because there are papers enough to give
employment to everybody. No reflection, no deliberation, no care; all is
haste, fatal facility, stock phrases, commonplace ideas, and a ready pen
that can turn itself to any task with equal ease, because supremely
ignorant of all alike."

     . . . . . .

"The writer takes to his craft nowadays, not because he has taste for
literature, but because he has an incurable faculty for scribbling. He
has no culture, and he soon loses the power of taking pains, if he ever
possessed it. But he can talk with glib superficiality and imposing
confidence about every conceivable subject, from a play or a picture to
a sermon or a metaphysical essay. It is the utter indifference to
subject-matter, joined with the vulgar unscrupulousness of pretentious
ignorance, that strikes the keynote of our existing criticism. Men write
without taking the trouble to read or think."[377]

     *     *     *     *     *

The 'Saturday Review' attacked 'Evolution, Old and New,' I may almost
say savagely. It wrote: "When Mr. Butler's 'Life and Habit' came before
us, we doubted whether his ambiguously expressed speculations belonged
to the regions of playful but possibly scientific imagination, or of
unscientific fancies; and we gave him the benefit of the doubt. In fact,
we strained a point or two to find a reasonable meaning for him. He has
now settled the question against himself. Not professing to have any
particular competence in biology, natural history, or the scientific
study of evidence in any shape whatever, and, indeed, rather glorying in
his freedom from any such superfluities, he undertakes to assure the
overwhelming majority of men of science, and the educated public who
have followed their lead, that, while they have done well to be
converted to the doctrine of the evolution and transmutation of species,
they have been converted on entirely wrong grounds."

     . . . . . .

"When a writer who has not given as many weeks to the subject as Mr.
Darwin has given years [as a matter of fact, it is now twenty years
since I began to publish on the subject of Evolution] is not content to
air his own crude, though clever, fallacies, but presumes to criticize
Mr. Darwin with the superciliousness of a young schoolmaster looking
over a boy's theme, it is difficult not to take him more seriously than
he deserves or perhaps desires. One would think that Mr. Butler was the
travelled and laborious observer of Nature, and Mr. Darwin the pert
speculator, who takes all his facts at secondhand."

     . . . . . .

"Let us once more consider how matters stood a year or two before the
'Origin of Species' first appeared. The continuous evolution of animated
Nature had in its favour the difficulty of drawing fixed lines between
species and even larger divisions, all the indications of comparative
anatomy and embryology, and a good deal of general scientific
presumption. Several well-known writers, and some eminent enough to
command respect, had expressed their belief in it. One or two far-seeing
thinkers, among whom the place of honour must be assigned to Mr. Herbert
Spencer, had done more. They had used their philosophic insight, which,
to science, is the eye of faith, to descry the promised land almost
within reach; they knew and announced how rich and spacious the heritage
would be, if once the entry could be made good. But on that 'if'
everything hung. Nature was not bound to give up her secret, or was
bound only in a mocking covenant with an impossible condition: _Si cælum
digito tetigeris_; if only some fortunate hand could touch the
inaccessible firmament, and bring down the golden chain to earth! But
fruition seemed out of sight. Even those who were most willing to
advance in this direction, could only regret that they saw no road
clear. There was a tempting vision, but nothing proven--many would have
said nothing provable. A few years passed, and all this was changed.
The doubtful speculation had become a firm and connected theory. In the
room of scattered foragers and scouts, there was an irresistibly
advancing column. Nature had surrendered her stronghold, and was
disarmed of her secret. And if we ask who were the men by whom this was
done, the answer is notorious, and there is but one answer possible: the
names that are for ever associated with this great triumph are those of
Charles Darwin and Wallace."[378]

I gave the lady or gentleman who wrote this an opportunity of
acknowledging the authorship; but she or he preferred, not I think
unnaturally, to remain anonymous.

The only other criticism of 'Evolution, Old and New,' to which I would
call attention, appeared in 'Nature,' in a review of 'Unconscious
Memory,' by Mr. Romanes, and contained the following passages:--

"But to be serious, if in charity we could deem Mr. Butler a lunatic, we
should not be unprepared for any aberration of common sense that he
might display.... A certain nobody writes a book ['Evolution, Old and
New'] accusing the most illustrious man in his generation of burying the
claims of certain illustrious predecessors out of the sight of all men.
In the hope of gaining some notoriety by deserving, and perhaps
receiving a contemptuous refutation from the eminent man in question, he
publishes this book which, if it deserved serious consideration, would
be not more of an insult to the particular man of science whom it
accuses of conscious and wholesale plagiarism [there is no such
accusation in 'Evolution, Old and New'] than it would be to men of
science in general for requiring such elementary instruction on some of
the most famous literature in science from an upstart ignoramus, who,
until two or three years ago, considered himself a painter by
profession."--'Nature,' Jan. 27, 1881.

     *     *     *     *     *

In a subsequent letter to 'Nature,' Mr. Romanes said he had been "acting
the part of policeman" by writing as he had done. Any unscrupulous
reviewer may call himself a policeman if he likes, but he must not
expect those whom he assails to recognize his pretensions. 'Evolution,
Old and New,' was not written for the kind of people whom Mr. Romanes
calls men of science; if "men of science" means men like Mr. Romanes, I
trust they say well who maintain that I am not a man of science; I
believe the men to whom Mr. Romanes refers to be men, not of that kind
of science which desires to know, but of that kind whose aim is to
thrust itself upon the public as actually knowing. 'Evolution, Old and
New,' could be of no use to these; certainly, it was not intended as an
insult to them, but if they are insulted by it, I do not know that I am
sorry, for I value their antipathy and opposition as much as I should
dislike their approbation: of one thing, however, I am certain--namely,
that before 'Evolution, Old and New,' was written, Professors Huxley and
Tyndall, for example, knew very little of the earlier history of
Evolution. Professor Huxley, in his article on Evolution in the ninth
edition of the 'Encyclopædia Britannica,' published in 1878, says of the
two great pioneers of Evolution, that Buffon "contributed nothing to
the general doctrine of Evolution,"[379] and that Erasmus Darwin "can
hardly be said to have made any real advance on his predecessors."[380]

Professor Haeckel evidently knew little of Erasmus Darwin, and still
less, apparently, about Buffon.[381] Professor Tyndall,[382] in 1878,
spoke of Evolution as "Darwin's theory"; and I have just read Mr. Grant
Allen as saying that Evolutionism "is an almost exclusively English

Since 'Evolution, Old and New,' was published, I have observed several
of the so-called men of science--among them Professor Huxley and Mr.
Romanes--airing Buffon; but I never observed any of them do this till
within the last three years. I maintain that "men of science" were, and
still are, very ignorant concerning the history of Evolution; but,
whether they were or were not, I did not write 'Evolution, Old and New,'
for them; I wrote for the general public, who have been kind enough to
testify their appreciation of it in a sufficiently practical manner.

The way in which Mr. Charles Darwin met 'Evolution, Old and New,' has
been so fully dealt with in my book, 'Unconscious Memory;' in the
'Athenæum,' Jan. 31, 1880; the 'St. James's Gazette,' Dec. 8, 1880; and
'Nature,' Feb. 3, 1881, that I need not return to it here, more
especially as Mr. Darwin has, by his silence, admitted that he has no
defence to make.

I have quoted by no means the moat exceptionable parts of Mr. Romanes'
article, and have given them a permanence they would not otherwise
attain, inasmuch as nothing can better show the temper of the kind of
men who are now--as I said in the body of the foregoing work--clamouring
for endowment, and who would step into the Pope's shoes to-morrow if we
would only let them.


[376] See p. 44, and the whole of chap. v., where I say of this
supposition, that "nothing could be conceived more foreign
to experience and common sense."

[377] 'Fortnightly Review,' March 1, 1882, pp. 344, 345.

[378] 'Saturday Review,' May 31, 1879, pp. 682-3.

[379] P. 748.

[380] _Ibid._

[381] See pp. 71-73.

[382] 'Nineteenth Century' for November, pp. 360, 361.

[383] 'Fortnightly Review,' March, 1882.



Evolution would after all be a poor doctrine if it did not affect human
affairs at every touch and turn. I propose to devote the second chapter
of this Appendix to the consideration of an aspect of Evolution which
will always interest a very large number of people--the development of
the relation that may exist between religion and science.

If the Church of Rome would only develop some doctrine or, I know not
how, provide some means by which men like myself, who cannot pretend to
believe in the miraculous element of Christianity, could yet join her as
a conservative stronghold, I, for one, should gladly do so. I believe
the difference between her faith and that of all who can be called
gentlemen to be one of words rather than things. Our practical working
ideal is much the same as hers; when we use the word "gentleman" we mean
the same thing that the Church of Rome does; so that, if we get down
below the words that formulate her teaching, there are few points upon
which we should not agree. But, alas! words are often so very important.

How is it possible for myself, for example, to give people to understand
that I believe in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception or in the
Lourdes miracles? If the Pope could spare time to think about so
insignificant a person, would he wish me to pretend such beliefs or
think better of me if I did pretend them? I should be sorry to see him
turn suddenly round and deny his own faith, and I am persuaded that, in
like manner, he would have me continue to hold my own in peace;
nevertheless, the duty of subordinating private judgment to the
avoidance of schism is so obvious that, if we could see a practicable
way of bridging the gulf between ourselves and Rome, we should be
heartily glad to bridge it.

I speak as though the Church of Rome was the only one we can look to. I
do not see how it is easy to dispute this. Protestantism has been tried
and failed; it has long ceased to grow, but it has by no means ceased to
disintegrate. Note the manner in which it is torn asunder by
dissensions, and the rancour which these dissensions engender--a rancour
which finds its way into the political and social life of Europe, with
incalculable damage to the health and well-being of the world. Who can
doubt but that there will be a split even in the Church of England ere
so many years are over? Protestantism is like one of those drops of
glass which tend to split up into minuter and minuter fragments the
moment the bond that united them has been removed. It is as though the
force of gravity had lost its hold, and a universal power of repulsion
taken the place of attraction. This may, perhaps, come about some day in
the material as well as in the spiritual and political world, but the
spirit of the age is as yet one of aggregation; the spirit of
Protestantism is one of disintegration. I maintain, therefore, that it
is not likely to be permanent.

All the great powers of Europe have from numberless distinct tribes
become first a few kingdoms or dukedoms, then two or three nations, and
now homogeneous wholes, so that there is no chance of their further
dismemberment through internal discontent; a process which has been
going on for so many hundreds of years all over Europe is not likely to
be arrested without ample warning. True, during the Roman Empire the
world was practically bonded together, yet broke in pieces again; but
this, I imagine, was because the bonding was prophetic and superficial
rather than genuine. Nature very commonly makes one or two false starts,
and misses her aim a time or two before she hits it. She nearly hit it
in the time of Alexander the Great, but this was a short-lived success;
in the case of the Roman Empire she succeeded better and for longer
together. Where Nature has once or twice hit her mark as near as this
she will commonly hit it outright eventually; the disruption of the
Roman Empire, therefore, does not militate against the supposition that
the normal condition of right-minded people is one which tends towards
aggregation, or, in other words, towards compromise and the merging of
much of one's own individuality for the sake of union and concerted

See, again, how Rome herself, within the limits of Italy, was an
aggregation, an aggregation which has now within these last few years
come together again after centuries of disruption; all middle-aged men
have seen many small countries come together in their own lifetime,
while in America a gigantic attempt at disruption has completely failed.
Success will, of course, sometimes attend disruption, but on the whole
the balance inclines strongly in favour of aggregation and homogeneity;
analogy points in the direction of supposing that the great civilized
nations of Europe, as they are the coalition of subordinate provinces,
so must coalesce themselves also to form a larger, but single empire.
Wars will then cease, and surely anything that seems likely to tend
towards so desirable an end deserves respectful consideration.

The Church of Rome is essentially a unifier. It is a great thing that
nations should have so much in common as the acknowledgment of the same
tribunal for the settlement of spiritual and religious questions, and
there is no head under which Christendom can unite with as little
disturbance as under Rome. Nothing more tends to keep men apart than
religious differences; this certainly ought not to be the case, but it
no less certainly is, and therefore we should strain many points and
subordinate our private judgment to a very considerable extent if called
upon to do so. A man, under these circumstances, is right in saying he
believes in much that he does not believe in. Nevertheless there are
limits to this, and the Church of Rome requires more of us at present
than we can by any means bring ourselves into assenting to.

It may be asked, Why have a Church at all? Why not unite in community of
negation rather than of assertion? When I wrote 'Evolution, Old and
New,' three years ago, I thought, as now, that the only possible Church
must be a development of the Church of Rome; and seeing no chance of
agreement between avowed free-thinkers, like myself, and Rome (for I
believed Rome immovable), I leaned towards absolute negation as the best
chance for unity among civilized nations; but even then, I expressed
myself as "having a strong feeling as though Professor Mivart's
conclusion is true, that 'the material universe is always and everywhere
sustained and directed by an infinite cause, for which to us the word
mind is the least inadequate and misleading symbol.'"[384]

I had hardly finished 'Evolution, Old and New,' before I began to deal
with this question according to my lights, in a series of articles upon
God[385] which appeared in the 'Examiner' during the summer of 1879, and
I returned to the same matter more than once in 'Unconscious Memory,' my
next succeeding work. The articles I intend recasting and rewriting, as
they go upon a false assumption; but subsequent reflection has only
confirmed me in the general result I arrived at--namely, the
omnipresence of mind in the universe.

I have therefore come to see that we can go farther than negation, and
in this case--a positive expression of faith as regards an invisible
universe of some sort being possible--a Church of some sort is also
possible, which shall formulate and express the general convictions as
regards man's position in respect of this faith. I think the instinct
which has led so many countries towards a double legislative chamber,
and ourselves, till at any rate quite recently, to a double system of
jurisprudence, law and equity, was not arrived at without having passed
through the stages of reason and reflection. There are a variety of
delicate, almost intangible, questions which belong rather to conscience
than to law, and for which a Church is a fitter tribunal--at any rate
for many ages hence--than a parliament or law court. There is room,
therefore, for both a State and a Church, each of which should be
influenced by the action of the other.

I do not say that I personally should like to see the Church of Rome as
at present constituted in the position which I should be glad to see
attained by an ideal Church. If it were in that position I would attack
it to the utmost of my power; but I have little hesitation in thinking
that the world with a very possible feasible Church, would be better
than the world with no Church at all; and, if so, I have still less
hesitation in concluding, for the reasons already given, that it is to
Rome we must turn as the source from which the Church of the future is
to be evolved, if it is to come at all.

For the new, if it is to strike deep root and be permanent, must grow
out of the old, without too violent a transition. Some violence there
will always be, even in the kindliest birth; but the less the better,
and a leap greater than the one from Judaism to Christianity is not
desirable, even if it were possible. As a free-thinker, therefore, but
also as one who wishes to take a practical view of the manner in which
things will, and ought to go, I neither expect to see the religions of
the world come once for all to an end with the belief in
Christianity--which to me is tantamount to saying with Rome--nor am I at
all sure that such a consummation is more desirable than likely to come
about. The ultimate fight will, I believe, be between Rome and
Pantheism; and the sooner the two contending parties can be ranged into
their opposite camps by the extinction of all intermediate creeds, the
sooner will an issue of some sort be arrived at. This will not happen in
our time, but we should work towards it.

When it arrives, what is to happen? Is Pantheism to absorb Rome, and, if
so, what sort of a religious formula is to be the result? or is Rome so
to modify her dogmas that the Pantheist can join her without doing too
much violence to his convictions? We who are outside the Church's pale
are in the habit of thinking that she will make little if any advances
in our direction. The dream of a Pantheistic Rome seems so wild as
hardly to be entertained seriously; nevertheless I am much mistaken if I
do not detect at least one sign as though more were within the bounds of
possibility than even the most sanguine of us could have hoped for a few
years back. We do not expect the Church to go our whole length; it is
the business of some to act as pioneers, but this is the last function a
Church should assume. A Church should be as the fly-wheel of a
steam-engine, which conserves, regulates and distributes energy, but
does not originate it. In all cases it is more moral and safer to be a
little behind the age than a little in front of it; a Church, therefore,
ought to cling to an old-established belief, even though her leaders
know it to be unfounded, so long as any considerable number of her
members would be shocked at its abandonment. The question is whether
there are any signs as though the Church of Rome thought the time had
come when she might properly move a step forward, and I rejoice to
think, as I have said above, that at any rate one such sign--and a very
important one--has come under my notice.

In his Encyclical of August 4, 1879, the Pope desires the Bishops and
Clergy to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas, and to spread
it far and wide. "Vos omnes," he writes, "Venerabiles Fratres, quam
enixe hortamur ut ad Catholicæ fidei tutelam et decus, ad societatis
bonum, ad scientiarum omnium incrementum auream Sancti Thomæ sapientiam
restituatis, et quam latissime propagetis." He proceeds then with the
following remarkable passage: "We say the wisdom of St. Thomas. For
whatever has been worked out with too much subtleness by the doctors of
the schools, or handed down inconsiderately, whatever is not consistent
with the teachings of a later age, or finally, is in any way NOT
PROBABLE, We in no wise intend to propose for acceptance in these

It would be almost possible to suppose that these words had been written
inadvertently, so the Pope practically repeats them thus: "We willingly
and gratefully declare that whatsoever can be excepted with advantage,
is to be excepted, no matter by whom it has been invented."[387]

The passage just quoted is so pregnant that a few words of comment may
be very well excused. In the first place, I cannot but admire the
latitude which the Pope not only tolerates, but enjoins: he defines
nothing, but declares point blank that if we find anything in St. Thomas
Aquinas "not consistent with the assured teachings of a later age, or
finally IN ANY WAY NOT PROBABLE"--(what is not involved here?)--we are
"in no wise to suppose" that it is being proposed for our acceptance.
But it is a small step from allowing latitude in accepting or rejecting
the parts of St. Thomas Aquinas which conflict with the assured result
of later discoveries to allowing a similar latitude in respect, we will
say, of St. Jude; and if of St. Jude, then of St. James the Less; and if
of St. James the Less, then surely ere very long of St. James the
Greater and St. John and St. Paul; nor will the matter stop there. How
marvellously closely are the two extremes of doctrine approaching to one
another! We, on the one hand, who begin with _tabulæ rasæ_ having made a
clean sweep of every shred of doctrine, lay hold of the first thing we
can grasp with any firmness, and work back from it. We grope our way to
evolution; through this to purposive evolution; through this to the
omnipresence of mind and design throughout the universe; what is this
but God? So that we can say with absolute freedom from _équivoque_ that
we are what we are through the will of God. The theologian, on the other
hand, starts with God, and finds himself driven through this to
evolution, as surely as we found ourselves driven through evolution to
the omnipresence of God.

Let us look a little more closely at the ground which the Church of Rome
and the Evolutionist hold in common. St. Paul speaks of there being "one
body and one spirit," and of one God as being "above all, and through
all, and in you all."[388] Again, he tells us that we are members of
God's body, "of his flesh and of his bones;"[389] in another place he
writes that God has reconciled us to himself, "in the body of his
flesh,"[390] and in yet another of the Spirit of God "dwelling in
us."[391] St. Paul indeed is continually using language which implies
the closest physical as well as spiritual union between God and those at
any rate of mankind who were Christians. Then he speaks of our "being
builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit,"[392] and
of our being "filled with the fulness of God."[393] He calls Christian
men's bodies "temples of the Holy Spirit,"[394] in fact it is not too
much to say that he regarded Christian men's limbs as the actual living
organs of God himself, for the expressions quoted above--and many others
could be given--come to no less than this. It follows that since any man
could unite himself to "the flesh and bones" of God by becoming a
Christian, Paul had a perception of the unity at any rate of human life;
and what Paul admitted I am persuaded the Church of Rome will not deny.

Granted that Paul's notion of the unity of all mankind in one spirit
animating, or potentially animating the whole was mystical, I submit
that the main difference between him and the Evolutionist is that the
first uses certain expressions more or less prophetically, and without
perhaps a full perception of their import; while the second uses the
same expressions literally, and with the ordinary signification attached
to the words that compose them. It is not so much that we do not hold
what Paul held, but that we hold it with the greater definiteness and
comprehension which modern discovery has rendered possible. We not only
accept his words, but we extend them, and not only accept them as
articles of faith to be taken on the word of others, but as so
profoundly entering into our views of the world around us that that
world loses the greater part of its significance if we may not take such
sayings as that "we are God's flesh and his bones" as meaning neither
more nor less than what appears upon the face of them. We believe that
what we call our life is part of the universal life of the Deity--which
is literally and truly made manifest to us in flesh that can be seen and
handled--ever changing, but the same yesterday, and to-day, and for

So much for the closeness with which we have come together on matters of
fact, and now for the _rapprochement_ between us in respect of how much
conformity is required for the sake of avoiding schism. We find
ourselves driven through considerations of great obviousness and
simplicity to the conclusion that a man both may and should keep no
small part of his opinions to himself, if they are too widely different
from those of other people for the sake of union and the strength gained
by concerted action; and we also find the Pope declaring of one of the
brightest saints and luminaries of the Church that we need not follow
him when it is plainly impossible for us to do so. Is it so very much to
hope that ere many years are over the approximation will become closer

I have sometimes imagined that the doctrine of Papal Infallibility may
be the beginning of a way out of the difficulty, and that its promoters
were so eager for it, rather for the facilities it afforded for the
repealing of old dogmas than for the imposition of new ones. The Pope
cannot, even now, under any circumstances, declare a dogma of the Church
to be obsolete or untrue, but I should imagine he can, in council, _ex
cathedra_, modify the interpretation to be put upon any dogma, if he
should find the interpretation commonly received to be prejudicial to
the good of the Church: and if so, the manner in which Rome can put
herself more in harmony with the spirit of recent discoveries, without
putting herself in an illogical position, is not likely to escape eyes
so keen as those of the Catholic hierarchy. No sensible man will
hesitate to admit that many an interpretation which was natural to and
suitable for one age is unnatural to and unsuitable for another; as
circumstances are always changing, so men's moods and the meanings they
attach to words, and the state of their knowledge changes; and hence,
also, the interpretation of the dogmas in which their conclusions are
summarized. There is nothing to be ashamed of or that needs explaining
away in this; nothing can remain changeless under changed conditions;
and that institution is most likely to be permanent which contains
provision for such changes as time may prove to be expedient, with the
least disturbance. I can see nothing, therefore, illogical or that needs
concealment in the fact of an infallible Pope putting a widely different
interpretation upon a dogma now, to what a no less infallible Pope put
upon the same dogma fifteen hundred, or even fifteen years ago; it is
only right, reasonable, and natural that this should be so. The Church
of England may have made no provision for the virtual pruning off of
dogmas that have become rudimentary, but the Encyclical from which I
have just quoted leads me to think that the Church of Rome has found
one, and, in her own cautious way, is proceeding to make use of it. If
so, she may possibly in the end get rid of Protestantism by putting
herself more in harmony with the spirit of the age than Protestantism
can do. In this case, the spiritual reunion of Christendom under Rome
ceases to be impossible, or even, I should think improbable. I heartily
wish that my conjecture concerning future possibilities is not

Scientists have been right in preaching evolution, but they have
preached it in such a way as to make it almost as much of a
stumbling-block as of an assistance. For though the fact that animals
and plants are descended from a common stock is accepted by the greater
and more reasonable part of mankind, these same people feel that the
evidence in favour of design in the universe is no less strong than that
in favour of evolution, and our scientists, for the most part, uphold a
theory of evolution of which the cardinal doctrine is that design and
evolution have nothing to do with one another; the jar they raise,
therefore, is as bad as the jar they have allayed.

It has been the object of the foregoing work to show that those who take
this line are wrong, and that evolution not only tolerates design, but
cannot get on without it. The unscrupulousness with which I have been
attacked, together with the support given me by the general public, are
sufficient proofs that I have not written in vain.


[384] P. 371.

[385] Published as "God the Known and God the Unknown" in 1909.

[386] "Sapientiam Sancti Thomæ dicimus: si quid enim est a doctoribus
scholasticis vel nimia subtilitate quæsitum, vel parum considerate
traditum, si quid cum exploratis posterioris ævi doctrinis minus
cohærens, vel denique quoque modo non probabile, id nullo pacto in animo
est ætate nostra ad imitandum proponi."

[387] "Edicimus libenti gratoque animo excipiendum esse quidquid
utiliter fuerit a quopiam inventum atque excogitatum."

[388] Eph. iv. 3, 4, 5.

[389] Eph. v. 30.

[390] Col. i. 22.

[391] Rom. viii. 2.

[392] Eph. ii. 22.

[393] Eph. iii. 19.

[394] 1 Cor. vii. 19.


ABORTION, neutralization of working bees an act of, 250

Accessory touches, varying Buffon on, 92

Accident, many of our best thoughts come thoughtlessly, 48, 384

---- profiting by, 51, 53

---- and discovery of theory connecting meteors with comets, 53

---- shaking the bag to see what will come out, 53

---- effects of, transmitted to offspring, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, 224

---- and design, the line between these hard to draw, 384

Accidental variations thrown for as with dice, 3

Accumulation of variations, C. Darwin deals with the, and not with
  the origin of, 340, 341

---- of small divergencies, Buffon on the, 103

Accurate, survival of fittest more accurate than Nat. Sel. and
  _sometimes_ equally convenient, 9, 354, 365

Act of Parliament, Natural Selection compared to a certain kind of, 358

Age, old, the phenomena of, 67, 204, 381

Aggregation, the spirit of the age tends towards, 397, 398

Ahead, no organism sees very far, 44, 48, 54, 384

Aldrovandus, Buffon on the learned, 93

Alive, when we must not say that an animal is alive (to be
  retracted), 279

Allen, Grant, on 'Evolution, Old and New,' 386-388

---- on the decay of criticism, 388

---- calls Evolutionism "an almost exclusively English impulse," 393

Alternations of fat and lean years, Buffon on, 125

Amoeba, the, did not conceive the idea of an eye and work towards
  it, 43, 44, 384

Analogies, false, all words are apt to turn out to be, 365

Animals, contracts among, Dr. E. Darwin on, 205

Ape, the, and man, 90

Apes and monkeys, Buffon on, 153

---- and children fall on all-fours at the approach of danger, 312

Apparentibus, _de non_, _et non existentibus, &c._, 36

Appearances, rather superficial, our only guide to
  classification, 34, 35, 36, 198, 204

Appetency, Paley's argument against the view that structures have been
  developed through, 22, 45

Aristides, C. Darwin as just as, 363

Aristotle denied teleology, 4

Artificial and real foot, differences between, 25

Asceticism, virtue errs on the side of excess rather than on that of, 35

Ass, the, and horse, Buffon's pregnant passage on their
  relationship, 80, 90, 91, 100, 101, 142, 143, 155, 164, 311

Authority, a hard thing to weigh, 253

BACON, F., on evolution, 69

Balzac, quotation from, on memory and instinct, 67

Bark, Erasmus Darwin's theory of, 208

Beaver, trowel incorporated into the beaver's organism, 8

Bees, neutralization of working, an act of abortion, 250

Beetles, Madeira, Lamarck and C. Darwin's views of their winglessness
  compared, 373, 380

Begin, How could the eye _begin_? 46, 47

Beginnings, of complex structures, a difficulty in the way of natural
  selection, 21, 22

---- difficulty of accounting for, 46, 47

---- a matter of conjecture and inference, 48

Behind, more moral to be behind the age than in front of it, 401

Best, making the best of whatever power one has, 50

Bird, how birds became web-footed, 48, 49, 51

---- a, will modify its nest a little, under altered circumstances, 55

---- Buffon on, 170, &c.

---- nests, Dr. Erasmus Darwin's failure to connect the power to make
  them with memory, 201, 203

---- aquatic and wading, Lamarck on, 305

Bishop, and Evêque, common derivation of, 355

Blindfolded, we are so far, that we can see a few steps in front,
  but no more, 44

---- us, C. Darwin has almost ostentatiously, 346

Blindly, forces interacting blindly, 59

Body and mind, Lamarck on, 338, 339, 341

Brain, Lamarck had brain upon the brain, 36

---- Buffon on the, 131, 133, &c.

Brevity may be the soul of wit, but, &c., 315

Breeding, and feeding, 222

Brown-Séquard, his experiments on guinea-pigs' legs, 303

Buds, individuality of, Dr. Erasmus Darwin on the, 207, 208

Buffalo, Buffon on the, 148, &c.

Buffon, profoundly superficial, 34

---- _plus il a su, plus il a pu, &c._, 44

---- _dans l'animal il y a moins de jugement que de sentiment_, 51

---- ignorance concerning, 61

---- memoir of, 74, &c.

---- on glory, genius, and style, 76, 77

---- ironical character of his work and method (_see_ Irony), 78,
  &c., 171

---- on the ass, horse, and zebra, 80, 90, 91, 100, 101, 142,
  143, 155, 164, 311

---- would not play the part of Rousseau or Voltaire, 81

---- Sir W. Jardine on, and the Sorbonne, 82

---- regards all animal and vegetable life as from one common source, 90

---- if a single species has ever been found under domestication,
  &c., 91

---- on plaisanterie, and the learned Aldrovandus, 93, &c.

---- his compromise, 92

---- accessory touches, 92

---- "_especially_" the same, 96

---- fluctuation of opinion an unfounded charge, 97, &c., 164

---- on the accumulation of small divergencies, 103

---- began preaching evolution almost on his first page, 104

---- chapter on the _dégénération des animaux_, equivalent to "on
  descent with modification," 104, &c.

---- difference of opinion between him and Erasmus Darwin and
  Lamarck, 105

---- probably did not differ from Lamarck, 105

---- on direct action of changed conditions, 105, 145, 147

---- on man and the lower animals, 108

---- on classification, 108, 109, 141

---- on animals and plants, 109, 110

---- on reason and instinct, 110, 115

---- on final causes (the pig), 118, &c.

---- on hybridism, 117, 118

---- rudimentary organs, 120

---- on animals under domestication, 121, &c., 148

---- deals with these early, as giving him the best opportunities
  for illustrating the theory of evolution, 276

---- approaches natural selection in his "by _some chance_ common
  enough in Nature," 122

---- preaching on the hare when he should have preached on the rabbit
  out of pure love of mischief, 123

---- resumption of feral characteristics, 123

---- on the geometrical ratio of increase, 123, &c.

---- alternation of fat and lean years, 125

---- equilibrium of Nature, 125

---- "au réel," 126

---- on violent death, 126

---- on sensation, 126, &c.

---- on the interaction of organ and sense, 127

---- the carnivora, 126

---- his criterion of what name a thing is to bear, 127

---- his criterion of perception and sensation, 127

---- on the unity of the individual, 127, 128

---- satirizes our habit of judging all things by our own standards, 129

---- the diaphragm, 129

---- on the stock and the diaphragm, 130

---- distinction between perception and sensation, 129, 130

---- on the meninges, 132

---- on the brain, 131, 133, &c.

---- on scientific orthodoxy and mystification, 138

---- on the relativity of science, 140

---- on nomenclature and knowledge, 141

---- on the genus _felis_, 143

---- on the lion and the tiger, 143, 145

---- on the animals of the old and new world, 145, &c.

---- on changed geographical distribution of land and water, 145, 164

---- on extinct species, 146

---- hates the new world, 146

---- on heredity and habit, 148, 159, 160, 161, 162

---- approaches Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, _re_ the Buffalo, Camel,
  and Llama, 148, 160, 161

---- on oneness of personality between parents and offspring, 151

---- on the organic and inorganic, 153, &c.

---- on apes and monkeys, 153, &c.

---- on the causes or means of the transformation of species, 159, &c.

---- on generic (as well as specific) differences, 164

---- on plants under domestication, 167

---- on pigeons and fowls, 169

---- on birds, 170, &c.

---- the assistance he rendered to Lamarck, 237, 258

---- Isidore Geoffroy's failure to understand, 328

---- Colonel, 75

Bulk, a _sine quâ non_ for success in literature or science, 315

Bull running, Tutbury, and Erasmus Darwin, 187

CAMEL, Buffon on the hereditary ills of the, 161

Cant, and rudimentary organs, 38

Captandum, all good things are done ad, 85

Carnivora, Buffon on the, 126

Carriage, Dr. Erasmus Darwin's, 181

Cat, family, Buffon on the, 142, &c.

---- with a mane and long tail, 143

Cataclysms, the good cells that get exterminated during the cataclysms
  of our own development, 75

Catastrophes, Lamarck on, 277

Causes, or "means," of modification, 301

---- C. Darwin says that Buffon has not entered on the, 104, &c.

---- C. Darwin gets us into a fog about, 345, &c.

Change, under changed circumstances, Mr. Patrick Matthew on, 318

Charity, the greatest of these is, 77

Church, a, like a second chamber, 400

---- the world better with than without, 400

---- should be like the fly-wheel of a steam engine, 104

_Circonstances_ (_see_ Conditions of Existence), Lamarck on, 268, 281

Circumstance, suiting power, a, Mr. Patrick Matthew on, 318-321

Classification, rather superficial appearances our best guide
  to, 34, 35, 36, 198, 204

---- Buffon on, 108, 109, 141

Clear, an ineradicable tendency to make things, 92

Clifford, Professor, on "Design," 6, 7

Climbing plants, the movements of, Dr. Erasmus Darwin on, 209

Coherency, the persistency of ideas the best argument in support of
  their legitimate connection, 23

Coleridge, on "Darwinising," 21

Common terms, our, involve the connection between memory and
  heredity, 201, 205

---- descent, the "hidden bond" of Lamarck, as also of C. Darwin, 271

Comparative anatomy, Lamarck on, 266, &c.

Complex structures, the incipiency of, a difficulty in the way of the
  natural selection view of evolution, 21, 22

Compromise, Buffon's, 92

Conditions of existence, the very essence of condition involves that
  there shall be penalty in case of non-fulfilment, 352, 376, 377

---- and the winglessness of Madeira beetles, 373, &c.

---- according to C. Darwin, "include" and yet "are fully embraced by"
  natural selection, 355

---- identical with "natural selection," 351-354

---- Étienne Geoffroy, and Lamarck on, 326, 327, 328

---- Buffon on the, 103;
     difference between Buffon's and Lamarck's view of their action, 105

---- direct action of changed, Buffon on the, 145, 147, 160

---- Lamarck on, 105, 268, 270, 271, 275, 277, 278, 281, 291,
  292, 294, 295, 298, 299, 300, &c.

Continuity in discontinuity, and _vice versâ_, 47

Contracts of animals, Dr. E. Darwin on the, 205

Contrivance, does organism show signs of this? 2

Convenient, not only _sometimes_, but always, more, 365

Corkscrew for corks, and lungs for respiration, Prof. Clifford on, 7.
  See also p. 58

---- we should have grown a, if drawing corks had been important
  to us, 7

Creator, a, who is not an organism, unintelligible, 6, 11, 24

Criticising, difficulty of, without knowing more than the mere facts
  which are to be criticised, 172

Criticism, Miss Seward's, on Dr. Darwin's "Elegy," 189

---- Grant Allen on the decay of, 388

Crux, the, of the early evolutionist, 35

Cuttle-fish, natural selection like the secretion of a, 332

DAMNATION, praising with faint, 111

Darwin, Charles, on the eye, denies design, 8

---- declares variation to be the cause of variation, 8, 347, 369

---- and blind chance working on whither; the accumulation of
  innumerable lucky accidents, 41, 42

---- our indebtedness to, 62, 66, 335

---- has adopted one half of Isidore Geoffroy's conclusion without
  verifying either, 83

---- on Buffon's fluctuation of opinion, 97

---- on Isidore Geoffroy, 97

---- his assertion that Buffon has not entered on the "causes or
  means" of transformation, 104

---- his meagre notice of his grandfather, 196

---- his treatment of the author of the "Vestiges of Creation," 65,
  247, 248

---- attributes the characteristics of neuter insects to natural
  selection, 249

---- his treatment of Lamarck, 249, 250, 251, 298, 314, 376

---- "great is the power of steady misrepresentation," 251

---- his "happy simplicity" about animals and plants under
  domestication, 276

---- his notice of Mr. Patrick Matthew in the imperfect historical
  sketch which he has prefaced to the "Origin of Species," 315, 316

---- points of agreement between him and Lamarck, 335-337

---- sees no broad principle underlying variation, 339

---- dwells on the accumulation of variations, the origination of
  which he leaves unaccounted for, 340, 341

---- his variations being due to no general underlying principle, will
  not tend to appear in definite directions, nor to many individuals
  at a time, nor to be constant for long together, 342

---- speaks of natural selection as a cause of modification, while
  declaring it to be a means only, 345, &c.

---- his explanation of this, 384, &c.

---- his dilemma, as regards the "Origin of Species," 346

---- declares the fact of variation to be the cause of variation,
  8, 347, 369

---- if he had told us more of what Buffon, &c., said, and where
  they were wrong, he would have taken a course, &c., 357

---- on the ease with which we can hide our ignorance under a cloud
  of words, 358

---- apologizes for having underrated the frequency and importance
  of variation due to spontaneous variability, 358

---- his "Origin of Species" like the opinion of a lawyer who wanted
  to leave loopholes, or an Act of Parliament full of repealed and
  inserted clauses, 358

---- accused of confusion and inaccuracy of thought, 359

---- as just as Aristides himself, 364

---- most candid literary opponent in the world, 364

---- declares Nature to be the most important means of modification,
  and variation to be the cause of variations, 369

---- like a will-o'-the-wisp, 372

---- disuse, the main agent in reducing wings of Madeira beetles, 377

---- how he and Lamarck treat the winglessness of Madeira beetles
  respectively, 373-380

---- an example of his "manner," 378

---- the way in which he met "Evolution, Old and New," 393

Darwin, Erasmus, never quite recognized design, 39

---- ignorance concerning, 61

---- on reason and instinct, 115, &c.

---- life of, 173, &c.

---- in Nottingham market-place, 182, 184, 197

---- and Dr. Johnson, 184, 185

---- and Tutbury bull running, 187

---- his poetry about the pump, and illustration, 84, 193

---- should have given his evolution theory a book to itself, 197

---- had no wish to see far beyond the obvious, 197

---- must be admitted to have missed detecting Buffon's
  humour, 83, 84, 197

---- did not attribute instincts and structures to memory pure
  and simple, 198

---- on the reasoning powers of animals, and on instinct, 201, 205

---- his failure to connect memory and instinct, as with birds'
  nests, 201-203

---- failed to see the four main propositions which I contended
  for in "Life and Habit," 37, 203, 204

---- on the analogies between animal and vegetable life, 206, &c.

---- on sensitive plants, 206, 210

---- on the individuality of buds, and his theory of bark, 207, 208

---- on the movements of climbing plants, 209

---- on the oneness of personality between parents and offspring, 214;
     the embryo not a new animal, 215

---- on animals under domestication, 223

---- on the effects of accidents transmitted to offspring, 224

---- sees struggle, and hence modification, turn mainly round three
  great wants, 226, 229, 257, 279

---- on desire as a means of modification, 226, 228, 259

---- by a slip approaches the error of his grandson, 227, 228

---- on embryonic metamorphoses, 230, 231

---- believed animals and plants to be descended from a common
  stock, 233

---- and Lamarck compared, 257

---- on the struggle of existence, and the survival of the
  fittest, 227, 232, 259

Darwin, Mrs. Erasmus, death-bed of, 178

Darwin, Francis, mentioned, 109

---- his interesting lecture, 206

---- does not use the expression "natural selection," 368

Darwinising, Coleridge on, 21

Darwinism, the old Darwinism involves desire, invention, and design, 58

---- modern, falling into disfavour, 60

---- and evolution not to be confounded, 360, 361

Day, the portrait of, by Wright of Derby, 180

Death, violent, Buffon on, 126

---- of Dr. Erasmus Darwin, 193, 194

Death-bed of Mrs. Erasmus Darwin, 178

Deed, illustration drawn from a very intricate, 28

Definite, with Lamarck the variations are, 341, 344

_Dégénérations_, 87

Demand and supply, like power and desire, 222, 300

Demonstrative case, "this demonstrative case of neuter insects,
  &c.," 249, 298, 314

Descent, with modification, spoken of as though synonymous with
  natural selection, 248, 356

Design, and organism, shall we or shall we not connect these ideas? 2

---- Aristotle denied, Plato upheld, Haeckel on, 4

---- Prof. Clifford's denial of, 6, 7

---- does certainly involve a designer who has an organism, who
  can think, and make mistakes, 6, 24

---- a belief in both design and evolution, commonly held to
  be incompatible, 9

---- Sir W. Thomson and Sir J. Herschel on, 11

---- Paley on, 12, &c.

---- light thrown by embryology on the method of, 25

---- G. H. Lewes opposes, 26

---- the three positions in respect to, taken by Charles Darwin,
  Paley, and the earlier evolutionists, 31

---- the first evolutionists did not see that their view of
  evolution involved design, 34

---- from within as much design as from without, 36

---- was equivalent to theological design, with the early
  evolutionists, 36

---- if each step is taken designedly, the whole is done
  designedly, 52, 384

---- and accident, the line between them hard to draw; shaking
  the bag, &c., 53, 384

---- instinct originated in, 54

---- as much lost sight of with old-established forms of the
  steam-engine as with birds' nests or the wheel, 55

---- Dr. E. Darwin's failure to see that evolution involves design, 195

---- we feel the want of, as much as we do of evolution, 407

---- evolution not only tolerates, but cannot get on without, 408

Designer, "I believe in an organic and tangible designer of every
  complex structure," 6

---- "where is he? show him to us," &c., 29, 30

---- the, of any organism, the organism itself, 30, 31, 40

Desire and power, interaction of, 44, 45, 47, 127, 217, 221, 300, 322

---- and power, like wealth, 222

---- as a means of modification, Dr. Erasmus Darwin on, 226, 228, 259

Development, the history of organic, the history of a moral struggle, 45

---- always due to making the best of the present, 50

Devils, 20,000, dancing a saraband on the point of a needle, 216

Dew drop, or lens, the, and Lord Rosse's telescope, 44, 47

Diaphragm, Buffon on the, 129

Dice, accidental variations thrown for as with, 3

Difference between animal and ordinary mechanism, 24

---- the main, between the manufacture of tools and that of organs, 39

Dilemma, C. Darwin's, 346

Direct action of changed conditions, Buffon on the, 105, 145, 147, 160

Discontinuity in continuity, 47

Disease, accidents followed by, 303

Disintegration, Protestantism tends towards, 397

Distribution, geographical, changed, Buffon on, 145, 164

Disuse, and the winglessness of Madeira beetles, we are almost surprised
  to find that they are connected at all, 375

---- the main agent in reducing the wings of Madeira beetles, 377

---- some examples of the effect of, adduced by Lamarck, 378

Dog, Buffon on the, 120

---- Lamarck on the various breeds of the, 297

Domestication, a single case of a species formed under domestication
  sufficient to remove the _à priori_ difficulty from a
  comprehensive theory of evolution, 90, 91, 311

---- plants under, Buffon on, 167, &c.

---- Buffon on animals under, 103, 120, &c., 148, &c., 159, &c., 276

---- animals under, Dr. Erasmus Darwin on, 223

---- animals under, Buffon on, 121, &c., 148, 276

---- C. Darwin on, 276

---- animals and plants under, Lamarck on, 275, 293, 296, 297, 300

---- animals and plants under, Mr. Patrick Matthew on, 324

Door, the doing anything well will open the door for doing
  something else, 51

Ducks, our domesticated, why they cannot fly like wild ones, 296, 309

EARN, "you are but doing your best to earn an honest living," 29

Ears are never found in a rudimentary condition, 379

Eat, or be eaten, 177

Effort, Paley's argument that structures have not been developed
  through, 22, 45

---- too much, as vicious as indolence, 35

---- "neither too much nor too little," 50

---- Herculean, condemned, 197

Egyptian mummies, Lamarck on, 274, 275

Embryology, the light it throws upon the mode in which organisms
  have been designed, 25

Embryonic metamorphoses, Erasmus Darwin on, 230, 231

Embryonic development, Lamarck on, 289

Encyclical, the Pope's, on St. Thomas Aquinas, 402, &c.

Endeavour, Paley's argument against the view that structures have
  been developed through, 22, 45

Endowment, the new orthodoxy, which is clamouring for, 360

English wines, Dr. Erasmus Darwin's preference for, 175

Environment. _See_ Conditions of Existence

Equilibrium, the, of Nature, Buffon on the, 125

Err, the power to, rated highly, 29

---- "it is on this margin that we may err or wander," 50

---- virtue ever errs on the side of excess, 35

Error, importance of, dependent on the distance, rather than the
  direction, 50

"Especially" the same, 92, 96

Ethiopian, the, can change his skin, if it becomes worth his while
  to try long enough, 40

Evêque and bishop, common derivation of, 355

Everlasting, God, how far, 32

Evolution, commonly held incompatible with design, 9

---- Paley, its first serious opponent in England, 21

---- Sir Walter Raleigh on, 21, 70

---- must stand or fall according as it rests on a purposive
  foundation or no, 60

---- brief summary of its six principal stages, 62, &c.

---- Bacon on, 69

---- the theory of, as apart from the evidence in support of it, 332

---- C. Darwin and Lamarck are equally intent upon establishing
  the same theory of evolution, 335-337

---- and Darwinism, not to be confounded, 360, 361

---- Rome and Pantheism meet in, 403

Evolutionists, the early, did not know that they accepted teleology, 34

---- the early, saw design, only as design by the God of theologians, 36

Experience and instinct, Mr. Patrick Matthew on, 322

Extinct species, Lamarck on, 277

---- Buffon on, 146, 277

Eye, no creature that had nothing like an eye ever set itself to
  conceive one and grow one, 44, 387

---- Paley asks "how will our philosopher get an eye?" 46

---- of flat fish, Lamarck on the, 307

---- Lamarck on the, of underground and cave-inhabiting animals, 378

---- disappear and reappear in the scale of organism according to the
  power of using them, 379

FAITH, forms of, or faiths of form, &c., 339

Familiarity, with a little, such superficial objections will be
  forgotten, 367

Far ahead, no organism ever saw an improvement a long way off and made
  towards it, 43, 44, 48, 49, 54, 384

Father, the man who could be father of such a son and retain his
  affection, &c., 76

Factors, there have been two, of modification, one producing and the
  other accumulating variations, 227

Fecundity, alternate years of, Buffon on, 125

Feeding and breeding, 222

Feel, if plants and animals look as if they feel, let us say
  they feel, 198

Feeling, there is more feeling than reason in animals, 51

Feral characteristics, resumption of, Buffon on, 123

Final causes, the doctrine of, as commonly held in the time of the
  early evolutionists, 34, 36

---- Buffon on, 118, &c.

Fitness, the cause of, more important than the fact that fitness is
  commonly fit, and therefore successful, 351

Flat fish, Lamarck on the eyes of, 307

Fluctuation of opinion, C. Darwin on Buffon's, the charge
  refuted, 97, &c., 164, 166

Fontenelle, on theories, 22

Foot, and model of foot, differences between, 24

Forms of faith, or faiths of form, &c., 339

Four main points which the early evolutionists failed to see in
  their connection and bearing on each other, 37, 203

Four main principles, the, which I contended for in "Life and
  Habit," 37, 203, 380, 381

Fowls and pigeons, Buffon on, 169

GARNETT, Mr. R., and "Darwinising," 21

Genius, Mr. Allen says I am a, 388

Gentleman, the Church of Rome means the same by the word as we do, 395

Geoffroy, Étienne, how small a way he goes, 196

---- and Isidore, trimmers, 328

---- on Buffon, 328

---- on conditions of existence, 326, 327

---- declares against Lamarck's hypothesis, 328

---- his position, 325-328

Geoffroy, Isidore, on evolution and final causes, 9

---- on Buffon's fluctuation of opinion, 98, &c., 164, 166

---- points out the difference between the views of Buffon
  and Lamarck, 105

---- statement that Buffon's opinions fluctuated again refuted, 166

---- and Lamarck's hypothesis, 244-246, 329

---- on Buffon, 328

---- his position, 329

Genealogical order, Lamarck on, 264

---- C. Darwin on, 265

Generation more remarkable than reason, Hume on, 233

Generic differences (as well as specific), Buffon on, 164

Genius, a supreme capacity for taking pains, 76

Geographical distribution, changed, Buffon on, 145, &c., 164

Geometrical ratio of increase, Buffon on, 123

---- Lamarck, on, 280

---- Patrick Matthew on, 320, 321

Germ of oak indistinguishable from that of a man, 334

Germans, Buffon on the, 93

Glory "comes after labour if she can," &c., 76

Go away, because their uncles, aunts, 376

God, embodied in living forms, and dwelling in them, 31

---- how far everlasting, invisible, imperishable, omnipotent, &c., 32

---- the unseen parts of, are as a deep-buried history, 33

Goethe, as an evolutionist, 71

Gradations infinitely subtle, 87

Grant Allen, on "Evolution, Old and New," 386-388

---- on the decay of criticism, 388

---- says that "Evolutionism is an almost exclusively English
  impulse," 393

Greyhound or racehorse, the well-adapted form of the, 359

Growth attended at each step by a felicitous tempering of two
  antagonistic principles, 35

Gueneau de Montbeillard, 172, 173

HABIT," "Life and. _See_ "Life and Habit."

---- rudimentary organs repeated through mere force of, 38, 39

---- Buffon on, 148, 159, 160, 161, 162

---- a second Nature, Lamarck on, 300

Habits, or use, and organ, Lamarck on the interaction of, 292, 311

Haeckel, on design, 4, 5

---- on Goethe as an evolutionist, 71

---- does not appear to know of Buffon as an evolutionist, 71, 393

---- his surprising statement concerning Lamarck, 73

---- his ignorance concerning Erasmus Darwin, 73, 393

---- on Lamarck, 246, 247

---- A. R. Wallace's review of his "Evolution of Man," 382, 384

Hamlet, the "Origin of Species" like "Hamlet" without Hamlet, 363

Handiest, a man should do whatever comes handiest, 51, 52

Hare, Buffon on the, 123, &c.

Hartmann's philosophy of the unconscious, and "Life and Habit," 56, 57

Hearing, when we once reach animals so low as to have no organ of,
  we lose this organ for good and all, 379

Heredity and habit, Buffon on, 148, 159, 160, 161, 162

---- only another term for unknown causes, unless the "Life and Habit"
  theory be adopted, 384

Hering, Professor, referred to, 66, 67

---- his theory as given in "Nature" by Ray Lankester, 198-200

Herschel, Sir John, compares natural selection to the Laputan
  method of making books, 10

Higgling and haggling of the market, 50

History of the universe, each organism is a, from its own point
  of view, 31

Horse and ass, Buffon's most pregnant passage on the, 80, 90, 91,
  100, 101, 142, 143, 155, 164, 311

---- and man, skeleton of the, 88, 89

---- and zebra, Buffon on the, example of irony, 80, 155, 164

Hume, his saying that generation is more remarkable than reason, 233

Huxley, Professor, referred to, 93

---- pointed out to Professor Mivart the difficulty in the way of
  natural selection, 344

---- his ignorance concerning the earlier history of evolution, 392, 393

Hybridism, Buffon on, 117, 118

Hybrids, sterility of, Lamarck on, and C. Darwin on, 272, 273

IDEAS, the bond or nexus of our, 23, 29, 30

Ignorance, the prevailing, concerning the earlier evolutionists, 61

---- it is easy to hide our, under such expressions as "plan of
  creation," or natural selection, 358

Imitation, instinct not referable to, as maintained by Erasmus
  Darwin, 202

Immutability of species and design commonly accepted together, 9, 10

Improvements, small successive, in man's inventions, 44, 46,
  47, 54, 55, 384

Inaccuracy of thought, C. Darwin accused of, 359

Incipiency, of complex structures, a difficulty in the way of the
  Natural selection view of evolution, 21, 22

Incorporate, the designer is, with the organism, 30

Increase, geometrical ratio of Buffon on the, 123

---- Lamarck on, 280

---- Patrick Matthew on, 320, 321

Indefinite, with C. Darwin the variations are, 342, 344

Indifference, I say I am more indifferent than I think I am, whether
  mind is or is not the least misleading symbol for the cause that
  sustains the universe, 371

Indirect action of conditions of existence according to
  Lamarck, 294, 299, 306. (_See_ "Conditions of Existence")

Individuality, Buffon on, 128

---- of buds, Erasmus Darwin on the, 207, 208

---- our, a _consensus_, or full-flowing river, 318

Infallibility, possible results of the doctrine of Papal, 406

Insectivorous plants, Erasmus Darwin on, 206

Instep, ligament that binds the tendons of the, Paley on the, 22

Instinct, present, does not bar its having arisen in reason and
  reflection, 53, 54

---- returns to its earlier phase, _i. e._ to reason on the presence
  of the unfamiliar, 54, 55, 56

---- and reason, Buffon on, 110-116

---- Darwin, Erasmus, on, 115, 116, 204

---- not referable to imitation, as maintained by Erasmus Darwin, 202

---- is reason become habitual, 203

---- reason perfected and got by rote, 256

---- and reason, Lamarck on, 256, 257, 274

---- referred to experience and memory, by Patrick Matthew, 322

Insult, "Evolution, Old and New," not intended as an insult to men
  of science, 392

Interaction of want and power, 44, 45, 47, 217, 218, 221, 300, 323

---- of body and mind, Lamarck on the, 338, 339, 341

Interesting, the more interesting the animal the more evolution Buffon
  puts into his account of it, 84

Intermediate forms, Lamarck on, 283, 286

---- C. Darwin, 284, 285

Inventions, small successive improvements in man's, and development of,
  analogous to that of organism, 44, 46, 47, 54, 55, 384

Irony, good-natured and the reverse, 91

---- an apology for, and explanation how far it is legitimate, 111, 112

---- Buffon's, 78, &c., 91, 92, 93, 155, 157, 163, 164

JARDINE, Sir W., on Buffon's character, 82

Johnson, Dr., and Erasmus Darwin, 184, 185

Joints, Paley on the human, 19, 20

Juggle, Paley's argument a juggle, unless man has had a _bonâ fide_
  personal, and therefore organic designer, 14, 16

KNEE-PAN, Paley on the human, 18

Knowledge, nomenclature mistaken for, 141

LABOUR, glory comes after, if she can, 76

Lamarck, had brain upon the brain, 36

---- never quite recognized design, 39

---- Haeckel's surprising statement concerning, 73

---- wherein he mainly differs from Buffon, 105

---- memoir of, 235

---- his connection with Buffon, as tutor to his son, &c., 237, 258

---- his daughters, 242, 253

---- his poverty and blindness, 242, 253

---- Isidore Geoffroy on, bad caricature of his teaching, 244-246

---- Haeckel on, 246, 247

---- never seriously discussed, 247

---- "the well-known doctrine of," C. Darwin's reference
  to, 249, 250, 251, 298, 314, 376

---- on the opposition his theory met with, 252

---- too old to have begun his unequal contest, 253

---- on the feeling of animals, 254, 255

---- too theory-ridden, 254

---- misled by Buffon (query), 255

---- took from Buffon without sufficient acknowledgment,
  255, 258, 260, 311

---- as compared with Dr. Erasmus Darwin, 257

---- like Dr. E. Darwin, sees struggle and modification turn
  mainly round three great wants, 257, 279, 300, 309

---- when and how he came over to the side of mutability, 258

---- and the French translation of the "Loves of the Plant," 259

---- on comparative anatomy, 266

---- on species, 267, &c.

---- on conditions of existence (_circonstances_), 105, 268, 270, 271,
  275, 277, 278, 281, 291, 292, 294, 295, 298, 299, 300, &c.

---- on instinct, 274

---- on animals and plants under domestication, 275, 293, 296, 297, 300

---- on extinct species, 277

---- anticipated Lyell in rejecting catastrophes, 277

---- on the geometrical ratio of increase and struggle for
  existence, 280-282

---- on embryonic development, 289

---- the main principles which he supposes to underlie
  variations, 292, 299, 338, 339

---- his contention that plants have neither actions nor habits, 295

---- on use and disuse, 294, 296, 299, 301, 302, 304, 305, 307-309

---- on the various breeds of the dog, 297

---- habit a second nature, 300

---- like Erasmus Darwin and Buffon, understood the survival of
  the fittest, 301

---- on the way in which serpents have lost their legs, 303

---- on wading and aquatic birds, 305

---- on the eyes of flat fish, 307

---- on man, 311, &c.

---- on a single instance of considerable variation under
  domestication, 311

---- on speech, 313, 314

---- on the upright position of man and certain apes, 313

---- his, and Étienne Geoffroy's views on conditions of
  existence, 326, 327, 328

---- his hypothesis, and Isidore Geoffroy, 329

---- Herbert Spencer on, 330, 331

---- desired to discover the law underlying variations, 337

---- the extent to which he and C. Darwin take common ground, 335-337

---- on body and mind, 338, 339, 341

---- on his theory variations will be definite, will appear in large
  numbers of individuals at the same time, for long periods
  together, 341

---- how he and C. Darwin treat the winglessness of Madeira beetles
  respectively, 373-380

---- on the eyes and ears of cave-inhabiting animals, 378, 379

Laputan method of making books, the, and natural selection, 11

Lawyer's deed, if we come across a very intricate, &c., 27

Leopard, the, can change his spots if it becomes worth his while to
  try long enough, 40

Lewes, G. H., on embryology, 25

---- his objection to the tentativeness with which the same errors
  are repeated generation after generation, 26

---- his objection to C. Darwin's language concerning natural
  selection, 346

Lewes, G. H., on natural selection, 348, 349, 359

Life, some remarks about the criterion of, that I must retract, 279

---- one Proteus principal of, 320

"Life and Habit," what I believe to have been its most important
  features, 67, 203, 204

---- recapitulation of the main principle insisted on, 37, 56,
  203, 380, 381, 384

---- and Hartmann's philosophy of the unconscious, German review, 56, 57

Lifetime, considerable modifications effected during a single, 304

---- the changes undergone by organisms during a single, Herbert
  Spencer, on, 332-334

Ligament, the, which binds down the tendons of the instep, 21

Living, Paley is but doing his best to earn an honest, 29

---- forms of faith, or faiths of form, 339

Lines, no sharp can be drawn, 47

Lion and tiger, Buffon on the, 143, 145

Llama, Buffon on the hereditary ills of the, 161

Longevity, the principle underlying, 67, 380, 381

Loopholes for escape, the "Origin of Species" full of, 358

"Loves of the Plants," French translation of the, 63, 259

Lungs for respiration, and corkscrew for corks, Professor
  Clifford on, 7. (_See_ also p. 58)

Lyell, Sir C., and Lamarck, 277

---- on the similarity between Lamarck's theory and Mr.
  Darwin's, 336, 337

MACHINE, Paley declares animals to be neither wholly machines
  nor wholly not machines, 14

Madeira beetles, the ways in which Lamarck and C. Darwin would
  treat their winglessness, 373-380

Maillet, de, referred to, 70

Mainspring, the true, of our existence lies not in these
  muscles, &c., 32

Man, the designer of man, 30

---- and horse, skeleton of the, 88, 89

---- and the ape, 90

---- and the lower animals, Buffon on, 107, 108

---- Lamarck on, 311, &c.

Manner, the, is the man himself, 77

---- "but this is Mr. Darwin's", 378

Manufacture, the, of tools and of organs, two species of
  the same genus, 39

Margin, there is a margin in every organic structure, &c., 49, 50

---- on the margin of the self-evident the greatest purchase is
  obtainable, 197

Market, the higgling and haggling of the, 50

Martins, M., his life of Lamarck, 235, &c.

Matter less important than the manner, 77

---- and mind, inseparable, 371

Matthew, Mr. Patrick, his work on naval timber and arboriculture, 64, 65

---- extracts from, 315, &c.

---- Mr. C. Darwin on, 315

---- on animals and plants under domestication, 324

---- on will as influencing organism, 320, 321, 322

---- on the struggle for existence with survival of the
  fittest, 320, 322

---- and natural selection, 323

---- on instinct and memory, and on the continued personality
  of parents in offspring, 321, 322, 323

Means, C. Darwin's dangerous use of this word, 345

---- one _sine quâ non_ for a thing is as much a means of that
  thing's coming about as anything else is, 349

Mechanism of animals, Paley on the, 14

Mechanism of animals, evidence of design in any ordinary, 15

Memory, and life and heredity, 37, 38, 39, 56, 67, 198-203,
  332, 380, 381

---- Professor Hering on, 198-200

---- Patrick Matthew on, 322

Meteoric, both want and power are, 44, 45

Meninges, Buffon on the, 132

Microcosm, each organism a history of the universe from its
  own point of view, 31

Microscope, illustration from successive improvements in the, 46, 47

Mind, "the least inadequate and misleading symbol," for the power
  that has designed organism, 3, 371

---- and body, Lamarck on, 338, 339, 341

---- and matter inseparable, 371

Misfortune, take advantage of, 51

Misrepresentation, "great is the power of steady," 251

Missionaries should avoid trying to effect sudden modifications, 183

Mistake, the power to make, rated highly, 29

---- importance of, depends on magnitude rather than on the
  direction, 50

Mivart, Professor, says that, "Mind is the least adequate and
  misleading symbol," &c., 3, 371

---- referred to, 22, 66, 67

---- admits that his objection does not tell against the Lamarckian
  theory of evolution, 343

---- points out that the admission of a principle underlying variations
  is fatal to C. Darwin's theory concerning natural selection, 343

---- on C. Darwin's "haphazard, indefinite variations," 343

---- how Professor Huxley pointed out to him the objection to C.
  Darwin's theory concerning natural selection, 344

---- asks what is natural selection? and declares it to be repudiated
  by its propounder, 369

---- declares it to be "nothing," and a puerile
  hypothesis, 370, 371

---- declares the causes of variation to be the causes of the
  distinction of species, 370

Model, artificial, of a foot, and true foot, difference between, 24

Modification. It is only on modification that reason reasserts
  itself, 55

---- there have been two factors of, one producing variations, and
  the other accumulating them, 227

---- arrived at by struggle round three great wants, Erasmus
  Darwin on, 226-229

---- Lamarck on the same, 257, 279, 300, 301

---- the cause of survival, not survival the cause of modification, 302

Moral, an organism is most, when looking a little ahead, but not
  too far, 44

---- struggle, the history of organic development, the history of a, 45

---- more, and safer, to be behind the age than in front of it, 401

Movement, Buffon's great criterion of sensation, 127

Mummies, Egyptian, Lamarck on, 274, 275

Murphy, Rev. J. J., mentioned, 22

---- referred to, 66, 67

Mutability of species commonly held to be incompatible with a
  belief in design, 9, 10

Mystery-mongering, that Buffon wished to protest against, 81, 171

Mystification, scientific, and orthodoxy, Buffon on, 138

NAIVELY, as Mr. Darwin naively adds, "_sometimes_ equally
  convenient," 354

Natural selection, the essence of the theory is that the variations
  shall have been mainly accidental, 7

Natural selection, the unerring skill of, 9

---- Sir William Thomson and Sir John Herschel on, 10

---- Button, and, "by _some chance_ common enough with Nature," 122

---- spoken of as though synonymous with descent with
  modification, 248, 285, 356

---- C. Darwin attributes the instincts of neuter insects to, 249

---- Mr. Patrick Matthew and, 323

---- like the secretion of a cuttle-fish, 332

---- G. H. Lewes's objection to C. Darwin's language concerning, 346

---- if this is declared to be a cause, the fact of variation
  is declared to be the cause of variation, 347

---- declared by C. Darwin to be a means of variation, 347

---- treated as a cause, 348

---- G. H. Lewes on, 348, 349, 350

---- identity with "conditions of existence," 351-354

---- according to C. Darwin, "fully embraces" and yet "is included
  in" conditions of existence, 355

---- a cloak for want of precision of thought, and of substantial
  difference from Lamarck, 358

---- "some have even imagined that it induces variability;" and small
  wonder, considering C. Darwin's language concerning it, 362

---- C. Darwin's reply to those who have objected to the term, 362-368

---- a cloak of difference from C. Darwin's predecessors, under which
  there lurks a concealed identity of opinion as to main facts, 362, 363

---- "implies only the preservation of such variations as arise,"
  &c., 363

---- admitted by C. Darwin to be a false term, 364

---- the complaint is that the expression has been retained when
  an avowedly more accurate one is to hand, 365, 366

---- only another way of saying Nature, 368, 369

---- the dislike of it is increasing, 368, 369

---- Francis Darwin does not use the expression, 368, 369

---- daily and hourly scrutinizing throughout the world, &c., 369

---- practically repudiated by C. Darwin himself, 369

---- Professor Mivart declares it to be "simply nothing," 370

---- a "puerile hypothesis," 371

---- and not disuse, the true main cause of the winglessness of
  Madeira beetles, according to C. Darwin, 374

---- _not_ the main cause of the winglessness of Madeira beetles,
  according to C. Darwin, 377

---- "combined probably with disuse," will account, according to
  C. Darwin, for the winglessness of Madeira beetles, 375

_Naturalistes_, _le peuple des_, 80, 171

Nature, the personification of comparatively venial, 367

---- and natural selection the same thing, 368, 369

---- the most important means of modification, and variation the
  cause of variation, 369

Neck, Paley on the human, 17, 18

Need, sense of, the main idea in connection with evolution that is
  left with the reader by the "Zoonomia," or "Philosophie
  Zoologique," 363

Needle, 20,000 devils dancing a saraband on the point of a, 216

Nest, a bird will alter its nest a little, to meet altered
 circumstances, 55

Nests, birds', Dr. E. Darwin on, 201

Neuter insects, "the demonstrative case of neuter insects,"
  &c., 249, 298, 314

New countries, Buffon a hater of, 146

Nomenclature, mistaken for knowledge, 141

Nottingham market-place, Erasmus Darwin in, 182, 184, 197

OAK and man, the germs of, indistinguishable, 334

---- man may become as long-lived as the, 382

Obvious, Erasmus Darwin had no wish to see far beyond the, 197

Oken, alluded to, 72

Old age, the phenomena of, 67, 204, 381

---- and new worlds, Buffon on the fauna of, 145, &c.

One source for all life, Buffon on, 91

---- Erasmus Darwin on, 109, 233

Oneness of personality between parents and offspring, 37, 38, 39

---- Buffon on the, 151

---- Erasmus Darwin and Professor Hering on the, 198-200

---- Dr. E. Darwin's failure to grasp the whole facts in connection
  with this, 198, 201, 203

---- Dr. E. Darwin on, 214, 215

---- Patrick Matthew on, 322, 323

---- mentioned, 332, 380, 381

Orang-outang, Buffon on the, 156-159

Organ and use. _See_ "Use."

---- and sense, interaction of the, Buffon on, 127

---- and faculty, Lamarck on, 255

Organs are living tools, 2

---- the manufacture of, and that of tools, two species of the
  same genus, 39, 43, &c.

---- are the expressions of mental phases, 339, 341

Organic structures have a margin, 49, 50

Organic strictures and inorganic, Buffon on the, 153, &c.

Organisms, have been developed as man's inventions
  have, 44, 46, 47, 384

"Origin of Species," the, cannot take permanent rank in the
  literature of evolution, 62

---- has no _raison d'être_, if natural selection is not a
  cause of variation, 346

---- a piece of intellectual sleight of hand, 346

---- compared to the advice of a lawyer who wanted to leave
  plenty of loopholes, or to a cobbled Act of Parliament, 358

---- is "Hamlet" with the part of Hamlet cut out, 363

---- most readers would say that it advocated natural selection as
  the most important cause of variation, 363

---- and the "Zoonomia," or the "Philosophie Zoologique"; the one
  upholds natural selection, the other, sense of need, 363

Orthodoxy, scientific, and mystification, Buffon on, 138

---- scientific, clamouring for endowment, 360

---- dangers of, 368

Overseeing tends to oversight, 197

PAINS, genius a supreme capacity for taking, 76

Painting, a man should do _something_, no matter what, 51, 52

Paley, quotations from, 12, &c.

---- his argument a juggle, unless some one designed man, much as
  man designed the watch, 14, 16

---- on ordinary mechanism, as showing design, 15

---- on the human neck, 16, 17

---- on the patella, 18

---- on the joints, 19, 20

---- as a writer against evolution, 21

---- on the ligament that binds the tendons of the instep, 21, 22

---- opposes the view that structures have been formed through
  appetency, endeavour or effort, 22, 45

---- we turn on him and say, Show us your designer, 29

---- asks, How will our philosopher get an eye? 46

---- his "Natural Theology" written throughout at the "Zoonomia," 195

---- never gives a reference when quoting an opponent, 195, 306

Pantheism and Rome will in the end be the two sole combatants, 401

---- common ground held by Rome and Pantheism, 403-405

---- of Paul, 404

Parents and offspring, oneness of personality between (_see_

Passions, of like passions, men of science are, with other
  pastors and prophets, 253

Patella, or knee-pan, Paley on the, 18

Paul, St., his pantheistic tendencies, 404

---- we want to accept him literally, 405

Peace, the, that passeth understanding, 35

Perception and sensation, Buffon on the difference between, 129, 130

Personality, oneness of, between parents and offspring, 37, 38, 39

---- Buffon on the, 151

---- Erasmus Darwin and Professor Hering on the, 198-200

---- Erasmus Darwin's failure to grasp the whole conception,
  198, 201, 203

---- Erasmus Darwin on the, 214, 215

---- Patrick Matthew on the, 322, 323

---- mentioned, 332, 380, 381

Personification, the, of Nature, comparatively venial, 367

Pessimism: "Which is the pessimist I or Mr. Darwin?" 59

Peuple des Naturalistes, le, 80, 171

"Philosophie Zoologique," summary of, 261-314

---- the, leaves "sense of need" on the reader's mind; the
  "Origin of Species," natural selection, 363

Pig, Buffon on the, 118, &c.

Pigeons and fowls, Buffon on, 169

Plaisanterie, Button's disclaimer of, 93

Planted upside down, the vertebrata regarded as vegetables, 137

Plants under domestication, Buffon on, 167, &c.

---- Dr. Erasmus Darwin, on the life of, 206, &c.

---- Lamarck's assertion that they have no action nor habits, 294, 295

Plato upheld teleology, 4

_Plus il a su_, &c., 44

Poem, a, by Dr. Erasmus Darwin, 189

Poetry, Dr. Erasmus Darwin's, 83, 189, 193

Pope's shoes, scientists would step into the, if we would let
  them, 360, 394

Portrait of Mr. Day, author of "Sandford and Merton," 180

Potto, the missing forefinger of the, 303

Power and desire, interaction of, 44, 45, 47, 127, 217, 221, 300, 323

Praising, with faint damnation, 111

Prescience, need not extend over more than the next step, and yet the
  whole road may have been travelled presciently, 52, 384

Present, development due to a wise use of the, 50-52

Probable, whatever in the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas is not probable
  is to be rejected, 402, 403

Proficiency is due to design if each step was taken designedly, though
  the end was not far foreseen, 52, 384

Protestantism tends towards disintegration, 396

Proteus principle of life, one, 320

Pump, Erasmus Darwin's poetry about the, 84, 193

Purpose, instinctive actions were once done with a, 54

---- spent or extinct, and rudimentary organs, 38, 383

Purposive, if each step is purposive, the whole is purposive, 52, 384

Purposiveness: I maintain the lungs to be as purposive us the
  corkscrew, 5, 6, 7, 58

RACE, the runners in a, and natural selection, 366, 367

---- significance of the words being used for a breed and a
  competition, 366, 367

Racehorse or greyhound, "the well-adapted forms of the," 359

Ranunculus aquatilis, Lamarck's passage on, 260, 297

Raleigh, Sir Walter, and evolution, 21, 70

Ray Lankester, Professor, on Hering's theory connecting memory
  and heredity, 198-200

Reason, there is less reason than feeling in animals, Buffon, 51

---- perfected becomes instinct, but reasserts itself when the
  circumstances alter, 54, 55, 56, 203

---- and instinct, Buffon on, 110, 116

---- Erasmus Darwin on, 115, 116, 201-205

---- a less remarkable faculty than generation, Hume on, 233

---- and instinct, Lamarck on, 256, 274

---- declared to be incipient instinct, 256

_Réel_, _au_, Buffon's use of these words, 126

Relativity of the sciences, Buffon on the, 140

Religion, Buffon's appeals to, 91, 115

Reopen settled questions, animals cannot, serpents must have no
  more than four legs, 303

Resume earlier habits, the tendency to, on the approach of a
  difficulty, 312, 313

Retrogressive, Mr. Darwin's views of evolution retrogressive, 66

Revelation, Buffon's appeals to, against evolution, 91, 115

Reviews of "Evolution, Old and New," 385, &c.

Riches, the normal growth of, and evolution, 222

Roman Empire, the, prophetic, 397

Romanes, G. R., on "Evolution, Old and New," 391-393

Rome, Church of, means the same by "gentleman" as we do, 395

---- I would join, if I could, 395, 396

---- a unifier, 398

---- the only source from which a church can come, 398-401

---- and Pantheism, the ultimate fight will be between, 401

---- points of agreement between Rome and Pantheists, 403-405

---- may, and should get rid of Protestantism by outbidding it, 407

Rousseau, Buffon would not play part of, 81

Rudimentary organs, the crux of the early evolutionist in respect of
  design, 34

---- are now mere cant formulæ, force of habit, 38, 383

---- like the protuberance at the bottom of a tobacco-pipe, 38

---- Buffon would not accept them as designed, 83

---- Buffon on, 120

---- Professor Haeckel on, 383

Run, how did the winner come to be able to run ever such a little
  faster than his fellows, 367

Runners in a race and natural selection, 366, 367

"SANDFORD and Merton," Miss Seward on the author of, 179, 180

Saints will commonly strain a point or two in their own favour, 253

_Saturday Review_ on "Evolution, Old and New," 389-391

Savery, Captain, 54

Science, men of, of like passions with other priests and prophets, 253

---- not a kingdom into which a poor man can enter easily, 253

---- the leaders of will generally burke new-born wit unless, &c., 315

---- not of that kind which desires to know, 392

Scientific orthodoxy and mystification, Buffon on, 138

---- danger of, 360, 368

Scramble, birds learned to swim through scrambling, 48, 51

Self-indulgence, virtue has ever erred rather on the side of, than
  on that of asceticism, 35

Sensation, Buffon on, 126, 129

Sense, "in one sense," 355

Sensitive plants, Dr. E. Darwin on, 206, 210

Seriously, Buffon speaking, 126

Serpents, how it is that they have lost their legs, 302

Seward, Miss, her life of Erasmus Darwin, 174, &c.

Shakspeare and Handel address the many as well as the few, 81

Shortest day, and shortest day but one, no difference perceptible
  between, 48

Skeletons, the, of man and of the horse, 88, &c.

Skill, the unerring, of natural selection, 9

Siamese twins, desire and power compared to, 218, 300

Simplicity, happy, an example of, 276

Sisters, "his, and his cousins and his aunts," 253

Slit, a slit in one tendon to let another pass through, 20

Something a man should do, no matter what, 51

Sometimes, "equally convenient" ("the survival of the fittest"
  with natural selection), 9, 354, 365

Son, the people who can get good sons and retain their affection
  are the only ones worth studying from, 76

Sorbonne, the, and Buffon, 82, 84

Sorbonnes, never do like people who write in this way, 143

Specialists, embryos are, 28

Species, Buffon on the causes or means of transformation, 159, &c.

---- Lamarck on, 267, &c.

---- clusters of, Lamarck on, 288

---- C. Darwin on, 289

Specific characteristics vary more than generic, Lamarck on, 287, 288

---- C. Darwin on, 288

Speech, Lamarck on, 313, 314

Spencer, Herbert, on Lamarck's hypothesis, 330, 331

---- a follower of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, 332

Spent, or extinct purpose, and rudimentary organs, 383

Spontaneous: C. Darwin uses this word in connection with
  variability, 358

---- variability (or unknown causes), C. Darwin, on what it will
  account for, or make known, 358

Steam engine, latest development of, not foreseen, though each
  immediate step in advance was so, 54, 384

---- design lost sight of in the most common patterns, as with
  a bird's-nest, or the wheel, 55

Step, if each step is purposive, the whole road has been
  travelled purposively, 52, 384

---- only the few nearest are taken definitely, 44, 384

Sterility of hybrids, Lamarck on, 272

---- C. Darwin on, 273

Stock, Buffon on the, and the diaphragm, 130

Stronger, the, succeed, and the weaker fail, 320, 321

Strongest, the, eat the weaker, 282

Struggle for existence, Buffon on the, 123

---- and hence modification, according to Dr. Erasmus Darwin, mainly
  conversant about three wants, 226-229, 232

---- comparison between Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck's views on the
  foregoing, 257

---- Lamarck on the foregoing, 279

---- and survival of the fittest, Lamarck on the, 281, 282

---- Patrick Matthew on, 321

Style, Buffon on, 76, 77

Sudden, the question what is too, to be settled by higgling and
  haggling, 50

---- modifications, missionaries should avoid trying to effect, 183

Superficial, philosophy of the, 34, 35, 36, 198, 204

Supply and demand, and desire and power, 223, 300

Survival of the fittest, a synonym for natural selection, 9

---- Dr. Erasmus Darwin on the, 227

---- in the struggle for existence, Lamarck on the, 281, 282

---- understood and admitted by Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, and
  Lamarck, 301

---- subsequent to modification, and therefore not the cause
  of it, 302, 346

---- Patrick Matthew on, 321

---- this is not a theory, but a fact, 356, 357

Swimming, no shore bird ever set itself to learn, of malice
  prepense, 48, 51

TAIL, the beaver's, has become an incarnate trowel, 8

Teething, the pain an infant feels is the death-cry of many a
  good cell, 75

Teleological, failure of the early evolutionists to see their
  position as, 34

Teleology, statement of the question, 1

---- Aristotle denied, Plato upheld, 4

---- the, of Paley and the theologians, 12, &c.

---- internal as much teleology as external, 36

---- _See_ also "Design."

Telescope, Lord Rosse's, and dew-drop, 44, 47

Tempering, the felicitous, of two great contradictory principles, 35

Tendon, a slit in one, to let another pass through, 20

Terminology of botany harder than botany, 108

---- Buffon on, 140, 141

Test, Buffon's, as to the name an object is to bear, 115

---- of perception and sensation, Buffon's, 127

Theological writer, few passages in any, displease me more, &c., 368

Theory, the survival of the fittest is a fact, not a theory, 356, 357

Theories, true, Fontenelle on, 22, 23

---- to be ordered out of court if troublesome, 35

This: "I can no more believe in this," &c., 359

---- "it is impossible to attribute to this cause," 358

Thomas, St., Aquinas, Papal encyclical on, 402, 403

Thomson, Sir W., natural selection and design, 10

Thought is expressed in organ, 339, 341

Time, Buffon on, 103

---- Lamarck on, 241

Tobacco-pipe, a rudimentary organ on a, 38

Toes, a man who plays the violin with his, 50

Tools, organs are living tools, 2

---- the manufacture of, and that of organs, two species of the
  same genus, 39

Touch, all senses modifications of the sense of touch, 47

Transformation of species, Buffon on the causes or means of, 159

Translation of the "Loves of the Plants" into French, 63, 258, 259

Translation of the "Zoonomia" into German, 71

---- of Dr. E. Darwin's other works, 195

Trapa Natans, Erasmus Darwin's note on, 260

Treviranus alluded to, 72

Tree, life seen as a tree, by Lamarck, 269

---- by C. Darwin, 270

---- nature compared to a, by Buffon, 171

Trees, the blind man who saw men as trees walking, 137

Trowel, the beaver has an incarnate trowel, 8

True, vitally, 227

---- all very, as far as it goes (that Nature is the most
  important means of modification), 369

Truism, the survival of the fittest, a, 351

Tutbury bull running, 187

Tyndall, Professor, a rhapsody about C. Darwin, 41

---- calls evolution C. Darwin's theory, 360, 361

UNCLES and aunts do not beget their nephews and nieces, 367, 376

Unconscious, our acquired habits come to be done as unconsciously
  as though instinctive, on repetition, 56

---- difference between my view of the, and Von Hartmann's, 58

Unconsciousness, the, with which habitual actions come to be
  performed, 37, 38, 39, 56-58, 67, 203, 332, 381

Understanding, the peace of mind that passeth, 35

Unity of the individual, Buffon on the, 127, 128. (_See_ "Oneness")

"Unknown causes," according to Mr. Darwin, can do so much, but
  not so much more, 359

---- their identity with spontaneous variability, 359

---- heredity only another name for, unless the "Life and Habit"
  theory be adopted, 384

Upright position in man and certain apes, and children, Lamarck
  on, 312

Upside down, the vertebrata are perambulating vegetables planted, 137

Use and organ, 44, 45, 47, 217, 218, 221, 292, 294, 296, 299, 301,
  302, 304, 305, 307-309, 311, 323

VACUUM, an omniscient and omnipotent, 28

Vague, efforts and desires are vague in the outset, 47, 52, 384

Variation, C. Darwin declares the fact of variation to be the cause
  of variation, 8, 9, 347, 369

Variations, one factor of modification provides, the other
  accumulates, 227

---- Lamarck strove to discover the law underlying, 337

---- C. Darwin sees no cause underlying them, 339, 340

---- according to Lamarck, they will tend to appear in definite
  directions in large numbers of individuals, for long periods
  together; according to C. Darwin they will not do thus, 341

---- must appear before they can be preserved, 346

---- the cause of variations is the cause of species (Professor
  Mivart on this), 370

Vary, man cannot vary his practices much more than animals can, 55

"Vestiges of Creation," the, 65

---- C. Darwin on the, 65

---- the author of, on Lamarck, 247

---- Darwin's treatment of, 247, 248

Virtue has ever erred on the side of excess than on that of
  asceticism, 35

Violin, a man who plays the, with his toes, 50

Vitally true, 227

Volition. (_See_ "Will")

Voltaire, Buffon would not play the part of, 81

WALLACE, A. R., his review of Professor Haeckel's "Evolution
  of Man," 382-384

Want and power, interaction of, 44, 45, 47, 48, 217, 218,
  221, 300, 323

Wasp, cutting a fly in half, Dr. Erasmus Darwin on, 205

Watch, Paley's argument from the, 13

Weaker, the strongest eat the, 282

Wealth, the normal growth of, and evolution, 222

Web-footed, how birds, became, 48, 49, 51

---- development of, birds, Lamarck on, 305

---- Paley on, 305

Wedge, Buffon let in the thin end of the wedge, by saying
  that changed habits modify form, 105, 106

Whisky, God keep you from--if he can, 176

Will, Patrick Matthew on, as influencing organism, 320-322.
  (_See_ also "Desire," "Design," "Want," "Wish")

Will-o'-the-wisp, C. Darwin like a, 372

Wish and power, their interaction, 44, 45, 47, 48, 217, 218, 221,
  300, 323

Wit, brevity may be its soul, but the leaders of science, &c., 315

Worcester, the Marquis of, 54

Words are apt to turn out compendious false analogies, 365

Worms, reasonable creatures, 255

Worth, nothing worth looking at or doing, except at a fair price, 35

Wright, of Derby, his portrait of Mr. Day, 180

ZEBRA and horse, Buffon on the, 80, 155, 164

"Zoonomia," German translation of the, 71

---- Paley's "Natural Theology" written at the, 195

---- fuller quotations from the, 214, &c.

---- the, and the "Origin of Species," the different ideas that an
  average reader would carry away with him from these two works
  ("Sense of Need" and "Natural Selection"), 363

_The Mayflower Press, Plymouth, England._ William Brendon & Son, Ltd.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Evolution, Old & New - Or, the Theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, - as compared with that of Charles Darwin" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.