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Title: Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation
Author: Chambers, Robert
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1844 John Churchill edition by David Price, email

                           THE NATURAL HISTORY

                                * * * * *



                               M DCCC XLIV.


The Bodies of Space—Their arrangements and formation                 1
Constituent materials of the Earth and of the other Bodies          27
of Space
The Earth formed—Era of the Primary Rocks                           44
Commencement of Organic Life—Sea Plants, Corals, etc.               54
Era of the Old Red Sandstone—Fishes abundant.                       66
Secondary Rocks.  Era of the Carboniferous Formation.—Land          76
formed—Commencement of Land Plants
Era of the New Red Sandstone—Terrestrial Zoology commences          94
with Reptiles—First traces of Birds
Era of the Oolite—Commencement of Mammalia                         105
Era of the Cretaceous Formation                                    116
Era of the Tertiary Formation—Mammalia abundant                    125
Era of the Superficial Formations—Commencement of present          134
General Considerations respecting the Origin of the                145
Animated Tribes
Particular Considerations respecting the Origin of the             165
Animated Tribes
Hypothesis of the Development of the Vegetable and Animal          191
Macleay System of Animated Nature—This System considered in        236
connexion with the Progress of Organic Creation, and as
indicating the natural status of Man
Early History of Mankind                                           277
Mental Constitution of Animals                                     324
Purpose and General Condition of the Animated Creation             361
Note Conclusory                                                    387


IT is familiar knowledge that the earth which we inhabit is a globe of
somewhat less than 8000 miles in diameter, being one of a series of
eleven which revolve at different distances around the sun, and some of
which have satellites in like manner revolving around them.  The sun,
planets, and satellites, with the less intelligible orbs termed comets,
are comprehensively called the solar system, and if we take as the
uttermost bounds of this system the orbit of Uranus (though the comets
actually have a wider range), we shall find that it occupies a portion of
space not less than three thousand six hundred millions of miles in
extent.  The mind fails to form an exact notion of a portion of space so
immense; but some faint idea of it may be obtained from the fact, that,
if the swiftest race-horse ever known had begun to traverse it, at full
speed, at the time of the birth of Moses, he would only as yet have
accomplished half his journey.

It has long been concluded amongst astronomers, that the stars, though
they only appear to our eyes as brilliant points, are all to be
considered as suns, representing so many solar systems, each bearing a
general resemblance to our own.  The stars have a brilliancy and apparent
magnitude which we may safely presume to be in proportion to their actual
size and the distance at which they are placed from us.  Attempts have
been made to ascertain the distance of some of the stars by calculations
founded on parallax, it being previously understood that, if a parallax
of so much as one second, or the 3600th of a degree, could be ascertained
in any one instance, the distance might be assumed in that instance as
not less than 19,200 millions of miles!  In the case of the most
brilliant star, Sirius, even this minute parallax could not be found;
from which of course it was to be inferred that the distance of that star
is something beyond the vast distance which has been stated.  In some
others, on which the experiment has been tried, no sensible parallax
could be detected; from which the same inference was to be made in their
case.  But a sensible parallax of about one second has been ascertained
in the case of the double star, α α, of the constellation of the Centaur,
{3} and one of the third of that amount for the double star, 61 Cygni;
which gave reason to presume that the distance of the former might be
about twenty thousand millions of miles, and the latter of much greater
amount.  If we suppose that similar intervals exist between all the
stars, we shall readily see that the space occupied by even the
comparatively small number visible to the naked eye, must be vast beyond
all powers of conception.

The number visible to the eye is about three thousand; but when a
telescope of small power is directed to the heavens, a great number more
come into view, and the number is ever increased in proportion to the
increased power of the instrument.  In one place, where they are more
thickly sown than elsewhere, Sir William Herschel reckoned that fifty
thousand passed over a field of view two degrees in breadth in a single
hour.  It was first surmised by the ancient philosopher, Democritus, that
the faintly white zone which spans the sky under the name of the Milky
Way, might be only a dense collection of stars too remote to be
distinguished.  This conjecture has been verified by the instruments of
modern astronomers, and some speculations of a most remarkable kind have
been formed in connexion with it.  By the joint labours of the two
Herschels, the sky has been “gauged” in all directions by the telescope,
so as to ascertain the conditions of different parts with respect to the
frequency of the stars.  The result has been a conviction that, as the
planets are parts of solar systems, so are solar systems parts of what
may be called astral systems—that is, systems composed of a multitude of
stars, bearing a certain relation to each other.  The astral system to
which we belong, is conceived to be of an oblong, flattish form, with a
space wholly or comparatively vacant in the centre, while the extremity
in one direction parts into two.  The stars are most thickly sown in the
outer parts of this vast ring, and these constitute the Milky Way.  Our
sun is believed to be placed in the southern portion of the ring, near
its inner edge, so that we are presented with many more stars, and see
the Milky Way much more clearly, in that direction, than towards the
north, in which line our eye has to traverse the vacant central space.
Nor is this all.  Sir William Herschel, so early as 1783, detected a
motion in our solar system with respect to the stars, and announced that
it was tending towards the star λ, in the constellation Hercules.  This
has been generally verified by recent and more exact calculations, {5}
which fix on a point in Hercules, near the star 143 of the 17th hour,
according to Piozzi’s catalogue, as that towards which our sun is
proceeding.  It is, therefore, receding from the inner edge of the ring.
Motions of this kind, through such vast regions of space, must be long in
producing any change sensible to the inhabitants of our planet, and it is
not easy to grasp their general character; but grounds have nevertheless
been found for supposing that not only our sun, but the other suns of the
system pursue a wavy course round the ring _from west to east_, crossing
and recrossing the middle of the annular circle.  “Some stars will depart
more, others less, from either side of the circumference of equilibrium,
according to the places in which they are situated, and according to the
direction and the velocity with which they are put in motion.  Our sun is
probably one of those which depart furthest from it, and descend furthest
into the empty space within the ring.” {6}  According to this view, a
time may come when we shall be much more in the thick of the stars of our
astral system than we are now, and have of course much more brilliant
nocturnal skies; but it may be countless ages before the eyes which are
to see this added resplendence shall exist.

The evidence of the existence of other astral systems besides our own is
much more decided than might be expected, when we consider that the
nearest of them must needs be placed at a mighty interval beyond our own.
The elder Herschel, directing his wonderful tube towards the _sides_ of
our system, where stars are planted most rarely, and raising the powers
of the instrument to the required pitch, was enabled with awe-struck mind
to see suspended in the vast empyrean astral systems, or, as he called
them, firmaments, resembling our own.  Like light cloudlets to a certain
power of the telescope, they resolved themselves, under a greater power,
into stars, though these generally seemed no larger than the finest
particles of diamond dust.  The general forms of these systems are
various; but one at least has been detected as bearing a striking
resemblance to the supposed form of our own.  The distances are also
various, as proved by the different degrees of telescopic power necessary
to bring them into view.  The farthest observed by the astronomer were
estimated by him as thirty-five thousand times more remote than Sirius,
supposing its distance to be about twenty thousand millions of miles.  It
would thus appear, that not only does gravitation keep our earth in its
place in the solar system, and the solar system in its place in our
astral system, but it also may be presumed to have the mightier duty of
preserving a local arrangement between that astral system and an
immensity of others, through which the imagination is left to wander on
and on without limit or stay, save that which is given by its inability
to grasp the unbounded.

The two Herschels have in succession made some other most remarkable
observations on the regions of space.  They have found within the limits
of our astral system, and generally in its outer fields, a great number
of objects which, from their foggy appearance, are called _nebulæ_; some
of vast extent and irregular figure, as that in the sword of Orion, which
is visible to the naked eye; others of shape more defined; others, again,
in which small bright nuclei appear here and there over the surface.
Between this last form and another class of objects, which appear as
clusters of nuclei with nebulous matter around each nucleus, there is but
a step in what appears a chain of related things.  Then, again, our
astral space shews what are called nebulous stars,—namely, luminous
spherical objects, bright in the centre and dull towards the extremities.
These appear to be only an advanced condition of the class of objects
above described.  Finally, nebulous stars exist in every stage of
concentration, down to that state in which we see only a common star with
a slight _bur_ around it.  It may be presumed that all these are but
stages in a progress, just as if, seeing a child, a boy, a youth, a
middle-aged, and an old man together, we might presume that the whole
were only variations of one being.  Are we to suppose that we have got a
glimpse of the process through which a sun goes between its original
condition, as a mass of diffused nebulous matter, and its full-formed
state as a compact body?  We shall see how far such an idea is supported
by other things known with regard to the occupants of space, and the laws
of matter.

A superficial view of the astronomy of the solar system gives us only the
idea of a vast luminous body (the sun) in the centre, and a few smaller,
though various sized bodies, revolving at different distances around it;
some of these, again, having smaller planets (satellites) revolving
around them.  There are, however, some general features of the solar
system, which, when a profounder attention makes us acquainted with them,
strike the mind very forcibly.

It is, in the first place, remarkable, that the planets all move nearly
_in one plane_, corresponding with the centre of the sun’s body.  Next,
it is not less remarkable that the motion of the sun on its axis, those
of the planets around the sun, and the satellites around their primaries,
{9} and the motions of all on their axes, are _in one direction_—namely,
from west to east.  Had all these matters been left to accident, the
chances against the uniformity which we find would have been, though
calculable, inconceivably great.  Laplace states them at four millions of
millions to one.  It is thus powerfully impressed on us, that the
uniformity of the motions, as well as their general adjustment to one
plane, must have been a consequence of some cause acting throughout the
whole system.

Some of the other relations of the bodies are not less remarkable.  The
primary planets shew a progressive increase of bulk and diminution of
density, from the one nearest to the sun to that which is most distant.
With respect to density alone, we find, taking water as a measure and
counting it as one, that Saturn is 13/32, or less than half; Jupiter, 1
1/24; Mars, 3 2/7; Earth, 4 1/2; Venus, 5 11/15; Mercury 9 9/10, or about
the weight of lead.  Then the distances are curiously relative.  It has
been found that if we place the following line of numbers,—

                          0 3 6 12 24 48 96 192,

and add 4 to each, we shall have a series denoting the respective
distances of the planets from the sun.  It will stand thus—

4           7           10          16          28      52          100         196
Merc.       Venus.      Earth.      Mars.               Jupiter.    Saturn.     Uranus.

It will be observed that the first row of figures goes on from the second
on the left hand in a succession of duplications, or multiplications by
2.  Surely there is here a most surprising proof of the unity which I am
claiming for the solar system.  It was remarked when this curious
relation was first detected, that there was a want of a planet
corresponding to 28; the difficulty was afterwards considered as in a
great measure overcome, by the discovery of four small planets revolving
at nearly one mean distance from the sun, between Mars and Jupiter.  The
distances bear an equally interesting mathematical relation to the times
of the revolutions round the sun.  It has been found that, with respect
to any two planets, the squares of the times of revolution are to each
other in the same proportion as the cubes of their mean distances,—a most
surprising result, for the discovery of which the world was indebted to
the illustrious Kepler.  Sir John Herschel truly observes—“When we
contemplate the constituents of the planetary system from the point of
view which this relation affords us, it is no longer mere analogy which
strikes us, no longer a general resemblance among them, as individuals
independent of each other, and circulating about the sun, each according
to its own peculiar nature, and connected with it by its own peculiar
tie.  The resemblance is now perceived to be a true _family likeness_;
they are bound up in one chain—interwoven in one web of mutual relation
and harmonious agreement, subjected to one pervading influence which
extends from the centre to the farthest limits of that great system, of
which all of them, the Earth included, must henceforth be regarded as
members.” {12}

Connecting what has been observed of the series of nebulous stars with
this wonderful relationship seen to exist among the constituents of our
system, and further taking advantage of the light afforded by the
ascertained laws of matter, modern astronomers have suggested the
following hypothesis of the formation of that system.

Of nebulous matter in its original state we know too little to enable us
to suggest how nuclei should be established in it.  But, supposing that,
from a peculiarity in its constitution, nuclei are formed, we know very
well how, by virtue of the law of gravitation, the process of an
aggregation of the neighbouring matter to those nuclei should proceed,
until masses more or less solid should become detached from the rest.  It
is a well-known law in physics that, when fluid matter collects towards
or meets in a centre, it establishes a rotatory motion.  See minor
results of this law in the whirlwind and the whirlpool—nay, on so humble
a scale as the water sinking through the aperture of a funnel.  It thus
becomes certain that when we arrive at the stage of a nebulous star, we
have a rotation on an axis commenced.

Now, mechanical philosophy informs us that, the instant a mass begins to
rotate, there is generated a tendency to fling off its outer portions—in
other words, the law of centrifugal force begins to operate.  There are,
then, two forces acting in opposition to each other, the one attracting
_to_, the other throwing _from_, the centre.  While these remain exactly
counterpoised, the mass necessarily continues entire; but the least
excess of the centrifugal over the attractive force would be attended
with the effect of separating the mass and its outer parts.  These outer
parts would, then, be left as a ring round the central body, which ring
would continue to revolve with the velocity possessed by the central mass
at the moment of separation, but not necessarily participating in any
changes afterwards undergone by that body.  This is a process which might
be repeated as soon as a new excess arose in the centrifugal over the
attractive forces working in the parent mass.  It might, indeed, continue
to be repeated, until the mass attained the ultimate limits of the
condensation which its constitution imposed upon it.  From what cause
might arise the periodical occurrence of an excess of the centrifugal
force?  If we suppose the agglomeration of a nebulous mass to be a
process attended by refrigeration or cooling, which many facts render
likely, we can easily understand why the outer parts, hardening under
this process, might, by virtue of the greater solidity thence acquired,
begin to present some resistance to the attractive force.  As the
solidification proceeded, this resistance would become greater, though
there would still be a tendency to adhere.  Meanwhile, the condensation
of the central mass would be going on, tending to produce a separation
from what may now be termed the _solidifying crust_.  During the
contention between the attractions of these two bodies, or parts of one
body, there would probably be a ring of attenuation between the mass and
its crust.  At length, when the central mass had reached a certain stage
in its advance towards solidification, a separation would take place, and
the crust would become a detached ring.  It is clear, of course, that
some law presiding over the refrigeration of heated gaseous bodies would
determine the stages at which rings were thus formed and detached.  We do
not know any such law, but what we have seen assures us it is one
observing and reducible to mathematical formulæ.

If these rings consisted of matter nearly uniform throughout, they would
probably continue each in its original form; but there are many chances
against their being uniform in constitution.  The unavoidable effects of
irregularity in their constitution would be to cause them to gather
towards centres of superior solidity, by which the annular form would, of
course, be destroyed.  The ring would, in short, break into several
masses, the largest of which would be likely to attract the lesser into
itself.  The whole mass would then necessarily settle into a spherical
form by virtue of the law of gravitation; in short, would then become a
planet revolving round the sun.  Its rotatory motion would, of course,
continue, and satellites might then be thrown off in turn from its body
in exactly the same way as the primary planets had been thrown off from
the sun.  The rule, if I can be allowed so to call it, receives a
striking support from what appear to be its exceptions.  While there are
many chances against the matter of the rings being sufficiently equable
to remain in the annular form till they were consolidated, it might
nevertheless be otherwise in some instances; that is to say, the
equableness might, in those instances, be sufficiently great.  Such was
probably the case with the two rings around the body of Saturn, which
remain a living picture of the arrangement, if not the condition, in
which all the planetary masses at one time stood.  It may also be
admitted that, when a ring broke up, it was possible that the fragments
might spherify separately.  Such seems to be the actual history of the
ring between Jupiter and Mars, in whose place we now find four planets
much beneath the smallest of the rest in size, and moving nearly at the
same distance from the sun, though in orbits so elliptical, and of such
different planes, that they keep apart.

It has been seen that there are mathematical proportions in the relative
distances and revolutions of the planets of our system.  It has also been
suggested that the periods in the condensation of the nebulous mass, at
which rings were disengaged, must have depended on some particular crises
in the condition of that mass, in connexion with the laws of centrifugal
force and attraction.  M. Compte, of Paris, has made some approach to the
verification of the hypothesis, by calculating what ought to have been
the rotation of the solar mass at the successive times when its surface
extended to the various planetary orbits.  He ascertained that _that
rotation corresponded in every case with the actual sidereal revolution
of the planets_, _and that the rotation of the primary planets in like
manner corresponded with the orbitual periods of the secondaries_.  The
process by which he arrived at this conclusion is not to be readily
comprehended by the unlearned; but those who are otherwise, allow that it
is a powerful support to the present hypothesis of the formation of the
globes of space. {17}

The nebular hypothesis, as it has been called, obtains a remarkable
support in what would at first seem to militate against it—the existence
in our firmament of several thousands of solar systems, in which there
are more than one sun.  These are called double and triple stars.  Some
double stars, upon which careful observations have been made, are found
to have a regular revolutionary motion round each other in ellipses.
This kind of solar system has also been observed in what appears to be
its rudimental state, for there are examples of nebulous stars containing
two and three nuclei in near association.  At a certain point in the
confluence of the matter of these nebulous stars, they would all become
involved in a common revolutionary motion, linked inextricably with each
other, though it might be at sufficient distances to allow of each
distinct centre having afterwards its attendant planets.  We have seen
that the law which causes rotation in the single solar masses, is exactly
the same which produces the familiar phenomenon of a small whirlpool or
dimple in the surface of a stream.  Such dimples are not always single.
Upon the face of a river where there are various contending currents, it
may often be observed that two or more dimples are formed near each other
with more or less regularity.  These fantastic eddies, which the musing
poet will sometimes watch abstractedly for an hour, little thinking of
the law which produces and connects them, are an illustration of the
wonders of binary and ternary solar systems.

The nebular hypothesis is, indeed, supported by so many ascertained
features of the celestial scenery, and by so many calculations of exact
science, that it is impossible for a candid mind to refrain from giving
it a cordial reception, if not to repose full reliance upon it, even
without seeking for it support of any other kind.  Some other support I
trust yet to bring to it; but in the meantime, assuming its truth, let us
see what idea it gives of the constitution of what we term the universe,
of the development of its various parts, and of its original condition.

Reverting to a former illustration—if we could suppose a number of
persons of various ages presented to the inspection of an intelligent
being newly introduced into the world, we cannot doubt that he would soon
become convinced that men had once been boys, that boys had once been
infants, and, finally, that all had been brought into the world in
exactly the same circumstances.  Precisely thus, seeing in our astral
system many thousands of worlds in all stages of formation, from the most
rudimental to that immediately preceding the present condition of those
we deem perfect, it is unavoidable to conclude that all the perfect have
gone through the various stages which we see in the rudimental.  This
leads us at once to the conclusion that the whole of our firmament was at
one time a diffused mass of nebulous matter, extending through the space
which it still occupies.  So also, of course, must have been the other
astral systems.  Indeed, we must presume the whole to have been
originally in one connected mass, the astral systems being only the first
division into parts, and solar systems the second.

The first idea which all this impresses upon us is, that the formation of
bodies in space is _still and at present in progress_.  We live at a time
when many have been formed, and many are still forming.  Our own solar
system is to be regarded as completed, supposing its perfection to
consist in the formation of a series of planets, for there are
mathematical reasons for concluding that Mercury is the nearest planet to
the sun, which can, according to the laws of the system, exist.  But
there are other solar systems within our astral system, which are as yet
in a less advanced state, and even some quantities of nebulous matter
which have scarcely begun to advance towards the stellar form.  On the
other hand, there are vast numbers of stars which have all the appearance
of being fully formed systems, if we are to judge from the complete and
definite appearance which they present to our vision through the
telescope.  We have no means of judging of the seniority of systems; but
it is reasonable to suppose that, among the many, some are older than
ours.  There is, indeed, one piece of evidence for the probability of the
comparative youth of our system, altogether apart from human traditions
and the geognostic appearances of the surface of our planet.  This
consists in a thin nebulous matter, which is diffused around the sun to
nearly the orbit of Mercury, of a very oblately spheroidal shape.  This
matter, which sometimes appears to our naked eyes, at sunset, in the form
of a cone projecting upwards in the line of the sun’s path, and which
bears the name of the Zodiacal Light, has been thought a residuum or last
remnant of the concentrating matter of our system, and thus may be
supposed to indicate the comparative recentness of the principal events
of our cosmogony.  Supposing the surmise and inference to be correct, and
they may be held as so far supported by more familiar evidence, we might
with the more confidence speak of our system as not amongst the elder
born of Heaven, but one whose various phenomena, physical and moral, as
yet lay undeveloped, while myriads of others were fully fashioned and in
complete arrangement.  Thus, in the sublime chronology to which we are
directing our inquiries, we first find ourselves called upon to consider
the globe which we inhabit as a child of the sun, elder than Venus and
her younger brother Mercury, but posterior in date of birth to Mars,
Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus; next to regard our whole system as probably
of recent formation in comparison with many of the stars of our
firmament.  We must, however, be on our guard against supposing the earth
as a recent globe in our ordinary conceptions of time.  From evidence
afterwards to be adduced, it will be seen that it cannot be presumed to
be less than many hundreds of centuries old.  How much older Uranus may
be no one can tell, much less how more aged may be many of the stars of
our firmament, or the stars of other firmaments than ours.

Another and more important consideration arises from the hypothesis;
namely, as to the means by which the grand process is conducted.  The
nebulous matter collects around nuclei by virtue of the law of
attraction.  The agglomeration brings into operation another physical
law, by force of which the separate masses of matter are either made to
rotate singly, or, in addition to that single motion, are set into a
coupled revolution in ellipses.  Next centrifugal force comes into play,
flinging off portions of the rotating masses, which become spheres by
virtue of the same law of attraction, and are held in orbits of
revolution round the central body by means of a composition between the
centrifugal and gravitating forces.  All, we see, is done by certain laws
of matter, so that it becomes a question of extreme interest, what are
such laws?  All that can yet be said, in answer, is, that we see certain
natural events proceeding in an invariable order under certain
conditions, and thence infer the existence of some fundamental
arrangement which, for the bringing about of these events, has a force
and certainty of action similar to, but more precise and unerring than
those arrangements which human society makes for its own benefit, and
calls laws.  It is remarkable of physical laws, that we see them
operating on every kind of scale as to magnitude, with the same
regularity and perseverance.  The tear that falls from childhood’s cheek
is globular, through the efficacy of that same law of mutual attraction
of particles which made the sun and planets round.  The rapidity of
Mercury is quicker than that of Saturn, for the same reason that, when we
wheel a ball round by a string and make the string wind up round our
fingers, the ball always flies quicker and quicker as the string is
shortened.  Two eddies in a stream, as has been stated, fall into a
mutual revolution at the distance of a couple of inches, through the same
cause which makes a pair of suns link in mutual revolution at the
distance of millions of miles.  There is, we might say, a sublime
simplicity in this indifference of the grand regulations to the vastness
or minuteness of the field of their operation.  Their being uniform, too,
throughout space, as far as we can scan it, and their being so unfailing
in their tendency to operate, so that only the proper conditions are
presented, afford to our minds matter for the gravest consideration.  Nor
should it escape our careful notice that the regulations on which all the
laws of matter operate, are established on a rigidly accurate
mathematical basis.  Proportions of numbers and geometrical figures rest
at the bottom of the whole.  All these considerations, when the mind is
thoroughly prepared for them, tend to raise our ideas with respect to the
character of physical laws, even though we do not go a single step
further in the investigation.  But it is impossible for an intelligent
mind to stop there.  We advance from law to the cause of law, and ask,
What is that?  Whence have come all these beautiful regulations?  Here
science leaves us, but only to conclude, from other grounds, that there
is a First Cause to which all others are secondary and ministrative, a
primitive almighty will, of which these laws are merely the mandates.
That great Being, who shall say where is his dwelling-place, or what his
history!  Man pauses breathless at the contemplation of a subject so much
above his finite faculties, and only can wonder and adore!


THE nebular hypothesis almost necessarily supposes matter to have
originally formed one mass.  We have seen that the same physical laws
preside over the whole.  Are we also to presume that the constitution of
the whole was uniform?—that is to say, that the whole consisted of
similar elements.  It seems difficult to avoid coming to this conclusion,
at least under the qualification that, possibly, various bodies, under
peculiar circumstances attending their formation, may contain elements
which are wanting, and lack some which are present in others, or that
some may entirely consist of elements in which others are entirely

What are elements?  This is a term applied by the chemist to a certain
limited number of substances, (fifty-four or fifty-five are ascertained,)
which, in their combinations, form all the matters of every kind present
in and about our globe.  They are called elements, or simple substances,
because it has hitherto been found impossible to reduce them into others,
wherefore they are presumed to be the primary bases of all matters.  It
has, indeed, been surmised that these so-called elements are only
modifications of a primordial form of matter, brought about under certain
conditions; but if this should prove to be the case, it would little
affect the view which we are taking of cosmical arrangements.  Analogy
would lead us to conclude that the combinations of the primordial matter,
forming our so-called elements, are as universal or as liable to take
place everywhere as are the laws of gravitation and centrifugal force.
We must therefore presume that the gases, the metals, the earths, and
other simple substances, (besides whatever more of which we have no
acquaintance,) exist or are liable to come into existence under proper
conditions, as well in the astral system, which is thirty-five thousand
times more distant than Sirius, as within the bounds of our own solar
system or our own globe.

Matter, whether it consist of about fifty-five ingredients, or only one,
is liable to infinite varieties of condition under different
circumstances, or, to speak more philosophically, under different laws.
As a familiar illustration, water, when subjected to a temperature under
32° Fahrenheit, becomes ice; raise the temperature to 212°, and it
becomes steam, occupying a vast deal more space than it formerly did.
The gases, when subjected to pressure, become liquids; for example,
carbonic acid gas, when subjected to a weight equal to a column of water
1230 feet high, at a temperature of 32°, takes this form: the other gases
require various amounts of pressure for this transformation, but all
appear to be liable to it when the pressure proper in each case is
administered.  Heat is a power greatly concerned in regulating the volume
and other conditions of matter.  A chemist can reckon with considerable
precision what additional amount of heat would be required to vaporise
all the water of our globe; how much more to disengage the oxygen which
is diffused in nearly a proportion of one-half throughout its solids;
and, finally, how much more would be required to cause the whole to
become vaporiform, which we may consider as equivalent to its being
restored to its original nebulous state.  He can calculate with equal
certainty what would be the effect of a considerable diminution of the
earth’s temperature—what changes would take place in each of its
component substances, and how much the whole would shrink in bulk.

The earth and all its various substances have at present a certain volume
in consequence of the temperature which actually exists.  When, then, we
find that its matter and that of the associate planets was at one time
diffused throughout the whole space, now circumscribed by the orbit of
Uranus, we cannot doubt, after what we know of the power of heat, that
the nebulous form of matter was attended by the condition of a very high
temperature.  The nebulous matter of space, previously to the formation
of stellar and planetary bodies, must have been a universal Fire Mist, an
idea which we can scarcely comprehend, though the reasons for arriving at
it seem irresistible.  The formation of systems out of this matter
implies a change of some kind with regard to the condition of the heat.
Had this power continued to act with its full original repulsive energy,
the process of agglomeration by attraction could not have gone on.  We do
not know enough of the laws of heat to enable us to surmise how the
necessary change in this respect was brought about, but we can trace some
of the steps and consequences of the process.  Uranus would be formed at
the time when the heat of our system’s matter was at the greatest, Saturn
at the next, and so on.  Now this tallies perfectly with the exceeding
diffuseness of the matter of those elder planets, Saturn being not more
dense or heavy than the substance cork.  It may be that a sufficiency of
heat still remains in those planets to make up for their distance from
the sun, and the consequent smallness of the heat which they derive from
his rays.  And it may equally be, since Mercury is twice the density of
the earth, that its matter exists under a degree of cold for which that
planet’s large enjoyment of the sun’s rays is no more than a
compensation.  Thus there may be upon the whole a nearly equal experience
of heat amongst all these children of the sun.  Where, meanwhile, is the
heat once diffused through the system over and above what remains in the
planets?  May we not rationally presume it to have gone to constitute
that luminous envelope of the sun, in which his warmth-giving power is
now held to reside?  It could not be destroyed—it cannot be supposed to
have gone off into space—it must have simply been reserved to constitute,
at the last, a means of sustaining the many operations of which the
planets were destined to be the theatre.

The tendency of the whole of the preceding considerations is to bring the
conviction that our globe is a specimen of all the similarly-placed
bodies of space, as respects its constituent matter and the physical and
chemical laws governing it, with only this qualification, that there are
_possibly_ shades of variation with respect to the component materials,
and _undoubtedly_ with respect to the conditions under which the laws
operate, and consequently the effects which they produce.  Thus, there
may be substances here which are not in some other bodies, and substances
here solid may be elsewhere liquid or vaporiform.  We are the more
entitled to draw such conclusions, seeing that there is nothing at all
singular or special in the astronomical situation of the earth.  It takes
its place third in a series of planets, which series is only one of
numberless other systems forming one group.  It is strikingly—if I may
use such an expression—a member of a democracy.  Hence, we cannot suppose
that there is any peculiarity about it which does not probably attach to
multitudes of other bodies—in fact, to all that are analogous to it in
respect of cosmical arrangements.

It therefore becomes a point of great interest—what are the materials of
this specimen?  What is the constitutional character of this object,
which may be said to be a sample, presented to our immediate observation,
of those crowds of worlds which seem to us as the particles of the desert
sand-cloud in number, and to whose profusion there are no conceivable
local limits?

The solids, liquids, and aeriform fluids of our globe are all, as has
been stated, reducible into fifty-five substances hitherto called
elementary.  Six are gases; oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen being the
chief.  Forty-two are metals, of which eleven are remarkable as
composing, in combination with oxygen, certain earths, as magnesia, lime,
alumin.  The remaining six, including carbon, silicon, sulphur, have not
any general appellation.

The gas oxygen is considered as by far the most abundant substance in our
globe.  It constitutes a fifth part of our atmosphere, a third part of
water, and a large proportion of every kind of rock in the crust of the
earth.  Hydrogen, which forms two-thirds of water, and enters into some
mineral substances, is perhaps next.  Nitrogen, of which the atmosphere
is four-fifths composed, must be considered as an abundant substance.
The metal silicium, which unites with oxygen in nearly equal parts to
form silica, the basis of nearly a half of the rocks in the earth’s
crust, is, of course, an important ingredient.  Aluminium, the metallic
basis of alumin, a large material in many rocks, is another abundant
elementary substance.  So, also, is carbon a small ingredient in the
atmosphere, but the chief constituent of animal and vegetable substances,
and of all fossils which ever were in the latter condition, amongst which
coal takes a conspicuous place.  The familiarly-known metals, as iron,
tin, lead, silver, gold, are elements of comparatively small magnitude in
that exterior part of the earth’s body which we are able to investigate.

It is remarkable of the simple substances that they are generally in some
compound form.  Thus, oxygen and nitrogen, though in union they form the
aerial envelope of the globe, are never found separate in nature.  Carbon
is pure only in the diamond.  And the metallic bases of the earths,
though the chemist can disengage them, may well be supposed unlikely to
remain long uncombined, seeing that contact with moisture makes them
burn.  Combination and re-combination are principles largely pervading
nature.  There are few rocks, for example, that are not composed of at
least two varieties of matter, each of which is again a compound of
elementary substances.  What is still more wonderful with respect to this
principle of combination, all the elementary substances observe certain
mathematical proportions in their unions.  One volume of them unites with
one, two, three, or more volumes of another, any extra quantity being
sure to be left over, if such there should be.  It is hence supposed that
matter is composed of infinitely minute particles or atoms, each of which
belonging to any one substance, can only (through the operation of some
as yet hidden law) associate with a certain number of the atoms of any
other.  There are also strange predilections amongst substances for each
other’s company.  One will remain combined in solution with another, till
a third is added, when it will abandon the former and attach itself to
the latter.  A fourth being added, the third will perhaps leave the
first, and join the new comer.

Such is an outline of the information which chemistry gives us regarding
the constituent materials of our globe.  How infinitely is the knowledge
increased in interest, when we consider the probability of such being the
materials of the whole of the bodies of space, and the laws under which
these everywhere combine, subject only to local and accidental

In considering the cosmogenic arrangements of our globe, our attention is
called in a special degree to the moon.

In the nebular hypothesis, satellites are considered as masses thrown off
from their primaries, exactly as the primaries had previously been from
the sun.  The orbit of any satellite is also to be regarded as marking
the bounds of the mass of the primary at the time when that satellite was
thrown off; its speed likewise denotes the rapidity of the rotatory
motion of the primary at that particular juncture.  For example, the
outermost of the four satellites of Jupiter revolves round his body at
the distance of 1,180,582 miles, shewing that the planet was once
3,675,501 miles in circumference, instead of being, as now, only 89,170
miles in diameter.  This large mass took rather more than sixteen days
six hours and a half (the present revolutionary period of the outermost
satellite) to rotate on its axis.  The innermost satellite must have been
formed when the planet was reduced to a circumference of 309,075 miles,
and rotated in about forty-two hours and a half.

From similar inferences, we find that the mass of the earth, at a certain
point of time after it was thrown off from the sun, was no less than
482,000 miles in diameter, being sixty times what it has since shrunk to.
At that time, the mass must have taken rather more than twenty-nine and a
half days to rotate, (being the revolutionary period of the moon,)
instead of as now, rather less than twenty-four hours.

The time intervening between the formation of the moon and the earth’s
diminution to its present size, was probably one of those vast sums in
which astronomy deals so largely, but which the mind altogether fails to

The observations made upon the surface of the moon by telescopes, tend
strongly to support the hypothesis as to all the bodies of space being
composed of similar matters, subject to certain variations.  It does not
appear that our satellite is provided with that gaseous envelope which,
on earth, performs so many important functions.  Neither is there any
appearance of water upon the surface; yet that surface is, like that of
our globe, marked by inequalities and the appearance of volcanic
operations.  These inequalities and volcanic operations are upon a scale
far greater than any which now exist upon the earth’s surface.  Although,
from the greater force of gravitation upon its exterior, the mountains,
other circumstances being equal, might have been expected to be much
smaller than ours, they are, in many instances, equal in height to nearly
the highest of our Andes.  They are generally of extreme steepness, and
sharp of outline, a peculiarity which might be looked for in a planet
deficient in water and atmosphere, seeing that these are the agents which
wear down ruggedness on the surface of our earth.  The volcanic
operations are on a stupendous scale.  They are the cause of the bright
spots of the moon, while the want of them is what distinguishes the
duller portions, usually but erroneously called _seas_.  In some parts,
bright volcanic matter, besides covering one large patch, radiates out in
long streams, which appear studded with subordinate _foci_ of the same
kind of energy.  Other objects of a most remarkable character are ring
mountains, mounts like those of the craters of earthly volcanoes,
surrounded immediately by vast and profound circular pits, hollowed under
the general surface, these again being surrounded by a circular wall of
mountain, rising far above the central one, and in the inside of which
are terraces about the same height as the inner eminence.  The well-known
bright spot in the south-east quarter, called by astronomers _Tycho_, and
which can be readily distinguished by the naked eye, is one of these
ring-mountains.  There is one of 200 miles in diameter, with a pit 22,000
feet deep; that is, twice the height of Ætna.  It is remarkable, that the
maps given by Humboldt of a volcanic district in South America, and one
illustrative of the formerly volcanic district of Auvergne, in France,
present features strikingly like many parts of the moon’s surface, as
seen through a good glass.

These characteristics of the moon forbid the idea that it can be at
present a theatre of life like the earth, and almost seem to declare that
it never can become so.  But we must not rashly draw any such
conclusions.  The moon may be only in an earlier stage of the progress
through which the earth has already gone.  The elements which seem
wanting may be only in combinations different in those which exist here,
and may yet be developed as we here find them.  Seas may yet fill the
profound hollows of the surface; an atmosphere may spread over the whole.
Should these events take place, meteorological phenomena, and all the
phenomena of organic life, will commence, and the moon, like the earth,
will become a green and inhabited world.

It is unavoidably held as a strong proof in favour of any hypothesis,
when all the relative phenomena are in harmony with it.  This is
eminently the case with the nebulous hypothesis, for here the associated
facts cannot be explained on any other supposition.  We have seen reason
to conclude that the primary condition of matter was that of a diffused
mass, in which the component molecules were probably kept apart through
the efficacy of heat; that portions of this agglomerated into suns, which
threw off planets; that these planets were at first very much diffused,
but gradually contracted by cooling to their present dimensions.  Now, as
to our own globe, there is a remarkable proof of its having been in a
fluid state at the time when it was finally solidifying, in the fact of
its being bulged at the equator, the very form which a soft revolving
body takes, and must inevitably take, under the influence of centrifugal
force.  This bulging makes the equatorial exceed the polar diameter as
230 to 229, which has been demonstrated to be precisely the departure
from a correct sphere which might be predicated from a knowledge of the
amount of the mass and the rate of rotation.  There is an almost equally
distinct memorial of the original high temperature of the materials, in
the store of heat which still exists in the interior.  The immediate
surface of the earth, be it observed, exhibits only the temperature which
might be expected to be imparted to such materials, by the heat of the
sun.  There is a point, very short way down, but varying in different
climes, where all effect from the sun’s rays ceases.  Then, however,
commences a temperature from an entirely different cause, one which
evidently has its source in the interior of the earth, and which
regularly increases as we descend to greater and greater depths, the rate
of increment being about one degree Fahrenheit for every sixty feet; and
of this high temperature there are other evidences, in the phenomena of
volcanoes and thermal springs, as well as in what is ascertained with
regard to the density of the entire mass of the earth.  This, it will be
remembered, is four and a half times the weight of water; but the actual
weight of the principal solid substances composing the outer crust is as
two and a half times the weight of water; and this, we know, if the globe
were solid and cold, should increase vastly towards the centre, water
acquiring the density of quicksilver at 362 miles below the surface, and
other things in proportion, and these densities becoming much greater at
greater depths; so that the entire mass of a cool globe should be of a
gravity infinitely exceeding four and a half times the weight of water.
The only alternative supposition is, that the central materials are
greatly expanded or diffused by some means; and by what means could they
be so expanded but by heat?  Indeed, the existence of this central heat,
a residuum of that which kept all matter in a vaporiform chaos at first,
is amongst the most solid discoveries of modern science, {42} and the
support which it gives to Herschel’s explanation of the formation of
worlds is most important.  We shall hereafter see what appear to be
traces of an operation of this heat upon the surface of the earth in very
remote times; an effect, however, which has long passed entirely away.
The central heat has, for ages, reached a fixed point, at which it will
probably remain for ever, as the non-conducting quality of the cool crust
absolutely prevents it from suffering any diminution.


ALTHOUGH the earth has not been actually penetrated to a greater depth
than three thousand feet, the nature of its substance can, in many
instances, be inferred for the depth of many miles by other means of
observation.  We see a mountain composed of a particular substance, with
strata, or beds of other rock, lying against its sloped sides; we, of
course, infer that the substance of the mountain dips away under the
strata which we see lying against it.  Suppose that we walk away from the
mountain across the turned up edges of the stratified rocks, and that for
many miles we continue to pass over other stratified rocks, all disposed
in the same way, till by and bye we come to a place where we begin to
cross the opposite edges of the same beds; after which we pass over these
rocks all in reverse order till we come to another extensive mountain
composed of similar material to the first, and shelving away under the
strata in the same way.  We should then infer that the stratified rocks
occupied a basin formed by the rock of these two mountains, and by
calculating the thickness right through these strata, could be able to
say to what depth the rock of the mountain extended below.  By such
means, the kind of rock existing many miles below the surface can often
be inferred with considerable confidence.

The interior of the globe has now been inspected in this way in many
places, and a tolerably distinct notion of its general arrangements has
consequently been arrived at.  It appears that the basis rock of the
earth, as it may be called, is of hard texture, and crystalline in its
constitution.  Of this rock, granite may be said to be the type, though
it runs into many varieties.  Over this, except in the comparatively few
places where it projects above the general level in mountains, other
rocks are disposed in sheets or strata, with the appearance of having
been deposited originally from water; but these last rocks have nowhere
been allowed to rest in their original arrangement.  Uneasy movements
from below have broken them up in great inclined masses, while in many
cases there has been projected through the rents rocky matter more or
less resembling the great inferior crystalline mass.  This rocky matter
must have been in a state of fusion from heat at the time of its
projection, for it is often found to have run into and filled up lateral
chinks in these rents.  There are even instances where it has been rent
again, and a newer melted matter of the same character sent through the
opening.  Finally, in the crust as thus arranged there are, in many
places, chinks containing veins of metal.  Thus, there is first a great
inferior mass, composed of crystalline rock, and probably resting
immediately on the fused and expanded matter of the interior: next,
layers or strata of aqueous origin; next, irregular masses of melted
inferior rock that have been sent up volcanically and confusedly at
various times amongst the aqueous rocks, breaking up these into masses,
and tossing them out of their original levels.  This is an outline of the
arrangements of the crust of the earth, as far as we can observe it.  It
is, at first sight, a most confused scene; but after some careful
observation, we readily detect in it a regularity and order from which
much instruction in the history of our globe is to be derived.

The deposition of the aqueous rocks, and the projection of the volcanic,
have unquestionably taken place since the settlement of the earth in its
present form.  They are indeed of an order of events which we see going
on, under the agency of more or less intelligible causes, even down to
the present day.  We may therefore consider them generally as
comparatively recent transactions.  Abstracting them from the
investigations before us, we arrive at the idea of the earth in its first
condition as a globe of its present size—namely, as a mass, externally at
least, consisting of the crystalline kind of rock, with the waters of the
present seas and the present atmosphere around it, though these were
probably in considerably different conditions, both as to temperature and
their constituent materials, from what they now are.  We are thus to
presume that that crystalline texture of rock which we see exemplified in
granite is the condition into which the great bulk of the solids of our
earth were agglomerated directly from the nebulous or vaporiform state.
It is a condition eminently of combination, for such rock is invariably
composed of two or more of four substances—silica, mica, quartz, and
hornblende—which associate in it in the form of grains or crystals, and
which are themselves each composed of a group of the simple or elementary

Judging from the results and from still remaining conditions, we must
suppose that the heat retained in the interior of the globe was more
intense, or had greater freedom to act, in some places than in others.
These became the scenes of volcanic operations, and in time marked their
situations by the extrusion of traps and basalts from below—namely, rocks
composed of the crystalline matter fused by intense heat, and developed
on the surface in various conditions, according to the particular
circumstances under which it was sent up; some, for example, being thrown
up under water, and some in the open air, which conditions are found to
have made considerable difference in its texture and appearance.  The
great stores of subterranean heat also served an important purpose in the
formation of the aqueous rocks.  These rocks might, according to Sir John
Herschel, become subject to heat in the following manner:—While the
surface of a particular mass of rock forms the bed of the sea, the heat
is kept at a certain distance from that surface by the contact of the
water; philosophically speaking, it radiates away the heat into the sea,
and (to resort to common language) is cooled a good way down.  But when
new sediment settles at the bottom of that sea, the heat rises up to what
was formerly the surface; and when a second quantity of sediment is laid
down, it continues to rise through the first of the deposits, which then
becomes subjected to those changes which heat is calculated to produce.
This process is precisely the same as that of putting additional coats
upon our own bodies; when, of course, the internal heat rises through
each coat in succession, and the third (supposing there is a fourth above
it) becomes as warm as perhaps the first originally was.

In speaking of sedimentary rocks, we may be said to be anticipating.  It
is necessary, first, to shew how such rocks were formed, or how
stratification commenced.

Geology tells us as plainly as possible, that the original crystalline
mass was not a perfectly smooth ball, with air and water playing round
it.  There were vast irregularities in the surface,—irregularities
trifling, perhaps, compared with the whole bulk of the globe, but
assuredly vast in comparison with any which now exist upon it.  These
irregularities might be occasioned by inequalities in the cooling of the
substance, or by accidental and local sluggishness of the materials, or
by local effects of the concentrated internal heat.  From whatever cause
they arose, there they were—enormous granitic mountains, interspersed
with seas which sunk to a depth equally profound, and by which, perhaps,
the mountains were wholly or partially covered.  Now, it is a fact of
which the very first principles of geology assure us, that the solids of
the globe cannot for a moment be exposed to water, or to the atmosphere,
without becoming liable to change.  They instantly begin to wear down.
This operation, we may be assured, proceeded with as much certainty in
the earliest ages of our earth’s history, as it does now, but upon a much
more magnificent scale.  There is the clearest evidence that the seas of
those days were not in some instances less than a hundred miles in depth,
however much more.  The sub-aqueous mountains must necessarily have been
of at least equal magnitude.  The system of disintegration consequent
upon such conditions would be enormous.  The matters worn off, being
carried into the neighbouring depths, and there deposited, became the
components of the earliest stratified rocks, the first series of which is
the _Gneiss and Mica Slate System_, or series, examples of which are
exposed to view in the Highlands of Scotland and in the West of England.
The vast thickness of these beds, in some instances, is what attests the
profoundness of the primeval oceans in which they were formed; the
Pensylvanian grawacke, a member of the next highest series, is not less
than a hundred miles in direct thickness.  We have also evidence that the
earliest strata were formed in the presence of a stronger degree of heat
than what operated in subsequent stages of the world, for the laminæ of
the gneiss and of the mica and chlorite schists are contorted in a way
which could only be the result of a very high temperature.  It appears as
if the seas in which these deposits were formed, had been in the troubled
state of a caldron of water nearly at boiling heat.  Such a condition
would probably add not a little to the disintegrating power of the ocean.

The earliest stratified rocks contain no matters which are not to be
found in the primitive granite.  They are the same in material, but only
changed into new forms and combinations; hence they have been called by
Mr. Lyell, metamorphic rocks.  But how comes it that some of them are
composed almost exclusively of one of the materials of granite; the mica
schists, for example, of mica—the quartz rocks, of quartz, &c.?  For this
there are both chemical and mechanical causes.  Suppose that a river has
a certain quantity of material to carry down, it is evident that it will
soonest drop the larger particles, and carry the lightest farthest on.
To such a cause is it owing that some of the materials of the worn-down
granite have settled in one place and some in another. {52}  Again, some
of these materials must be presumed to have been in a state of chemical
solution in the primeval seas.  It would be, of course, in conformity
with chemical laws, that certain of these materials would be precipitated
singly, or in modified combinations, to the bottom, so as to form rocks
by themselves.

The rocks hitherto spoken of contain none of those petrified remains of
vegetables and animals which abound so much in subsequently formed rocks,
and tell so wondrous a tale of the past history of our globe.  They
simply contain, as has been said, mineral materials derived from the
primitive mass, and which appear to have been formed into strata in seas
of vast depth.  The absence from these rocks of all traces of vegetable
and animal life, joined to a consideration of the excessive temperature
which seems to have prevailed in their epoch, has led to the inference
that no plants or animals of any kind then existed.  A few geologists
have indeed endeavoured to shew that the absence of organic remains is no
proof of the globe having been then unfruitful or uninhabited, as the
heat to which these rocks have been subjected at the time of their
solidification, might have obliterated any remains of either plants or
animals which were included in them.  But this is only an hypothesis of
negation; and it certainly seems very unlikely that a degree of heat
sufficient to obliterate the remains of plants or animals when dead,
would ever allow of their coming into or continuing in existence.


WE can scarcely be said to have passed out of these rocks, when we begin
to find new conditions in the earth.  It is here to be observed that the
subsequent rocks are formed, in a great measure, of matters derived from
the substance of those which went before, but contain also beds of
limestone, which is to no small extent composed of an ingredient which
has not hitherto appeared.  Limestone is a carbonate of lime, a secondary
compound, of which one of the ingredients, carbonic acid gas, presents
the element _carbon_, a perfect novelty in our progress.  Whence this
substance?  The question is the more interesting, from our knowing that
carbon is the main ingredient in organic things.  There is reason to
believe that its primeval condition was that of a gas, confined in the
interior of the earth, and diffused in the atmosphere.  The atmosphere
still contains about a two-thousandth part of carbonic acid gas, forming
the grand store from which the substance of each year’s crop of herbage
and grain is derived, passing from herbage and grain into animal
substance, and from animals again rendered back to the atmosphere in
their expired breath, so that its amount is never impaired.  Knowing
this, when we hear of carbon beginning to appear in the ascending series
of rocks, we are unavoidably led to consider it as marking a time of some
importance in the earth’s history, a new era of natural conditions, one
in which organic life has probably played a part.

It is not easy to suppose that, at this period, carbon was adopted
directly in its gaseous form into rocks; for, if so, why should it not
have been taken into earlier ones also?  But we know that plants take it
in, and transform it into substance; and we also know that there are
classes of animals (marine polypes) which are capable of appropriating
it, in connexion with lime, (carbonate of lime,) from the waters of the
ocean, provided it be there in solution; and this substance do these
animals deposit in masses (coral reefs) equal in extent to many strata.
It has even been suggested, on strong grounds of probability, that a
class of limestone beds are simply these reefs subjected to subsequent
heat and pressure.

The appearance, then, of limestone beds in the early part of the
stratified series, may be presumed to be connected with the fact of the
commencement of organic life upon our planet, and, indeed, a consequent
and a symptom of it.

It may not be out of place here to remark, that carbon is presumed to
exist largely in the interior of the earth, from the fact of such
considerable quantities of it issuing at this day, in the form of
carbonic acid gas, from fissures and springs.  The primeval and
subsequent history of this element is worthy of much attention, and we
shall have to revert to it as a matter greatly concerning our subject.
Delabeche estimates the quantity of carbonic acid gas locked up in every
cubic yard of limestone, at 16,000 cubic feet.  The quantity locked up in
coal, in which it forms from 64 to 75 per cent., must also be enormous.
If all this were disengaged in a gaseous form, the constitution of the
atmosphere would undergo a change, of which the first effect would be the
extinction of life in all land animals.  But a large proportion of it
must have at one time been in the atmosphere.  The atmosphere would then,
of course, be incapable of supporting life in land animals.  It is
important, however, to observe that such an atmosphere would not be
inconsistent with a luxuriant land vegetation; for experiment has proved
that plants will flourish in air containing _one-twelfth_ of this gas, or
166 times more than the present charge of our atmosphere.  The results
which we observe are perfectly consistent with, and may be said to
presuppose an atmosphere highly charged with this gas, from about the
close of the primary non-fossiliferous rocks to the termination of the
carboniferous series, for there we see vast deposits (coal) containing
carbon as a large ingredient, while at the same time the leaves of the
_Stone Book_ present no record of the contemporaneous existence of land

The hypothesis of the connexion of the first limestone beds with the
commencement of organic life upon our planet is supported by the fact,
that in these beds we find the first remains of the bodies of animated
creatures.  My hypothesis may indeed be unsound; but, whether or not, it
is clear, taking organic remains as upon the whole a faithful chronicle,
that the deposition of these limestone beds was coeval with the existence
of the earliest, or all but the earliest, living creatures upon earth.

And what were those creatures?  It might well be with a kind of awe that
the uninstructed inquirer would wait for an answer to this question.  But
nature is simpler than man’s wit would make her, and behold, the
interrogation only brings before us the unpretending forms of various
zoophytes and polypes, together with a few single and double-valved
shell-fish (mollusks), all of them creatures of the sea.  It is rather
surprising to find these before any vegetable forms, considering that
vegetables appear to us as forming the necessary first link in the chain
of nutrition; but it is probable that there were sea plants, and also
some simpler forms of animal life, before this period, although of too
slight a substance to leave any fossil trace of their existence.

The exact point in the ascending stratified series at which the first
traces of organic life are to be found is not clearly determined.  Dr.
M’Culloch states that he found fossil orthocerata (a kind of shell-fish)
so early as the gneiss tract of Loch Eribol, in Sutherland; but Messrs.
Sedgwick and Murchison, on a subsequent search, could not verify the
discovery.  It has also been stated, that the gneiss and mica tract of
Bohemia contains some seams of grawacke, in which are organic remains;
but British geologists have not as yet attached much importance to this
statement.  We have to look a little higher in the series for indubitable
traces of organic life.

Above the gneiss and mica slate system, or group of strata, is the _Clay
Slate and Grawacke Slate System_; that is to say, it is higher in the
_order of supraposition_, though very often it rests immediately on the
primitive granite.  The sub-groups of this system are in the following
succession upwards:—1, hornblende slate; 2, chiastolite slate; 3, clay
slate; 4, Snowdon rocks, (grawacke and conglomerates;) 5, Bala limestone;
6, Plynlymmon rocks, (grawacke and grawacke slates, with beds of
conglomerates.)  This system is largely developed in the west and north
of England, and it has been well examined, partly because some of the
slate beds are extensively quarried for domestic purposes.  If we
overlook the dubious statements respecting Sutherland and Bohemia, we
have in this “system” the first appearances of life upon our planet.  The
animal remains are chiefly confined to the slate beds, those named from
Bala, in Wales, being the most prolific.  _Zoophyta_, _polyparia_,
_crinoidea_, _conchifera_, and _crustacea_, {60} are the orders of the
animal kingdom thus found in the earliest of earth’s sepulchres.  The
_orders_ are distinguished without difficulty, from the general
characters of the creatures whose remains are found; but it is only in
this general character that they bear a general resemblance to any
creatures now existing.  When we come to consider specific characters, we
see that a difference exists—that, in short, the species and even genera
are no longer represented upon earth.  More than this, it will be found
that the earliest species comparatively soon gave place to others, and
that they are not represented even in the next higher group of rocks.
One important remark has been made, that a comparatively small variety of
species is found in the older rocks, although of some particular ones the
remains are very abundant; as, for instance, of a species of asaphus,
which is found between the laminæ of some of the slate rocks of Wales,
and the corresponding rocks of Normandy and Germany in enormous

Ascending to the next group of rocks, we find the traces of life become
more abundant, the number of species extended, and important additions
made in certain vestiges of fuci, or sea-plants, and of fishes.  This
group of rocks has been called by English geologists, the _Silurian
System_, because largely developed at the surface of a district of
western England, formerly occupied by a people whom the Roman historians
call Silures.  It is a series of sandstones, limestones, and beds of
shale (hardened mud), which are classed in the following sub-groups,
beginning with the undermost:—1, Llandillo rocks, (darkish calcareous
flagstones;) 2 and 3, two groups called Caradoc rocks; 4, Wenlock shale;
5, Wenlock limestone; 6, Lower Ludlow rocks, (shales and limestones;) 7,
Aymestry limestone; 8, Upper Ludlow rocks, (shales and limestone, chiefly
micaceous.)  From the lowest beds upwards, there are polypiaria, though
most prevalent in the Wenlock limestone; conchifera, a vast number of
genera, but all of the order brachiopoda, (including terebratula,
pentamerus, spirifer, orthis, leptæna;) mollusca, of several orders and
many genera, (including turritella, orthoceras, nautilus, bellerophon;)
crustacea, all of them trilobites, (including trinucleus, asaphus,
calamene.)  A little above the Llandillo rocks, there have been
discovered certain convoluted forms, which are now established as
annelids, or sea-worms, a tribe of creatures still existing, (nereidina
and serpulina,) and which may often be found beneath stones on a
sea-beach.  One of these, figured by Mr. Murchison, is furnished with
feet in vast numbers all along its body, like a centipede.  The
occurrence of annelids is important, on account of their character and
status in the animal kingdom.  They are red-blooded and hermaphrodite,
and form a link of connexion between the annulosa (white-blooded worms)
and a humble class of the vertebrata. {62}  The Wenlock limestone is most
remarkable amongst all the rocks of the Silurian system, for organic
remains.  Many slabs of it are wholly composed of corals, shells, and
trilobites, held together by shale.  It contains many genera of crinoidea
and polypiaria, and it is thought that some beds of it are wholly the
production of the latter creatures, or are, in other words, coral reefs
transformed by heat and pressure into rocks.  Remains of fishes, of a
very minute size, have been detected by Mr. Philips in the Aymestry
limestone, being apparently the first examples of vertebrated animals
which breathed upon our planet.  In the upper Ludlow rocks, remains of
six genera of fish have been for a longer period known; they belong to
the order of cartilaginous fishes, an order of mean organization and
ferocious habits, of which the shark and sturgeon are living specimens.
“Some were furnished with long palates, and squat, firmly-based teeth,
well adapted for crushing the strong-cased zoophytes and shells of the
period, fragments of which occur in the fœcal remains; some with teeth
that, like the fossil sharks of the later formations, resemble lines of
miniature pyramids, larger and smaller alternating; some with teeth
sharp, thin, and so deeply serrated, that every individual tooth
resembles a row of poniards set up against the walls of an armory; and
these last, says Agassiz, furnished with weapons so murderous, must have
been the pirates of the period.  Some had their fins guarded with long
spines, hooked like the beak of an eagle; some with spines of straighter
and more slender form, and ribbed and furrowed longitudinally like
columns; some were shielded by an armour of bony points, and some thickly
covered with glistening scales.” {64}

The traces of fuci in this system are all but sufficient to allow of a
distinction of genera.  In some parts of North America, extensive though
thin beds of them have been found.  A distinguished French geologist, M.
Brogniart, has shewn that all existing marine plants are classifiable
with regard to the zones of climate; some being fitted for the torrid
zone, some for the temperate, some for the frigid.  And he establishes
that the fuci of these early rocks speak of a torrid climate, although
they may be found in what are now temperate regions; he also states that
those of the higher rocks betoken, as we ascend, a gradually diminishing

We thus early begin to find proofs of the general uniformity of organic
life over the surface of the earth, at the time when each particular
system of rocks was formed.  Species identical with the remains in the
Wenlock limestone occur in the corresponding class of rocks in the Eifel,
and partially in the Harz, Norway, Russia, and Brittany.  The situations
of the remains in Russia are fifteen hundred miles from the Wenlock beds;
but at the distance of between six and seven thousand from those,—namely,
in the vale of Mississippi, the same species are discovered.  Uniformity
in animal life over large geographical areas argues uniformity in the
conditions of animal life; and hence arise some curious inferences.
Species, in the same low class of animals, are now much more limited; for
instance, the Red Sea gives different polypiaria, zoophytes, and
shell-fish, from the Mediterranean.  It is the opinion of M. Brogniart,
that the uniformity which existed in the primeval times can only be
attributed to the temperature arising from the internal heat, which had
yet, as he supposes, been sufficiently great to overpower the ordinary
meteorological influences, and spread a tropical clime all over the


WE advance to a new chapter in this marvellous history—the era of the
_Old Red Sandstone System_.  This term has been recently applied to a
series of strata, of enormous thickness in the whole mass, largely
developed in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire, and South Wales;
also in the counties of Fife, Forfar, Moray, Cromarty, and Caithness; and
in Russia and North America, if not in many other parts of the world.
The particular strata forming the system are somewhat different in
different countries; but there is a general character to the extent of
these being a mixture of flagstones, marly rocks, and sandstones, usually
of a laminous structure, with conglomerates.  There is also a schist
shewing the presence of bitumen; a remarkable new ingredient, since it is
a vegetable production.  In the conglomerates, of great extent and
thickness, which form, in at least one district, the basis or leading
feature of the system, inclosing water-worn fragments of quartz and other
rocks, we have evidence of the seas of that period having been subjected
to a violent and long-continued agitation, probably from volcanic causes.
The upper members of the series bear the appearance of having been
deposited in comparatively tranquil seas.  The English specimens of this
system shew a remarkable freedom from those disturbances which result in
the interjection of trap; and they are thus defective in mineral ores.
In some parts of England the old red sandstone system has been stated as
10,000 feet in thickness.

In this era, the forms of life which existed in the Silurian are
continued: we have the same orders of marine creatures, zoophyta,
polypiaria, conchifera, crustacea; but to these are added numerous
fishes, some of which are of most extraordinary and surprising forms.
Several of the strata are crowded with remains of fish, shewing that the
seas in which those beds were deposited had swarmed with that class of
inhabitants.  The investigation of this system is recent; but already
{68} M. Agassiz has ascertained about twenty genera, and thrice the
number of species.  And it is remarkable that the Silurian fishes are
here only represented in genera; the whole of the _species_ of that era
had already passed away.  Even throughout the sub-groups of the system
itself, the species are changed; and these are phenomena observed
throughout all the subsequent systems or geological eras; apparently
arguing that, during the deposition of all the rocks, a gradual change of
physical conditions was constantly going on.  A varying temperature, or
even a varying depth of sea, would at present be attended with similar
changes in marine life; and by analogy we are entitled to assume that
such variations in the ancient seas might be amongst the causes of that
constant change of genera and species in the inhabitants of those seas to
which the organic contents of the rocks bear witness.

Some of the fossils of this system,—the cephalaspis, coccosteus,
pterichthys, holoptychius—are, in form and structure, entirely different
from any fishes now existing, only the sturgeon family having any trace
of affinity to them in any respect.  They seem to form a sort of
connecting link between the crustacea and true fishes.

The _cephalaspis_ may be considered as making the smallest advance from
the crustacean character; it very much resembles in form the asaphus of
lower formations, having a longish tail-like body inserted within the
cusp of a large crescent-shaped head, somewhat like a saddler’s
cutting-knife.  The body is covered with strong plates of bone,
enamelled, and the head was protected on the upper side with one large
plate, as with a buckler—hence the name, implying _buckler-head_.  A
range of small fins conveys the idea of its having been as weak in motion
as it is strong in structure.  The _coccosteus_ may be said to mark the
next advance to fish creation.  The outline of its body is of the form of
a short thick coffin, rounded, covered with strong bony plates, and
terminating in a long tail, which seems to have been the sole organ of
motion.  It is very remarkable, that, while the tail establishes this
creature among the vertebrata and the fishes, its mouth has been opened
vertically, like those of the crustaceans, but which is contrary to the
mode of vertebrata generally.  This seems a pretty strong mark of the
link character of the coccosteus between these two great departments of
the animal kingdom.  The _pterichthys_ has also strong bony plates over
its body, arranged much like those of a tortoise, and has a long tail;
but its most remarkable feature, and that which has suggested its name,
is a pair of long and narrow wing-like appendages attached to the
shoulders, which the creature is supposed to have erected for its defence
when attacked by an enemy.

The _holoptychius_ is of a flat oval form, furnished with fins, and
ending in a long tail; the whole body covered with strong plates which
overlap each other, and the head forming only a slight rounded projection
from the general figure.  The specimens in the lower beds are not above
the size of a flounder; but in the higher strata, to judge by the size of
the scales or plates which have been found, the creature attained a
comparatively monstrous size.

The other fishes of the system,—the osteolepis, glyptolepis, dipterus,
&c., are, in general outline, much like fishes still existing, but their
organization has, nevertheless, some striking peculiarities.  They have
been entirely covered with bony scales or plates, enamelled externally;
their spines are tipped with bone, and, as one striking and unvarying
feature, the tail is only finned on the lower side.  The internal
skeleton, of which no traces have been preserved, is presumed to have
been cartilaginous.  They therefore unite the character of cartilaginous
fishes with a character peculiar to themselves, and in which we see
pretty clear vestiges of the pre-existent crustaceous form.

With regard to the link character of these animals, some curious facts
are mentioned.  It appears that in the imperfect condition of the
vertebral column, and the inferior situation of the mouth in the
pterichthys, coccosteus, &c., there is an analogy to the form of the
dorsal cord and position of the mouth in the embryo of perfect fishes.
The one-sided form of the tail in the osteolepis &c. finds a similar
analogy in the form of the tail in the embryo of the salmon.  It is not
premature to remark how broadly these facts seem to hint at a parity of
law affecting the progress of general creation, and the progress of an
individual fœtus of one of the more perfect animals.

It is equally ascertained of the types of being prevalent in the old red,
as of those of the preceding system, that they are uniform in the
corresponding strata of distant parts of the earth; for instance, Russia
and North America.

In the old red sandstone, the marine plants, of which faint traces are
observable in the Silurians, continue to appear.  It would seem as if
less change took place in the vegetation than in the animals of those
early seas; and for this, as Mr. Miller has remarked, it is easy to
imagine reasons.  For example, an infusion of lime into the sea would
destroy animal life, but be favourable to vegetation.

As yet there were no land animals or plants, and for this the presumable
reason is, that no dry land as yet existed.  We are not left to make this
inference solely from the absence of land animals and plants; in the
arrangement of the primary (stratified) rocks, we have further evidence
of it.  That these rocks were formed in a generally horizontal position,
we are as well assured as that they were formed at the bottom of seas.
But they are always found greatly inclined in position, tilted up against
the slopes of the granitic masses which are beneath them in geological
order, though often shooting up to a higher point in the atmosphere.  No
doubt can be entertained that these granitic masses, forming our
principal mountain ranges, have been protruded from below, or, at least,
thrust much further up, _since_ the deposition of the primary rocks.  The
protrusion was what tilted up the primary rocks; and the inference is, of
course, unavoidable, that these mountains have risen chiefly, at least,
since the primary rocks were laid down.  It is remarkable that, while the
primary rocks thus incline towards granitic nuclei or axes, the strata
higher in the series rest against these again, generally at a less
inclination, or none at all, shewing that these strata were laid down
after the swelling mountain eminences had, by their protrusion, tilted up
the primary strata.  And thus it may be said an era of local upthrowing
of the primitive and (perhaps) central matter of our planet, is
established as happening about the close of the primary strata, and
beginning of the next ensuing system.  It may be called the _Era of the
Oldest Mountains_, or, more boldly, of the formation of the detached
portions of dry land over the hitherto watery surface of the globe—an
important part of the designs of Providence, for which the time was now
apparently come.  It may be remarked, that volcanic disturbances and
protrusions of trap took place throughout the whole period of the
deposition of the primary rocks; but they were upon a comparatively
limited scale, and probably all took place under water.  It was only now
that the central granitic masses of the great mountain ranges were thrown
up, carrying up with them broken edges of the primary strata; a process
which seems to have had this difference from the other, that it was the
effect of a more tremendous force exerted at a lower depth in the earth,
and generally acting in lines pervading a considerable portion of the
earth’s surface.  We shall by-and-by see that the protrusion of some of
the mountain ranges was not completed, or did not stop, at that period.
There is no part of geological science more clear than that which refers
to the ages of mountains.  It is as certain that the Grampian mountains
of Scotland are older than the Alps and Apennines, as it is that
civilization had visited Italy, and had enabled her to subdue the world,
while Scotland was the residence of “roving barbarians.”  The Pyrenees,
Carpathians, and other ranges of continental Europe, are all younger than
the Grampians, or even the insignificant Mendip Hills of southern
England.  Stratification tells this tale as plainly as Livy tells the
history of the Roman republic.  It tells us—to use the words of Professor
Philips—that at the time when the Grampians sent streams and detritus to
straits where now the valleys of the Forth and Clyde meet, the greater
part of Europe was a wide ocean.

The last three systems—called, in England, the Cumbrian, Silurian, and
Devonian, and collectively the palæozoic rocks, from their containing the
remains of the earliest inhabitants of the globe—are of vast thickness;
in England, not much less than 30,000 feet, or nearly six miles.  In
other parts of the world, as we have seen, the earliest of these systems
alone is of much greater depth—arguing an enormous profundity in the
ocean in which they were formed.


WE now enter upon a new great epoch in the history of our globe.  There
was now dry land.  As a consequence of this fact, there was fresh water,
for rain, instead of immediately returning to the sea, as formerly, was
now gathered in channels of the earth, and became springs, rivers, and
lakes.  There was now a theatre for the existence of land plants and
animals, and it remains to be inquired if these accordingly were

The Secondary Rocks, in which our further researches are to be
prosecuted, consist of a great and varied series, resting, generally
unconformably, against flanks of the upturned primary rocks, sometimes
themselves considerably inclined, at others, forming extensive basin-like
beds, nearly horizontal; in many places, much broken up and shifted by
disturbances from below.  They have all been formed out of the materials
of the older rocks, by virtue of the wearing power of air and water,
which is still every day carrying down vast quantities of the elevated
matter of the globe into the sea.  But the separate strata are each much
more distinct in the matter of its composition than might be expected.
Some are siliceous or arenaceous (sandstones), composed mainly of fine
grains from the quartz rocks—the most abundant of the primary strata.
Others are argillaceous—clays, shales, &c., chiefly derived, probably,
from the slate beds of the primary series.  Others are calcareous,
derived from the early limestone.  As a general feature, they are softer
and less crystalline than the primary rocks, as if they had endured less
of both heat and pressure than the senior formation.  There are beds
(_coal_) formed solely of vegetable matter, and some others in which the
main ingredient is particles of iron, (_the iron black band_.)  The
secondary rocks are quite as communicative with regard to their portion
of the earth’s history as the primitive were.

The first, or lowest, group of the secondary rocks is called the
_Carboniferous Formation_, from the remarkable feature of its numerous
interspersed beds of coal.  It commences with the beds of the _mountain
limestone_, which, in some situations, as in Derbyshire and Ireland, are
of great thickness, being alternated with chert (a siliceous sandstone),
sandstones, shales, and beds of coal, generally of the harder and less
bituminous kind (_anthracite_), the whole being covered in some places by
the millstone grit, a siliceous conglomerate composed of the detritus of
the primary rocks.  The mountain limestone, attaining in England to a
depth of eight hundred yards, greatly exceeds in volume any of the
primary limestone beds, and shews an enormous addition of power to the
causes formerly suggested as having produced this substance.  In fact,
remains of corals, crinoidea, and shells, are so abundant in it, as to
compose three-fourths of the mass in some parts.  Above the mountain
limestone commence the more conspicuous _coal beds_, alternating with
sandstones, shales, beds of limestone, and ironstone.  Coal is altogether
composed of the matter of a terrestrial vegetation, transmuted by
pressure.  Some fresh-water shells have been found in it, but few of
marine origin, and no remains of those zoophytes and crinoidea so
abundant in the mountain limestone and other rocks.  Coal beds exist in
Europe, Asia, and America, and have hitherto been esteemed as the most
valuable of mineral productions, from the important services which the
substance renders in manufactures and in domestic economy.  It is to be
remarked, that there are some local variations in the arrangement of coal
beds.  In France, they rest immediately on the granite and other primary
rocks, the intermediate strata not having been found at those places.  In
America, the kind called anthracite occurs among the slate beds, and this
species also abounds more in the mountain limestone than with us.  These
last circumstances only shew that different parts of the earth’s surface
did not all witness the same events of a certain fixed series exactly at
the same time.  There had been an exhibition of dry land about the site
of America, a little earlier than in Europe.

Some features of the condition of the earth during the deposition of the
carboniferous group, are made out with a clearness which must satisfy
most minds.  First we are told of a time when carbonate of lime was
formed in vast abundance at the bottoms of profound seas, accompanied by
an unusually large population of corals and encrinites; while in some
parts of the earth there were patches of dry land, covered with a
luxuriant vegetation.  Next we have a comparatively brief period of
volcanic disturbance, (when the conglomerate was formed.)  Then the
causes favourable to the so abundant production of limestone, and the
large population of marine acrita, decline, and we find the masses of dry
land increase in number and extent, and begin to bear an amount of forest
vegetation, far exceeding that of the most sheltered tropical spots of
the present surface.  The climate, even in the latitude of Baffin’s Bay,
was torrid, and perhaps the atmosphere contained a larger charge of
carbonic acid gas (the material of vegetation) than it now does.  The
forests or thickets of the period, included no species of plants now
known upon earth.  They mainly consisted of gigantic shrubs, which are
either not represented by any existing types, or are akin to kinds which
are now only found in small and lowly forms.  That these forests grew
upon a Polynesia, or multitude of small islands, is considered probable,
from similar vegetation being now found in such situations within the
tropics.  With regard to the circumstances under which the masses of
vegetable matter were transformed into successive coal strata, geologists
are divided.  From examples seen at the present day, at the mouths of
such rivers as the Mississippi, which traverse extensive sylvan regions,
and from other circumstances to be adverted to, it is held likely by some
that the vegetable matter, the rubbish of decayed forests, was carried by
rivers into estuaries, and there accumulated in vast natural rafts, until
it sunk to the bottom, where an overlayer of sand or mud would prepare it
for becoming a stratum of coal.  Others conceive that the vegetation
first went into the condition of a peat moss, that a sink in the level
then exposed it to be overrun by the sea, and covered with a layer of
sand or mud; that a subsequent uprise made the mud dry land, and fitted
it to bear a new forest, which afterwards, like its predecessor, became a
bed of peat; that, in short, by repetitions of this process, the
alternate layers of coal, sandstone, and shale, constituting the
carboniferous group, were formed.  It is favourable to this last view
that marine fossils are scarcely found in the body of the coal itself,
though abundant in the shale layers above and below it; also that in
several places erect stems of trees are found with their roots still
fixed in the shale beds, and crossing the sandstone beds at almost right
angles, shewing that these, at least, had not been drifted from their
original situations.  On the other hand, it is not easy to admit such
repeated risings and sinkings of surface as would be required, on this
hypothesis, to form a series of coal strata.  Perhaps we may most safely
rest at present with the supposition that coal has been formed under both
classes of circumstances, though in the latter only as an exception to
the former.

Upwards of three hundred species of plants have been ascertained to exist
in the coal formation; but it is not necessary to suppose that the whole
contained in that system are now, or ever will be distinguished.
Experiments shew that some great classes of plants become decomposed in
water in a much less space of time than others, and it is remarkable that
those which decompose soonest, are of the classes found most rare, or not
at all, in the coal strata.  It is consequently to be inferred that there
may have been grasses and mosses at this era, and many species of trees,
the remains of which had lost all trace of organic form before their
substance sunk into the mass of which coal was formed.  In speaking,
therefore, of the vegetation of this period, we must bear in mind that it
may have comprehended forms of which we have no memorial.

Supposing, nevertheless, that, in the main, the ascertained vegetation of
the coal system is that which grew at the time of its formation, it is
interesting to find that the terrestrial botany of our globe begins with
classes of comparatively simple forms and structure.  In the ranks of the
vegetable kingdom, the lowest place is taken by plants of cellular
tissue, and which have no flowers, (_cryptogamia_,) as lichens, mosses,
fungi, ferns, sea-weeds.  Above these stand plants of vascular tissue,
and bearing flowers, in which again there are two great subdivisions;
first, plants having one seed-lobe, (_monocotyledons_,) and in which the
new matter is added within, (_endogenous_,) of which the cane and palm
are examples; second, plants having two seed-lobes, (_dicotyledons_,) and
in which the new matter is added on the outside under the bark,
(_exogenous_,) of which the pine, elm, oak, and most of the British
forest-trees are examples; these subdivisions also ranking in the order
in which they are here stated.  Now it is clear that a predominance of
these forms in succession marked the successive epochs developed by
fossil geology; the simple abounding first, and the complex afterwards.

Two-thirds of the plants of the carboniferous era are of the cellular or
cryptogamic kind, a proportion which would probably be much increased if
we knew the whole Flora of that era.  The ascertained dicotyledons, or
higher-class plants, are comparatively few in this formation; but it will
be found that they constantly increased as the globe grew older.

The master-form or type of the era was the _fern_, or breckan, of which
about one hundred and thirty species have already been ascertained as
entering into the composition of coal. {84a}  The fern is a plant which
thrives best in warm, shaded, and moist situations.  In tropical
countries, where these conditions abound, there are many more species
than in temperate climes, and some of these are arborescent, or of a
tree-like size and luxuriance. {84b}  The ferns of the coal strata have
been of this magnitude, and that without regard to the parts of the earth
where they are found.  In the coal of Baffin’s Bay, of Newcastle, and of
the torrid zone alike, are the fossil ferns arborescent, shewing clearly
that, in that era, the present tropical temperature, or one even higher,
existed in very high latitudes.

In the swamps and ditches of England there grows a plant called the
horse-tail (_equisetum_), having a succulent, erect, jointed stem, with
slender leaves, and a scaly catkin at the top.  A second large section of
the plants of the carboniferous era were of this kind (_equisetaceæ_),
but, like the fern, reaching the magnitudes of trees.  While existing
equiseta rarely exceed three feet in height, and the stems are generally
under half an inch in diameter, their kindred, entombed in the coal beds,
seem to have been generally fourteen or fifteen feet high, with stems
from six inches to a foot in thickness.  Arborescent plants of this
family, like the arborescent ferns, now grow only in tropical countries,
and their being found in the coal beds in all latitudes is consequently
held as an additional proof, that at this era a warm climate was extended
much farther to the north than at present.  It is to be remarked that
plants of this kind (forming two genera, the most abundant of which is
the _calamites_) are only represented on the present surface by plants of
the same _family_: the _species_ which flourished at this era gradually
lessen in number as we advance upwards in the series of rocks, and
disappear before we arrive at the tertiary formation.

The club-moss family (_lycopodiaceæ_) are other plants of the present
surface, usually seen in a lowly and creeping form in temperate
latitudes, but presenting species which rise to a greater magnitude
within the tropics.  Many specimens of this family are found in the coal
beds; it is thought they have contributed more to the substance of the
coal than any other family.  But, like the ferns and equisetaceæ, they
rise to a prodigious magnitude.  The lepidodendra (so the fossil genus is
called) have probably been from sixty-five to eighty feet in height,
having at their base a diameter of about three feet, while their leaves
measured twenty inches in length.  In the forests of the coal era, the
lepidodendra would enjoy the rank of firs in our forests, affording shade
to the only less stately ferns and calamites.  The internal structure of
the stem, and the character of the seed-vessels, shew them to have been a
link between single-lobed and double-lobed plants, a fact worthy of note,
as it favours the idea that, in vegetable, as well as animal creation, a
progress has been observed, in conformity with advancing conditions.  It
is also curious to find a missing link of so much importance in a genus
of plants which has long ceased to have a living place upon earth.

The other leading plants of the coal era are without representatives on
the present surface, and their characters are in general less clearly
ascertained.  Amongst the most remarkable are—the _sigillaria_, of which
large stems are very abundant, shewing that the interior has been soft,
and the exterior fluted with separate leaves inserted in vertical rows
along the flutings—and the _stigmaria_, plants apparently calculated to
flourish in marshes or pools, having a short, thick, fleshy stem, with a
dome-shaped top, from which sprung branches of from twenty to thirty feet
long.  Amongst monocotyledons were some palms, (_flabellaria_ and
_næggerathia_,) besides a few not distinctly assignable to any class.

The dicotyledons of the coal are comparatively few, though on the present
surface they are the most numerous sub-class.  Besides some of doubtful
affinity, (_annularia_, _asterophyllites_, &c.,) there were a few of the
pine family, which seem to have been the highest class of trees of this
era, and are only as yet found in isolated cases, and in sandstone beds.
The first discovered lay in the Craigleith quarry, near Edinburgh, and
consisted of a stem about two feet thick, and forty-seven feet in length.
Others have since been found, both in the same situation, and at
Newcastle.  Leaves and fruit being wanting, an ingenious mode of
detecting the nature of these trees was hit upon by Mr. Witham of
Lartington.  Taking thin polished cross slices of the stem, and
subjecting them to the microscope, he detected the structure of the wood
to be that of a cone-bearing tree, by the presence of certain
“reticulations” which distinguish that family, in addition to the usual
radiating and concentric lines.  That particular tree was concluded to be
an araucaria, a species now found in Norfolk Island, in the South Sea,
and in a few other remote situations.  The coniferæ of this era form the
dawn of dicotyledenous trees, of which they may be said to be the
simplest type, and to which, it has already been noticed, the
lepidodendra are a link from the monocotyledons.  The concentric rings of
the Craigleith and other coniferæ of this era have been mentioned.  It is
interesting to find in these a record of the changing seasons of those
early ages, when as yet there were no human beings to observe time or
tide.  They are clearly traced; but it is observed that they are more
slightly marked than is the case with their family at the present day, as
if the changes of temperature had been within a narrower range.

Such was the vegetation of the carbonigenous era, composed of forms at
the bottom of the botanical scale, flowerless, fruitless, but luxuriant
and abundant beyond what the most favoured spots on earth can now shew.
The rigidity of the leaves of its plants, and the absence of fleshy
fruits and farinaceous seeds, unfitted it to afford nutriment to animals;
and, monotonous in its forms, and destitute of brilliant colouring, its
sward probably unenlivened by any of the smaller flowering herbs, its
shades uncheered by the hum of insects, or the music of birds, it must
have been but a sombre scene to a human visitant.  But neither man nor
any other animals were then in existence to look for such uses or such
beauties in this vegetation.  It was serving other and equally important
ends, clearing (probably) the atmosphere of matter noxious to animal
life, and storing up mineral masses which were in long subsequent ages to
prove of the greatest service to the human race, even to the extent of
favouring the progress of its civilization.

The animal remains of this era are not numerous, in comparison with those
which go before, or those which come after.  The mountain limestone,
indeed, deposited at the commencement of it, abounds unusually in
polypiaria and crinoidea; but when we ascend to the coal-beds themselves,
the case is altered, and these marine remains altogether disappear.  We
have then only a limited variety of conchifers and shell mollusks, with
fragments of a few species of fishes, and these are rarely or never found
in the coal seams, but in the shales alternating with them.  Some of the
fishes are of a sauroid character, that is, partake of the nature of the
lizard, a genus of the reptilia, a land class of animals, so that we may
be said here to have the first approach to a kind of animals calculated
to breathe the atmosphere.  Such is the Megalichthys Hibbertii, found by
Dr. Hibbert Ware, in a limestone bed of fresh-water origin, underneath
the coal at Burdiehouse, near Edinburgh.  Others of the same kind have
been found in the coal measures in Yorkshire, and in the low coal shales
at Manchester.  This is no more than might be expected, as collections of
fresh water now existed, and it is presumable that they would be peopled.
The chief other fishes of the coal era are named palæothrissum,
palæoniscus, diperdus.

Coal strata are nearly confined to the group termed the carboniferous
formation.  Thin beds are not unknown afterwards, but they occur only as
a rare exception.  It is therefore thought that the most important of the
conditions which allowed of so abundant a terrestrial vegetation, had
ceased about the time when this formation was closed.  The high
temperature was not one of the conditions which terminated, for there are
evidences of it afterwards; but probably the superabundance of carbonic
acid gas supposed to have existed during this era was expended before its
close.  There can be little doubt that the infusion of a large dose of
this gas into the atmosphere at the present day would be attended by
precisely the same circumstances as in the time of the carboniferous
formation.  Land animal life would not have a place on earth; vegetation
would be enormous; and coal strata would be formed from the vast
accumulations of woody matter, which would gather in every sea, near the
mouths of great rivers.  On the exhaustion of the superabundance of
carbonic acid gas, the coal formation would cease, and the earth might
again become a suitable theatre of being for land animals.

The termination of the carboniferous formation is marked by symptoms of
volcanic violence, which some geologists have considered to denote the
close of one system of things and the beginning of another.  Coal beds
generally lie in basins, as if following the curve of the bottom of seas.
But there is no such basin which is not broken up into pieces, some of
which have been tossed up on edge, others allowed to sink, causing the
ends of strata to be in some instances many yards, and in a few several
hundred feet, removed from the corresponding ends of neighbouring
fragments.  These are held to be results of volcanic movements below, the
operation of which is further seen in numerous upbursts and intrusions of
volcanic rock (trap).  That these disturbances took place about the close
of the formation, and not later, is shewn in the fact of the next higher
group of strata being comparatively undisturbed.  Other symptoms of this
time of violence are seen in the beds of conglomerate which occur amongst
the first strata above the coal.  These, as usual, consist of fragments
of the elder rocks, more or less worn from being tumbled about in
agitated water, and laid down in a mud paste, afterwards hardened.
Volcanic disturbances break up the rocks; the pieces are worn in seas;
and a deposit of conglomerate is the consequence.  Of porphyry, there are
some such pieces in the conglomerate of Devonshire, three or four tons in
weight.  It is to be admitted for strict truth that, in some parts of
Europe, the carboniferous formation is followed by superior deposits,
without the appearance of such disturbances between their respective
periods; but apparently this case belongs to the class of exceptions
already noticed. {93}  That disturbance was general, is supported by the
further and important fact of the destruction of many forms of organic
being previously flourishing, particularly of the vegetable kingdom.


THE next volume of the rock series refers to an era distinguished by an
event of no less importance than the commencement of land animals.  The
_New Red Sandstone System_ is subdivided into groups, some of which are
wanting in some places; they are pretty fully developed in the north of
England, in the following ascending order:—1.  Lower red sandstone; 2.
Magnesian limestone; 3.  Red and white sandstones and conglomerate; 4.
Variegated marls.  Between the third and fourth there is, in Germany,
another group, called the Muschelkalk, a word expressing a limestone full
of shells.

The first group, containing the conglomerates already adverted to, seems
to have been produced during the time of disturbance which occurred so
generally after the carbonigenous era.  This new era is distinguished by
a paucity of organic remains, as might partly be expected from the
appearances of disturbance, and the red tint of the rocks, the latter
being communicated by a solution of oxide of iron, a substance
unfavourable to animal life.

The second group is a limestone with an infusion of magnesia.  It is
developed less generally than some others, but occurs conspicuously in
England and Germany.  Its place, above the red sandstone, shews the
recurrence of circumstances favourable to animal life, and we accordingly
find in it not only zoophytes, conchifera, and a few tribes of fish, but
some faint traces of land plants, and a new and startling appearance—a
reptile of saurian (lizard) character, analogous to the now existing
family called monitors.  Remains of this creature are found in
cupriferous (copper-bearing) slate connected with the mountain limestone,
at Mansfield and Glucksbrunn, in Germany, which may be taken as evidence
that dry land existed in that age near those places.  The magnesia
limestone is also remarkable as the last rock in which appears the
leptæna, or producta, a conchifer of numerous species which makes a
conspicuous appearance in all previous seas.  It is likewise to be
observed, that the fishes of this age, to the genera of which the names
palæoniscus, catopterus, platysomus, &c., have been applied, vanish, and
henceforth appear no more.

The third group, chiefly sandstones, variously coloured according to the
amount and nature of the metallic oxide infused into them, shews a
recurrence of agitation, and a consequent diminution of the amount of
animal life.  In the upper part, however, of this group, there are
abundant symptoms of a revival of proper conditions for such life.  There
are marl beds, the origin of which substance in decomposed shells is
obvious; and in Germany, though not in England, here occurs the
muschelkalk, containing numerous organic remains, (generally different
from those of the magnesian limestone,) and noted for the specimens of
land animals, which it is the first to present in any considerable
abundance to our notice.

These animals are of the vertebrate sub-kingdom, but of its lowest class
next after fishes,—namely, reptiles,—a portion of the terrestrial tribes
whose imperfect respiratory system perhaps fitted them for enduring an
atmosphere not yet quite suitable for birds or mammifers. {97}  The
specimens found in the muschelkalk are allied to the crocodile and lizard
tribes of the present day, but in the latter instance are upon a scale of
magnitude as much superior to present forms as the lepidodendron of the
coal era was superior to the dwarf club-mosses of our time.  These
saurians also combine some peculiarities of structure of a most
extraordinary character.

The animal to which the name _ichthyosaurus_ has been given, was as long
as a young whale, and it was fitted for living in the water, though
breathing the atmosphere.  It had the vertebral column and general bodily
form of a fish, but to that were added the head and breast-bone of a
lizard, and the paddles of the whale tribes.  The beak, moreover, was
that of a porpoise, and the teeth were those of a crocodile.  It must
have been a most destructive creature to the fish of those early seas.

The _plesiosaurus_ was of similar bulk, with a turtle-like body and
paddles, shewing that the sea was its element, but with a long
serpent-like neck, terminating in a saurian head, calculated to reach
prey at a considerable distance.  These two animals, of which many
varieties have been discovered, constituting distinct species, are
supposed to have lived in the shallow borders of the seas of this and
subsequent formations, devouring immense quantities of the finny tribes.
It was at first thought that no creatures approaching them in character
now inhabit the earth; but latterly Mr. Darwin has discovered, in the
reptile-peopled Galapagos Islands, in the South Sea, a marine saurian
from three to four feet long.

The _megalosaurus_ was an enormous lizard—a land creature, also
carnivorous.  The _pterodactyle_ was another lizard, but furnished with
wings to pursue its prey in the air, and varying in size between a
cormorant and a snipe.  Crocodiles abounded, and some of these were
herbivorous.  Such was the iguanodon, a creature of the character of the
iguana of the Ganges, but reaching a hundred feet in length, or twenty
times that of its modern representative.

There were also numerous _tortoises_, some of them reaching a great size;
and Professor Owen has found in Warwickshire some remains of an animal of
the batrachian order, {99} to which, from the peculiar form of the teeth,
he has given the name of labyrinthidon.  Thus, three of Cuvier’s four
orders of reptilia (_sauria_, _chelonia_, and _batrachia_) are
represented in this formation, the serpent order (_ophidia_) being alone

The variegated marl beds which constitute the uppermost group of the
formation, present two additional genera of huge saurians,—the
phytosaurus and mastodonsaurus.

It is in the upper beds of the red sandstone that beds of salt first
occur.  These are sometimes of such thickness, that the mine from which
the material has been excavated looks like a lofty church.  We see in the
present world no circumstances calculated to produce the formation of a
bed of rock salt; yet it is not difficult to understand how such strata
were formed in an age marked by ultra-tropical heat and frequent volcanic
disturbances.  An estuary, cut off by an upthrow of trap, or a change of
level, and left to dry up under the heat of the sun, would quickly become
the bed of a dense layer of rock salt.  A second shift of level, or some
other volcanic disturbance, connecting it again with the sea, would
expose this stratum to being covered over with a layer of sand or mud,
destined in time to form the next stratum of rock above it.

The plants of this era are few and unobtrusive.  Equiseta, calamites,
ferns, Voltzia, and a few of the other families found so abundantly in
the preceding formation, here present themselves, but in diminished size
and quantity.

This seems to be the proper place to advert to certain memorials of a
peculiar and unexpected character respecting these early ages in the
sandstones.  So low as the bottom of the carboniferous system, slabs are
found marked over a great extent of surface with that peculiar
corrugation or wrinkling which the receding tide leaves upon a sandy
beach when the sea is but slightly agitated; and not only are these
ripple-marks, as they are called, found on the surfaces, but casts of
them are found on the under sides of slabs lying above.  The phenomena
suggests the time when the sand ultimately formed into these stone slabs,
was part of the beach of a sea of the carbonigenous era; when, left wavy
by one tide, it was covered over with a thin layer of fresh sand by the
next, and so on, precisely as such circumstances might be expected to
take place at the present day.  Sandstone surfaces, ripple-marked, are
found throughout the subsequent formations: in those of the new red, at
more than one place in England, they further bear impressions of
rain-drops which have fallen upon them—the rain, of course, of the
inconceivably remote age in which the sandstones were formed.  In the
Greensill sandstone, near Shrewsbury, it has even been possible to tell
from what direction the shower came which impressed the sandy surface,
the rims of the marks being somewhat raised on one side, exactly as might
be expected from a slanting shower falling at this day upon one of our
beaches.  These facts have the same sort of interest as the season rings
of the Craigleith conifers, as speaking of a parity between some of the
familiar processes of nature in those early ages and our own.

In the new red sandstone, impressions still more important in the
inferences to which they tend, have been observed,—namely, the footmarks
of various animals.  In a quarry of this formation, at Corncockle Muir,
in Dumfriesshire, where the slabs incline at an angle of thirty-eight
degrees, the vestiges of an animal supposed to have been a tortoise are
distinctly traced up and down the slope, as if the creature had had
occasion to pass backwards and forwards in that direction only, possibly
in its daily visits to the sea.  Some slabs similarly impressed, in the
Stourton quarries in Cheshire, are further marked with a shower of rain
which we know must have fallen _afterwards_, for its little hollows are
impressed in the footmarks also, though more slightly than on the rest of
the surface, the comparative hardness of a trodden place having
apparently prevented so deep an impression being made.  At Hessberg, in
Saxony, the vestiges of four distinct animals have been traced, one of
them a web-footed animal of small size, considered as a congener of the
crocodile; another, whose footsteps having a resemblance to an impression
of a swelled human hand, has caused it to be named the _cheirotherium_.
The footsteps of the cheirotherium have been found also in the Stourton
quarries above mentioned.  Professor Owen, who stands at the head of
comparative anatomy in the present day, has expressed his belief that
this last animal was the same batrachian of which he has found fragments
in the new red sandstone of Warwickshire.  At Runcorn, near Manchester,
and elsewhere, have been discovered the tracks of an animal which Mr.
Owen calls the rynchosaurus, uniting with the body of a reptile the beak
and feet of a bird, and which clearly had been a _link_ between these two

If geologists shall ultimately give their approbation to the inferences
made from a recent discovery in America, we shall have the addition of
perfect birds, though probably of a low type, to the animal forms of this
era.  It is stated to be in quarries of this rock, in the valley of
Connecticut, that footprints have been found, apparently produced by
birds of the order grallæ, or waders.  “The footsteps appear in regular
succession on the continuous track of an animal, in the act of walking or
running, with the right and left foot always in their relative places.
The distance of the intervals between each footstep on the same track is
occasionally varied, but to no greater amount than may be explained by
the bird having altered its pace.  Many tracks of different individuals
and different species are often found crossing each other, and crowded,
like impressions of feet upon the shores of a muddy stream, where ducks
and geese resort.” {103}  Some of these prints indicate small animals,
but others denote birds of what would now be an unusually large size.
One animal, having a foot fifteen inches in length, (one-half more than
that of the ostrich,) and a stride of from four to six feet, has been
appropriately entitled, _ornithichnites giganteus_.


THE chronicles of this period consist of a series of beds, mostly
calcareous, taking their general name (_Oolite System_) from a
conspicuous member of them—the oolite—a limestone composed of an
aggregation of small round grains or spherules, and so called from its
fancied resemblance to a cluster of eggs, or the roe of a fish.  This
texture of stone is novel and striking.  It is supposed to be of chemical
origin, each spherule being an aggregation of particles round a central
nucleus.  The oolite system is largely developed in England, France,
Westphalia, and Northern Italy; it appears in Northern India and Africa,
and patches of it exist in Scotland, and in the vale of the Mississippi.
It may of course be yet discovered in many other parts of the world.

The series, as shewn in the neighbourhood of Bath, is (beginning with the
lowest) as follows:—1.  Lias, a set of strata variously composed of
limestone, clay, marl, and shale, clay being predominant; 2.  Lower
oolitic formation, including, besides the great oolite bed of central
England, fullers’ earth beds, forest marble, and cornbrash; 3.  Middle
oolitic formation, composed of two sub-groups, the Oxford clay and coral
rag, the latter being a mere layer of the works of the coral polype; 4.
Upper oolitic formation, including what are called Kimmeridge clay and
Portland oolite.  In Yorkshire there is an additional group above the
lias, and in Sutherlandshire there is another group above that again.  In
the wealds (moorlands) of Kent and Sussex, there is, in like manner,
above the fourth of the Bath series, another additional group, to which
the name of the _Wealden_ has been given, from its situation, and which,
composed of sandstones and clays, is subdivided into Purbeck beds,
Hastings sand, and Weald clay.

There are no particular appearances of disturbance between the close of
the new red sandstone and the beginning of the oolite system, as far as
has been observed in England.  Yet there is a great change in the
materials of the rocks of the two formations, shewing that while the
bottoms of the seas of the one period had been chiefly arenaceous, those
of the other were chiefly clayey and limy.  And there is an equal
difference between the two periods in respect of both botany and zoology.
While the new red sandstone shews comparatively scanty traces of organic
creation, those in the oolite are extremely abundant, particularly in the
department of animals, and more particularly still of sea mollusca,
which, it has been observed, are always the more conspicuous in
proportion to the predominance of calcareous rocks.  It is also
remarkable that the animals of the oolitic system are entirely different
in species from those of the preceding age, and that these species cease
before the next.  In this system we likewise find that uniformity over
great space which has been remarked of the Faunas of earlier formations.
“In the equivalent deposits in the Himalaya Mountains, at Fernando Po, in
the region north of the Cape of Good Hope, and in the Run of Cutch, and
other parts of Hindostan, fossils have been discovered, which, as far as
English naturalists who have seen them can determine, are
undistinguishable from certain oolite and lias fossils of Europe.” {108a}

The dry land of this age presented cycadeæ, “a beautiful class of plants
between the palms and conifers, having a tall, straight trunk,
terminating in a magnificent crown of foliage.” {108b}  There were tree
ferns, but in smaller proportion than in former ages; also equisetaceæ,
lilia, and conifers.  The vegetation was generally analogous to that of
the Cape of Good Hope and Australia, which seems to argue a climate (we
must remember, a universal climate) between the tropical and temperate.
It was, however, sufficiently luxuriant in some instances to produce thin
seams of coal, for such are found in the oolite formation of both
Yorkshire and Sutherland.  The sea, as for ages before, contained algæ,
of which, however, only a few species have been preserved to our day.
The lower classes of the inhabitants of the ocean were unprecedentedly
abundant.  The polypiaria were in such abundance as to form whole strata
of themselves.  The crinoidea and echinites were also extremely numerous.
Shell mollusks, in hundreds of new species, occupied the bottoms of the
seas of those ages, while of the swimming shell-fish, ammonites and
belemnites, there were also many scores of varieties.  The belemnite here
calls for some particular notice.  It commences in the oolite, and
terminates in the next formation.  It is an elongated, conical shell,
terminating in a point, and having, at the larger end, a cavity for the
residence of the animal, with a series of air-chambers below.  The
animal, placed in the upper cavity, could raise or depress itself in the
water at pleasure by a pneumatic operation upon the entral air tube
pervading its shell.  Its tentacula, sent abroad over the summit of the
shell, searched the sea for prey.  The creature had an ink-bag, with
which it could muddle the water around it, to protect itself from more
powerful animals, and, strange to say, this has been found so well
preserved that an artist has used it in one instance as a paint,
wherewith to delineate the belemnite itself.

The crustacea discovered in this formation are less numerous.  There are
many fishes, some of which (_acrodus_, _psammodus_, &c.,) are presumed
from remains of their palatal bones, to have been of the gigantic
cartilaginous class, now represented by such as the cestraceon.  It has
been considered by Professor Owen as worthy of notice, that, the
cestraceon being an inhabitant of the Australian seas, we have, in both
the botany and ichthyology of this period, an analogy to that continent.
The pycnodontes, (thick-toothed,) and lepidoides, (having thick scales,)
are other families described by M. Agassiz as extensively prevalent.  In
the shallow waters of the oolitic formation, the ichthyosaurus,
plesiosaurus, and other huge saurian carnivora of the preceding age,
plied, in increased numbers, their destructive vocation. {110}  To them
were added new genera, the cetiosaurus, mososaurus, and some others, all
of similar character and habits.

Land reptiles abounded, including species of the pterodactyle of the
preceding age—tortoises, trionyces, crocodilians—and the pliosaurus, a
creature which appears to have formed a link between the plesiosaurus and
the crocodile.  We know of at least six species of the flying saurian,
the pterodactyle, in this formation.

Now, for the first time, we find remains of insects, an order of animals
not well calculated for fossil preservation, and which are therefore
amongst the rarest of the animal tribes found in rocks, though they are
the most numerous of all living families.  A single libellula
(dragon-fly) was found in the Stonesfield slate, a member of the lower
oolitic group quarried near Oxford; and this was for several years the
only specimen known to exist so early; but now many species have been
found in a corresponding rock at Solenhofen, in Germany.  It is
remarkable that the remains of insects are found most plentifully near
the remains of pterodactyles, to which undoubtedly they served as prey.

The first glimpse of the highest class of the vertebrate
sub-kingdom—_mammalia_—is obtained from the Stonesfield slate, where
there has been found the jaw-bone of a quadruped evidently insectivorous,
and inferred, from peculiarities in the structure of that small fragment,
to have belonged to the marsupial family, (pouched animals).  It may be
observed, although no specimens of so high a class of animals as mammalia
are found earlier, such may nevertheless have existed: the defect may be
in our not having found them; but, other things considered, the
probability is that heretofore there were no mammifers.  It is an
interesting circumstance that the first mammifers found should have
belonged to the marsupialia, when the place of that order in the scale of
creation is considered.  In the imperfect structure of their brain,
deficient in the organs connecting the two hemispheres—and in the mode of
gestation, which is only in small part uterine—this family is clearly a
link between the oviparous vertebrata (birds, reptiles, and fishes) and
the higher mammifers.  This is further established by their possessing a
faint development of two canals passing from near the anus to the
external surface of the viscera, which are fully possessed in reptiles
and fishes, for the purpose of supplying aerated water to the blood
circulating in particular vessels, but which are unneeded by mammifers.
Such rudiments of organs in certain species which do not require them in
any degree, are common in both the animal and vegetable kingdoms, but are
always most conspicuous in families approaching in character to those
classes to which the full organs are proper.  This subject will be more
particularly adverted to in the sequel.

The highest part of the oolitic formation presents some phenomena of an
unusual and interesting character, which demand special notice.
Immediately above the upper oolitic group in Buckinghamshire, in the
vicinity of Weymouth, and other situations, there is a thin stratum,
usually called by workmen the _dirt-bed_, which appears, from
incontestable evidence, to have been a soil, formed, like soils of the
present day, in the course of time, upon a surface which had previously
been the bottom of the sea.  The dirt-bed contains exuviæ of tropical
trees, accumulated through time, as the forest shed its honours on the
spot where it grew, and became itself decayed.  Near Weymouth there is a
piece of this stratum, in which stumps of trees remain rooted, mostly
erect or slightly inclined, and from one to three feet high; while trunks
of the same forest, also silicified, lie imbedded on the surface of the
soil in which they grew.

Above this bed lie those which have been called the Wealden, from their
full development in the Weald of Sussex; and these as incontestably argue
that the dry land forming the dirt-bed had next afterwards become the
area of brackish estuaries, or lakes partially connected with the sea;
for the Wealden strata contain exuviæ of fresh-water tribes, besides
those of the great saurians and chelonia.  The area of this estuary
comprehends the whole south-east province of England.  A geologist thus
confidently narrates the subsequent events: “Much calcareous matter was
first deposited [in this estuary], and in it were entombed myriads of
shells, apparently analogous to those of the vivipara.  Then came a thick
envelope of sand, sometimes interstratified with mud; and, finally, muddy
matter prevailed.  The solid surface beneath the waters would appear to
have suffered a long continued and gradual depression, which was as
gradually filled, or nearly so, with transported matter; in the end,
however, after a depression of several hundred feet, the sea again
entered upon the area, not suddenly or violently—for the Wealden rocks
pass gradually into the superincumbent cretaceous series—but so quietly,
that the mud containing the remains of terrestrial and fresh-water
creatures was tranquilly covered up by sands replete with marine exuviæ.”
{114}  A subsequent depression of the same area, to the depth of at least
three hundred fathoms, is believed to have taken place, to admit of the
deposition of the cretaceous beds lying above.

From the scattered way in which remains of the larger terrestrial animals
occur in the Wealden, and the intermixture of pebbles of the special
appearance of those worn in rivers, it is also inferred that the estuary
which once covered the south-east part of England was the mouth of a
river of that far-descending class of which the Mississippi and Amazon
are examples.  What part of the earth’s surface presented the dry land
through which that and other similar rivers flowed, no one can tell for
certain.  It has been surmised, that the particular one here spoken of
may have flowed from a point not nearer than the site of the present
Newfoundland.  Professor Philips has suggested, from the analogy of the
mineral composition, that anciently elevated coal strata may have
composed the dry land from which the sandy matters of these strata were
washed.  Such a deposit as the Wealden almost necessarily implies a
local, not a general condition; yet it has been thought that similar
strata and remains exist in the Pays de Bray, near Beauvais.  This leads
to the supposition that there may have been, in that age, a series of
river-receiving estuaries along the border of some such great ocean as
the Atlantic, of which that of modern Sussex is only an example.


THE record of this period consists of a series of strata, in which chalk
beds make a conspicuous appearance, and which is therefore called the
cretaceous system or formation.  In England, a long stripe, extending
from Yorkshire to Kent, presents the cretaceous beds upon the surface,
generally lying conformably upon the oolite, and in many instances rising
into bold escarpments towards the west.  The celebrated cliffs of Dover
are of this formation.  It extends into northern France, and thence
north-westward into Germany, whence it is traced into Scandinavia and
Russia.  The same system exists in North America, and probably in other
parts of the earth not yet geologically investigated.  Being a marine
deposit, it establishes that seas existed at the time of its formation on
the tracts occupied by it, while some of its organic remains prove that,
in the neighbourhood of those seas, there were tracts of dry land.

The cretaceous formation in England presents beds chiefly sandy in the
lowest part, chiefly clayey in the middle, and chiefly of chalk in the
upper part, the chalk beds being never absent, which some of the lower
are in several places.  In the vale of the Mississippi, again, the true
chalk is wholly, or all but wholly absent.  In the south of England, the
lower beds are, (reckoning from the lowest upwards), 1.  _Shankland_ or
_greensand_, “a triple alternation of sands and sandstones with clay;” 2.
Galt, “a stiff blue or black clay, abounding in shells, which frequently
possess a pearly lustre;” 3.  _Hard_ chalk; 4.  Chalk with flints; these
two last being generally white, but in some districts red, and in others
yellow.  The whole are, in England, about 1200 feet thick, shewing the
considerable depths of the ocean in which the deposits were made.

Chalk is a carbonate of lime, and the manner of its production in such
vast quantities was long a subject of speculation among geologists.  Some
light seemed to be thrown upon the subject a few years ago, when it was
observed, that the detritus of coral reefs in the present tropical seas
gave a powder, undistinguishable, when dried, from ordinary chalk.  It
then appeared likely that the chalk beds were the detritus of the corals
which were in the oceans of that era.  Mr. Darwin, who made some curious
inquiries on this point, further suggested, that the matter might have
intermediately passed through the bodies of worms and fish, such as feed
on the corals of the present day, and in whose stomachs he has found
impure chalk.  This, however, cannot be a full explanation of the
production of chalk, if we admit some more recent discoveries of
Professor Ehrenberg.  That master of microscopic investigation announces,
that chalk is composed partly of “inorganic particles of irregular
elliptical structure and granular slaty disposition,” and partly of
shells of inconceivable minuteness, “varying from the one-twelfth to the
two hundred and eighty-eighth part of a line”—a cubic inch of the
substance containing above ten millions of them!  The chalk of the north
of Europe contains, he says, a larger proportion of the inorganic matter;
that of the south, a larger proportion of the organic matter, being in
some instances almost entirely composed of it.  He has been able to
classify many of these creatures, some of them being allied to the
nautili, nummuli, cyprides, &c.  The shells of some are calcareous, of
others siliceous.  M. Ehrenberg has likewise detected microscopic
sea-plants in the chalk.

The distinctive feature of the uppermost chalk beds in England, is the
presence of flint nodules.  These are generally disposed in layers
parallel to each other.  It was readily presumed by geologists that these
masses were formed by a chemical aggregation of particles of silica,
originally held in solution in the mass of the chalk.  But whence the
silica in a substance so different from it?  Ehrenberg suggests that it
is composed of the siliceous coverings of a portion of the microscopic
creatures, whose shells he has in other instances detected in their
original condition.  It is remarkable that the chalk _with_ flint abounds
in the north of Europe; that _without_ flints in the south; while in the
northern chalk siliceous animalcules are wanting, and in the southern
present in great quantities.  The conclusion seems but natural, that in
the one case the siliceous exuviæ have been left in their original form;
in the other dissolved chemically, and aggregated on the common principle
of chemical affinity into nodules of flint, probably concentrating, in
every instance, upon a piece of decaying organic matter, as has been the
case with the nodules of ironstone in the earlier rocks, and the
spherules of the oolite.

What is more remarkable, M. Ehrenberg has ascertained that at least
fifty-seven species of the microscopic animals of the chalk, being
infusoria and calcareous-shelled polythalamia, are still found living in
various parts of the earth.  These species are the most abundant in the
rock.  Singly they are the most unimportant of all animals, but in the
mass, forming as they do such enormous strata over a large part of the
earth’s surface, they have an importance greatly exceeding that of the
largest and noblest of the beasts of the field.  Moreover, these species
have a peculiar interest, as the only specific types of that early age
which are reproduced in the present day.  Species of sea mollusks, of
reptiles, and of mammifers, have been changed again and again, since the
cretaceous era; and it is not till a long subsequent age that we find the
first traces of any other of even the humblest species which now exist;
but here have these humble infusoria and polythalamia kept their place on
earth through all its revolutions since that time,—are we to say, safe in
their very humility, which might adapt them to a greater variety of
circumstances than most other animals, or are we required to look for
some other explanation of the phenomenon?

All the ordinary and more observable orders of the inhabitants of the
sea, except the cetacea, have been found in the cretaceous
formation—zoophytes, radiaria, mollusks, crustacea, (in great variety of
species,) and fishes in smaller variety.  In Europe, remains of the
marine saurians have been found; they may be presumed to have become
extinct in that part of the globe before this time, their place and
destructive office being perhaps supplied by cartilaginous fishes, of
which the teeth are found in great quantities.  In America, however,
remains of the plesiosaurus have been discovered in this part of the
stratified series.  The reptiles, too, so numerous in the two preceding
periods, appear to have now much diminished in numbers.  One, entitled
the mosæsaurus, seems to have held an intermediate place between the
monitor and iguana, and to have been about twenty-five feet long, with a
tail calculated to assist it powerfully in swimming.  Crocodiles and
turtles existed, and amongst the fishes were some of a saurian character.

Fuci abounded in the seas of this era.  Confervæ are found enclosed in
flints.  Of terrestrial vegetation, as of terrestrial animals, the
specimens in the European area are comparatively rare, rendering it
probable that there was no dry land near.  The remains are chiefly of
ferns, conifers, and cycadeæ, but in the two former cases we have only
cones and leaves.  There have been discovered many pieces of wood,
containing holes drilled by the teredo, and thus shewing that they had
been long drifted about in the ocean before being entombed at the bottom.

The series in America corresponding to this, entitled the ferruginous
sand formation, presents fossils generally identical with those of
Europe, not excepting the fragments of drilled wood; shewing that, in
this, as in earlier ages, there was a parity of conditions for animal
life over a vast tract of the earth’s surface.  To European reptiles, the
American formation adds a gigantic one, styled the saurodon, from the
lizard-like character of its teeth.

We have seen that footsteps of birds are considered to have been
discovered in America, in the new red sandstone.  Some similar isolated
phenomena occur in the subsequent formations.  Mr. Mantell discovered
some bones of birds, apparently waders, in the Wealden.  The immediate
connexion of that set of birds with land, may account, of course, for
their containing a terrestrial organic relic, which the marine beds above
and below did not possess.  In the slate of Glarus, in Switzerland,
corresponding to the English galt, in the chalk formation, the remains of
a bird have been found.  From a chalk bed near Maidstone, have likewise
been extracted some remains of a bird, supposed to have been of the
long-winged swimmer family, and equal in size to the albatross.  These,
it must be owned, are less strong traces of the birds than we possess of
the reptiles and other tribes; but it must be remembered, that the
evidence of fossils, as to the absence of any class of animals from a
certain period of the earth’s history, can never be considered as more
than negative.  Animals, of which we find no remains in a particular
formation, may, nevertheless, have lived at the time, and it may have
only been from unfavourable circumstances that their remains have not
been preserved for our inspection.  The single circumstance of their
being little liable to be carried down into seas, might be the cause of
their non-appearance in our quarries.  There is at the same time a limit
to uncertainty on this point.  We see, from what remains have been found
in the whole series, a clear progress throughout, from humble to superior
types of being.  Hence we derive a light as to what animals may have
existed at particular times, which is in some measure independent of the
specialties of fossilology.  The birds are below the mammalia in the
animal scale; and therefore they may be supposed to have existed about
the time of the new red sandstone and oolite, although we find but slight
traces of them in those formations, and, it may be said, till a
considerably later period.


THE chalk-beds are the highest which extend over a considerable space;
but in hollows of these beds, comparatively limited in extent, there have
been formed series of strata—clays, limestones, marls, alternating—to
which the name of the _Tertiary Formation_ has been applied.  London and
Paris alike rest on basins of this formation, and another such basin
extends from near Winchester, under Southampton, and re-appears in the
Isle of Wight.  There is a patch, or fragment of the formation in one of
the Hebrides.  A stripe of it extends along the east coast of North
America, from Massachusetts to Florida.  It is also found in Sicily and
Italy, insensibly blended with formations still in progress.  Though
comparatively a local formation, it is not of the less importance as a
record of the condition of the earth during a certain period.  As in
other formations, it is marked, in the most distant localities, by
identity of organic remains.

The hollows filled by the tertiary formation must be considered as the
beds of estuaries left at the conclusion of the cretaceous period.  We
have seen that an estuary, either by the drifting up of its mouth, or a
change of level in that quarter, may be supposed to have become an inland
sheet of water, and that, by another change, of the reverse kind, it may
be supposed to have become an estuary again.  Such changes the Paris
basin appears to have undergone oftener than once, for, first, we have
there a fresh-water formation of clay and limestone beds; then, a
marine-limestone formation; next, a second fresh water formation, in
which the material of the celebrated _plaster of Paris_ (gypsum) is
included; then, a second marine formation of sandy and limy beds; and
finally, a third series of fresh-water strata.  Such alternations occur
in other examples of the tertiary formation likewise.

The tertiary beds present all but an entirely new set of animals, and as
we ascend in the series, we find more and more of these identical with
species still existing upon earth, as if we had now reached the dawn of
the present state of the zoology of our planet.  By the study of the
shells alone, Mr. Lyell has been enabled to divide the whole term into
four sub-periods, to which he has given names with reference to the
proportions which they respectively present of surviving species—first,
the eocene, (from ’ηως, the dawn; χαινος, recent;) second, the miocene,
(μειων, less;) third, older pliocene, (πλειων, more;) fourth, newer


The eocene period presents, in three continental groups, 1238 species of
shells, of which forty-two, or 3.5 per cent, yet flourish.  Some of these
are remarkable enough; but they all sink into insignificance beside the
mammalian remains which the lower eocene deposits of the Paris basin
present to us, shewing that the land had now become the theatre of an
extensive creation of the highest class of animals.  Cuvier ascertained
about fifty species of these, all of them long since extinct.  A
considerable number are _pachydermata_, {127} of a character
approximating to the South American tapir: the names, palæotherium,
anthracotherium, anoplotherium, lophiodon, &c., have been applied to them
with a consideration of more or less conspicuous peculiarities; but a
description of the first may give some general idea of the whole.  It was
about the size of a horse, but more squat and clumsy, and with a heavier
head, and a lower jaw shorter than the upper; the feet, also, instead of
hooves, presented three large toes, rounded, and unprovided with claws.
These animals were all herbivorous.  Amongst an immense number of others
are found many new reptiles, some of them adapted for fresh water;
species of birds allied to the sea-lark, curlew, quail, buzzard, owl, and
pelican; species allied to the dormouse and squirrel; also the opossum
and racoon; and species allied to the genette, fox, and wolf.


In the miocene sub-period, the shells give eighteen per cent. of existing
species, shewing a considerable advance from the preceding era, with
respect to the inhabitants of the sea.  The advance in the land animals
is less marked, but yet considerable.  The predominating forms are still
pachydermatous, and the tapir type continues to be conspicuous.  One
animal of this kind, called the _dinotherium_, is supposed to have been
not less than eighteen feet long; it had a mole-like form of the
shoulder-blade, conferring the power of digging for food, and a couple of
tusks turning down from the lower jaw, by which it could have attached
itself, like the walrus, to a shore or bank, while its body floated in
the water.  Dr. Buckland considers this and some similar miocene animals,
as adapted for a semi-aquatic life, in a region where lakes abounded.
Besides the tapirs, we have in this era animals allied to the glutton,
the bear, the dog, the horse, the hog, and lastly, several felinæ,
(creatures of which the lion is the type;) all of which are new forms, as
far as we know.  There was also an abundance of marine mammalia, seals,
dolphins, lamantins, walruses, and whales, none of which had previously


The shells of the older pliocene give from thirty-five to fifty; those of
the newer, from ninety to ninety-five per cent. of existing species.  The
pachydermata of the preceding era now disappear, and are replaced by
others belonging to still existing families—elephant, hippopotamus,
rhinoceros—though now extinct as species.  Some of these are startling,
from their enormous magnitude.  The great mastodon, whose remains are
found in abundance in America, was a species of elephant, judged, from
peculiarities of its teeth, to have lived on aquatic plants, and reaching
the height of twelve feet.  The mammoth was another elephant, but
supposed to have survived till comparatively recent times, as a specimen,
in all respects entire, was found in 1801, preserved in ice, in Siberia.
We are more surprised by finding such gigantic proportions in an animal
called the megatherium, which ranks in an order now assuming much humbler
forms—the edentata—to which the sloth, ant-eater, and armadillo belong.
The megatherium had a skeleton of enormous solidity, with an armour-clad
body, and five toes, terminating in huge claws, wherewith to grasp the
branches, from which, like its existing congener, the sloth, it derived
its food.  The megalonyx was a similar animal, only somewhat less than
the preceding.  Finally, the pliocene gives us for the first time, oxen,
deer, camels, and other specimens of the _ruminantia_.

Such is an outline of the fauna of the tertiary era, as ascertained by
the illustrious naturalists who first devoted their attention to it.  It
will be observed that it brings us up to the felinæ, or carnivora, a
considerably elevated point in the animal scale, but still leaving a
blank for the quadrumana (monkeys) and for man, who collectively form, as
will be afterwards seen, the first group in that scale.  It sometimes
happens, however, as we have seen, that a few rare traces of a particular
class of animals are in time found in formations originally thought to be
destitute of them, displaying as it were a dawn of that department of
creation.  Such seems to be the case with at least the quadrumana.  A
jaw-bone and tooth of an animal of this order, and belonging to the genus
macacus, were found in the London clay, (eocene,) at Kyson, near
Woodbridge, in 1839.  Another jaw-bone, containing several teeth,
supposed to have belonged to a species of monkey about three feet high,
was discovered about the same time in a stratum of marl surmounted by
compact limestone, in the department of Gers, at the foot of the
Pyrenees.  Associated with this last were remains of not less than thirty
mammiferous quadrupeds, including three species of rhinoceros, a large
anoplotherium, three species of deer, two antelopes, a true dog, a large
cat, an animal like a weasel, a small hare, and a huge species of the
edentata.  Both of these places are considerably to the north of any
region now inhabited by the monkey tribes.  Fossil remains of quadrumana
have been found in at least two other parts of the earth,—namely, the
sub-Himalayan hills, near the Sutlej, and in Brazil, (both in the
tertiary strata;) the first being a large species of semnopithecus, and
the second, a still larger animal belonging to the American group of
monkeys, but a new genus, and denominated by its discoverer, Dr. Lund,
protopithecus.  The latter would be four feet in height.

One remarkable circumstance connected with the tertiary formation remains
to be noticed,—namely, the prevalence of volcanic action at that era.  In
Auvergne, in Catalonia, near Venice, and in the vicinity of Rome and
Naples, lavas exactly resembling the produce of existing volcanoes, are
associated and intermixed with the lacustrine as well as marine
tertiaries.  The superficies of tertiaries in England is disturbed by two
great swells, forming what are called anticlinal axes, one of which
divides the London from the Hampshire basin, while the other passes
through the Isle of Wight, both throwing the strata down at violent
inclination towards the north, as if the subterranean disturbing force
had _waved_ forward in that direction.  The Pyrenees, too, and Alps, have
both undergone elevation since the deposition of the tertiaries; and in
Sicily there are mountains which have risen three thousand feet since the
deposition of some of the most recent of these rocks.  The general effect
of these operations was of course to extend the land surface, and to
increase the variety of its features, thus improving the natural
drainage, and generally adapting the earth for the reception of higher
classes of animals.


WE have now completed our survey of the series of stratified rocks, and
traced in their fossils the progress of organic creation down to a time
which seems not long antecedent to the appearance of man.  There are,
nevertheless, monuments of still another era or space of time which it is
all but certain did also precede that event.

Over the rock formations of all eras, in various parts of the globe, but
confined in general to situations not very elevated, there is a layer of
stiff clay, mostly of a blue colour, mingled with fragments of rock of
all sizes, travel-worn, and otherwise, and to which geologists give the
name of diluvium, as being apparently the produce of some vast flood, or
of the sea thrown into an unusual agitation.  It seems to indicate that,
at the time when it was laid down, much of the present dry land was under
the ocean, a supposition which we shall see supported by other evidence.
The included masses of rock have been carefully inspected in many places,
and traced to particular parent beds at considerable distances.
Connected with these phenomena are certain rock surfaces on the slopes of
hills and elsewhere, which exhibit groovings and scratchings, such as we
might suppose would be produced by a quantity of loose blocks hurried
along over them by a flood.  Another associated phenomenon is that called
_crag and tail_, which exists in many places,—namely, a rocky mountain,
or lesser elevation, presenting on one side the naked rock in a more or
less abrupt form, and on the other a gentle slope; the sites of Windsor,
Edinburgh, and Stirling, with their respective castles, are specimens of
crag and tail.  Finally, we may advert to certain long ridges of clay and
gravel which arrest the attention of travellers on the surface of Sweden
and Finland, and which are also found in the United States, where,
indeed, the whole of these phenomena have been observed over a large
surface, as well as in Europe.  It is very remarkable that the direction
from which the diluvial blocks have generally come, the lines of the
grooved rock surfaces, the direction of the crag and tail eminences, and
that of the clay and gravel ridges—phenomena, be it observed, extending
over the northern parts of both Europe and America—are _all from the
north and north-west towards the south-east_.  We thus acquire the idea
of a powerful current moving in a direction from north-west to
south-east, carrying, besides mud, masses of rock which furrowed the
solid surfaces as they passed along, abrading the north-west faces of
many hills, but leaving the slopes in the opposite direction uninjured,
and in some instances forming long ridges of detritus along the surface.
These are curious considerations, and it has become a question of much
interest, by what means, and under what circumstances, was such a current
produced.  One hypothetical answer has some plausibility about it.  From
an investigation of the nature of glaciers, and some observations which
seem to indicate that these have at one time extended to lower levels,
and existed in regions (the Scottish Highlands an example) where there is
now no perennial snow, it has been surmised that there was a time,
subsequent to the tertiary era, when the circumpolar ice extended far
into the temperate zone, and formed a lofty, as well as extensive
accumulation.  A change to a higher temperature, producing a sudden thaw
of this mass, might set free such a quantity of water as would form a
large flood, and the southward flow of this deluge, joined to the
direction which it would obtain from the rotatory motion of the globe,
would of course produce that compound or south-easterly direction which
the phenomena require.  All of these speculations are as yet far too
deficient in facts to be of much value; and I must freely own that, for
one, I attach little importance to them.  All that we can legitimately
infer from the diluvium is, that the northern parts of Europe and America
were then under the sea, and that a strong current set over them.

Connected with the diluvium is the history of _ossiferous caverns_, of
which specimens singly exist at Kirkdale in Yorkshire, Gailenreuth in
Franconia, and other places.  They occur in the calcareous strata, as the
great caverns generally do, but have in all instances been naturally
closed up till the recent period of their discovery.  The floors are
covered with what appears to be a bed of the diluvial clay, over which
rests a crust of stalagmite, the result of the droppings from the roof
since the time when the clay-bed was laid down.  In the instances above
specified, and several others, there have been found, under the clay bed,
assemblages of the bones of animals, of many various kinds.  At Kirkdale,
for example, the remains of twenty-four species were ascertained—namely,
pigeon, lark, raven, duck, and partridge; mouse, water-rat, rabbit, hare,
deer, (three species,) ox, horse, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, elephant,
weazel, fox, wolf, bear, tiger, hyena.  From many of the bones of the
gentler of these animals being found in a broken state, it is supposed
that the cave was a haunt of hyenas and other predaceous animals, by
which the smaller ones were here consumed.  This must have been at a time
antecedent to the submersion which produced the diluvium, since the bones
are covered by a bed of that formation.  It is impossible not to see here
a very natural series of incidents.  First, the cave is frequented by
wild beasts, who make it a kind of charnel-house.  Then, submerged in the
current which has been spoken of, it receives a clay flooring from the
waters containing that matter in suspension.  Finally, raised from the
water, but with no mouth to the open air, it remains unintruded on for a
long series of ages, during which the clay flooring receives a new
calcareous covering, from the droppings of the roof.  Dr. Buckland, who
examined and described the Kirkdale cave, was at first of opinion that it
presented a physical evidence of the Noachian deluge; but he afterwards
saw reason to consider its phenomena as of a time far apart from that
event, which rests on evidence of an entirely different kind.

Our attention is next drawn to the erratic blocks or boulders, which in
many parts of the earth are thickly strewn over the surface, particularly
in the north of Europe.  Some of these blocks are many tons in weight,
yet are clearly ascertained to have belonged originally to situations at
a great distance.  Fragments, for example, of the granite of Shap Fell
are found in every direction around to the distance of fifty miles, one
piece being placed high upon Criffel Mountain, on the opposite side of
the Solway estuary; so also are fragments of the Alps found far up the
slopes of the Jura.  There are even blocks on the east coast of England,
supposed to have travelled from Norway.  The only rational conjecture
which can be formed as to the transport of such masses from so great a
distance, is one which presumes them to have been carried and dropped by
icebergs, while the space between their original and final sites was
under ocean.  Icebergs do even now carry off such masses from the polar
coasts, which, falling when the retaining ice melts, must take up
situations at the bottom of the sea analogous to those in which we find
the erratic blocks of the present day.

As the diluvium and erratic blocks clearly suppose one last long
submersion of the surface, (_last_, geologically speaking,) there is
another set of appearances which as manifestly shew the steps by which
the land was made afterwards to reappear.  These consist of _terraces_,
which have been detected near, and at some distance inland from, the
coast lines of Scandinavia, Britain, America, and other regions; being
evidently ancient beaches, or platforms, on which the margin of the sea
at one time rested.  They have been observed at different heights above
the present sea-level, from twenty to above twelve hundred feet; and in
many places they are seen rising above each other in succession, to the
number of three, four, and even more.  The smooth flatness of these
terraces, with generally a slight inclination towards the sea, the sandy
composition of many of them, and, in some instances, the preservation of
marine shells in the ground, identify them perfectly with existing
sea-beaches, notwithstanding the cuts and scoopings which have every here
and there been effected in them by water-courses.  The irresistible
inference from the phenomena is, that the highest was first the coast
line; then an elevation took place, and the second highest became so, the
first being now raised into the air and thrown inland.  Then, upon
another elevation, the sea began to form, at its new point of contact
with the land, the third highest beach, and so on down to the platform
nearest to the present sea-beach.  Phenomena of this kind become
comparatively familiar to us, when we hear of evidence that the last
sixty feet of the elevation of Sweden, and the last eighty-five of that
of Chili, have taken place since man first dwelt in those countries; nay,
that the elevation of the former country goes on at this time at the rate
of about forty-five inches in a century, and that a thousand miles of the
Chilian coast rose four feet in one night, under the influence of a
powerful earthquake, so lately as 1822.  Subterranean forces, of the kind
then exemplified in Chili, supply a ready explanation of the whole
phenomena, though some other operating causes have been suggested.  In an
inquiry on this point, it becomes of consequence to learn some
particulars respecting the levels.  Taking a particular beach, it is
generally observed that the level continues the same along a considerable
number of miles, and nothing like breaks or hitches has as yet been
detected in any case.  A second and a third beach are also observed to be
exactly parallel to the first.  These facts would seem to indicate quiet
elevating movements, uniform over a large tract.  It must, however, be
remarked that the raised beaches at one part of a coast rarely coincide
with those at another part forty or fifty miles off.  We might suppose
this to indicate a limit in that extent of the uniformity of the
elevating cause, but it would be rash to conclude positively that such is
the case.  In the present sea, as is well known, there are different
levels at different places, owing to the operation of peculiar local
causes, as currents, evaporation, and the influx of large rivers into
narrow-mouthed estuaries.  The differences of level in the ancient
beaches might be occasioned by some such causes.  But, whatever doubt may
rest on this minor point, enough has been ascertained to settle the main
one, that we have in these platforms indubitable monuments of the last
rise of the land from the sea, and the concluding great event of the
geological history.

The idea of such a wide-spread and possibly universal submersion
unavoidably suggests some considerations as to the effect which it might
have upon terrestrial animal life.  It seems likely that this would be,
on such an occasion, extensively, if not universally destroyed.  Nor does
the idea of its universal destruction seem the less plausible, when we
remark, that none of the species of land animals heretofore discovered
can be detected at a subsequent period.  The whole seem to have been now
changed.  Some geologists appear much inclined to think that there was at
this time a new development of terrestrial animal life upon the globe,
and M. Agassiz, whose opinion on such a subject must always be worthy of
attention, speaks all but decidedly for such a conclusion.  It must,
however, be owned, that proofs for it are still scanty, beyond the bare
fact of a submersion which appears to have had a very wide range.  I must
therefore be content to leave this point, as far as geological evidence
is concerned, for future affirmation.

There are some other superficial deposits, of less consequence on the
present occasion than the diluvium—namely, lacustrine deposits, or
filled-up lakes; alluvium, or the deposits of rivers beside their
margins; deltas, the deposits made by great ones at their efflux into the
sea; peat mosses; and the vegetable soil.  The animal remains found in
these generally testify to a zoology on the verge of that which still
exists, or melting into it, there being included many species which still
exist.  In a lacustrine deposit at Market-Weighton, in the Vale of York,
there have been found bones of the elephant, rhinoceros, bison, wolf,
horse, felis, deer, birds, all or nearly all extinct species; associated
with thirteen species of land and fresh water shells, “exactly identical
with types now living in the vicinity.”  In similar deposits in North
America, are remains of the mammoth, mastodon, buffalo, and other animals
of extinct and living types.  In short, these superficial deposits shew
precisely such remains as might be expected from a time at which the
present system of things (to use a vague but not unexpressive phrase)
obtained, but yet so far remote in chronology as to allow of the dropping
of many species, through familiar causes, in the interval.  Still,
however, there is no authentic or satisfactory instance of human remains
being found, except in deposits obviously of very modern date; a
tolerably strong proof that the creation of our own species is a
comparatively recent event, and one posterior (generally speaking) to all
the great natural transactions chronicled by geology.


THUS concludes the wondrous chapter of the earth’s history which is told
by geology.  It takes up our globe at the period when its original
incandescent state had nearly ceased; conducts it through what we have
every reason to believe were vast, or at least very considerable, spaces
of time, in the course of which many superficial changes took place, and
vegetable and animal life was gradually developed; and drops it just at
the point when man was apparently about to enter on the scene.  The
compilation of such a history, from materials of so extraordinary a
character, and the powerful nature of the evidence which these materials
afford, are calculated to excite our admiration, and the result must be
allowed to exalt the dignity of science, as a product of man’s industry
and his reason.

If there is any thing more than another impressed on our minds by the
course of the geological history, it is, that the same laws and
conditions of nature now apparent to us have existed throughout the whole
time, though the operation of some of these laws may now be less
conspicuous than in the early ages, from some of the conditions having
come to a settlement and a close.  That seas have flowed and ebbed, and
winds disturbed their surfaces, in the time of the secondary rocks, we
have proof on the yet preserved surfaces of the sands which constituted
margins of the seas in those days.  Even the fall of wind-slanted rain is
evidenced on the same tablets.  The washing down of detached matter from
elevated grounds, which we see rivers constantly engaged in at the
present time, and which is daily shallowing the seas adjacent to their
mouths, only appears to have proceeded on a greater scale in earlier
epochs.  The volcanic subterranean force, which we see belching forth
lavas on the sides of mountains, and throwing up new elevations by land
and sea, was only more powerfully operative in distant ages.  To turn to
organic nature, vegetation seems to have proceeded then exactly as now.
The very alternations of the seasons has been read in unmistakable
characters in sections of the trees of those days, precisely as it might
be read in a section of a tree cut down yesterday.  The system of prey
amongst animals flourished throughout the whole of the pre-human period;
and the adaptation of all plants and animals to their respective spheres
of existence was as perfect in those early ages as it is still.

But, as has been observed, the operation of the laws may be modified by
conditions.  At one early age, if there was any dry land at all, it was
perhaps enveloped in an atmosphere unfit for the existence of terrestrial
animals, and which had to go though some changes before that condition
was altered.  In the carbonigenous era, dry land seems to have consisted
only of clusters of islands, and the temperature was much above what now
obtains at the same places.  Volcanic forces, and perhaps also the
disintegrating power, seem to have been on the decrease since the first,
or we have at least long enjoyed an exemption from such paroxysms of the
former, as appear to have prevailed at the close of the coal formation in
England and throughout the tertiary era.  The surface has also undergone
a gradual progress by which it has become always more and more
variegated, and thereby fitted for the residence of a higher class of

In pursuing the progress of the development of both plants and animals
upon the globe, we have seen an advance in both cases, along the line
leading to the higher forms of organization.  Amongst plants, we have
first sea-weeds, afterwards land plants; and amongst these the simpler
(cellular and cryptogamic) before the more complex.  In the department of
zoology, we see zoophytes, radiata, mollusca, articulata, existing for
ages before there were any higher forms.  The first step forward gives
fishes, the humblest class of the vertebrata; and, moreover, the earliest
fishes partake of the character of the next lowest sub-kingdom, the
articulata.  Afterwards come land animals, of which the first are
reptiles, universally allowed to be the type next in advance from fishes,
and to be connected with these by the links of an insensible gradation.
From reptiles we advance to birds, and thence to mammalia, which are
commenced by marsupialia, acknowledgedly low forms in their class.  That
there is thus a progress of some kind, the most superficial glance at the
geological history is sufficient to convince us.  Indeed the doctrine of
the gradation of animal forms has received a remarkable support from the
discoveries of this science, as several types formerly wanting to a
completion of the series have been found in a fossil state. {149}

It is scarcely less evident, from the geological record, that the
progress of organic life has observed some correspondence with the
progress of physical conditions on the surface.  We do not know for
certain that the sea, at the time when it supported radiated, molluscous,
and articulated families, was incapable of supporting fishes; but causes
for such a limitation are far from inconceivable.  The huge saurians
appear to have been precisely adapted to the low muddy coasts and sea
margins of the time when they flourished.  Marsupials appear at the time
when the surface was generally in that flat, imperfectly variegated state
in which we find Australia, the region where they now live in the
greatest abundance, and one which has no higher native mammalian type.
Finally, it was not till the land and sea had come into their present
relations, and the former, in its principal continents, had acquired the
irregularity of surface necessary for man, that man appeared.  We have
likewise seen reason for supposing that land animals could not have lived
before the carbonigenous era, owing to the great charge of carbonic acid
gas presumed to have been contained in the atmosphere down to that time.
The surplus of this having gone, as M. Brogniart suggests, to form the
vegetation, whose ruins became coal, and the air being thus brought to
its present state, land animals immediately appeared.  So also,
sea-plants were at first the only specimens of vegetation, because there
appears to have been no place where other plants could be produced or
supported.  Land vegetation followed, at first simple, afterwards
complex, probably in conformity with an advance of the conditions
required by the higher class of plants.  In short, we see everywhere
throughout the geological history, strong traces of a parallel advance of
the physical conditions and the organic forms.

In examining the fossils of the lower marine creation, with a reference
to the kind of rock in connexion, with which they are found, it is
observed that some strata are attended by a much greater abundance of
both species and individuals than others.  They abound most in calcareous
rocks, which is precisely what might be expected, since lime is necessary
for the formation of the shells of the mollusks and articulata, and the
hard substance of the crinoidea and corals; next in the carboniferous
series; next in the tertiary; next in the new red sandstone; next in
slates; and lastly, least of all, in the primary rocks. {151}  This may
have been the case without regard to the origination of new species, but
more probably it was otherwise; or why, for instance, should the
polypiferous zoophyta be found almost exclusively in the limestones?
There are, indeed, abundant appearances as if, throughout all the changes
of the surface, the various kinds of organic life invariably _pressed
in_, immediately on the specially suitable conditions arising, so that no
place which could support any form of organic being might be left for any
length of time unoccupied.  Nor is it less remarkable how various species
are withdrawn from the earth, when the proper conditions for their
particular existence are changed.  The trilobite, of which fifty species
existed during the earlier formations, was extirpated before the
secondary had commenced, and appeared no more.  The ammonite does not
appear above the chalk.  The species, and even genera of all the early
radiata and mollusks were exchanged for others long ago.  Not one species
of any creature which flourished before the tertiary (Ehrenberg’s
infusoria excepted) now exists; and of the mammalia which arose during
that series, many forms are altogether gone, while of others we have now
only kindred species.  Thus to find not only frequent additions to the
previously existing forms, but frequent withdrawals of forms which had
apparently become inappropriate—a constant shifting as well as advance—is
a fact calculated very forcibly to arrest attention.

A candid consideration of all these circumstances can scarcely fail to
introduce into our minds a somewhat different idea of organic creation
from what has hitherto been generally entertained.  That God created
animated beings, as well as the terraqueous theatre of their being, is a
fact so powerfully evidenced, and so universally received, that I at once
take it for granted.  But in the particulars of this so highly supported
idea, we surely here see cause for some re-consideration.  It may now be
inquired,—In what way was the creation of animated beings effected?  The
ordinary notion may, I think, be not unjustly described as this,—that the
Almighty author produced the progenitors of all existing species by some
sort of personal or immediate exertion.  But how does this notion comport
with what we have seen of the gradual advance of species, from the
humblest to the highest?  How can we suppose an immediate exertion of
this creative power at one time to produce zoophytes, another time to add
a few marine mollusks, another to bring in one or two conchifers, again
to produce crustaceous fishes, again perfect fishes, and so on to the
end?  This would surely be to take a very mean view of the Creative
Power—to, in short, anthropomorphize it, or reduce it to some such
character as that borne by the ordinary proceedings of mankind.  And yet
this would be unavoidable; for that the organic creation was thus
progressive through a long space of time, rests on evidence which nothing
can overturn or gainsay.  Some other idea must then be come to with
regard to _the mode_ in which the Divine Author proceeded in the organic
creation.  Let us seek in the history of the earth’s formation for a new
suggestion on this point.  We have seen powerful evidence, that the
construction of this globe and its associates, and inferentially that of
all the other globes of space, was the result, not of any immediate or
personal exertion on the part of the Deity, but of natural laws which are
expressions of his will.  What is to hinder our supposing that the
organic creation is also a result of natural laws, which are in like
manner an expression of his will?  More than this, the fact of the
cosmical arrangements being an effect of natural laws is a powerful
argument for the organic arrangements being so likewise, for how can we
suppose that the august Being who brought all these countless worlds into
form by the simple establishment of a natural principle flowing from his
mind, was to interfere personally and specially on every occasion when a
new shell-fish or reptile was to be ushered into existence on _one_ of
these worlds?  Surely this idea is too ridiculous to be for a moment

It will be objected that the ordinary conceptions of Christian nations on
this subject are directly derived from Scripture, or, at least, are in
conformity with it.  If they were clearly and unequivocally supported by
Scripture, it may readily be allowed that there would be a strong
objection to the reception of any opposite hypothesis.  But the fact is,
however startling the present announcement of it may be, that the first
chapter of the Mosaic record is not only not in harmony with the ordinary
ideas of mankind respecting cosmical and organic creation, but is opposed
to them, and only in accordance with the views here taken.  When we
carefully peruse it with awakened minds, we find that all the procedure
is represented primarily and pre-eminently as flowing _from commands and
expressions of will_, _not from direct acts_.  Let there be light—let
there be a firmament—let the dry land appear—let the earth bring forth
grass, the herb, the tree—let the waters bring forth the moving creature
that hath life—let the earth bring forth the living creature after his
kind—these are the terms in which the principal acts are described.  The
additional expressions,—God made the firmament—God made the beast of the
earth, &c., occur subordinately, and only in a few instances; they do not
necessarily convey a different idea of the mode of creation, and indeed
only appear as alternative phrases, in the usual duplicative manner of
Eastern narrative.  Keeping this in view, the words used in a subsequent
place, “God _formed_ man in his own image,” cannot well be understood as
implying any more than what was implied before,—namely, that man was
produced in consequence of an expression of the Divine will to that
effect.  Thus, the scriptural objection quickly vanishes, and the
prevalent ideas about the organic creation appear only as a mistaken
inference from the text, formed at a time when man’s ignorance prevented
him from drawing therefrom a just conclusion.  At the same time, I freely
own that I do not think it right to adduce the Mosaic record, either in
objection to, or support of any natural hypothesis, and this for many
reasons, but particularly for this, that there is not the least
appearance of an intention in that book to give philosophically exact
views of nature.

To a reasonable mind the Divine attributes must appear, not diminished or
reduced in any way, by supposing a creation by law, but infinitely
exalted.  It is the narrowest of all views of the Deity, and
characteristic of a humble class of intellects, to suppose him acting
constantly in particular ways for particular occasions.  It, for one
thing, greatly detracts from his foresight, the most undeniable of all
the attributes of Omnipotence.  It lowers him towards the level of our
own humble intellects.  Much more worthy of him it surely is, to suppose
that all things have been commissioned by him from the first, though
neither is he absent from a particle of the current of natural affairs in
one sense, seeing that the whole system is continually supported by his
providence.  Even in human affairs, if I may be allowed to adopt a
familiar illustration, there is a constant progress from specific action
for particular occasions, to arrangements which, once established, shall
continue to answer for a great multitude of occasions.  Such plans the
enlightened readily form for themselves, and conceive as being adopted by
all who have to attend to a multitude of affairs, while the ignorant
suppose every act of the greatest public functionary to be the result of
some special consideration and care on his part alone.  Are we to suppose
the Deity adopting plans which harmonize only with the modes of procedure
of the less enlightened of our race?  Those who would object to the
hypothesis of a creation by the intervention of law, do not perhaps
consider how powerful an argument in favour of the existence of God is
lost by rejecting this doctrine.  When all is seen to be the result of
law, the idea of an Almighty Author becomes irresistible, for the
creation of a law for an endless series of phenomena—an act of
intelligence above all else that we can conceive—could have no other
imaginable source, and tells, moreover, as powerfully for a sustaining as
for an originating power.  On this point a remark of Dr. Buckland seems
applicable: “If the properties adopted by the elements at the moment of
their creation adapted them beforehand to the infinity of complicated
useful purposes which they have already answered, and may have still
farther to answer, under many dispensations of the material world, such
an aboriginal constitution, so far from superseding an intelligent agent,
would only exalt our conceptions of the consummate skill and power that
could comprehend such an infinity of future uses under future systems, in
the original groundwork of his creation.”

A late writer, in a work embracing a vast amount of miscellaneous
knowledge, but written in a dogmatic style, argues at great length for
the doctrine of more immediate exertions on the part of the Deity in the
works of his creation.  One of the most striking of his illustrations is
as follows:—“The coral polypi, united by a common animal bond, construct
a defined form in stone; many kinds construct many forms.  An allotted
instinct may permit each polypus to construct its own cell, but there is
no superintending one to direct the pattern, nor can the workers unite by
consultation for such an end.  There is no recipient for an instinct by
which the pattern might be constructed.  It is God alone, therefore, who
is the architect; and for this end, consequently, he must dispose of
every new polypus required to continue the pattern, in a new and peculiar
position, which the animal could not have discovered by itself.  Yet
more, millions of these blind workers unite their works to form an
island, which is also wrought out according to a constant general
pattern, and of a very peculiar nature, though the separate coral works
are numerously diverse.  Still less, then, here is an instinct possible.
The Great Architect himself must execute what he planned, in each case
equally.  He uses these little and senseless animals as hands; but they
are hands which himself must direct.  He must direct each one everywhere,
and therefore he is ever acting.” {159}  This is a most notable example
of a dangerous kind of reasoning.  It is now believed that corals have a
general life and sensation throughout the whole mass, residing in the
nervous tissue which envelops them; consequently, there is nothing more
wonderful in their determinate general forms than in those of other

It may here be remarked that there is in our doctrine that harmony in all
the associated phenomena which generally marks great truths.  First, it
agrees, as we have seen, with the idea of planet-creation by natural law.
Secondly, upon this supposition, all that geology tells us of the
succession of species appears natural and intelligible.  Organic life
_presses in_, as has been remarked, wherever there was room and
encouragement for it, the forms being always such as suited the
circumstances, and in a certain relation to them, as, for example, where
the limestone-forming seas produced an abundance of corals, crinoidea,
and shell-fish.  Admitting for a moment a re-origination of species after
a cataclysm, as has been surmised by some geologists, though the
hypothesis is always becoming less and less tenable, it harmonizes with
nothing so well as the idea of a creation by law.  The more solitary
commencements of species, which would have been the most inconceivably
paltry exercise for an immediately creative power, are sufficiently
worthy of one operating by laws.

It is also to be observed, that the thing to be accounted for is not
merely the origination of organic being upon this little planet, third of
a series which is but one of hundreds of thousands of series, the whole
of which again form but one portion of an apparently infinite
globe-peopled space, where all seems analogous.  We have to suppose, that
every one of these numberless globes is either a theatre of organic
being, or in the way of becoming so.  This is a conclusion which every
addition to our knowledge makes only the more irresistible.  Is it
conceivable, as a fitting mode of exercise for creative intelligence,
that it should be constantly moving from one sphere to another, to form
and plant the various species which may be required in each situation at
particular times?  Is such an idea accordant with our general conception
of the dignity, not to speak of the power, of the Great Author?  Yet such
is the notion which we must form, if we adhere to the doctrine of special
exercise.  Let us see, on the other hand, how the doctrine of a creation
by law agrees with this expanded view of the organic world.

Unprepared as most men may be for such an announcement, there can be no
doubt that we are able, in this limited sphere, to form some satisfactory
conclusions as to the plants and animals of those other spheres which
move at such immense distances from us.  Suppose that the first persons
of an early nation who made a ship and ventured to sea in it, observed,
as they sailed along, a set of objects which they had never before
seen—namely, a fleet of other ships—would they not have been justified in
supposing that those ships were occupied, like their own, by human beings
possessing hands to row and steer, eyes to watch the signs of the
weather, intelligence to guide them from one place to another—in short,
beings in all respects like themselves, or only shewing such differences
as they knew to be producible by difference of climate and habits of
life.  Precisely in this manner we can speculate on the inhabitants of
remote spheres.  We see that matter has originally been diffused in one
mass, of which the spheres are portions.  Consequently, inorganic matter
must be presumed to be everywhere the same, although probably with
differences in the proportions of ingredients in different globes, and
also some difference of conditions.  Out of a certain number of the
elements of inorganic matter are composed organic bodies, both vegetable
and animal; such must be the rule in Jupiter and in Sirius, as it is
here.  We, therefore, are all but certain that herbaceous and ligneous
fibre, that flesh and blood, are the constituents of the organic beings
of all those spheres which are as yet seats of life.  Gravitation we see
to be an all-pervading principle: therefore there must be a relation
between the spheres and their respective organic occupants, by virtue of
which they are fixed, as far as necessary, on the surface.  Such a
relation, of course, involves details as to the density and elasticity of
structure, as well as size, of the organic tenants, in proportion to the
gravity of the respective planets—peculiarities, however, which may quite
well consist with the idea of a universality of general types, to which
we are about to come.  Electricity we also see to be universal; if,
therefore, it be a principle concerned in life and in mental action, as
science strongly suggests, life and mental action must everywhere be of
one general character.  We come to comparatively a matter of detail, when
we advert to heat and light; yet it is important to consider that these
are universal agents, and that, as they bear marked relations to organic
life and structure on earth, they may be presumed to do so in other
spheres also.  The considerations as to light are particularly
interesting, for, on our globe, the structure of one important organ,
almost universally distributed in the animal kingdom, is in direct and
precise relation to it.  Where there is light there will be eyes, and
these, in other spheres, will be the same in all respects as the eyes of
tellurian animals, with only such differences as may be necessary to
accord with minor peculiarities of condition and of situation.  It is but
a small stretch of the argument to suppose that, one conspicuous organ of
a large portion of our animal kingdom being thus universal, a parity in
all the other organs—species for species, class for class, kingdom for
kingdom—is highly likely, and that thus the inhabitants of all the other
globes of space bear not only a general, but a particular resemblance to
those of our own.

Assuming that organic beings are thus spread over all space, the idea of
their having all come into existence by the operation of laws everywhere
applicable, is only conformable to that principle, acknowledged to be so
generally visible in the affairs of Providence, to have all done by the
employment of the smallest possible amount of means.  Thus, as one set of
laws produced all orbs and their motions and geognostic arrangements, so
one set of laws overspread them all with life.  The whole productive or
creative arrangements are therefore in perfect unity.


THE general likelihood of an organic creation by law having been shewn,
we are next to inquire if science has any facts tending to bring the
assumption more nearly home to nature.  Such facts there certainly are;
but it cannot be surprising that they are comparatively few and
scattered, when we consider that the inquiry is into one of nature’s
profoundest mysteries, and one which has hitherto engaged no direct
attention in almost any quarter.

Crystallization is confessedly a phenomenon of inorganic matter; yet the
simplest rustic observer is struck by the resemblance which the examples
of it left upon a window by frost bear to vegetable forms.  In some
crystallizations the mimicry is beautiful and complete; for example, in
the well-known one called the _Arbor Dianæ_.  An amalgam of four parts of
silver and two of mercury being dissolved in nitric acid, and water equal
to thirty weights of the metals being added, a small piece of soft
amalgam of silver suspended in the solution, quickly gathers to itself
the particles of the silver of the amalgam, which form upon it a
_crystallization precisely resembling a shrub_.  The experiment may be
varied in a way which serves better to detect the influence of
electricity in such operations, as noted below. {166}  Vegetable figures
are also presented in some of the most ordinary appearances of the
electric fluid.  In the marks caused by positive electricity, or which it
leaves in its passage, we see the ramifications of a tree, as well as of
its individual leaves; those of the negative, recal the bulbous or the
spreading root, according as they are clumped or divergent.  These
phenomena seem to say that the electric energies have had something to do
in determining the forms of plants.  That they are intimately connected
with vegetable life is indubitable, for germination will not proceed in
water charged with negative electricity, while water charged positively
greatly favours it; and a garden sensibly increases in luxuriance, when a
number of conducting rods are made to terminate in branches over its
beds.  With regard to the resemblance of the ramifications of the
branches and leaves of plants to the traces of the positive electricity,
and that of the roots to the negative, it is a circumstance calling for
especial remark, that the atmosphere, particularly its lower strata, is
generally charged positively, while the earth is always charged
negatively.  The correspondence here is curious.  A plant thus appears as
a thing formed on the basis of a natural electrical operation—the _brush_
realized.  We can thus suppose the various forms of plants as,
immediately, the result of a law in electricity variously affecting them
according to their organic character, or respective germinal
constituents.  In the poplar, the brush is unusually vertical, and little
divergent; the reverse in the beech: in the palm, a pencil has proceeded
straight up for a certain distance, radiates there, and turns outwards
and downwards; and so on.  We can here see at least traces of secondary
means by which the Almighty Deviser might establish all the vegetable
forms with which the earth is overspread.

Vegetable and animal bodies are mainly composed of the same four simple
substances or elements—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen.  The first
combinations of these in animals are into what are called proximate
principles, as albumen, fibrin, urea, alantoin, &c., out of which the
structure of the animal body is composed.  Now the chemist, by the
association of two parts oxygen, four hydrogen, two carbon, and two
nitrogen, can _make urea_.  Alantoin has also been produced artificially.
Two of the proximate principles being realizable by human care, the
possibility of realizing or forming all is established.  Thus the chemist
may be said to have it in his power to realize the first step in
organization. {169a}  Indeed, it is fully acknowledged by Dr. Daubeny,
that in the combinations forming the proximate principles there is no
chemical peculiarity.  “It is now certain,” he says, “that the same
simple laws of composition pervade the whole creation; and that, if the
organic chemist only takes the requisite precautions to avoid resolving
into their ultimate elements the proximate principles upon which he
operates, the results of his analysis will shew that they are combined
precisely according to the same plan as the elements of mineral bodies
are known to be.” {169b}  A particular fact is here worthy of attention.
“The conversion of fecula into sugar, as one of the ordinary processes of
vegetable economy, is effected by the production of a secretion termed
_diastose_, which occasions both the rupture of the starch vesicles, and
the change of their contained gum into sugar.  This diastose may be
separately obtained by the chemist, and it acts as effectually in his
laboratory as in the vegetable organization.  He can also imitate its
effects by other chemical agents.” {170}  The writer quoted below adds,
“No reasonable ground has yet been adduced for supposing that, if we had
the power of bringing together the elements of any organic compound, in
their requisite states and proportions, the result would be any other
than that which is found in the living body.”

It is much to know the elements out of which organic bodies are composed.
It is something more to know their first combinations, and that these are
simply chemical.  How these combinations are associated in the structure
of living bodies is the next inquiry, but it is one to which as yet no
satisfactory answer can be given.  The investigation of the minutiæ of
organic structure by the microscope is of such recent origin, that its
results cannot be expected to be very clear.  Some facts, however, are
worthy of attention with regard to the present inquiry.  It is
ascertained that the basis of all vegetable and animal substances
consists of nucleated cells; that is, cells having granules within them.
Nutriment is converted into these before being assimilated by the system.
The tissues are formed from them.  The ovum destined to become a new
creature, is originally only a cell with a contained granule.  We see it
acting this reproductive part in the simplest manner in the cryptogamic
plants.  “The parent cell, arrived at maturity by the exercise of its
organic functions, bursts, and liberates its contained granules.  These,
at once thrown upon their own resources, and entirely dependent for their
nutrition on the surrounding elements, develop themselves into new cells,
which repeat the life of their original.  Amongst the higher tribes of
the cryptogamia, the reproductive cell does not burst, but the first
cells of the new structure are developed within it, and these gradually
extend, by a similar process of multiplication, into that primary
leaf-like expansion which is the first formed structure in all plants.”
{171}  _Here the little cell becomes directly a plant_, _the full formed
living being_.  It is also worthy of remark that, in the sponges, (an
animal form,) a gemmule detached from the body of the parent, and
trusting for sustentation only to the fluid into which it has been cast,
becomes, without further process, the new creature.  Further, it has been
recently discovered by means of the microscope, that there is, as far as
can be judged, a perfect resemblance between the ovum of the mammal
tribes, during that early stage when it is passing through the oviduct,
and the young of the infusory animalcules.  One of the most remarkable of
these, the _volvox globator_, has exactly the form of the germ which,
after passing through a long fœtal progress, becomes a complete mammifer,
an animal of the highest class.  It has even been found that both are
alike provided with those _cilia_, which, producing a revolving motion,
or its appearance, is partly the cause of the name given to this
animalcule.  These resemblances are the more entitled to notice, that
they were made by various observers, distant from each other at the time.
{172}  It has likewise been noted that the globules of the blood are
reproduced by the expansion of contained granules; they are, in short,
_distinct organisms multiplied by the same fissiparous generation_.  So
that all animated nature may be said to be based on this mode of origin;
_the fundamental form of organic being is a globule_, _having a new
globule forming within itself_, by which it is in time discharged, and
which is again followed by another and another, in endless succession.
It is of course obvious that, if these globules could be produced by any
process from inorganic elements, we should be entitled to say that the
fact of a transit from the inorganic into the organic had been witnessed
in that instance; the possibility of the commencement of animated
creation by the ordinary laws of nature might be considered as
established.  Now it was given out some years ago by a French
physiologist, that _globules could be produced in albumen by
electricity_.  If, therefore, these globules be identical with the cells
which are now held to be reproductive, it might be said that the
production of albumen by artificial means is the only step in the process
wanting.  This has not yet been effected; but it is known to be only a
chemical process, the mode of which may be any day discovered in the
laboratory, and two compounds perfectly co-ordinate, urea and alantoin,
have actually been produced.

In such an investigation as the present, it is not unworthy of notice
that the production of shell is a natural operation which can be
precisely imitated artificially.  Such an incrustation takes place on
both the outside and inside of the wheel in a bleaching establishment, in
which cotton cloth is rinsed free of the lime employed in its
purification.  From the _dressing_ employed by the weaver, the cloth
obtains the animal matter, _gelatin_; this and the lime form the
constituents of the incrustation, exactly as in natural shell.  In the
wheel employed at Catrine, in Ayrshire, where the phenomenon was first
observed by the eye of science, it had required ten years to produce a
coating the tenth of an inch in thickness.  This incrustation has all the
characters of shell, displaying a highly polished surface, beautifully
iridescent, and, when broken, a foliated texture.  The examination of it
has even thrown some light on the character and mode of formation of
natural shell.  “The plates into which the substance is divisible have
been formed in succession, and certain intervals of time have elapsed
between their formation; in general, every two contiguous laminæ are
separated by a thin iridescent film, varying from the three to the fifty
millionth part of an inch in thickness, and producing all the various
colours of thin plates which correspond to intermediate thicknesses:
between some of the laminæ no such film exists, probably in consequence
of the interval of time between their formation being too short; and
between others the film has been formed of unequal thickness.  There can
be no doubt that these iridescent films are formed when the dash-wheel is
at rest during the night, and that when no film exists between two
laminæ, an interval too short for its formation, (arising, perhaps, from
the stopping of the work during the day,) has elapsed during the drying
or induration of one lamina and the deposition of another.” {175}  From
this it has been deduced, by a patient investigation, that those colours
of mother-of-pearl, which are incommunicable to wax, arise from
iridescent films deposited between the laminæ of its structure, and it is
hence inferred that _the animal_, like the wheel, _rests periodically
from its labours in forming the natural substance_.

These, it will be owned, are curious and not irrelevant facts; but it
will be asked what actual experience says respecting the origination of
life.  Are there, it will be said, any authentic instances of either
plants or animals, of however humble and simple a kind, having come into
existence otherwise than in the ordinary way of generation, since the
time of which geology forms the record?  It may be answered, that the
negative of this question could not be by any means formidable to the
doctrine of law-creation, seeing that the conditions necessary for the
operation of the supposed life-creating laws may not have existed within
record to any great extent.  On the other hand, as we see the physical
laws of early times still acting with more or less force, it might not be
unreasonable to expect that we should still see some remnants, or partial
and occasional workings of the life-creating energy amidst a system of
things generally stable and at rest.  Are there, then, any such remnants
to be traced in our own day, or during man’s existence upon earth?  If
there be, it clearly would form a strong evidence in favour of the
doctrine, as what now takes place upon a confined scale and in a
comparatively casual manner may have formerly taken place on a great
scale, and as the proper and eternity-destined means of supplying a
vacant globe with suitable tenants.  It will at the same time be observed
that, the earth being now supplied with both kinds of tenants in great
abundance, we only could expect to find the life-originating power at
work in some very special and extraordinary circumstances, and probably
only in the inferior and obscurer departments of the vegetable and animal

Perhaps, if the question were asked of ten men of approved reputation in
science, nine out of the number would answer in the negative.  This is
because, in a great number of instances where the superficial observers
of former times assumed a non-generative origin for life, (as in the
celebrated case in Virgil’s fourth Georgic,) either the direct contrary
has been ascertained, or exhaustive experiments have left no alternative
from the conclusion that ordinary generation did take place, albeit in a
manner which escapes observation.  Finding that an erroneous assumption
has been formed in many cases, modern inquirers have not hesitated to
assume that there can be no case in which generation is not concerned; an
assumption not only unwarranted by, but directly opposed to, the
principles of philosophical investigation.  Yet this is truly the point
at which the question now rests in the scientific world.

I have no wish here to enter largely into a subject so wide and so full
of difficulties; but I may remark, that the explanations usually
suggested where life takes its rise without apparent generative means,
always appear to me to partake much of the fallacy of the _petitio
principii_.  When, for instance, lime is laid down upon a piece of waste
moss ground, and a crop of white clover for which no seeds were sown is
the consequence, the explanation that the seeds have been dormant there
for an unknown time, and were stimulated into germination when the lime
produced the appropriate circumstances, appears extremely unsatisfactory,
especially when we know that (as in an authentic case under my notice)
the spot is many miles from where clover is cultivated, and that there is
nothing for six feet below but pure peat moss, clover seeds being,
moreover, known to be too heavy to be transported, as many other seeds
are, by the winds.  Mushrooms, we know, can be propagated by their seed;
but another mode of raising them, well known to the gardener, is to mix
cow and horse dung together, and thus form a bed in which they are
expected to grow without any seed being planted.  It is assumed that the
seeds are carried by the atmosphere, unperceived by us, and, finding here
an appropriate field for germination, germinate accordingly; but this is
only assumption, and though designed to be on the side of a severe
philosophy, in reality makes a pretty large demand on credulity.  There
are several persons eminent in science who profess at least to find great
difficulties in accepting the doctrine of invariable generation.  One of
these, in the work noted below, {179a} has stated several considerations
arising from analogical reasoning, which appear to him to throw the
balance of evidence in favour of the aboriginal production of infusoria,
{179b} the vegetation called mould, and the like.  One seems to be of
great force; namely, that the animalcules, which are supposed (altogether
hypothetically) to be produced by ova, are afterwards found increasing
their numbers, not by that mode at all, but by division of their bodies.
If it be the nature of these creatures to propagate in this splitting or
fissiparous manner, how could they be communicated to a vegetable
infusion?  Another fact of very high importance is presented in the
following terms:—“The nature of the animalcule, or vegetable production,
bears a constant relation to the state of the infusion, so that, in
similar circumstances, the same are always produced without this being
influenced by the atmosphere.  There seems to be a certain _progressive
advance in the productive powers of the infusion_, for at the first the
animalcules are only of the smaller kinds, or monades, and afterwards
_they become gradually larger and more complicated in their structure_;
_after a time_, _the production ceases_, _although the materials are by
no means exhausted_.  When the quantity of water is very small, and the
organic matter abundant, the production is usually of a vegetable nature;
when there is much water, animalcules are more frequently produced.”  It
has been shewn by the opponents of this theory, that when a vegetable
infusion is debarred from the contact of the atmosphere, by being closely
sealed up or covered with a layer of oil, no animalcules are produced;
but it has been said, on the other hand, that the exclusion of the air
may prevent some simple condition necessary for the aboriginal
development of life—and nothing is more likely.  Perhaps the prevailing
doctrine is in nothing placed in greater difficulties than it is with
regard to the entozoa, or creatures which live within the bodies of
others.  These creatures do, and apparently can, live nowhere else than
in the interior of other living bodies, where they generally take up
their abode in the viscera, but also sometimes in the chambers of the
eye, the interior of the brain, the serous sacs, and other places having
no communication from without.  Some are viviparous, others oviparous.
Of the latter it cannot reasonably be supposed that the ova ever pass
through the medium of the air, or through the blood-vessels, for they are
too heavy for the one transit, and too large for the other.  Of the
former, it cannot be conceived how they pass into young animals—certainly
not by communication from the parent, for it has often been found that
entozoa do not appear in certain generations, and some of peculiar and
noted character have only appeared at rare intervals, and in very
extraordinary circumstances.  A candid view of the less popular doctrine,
as to the origin of this humble form of life, is taken by a distinguished
living naturalist.  “To explain the beginning of these worms within the
human body, on the common doctrine that all created beings proceed from
their likes, or a primordial egg, is so difficult, that the moderns have
been driven to speculate, as our fathers did, on their spontaneous birth;
but they have received the hypothesis with some modification.  Thus it is
not from putrefaction or fermentation that the entozoa are born, for both
of these processes are rather fatal to their existence, but from the
aggregation and fit apposition of matter which is already organized, or
has been thrown from organized surfaces.  Their origin in this manner is
not more wonderful or more inexplicable than that of many of the inferior
animals from sections of themselves. * * Particles of matter fitted by
digestion, and their transmission through a living body, for immediate
assimilation with it, or flakes of lymph detached from surfaces already
organized, seem neither to exceed nor fall below that simplicity of
structure which favours this wonderful development; and the supposition
that, like morsels of a planaria, they may also, when retained in contact
with living parts, and in other favourable circumstances, continue to
live and be gradually changed into creatures of analogous conformation,
is surely not so absurd as to be brought into comparison with the
Metamorphoses of Ovid. * * We think the hypothesis is also supported in
some degree by the fact, that the origin of the entozoa is favoured by
all causes which tend to disturb the equality between the secerning and
absorbent systems.” {182}  Here particles of organized matter are
suggested as the germinal origin of distinct and fully organized animals,
many of which have a highly developed reproductive system.  How near such
particles must be to the inorganic form of matter may be judged from what
has been said within the last few pages.  If, then, this view of the
production of entozoa be received, it must be held as in no small degree
favourable to the general doctrine of an organic creation by law.

There is another series of facts, akin to the above, and which deserve
not less attention.  The pig, in its domestic state, is subject to the
attacks of a hydatid, from which the wild animal is free; hence the
disease called measles in pork.  The domestication of the pig is of
course an event subsequent to the origin of man; indeed, comparatively
speaking, a recent event.  Whence, then, the first progenitor of this
hydatid?  So also there is a tinea which attacks dressed wool, but never
touches it in its unwashed state.  A particular insect disdains all food
but chocolate, and the larva of the _oinopota cellaris_ lives nowhere but
in wine and beer, all of these being articles manufactured by man.  There
is likewise a creature called the _pimelodes cyclopum_, which is only
found in subterranean cavities connected with certain specimens of the
volcanic formation in South America, dating from a time posterior to the
arrangements of the earth for our species.  Whence the first pymelodes
cyclopum?  Will it, to a geologist, appear irrational to suppose that,
just as the pterodactyle was added in the era of the new red sandstone,
when the earth had become suited for such a creature, so may these
creatures have been added when media suitable for their existence arose,
and that such phenomena may take place any day, the only cause for their
taking place seldom being the rarity of the rise of new physical
conditions on a globe which seems to have already undergone the principal
part of its destined mutations?

Between such isolated facts and the greater changes which attended
various geological eras, it is not easy to see any difference, besides
simply that of the scale on which the respective phenomena took place, as
the throwing off of one copy from an engraved plate is exactly the same
process as that by which a thousand are thrown off.  Nothing is more easy
to conceive than that to Creative Providence, the numbers of such
phenomena, the time when, and the circumstances under which they take
place, are indifferent matters.  The Eternal One has arranged for
everything beforehand, and trusted all to the operation of the laws of
his appointment, himself being ever present in all things.  We can even
conceive that man, in his many doings upon the surface of the earth, may
occasionally, without his being aware of it, or otherwise, act as an
instrument in preparing the association of conditions under which the
creative laws work; and perhaps some instances of his having acted as
such an instrument have actually occurred in our own time.

I allude, of course, to the experiments conducted a few years ago by Mr.
Crosse, which seemed to result in the production of a heretofore unknown
species of insect in considerable numbers.  Various causes have prevented
these experiments and their results from receiving candid treatment, but
they may perhaps be yet found to have opened up a new and most
interesting chapter of nature’s mysteries.  Mr. Crosse was pursuing some
experiments in crystallization, causing a powerful voltaic battery to
operate upon a saturated solution of silicate of potash, when the insects
unexpectedly made their appearance.  He afterwards tried nitrate of
copper, which is a deadly poison, and from that fluid also did live
insects emerge.  Discouraged by the reception of his experiments, Mr.
Crosse soon discontinued them; but they were some years after pursued by
Mr. Weekes, of Sandwich, with precisely the same results.  This
gentleman, besides trying the first of the above substances, employed
ferro-cyanet of potash, on account of its containing a larger proportion
of carbon, the principal element of organic bodies; and from this
substance the insects were produced _in increased numbers_.  A few weeks
sufficed for this experiment, with the powerful battery of Mr. Crosse;
but the first attempts of Mr. Weekes required about eleven months, a
ground of presumption in itself that the electricity was chiefly
concerned in the phenomenon.  The changes undergone by the fluid operated
upon, were in both cases remarkable, and nearly alike.  In Mr. Weekes’
apparatus, the silicate of potash became first turbid, then of a milky
appearance; round the negative wire of the battery, dipped into the
fluid, there gathered a quantity of _gelatinous matter_, a part of the
process of considerable importance, considering that gelatin is one of
the _proximate principles_, or first compounds, of which animal bodies
are formed.  From this matter Mr. Weekes observed one of the insects in
the very act of emerging, immediately after which, it ascended to the
surface of the fluid, and sought concealment in an obscure corner of the
apparatus.  The insects produced by both experimentalists seem to have
been the same, a species of acarus, minute and semi-transparent, and
furnished with long bristles, which can only be seen by the aid of the
microscope.  It is worthy of remark, that some of these insects, soon
after their existence had commenced, were found to be likely to extend
their species.  They were sometimes observed to go back to the fluid to
feed, and occasionally they devoured each other. {187}

The reception of novelties in science must ever be regulated very much by
the amount of kindred or relative phenomena which the public mind already
possesses and acknowledges, to which the new can be assimilated.  A
novelty, however true, if there be no received truths with which it can
be shewn in harmonious relation, has little chance of a favourable
hearing.  In fact, as has been often observed, there is a measure of
incredulity from our ignorance as well as from our knowledge, and if the
most distinguished philosopher three hundred years ago had ventured to
develop any striking new fact which only could harmonize with the as yet
unknown Copernican solar system, we cannot doubt that it would have been
universally scoffed at in the scientific world, such as it then was, or
at the best interpreted in a thousand wrong ways in conformity with ideas
already familiar.  The experiments above described, finding a public mind
which had never discovered a fact or conceived an idea at all analogous,
were of course ungraciously received.  It was held to be impious, even to
surmise that animals could have been formed through any instrumentality
of an apparatus devised by human skill.  The more likely account of the
phenomena was said to be, that the insects were only developed from ova,
resting either in the fluid, or in the wooden frame on which the
experiments took place.  On these objections the following remarks may be
made.  The supposition of impiety arises from an entire misconception of
what is implied by an aboriginal creation of insects.  The
experimentalist could never be considered as the author of the existence
of these creatures, except by the most unreasoning ignorance.  The utmost
that can be claimed for, or imputed to him is that he arranged the
natural conditions under which the true creative energy—that of the
Divine Author of all things—was pleased to work in that instance.  On the
hypothesis here brought forward, the _acarus Crossii_ was a type of being
ordained from the beginning, and destined to be realized under certain
physical conditions.  When a human hand brought these conditions into the
proper arrangement, it did an act akin to hundreds of familiar ones which
we execute every day, and which are followed by natural results; but it
did nothing more.  The production of the insect, if it did take place as
assumed, was as clearly an act of the Almighty himself, as if he had
fashioned it with hands.  For the presumption that an act of aboriginal
creation did take place, there is this to be said, that, in Mr. Weekes’s
experiment, every care that ingenuity could devise was taken to exclude
the possibility of a development of the insects from ova.  The wood of
the frame was baked in a powerful heat; a bell-shaped glass covered the
apparatus, and from this the atmosphere was excluded by the constantly
rising fumes from the liquid, for the emission of which there was an
aperture so arranged at the top of the glass, that only these fumes could
pass.  The water was distilled, and the substance of the silicate had
been subjected to white heat.  Thus every source of fallacy seemed to be
shut up.  In such circumstances, a candid mind, which sees nothing either
impious or unphilosophical in the idea of a new creation, will be
disposed to think that there is less difficulty in believing in such a
creation having actually taken place, than in believing that, in two
instances, separated in place and time, exactly the same insects should
have chanced to arise from concealed ova, and these a species heretofore


IT has been already intimated, as a general fact, that there is an
obvious gradation amongst the families of both the vegetable and animal
kingdoms, from the simple lichen and animalcule respectively up to the
highest order of dicotyledonous trees and the mammalia.  Confining our
attention, in the meantime, to the animal kingdom—it does not appear that
this gradation passes along one line, on which every form of animal life
can be, as it were, strung; there may be branching or double lines at
some places; or the whole may be in a circle composed of minor circles,
as has been recently suggested.  But still it is incontestable that there
are general appearances of a scale beginning with the simple and
advancing to the complicated.  The animal kingdom was divided by Cuvier
into four sub-kingdoms, or divisions, and these exhibit an unequivocal
gradation in the order in which they are here enumerated:—Radiata,
(polypes, &c.;) mollusca, (pulpy animals;) articulata, (jointed animals;)
vertebrata, (animals with internal skeleton.)  The gradation can, in like
manner, be clearly traced in the _classes_ into which the sub-kingdoms
are subdivided, as, for instance, when we take those of the vertebrata in
this order—reptiles, fishes, birds, mammals.

While the external forms of all these various animals are so different,
it is very remarkable that the whole are, after all, variations of a
fundamental plan, which can be traced as a basis throughout the whole,
the variations being merely modifications of that plan to suit the
particular conditions in which each particular animal has been designed
to live.  Starting from the primeval germ, which, as we have seen, is the
representative of a particular order of full-grown animals, we find all
others to be merely advances from that type, with the extension of
endowments and modification of forms which are required in each
particular case; each form, also, retaining a strong affinity to that
which precedes it, and tending to impress its own features on that which
succeeds.  This unity of structure, as it is called, becomes the more
remarkable, when we observe that the organs, while preserving a
resemblance, are often put to different uses.  For example: the ribs
become, in the serpent, organs of locomotion, and the snout is extended,
in the elephant, into a prehensile instrument.

It is equally remarkable that analogous purposes are served in different
animals by organs essentially different.  Thus, the mammalia breathe by
lungs; the fishes, by gills.  These are not modifications of one organ,
but distinct organs.  In mammifers, the gills exist and act at an early
stage of the fœtal state, but afterwards go back and appear no more;
while the lungs are developed.  In fishes, again, the gills only are
fully developed; while the lung structure either makes no advance at all,
or only appears in the rudimentary form of an air-bladder.  So, also, the
baleen of the whale and the teeth of the land mammalia are different
organs.  The whale, in embryo, shews the rudiments of teeth; but these,
not being wanted, are not developed, and the baleen is brought forward
instead.  The land animals, we may also be sure, have the rudiments of
baleen in their organization.  In many instances, a particular structure
is found advanced to a certain point in a particular set of animals, (for
instance, feet in the serpent tribe,) although it is not there required
in any degree; but the peculiarity, being carried a little farther
forward, is perhaps useful in the next set of animals in the scale.  Such
are called rudimentary organs.  With this class of phenomena are to be
ranked the useless mammæ of the male human being, and the unrequired
process of bone in the male opossum, which is needed in the female for
supporting her pouch.  Such curious features are most conspicuous in
animals which form links between various classes.

As formerly stated, the marsupials, standing at the bottom of the
mammalia, shew their affinity to the oviparous vertebrata, by the
rudiments of two canals passing from near the anus to the external
surfaces of the viscera, which are fully developed in fishes, being
required by them for the respiration of aerated waters, but which are not
needed by the atmosphere-breathing marsupials.  We have also the peculiar
form of the sternum and rib-bones of the lizards _represented_ in the
mammalia in certain white cartilaginous lines traceable among their
abdominal muscles.  The struphionidæ (birds of the ostrich type) form a
link between birds and mammalia, and in them we find the wings
imperfectly or not at all developed, a diaphragm and urinary sac, (organs
wanting in other birds,) and feathers approaching the nature of hair.
Again, the ornithorynchus belongs to a class at the bottom of the
mammalia, and approximating to birds, and in it behold the bill and
web-feet of that order!

For further illustration, it is obvious that, various as may be the
lengths of the upper part of the vertebral column in the mammalia, it
always consists of the same parts.  The giraffe has in its tall neck the
same number of bones with the pig, which scarcely appears to have a neck
at all. {195}  Man, again, has no tail; but the notion of a
much-ridiculed philosopher of the last century is not altogether, as it
happens, without foundation, for the bones of a caudal extremity exist in
an undeveloped state in the _os coccygis_ of the human subject.  The
limbs of all the vertebrate animals are, in like manner, on one plan,
however various they may appear.  In the hind-leg of a horse, for
example, the angle called the hock is the same part which in us forms the
heel; and the horse, and all other quadrupeds, with almost the solitary
exception of the bear, walk, in reality, upon what answers to the toes of
a human being.  In this and many other quadrupeds the fore part of the
extremities is shrunk up in a hoof, as the tail of the human being is
shrunk up in the bony mass at the bottom of the back.  The bat, on the
other hand, has these parts largely developed.  The membrane, commonly
called its wing, is framed chiefly upon bones answering precisely to
those of the human hand; its extinct congener, the pterodactyle, had the
same membrane extended upon the fore-finger only, which in that animal
was prolonged to an extraordinary extent.  In the paddles of the whale
and other animals of its order, we see the same bones as in the more
highly developed extremities of the land mammifers; and even the serpent
tribes, which present no external appearance of such extremities, possess
them in reality, but in an undeveloped or rudimental state.

The same law of development presides over the vegetable kingdom.  Amongst
phanerogamous plants, a certain number of organs appear to be always
present, either in a developed or rudimentary state; and those which are
rudimentary can be developed by cultivation.  The flowers which bear
stamens on one stalk and pistils on another, can be caused to produce
both, or to become perfect flowers, by having a sufficiency of
nourishment supplied to them.  So also, where a special function is
required for particular circumstances, nature has provided for it, not by
a new organ, but by a modification of a common one, which she has
effected in development.  Thus, for instance, some plants destined to
live in arid situations, require to have a store of water which they may
slowly absorb.  The need is arranged for by a cup-like expansion round
the stalk, in which water remains after a shower.  Now the _pitcher_, as
this is called, is not a new organ, but simply a metamorphose of a leaf.

These facts clearly shew how all the various organic forms of our world
are bound up in one—how a fundamental unity pervades and embraces them
all, collecting them, from the humblest lichen up to the highest
mammifer, in one system, the whole creation of which must have depended
upon one law or decree of the Almighty, though it did not all come forth
at one time.  After what we have seen, the idea of a separate exertion
for each must appear totally inadmissible.  The single fact of abortive
or rudimentary organs condemns it; for these, on such a supposition,
could be regarded in no other light than as blemishes or blunders—the
thing of all others most irreconcilable with that idea of Almighty
Perfection which a general view of nature so irresistibly conveys.  On
the other hand, when the organic creation is admitted to have been
effected by a general law, we see nothing in these abortive parts but
harmless peculiarities of development, and interesting evidences of the
manner in which the Divine Author has been pleased to work.

We have yet to advert to the most interesting class of facts connected
with the laws of organic development.  It is only in recent times that
physiologists have observed that each animal passes, in the course of its
germinal history, through a series of changes resembling the _permanent
forms_ of the various orders of animals inferior to it in the scale.
Thus, for instance, an insect, standing at the head of the articulated
animals, is, in the larva state, a true annelid, or worm, the annelida
being the lowest in the same class.  The embryo of a crab resembles the
perfect animal of the inferior order myriapoda, and passes through all
the forms of transition which characterize the intermediate tribes of
crustacea.  The frog, for some time after its birth, is a fish with
external gills, and other organs fitting it for an aquatic life, all of
which are changed as it advances to maturity, and becomes a land animal.
The mammifer only passes through still more stages, according to its
higher place in the scale.  Nor is man himself exempt from this law.  His
first form is that which is permanent in the animalcule.  His
organization gradually passes through conditions generally resembling a
fish, a reptile, a bird, and the lower mammalia, before it attains its
specific maturity.  At one of the last stages of his fœtal career, he
exhibits an intermaxillary bone, which is characteristic of the perfect
ape; this is suppressed, and he may then be said to take leave of the
simial type, and become a true human creature.  Even, as we shall see,
the varieties of his race are represented in the progressive development
of an individual of the highest, before we see the adult Caucasian, the
highest point yet attained in the animal scale.

To come to particular points of the organization.  The brain of man,
which exceeds that of all other animals in complexity of organization and
fulness of development, is, at one early period, only “a simple fold of
nervous matter, with difficulty distinguishable into three parts, while a
little tail-like prolongation towards the hinder parts, and which had
been the first to appear, is the only representation of a spinal marrow.
Now, in this state it perfectly resembles the brain of an adult fish,
thus assuming _in transitu_ the form that in the fish is permanent.  In a
short time, however, the structure is become more complex, the parts more
distinct, the spinal marrow better marked; it is now the brain of a
reptile.  The change continues; by a singular motion, certain parts
(_corpora quadragemina_) which had hitherto appeared on the upper
surface, now pass towards the lower; the former is their permanent
situation in fishes and reptiles, the latter in birds and mammalia.  This
is another advance in the scale, but more remains yet to be done.  The
complication of the organ increases; cavities termed _ventricles_ are
formed, which do not exist in fishes, reptiles, or birds; curiously
organized parts, such as the corpora striata, are added; it is now the
brain of the mammalia.  Its last and final change alone seems wanting,
that which shall render it the brain of MAN.” {201}  And this change in
time takes place.

So also with the heart.  This organ, in the mammalia, consists of four
cavities, but in the reptiles of only three, and in fishes of two only,
while in the articulated animals it is merely a prolonged tube.  Now in
the mammal fœtus, at a certain early stage, the organ has the form of a
prolonged tube; and a human being may be said to have then the heart of
an insect.  Subsequently it is shortened and widened, and becomes divided
by a contraction into two parts, a ventricle and an auricle; it is now
the heart of a fish.  A subdivision of the auricle afterwards makes a
triple-chambered form, as in the heart of the reptile tribes; lastly, the
ventricle being also subdivided, it becomes a full mammal heart.

Another illustration here presents itself with the force of the most
powerful and interesting analogy.  Some of the earliest fishes of our
globe, those of the Old Red Sandstone, present, as we have seen, certain
peculiarities, as the one-sided tail and an inferior position of the
mouth.  No fishes of the present day, in a mature state, are so
characterized; but some, at a certain stage of their existence, have such
peculiarities.  It occurred to a geologist to inquire if the fish which
existed before the Old Red Sandstone had any peculiarities assimilating
them to the fœtal condition of existing fish, and particularly if they
were small.  The first which occur before the time of the Old Red
Sandstone, are those described by Mr. Murchison, as belonging to the
Upper Ludlow Rocks; _they are all rather small_.  Still older are those
detected by Mr. Philips, in the Aymestry Limestone, being the most
ancient of the class which have as yet been discovered; _these are so
extremely minute as only to be distinguishable by the microscope_.  Here
we apparently have very clear demonstrations of a parity, or rather
identity, of laws presiding over the development of the animated tribes
on the face of the earth, and that of the individual in embryo.

The tendency of all these illustrations is to make us look to
_development_ as the principle which has been immediately concerned in
the peopling of this globe, a process extending over a vast space of
time, but which is nevertheless connected in character with the briefer
process by which an individual being is evoked from a simple germ.  What
mystery is there here—and how shall I proceed to enunciate the conception
which I have ventured to form of what may prove to be its proper
solution!  It is an idea by no means calculated to impress by its
greatness, or to puzzle by its profoundness.  It is an idea more marked
by simplicity than perhaps any other of those which have explained the
great secrets of nature.  But in this lies, perhaps, one of its strongest
claims to the faith of mankind.

The whole train of animated beings, from the simplest and oldest up to
the highest and most recent, are, then, to be regarded as a series of
_advances of the principle of development_, which have depended upon
external physical circumstances, to which the resulting animals are
appropriate.  I contemplate the whole phenomena as having been in the
first place arranged in the counsels of Divine Wisdom, to take place, not
only upon this sphere, but upon all the others in space, under necessary
modifications, and as being carried on, from first to last, here and
elsewhere, under immediate favour of the creative will or energy. {204}
The nucleated vesicle, the fundamental form of all organization, we must
regard as the meeting-point between the inorganic and the organic—the end
of the mineral and beginning of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, which
thence start in different directions, but in perfect parallelism and
analogy.  We have already seen that this nucleated vesicle is itself a
type of mature and independent being in the infusory animalcules, as well
as the starting point of the fœtal progress of every higher individual in
creation, both animal and vegetable.  We have seen that it is a form of
being which electric agency will produce—though not perhaps usher into
full life—in albumen, one of those compound elements of animal bodies, of
which another (urea) has been made by artificial means.  Remembering
these things, we are drawn on to the supposition, that the first step in
the creation of life upon this planet was _a chemico-electric operation_,
_by which simple germinal vesicles were produced_.  This is so much, but
what were the next steps?  Let a common vegetable infusion help us to an
answer.  There, as we have seen, simple forms are produced at first, but
afterwards they become more complicated, until at length the
life-producing powers of the infusion are exhausted.  Are we to presume
that, in this case, the simple engender the complicated?  Undoubtedly,
this would not be more wonderful as a natural process than one which we
never think of wondering at, because familiar to us—namely, that in the
gestation of the mammals, the animalcule-like ovum of a few days is the
parent, in a sense, of the chick-like form of a few weeks, and that in
all the subsequent stages—fish, reptile, &c.—the one may, with scarcely a
metaphor, be said to be the progenitor of the other.  I suggest, then, as
an hypothesis already countenanced by much that is ascertained, and
likely to be further sanctioned by much that remains to be known, that
the first step was _an advance under favour of peculiar conditions_,
_from the simplest forms of being_, _to the next more complicated_, _and
this through the medium of the ordinary process of generation_.

Unquestionably, what we ordinarily see of nature is calculated to impress
a conviction that each species invariably produces its like.  But I would
here call attention to a remarkable illustration of natural law which has
been brought forward by Mr. Babbage, in his _Ninth Bridgewater Treatise_.
The reader is requested to suppose himself seated before the calculating
machine, and observing it.  It is moved by a weight, and there is a wheel
which revolves through a small angle round its axis, at short intervals,
presenting to his eye successively, a series of numbers engraved on its
divided circumference.

Let the figures thus seen be the series, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, &c., of natural
numbers, each of which exceeds its immediate antecedent by unity.

“Now, reader,” says Mr. Babbage, “let me ask you how long you will have
counted before you are firmly convinced that the engine has been so
adjusted, that it will continue, while its motion is maintained, to
produce the same series of natural numbers?  Some minds are so
constituted, that, after passing the first hundred terms, they will be
satisfied that they are acquainted with the law.  After seeing five
hundred terms few will doubt, and after the fifty thousandth term the
propensity to believe that the succeeding term will be fifty thousand and
one, will be almost irresistible.  That term _will_ be fifty thousand and
one; and the same regular succession will continue; the five millionth
and the fifty millionth term will still appear in their expected order,
and one unbroken chain of natural numbers will pass before your eyes,
from _one_ up to _one hundred million_.

“True to the vast induction which has been made, the next succeeding term
will be one hundred million and one; but the next number presented by the
rim of the wheel, instead of being one hundred million and two, is one
hundred million _ten thousand_ and two.  The whole series from the
commencement being thus,—

                                    . .
                                  . . .
regularly as far as         100,000,001
                            100,010,002  the law changes.
                                  . . .
                                  . . .
                                  . . .

“The law which seemed at first to govern this series failed at the
hundred million and second term.  This term is larger than we expected by
10,000.  The next term is larger than was anticipated by 30,000, and the
excess of each term above what we had expected forms the following

      . . .
      . . .

being, in fact, the series of _triangular numbers_, {208} each multiplied
by 10,000.

“If we now continue to observe the numbers presented by the wheel, we
shall find, that for a hundred, or even for a thousand terms, they
continue to follow the new law relating to the triangular numbers; but
after watching them for 2761 terms, we find that this law fails in the
case of the 2762d term.

“If we continue to observe, we shall discover another law then coming
into action, which also is dependent, but in a different manner, on
triangular numbers.  This will continue through about 1430 terms, when a
new law is again introduced which extends over about 950 terms, and this,
too, like all its predecessors, fails, and gives place to other laws,
which appear at different intervals.

“Now it must be observed that _the law that each number presented by the
engine is greater by unity than the preceding number_, which law the
observer had deduced from an induction of a hundred million instances,
_was not the true law that regulated its action_, and that the occurrence
of the number 100,010,002 at the 100,000,002nd term was _as necessary a
consequence of the original adjustment_, _and might have been as fully
foreknown at the commencement_, _as was the regular succession of any one
of the intermediate numbers to its immediate antecedent_.  The same
remark applies to the next apparent deviation from the new law, which was
founded on an induction of 2761 terms, and also to the succeeding law,
with this limitation only—that, whilst their consecutive introduction at
various definite intervals, is a necessary consequence of the mechanical
structure of the engine, our knowledge of analysis does not enable us to
predict the periods themselves at which the more distant laws will be

It is not difficult to apply the philosophy of this passage to the
question under consideration.  It must be borne in mind that the
gestation of a single organism is the work of but a few days, weeks, or
months; but the gestation (so to speak) of a whole creation is a matter
probably involving enormous spaces of time.  Suppose that an ephemeron,
hovering over a pool for its one April day of life, were capable of
observing the fry of the frog in the water below.  In its aged afternoon,
having seen no change upon them for such a long time, it would be little
qualified to conceive that the external branchiæ of these creatures were
to decay, and be replaced by internal lungs, that feet were to be
developed, the tail erased, and the animal then to become a denizen of
the land.  Precisely such may be our difficulty in conceiving that any of
the species which people our earth is capable of advancing by generation
to a higher type of being.  During the whole time which we call the
historical era, the limits of species have been, to ordinary observation,
rigidly adhered to.  But the historical era is, we know, only a small
portion of the entire age of our globe.  We do not know what may have
happened during the ages which preceded its commencement, as we do not
know what may happen in ages yet in the distant future.  All, therefore,
that we can properly infer from the apparently invariable production of
like by like is, that such is the ordinary procedure of nature in the
time immediately passing before our eyes.  Mr. Babbage’s illustration
powerfully suggests that this ordinary procedure may be subordinate to a
higher law which only _permits_ it for a time, and in proper season
interrupts and changes it.  We shall soon see some philosophical evidence
for this very conclusion.

It has been seen that, in the reproduction of the higher animals, the new
being passes through stages in which it is successively fish-like and
reptile-like.  But the resemblance is not to the adult fish or the adult
reptile, but to the fish and reptile at a certain point in their fœtal
progress; this holds true with regard to the vascular, nervous, and other
systems alike.  It may be illustrated by a simple diagram.  The fœtus of
all the four classes may be supposed to advance in an identical condition
to the point A.  [Picture: Diagram]  The fish there diverges and passes
along a line apart, and peculiar to A itself, to its mature state at F.
The reptile, bird, and mammal, go on together to C, where the reptile
diverges in like manner, and advances by itself to R.  The bird diverges
at D, and goes on to B.  The mammal then goes forward in a straight line
to the highest point of organization at M.  This diagram shews only the
main ramifications; but the reader must suppose minor ones, representing
the subordinate differences of orders, tribes, families, genera, &c., if
he wishes to extend his views to the whole varieties of being in the
animal kingdom.  Limiting ourselves at present to the outline afforded by
this diagram, it is apparent that the only thing required for an advance
from one type to another in the generative process is that, for example,
the fish embryo should not diverge at A, but go on to C before it
diverges, in which case the progeny will be, not a fish, but a reptile.
To protract the _straightforward part of the gestation over a small
space_—and from species to species the space would be small indeed—is all
that is necessary.

This might be done by the force of certain external conditions operating
upon the parturient system.  The nature of these conditions we can only
conjecture, for their operation, which in the geological eras was so
powerful, has in its main strength been long interrupted, and is now
perhaps only allowed to work in some of the lowest departments of the
organic world, or under extraordinary casualties in some of the higher,
and to these points the attention of science has as yet been little
directed.  But though this knowledge were never to be clearly attained,
it need not much affect the present argument, provided it be
satisfactorily shewn that there must be some such influence within the
range of natural things.

To this conclusion it must be greatly conducive that the law of organic
development is still daily seen at work to certain effects, only somewhat
short of a transition from species to species.  Sex we have seen to be a
matter of development.  There is an instance, in a humble department of
the animal world, of arrangements being made by the animals themselves
for adjusting this law to the production of a particular sex.  Amongst
bees, as amongst several other insect tribes, there is in each community
but one true female, the queen bee, the workers being false females or
neuters; that is to say, sex is carried on in them to a point where it is
attended by sterility.  The preparatory states of the queen bee occupy
sixteen days; those of the neuters, twenty; and those of males,
twenty-four.  Now it is a fact, settled by innumerable observations and
experiments, that the bees can so modify a worker in the larva state,
that, when it emerges from the pupa, it is found to be a queen or true
female.  For this purpose they enlarge its cell, make a pyramidal hollow
to allow of its assuming a vertical instead of a horizontal position,
keep it warmer than other larvæ are kept, and feed it with a peculiar
kind of food.  From these simple circumstances, leading to a shortening
of the embryotic condition, results a creature different in form, and
also in dispositions, from what would have otherwise been produced.  Some
of the organs possessed by the worker are here altogether wanting.  We
have a creature “destined to enjoy love, to burn with jealousy and anger,
to be incited to vengeance, and to pass her time without labour,” instead
of one “zealous for the good of the community, a defender of the public
rights, enjoying an immunity from the stimulus of sexual appetite and the
pains of parturition; laborious, industrious, patient, ingenious,
skilful; incessantly engaged in the nurture of the young, in collecting
honey and pollen, in elaborating wax, in constructing cells and the
like!—paying the most respectful and assiduous attention to objects
which, had its ovaries been developed, it would have hated and pursued
with the most vindictive fury till it had destroyed them!” {215}  All
these changes may be produced by a mere modification of the embryotic
progress, which it is within the power of the adult animals to effect.
But it is important to observe that this modification is different from
working a direct change upon the embryo.  It is not the different food
which effects a metamorphosis.  All that is done is merely to accelerate
the period of the insect’s perfection.  By the arrangements made and the
food given, the embryo becomes sooner fit for being ushered forth in its
imago or perfect state.  Development may be said to be thus arrested at a
particular stage—that early one at which the female sex is complete.  In
the other circumstances, it is allowed to go on four days longer, and a
stage is then reached between the two sexes, which in this species is
designed to be the perfect condition of a large portion of the community.
Four days more make it a perfect male.  It is at the same time to be
observed that there is, from the period of oviposition, a destined
distinction between the sexes of the young bees.  The queen lays the
whole of the eggs which are designed to become workers, before she begins
to lay those which become males.  But probably the condition of her
reproductive system governs the matter of sex, for it is remarked that
when her impregnation is delayed beyond the twenty-eighth day of her
entire existence, she lays only eggs which become males.

We have here, it will be admitted, a most remarkable illustration of the
principle of development, although in an operation limited to the
production of sex only.  Let it not be said that the phenomena concerned
in the generation of bees may be very different from those concerned in
the reproduction of the higher animals.  There is a unity throughout
nature which makes the one case an instructive reflection of the other.

We shall now see an instance of development operating within the
production of what approaches to the character of variety of species.  It
is fully established that a human family, tribe, or nation, is liable, in
the course of generations, to be either advanced from a mean form to a
higher one, or degraded from a higher to a lower, by the influence of the
physical conditions in which it lives.  The coarse features, and other
structural peculiarities of the negro race only continue while these
people live amidst the circumstances usually associated with barbarism.
In a more temperate clime, and higher social state, the face and figure
become greatly refined.  The few African nations which possess any
civilization also exhibit forms approaching the European; and when the
same people in the United States of America have enjoyed a within-door
life for several generations, they assimilate to the whites amongst whom
they live.  On the other hand, there are authentic instances of a people
originally well-formed and good-looking, being brought, by imperfect diet
and a variety of physical hardships, to a meaner form.  It is remarkable
that prominence of the jaws, a recession and diminution of the cranium,
and an elongation and attenuation of the limbs, are peculiarities always
produced by these miserable conditions, for they indicate an unequivocal
retrogression towards the type of the lower animals.  Thus we see nature
alike willing to go back and to go forward.  Both effects are simply the
result of the operation of the law of development in the generative
system.  Give good conditions, it advances; bad ones, it recedes.  Now,
perhaps, it is only because there is no longer a possibility, in the
higher types of being, of giving sufficiently favourable conditions to
carry on species to species, that we see the operation of the law so far

Let us trace this law also in the production of certain classes of
monstrosities.  A human fœtus is often left with one of the most
important parts of its frame imperfectly developed: the heart, for
instance, goes no farther than the three-chambered form, so that it is
the heart of a reptile.  There are even instances of this organ being
left in the two-chambered or fish form.  Such defects are the result of
nothing more than a failure of the power of development in the system of
the mother, occasioned by weak health or misery.  Here we have apparently
a realization of the converse of those conditions which carry on species
to species, so far, at least, as one organ is concerned.  Seeing a
complete specific retrogression in this one point, how easy it is to
imagine an access of favourable conditions sufficient to reverse the
phenomenon, and make a fish mother develop a reptile heart, or a reptile
mother develop a mammal one.  It is no great boldness to surmise that a
super-adequacy in the measure of this under-adequacy (and the one thing
seems as natural an occurrence as the other) would suffice in a goose to
give its progeny the body of a rat, and produce the ornithorynchus, or
might give the progeny of an ornithorynchus the mouth and feet of a true
rodent, and thus complete at two stages the passage from the aves to the

Perhaps even the transition from species to species does still take place
in some of the obscurer fields of creation, or under extraordinary
casualties, though science professes to have no such facts on record.  It
is here to be remarked, that such facts might often happen, and yet no
record be taken of them, for so strong is the prepossession for the
doctrine of invariable like-production, that such circumstances, on
occurring, would be almost sure to be explained away on some other
supposition, or, if presented, would be disbelieved and neglected.
Science, therefore, has no such facts, for the very same reason that some
small sects are said to have no discreditable members—namely, that they
do not receive such persons, and extrude all who begin to verge upon the
character.  There are, nevertheless, some facts which have chanced to be
reported without any reference to this hypothesis, and which it seems
extremely difficult to explain satisfactorily upon any other.  One of
these has already been mentioned—a progression in the forms of the
animalcules in a vegetable infusion from the simpler to the more
complicated, a sort of microcosm, representing the whole history of the
progress of animal creation as displayed by geology.  Another is given in
the history of the Acarus Crossii, which may be only the ultimate stage
of a series of similar transformations effected by electric agency in the
solution subjected to it.  There is, however, one direct case of a
translation of species, which has been presented with a respectable
amount of authority. {221}  It appears that, whenever oats sown at the
usual time are kept cropped down during summer and autumn, and allowed to
remain over the winter, a thin crop of rye is the harvest presented at
the close of the ensuing summer.  This experiment has been tried
repeatedly, with but one result; invariably the _secale cereale_ is the
crop reaped where the _avena sativa_, a recognised different species, was
sown.  Now it will not satisfy a strict inquirer to be told that the
seeds of the rye were latent in the ground and only superseded the dead
product of the oats; for if any such fact were in the case, why should
the usurping grain be always rye?  Perhaps those curious facts which have
been stated with regard to forests of one kind of trees, when burnt down,
being succeeded (without planting) by other kinds, may yet be found most
explicable, as this is, upon the hypothesis of a progression of species
which takes place under certain favouring conditions, now apparently of
comparatively rare occurrence.  The case of the oats is the more
valuable, as bearing upon the suggestion as to a protraction of the
gestation at a particular part of its course.  Here, the generative
process is, by the simple mode of cropping down, kept up for a whole year
beyond its usual term.  The type is thus allowed to advance, and what was
oats becomes rye.

The idea, then, which I form of the progress of organic life upon the
globe—and the hypothesis is applicable to all similar theatres of vital
being—is, _that the simplest and most primitive type_, _under a law to
which that of like-production is subordinate_, _gave birth to the type
next above it_, _that this again produced the next higher_, _and so on to
the very highest_, the stages of advance being in all cases very
small—namely, from one species only to another; so that the phenomenon
has always been of a simple and modest character.  Whether the whole of
any species was at once translated forward, or only a few parents were
employed to give birth to the new type, must remain undetermined; but,
supposing that the former was the case, we must presume that the moves
along the line or lines were simultaneous, so that the place vacated by
one species was immediately taken by the next in succession, and so on
back to the first, for the supply of which the formation of a new
germinal vesicle out of inorganic matter was alone necessary.  Thus, the
production of new forms, as shewn in the pages of the geological record,
has never been anything more than a new stage of progress in gestation,
an event as simply natural, and attended as little by any circumstances
of a wonderful or startling kind, as the silent advance of an ordinary
mother from one week to another of her pregnancy.  Yet, be it remembered,
the whole phenomena are, in another point of view, wonders of the highest
kind, for in each of them we have to trace the effect of an Almighty Will
which had arranged the whole in such harmony with external physical
circumstances, that both were developed in parallel steps—and probably
this development upon our planet is but a sample of what has taken place,
through the same cause, in all the other countless theatres of being
which are suspended in space.

This may be the proper place at which to introduce the preceding
illustrations in a form calculated to bring them more forcibly before the
mind of the reader.  The following table was suggested to me, in
consequence of seeing the scale of animated nature presented in Dr.
Fletcher’s Rudiments of Physiology.  Taking that scale as its basis, it
shews the wonderful parity observed in the progress of creation, as
presented to our observation in the succession of fossils, and also in
the fœtal progress of one of the principal human organs. {224}  This
scale, it may be remarked, was not made up with a view to support such an
hypothesis as the present, nor with any apparent regard to the history of
fossils, but merely to express the appearance of advancement in the
orders of the Cuvierian system, assuming, as the criterion of that
advancement, “an increase in the number and extent of the manifestations
of life, or of the relations which an organized being bears to the
external world.”  Excepting in the relative situation of the annelida and
a few of the mammal orders, the parity is perfect; nor may even these
small discrepancies appear when the order of fossils shall have been
further investigated, or a more correct scale shall have been formed.
Meanwhile, it is a wonderful evidence in favour of our hypothesis, that a
scale formed so arbitrarily should coincide to such a nearness with our
present knowledge of the succession of animal forms upon earth, and also
that both of these series should harmonize so well with the view given by
modern physiologists of the embryotic progress of one of the organs of
the highest order of animals.

             [Picture: Complex table of animal kingdom] {226}

The reader has seen physical conditions several times referred to, as to
be presumed to have in some way governed the progress of the development
of the zoological circle.  This language may seem vague, and, it may be
asked,—can any particular physical condition be adduced as likely to have
affected development?  To this it may be answered, that air and light are
probably amongst the principal agencies of this kind which operated in
educing the various forms of being.  Light is found to be essential to
the development of the individual embryo.  When tadpoles were placed in a
perforated box, and that box sunk in the Seine, light being the only
condition thus abstracted, they grew to a great size in their original
form, but did not pass through the usual metamorphose which brings them
to their mature state as frogs.  The proteus, an animal of the frog kind,
inhabiting the subterraneous waters of Carniola, and which never acquires
perfect lungs so as to become a land animal, is presumed to be an example
of arrested development, from the same cause.  When, in connexion with
these facts, we learn that human mothers living in dark and close cells
under ground,—that is to say, with an inadequate provision of air and
light,—are found to produce an unusual proportion of defective children,
{229} we can appreciate the important effects of both these physical
conditions in ordinary reproduction.  Now there is nothing to forbid the
supposition that the earth has been at different stages of its career
under different conditions, as to both air and light.  On the contrary,
we have seen reason for supposing that the proportion of carbonic acid
gas (the element fatal to animal life) was larger at the time of the
carboniferous formation than it afterwards became.  We have also seen
that astronomers regard the zodiacal light as a residuum of matter
enveloping the sun, and which was probably at one time denser than it is
now.  Here we have the indications of causes for a progress in the
purification of the atmosphere and in the diffusion of light during the
earlier ages of the earth’s history, with which the progress of organic
life may have been conformable.  An accession to the proportion of
oxygen, and the effulgence of the central luminary, may have been the
immediate prompting cause of all those advances from species to species
which we have seen, upon other grounds, to be necessarily supposed as
having taken place.  And causes of the like nature may well be supposed
to operate on other spheres of being, as well as on this.  I do not
indeed present these ideas as furnishing the true explanation of the
progress of organic creation; they are merely thrown out as hints towards
the formation of a just hypothesis, the completion of which is only to be
looked for when some considerable advances shall have been made in the
amount and character of our stock of knowledge.

Early in this century, M. Lamarck, a naturalist of the highest character,
suggested an hypothesis of organic progress which deservedly incurred
much ridicule, although it contained a glimmer of the truth.  He
surmised, and endeavoured, with a great deal of ingenuity, to prove, that
one being advanced in the course of generations to another, in
consequence merely of its experience of wants calling for the exercise of
its faculties in a particular direction, by which exercise new
developments of organs took place, ending in variations sufficient to
constitute a new species.  Thus he thought that a bird would be driven by
necessity to seek its food in the water, and that, in its efforts to
swim, the outstretching of its claws would lead to the expansion of the
intermediate membranes, and it would thus become web-footed.  Now it is
possible that wants and the exercise of faculties have entered in some
manner into the production of the phenomena which we have been
considering; but certainly not in the way suggested by Lamarck, whose
whole notion is obviously so inadequate to account for the rise of the
organic kingdoms, that we only can place it with pity among the follies
of the wise.  Had the laws of organic development been known in his time,
his theory might have been of a more imposing kind.  It is upon these
that the present hypothesis is mainly founded.  I take existing natural
means, and shew them to have been capable of producing all the existing
organisms, with the simple and easily conceivable aid of a higher
generative law, which we perhaps still see operating upon a limited
scale.  I also go beyond the French philosopher to a very important
point, the original Divine conception of all the forms of being which
these natural laws were only instruments in working out and realizing.
The actuality of such a conception I hold to be strikingly demonstrated
by the discoveries of Macleay, Vigors, and Swainson, with respect to the
affinities and analogies of animal (and by implication vegetable)
organisms. {232}  Such a regularity in the _structure_, as we may call
it, of the _classification of animals_, as is shewn in their systems, is
totally irreconcilable with the idea of form going on to form merely as
needs and wishes in the animals themselves dictated.  Had such been the
case, all would have been irregular, as things arbitrary necessarily are.
But, lo, the whole plan of being is as symmetrical as the plan of a
house, or the laying out of an old-fashioned garden!  This must needs
have been devised and arranged for beforehand.  And what a preconception
or forethought have we here!  Let us only for a moment consider how
various are the external physical conditions in which animals
live—climate, soil, temperature, land, water, air—the peculiarities of
food, and the various ways in which it is to be sought; the peculiar
circumstances in which the business of reproduction and the care-taking
of the young are to be attended to—all these required to be taken into
account, and thousands of animals were to be formed suitable in
organization and mental character for the concerns they were to have with
these various conditions and circumstances—here a tooth fitted for
crushing nuts; there a claw fitted to serve as a hook for suspension;
here to repress teeth and develop a bony net-work instead; there to
arrange for a bronchial apparatus, to last only for a certain brief time;
and all these animals were to be schemed out, each as a part of a great
range, which was on the whole to be rigidly regular: let us, I say, only
consider these things, and we shall see that the decreeing of laws to
bring the whole about was an act involving such a degree of wisdom and
device as we only can attribute, adoringly, to the one Eternal and
Unchangeable.  It may be asked, how does this reflection comport with
that timid philosophy which would have us to draw back from the
investigation of God’s works, lest the knowledge of them should make us
undervalue his greatness and forget his paternal character?  Does it not
rather appear that our ideas of the Deity can only be worthy of him in
the ratio in which we advance in a knowledge of his works and ways; and
that the acquisition of this knowledge is consequently an available means
of our growing in a genuine reverence for him!

But the idea that any of the lower animals have been concerned in any way
with the origin of man—is not this degrading?  Degrading is a term,
expressive of a notion of the human mind, and the human mind is liable to
prejudices which prevent its notions from being invariably correct.  Were
we acquainted for the first time with the circumstances attending the
production of an individual of our race, we might equally think them
degrading, and be eager to deny them, and exclude them from the admitted
truths of nature.  Knowing this fact familiarly and beyond contradiction,
a healthy and natural mind finds no difficulty in regarding it
complacently.  Creative Providence has been pleased to order that it
should be so, and it must therefore be submitted to.  Now the idea as to
the progress of organic creation, if we become satisfied of its truth,
ought to be received precisely in this spirit.  It has pleased Providence
to arrange that one species should give birth to another, until the
second highest gave birth to man, who is the very highest: be it so, it
is our part to admire and to submit.  The very faintest notion of there
being anything ridiculous or degrading in the theory—how absurd does it
appear, when we remember that every individual amongst us actually passes
through the characters of the insect, the fish, and reptile, (to speak
nothing of others,) before he is permitted to breathe the breath of life!
But such notions are mere emanations of false pride and ignorant
prejudice.  He who conceives them little reflects that they, in reality,
involve the principle of a contempt for the works and ways of God.  For
it may be asked, if He, as appears, has chosen to employ inferior
organisms as a generative medium for the production of higher ones, even
including ourselves, what right have we, his humble creatures, to find
fault?  There is, also, in this prejudice, an element of unkindliness
towards the lower animals, which is utterly out of place.  These
creatures are all of them part products of the Almighty Conception, as
well as ourselves.  All of them display wondrous evidences of his wisdom
and benevolence.  All of them have had assigned to them by their Great
Father a part in the drama of the organic world, as well as ourselves.
Why should they be held in such contempt?  Let us regard them in a proper
spirit, as parts of the grand plan, instead of contemplating them in the
light of frivolous prejudices, and we shall be altogether at a loss to
see how there should be any degradation in the idea of our race having
been genealogically connected with them.


IT is now high time to advert to the system formed by the animated
tribes, both with a view to the possible illustration of the preceding
argument, and for the light which it throws upon that general system of
nature which it is the more comprehensive object of this book to

The vegetable and animal kingdoms are arranged upon a scale, starting
from simply organized forms, and going on to the more complex, each of
these forms being but slightly different from those next to it on both
sides.  The lowest and most slightly developed forms in the two kingdoms
are so closely connected, that it is impossible to say where vegetable
ends and animal begins.  United at what may be called their bases, they
start away in different directions, but not altogether to lose sight of
each other.  On the contrary, they maintain a strict analogy throughout
the whole of their subsequent courses, sub-kingdom for sub-kingdom, class
for class; shewing a beautiful, though as yet obscure relation between
the two grand forms of being, and consequently a unity in the laws which
brought them both into existence.  So complete does this analogy appear,
even in the present imperfect state of science, that I fully expect in a
few years to see the animal and vegetable kingdoms duly ranked up against
each other in a system of parallels, which will admit of our assigning to
each species in the former the particular shrub or tree corresponding to
it in the latter, all marked by unmistakable analogies of the most
interesting kind.

It is as yet but a few years since a system of subordinate analogies not
less remarkable began to be speculated upon as within the range of the
animal kingdom.  Probably it also exists in the vegetable kingdom; but to
this point no direct attention has been given; so we are left to infer
that such is the case from theoretical considerations only.  We are
indebted for what we know of these beautiful analogies to three
naturalists—Macleay, Vigors, and Swainson, whose labours tempt us to
dismiss in a great measure the artificial classifications hitherto used,
and make an entirely new conspectus of the animal kingdom, not to speak
of the corresponding reform which will be required in our systems of
botany also.

The Macleay system, as it may be called in honour of its principal
author, announces that, whether we take the whole animal kingdom, or any
definite division of it, we shall find that we are examining a group of
beings which is capable of being arranged along a series of close
affinities, _in a circular form_,—that is to say, starting from any one
portion of the group, when it is properly arranged, we can proceed from
one to another by minute gradations, till at length, having run through
the whole, we return to the point whence we set out.  All natural groups
of animals are, therefore, in the language of Mr. Macleay, _circular_;
and the possibility of throwing any supposed group into a circular
arrangement is held as a decisive test of its being a real or natural
one.  It is of course to be understood that each circle is composed of a
set of inferior circles: for example, a set of _tribe_ circles composes
an _order_; a set of _order_ circles, again, forms a _class_; and so on.
Of each group, the component circles are _invariably five in number_:
thus, in the animal kingdom, there are five sub-kingdoms,—the vertebrata,
annulosa, {239a} radiata, acrita, {239b} mollusca.  Take, again, one of
these sub-kingdoms, the vertebrata, and we find it composed of five
classes,—the mammalia, reptilia, pisces, amphibia, and aves, each of the
other sub-kingdoms being similarly divisible.  Take the mammalia, and it
is in like manner found to be composed of five orders,—the cheirotheria,
{239c} feræ, cetacea, glires, ungulata.  Even in this numerical
uniformity, which goes down to the lowest ramifications of the system,
there would be something very remarkable, as arguing a definite and
preconceived arrangement; but this is only the least curious part of the
Macleay theory.

We shall best understand the wonderfully complex system of analogies
developed by that theory, if we start from the part of the kingdom in
which they were first traced,—namely, the class aves, or birds.  This
gives for its five orders,—_incessores_, (perching birds,) _raptores_,
(birds of prey,) _natatores_, (swimming birds,) _grallatores_, (waders,)
_rasores_, (scrapers.)  In these orders our naturalists discerned
distinct organic characters, of different degrees of perfectness, the
first being the most perfect with regard to the general character of the
class, and therefore the best representative of that class; whence it was
called the _typical_ order.  The second was found to be inferior, or
rather to have a less perfect balance of qualities; hence it was
designated the _sub-typical_.  In this are comprehended the chief noxious
and destructive animals of the circle to which it belongs.  The other
three groups were called aberrant, as exhibiting a much wider departure
from the typical standard, although the last of the three is observed to
make a certain recovery, and join on to the typical group, so as to
complete the circle.  The first of the aberrant groups (natatores) is
remarkable for making the water the theatre of its existence, and the
birds composing it are in general of comparatively large bulk.  The
second (grallatores) are long-limbed and long-billed, that they may wade
and pick up their subsistence in the shallows and marshes in which they
chiefly live.  The third (rasores) are distinguished by strong feet, for
walking or running on the ground, and for scraping in it for their food;
also by wings designed to scarcely raise them off the earth and, farther,
by a general domesticity of character and usefulness to man.

Now the most remarkable circumstance is, that these organic characters,
habits, and moral properties, were found to be traceable more or less
distinctly in the corresponding portions of every other group, even of
those belonging to distant subdivisions of the animal kingdom, as, for
instance, the insects.  The incessores (typical order of aves) being
reduced to its constituent circles or tribes, it was found that these
strictly represented the five orders.  In the _conirostres_ are the
perfections which belong to the incessores as an order, with the
conspicuous external feature of a comparatively small notch in their
bills; in the _dentirostres_, the notch is strong and toothlike, (hence
the name of the tribe) assimilating them to the raptores; the
_fissirostres_ come into analogy with the natatores in the slight
development of their feet and their great powers of flight; the
_tenuirostres_ have the small mouths and long soft bills of the
grallatores.  Finally, the _scansores_ resemble the rasores in their
superior intelligence and docility, and in their having strong limbs and
a bill entire at the tip.  This parity of qualities becomes clearer when
placed in a tabular form:—

  _Orders of Birds_.        _Characters_.             _Tribes of
Incessores              Most perfect of their   Conirostres.
                        circle; notch of bill
Raptores                Notch of bill like a    Dentirostres.
Natatores               Slightly developed      Fissirostres.
                        feet; strong flight
Grallatores             Small mouths; long      Tenuirostres.
                        soft bills
Rasores                 Strong feet, short      Scansores.
                        wings; docile and

Some comprehensive terms are much wanted to describe these five
characters, so curiously repeated throughout the whole of the animal, and
probably also the vegetable kingdom.  Meanwhile, Mr. Swainson calls them
typical, sub-typical, natatorial, suctorial, {242} and rasorial.  Some of
his illustrations of the principle are exceedingly interesting.  He shews
that the leading animal of a typical circle usually has a combination of
properties concentrated in itself, without any of these preponderating
remarkably over others.  The sub-typical circles, he says, “do not
comprise the largest individuals in bulk, but always those which are the
most powerfully armed, either for inflicting injury on their own class,
for exciting terror, producing injury, or creating annoyance to man.
Their dispositions are often sanguinary, since the forms most conspicuous
among them live by rapine, and subsist on the blood of other animals.
They are, in short, symbolically types of _evil_.”  This symbolical
character is most conspicuous about the centre of the series of

Kingdom               Annulosa.
Sub-kingdom           Reptilia.
Class (Mammalia)      Feræ.
(Aves)                Raptores.

In the annulosa it is not distinct, although we must also remember that
insects do produce enormous ravages and annoyance in many parts of the
earth.  In the reptilia it is more distinct, since to this class belong
the ophidia, (serpents,) an order peculiarly noxious.  It comes to a kind
of climax in the feræ and raptores, which fulfil the function of butchers
among land animals.  As we descend through tribes, families, genera,
species, it becomes fainter and fainter, but never altogether vanishes.
In the dentirostres, for instance, we have in a subdued form the hooked
bill and predaceous character of the raptores; to this tribe belongs the
family of the shrikes, so deadly to all the lesser field birds.  In the
genus bos, we have, in the sub-typical group, the bison, “wild,
revengeful, and shewing an innate detestation of man.”  In equus, we
have, in the same situation, the zebra, which actually shews the stripes
of the tiger, and is as remarkable for its wildness as its congeners, the
horse and ass, are for their docility and usefulness.  To quote again
from Mr. Swainson, “the singular threatening aspect which the
caterpillars of the sphinx moth assume on being disturbed, is a
remarkable modification of the terrific or evil nature which is impressed
in one form or another, palpable or remote, upon all sub-typical groups;
for this division of the lepidopterous order is precisely of this
denomination.  In the pre-eminent type of this order of insects, the
butterflies, (papilionides,) our associations little prepare us for
expecting any trace of the evil principle; but here, too, there is a
sub-typical division.  These,” says our naturalist, “are distinguished by
their caterpillars being armed with formidable spines or prickles, which
in general are possessed of some highly acrimonious or poisonous quality,
capable of injuring those who touch them.  It is only,” continues Mr.
Swainson, “when extensive researches bring to light a uniformity of
results, that we can venture to believe they are so universal as to
deserve being ranked as primary laws.  Thus, when a celebrated
entomologist denounced as impure the black and lurid beetles forming the
saprophagous petalocera of Mr. Macleay, a tribe living only upon putrid
vegetable matter, and hiding themselves in their disgusting food, or in
dark hollows of the earth, neither of these celebrated men suspected the
absolute fact, elicited from our analogies of this group, that this very
tribe constituted the sub-typical group of one of the primary divisions
of coleopterous insects: nor had they any suspicion that, by the filthy
habits and repulsive forms of these beetles, nature had intended that
they should be types or emblems of hundreds of other groups,
distinguished by peculiarities equally indicative of evil.  On the other
hand, the thalerophagous petalocera, forming the typical group of the
same division, present us with all the perfections and habits belonging
to their kind.  These families of beetles live only upon fresh
vegetables; they are diurnal, and sport in the glare of day, pure in
their food, elegant in their shapes, and beautiful in their colours.”

The third type, (first of the three aberrant,) called by Mr. Swainson,
the _natatorial_, or aquatic, are chiefly remarkable for their bulk, the
disproportionate size of the head, and the absence, or slight development
of the feet.  They partake of the predaceous and destructive character of
the adjoining sub-typical group, and the means of their predacity are
generally found in the mouth alone.  In the primary division of the
animal kingdom, we find the type in the radiata, not one of which lives
out of water.  In the vertebrata, it is in the fishes.  In both of these,
feet are totally wanting.  Descending to the class mammalia, we have this
type in the cetacea, which present a comparatively slight development of
limbs.  In the aves, as we have seen, the type is presented in the
natatores, whose name has been adopted as an appropriate term for all the
corresponding groups.  An enumeration of some other examples of the
natatorial type, as the cephalopoda (instanced in the cuttle-fish) in the
mollusca; the crustacea (crabs, &c.) in the annulosa; the owls (which
often duck for fish) in the raptores; the ichthyosaurus, plesiosaurus,
&c., among reptilia, will serve to bring the general character, and its
pervasion of the whole animal world, forcibly before the mind of the

The next type is that of meanest and most imperfect organization, the
lower termination of all groups, as the typical is the upper.  It is
called by Mr. Swainson the suctorial, from a very generally prevalent
peculiarity, that of drawing sustenance by suction.  The acrita, or
polypes, among the sub-kingdoms; the intestina, among the annulosa; the
tortoises, among the reptilia; the armadillo and scaly ant-eater, pig,
mouse, jerboa, and kangaroo, among quadrupeds; the waders and
tenuirostres, among birds; the coleoptera, (bug, louse, flea, &c.) among
insects; the gastrobranchus, among fishes; are examples which will
illustrate the special characters of this type.  These are smallness,
particularly in the head and mouth, feebleness, and want of offensive
protection, defect of organs of mastication, considerable powers of swift
movement, and (often) a parasitic mode of living; while of negative
qualities, there are, besides, indisposition to domestication, and an
unsuitableness to serve as human food.

The rasorial type comprehends most of the animals which become
domesticated and useful to man, as, first, the fowls which give a name to
the type, the ungulata, and more particularly the ruminantia, among
quadrupeds, and the dog among the feræ.  Gentleness, familiarity with
man, and a peculiar approach to human intelligence, are the leading
mental characteristics of animals of this type.  Amongst external
characters, we generally find power of limbs and feet for locomotion on
land, (to which the rasorial type is confined,) abundant tail and
ornaments for the head, whether in the form of tufts, crests, horns, or
bony excrescences.  In the animal kingdom, the mollusca are the rasorial
type, which, however, only shews itself there in their soft and sluggish
character, and their being very generally edible.  In the ptilota, or
winged insects, the hymenopterous are the rasorial type, and it is not
therefore surprising to find amongst them the ants and bees, “the most
social, intelligent, and in the latter case, most useful to man, of all
the annulose animals.”

As yet the speculations on representation are imperfect, in consequence
of the novelty of the doctrine, and the defective state of our knowledge
of animated nature.  It has, however, been so fully proved in the aves,
and traced so clearly in other parts of the animal kingdom, and as a
general feature of that part of nature, that hardly a doubt can exist of
its being universally applicable.  Even in the lowly forms of the acrita,
(polypes,) the suctorial type of the animal kingdom, representation has
been discerned, and with some remarkable results as to the history of our
world.  The acrita were the first forms of animal life upon earth, the
starting point of that great branch of organization.  Now, this
sub-kingdom consists, like the rest, of five groups, (classes,) and these
are respectively representations of the acrita itself, and the other four
sub-kingdoms, which had not come into existence when the acrita were
formed.  The polypi vaginati, in the crustaceous covering of the living
mass, and their more or less articulated structure, represent the
_annulosa_.  In the radiated forms of the rotifera, and the simple
structure of the polypi rudes, we are reminded of the _radiata_.  The
_mollusca_ are typified in the soft, mucous, sluggish intestina.  And,
finally, in the fleshy living mass which surrounds the bony and hollow
axis of the polypi natantes, we have a sketch of the _vertebrata_.  The
acrita thus appear as a prophecy of the higher events of animal
development.  They shew that the nobler orders of being, including man
himself, were contemplated from the first, and came into existence by
virtue of a law, the operation of which had commenced ages before their
forms were realized.

The system of representation is therefore to be regarded as _a powerful
additional proof of the hypothesis of organic progress by virtue of law_.
It establishes the unity of animated nature and the definite character of
its entire constitution.  It enables us to see how, under the flowing
robes of nature, where all looks arbitrary and accidental, there is an
artificiality of the most rigid kind.  The natural, we now perceive,
sinks into and merges in a Higher Artificial.  To adopt a comparison more
apt than dignified, we may be said to be placed here as insects are in a
garden of the old style.  Our first unassisted view is limited, and we
perceive only the irregularities of the minute surface, and single shrubs
which appear arbitrarily scattered.  But our view at length extending and
becoming more comprehensive, we begin to see parterres balancing each
other, trees, statues, and arbours placed symmetrically, and that the
whole is an assemblage of parts mutually reflective.  It can scarcely be
necessary to point to the inference hence arising with regard to the
origination of nature in some Power, of which man’s mind is a faint and
humble representation.  The insects of the garden, supposing them to be
invested with reasoning power, and aware how artificial are their own
works, might of course very reasonably conclude that, being in its
totality an artificial object, the garden was the work of some maker or
artificer.  And so also must we conclude, when we attain a knowledge of
the artificiality which is at the basis of nature, that nature is wholly
the production of a Being resembling, but infinitely greater than

Organic beings are, then, bound together in development, and in a system
of both affinities and analogies.  Now, it will be asked, does this agree
with what we know of the geographical distribution of organic beings, and
of the history of organic progress as delineated by geology?  Let us
first advert to the geographical question.

Plants, as is well known, require various kinds of soil, forms of
geographical surface, climate, and other conditions, for their existence.
And it is everywhere found that, however isolated a particular spot may
be with regard to these conditions,—as a mountain top in a torrid
country, the marsh round a salt spring far inland, or an island placed
far apart in the ocean,—appropriate plants have there taken up their
abode.  But the torrid zone divides the two temperate regions from each
other by the space of more than forty-six degrees, and the torrid and
temperate zones together form a much broader line of division between the
two arctic regions.  The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and the Persian
Gulf, also divide the various portions of continent in the torrid and
temperate zones from each other.  Australia is also divided by a broad
sea from the continent of Asia.  Thus there are various portions of the
earth separated from each other in such a way as to preclude anything
like a general communication of the seeds of their respective plants
towards each other.  Hence arises an interesting question—Are the plants
of the various isolated regions which enjoy a parity of climate and other
conditions, identical or the reverse?  The answer is—that in such regions
the vegetation bears a general resemblance, but the _species_ are nearly
all different, and there is even, in a considerable measure, a diversity
of families.

The general facts have been thus stated: in the arctic and antarctic
regions, and in those parts of lower latitudes, which, from their
elevation, possess the same cold climate, there is always a similar or
analogous vegetation, but few species are common to the various
situations.  In like manner, the intertropical vegetation of Asia,
Africa, and America, are specifically different, though generally
similar.  The southern region of America is equally diverse from that of
Africa, a country similar in clime, but separated by a vast extent of
ocean.  The vegetation of Australia, another region similarly placed in
respect of clime, is even more peculiar.  These facts are the more
remarkable when we discover that, in most instances, the plants of one
region have thriven when transplanted to another of parallel clime.  This
would shew that parity of conditions does not lead to a parity of
productions so exact as to include identity of species, or even genera.
Besides the various isolated regions here enumerated, there are some
others indicated by naturalists as exhibiting a vegetation equally
peculiar.  Some of these are isolated by mountains, or the interposition
of sandy wastes.  For example, the temperate region of the elder
continent is divided about the centre of Asia, and the east of that line
is different from the west.  So also is the same region divided in North
America by the Rocky Mountains.  Abyssinia and Nubia constitute another
distinct botanical region.  De Candolle enumerates in all twenty
well-marked portions of the earth’s surface which are peculiar with
respect to vegetation; a number which would be greatly increased if
remote islands and isolated mountain ranges were to be included.

When we come to the zoology, we find precisely similar results, excepting
that man (with, perhaps, some of the less conspicuous forms of being) is
universal, and that several tribes, as the bear and dog, appear to have
passed by the land connexion from the arctic regions of the eastern to
those of the western hemisphere.  “With these exceptions,” says Dr.
Prichard, “and without any others, as far as zoological researches have
yet gone, it may be asserted that no individual species are common to
distant regions.  In parallel climates, analogous species replace each
other; sometimes, but not frequently, the same genus is found in two
separate continents; but the species which are natives of one region are
not identical with corresponding races indigenous in the opposite

“A similar result arises when we compare the three great intertropical
regions, as well as the extreme spaces of the three great continents,
which advance into the temperate climates of the southern hemisphere.

“Thus, the tribes of simiæ, (monkeys,) of the dog and cat kinds, of
pachyderms, including elephants, tapirs, rhinoceroses, hogs, of bats, of
saurian and ophidian reptiles, as well of birds and other terrene
animals, are all different in the three great continents.  In the lower
departments of the mammiferous family, we find that the bruta, or
edendata, (sloths, armadillos, &c.,) of Africa, are differently organized
from those of America, and these again from the tribes found in the
Malayan archipelago and Terra Australis.” {255}

It does not appear that the diversity between the similar regions of
Africa, Asia, and America, is occasioned in all instances by any
disqualification of these countries to support precisely the same genera
or species.  The ox, horse, goat, &c., of the elder continent have
thriven and extended themselves in the new, and many of the indigenous
tribes of America would no doubt flourish in corresponding climates in
Europe, Asia, and Africa.  It has, however, been remarked by naturalists
unacquainted with the Macleay system, that the larger and more powerful
animals of their respective orders belong to the elder continent, and
that thus the animals of America, unlike the features of inanimate
nature, appear to be upon a small scale.  The swiftest and most agile
animals, and a large proportion of those most useful to man, are also
natives of the elder continent.  On the other hand, the bulk of the
edentata, a group remarkable for defects and meanness of organization,
are American.  The zoology of America may be said, upon the whole, to
recede from that of Asia, “and perhaps in a greater degree,” adds Dr.
Prichard, “from that of Africa.”  A much greater recession is, however,
observed in both the botany and zoology of Australia.

There “we do not find, in the great masses of vegetation, either the
majesty of the virgin forests of America, or the variety and elegance of
those of Asia, or the delicacy and freshness of the woods of our
temperate countries of Europe.  The vegetation is generally gloomy and
sad; it has the aspect of our evergreens or heaths; the plants are for
the most part woody; the leaves of nearly all the plants are linear,
lanceolated, small, coriaceous, and spinescent.  The grasses, which
elsewhere are generally soft and flexible, participate in the stiffness
of the other vegetables.  The greater part of the plants of New Holland
belong to new genera; and those included in the genera already known are
of new species.  The natural families which prevail are those of the
heaths, the proteæ, compositæ, leguminosæ, and myrthoideæ; the larger
trees all belong to the last family.” {257}

The prevalent animals of Australia are not less peculiar.  It is well
known that none above the marsupialia, or pouched animals, are native to
it.  The most conspicuous are these marsupials, which exist in great
varieties here, though unknown in the elder continent, and only found in
a few mean forms in America.  Next to them are the monotremata, which are
entirely peculiar to this portion of the earth.  Now these are animals at
the bottom of the mammiferous class, adjoining to that of birds, of whose
character and organization the monotremata largely partake, the
ornithorynchus presenting the bill and feet of a duck, producing its
young in eggs, and having, like birds, a clavicle between the two
shoulders.  The birds of Australia vary in structure and plumage, but all
have some singularity about them—the swan, for instance, is black.  The
country abounds in reptiles, and the prevalent fishes are of the early
kinds, having a cartilaginous structure.

Altogether, the plants and animals of this minor continent convey the
impression of an early system of things, such as might be displayed in
other parts of the earth about the time of the oolite.  In connexion with
this circumstance, it is a fact of some importance, that the geognostic
character of Australia, its vast arid plains, its little diversified
surface and consequent paucity of streams, and the very slight
development of volcanic rock on its surface, seem to indicate a system of
physical conditions, such as we may suppose to have existed elsewhere in
the oolitic era: perhaps we see the chalk formation preparing there in
the vast coral beds frontiering the coast.  Australia thus appears as a
portion of the earth which has, from some unknown causes, been belated in
its physical and organic development.  And certainly the greater part of
its surface is not fitted to be an advantageous place of residence for
beings above the marsupialia, and judging from analogy, it may yet be
subjected to a series of changes in the highest degree inconvenient to
any human beings who may have settled upon it.

The general conclusions regarding the geography of organic nature, may be
thus stated.  (1.) There are numerous distinct foci of organic production
throughout the earth.  (2.) These have everywhere advanced in accordance
with the local conditions of climate &c., as far as at least the class
and order are concerned, a diversity taking place in the lower
gradations.  No physical or geographical reason appearing for this
diversity, we are led to infer that, (3,) it is the result of minute and
inappreciable causes giving the law of organic development a particular
direction in the lower subdivisions of the two kingdoms.  (4.)
Development has not gone on to equal results in the various continents,
being most advanced in the eastern continent, next in the western, and
least in Australia, this inequality being perhaps the result of the
comparative antiquity of the various regions, geologically and

It must at the same time be admitted that the line of organic development
has nowhere required for its advance the whole of the families
comprehended in the two kingdoms, seeing that some of these are confined
to one continent, and some to another, without a conceivable possibility
of one having been connected with the other in the way of ancestry.  The
two great families of quadrumana, cebidæ and simiadæ, are a noted
instance, the one being exclusively American, while the other belongs
entirely to the old world.  There are many other cases in which the full
circular group can only be completed by taking subdivisions from various
continents.  This would seem to imply that, while the entire system is so
remarkable for its unity, it has nevertheless been produced in lines
geographically detached, these lines perhaps consisting of particular
typical groups placed in an independent succession, or of two or more of
these groups.  And for this idea there is, even in the present imperfect
state of our knowledge of animated nature, some countenance in
ascertained facts, the birds of Australia, for example, being chiefly of
the suctorial type, while it may be presumed that the observation as to
the predominance of the useful animals in the Old World, is not much
different from saying that the rasorial type is there peculiarly
abundant.  It does not appear that the idea of independent lines,
consisting of particular types, or sets of types, is necessarily
inconsistent with the general hypothesis, as nothing yet ascertained of
the Macleay system forbids their having an independent set of affinities.
On this subject, however, there is as yet much obscurity, and it must be
left to future inquirers to clear it up.

We must now call to mind that the geographical distribution of plants and
animals was very different in the geological ages from what it is now.
Down to a time not long antecedent to man, the same vegetation overspread
every clime, and a similar uniformity marked the zoology.  This is
conceived by M. Brogniart, with great plausibility, to have been the
result of a uniformity of climate, produced by the as yet unexhausted
effect of the internal heat of the earth upon its surface; whereas
climate has since depended chiefly on external sources of heat, as
modified by the various meteorological influences.  However the early
uniform climate was produced, certain it is that, from about the close of
the geological epoch, plants and animals have been dispersed over the
globe with a regard to their particular characters, and specimens of both
are found so isolated in particular situations, as utterly to exclude the
idea that they came thither from any common centre.  It may be
asked,—Considering that, in the geological epoch, species are not limited
to particular regions, and that since the close of that epoch, they are
very peculiarly limited, are we to presume the present organisms of the
world to have been created _ab initio_ after that time?  To this it may
be answered,—Not necessarily, as it so happens that animals begin to be
much varied, or to appear in a considerable variety of species, towards
the close of the geological history.  It may have been that the
multitudes of locally peculiar species only came into being after the
uniform climate had passed away.  It may have only been when a varied
climate arose, that the originally few species branched off into the
present extensive variety.

A question of a very interesting kind will now probably arise in the
reader’s mind—_What place or status is assigned to man in the new natural
system_.  Before going into this inquiry, it is necessary to advert to
several particulars of the natural system not yet noticed.

It is necessary, in particular, to ascertain the grades which exist in
the classification of animals.  In the line of the aves, Mr. Swainson
finds these to be nine, the species pica, for example, being thus

Kingdom                    Animalia.
Sub-kingdom                Vertebrata.
Class                      Aves.
Order                      Incessores.
Tribe                      Conirostres.
Family                     Corvidæ.
Sub-family                 Corvinæ.
Genus                      Corvus.
Sub-genus, or species      Pica.

This brings us down to species, the subdivision where intermarriage or
breeding is usually considered as natural to animals, and where a
resemblance of offspring to parents is generally persevered in.  The dog,
for instance, is a species, because all dogs can breed together, and the
progeny partakes of the appearances of the parents.  The human race is
held as a species, primarily for the same reasons.  Species, however, is
liable to another subdivision, which naturalists call variety; and
variety appears to be subject to exactly the same system of
_representation_ which have been traced in species and higher
denominations.  In canis, for instance, the bull-dog and mastiff
represent the ferocious sub-typical group; the waterdog is natatorial; we
see the speed and length of muzzle of the suctorial group in the
greyhound; and the bushy tail and gentle and serviceable character of the
rasorial in the shepherd’s dog and spaniel.  Even the striped and spotted
skin of the tiger and panther is reproduced in the more ferocious kind of
dogs—an indication of a fundamental connexion between physical and mental
qualities which we have also seen in the zebra, and which is likewise
displayed in the predominance of a yellow colour in the vultures and owls
in common with the lion and his congeners.

It is by no means clearly made out that this system of nine gradations
over and above that of variety applies in all departments of nature.  On
the contrary, even Mr. Swainson gives series in which several of them are
omitted.  It may be that, in some departments of nature, variation from
the class or order has gone down into fewer shades than in others; or it
may be, that many of the variations have not survived till our era, or
have not been as yet detected by naturalists; in either of which cases
there may be a necessity for shortening the series by the omission of one
or two grades, as for instance _tribe_ or _sub-family_.  This, however,
is much to be regretted, as it introduces an irregularity into the
natural system, and consequently throws a difficulty and doubt in the way
of our investigating it.  With these preliminary remarks, I shall proceed
to inquire what is the natural status of man.

That man’s place is to be looked for in the class mammalia and
sub-kingdom vertebrata admits of no doubt, from his possessing both the
characters on which these divisions are founded.  When we descend,
however, below the _class_, we find no settled views on the subject
amongst naturalists.  Mr. Swainson, who alone has given a review of the
animal kingdom on the Macleay system, unfortunately writes on this
subject in a manner which excites a suspicion as to his judgment.  His
arrangement of the first or typical order of the mammalia is therefore to
be received with great hesitation.  It is as follows:—

Typical          Quadrumana      Pre-eminently organized for
Sub-typical      Feræ            Claws retractile; carnivorous.
Natatorial       Cetacea         Pre-eminently aquatic; feet very
Suctorial        Glires          Muzzle lengthened and pointed.
Rasorial         Ungulata        Crests and other processes on the

He then takes the quadrumana, and places it in the following

Typical          Simiadæ              (Monkeys of Old World.)
Sub-typical      Cebidæ               (Monkeys of New World.)
Natatorial       Unknown
Suctorial        Vespertilionidæ      (Bats.)
Rasorial         Lemuridæ             (Lemurs.)

He considers the simiadæ as a complete circle, and argues thence that
there is no room in the range of the animal kingdom for man.  Man, he
says, is not a constituent part of any circle, for, if he were, there
ought to be other animals on each hand having affinity to him, whereas
there are none, the resemblance of the orangs being one of mere analogy.
Mr. Swainson therefore considers our race as standing apart, and forming
a link between the unintelligent order of beings and the angels!  And
this in spite of the glaring fact that, in our teeth, hands, and other
features grounded on by naturalists as characteristic, we do not differ
more from the simiadæ than the bats do from the lemurs—in spite also of
that resemblance of analogy to the orangs which he himself admits, and
which, at the least, must be held to imply a certain relation.  He also
overlooks that, though there may be no room for man in the circle of the
simiadæ, (this, indeed, is quite true,) there may be in the order, where
he actually leaves a place entirely blank, or only to be filled up, as he
suggests, by mermen! {266}  Another argument in his arrangement is, that
it leaves the grades of classification very much abridged, there being at
the most seven instead of nine.  But serious argument on a theory so
preposterous may be considered as nearly thrown away.  I shall therefore
at once proceed to suggest a new arrangement of this portion of the
animal kingdom, in which man is allowed the place to which he is
zoologically entitled.

I propose that the typical order of the mammalia should be designated
cheirotheria, from the sole character which is universal amongst them,
their possessing hands, and with a regard to that pre-eminent
qualification for grasping which has been ascribed to them—an analogy to
the perching habit of the typical order of birds, which is worthy of
particular notice.  The tribes of the cheirotheria I arrange as follows:—

Typical          Bimana.
Sub-typical      Simiadæ.
Natatorial       Vespertilionidæ.
Suctorial        Lemuridæ.
Rasorial         Cebidæ.

Here man is put into the typical place, as the genuine head, not only of
this order, but of the whole animal world.  The double affinity which is
requisite is obtained, for here he has the simiadæ on one hand, and the
cebidæ on the other.  The five tribes of the order are completed, the
vespertilionidæ being shifted (provisionally) into the natatorial place,
for which their appropriateness is so far evidenced by the aquatic habits
of several of the tribe, and the lemuridæ into the suctorial, to which
their length of muzzle and remarkable saltatory power are highly
suitable.  At the same time, the simiadæ are degraded from the typical
place, to which they have no sort of pretension, and placed where their
mean and mischievous character seem to require; the cebidæ again being
assigned that situation which their comparatively inoffensive
dispositions, their arboreal habits, and their extraordinary development
of the tail, (which with them is like a fifth hand,) render so proper.

The zoological status thus assigned to the human race is precisely what
might be expected.  In order to understand its full value, it is
necessary to observe how the various type peculiarities operate in fixing
the character of the animals ranked in them.  It is easy to conceive that
they must be, in some instances, much mixed up with each other, and
consequently obscured.  If an animal, for example, is the suctorial
member of a circle of species, forming the natatorial type of genera,
forming a family or sub-family which in its turn is rasorial, its
qualities must evidently be greatly mingled and ill to define.  But, on
the other hand, if we take the rapacious or sub-typical group of birds,
and look in it for the tribe which is again the rapacious or sub-typical
group of its order, we may expect to find the qualities of that group
exalted or intensified, and accordingly made the more conspicuous.  Such
is really the case with the vultures, in the rapacious birds, a family
remarkable above all of their order for their carnivorous and foul
habits.  So, also, if we take the typical group of the birds, the
incessores or perchers, and look in it for its typical group, the
conirostres, and seek there again for the typical family of that group,
the corvidæ, we may expect to find a very marked superiority in
organization and character.  Such is really the case.  “The crow,” says
Mr. Swainson, “unites in itself a greater number of properties than are
to be found individually in any other genus of birds; as if in fact it
had taken from all the other orders a portion of their peculiar
qualities, for the purpose of exhibiting in what manner they could be
combined.  From the rapacious birds this “type of types,” as the crow has
been justly called, takes the power of soaring in the air, and of seizing
upon living birds, like the hawks, while its habit of devouring putrid
substances, and picking out the eyes of young animals, is borrowed from
the vultures.  From the scansorial or climbing order it takes the faculty
of picking the ground, and discovering its food when hidden from the eye,
while the parrot family gives it the taste for vegetable food, and
furnishes it with great cunning, sagacity, and powers of imitation, even
to counterfeiting the human voice.  Next come the order of waders, who
impart their quota to the perfection of the crow by giving it great
powers of flight, and perfect facility in walking, such being among the
chief attributes of the suctorial order.  Lastly, the aquatic birds
contribute their portion, by giving this terrestrial bird the power of
feeding not only on fish, which are their peculiar food, but actually of
occasionally catching it. {270}  In this wonderful manner do we find the
crow partially invested with the united properties of all other birds,
while in its own order, that of the incessores or perchers, it stands the
pre-eminent type.  We cannot also fail to regard it as a remarkable proof
of the superior organization and character of the corvidæ, that they are
adapted for all climates, and accordingly found all over the world.

Mr. Swainson’s description of the zoological status of the crow, written
without the least design of throwing any light upon that of man,
evidently does so in a remarkable degree.  It prepares us to expect in
the place among the mammalia, corresponding to that of the corvidæ in the
aves, a being or set of beings possessing a remarkable concentration of
qualities from all the other groups of their order, but in general
character as far above the corvidæ as a typical group is above an
aberrant one, the mammalia above the aves.  Can any of the simiadæ
pretend to such a place, narrowly and imperfectly endowed as these
creatures are—a mean reflection apparently of something higher?
Assuredly not, and in this consideration alone Mr. Swainson’s arrangement
must fall to the ground.  To fill worthily so lofty a station in the
animated families man alone is competent.  In him only is to be found
that concentration of qualities from all the other groups of his order
which has been described as marking the corvidæ.  That grasping power,
which has been selected as the leading physical quality of his order, is
nowhere so beautifully or so powerfully developed as in his hand.  The
intelligence and teachableness of the simiadæ rise to a climax in his
pre-eminent mental nature.  His sub-analogy to the feræ is marked by his
canine teeth, and the universality of his rapacity, for where is the
department of animated nature which he does not without scruple sacrifice
to his convenience?  With sanguinary, he has also gentle and domesticable
dispositions, thus reflecting the characters of the ungulata, (the
rasorial type of the class,) to which we perhaps see a further analogy in
the use which he makes of the surface of the earth as a source of food.
To the aquatic type his love of maritime adventure very readily
assimilates him; and how far the suctorial is represented in his nature
it is hardly necessary to say.  As the corvidæ, too, are found in every
part of the earth—almost the only one of the inferior animals which has
been acknowledged as universal—so do we find man.  He thrives in all
climates, and with regard to style of living, can adapt himself to an
infinitely greater diversity of circumstances than any other animated

Man, then, considered zoologically, and without regard to the distinct
character assigned to him by theology, simply takes his place as the type
of all types of the animal kingdom, the true and unmistakable head of
animated nature upon this earth.  It will readily occur that some more
particular investigations into the ranks of types might throw additional
light on man’s status, and perhaps his nature; and such light we may hope
to obtain when the philosophy of zoology shall have been studied as it
deserves.  Perhaps some such diagram as the one given on the next page
will be found to be an approximation to the expression of the merely
natural or secular grade of man in comparison with other animals.

                         [Picture: Diagram] {274}

Here the upright lines, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, may represent the comparative
height and grade of organization of both the five sub-kingdoms, and the
five classes of each of these; 5 being the vertebrata in the one case,
and the mammalia in the other.  The difference between the height of the
line 1 and the line 5 gives an idea of the difference of being the head
type of the aves, (corvidæ,) and the head type of the mammalia, (bimana;)
_a. b. c. d_.  5, again, represent the five groups of the first order of
the mammalia; _a_, being the organic structure of the highest simia, and
5, that of man.  A set of tangent lines of this kind may yet prove one of
the most satisfactory means of ascertaining the height and breadth of the
psychology of our species.

It may be asked,—Is the existing human race the only species designed to
occupy the grade to which it is here referred?  Such a question evidently
ought not to be answered rashly; and I shall therefore confine myself to
the admission that, judging by analogy, we might expect to see several
varieties of the being, homo.  There is no other family approaching to
this in importance, which presents but one species.  The corvidæ, our
parallel in aves, consist of several distinct genera and sub-genera.  It
is startling to find such an appearance of imperfection in the circle to
which man belongs, and the ideas which rise in consequence are not less
startling.  Is our race but the initial of the grand crowning type?  Are
there yet to be species superior to us in organization, purer in feeling,
more powerful in device and act, and who shall take a rule over us!
There is in this nothing improbable on other grounds.  The present race,
rude and impulsive as it is, is perhaps the best adapted to the present
state of things in the world; but the external world goes through slow
and gradual changes, which may leave it in time a much serener field of
existence.  There may then be occasion for a nobler type of humanity,
which shall complete the zoological circle on this planet, and realize
some of the dreams of the purest spirits of the present race.


THE human race is known to consist of numerous nations, displaying
considerable differences of external form and colour, and speaking in
general different languages.  This has been the case since the
commencement of written record.  It is also ascertained that the external
peculiarities of particular nations do not rapidly change.  There is
rather a tendency to a persistency of type in all lines of descent,
insomuch that a subordinate admixture of various type is usually
obliterated in a few generations.  Numerous as the varieties are, they
have all been found classifiable under five leading ones:—1.  The
Caucasian or Indo-European, which extends from India into Europe and
Northern Africa; 2.  The Mongolian, which occupies Northern and Eastern
Asia; 3.  The Malayan, which extends from the Ultra-Gangetic Peninsula
into the numerous islands of the South Sea and Pacific; 4.  The Negro,
chiefly confined to Africa; 5.  The aboriginal American.  Each of these
is distinguished by certain general features of so marked a kind, as to
give rise to a supposition that they have had distinct or independent
origins.  Of these peculiarities, colour is the most conspicuous: the
Caucasians are generally white, the Mongolians yellow, the Negroes black,
and the Americans red.  The opposition of two of these in particular,
white and black, is so striking, that of them, at least, it seems almost
necessary to suppose separate origins.  Of late years, however, the whole
of this question has been subjected to a rigorous investigation, and it
has been successfully shewn that the human race might have had one
origin, for anything that can be inferred from external peculiarities.

It appears from this inquiry, {278} that colour and other physiological
characters are of a more superficial and accidental nature than was at
one time supposed.  One fact is at the very first extremely startling,
that there are nations, such as the inhabitants of Hindostan, known to be
one in descent, which nevertheless contain groups of people of almost all
shades of colour, and likewise discrepant in other of those important
features on which much stress has been laid.  Some other facts, which I
may state in brief terms, are scarcely less remarkable.  In Africa, there
are Negro nations,—that is, nations of intensely black complexion, as the
Jolofs, Mandingoes, and Kafirs, whose features and limbs are as elegant
as those of the best European nations.  While we have no proof of Negro
races becoming white in the course of generations, the converse may be
held as established, for there are Arab and Jewish families of ancient
settlement in Northern Africa, who have become as black as the other
inhabitants.  There are also facts which seem to shew the possibility of
a natural transition by generation from the black to the white
complexion, and from the white to the black.  True whites (apart from
Albinoes) are not unfrequently born among the Negroes, and the tendency
to this singularity is transmitted in families.  There is, at least, one
authentic instance of a set of perfectly black children being born to an
Arab couple, in whose ancestry no such blood had intermingled.  This
occurred in the valley of the Jordan, where it is remarkable that the
Arab population in general have flatter features, darker skins, and
coarser hair, than any other tribes of the same nation. {280}

The style of living is ascertained to have a powerful effect in modifying
the human figure in the course of generations, and this even in its
osseous structure.  About two hundred years ago, a number of people were
driven by a barbarous policy from the counties of Antrim and Down, in
Ireland, towards the sea-coast, where they have ever since been settled,
but in unusually miserable circumstances, even for Ireland; and the
consequence is, that they exhibit peculiar features of the most repulsive
kind, projecting jaws with large open mouths, depressed noses, high cheek
bones, and bow legs, together with an extremely diminutive stature.
These, with an abnormal slenderness of the limbs, are the outward marks
of a low and barbarous condition all over the world; it is particularly
seen in the Australian aborigines.  On the other hand, the beauty of the
higher ranks in England is very remarkable, being, in the main, as
clearly a result of good external conditions.  “Coarse, unwholesome, and
ill-prepared food,” says Buffon, “makes the human race degenerate.  All
those people who live miserably are ugly and ill-made.  Even in France,
the country people are not so beautiful as those who live in towns; and I
have often remarked that in those villages where the people are richer
and better fed than in others, the men are likewise more handsome, and
have better countenances.”  He might have added, that elegant and
commodious dwellings, cleanly habits, comfortable clothing, and being
exposed to the open air only as much as health requires, cooperate with
food in increasing the elegance of a race of human beings.

Subject only to these modifying agencies, there is, as has been said, a
remarkable persistency in national features and forms, insomuch that a
single individual thrown into a family different from himself is absorbed
in it, and all trace of him lost after a few generations.  But while
there is such a persistency to ordinary observation, it would also appear
that nature has a power of producing new varieties, though this is only
done rarely.  Such novelties of type abound in the vegetable world, are
seen more rarely in the animal circle, and perhaps are least frequent of
occurrence in our own race.  There is a noted instance in the production,
on a New England farm, of a variety of sheep with unusually short legs,
which was kept up by breeding, on account of the convenience in that
country of having sheep which are unable to jump over low fences.  The
starting and main taming a _breed_ of cattle, that is, a variety marked
by some desirable peculiarity, are familiar to a large class of persons.
It appears only necessary, when a variety has been thus produced, that a
union should take place between individuals similarly characterized, in
order to establish it.  Early in the last century, a man named Lambert,
was born in Suffolk, with semi-horny excrescences of about half an inch
long, thickly growing all over his body.  The peculiarity was transmitted
to his children, and was last heard of in a third generation.  The
peculiarity of six fingers on the hand and six toes on the feet, appears
in like manner in families which have no record or tradition of such a
peculiarity having affected them at any former period, and it is then
sometimes seen to descend through several generations.  It was Mr.
Lawrence’s opinion, that a pair, in which both parties were so
distinguished, might be the progenitors of a new variety of the race who
would be thus marked in all future time.  It is not easy to surmise the
causes which operate in producing such varieties.  Perhaps they are
simply types in nature, _possible to be realized under certain
appropriate conditions_, but which conditions are such as altogether to
elude notice.  I might cite as examples of such possible types, the rise
of whites amongst the Negroes, the occurrence of the family of black
children in the valley of the Jordan, and the comparatively frequent
birth of red-haired children amongst not only the Mongolian and Malayan
families, but amongst the Negroes.  We are ignorant of the laws of
variety-production; but we see it going on as a principle in nature, and
it is obviously favourable to the supposition that all the great families
of men are of one stock.

The tendency of the modern study of the languages of nations is to the
same point.  The last fifty years have seen this study elevated to the
character of a science, and the light which it throws upon the history of
mankind is of a most remarkable nature.

Following a natural analogy, philologists have thrown the earth’s
languages into a kind of classification: a number bearing a considerable
resemblance to each other, and in general geographically near, are styled
a _group_ or _sub-family_; several groups, again, are associated as a
_family_, with regard to more general features of resemblance.  Six
families are spoken of.

The Indo-European family nearly coincides in geographical limits with
those which have been assigned to that variety of mankind which generally
shews a fair complexion, called the Caucasian variety.  It may be said to
commence in India, and thence to stretch through Persia into Europe, the
whole of which it occupies, excepting Hungary, the Basque provinces of
Spain, and Finland.  Its sub-families are the Sanskrit, or ancient
language of India, the Persian, the Slavonic, Celtic, Gothic, and
Pelasgian.  The Slavonic includes the modern languages of Russia and
Poland.  Under the Gothic, are (1) the Scandinavian tongues, the Norske,
Swedish, and Danish; and (2) the Teutonic, to which belong the modern
German, the Dutch, and our own Anglo-Saxon.  I give the name of Pelasgian
to the group scattered along the north shores of the Mediterranean, the
Greek and Latin, including the modifications of the latter under the
names of Italian, Spanish, &c.  The Celtic was from two to three thousand
years ago, the speech of a considerable tribe dwelling in Western Europe;
but these have since been driven before superior nations into a few
corners, and are now only to be found in the highlands of Scotland,
Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, and certain parts of France.  The Gaelic of
Scotland, Erse of Ireland, and the Welsh, are the only living branches of
this sub-family of languages.

The resemblances amongst languages are of two kinds,—identity of words,
and identity of grammatical forms; the latter being now generally
considered as the most important towards the argument.  When we inquire
into the first kind of affinity among the languages of the Indo-European
family, we are surprised at the great number of common terms which exist
amongst them, and these referring to such primary ideas, as to leave no
doubt of their having all been derived from a common source.  Colonel
Vans Kennedy presents nine hundred words common to the Sanskrit and other
languages of the same family.  In the Sanskrit and Persian, we find
several which require no sort of translation to an English reader, as
_pader_, _mader_, _sunu_, _dokhter_, _brader_, _mand_, _vidhava_;
likewise _asthi_, a bone, (Greek, _ostoun_;) _denta_, a tooth, (Latin,
_dens_, _dentis_;) _eyeumen_, the eye; _brouwa_, the eye-brow, (German,
_braue_;) _nasa_, the nose; _karu_, the hand, (Gr. _cheir_;) _genu_, the
knee, (Lat. _genu_;) _ped_, the foot, (Lat. _pes_, _pedis_;) _hrti_, the
heart; _jecur_, the liver, (Lat. _jecur_;) _stara_, a star; _gela_, cold,
(Lat. _gelu_, ice;) _aghni_, fire, (Lat. _ignis_;) _dhara_, the earth,
(Lat. _terra_, Gaelic, _tir_;) _arrivi_, a river; _nau_, a ship, (Gr.
_naus_, Lat. _navis_;) _ghau_, a cow; _sarpam_, a serpent.

The inferences from these verbal coincidences were confirmed in a
striking manner when Bopp and others investigated the grammatical
structure of this family of languages.  Dr. Wiseman pronounces that the
great philologist just named, “by a minute and sagacious analysis of the
Sanskrit verb, compared with the conjugational system of the other
members of this family, left no doubt of their intimate and positive
affinity.”  It was now discovered that the peculiar terminations or
inflections by which persons are expressed throughout the verbs of nearly
the whole of these languages, have their foundations in pronouns; the
pronoun was simply placed at the end, and thus became an inflexion.  “By
an analysis of the Sanskrit pronouns, the elements of those existing in
all the other languages were cleared of their anomalies; the verb
substantive, which in Latin is composed of fragments referable to two
distinct roots, here found both existing in regular form; the Greek
conjugations, with all their complicated machinery of middle voice,
augments, and reduplications, were here found and illustrated in a
variety of ways, which a few years ago would have appeared chimerical.
Even our own language may sometimes receive light from the study of
distant members of our family.  Where, for instance, are we to seek for
the root of our comparative _better_?  Certainly not in its positive,
good, nor in the Teutonic dialects in which the same anomaly exists.  But
in the Persian we have precisely the same comparative, _behter_, with
exactly the same signification, regularly formed from its positive _beh_,
good.” {287}

The second great family is the _Syro-Phœnician_, comprising the Hebrew,
Syro-Chaldaic, Arabic, and Gheez or Abyssinian, being localized
principally in the countries to the west and south of the Mediterranean.
Beyond them, again, is the African family, which, as far as research has
gone, seems to be in like manner marked by common features, both verbal
and grammatical.  The fourth is the Polynesian family, extending from
Madagascar on the west through all the Indian Archipelago, besides taking
in the Malayan dialect from the continent of India, and comprehending
Australia and the islands of the western portion of the Pacific.  This
family, however, bears such an affinity to that next to be described,
that Dr. Leyden and some others do not give it a distinct place as a
family of languages.

The fifth family is the Chinese, embracing a large part of China, and
most of the regions of Central and Northern Asia.  The leading features
of the Chinese are, its consisting altogether of monosyllables, and being
destitute of all grammatical forms, except certain arrangements and
accentuations, which vary the sense of particular words.  It is also
deficient in some of the consonants most conspicuous in other languages,
b, d, r, v, and z; so that this people can scarcely pronounce our speech
in such a way as to be intelligible: for example, the word Christus they
call _Kuliss-ut-oo-suh_.  The Chinese, strange to say, though they early
attained to a remarkable degree of civilization, and have preceded the
Europeans in many of the most important inventions, have a language which
resembles that of children, or deaf and dumb people.  The sentence of
short, simple, unconnected words, in which an infant amongst us attempts
to express some of its wants and its ideas—the equally broken and
difficult terms which the deaf and dumb express by signs, as the
following passage of the Lord’s Prayer:—“Our Father, heaven in, wish your
name respect, wish your soul’s kingdom providence arrive, wish your will
do heaven earth equality,” &c.—these are like the discourse of the
refined people of the so-called Celestial Empire.  An attempt was made by
the Abbé Sicard to teach the deaf and dumb grammatical signs; but they
persisted in restricting themselves to the simple signs of ideas, leaving
the structure undetermined by any but the natural order of connexion.
Such is exactly the condition of the Chinese language.

Crossing the Pacific, we come to the last great family in the languages
of the aboriginal Americans, which have all of them features in common,
proving them to constitute a group by themselves, without any regard to
the very different degrees of civilization which these nations had
attained at the time of the discovery.  The common resemblance is in the
grammatical structure as well as in words, and the grammatical structure
of this family is of a very peculiar and complicated kind.  The general
character in this respect has caused the term Polysynthetic to be applied
to the American languages.  A long many-syllabled word is used by the
rude Algonquins and Delawares to express a whole sentence: for example, a
woman of the latter nation, playing with a little dog or cat, would
perhaps be heard saying, “_kuligatschis_,” meaning, “give me your pretty
little paw;” the word, on examination, is found to be made up in this
manner: _k_, the second personal pronoun; _uli_, part of the word wulet,
pretty; _gat_, part of the word wichgat, signifying a leg or paw;
_schis_, conveying the idea of littleness.  In the same tongue, a youth
is called pilape, a word compounded from the first part of pilsit,
innocent, and the latter part of lenape, a man.  Thus, it will be
observed, a number of parts of words are taken and thrown together, by a
process which has been happily termed _agglutination_, so as to form one
word, conveying a complicated idea.  There is also an elaborate system of
inflection; in nouns, for instance, there is one kind of inflection to
express the presence or absence of vitality, and another to express
number.  The genius of the language has been described as accumulative:
it “tends rather to add syllables or letters, making farther distinctions
in objects already before the mind, than to introduce new words.” {291}
Yet it has also been shewn very distinctly, that these languages are
based in words of one syllable, like those of the Chinese and Polynesian
families; all the primary ideas are thus expressed: the elaborate system
of inflection and agglutination is shewn to be simply a farther
development of the language-forming principle, as it may be called—or the
Chinese system may be described as an arrestment of this principle at a
particular early point.  It has been fully shewn, that between the
structure of the American and other families, sufficient affinities exist
to make a common origin or early connexion extremely likely.  The verbal
affinities are also very considerable.  Humboldt says, “In eighty-three
American languages examined by Messrs. Barton and Vater, one hundred and
seventy words have been found, the roots of which appear to be the same;
and it is easy to perceive that this analogy is not accidental, since it
does not rest merely upon imitative harmony, or on that conformity of
organs which produces almost a perfect identity in the first sounds
articulated by children.  Of these one hundred and seventy words which
have this connexion, three-fifths resemble the Manchou, the Tongouse, the
Mongal, and the Samoyed; and two-fifths, the Celtic and Tchoud, the
Biscayan, the Coptic, and Congo languages.  These words have been found
by comparing the whole of the American languages with the whole of those
of the Old World; for hitherto we are acquainted with no American idiom
which seems to have an exclusive correspondence with any of the Asiatic,
African, or European tongues.” {293}  Humboldt and others considered
these words as brought into America by recent immigrants; an idea resting
on no proof, and which seems at once refuted by the common words being
chiefly those which represent primary ideas; besides, we now know, what
was not formerly perceived or admitted, that there are great affinities
of structure also.  I may here refer to a curious mathematical
calculation by Dr. Thomas Young, to the effect, that if three words
coincide in two different languages, it is ten to one they must be
derived in both cases from some parent language, or introduced in some
other manner.  “Six words would give more,” he says, “than seventeen
hundred to one, and eight near 100,000, so that in these cases the
evidence would be little short of absolute certainty.”  He instances the
following words to shew a connexion between the ancient Egyptian and the

            BISCAYAN.      EGYPTIAN.
_New_       Beria          Beri.
_A dog_     Ora            Whor.
_Little_    Gutchi         Kudchi.
_Bread_     Ognia          Oik.
_A wolf_    Otgsa          Ounsh.
_Seven_     Shashpi        Shashf.

Now, as there are, according to Humboldt, one hundred and seventy words
in common between the languages of the new and old continents, and many
of these are expressive of the most primitive ideas, there is, by Dr.
Young’s calculation, overpowering proof of the original connexion of the
American and other human families.

This completes the slight outline which I have been able to give, of the
evidence for the various races of men being descended from one stock.  It
cannot be considered as conclusive, and there are many eminent persons
who deem the opposite idea the more probable; but I must say that,
without the least regard to any other kind of evidence, that which
physiology and philology present seems to me decidedly favourable to the
idea of a single origin.

Assuming that the human race is _one_, we are next called upon to inquire
in what part of the earth it may most probably be supposed to have
originated.  One obvious mode of approximating to a solution of this
question is to trace backward the lines in which the principal tribes
appear to have migrated, and to see if these converge nearly to a point.
It is very remarkable that the lines do converge, and are concentrated
about the region of Hindostan.  The language, religion, modes of
reckoning time, and some other peculiar ideas of the Americans, are now
believed to refer their origin to North-Eastern Asia.  Trace them farther
back in the same direction, and we come to the north of India.  The
history of the Celts and Teutones represents them as coming from the
east, the one after the other, successive waves of a tide of population
flowing towards the north-west of Europe: this line being also traced
back, rests finally at the same place.  So does the line of Iranian
population, which has peopled the east and south shores of the
Mediterranean, Syria, Arabia, and Egypt.  The Malay variety, again, rests
its limit in one direction on the borders of India.  Standing on that
point, it is easy to see how the human family, originating there, might
spread out in different directions, passing into varieties of aspect and
of language as they spread, the Malay variety proceeding towards the
Oceanic region, the Mongolians to the east and north, and sending off the
red men as a sub-variety, the European population going off to the
north-westward, and the Syrian, Arabian, and Egyptian, towards the
countries which they are known to have so long occupied.  The Negro alone
is here unaccounted for; and of that race it may fairly be said, that it
is the one most likely to have had an independent origin, seeing that it
is a type so peculiar in an inveterate black colour, and so mean in
development.  But it is not necessary to presume such an origin for it,
as much good argument might be employed to shew that it is only a
deteriorated offshoot of the general stock.  Our view of the probable
original seat of man agrees with the ancient traditions of the race.
There is one among the Hindoos which places the cradle of the human
family in Thibet; another makes Ceylon the residence of the first man.
Our view is also in harmony with the hypothesis detailed in the chapter
before the last.  According to that theory, we should expect man to have
originated where the highest species of the quadrumana are to be found.
Now these are unquestionably found in the Indian Archipelago.

After all, it may be regarded as still an open question, whether mankind
is of one or many origins.  The first human generation may have consisted
of many pairs, though situated at one place, and these may have been
considerably different from each other in external characters.  And we
are equally bound to admit, though this does not as yet seem to have
occurred to any other speculator, that there may have been different
lines and sources of origination, geographically apart, but which all
resulted uniformly in the production of a being, one in species, although
variously marked.

It has of late years been a favourite notion with many, that the human
race was at first in a highly civilized state, and that barbarism was a
second condition.  This idea probably took its origin in a wish to
support certain interpretations of the Mosaic record, and it has never
yet been propounded by any writer who seemed to have a due sense of the
value of science in this class of investigations.  The principal argument
for it is, that we see many examples of nations falling away from
civilization into barbarism, while in some regions of the earth, the
history of which we do not clearly know, there are remains of works of
art far superior to any which the present unenlightened inhabitants could
have produced.  It is to be readily admitted that such decadences are
common; but do they necessarily prove that there has been anything like a
regular and constant decline into the present state, from a state more
generally refined?  May not these be only instances of local failures and
suppressions of the principle of civilization, where it had begun to take
root amongst a people generally barbarous?  It is, at least, as
legitimate to draw this inference from the facts which are known.  But it
is also alleged that we know of no such thing as civilization being ever
self-originated.  It is always seen to be imparted from one people to
another.  Hence, of course, we must infer that civilization at the first
could only have been of supernatural origin.  This argument appears to be
founded on false premises, for civilization does sometimes rise in a
manner clearly independent amongst a horde of people generally barbarous.
A striking instance is described in the laborious work of Mr. Catlin on
the North-American tribes.  Far placed among those which inhabit the vast
region of the north-west, and quite beyond the reach of any influence
from the whites, he found a small tribe living in a fortified village,
where they cultivated the arts of manufacture, realized comforts and
luxuries, and had attained to a remarkable refinement of manners,
insomuch as to be generally called the polite and friendly Mandans.  They
were also more than usually elegant in their persons, and of every
variety of complexion between that of their compatriots and a pure white.
Up to the time of Mr. Catlin’s visit, these people had been able to
defend themselves and their possessions against the roving bands which
surrounded them on all sides; but, soon after, they were attacked by
small-pox, which cut them all off except a small party, whom their
enemies rushed in upon and destroyed to a man.  What is this but a
repetition on a small scale of phenomena with which ancient history
familiarizes us—a nation rising in arts and elegances amidst barbarous
neighbours, but at length overpowered by the rude majority, leaving only
a Tadmor or a Luxor as a monument of itself to beautify the waste?  What
can we suppose the nation which built Palenque and Copan to have been but
only a Mandan tribe, which chanced to have made its way farther along the
path of civilization and the arts, before the barbarians broke in upon
it?  The flame essayed to rise in many parts of the earth; but there were
always considerable chances against it, and down it accordingly went,
times without number; but there was always a vitality in it,
nevertheless, and a tendency to progress, and at length it seems to have
attained a strength against which the powers of barbarism can never more
prevail.  The state of our knowledge of uncivilized nations is very apt
to make us fall into error on this subject.  They are generally supposed
to be all at one point in barbarism, which is far from being the case,
for in the midst of every great region of uncivilized men, such as North
America, there are nations partially refined.  The Jolofs, Mandingoes,
and Kafirs, are African examples, where a natural and independent origin
for the improvement which exists is as unavoidably to be presumed as in
the case of the Mandans.

The most conclusive argument against the original civilization of mankind
is to be found in the fact that we do not now see civilization existing
anywhere except in certain conditions altogether different from any we
can suppose’ to have existed at the commencement of our race.  To have
civilization, it is necessary that a people should be numerous and
closely placed; that they should be fixed in their habitations, and safe
from violent external and internal disturbance; that a considerable
number of them should be exempt from the necessity of drudging for
immediate subsistence.  Feeling themselves at ease about the first
necessities of their nature, including self-preservation, and daily
subjected to that intellectual excitement which society produces, men
begin to manifest what is called civilization; but never in rude and
shelterless circumstances, or when widely scattered.  Even men who have
been civilized, when transferred to a wide wilderness, where each has to
work hard and isolatedly for the first requisites of life, soon shew a
retrogression to barbarism: witness the plains of Australia, as well as
the backwoods of Canada and the prairies of Texas.  Fixity of residence
and thickening of population are perhaps the prime requisites for
civilization, and hence it will be found that all civilizations as yet
known have taken place in regions physically limited.  That of Egypt
arose in a narrow valley hemmed in by deserts on both sides.  That of
Greece took its rise in a small peninsula bounded on the only land side
by mountains.  Etruria and Rome were naturally limited regions.
Civilizations have taken place at both the eastern and western
extremities of the elder continent—China and Japan, on the one hand;
Germany, Holland, Britain, France, on the other—while the great unmarked
tract between contains nations decidedly less advanced.  Why is this, but
because the sea, in both cases, has imposed limits to further migration,
and caused the population to settle and condense—the conditions most
necessary for social improvement. {302}  Even the simple case of the
Mandans affords an illustration of this principle, for Mr. Catlin
expressly, though without the least regard to theory, attributes their
improvement to the fact of their being a small tribe, obliged, by fear of
their more numerous enemies, to _settle in a permanent village_, so
fortified as to ensure their preservation.  “By this means,” says he,
“they have advanced farther in the arts of manufacture, and have supplied
their lodges more abundantly with the comforts and even luxuries of life
than any Indian nation I know of.  The consequence of this,” he adds, “is
that the tribe have taken many steps ahead of other tribes in _manners
and refinements_.”  These conditions can only be regarded as natural laws
affecting civilization, and it might not be difficult, taking them into
account, to predict of any newly settled country its social destiny.  An
island like Van Dieman’s land might fairly be expected to go on more
rapidly to good manners and sound institutions than a wide region like
Australia.  The United States might be expected to make no great way in
civilization till they be fully peopled to the Pacific; and it might not
be unreasonable to expect that, when that even has occurred, the greatest
civilizations of that vast territory will be found in the peninsula of
California and the narrow stripe of country beyond the Rocky Mountains.
This, however, is a digression.  To return: it is also necessary for a
civilization that at least a portion of the community should be placed
above mean and engrossing toils.  Man’s mind becomes subdued, like the
dyer’s hand, to that it works in.  In rude and difficult circumstances we
unavoidably become rude, because then only the inferior and harsher
faculties of our nature are called into existence.  When, on the
contrary, there is leisure and abundance, the self-seeking and
self-preserving instincts are allowed to rest, the gentler and more
generous sentiments are evoked, and man becomes that courteous and
chivalric being which he is found to be amongst the upper classes of
almost all civilized countries.  These, then, may be said to be the chief
natural laws concerned in the moral phenomenon of civilization.  If I am
right in so considering them, it will of course be readily admitted that
the earliest families of the human race, although they might be simple
and innocent, could not have been in anything like a civilized state,
seeing that the conditions necessary for that state could not have then
existed.  Let us only for a moment consider some of the things requisite
for their being civilized,—namely, a set of elegant homes ready furnished
for their reception, fields ready cultivated to yield them food without
labour, stores of luxurious appliances of all kinds, a complete social
enginery for the securing of life and property,—and we shall turn from
the whole conceit as one worthy only of the philosophers of Utopia.

Yet, as has been remarked, the earliest families might be simple and
innocent, while at the same time unskilled and ignorant, and obliged to
live merely upon such substances as they could readily procure.  The
traditions of all nations refer to such a state as that in which mankind
were at first: perhaps it is not so much a tradition as an idea which the
human mind naturally inclines to form respecting the fathers of the race;
but nothing that we see of mankind absolutely forbids our entertaining
this idea, while there are some considerations rather favourable to it.
A few families, in a state of nature, living near each other, in a
country supplying the means of livelihood abundantly, are generally
simple and innocent; their instinctive and perceptive faculties are also
apt to be very active, although the higher intellect may be dormant.  If
we therefore presume India to have been the cradle of our race, they
might at first exemplify a sort of golden age; but it could not be of
long continuance.  The very first movements from the primal seat would be
attended with degradation, nor could there be any tendency to true
civilization till groups had settled and thickened in particular seats
physically limited.

The probability may now be assumed that the human race sprung from one
stock, which was at first in a state of simplicity, if not barbarism.  As
yet we have not seen very distinctly how the various branches of the
family, as they parted off, and took up separate ground, became marked by
external features so peculiar.  Why are the Africans black, and generally
marked by coarse features and ungainly forms?  Why are the Mongolians
generally yellow, the Americans red, the Caucasians white?  Why the flat
features of the Chinese, the small stature of the Laps, the soft round
forms of the English, the lank features of their descendants, the
Americans?  All of these phenomena appear, in a word, to be explicable on
the ground of _development_.  We have already seen that various leading
animal forms represent stages in the embryotic progress of the
highest—the human being.  Our brain goes through the various stages of a
fish’s, a reptile’s, and a mammifer’s brain, and finally becomes human.
There is more than this, for, after completing the animal
transformations, it passes through the characters in which it appears, in
the Negro, Malay, American, and Mongolian nations, and finally is
Caucasian.  The face partakes of these alterations.  “One of the earliest
points in which ossification commences is the lower jaw.  This bone is
consequently sooner completed than the other bones of the head, and
acquires a predominance, which, as is well known, it never loses in the
Negro.  During the soft pliant state of the bones of the skull, the
oblong form which they naturally assume, approaches nearly the permanent
shape of the Americans.  At birth, the flattened face, and broad smooth
forehead of the infant, the position of the eyes rather towards the side
of the head, and the widened space between, represent the Mongolian form;
while it is only as the child advances to maturity, that the oval face,
the arched forehead, and the marked features of the true Caucasian,
become perfectly developed.” {307a}  _The leading characters_, _in
short_, _of the various races of mankind_, _are simply representations of
particular stages in the development of the highest or Caucasian type_.
The Negro exhibits permanently the imperfect brain, projecting lower jaw,
and slender bent limbs, of a Caucasian child, some considerable time
before the period of its birth.  The aboriginal American represents the
same child nearer birth.  The Mongolian is an arrested infant newly born.
And so forth.  All this is as respects form; {307b} but whence colour?
This might be supposed to have depended on climatal agencies only; but it
has been shewn by overpowering evidence to be independent of these.  In
further considering the matter, we are met by the very remarkable fact
that colour is deepest in the least perfectly developed type, next in the
Malay, next in the American, next in the Mongolian, the very order in
which the degrees of development are ranged.  _May not colour_, _then_,
_depend upon development also_?  We do not, indeed, see that a Caucasian
fœtus at the stage which the African represents is anything like black;
neither is a Caucasian child yellow, like the Mongolian.  There may,
nevertheless, be a character of skin at a certain stage of development
which is predisposed to a particular colour when it is presented as the
envelope of a mature being.  Development being arrested at so immature a
stage in the case of the Negro, the skin may take on the colour as an
unavoidable consequence of its imperfect organization.  It is favourable
to this view, that Negro infants are not deeply black at first, but only
acquire the full colour tint after exposure for some time to the
atmosphere.  Another consideration in its favour is that there is a
likelihood of peculiarities of form and colour, since they are so
coincident, depending on one set of phenomena.  If it be admitted as
true, there can be no difficulty in accounting for all the varieties of
mankind.  They are simply the result of so many advances and
retrogressions in the developing power of the human mothers, these
advances and retrogressions being, as we have formerly seen, the
immediate effect of external conditions in nutrition, hardship, &c.,
{309} and also, perhaps, to some extent, of the suitableness and
unsuitableness of marriages, for it is found that parents too nearly
related tend to produce offspring of the Mongolian type,—that is, persons
who in maturity still are a kind of children.  According to this view,
the greater part of the human race must be considered as having lapsed or
declined from the original type.  In the Caucasian or Indo-European
family alone has the primitive organization been improved upon.  The
Mongolian, Malay, American, and Negro, comprehending perhaps five-sixths
of mankind, are degenerate.  Strange that the great plan should admit of
failures and aberrations of such portentous magnitude!  But pause and
reflect; take time into consideration: the past history of mankind may
be, to what is to come, but as a day.  Look at the progress even now
making over the barbaric parts of the earth by the best examples of the
Caucasian type, promising not only to fill up the waste places, but to
supersede the imperfect nations already existing.  Who can tell what
progress may be made, even in a single century, towards reversing the
proportions of the perfect and imperfect types? and who can tell but that
the time during which the mean types have lasted, long as it appears, may
yet be thrown entirely into the shade by the time during which the best
types will remain predominant?

We have seen that the traces of a common origin in all languages afford a
ground of presumption for the unity of the human race.  They establish a
still stronger probability that mankind had not yet begun to disperse
before they were possessed of a means of communicating their ideas by
conventional sounds—in short, speech.  This is a gift so peculiar to man,
and in itself so remarkable, that there is a great inclination to surmise
a miraculous origin for it, although there is no proper ground, or even
support, for such an idea in Scripture, while it is clearly opposed to
everything else that we know with regard to the providential arrangements
for the creation of our race.  Here, as in many other cases, a little
observation of nature might have saved much vain discussion.  The real
character of language itself has not been thoroughly understood.
Language, in its most comprehensive sense, is the communication of ideas
by whatever means.  Ideas can be communicated by looks, gestures, and
signs of various other kinds, as well as by speech.  The inferior animals
possess some of those means of communicating ideas, and they have
likewise a silent and unobservable mode of their own, the nature of which
is a complete mystery to us, though we are assured of its reality by its
effects.  Now, as the inferior animals were all in being before man,
there was language upon earth long ere the history of our race commenced.
The only additional fact in the history of language, which was produced
by our creation, was the rise of a new mode of expression—namely, that by
_sound-signs_ produced by the vocal organs.  In other words, speech was
the only novelty in this respect attending the creation of the human
race.  No doubt it was an addition of great importance, for, in
comparison with it, the other natural modes of communicating ideas sink
into insignificance.  Still, the main and fundamental phenomenon,
language, as the communication of ideas, was no new gift of the Creator
to man; and in speech itself, when we judge of it as a natural fact, we
see only a result of some of those superior endowments of which so many
others have fallen to our lot through the medium of an improved or
advanced organization.

The first and most obvious natural endowment concerned in speech is that
peculiar organization of the larynx, trachea, and mouth, which enables us
to produce the various sounds required in the case.  Man started at first
with this organization ready for use, a constitution of the atmosphere
adapted for the sounds which that organization was calculated to produce,
and, lastly, but not leastly, as will afterwards be more particularly
shewn, a mental power within, prompting to, and giving directions for,
the expression of ideas.  Such an arrangement of mutually adapted things
was as likely to produce sounds as an Eolian harp placed in a draught is
to produce tones.  It was unavoidable that human beings so organized, and
in such a relation to external nature, should utter sounds, and also come
to attach to these conventional meanings, thus forming the elements of
spoken language.  The great difficulty which has been felt was to account
for man going in this respect beyond the inferior animals.  There could
have been no such difficulty if speculators in this class of subjects had
looked into physiology for an account of the superior vocal organization
of man, and had they possessed a true science of mind to shew man
possessing a faculty for the expression of ideas which is only rudimental
in the lower animals.  Another difficulty has been in the consideration
that, if men were at first utterly untutored and barbarous, they could
scarcely be in a condition to form or employ language—an instrument which
it requires the fullest powers of thought to analyse and speculate upon.
But this difficulty also vanishes upon reflection—for, in the first
place, we are not bound to suppose the fathers of our race early
attaining to great proficiency in language, and, in the second, language
itself seems to be amongst the things least difficult to be acquired, if
we can form any judgment from what we see in children, most of whom have,
by three years of age, while their information and judgment are still as
nothing, mastered and familiarized themselves with a quantity of words,
infinitely exceeding in proportion what they acquire in the course of any
subsequent similar portion of time.

Discussions as to which parts of speech were first formed, and the
processes by which grammatical structure and inflections took their rise,
appear in a great measure needless, after the matter has been placed in
this light.  The mental powers could readily connect particular arbitrary
sounds with particular ideas, whether those ideas were nouns, verbs, or
interjections.  As the words of all languages can be traced back into
roots which are monosyllables, we may presume these sounds to have all
been monosyllabic accordingly.  The clustering of two or more together to
express a compound idea, and the formation of inflections by additional
syllables expressive of pronouns and such prepositions as of, by, and to,
are processes which would or might occur as matters of course, being
simple results of a mental power called into action, and partly directed,
by external necessities.  This power, however, as we find it in very
different degrees of endowment in individuals, so would it be in
different degrees of endowment in nations, or branches of the human
family.  Hence we find the formation of words and the process of their
composition and grammatical arrangement, in very different stages of
development in different races.  The Chinese have a language composed of
a limited number of monosyllables, which they multiply in use by mere
variations of accent, and which they have never yet attained the power of
clustering or inflecting; the language of this immense nation—the third
part of the human race—may be said to be in the condition of infancy.
The aboriginal Americans, so inferior in civilization, have, on the other
hand, a language of the most elaborately composite kind, perhaps even
exceeding, in this respect, the languages of the most refined European
nations.  These are but a few out of many facts tending to shew that
language is in a great measure independent of civilization, as far as its
advance and development are concerned.  Do they not also help to prove
that cultivated intellect is not necessary for the origination of

Facts daily presented to our observation afford equally simple reasons
for the almost infinite diversification of language.  It is invariably
found that, wherever society is at once dense and refined, language tends
to be uniform throughout the whole population, and to undergo few changes
in the course of time.  Wherever, on the contrary, we have a scattered
and barbarous people, we have great diversities, and comparatively rapid
alterations of language.  Insomuch that, while English, French, and
German are each spoken with little variation by many millions, there are
islands in the Indian archipelago, probably not inhabited by one million,
but in which there are hundreds of languages, as diverse as are English,
French, and German.  It is easy to see how this should be.  There are
peculiarities in the vocal organization of every person, tending to
produce peculiarities of pronunciation; for example, it has been stated
that each child in a family of six gave the monosyllable, fly, in a
different manner, (eye, fy, ly, &c.) until, when the organs were more
advanced, correct example induced the proper pronunciation of this and
similar words.  Such departures from orthoepy are only to be checked by
the power of such example; but this is a power not always present, or not
always of sufficient strength.  The able and self-devoted Robert Moffat,
in his work on South Africa, states, without the least regard to
hypothesis, that amongst the people of the towns of that great region,
“the purity and harmony of language is kept up by their pitchos or public
meetings, by their festivals and ceremonies, as well as by their songs
and their constant intercourse.  With the isolated villages of the desert
it is far otherwise.  They have no such meetings; they are compelled to
traverse the wilds, often to a great distance from their native village.
On such occasions, fathers and mothers, and all who can bear a burden,
often set out for weeks at a time, and leave their children to the care
of two or three infirm old people.  The infant progeny, some of whom are
beginning to lisp, while others can just master a whole sentence, and
those still farther advanced, romping and playing together, the children
of nature, through the live-long day, _become habituated to a language of
their own_.  The more voluble condescend to the less precocious, and
thus, from this infant Babel, proceeds a dialect composed of a host of
mongrel words and phrases, joined together without rule, and _in the
course of a generation the entire character of the language is changed_.”
{317}  I have been told, that in like manner the children of the
Manchester factory workers, left for a great part of the day, in large
assemblages, under the care of perhaps a single elderly person, and
spending the time in amusements, are found to make a great deal of new
language.  I have seen children in other circumstances amuse themselves
by concocting and throwing into the family circulation entirely new
words; and I believe I am running little risk of contradiction when I say
that there is scarcely a family, even amongst the middle classes of this
country, who have not some peculiarities of pronunciation and syntax,
which have originated amongst themselves, it is hardly possible to say
how.  All these things being considered, it is easy to understand how
mankind have come at length to possess between three and four thousand
languages, all different at least as much as French, German, and English,
though, as has been shewn, the traces of a common origin are observable
in them all.

What has been said on the question whether mankind were originally
barbarous or civilized, will have prepared the reader for understanding
how the arts and sciences, and the rudiments of civilization itself, took
their rise amongst men.  The only source of fallacious views on this
subject is the so frequent observation of arts, sciences, and social
modes, forms, and ideas, being not indigenous where we see them now
flourishing, but known to have been derived elsewhere: thus Rome borrowed
from Greece, Greece from Egypt, and Egypt itself, lost in the mists of
historic antiquity, is now supposed to have obtained the light of
knowledge from some still earlier scene of intellectual culture.  This
has caused to many a great difficulty in supposing a natural or
spontaneous origin for civilization and the attendant arts.  But, in the
first place, several stages of derivation are no conclusive argument
against there having been an originality at some earlier stage.  In the
second, such observers have not looked far enough, for, if they had, they
could have seen various instances of civilizations which it is
impossible, with any plausibility, to trace back to a common origin with
others; such are those of China and America.  They would also have seen
civilization springing up, as it were, like oases amongst the arid plains
of barbarism, as in the case of the Mandans.  A still more attentive
study of the subject would have shewn, amongst living men, the very
psychological procedure on which the origination of civilization and the
arts and sciences depended.

These things, like language, are simply the effects of the spontaneous
working of certain mental faculties, each in relation to the things of
the external world on which it was intended by creative Providence to be
exercised.  The monkeys themselves, without instruction from any quarter,
learn to use sticks in fighting, and some build houses—an act which
cannot in their case be considered as one of instinct, but of
intelligence.  Such being the case, there is no necessary difficulty in
supposing how man, with his superior mental organization, (a brain five
times heavier,) was able, in his primitive state, without instruction, to
turn many things in nature to his use, and commence, in short, the circle
of the domestic arts.  He appears, in the most unfavourable
circumstances, to be able to provide himself with some sort of dwelling,
to make weapons, and to practise some simple kind of cookery.  But,
granting, it will be said, that he can go thus far, how does he ever
proceed farther unprompted, seeing that many nations remain fixed for
ever at this point, and seem unable to take one step in advance?  It is
perfectly true that there is such a fixation in many nations; but, on the
other hand, all nations are not alike in mental organization, and another
point has been established, that only when some favourable circumstances
have settled a people in one place, do arts and social arrangements get
leave to flourish.  If we were to limit our view to humbly endowed
nations, or the common class of minds in those called civilized, we
should see absolutely no conceivable power for the origination of new
ideas and devices.  But let us look at the inventive class of minds which
stand out amongst their fellows—the men who, with little prompting or
none, conceive new ideas in science, arts, morals—and we can be at no
loss to understand how and whence have arisen the elements of that
civilization which history traces from country to country throughout the
course of centuries.  See a Pascal, reproducing the Alexandrian’s
problems at fifteen; a Ferguson, making clocks from the suggestions of
his own brain, while tending cattle on a Morayshire heath; a boy
Lawrence, in an inn on the Bath road, producing, without a master,
drawings which the educated could not but admire; or look at Solon and
Confucius, devising sage laws, and breathing the accents of all but
divine wisdom, for their barbarous fellow-countrymen, three thousand
years ago—and the whole mystery is solved at once.  Amongst the
arrangements of Providence is one for the production of original,
inventive, and aspiring minds, which, when circumstances are not
decidedly unfavourable, strike out new ideas for the benefit of their
fellow-creatures, or put upon them a lasting impress of their own
superior sentiments.  Nations, improved by these means, become in turn
_foci_ for the diffusion of light over the adjacent regions of
barbarism—their very passions helping to this end, for nothing can be
more clear than that ambitious aggression has led to the civilization of
many countries.  Such is the process which seems to form the destined
means for bringing mankind from the darkness of barbarism to the day of
knowledge and mechanical and social improvement.  Even the noble art of
letters is but, as Dr. Adam Fergusson has remarked, “a natural produce of
the human mind, which will rise spontaneously, wherever men are happily
placed;” original alike amongst the ancient Egyptians and the dimly
monumented Toltecans of Yucatan.  “Banish,” says Dr. Gall, “music,
poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, all the arts and sciences, and
let your Homers, Raphaels, Michael Angelos, Glucks, and Canovas, be
forgotten, yet let men of genius of every description spring up, and
poetry, music, painting, architecture, sculpture, and all the arts and
sciences will again shine out in all their glory.  Twice within the
records of history has the human race traversed the great circle of its
entire destiny, and twice has the rudeness of barbarism been followed by
a higher degree of refinement.  It is a great mistake to suppose one
people to have proceeded from another on account of their conformity of
manners, customs, and arts.  The swallow of Paris builds its nest like
the swallow of Vienna, but does it thence follow that the former sprung
from the latter?  With the same causes we have the same effects; with the
same organization we have the manifestation of the same powers.”


IT has been one of the most agreeable tasks of modern science to trace
the wonderfully exact adaptations of the organization of animals to the
physical circumstances amidst which they are destined to live.  From the
mandibles of insects to the hand of man, all is seen to be in the most
harmonious relation to the things of the outward world, thus clearly
proving that _design_ presided in the creation of the whole—design again
implying a designer, another word for a CREATOR.

It would be tiresome to present in this place even a selection of the
proofs which have been adduced on this point.  The Natural Theology of
Paley, and the Bridgewater Treatises, place the subject in so clear a
light, that the general postulate may be taken for granted.  The physical
constitution of animals is, then, to be regarded as in the nicest
congruity and adaptation to the external world.

Less clear ideas have hitherto been entertained on the mental
constitution of animals.  The very nature of this constitution is not as
yet generally known or held as ascertained.  There is, indeed, a notion
of old standing, that the mind is in some way connected with the brain;
but the metaphysicians insist that it is, in reality, known only by its
acts or effects, and they accordingly present the subject in a form which
is unlike any other kind of science, for it does not so much as pretend
to have nature for its basis.  There is a general disinclination to
regard mind in connexion with organization, from a fear that this must
needs interfere with the cherished religious doctrine of the spirit of
man, and lower him to the level of the brutes.  A distinction is
therefore drawn between our mental manifestations and those of the lower
animals, the latter being comprehended under the term instinct, while
ours are collectively described as mind, mind being again a received
synonyme with soul, the immortal part of man.  There is here a strange
system of confusion and error, which it is most imprudent to regard as
essential to religion, since candid investigations of nature tend to shew
its untenableness.  There is, in reality, nothing to prevent our
regarding man as specially endowed with an immortal spirit, at the same
time that his ordinary mental manifestations are looked upon as simple
phenomena resulting from organization, those of the lower animals being
phenomena absolutely the same in character, though developed within much
narrower limits. {326}

What has chiefly tended to take mind, in the eyes of learned and
unlearned, out of the range of nature, is its apparently irregular and
wayward character.  How different the manifestations in different beings!
how unstable in all!—at one time so calm, at another so wild and
impulsive!  It seemed impossible that anything so subtle and aberrant
could be part of a system, the main features of which are regularity and
precision.  But the irregularity of mental phenomena is only in
appearance.  When we give up the individual, and take the mass, we find
as much uniformity of result as in any other class of natural phenomena.
The irregularity is exactly of the same kind as that of the weather.  No
man can say what may be the weather of to-morrow; but the quantity of
rain which falls in any particular place in any five years, is precisely
the same as the quantity which falls in any other five years at the same
place.  Thus, while it is absolutely impossible to predict of any one
Frenchman that during next year he will commit a crime, it is quite
certain that about one in every six hundred and fifty of the French
people will do so, because in past years the proportion has generally
been about that amount, the tendencies to crime in relation to the
temptations being everywhere invariable over a sufficiently wide range of
time.  So also, the number of persons taken in charge by the police in
London for being drunk and disorderly on the streets, is, week by week, a
nearly uniform quantity, shewing that the inclination to drink to excess
is always in the mass about the same, regard being had to the existing
temptations or stimulations to this vice.  Even mistakes and oversights
are of regular recurrence, for it is found in the post-offices of large
cities, that the number of letters put in without addresses is year by
year the same.  Statistics has made out an equally distinct regularity in
a wide range, with regard to many other things concerning the mind, and
the doctrine founded upon it has lately produced a scheme which may well
strike the ignorant with surprise.  It was proposed to establish in
London a society for ensuring the integrity of clerks, secretaries,
collectors, and all such functionaries as are usually obliged to find
security for money passing through their hands in the course of business.
A gentleman of the highest character as an actuary spoke of the plan in
the following terms:—“If a thousand bankers’ clerks were to club together
to indemnify their securities, by the payment of one pound a year each,
and if each had given security for 500_l._, it is obvious that two in
each year might become defaulters to that amount, four to half the
amount, and so on, without rendering the guarantee fund insolvent.  If it
be tolerably well ascertained that the instances of dishonesty (yearly)
among such persons amount to one in five hundred, this club would
continue to exist, subject to being in debt in a bad year, to an amount
which it would be able to discharge in good ones.  The only question
necessary to be asked previous to the formation of such a club would
be,—may it not be feared that the motive to resist dishonesty would be
lessened by the existence of the club, or that ready-made rogues, by
belonging to it, might find the means of obtaining situations which they
would otherwise have been kept out of by the impossibility of obtaining
security among those who know them?  Suppose this be sufficiently
answered by saying, that none but those who could bring satisfactory
testimony to their previous good character should be allowed to join the
club; that persons who may now hope that a deficiency on their parts will
be made up and hushed up by the relative or friend who is security, will
know very well that the club will have no motive to decline a
prosecution, or to keep the secret, and so on.  It then only remains to
ask, whether the sum demanded for the guarantee is sufficient?” {331}
The philosophical principle on which the scheme proceeds, seems to be
simply this, that, amongst a given (large) number of persons of good
character, there will be, within a year or other considerable space of
time, a determinate number of instances in which moral principle and the
terror of the consequences of guilt will be overcome by temptations of a
determinate kind and amount, and thus occasion a certain periodical
amount of loss which the association must make up.

This statistical regularity in moral affairs fully establishes their
being under the presidency of law.  Man is now seen to be an enigma only
as an individual; in the mass he is a mathematical problem.  It is hardly
necessary to say, much less to argue, that mental action, being proved to
be under law, passes at once into the category of natural things.  Its
old metaphysical character vanishes in a moment, and the distinction
usually taken between physical and moral is annulled, as only an error in
terms.  This view agrees with what all observation teaches, that mental
phenomena flow directly from the brain.  They are seen to be dependent on
naturally constituted and naturally conditioned organs, and thus
obedient, like all other organic phenomena, to law.  And how wondrous
must the constitution of this apparatus be, which gives us consciousness
of thought and of affection, which makes us familiar with the numberless
things of earth, and enables us to rise in conception and communion to
the councils of God himself!  It is matter which forms the medium or
instrument—a little mass which, decomposed, is but so much common dust;
yet in its living constitution, designed, formed, and sustained by
Almighty Wisdom, how admirable its character! how reflective of the
unutterable depths of that Power by which it was so formed, and is so

In the mundane economy, mental action takes its place as a means of
providing for the independent existence and the various relations of
animals, each species being furnished according to its special
necessities and the demands of its various relations.  The nervous
system—the more comprehensive term for its organic apparatus—is variously
developed in different classes and species, and also in different
individuals, the volume or mass bearing a general relation to the amount
of power.  In the mollusca and crustacea we see simply a ganglionic cord
pervading the extent of the body, and sending out lateral filaments.  In
the vertebrata, we find a brain with a spinal cord, and branching lines
of nervous tissue. {333}  But here, as in the general structure of
animals, the great principle of unity is observed.  The brain of the
vertebrata is merely an expansion of one of the ganglions of the nervous
cord of the mollusca and crustacea.  Or the corresponding ganglion of the
mollusca and crustacea may be regarded as the rudiment of a brain; the
superior organ thus appearing as only a farther development of the
inferior.  There are many facts which tend to prove that the action of
this apparatus is of an electric nature, a modification of that
surprising agent, which takes magnetism, heat, and light, as other
subordinate forms, and of whose general scope in this great system of
things we are only beginning to have a right conception.  It has been
found that simple electricity, artificially produced, and sent along the
nerves of a dead body, excites muscular action.  The brain of a
newly-killed animal being taken out, and replaced by a substance which
produces electric action, the operation of digestion, which had been
interrupted by the death of the animal, was resumed, shewing the absolute
identity of the brain with a galvanic battery.  Nor is this a very
startling idea, when we reflect that electricity is almost as
metaphysical as ever mind was supposed to be.  It is a thing perfectly
intangible, weightless.  Metal may be magnetized, or heated to seven
hundred of Fahrenheit, without becoming the hundredth part of a grain
heavier.  And yet electricity is a real thing, an actual existence in
nature, as witness the effects of heat and light in vegetation—the power
of the galvanic current to re-assemble the particles of copper from a
solution, and make them again into a solid plate—the rending force of the
thunderbolt as it strikes the oak; see also how both heat and light
observe the angle of incidence in reflection, as exactly as does the
grossest stone thrown obliquely against a wall.  So mental action may be
imponderable, intangible, and yet a real existence, and ruled by the
Eternal through his laws. {335}

Common observation shews a great general superiority of the human mind
over that of the inferior animals.  Man’s mind is almost infinite in
device; it ranges over all the world; it forms the most wonderful
combinations; it seeks back into the past, and stretches forward into the
future; while the animals generally appear to have a narrow range of
thought and action.  But so also has an infant but a limited range, and
yet it is mind which works there, as well as in the most accomplished
adults.  The difference between mind in the lower animals and in man is a
difference in degree only; it is not a specific difference.  All who have
studied animals by actual observation, and even those who have given a
candid attention to the subject in books, must attain more or less clear
convictions of this truth, notwithstanding all the obscurity which
prejudice may have engendered.  We see animals capable of affection,
jealousy, envy; we see them quarrel, and conduct quarrels, in the very
manner pursued by the more impulsive of our own race.  We see them liable
to flattery, inflated with pride, and dejected by shame.  We see them as
tender to their young as human parents are, and as faithful to a trust as
the most conscientious of human servants.  The horse is startled by
marvellous objects, as a man is.  The dog and many others shew tenacious
memory.  The dog also proves himself possessed of imagination, by the act
of dreaming.  Horses, finding themselves in want of a shoe, have of their
own accord gone to a farrier’s shop where they were shod before.  Cats,
closed up in rooms, will endeavour to obtain their liberation by pulling
a latch or ringing a bell.  It has several times been observed that in a
field of cattle, when one or two were mischievous, and persisted long in
annoying or tyrannizing over the rest, the herd, to all appearance,
consulted, and then, making a united effort, drove the troublers off the
ground.  The members of a rookery have also been observed to take turns
in supplying the needs of a family reduced to orphanhood.  All of these
are acts of reason, in no respect different from similar acts of men.
Moreover, although there is no heritage of accumulated knowledge amongst
the lower animals, as there is amongst us, they are in some degree
susceptible of those modifications of natural character, and capable of
those accomplishments, which we call education.  The taming and
domestication of animals, and the changes thus produced upon their nature
in the course of generations, are results identical with civilization
amongst ourselves; and the quiet, servile steer is probably as unlike the
original wild cattle of this country, as the English gentleman of the
present day is unlike the rude baron of the age of King John.  Between a
young, unbroken horse, and a trained one, there is, again, all the
difference which exists between a wild youth reared at his own discretion
in the country, and the same person when he has been toned down by long
exposure to the influences of refined society.  On the accomplishments
acquired by animals it were superfluous to enter at any length; but I may
advert to the dogs of M. Leonard, as remarkable examples of what the
animal intellect may be trained to.  When four pieces of card are laid
down before them, each having a number pronounced _once_ in connexion
with it, they will, after a re-arrangement of the pieces, select any one
named by its number.  They also play at dominoes, and with so much skill
as to triumph over biped opponents, whining if the adversary place a
wrong piece, or if they themselves be deficient in a right one.  Of
extensive combinations of thought we have no reason to believe that any
animal is capable—and yet most of us must feel the force of Walter
Scott’s remark, that there was scarcely anything which he would not
believe of a dog.  There is a curious result of education in certain
animals, namely, that habits to which they have been trained in some
instances become hereditary.  For example, the accomplishment of pointing
at game, although a pure result of education, appears in the young pups
brought up apart from their parents and kind.  The peculiar leap of the
Irish horse, acquired in the course of traversing a boggy country, is
continued in the progeny brought up in England.  This hereditariness of
specific habits suggests a relation to that form of psychological
demonstration usually called instinct; but instinct is only another term
for mind, or is mind in a peculiar stage of development; and though the
fact were otherwise, it could not affect the postulate, that
demonstrations such as have been enumerated are mainly intellectual
demonstrations, not to be distinguished as such from those of human

More than this, the lower animals manifested mental phenomena long before
man existed.  While as yet there was no brain capable of working out a
mathematical problem, the economy of the six-sided figure was exemplified
by the instinct of the bee.  Ere human musician had whistled or piped,
the owl hooted in B flat, the cuckoo had her song of a falling third, and
the chirp of the cricket was in B.  The dog and the elephant prefigured
the sagacity of the human mind.  The love of a human mother for her babe
was anticipated by nearly every humbler mammal, the carnaria not
excepted.  The peacock strutted, the turkey blustered, and the cock
fought for victory, just as human beings afterwards did, and still do.
Our faculty of imitation, on which so much of our amusement depends, was
exercised by the mocking-bird; and the whole tribe of monkeys must have
walked about the pre-human world, playing off those tricks in which we
see the comicality and mischief-making of our character so curiously

The unity and simplicity which characterize nature give great antecedent
probability to what observation seems about to establish, that, as the
brain of the vertebrata generally is just an advanced condition of a
particular ganglion in the mollusca and crustacea, so are the brains of
the higher and more intelligent mammalia only farther developments of the
brains of the inferior orders of the same class.  Or, to the same
purpose, it may be said, that each species has certain superior
developments, according to its needs, while others are in a rudimental or
repressed state.  This will more clearly appear after some inquiry has
been made into the various powers comprehended under the term mind.

One of the first and simplest functions of mind is to give
consciousness—consciousness of our identity and of our existence.  This,
apparently, is independent of the _senses_, which are simply media, and,
as Locke has shewn, the only media, through which ideas respecting the
external world reach the brain.  The access of such ideas to the brain is
the act to which the metaphysicians have given the name of perception.
Gall, however, has shewn, by induction from a vast number of actual
cases, that there is a part of the brain devoted to perception, and that
even this is subdivided into portions which are respectively dedicated to
the reception of different sets of ideas, as those of form, size, colour,
weight, objects in their totality, events in their progress or
occurrence, time, musical sounds, &c.  The system of mind invented by
this philosopher—the only one founded upon nature, or which even pretends
to or admits of that necessary basis—shews a portion of the brain acting
as a faculty of comic ideas, another of imitation, another of wonder, one
for discriminating or observing differences, and another in which resides
the power of tracing effects to causes.  There are also parts of the
brain for the sentimental part of our nature, or the affections, at the
head of which stand the moral feelings of benevolence, conscientiousness,
and veneration.  Through these, man stands in relation to himself, his
fellow-men, the external world, and his God; and through these comes most
of the happiness of man’s life, as well as that which he derives from the
contemplation of the world to come, and the cultivation of his relation
to it, (pure religion.)  The other sentiments may be briefly enumerated,
their names being sufficient in general to denote their
functions—firmness, hope, cautiousness, self-esteem, love of approbation,
secretiveness, marvellousness, constructiveness, imitation,
combativeness, destructiveness, concentrativeness, adhesiveness, love of
the opposite sex, love of offspring, alimentiveness, and love of life.
Through these faculties, man is connected with the external world, and
supplied with active impulses to maintain his place in it as an
individual and as a species.  There is also a faculty, (language) for
expressing, by whatever means, (signs, gestures, looks, conventional
terms in speech,) the ideas which arise in the mind.  There is a
particular state of each of these faculties, when the ideas of objects
once formed by it are revived or reproduced, a process which seems to be
intimately allied with some of the phenomena of the new science of
photography, when images impressed by reflection of the sun’s rays upon
sensitive paper are, after a temporary obliteration, resuscitated on the
sheet being exposed to the fumes of mercury.  Such are the phenomena of
memory, that handmaid of intellect, without which there could be no
accumulation of mental capital, but an universal and continual infancy.
Conception and imagination appear to be only intensities, so to speak, of
the state of brain in which memory is produced.  On their promptness and
power depend most of the exertions which distinguish the man of arts and
letters, and even in no small measure the cultivator of science.

The faculties above described—the actual elements of the mental
constitution—are seen in mature man in an indefinite potentiality and
range of action.  It is different with the lower animals.  They are there
comparatively definite in their power and restricted in their
application.  The reader is familiar with what are called instincts in
some of the humbler species, that is, an uniform and unprompted tendency
towards certain particular acts, as the building of cells by the bee, the
storing of provisions by that insect and several others, and the
construction of nests for a coming progeny by birds.  This quality is
nothing more than a mode of operation peculiar to the faculties in a
humble state of endowment, or early stage of development.  The cell
formation of the bee, the house-building of ants and beavers, the
web-spinning of spiders, are but primitive exercises of constructiveness,
the faculty which, indefinite with us, leads to the arts of the weaver,
upholsterer, architect, and mechanist, and makes us often work
delightedly where our labours are in vain, or nearly so.  The storing of
provisions by the ants is an exercise of acquisitiveness,—the faculty
which with us makes rich men and misers.  A vast number of curious
devices, by which insects provide for the protection and subsistence of
their young, whom they are perhaps never to see, are most probably a
peculiar restricted effort of philoprogenitiveness.  The common source of
this class of acts, and of common mental operations, is shewn very
convincingly by the melting of the one set into the other.  Thus, for
example, the bee and bird will make modifications in the ordinary form of
their cells and nests when necessity compels them.  Thus, the
alimentiveness of such animals as the dog, usually definite with regard
to quantity and quality, can be pampered or educated up to a kind of
epicurism, that is, an indefiniteness of object and action.  The same
faculty acts limitedly in ourselves at first, dictating the special act
of sucking; afterwards it acquires indefiniteness.  Such is the real
nature of the distinction between what are called instincts and reason,
upon which so many volumes have been written without profit to the world.
All faculties are instinctive, that is, dependent on internal and
inherent impulses.  This term is therefore not specially applicable to
either of the recognised modes of the operation of the faculties.  We
only, in the one case, see the faculty in an immature and slightly
developed state; in the other, in its most advanced condition.  In the
one case it is _definite_, in the other _indefinite_, in its range of
action.  These terms would perhaps be the most suitable for expressing
the distinction.

In the humblest forms of being we can trace scarcely anything besides a
definite action in a few of the faculties.  Generally speaking, as we
ascend in the scale, we see more and more of the faculties in exercise,
and these tending more to the indefinite mode of manifestation.  And for
this there is the obvious reason in providence, that the lowest animals
have all of them a very limited sphere of existence, born only to perform
a few functions, and enjoy a brief term of life, and then give way to
another generation, so that they do not need much mental guidance.  At
higher points in the scale, the sphere of existence is considerably
extended, and the mental operations are less definite accordingly.  The
horse, dog, and a few other rasorial types, noted for their
serviceableness to our race, have the indefinite powers in no small
endowment.  Man, again, shews very little of the definite mode of
operation, and that little chiefly in childhood, or in barbarism or
idiocy.  Destined for a wide field of action, and to be applicable to
infinitely varied contingencies, he has all the faculties developed to a
high pitch of indefiniteness, that he may be ready to act well in all
imaginable cases.  His commission, it may be said, gives large
discretionary powers, while that of the inferior animals is limited to a
few precise directions.  But when the human brain is congenitally
imperfect or diseased, or when it is in the state of infancy, we see in
it an approach towards the character of the brains of some of the
inferior animals.  Dr. G. J. Davey states that he has frequently
witnessed, among his patients at the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum, indications
of a particular abnormal cerebration which forcibly reminded him of the
specific healthy characteristics of animals lower in the scale of
organization; {346} and every one must have observed how often the
actions of children, especially in their moments of play, and where their
selfish feelings are concerned, bear a resemblance to those of certain
familiar animals. {347}  Behold, then, the wonderful unity of the whole
system.  The grades of mind, like the forms of being, are mere stages of
development.  In the humbler forms, but a few of the mental faculties are
traceable, just as we see in them but a few of the lineaments of
universal structure.  In man the system has arrived at its highest
condition.  The few gleams of reason, then, which we see in the lower
animals, are precisely analogous to such a development of the fore-arm as
we find in the paddle of the whale.  Causality, comparison, and other of
the nobler faculties, are in them _rudimental_.

Bound up as we thus are by an identity in the character of our mental
organization with the lower animals, we are yet, it will be observed,
strikingly distinguished from them by this great advance in development.
We have faculties in full force and activity which the animals either
possess not at all, or in so low and obscure a form as to be equivalent
to non-existence.  Now these parts of mind are those which connect us
with the things that are not of this world.  We have veneration,
prompting us to the worship of the Deity, which the animals lack.  We
have hope, to carry us on in thought beyond the bounds of time.  We have
reason, to enable us to inquire into the character of the Great Father,
and the relation of us, his humble creatures, towards him.  We have
conscientiousness and benevolence, by which we can in a faint and humble
measure imitate, in our conduct, that which he exemplifies in the whole
of his wondrous doings.  Beyond this, mental science does not carry us in
support of religion: the rest depends on evidence of a different kind.
But it is surely much that we thus discover in nature a provision for
things so important.  The existence of faculties having a regard to such
things is a good evidence that such things exist.  The face of God is
reflected in the organization of man, as a little pool reflects the
glorious sun.

The affective or sentimental faculties are all of them liable to operate
whenever appropriate objects or stimuli are presented, and this they do
as irresistibly and unerringly as the tree sucks up moisture which it
requires, with only this exception, that one faculty often interferes
with the action of another, and operates instead by force of superior
inherent strength or temporary activity.  For example, alimentiveness may
be in powerful operation with regard to its appropriate object, producing
a keen appetite, and yet it may not act, in consequence of the more
powerful operation of cautiousness, warning against evil consequences
likely to ensue from the desired indulgence.  This liability to flit from
under the control of one feeling to the control of another, constitutes
what is recognised as free will in man, being nothing more than a
vicissitude in the supremacy of the faculties over each other.

It is a common mistake to suppose that the individuals of our own species
are all of them formed with similar faculties—similar in power and
tendency—and that education and the influence of circumstances produce
all the differences which we observe.  There is not, in the old systems
of mental philosophy, any doctrine more opposite to the truth than this.
It is refuted at once by the great differences of intellectual tendency
and moral disposition to be observed amongst a group of young children
who have been all brought up in circumstances perfectly identical—even in
twins, who have never been but in one place, under the charge of one
nurse, attended to alike in all respects.  The mental characters of
individuals are inherently various, as the forms of their persons and the
features of their faces are; and education and circumstances, though
their influence is not to be despised, are incapable of entirely altering
these characters, where they are strongly developed.  That the original
characters of mind are dependent on the volume of particular parts of the
brain and the general quality of that viscus, is proved by induction from
an extensive range of observations, the force of which must have been
long since universally acknowledged but for the unpreparedness of mankind
to admit a functional connexion between mind and body.  The different
mental characters of individuals may be presumed from analogy to depend
on the same law of development which we have seen determining forms of
being and the mental characters of particular species.  This we may
conceive as carrying forward the intellectual powers and moral
dispositions of some to a high pitch, repressing those of others at a
moderate amount, and thus producing all the varieties which we see in our
fellow-creatures.  Thus a Cuvier and a Newton are but expansions of a
clown, and the person emphatically called the wicked man, is one whose
highest moral feelings are rudimental.  Such differences are not confined
to our species; they are only less strongly marked in many of the
inferior animals.  There are clever dogs and wicked horses, as well as
clever men and wicked men, and education sharpens the talents, and in
some degree regulates the dispositions of animals, as it does our own.
Here I may advert to a very interesting analogy between the mental
characters of the types in the quinary system of zoology and the
characters of individual men.  We have seen that the pre-eminent type is
usually endowed with an harmonious assemblage of the mental qualities
belonging to the whole group, while the sub-typical inclines to ferocity,
the rasorial to gentleness, and so on.  Now, amongst individuals, some
appear to be almost exclusively of the sub-typical, and others of the
rasorial characters, while to a limited number is given the finely
assorted assemblage of qualities which places them on a parallel with the
typical.  To this may be attributed the universality which marks all the
very highest brains, such as those of Shakespeare and Scott, men of whom
it has been remarked that they must have possessed within themselves not
only the poet, but the warrior, the statesman, and the philosopher; and
who, moreover, appear to have had the mild and manly, the moral and the
forcible parts of our nature, in the most perfect balance.

There is, nevertheless, a general adaptation of the mental constitution
of man to the circumstances in which he lives, as there is between all
the parts of nature to each other.  The goods of the physical world are
only to be realized by ingenuity and industrious exertion; behold,
accordingly, an intellect full of device, and a fabric of the faculties
which would go to pieces or destroy itself if it were not kept in
constant occupation.  Nature presents to us much that is sublime and
beautiful: behold faculties which delight in contemplating these
properties of hers, and in rising upon them, as upon wings, to the
presence of the Eternal.  It is also a world of difficulties and perils,
and see how a large portion of our species are endowed with vigorous
powers which take a pleasure in meeting and overcoming difficulty and
danger.  Even that principle on which our faculties are constituted—a
wide range of freedom in which to act for all various
occasions—necessitates a resentful faculty, by which individuals may
protect themselves from the undue and capricious exercise of each other’s
faculties, and thus preserve their individual rights.  So also there is
cautiousness, to give us a tendency to provide against the evils by which
we may be assailed; and secretiveness, to enable us to conceal whatever,
being divulged, would be offensive to others or injurious to ourselves,—a
function which obviously has a certain legitimate range of action,
however liable to be abused.  The constitution of the mind generally
points to a state of intimate relation of individuals towards society,
towards the external world, and towards things above this world.  No
individual being is integral or independent; he is only part of an
extensive piece of social mechanism.  The inferior mind, full of rude
energy and unregulated impulse, does not more require a superior nature
to act as its master and its mentor, than does the superior nature
require to be surrounded by such rough elements on which to exercise its
high endowments as a ruling and tutelary power.  This relation of each to
each produces a vast portion of the active business of life.  It is easy
to see that, if we were all alike in our moral tendencies, and all placed
on a medium of perfect moderation in this respect, the world would be a
scene of everlasting dulness and apathy.  It requires the variety of
individual constitution to give moral life to the scene.

The indefiniteness of the potentiality of the human faculties, and the
complexity which thus attends their relations, lead unavoidably to
occasional error.  If we consider for a moment that there are not less
than thirty such faculties, that they are each given in different
proportions to different persons, that each is at the same time endowed
with a wide discretion as to the force and frequency of its action, and
that our neighbours, the world, and our connexions with something beyond
it, are all exercising an ever-varying influence over us, we cannot be
surprised at the irregularities attending human conduct.  It is simply
the penalty paid for the superior endowment.  It is here that the
imperfection of our nature resides.  Causality and conscientiousness are,
it is true, guides over all; but even these are only faculties of the
same indeterminate constitution as the rest, and partake accordingly of
the same inequality of action.  Man is therefore a piece of mechanism,
which never can act so as to satisfy his own ideas of what he might
be—for he can imagine a state of moral perfection, (as he can imagine a
globe formed of diamonds, pearls, and rubies,) though his constitution
forbids him to realize it.  There ever will, in the best disposed and
most disciplined minds, be occasional discrepancies between the amount of
temptation and the power summoned for regulation or resistance, or
between the stimulus and the mobility of the faculty; and hence those
errors, and shortcomings, and excesses, without end, with which the good
are constantly finding cause to charge themselves.  There is at the same
time even here a possibility of improvement.  In infancy, the impulses
are all of them irregular; a child is cruel, cunning, and false, under
the slightest temptation, but in time learns to control these
inclinations, and to be habitually humane, frank, and truthful.  So is
human society, in its earliest stages, sanguinary, aggressive, and
deceitful, but in time becomes just, faithful, and benevolent.  To such
improvements there is a natural tendency which will operate in all fair
circumstances, though it is not to be expected that irregular and undue
impulses will ever be altogether banished from the system.

It may still be a puzzle to many, how beings should be born into the
world whose organization is such that they unavoidably, even in a
civilized country, become malefactors.  Does God, it may be asked, make
criminals?  Does he fashion certain beings with a predestination to evil?
He does not do so; and yet the criminal type of brain, as it is called,
comes into existence in accordance with laws which the Deity has
established.  It is not, however, as the result of the first or general
intention of those laws, but as an exception from their ordinary and
proper action.  The production of those evilly disposed beings is in this
manner.  The moral character of the progeny depends in a general way, (as
does the physical character also,) upon conditions of the parents,—both
general conditions, and conditions at the particular time of the
commencement of the existence of the new being, and likewise external
conditions affecting the fœtus through the mother.  Now the amount of
these conditions is indefinite.  The faculties of the parents, as far as
these are concerned, may have oscillated for the time towards the extreme
of tensibility in one direction.  The influences upon the fœtus may have
also been of an extreme and unusual kind.  Let us suppose that the
conditions upon the whole have been favourable for the development, not
of the higher, but of the lower sentiments, and of the propensities of
the new being, the result will necessarily be a mean type of brain.
Here, it will be observed, God no more decreed an immoral being, than he
decreed an immoral paroxysm of the sentiments.  Our perplexity is in
considering the ill-disposed being by himself.  He is only a part of a
series of phenomena, traceable to a principle good in the main, but which
admits of evil as an exception.  We have seen that it is for wise ends
that God leaves our moral faculties to an indefinite range of action; the
general good results of this arrangement are obvious; but exceptions of
evil are inseparable from such a system, and this is one of them.  To
come to particular illustration—when a people are oppressed, or kept in a
state of slavery, they invariably contract habits of lying, for the
purpose of deceiving and outwitting their superiors, falsehood being a
refuge of the weak under difficulties.  What is a habit in parents
becomes an inherent quality in children.  We are not, therefore, to be
surprised when a traveller tells us that black children in the West
Indies appear to lie by instinct, and never answer a white person truly
even in the simplest matter.  Here we have secretiveness roused in a
people to a state of constant and exalted exercise; an over tendency of
the nervous energy in that direction is the consequence, and a new
organic condition is established.  This tells upon the progeny, which
comes into the world with secretiveness excessive in volume and activity.
All other evil characteristics may be readily conceived as being
implanted in a new generation in the same way.  And sometimes not one,
but several generations, may be concerned in bringing up the result to a
pitch which produces crime.  It is, however, to be observed, that the
general tendency of things is to a limitation, not the extension of such
abnormally constituted beings.  The criminal brain finds itself in a
social scene where all is against it.  It may struggle on for a time, but
the medium and superior natures are never long at a loss in getting the
better of it.  The disposal of such beings will always depend much on the
moral state of a community, the degree in which just views prevail with
regard to human nature, and the feelings which accident may have caused
to predominate at a particular time.  Where the mass was little
enlightened or refined, and terrors for life or property were highly
excited, malefactors have ever been treated severely.  But when order is
generally triumphant, and reason allowed sway, men begin to see the true
case of criminals—namely, that while one large department are victims of
erroneous social conditions, another are brought to error by tendencies
which they are only unfortunate in having inherited from nature.
Criminal jurisprudence then addresses itself less to the direct
punishment than to the reformation and care-taking of those liable to its
attention.  And such a treatment of criminals, it may be farther
remarked, so that it stop short of affording any encouragement to crime,
(a point which experience will determine,) is evidently no more than
justice, seeing how accidentally all forms of the moral constitution are
distributed, and how thoroughly mutual obligation shines throughout the
whole frame of society—the strong to help the weak, the good to redeem
and restrain the bad.

The sum of all we have seen of the psychical constitution of man is, that
its Almighty Author has destined it, like everything else, to be
developed from inherent qualities, and to have a mode of action depending
solely on its own organization.  Thus the whole is complete on one
principle.  The masses of space are formed by law; law makes them in due
time theatres of existence for plants and animals; sensation,
disposition, intellect, are all in like manner developed and sustained in
action by law.  It is most interesting to observe into how small a field
the whole of the mysteries of nature thus ultimately resolve themselves.
The inorganic has one final comprehensive law, GRAVITATION.  The organic,
the other great department of mundane things, rests in like manner on one
law, and that is,—DEVELOPMENT.  Nor may even these be after all twain,
but only branches of one still more comprehensive law, the expression of
that unity which man’s wit can scarcely separate from Deity itself.


WE have now to inquire how this view of the constitution and origin of
nature bears upon the condition of man upon the earth, and his relation
to supra-mundane things.

That enjoyment is the proper attendant of animal existence is pressed
upon us by all that we see and all we experience.  Everywhere we perceive
in the lower creatures, in their ordinary condition, symptoms of
enjoyment.  Their whole being is a system of needs, the supplying of
which is gratification, and of faculties, the exercise of which is
pleasurable.  When we consult our own sensations, we find that, even in a
sense of a healthy performance of all the functions of the animal
economy, God has furnished us with an innocent and very high enjoyment.
The mere quiet consciousness of a healthy play of the mental functions—a
mind at ease with itself and all around it—is in like manner extremely
agreeable.  This negative class of enjoyments, it may be remarked, is
likely to be even more extensively experienced by the lower animals than
by man, at least in the proportion of their absolute endowments, as their
mental and bodily functions are much less liable to derangement than
ours.  To find the world constituted on this principle is only what in
reason we would expect.  We cannot conceive that so vast a system could
have been created for a contrary purpose.  No averagely constituted human
being would, in his own limited sphere of action, think of producing a
similar system upon an opposite principle.  But to form so vast a range
of being, and to make being everywhere a source of gratification, is
conformable to our ideas of a Creator in whom we are constantly
discovering traits of a nature, of which our own is but a faint and
far-cast shadow at the best.

It appears at first difficult to reconcile with this idea the many
miseries which we see all sentient beings, ourselves included,
occasionally enduring.  How, the sage has asked in every age, should a
Being so transcendently kind, have allowed of so large an admixture of
evil in the condition of his creatures?  Do we not at length find an
answer to a certain extent satisfactory, in the view which has now been
given of the constitution of nature?  We there see the Deity operating in
the most august of his works by fixed laws, an arrangement which, it is
clear, only admits of the main and primary results being good, but
disregards exceptions.  Now the mechanical laws are so definite in their
purposes, that no exceptions ever take place in that department; if there
is a certain quantity of nebulous matter to be agglomerated and divided
and set in motion as a planetary system, it will be so with
hair’s-breadth accuracy, and cannot be otherwise.  But the laws presiding
over meteorology, life, and mind, are necessarily less definite, as they
have to produce a great variety of mutually related results.  Left to act
independently of each other, each according to its separate commission,
and each with a wide range of potentiality to be modified by associated
conditions, they can only have effects generally beneficial: often there
must be an interference of one law with another, often a law will chance
to operate in excess, or upon a wrong object, and thus evil will be
produced.  Thus, winds are generally useful in many ways, and the sea is
useful as a means of communication between one country and another; but
the natural laws which produce winds are of indefinite range of action,
and sometimes are unusually concentrated in space or in time, so as to
produce storms and hurricanes, by which much damage is done; the sea may
be by these causes violently agitated, so that many barks and many lives
perish.  Here, it is evident, the evil is only exceptive.  Suppose,
again, that a boy, in the course of the lively sports proper to his age,
suffers a fall which injures his spine, and renders him a cripple for
life.  Two things have been concerned in the case: first, the love of
violent exercise, and second, the law of gravitation.  Both of these
things are good in the main.  In the rash enterprises and rough sports in
which boys engage, they prepare their bodies and minds for the hard tasks
of life.  By gravitation, all moveable things, our own bodies included,
are kept stable on the surface of the earth.  But when it chances that
the playful boy loses his hold (we shall say) of the branch of a tree,
and has no solid support immediately below, the law of gravitation
unrelentingly pulls him to the ground, and thus he is hurt.  Now it was
not a primary object of gravitation to injure boys; but gravitation could
not but operate in the circumstances, its nature being to be universal
and invariable.  The evil is, therefore, only a casual exception from
something in the main good.

The same explanation applies to even the most conspicuous of the evils
which afflict society.  War, it may be said, and said truly, is a
tremendous example of evil, in the misery, hardship, waste of human life,
and mis-spending of human energies, which it occasions.  But what is it
that produces war?  Certain tendencies of human nature, as keen assertion
of a supposed right, resentment of supposed injury, acquisitiveness,
desire of admiration, combativeness, or mere love of excitement.  All of
these are tendencies which are every day, in a legitimate extent of
action, producing great and indispensable benefits to us.  Man would be a
tame, indolent, unserviceable being without them, and his fate would be
starvation.  War, then, huge evil though it be, is, after all, but the
exceptive case, a casual misdirection of properties and powers
essentially good.  God has given us the tendencies for a benevolent
purpose.  He has only not laid down any absolute obstruction to our
misuse of them.  That were an arrangement of a kind which he has nowhere
made.  But he has established many laws in our nature which tend to
lessen the frequency and destructiveness of these abuses.  Our reason
comes to see that war is purely an evil, even to the conqueror.
Benevolence interposes to make its ravages less mischievous to human
comfort, and less destructive to human life.  Men begin to find that
their more active powers can be exercised with equal gratification on
legitimate objects; for example, in overcoming the natural difficulties
of their path through life, or in a generous spirit of emulation in a
line of duty beneficial to themselves and their fellow-creatures.  Thus,
war at length shrinks into a comparatively narrow compass, though there
certainly is no reason to suppose that it will be at any early period, if
ever, altogether dispensed with, while man’s constitution remains as it
is.  In considering an evil of this kind, we must not limit our view to
our own or any past time.  Placed upon the earth with faculties prepared
to act, but inexperienced, and with the more active propensities
necessarily in great force to suit the condition of the globe, man was
apt to misuse his powers much in this way at first, compared with what he
is likely to do when he advances into a condition of civilization.  In
the scheme of providence, thousands of years of frequent warfare, all the
so-called glories which fill history, may be only an exception to the
general rule.

The sex passion in like manner leads to great evils; but the evils are
only an exception from the vast mass of good connected with this
affection.  Providence has seen it necessary to make very ample provision
for the preservation and utmost possible extension of all species.  The
aim seems to be to diffuse existence as widely as possible, to fill up
every vacant piece of space with some sentient being to be a vehicle of
enjoyment.  Hence this passion is conferred in great force.  But the
relation between the number of beings, and the means of supporting them,
is only on the footing of general law.  There may be occasional
discrepancies between the laws operating for the multiplication of
individuals, and the laws operating to supply them with the means of
subsistence, and evils will be endured in consequence, even in our own
highly favoured species.  But against all these evils, and against those
numberless vexations which have arisen in all ages from the attachment of
the sexes, place the vast amount of happiness which is derived from this
source—the basis of the whole circle of the domestic affections, the
sweetening principle of life, the prompter of all our most generous
feelings, and even of our most virtuous resolves—and every ill that can
be traced to it is but as dust in the balance.  And here, also, we must
be on our guard against judging from what we see in the world at a
particular era.  As reason and the higher sentiments of man’s nature
increase in force, this passion is put under better regulation, so as to
lessen many of the evils connected with it.  The civilized man is more
able to give it due control; his attachments are less the result of
impulse; he studies more the weal of his partner and offspring.  There
are even some of the resentful feelings connected in early society with
love, such as hatred of successful rivalry, and jealousy, which almost
disappear in an advanced stage of civilization.  The evils springing, in
our own species at least, from this passion, may therefore be an
exception mainly peculiar to a particular term of the world’s progress,
and which may be expected to decrease greatly in amount.

With respect, again, to disease, so prolific a cause of suffering to man,
the human constitution is merely a complicated but regular process in
electro-chemistry, which goes on well, and is a source of continual
gratification, so long as nothing occurs to interfere with it
injuriously, but which is liable every moment to be deranged by various
external agencies, when it becomes a source of pain, and, if the injury
be severe, ceases to be capable of retaining life.  It may be readily
admitted that the evils experienced in this way are very great; but,
after all, such experiences are no more than occasional, and not
necessarily frequent—exceptions from a general rule of which the direct
action is to confer happiness.  The human constitution might have been
made of a more hardy character; but we always see hardiness and
insensibility go together, and it may be of course presumed that we only
could have purchased this immunity from suffering at the expense of a
large portion of that delicacy in which lie some of our most agreeable
sensations.  Or man’s faculties might have been restricted to
definiteness of action, as is greatly the case with those of the lower
animals, and thus we should have been equally safe from the aberrations
which lead to disease; but in that event we should have been incapable of
acting to so many different purposes as we are, and of the many high
enjoyments which the varied action of our faculties places in our power:
we should not, in short, have been human beings, but merely on a level
with the inferior animals.  Thus, it appears, that the very fineness of
man’s constitution, that which places him in such a high relation to the
mundane economy, and makes him the vehicle of so many exquisitely
delightful sensations—it is this which makes him liable to the sufferings
of disease.  It might be said, on the other hand, that the noxiousness of
the agencies producing disease might have been diminished or
extinguished; but the probability is, that this could not have been done
without such a derangement of the whole economy of nature as would have
been attended with more serious evils.  For example—a large class of
diseases are the result of effluvia from decaying organic matter.  This
kind of matter is known to be extremely useful, when mixed with earth, in
favouring the process of vegetation.  Supposing the noxiousness to the
human constitution done away with, might we not also lose that important
quality which tends so largely to increase the food raised from the
ground?  Perhaps (as has been suggested) the noxiousness is even a matter
of special design, to induce us to put away decaying organic substances
into the earth, where they are calculated to be so useful.  Now man has
reason to enable him to see that such substances are beneficial under one
arrangement, and noxious in the other.  He is, as it were, commanded to
take the right method in dealing with it.  In point of fact, men do not
always take this method, but allow accumulations of noxious matter to
gather close about their dwellings, where they generate fevers and agues.
But their doing so may be regarded as only a temporary exception from the
operation of mental laws, the general tendency of which is to make men
adopt the proper measures.  And these measures will probably be in time
universally adopted, so that one extensive class of diseases will be
altogether or nearly abolished.

Another large class of diseases spring from mismanagement of our personal
economy.  Eating to excess, eating and drinking what is noxious,
disregard to that cleanliness which is necessary for the right action of
the functions of the skin, want of fresh air for the supply of the lungs,
undue, excessive, and irregular indulgence of the mental affections, are
all of them recognised modes of creating that derangement of the system
in which disease consists.  Here also it may be said that a limitation of
the mental faculties to definite manifestations (_vulgo_, instincts)
might have enabled us to avoid many of these errors; but here again we
are met by the consideration that, if we had been so endowed, we should
have been only as the lower animals are, wanting that transcendently
higher character of sensation and power, by which our enjoyments are made
so much greater.  In making the desire of food, for example, with us an
indefinite mental manifestation, instead of the definite one, which it is
amongst the lower animals, the Creator has given us a means of deriving
far greater gratifications from food (consistently with health) than the
lower animals appear to be capable of.  He has also given us reason to
act as a guiding and controlling power over this and other propensities,
so that they may be prevented from becoming causes of malady.  We can see
that excess is injurious, and are thus prompted to moderation.  We can
see that all the things which we feel inclined to take are not healthful,
and are thus exhorted to avoid what are pernicious.  We can also see that
a cleanly skin and a constant supply of pure air are necessary to the
proper performance of some of the most important of the organic
functions, and thus are stimulated to frequent ablution, and to a right
ventilation of our parlours and sleeping apartments.  And so on with the
other causes of disease.  Reason may not operate very powerfully to these
purposes in an early state of society, and prodigious evils may therefore
have been endured from disease in past ages; but these are not
necessarily to be endured always.  As civilization advances, reason
acquires a greater ascendancy; the causes of the evils are seen and
avoided; and disease shrinks into a comparatively narrow compass.  The
experience of our own country places this in a striking light.  In the
middle ages, when large towns had no police regulations, society was
every now and then scourged by pestilence.  The third of the people of
Europe are said to have been carried off by one epidemic.  Even in London
the annual mortality has greatly sunk within a century.  The improvement
in human life, which has taken place since the construction of the
Northampton tables by Dr. Price, is equally remarkable.  Modern tables
still shew a prodigious mortality among the young in all civilized
countries—evidently a result of some prevalent error in the usual modes
of rearing them.  But to remedy this evil there is the sagacity of the
human mind, and the sense to adopt any reformed plans which may be shewn
to be necessary.  By a change in the management of an orphan institution
in London, during the last fifty years, an immense reduction in the
mortality took place.  We may of course hope to see measures devised and
adopted for producing a similar improvement of infant life throughout the
world at large.

In this part of our subject, the most difficult point certainly lies in
those occurrences of disease where the afflicted individual has been in
no degree concerned in bringing the visitation upon himself.  Daily
experience shews us infectious disease arising in a place where the
natural laws in respect of cleanliness are neglected, and then spreading
into regions where there is no blame of this kind.  We then see the
innocent suffering equally with those who may be called the guilty.  Nay,
the benevolent physician who comes to succour the miserable beings whose
error may have caused the mischief, is sometimes seen to fall a victim to
it, while many of his patients recover.  We are also only too familiar
with the transmission of diseases from erring parents to innocent
children, who, accordingly suffer, and perhaps die prematurely, as it
were for the sins of others.  After all, however painful such cases may
be in contemplation, they cannot be regarded in any other light than as
exceptions from arrangements, the general working of which is beneficial.

With regard to the innocence of the suffering parties, there is one
important consideration which is pressed upon us from many quarters,
namely—that moral conditions have not the least concern in the working of
these simply physical laws.  These laws proceed with an entire
independence of all such conditions, and desirably so, for otherwise
there could be no certain dependence placed upon them.  Thus it may
happen that two persons ascending a piece of scaffolding, the one a
virtuous, the other a vicious man, the former, being the less cautious of
the two, ventures upon an insecure place, falls, and is killed, while the
other, choosing a better footing, remains uninjured.  It is not in what
we can conceive of the nature of things, that there should be a special
exemption from the ordinary laws of matter, to save this virtuous man.
So it might be that, of two physicians, attending fever cases, in a mean
part of a large city, the one, an excellent citizen, may stand in such a
position with respect to the beds of the patients as to catch the
infection, of which he dies in a few days, while the other, a bad husband
and father, and who, unlike the other, only attends such cases with
selfish ends, takes care to be as much as possible out of the stream of
infection, and accordingly escapes.  In both of these cases man’s sense
of good and evil—his faculty of conscientiousness—would incline him to
destine the vicious man to destruction and save the virtuous.  But the
Great Ruler of Nature does not act on such principles.  He has
established laws for the operation of inanimate matter, which are quite
unswerving, so that when we know them, we have only to act in a certain
way with respect to them, in order to obtain all the benefits and avoid
all the evils connected with them.  He has likewise established moral
laws in our nature, which are equally unswerving, (allowing for their
wider range of action,) and from obedience to which unfailing good is to
be derived.  But the two sets of laws are independent of each other.
Obedience to each gives only its own proper advantage, not the advantage
proper to the other.  Hence it is that virtue forms no protection against
the evils connected with the physical laws, while, on the other hand, a
man skilled in and attentive to these, but unrighteous and disregardful
of his neighbour, is in like manner not protected by his attention to
physical circumstances from the proper consequences of neglect or breach
of the moral laws.

Thus it is that the innocence of the party suffering for the faults of a
parent, or of any other person or set of persons, is evidently a
consideration quite apart from that suffering.

It is clear, moreover, from the whole scope of the natural laws, that the
individual, as far as the present sphere of being is concerned, is to the
Author of Nature a consideration of inferior moment.  Everywhere we see
the arrangements for the species perfect; the individual is left, as it
were, to take his chance amidst the _mêlée_ of the various laws affecting
him.  If he be found inferiorly endowed, or ill befalls him, there was at
least no partiality against him.  The system has the fairness of a
lottery, in which every one has the like chance of drawing the prize.

Yet it is also to be observed that few evils are altogether unmixed.
God, contemplating apparently the unbending action of his great laws, has
established others which appear to be designed to have a compensating, a
repairing, and a consoling effect.  Suppose, for instance, that, from a
defect in the power of development in a mother, her offspring is ushered
into the world destitute of some of the most useful members, or blind, or
deaf, or of imperfect intellect, there is ever to be found in the parents
and other relatives, and in the surrounding public, a sympathy with the
sufferer, which tends to make up for the deficiency, so that he is in the
long run not much a loser.  Indeed, the benevolence implanted in our
nature seems to be an arrangement having for one of its principal objects
to cause us, by sympathy and active aid, to remedy the evils unavoidably
suffered by our fellow-creatures in the course of the operation of the
other natural laws.  And even in the sufferer himself, it is often found
that a defect in one point is made up for by an extra power in another.
The blind come to have a sense of touch much more acute than those who
see.  Persons born without hands have been known to acquire a power of
using their feet for a number of the principal offices usually served by
that member.  I need hardly say how remarkably fatuity is compensated by
the more than usual regard paid to the children born with it by their
parents, and the zeal which others usually feel to protect and succour
such persons.  In short, we never see evil of any kind take place where
there is not some remedy or compensating principle ready to interfere for
its alleviation.  And there can be no doubt that in this manner suffering
of all kinds is very much relieved.

We may, then, regard the globes of space as theatres designed for the
residence of animated sentient beings, placed there with this as their
first and most obvious purpose—namely, to be sensible of enjoyments from
the exercise of their faculties in relation to external things.  The
faculties of the various species are very different, but the happiness of
each depends on the harmony there may be between its particular faculties
and its particular circumstances.  For instance, place the small-brained
sheep or ox in a good pasture, and it fully enjoys this harmony of
relation; but man, having many more faculties, cannot be thus contented.
Besides having a sufficiency of food and bodily comfort, he must have
entertainment for his intellect, whatever be its grade, objects for the
domestic and social affections, objects for the sentiments.  He is also a
progressive being, and what pleases him to-day may not please him
to-morrow; but, in each case he demands a sphere of appropriate
conditions in order to be happy.  By virtue of his superior organization,
his enjoyments are much higher and more varied than those of any of the
lower animals; but the very complexity of circumstances affecting him
renders it at the same time unavoidable, that his nature should be often
inharmoniously placed and disagreeably affected, and that he should
therefore be unhappy.  Still unhappiness amongst mankind is the exception
from the rule of their condition, and an exception which is capable of
almost infinite diminution, by virtue of the improving reason of man, and
the experience which he acquires in working out the problems of society.

To secure the immediate means of happiness it would seem to be necessary
for men first to study with all care the constitution of nature, and,
secondly, to accommodate themselves to that constitution, so as to obtain
all the realizable advantages from acting conformably to it, and to avoid
all likely evils from disregarding it.  It will be of no use to sit down
and expect that things are to operate of their own accord, or through the
direction of a partial deity, for our benefit; equally so were it to
expose ourselves to palpable dangers, under the notion that we shall, for
some reason, have a dispensation or exemption from them: we must
endeavour so to place ourselves, and so to act, that the arrangements
which Providence has made impartially for all may be in our favour, and
not against us; such are the only means by which we can obtain good and
avoid evil here below.  And, in doing this, it is especially necessary
that care be taken to avoid interfering with the like efforts of other
men, beyond what may have been agreed upon by the mass as necessary for
the general good.  Such interferences, tending in any way to injure the
body, property, or peace of a neighbour, or to the injury of society in
general, tend very much to reflect evil upon ourselves, through the
re-action which they produce in the feelings of our neighbour and of
society, and also the offence which they give to our own
conscientiousness and benevolence.  On the other hand, when we endeavour
to promote the efforts of our fellow-creatures to attain happiness, we
produce a re-action of the contrary kind, the tendency of which is
towards our own benefit.  The one course of action tends to the injury,
the other to the benefit of ourselves and others.  By the one course the
general design of the Creator towards his creatures is thwarted; by the
other it is favoured.  And thus we can readily see the most substantial
grounds for regarding all moral emotions and doings as divine in their
nature, and as a means of rising to and communing with God.  Obedience is
not selfishness, which it would otherwise be—it is worship.  The merest
barbarians have a glimmering sense of this philosophy, and it continually
shines out more and more clearly in the public mind, as a nation advances
in intelligence.  Nor are individuals alone concerned here.  The same
rule applies as between one great body or class of men and another, and
also between nations.  Thus if one set of men keep others in the
condition of slaves—this being a gross injustice to the subjected party,
the mental manifestations of that party to the masters will be such as to
mar the comfort of their lives; the minds of the masters themselves will
be degraded by the association with beings so degraded; and thus, with
some immediate or apparent benefit from keeping slaves, there will be in
a far greater degree an experience of evil.  So also, if one portion of a
nation, engaged in a particular department of industry, grasp at some
advantages injurious to the other sections of the people, the first
effect will be an injury to those other portions of the nation, and the
second a re-active injury to the injurers, making their guilt their
punishment.  And so when one nation commits an aggression upon the
property or rights of another, or even pursues towards it a sordid or
ungracious policy, the effects are sure to be redoubled evil from the
offended party.  All of these things are under laws which make the
effects, on a large range, absolutely certain; and an individual, a
party, a people, can no more act unjustly with safety, than I could with
safety place my leg in the track of a coming wain, or attempt to fast
thirty days.  We have been constituted on the principle of only being
able to realize happiness for ourselves when our fellow-creatures are
also happy; we must therefore both do to others only as we would have
others to do to us, and endeavour to promote their happiness as well as
our own, in order to find ourselves truly comfortable in this field of
existence.  These are words which God speaks to us as truly through his
works, as if we heard them uttered in his own voice from heaven.

It will occur to every one, that the system here unfolded does not imply
the most perfect conceivable love or regard on the part of the Deity
towards his creatures.  Constituted as we are, feeling how vain our
efforts often are to attain happiness or avoid calamity, and knowing that
much evil does unavoidably befall us from no fault of ours, we are apt to
feel that this is a dreary view of the Divine economy; and before we have
looked farther, we might be tempted to say, Far rather let us cling to
the idea, so long received, that the Deity acts continually for special
occasions, and gives such directions to the fate of each individual as he
thinks meet; so that, when sorrow comes to us, we shall have at least the
consolation of believing that it is imposed by a Father who loves us, and
who seeks by these means to accomplish our ultimate good.  Now, in the
first place, if this be an untrue notion of the Deity and his ways, it
can be of no real benefit to us; and, in the second, it is proper to
inquire if there be necessarily in the doctrine of natural law any
peculiarity calculated materially to affect our hitherto supposed
relation to the Deity.  It may be that while we are committed to take our
chance in a natural system of undeviating operation, and are left with
apparent ruthlessness to endure the consequences of every collision into
which we knowingly or unknowingly come with each law of the system, there
is a system of Mercy and Grace behind the screen of nature, which is to
make up for all casualties endured here, and the very largeness of which
is what makes these casualties a matter of indifference to God.  For the
existence of such a system, the actual constitution of nature is itself
an argument.  The reasoning may proceed thus: The system of nature
assures us that benevolence is a leading principle in the divine mind.
But that system is at the same time deficient in a means of making this
benevolence of invariable operation.  To reconcile this to the recognised
character of the Deity, it is necessary to suppose that the present
system is but a part of a whole, a stage in a Great Progress, and that
the Redress is in reserve.  Another argument here occurs—the economy of
nature, beautifully arranged and vast in its extent as it is, does not
satisfy even man’s idea of what might be; he feels that, if this
multiplicity of theatres for the exemplification of such phenomena as we
see on earth were to go on for ever unchanged, it would not be worthy of
the Being capable of creating it.  An endless monotony of human
generations, with their humble thinkings and doings, seems an object
beneath that august Being.  But the mundane economy might be very well as
a portion of some greater phenomenon, the rest of which was yet to be
evolved.  It therefore appears that our system, though it may at first
appear at issue with other doctrines in esteem amongst mankind, tends to
come into harmony with them, and even to give them support.  I would say,
in conclusion, that, even where the two above arguments may fail of
effect, there may yet be a faith derived from this view of nature
sufficient to sustain us under all sense of the imperfect happiness, the
calamities, the woes, and pains of this sphere of being.  For let us but
fully and truly consider what a system is here laid open to view, and we
cannot well doubt that we are in the hands of One who is both able and
willing to do us the most entire justice.  And in this faith we may well
rest at ease, even though life should have been to us but a protracted
disease, or though every hope we had built on the secular materials
within our reach were felt to be melting from our grasp.  Thinking of all
the contingencies of this world as to be in time melted into or lost in
the greater system, to which the present is only subsidiary, let us wait
the end with patience, and be of good cheer.


THUS ends a book, composed in solitude, and almost without the cognizance
of a single human being, for the sole purpose (or as nearly so as may be)
of improving the knowledge of mankind, and through that medium their
happiness.  For reasons which need not be specified, the author’s name is
retained in its original obscurity, and, in all probability, will never
be generally known.  I do not expect that any word of praise which the
work may elicit shall ever be responded to by me; or that any word of
censure shall ever be parried or deprecated.  It goes forth to take its
chance of instant oblivion, or of a long and active course of usefulness
in the world.  Neither contingency can be of any importance to me, beyond
the regret or the satisfaction which may be imparted by my sense of a
lost or a realized benefit to my fellow-creatures.  The book, as far as I
am aware, is the first attempt to connect the natural sciences into a
history of creation.  The idea is a bold one, and there are many
circumstances of time and place to render its boldness more than usually
conspicuous.  But I believe my doctrines to be in the main true; I
believe all truth to be valuable, and its dissemination a blessing.  At
the same time, I hold myself duly sensible of the common liability to
error, but am certain that no error in this line has the least chance of
being allowed to injure the public mind.  Therefore I publish.  My views,
if correct, will most assuredly stand, and may sooner or later prove
beneficial; if otherwise, they will as surely pass out of notice without
doing any harm.

My sincere desire in the composition of the book was to give the true
view of the history of nature, with as little disturbance as possible to
existing beliefs, whether philosophical or religious.  I have made little
reference to any doctrines of the latter kind which may be thought
inconsistent with mine, because to do so would have been to enter upon
questions for the settlement of which our knowledge is not yet ripe.  Let
the reconciliation of whatever is true in my views with whatever is true
in other systems come about in the fulness of calm and careful inquiry.
I cannot but here remind the reader of what Dr. Wiseman has shewn so
strikingly in his lectures, how different new philosophic doctrines are
apt to appear after we have become somewhat familiar with them.  Geology
at first seems inconsistent with the authority of the Mosaic record.  A
storm of unreasoning indignation rises against its teachers.  In time,
its truths, being found quite irresistible, are admitted, and mankind
continue to regard the Scriptures with the same respect as before.  So
also with several other sciences.  Now the only objection that can be
made on such ground to this book, is, that it brings forward some new
hypotheses, at first sight, like geology, not in perfect harmony with
that record, and arranges all the rest into a system which partakes of
the same character.  But may not the sacred text, on a liberal
interpretation, or with the benefit of new light reflected from nature,
or derived from learning, be shewn to be as much in harmony with the
novelties of this volume as it has been with geology and natural
philosophy?  What is there in the laws of organic creation more startling
to the candid theologian than in the Copernican system or the natural
formation of strata?  And if the whole series of facts is true, why
should we shrink from inferences legitimately flowing from it?  Is it not
a wiser course, since reconciliation has come in so many instances, still
to hope for it, still to go on with our new truths, trusting that they
also will in time be found harmonious with all others?  Thus we avoid the
damage which the very appearance of an opposition to natural truth is
calculated to inflict on any system presumed to require such support.
Thus we give, as is meet, a respectful reception to what is revealed
through the medium of nature, at the same time that we fully reserve our
reverence for all we have been accustomed to hold sacred, not one tittle
of which it may ultimately be found necessary to alter.


{3}  By Mr. Henderson, Professor of Astronomy in the Edinburgh
University, and Lieutenant Meadows.

{5}  Made by M. Argelander, late director of the Observatory at Abo.

{6}  Professor Mossotti, on the Constitution of the Sidereal System, of
which the Sun forms a part.—_London_, _Edinburgh_, _and Dublin
Philosophical Magazine_, February, 1843.

{9}  The orbitual revolutions of the satellites of Uranus have not as yet
been clearly scanned.  It has been thought that their path is retrograde
compared with the rest.  Perhaps this may be owing to a _bouleversement_
of the primary, for the inclination of its equator to the ecliptic is
admitted to be unusually high; but the subject is altogether so obscure,
that nothing can be founded on it.

{12}  Astronomy, Lardner’s Cyclopædia.

{17}  M. Compte combined Huygens’s theorems for the measure of
centrifugal force with the law of gravitation, and thus formed a simple
fundamental equation between the duration of the rotation of what he
calls the producing star, and the distance of the star produced.  The
constants of this equation were the radius of the central star, and the
intensity of gravity at its surface, which is a direct consequence of its
mass.  It leads directly to the third law of Kepler, which thus becomes
susceptible of being conceived _à priori_ in a cosmogonical point of
view.  M. Compte first applied it to the moon, and found, to his great
delight, that the periodic time of that satellite agrees within an hour
or two with the duration which the revolution of the earth ought to have
had at the time when the lunar distance formed the limit of the earth’s
atmosphere.  He found the coincidence less exact, but still very striking
in every other case.  In those of the planets he obtained for the
duration of the corresponding solar rotations a value always a little
less than their actual periodic times.  “It is remarkable,” says he,
“that this difference, though increasing as the planet is more distant,
preserves very nearly the same relation to the corresponding periodic
time, of which it commonly forms the forty-fifth part,”—shewing, we may
suppose, that only some small elements of the question had been
overlooked by the calculator.  The defect changes to an excess in the
different systems of the satellites, where it is proportionally greater
than in the planets, and unequal in the different systems.  “From the
whole of these comparisons,” says he, “I deduced the following general
result:—Supposing the mathematical limit of the solar atmosphere
successively extended to the regions where the different planets are now
found, the duration of the sun’s rotation was, at each of these epochs,
sensibly equal to that of the actual sidereal revolution of the
corresponding planet; and the same is true for each planetary atmosphere
in relation to the different satellites.”—_Cours de Philosophie Positif_.

{42}  The researches on this subject were conducted chiefly by the late
Baron Fourier, perpetual secretary to the Academy of Sciences of Paris.
See his _Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur_.  1822.

{52}  Delabeche’s Geological Researches.

{60}  In the Cumbrian limestone occur “calamoporæ, lithodendra,
cyathophylla, and orbicula.”—_Philips_.  The asaphus and trinucleus
(crustacea) have been found respectively in the slate rocks of Wales, and
the limestone beds of the grawacke group in Bohemia.  That fragments of
crinoidea, though of no determinate species, occur in this system, we
have the authority of Mr. Murchison.—_Silurian System_, p. 710.

{62}  Such as amphioxus and myxene.

{64}  Miller’s “New Walks in an Old Field.”

{68}  June, 1842.

{84a}  The principal families are named sphenopteris, neuropteris, and

{84b}  A specimen from Bengal, in the staircase of the British Museum, is
forty-five feet high.

{93}  “Some of the most considerable dislocations of the border of the
coal fields of Coalbrookdale and Dudley happened after the deposition of
a part of the new red sandstone; but it is certain that those of
Somersetshire and Gloucestershire were completed before the date of that

{97}  The immediate effects of the slow respiration of the reptilia are,
a low temperature in their bodies, and a slow consumption of food.
Requiring little oxygen, they could have existed in an atmosphere
containing a less proportion of that gas to carbonic acid gas than what
now obtains.

{99}  The order to which frogs and toads belong.

{103}  Dr. Buckland, quoting an article by Professor Hitchcock, in the
American Journal of Science and Arts, 1836.

{108a}  Murchison’s Silurian System, p. 583.

{108b} Buckland.

{110}  In some instances, these fossils are found with the contents of
the stomach faithfully preserved, and even with pieces of the external
skin.  The pellets ejected by them (_coprolites_) are found in vast
numbers, each generally enclosed in a nodule of ironstone, and sometimes
shewing remains of the fishes which had formed their food.

{114}  De la Beche’s Geological Researches, p. 344.

{127}  Thick-skinned animals.  This term has been given by Cuvier to an
order in which the hog, elephant, horse, and rhinoceros are included.

{149}  Intervals in the series were numerous in the department of the
pachydermata; many of these gaps are now filled up from the extinct
genera found in the tertiary formation.

{151}  See paper by Professor Edward Forbes, read to the British
Association, 1839.

{159}  Macculloch on the Attributes of the Deity, iii. 569.

{166}  “A glass tube is to be bent into a syphon, and placed with the
curve downwards, and in the bend is to be placed a small portion of
mercury, not sufficient to close the connexion between the two legs; a
solution of nitrate of silver is then to be introduced until it rises in
both limbs of the tube.  The precipitation of the mercury, in the form of
an Arbor Dianæ, will then take place, slowly, only when the syphon is
placed in a plane perpendicular to the magnetic meridian; but if it be
placed in a plane coinciding with the magnetic meridian, the action is
rapid, and the crystallization particularly beautiful, taking place
principally in that branch of the syphon towards the north.  If the
syphon be placed in a plane perpendicular to the magnetic meridian, and a
strong magnet brought near it, the precipitation will commence in a short
time, and be most copious in the branch of the syphon nearest to the
south pole of the magnet.”

{169a}  Fatty matter has also been formed in the laboratory.  The process
consisted in passing a mixture of carbonic acid, pure hydrogen, and
carburetted hydrogen, in the proportion of one measure of the first,
twenty of the second, and ten of the third, through a red-hot tube.

{169b}  Supplement to the Atomic Theory.

{170}  Carpenter on Life; Todd’s Cyclopædia of Physiology.

{171}  Carpenter’s Report on the results obtained by the Microscope in
the Study of Anatomy and Physiology, 1843.

{172}  See Dr. Martin Barry on Fissiparous Generation; Jameson’s Journal,
Oct. 1843.  Appearances precisely similar have been detected in the germs
of the crustacea.

{175}  Mr. Leonard Horner and Sir David Brewster, on a substance
resembling shell.—_Philosophical Transactions_, 1836.

{179a}  Dr. Allen Thomson, in the article _Generation_, in Todd’s
Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology.

{179b}  The term aboriginal is here suggested, as more correct than
spontaneous, the one hitherto generally used.

{182}  Article “Zoophytes,” Encyclopædia Britannica, 7th edition.

{187}  See a pamphlet circulated by Mr. Weekes, in 1842.

{195}  Daubenton established the rule, that all the viviparous quadrupeds
have seven vertebræ in the neck.

{201}  Lord’s Popular Physiology.  It is to Tiedemann that we chiefly owe
these curious observations; but ground was first broken in this branch of
physiological science by Dr. John Hunter.

{204}  When I formed this idea, I was not aware of one which seems
faintly to foreshadow it—namely, Socrates’s doctrine, afterwards dilated
on by Plato, that “previous to the existence of the world, and beyond its
present limits, there existed certain archetypes, the embodiment (if we
may use such a word) of general ideas; and that these archetypes were
models, in imitation of which all particular beings were created.”

{208}  The numbers 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, &c. are formed by adding the
successive terms of the series of natural numbers thus:

1            = 1
1+2          = 3
1+2+3        = 6
l+2+3+4      = 10, &c.

They are called triangular numbers, because a number of points
corresponding to any term can always be placed in the form of a triangle;
for instance—

  .       .           .               .
          ..          ..              ..
                     ...             ...
  1       3           6               10

{215}  Kirby and Spence.

{221}  See an article by Dr. Weissenborn, in the New Series of “Magazine
of Natural History,” vol. i. p. 574.

{224}  “It is a fact of the highest interest and moment that as the brain
of every tribe of animals appears to pass, during its development, in
succession through the types of all those below it, so the brain of man
passes through the types of those of every tribe in the creation.  It
represents, accordingly, before the second month of utero-gestation, that
of an avertebrated animal; at the second month, that of an osseous fish;
at the third, that of a turtle; at the fourth, that of a bird; at the
fifth, that of one of the rodentia; at the sixth, that of one of the
ruminantia; at the seventh, that of one of the digitigrada; at the
eighth, that of one of the quadrumana; till at length, at the ninth, it
compasses the brain of Man!  It is hardly necessary to say, that all this
is only an approximation to the truth; since neither is the brain of all
osseous fishes, of all turtles, of all birds, nor of all the species of
any one of the above order of mammals, by any means precisely the same,
nor does the brain of the human fœtus at any time precisely resemble,
perhaps, that of any individual whatever among the lower animals.
Nevertheless, it may be said to represent, at each of the above-mentioned
periods, the aggregate, as it were, of the brains of each of the tribes
stated; consisting as it does, about the second month, chiefly of the
mesial parts of the cerebellum, the corpora quadrigemina, thalami optici,
rudiments of the hemispheres of the cerebrum and corpora striata; and
receiving in succession, at the third, the rudiments of the lobes of the
cerebrum; at the fourth, those of the fornix, corpus callosum, and septum
lucidum; at the fifth, the tubor annulare, and so forth; the posterior
lobes of the cerebrum increasing from before to behind, so as to cover
the thalami optici about the fourth month, the corpora quadrigemina about
the sixth, and the cerebellum about the seventh.  This, then, is another
example of an increase in the complexity of an organ succeeding its
centralization; as if Nature, having first piled up her materials in one
spot, delighted afterwards to employ her abundance, not so much in
enlarging old parts as in forming new ones upon the old foundations, and
thus adding to the complexity of a fabric, the rudimental structure of
which is in all animals equally simple.”—_Fletcher’s Rudiments of

{226}  Doctrine Publishing Corporation note: the table in the book is very wide.  Since
it won’t fit within the normal Gutenberg margins, and cannot be
reproduced typographically, the rows of the table have been broken out as

Table shows: scale of animal kingdom (the numbers indicate orders); order
of animals in; ascending series of rocks; fœtal human brain resembles, in

(The numbers indicate orders)

Rocks: 1. Gneiss and Mica Slate system

Fœtal: 1st month, that of an avertebrated animal;

Scale: RADIATA (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Order: Zoophyta, Polypiaria

Rocks: 2. Clay Slate and Grawacke system

Fœtal: 1st month, that of an avertebrated animal;

Scale: MOLLUSCA (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Order: Conchifera, Double-shelled Mollusks

Rocks: 3. Silurian system

Fœtal: 1st month, that of an avertebrated animal;

Scale: ARTICULATA _Annelida_ (12, 13, 14)

Rocks: 3. Silurian system

Fœtal: 1st month, that of an avertebrated animal;

Scale: ARTICULATA _Crustacea_ (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)

Order: Crustacea, Annelida, Crustaceous Fishes

Rocks: 3. Silurian system

Fœtal: 1st month, that of an avertebrated animal;

Scale: ARTICULATA _Arachnida & Insecta_ (21–31)

Order: Crustaceous Fishes

Rocks: 4. Old Red Sandstone

Fœtal: 1st month, that of an avertebrated animal;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Pisces_ (32, 33, 34, 35, 36)

Order: True Fishes

Rocks: 5. Carboniferous formation

Fœtal: 2nd month, that of a fish;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Reptilia_ (37, 38, 39, 40)

Order: Piscine Saurians (ichthyosaurus, &c.), Pterodactyles, Crocodiles,
Tortoises, Batrachians

Rocks: 6. New Red Sandstone

Fœtal: 3rd month, that of a turtle;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Aves_ (41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46)

Order: Birds

Rocks: 6. New Red Sandstone

Fœtal: 4th month, that of a bird;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 47 Cetacea

Order: (Bone of a marsupial animal)

Rocks: 7. Oolite

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 48 Ruminantia

Order: (Bone of a marsupial animal)

Rocks: 8. Cretaceous formation

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 49 Pachydermata

Order: Pachydermata (tapirs, horses, &c.)

Rocks: 9. Lower Eocene

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 50 Edentata

Order: Pachydermata (tapirs, horses, &c.)

Rocks: 9. Lower Eocene

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 51 Rodentia

Order: Rodentia (dormouse, squirrel, &c.)

Rocks: 9. Lower Eocene

Fœtal: 5th month, that of a rodent;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 52 Marsupialia

Order: Marsupialia (racoon, opossum, &c.)

Rocks: 9. Lower Eocene

Fœtal: 6th month, that of a ruminant;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 53 Amphibia

Order: Marsupialia (racoon, opossum, &c.)

Rocks: 9. Lower Eocene

Fœtal: 6th month, that of a ruminant;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 54 Digitigrada

Order: Digitigrada (genette, fox, wolf, &c.)

Rocks: 10. Miocene

Fœtal: 7th month, that of a digitigrade animal;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 55 Plantigrada

Order: Plantigrada (bear)

Rocks: 10. Miocene

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 55 Plantigrada

Order: Cetacea (lamantins, seals, whales)

Rocks: 10. Miocene

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 56 Insectivora

Order: Edentata (sloths, &c.)

Rocks: 11. Pliocene

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 56 Insectivora

Order: Ruminantia (oxen, deer, &c.)

Rocks: 11. Pliocene

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 57 Cheiroptera

Rocks: 11. Pliocene

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 58 Quadrumana

Order: Quadrumana (monkeys)

Rocks: 11. Pliocene

Fœtal: 8th month, that of the quadrumana;

Scale: VERTEBRATA _Mammalia_: 59 Bimana

Order: Bimana (man)

Rocks: 12. Superficial deposits

Fœtal: 9th month, attains full human character;

{229}  Some poor people having taken up their abode in the cells under
the fortifications of Lisle, the proportion of defective infants produced
by them became so great, that it was deemed necessary to issue an order
commanding these cells to be shut up.

{232}  These affinities and analogies are explained in the next chapter.

{239a}  Corresponding to the articulata of Cuvier.

{239b}  A new sub-kingdom, made out of part of the radiata of Cuvier.

{239c}  This is a newly applied term, the reasons for which will be
explained in the sequel.

{242}  This is preferred to grallatorial, as more comprehensively
descriptive.  There is the same need for a substitute for rasorial, which
is only applicable to birds.

{246}  Distribution and Classification of Animals, p. 248.

{255}  Researches, 4th edition, i. 95.

{257}  Prichard.

{266}  Mr. Swainson’s arguments about the entireness of the circle
simiadæ are only too rigid, for fossil geology has since added new genera
to this group and the cebidæ, and there may be still farther additions.

{270}  See Wilson’s American Ornithology; article, _Fishing Crow_.

{274}  Doctrine Publishing Corporation note: in the diagram the triangles extending
from the 1,2,3,4 and the a,b,c,d meet at the same point—the line from the
1,2,3,4 being at around 45° and the line from the a,b,c,d being at around
60°.  Despite what the text says there is no line labelled 5 in the

{278}  See Dr. Prichard’s Researches into the Physical History of Man.

{280}  Buckingham’s Travels among the Arabs.  This fact is the more
valuable to the argument, as having been set down with no regard to any
kind of hypothesis.

{287}  Wiseman’s Lectures on the Connexion between Science and Revealed
Religion, i. 44.  The Celtic has been established as a member or group of
the Indo-European family, by the work of Dr. Prichard, _on the Eastern
Origin of the Celtic Nations_.  “First,” says Dr. Wiseman, “he has
examined the lexical resemblances, and shewn that the primary and most
simple words are the same in both, as well as the numerals and elementary
verbal roots.  Then follows a minute analysis of the verb, directed to
shew its analogies with other languages, and they are such as manifest no
casual coincidence, but an internal structure radically the same.  The
verb substantive, which is minutely analysed, presents more striking
analogies to the Persian verb than perhaps any other language of the
family.  But Celtic is not thus become a mere member of this confederacy,
but has brought to it most important aid; for, from it alone can be
satisfactorily explained some of the conjugational endings in the other
languages.  For instance, the third person plural of the Latin, Persian,
Greek, and Sanscrit ends in nt, nd, ντι, ντο, nti, or nt.  Now,
supposing, with most grammarians, that the inflexions arose from the
pronouns of the respective persons, it is only in Celtic that we find a
pronoun that can explain this termination; for there, too, the same
person ends in nt, and thus corresponds exactly, as do the others, with
its pronoun, _hwynt_, or _ynt_.”

{291}  Schoolcraft.

{293}  Views of the Cordilleras.

{302}  The problem of Chinese civilization, such as it is—so puzzling
when we consider that they are only, as will be presently seen, the child
race of mankind—is solved when we look to geographical position producing
fixity of residence and density of population.

{307a}  Lord’s Popular Physiology, explaining observations by M. Serres.

{307b}  Conformably to this view, the beard, that peculiar attribute of
maturity, is scanty in the Mongolian, and scarcely exists in the
Americans and Negroes.

{309}  Of this we have perhaps an illustration in the peculiarities which
distinguish the Arabs residing in the valley of the Jordan.  They have
flatter features, darker skins, and coarser hair than other tribes of
their nation; and we have seen one instance of a thoroughly Negro family
being born to an ordinary couple.  It may be presumed that the conditions
of the life of these people tend to arrest development.  We thus see how
an offshoot of the human family migrating at an early period into Africa,
might in time, from subjection to similar influences, become Negroes.

{317}  Missionary Scenes and Labours in South Africa.

{326}  “Is not God the first cause of matter as well as of mind?  Do not
the first attributes of matter lie as inscrutable in the bosom of God—of
its first author—as those of mind?  Has not even matter confessedly
received from God the power of experiencing, in consequence of
impressions from the earlier modifications of matter, certain
consciousnesses called sensations of the same?  Is not, therefore, the
wonder of matter also receiving the consciousnesses of other matter
called ideas of the mind a wonder more flowing out of and in analogy with
all former wonders, than would be, on the contrary, the wonder of this
faculty of the mind not flowing out of any faculties of matter?  Is it
not a wonder which, so far from destroying our hopes of immortality, can
establish that doctrine on a train of inferences and inductions more
firmly established and more connected with each other than the former
belief can be, as soon as we have proved that matter is not perishable,
but is only liable to successive combinations and decombinations.

“Can we look farther back one way into the first origin of matter than we
can look forward the other way into the last developments of mind?  Can
we say that God has not in matter itself laid the seeds of every faculty
of mind, rather than that he has made the first principle of mind
entirely distinct from that of matter?  Cannot the first cause of all we
see and know have _fraught matter itself_, _from its very beginning_,
_with all the attributes necessary to develop into mind_, as well as he
can have from the first made the attributes of mind wholly different from
those of matter, only in order afterwards, by an imperceptible and
incomprehensible link, to join the two together?

“ * * [The decombination of the matter on which mind rests] is this a
reason why mind must be annihilated?  Is the temporary reverting of the
mind, and of the sense out of which that mind developes, to their
original component elements, a reason for thinking that they cannot again
at another later period, and in another higher globe, be again
recombined, and with more splendour than before? * * The New Testament
does not after death here promise us a soul hereafter unconnected with
matter, and which has no connexion with our present mind—a soul
independent of time and space.  That is a fanciful idea, not founded on
its expressions, when taken in their just and real meaning.  On the
contrary, it promises us a mind like the present, founded on time and
space; since it is, like the present, to hold a certain situation in
time, and a certain locality in space.  But it promises a mind situated
in portions of time and of space different from the present; a mind
composed of elements of matter more extended, more perfect, and more
glorious: a mind which, formed of materials supplied by different globes,
is consequently able to see farther into the past, and to think farther
into the future, than any mind here existing: a mind which, freed from
the partial and uneven combination incidental to it on this globe, will
be exempt from the changes for evil to which, on the present globe, mind
as well as matter is liable, and will only thenceforth experience the
changes for the better which matter, more justly poised, will alone
continue to experience: a mind which, no longer fearing the death, the
total decomposition, to which it is subject on this globe, will
thenceforth continue last and immortal.”—HOPE, _on the Origin and
Prospects of Man_, 1831.

{331}  Dublin Review, Aug. 1840.  The Guarantee Society has since been
established, and is likely to become a useful and prosperous institution.

{333}  The ray, which is considered the lowest in the scale of fishes, or
next to the crustaceans, gives the first faint representation of a brain
in certain scanty and medullary masses, which appear as merely composed
of enlarged origins of the nerves.

{335}  If mental action is electric, the proverbial quickness of
thought—that is, the quickness of the transmission of sensation and
will—may be presumed to have been brought to an exact measurement.  The
speed of light has long been known to be about 192,000 miles per second,
and the experiments of Wheatstone have shewn that the electric agent
travels (if I may so speak) at the same rate, thus shewing a likelihood
that one law rules the movements of all the “imponderable bodies.”
Mental action may accordingly be presumed to have a rapidity equal to one
hundred and ninety-two thousand miles in the second—a rate evidently far
beyond what is necessary to make the design and execution of any of our
ordinary muscular movements apparently identical in point of time, which
they are.

{346}  Phrenological Journal, xv. 338.

{347}  A pampered lap-dog, living where there is another of its own
species, will hide any nice morsel which it cannot eat, under a rug, or
in some other by-place, designing to enjoy it afterwards.  I have seen
children do the same thing.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation" ***

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