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Title: Unconscious Memory
Author: Butler, Samuel
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Unconscious Memory" ***

Transcribed from the 1910 A. C. Fifield edition by David Price, email

                            Unconscious Memory

                              Samuel Butler

   Author of “Life and Habit,” “Erewhon,” “The Way of All Flesh,” etc.

                                * * * * *

            New Edition, entirely reset, with an Introduction
          by Marcus Hartog, M.A., D.SC., F.L.S., F.R.H.S., Pro-
              fessor of Zoology in University College, Cork.

                                * * * * *

                                  OP. 5

                                * * * * *

                  A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford’s Inn, E.C.

                                * * * * *

    “As this paper contains nothing which deserves the name either of
    experiment or discovery, and as it is, in fact, destitute of every
    species of merit, we should have allowed it to pass among the
    multitude of those articles which must always find their way into the
    collections of a society which is pledged to publish two or three
    volumes every year. . . .  We wish to raise our feeble voice against
    innovations, that can have no other effect than to check the progress
    of science, and renew all those wild phantoms of the imagination
    which Bacon and Newton put to flight from her temple.”—_Opening
    Paragraph of a Review of Dr. Young’s Bakerian Lecture_.  _Edinburgh
    Review_, _January_ 1803, p. 450.

    “Young’s work was laid before the Royal society, and was made the
    1801 Bakerian Lecture.  But he was before his time.  The second
    number of the _Edinburgh Review_ contained an article levelled
    against him by Henry (afterwards Lord) Brougham, and this was so
    severe an attack that Young’s ideas were absolutely quenched for
    fifteen years.  Brougham was then only twenty-four years of age.
    Young’s theory was reproduced in France by Fresnel.  In our days it
    is the accepted theory, and is found to explain all the phenomena of
    light.”—_Times Report of a Lecture by Professor Tyndall on Light_,
    _April_ 27, 1880.

                                * * * * *

                                This Book

                             Is inscribed to

                          RICHARD GARNETT, ESQ.

                         (Of the British Museum)

          In grateful acknowledgment of the unwearying kindness
             with which he has so often placed at my disposal
                     his varied store of information.


NOTE.  By R. A. Streatfeild                                       viii
INTRODUCTION.  By Professor Marcus Hartog                           ix
AUTHOR’S PREFACE                                                xxxvii
CHAPTER I.  Introduction—General ignorance on the subject            1
of evolution at the time the “Origin of Species” was
published in 1859
CHAPTER II.  How I came to write “Life and Habit,” and              12
the circumstances of its completion
CHAPTER III.  How I came to write “Evolution, Old and               26
New”—Mr Darwin’s “brief but imperfect” sketch of the
opinions of the writers on evolution who had preceded
him—The reception which “Evolution, Old and New,” met
CHAPTER IV.  The manner in which Mr. Darwin met                     38
“Evolution, Old and New”
CHAPTER V.  Introduction to Professor Hering’s lecture              52
CHAPTER VI.  Professor Ewald Hering “On Memory”                     63
CHAPTER VII.  Introduction to a translation of the                  87
chapter upon instinct in Von Hartmann’s “Philosophy of
the Unconscious”
CHAPTER VIII.  Translation of the chapter on “The                   92
Unconscious in Instinct,” from Von Hartmann’s “Philosophy
of the Unconscious”
CHAPTER IX.  Remarks upon Von Hartmann’s position in               137
regard to instinct
CHAPTER X.  Recapitulation and statement of an objection           146
CHAPTER XI.  On Cycles                                             156
CHAPTER XII.  Refutation—Memory at once a promoter and a           161
disturber of uniformity of action and structure
CHAPTER XIII.  Conclusion                                          173


FOR many years a link in the chain of Samuel Butler’s biological works
has been missing.  “Unconscious Memory” was originally published thirty
years ago, but for fully half that period it has been out of print, owing
to the destruction of a large number of the unbound sheets in a fire at
the premises of the printers some years ago.  The present reprint comes,
I think, at a peculiarly fortunate moment, since the attention of the
general public has of late been drawn to Butler’s biological theories in
a marked manner by several distinguished men of science, notably by Dr.
Francis Darwin, who, in his presidential address to the British
Association in 1908, quoted from the translation of Hering’s address on
“Memory as a Universal Function of Original Matter,” which Butler
incorporated into “Unconscious Memory,” and spoke in the highest terms of
Butler himself.  It is not necessary for me to do more than refer to the
changed attitude of scientific authorities with regard to Butler and his
theories, since Professor Marcus Hartog has most kindly consented to
contribute an introduction to the present edition of “Unconscious
Memory,” summarising Butler’s views upon biology, and defining his
position in the world of science.  A word must be said as to the
controversy between Butler and Darwin, with which Chapter IV is
concerned.  I have been told that in reissuing the book at all I am
committing a grievous error of taste, that the world is no longer
interested in these “old, unhappy far-off things and battles long ago,”
and that Butler himself, by refraining from republishing “Unconscious
Memory,” tacitly admitted that he wished the controversy to be consigned
to oblivion.  This last suggestion, at any rate, has no foundation in
fact.  Butler desired nothing less than that his vindication of himself
against what he considered unfair treatment should be forgotten.  He
would have republished “Unconscious Memory” himself, had not the latter
years of his life been devoted to all-engrossing work in other fields.
In issuing the present edition I am fulfilling a wish that he expressed
to me shortly before his death.

                                                        R. A. STREATFEILD.

_April_, 1910.

By Marcus Hartog, M.A., D.Sc., F.L.S., F.R.H.S.

IN reviewing Samuel Butler’s works, “Unconscious Memory” gives us an
invaluable lead; for it tells us (Chaps. II, III) how the author came to
write the Book of the Machines in “Erewhon” (1872), with its
foreshadowing of the later theory, “Life and Habit,” (1878), “Evolution,
Old and New” (1879), as well as “Unconscious Memory” (1880) itself.  His
fourth book on biological theory was “Luck? or Cunning?” (1887). {0a}

Besides these books, his contributions to biology comprise several
essays: “Remarks on Romanes’ _Mental Evolution in Animals_, contained in
“Selections from Previous Works” (1884) incorporated into “Luck? or
Cunning,” “The Deadlock in Darwinism” (_Universal Review_, April-June,
1890), republished in the posthumous volume of “Essays on Life, Art, and
Science” (1904), and, finally, some of the “Extracts from the Notebooks
of the late Samuel Butler,” edited by Mr. H. Festing Jones, now in course
of publication in the _New Quarterly Review_.

                                * * * * *

Of all these, “LIFE AND HABIT” (1878) is the most important, the main
building to which the other writings are buttresses or, at most, annexes.
Its teaching has been summarised in “Unconscious Memory” in four main
principles: “(1) the oneness of personality between parent and offspring;
(2) memory on the part of the offspring of certain actions which it did
when in the persons of its forefathers; (3) the latency of that memory
until it is rekindled by a recurrence of the associated ideas; (4) the
unconsciousness with which habitual actions come to be performed.”  To
these we must add a fifth: the purposiveness of the actions of living
beings, as of the machines which they make or select.

Butler tells (“Life and Habit,” p. 33) that he sometimes hoped “that this
book would be regarded as a valuable adjunct to Darwinism.”  He was
bitterly disappointed in the event, for the book, as a whole, was
received by professional biologists as a gigantic joke—a joke, moreover,
not in the best possible taste.  True, its central ideas, largely those
of Lamarck, had been presented by Hering in 1870 (as Butler found shortly
after his publication); they had been favourably received, developed by
Haeckel, expounded and praised by Ray Lankester.  Coming from Butler,
they met with contumely, even from such men as Romanes, who, as Butler
had no difficulty in proving, were unconsciously inspired by the same
ideas—“_Nur mit ein bischen ander’n Wörter_.”

It is easy, looking back, to see why “Life and Habit” so missed its mark.
Charles Darwin’s presentation of the evolution theory had, for the first
time, rendered it possible for a “sound naturalist” to accept the
doctrine of common descent with divergence; and so given a real meaning
to the term “natural relationship,” which had forced itself upon the
older naturalists, despite their belief in special and independent
creations.  The immediate aim of the naturalists of the day was now to
fill up the gaps in their knowledge, so as to strengthen the fabric of a
unified biology.  For this purpose they found their actual scientific
equipment so inadequate that they were fully occupied in inventing fresh
technique, and working therewith at facts—save a few critics, such as St.
George Mivart, who was regarded as negligible, since he evidently held a
brief for a party standing outside the scientific world.

Butler introduced himself as what we now call “The Man in the Street,”
far too bare of scientific clothing to satisfy the Mrs. Grundy of the
domain: lacking all recognised tools of science and all sense of the
difficulties in his way, he proceeded to tackle the problems of science
with little save the deft pen of the literary expert in his hand.  His
very failure to appreciate the difficulties gave greater power to his
work—much as Tartarin of Tarascon ascended the Jungfrau and faced
successfully all dangers of Alpine travel, so long as he believed them to
be the mere “blagues de réclame” of the wily Swiss host.  His brilliant
qualities of style and irony themselves told heavily against him.  Was he
not already known for having written the most trenchant satire that had
appeared since “Gulliver’s Travels”?  Had he not sneered therein at the
very foundations of society, and followed up its success by a
pseudo-biography that had taken in the “Record” and the “Rock”?  In “Life
and Habit,” at the very start, he goes out of his way to heap scorn at
the respected names of Marcus Aurelius, Lord Bacon, Goethe, Arnold of
Rugby, and Dr. W. B. Carpenter.  He expressed the lowest opinion of the
Fellows of the Royal Society.  To him the professional man of science,
with self-conscious knowledge for his ideal and aim, was a medicine-man,
priest, augur—useful, perhaps, in his way, but to be carefully watched by
all who value freedom of thought and person, lest with opportunity he
develop into a persecutor of the worst type.  Not content with
blackguarding the audience to whom his work should most appeal, he went
on to depreciate that work itself and its author in his finest vein of
irony.  Having argued that our best and highest knowledge is that of
whose possession we are most ignorant, he proceeds: “Above all, let no
unwary reader do me the injustice of believing in me.  In that I write at
all I am among the damned.”

                                * * * * *

His writing of “EVOLUTION, OLD AND NEW” (1879) was due to his conviction
that scant justice had been done by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace and
their admirers to the pioneering work of Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, and
Lamarck.  To repair this he gives a brilliant exposition of what seemed
to him the most valuable portion of their teachings on evolution.  His
analysis of Buffon’s true meaning, veiled by the reticences due to the
conditions under which he wrote, is as masterly as the English in which
he develops it.  His sense of wounded justice explains the vigorous
polemic which here, as in all his later writings, he carries to the

As a matter of fact, he never realised Charles Darwin’s utter lack of
sympathetic understanding of the work of his French precursors, let alone
his own grandfather, Erasmus.  Yet this practical ignorance, which to
Butler was so strange as to transcend belief, was altogether genuine, and
easy to realise when we recall the position of Natural Science in the
early thirties in Darwin’s student days at Cambridge, and for a decade or
two later.  Catastropharianism was the tenet of the day: to the last it
commended itself to his Professors of Botany and Geology,—for whom Darwin
held the fervent allegiance of the Indian scholar, or _chela_, to his
_guru_.  As Geikie has recently pointed out, it was only later, when
Lyell had shown that the breaks in the succession of the rocks were only
partial and local, without involving the universal catastrophes that
destroyed all life and rendered fresh creations thereof necessary, that
any general acceptance of a descent theory could be expected.  We may be
very sure that Darwin must have received many solemn warnings against the
dangerous speculations of the “French Revolutionary School.”  He himself
was far too busy at the time with the reception and assimilation of new
facts to be awake to the deeper interest of far-reaching theories.

It is the more unfortunate that Butler’s lack of appreciation on these
points should have led to the enormous proportion of bitter personal
controversy that we find in the remainder of his biological writings.
Possibly, as suggested by George Bernard Shaw, his acquaintance and
admirer, he was also swayed by philosophical resentment at that
banishment of mind from the organic universe, which was generally thought
to have been achieved by Charles Darwin’s theory.  Still, we must
remember that this mindless view is not implicit in Charles Darwin’s
presentment of his own theory, nor was it accepted by him as it has been
by so many of his professed disciples.

                                * * * * *

“UNCONSCIOUS MEMORY” (1880).—We have already alluded to an anticipation
of Butler’s main theses.  In 1870 Dr. Ewald Hering, one of the most
eminent physiologists of the day, Professor at Vienna, gave an Inaugural
Address to the Imperial Royal Academy of Sciences: “Das Gedächtniss als
allgemeine Funktion der organisirter Substanz” (“Memory as a Universal
Function of Organised Matter”).  When “Life and Habit” was well advanced,
Francis Darwin, at the time a frequent visitor, called Butler’s attention
to this essay, which he himself only knew from an article in “Nature.”
Herein Professor E. Ray Lankester had referred to it with admiring
sympathy in connection with its further development by Haeckel in a
pamphlet entitled “Die Perigenese der Plastidule.”  We may note, however,
that in his collected Essays, “The Advancement of Science” (1890), Sir
Ray Lankester, while including this Essay, inserts on the blank page
{0b}—we had almost written “the white sheet”—at the back of it an apology
for having ever advocated the possibility of the transmission of acquired

“Unconscious Memory” was largely written to show the relation of Butler’s
views to Hering’s, and contains an exquisitely written translation of the
Address.  Hering does, indeed, anticipate Butler, and that in language
far more suitable to the persuasion of the scientific public.  It
contains a subsidiary hypothesis that memory has for its mechanism
special vibrations of the protoplasm, and the acquired capacity to
respond to such vibrations once felt upon their repetition.  I do not
think that the theory gains anything by the introduction of this even as
a mere formal hypothesis; and there is no evidence for its being anything
more.  Butler, however, gives it a warm, nay, enthusiastic, reception in
Chapter V (Introduction to Professor Hering’s lecture), and in his notes
to the translation of the Address, which bulks so large in this book, but
points out that he was “not committed to this hypothesis, though inclined
to accept it on a _prima facie_ view.”  Later on, as we shall see, he
attached more importance to it.

The Hering Address is followed in “Unconscious Memory” by translations of
selected passages from Von Hartmann’s “Philosophy of the Unconscious,”
and annotations to explain the difference from this personification of
“_The Unconscious_” as a mighty all-ruling, all-creating personality, and
his own scientific recognition of the great part played by _unconscious
processes_ in the region of mind and memory.

These are the essentials of the book as a contribution to biological
philosophy.  The closing chapters contain a lucid statement of objections
to his theory as they might be put by a rigid necessitarian, and a
refutation of that interpretation as applied to human action.

But in the second chapter Butler states his recession from the strong
logical position he had hitherto developed in his writings from “Erewhon”
onwards; so far he had not only distinguished the living from the
non-living, but distinguished among the latter _machines_ or _tools_ from
_things at large_. {0c}  Machines or tools are the external organs of
living beings, as organs are their internal machines: they are fashioned,
assembled, or selected by the beings for a purposes so they have a
_future purpose_, as well as a _past history_.  “Things at large” have a
past history, but no purpose (so long as some being does not convert them
into tools and give them a purpose): Machines have a Why? as well as a
How?: “things at large” have a How? only.

In “Unconscious Memory” the allurements of unitary or monistic views have
gained the upper hand, and Butler writes (p. 23):—

    “The only thing of which I am sure is, that the distinction between
    the organic and inorganic is arbitrary; that it is more coherent with
    our other ideas, and therefore more acceptable, to start with every
    molecule as a living thing, and then deduce death as the breaking up
    of an association or corporation, than to start with inanimate
    molecules and smuggle life into them; and that, therefore, what we
    call the inorganic world must be regarded as up to a certain point
    living, and instinct, within certain limits, with consciousness,
    volition, and power of concerted action.  _It is only of late_,
    _however_, _that I have come to this opinion_.”

I have italicised the last sentence, to show that Butler was more or less
conscious of its irreconcilability with much of his most characteristic
doctrine.  Again, in the closing chapter, Butler writes (p. 275):—

    “We should endeavour to see the so-called inorganic as living in
    respect of the qualities it has in common with the organic, rather
    than the organic as non-living in respect of the qualities it has in
    common with the inorganic.”

We conclude our survey of this book by mentioning the literary
controversial part chiefly to be found in Chapter IV, but cropping up
elsewhere.  It refers to interpolations made in the authorised
translation of Krause’s “Life of Erasmus Darwin.”  Only one side is
presented; and we are not called upon, here or elsewhere, to discuss the
merits of the question.

                                * * * * *

“LUCK, OR CUNNING, as the Main Means of Organic Modification? an Attempt
to throw Additional Light upon the late Mr. Charles Darwin’s Theory of
Natural Selection” (1887), completes the series of biological books.
This is mainly a book of strenuous polemic.  It brings out still more
forcibly the Hering-Butler doctrine of continued personality from
generation to generation, and of the working of unconscious memory
throughout; and points out that, while this is implicit in much of the
teaching of Herbert Spencer, Romanes, and others, it was nowhere—even
after the appearance of “Life and Habit”—explicitly recognised by them,
but, on the contrary, masked by inconsistent statements and teaching.
Not Luck but Cunning, not the uninspired weeding out by Natural Selection
but the intelligent striving of the organism, is at the bottom of the
useful variety of organic life.  And the parallel is drawn that not the
happy accident of time and place, but the Machiavellian cunning of
Charles Darwin, succeeded in imposing, as entirely his own, on the
civilised world an uninspired and inadequate theory of evolution wherein
luck played the leading part; while the more inspired and inspiring views
of the older evolutionists had failed by the inferiority of their luck.
On this controversy I am bound to say that I do not in the very least
share Butler’s opinions; and I must ascribe them to his lack of personal
familiarity with the biologists of the day and their modes of thought and
of work.  Butler everywhere undervalues the important work of elimination
played by Natural Selection in its widest sense.

The “Conclusion” of “Luck, or Cunning?” shows a strong advance in
monistic views, and a yet more marked development in the vibration
hypothesis of memory given by Hering and only adopted with the greatest
reserve in “Unconscious Memory.”

    “Our conception, then, concerning the nature of any matter depends
    solely upon its kind and degree of unrest, that is to say, on the
    characteristics of the vibrations that are going on within it.  The
    exterior object vibrating in a certain way imparts some of its
    vibrations to our brain; but if the state of the thing itself depends
    upon its vibrations, it [the thing] must be considered as to all
    intents and purposes the vibrations themselves—plus, of course, the
    underlying substance that is vibrating. . . .  The same vibrations,
    therefore, form the substance remembered, introduce an infinitesimal
    dose of it within the brain, modify the substance remembering, and,
    in the course of time, create and further modify the mechanism of
    both the sensory and the motor nerves.  Thought and thing are one.

    “I commend these two last speculations to the reader’s charitable
    consideration, as feeling that I am here travelling beyond the ground
    on which I can safely venture. . . .  I believe they are both
    substantially true.”

In 1885 he had written an abstract of these ideas in his notebooks (see
_New Quarterly Review_, 1910, p. 116), and as in “Luck, or Cunning?”
associated them vaguely with the unitary conceptions introduced into
chemistry by Newlands and Mendelejeff.  Judging himself as an outsider,
the author of “Life and Habit” would certainly have considered the mild
expression of faith, “I believe they are both substantially true,”
equivalent to one of extreme doubt.  Thus “the fact of the Archbishop’s
recognising this as among the number of his beliefs is conclusive
evidence, with those who have devoted attention to the laws of thought,
that his mind is not yet clear” on the matter of the belief avowed (see
“Life and Habit,” pp. 24, 25).

To sum up: Butler’s fundamental attitude to the vibration hypothesis was
all through that taken in “Unconscious Memory”; he played with it as a
pretty pet, and fancied it more and more as time went on; but instead of
backing it for all he was worth, like the main theses of “Life and
Habit,” he put a big stake on it—and then hedged.

                                * * * * *

The last of Butler’s biological writings is the Essay, “THE DEADLOCK IN
DARWINISM,” containing much valuable criticism on Wallace and Weismann.
It is in allusion to the misnomer of Wallace’s book, “Darwinism,” that he
introduces the term “Wallaceism” {0d} for a theory of descent that
excludes the transmission of acquired characters.  This was, indeed, the
chief factor that led Charles Darwin to invent his hypothesis of
pangenesis, which, unacceptable as it has proved, had far more to
recommend it as a formal hypothesis than the equally formal germ-plasm
hypothesis of Weismann.

                                * * * * *

The chief difficulty in accepting the main theses of Butler and Hering is
one familiar to every biologist, and not at all difficult to understand
by the layman.  Everyone knows that the complicated beings that we term
“Animals” and “Plants,” consist of a number of more or less
individualised units, the cells, each analogous to a simpler being, a
Protist—save in so far as the character of the cell unit of the Higher
being is modified in accordance with the part it plays in that complex
being as a whole.  Most people, too, are familiar with the fact that the
complex being starts as a single cell, separated from its parent; or,
where bisexual reproduction occurs, from a cell due to the fusion of two
cells, each detached from its parent.  Such cells are called
“Germ-cells.”  The germ-cell, whether of single or of dual origin, starts
by dividing repeatedly, so as to form the _primary embryonic cells_, a
complex mass of cells, at first essentially similar, which, however, as
they go on multiplying, undergo differentiations and migrations, losing
their simplicity as they do so.  Those cells that are modified to take
part in the proper work of the whole are called tissue-cells.  In virtue
of their activities, their growth and reproductive power are limited—much
more in Animals than in Plants, in Higher than in Lower beings.  It is
these tissues, or some of them, that receive the impressions from the
outside which leave the imprint of memory.  Other cells, which may be
closely associated into a continuous organ, or more or less surrounded by
tissue-cells, whose part it is to nourish them, are called “secondary
embryonic cells,” or “germ-cells.”  The germ-cells may be differentiated
in the young organism at a very early stage, but in Plants they are
separated at a much later date from the less isolated embryonic regions
that provide for the Plant’s branching; in all cases we find embryonic
and germ-cells screened from the life processes of the complex organism,
or taking no very obvious part in it, save to form new tissues or new
organs, notably in Plants.

Again, in ourselves, and to a greater or less extent in all Animals, we
find a system of special tissues set apart for the reception and storage
of impressions from the outer world, and for guiding the other organs in
their appropriate responses—the “Nervous System”; and when this system is
ill-developed or out of gear the remaining organs work badly from lack of
proper skilled guidance and co-ordination.  How can we, then, speak of
“memory” in a germ-cell which has been screened from the experiences of
the organism, which is too simple in structure to realise them if it were
exposed to them?  My own answer is that we cannot form any theory on the
subject, the only question is whether we have any right to _infer_ this
“memory” from the _behaviour_ of living beings; and Butler, like Hering,
Haeckel, and some more modern authors, has shown that the inference is a
very strong presumption.  Again, it is easy to over-value such complex
instruments as we possess.  The possessor of an up-to-date camera, well
instructed in the function and manipulation of every part, but ignorant
of all optics save a hand-to-mouth knowledge of the properties of his own
lens, might say that _a priori_ no picture could be taken with a
cigar-box perforated by a pin-hole; and our ignorance of the mechanism of
the Psychology of any organism is greater by many times than that of my
supposed photographer.  We know that Plants are able to do many things
that can only be accounted for by ascribing to them a “psyche,” and these
co-ordinated enough to satisfy their needs; and yet they possess no
central organ comparable to the brain, no highly specialised system for
intercommunication like our nerve trunks and fibres.  As Oscar Hertwig
says, we are as ignorant of the mechanism of the development of the
individual as we are of that of hereditary transmission of acquired
characters, and the absence of such mechanism in either case is no reason
for rejecting the proven fact.

However, the relations of germ and body just described led Jäger,
Nussbaum, Galton, Lankester, and, above all, Weismann, to the view that
the germ-cells or “stirp” (Galton) were _in_ the body, but not _of_ it.
Indeed, in the body and out of it, whether as reproductive cells set
free, or in the developing embryo, they are regarded as forming one
continuous homogeneity, in contrast to the differentiation of the body;
and it is to these cells, regarded as a continuum, that the terms stirp,
germ-plasm, are especially applied.  Yet on this view, so eagerly
advocated by its supporters, we have to substitute for the hypothesis of
memory, which they declare to have no real meaning here, the far more
fantastic hypotheses of Weismann: by these they explain the process of
differentiation in the young embryo into new germ and body; and in the
young body the differentiation of its cells, each in due time and place,
into the varied tissue cells and organs.  Such views might perhaps be
acceptable if it could be shown that over each cell-division there
presided a wise all-guiding genie of transcending intellect, to which
Clerk-Maxwell’s sorting demons were mere infants.  Yet these views have
so enchanted many distinguished biologists, that in dealing with the
subject they have actually ignored the existence of equally able workers
who hesitate to share the extremest of their views.  The phenomenon is
one well known in hypnotic practice.  So long as the non-Weismannians
deal with matters outside this discussion, their existence and their work
is rated at its just value; but any work of theirs on this point so
affects the orthodox Weismannite (whether he accept this label or reject
it does not matter), that for the time being their existence and the good
work they have done are alike non-existent. {0e}

Butler founded no school, and wished to found none.  He desired that what
was true in his work should prevail, and he looked forward calmly to the
time when the recognition of that truth and of his share in advancing it
should give him in the lives of others that immortality for which alone
he craved.

Lamarckian views have never lacked defenders here and in America.  Of the
English, Herbert Spencer, who however, was averse to the vitalistic
attitude, Vines and Henslow among botanists, Cunningham among zoologists,
have always resisted Weismannism; but, I think, none of these was
distinctly influenced by Hering and Butler.  In America the majority of
the great school of palæontologists have been strong Lamarckians, notably
Cope, who has pointed out, moreover, that the transformations of energy
in living beings are peculiar to them.

We have already adverted to Haeckel’s acceptance and development of
Hering’s ideas in his “Perigenese der Plastidule.”  Oscar Hertwig has
been a consistent Lamarckian, like Yves Delage of the Sorbonne, and these
occupy pre-eminent positions not only as observers, but as discriminating
theorists and historians of the recent progress of biology.  We may also
cite as a Lamarckian—of a sort—Felix Le Dantec, the leader of the
chemico-physical school of the present day.

But we must seek elsewhere for special attention to the points which
Butler regarded as the essentials of “Life and Habit.”  In 1893 Henry P.
Orr, Professor of Biology in the University of Louisiana, published a
little book entitled “A Theory of Heredity.”  Herein he insists on the
nervous control of the whole body, and on the transmission to the
reproductive cells of such stimuli, received by the body, as will guide
them on their path until they shall have acquired adequate experience of
their own in the new body they have formed.  I have found the name of
neither Butler nor Hering, but the treatment is essentially on their
lines, and is both clear and interesting.

In 1896 I wrote an essay on “The Fundamental Principles of Heredity,”
primarily directed to the man in the street.  This, after being held over
for more than a year by one leading review, was “declined with regret,”
and again after some weeks met the same fate from another editor.  It
appeared in the pages of “Natural Science” for October, 1897, and in the
“Biologisches Centralblatt” for the same year.  I reproduce its closing

    “This theory [Hering-Butler’s] has, indeed, a tentative character,
    and lacks symmetrical completeness, but is the more welcome as not
    aiming at the impossible.  A whole series of phenomena in organic
    beings are correlated under the term of _memory_, _conscious and
    unconscious_, _patent and latent_. . . .  Of the order of unconscious
    memory, latent till the arrival of the appropriate stimulus, is all
    the co-operative growth and work of the organism, including its
    development from the reproductive cells.  Concerning the _modus
    operandi_ we know nothing: the phenomena may be due, as Hering
    suggests, to molecular vibrations, which must be at least as distinct
    from ordinary physical disturbances as Röntgen’s rays are from
    ordinary light; or it may be correlated, as we ourselves are inclined
    to think, with complex chemical changes in an intricate but orderly
    succession.  For the present, at least, the problem of heredity can
    only be elucidated by the light of mental, and not material

It will be seen that I express doubts as to the validity of Hering’s
invocation of molecular vibrations as the mechanism of memory, and
suggest as an alternative rhythmic chemical changes.  This view has
recently been put forth in detail by J. J. Cunningham in his essay on the
“Hormone {0f} Theory of Heredity,” in the _Archiv für
Entwicklungsmechanik_ (1909), but I have failed to note any direct effect
of my essay on the trend of biological thought.

Among post-Darwinian controversies the one that has latterly assumed the
greatest prominence is that of the relative importance of small
variations in the way of more or less “fluctuations,” and of
“discontinuous variations,” or “mutations,” as De Vries has called them.
Darwin, in the first four editions of the “Origin of Species,” attached
more importance to the latter than in subsequent editions; he was swayed
in his attitude, as is well known, by an article of the physicist,
Fleeming Jenkin, which appeared in the _North British Review_.  The
mathematics of this article were unimpeachable, but they were founded on
the assumption that exceptional variations would only occur in single
individuals, which is, indeed, often the case among those domesticated
races on which Darwin especially studied the phenomena of variation.
Darwin was no mathematician or physicist, and we are told in his
biography that he regarded every tool-shop rule or optician’s thermometer
as an instrument of precision: so he appears to have regarded Fleeming
Jenkin’s demonstration as a mathematical deduction which he was bound to
accept without criticism.

Mr. William Bateson, late Professor of Biology in the University of
Cambridge, as early as 1894 laid great stress on the importance of
discontinuous variations, collecting and collating the known facts in his
“Materials for the Study of Variations”; but this important work, now
become rare and valuable, at the time excited so little interest as to be
‘remaindered’ within a very few years after publication.

In 1901 Hugo De Vries, Professor of Botany in the University of
Amsterdam, published “Die Mutationstheorie,” wherein he showed that
mutations or discontinuous variations in various directions may appear
simultaneously in many individuals, and in various directions.  In the
gardener’s phrase, the species may take to sporting in various directions
at the same time, and each sport may be represented by numerous

De Vries shows the probability that species go on for long periods
showing only fluctuations, and then suddenly take to sporting in the way
described, short periods of mutation alternating with long intervals of
relative constancy.  It is to mutations that De Vries and his school, as
well as Luther Burbank, the great former of new fruit- and flower-plants,
look for those variations which form the material of Natural Selection.
In “God the Known and God the Unknown,” which appeared in the _Examiner_
(May, June, and July), 1879, but though then revised was only published
posthumously in 1909, Butler anticipates this distinction:—

    “Under these circumstances organism must act in one or other of these
    two ways: it must either change slowly and continuously with the
    surroundings, paying cash for everything, meeting the smallest change
    with a corresponding modification, so far as is found convenient, or
    it must put off change as long as possible, and then make larger and
    more sweeping changes.

    “Both these courses are the same in principle, the difference being
    one of scale, and the one being a miniature of the other, as a ripple
    is an Atlantic wave in little; both have their advantages and
    disadvantages, so that most organisms will take the one course for
    one set of things and the other for another.  They will deal promptly
    with things which they can get at easily, and which lie more upon the
    surface; _those_, _however_, _which are more troublesome to reach_,
    _and lie deeper_, _will be handled upon more cataclysmic principles_,
    _being allowed longer periods of repose followed by short periods of
    greater activity_ . . . it may be questioned whether what is called a
    sport is not the organic expression of discontent which has been long
    felt, but which has not been attended to, nor been met step by step
    by as much small remedial modification as was found practicable: so
    that when a change does come it comes by way of revolution.  Or,
    again (only that it comes to much the same thing), it may be compared
    to one of those happy thoughts which sometimes come to us unbidden
    after we have been thinking for a long time what to do, or how to
    arrange our ideas, and have yet been unable to come to any
    conclusion” (pp. 14, 15). {0g}

We come to another order of mind in Hans Driesch.  At the time he began
his work biologists were largely busy in a region indicated by Darwin,
and roughly mapped out by Haeckel—that of phylogeny.  From the facts of
development of the individual, from the comparison of fossils in
successive strata, they set to work at the construction of pedigrees, and
strove to bring into line the principles of classification with the more
or less hypothetical “stemtrees.”  Driesch considered this futile, since
we never could reconstruct from such evidence anything certain in the
history of the past.  He therefore asserted that a more complete
knowledge of the physics and chemistry of the organic world might give a
scientific explanation of the phenomena, and maintained that the proper
work of the biologist was to deepen our knowledge in these respects.  He
embodied his views, seeking the explanation on this track, filling up
gaps and tracing projected roads along lines of probable truth in his
“Analytische Theorie der organische Entwicklung.”  But his own work
convinced him of the hopelessness of the task he had undertaken, and he
has become as strenuous a vitalist as Butler.  The most complete
statement of his present views is to be found in “The Philosophy of Life”
(1908–9), being the Giffold Lectures for 1907–8.  Herein he postulates a
quality (“psychoid”) in all living beings, directing energy and matter
for the purpose of the organism, and to this he applies the Aristotelian
designation “Entelechy.”  The question of the transmission of acquired
characters is regarded as doubtful, and he does not emphasise—if he
accepts—the doctrine of continuous personality.  His early youthful
impatience with descent theories and hypotheses has, however,

                                * * * * *

In the next work the influence of Hering and Butler is definitely present
and recognised.  In 1906 Signor Eugenio Rignano, an engineer keenly
interested in all branches of science, and a little later the founder of
the international review, _Rivistà di Scienza_ (now simply called
_Scientia_), published in French a volume entitled “Sur la
transmissibilité des Caractères acquis—Hypothèse d’un Centro-épigenèse.”
Into the details of the author’s work we will not enter fully.  Suffice
it to know that he accepts the Hering-Butler theory, and makes a distinct
advance on Hering’s rather crude hypothesis of persistent vibrations by
suggesting that the remembering centres store slightly different forms of
energy, to give out energy of the same kind as they have received, like
electrical accumulators.  The last chapter, “Le Phénomène mnémonique et
le Phénomène vital,” is frankly based on Hering.

In “The Lesson of Evolution” (1907, posthumous, and only published for
private circulation) Frederick Wollaston Hutton, F.R.S., late Professor
of Biology and Geology, first at Dunedin and after at Christchurch, New
Zealand, puts forward a strongly vitalistic view, and adopts Hering’s
teaching.  After stating this he adds, “The same idea of heredity being
due to unconscious memory was advocated by Mr. Samuel Butler in his “Life
and Habit.”

Dr. James Mark Baldwin, Stuart Professor of Psychology in Princeton
University, U.S.A., called attention early in the 90’s to a reaction
characteristic of all living beings, which he terms the “Circular
Reaction.”  We take his most recent account of this from his “Development
and Evolution” (1902):—{0h}

    “The general fact is that the organism reacts by concentration upon
    the locality stimulated for the _continuance_ of the conditions,
    movements, stimulations, _which are vitally beneficial_, and for the
    cessation of the conditions, movements, stimulations _which are
    vitally depressing_.”

This amounts to saying in the terminology of Jenning (see below) that the
living organism alters its “physiological states” either for its direct
benefit, or for its indirect benefit in the reduction of harmful


    “This form of concentration of energy on stimulated localities, with
    the resulting renewal through movement of conditions that are
    pleasure-giving and beneficial, and the consequent repetition of the
    movements is called ‘circular reaction.’”

Of course, the inhibition of such movements as would be painful on
repetition is merely the negative case of the circular reaction.  We must
not put too much of our own ideas into the author’s mind; he nowhere says
explicitly that the animal or plant shows its sense and does this because
it likes the one thing and wants it repeated, or dislikes the other and
stops its repetition, as Butler would have said.  Baldwin is very strong
in insisting that no full explanation can be given of living processes,
any more than of history, on purely chemico-physical grounds.

The same view is put differently and independently by H. S. Jennings,
{0i} who started his investigations of living Protista, the simplest of
living beings, with the idea that only accurate and ample observation was
needed to enable us to explain all their activities on a mechanical
basis, and devised ingenious models of protoplastic movements.  He was
led, like Driesch, to renounce such efforts as illusory, and has come to
the conviction that in the behaviour of these lowly beings there is a
purposive and a tentative character—a method of “trial and error”—that
can only be interpreted by the invocation of psychology.  He points out
that after stimulation the “state” of the organism may be altered, so
that the response to the same stimulus on repetition is other.  Or, as he
puts it, the first stimulus has caused the organism to pass into a new
“physiological state.”  As the change of state from what we may call the
“primary indifferent state” is advantageous to the organism, we may
regard this as equivalent to the doctrine of the “circular reaction,” and
also as containing the essence of Semon’s doctrine of “engrams” or
imprints which we are about to consider.  We cite one passage which for
audacity of thought (underlying, it is true, most guarded expression) may
well compare with many of the boldest flights in “Life and Habit”:—

    “It may be noted that regulation in the manner we have set forth is
    what, in the behaviour of higher organisms, at least, is called
    intelligence [the examples have been taken from Protista, Corals, and
    the Lowest Worms].  If the same method of regulation is found in
    other fields, there is no reason for refusing to compare the action
    to intelligence.  Comparison of the regulatory processes that are
    shown in internal physiological changes and in regeneration to
    intelligence seems to be looked upon sometimes as heretical and
    unscientific.  Yet intelligence is a name applied to processes that
    actually exist in the regulation of movements, and there is, _a
    priori_, no reason why similar processes should not occur in
    regulation in other fields.  When we analyse regulation objectively
    there seems indeed reason to think that the processes are of the same
    character in behaviour as elsewhere.  If the term intelligence be
    reserved for the subjective accompaniments of such regulation, then
    of course we have no direct knowledge of its existence in any of the
    fields of regulation outside of the self, and in the self perhaps
    only in behaviour.  But in a purely objective consideration there
    seems no reason to suppose that regulation in behaviour
    (intelligence) is of a fundamentally different character from
    regulation elsewhere.”  (“Method of Regulation,” p. 492.)

Jennings makes no mention of questions of the theory of heredity.  He has
made some experiments on the transmission of an acquired character in
Protozoa; but it was a mutilation-character, which is, as has been often
shown, {0j} not to the point.

                                * * * * *

One of the most obvious criticisms of Hering’s exposition is based upon
the extended use he makes of the word “Memory”: this he had foreseen and

    “We have a perfect right,” he says, “to extend our conception of
    memory so as to make it embrace involuntary [and also unconscious]
    reproductions of sensations, ideas, perceptions, and efforts; but we
    find, on having done so, that we have so far enlarged her boundaries
    that she proves to be an ultimate and original power, the source and,
    at the same time, the unifying bond, of our whole conscious life.”
    (“Unconscious Memory,” p. 68.)

This sentence, coupled with Hering’s omission to give to the concept of
memory so enlarged a new name, clear alike of the limitations and of the
stains of habitual use, may well have been the inspiration of the next
work on our list.  Richard Semon is a professional zoologist and
anthropologist of such high status for his original observations and
researches in the mere technical sense, that in these countries he would
assuredly have been acclaimed as one of the Fellows of the Royal Society
who were Samuel Butler’s special aversion.  The full title of his book is
“DIE MNEME als erhaltende Prinzip im Wechsel des organischen Geschehens”
(Munich, Ed.  1, 1904; Ed. 2, 1908).  We may translate it “MNEME, a
Principle of Conservation in the Transformations of Organic Existence.”

From this I quote in free translation the opening passage of Chapter II:—

    “We have shown that in very many cases, whether in Protist, Plant, or
    Animal, when an organism has passed into an indifferent state after
    the reaction to a stimulus has ceased, its irritable substance has
    suffered a lasting change: I call this after-action of the stimulus
    its ‘imprint’ or ‘engraphic’ action, since it penetrates and imprints
    itself in the organic substance; and I term the change so effected an
    ‘imprint’ or ‘engram’ of the stimulus; and the sum of all the
    imprints possessed by the organism may be called its ‘store of
    imprints,’ wherein we must distinguish between those which it has
    inherited from its forbears and those which it has acquired itself.
    Any phenomenon displayed by an organism as the result either of a
    single imprint or of a sum of them, I term a ‘mnemic phenomenon’; and
    the mnemic possibilities of an organism may be termed, collectively,
    its ‘MNEME.’

    “I have selected my own terms for the concepts that I have just
    defined.  On many grounds I refrain from making any use of the good
    German terms ‘Gedächtniss, Erinnerungsbild.’  The first and chiefest
    ground is that for my purpose I should have to employ the German
    words in a much wider sense than what they usually convey, and thus
    leave the door open to countless misunderstandings and idle
    controversies.  It would, indeed, even amount to an error of fact to
    give to the wider concept the name already current in the narrower
    sense—nay, actually limited, like ‘Erinnerungsbild,’ to phenomena of
    consciousness. . . .  In Animals, during the course of history, one
    set of organs has, so to speak, specialised itself for the reception
    and transmission of stimuli—the Nervous System.  But from this
    specialisation we are not justified in ascribing to the nervous
    system any monopoly of the function, even when it is as highly
    developed as in Man. . . .  Just as the direct excitability of the
    nervous system has progressed in the history of the race, so has its
    capacity for receiving imprints; but neither susceptibility nor
    retentiveness is its monopoly; and, indeed, retentiveness seems
    inseparable from susceptibility in living matter.”

Semen here takes the instance of stimulus and imprint actions affecting
the nervous system of a dog

    “who has up till now never experienced aught but kindness from the
    Lord of Creation, and then one day that he is out alone is pelted
    with stones by a boy. . . .  Here he is affected at once by two sets
    of stimuli: (1) the optic stimulus of seeing the boy stoop for stones
    and throw them, and (2) the skin stimulus of the pain felt when they
    hit him.  Here both stimuli leave their imprints; and the organism is
    permanently changed in relation to the recurrence of the stimuli.
    Hitherto the sight of a human figure quickly stooping had produced no
    constant special reaction.  Now the reaction is constant, and may
    remain so till death. . . .  The dog tucks in its tail between its
    legs and takes flight, often with a howl [as of] pain.”

    “Here we gain on one side a deeper insight into the imprint action of
    stimuli.  It reposes on the lasting change in the conditions of the
    living matter, so that the repetition of the immediate or synchronous
    reaction to its first stimulus (in this case the stooping of the boy,
    the flying stones, and the pain on the ribs), no longer demands, as
    in the original state of indifference, the full stimulus _a_, but may
    be called forth by a partial or different stimulus, _b_ (in this case
    the mere stooping to the ground).  I term the influences by which
    such changed reaction are rendered possible, ‘outcome-reactions,’ and
    when such influences assume the form of stimuli, ‘outcome-stimuli.’”

They are termed “outcome” (“ecphoria”) stimuli, because the author
regards them and would have us regard them as the outcome, manifestation,
or efference of an imprint of a previous stimulus.  We have noted that
the imprint is equivalent to the changed “physiological state” of
Jennings.  Again, the capacity for gaining imprints and revealing them by
outcomes favourable to the individual is the “circular reaction” of
Baldwin, but Semon gives no reference to either author. {0k}

In the preface to his first edition (reprinted in the second) Semon
writes, after discussing the work of Hering and Haeckel:—

    “The problem received a more detailed treatment in Samuel Butler’s
    book, ‘Life and Habit,’ published in 1878.  Though he only made
    acquaintance with Hering’s essay after this publication, Butler gave
    what was in many respects a more detailed view of the coincidences of
    these different phenomena of organic reproduction than did Hering.
    With much that is untenable, Butler’s writings present many a
    brilliant idea; yet, on the whole, they are rather a retrogression
    than an advance upon Hering.  Evidently they failed to exercise any
    marked influence upon the literature of the day.”

This judgment needs a little examination.  Butler claimed, justly, that
his “Life and Habit” was an advance on Hering in its dealing with
questions of hybridity, and of longevity puberty and sterility.  Since
Semon’s extended treatment of the phenomena of crosses might almost be
regarded as the rewriting of the corresponding section of “Life and
Habit” in the “Mneme” terminology, we may infer that this view of the
question was one of Butler’s “brilliant ideas.”  That Butler shrank from
accepting such a formal explanation of memory as Hering did with his
hypothesis should certainly be counted as a distinct “advance upon
Hering,” for Semon also avoids any attempt at an explanation of “Mneme.”
I think, however, we may gather the real meaning of Semon’s strictures
from the following passages:—

    “I refrain here from a discussion of the development of this theory
    of Lamarck’s by those Neo-Lamarckians who would ascribe to the
    individual elementary organism an equipment of complex psychical
    powers—so to say, anthropomorphic perception and volitions.  This
    treatment is no longer directed by the scientific principle of
    referring complex phenomena to simpler laws, of deducing even human
    intellect and will from simpler elements.  On the contrary, they
    follow that most abhorrent method of taking the most complex and
    unresolved as a datum, and employing it as an explanation.  The
    adoption of such a method, as formerly by Samuel Butler, and recently
    by Pauly, I regard as a big and dangerous step backward” (ed. 2, pp.
    380–1, note).

Thus Butler’s alleged retrogressions belong to the same order of thinking
that we have seen shared by Driesch, Baldwin, and Jennings, and most
explicitly avowed, as we shall see, by Francis Darwin.  Semon makes one
rather candid admission, “The impossibility of interpreting the phenomena
of physiological stimulation by those of direct reaction, and the
undeception of those who had put faith in this being possible, have led
many on the _backward path of vitalism_.”  Semon assuredly will never be
able to complete his theory of “Mneme” until, guided by the experience of
Jennings and Driesch, he forsakes the blind alley of mechanisticism and
retraces his steps to reasonable vitalism.

                                * * * * *

But the most notable publications bearing on our matter are incidental to
the Darwin Celebrations of 1908–9.  Dr. Francis Darwin, son,
collaborator, and biographer of Charles Darwin, was selected to preside
over the Meeting of the British Association held in Dublin in 1908, the
jubilee of the first publications on Natural Selection by his father and
Alfred Russel Wallace.  In this address we find the theory of Hering,
Butler, Rignano, and Semon taking its proper place as a _vera causa_ of
that variation which Natural Selection must find before it can act, and
recognised as the basis of a rational theory of the development of the
individual and of the race.  The organism is essentially purposive: the
impossibility of devising any adequate accounts of organic form and
function without taking account of the psychical side is most strenuously
asserted.  And with our regret that past misunderstandings should be so
prominent in Butler’s works, it was very pleasant to hear Francis
Darwin’s quotation from Butler’s translation of Hering {0l} followed by a
personal tribute to Butler himself.

                                * * * * *

In commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Charles Darwin and of
the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the “Origin of Species,”
at the suggestion of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, the University
Press published during the current year a volume entitled “Darwin and
Modern Science,” edited by Mr. A. C. Seward, Professor of Botany in the
University.  Of the twenty-nine essays by men of science of the highest
distinction, one is of peculiar interest to the readers of Samuel Butler:
“Heredity and Variation in Modern Lights,” by Professor W. Bateson,
F.R.S., to whose work on “Discontinuous Variations” we have already
referred.  Here once more Butler receives from an official biologist of
the first rank full recognition for his wonderful insight and keen
critical power.  This is the more noteworthy because Bateson has
apparently no faith in the transmission of acquired characters; but such
a passage as this would have commended itself to Butler’s admiration:—

    “All this indicates a definiteness and specific order in heredity,
    and therefore in variation.  This order cannot by the nature of the
    case be dependent on Natural Selection for its existence, but must be
    a consequence of the fundamental chemical and physical nature of
    living things.  The study of Variation had from the first shown that
    an orderliness of this kind was present.  The bodies and properties
    of living things are cosmic, not chaotic.  No matter how low in the
    scale we go, never do we find the slightest hint of a diminution in
    that all-pervading orderliness, nor can we conceive an organism
    existing for one moment in any other state.”

We have now before us the materials to determine the problem of Butler’s
relation to biology and to biologists.  He was, we have seen, anticipated
by Hering; but his attitude was his own, fresh and original.  He did not
hamper his exposition, like Hering, by a subsidiary hypothesis of
vibrations which may or may not be true, which burdens the theory without
giving it greater carrying power or persuasiveness, which is based on no
objective facts, and which, as Semon has practically demonstrated, is
needless for the detailed working out of the theory.  Butler failed to
impress the biologists of his day, even those on whom, like Romanes, he
might have reasonably counted for understanding and for support.  But he
kept alive Hering’s work when it bade fair to sink into the limbo of
obsolete hypotheses.  To use Oliver Wendell Holmes’s phrase, he
“depolarised” evolutionary thought.  We quote the words of a young
biologist, who, when an ardent and dogmatic Weismannist of the most
pronounced type, was induced to read “Life and Habit”: “The book was to
me a transformation and an inspiration.”  Such learned writings as
Semon’s or Hering’s could never produce such an effect: they do not
penetrate to the heart of man; they cannot carry conviction to the
intellect already filled full with rival theories, and with the
unreasoned faith that to-morrow or next day a new discovery will
obliterate all distinction between Man and his makings.  The mind must
needs be open for the reception of truth, for the rejection of prejudice;
and the violence of a Samuel Butler may in the future as in the past be
needed to shatter the coat of mail forged by too exclusively professional
a training.

                                                             MARCUS HARTOG

_Cork_, _April_, 1910

Author’s Preface

NOT finding the “well-known German scientific journal _Kosmos_” {0m}
entered in the British Museum Catalogue, I have presented the Museum with
a copy of the number for February 1879, which contains the article by Dr.
Krause of which Mr. Charles Darwin has given a translation, the accuracy
of which is guaranteed—so he informs us—by the translator’s “scientific
reputation together with his knowledge of German.” {0n}

I have marked the copy, so that the reader can see at a glance what
passages has been suppressed and where matter has been interpolated.

I have also present a copy of “Erasmus Darwin.”  I have marked this too,
so that the genuine and spurious passages can be easily distinguished.

I understand that both the “Erasmus Darwin” and the number of _Kosmos_
have been sent to the Keeper of Printed Books, with instructions that
they shall be at once catalogued and made accessible to readers, and do
not doubt that this will have been done before the present volume is
published.  The reader, therefore, who may be sufficiently interested in
the matter to care to see exactly what has been done will now have an
opportunity of doing so.

_October_ 25, 1880.

Chapter I

Introduction—General ignorance on the subject of evolution at the time
the “Origin of Species” was published in 1859.

THERE are few things which strike us with more surprise, when we review
the course taken by opinion in the last century, than the suddenness with
which belief in witchcraft and demoniacal possession came to an end.
This has been often remarked upon, but I am not acquainted with any
record of the fact as it appeared to those under whose eyes the change
was taking place, nor have I seen any contemporary explanation of the
reasons which led to the apparently sudden overthrow of a belief which
had seemed hitherto to be deeply rooted in the minds of almost all men.
As a parallel to this, though in respect of the rapid spread of an
opinion, and not its decadence, it is probable that those of our
descendants who take an interest in ourselves will note the suddenness
with which the theory of evolution, from having been generally ridiculed
during a period of over a hundred years, came into popularity and almost
universal acceptance among educated people.

It is indisputable that this has been the case; nor is it less
indisputable that the works of Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace have been the
main agents in the change that has been brought about in our opinions.
The names of Cobden and Bright do not stand more prominently forward in
connection with the repeal of the Corn Laws than do those of Mr. Darwin
and Mr. Wallace in connection with the general acceptance of the theory
of evolution.  There is no living philosopher who has anything like Mr.
Darwin’s popularity with Englishmen generally; and not only this, but his
power of fascination extends all over Europe, and indeed in every country
in which civilisation has obtained footing: not among the illiterate
masses, though these are rapidly following the suit of the educated
classes, but among experts and those who are most capable of judging.
France, indeed—the country of Buffon and Lamarck—must be counted an
exception to the general rule, but in England and Germany there are few
men of scientific reputation who do not accept Mr. Darwin as the founder
of what is commonly called “Darwinism,” and regard him as perhaps the
most penetrative and profound philosopher of modern times.

To quote an example from the last few weeks only, {2} I have observed
that Professor Huxley has celebrated the twenty-first year since the
“Origin of Species” was published by a lecture at the Royal Institution,
and am told that he described Mr. Darwin’s candour as something actually
“terrible” (I give Professor Huxley’s own word, as reported by one who
heard it); and on opening a small book entitled “Degeneration,” by
Professor Ray Lankester, published a few days before these lines were
written, I find the following passage amid more that is to the same

    “Suddenly one of those great guesses which occasionally appear in the
    history of science was given to the science of biology by the
    imaginative insight of that greatest of living naturalists—I would
    say that greatest of living men—Charles Darwin.”—_Degeneration_, p.

This is very strong language, but it is hardly stronger than that
habitually employed by the leading men of science when they speak of Mr.
Darwin.  To go farther afield, in February 1879 the Germans devoted an
entire number of one of their scientific periodicals {3} to the
celebration of Mr. Darwin’s seventieth birthday.  There is no other
Englishman now living who has been able to win such a compliment as this
from foreigners, who should be disinterested judges.

Under these circumstances, it must seem the height of presumption to
differ from so great an authority, and to join the small band of
malcontents who hold that Mr. Darwin’s reputation as a philosopher,
though it has grown up with the rapidity of Jonah’s gourd, will yet not
be permanent.  I believe, however, that though we must always gladly and
gratefully owe it to Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace that the public mind has
been brought to accept evolution, the admiration now generally felt for
the “Origin of Species” will appear as unaccountable to our descendants
some fifty or eighty years hence as the enthusiasm of our grandfathers
for the poetry of Dr. Erasmus Darwin does to ourselves; and as one who
has yielded to none in respect of the fascination Mr. Darwin has
exercised over him, I would fain say a few words of explanation which may
make the matter clearer to our future historians.  I do this the more
readily because I can at the same time explain thus better than in any
other way the steps which led me to the theory which I afterwards
advanced in “Life and Habit.”

This last, indeed, is perhaps the main purpose of the earlier chapters of
this book.  I shall presently give a translation of a lecture by
Professor Ewald Hering of Prague, which appeared ten years ago, and which
contains so exactly the theory I subsequently advocated myself, that I am
half uneasy lest it should be supposed that I knew of Professor Hering’s
work and made no reference to it.  A friend to whom I submitted my
translation in MS., asking him how closely he thought it resembled “Life
and Habit,” wrote back that it gave my own ideas almost in my own words.
As far as the ideas are concerned this is certainly the case, and
considering that Professor Hering wrote between seven and eight years
before I did, I think it due to him, and to my readers as well as to
myself, to explain the steps which led me to my conclusions, and, while
putting Professor Hering’s lecture before them, to show cause for
thinking that I arrived at an almost identical conclusion, as it would
appear, by an almost identical road, yet, nevertheless, quite
independently, I must ask the reader, therefore, to regard these earlier
chapters as in some measure a personal explanation, as well as a
contribution to the history of an important feature in the developments
of the last twenty years.  I hope also, by showing the steps by which I
was led to my conclusions, to make the conclusions themselves more
acceptable and easy of comprehension.

Being on my way to New Zealand when the “Origin of Species” appeared, I
did not get it till 1860 or 1861.  When I read it, I found “the theory of
natural selection” repeatedly spoken of as though it were a synonym for
“the theory of descent with modification”; this is especially the case in
the recapitulation chapter of the work.  I failed to see how important it
was that these two theories—if indeed “natural selection” can be called a
theory—should not be confounded together, and that a “theory of descent
with modification” might be true, while a “theory of descent with
modification through natural selection” {4} might not stand being looked

If any one had asked me to state in brief what Mr. Darwin’s theory was, I
am afraid I might have answered “natural selection,” or “descent with
modification,” whichever came first, as though the one meant much the
same as the other.  I observe that most of the leading writers on the
subject are still unable to catch sight of the distinction here alluded
to, and console myself for my want of acumen by reflecting that, if I was
misled, I was misled in good company.

I—and I may add, the public generally—failed also to see what the unaided
reader who was new to the subject would be almost certain to overlook.  I
mean, that, according to Mr. Darwin, the variations whose accumulation
resulted in diversity of species and genus were indefinite, fortuitous,
attributable but in small degree to any known causes, and without a
general principle underlying them which would cause them to appear
steadily in a given direction for many successive generations and in a
considerable number of individuals at the same time.  We did not know
that the theory of evolution was one that had been quietly but steadily
gaining ground during the last hundred years.  Buffon we knew by name,
but he sounded too like “buffoon” for any good to come from him.  We had
heard also of Lamarck, and held him to be a kind of French Lord Monboddo;
but we knew nothing of his doctrine save through the caricatures
promulgated by his opponents, or the misrepresentations of those who had
another kind of interest in disparaging him.  Dr. Erasmus Darwin we
believed to be a forgotten minor poet, but ninety-nine out of every
hundred of us had never so much as heard of the “Zoonomia.”  We were
little likely, therefore, to know that Lamarck drew very largely from
Buffon, and probably also from Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and that this
last-named writer, though essentially original, was founded upon Buffon,
who was greatly more in advance of any predecessor than any successor has
been in advance of him.

We did not know, then, that according to the earlier writers the
variations whose accumulation results in species were not fortuitous and
definite, but were due to a known principle of universal
application—namely, “sense of need”—or apprehend the difference between a
theory of evolution which has a backbone, as it were, in the tolerably
constant or slowly varying needs of large numbers of individuals for long
periods together, and one which has no such backbone, but according to
which the progress of one generation is always liable to be cancelled and
obliterated by that of the next.  We did not know that the new theory in
a quiet way professed to tell us less than the old had done, and declared
that it could throw little if any light upon the matter which the earlier
writers had endeavoured to illuminate as the central point in their
system.  We took it for granted that more light must be being thrown
instead of less; and reading in perfect good faith, we rose from our
perusal with the impression that Mr. Darwin was advocating the descent of
all existing forms of life from a single, or from, at any rate, a very
few primordial types; that no one else had done this hitherto, or that,
if they had, they had got the whole subject into a mess, which mess,
whatever it was—for we were never told this—was now being removed once
for all by Mr. Darwin.

The evolution part of the story, that is to say, the fact of evolution,
remained in our minds as by far the most prominent feature in Mr.
Darwin’s book; and being grateful for it, we were very ready to take Mr.
Darwin’s work at the estimate tacitly claimed for it by himself, and
vehemently insisted upon by reviewers in influential journals, who took
much the same line towards the earlier writers on evolution as Mr. Darwin
himself had taken.  But perhaps nothing more prepossessed us in Mr.
Darwin’s favour than the air of candour that was omnipresent throughout
his work.  The prominence given to the arguments of opponents completely
carried us away; it was this which threw us off our guard.  It never
occurred to us that there might be other and more dangerous opponents who
were not brought forward.  Mr. Darwin did not tell us what his
grandfather and Lamarck would have had to say to this or that.  Moreover,
there was an unobtrusive parade of hidden learning and of difficulties at
last overcome which was particularly grateful to us.  Whatever opinion
might be ultimately come to concerning the value of his theory, there
could be but one about the value of the example he had set to men of
science generally by the perfect frankness and unselfishness of his work.
Friends and foes alike combined to do homage to Mr. Darwin in this

For, brilliant as the reception of the “Origin of Species” was, it met in
the first instance with hardly less hostile than friendly criticism.  But
the attacks were ill-directed; they came from a suspected quarter, and
those who led them did not detect more than the general public had done
what were the really weak places in Mr. Darwin’s armour.  They attacked
him where he was strongest; and above all, they were, as a general rule,
stamped with a disingenuousness which at that time we believed to be
peculiar to theological writers and alien to the spirit of science.
Seeing, therefore, that the men of science ranged themselves more and
more decidedly on Mr. Darwin’s side, while his opponents had
manifestly—so far as I can remember, all the more prominent among them—a
bias to which their hostility was attributable, we left off looking at
the arguments against “Darwinism,” as we now began to call it, and
pigeon-holed the matter to the effect that there was one evolution, and
that Mr. Darwin was its prophet.

The blame of our errors and oversights rests primarily with Mr. Darwin
himself.  The first, and far the most important, edition of the “Origin
of Species” came out as a kind of literary Melchisedec, without father
and without mother in the works of other people.  Here is its opening

    “When on board H.M.S. ‘Beagle’ as naturalist, I was much struck with
    certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South
    America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past
    inhabitants of that continent.  These facts seemed to me to throw
    some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it
    has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.  On my return
    home, it occurred to me, in 1837, that something might be made out on
    this question by patiently accumulating and reflecting upon all sorts
    of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it.  After five
    years’ work I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and drew up
    some short notes; these I enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the
    conclusions which then seemed to me probable: from that period to the
    present day I have steadily pursued the same object.  I hope that I
    may be excused for entering on these personal details, as I give them
    to show that I have not been hasty in coming to a decision.” {8a}

In the latest edition this passage remains unaltered, except in one
unimportant respect.  What could more completely throw us off the scent
of the earlier writers?  If they had written anything worthy of our
attention, or indeed if there had been any earlier writers at all, Mr.
Darwin would have been the first to tell us about them, and to award them
their due meed of recognition.  But, no; the whole thing was an original
growth in Mr. Darwin’s mind, and he had never so much as heard of his
grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin.

Dr. Krause, indeed, thought otherwise.  In the number of _Kosmos_ for
February 1879 he represented Mr. Darwin as in his youth approaching the
works of his grandfather with all the devotion which people usually feel
for the writings of a renowned poet. {8b}  This should perhaps be a
delicately ironical way of hinting that Mr. Darwin did not read his
grandfather’s books closely; but I hardly think that Dr. Krause looked at
the matter in this light, for he goes on to say that “almost every single
work of the younger Darwin may be paralleled by at least a chapter in the
works of his ancestor: the mystery of heredity, adaptation, the
protective arrangements of animals and plants, sexual selection,
insectivorous plants, and the analysis of the emotions and sociological
impulses; nay, even the studies on infants are to be found already
discussed in the pages of the elder Darwin.” {8c}

Nevertheless, innocent as Mr. Darwin’s opening sentence appeared, it
contained enough to have put us upon our guard.  When he informed us
that, on his return from a long voyage, “it occurred to” him that the way
to make anything out about his subject was to collect and reflect upon
the facts that bore upon it, it should have occurred to us in our turn,
that when people betray a return of consciousness upon such matters as
this, they are on the confines of that state in which other and not less
elementary matters will not “occur to” them.  The introduction of the
word “patiently” should have been conclusive.  I will not analyse more of
the sentence, but will repeat the next two lines:—“After five years of
work, I allowed myself to speculate upon the subject, and drew up some
short notes.”  We read this, thousands of us, and were blind.

If Dr. Erasmus Darwin’s name was not mentioned in the first edition of
the “Origin of Species,” we should not be surprised at there being no
notice taken of Buffon, or at Lamarck’s being referred to only twice—on
the first occasion to be serenely waved aside, he and all his works; {9a}
on the second, {9b} to be commended on a point of detail.  The author of
the “Vestiges of Creation” was more widely known to English readers,
having written more recently and nearer home.  He was dealt with
summarily, on an early and prominent page, by a misrepresentation, which
was silently expunged in later editions of the “Origin of Species.”  In
his later editions (I believe first in his third, when 6000 copies had
been already sold), Mr. Darwin did indeed introduce a few pages in which
he gave what he designated as a “brief but imperfect sketch” of the
progress of opinion on the origin of species prior to the appearance of
his own work; but the general impression which a book conveys to, and
leaves upon, the public is conveyed by the first edition—the one which is
alone, with rare exceptions, reviewed; and in the first edition of the
“Origin of Species” Mr. Darwin’s great precursors were all either ignored
or misrepresented.  Moreover, the “brief but imperfect sketch,” when it
did come, was so very brief, but, in spite of this (for this is what I
suppose Mr. Darwin must mean), so very imperfect, that it might as well
have been left unwritten for all the help it gave the reader to see the
true question at issue between the original propounders of the theory of
evolution and Mr. Charles Darwin himself.

That question is this: Whether variation is in the main attributable to a
known general principle, or whether it is not?—whether the minute
variations whose accumulation results in specific and generic differences
are referable to something which will ensure their appearing in a certain
definite direction, or in certain definite directions, for long periods
together, and in many individuals, or whether they are not?—whether, in a
word, these variations are in the main definite or indefinite?

It is observable that the leading men of science seem rarely to
understand this even now.  I am told that Professor Huxley, in his recent
lecture on the coming of age of the “Origin of Species,” never so much as
alluded to the existence of any such division of opinion as this.  He did
not even, I am assured, mention “natural selection,” but appeared to
believe, with Professor Tyndall, {10a} that “evolution” is “Mr. Darwin’s
theory.”  In his article on evolution in the latest edition of the
“Encyclopædia Britannica,” I find only a veiled perception of the point
wherein Mr. Darwin is at variance with his precursors.  Professor Huxley
evidently knows little of these writers beyond their names; if he had
known more, it is impossible he should have written that “Buffon
contributed nothing to the general doctrine of evolution,” {10b} and that
Erasmus Darwin, “though a zealous evolutionist, can hardly be said to
have made any real advance on his predecessors.” {11}  The article is in
a high degree unsatisfactory, and betrays at once an amount of ignorance
and of perception which leaves an uncomfortable impression.

If this is the state of things that prevails even now, it is not
surprising that in 1860 the general public should, with few exceptions,
have known of only one evolution, namely, that propounded by Mr. Darwin.
As a member of the general public, at that time residing eighteen miles
from the nearest human habitation, and three days’ journey on horseback
from a bookseller’s shop, I became one of Mr. Darwin’s many enthusiastic
admirers, and wrote a philosophical dialogue (the most offensive form,
except poetry and books of travel into supposed unknown countries, that
even literature can assume) upon the “Origin of Species.”  This
production appeared in the _Press_, Canterbury, New Zealand, in 1861 or
1862, but I have long lost the only copy I had.

Chapter II

How I came to write “Life and Habit,” and the circumstances of its

IT was impossible, however, for Mr. Darwin’s readers to leave the matter
as Mr. Darwin had left it.  We wanted to know whence came that germ or
those germs of life which, if Mr. Darwin was right, were once the world’s
only inhabitants.  They could hardly have come hither from some other
world; they could not in their wet, cold, slimy state have travelled
through the dry ethereal medium which we call space, and yet remained
alive.  If they travelled slowly, they would die; if fast, they would
catch fire, as meteors do on entering the earth’s atmosphere.  The idea,
again, of their having been created by a quasi-anthropomorphic being out
of the matter upon the earth was at variance with the whole spirit of
evolution, which indicated that no such being could exist except as
himself the result, and not the cause, of evolution.  Having got back
from ourselves to the monad, we were suddenly to begin again with
something which was either unthinkable, or was only ourselves again upon
a larger scale—to return to the same point as that from which we had
started, only made harder for us to stand upon.

There was only one other conception possible, namely, that the germs had
been developed in the course of time from some thing or things that were
not what we called living at all; that they had grown up, in fact, out of
the material substances and forces of the world in some manner more or
less analogous to that in which man had been developed from themselves.

I first asked myself whether life might not, after all, resolve itself
into the complexity of arrangement of an inconceivably intricate
mechanism.  Kittens think our shoe-strings are alive when they see us
lacing them, because they see the tag at the end jump about without
understanding all the ins and outs of how it comes to do so.  “Of
course,” they argue, “if we cannot understand how a thing comes to move,
it must move of itself, for there can be no motion beyond our
comprehension but what is spontaneous; if the motion is spontaneous, the
thing moving must he alive, for nothing can move of itself or without our
understanding why unless it is alive.  Everything that is alive and not
too large can be tortured, and perhaps eaten; let us therefore spring
upon the tag” and they spring upon it.  Cats are above this; yet give the
cat something which presents a few more of those appearances which she is
accustomed to see whenever she sees life, and she will fall as easy a
prey to the power which association exercises over all that lives as the
kitten itself.  Show her a toy-mouse that can run a few yards after being
wound up; the form, colour, and action of a mouse being here, there is no
good cat which will not conclude that so many of the appearances of
mousehood could not be present at the same time without the presence also
of the remainder.  She will, therefore, spring upon the toy as eagerly as
the kitten upon the tag.

Suppose the toy more complex still, so that it might run a few yards,
stop, and run on again without an additional winding up; and suppose it
so constructed that it could imitate eating and drinking, and could make
as though the mouse were cleaning its face with its paws.  Should we not
at first be taken in ourselves, and assume the presence of the remaining
facts of life, though in reality they were not there?  Query, therefore,
whether a machine so complex as to be prepared with a corresponding
manner of action for each one of the successive emergencies of life as it
arose, would not take us in for good and all, and look so much as if it
were alive that, whether we liked it or not, we should be compelled to
think it and call it so; and whether the being alive was not simply the
being an exceedingly complicated machine, whose parts were set in motion
by the action upon them of exterior circumstances; whether, in fact, man
was not a kind of toy-mouse in the shape of a man, only capable of going
for seventy or eighty years, instead of half as many seconds, and as much
more versatile as he is more durable?  Of course I had an uneasy feeling
that if I thus made all plants and men into machines, these machines must
have what all other machines have if they are machines at all—a designer,
and some one to wind them up and work them; but I thought this might wait
for the present, and was perfectly ready then, as now, to accept a
designer from without, if the facts upon examination rendered such a
belief reasonable.

If, then, men were not really alive after all, but were only machines of
so complicated a make that it was less trouble to us to cut the
difficulty and say that that kind of mechanism was “being alive,” why
should not machines ultimately become as complicated as we are, or at any
rate complicated enough to be called living, and to be indeed as living
as it was in the nature of anything at all to be?  If it was only a case
of their becoming more complicated, we were certainly doing our best to
make them so.

I do not suppose I at that time saw that this view comes to much the same
as denying that there are such qualities as life and consciousness at
all, and that this, again, works round to the assertion of their
omnipresence in every molecule of matter, inasmuch as it destroys the
separation between the organic and inorganic, and maintains that whatever
the organic is the inorganic is also.  Deny it in theory as much as we
please, we shall still always feel that an organic body, unless dead, is
living and conscious to a greater or less degree.  Therefore, if we once
break down the wall of partition between the organic and inorganic, the
inorganic must be living and conscious also, up to a certain point.

I have been at work on this subject now for nearly twenty years, what I
have published being only a small part of what I have written and
destroyed.  I cannot, therefore, remember exactly how I stood in 1863.
Nor can I pretend to see far into the matter even now; for when I think
of life, I find it so difficult, that I take refuge in death or
mechanism; and when I think of death or mechanism, I find it so
inconceivable, that it is easier to call it life again.  The only thing
of which I am sure is, that the distinction between the organic and
inorganic is arbitrary; that it is more coherent with our other ideas,
and therefore more acceptable, to start with every molecule as a living
thing, and then deduce death as the breaking up of an association or
corporation, than to start with inanimate molecules and smuggle life into
them; and that, therefore, what we call the inorganic world must be
regarded as up to a certain point living, and instinct, within certain
limits, with consciousness, volition, and power of concerted action.  It
is only of late, however, that I have come to this opinion.

One must start with a hypothesis, no matter how much one distrusts it; so
I started with man as a mechanism, this being the strand of the knot that
I could then pick at most easily.  Having worked upon it a certain time,
I drew the inference about machines becoming animate, and in 1862 or 1863
wrote the sketch of the chapter on machines which I afterwards rewrote in
“Erewhon.”  This sketch appeared in the _Press_, Canterbury, N.Z., June
13, 1863; a copy of it is in the British Museum.

I soon felt that though there was plenty of amusement to be got out of
this line, it was one that I should have to leave sooner or later; I
therefore left it at once for the view that machines were limbs which we
had made, and carried outside our bodies instead of incorporating them
with ourselves.  A few days or weeks later than June 13, 1863, I
published a second letter in the _Press_ putting this view forward.  Of
this letter I have lost the only copy I had; I have not seen it for
years.  The first was certainly not good; the second, if I remember
rightly, was a good deal worse, though I believed more in the views it
put forward than in those of the first letter.  I had lost my copy before
I wrote “Erewhon,” and therefore only gave a couple of pages to it in
that book; besides, there was more amusement in the other view.  I should
perhaps say there was an intermediate extension of the first letter which
appeared in the _Reasoner_, July 1, 1865.

In 1870 and 1871, when I was writing “Erewhon,” I thought the best way of
looking at machines was to see them as limbs which we had made and
carried about with us or left at home at pleasure.  I was not, however,
satisfied, and should have gone on with the subject at once if I had not
been anxious to write “The Fair Haven,” a book which is a development of
a pamphlet I wrote in New Zealand and published in London in 1865.

As soon as I had finished this, I returned to the old subject, on which I
had already been engaged for nearly a dozen years as continuously as
other business would allow, and proposed to myself to see not only
machines as limbs, but also limbs as machines.  I felt immediately that I
was upon firmer ground.  The use of the word “organ” for a limb told its
own story; the word could not have become so current under this meaning
unless the idea of a limb as a tool or machine had been agreeable to
common sense.  What would follow, then, if we regarded our limbs and
organs as things that we had ourselves manufactured for our convenience?

The first question that suggested itself was, how did we come to make
them without knowing anything about it?  And this raised another, namely,
how comes anybody to do anything unconsciously?  The answer “habit” was
not far to seek.  But can a person be said to do a thing by force of
habit or routine when it is his ancestors, and not he, that has done it
hitherto?  Not unless he and his ancestors are one and the same person.
Perhaps, then, they _are_ the same person after all.  What is sameness?
I remembered Bishop Butler’s sermon on “Personal Identity,” read it
again, and saw very plainly that if a man of eighty may consider himself
identical with the baby from whom he has developed, so that he may say,
“I am the person who at six months old did this or that,” then the baby
may just as fairly claim identity with its father and mother, and say to
its parents on being born, “I was you only a few months ago.”  By parity
of reasoning each living form now on the earth must be able to claim
identity with each generation of its ancestors up to the primordial cell

Again, if the octogenarian may claim personal identity with the infant,
the infant may certainly do so with the impregnate ovum from which it has
developed.  If so, the octogenarian will prove to have been a fish once
in this his present life.  This is as certain as that he was living
yesterday, and stands on exactly the same foundation.

I am aware that Professor Huxley maintains otherwise.  He writes: “It is
not true, for example, . . . that a reptile was ever a fish, but it is
true that the reptile embryo” (and what is said here of the reptile holds
good also for the human embryo), “at one stage of its development, is an
organism, which, if it had an independent existence, must be classified
among fishes.” {17}

This is like saying, “It is not true that such and such a picture was
rejected for the Academy, but it is true that it was submitted to the
President and Council of the Royal Academy, with a view to acceptance at
their next forthcoming annual exhibition, and that the President and
Council regretted they were unable through want of space, &c., &c.”—and
as much more as the reader chooses.  I shall venture, therefore, to stick
to it that the octogenarian was once a fish, or if Professor Huxley
prefers it, “an organism which must be classified among fishes.”

But if a man was a fish once, he may have been a fish a million times
over, for aught he knows; for he must admit that his conscious
recollection is at fault, and has nothing whatever to do with the matter,
which must be decided, not, as it were, upon his own evidence as to what
deeds he may or may not recollect having executed, but by the production
of his signatures in court, with satisfactory proof that he has delivered
each document as his act and deed.

This made things very much simpler.  The processes of embryonic
development, and instinctive actions, might be now seen as repetitions of
the same kind of action by the same individual in successive generations.
It was natural, therefore, that they should come in the course of time to
be done unconsciously, and a consideration of the most obvious facts of
memory removed all further doubt that habit—which is based on memory—was
at the bottom of all the phenomena of heredity.

I had got to this point about the spring of 1874, and had begun to write,
when I was compelled to go to Canada, and for the next year and a half
did hardly any writing.  The first passage in “Life and Habit” which I
can date with certainty is the one on page 52, which runs as follows:—

    “It is one against legion when a man tries to differ from his own
    past selves.  He must yield or die if he wants to differ widely, so
    as to lack natural instincts, such as hunger or thirst, and not to
    gratify them.  It is more righteous in a man that he should ‘eat
    strange food,’ and that his cheek should ‘so much as lank not,’ than
    that he should starve if the strange food be at his command.  His
    past selves are living in him at this moment with the accumulated
    life of centuries.  ‘Do this, this, this, which we too have done, and
    found out profit in it,’ cry the souls of his forefathers within him.
    Faint are the far ones, coming and going as the sound of bells wafted
    on to a high mountain; loud and clear are the near ones, urgent as an
    alarm of fire.”

This was written a few days after my arrival in Canada, June 1874.  I was
on Montreal mountain for the first time, and was struck with its extreme
beauty.  It was a magnificent Summer’s evening; the noble St. Lawrence
flowed almost immediately beneath, and the vast expanse of country beyond
it was suffused with a colour which even Italy cannot surpass.  Sitting
down for a while, I began making notes for “Life and Habit,” of which I
was then continually thinking, and had written the first few lines of the
above, when the bells of Notre Dame in Montreal began to ring, and their
sound was carried to and fro in a remarkably beautiful manner.  I took
advantage of the incident to insert then and there the last lines of the
piece just quoted.  I kept the whole passage with hardly any alteration,
and am thus able to date it accurately.

Though so occupied in Canada that writing a book was impossible, I
nevertheless got many notes together for future use.  I left Canada at
the end of 1875, and early in 1876 began putting these notes into more
coherent form.  I did this in thirty pages of closely written matter, of
which a pressed copy remains in my commonplace-book.  I find two dates
among them—the first, “Sunday, Feb. 6, 1876”; and the second, at the end
of the notes, “Feb. 12, 1876.”

From these notes I find that by this time I had the theory contained in
“Life and Habit” completely before me, with the four main principles
which it involves, namely, the oneness of personality between parents and
offspring; memory on the part of offspring of certain actions which it
did when in the persons of its forefathers; the latency of that memory
until it is rekindled by a recurrence of the associated ideas; and the
unconsciousness with which habitual actions come to be performed.

The first half-page of these notes may serve as a sample, and runs thus:—

    “Those habits and functions which we have in common with the lower
    animals come mainly within the womb, or are done involuntarily, as
    our [growth of] limbs, eyes, &c., and our power of digesting food,
    &c. . . .

    “We say of the chicken that it knows how to run about as soon as it
    is hatched, . . . but had it no knowledge before it was hatched?

    “It knew how to make a great many things before it was hatched.

    “It grew eyes and feathers and bones.

    “Yet we say it knew nothing about all this.

    “After it is born it grows more feathers, and makes its bones larger,
    and develops a reproductive system.

    “Again we say it knows nothing about all this.

    “What then does it know?

    “Whatever it does not know so well as to be unconscious of knowing

    “Knowledge dwells upon the confines of uncertainty.

    “When we are very certain, we do not know that we know.  When we will
    very strongly, we do not know that we will.”

I then began my book, but considering myself still a painter by
profession, I gave comparatively little time to writing, and got on but
slowly.  I left England for North Italy in the middle of May 1876 and
returned early in August.  It was perhaps thus that I failed to hear of
the account of Professor Hering’s lecture given by Professor Ray
Lankester in _Nature_, July 13 1876; though, never at that time seeing
_Nature_, I should probably have missed it under any circumstances.  On
my return I continued slowly writing.  By August 1877 I considered that I
had to all intents and purposes completed my book.  My first proof bears
date October 13, 1877.

At this time I had not been able to find that anything like what I was
advancing had been said already.  I asked many friends, but not one of
them knew of anything more than I did; to them, as to me, it seemed an
idea so new as to be almost preposterous; but knowing how things turn up
after one has written, of the existence of which one had not known
before, I was particularly careful to guard against being supposed to
claim originality.  I neither claimed it nor wished for it; for if a
theory has any truth in it, it is almost sure to occur to several people
much about the same time, and a reasonable person will look upon his work
with great suspicion unless he can confirm it with the support of others
who have gone before him.  Still I knew of nothing in the least
resembling it, and was so afraid of what I was doing, that though I could
see no flaw in the argument, nor any loophole for escape from the
conclusion it led to, yet I did not dare to put it forward with the
seriousness and sobriety with which I should have treated the subject if
I had not been in continual fear of a mine being sprung upon me from some
unexpected quarter.  I am exceedingly glad now that I knew nothing of
Professor Hering’s lecture, for it is much better that two people should
think a thing out as far as they can independently before they become
aware of each other’s works but if I had seen it, I should either, as is
most likely, not have written at all, or I should have pitched my book in
another key.

Among the additions I intended making while the book was in the press,
was a chapter on Mr. Darwin’s provisional theory of Pangenesis, which I
felt convinced must be right if it was Mr. Darwin’s, and which I was
sure, if I could once understand it, must have an important bearing on
“Life and Habit.”  I had not as yet seen that the principle I was
contending for was Darwinian, not Neo-Darwinian.  My pages still teemed
with allusions to “natural selection,” and I sometimes allowed myself to
hope that “Life and Habit” was going to be an adjunct to Darwinism which
no one would welcome more gladly than Mr. Darwin himself.  At this time I
had a visit from a friend, who kindly called to answer a question of
mine, relative, if I remember rightly, to “Pangenesis.”  He came,
September 26, 1877.  One of the first things he said was, that the theory
which had pleased him more than anything he had heard of for some time
was one referring all life to memory.  I said that was exactly what I was
doing myself, and inquired where he had met with his theory.  He replied
that Professor Ray Lankester had written a letter about it in _Nature_
some time ago, but he could not remember exactly when, and had given
extracts from a lecture by Professor Ewald Hering, who had originated the
theory.  I said I should not look at it, as I had completed that part of
my work, and was on the point of going to press.  I could not recast my
work if, as was most likely, I should find something, when I saw what
Professor Hering had said, which would make me wish to rewrite my own
book; it was too late in the day and I did not feel equal to making any
radical alteration; and so the matter ended with very little said upon
either side.  I wrote, however, afterwards to my friend asking him to
tell me the number of _Nature_ which contained the lecture if he could
find it, but he was unable to do so, and I was well enough content.

A few days before this I had met another friend, and had explained to him
what I was doing.  He told me I ought to read Professor Mivart’s “Genesis
of Species,” and that if I did so I should find there were two sides to
“natural selection.”  Thinking, as so many people do—and no wonder—that
“natural selection” and evolution were much the same thing, and having
found so many attacks upon evolution produce no effect upon me, I
declined to read it.  I had as yet no idea that a writer could attack
Neo-Darwinism without attacking evolution.  But my friend kindly sent me
a copy; and when I read it, I found myself in the presence of arguments
different from those I had met with hitherto, and did not see my way to
answering them.  I had, however, read only a small part of Professor
Mivart’s work, and was not fully awake to the position, when the friend
referred to in the preceding paragraph called on me.

When I had finished the “Genesis of Species,” I felt that something was
certainly wanted which should give a definite aim to the variations whose
accumulation was to amount ultimately to specific and generic
differences, and that without this there could have been no progress in
organic development.  I got the latest edition of the “Origin of Species”
in order to see how Mr. Darwin met Professor Mivart, and found his
answers in many respects unsatisfactory.  I had lost my original copy of
the “Origin of Species,” and had not read the book for some years.  I now
set about reading it again, and came to the chapter on instinct, where I
was horrified to find the following passage:—

    “But it would be a serious error to suppose that the greater number
    of instincts have been acquired by habit in one generation and then
    transmitted by inheritance to the succeeding generations.  It can be
    clearly shown that the most wonderful instincts with which we are
    acquainted, namely, those of the hive-bee and of many ants, could not
    possibly have been acquired by habit.” {23a}

This showed that, according to Mr. Darwin, I had fallen into serious
error, and my faith in him, though somewhat shaken, was far too great to
be destroyed by a few days’ course of Professor Mivart, the full
importance of whose work I had not yet apprehended.  I continued to read,
and when I had finished the chapter felt sure that I must indeed have
been blundering.  The concluding words, “I am surprised that no one has
hitherto advanced this demonstrative case of neuter insects against the
well-known doctrine of inherited habit as advanced by Lamarck,” {23b}
were positively awful.  There was a quiet consciousness of strength about
them which was more convincing than any amount of more detailed
explanation.  This was the first I had heard of any doctrine of inherited
habit as having been propounded by Lamarck (the passage stands in the
first edition, “the well-known doctrine of Lamarck,” p. 242); and now to
find that I had been only busying myself with a stale theory of this
long-since exploded charlatan—with my book three parts written and
already in the press—it was a serious scare.

On reflection, however, I was again met with the overwhelming weight of
the evidence in favour of structure and habit being mainly due to memory.
I accordingly gathered as much as I could second-hand of what Lamarck had
said, reserving a study of his “Philosophie Zoologique” for another
occasion, and read as much about ants and bees as I could find in readily
accessible works.  In a few days I saw my way again; and now, reading the
“Origin of Species” more closely, and I may say more sceptically, the
antagonism between Mr. Darwin and Lamarck became fully apparent to me,
and I saw how incoherent and unworkable in practice the later view was in
comparison with the earlier.  Then I read Mr. Darwin’s answers to
miscellaneous objections, and was met, and this time brought up, by the
passage beginning “In the earlier editions of this work,” {24a} &c., on
which I wrote very severely in “Life and Habit”; {24b} for I felt by this
time that the difference of opinion between us was radical, and that the
matter must be fought out according to the rules of the game.  After this
I went through the earlier part of my book, and cut out the expressions
which I had used inadvertently, and which were inconsistent with a
teleological view.  This necessitated only verbal alterations; for,
though I had not known it, the spirit of the book was throughout

I now saw that I had got my hands full, and abandoned my intention of
touching upon “Pangenesis.”  I took up the words of Mr. Darwin quoted
above, to the effect that it would be a serious error to ascribe the
greater number of instincts to transmitted habit.  I wrote chapter xi. of
“Life and Habit,” which is headed “Instincts as Inherited Memory”; I also
wrote the four subsequent chapters, “Instincts of Neuter Insects,”
“Lamarck and Mr. Darwin,” “Mr. Mivart and Mr. Darwin,” and the concluding
chapter, all of them in the month of October and the early part of
November 1877, the complete book leaving the binder’s hands December 4,
1877, but, according to trade custom, being dated 1878.  It will be seen
that these five concluding chapters were rapidly written, and this may
account in part for the directness with which I said anything I had to
say about Mr. Darwin; partly this, and partly I felt I was in for a penny
and might as well be in for a pound.  I therefore wrote about Mr.
Darwin’s work exactly as I should about any one else’s, bearing in mind
the inestimable services he had undoubtedly—and must always be counted to
have—rendered to evolution.

Chapter III

How I came to write “Evolution, Old and New”—Mr Darwin’s “brief but
imperfect” sketch of the opinions of the writers on evolution who had
preceded him—The reception which “Evolution, Old and New,” met with.

THOUGH my book was out in 1877, it was not till January 1878 that I took
an opportunity of looking up Professor Ray Lankester’s account of
Professor Hering’s lecture.  I can hardly say how relieved I was to find
that it sprung no mine upon me, but that, so far as I could gather,
Professor Hering and I had come to pretty much the same conclusion.  I
had already found the passage in Dr. Erasmus Darwin which I quoted in
“Evolution, Old and New,” but may perhaps as well repeat it here.  It

    “Owing to the imperfection of language, the offspring is termed a new
    animal; but is, in truth, a branch or elongation of the parent, since
    a part of the embryon animal is or was a part of the parent, and,
    therefore, in strict language, cannot be said to be entirely new at
    the time of its production, and, therefore, it may retain some of the
    habits of the parent system.” {26}

When, then, the _Athenæum_ reviewed “Life and Habit” (January 26, 1878),
I took the opportunity to write to that paper, calling attention to
Professor Hering’s lecture, and also to the passage just quoted from Dr.
Erasmus Darwin.  The editor kindly inserted my letter in his issue of
February 9, 1878.  I felt that I had now done all in the way of
acknowledgment to Professor Hering which it was, for the time, in my
power to do.

I again took up Mr. Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” this time, I admit, in
a spirit of scepticism.  I read his “brief but imperfect” sketch of the
progress of opinion on the origin of species, and turned to each one of
the writers he had mentioned.  First, I read all the parts of the
“Zoonomia” that were not purely medical, and was astonished to find that,
as Dr. Krause has since said in his essay on Erasmus Darwin, “_he was the
first who proposed and persistently carried out a well-rounded theory
with regard to the development of the living world_” {27} (italics in

This is undoubtedly the case, and I was surprised at finding Professor
Huxley say concerning this very eminent man that he could “hardly be said
to have made any real advance upon his predecessors.”  Still more was I
surprised at remembering that, in the first edition of the “Origin of
Species,” Dr. Erasmus Darwin had never been so much as named; while in
the “brief but imperfect” sketch he was dismissed with a line of
half-contemptuous patronage, as though the mingled tribute of admiration
and curiosity which attaches to scientific prophecies, as distinguished
from discoveries, was the utmost he was entitled to.  “It is curious,”
says Mr. Darwin innocently, in the middle of a note in the smallest
possible type, “how largely my grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin,
anticipated the views and erroneous grounds of opinion of Lamarck in his
‘Zoonomia’ (vol. i. pp. 500–510), published in 1794”; this was all he had
to say about the founder of “Darwinism,” until I myself unearthed Dr.
Erasmus Darwin, and put his work fairly before the present generation in
“Evolution, Old and New.”  Six months after I had done this, I had the
satisfaction of seeing that Mr. Darwin had woke up to the propriety of
doing much the same thing, and that he had published an interesting and
charmingly written memoir of his grandfather, of which more anon.

Not that Dr. Darwin was the first to catch sight of a complete theory of
evolution.  Buffon was the first to point out that, in view of the known
modifications which had been effected among our domesticated animals and
cultivated plants, the ass and the horse should be considered as, in all
probability, descended from a common ancestor; yet, if this is so, he
writes—if the point “were once gained that among animals and vegetables
there had been, I do not say several species, but even a single one,
which had been produced in the course of direct descent from another
species; if, for example, it could be once shown that the ass was but a
degeneration from the horse, then there is no further limit to be set to
the power of Nature, and we should not be wrong in supposing that, with
sufficient time, she has evolved all other organised forms from one
primordial type” {28a} (_et l’on n’auroit pas tort de supposer_, _que
d’un seul être elle a su tirer avec le temps tous les autres êtres

This, I imagine, in spite of Professor Huxley’s dictum, is contributing a
good deal to the general doctrine of evolution; for though Descartes and
Leibnitz may have thrown out hints pointing more or less broadly in the
direction of evolution, some of which Professor Huxley has quoted, he has
adduced nothing approaching to the passage from Buffon given above,
either in respect of the clearness with which the conclusion intended to
be arrived at is pointed out, or the breadth of view with which the whole
ground of animal and vegetable nature is covered.  The passage referred
to is only one of many to the same effect, and must be connected with one
quoted in “Evolution, Old and New,” {28b} from p. 13 of Buffon’s first
volume, which appeared in 1749, and than which nothing can well point
more plainly in the direction of evolution.  It is not easy, therefore,
to understand why Professor Huxley should give 1753–78 as the date of
Buffon’s work, nor yet why he should say that Buffon was “at first a
partisan of the absolute immutability of species,” {29a} unless, indeed,
we suppose he has been content to follow that very unsatisfactory writer,
Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire (who falls into this error, and says that
Buffon’s first volume on animals appeared 1753), without verifying him,
and without making any reference to him.

Professor Huxley quotes a passage from the “Palingénésie Philosophique”
of Bonnet, of which he says that, making allowance for his peculiar views
on the subject of generation, they bear no small resemblance to what is
understood by “evolution” at the present day.  The most important parts
of the passage quoted are as follows:—

    “Should I be going too far if I were to conjecture that the plants
    and animals of the present day have arisen by a sort of natural
    evolution from the organised beings which peopled the world in its
    original state as it left the hands of the Creator? . . .  In the
    outset organised beings were probably very different from what they
    are now—as different as the original world is from our present one.
    We have no means of estimating the amount of these differences, but
    it is possible that even our ablest naturalist, if transplanted to
    the original world, would entirely fail to recognise our plants and
    animals therein.” {29b}

But this is feeble in comparison with Buffon, and did not appear till
1769, when Buffon had been writing on evolution for fully twenty years
with the eyes of scientific Europe upon him.  Whatever concession to the
opinion of Buffon Bonnet may have been inclined to make in 1769, in 1764,
when he published his “Contemplation de la Nature,” and in 1762 when his
“Considérations sur les Corps Organes” appeared, he cannot be considered
to have been a supporter of evolution.  I went through these works in
1878 when I was writing “Evolution, Old and New,” to see whether I could
claim him as on my side; but though frequently delighted with his work, I
found it impossible to press him into my service.

The pre-eminent claim of Buffon to be considered as the father of the
modern doctrine of evolution cannot be reasonably disputed, though he was
doubtless led to his conclusions by the works of Descartes and Leibnitz,
of both of whom he was an avowed and very warm admirer.  His claim does
not rest upon a passage here or there, but upon the spirit of forty
quartos written over a period of about as many years.  Nevertheless he
wrote, as I have shown in “Evolution, Old and New,” of set purpose
enigmatically, whereas there was no beating about the bush with Dr.
Darwin.  He speaks straight out, and Dr. Krause is justified in saying of
him “_that he was the first who proposed and persistently carried out a
well-rounded theory_” of evolution.

I now turned to Lamarck.  I read the first volume of the “Philosophie
Zoologique,” analysed it and translated the most important parts.  The
second volume was beside my purpose, dealing as it does rather with the
origin of life than of species, and travelling too fast and too far for
me to be able to keep up with him.  Again I was astonished at the little
mention Mr. Darwin had made of this illustrious writer, at the manner in
which he had motioned him away, as it were, with his hand in the first
edition of the “Origin of Species,” and at the brevity and imperfection
of the remarks made upon him in the subsequent historical sketch.

I got Isidore Geoffroy’s “Histoire Naturelle Générale,” which Mr. Darwin
commends in the note on the second page of the historical sketch, as
giving “an excellent history of opinion” upon the subject of evolution,
and a full account of Buffon’s conclusions upon the same subject.  This
at least is what I supposed Mr. Darwin to mean.  What he said was that
Isidore Geoffroy gives an excellent history of opinion on the subject of
the date of the first publication of Lamarck, and that in his work there
is a full account of Buffon’s fluctuating conclusions upon _the same
subject_. {31}  But Mr. Darwin is a more than commonly puzzling writer.
I read what M. Geoffroy had to say upon Buffon, and was surprised to find
that, after all, according to M. Geoffroy, Buffon, and not Lamarck, was
the founder of the theory of evolution.  His name, as I have already
said, was never mentioned in the first edition of the “Origin of

M. Geoffroy goes into the accusations of having fluctuated in his
opinions, which he tells us have been brought against Buffon, and comes
to the conclusion that they are unjust, as any one else will do who turns
to Buffon himself.  Mr. Darwin, however, in the “brief but imperfect
sketch,” catches at the accusation, and repeats it while saying nothing
whatever about the defence.  The following is still all he says: “The
first author who in modern times has treated” evolution “in a scientific
spirit was Buffon.  But as his opinions fluctuated greatly at different
periods, and as he does not enter on the causes or means of the
transformation of species, I need not here enter on details.”  On the
next page, in the note last quoted, Mr. Darwin originally repeated the
accusation of Buffon’s having been fluctuating in his opinions, and
appeared to give it the imprimatur of Isidore Geoffroy’s approval; the
fact being that Isidore Geoffroy only quoted the accusation in order to
refute it; and though, I suppose, meaning well, did not make half the
case he might have done, and abounds with misstatements.  My readers will
find this matter particularly dealt with in “Evolution, Old and New,”
Chapter X.

I gather that some one must have complained to Mr. Darwin of his saying
that Isidore Geoffroy gave an account of Buffon’s “fluctuating
conclusions” concerning evolution, when he was doing all he knew to
maintain that Buffon’s conclusions did not fluctuate; for I see that in
the edition of 1876 the word “fluctuating” has dropped out of the note in
question, and we now learn that Isidore Geoffroy gives “a full account of
Buffon’s conclusions,” without the “fluctuating.”  But Buffon has not
taken much by this, for his opinions are still left fluctuating greatly
at different periods on the preceding page, and though he still was the
first to treat evolution in a scientific spirit, he still does not enter
upon the causes or means of the transformation of species.  No one can
understand Mr. Darwin who does not collate the different editions of the
“Origin of Species” with some attention.  When he has done this, he will
know what Newton meant by saying he felt like a child playing with
pebbles upon the seashore.

One word more upon this note before I leave it.  Mr. Darwin speaks of
Isidore Geoffroy’s history of opinion as “excellent,” and his account of
Buffon’s opinions as “full.”  I wonder how well qualified he is to be a
judge of these matters?  If he knows much about the earlier writers, he
is the more inexcusable for having said so little about them.  If little,
what is his opinion worth?

To return to the “brief but imperfect sketch.”  I do not think I can ever
again be surprised at anything Mr. Darwin may say or do, but if I could,
I should wonder how a writer who did not “enter upon the causes or means
of the transformation of species,” and whose opinions “fluctuated greatly
at different periods,” can be held to have treated evolution “in a
scientific spirit.”  Nevertheless, when I reflect upon the scientific
reputation Mr. Darwin has attained, and the means by which he has won it,
I suppose the scientific spirit must be much what he here implies.  I see
Mr. Darwin says of his own father, Dr. Robert Darwin of Shrewsbury, that
he does not consider him to have had a scientific mind.  Mr. Darwin
cannot tell why he does not think his father’s mind to have been fitted
for advancing science, “for he was fond of theorising, and was
incomparably the best observer” Mr. Darwin ever knew. {33a}  From the
hint given in the “brief but imperfect sketch,” I fancy I can help Mr.
Darwin to see why he does not think his father’s mind to have been a
scientific one.  It is possible that Dr. Robert Darwin’s opinions did not
fluctuate sufficiently at different periods, and that Mr. Darwin
considered him as having in some way entered upon the causes or means of
the transformation of species.  Certainly those who read Mr. Darwin’s own
works attentively will find no lack of fluctuation in his case; and
reflection will show them that a theory of evolution which relies mainly
on the accumulation of accidental variations comes very close to not
entering upon the causes or means of the transformation of species. {33b}

I have shown, however, in “Evolution, Old and New,” that the assertion
that Buffon does not enter on the causes or means of the transformation
of species is absolutely without foundation, and that, on the contrary,
he is continually dealing with this very matter, and devotes to it one of
his longest and most important chapters, {33c} but I admit that he is
less satisfactory on this head than either Dr. Erasmus Darwin or Lamarck.

As a matter of fact, Buffon is much more of a Neo-Darwinian than either
Dr. Erasmus Darwin or Lamarck, for with him the variations are sometimes
fortuitous.  In the case of the dog, he speaks of them as making their
appearance “_by some chance_ common enough with Nature,” {33d} and being
perpetuated by man’s selection.  This is exactly the “if any slight
favourable variation _happen_ to arise” of Mr. Charles Darwin.  Buffon
also speaks of the variations among pigeons arising “_par hasard_.”  But
these expressions are only ships; his main cause of variation is the
direct action of changed conditions of existence, while with Dr. Erasmus
Darwin and Lamarck the action of the conditions of existence is indirect,
the direct action being that of the animals or plants themselves, in
consequence of changed sense of need under changed conditions.

I should say that the sketch so often referred to is at first sight now
no longer imperfect in Mr. Darwin’s opinion.  It was “brief but
imperfect” in 1861 and in 1866, but in 1876 I see that it is brief only.
Of course, discovering that it was no longer imperfect, I expected to
find it briefer.  What, then, was my surprise at finding that it had
become rather longer?  I have found no perfectly satisfactory explanation
of this inconsistency, but, on the whole, incline to think that the
“greatest of living men” felt himself unequal to prolonging his struggle
with the word “but,” and resolved to lay that conjunction at all hazards,
even though the doing so might cost him the balance of his adjectives;
for I think he must know that his sketch is still imperfect.

From Isidore Geoffroy I turned to Buffon himself, and had not long to
wait before I felt that I was now brought into communication with the
master-mind of all those who have up to the present time busied
themselves with evolution.  For a brief and imperfect sketch of him, I
must refer my readers to “Evolution, Old and New.”

I have no great respect for the author of the “Vestiges of Creation,” who
behaved hardly better to the writers upon whom his own work was founded
than Mr. Darwin himself has done.  Nevertheless, I could not forget the
gravity of the misrepresentation with which he was assailed on page 3 of
the first edition of the “Origin of Species,” nor impugn the justice of
his rejoinder in the following year, {34} when he replied that it was to
be regretted Mr. Darwin had read his work “almost as much amiss as if,
like its declared opponents, he had an interest in misrepresenting it.”
{35a}  I could not, again, forget that, though Mr. Darwin did not venture
to stand by the passage in question, it was expunged without a word of
apology or explanation of how it was that he had come to write it.  A
writer with any claim to our consideration will never fall into serious
error about another writer without hastening to make a public apology as
soon as he becomes aware of what he has done.

Reflecting upon the substance of what I have written in the last few
pages, I thought it right that people should have a chance of knowing
more about the earlier writers on evolution than they were likely to hear
from any of our leading scientists (no matter how many lectures they may
give on the coming of age of the “Origin of Species”) except Professor
Mivart.  A book pointing the difference between teleological and
non-teleological views of evolution seemed likely to be useful, and would
afford me the opportunity I wanted for giving a _résumé_ of the views of
each one of the three chief founders of the theory, and of contrasting
them with those of Mr. Charles Darwin, as well as for calling attention
to Professor Hering’s lecture.  I accordingly wrote “Evolution, Old and
New,” which was prominently announced in the leading literary periodicals
at the end of February, or on the very first days of March 1879, {35b} as
“a comparison of the theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck,
with that of Mr. Charles Darwin, with copious extracts from the works of
the three first-named writers.”  In this book I was hardly able to
conceal the fact that, in spite of the obligations under which we must
always remain to Mr. Darwin, I had lost my respect for him and for his

I should point out that this announcement, coupled with what I had
written in “Life and Habit,” would enable Mr. Darwin and his friends to
form a pretty shrewd guess as to what I was likely to say, and to quote
from Dr. Erasmus Darwin in my forthcoming book.  The announcement,
indeed, would tell almost as much as the book itself to those who knew
the works of Erasmus Darwin.

As may be supposed, “Evolution, Old and New,” met with a very
unfavourable reception at the hands of many of its reviewers.  The
_Saturday Review_ was furious.  “When a writer,” it exclaimed, “who has
not given as many weeks to the subject as Mr. Darwin has given years, is
not content to air his own crude though clever fallacies, but assumes to
criticise Mr. Darwin with the superciliousness of a young schoolmaster
looking over a boy’s theme, it is difficult not to take him more
seriously than he deserves or perhaps desires.  One would think that Mr.
Butler was the travelled and laborious observer of Nature, and Mr. Darwin
the pert speculator who takes all his facts at secondhand.” {36}

The lady or gentleman who writes in such a strain as this should not be
too hard upon others whom she or he may consider to write like
schoolmasters.  It is true I have travelled—not much, but still as much
as many others, and have endeavoured to keep my eyes open to the facts
before me; but I cannot think that I made any reference to my travels in
“Evolution, Old and New.”  I did not quite see what that had to do with
the matter.  A man may get to know a good deal without ever going beyond
the four-mile radius from Charing Cross.  Much less did I imply that Mr.
Darwin was pert: pert is one of the last words that can be applied to Mr.
Darwin.  Nor, again, had I blamed him for taking his facts at secondhand;
no one is to be blamed for this, provided he takes well-established facts
and acknowledges his sources.  Mr. Darwin has generally gone to good
sources.  The ground of complaint against him is that he muddied the
water after he had drawn it, and tacitly claimed to be the rightful owner
of the spring, on the score of the damage he had effected.

Notwithstanding, however, the generally hostile, or more or less
contemptuous, reception which “Evolution, Old and New,” met with, there
were some reviews—as, for example, those in the _Field_, {37a} the _Daily
Chronicle_, {37b} the _Athenæum_, {37c} the _Journal of Science_, {37d}
the _British Journal of Homæopathy_, {37e} the _Daily News_, {37f} the
_Popular Science Review_ {37g}—which were all I could expect or wish.

Chapter IV

The manner in which Mr. Darwin met “Evolution, Old and New.”

BY far the most important notice of “Evolution, Old and New,” was that
taken by Mr. Darwin himself; for I can hardly be mistaken in believing
that Dr. Krause’s article would have been allowed to repose unaltered in
the pages of the well-known German scientific journal, _Kosmos_, unless
something had happened to make Mr. Darwin feel that his reticence
concerning his grandfather must now be ended.

Mr. Darwin, indeed, gives me the impression of wishing me to understand
that this is not the case.  At the beginning of this year he wrote to me,
in a letter which I will presently give in full, that he had obtained Dr.
Krause’s consent for a translation, and had arranged with Mr. Dallas,
before my book was “announced.”  “I remember this,” he continues,
“because Mr. Dallas wrote to tell me of the advertisement.”  But Mr.
Darwin is not a clear writer, and it is impossible to say whether he is
referring to the announcement of “Evolution, Old and New”—in which case
he means that the arrangements for the translation of Dr. Krause’s
article were made before the end of February 1879, and before any public
intimation could have reached him as to the substance of the book on
which I was then engaged—or to the advertisements of its being now
published, which appeared at the beginning of May; in which case, as I
have said above, Mr. Darwin and his friends had for some time had full
opportunity of knowing what I was about.  I believe, however, Mr. Darwin
to intend that he remembered the arrangements having been made before the
beginning of May—his use of the word “announced,” instead of
“advertised,” being an accident; but let this pass.

Some time after Mr. Darwin’s work appeared in November 1879, I got it,
and looking at the last page of the book, I read as follows:—

    “They” (the elder Darwin and Lamarck) “explain the adaptation to
    purpose of organisms by an obscure impulse or sense of what is
    purpose-like; yet even with regard to man we are in the habit of
    saying, that one can never know what so-and-so is good for.  The
    purpose-like is that which approves itself, and not always that which
    is struggled for by obscure impulses and desires.  Just in the same
    way the beautiful is what pleases.”

I had a sort of feeling as though the writer of the above might have had
“Evolution, Old and New,” in his mind, but went on to the next sentence,
which ran—

    “Erasmus Darwin’s system was in itself a most significant first step
    in the path of knowledge which his grandson has opened up for us, but
    to wish to revive it at the present day, as has actually been
    seriously attempted, shows a weakness of thought and a mental
    anachronism which no one can envy.”

“That’s me,” said I to myself promptly.  I noticed also the position in
which the sentence stood, which made it both one of the first that would
be likely to catch a reader’s eye, and the last he would carry away with
him.  I therefore expected to find an open reply to some parts of
“Evolution, Old and New,” and turned to Mr. Darwin’s preface.

To my surprise, I there found that what I had been reading could not by
any possibility refer to me, for the preface ran as follows:—

    “In the February number of a well-known German scientific journal,
    _Kosmos_, {39} Dr. Ernest Krause published a sketch of the ‘Life of
    Erasmus Darwin,’ the author of the ‘Zoonomia,’ ‘Botanic Garden,’ and
    other works.  This article bears the title of a ‘Contribution to the
    History of the Descent Theory’; and Dr. Krause has kindly allowed my
    brother Erasmus and myself to have a translation made of it for
    publication in this country.”

Then came a note as follows:—

    “Mr. Dallas has undertaken the translation, and his scientific
    reputation, together with his knowledge of German, is a guarantee for
    its accuracy.”

I ought to have suspected inaccuracy where I found so much consciousness
of accuracy, but I did not.  However this may be, Mr. Darwin pins himself
down with every circumstance of preciseness to giving Dr. Krause’s
article as it appeared in _Kosmos_,—the whole article, and nothing but
the article.  No one could know this better than Mr. Darwin.

On the second page of Mr. Darwin’s preface there is a small-type note
saying that my work, “Evolution, Old and New,” had appeared since the
publication of Dr. Krause’s article.  Mr. Darwin thus distinctly
precludes his readers from supposing that any passage they might meet
with could have been written in reference to, or by the light of, my
book.  If anything appeared condemnatory of that book, it was an
undesigned coincidence, and would show how little worthy of consideration
I must be when my opinions were refuted in advance by one who could have
no bias in regard to them.

Knowing that if the article I was about to read appeared in February, it
must have been published before my book, which was not out till three
months later, I saw nothing in Mr. Darwin’s preface to complain of, and
felt that this was only another instance of my absurd vanity having led
me to rush to conclusions without sufficient grounds,—as if it was
likely, indeed, that Mr. Darwin should think what I had said of
sufficient importance to be affected by it.  It was plain that some one
besides myself, of whom I as yet knew nothing, had been writing about the
elder Darwin, and had taken much the same line concerning him that I had
done.  It was for the benefit of this person, then, that Dr. Krause’s
paragraph was intended.  I returned to a becoming sense of my own
insignificance, and began to read what I supposed to be an accurate
translation of Dr. Krause’s article as it originally appeared, before
“Evolution, Old and New,” was published.

On pp. 3 and 4 of Dr. Krause’s part of Mr. Darwin’s book (pp. 133 and 134
of the book itself), I detected a sub-apologetic tone which a little
surprised me, and a notice of the fact that Coleridge when writing on
Stillingfleet had used the word “Darwinising.”  Mr. R. Garnett had called
my attention to this, and I had mentioned it in “Evolution, Old and New,”
but the paragraph only struck me as being a little odd.

When I got a few pages farther on (p. 147 of Mr. Darwin’s book), I found
a long quotation from Buffon about rudimentary organs, which I had quoted
in “Evolution, Old and New.”  I observed that Dr. Krause used the same
edition of Buffon that I did, and began his quotation two lines from the
beginning of Buffon’s paragraph, exactly as I had done; also that he had
taken his nominative from the omitted part of the sentence across a full
stop, as I had myself taken it.  A little lower I found a line of
Buffon’s omitted which I had given, but I found that at that place I had
inadvertently left two pair of inverted commas which ought to have come
out, {41} having intended to end my quotation, but changed my mind and
continued it without erasing the commas.  It seemed to me that these
commas had bothered Dr. Krause, and made him think it safer to leave
something out, for the line he omits is a very good one.  I noticed that
he translated “Mais comme nous voulons toujours tout rapporter à un
certain but,” “But we, always wishing to refer,” &c., while I had it,
“But we, ever on the look-out to refer,” &c.; and “Nous ne faisons pas
attention que nous altérons la philosophie,” “We fail to see that thus we
deprive philosophy of her true character,” whereas I had “We fail to see
that we thus rob philosophy of her true character.”  This last was too
much; and though it might turn out that Dr. Krause had quoted this
passage before I had done so, had used the same edition as I had, had
begun two lines from the beginning of a paragraph as I had done, and that
the later resemblances were merely due to Mr. Dallas having compared Dr.
Krause’s German translation of Buffon with my English, and very properly
made use of it when he thought fit, it looked _primâ facie_ more as
though my quotation had been copied in English as it stood, and then
altered, but not quite altered enough.  This, in the face of the preface,
was incredible; but so many points had such an unpleasant aspect, that I
thought it better to send for _Kosmos_ and see what I could make out.

At this time I knew not one word of German.  On the same day, therefore,
that I sent for _Kosmos_ I began acquire that language, and in the
fortnight before _Kosmos_ came had got far enough forward for all
practical purposes—that is to say, with the help of a translation and a
dictionary, I could see whether or no a German passage was the same as
what purported to be its translation.

When _Kosmos_ came I turned to the end of the article to see how the
sentence about mental anachronism and weakness of thought looked in
German.  I found nothing of the kind, the original article ended with
some innocent rhyming doggerel about somebody going on and exploring
something with eagle eye; but ten lines from the end I found a sentence
which corresponded with one six pages from the end of the English
translation.  After this there could be little doubt that the whole of
these last six English pages were spurious matter.  What little doubt
remained was afterwards removed by my finding that they had no place in
any part of the genuine article.  I looked for the passage about
Coleridge’s using the word “Darwinising”; it was not to be found in the
German.  I looked for the piece I had quoted from Buffon about
rudimentary organs; but there was nothing of it, nor indeed any reference
to Buffon.  It was plain, therefore, that the article which Mr. Darwin
had given was not the one he professed to be giving.  I read Mr. Darwin’s
preface over again to see whether he left himself any loophole.  There
was not a chink or cranny through which escape was possible.  The only
inference that could be drawn was either that some one had imposed upon
Mr. Darwin, or that Mr. Darwin, although it was not possible to suppose
him ignorant of the interpolations that had been made, nor of the obvious
purpose of the concluding sentence, had nevertheless palmed off an
article which had been added to and made to attack “Evolution, Old and
New,” as though it were the original article which appeared before that
book was written.  I could not and would not believe that Mr. Darwin had
condescended to this.  Nevertheless, I saw it was necessary to sift the
whole matter, and began to compare the German and the English articles
paragraph by paragraph.

On the first page I found a passage omitted from the English, which with
great labour I managed to get through, and can now translate as follows:—

    “Alexander Von Humboldt used to take pleasure in recounting how
    powerfully Forster’s pictures of the South Sea Islands and St.
    Pierre’s illustrations of Nature had provoked his ardour for travel
    and influenced his career as a scientific investigator.  How much
    more impressively must the works of Dr. Erasmus Darwin, with their
    reiterated foreshadowing of a more lofty interpretation of Nature,
    have affected his grandson, who in his youth assuredly approached
    them with the devotion due to the works of a renowned poet.” {43}

I then came upon a passage common to both German and English, which in
its turn was followed in the English by the sub-apologetic paragraph
which I had been struck with on first reading, and which was not in the
German, its place being taken by a much longer passage which had no place
in the English.  A little farther on I was amused at coming upon the
following, and at finding it wholly transformed in the supposed accurate

    “How must this early and penetrating explanation of rudimentary
    organs have affected the grandson when he read the poem of his
    ancestor!  But indeed the biological remarks of this accurate
    observer in regard to certain definite natural objects must have
    produced a still deeper impression upon him, pointing, as they do, to
    questions which hay attained so great a prominence at the present
    day; such as, Why is any creature anywhere such as we actually see it
    and nothing else?  Why has such and such a plant poisonous juices?
    Why has such and such another thorns?  Why have birds and fishes
    light-coloured breasts and dark backs, and, Why does every creature
    resemble the one from which it sprung?” {44a}

I will not weary the reader with further details as to the omissions from
and additions to the German text.  Let it suffice that the so-called
translation begins on p. 131 and ends on p. 216 of Mr. Darwin’s book.
There is new matter on each one of the pp. 132–139, while almost the
whole of pp. 147–152 inclusive, and the whole of pp. 211–216 inclusive,
are spurious—that is to say, not what the purport to be, not translations
from an article that was published in February 1879, and before
“Evolution, Old and New,” but interpolations not published till six
months after that book.

Bearing in mind the contents of two of the added passages and the tenor
of the concluding sentence quoted above, {44b} I could no longer doubt
that the article had been altered by the light of and with a view to
“Evolution, Old and New.”

The steps are perfectly clear.  First Dr. Krause published his article in
_Kosmos_ and my book was announced (its purport being thus made obvious),
both in the month of February 1879.  Soon afterwards arrangements were
made for a translation of Dr. Krause’s essay, and were completed by the
end of April.  Then my book came out, and in some way or other Dr. Krause
happened to get hold of it.  He helped himself—not to much, but to
enough; made what other additions to and omissions from his article he
thought would best meet “Evolution, Old and New,” and then fell to
condemning that book in a finale that was meant to be crushing.  Nothing
was said about the revision which Dr. Krause’s work had undergone, but it
was expressly and particularly declared in the preface that the English
translation was an accurate version of what appeared in the February
number of _Kosmos_, and no less expressly and particularly stated that my
book was published subsequently to this.  Both these statements are
untrue; they are in Mr. Darwin’s favour and prejudicial to myself.

All this was done with that well-known “happy simplicity” of which the
_Pall Mall Gazette_, December 12, 1879, declared that Mr. Darwin was “a
master.”  The final sentence, about the “weakness of thought and mental
anachronism which no one can envy,” was especially successful.  The
reviewer in the _Pall Mall Gazette_ just quoted from gave it in full, and
said that it was thoroughly justified.  He then mused forth a general
gnome that the “confidence of writers who deal in semi-scientific
paradoxes is commonly in inverse proportion to their grasp of the
subject.”  Again my vanity suggested to me that I was the person for
whose benefit this gnome was intended.  My vanity, indeed, was well fed
by the whole transaction; for I saw that not only did Mr. Darwin, who
should be the best judge, think my work worth notice, but that he did not
venture to meet it openly.  As for Dr. Krause’s concluding sentence, I
thought that when a sentence had been antedated the less it contained
about anachronism the better.

Only one of the reviews that I saw of Mr. Darwin’s “Life of Erasmus
Darwin” showed any knowledge of the facts.  The _Popular Science Review_
for January 1880, in flat contradiction to Mr. Darwin’s preface, said
that only part of Dr. Krause’s article was being given by Mr. Darwin.
This reviewer had plainly seen both _Kosmos_ and Mr. Darwin’s book.

In the same number of the _Popular Science Review_, and immediately
following the review of Mr. Darwin’s book, there is a review of
“Evolution, Old and New.”  The writer of this review quotes the passage
about mental anachronism as quoted by the reviewer in the _Pall Mall
Gazette_, and adds immediately: “This anachronism has been committed by
Mr. Samuel Butler in a . . . little volume now before us, and it is
doubtless to this, _which appeared while his own work was in progress_
[italics mine] that Dr. Krause alludes in the foregoing passage.”
Considering that the editor of the _Popular Science Review_ and the
translator of Dr. Krause’s article for Mr. Darwin are one and the same
person, it is likely the _Popular Science Review_ is well informed in
saying that my book appeared before Dr. Krause’s article had been
transformed into its present shape, and that my book was intended by the
passage in question.

Unable to see any way of escaping from a conclusion which I could not
willingly adopt, I thought it best to write to Mr. Darwin, stating the
facts as they appeared to myself, and asking an explanation, which I
would have gladly strained a good many points to have accepted.  It is
better, perhaps, that I should give my letter and Darwin’s answer in
full.  My letter ran thus:—

                                                        _January_ 2, 1880.


    DEAR SIR,—Will you kindly refer me to the edition of _Kosmos_ which
    contains the text of Dr. Krause’s article on Dr. Erasmus Darwin, as
    translated by Mr. W. S. Dallas?

    I have before me the last February number of _Kosmos_, which appears
    by your preface to be the one from which Mr. Dallas has translated,
    but his translation contains long and important passages which are
    not in the February number of _Kosmos_, while many passages in the
    original article are omitted in the translation.

    Among the passages introduced are the last six pages of the English
    article, which seem to condemn by anticipation the position I have
    taken as regards Dr. Erasmus Darwin in my book, “Evolution, Old and
    New,” and which I believe I was the first to take.  The concluding,
    and therefore, perhaps, most prominent sentence of the translation
    you have given to the public stands thus:—

    “Erasmus Darwin’s system was in itself a most significant first step
    in the path of knowledge which his grandson has opened up for us, but
    to wish to revive it at the present day, as has actually been
    seriously attempted, shows a weakness of thought and a mental
    anachronism which no man can envy.”

    The _Kosmos_ which has been sent me from Germany contains no such

    As you have stated in your preface that my book, “Evolution, Old and
    New,” appeared subsequently to Dr. Krause’s article, and as no
    intimation is given that the article has been altered and added to
    since its original appearance, while the accuracy of the translation
    as though from the February number of _Kosmos_ is, as you expressly
    say, guaranteed by Mr. Dallas’s “scientific reputation together with
    his knowledge of German,” your readers will naturally suppose that
    all they read in the translation appeared in February last, and
    therefore before “Evolution, Old and New,” was written, and therefore
    independently of, and necessarily without reference to, that book.

    I do not doubt that this was actually the case, but have failed to
    obtain the edition which contains the passage above referred to, and
    several others which appear in the translation.

    I have a personal interest in this matter, and venture, therefore, to
    ask for the explanation which I do not doubt you will readily give
    me.—Yours faithfully, S. BUTLER.

The following is Mr. Darwin’s answer:—

                                                        _January_ 3, 1880.

    MY DEAR SIR,—Dr. Krause, soon after the appearance of his article in
    _Kosmos_ told me that he intended to publish it separately and to
    alter it considerably, and the altered MS. was sent to Mr. Dallas for
    translation.  This is so common a practice that it never occurred to
    me to state that the article had been modified; but now I much regret
    that I did not do so.  The original will soon appear in German, and I
    believe will be a much larger book than the English one; for, with
    Dr. Krause’s consent, many long extracts from Miss Seward were
    omitted (as well as much other matter), from being in my opinion
    superfluous for the English reader.  I believe that the omitted parts
    will appear as notes in the German edition.  Should there be a
    reprint of the English Life I will state that the original as it
    appeared in _Kosmos_ was modified by Dr. Krause before it was
    translated.  I may add that I had obtained Dr. Krause’s consent for a
    translation, and had arranged with Mr. Dallas before your book was
    announced.  I remember this because Mr. Dallas wrote to tell me of
    the advertisement.—I remain, yours faithfully, C. DARWIN.

This was not a letter I could accept.  If Mr. Darwin had said that by
some inadvertence, which he was unable to excuse or account for, a
blunder had been made which he would at once correct so far as was in his
power by a letter to the _Times_ or the _Athenæum_, and that a notice of
the erratum should be printed on a flyleaf and pasted into all unsold
copies of the “Life of Erasmus Darwin,” there would have been no more
heard about the matter from me; but when Mr. Darwin maintained that it
was a common practice to take advantage of an opportunity of revising a
work to interpolate a covert attack upon an opponent, and at the same
time to misdate the interpolated matter by expressly stating that it
appeared months sooner than it actually did, and prior to the work which
it attacked; when he maintained that what was being done was “so common a
practice that it never occurred,” to him—the writer of some twenty
volumes—to do what all literary men must know to be inexorably requisite,
I thought this was going far beyond what was permissible in honourable
warfare, and that it was time, in the interests of literary and
scientific morality, even more than in my own, to appeal to public
opinion.  I was particularly struck with the use of the words “it never
occurred to me,” and felt how completely of a piece it was with the
opening paragraph of the “Origin of Species.”  It was not merely that it
did not occur to Mr. Darwin to state that the article had been modified
since it was written—this would have been bad enough under the
circumstances but that it did occur to him to go out of his way to say
what was not true.  There was no necessity for him to have said anything
about my book.  It appeared, moreover, inadequate to tell me that if a
reprint of the English Life was wanted (which might or might not be the
case, and if it was not the case, why, a shrug of the shoulders, and I
must make the best of it), Mr. Darwin might perhaps silently omit his
note about my book, as he omitted his misrepresentation of the author of
the “Vestiges of Creation,” and put the words “revised and corrected by
the author” on his title-page.

No matter how high a writer may stand, nor what services he may have
unquestionably rendered, it cannot be for the general well-being that he
should be allowed to set aside the fundamental principles of
straightforwardness and fair play.  When I thought of Buffon, of Dr.
Erasmus Darwin, of Lamarck and even of the author of the “Vestiges of
Creation,” to all of whom Mr. Darwin had dealt the same measure which he
was now dealing to myself; when I thought of these great men, now dumb,
who had borne the burden and heat of the day, and whose laurels had been
filched from them; of the manner, too, in which Mr. Darwin had been
abetted by those who should have been the first to detect the fallacy
which had misled him; of the hotbed of intrigue which science has now
become; of the disrepute into which we English must fall as a nation if
such practices as Mr. Darwin had attempted in this case were to be
tolerated;—when I thought of all this, I felt that though prayers for the
repose of dead men’s souls might be unavailing, yet a defence of their
work and memory, no matter against what odds, might avail the living, and
resolved that I would do my utmost to make my countrymen aware of the
spirit now ruling among those whom they delight to honour.

At first I thought I ought to continue the correspondence privately with
Mr. Darwin, and explain to him that his letter was insufficient, but on
reflection I felt that little good was likely to come of a second letter,
if what I had already written was not enough.  I therefore wrote to the
_Athenæum_ and gave a condensed account of the facts contained in the
last ten or a dozen pages.  My letter appeared January 31, 1880. {50}

The accusation was a very grave one; it was made in a very public place.
I gave my name; I adduced the strongest _primâ facie_ grounds for the
acceptance of my statements; but there was no rejoinder, and for the best
of all reasons—that no rejoinder was possible.  Besides, what is the good
of having a reputation for candour if one may not stand upon it at a
pinch?  I never yet knew a person with an especial reputation for candour
without finding sooner or later that he had developed it as animals
develop their organs, through “sense of need.”  Not only did Mr. Darwin
remain perfectly quiet, but all reviewers and _littérateurs_ remained
perfectly quiet also.  It seemed—though I do not for a moment believe
that this is so—as if public opinion rather approved of what Mr. Darwin
had done, and of his silence than otherwise.  I saw the “Life of Erasmus
Darwin” more frequently and more prominently advertised now than I had
seen it hitherto—perhaps in the hope of selling off the adulterated
copies, and being able to reprint the work with a corrected title page.
Presently I saw Professor Huxley hastening to the rescue with his lecture
on the coming of age of the “Origin of Species,” and by May it was easy
for Professor Ray Lankester to imply that Mr. Darwin was the greatest of
living men.  I have since noticed two or three other controversies raging
in the _Athenæum_ and _Times_; in each of these cases I saw it assumed
that the defeated party, when proved to have publicly misrepresented his
adversary, should do his best to correct in public the injury which he
had publicly inflicted, but I noticed that in none of them had the beaten
side any especial reputation for candour.  This probably made all the
difference.  But however this may be, Mr. Darwin left me in possession of
the field, in the hope, doubtless, that the matter would blow over—which
it apparently soon did.  Whether it has done so in reality or no, is a
matter which remains to be seen.  My own belief is that people paid no
attention to what I said, as believing it simply incredible, and that
when they come to know that it is true, they will think as I do
concerning it.

From ladies and gentlemen of science I admit that I have no expectations.
There is no conduct so dishonourable that people will not deny it or
explain it away, if it has been committed by one whom they recognise as
of their own persuasion.  It must be remembered that facts cannot be
respected by the scientist in the same way as by other people.  It is his
business to familiarise himself with facts, and, as we all know, the path
from familiarity to contempt is an easy one.

Here, then, I take leave of this matter for the present.  If it appears
that I have used language such as is rarely seen in controversy, let the
reader remember that the occasion is, so far as I know, unparalleled for
the cynicism and audacity with which the wrong complained of was
committed and persisted in.  I trust, however, that, though not
indifferent to this, my indignation has been mainly roused, as when I
wrote “Evolution, Old and New,” before Mr. Darwin had given me personal
ground of complaint against him, by the wrongs he has inflicted on dead
men, on whose behalf I now fight, as I trust that some one—whom I thank
by anticipation—may one day fight on mine.

Chapter V

Introduction to Professor Hering’s lecture.

AFTER I had finished “Evolution, Old and New,” I wrote some articles for
the _Examiner_, {52} in which I carried out the idea put forward in “Life
and Habit,” that we are one person with our ancestors.  It follows from
this, that all living animals and vegetables, being—as appears likely if
the theory of evolution is accepted—descended from a common ancestor, are
in reality one person, and unite to form a body corporate, of whose
existence, however, they are unconscious.  There is an obvious analogy
between this and the manner in which the component cells of our bodies
unite to form our single individuality, of which it is not likely they
have a conception, and with which they have probably only the same
partial and imperfect sympathy as we, the body corporate, have with them.
In the articles above alluded to I separated the organic from the
inorganic, and when I came to rewrite them, I found that this could not
be done, and that I must reconstruct what I had written.  I was at work
on this—to which I hope to return shortly—when Dr. Krause’s’ “Erasmus
Darwin,” with its preliminary notice by Mr. Charles Darwin, came out, and
having been compelled, as I have shown above, by Dr. Krause’s work to
look a little into the German language, the opportunity seemed favourable
for going on with it and becoming acquainted with Professor Hering’s
lecture.  I therefore began to translate his lecture at once, with the
kind assistance of friends whose patience seemed inexhaustible, and found
myself well rewarded for my trouble.

Professor Hering and I, to use a metaphor of his own, are as men who have
observed the action of living beings upon the stage of the world, he from
the point of view at once of a spectator and of one who has free access
to much of what goes on behind the scenes, I from that of a spectator
only, with none but the vaguest notion of the actual manner in which the
stage machinery is worked.  If two men so placed, after years of
reflection, arrive independently of one another at an identical
conclusion as regards the manner in which this machinery must have been
invented and perfected, it is natural that each should take a deep
interest in the arguments of the other, and be anxious to put them
forward with the utmost possible prominence.  It seems to me that the
theory which Professor Hering and I are supporting in common, is one the
importance of which is hardly inferior to that of the theory of evolution
itself—for it puts the backbone, as it were, into the theory of
evolution.  I shall therefore make no apology for laying my translation
of Professor Hering’s work before my reader.

Concerning the identity of the main idea put forward in “Life and Habit”
with that of Professor Hering’s lecture, there can hardly, I think, be
two opinions.  We both of us maintain that we grow our limbs as we do,
and possess the instincts we possess, because we remember having grown
our limbs in this way, and having had these instincts in past generations
when we were in the persons of our forefathers—each individual life
adding a small (but so small, in any one lifetime, as to be hardly
appreciable) amount of new experience to the general store of memory;
that we have thus got into certain habits which we can now rarely break;
and that we do much of what we do unconsciously on the same principle as
that (whatever it is) on which we do all other habitual actions, with the
greater ease and unconsciousness the more often we repeat them.  Not only
is the main idea the same, but I was surprised to find how often
Professor Hering and I had taken the same illustrations with which to
point our meaning.

Nevertheless, we have each of us left undealt with some points which the
other has treated of.  Professor Hering, for example, goes into the
question of what memory is, and this I did not venture to do.  I confined
myself to saying that whatever memory was, heredity was also.  Professor
Hering adds that memory is due to vibrations of the molecules of the
nerve fibres, which under certain circumstances recur, and bring about a
corresponding recurrence of visible action.

This approaches closely to the theory concerning the physics of memory
which has been most generally adopted since the time of Bonnet, who wrote
as follows:—

    “The soul never has a new sensation but by the inter position of the
    senses.  This sensation has been originally attached to the motion of
    certain fibres.  Its reproduction or recollection by the senses will
    then be likewise connected with these same fibres.” . . . {54a}

And again:—

    “It appeared to me that since this memory is connected with the body,
    it must depend upon some change which must happen to the primitive
    state of the sensible fibres by the action of objects.  I have,
    therefore, admitted as probable that the state of the fibres on which
    an object has acted is not precisely the same after this action as it
    was before I have conjectured that the sensible fibres experience
    more or less durable modifications, which constitute the physics of
    memory and recollection.” {54b}

Professor Hering comes near to endorsing this view, and uses it for the
purpose of explaining personal identity.  This, at least, is what he does
in fact, though perhaps hardly in words.  I did not say more upon the
essence of personality than that it was inseparable from the idea that
the various phases of our existence should have flowed one out of the
other, “in what we see as a continuous, though it may be at times a very
troubled, stream” {55} but I maintained that the identity between two
successive generations was of essentially the same kind as that existing
between an infant and an octogenarian.  I thus left personal identity
unexplained, though insisting that it was the key to two apparently
distinct sets of phenomena, the one of which had been hitherto considered
incompatible with our ideas concerning it.  Professor Hering insists on
this too, but he gives us farther insight into what personal identity is,
and explains how it is that the phenomena of heredity are phenomena also
of personal identity.

He implies, though in the short space at his command he has hardly said
so in express terms, that personal identity as we commonly think of
it—that is to say, as confined to the single life of the
individual—consists in the uninterruptedness of a sufficient number of
vibrations, which have been communicated from molecule to molecule of the
nerve fibres, and which go on communicating each one of them its own
peculiar characteristic elements to the new matter which we introduce
into the body by way of nutrition.  These vibrations may be so gentle as
to be imperceptible for years together; but they are there, and may
become perceived if they receive accession through the running into them
of a wave going the same way as themselves, which wave has been set up in
the ether by exterior objects and has been communicated to the organs of

As these pages are on the point of leaving my hands, I see the following
remarkable passage in _Mind_ for the current month, and introduce it
parenthetically here:—

    “I followed the sluggish current of hyaline material issuing from
    globules of most primitive living substance.  Persistently it
    followed its way into space, conquering, at first, the manifold
    resistances opposed to it by its watery medium.  Gradually, however,
    its energies became exhausted, till at last, completely overwhelmed,
    it stopped, an immovable projection stagnated to death-like rigidity.
    Thus for hours, perhaps, it remained stationary, one of many such
    rays of some of the many kinds of protoplasmic stars.  By degrees,
    then, or perhaps quite suddenly, _help would come to it from foreign
    but congruous sources_.  _It would seem to combine with outside
    complemental matter_ drifted to it at random.  Slowly it would regain
    thereby its vital mobility.  Shrinking at first, but gradually
    completely restored and reincorporated into the onward tide of life,
    it was ready to take part again in the progressive flow of a new
    ray.” {56}

To return to the end of the last paragraph but one.  If this is so—but I
should warn the reader that Professor Hering is not responsible for this
suggestion, though it seems to follow so naturally from what he has said
that I imagine he intended the inference to be drawn,—if this is so,
assimilation is nothing else than the communication of its own rhythms
from the assimilating to the assimilated substance, to the effacement of
the vibrations or rhythms heretofore existing in this last; and
suitability for food will depend upon whether the rhythms of the
substance eaten are such as to flow harmoniously into and chime in with
those of the body which has eaten it, or whether they will refuse to act
in concert with the new rhythms with which they have become associated,
and will persist obstinately in pursuing their own course.  In this case
they will either be turned out of the body at once, or will disconcert
its arrangements, with perhaps fatal consequences.  This comes round to
the conclusion I arrived at in “Life and Habit,” that assimilation was
nothing but the imbuing of one thing with the memories of another.  (See
“Life and Habit,” pp. 136, 137, 140, &c.)

It will be noted that, as I resolved the phenomena of heredity into
phenomena of personal identity, and left the matter there, so Professor
Hering resolves the phenomena of personal identity into the phenomena of
a living mechanism whose equilibrium is disturbed by vibrations of a
certain character—and leaves it there.  We now want to understand more
about the vibrations.

But if, according to Professor Hering, the personal identity of the
single life consists in the uninterruptedness of vibrations, so also do
the phenomena of heredity.  For not only may vibrations of a certain
violence or character be persistent unperceived for many years in a
living body, and communicate themselves to the matter it has assimilated,
but they may, and will, under certain circumstances, extend to the
particle which is about to leave the parent body as the germ of its
future offspring.  In this minute piece of matter there must, if
Professor Hering is right, be an infinity of rhythmic undulations
incessantly vibrating with more or less activity, and ready to be set in
more active agitation at a moment’s warning, under due accession of
vibration from exterior objects.  On the occurrence of such stimulus,
that is to say, when a vibration of a suitable rhythm from without
concurs with one within the body so as to augment it, the agitation may
gather such strength that the touch, as it were, is given to a house of
cards, and the whole comes toppling over.  This toppling over is what we
call action; and when it is the result of the disturbance of certain
usual arrangements in certain usual ways, we call it the habitual
development and instinctive characteristics of the race.  In either case,
then, whether we consider the continued identity of the individual in
what we call his single life, or those features in his offspring which we
refer to heredity, the same explanation of the phenomena is applicable.
It follows from this as a matter of course, that the continuation of life
or personal identity in the individual and the race are fundamentally of
the same kind, or, in other words, that there is a veritable prolongation
of identity or oneness of personality between parents and offspring.
Professor Hering reaches his conclusion by physical methods, while I
reached mine, as I am told, by metaphysical.  I never yet could
understand what “metaphysics” and “metaphysical” mean; but I should have
said I reached it by the exercise of a little common sense while
regarding certain facts which are open to every one.  There is, however,
so far as I can see, no difference in the conclusion come to.

The view which connects memory with vibrations may tend to throw light
upon that difficult question, the manner in which neuter bees acquire
structures and instincts, not one of which was possessed by any of their
direct ancestors.  Those who have read “Life and Habit” may remember, I
suggested that the food prepared in the stomachs of the nurse-bees, with
which the neuter working bees are fed, might thus acquire a quasi-seminal
character, and be made a means of communicating the instincts and
structures in question. {58}  If assimilation be regarded as the
receiving by one substance of the rhythms or undulations from another,
the explanation just referred to receives an accession of probability.

If it is objected that Professor Hering’s theory as to continuity of
vibrations being the key to memory and heredity involves the action of
more wheels within wheels than our imagination can come near to
comprehending, and also that it supposes this complexity of action as
going on within a compass which no unaided eye can detect by reason of
its littleness, so that we are carried into a fairy land with which sober
people should have nothing to do, it may be answered that the case of
light affords us an example of our being truly aware of a multitude of
minute actions, the hundred million millionth part of which we should
have declared to be beyond our ken, could we not incontestably prove that
we notice and count them all with a very sufficient and creditable

“Who would not,” {59a} says Sir John Herschel, “ask for demonstration
when told that a gnat’s wing, in its ordinary flight, beats many hundred
times in a second? or that there exist animated and regularly organised
beings many thousands of whose bodies laid close together would not
extend to an inch?  But what are these to the astonishing truths which
modern optical inquiries have disclosed, which teach us that every point
of a medium through which a ray of light passes is affected with a
succession of periodical movements, recurring regularly at equal
intervals, no less than five hundred millions of millions of times in a
second; that it is by such movements communicated to the nerves of our
eyes that we see; nay, more, that it is the _difference_ in the frequency
of their recurrence which affects us with the sense of the diversity of
colour; that, for instance, in acquiring the sensation of redness, our
eyes are affected four hundred and eighty-two millions of millions of
times; of yellowness, five hundred and forty-two millions of millions of
times; and of violet, seven hundred and seven millions of millions of
times per second? {59b}  Do not such things sound more like the ravings
of madmen than the sober conclusions of people in their waking senses?
They are, nevertheless, conclusions to which any one may most certainly
arrive who will only be at the pains of examining the chain of reasoning
by which they have been obtained.”

A man counting as hard as he can repeat numbers one after another, and
never counting more than a hundred, so that he shall have no long words
to repeat, may perhaps count ten thousand, or a hundred a hundred times
over, in an hour.  At this rate, counting night and day, and allowing no
time for rest or refreshment, he would count one million in four days and
four hours, or say four days only.  To count a million a million times
over, he would require four million days, or roughly ten thousand years;
for five hundred millions of millions, he must have the utterly
unrealisable period of five million years.  Yet he actually goes through
this stupendous piece of reckoning unconsciously hour after hour, day
after day, it may be for eighty years, _often in each second_ of
daylight; and how much more by artificial or subdued light I do not know.
He knows whether his eye is being struck five hundred millions of
millions of times, or only four hundred and eighty-two millions of
millions of times.  He thus shows that he estimates or counts each set of
vibrations, and registers them according to his results.  If a man writes
upon the back of a British Museum blotting-pad of the common _nonpareil_
pattern, on which there are some thousands of small spaces each differing
in colour from that which is immediately next to it, his eye will,
nevertheless, without an effort assign its true colour to each one of
these spaces.  This implies that he is all the time counting and taking
tally of the difference in the numbers of the vibrations from each one of
the small spaces in question.  Yet the mind that is capable of such
stupendous computations as these so long as it knows nothing about them,
makes no little fuss about the conscious adding together of such almost
inconceivably minute numbers as, we will say, 2730169 and 5790135—or, if
these be considered too large, as 27 and 19.  Let the reader remember
that he cannot by any effort bring before his mind the units, not in
ones, _but in millions of millions_ of the processes which his visual
organs are undergoing second after second from dawn till dark, and then
let him demur if he will to the possibility of the existence in a germ,
of currents and undercurrents, and rhythms and counter rhythms, also by
the million of millions—each one of which, on being overtaken by the
rhythm from without that chimes in with and stimulates it, may be the
beginning of that unsettlement of equilibrium which results in the crash
of action, unless it is timely counteracted.

If another objector maintains that the vibrations within the germ as
above supposed must be continually crossing and interfering with one
another in such a manner as to destroy the continuity of any one series,
it may be replied that the vibrations of the light proceeding from the
objects that surround us traverse one another by the millions of millions
every second yet in no way interfere with one another.  Nevertheless, it
must be admitted that the difficulties of the theory towards which I
suppose Professor Hering to incline are like those of all other theories
on the same subject—almost inconceivably great.

In “Life and Habit” I did not touch upon these vibrations, knowing
nothing about them.  Here, then, is one important point of difference,
not between the conclusions arrived at, but between the aim and scope of
the work that Professor Hering and I severally attempted.  Another
difference consists in the points at which we have left off.  Professor
Hering, having established his main thesis, is content.  I, on the other
hand, went on to maintain that if vigour was due to memory, want of
vigour was due to want of memory.  Thus I was led to connect memory with
the phenomena of hybridism and of old age; to show that the sterility of
certain animals under domestication is only a phase of, and of a piece
with, the very common sterility of hybrids—phenomena which at first sight
have no connection either with each other or with memory, but the
connection between which will never be lost sight of by those who have
once laid hold of it.  I also pointed out how exactly the phenomena of
development agreed with those of the abeyance and recurrence of memory,
and the rationale of the fact that puberty in so many animals and plants
comes about the end of development.  The principle underlying longevity
follows as a matter of course.  I have no idea how far Professor Hering
would agree with me in the position I have taken in respect of these
phenomena, but there is nothing in the above at variance with his

Another matter on which Professor Hering has not touched is the bearing
of his theory on that view of evolution which is now commonly accepted.
It is plain he accepts evolution, but it does not appear that he sees how
fatal his theory is to any view of evolution except a teleological
one—the purpose residing within the animal and not without it.  There is,
however, nothing in his lecture to indicate that he does not see this.

It should be remembered that the question whether memory is due to the
persistence within the body of certain vibrations, which have been
already set up within the bodies of its ancestors, is true or no, will
not affect the position I took up in “Life and Habit.”  In that book I
have maintained nothing more than that whatever memory is heredity is
also.  I am not committed to the vibration theory of memory, though
inclined to accept it on a _primâ facie_ view.  All I am committed to is,
that if memory is due to persistence of vibrations, so is heredity; and
if memory is not so due, then no more is heredity.

Finally, I may say that Professor Hering’s lecture, the passage quoted
from Dr. Erasmus Darwin on p. 26 of this volume, and a few hints in the
extracts from Mr. Patrick Mathew which I have quoted in “Evolution, Old
and New,” are all that I yet know of in other writers as pointing to the
conclusion that the phenomena of heredity are phenomena also of memory.

Chapter VI

Professor Ewald Hering “On Memory.”

I WILL now lay before the reader a translation of Professor Hering’s own
words.  I have had it carefully revised throughout by a gentleman whose
native language is German, but who has resided in England for many years
past.  The original lecture is entitled “On Memory as a Universal
Function of Organised Matter,” and was delivered at the anniversary
meeting of the Imperial Academy of Sciences at Vienna, May 30, 1870. {63}
It is as follows:—

“When the student of Nature quits the narrow workshop of his own
particular inquiry, and sets out upon an excursion into the vast kingdom
of philosophical investigation, he does so, doubtless, in the hope of
finding the answer to that great riddle, to the solution of a small part
of which he devotes his life.  Those, however, whom he leaves behind him
still working at their own special branch of inquiry, regard his
departure with secret misgivings on his behalf, while the born citizens
of the kingdom of speculation among whom he would naturalise himself,
receive him with well-authorised distrust.  He is likely, therefore, to
lose ground with the first, while not gaining it with the second.

The subject to the consideration of which I would now solicit your
attention does certainly appear likely to lure us on towards the
flattering land of speculation, but bearing in mind what I have just
said, I will beware of quitting the department of natural science to
which I have devoted myself hitherto.  I shall, however, endeavour to
attain its highest point, so as to take a freer view of the surrounding

It will soon appear that I should fail in this purpose if my remarks were
to confine themselves solely to physiology.  I hope to show how far
psychological investigations also afford not only permissible, but
indispensable, aid to physiological inquiries.

Consciousness is an accompaniment of that animal and human organisation
and of that material mechanism which it is the province of physiology to
explore; and as long as the atoms of the brain follow their due course
according to certain definite laws, there arises an inner life which
springs from sensation and idea, from feeling and will.

We feel this in our own cases; it strikes us in our converse with other
people; we can see it plainly in the more highly organised animals; even
the lowest forms of life bear traces of it; and who can draw a line in
the kingdom of organic life, and say that it is here the soul ceases?

With what eyes, then, is physiology to regard this two-fold life of the
organised world?  Shall she close them entirely to one whole side of it,
that she may fix them more intently on the other?

So long as the physiologist is content to be a physicist, and nothing
more—using the word “physicist” in its widest signification—his position
in regard to the organic world is one of extreme but legitimate
one-sidedness.  As the crystal to the mineralogist or the vibrating
string to the acoustician, so from this point of view both man and the
lower animals are to the physiologist neither more nor less than the
matter of which they consist.  That animals feel desire and repugnance,
that the material mechanism of the human frame is in chose connection
with emotions of pleasure or pain, and with the active idea-life of
consciousness—this cannot, in the eyes of the physicist, make the animal
or human body into anything more than what it actually is.  To him it is
a combination of matter, subjected to the same inflexible laws as stones
and plants—a material combination, the outward and inward movements of
which interact as cause and effect, and are in as close connection with
each other and with their surroundings as the working of a machine with
the revolutions of the wheels that compose it.

Neither sensation, nor idea, nor yet conscious will, can form a link in
this chain of material occurrences which make up the physical life of an
organism.  If I am asked a question and reply to it, the material process
which the nerve fibre conveys from the organ of hearing to the brain must
travel through my brain as an actual and material process before it can
reach the nerves which will act upon my organs of speech.  It cannot, on
reaching a given place in the brain, change then and there into an
immaterial something, and turn up again some time afterwards in another
part of the brain as a material process.  The traveller in the desert
might as well hope, before he again goes forth into the wilderness of
reality, to take rest and refreshment in the oasis with which the Fata
Morgana illudes him; or as well might a prisoner hope to escape from his
prison through a door reflected in a mirror.

So much for the physiologist in his capacity of pure physicist.  As long
as he remains behind the scenes in painful exploration of the details of
the machinery—as long as he only observes the action of the players from
behind the stage—so long will he miss the spirit of the performance,
which is, nevertheless, caught easily by one who sees it from the front.
May he not, then, for once in a way, be allowed to change his standpoint?
True, he came not to see the representation of an imaginary world; he is
in search of the actual; but surely it must help him to a comprehension
of the dramatic apparatus itself, and of the manner in which it is
worked, if he were to view its action from in front as well as from
behind, or at least allow himself to hear what sober-minded spectators
can tell him upon the subject.

There can be no question as to the answer; and hence it comes that
psychology is such an indispensable help to physiology, whose fault it
only in small part is that she has hitherto made such little use of this
assistance; for psychology has been late in beginning to till her fertile
field with the plough of the inductive method, and it is only from ground
so tilled that fruits can spring which can be of service to physiology.

If, then, the student of nervous physiology takes his stand between the
physicist and the psychologist, and if the first of these rightly makes
the unbroken causative continuity of all material processes an axiom of
his system of investigation, the prudent psychologist, on the other hand,
will investigate the laws of conscious life according to the inductive
method, and will hence, as much as the physicist, make the existence of
fixed laws his initial assumption.  If, again, the most superficial
introspection teaches the physiologist that his conscious life is
dependent upon the mechanical adjustments of his body, and that inversely
his body is subjected with certain limitations to his will, then it only
remains for him to make one assumption more, namely, _that this mutual
interdependence between the spiritual and the material is itself also
dependent on law_, and he has discovered the bond by which the science of
matter and the science of consciousness are united into a single whole.

Thus regarded, the phenomena of consciousness become functions of the
material changes of organised substance, and inversely—though this is
involved in the use of the word “function”—the material processes of
brain substance become functions of the phenomena of consciousness.  For
when two variables are so dependent upon one another in the changes they
undergo in accordance with fixed laws that a change in either involves
simultaneous and corresponding change in the other, the one is called a
function of the other.

This, then, by no means implies that the two variables above-named—matter
and consciousness—stand in the relation of cause and effect, antecedent
and consequence, to one another.  For on this subject we know nothing.

The materialist regards consciousness as a product or result of matter,
while the idealist holds matter to be a result of consciousness, and a
third maintains that matter and spirit are identical; with all this the
physiologist, as such, has nothing whatever to do; his sole concern is
with the fact that matter and consciousness are functions one of the

By the help of this hypothesis of the functional interdependence of
matter and spirit, modern physiology is enabled to bring the phenomena of
consciousness within the domain of her investigations without leaving the
_terra firma_ of scientific methods.  The physiologist, as physicist, can
follow the ray of light and the wave of sound or heat till they reach the
organ of sense.  He can watch them entering upon the ends of the nerves,
and finding their way to the cells of the brain by means of the series of
undulations or vibrations which they establish in the nerve filaments.
Here, however, he loses all trace of them.  On the other hand, still
looking with the eyes of a pure physicist, he sees sound waves of speech
issue from the mouth of a speaker; he observes the motion of his own
limbs, and finds how this is conditional upon muscular contractions
occasioned by the motor nerves, and how these nerves are in their turn
excited by the cells of the central organ.  But here again his knowledge
comes to an end.  True, he sees indications of the bridge which is to
carry him from excitation of the sensory to that of the motor nerves in
the labyrinth of intricately interwoven nerve cells, but he knows nothing
of the inconceivably complex process which is introduced at this stage.
Here the physiologist will change his standpoint; what matter will not
reveal to his inquiry, he will find in the mirror, as it were, of
consciousness; by way of a reflection, indeed, only, but a reflection,
nevertheless, which stands in intimate relation to the object of his
inquiry.  When at this point he observes how one idea gives rise to
another, how closely idea is connected with sensation and sensation with
will, and how thought, again, and feeling are inseparable from one
another, he will be compelled to suppose corresponding successions of
material processes, which generate and are closely connected with one
another, and which attend the whole machinery of conscious life,
according to the law of the functional interdependence of matter and

                                * * * * *

After this explanation I shall venture to regard under a single aspect a
great series of phenomena which apparently have nothing to do with one
another, and which belong partly to the conscious and partly to the
unconscious life of organised beings.  I shall regard them as the outcome
of one and the same primary force of organised matter—namely, its memory
or power of reproduction.

The word “memory” is often understood as though it meant nothing more
than our faculty of intentionally reproducing ideas or series of ideas.
But when the figures and events of bygone days rise up again unbidden in
our minds, is not this also an act of recollection or memory?  We have a
perfect right to extend our conception of memory so as to make it embrace
involuntary reproductions, of sensations, ideas, perceptions, and
efforts; but we find, on having done so, that we have so far enlarged her
boundaries that she proves to be an ultimate and original power, the
source, and at the same time the unifying bond, of our whole conscious

We know that when an impression, or a series of impressions, has been
made upon our senses for a long time, and always in the same way, it may
come to impress itself in such a manner upon the so-called sense-memory
that hours afterwards, and though a hundred other things have occupied
our attention meanwhile, it will yet return suddenly to our consciousness
with all the force and freshness of the original sensation.  A whole
group of sensations is sometimes reproduced in its due sequence as
regards time and space, with so much reality that it illudes us, as
though things were actually present which have long ceased to be so.  We
have here a striking proof of the fact that after both conscious
sensation and perception have been extinguished, their material vestiges
yet remain in our nervous system by way of a change in its molecular or
atomic disposition, {69} that enables the nerve substance to reproduce
all the physical processes of the original sensation, and with these the
corresponding psychical processes of sensation and perception.

Every hour the phenomena of sense-memory are present with each one of us,
but in a less degree than this.  We are all at times aware of a host of
more or less faded recollections of earlier impressions, which we either
summon intentionally or which come upon us involuntarily.  Visions of
absent people come and go before us as faint and fleeting shadows, and
the notes of long-forgotten melodies float around us, not actually heard,
but yet perceptible.

Some things and occurrences, especially if they have happened to us only
once and hurriedly, will be reproducible by the memory in respect only of
a few conspicuous qualities; in other cases those details alone will
recur to us which we have met with elsewhere, and for the reception of
which the brain is, so to speak, attuned.  These last recollections find
themselves in fuller accord with our consciousness, and enter upon it
more easily and energetically; hence also their aptitude for reproduction
is enhanced; so that what is common to many things, and is therefore felt
and perceived with exceptional frequency, becomes reproduced so easily
that eventually the actual presence of the corresponding external
_stimuli_ is no longer necessary, and it will recur on the vibrations set
up by faint _stimuli_ from within. {70}  Sensations arising in this way
from within, as, for example, an idea of whiteness, are not, indeed,
perceived with the full freshness of those raised by the actual presence
of white light without us, but they are of the same kind; they are feeble
repetitions of one and the same material brain process—of one and the
same conscious sensation.  Thus the idea of whiteness arises in our mind
as a faint, almost extinct, sensation.

In this way those qualities which are common to many things become
separated, as it were, in our memory from the objects with which they
were originally associated, and attain an independent existence in our
consciousness as _ideas_ and _conceptions_, and thus the whole rich
superstructure of our ideas and conceptions is built up from materials
supplied by memory.

On examining more closely, we see plainly that memory is a faculty not
only of our conscious states, but also, and much more so, of our
unconscious ones.  I was conscious of this or that yesterday, and am
again conscious of it to-day.  Where has it been meanwhile?  It does not
remain continuously within my consciousness, nevertheless it returns
after having quitted it.  Our ideas tread but for a moment upon the stage
of consciousness, and then go back again behind the scenes, to make way
for others in their place.  As the player is only a king when he is on
the stage, so they too exist as ideas so long only as they are
recognised.  How do they live when they are off the stage?  For we know
that they are living somewhere; give them their cue and they reappear
immediately.  They do not exist continuously as ideas; what is continuous
is the special disposition of nerve substance in virtue of which this
substance gives out to-day the same sound which it gave yesterday if it
is rightly struck. {71}  Countless reproductions of organic processes of
our brain connect themselves orderly together, so that one acts as a
stimulus to the next, but a phenomenon of consciousness is not
necessarily attached to every link in the chain.  From this it arises
that a series of ideas may appear to disregard the order that would be
observed in purely material processes of brain substance unaccompanied by
consciousness; but on the other hand it becomes possible for a long chain
of recollections to have its due development without each link in the
chain being necessarily perceived by ourselves.  One may emerge from the
bosom of our unconscious thoughts without fully entering upon the stage
of conscious perception; another dies away in unconsciousness, leaving no
successor to take its place.  Between the “me” of to-day and the “me” of
yesterday lie night and sleep, abysses of unconsciousness; nor is there
any bridge but memory with which to span them.  Who can hope after this
to disentangle the infinite intricacy of our inner life?  For we can only
follow its threads so far as they have strayed over within the bounds of
consciousness.  We might as well hope to familiarise ourselves with the
world of forms that teem within the bosom of the sea by observing the few
that now and again come to the surface and soon return into the deep.

The bond of union, therefore, which connects the individual phenomena of
our consciousness lies in our unconscious world; and as we know nothing
of this but what investigation into the laws of matter teach us—as, in
fact, for purely experimental purposes, “matter” and the “unconscious”
must be one and the same thing—so the physiologist has a full right to
denote memory as, in the wider sense of the word, a function of brain
substance, whose results, it is true, fall, as regards one part of them,
into the domain of consciousness, while another and not less essential
part escapes unperceived as purely material processes.

The perception of a body in space is a very complicated process.  I see
suddenly before me, for example, a white ball.  This has the effect of
conveying to me more than a mere sensation of whiteness.  I deduce the
spherical character of the ball from the gradations of light and shade
upon its surface.  I form a correct appreciation of its distance from my
eye, and hence again I deduce an inference as to the size of the ball.
What an expenditure of sensations, ideas, and inferences is found to be
necessary before all this can be brought about; yet the production of a
correct perception of the ball was the work only of a few seconds, and I
was unconscious of the individual processes by means of which it was
effected, the result as a whole being alone present in my consciousness.

The nerve substance preserves faithfully the memory of habitual actions.
{72}  Perceptions which were once long and difficult, requiring constant
and conscious attention, come to reproduce themselves in transient and
abridged guise, without such duration and intensity that each link has to
pass over the threshold of our consciousness.

We have chains of material nerve processes to which eventually a link
becomes attached that is attended with conscious perception.  This is
sufficiently established from the standpoint of the physiologist, and is
also proved by our unconsciousness of many whole series of ideas and of
the inferences we draw from them.  If the soul is not to ship through the
fingers of physiology, she must hold fast to the considerations suggested
by our unconscious states.  As far, however, as the investigations of the
pure physicist are concerned, the unconscious and matter are one and the
same thing, and the physiology of the unconscious is no “philosophy of
the unconscious.”

By far the greater number of our movements are the result of long and
arduous practice.  The harmonious cooperation of the separate muscles,
the finely adjusted measure of participation which each contributes to
the working of the whole, must, as a rule, have been laboriously
acquired, in respect of most of the movements that are necessary in order
to effect it.  How long does it not take each note to find its way from
the eyes to the fingers of one who is beginning to learn the pianoforte;
and, on the other hand, what an astonishing performance is the playing of
the professional pianist.  The sight of each note occasions the
corresponding movement of the fingers with the speed of thought—a hurried
glance at the page of music before him suffices to give rise to a whole
series of harmonies; nay, when a melody has been long practised, it can
be played even while the player’s attention is being given to something
of a perfectly different character over and above his music.

The will need now no longer wend its way to each individual finger before
the desired movements can be extorted from it; no longer now does a
sustained attention keep watch over the movements of each limb; the will
need exercise a supervising control only.  At the word of command the
muscles become active, with a due regard to time and proportion, and go
on working, so long as they are bidden to keep in their accustomed
groove, while a slight hint on the part of the will, will indicate to
them their further journey.  How could all this be if every part of the
central nerve system, by means of which movement is effected, were not
able {74a} to reproduce whole series of vibrations, which at an earlier
date required the constant and continuous participation of consciousness,
but which are now set in motion automatically on a mere touch, as it
were, from consciousness—if it were not able to reproduce them the more
quickly and easily in proportion to the frequency of the repetitions—if,
in fact, there was no power of recollecting earlier performances?  Our
perceptive faculties must have remained always at their lowest stage if
we had been compelled to build up consciously every process from the
details of the sensation-causing materials tendered to us by our senses;
nor could our voluntary movements have got beyond the helplessness of the
child, if the necessary impulses could only be imparted to every movement
through effort of the will and conscious reproduction of all the
corresponding ideas—if, in a word, the motor nerve system had not also
its memory, {74b} though that memory is unperceived by ourselves.  The
power of this memory is what is called “the force of habit.”

It seems, then, that we owe to memory almost all that we either have or
are; that our ideas and conceptions are its work, and that our every
perception, thought, and movement is derived from this source.  Memory
collects the countless phenomena of our existence into a single whole;
and as our bodies would be scattered into the dust of their component
atoms if they were not held together by the attraction of matter, so our
consciousness would be broken up into as many fragments as we had lived
seconds but for the binding and unifying force of memory.

We have already repeatedly seen that the reproductions of organic
processes, brought about by means of the memory of the nervous system,
enter but partly within the domain of consciousness, remaining
unperceived in other and not less important respects.  This is also
confirmed by numerous facts in the life of that part of the nervous
system which ministers almost exclusively to our unconscious life
processes.  For the memory of the so-called sympathetic ganglionic system
is no less rich than that of the brain and spinal marrow, and a great
part of the medical art consists in making wise use of the assistance
thus afforded us.

To bring, however, this part of my observations to a close, I will take
leave of the nervous system, and glance hurriedly at other phases of
organised matter, where we meet with the same powers of reproduction, but
in simpler guise.

Daily experience teaches us that a muscle becomes the stronger the more
we use it.  The muscular fibre, which in the first instance may have
answered but feebly to the stimulus conducted to it by the motor nerve,
does so with the greater energy the more often it is stimulated,
provided, of course, that reasonable times are allowed for repose.  After
each individual action it becomes more capable, more disposed towards the
same kind of work, and has a greater aptitude for repetition of the same
organic processes.  It gains also in weight, for it assimilates more
matter than when constantly at rest.  We have here, in its simplest form,
and in a phase which comes home most closely to the comprehension of the
physicist, the same power of reproduction which we encountered when we
were dealing with nerve substance, but under such far more complicated
conditions.  And what is known thus certainly from muscle substance holds
good with greater or less plainness for all our organs.  More especially
may we note the fact, that after increased use, alternated with times of
repose, there accrues to the organ in all animal economy an increased
power of execution with an increased power of assimilation and a gain in

This gain in size consists not only in the enlargement of the individual
cells or fibres of which the organ is composed, but in the multiplication
of their number; for when cells have grown to a certain size they give
rise to others, which inherit more or less completely the qualities of
those from which they came, and therefore appear to be repetitions of the
same cell.  This growth, and multiplication of cells is only a special
phase of those manifold functions which characterise organised matter,
and which consist not only in what goes on within the cell substance as
alterations or undulatory movement of the molecular disposition, but also
in that which becomes visible outside the cells as change of shape,
enlargement, or subdivision.  Reproduction of performance, therefore,
manifests itself to us as reproduction of the cells themselves, as may be
seen most plainly in the case of plants, whose chief work consists in
growth, whereas with animal organism other faculties greatly

Let us now take a brief survey of a class of facts in the case of which
we may most abundantly observe the power of memory in organised matter.
We have ample evidence of the fact that characteristics of an organism
may descend to offspring which the organism did not inherit, but which it
acquired owing to the special circumstances under which it lived; and
that, in consequence, every organism imparts to the germ that issues from
it a small heritage of acquisitions which it has added during its own
lifetime to the gross inheritance of its race.

When we reflect that we are dealing with the heredity of acquired
qualities which came to development in the most diverse parts of the
parent organism, it must seem in a high degree mysterious how those parts
can have any kind of influence upon a germ which develops itself in an
entirely different place.  Many mystical theories have been propounded
for the elucidation of this question, but the following reflections may
serve to bring the cause nearer to the comprehension of the physiologist.

The nerve substance, in spite of its thousandfold subdivision as cells
and fibres, forms, nevertheless, a united whole, which is present
directly in all organs—nay, as more recent histology conjectures, in each
cell of the more important organs—or is at least in ready communication
with them by means of the living, irritable, and therefore highly
conductive substance of other cells.  Through the connection thus
established all organs find themselves in such a condition of more or
less mutual interdependence upon one another, that events which happen to
one are repeated in others, and a notification, however slight, of a
vibration set up {77} in one quarter is at once conveyed even to the
farthest parts of the body.  With this easy and rapid intercourse between
all parts is associated the more difficult communication that goes on by
way of the circulation of sap or blood.

We see, further, that the process of the development of all germs that
are marked out for independent existence causes a powerful reaction, even
from the very beginning of that existence, on both the conscious and
unconscious life of the whole organism.  We may see this from the fact
that the organ of reproduction stands in closer and more important
relation to the remaining parts, and especially to the nervous system,
than do the other organs; and, inversely, that both the perceived and
unperceived events affecting the whole organism find a more marked
response in the reproductive system than elsewhere.

We can now see with sufficient plainness in what the material connection
is established between the acquired peculiarities of an organism, and the
proclivity on the part of the germ in virtue of which it develops the
special characteristics of its parent.

The microscope teaches us that no difference can be perceived between one
germ and another; it cannot, however, be objected on this account that
the determining cause of its ulterior development must be something
immaterial, rather than the specific kind of its material constitution.

The curves and surfaces which the mathematician conceives, or finds
conceivable, are more varied and infinite than the forms of animal life.
Let us suppose an infinitely small segment to be taken from every
possible curve; each one of these will appear as like every other as one
germ is to another, yet the whole of every curve lies dormant, as it
were, in each of them, and if the mathematician chooses to develop it, it
will take the path indicated by the elements of each segment.

It is an error, therefore, to suppose that such fine distinctions as
physiology must assume lie beyond the limits of what is conceivable by
the human mind.  An infinitely small change of position on the part of a
point, or in the relations of the parts of a segment of a curve to one
another, suffices to alter the law of its whole path, and so in like
manner an infinitely small influence exercised by the parent organism on
the molecular disposition of the germ {78} may suffice to produce a
determining effect upon its whole farther development.

What is the descent of special peculiarities but a reproduction on the
part of organised matter of processes in which it once took part as a
germ in the germ-containing organs of its parent, and of which it seems
still to retain a recollection that reappears when time and the occasion
serve, inasmuch as it responds to the same or like stimuli in a like way
to that in which the parent organism responded, of which it was once
part, and in the events of whose history it was itself also an
accomplice? {79}  When an action through long habit or continual practice
has become so much a second nature to any organisation that its effects
will penetrate, though ever so faintly, into the germ that lies within
it, and when this last comes to find itself in a new sphere, to extend
itself, and develop into a new creature—(the individual parts of which
are still always the creature itself and flesh of its flesh, so that what
is reproduced is the same being as that in company with which the germ
once lived, and of which it was once actually a part)—all this is as
wonderful as when a grey-haired man remembers the events of his own
childhood; but it is not more so.  Whether we say that the same organised
substance is again reproducing its past experience, or whether we prefer
to hold that an offshoot or part of the original substance has waxed and
developed itself since separation from the parent stock, it is plain that
this will constitute a difference of degree, not kind.

When we reflect upon the fact that unimportant acquired characteristics
can be reproduced in offspring, we are apt to forget that offspring is
only a full-sized reproduction of the parent—a reproduction, moreover,
that goes as far as possible into detail.  We are so accustomed to
consider family resemblance a matter of course, that we are sometimes
surprised when a child is in some respect unlike its parent; surely,
however, the infinite number of points in respect of which parents and
children resemble one another is a more reasonable ground for our

But if the substance of the germ can reproduce characteristics acquired
by the parent during its single life, how much more will it not be able
to reproduce those that were congenital to the parent, and which have
happened through countless generations to the organised matter of which
the germ of to-day is a fragment?  We cannot wonder that action already
taken on innumerable past occasions by organised matter is more deeply
impressed upon the recollection of the germ to which it gives rise than
action taken once only during a single lifetime. {80a}

We must bear in mind that every organised being now in existence
represents the last link of an inconceivably long series of organisms,
which come down in a direct line of descent, and of which each has
inherited a part of the acquired characteristics of its predecessor.
Everything, furthermore, points in the direction of our believing that at
the beginning of this chain there existed an organism of the very
simplest kind, something, in fact, like those which we call organised
germs.  The chain of living beings thus appears to be the magnificent
achievement of the reproductive power of the original organic structure
from which they have all descended.  As this subdivided itself and
transmitted its characteristics {80b} to its descendants, these acquired
new ones, and in their turn transmitted them—all new germs transmitting
the chief part of what had happened to their predecessors, while the
remaining part lapsed out of their memory, circumstances not stimulating
it to reproduce itself.

An organised being, therefore, stands before us a product of the
unconscious memory of organised matter, which, ever increasing and ever
dividing itself, ever assimilating new matter and returning it in changed
shape to the inorganic world, ever receiving some new thing into its
memory, and transmitting its acquisitions by the way of reproduction,
grows continually richer and richer the longer it lives.

Thus regarded, the development of one of the more highly organised
animals represents a continuous series of organised recollections
concerning the past development of the great chain of living forms, the
last link of which stands before us in the particular animal we may be
considering.  As a complicated perception may arise by means of a rapid
and superficial reproduction of long and laboriously practised brain
processes, so a germ in the course of its development hurries through a
series of phases, hinting at them only.  Often and long foreshadowed in
theories of varied characters, this conception has only now found correct
exposition from a naturalist of our own time. {81}  For Truth hides
herself under many disguises from those who seek her, but in the end
stands unveiled before the eyes of him whom she has chosen.

Not only is there a reproduction of form, outward and inner conformation
of body, organs, and cells, but the habitual actions of the parent are
also reproduced.  The chicken on emerging from the eggshell runs off as
its mother ran off before it; yet what an extraordinary complication of
emotions and sensations is necessary in order to preserve equilibrium in
running.  Surely the supposition of an inborn capacity for the
reproduction of these intricate actions can alone explain the facts.  As
habitual practice becomes a second nature to the individual during his
single lifetime, so the often-repeated action of each generation becomes
a second nature to the race.

The chicken not only displays great dexterity in the performance of
movements for the effecting of which it has an innate capacity, but it
exhibits also a tolerably high perceptive power.  It immediately picks up
any grain that may be thrown to it.  Yet, in order to do this, more is
wanted than a mere visual perception of the grains; there must be an
accurate apprehension of the direction and distance of the precise spot
in which each grain is lying, and there must be no less accuracy in the
adjustment of the movements of the head and of the whole body.  The
chicken cannot have gained experience in these respects while it was
still in the egg.  It gained it rather from the thousands of thousands of
beings that have lived before it, and from which it is directly

The memory of organised substance displays itself here in the most
surprising fashion.  The gentle stimulus of the light proceeding from the
grain that affects the retina of the chicken, {82} gives occasion for the
reproduction of a many-linked chain of sensations, perceptions, and
emotions, which were never yet brought together in the case of the
individual before us.  We are accustomed to regard these surprising
performances of animals as manifestations of what we call instinct, and
the mysticism of natural philosophy has ever shown a predilection for
this theme; but if we regard instinct as the outcome of the memory or
reproductive power of organised substance, and if we ascribe a memory to
the race as we already ascribe it to the individual, then instinct
becomes at once intelligible, and the physiologist at the same time finds
a point of contact which will bring it into connection with the great
series of facts indicated above as phenomena of the reproductive faculty.
Here, then, we have a physical explanation which has not, indeed, been
given yet, but the time for which appears to be rapidly approaching.

When, in accordance with its instinct, the caterpillar becomes a
chrysalis, or the bird builds its nest, or the bee its cell, these
creatures act consciously and not as blind machines.  They know how to
vary their proceedings within certain limits in conformity with altered
circumstances, and they are thus liable to make mistakes.  They feel
pleasure when their work advances and pain if it is hindered; they learn
by the experience thus acquired, and build on a second occasion better
than on the first; but that even in the outset they hit so readily upon
the most judicious way of achieving their purpose, and that their
movements adapt themselves so admirably and automatically to the end they
have in view—surely this is owing to the inherited acquisitions of the
memory of their nerve substance, which requires but a touch and it will
fall at once to the most appropriate kind of activity, thinking always,
and directly, of whatever it is that may be wanted.

Man can readily acquire surprising kinds of dexterity if he confines his
attention to their acquisition.  Specialisation is the mother of
proficiency.  He who marvels at the skill with which the spider weaves
her web should bear in mind that she did not learn her art all on a
sudden, but that innumerable generations of spiders acquired it
toilsomely and step by step—this being about all that, as a general rule,
they did acquire.  Man took to bows and arrows if his nets failed him—the
spider starved.  Thus we see the body and—what most concerns us—the whole
nervous system of the new-born animal constructed beforehand, and, as it
were, ready attuned for intercourse with the outside world in which it is
about to play its part, by means of its tendency to respond to external
stimuli in the same manner as it has often heretofore responded in the
persons of its ancestors.

We naturally ask whether the brain and nervous system of the human infant
are subjected to the principles we have laid down above?  Man certainly
finds it difficult to acquire arts of which the lower animals are born
masters; but the brain of man at birth is much farther from its highest
development than is the brain of an animal.  It not only grows for a
longer time, but it becomes stronger than that of other living beings.
The brain of man may be said to be exceptionally young at birth.  The
lower animal is born precocious, and acts precociously; it resembles
those infant prodigies whose brain, as it were, is born old into the
world, but who, in spite of, or rather in addition to, their rich
endowment at birth, in after life develop as much mental power as others
who were less splendidly furnished to start with, but born with greater
freshness of youth.  Man’s brain, and indeed his whole body, affords
greater scope for individuality, inasmuch as a relatively greater part of
it is of post-natal growth.  It develops under the influence of
impressions made by the environment upon its senses, and thus makes its
acquisitions in a more special and individual manner, whereas the animal
receives them ready made, and of a more final, stereotyped character.

Nevertheless, it is plain we must ascribe both to the brain and body of
the new-born infant a far-reaching power of remembering or reproducing
things which have already come to their development thousands of times
over in the persons of its ancestors.  It is in virtue of this that it
acquires proficiency in the actions necessary for its existence—so far as
it was not already at birth proficient in them—much more quickly and
easily than would be otherwise possible; but what we call instinct in the
case of animals takes in man the looser form of aptitude, talent, and
genius. {84}  Granted that certain ideas are not innate, yet the fact of
their taking form so easily and certainly from out of the chaos of his
sensations, is due not to his own labour, but to that of the brain
substance of the thousands of thousands of generations from whom he is
descended.  Theories concerning the development of individual
consciousness which deny heredity or the power of transmission, and
insist upon an entirely fresh start for every human soul, as though the
infinite number of generations that have gone before us might as well
have never lived for all the effect they have had upon ourselves,—such
theories will contradict the facts of our daily experience at every touch
and turn.

The brain processes and phenomena of consciousness which ennoble man in
the eyes of his fellows have had a less ancient history than those
connected with his physical needs.  Hunger and the reproductive instinct
affected the oldest and simplest forms of the organic world.  It is in
respect of these instincts, therefore, and of the means to gratify them,
that the memory of organised substance is strongest—the impulses and
instincts that arise hence having still paramount power over the minds of
men.  The spiritual life has been superadded slowly; its most splendid
outcome belongs to the latest epoch in the history of organised matter,
nor has any very great length of time elapsed since the nervous system
was first crowned with the glory of a large and well-developed brain.

Oral tradition and written history have been called the memory of man,
and this is not without its truth.  But there is another and a living
memory in the innate reproductive power of brain substance, and without
this both writings and oral tradition would be without significance to
posterity.  The most sublime ideas, though never so immortalised in
speech or letters, are yet nothing for heads that are out of harmony with
them; they must be not only heard, but reproduced; and both speech and
writing would be in vain were there not an inheritance of inward and
outward brain development, growing in correspondence with the inheritance
of ideas that are handed down from age to age, and did not an enhanced
capacity for their reproduction on the part of each succeeding generation
accompany the thoughts that have been preserved in writing.  Man’s
conscious memory comes to an end at death, but the unconscious memory of
Nature is true and ineradicable: whoever succeeds in stamping upon her
the impress of his work, she will remember him to the end of time.

Chapter VII

Introduction to a translation of the chapter upon instinct in Von
Hartmann’s “Philosophy of the Unconscious.”

I AM afraid my readers will find the chapter on instinct from Von
Hartmann’s “Philosophy of the Unconscious,” which will now follow, as
distasteful to read as I did to translate, and would gladly have spared
it them if I could.  At present, the works of Mr. Sully, who has treated
of the “Philosophy of the Unconscious” both in the _Westminster Review_
(vol. xlix. N.S.) and in his work “Pessimism,” are the best source to
which English readers can have recourse for information concerning Von
Hartmann.  Giving him all credit for the pains he has taken with an
ungrateful, if not impossible subject, I think that a sufficient sample
of Von Hartmann’s own words will be a useful adjunct to Mr. Sully’s work,
and may perhaps save some readers trouble by resolving them to look no
farther into the “Philosophy of the Unconscious.”  Over and above this, I
have been so often told that the views concerning unconscious action
contained in the foregoing lecture and in “Life and Habit” are only the
very fallacy of Von Hartmann over again, that I should like to give the
public an opportunity of seeing whether this is so or no, by placing the
two contending theories of unconscious action side by side.  I hope that
it will thus be seen that neither Professor Hering nor I have fallen into
the fallacy of Von Hartmann, but that rather Von Hartmann has fallen into
his fallacy through failure to grasp the principle which Professor Hering
has insisted upon, and to connect heredity with memory.

Professor Hering’s philosophy of the unconscious is of extreme
simplicity.  He rests upon a fact of daily and hourly experience, namely,
that practice makes things easy that were once difficult, and often
results in their being done without any consciousness of effort.  But if
the repetition of an act tends ultimately, under certain circumstances,
to its being done unconsciously, so also is the fact of an intricate and
difficult action being done unconsciously an argument that it must have
been done repeatedly already.  As I said in “Life and Habit,” it is more
easy to suppose that occasions on which such an action has been performed
have not been wanting, even though we do not see when and where they
were, than that the facility which we observe should have been attained
without practice and memory (p. 56).

There can be nothing better established or more easy, whether to
understand or verify, than the unconsciousness with which habitual
actions come to be performed.  If, however, it is once conceded that it
is the manner of habitual action generally, then all _à priori_ objection
to Professor Hering’s philosophy of the unconscious is at an end.  The
question becomes one of fact in individual cases, and of degree.

How far, then, does the principle of the convertibility, as it were, of
practice and unconsciousness extend?  Can any line be drawn beyond which
it shall cease to operate?  If not, may it not have operated and be
operating to a vast and hitherto unsuspected extent?  This is all, and
certainly it is sufficiently simple.  I sometimes think it has found its
greatest stumbling-block in its total want of mystery, as though we must
be like those conjurers whose stock in trade is a small deal table and a
kitchen-chair with bare legs, and who, with their parade of “no
deception” and “examine everything for yourselves,” deceive worse than
others who make use of all manner of elaborate paraphernalia.  It is true
we require no paraphernalia, and we produce unexpected results, but we
are not conjuring.

To turn now to Von Hartmann.  When I read Mr. Sully’s article in the
_Westminster Review_, I did not know whether the sense of mystification
which it produced in me was wholly due to Von Hartmann or no; but on
making acquaintance with Von Hartmann himself, I found that Mr. Sully has
erred, if at all, in making him more intelligible than he actually is.
Von Hartmann has not got a meaning.  Give him Professor Hering’s key and
he might get one, but it would be at the expense of seeing what approach
he had made to a system fallen to pieces.  Granted that in his details
and subordinate passages he often both has and conveys a meaning, there
is, nevertheless, no coherence between these details, and the nearest
approach to a broad conception covering the work which the reader can
carry away with him is at once so incomprehensible and repulsive, that it
is difficult to write about it without saying more perhaps than those who
have not seen the original will accept as likely to be true.  The idea to
which I refer is that of an unconscious clairvoyance, which, from the
language continually used concerning it, must be of the nature of a
person, and which is supposed to take possession of living beings so
fully as to be the very essence of their nature, the promoter of their
embryonic development, and the instigator of their instinctive actions.
This approaches closely to the personal God of Mosaic and Christian
theology, with the exception that the word “clairvoyance” {89} is
substituted for God, and that the God is supposed to be unconscious.

Mr. Sully says:—

    “When we grasp it [the philosophy of Von Hartmann] as a whole, it
    amounts to nothing more than this, that all or nearly all the
    phenomena of the material and spiritual world rest upon and result
    from a mysterious, unconscious being, though to call it being is
    really to add on an idea not immediately contained within the
    all-sufficient principle.  But what difference is there between this
    and saying that the phenomena of the world at large come we know not
    whence? . . . The unconscious, therefore, tends to be simple phrase
    and nothing more . . . No doubt there are a number of mental
    processes . . . of which we are unconscious . . . but to infer from
    this that they are due to an unconscious power, and to proceed to
    demonstrate them in the presence of the unconscious through all
    nature, is to make an unwarrantable _saltus_ in reasoning.  What, in
    fact, is this ‘unconscious’ but a high-sounding name to veil our
    ignorance?  Is the unconscious any better explanation of phenomena we
    do not understand than the ‘devil-devil’ by which Australian tribes
    explain the Leyden jar and its phenomena?  Does it increase our
    knowledge to know that we do not know the origin of language or the
    cause of instinct? . . . Alike in organic creation and the evolution
    of history ‘performances and actions’—the words are those of
    Strauss—are ascribed to an unconscious, which can only belong to a
    conscious being. {90a}

                                  . . . . .

    “The difficulties of the system advance as we proceed. {90b}
    Subtract this questionable factor—the unconscious from Hartmann’s
    ‘Biology and Psychology,’ and the chapters remain pleasant and
    instructive reading.  But with the third part of his work—the
    Metaphysic of the Unconscious—our feet are clogged at every step.  We
    are encircled by the merest play of words, the most unsatisfactory
    demonstrations, and most inconsistent inferences.  The theory of
    final causes has been hitherto employed to show the wisdom of the
    world; with our Pessimist philosopher it shows nothing but its
    irrationality and misery.  Consciousness has been generally supposed
    to be the condition of all happiness and interest in life; here it
    simply awakens us to misery, and the lower an animal lies in the
    scale of conscious life, the better and the pleasanter its lot.

                                  . . . . .

    “Thus, then, the universe, as an emanation of the unconscious, has
    been constructed. {90c}  Throughout it has been marked by design, by
    purpose, by finality; throughout a wonderful adaptation of means to
    ends, a wonderful adjustment and relativity in different portions has
    been noticed—and all this for what conclusion?  Not, as in the hands
    of the natural theologians of the eighteenth century, to show that
    the world is the result of design, of an intelligent, beneficent
    Creator, but the manifestation of a Being whose only predicates are
    negatives, whose very essence is to be unconscious.  It is not only
    like ancient Athens, to an unknown, but to an unknowing God, that
    modern Pessimism rears its altar.  Yet surely the fact that the
    motive principle of existence moves in a mysterious way outside our
    consciousness no way requires that the All-one Being should be
    himself unconscious.”

I believe the foregoing to convey as correct an idea of Von Hartmann’s
system as it is possible to convey, and will leave it to the reader to
say how much in common there is between this and the lecture given in the
preceding chapter, beyond the fact that both touch upon unconscious
actions.  The extract which will form my next chapter is only about a
thirtieth part of the entire “Philosophy of the Unconscious,” but it
will, I believe, suffice to substantiate the justice of what Mr. Sully
has said in the passages above quoted.

As regards the accuracy of the translation, I have submitted all passages
about which I was in the least doubtful to the same gentleman who revised
my translation of Professor Hering’s lecture; I have also given the
German wherever I thought the reader might be glad to see it.

Chapter VIII

Translation of the chapter on “The Unconscious in Instinct,” from Von
Hartmann’s “Philosophy of the Unconscious.”

VON HARTMANN’S chapter on instinct is as follows:—

Instinct is action taken in pursuance of a purpose but without conscious
perception of what the purpose is. {92a}

A purposive action, with consciousness of the purpose and where the
course taken is the result of deliberation is not said to be instinctive;
nor yet, again, is blind aimless action, such as outbreaks of fury on the
part of offended or otherwise enraged animals.  I see no occasion for
disturbing the commonly received definition of instinct as given above;
for those who think they can refer all the so-called ordinary instincts
of animals to conscious deliberation _ipso facto_ deny that there is such
a thing as instinct at all, and should strike the word out of their
vocabulary.  But of this more hereafter.

Assuming, then, the existence of instinctive action as above defined, it
can be explained as—

I.  A mere necessary consequence of bodily organisation. {92b}

II.  A mechanism of brain or mind contrived by nature.

III.  The outcome of an unconscious activity of mind.

In neither of the two first cases is there any scope for the idea of
purpose; in the third, purpose must be present immediately before the
action.  In the two first cases, action is supposed to be brought about
by means of an initial arrangement, either of bodily or mental mechanism,
purpose being conceived of as existing on a single occasion only—that is
to say, in the determination of the initial arrangement.  In the third,
purpose is conceived as present in every individual instance.  Let us
proceed to the consideration of these three cases.

Instinct is not a mere consequence of bodily organisation; for—

(_a_.)  Bodies may be alike, yet they may be endowed with different

All spiders have the same spinning apparatus, but one kind weaves
radiating webs, another irregular ones, while a third makes none at all,
but lives in holes, whose walls it overspins, and whose entrance it
closes with a door.  Almost all birds have a like organisation for the
construction of their nests (a beak and feet), but how infinitely do
their nests vary in appearance, mode of construction, attachment to
surrounding objects (they stand, are glued on, hang, &c.), selection of
site (caves, holes, corners, forks of trees, shrubs, the ground), and
excellence of workmanship; how often, too, are they not varied in the
species of a single genus, as of _parus_.  Many birds, moreover, build no
nest at all.  The difference in the songs of birds are in like manner
independent of the special construction of their voice apparatus, nor do
the modes of nest construction that obtain among ants and bees depend
upon their bodily organisation.  Organisation, as a general rule, only
renders the bird capable of singing, as giving it an apparatus with which
to sing at all, but it has nothing to do with the specific character of
the execution . . . The nursing, defence, and education of offspring
cannot be considered as in any way more dependent upon bodily
organisation; nor yet the sites which insects choose for the laying of
their eggs; nor, again, the selection of deposits of spawn, of their own
species, by male fish for impregnation.  The rabbit burrows, the hare
does not, though both have the same burrowing apparatus.  The hare,
however, has less need of a subterranean place of refuge by reason of its
greater swiftness.  Some birds, with excellent powers of flight, are
nevertheless stationary in their habits, as the secretary falcon and
certain other birds of prey; while even such moderate fliers as quails
are sometimes known to make very distant migrations.

(_b_.)  Like instincts may be found associated with unlike organs.

Birds with and without feet adapted for climbing live in trees; so also
do monkeys with and without flexible tails, squirrels, sloths, pumas, &c.
Mole-crickets dig with a well-pronounced spade upon their fore-feet,
while the burying-beetle does the same thing though it has no special
apparatus whatever.  The mole conveys its winter provender in pockets, an
inch wide, long and half an inch wide within its cheeks; the field-mouse
does so without the help of any such contrivance.  The migratory instinct
displays itself with equal strength in animals of widely different form,
by whatever means they may pursue their journey, whether by water, land,
or air.

It is clear, therefore, that instinct is in great measure independent of
bodily organisation.  Granted, indeed, that a certain amount of bodily
apparatus is a _sine quâ non_ for any power of execution at all—as, for
example, that there would be no ingenious nest without organs more or
less adapted for its construction, no spinning of a web without spinning
glands—nevertheless, it is impossible to maintain that instinct is a
consequence of organisation.  The mere existence of the organ does not
constitute even the smallest incentive to any corresponding habitual
activity.  A sensation of pleasure must at least accompany the use of the
organ before its existence can incite to its employment.  And even so
when a sensation of pleasure has given the impulse which is to render it
active, it is only the fact of there being activity at all, and not the
special characteristics of the activity, that can be due to organisation.
The reason for the special mode of the activity is the very problem that
we have to solve.  No one will call the action of the spider instinctive
in voiding the fluid from her spinning gland when it is too full, and
therefore painful to her; nor that of the male fish when it does what
amounts to much the same thing as this.  The instinct and the marvel lie
in the fact that the spider spins threads, and proceeds to weave her web
with them, and that the male fish will only impregnate ova of his own

Another proof that the pleasure felt in the employment of an organ is
wholly inadequate to account for this employment is to be found in the
fact that the moral greatness of instinct, the point in respect of which
it most commands our admiration, consists in the obedience paid to its
behests, to the postponement of all personal well-being, and at the cost,
it may be, of life itself.  If the mere pleasure of relieving certain
glands from overfulness were the reason why caterpillars generally spin
webs, they would go on spinning until they had relieved these glands, but
they would not repair their work as often as any one destroyed it, and do
this again and again until they die of exhaustion.  The same holds good
with the other instincts that at first sight appear to be inspired only
by a sensation of pleasure; for if we change the circumstances, so as to
put self-sacrifice in the place of self-interest, it becomes at once
apparent that they have a higher source than this.  We think, for
example, that birds pair for the sake of mere sexual gratification; why,
then, do they leave off pairing as soon as they have laid the requisite
number of eggs?  That there is a reproductive instinct over and above the
desire for sexual gratification appears from the fact that if a man takes
an egg out of the nest, the birds will come together again and the hen
will lay another egg; or, if they belong to some of the more wary
species, they will desert their nest, and make preparation for an
entirely new brood.  A female wryneck, whose nest was daily robbed of the
egg she laid in it, continued to lay a new one, which grew smaller and
smaller, till, when she had laid her twenty-ninth egg, she was found dead
upon her nest.  If an instinct cannot stand the test of self-sacrifice—if
it is the simple outcome of a desire for bodily gratification—then it is
no true instinct, and is only so called erroneously.

Instinct is not a mechanism of brain or mind implanted in living beings
by nature; for, if it were, then instinctive action without any, even
unconscious, activity of mind, and with no conception concerning the
purpose of the action, would be executed mechanically, the purpose having
been once for all thought out by Nature or Providence, which has so
organised the individual that it acts henceforth as a purely mechanical
medium.  We are now dealing with a psychical organisation as the cause
instinct, as we were above dealing with a physical.  A psychical
organisation would be a conceivable explanation and we need look no
farther if every instinct once belonging to an animal discharged its
functions in an unvarying manner.  But this is never found to be the
case, for instincts vary when there arises a sufficient motive for
varying them.  This proves that special exterior circumstances enter into
the matter, and that these circumstances are the very things that render
the attainment of the purpose possible through means selected by the
instinct.  Here first do we find instinct acting as though it were
actually design with action following at its heels, for until the arrival
of the motive, the instinct remains late and discharges no function
whatever.  The motive enters by way of an idea received into the mind
through the instrumentality of the senses, and there is a constant
connection between instinct in action and all sensual images which give
information that an opportunity has arisen for attaining the ends
proposed to itself by the instinct.

The psychical mechanism of this constant connection must also be looked
for.  It may help us here to turn to the piano for an illustration.  The
struck keys are the motives, the notes that sound in consequence are the
instincts in action.  This illustration might perhaps be allowed to pass
(if we also suppose that entirely different keys can give out the same
sound) if instincts could only be compared with _distinctly tuned_ notes,
so that one and the same instinct acted always in the same manner on the
rising of the motive which should set it in action.  This, however, is
not so; for it is the blind unconscious purpose of the instinct that is
alone constant, the instinct itself—that is to say, the will to make use
of certain means—varying as the means that can be most suitably employed
vary under varying circumstances.

In this we condemn the theory which refuses to recognise unconscious
purpose as present in each individual case of instinctive action.  For he
who maintains instinct to be the result of a mechanism of mind, must
suppose a special and constant mechanism for each variation and
modification of the instinct in accordance with exterior circumstances,
{97} that is to say, a new string giving a note with a new tone must be
inserted, and this would involve the mechanism in endless complication.
But the fact that the purpose is constant notwithstanding all manner of
variation in the means chosen by the instinct, proves that there is no
necessity for the supposition of such an elaborate mental mechanism—the
presence of an unconscious purpose being sufficient to explain the facts.
The purpose of the bird, for example, that has laid her eggs is constant,
and consists in the desire to bring her young to maturity.  When the
temperature of the air is insufficient to effect this, she sits upon her
eggs, and only intermits her sittings in the warmest countries; the
mammal, on the other hand, attains the fulfilment of its instinctive
purpose without any co-operation on its own part.  In warm climates many
birds only sit by night, and small exotic birds that have built in
aviaries kept at a high temperature sit little upon their eggs or not at
all.  How inconceivable is the supposition of a mechanism that impels the
bird to sit as soon as the temperature falls below a certain height!  How
clear and simple, on the other hand, is the view that there is an
unconscious purpose constraining the volition of the bird to the use of
the fitting means, of which process, however, only the last link, that is
to say, the will immediately preceding the action falls within the
consciousness of the bird!

In South Africa the sparrow surrounds her nest with thorns as a defence
against apes and serpents.  The eggs of the cuckoo, as regards size,
colour, and marking, invariably resemble those of the birds in whose
nests she lays.  Sylvia _ruja_, for example, lays a white egg with violet
spots; _Sylvia hippolais_, a red one with black spots; _Regulus
ignicapellus_, a cloudy red; but the cuckoo’s egg is in each case so
deceptive an imitation of its model, that it can hardly be distinguished
except by the structure of its shell.

Huber contrived that his bees should be unable to build in their usual
instinctive manner, beginning from above and working downwards; on this
they began building from below, and again horizontally.  The outermost
cells that spring from the top of the hive or abut against its sides are
not hexagonal, but pentagonal, so as to gain in strength, being attached
with one base instead of two sides.  In autumn bees lengthen their
existing honey cells if these are insufficient, but in the ensuing spring
they again shorten them in order to get greater roadway between the
combs.  When the full combs have become too heavy, they strengthen the
walls of the uppermost or bearing cells by thickening them with wax and
propolis.  If larvæ of working bees are introduced into the cells set
apart for drones, the working bees will cover these cells with the flat
lids usual for this kind of larvæ, and not with the round ones that are
proper for drones.  In autumn, as a general rule, bees kill their drones,
but they refrain from doing this when they have lost their queen, and
keep them to fertilise the young queen, who will be developed from larvæ
that would otherwise have become working bees.  Huber observed that they
defend the entrance of their hive against the inroads of the sphinx moth
by means of skilful constructions made of wax and propolis.  They only
introduce propolis when they want it for the execution of repairs, or for
some other special purpose.  Spiders and caterpillars also display
marvellous dexterity in the repair of their webs if they have been
damaged, and this requires powers perfectly distinct from those requisite
for the construction of a new one.

The above examples might be multiplied indefinitely, but they are
sufficient to establish the fact that instincts are not capacities
rolled, as it were, off a reel mechanically, according to an invariable
system, but that they adapt themselves most closely to the circumstances
of each case, and are capable of such great modification and variation
that at times they almost appear to cease to be instinctive.

Many will, indeed, ascribe these modifications to conscious deliberation
on the part of the animals themselves, and it is impossible to deny that
in the case of the more intellectually gifted animals there may be such a
thing as a combination of instinctive faculty and conscious reflection.
I think, however, the examples already cited are enough to show that
often where the normal and the abnormal action springs from the same
source, without any complication with conscious deliberation, they are
either both instinctive or both deliberative. {99}  Or is that which
prompts the bee to build hexagonal prisms in the middle of her comb
something of an actually distinct character from that which impels her to
build pentagonal ones at the sides?  Are there two separate kinds of
thing, one of which induces birds under certain circumstances to sit upon
their eggs, while another leads them under certain other circumstances to
refrain from doing so?  And does this hold good also with bees when they
at one time kill their brethren without mercy and at another grant them
their lives?  Or with birds when they construct the kind of nest peculiar
to their race, and, again, any special provision which they may think fit
under certain circumstances to take?  If it is once granted that the
normal and the abnormal manifestations of instinct—and they are often
incapable of being distinguished—spring from a single source, then the
objection that the modification is due to conscious knowledge will be
found to be a suicidal one later on, so far as it is directed against
instinct generally.  It may be sufficient here to point out, in
anticipation of remarks that will be found in later chapters, that
instinct and the power of organic development involve the same essential
principle, though operating under different circumstances—the two melting
into one another without any definite boundary between them.  Here, then,
we have conclusive proof that instinct does not depend upon organisation
of body or brain, but that, more truly, the organisation is due to the
nature and manner of the instinct.

On the other hand, we must now return to a closer consideration of the
conception of a psychical mechanism. {100}  And here we find that this
mechanism, in spite of its explaining so much, is itself so obscure that
we can hardly form any idea concerning it.  The motive enters the mind by
way of a conscious sensual impression; this is the first link of the
process; the last link {101} appears as the conscious motive of an
action.  Both, however, are entirely unlike, and neither has anything to
do with ordinary motivation, which consists exclusively in the desire
that springs from a conception either of pleasure or dislike—the former
prompting to the attainment of any object, the latter to its avoidance.
In the case of instinct, pleasure is for the most part a concomitant
phenomenon; but it is not so always, as we have already seen, inasmuch as
the consummation and highest moral development of instinct displays
itself in self-sacrifice.

The true problem, however, lies far deeper than this.  For every
conception of a pleasure proves that we have experienced this pleasure
already.  But it follows from this, that when the pleasure was first felt
there must have been will present, in the gratification of which will the
pleasure consisted; the question, therefore, arises, whence did the will
come before the pleasure that would follow on its gratification was
known, and before bodily pain, as, for example, of hunger, rendered
relief imperative?  Yet we may see that even though an animal has grown
up apart from any others of its kind, it will yet none the less manifest
the instinctive impulses of its race, though experience can have taught
it nothing whatever concerning the pleasure that will ensue upon their
gratification.  As regards instinct, therefore, there must be a causal
connection between the motivating sensual conception and the will to
perform the instinctive action, and the pleasure of the subsequent
gratification has nothing to do with the matter.  We know by the
experience of our own instincts that this causal connection does not lie
within our consciousness; {102a} therefore, if it is to be a mechanism of
any kind, it can only be either an unconscious mechanical induction and
metamorphosis of the vibrations of the conceived motive into the
vibrations of the conscious action in the brain, or an unconscious
spiritual mechanism.

In the first case, it is surely strange that this process should go on
unconsciously, though it is so powerful in its effects that the will
resulting from it overpowers every other consideration, every other kind
of will, and that vibrations of this kind, when set up in the brain,
become always consciously perceived; nor is it easy to conceive in what
way this metamorphosis can take place so that the constant purpose can be
attained under varying circumstances by the resulting will in modes that
vary with variation of the special features of each individual case.

But if we take the other alternative, and suppose an unconscious mental
mechanism, we cannot legitimately conceive of the process going on in
this as other than what prevails in all mental mechanism, namely, than as
by way of idea and will.  We are, therefore, compelled to imagine a
causal connection between the consciously recognised motive and the will
to do the instinctive action, through unconscious idea and will; nor do I
know how this connection can be conceived as being brought about more
simply than through a conceived and willed purpose. {102b}  Arrived at
this point, however, we have attained the logical mechanism peculiar to
and inseparable from all mind, and find unconscious purpose to be an
indispensable link in every instinctive action.  With this, therefore,
the conception of a mental mechanism, dead and predestined from without,
has disappeared, and has become transformed into the spiritual life
inseparable from logic, so that we have reached the sole remaining
requirement for the conception of an actual instinct, which proves to be
a conscious willing of the means towards an unconsciously willed purpose.
This conception explains clearly and without violence all the problems
which instinct presents to us; or more truly, all that was problematical
about instinct disappears when its true nature has been thus declared.
If this work were confined to the consideration of instinct alone, the
conception of an unconscious activity of mind might excite opposition,
inasmuch as it is one with which our educated public is not yet familiar;
but in a work like the present, every chapter of which adduces fresh
facts in support of the existence of such an activity and of its
remarkable consequences, the novelty of the theory should be taken no
farther into consideration.

Though I so confidently deny that instinct is the simple action of a
mechanism which has been contrived once for all, I by no means exclude
the supposition that in the constitution of the brain, the ganglia, and
the whole body, in respect of morphological as well as
molecular-physiological condition, certain predispositions can be
established which direct the unconscious intermediaries more readily into
one channel than into another.  This predisposition is either the result
of a habit which keeps continually cutting for itself a deeper and deeper
channel, until in the end it leaves indelible traces whether in the
individual or in the race, or it is expressly called into being by the
unconscious formative principle in generation, so as to facilitate action
in a given direction.  This last will be the case more frequently in
respect of exterior organisation—as, for example, with the weapons or
working organs of animals—while to the former must be referred the
molecular condition of brain and ganglia which bring about the
perpetually recurring elements of an instinct such as the hexagonal shape
of the cells of bees.  We shall presently see that by individual
character we mean the sum of the individual methods of reaction against
all possible motives, and that this character depends essentially upon a
constitution of mind and body acquired in some measure through habit by
the individual, but for the most part inherited.  But an instinct is also
a mode of reaction against certain motives; here, too, then, we are
dealing with character, though perhaps not so much with that of the
individual as of the race; for by character in regard to instinct we do
not intend the differences that distinguish individuals, but races from
one another.  If any one chooses to maintain that such a predisposition
for certain kinds of activity on the part of brain and body constitutes a
mechanism, this may in one sense be admitted; but as against this view it
must be remarked—

1.  That such deviations from the normal scheme of an instinct as cannot
be referred to conscious deliberation are not provided for by any
predisposition in this mechanism.

2.  That heredity is only possible under the circumstances of a constant
superintendence of the embryonic development by a purposive unconscious
activity of growth.  It must be admitted, however, that this is
influenced in return by the predisposition existing in the germ.

3.  That the impressing of the predisposition upon the individual from
whom it is inherited can only be effected by long practice, consequently
the instinct without auxiliary mechanism {105a} is the originating cause
of the auxiliary mechanism.

4.  That none of those instinctive actions that are performed rarely, or
perhaps once only, in the lifetime of any individual—as, for example,
those connected with the propagation and metamorphoses of the lower forms
of life, and none of those instinctive omissions of action, neglect of
which necessarily entails death—can be conceived as having become
engrained into the character through habit; the ganglionic constitution,
therefore, that predisposes the animal towards them must have been
fashioned purposively.

5.  That even the presence of an auxiliary mechanism {105b} does not
compel the unconscious to a particular corresponding mode of instinctive
action, but only predisposes it.  This is shown by the possibility of
departure from the normal type of action, so that the unconscious purpose
is always stronger than the ganglionic constitution, and takes any
opportunity of choosing from several similar possible courses the one
that is handiest and most convenient to the constitution of the

We now approach the question that I have reserved for our final one,—Is
there, namely, actually such a thing as instinct, {105c} or are all
so-called instinctive actions only the results of conscious deliberation?

In support of the second of these two views, it may be alleged that the
more limited is the range of the conscious mental activity of any living
being, the more fully developed in proportion to its entire mental power
is its performance commonly found to be in respect of its own limited and
special instinctive department.  This holds as good with the lower
animals as with men, and is explained by the fact that perfection of
proficiency is only partly dependent upon natural capacity, but is in
great measure due to practice and cultivation of the original faculty.  A
philologist, for example, is unskilled in questions of jurisprudence; a
natural philosopher or mathematician, in philology; an abstract
philosopher, in poetical criticism.  Nor has this anything to do with the
natural talents of the several persons, but follows as a consequence of
their special training.  The more special, therefore, is the direction in
which the mental activity of any living being is exercised, the more will
the whole developing and practising power of the mind be brought to bear
upon this one branch, so that it is not surprising if the special power
comes ultimately to bear an increased proportion to the total power of
the individual, through the contraction of the range within which it is

Those, however, who apply this to the elucidation of instinct should not
forget the words, “in proportion to the entire mental power of the animal
in question,” and should bear in mind that the entire mental power
becomes less and less continually as we descend the scale of animal life,
whereas proficiency in the performance of an instinctive action seems to
be much of a muchness in all grades of the animal world.  As, therefore,
those performances which indisputably proceed from conscious deliberation
decrease proportionately with decrease of mental power, while nothing of
the kind is observable in the case of instinct—it follows that instinct
must involve some other principle than that of conscious intelligence.
We see, moreover, that actions which have their source in conscious
intelligence are of one and the same kind, whether among the lower
animals or with mankind—that is to say, that they are acquired by
apprenticeship or instruction and perfected by practice; so that the
saying, “Age brings wisdom,” holds good with the brutes as much as with
ourselves.  Instinctive actions, on the contrary, have a special and
distinct character, in that they are performed with no less proficiency
by animals that have been reared in solitude than by those that have been
instructed by their parents, the first essays of a hitherto unpractised
animal being as successful as its later ones.  There is a difference in
principle here which cannot be mistaken.  Again, we know by experience
that the feebler and more limited an intelligence is, the more slowly do
ideas act upon it, that is to say, the slower and more laborious is its
conscious thought.  So long as instinct does not come into play, this
holds good both in the case of men of different powers of comprehension
and with animals; but with instinct all is changed, for it is the
speciality of instinct never to hesitate or loiter, but to take action
instantly upon perceiving that the stimulating motive has made its
appearance.  This rapidity in arriving at a resolution is common to the
instinctive actions both of the highest and the lowest animals, and
indicates an essential difference between instinct and conscious

Finally, as regards perfection of the power of execution, a glance will
suffice to show the disproportion that exists between this and the grade
of intellectual activity on which an animal may be standing.  Take, for
instance, the caterpillar of the emperor moth (_Saturnia pavonia minor_).
It eats the leaves of the bush upon which it was born; at the utmost has
just enough sense to get on to the lower sides of the leaves if it begins
to rain, and from time to time changes its skin.  This is its whole
existence, which certainly does not lead us to expect a display of any,
even the most limited, intellectual power.  When, however, the time comes
for the larva of this moth to become a chrysalis, it spins for itself a
double cocoon, fortified with bristles that point outwards, so that it
can be opened easily from within, though it is sufficiently impenetrable
from without.  If this contrivance were the result of conscious
reflection, we should have to suppose some such reasoning process as the
following to take place in the mind of the caterpillar:—“I am about to
become a chrysalis, and, motionless as I must be, shall be exposed to
many different kinds of attack.  I must therefore weave myself a web.
But when I am a moth I shall not be able, as some moths are, to find my
way out of it by chemical or mechanical means; therefore I must leave a
way open for myself.  In order, however, that my enemies may not take
advantage of this, I will close it with elastic bristles, which I can
easily push asunder from within, but which, upon the principle of the
arch, will resist all pressure from without.”  Surely this is asking
rather too much from a poor caterpillar; yet the whole of the foregoing
must be thought out if a correct result is to be arrived at.

This theoretical separation of instinct from conscious intelligence can
be easily misrepresented by opponents of my theory, as though a
separation in practice also would be necessitated in consequence.  This
is by no means my intention.  On the contrary, I have already insisted at
some length that both the two kinds of mental activity may co-exist in
all manner of different proportions, so that there may be every degree of
combination, from pure instinct to pure deliberation.  We shall see,
however, in a later chapter, that even in the highest and most abstract
activity of human consciousness there are forces at work that are of the
highest importance, and are essentially of the same kind as instinct.

On the other hand, the most marvellous displays of instinct are to be
found not only in plants, but also in those lowest organisms of the
simplest bodily form which are partly unicellular, and in respect of
conscious intelligence stand far below the higher plants—to which,
indeed, any kind of deliberative faculty is commonly denied.  Even in the
case of those minute microscopic organisms that baffle our attempts to
classify them either as animals or vegetables, we are still compelled to
admire an instinctive, purposive behaviour, which goes far beyond a mere
reflex responsive to a stimulus from without; all doubt, therefore,
concerning the actual existence of an instinct must be at an end, and the
attempt to deduce it as a consequence of conscious deliberation be given
up as hopeless.  I will here adduce an instance as extraordinary as any
we yet know of, showing, as it does, that many different purposes, which
in the case of the higher animals require a complicated system of organs
of motion, can be attained with incredibly simple means.

_Arcella vulgaris_ is a minute morsel of protoplasm, which lives in a
concave-convex, brown, finely reticulated shell, through a circular
opening in the concave side of which it can project itself by throwing
out _pseudopodia_.  If we look through the microscope at a drop of water
containing living _arcellæ_, we may happen to see one of them lying on
its back at the bottom of the drop, and making fruitless efforts for two
or three minutes to lay hold of some fixed point by means of a
_pseudopodium_.  After this there will appear suddenly from two to five,
but sometimes more, dark points in the protoplasm at a small distance
from the circumference, and, as a rule, at regular distances from one
another.  These rapidly develop themselves into well-defined spherical
air vesicles, and come presently to fill a considerable part of the
hollow of the shell, thereby driving part of the protoplasm outside it.
After from five to twenty minutes, the specific gravity of the _arcella_
is so much lessened that it is lifted by the water with its
_pseudopodia_, and brought up against the upper surface of the
water-drop, on which it is able to travel.  In from five to ten minutes
the vesicles will now disappear, the last small point vanishing with a
jerk.  If, however, the creature has been accidentally turned over during
its journey, and reaches the top of the water-drop with its back
uppermost, the vesicles will continue growing only on one side, while
they diminish on the other; by this means the shell is brought first into
an oblique and then into a vertical position, until one of the
_pseudopodia_ obtains a footing and the whole turns over.  From the
moment the animal has obtained foothold, the bladders become immediately
smaller, and after they have disappeared the experiment may be repeated
at pleasure.

The positions of the protoplasm which the vesicles fashion change
continually; only the grainless protoplasm of the _pseudopodia_ develops
no air.  After long and fruitless efforts a manifest fatigue sets in; the
animal gives up the attempt for a time, and resumes it after an interval
of repose.

Engelmann, the discoverer of these phenomena, says (Pflüger’s Archiv für
Physologie, Bd. II.): “The changes in volume in all the vesicles of the
same animal are for the most part synchronous, effected in the same
manner, and of like size.  There are, however, not a few exceptions; it
often happens that some of them increase or diminish in volume much
faster than others; sometimes one may increase while another diminishes;
all the changes, however, are throughout unquestionably intentional.  The
object of the air-vesicles is to bring the animal into such a position
that it can take fast hold of something with its _pseudopodia_.  When
this has been obtained, the air disappears without our being able to
discover any other reason for its disappearance than the fact that it is
no longer needed. . . .  If we bear these circumstances in mind, we can
almost always tell whether an _arcella_ will develop air-vesicles or no;
and if it has already developed them, we can tell whether they will
increase or diminish . . . The _arcellæ_, in fact, in this power of
altering their specific gravity possess a mechanism for raising
themselves to the top of the water, or lowering themselves to the bottom
at will.  They use this not only in the abnormal circumstances of their
being under microscopical observation, but at all times, as may be known
by our being always able to find some specimens with air-bladders at the
top of the water in which they live.”

If what has been already advanced has failed to convince the reader of
the hopelessness of attempting to explain instinct as a mode of conscious
deliberation, he must admit that the following considerations are
conclusive.  It is most certain that deliberation and conscious
reflection can only take account of such data as are consciously
perceived; if, then, it can be shown that data absolutely indispensable
for the arrival at a just conclusion cannot by any possibility have been
known consciously, the result can no longer be held as having had its
source in conscious deliberation.  It is admitted that the only way in
which consciousness can arrive at a knowledge of exterior facts is by way
of an impression made upon the senses.  We must, therefore, prove that a
knowledge of the facts indispensable for arrival at a just conclusion
could not have been thus acquired.  This may be done as follows: {111}
for, Firstly, the facts in question lie in the future, and the present
gives no ground for conjecturing the time and manner of their subsequent

Secondly, they are manifestly debarred from the category of perceptions
perceived through the senses, inasmuch as no information can be derived
concerning them except through experience of similar occurrences in time
past, and such experience is plainly out of the question.

It would not affect the argument if, as I think likely, it were to turn
out, with the advance of our physiological knowledge, that all the
examples of the first case that I am about to adduce reduce themselves to
examples of the second, as must be admitted to have already happened in
respect of many that I have adduced hitherto.  For it is hardly more
difficult to conceive of _à priori_ knowledge, disconnected from any
impression made upon the senses, than of knowledge which, it is true,
does at the present day manifest itself upon the occasion of certain
general perceptions, but which can only be supposed to be connected with
these by means of such a chain of inferences and judiciously applied
knowledge as cannot be believed to exist when we have regard to the
capacity and organisation of the animal we may be considering.

An example of the first case is supplied by the larva of the stag-beetle
in its endeavour to make itself a convenient hole in which to become a
chrysalis.  The female larva digs a hole exactly her own size, but the
male makes one as long again as himself, so as to allow for the growth of
his horns, which will be about the same length as his body.  A knowledge
of this circumstance is indispensable if the result achieved is to be
considered as due to reflection, yet the actual present of the larva
affords it no ground for conjecturing beforehand the condition in which
it will presently find itself.

As regards the second case, ferrets and buzzards fall forthwith upon
blind worms or other non-poisonous snakes, and devour them then and
there.  But they exhibit the greatest caution in laying hold of adders,
even though they have never before seen one, and will endeavour first to
bruise their heads, so as to avoid being bitten.  As there is nothing in
any other respect alarming in the adder, a conscious knowledge of the
danger of its bite is indispensable, if the conduct above described is to
be referred to conscious deliberation.  But this could only have been
acquired through experience, and the possibility of such experience may
be controlled in the case of animals that have been kept in captivity
from their youth up, so that the knowledge displayed can be ascertained
to be independent of experience.  On the other hand, both the above
illustrations afford evidence of an unconscious perception of the facts,
and prove the existence of a direct knowledge underivable from any
sensual impression or from consciousness.

This has always been recognised, {113} and has been described under the
words “presentiment” or “foreboding.”  These words, however, refer, on
the one hand, only to an unknowable in the future, separated from us by
space, and not to one that is actually present; on the other hand, they
denote only the faint, dull, indefinite echo returned by consciousness to
an invariably distinct state of unconscious knowledge.  Hence the word
“presentiment,” which carries with it an idea of faintness and
indistinctness, while, however, it may be easily seen that sentiment
destitute of all, even unconscious, ideas can have no influence upon the
result, for knowledge can only follow upon an idea.  A presentiment that
sounds in consonance with our consciousness can indeed, under certain
circumstances, become tolerably definite, so that in the case of man it
can be expressed in thought and language; but experience teaches us that
even among ourselves this is not so when instincts special to the human
race come into play; we see rather that the echo of our unconscious
knowledge which finds its way into our consciousness is so weak that it
manifests itself only in the accompanying feelings or frame of mind, and
represents but an infinitely small fraction of the sum of our sensations.
It is obvious that such a faintly sympathetic consciousness cannot form a
sufficient foundation for a superstructure of conscious deliberation; on
the other hand, conscious deliberation would be unnecessary, inasmuch as
the process of thinking must have been already gone through
unconsciously, for every faint presentiment that obtrudes itself upon our
consciousness is in fact only the consequence of a distinct unconscious
knowledge, and the knowledge with which it is concerned is almost always
an idea of the purpose of some instinctive action, or of one most
intimately connected therewith.  Thus, in the case of the stag-beetle,
the purpose consists in the leaving space for the growth of the horns;
the means, in the digging the hole of a sufficient size; and the
unconscious knowledge, in prescience concerning the future development of
the horns.

Lastly, all instinctive actions give us an impression of absolute
security and infallibility.  With instinct the will is never hesitating
or weak, as it is when inferences are being drawn consciously.  We never
find instinct making mistakes; we cannot, therefore, ascribe a result
which is so invariably precise to such an obscure condition of mind as is
implied when the word presentiment is used; on the contrary, this
absolute certainty is so characteristic a feature of instinctive actions,
that it constitutes almost the only well-marked point of distinction
between these and actions that are done upon reflection.  But from this
it must again follow that some principle lies at the root of instinct
other than that which underlies reflective action, and this can only be
looked for in a determination of the will through a process that lies in
the unconscious, {115a} to which this character of unhesitating
infallibility will attach itself in all our future investigations.

Many will be surprised at my ascribing to instinct an unconscious
knowledge, arising out of no sensual impression, and yet invariably
accurate.  This, however, is not a consequence of my theory concerning
instinct; it is the foundation on which that theory is based, and is
forced upon us by facts.  I must therefore adduce examples.  And to give
a name to the unconscious knowledge, which is not acquired through
impression made upon the senses, but which will be found to be in our
possession, though attained without the instrumentality of means, {115b}
I prefer the word “clairvoyance” {115c} to “presentiment,” which, for
reasons already given, will not serve me.  This word, therefore, will be
here employed throughout, as above defined.

Let us now consider examples of the instincts of self-preservation,
subsistence, migration, and the continuation of the species.  Most
animals know their natural enemies prior to experience of any hostile
designs upon themselves.  A flight of young pigeons, even though they
have no old birds with them, will become shy, and will separate from one
another on the approach of a bird of prey.  Horses and cattle that come
from countries where there are no lions become unquiet and display alarm
as soon as they are aware that a lion is approaching them in the night.
Horses going along a bridle-path that used to leave the town at the back
of the old dens of the carnivora in the Berlin Zoological Gardens were
often terrified by the propinquity of enemies who were entirely unknown
to them.  Sticklebacks will swim composedly among a number of voracious
pike, knowing, as they do, that the pike will not touch them.  For if a
pike once by mistake swallows a stickleback, the stickleback will stick
in its throat by reason of the spine it carries upon its back, and the
pike must starve to death without being able to transmit his painful
experience to his descendants.  In some countries there are people who by
choice eat dog’s flesh; dogs are invariably savage in the presence of
these persons, as recognising in them enemies at whose hands they may one
day come to harm.  This is the more wonderful inasmuch as dog’s fat
applied externally (as when rubbed upon boots) attracts dogs by its
smell.  Grant saw a young chimpanzee throw itself into convulsions of
terror at the sight of a large snake; and even among ourselves a Gretchen
can often detect a Mephistopheles.  An insect of the genius _bombyx_ will
seize another of the genus _parnopæa_, and kill it wherever it finds it,
without making any subsequent use of the body; but we know that the
last-named insect lies in wait for the eggs of the first, and is
therefore the natural enemy of its race.  The phenomenon known to
stockdrivers and shepherds as “das Biesen des Viehes” affords another
example.  For when a “dassel” or “bies” fly draws near the herd, the
cattle become unmanageable and run about among one another as though they
were mad, knowing, as they do, that the larvæ from the eggs which the fly
will lay upon them will presently pierce their hides and occasion them
painful sores.  These “dassel” flies—which have no sting—closely resemble
another kind of gadfly which has a sting.  Nevertheless, this last kind
is little feared by cattle, while the first is so to an inordinate
extent.  The laying of the eggs upon the skin is at the time quite
painless, and no ill consequences follow until long afterwards, so that
we cannot suppose the cattle to draw a conscious inference concerning the
connection that exists between the two.  I have already spoken of the
foresight shown by ferrets and buzzards in respect of adders; in like
manner a young honey-buzzard, on being shown a wasp for the first time,
immediately devoured it after having squeezed the sting from its body.
No animal, whose instinct has not been vitiated by unnatural habits, will
eat poisonous plants.  Even when apes have contracted bad habits through
their having been brought into contact with mankind, they can still be
trusted to show us whether certain fruits found in their native forests
are poisonous or no; for if poisonous fruits are offered them they will
refuse them with loud cries.  Every animal will choose for its sustenance
exactly those animal or vegetable substances which agree best with its
digestive organs, without having received any instruction on the matter,
and without testing them beforehand.  Even, indeed, though we assume that
the power of distinguishing the different kinds of food is due to sight
and not to smell, it remains none the less mysterious how the animal can
know what it is that will agree with it.  Thus the kid which Galen took
prematurely from its mother smelt at all the different kinds of food that
were set before it, but drank only the milk without touching anything
else.  The cherry-finch opens a cherry-stone by turning it so that her
beak can hit the part where the two sides join, and does this as much
with the first stone she cracks as with the last.  Fitchets, martens, and
weasels make small holes on the opposite sides of an egg which they are
about to suck, so that the air may come in while they are sucking.  Not
only do animals know the food that will suit them best, but they find out
the most suitable remedies when they are ill, and constantly form a
correct diagnosis of their malady with a therapeutical knowledge which
they cannot possibly have acquired.  Dogs will often eat a great quantity
of grass—particularly couch-grass—when they are unwell, especially after
spring, if they have worms, which thus pass from them entangled in the
grass, or if they want to get fragments of bone from out of their
stomachs.  As a purgative they make use of plants that sting.  Hens and
pigeons pick lime from walls and pavements if their food does not afford
them lime enough to make their eggshells with.  Little children eat chalk
when suffering from acidity of the stomach, and pieces of charcoal if
they are troubled with flatulence.  We may observe these same instincts
for certain kinds of food or drugs even among grown-up people, under
circumstances in which their unconscious nature has unusual power; as,
for example, among women when they are pregnant, whose capricious
appetites are probably due to some special condition of the fœtus, which
renders a certain state of the blood desirable.  Field-mice bite off the
germs of the corn which they collect together, in order to prevent its
growing during the winter.  Some days before the beginning of cold
weather the squirrel is most assiduous in augmenting its store, and then
closes its dwelling.  Birds of passage betake themselves to warmer
countries at times when there is still no scarcity of food for them here,
and when the temperature is considerably warmer than it will be when they
return to us.  The same holds good of the time when animals begin to
prepare their winter quarters, which beetles constantly do during the
very hottest days of autumn.  When swallows and storks find their way
back to their native places over distances of hundreds of miles, and
though the aspect of the country is reversed, we say that this is due to
the acuteness of their perception of locality; but the same cannot be
said of dogs, which, though they have been carried in a bag from one
place to another that they do not know, and have been turned round and
round twenty times over, have still been known to find their way home.
Here we can say no more than that their instinct has conducted them—that
the clairvoyance of the unconscious has allowed them to conjecture their
way. {119a}

Before an early winter, birds of passage collect themselves in
preparation for their flight sooner than usual; but when the winter is
going to be mild, they will either not migrate at all, or travel only a
small distance southward.  When a hard winter is coming, tortoises will
make their burrows deeper.  If wild geese, cranes, etc., soon return from
the countries to which they had betaken themselves at the beginning of
spring, it is a sign that a hot and dry summer is about to ensue in those
countries, and that the drought will prevent their being able to rear
their young.  In years of flood, beavers construct their dwellings at a
higher level than usual, and shortly before an inundation the field-mice
in Kamtschatka come out of their holes in large bands.  If the summer is
going to be dry, spiders may be seen in May and April, hanging from the
ends of threads several feet in length.  If in winter spiders are seen
running about much, fighting with one another and preparing new webs,
there will be cold weather within the next nine days, or from that to
twelve: when they again hide themselves there will be a thaw.  I have no
doubt that much of this power of prophesying the weather is due to a
perception of certain atmospheric conditions which escape ourselves, but
this perception can only have relation to a certain actual and now
present condition of the weather; and what can the impression made by
this have to do with their idea of the weather that will ensue?  No one
will ascribe to animals a power of prognosticating the weather months
beforehand by means of inferences drawn logically from a series of
observations, {119b} to the extent of being able to foretell floods.  It
is far more probable that the power of perceiving subtle differences of
actual atmospheric condition is nothing more than the sensual perception
which acts as motive—for a motive must assuredly be always present—when
an instinct comes into operation.  It continues to hold good, therefore,
that the power of foreseeing the weather is a case of unconscious
clairvoyance, of which the stork which takes its departure for the south
four weeks earlier than usual knows no more than does the stag when
before a cold winter he grows himself a thicker pelt than is his wont.
On the one hand, animals have present in their consciousness a perception
of the actual state of the weather; on the other, their ensuing action is
precisely such as it would be if the idea present with them was that of
the weather that is about to come.  This they cannot consciously have;
the only natural intermediate link, therefore, between their conscious
knowledge and their action is supplied by unconscious idea, which,
however, is always accurately prescient, inasmuch as it contains
something which is neither given directly to the animal through sensual
perception, nor can be deduced inferentially through the understanding.

Most wonderful of all are the instincts connected with the continuation
of the species.  The males always find out the females of their own kind,
but certainly not solely through their resemblance to themselves.  With
many animals, as, for example, parasitic crabs, the sexes so little
resemble one another that the male would be more likely to seek a mate
from the females of a thousand other species than from his own.  Certain
butterflies are polymorphic, and not only do the males and females of the
same species differ, but the females present two distinct forms, one of
which as a general rule mimics the outward appearance of a distant but
highly valued species; yet the males will pair only with the females of
their own kind, and not with the strangers, though these may be very
likely much more like the males themselves.  Among the insect species of
the _strepsiptera_, the female is a shapeless worm which lives its whole
life long in the hind body of a wasp; its head, which is of the shape of
a lentil, protrudes between two of the belly rings of the wasp, the rest
of the body being inside.  The male, which only lives for a few hours,
and resembles a moth, nevertheless recognises his mate in spite of these
adverse circumstances, and fecundates her.

Before any experience of parturition, the knowledge that it is
approaching drives all mammals into solitude, and bids them prepare a
nest for their young in a hole or in some other place of shelter.  The
bird builds her nest as soon as she feels the eggs coming to maturity
within her.  Snails, land-crabs, tree-frogs, and toads, all of them
ordinarily dwellers upon land, now betake themselves to the water;
sea-tortoises go on shore, and many saltwater fishes come up into the
rivers in order to lay their eggs where they can alone find the
requisites for their development.  Insects lay their eggs in the most
varied kinds of situations,—in sand, on leaves, under the hides and horny
substances of other animals; they often select the spot where the larva
will be able most readily to find its future sustenance, as in autumn
upon the trees that will open first in the coming spring, or in spring
upon the blossoms that will first bear fruit in autumn, or in the insides
of those caterpillars which will soonest as chrysalides provide the
parasitic larva at once with food and with protection.  Other insects
select the sites from which they will first get forwarded to the
destination best adapted for their development.  Thus some horseflies lay
their eggs upon the lips of horses or upon parts where they are
accustomed to lick themselves.  The eggs get conveyed hence into the
entrails, the proper place for their development,—and are excreted upon
their arrival at maturity.  The flies that infest cattle know so well how
to select the most vigorous and healthiest beasts, that cattle-dealers
and tanners place entire dependence upon them, and prefer those beasts
and hides that are most scarred by maggots.  This selection of the best
cattle by the help of these flies is no evidence in support of the
conclusion that the flies possess the power of making experiments
consciously and of reflecting thereupon, even though the men whose trade
it is to do this recognise them as their masters.  The solitary wasp
makes a hole several inches deep in the sand, lays her egg, and packs
along with it a number of green maggots that have no legs, and which,
being on the point of becoming chrysalides, are well nourished and able
to go a long time without food; she packs these maggots so closely
together that they cannot move nor turn into chrysalides, and just enough
of them to support the larva until it becomes a chrysalis.  A kind of bug
(_cerceris bupresticida_), which itself lives only upon pollen, lays her
eggs in an underground cell, and with each one of them she deposits three
beetles, which she has lain in wait for and captured when they were still
weak through having only just left off being chrysalides.  She kills
these beetles, and appears to smear them with a fluid whereby she
preserves them fresh and suitable for food.  Many kinds of wasps open the
cells in which their larvæ are confined when these must have consumed the
provision that was left with them.  They supply them with more food, and
again close the cell.  Ants, again, hit always upon exactly the right
moment for opening the cocoons in which their larvæ are confined and for
setting them free, the larva being unable to do this for itself.  Yet the
life of only a few kinds of insects lasts longer than a single breeding
season.  What then can they know about the contents of their eggs and the
fittest place for their development?  What can they know about the kind
of food the larva will want when it leaves the egg—a food so different
from their own?  What, again, can they know about the quantity of food
that will be necessary?  How much of all this at least can they know
consciously?  Yet their actions, the pains they take, and the importance
they evidently attach to these matters, prove that they have a
foreknowledge of the future: this knowledge therefore can only be an
unconscious clairvoyance.  For clairvoyance it must certainly be that
inspires the will of an animal to open cells and cocoons at the very
moment that the larva is either ready for more food or fit for leaving
the cocoon.  The eggs of the cuckoo do not take only from two to three
days to mature in her ovaries, as those of most birds do, but require
from eleven to twelve; the cuckoo, therefore, cannot sit upon her own
eggs, for her first egg would be spoiled before the last was laid.  She
therefore lays in other birds’ nests—of course laying each egg in a
different nest.  But in order that the birds may not perceive her egg to
be a stranger and turn it out of the nest, not only does she lay an egg
much smaller than might be expected from a bird of her size (for she only
finds her opportunity among small birds), but, as already said, she
imitates the other eggs in the nest she has selected with surprising
accuracy in respect both of colour and marking.  As the cuckoo chooses
the nest some days beforehand, it may be thought, if the nest is an open
one, that the cuckoo looks upon the colour of the eggs within it while
her own is in process of maturing inside her, and that it is thus her egg
comes to assume the colour of the others; but this explanation will not
hold good for nests that are made in the holes of trees, as that of
_sylvia phænicurus_, or which are oven-shaped with a narrow entrance, as
with _sylvia rufa_.  In these cases the cuckoo can neither slip in nor
look in, and must therefore lay her egg outside the nest and push it
inside with her beak; she can therefore have no means of perceiving
through her senses what the eggs already in the nest are like.  If, then,
in spite of all this, her egg closely resembles the others, this can only
have come about through an unconscious clairvoyance which directs the
process that goes on within the ovary in respect of colour and marking.

An important argument in support of the existence of a clairvoyance in
the instincts of animals is to be found in the series of facts which
testify to the existence of a like clairvoyance, under certain
circumstances, even among human beings, while the self-curative instincts
of children and of pregnant women have been already mentioned.  Here,
however, {124} in correspondence with the higher stage of development
which human consciousness has attained, a stronger echo of the
unconscious clairvoyance commonly resounds within consciousness itself,
and this is represented by a more or less definite presentiment of the
consequences that will ensue.  It is also in accord with the greater
independence of the human intellect that this kind of presentiment is not
felt exclusively immediately before the carrying out of an action, but is
occasionally disconnected from the condition that an action has to be
performed immediately, and displays itself simply as an idea
independently of conscious will, provided only that the matter concerning
which the presentiment is felt is one which in a high degree concerns the
will of the person who feels it.  In the intervals of an intermittent
fever or of other illness, it not unfrequently happens that sick persons
can accurately foretell the day of an approaching attack and how long it
will last.  The same thing occurs almost invariably in the case of
spontaneous, and generally in that of artificial, somnambulism; certainly
the Pythia, as is well known, used to announce the date of her next
ecstatic state.  In like manner the curative instinct displays itself in
somnambulists, and they have been known to select remedies that have been
no less remarkable for the success attending their employment than for
the completeness with which they have run counter to received
professional opinion.  The indication of medicinal remedies is the only
use which respectable electro-biologists will make of the half-sleeping,
half-waking condition of those whom they are influencing.  “People in
perfectly sound health have been known, before childbirth or at the
commencement of an illness, to predict accurately their own approaching
death.  The accomplishment of their predictions can hardly be explained
as the result of mere chance, for if this were all, the prophecy should
fail at least as often as not, whereas the reverse is actually the case.
Many of these persons neither desire death nor fear it, so that the
result cannot be ascribed to imagination.”  So writes the celebrated
physiologist, Burdach, from whose chapter on presentiment in his work
“Bhicke in’s Leben” a great part of my most striking examples is taken.
This presentiment of deaths, which is the exception among men, is quite
common with animals, even though they do not know nor understand what
death is.  When they become aware that their end is approaching, they
steal away to outlying and solitary places.  This is why in cities we so
rarely see the dead body or skeleton of a cat.  We can only suppose that
the unconscious clairvoyance, which is of essentially the same kind
whether in man or beast, calls forth presentiments of different degrees
of definiteness, so that the cat is driven to withdraw herself through a
mere instinct without knowing why she does so, while in man a definite
perception is awakened of the fact that he is about to die.  Not only do
people have presentiments concerning their own death, but there are many
instances on record in which they have become aware of that of those near
and dear to them, the dying person having appeared in a dream to friend
or wife or husband.  Stories to this effect prevail among all nations,
and unquestionably contain much truth.  Closely connected with this is
the power of second sight, which existed formerly in Scotland, and still
does so in the Danish islands.  This power enables certain people without
any ecstasy, but simply through their keener perception, to foresee
coming events, or to tell what is going on in foreign countries on
matters in which they are deeply interested, such as deaths, battles,
conflagrations (Swedenborg foretold the burning of Stockholm), the
arrival or the doings of friends who are at a distance.  With many
persons this clairvoyance is confined to a knowledge of the death of
their acquaintances or fellow-townspeople.  There have been a great many
instances of such death-prophetesses, and, what is most important, some
cases have been verified in courts of law.  I may say, in passing, that
this power of second sight is found in persons who are in ecstatic
states, in the spontaneous or artificially induced somnambulism of the
higher kinds of waking dreams, as well as in lucid moments before death.
These prophetic glimpses, by which the clairvoyance of the unconscious
reveals itself to consciousness, {126} are commonly obscure because in
the brain they must assume a form perceptible by the senses, whereas the
unconscious idea can have nothing to do with any form of sensual
impression: it is for this reason that humours, dreams, and the
hallucinations of sick persons can so easily have a false signification
attached to them.  The chances of error and self-deception that arise
from this source, the ease with which people may be deceived
intentionally, and the mischief which, as a general rule, attends a
knowledge of the future, these considerations place beyond all doubt the
practical unwisdom of attempts to arrive at certainty concerning the
future.  This, however, cannot affect the weight which in theory should
be attached to phenomena of this kind, and must not prevent us from
recognising the positive existence of the clairvoyance whose existence I
am maintaining, though it is often hidden under a chaos of madness and

The materialistic and rationalistic tendencies of the present day lead
most people either to deny facts of this kind _in toto_, or to ignore
them, inasmuch as they are inexplicable from a materialistic standpoint,
and cannot be established by the inductive or experimental method—as
though this last were not equally impossible in the case of morals,
social science, and politics.  A mind of any candour will only be able to
deny the truths of this entire class of phenomena so long as it remains
in ignorance of the facts that have been related concerning them; but,
again, a continuance in this ignorance can only arise from unwillingness
to be convinced.  I am satisfied that many of those who deny all human
power of divination would come to another, and, to say the least, more
cautious conclusion if they would be at the pains of further
investigation; and I hold that no one, even at the present day, need be
ashamed of joining in with an opinion which was maintained by all the
great spirits of antiquity except Epicurus—an opinion whose possible
truth hardly one of our best modern philosophers has ventured to
contravene, and which the champions of German enlightenment were so
little disposed to relegate to the domain of old wives’ tales, that
Goethe furnishes us with an example of second sight that fell within his
own experience, and confirms it down to its minutest details.

Although I am far from believing that the kind of phenomena above
referred to form in themselves a proper foundation for a superstructure
of scientific demonstration, I nevertheless find them valuable as a
completion and further confirmation of the series of phenomena presented
to us by the clairvoyance which we observe in human and animal instinct.
Even though they only continue this series {128} through the echo that is
awakened within our consciousness, they as powerfully support the account
which instinctive actions give concerning their own nature, as they are
themselves supported by the analogy they present to the clairvoyance
observable in instinct.  This, then, as well as my desire not to lose an
opportunity of protesting against a modern prejudice, must stand as my
reason for having allowed myself to refer, in a scientific work, to a
class of phenomena which has fallen at present into so much discredit.

I will conclude with a few words upon a special kind of instinct which
has a very instructive bearing upon the subject generally, and shows how
impossible it is to evade the supposition of an unconscious clairvoyance
on the part of instinct.  In the examples adduced hitherto, the action of
each individual has been done on the individual’s own behalf, except in
the case of instincts connected with the continuation of the species,
where the action benefits others—that is to say, the offspring of the
creature performing it.

We must now examine the cases in which a solidarity of instinct is found
to exist between several individuals, so that, on the one hand, the
action of each redounds to the common welfare, and, on the other, it
becomes possible for a useful purpose to be achieved through the
harmonious association of individual workers.  This community of instinct
exists also among the higher animals, but here it is harder to
distinguish from associations originating through conscious will,
inasmuch as speech supplies the means of a more perfect
intercommunication of aim and plan.  We shall, however, definitely
recognise {129} this general effect of a universal instinct in the origin
of speech and in the great political and social movements in the history
of the world.  Here we are concerned only with the simplest and most
definite examples that can be found anywhere, and therefore we will deal
in preference with the lower animals, among which, in the absence of
voice, the means of communicating thought, mimicry, and physiognomy, are
so imperfect that the harmony and interconnection of the individual
actions cannot in its main points be ascribed to an understanding arrived
at through speech.  Huber observed that when a new comb was being
constructed a number of the largest working-bees, that were full of
honey, took no part in the ordinary business of the others, but remained
perfectly aloof.  Twenty-four hours afterwards small plates of wax had
formed under their bellies.  The bee drew these off with her hind-feet,
masticated them, and made them into a band.  The small plates of wax thus
prepared were then glued to the roof of the hive one on the top of the
other.  When one of the bees of this kind had used up her plates of wax,
another followed her and carried the same work forward in the same way.
A thin rough vertical wall, half a line in thickness and fastened to the
sides of the hive, was thus constructed.  On this, one of the smaller
working-bees whose belly was empty came, and after surveying the wall,
made a flat half-oval excavation in the middle of one of its sides; she
piled up the wax thus excavated round the edge of the excavation.  After
a short time she was relieved by another like herself, till more than
twenty followed one another in this way.  Meanwhile another bee began to
make a similar hollow on the other side of the wall, but corresponding
only with the rim of the excavation on this side.  Presently another bee
began a second hollow upon the same side, each bee being continually
relieved by others.  Other bees kept coming up and bringing under their
bellies plates of wax, with which they heightened the edge of the small
wall of wax.  In this, new bees were constantly excavating the ground for
more cells, while others proceeded by degrees to bring those already
begun into a perfectly symmetrical shape, and at the same time continued
building up the prismatic walls between them.  Thus the bees worked on
opposite sides of the wall of wax, always on the same plan and in the
closest correspondence with those upon the other side, until eventually
the cells on both sides were completed in all their wonderful regularity
and harmony of arrangement, not merely as regards those standing side by
side, but also as regards those which were upon the other side of their
pyramidal base.

Let the reader consider how animals that are accustomed to confer
together, by speech or otherwise, concerning designs which they may be
pursuing in common, will wrangle with thousandfold diversity of opinion;
let him reflect how often something has to be undone, destroyed, and done
over again; how at one time too many hands come forward, and at another
too few; what running to and fro there is before each has found his right
place; how often too many, and again too few, present themselves for a
relief gang; and how we find all this in the concerted works of men, who
stand so far higher than bees in the scale of organisation.  We see
nothing of the kind among bees.  A survey of their operations leaves
rather the impression upon us as though an invisible master-builder had
prearranged a scheme of action for the entire community, and had
impressed it upon each individual member, as though each class of workers
had learnt their appointed work by heart, knew their places and the
numbers in which they should relieve each other, and were informed
instantaneously by a secret signal of the moment when their action was
wanted.  This, however, is exactly the manner in which an instinct works;
and as the intention of the entire community is instinctively present in
the unconscious clairvoyance {131a} of each individual bee, so the
possession of this common instinct impels each one of them to the
discharge of her special duties when the right moment has arrived.  It is
only thus that the wonderful tranquillity and order which we observe
could be attained.  What we are to think concerning this common instinct
must be reserved for explanation later on, but the possibility of its
existence is already evident, inasmuch {131b} as each individual has an
unconscious insight concerning the plan proposed to itself by the
community, and also concerning the means immediately to be adopted
through concerted action—of which, however, only the part requiring his
own co-operation is present in the consciousness of each.  Thus, for
example, the larva of the bee itself spins the silky chamber in which it
is to become a chrysalis, but other bees must close it with its lid of
wax.  The purpose of there being a chamber in which the larva can become
a chrysalis must be present in the minds of each of these two parties to
the transaction, but neither of them acts under the influence of
conscious will, except in regard to his own particular department.  I
have already mentioned the fact that the larva, after its metamorphosis,
must be freed from its cell by other bees, and have told how the
working-bees in autumn kill the drones, so that they may not have to feed
a number of useless mouths throughout the winter, and how they only spare
them when they are wanted in order to fecundate a new queen.
Furthermore, the working-bees build cells in which the eggs laid by the
queen may come to maturity, and, as a general rule, make just as many
chambers as the queen lays eggs; they make these, moreover, in the same
order as that in which the queen lays her eggs, namely, first for the
working-bees, then for the drones, and lastly for the queens.  In the
polity of the bees, the working and the sexual capacities, which were
once united, are now personified in three distinct kinds of individual,
and these combine with an inner, unconscious, spiritual union, so as to
form a single body politic, as the organs of a living body combine to
form the body itself.

In this chapter, therefore, we have arrived at the following

Instinct is not the result of conscious deliberation; {132} it is not a
consequence of bodily organisation; it is not a mere result of a
mechanism which lies in the organisation of the brain; it is not the
operation of dead mechanism, glued on, as it were, to the soul, and
foreign to its inmost essence; but it is the spontaneous action of the
individual, springing from his most essential nature and character.  The
purpose to which any particular kind of instinctive action is subservient
is not the purpose of a soul standing outside the individual and near
akin to Providence—a purpose once for all thought out, and now become a
matter of necessity to the individual, so that he can act in no other
way, though it is engrafted into his nature from without, and not natural
to it.  The purpose of the instinct is in each individual case thought
out and willed unconsciously by the individual, and afterwards the choice
of means adapted to each particular case is arrived at unconsciously.  A
knowledge of the purpose is often absolutely unattainable {133} by
conscious knowledge through sensual perception.  Then does the
peculiarity of the unconscious display itself in the clairvoyance of
which consciousness perceives partly only a faint and dull, and partly,
as in the case of man, a more or less definite echo by way of sentiment,
whereas the instinctive action itself—the carrying out of the means
necessary for the achievement of the unconscious purpose—falls always
more clearly within consciousness, inasmuch as due performance of what is
necessary would be otherwise impossible.  Finally, the clairvoyance makes
itself perceived in the concerted action of several individuals combining
to carry out a common but unconscious purpose.

Up to this point we have encountered clairvoyance as a fact which we
observe but cannot explain, and the reader may say that he prefers to
take his stand here, and be content with regarding instinct simply as a
matter of fact, the explanation of which is at present beyond our reach.
Against this it must be urged, firstly, that clairvoyance is not confined
to instinct, but is found also in man; secondly, that clairvoyance is by
no means present in all instincts, and that therefore our experience
shows us clairvoyance and instinct as two distinct things—clairvoyance
being of great use in explaining instinct, but instinct serving nothing
to explain clairvoyance; thirdly and lastly, that the clairvoyance of the
individual will not continue to be so incomprehensible to us, but will be
perfectly well explained in the further course of our investigation,
while we must give up all hope of explaining instinct in any other way.

The conception we have thus arrived at enables us to regard instinct as
the innermost kernel, so to speak, of every living being.  That this is
actually the case is shown by the instincts of self-preservation and of
the continuation of the species which we observe throughout creation, and
by the heroic self-abandonment with which the individual will sacrifice
welfare, and even life, at the bidding of instinct.  We see this when we
think of the caterpillar, and how she repairs her cocoon until she yields
to exhaustion; of the bird, and how she will lay herself to death; of the
disquiet and grief displayed by all migratory animals if they are
prevented from migrating.  A captive cuckoo will always die at the
approach of winter through despair at being unable to fly away; so will
the vineyard snail if it is hindered of its winter sleep.  The weakest
mother will encounter an enemy far surpassing her in strength, and suffer
death cheerfully for her offspring’s sake.  Every year we see fresh cases
of people who have been unfortunate going mad or committing suicide.
Women who have survived the Cæsarian operation allow themselves so little
to be deterred from further childbearing through fear of this frightful
and generally fatal operation, that they will undergo it no less than
three times.  Can we suppose that what so closely resembles demoniacal
possession can have come about through something engrafted on to the soul
as a mechanism foreign to its inner nature, {135} or through conscious
deliberation which adheres always to a bare egoism, and is utterly
incapable of such self-sacrifice for the sake of offspring as is
displayed by the procreative and maternal instincts?

We have now, finally, to consider how it arises that the instincts of any
animal species are so similar within the limits of that species—a
circumstance which has not a little contributed to the
engrafted-mechanism theory.  But it is plain that like causes will be
followed by like effects; and this should afford sufficient explanation.
The bodily mechanism, for example, of all the individuals of a species is
alike; so again are their capabilities and the outcomes of their
conscious intelligence—though this, indeed, is not the case with man, nor
in some measure even with the highest animals; and it is through this
want of uniformity that there is such a thing as individuality.  The
external conditions of all the individuals of a species are also
tolerably similar, and when they differ essentially, the instincts are
likewise different—a fact in support of which no examples are necessary.
From like conditions of mind and body (and this includes like
predispositions of brain and ganglia) and like exterior circumstances,
like desires will follow as a necessary logical consequence.  Again, from
like desires and like inward and outward circumstances, a like choice of
means—that is to say, like instincts—must ensue.  These last two steps
would not be conceded without restriction if the question were one
involving conscious deliberation, but as these logical consequences are
supposed to follow from the unconscious, which takes the right step
unfailingly without vacillation or delay so long as the premises are
similar, the ensuing desires and the instincts to adopt the means for
their gratification will be similar also.

Thus the view which we have taken concerning instinct explains the very
last point which it may be thought worth while to bring forward in
support of the opinions of our opponents.

I will conclude this chapter with the words of Schelling: “Thoughtful
minds will hold the phenomena of animal instinct to belong to the most
important of all phenomena, and to be the true touchstone of a durable

Chapter IX

Remarks upon Von Hartmann’s position in regard to instinct.

UNCERTAIN how far the foregoing chapter is not better left without
comment of any kind, I nevertheless think that some of my readers may be
helped by the following extracts from the notes I took while translating.
I will give them as they come, without throwing them into connected form.

                                * * * * *

Von Hartmann defines instinct as action done with a purpose, but without
consciousness of purpose.

The building of her nest by a bird is an instinctive action; it is done
with a purpose, but it is arbitrary to say that the bird has no knowledge
of that purpose.  Some hold that birds when they are building their nest
know as well that they mean to bring up a family in it as a young married
couple do when they build themselves a house.  This is the conclusion
which would be come to by a plain person on a _primâ facie_ view of the
facts, and Von Hartmann shows no reason for modifying it.

A better definition of instinct would be that it is inherited knowledge
in respect of certain facts, and of the most suitable manner in which to
deal with them.

                                * * * * *

Von Hartmann speaks of “a mechanism of brain or mind” contrived by
nature, and again of “a psychical organisation,” as though it were
something distinct from a physical organisation.

We can conceive of such a thing as mechanism of brain, for we have seen
brain and handled it; but until we have seen a mind and handled it, or at
any rate been enabled to draw inferences which will warrant us in
conceiving of it as a material substance apart from bodily substance, we
cannot infer that it has an organisation apart from bodily organisation.
Does Von Hartmann mean that we have two bodies—a body-body, and a

                                * * * * *

He says that no one will call the action of the spider instinctive in
voiding the fluids from its glands when they are too full.  Why not?

                                * * * * *

He is continually personifying instinct; thus he speaks of the “ends
proposed to itself by the instinct,” of “the blind unconscious purpose of
the instinct,” of “an unconscious purpose constraining the volition of
the bird,” of “each variation and modification of the instinct,” as
though instinct, purpose, and, later on, clairvoyance, were persons, and
not words characterising a certain class of actions.  The ends are
proposed to itself by the animal, not by the instinct.  Nothing but
mischief can come of a mode of expression which does not keep this
clearly in view.

                                * * * * *

It must not be supposed that the same cuckoo is in the habit of laying in
the nests of several different species, and of changing the colour of her
eggs according to that of the eggs of the bird in whose nest she lays.  I
have inquired from Mr. R. Bowdler Sharpe of the ornithological department
at the British Museum, who kindly gives it me as his opinion that though
cuckoos do imitate the eggs of the species on whom they foist their young
ones, yet one cuckoo will probably lay in the nests of one species also,
and will stick to that species for life.  If so, the same race of cuckoos
may impose upon the same species for generations together.  The instinct
will even thus remain a very wonderful one, but it is not at all
inconsistent with the theory put forward by Professor Hering and myself.

                                * * * * *

Returning to the idea of psychical mechanism, he admits that “it is
itself so obscure that we can hardly form any idea concerning it,” {139a}
and then goes on to claim for it that it explains a great many other
things.  This must have been the passage which Mr. Sully had in view when
he very justly wrote that Von Hartmann “dogmatically closes the field of
physical inquiry, and takes refuge in a phantom which explains
everything, simply because it is itself incapable of explanation.”

                                * * * * *

According to Von Hartmann {139b} the unpractised animal manifests its
instinct as perfectly as the practised.  This is not the case.  The young
animal exhibits marvellous proficiency, but it gains by experience.  I
have watched sparrows, which I can hardly doubt to be young ones, spend a
whole month in trying to build their nest, and give it up in the end as
hopeless.  I have watched three such cases this spring in a tree not
twenty feet from my own window and on a level with my eye, so that I have
been able to see what was going on at all hours of the day.  In each case
the nest was made well and rapidly up to a certain point, and then got
top-heavy and tumbled over, so that little was left on the tree: it was
reconstructed and reconstructed over and over again, always with the same
result, till at last in all three cases the birds gave up in despair.  I
believe the older and stronger birds secure the fixed and best sites,
driving the younger birds to the trees, and that the art of building
nests in trees is dying out among house-sparrows.

                                * * * * *

He declares that instinct is not due to organisation so much as
organisation to instinct. {140}  The fact is, that neither can claim
precedence of or pre-eminence over the other.  Instinct and organisation
are only mind and body, or mind and matter; and these are not two
separable things, but one and inseparable, with, as it were, two sides;
the one of which is a function of the other.  There was never yet either
matter without mind, however low, nor mind, however high, without a
material body of some sort; there can be no change in one without a
corresponding change in the other; neither came before the other; neither
can either cease to change or cease to be; for “to be” is to continue
changing, so that “to be” and “to change” are one.

                                * * * * *

Whence, he asks, comes the desire to gratify an instinct before
experience of the pleasure that will ensue on gratification?  This is a
pertinent question, but it is met by Professor Hering with the answer
that this is due to memory—to the continuation in the germ of vibrations
that were vibrating in the body of the parent, and which, when stimulated
by vibrations of a suitable rhythm, become more and more powerful till
they suffice to set the body in visible action.  For my own part I only
venture to maintain that it is due to memory, that is to say, to an
enduring sense on the part of the germ of the action it took when in the
persons of its ancestors, and of the gratification which ensued thereon.
This meets Von Hartmann’s whole difficulty.

                                * * * * *

The glacier is not snow.  It is snow packed tight into a small compass,
and has thus lost all trace of its original form.  How incomplete,
however, would be any theory of glacial action which left out of sight
the origin of the glacier in snow!  Von Hartmann loses sight of the
origin of instinctive in deliberative actions because the two classes of
action are now in many respects different.  His philosophy of the
unconscious fails to consider what is the normal process by means of
which such common actions as we can watch, and whose history we can
follow, have come to be done unconsciously.

                                * * * * *

He says, {141} “How inconceivable is the supposition of a mechanism, &c.,
&c.; how clear and simple, on the other hand, is the view that there is
an unconscious purpose constraining the volition of the bird to the use
of the fitting means.”  Does he mean that there is an actual thing—an
unconscious purpose—something outside the bird, as it were a man, which
lays hold of the bird and makes it do this or that, as a master makes a
servant do his bidding?  If so, he again personifies the purpose itself,
and must therefore embody it, or be talking in a manner which plain
people cannot understand.  If, on the other hand, he means “how simple is
the view that the bird acts unconsciously,” this is not more simple than
supposing it to act consciously; and what ground has he for supposing
that the bird is unconscious?  It is as simple, and as much in accordance
with the facts, to suppose that the bird feels the air to be colder, and
knows that she must warm her eggs if she is to hatch them, as consciously
as a mother knows that she must not expose her new-born infant to the

                                * * * * *

On page 99 of this book we find Von Hartmann saying that if it is once
granted that the normal and abnormal manifestations of instinct spring
from a single source, then the objection that the modification is due to
conscious knowledge will be found to be a suicidal one later on, in so
far as it is directed against instinct generally.  I understand him to
mean that if we admit instinctive action, and the modifications of that
action which more nearly resemble results of reason, to be actions of the
same ultimate kind differing in degree only, and if we thus attempt to
reduce instinctive action to the prophetic strain arising from old
experience, we shall be obliged to admit that the formation of the embryo
is ultimately due to reflection—which he seems to think is a _reductio ad
absurdum_ of the argument.

Therefore, he concludes, if there is to be only one source, the source
must be unconscious, and not conscious.  We reply, that we do not see the
absurdity of the position which we grant we have been driven to.  We hold
that the formation of the embryo _is_ ultimately due to reflection and

                                * * * * *

The writer of an article in the _Times_, April 1, 1880, says that
servants must be taught their calling before they can practise it; but,
in fact, they can only be taught their calling by practising it.  So Von
Hartmann says animals must feel the pleasure consequent on gratification
of an instinct before they can be stimulated to act upon the instinct by
a knowledge of the pleasure that will ensue.  This sounds logical, but in
practice a little performance and a little teaching—a little sense of
pleasure and a little connection of that pleasure with this or that
practice,—come up simultaneously from something that we cannot see, the
two being so small and so much abreast, that we do not know which is
first, performance or teaching; and, again, action, or pleasure supposed
as coming from the action.

                                * * * * *

“Geistes-mechanismus” comes as near to “disposition of mind,” or, more
shortly, “disposition,” as so unsatisfactory a word can come to anything.
Yet, if we translate it throughout by “disposition,” we shall see how
little we are being told.

We find on page 114 that “all instinctive actions give us an impression
of absolute security and infallibility”; that “the will is never weak or
hesitating, as it is when inferences are being drawn consciously.”  “We
never,” Von Hartmann continues, “find instinct making mistakes.”  Passing
over the fact that instinct is again personified, the statement is still
incorrect.  Instinctive actions are certainly, as a general rule,
performed with less uncertainty than deliberative ones; this is
explicable by the fact that they have been more often practised, and thus
reduced more completely to a matter of routine; but nothing is more
certain than that animals acting under the guidance of inherited
experience or instinct frequently make mistakes which with further
practice they correct.  Von Hartmann has abundantly admitted that the
manner of an instinctive action is often varied in correspondence with
variation in external circumstances.  It is impossible to see how this
does not involve both possibility of error and the connection of instinct
with deliberation at one and the same time.  The fact is simply this—when
an animal finds itself in a like position with that in which it has
already often done a certain thing in the persons of its forefathers, it
will do this thing well and easily: when it finds the position somewhat,
but not unrecognisably, altered through change either in its own person
or in the circumstances exterior to it, it will vary its action with
greater or less ease according to the nature of the change in the
position: when the position is gravely altered the animal either bungles
or is completely thwarted.

                                * * * * *

Not only does Von Hartmann suppose that instinct may, and does, involve
knowledge antecedent to, and independent of, experience—an idea as
contrary to the tendency of modern thought as that of spontaneous
generation, with which indeed it is identical though presented in another
shape—but he implies by his frequent use of the word “unmittelbar” that a
result can come about without any cause whatever.  So he says, “Um für
die unbewusster Erkenntniss, welche nicht durch sinnliche Wahrnehmung
erworben, _sondern als unmittelbar Besitz_,” &c. {144a}  Because he does
not see where the experience can have been gained, he cuts the knot, and
denies that there has been experience.  We say, Look more attentively and
you will discover the time and manner in which the experience was gained.

                                * * * * *

Again, he continually assumes that animals low down in the scale of life
cannot know their own business because they show no sign of knowing ours.
See his remarks on _Saturnia pavonia minor_ (page 107), and elsewhere on
cattle and gadflies.  The question is not what can they know, but what
does their action prove to us that they do know.  With each species of
animal or plant there is one profession only, and it is hereditary.  With
us there are many professions, and they are not hereditary; so that they
cannot become instinctive, as they would otherwise tend to do.

                                * * * * *

He attempts {144b} to draw a distinction between the causes that have
produced the weapons and working instruments of animals, on the one hand,
and those that lead to the formation of hexagonal cells by bees, &c., on
the other.  No such distinction can be justly drawn.

                                * * * * *

The ghost-stories which Von Hartmann accepts will hardly be accepted by
people of sound judgment.  There is one well-marked distinctive feature
between the knowledge manifested by animals when acting instinctively and
the supposed knowledge of seers and clairvoyants.  In the first case, the
animal never exhibits knowledge except upon matters concerning which its
race has been conversant for generations; in the second, the seer is
supposed to do so.  In the first case, a new feature is invariably
attended with disturbance of the performance and the awakening of
consciousness and deliberation, unless the new matter is too small in
proportion to the remaining features of the case to attract attention, or
unless, though really new, it appears so similar to an old feature as to
be at first mistaken for it; with the second, it is not even professed
that the seer’s ancestors have had long experience upon the matter
concerning which the seer is supposed to have special insight, and I can
imagine no more powerful _à priori_ argument against a belief in such

                                * * * * *

Close upon the end of his chapter Von Hartmann touches upon the one
matter which requires consideration.  He refers the similarity of
instinct that is observable among all species to the fact that like
causes produce like effects; and I gather, though he does not expressly
say so, that he considers similarity of instinct in successive
generations to be referable to the same cause as similarity of instinct
between all the contemporary members of a species.  He thus raises the
one objection against referring the phenomena of heredity to memory which
I think need be gone into with any fulness.  I will, however, reserve
this matter for my concluding chapters.

Von Hartmann concludes his chapter with a quotation from Schelling, to
the effect that the phenomena of animal instinct are the true touchstone
of a durable philosophy; by which I suppose it is intended to say that if
a system or theory deals satisfactorily with animal instinct, it will
stand, but not otherwise.  I can wish nothing better than that the
philosophy of the unconscious advanced by Von Hartmann be tested by this

Chapter X

Recapitulation and statement of an objection.

THE true theory of unconscious action, then, is that of Professor Hering,
from whose lecture it is no strained conclusion to gather that he holds
the action of all living beings, from the moment of their conception to
that of their fullest development, to be founded in volition and design,
though these have been so long lost sight of that the work is now carried
on, as it were, departmentally and in due course according to an official
routine which can hardly now be departed from.

This involves the older “Darwinism” and the theory of Lamarck, according
to which the modification of living forms has been effected mainly
through the needs of the living forms themselves, which vary with varying
conditions, the survival of the fittest (which, as I see Mr. H. B.
Baildon has just said, “sometimes comes to mean merely the survival of
the survivors” {146}) being taken almost as a matter of course.
According to this view of evolution, there is a remarkable analogy
between the development of living organs or tools and that of those
organs or tools external to the body which has been so rapid during the
last few thousand years.

Animals and plants, according to Professor Hering, are guided throughout
their development, and preserve the due order in each step which they
take, through memory of the course they took on past occasions when in
the persons of their ancestors.  I am afraid I have already too often
said that if this memory remains for long periods together latent and
without effect, it is because the undulations of the molecular substance
of the body which are its supposed explanation are during these periods
too feeble to generate action, until they are augmented in force through
an accession of suitable undulations issuing from exterior objects; or,
in other words, until recollection is stimulated by a return of the
associated ideas.  On this the eternal agitation becomes so much
enhanced, that equilibrium is visibly disturbed, and the action ensues
which is proper to the vibration of the particular substance under the
particular conditions.  This, at least, is what I suppose Professor
Hering to intend.

Leaving the explanation of memory on one side, and confining ourselves to
the fact of memory only, a caterpillar on being just hatched is supposed,
according to this theory, to lose its memory of the time it was in the
egg, and to be stimulated by an intense but unconscious recollection of
the action taken by its ancestors when they were first hatched.  It is
guided in the course it takes by the experience it can thus command.
Each step it takes recalls a new recollection, and thus it goes through
its development as a performer performs a piece of music, each bar
leading his recollection to the bar that should next follow.

In “Life and Habit” will be found examples of the manner in which this
view solves a number of difficulties for the explanation of which the
leading men of science express themselves at a loss.  The following from
Professor Huxley’s recent work upon the crayfish may serve for an
example.  Professor Huxley writes:—

    “It is a widely received notion that the energies of living matter
    have a tendency to decline and finally disappear, and that the death
    of the body as a whole is a necessary correlate of its life.  That
    all living beings sooner or later perish needs no demonstration, but
    it would be difficult to find satisfactory grounds for the belief
    that they needs must do so.  The analogy of a machine, that sooner or
    later must be brought to a standstill by the wear and tear of its
    parts, does not hold, inasmuch as the animal mechanism is continually
    renewed and repaired; and though it is true that individual
    components of the body are constantly dying, yet their places are
    taken by vigorous successors.  A city remains notwithstanding the
    constant death-rate of its inhabitants; and such an organism as a
    crayfish is only a corporate unity, made up of innumerable partially
    independent individualities.”—_The Crayfish_, p. 127.

Surely the theory which I have indicated above makes the reason plain why
no organism can permanently outlive its experience of past lives.  The
death of such a body corporate as the crayfish is due to the social
condition becoming more complex than there is memory of past experience
to deal with.  Hence social disruption, insubordination, and decay.  The
crayfish dies as a state dies, and all states that we have heard of die
sooner or later.  There are some savages who have not yet arrived at the
conception that death is the necessary end of all living beings, and who
consider even the gentlest death from old age as violent and abnormal; so
Professor Huxley seems to find a difficulty in seeing that though a city
commonly outlives many generations of its citizens, yet cities and states
are in the end no less mortal than individuals.  “The city,” he says,
“remains.”  Yes, but not for ever.  When Professor Huxley can find a city
that will last for ever, he may wonder that a crayfish does not last for

I have already here and elsewhere said all that I can yet bring forward
in support of Professor Hering’s theory; it now remains for me to meet
the most troublesome objection to it that I have been able to think of—an
objection which I had before me when I wrote “Life and Habit,” but which
then as now I believe to be unsound.  Seeing, however, as I have pointed
out at the end of the preceding chapter, that Von Hartmann has touched
upon it, and being aware that a plausible case can be made out for it, I
will state it and refute it here.  When I say refute it, I do not mean
that I shall have done with it—for it is plain that it opens up a vaster
question in the relations between the so-called organic and inorganic
worlds—but that I will refute the supposition that it any way militates
against Professor Hering’s theory.

Why, it may be asked, should we go out of our way to invent unconscious
memory—the existence of which must at the best remain an inference
{149}—when the observed fact that like antecedents are invariably
followed by like consequents should be sufficient for our purpose?  Why
should the fact that a given kind of chrysalis in a given condition will
always become a butterfly within a certain time be connected with memory,
when it is not pretended that memory has anything to do with the
invariableness with which oxygen and hydrogen when mixed in certain
proportions make water?

We assume confidently that if a drop of water were decomposed into its
component parts, and if these were brought together again, and again
decomposed and again brought together any number of times over, the
results would be invariably the same, whether decomposition or
combination, yet no one will refer the invariableness of the action
during each repetition, to recollection by the gaseous molecules of the
course taken when the process was last repeated.  On the contrary, we are
assured that molecules in some distant part of the world, which had never
entered into such and such a known combination themselves, nor held
concert with other molecules that had been so combined, and which,
therefore, could have had no experience and no memory, would none the
less act upon one another in that one way in which other like
combinations of atoms have acted under like circumstances, as readily as
though they had been combined and separated and recombined again a
hundred or a hundred thousand times.  It is this assumption, tacitly made
by every man, beast, and plant in the universe, throughout all time and
in every action of their lives, that has made any action possible, lying,
as it does, at the root of all experience.

As we admit of no doubt concerning the main result, so we do not suppose
an alternative to lie before any atom of any molecule at any moment
during the process of their combination.  This process is, in all
probability, an exceedingly complicated one, involving a multitude of
actions and subordinate processes, which follow one upon the other, and
each one of which has a beginning, a middle, and an end, though they all
come to pass in what appears to be an instant of time.  Yet at no point
do we conceive of any atom as swerving ever such a little to right or
left of a determined course, but invest each one of them with so much of
the divine attributes as that with it there shall be no variableness,
neither shadow of turning.

We attribute this regularity of action to what we call the necessity of
things, as determined by the nature of the atoms and the circumstances in
which they are placed.  We say that only one proximate result can ever
arise from any given combination.  If, then, so great uniformity of
action as nothing can exceed is manifested by atoms to which no one will
impute memory, why this desire for memory, as though it were the only way
of accounting for regularity of action in living beings?  Sameness of
action may be seen abundantly where there is no room for anything that we
can consistently call memory.  In these cases we say that it is due to
sameness of substance in same circumstances.

The most cursory reflection upon our actions will show us that it is no
more possible for living action to have more than one set of proximate
consequents at any given time than for oxygen and hydrogen when mixed in
the proportions proper for the formation of water.  Why, then, not
recognise this fact, and ascribe repeated similarity of living action to
the reproduction of the necessary antecedents, with no more sense of
connection between the steps in the action, or memory of similar action
taken before, than we suppose on the part of oxygen and hydrogen
molecules between the several occasions on which they may have been
disunited and reunited?

A boy catches the measles not because he remembers having caught them in
the persons of his father and mother, but because he is a fit soil for a
certain kind of seed to grow upon.  In like manner he should be said to
grow his nose because he is a fit combination for a nose to spring from.
Dr. X—’s father died of _angina pectoris_ at the age of forty-nine; so
did Dr. X—.  Can it be pretended that Dr. X— remembered having died of
_angina pectoris_ at the age of forty-nine when in the person of his
father, and accordingly, when he came to be forty-nine years old himself,
died also?  For this to hold, Dr. X—’s father must have begotten him
after he was dead; for the son could not remember the father’s death
before it happened.

As for the diseases of old age, so very commonly inherited, they are
developed for the most part not only long after the average age of
reproduction, but at a time when no appreciable amount of memory of any
previous existence can remain; for a man will not have many male
ancestors who become parents at over sixty years old, nor female
ancestors who did so at over forty.  By our own showing, therefore,
recollection can have nothing to do with the matter.  Yet who can doubt
that gout is due to inheritance as much as eyes and noses?  In what
respects do the two things differ so that we should refer the inheritance
of eyes and noses to memory, while denying any connection between memory
and gout?  We may have a ghost of a pretence for saying that a man grew a
nose by rote, or even that he catches the measles or whooping-cough by
rote during his boyhood; but do we mean to say that he develops the gout
by rote in his old age if he comes of a gouty family?  If, then, rote and
red-tape have nothing to do with the one, why should they with the other?

Remember also the cases in which aged females develop male
characteristics.  Here are growths, often of not inconsiderable extent,
which make their appearance during the decay of the body, and grow with
greater and greater vigour in the extreme of old age, and even for days
after death itself.  It can hardly be doubted that an especial tendency
to develop these characteristics runs as an inheritance in certain
families; here then is perhaps the best case that can be found of a
development strictly inherited, but having clearly nothing whatever to do
with memory.  Why should not all development stand upon the same footing?

A friend who had been arguing with me for some time as above, concluded
with the following words:—

    “If you cannot be content with the similar action of similar
    substances (living or non-living) under similar circumstances—if you
    cannot accept this as an ultimate fact, but consider it necessary to
    connect repetition of similar action with memory before you can rest
    in it and be thankful—be consistent, and introduce this memory which
    you find so necessary into the inorganic world also.  Either say that
    a chrysalis becomes a butterfly because it is the thing that it is,
    and, being that kind of thing, must act in such and such a manner and
    in such a manner only, so that the act of one generation has no more
    to do with the act of the next than the fact of cream being churned
    into butter in a dairy one day has to do with other cream being
    churnable into butter in the following week—either say this, or else
    develop some mental condition—which I have no doubt you will be very
    well able to do if you feel the want of it—in which you can make out
    a case for saying that oxygen and hydrogen on being brought together,
    and cream on being churned, are in some way acquainted with, and
    mindful of, action taken by other cream and other oxygen and hydrogen
    on past occasions.”

I felt inclined to reply that my friend need not twit me with being able
to develop a mental organism if I felt the need of it, for his own
ingenious attack on my position, and indeed every action of his life was
but an example of this omnipresent principle.

When he was gone, however, I thought over what he had been saying.  I
endeavoured to see how far I could get on without volition and memory,
and reasoned as follows:—A repetition of like antecedents will be
certainly followed by a repetition of like consequents, whether the
agents be men and women or chemical substances.  “If there be two cowards
perfectly similar in every respect, and if they be subjected in a
perfectly similar way to two terrifying agents, which are themselves
perfectly similar, there are few who will not expect a perfect similarity
in the running away, even though ten thousand years intervene between the
original combination and its repetition.” {153}  Here certainly there is
no coming into play of memory, more than in the pan of cream on two
successive churning days, yet the action is similar.

A clerk in an office has an hour in the middle of the day for dinner.
About half-past twelve he begins to feel hungry; at once he takes down
his hat and leaves the office.  He does not yet know the neighbourhood,
and on getting down into the street asks a policeman at the corner which
is the best eating-house within easy distance.  The policeman tells him
of three houses, one of which is a little farther off than the other two,
but is cheaper.  Money being a greater object to him than time, the clerk
decides on going to the cheaper house.  He goes, is satisfied, and

Next day he wants his dinner at the same hour, and—it will be
said—remembering his satisfaction of yesterday, will go to the same place
as before.  But what has his memory to do with it?  Suppose him to have
entirely forgotten all the circumstances of the preceding day from the
moment of his beginning to feel hungry onward, though in other respects
sound in mind and body, and unchanged generally.  At half-past twelve he
would begin to be hungry; but his beginning to be hungry cannot be
connected with his remembering having begun to be hungry yesterday.  He
would begin to be hungry just as much whether he remembered or no.  At
one o’clock he again takes down his hat and leaves the office, not
because he remembers having done so yesterday, but because he wants his
hat to go out with.  Being again in the street, and again ignorant of the
neighbourhood (for he remembers nothing of yesterday), he sees the same
policeman at the corner of the street, and asks him the same question as
before; the policeman gives him the same answer, and money being still an
object to him, the cheapest eating-house is again selected; he goes
there, finds the same _menu_, makes the same choice for the same reasons,
eats, is satisfied, and returns.

What similarity of action can be greater than this, and at the same time
more incontrovertible?  But it has nothing to do with memory; on the
contrary, it is just because the clerk has no memory that his action of
the second day so exactly resembles that of the first.  As long as he has
no power of recollecting, he will day after day repeat the same actions
in exactly the same way, until some external circumstances, such as his
being sent away, modify the situation.  Till this or some other
modification occurs, he will day after day go down into the street
without knowing where to go; day after day he will see the same policeman
at the corner of the same street, and (for we may as well suppose that
the policeman has no memory too) he will ask and be answered, and ask and
be answered, till he and the policeman die of old age.  This similarity
of action is plainly due to that—whatever it is—which ensures that like
persons or things when placed in like circumstances shall behave in like

Allow the clerk ever such a little memory, and the similarity of action
will disappear; for the fact of remembering what happened to him on the
first day he went out in search of dinner will be a modification in him
in regard to his then condition when he next goes out to get his dinner.
He had no such memory on the first day, and he has upon the second.  Some
modification of action must ensue upon this modification of the actor,
and this is immediately observable.  He wants his dinner, indeed, goes
down into the street, and sees the policeman as yesterday, but he does
not ask the policeman; he remembers what the policeman told him and what
he did, and therefore goes straight to the eating-house without wasting
time: nor does he dine off the same dish two days running, for he
remembers what he had yesterday and likes variety.  If, then, similarity
of action is rather hindered than promoted by memory, why introduce it
into such cases as the repetition of the embryonic processes by
successive generations?  The embryos of a well-fixed breed, such as the
goose, are almost as much alike as water is to water, and by consequence
one goose comes to be almost as like another as water to water.  Why
should it not be supposed to become so upon the same grounds—namely, that
it is made of the same stuffs, and put together in like proportions in
the same manner?

Chapter XI

On Cycles.

THE one faith on which all normal living beings consciously or
unconsciously act, is that like antecedents will be followed by like
consequents.  This is the one true and catholic faith, undemonstrable,
but except a living being believe which, without doubt it shall perish
everlastingly.  In the assurance of this all action is taken.

But if this fundamental article is admitted, and it cannot be gainsaid,
it follows that if ever a complete cycle were formed, so that the whole
universe of one instant were to repeat itself absolutely in a subsequent
one, no matter after what interval of time, then the course of the events
between these two moments would go on repeating itself for ever and ever
afterwards in due order, down to the minutest detail, in an endless
series of cycles like a circulating decimal.  For the universe comprises
everything; there could therefore be no disturbance from without.  Once a
cycle, always a cycle.

Let us suppose the earth, of given weight, moving with given momentum in
a given path, and under given conditions in every respect, to find itself
at any one time conditioned in all these respects as it was conditioned
at some past moment; then it must move exactly in the same path as the
one it took when at the beginning of the cycle it has just completed, and
must therefore in the course of time fulfil a second cycle, and therefore
a third, and so on for ever and ever, with no more chance of escape than
a circulating decimal has, if the circumstances have been reproduced with
perfect accuracy.

We see something very like this actually happen in the yearly revolutions
of the planets round the sun.  But the relations between, we will say,
the earth and the sun are not reproduced absolutely.  These relations
deal only with a small part of the universe, and even in this small part
the relation of the parts _inter se_ has never yet been reproduced with
the perfection of accuracy necessary for our argument.  They are liable,
moreover, to disturbance from events which may or may not actually occur
(as, for example, our being struck by a comet, or the sun’s coming within
a certain distance of another sun), but of which, if they do occur, no
one can foresee the effects.  Nevertheless the conditions have been so
nearly repeated that there is no appreciable difference in the relations
between the earth and sun on one New Year’s Day and on another, nor is
there reason for expecting such change within any reasonable time.

If there is to be an eternal series of cycles involving the whole
universe, it is plain that not one single atom must be excluded.  Exclude
a single molecule of hydrogen from the ring, or vary the relative
positions of two molecules only, and the charm is broken; an element of
disturbance has been introduced, of which the utmost that can be said is
that it may not prevent the ensuing of a long series of very nearly
perfect cycles before similarity in recurrence is destroyed, but which
must inevitably prevent absolute identity of repetition.  The movement of
the series becomes no longer a cycle, but spiral, and convergent or
divergent at a greater or less rate according to circumstances.  We
cannot conceive of all the atoms in the universe standing twice over in
absolutely the same relation each one of them to every other.  There are
too many of them and they are too much mixed; but, as has been just said,
in the planets and their satellites we do see large groups of atoms whose
movements recur with some approach to precision.  The same holds good
also with certain comets and with the sun himself.  The result is that
our days and nights and seasons follow one another with nearly perfect
regularity from year to year, and have done so for as long time as we
know anything for certain.  A vast preponderance of all the action that
takes place around us is cycular action.

Within the great cycle of the planetary revolution of our own earth, and
as a consequence thereof, we have the minor cycle of the phenomena of the
seasons; these generate atmospheric cycles.  Water is evaporated from the
ocean and conveyed to mountain ranges, where it is cooled, and whence it
returns again to the sea.  This cycle of events is being repeated again
and again with little appreciable variation.  The tides and winds in
certain latitudes go round and round the world with what amounts to
continuous regularity.—There are storms of wind and rain called cyclones.
In the case of these, the cycle is not very complete, the movement,
therefore, is spiral, and the tendency to recur is comparatively soon
lost.  It is a common saying that history repeats itself, so that anarchy
will lead to despotism and despotism to anarchy; every nation can point
to instances of men’s minds having gone round and round so nearly in a
perfect cycle that many revolutions have occurred before the cessation of
a tendency to recur.  Lastly, in the generation of plants and animals we
have, perhaps, the most striking and common example of the inevitable
tendency of all action to repeat itself when it has once proximately done
so.  Let only one living being have once succeeded in producing a being
like itself, and thus have returned, so to speak, upon itself, and a
series of generations must follow of necessity, unless some matter
interfere which had no part in the original combination, and, as it may
happen, kill the first reproductive creature or all its descendants
within a few generations.  If no such mishap occurs as this, and if the
recurrence of the conditions is sufficiently perfect, a series of
generations follows with as much certainty as a series of seasons follows
upon the cycle of the relations between the earth and sun.  Let the first
periodically recurring substance—we will say A—be able to recur or
reproduce itself, not once only, but many times over, as A1, A2, &c.; let
A also have consciousness and a sense of self-interest, which qualities
must, _ex hypothesi_, be reproduced in each one of its offspring; let
these get placed in circumstances which differ sufficiently to destroy
the cycle in theory without doing so practically—that is to say, to
reduce the rotation to a spiral, but to a spiral with so little deviation
from perfect cycularity as for each revolution to appear practically a
cycle, though after many revolutions the deviation becomes perceptible;
then some such differentiations of animal and vegetable life as we
actually see follow as matters of course.  A1 and A2 have a sense of
self-interest as A had, but they are not precisely in circumstances
similar to A’s, nor, it may be, to each other’s; they will therefore act
somewhat differently, and every living being is modified by a change of
action.  Having become modified, they follow the spirit of A’s action
more essentially in begetting a creature like themselves than in
begetting one like A; for the essence of A’s act was not the reproduction
of A, but the reproduction of a creature like the one from which it
sprung—that is to say, a creature bearing traces in its body of the main
influences that have worked upon its parent.

Within the cycle of reproduction there are cycles upon cycles in the life
of each individual, whether animal or plant.  Observe the action of our
lungs and heart, how regular it is, and how a cycle having been once
established, it is repeated many millions of times in an individual of
average health and longevity.  Remember also that it is this
periodicity—this inevitable tendency of all atoms in combination to
repeat any combination which they have once repeated, unless forcibly
prevented from doing so—which alone renders nine-tenths of our mechanical
inventions of practical use to us.  There is no internal periodicity
about a hammer or a saw, but there is in the steam-engine or watermill
when once set in motion.  The actions of these machines recur in a
regular series, at regular intervals, with the unerringness of
circulating decimals.

When we bear in mind, then, the omnipresence of this tendency in the
world around us, the absolute freedom from exception which attends its
action, the manner in which it holds equally good upon the vastest and
the smallest scale, and the completeness of its accord with our ideas of
what must inevitably happen when a like combination is placed in
circumstances like those in which it was placed before—when we bear in
mind all this, is it possible not to connect the facts together, and to
refer cycles of living generations to the same unalterableness in the
action of like matter under like circumstances which makes Jupiter and
Saturn revolve round the sun, or the piston of a steam-engine move up and
down as long as the steam acts upon it?

But who will attribute memory to the hands of a clock, to a piston-rod,
to air or water in a storm or in course of evaporation, to the earth and
planets in their circuits round the sun, or to the atoms of the universe,
if they too be moving in a cycle vaster than we can take account of?
{160}  And if not, why introduce it into the embryonic development of
living beings, when there is not a particle of evidence in support of its
actual presence, when regularity of action can be ensured just as well
without it as with it, and when at the best it is considered as existing
under circumstances which it baffles us to conceive, inasmuch as it is
supposed to be exercised without any conscious recollection?  Surely a
memory which is exercised without any consciousness of recollecting is
only a periphrasis for the absence of any memory at all.

Chapter XII

Refutation—Memory at once a promoter and a disturber of uniformity of
action and structure.

TO meet the objections in the two foregoing chapters, I need do little
more than show that the fact of certain often inherited diseases and
developments, whether of youth or old age, being obviously not due to a
memory on the part of offspring of like diseases and developments in the
parents, does not militate against supposing that embryonic and youthful
development generally is due to memory.

This is the main part of the objection; the rest resolves itself into an
assertion that there is no evidence in support of instinct and embryonic
development being due to memory, and a contention that the necessity of
each particular moment in each particular case is sufficient to account
for the facts without the introduction of memory.

I will deal with these two last points briefly first.  As regards the
evidence in support of the theory that instinct and growth are due to a
rapid unconscious memory of past experiences and developments in the
persons of the ancestors of the living form in which they appear, I must
refer my readers to “Life and Habit,” and to the translation of Professor
Hering’s lecture given in this volume.  I will only repeat here that a
chrysalis, we will say, is as much one and the same person with the
chrysalis of its preceding generation, as this last is one and the same
person with the egg or caterpillar from which it sprang.  You cannot deny
personal identity between two successive generations without sooner or
later denying it during the successive stages in the single life of what
we call one individual; nor can you admit personal identity through the
stages of a long and varied life (embryonic and postnatal) without
admitting it to endure through an endless series of generations.

The personal identity of successive generations being admitted, the
possibility of the second of two generations remembering what happened to
it in the first is obvious.  The _à priori_ objection, therefore, is
removed, and the question becomes one of fact—does the offspring act as
if it remembered?

The answer to this question is not only that it does so act, but that it
is not possible to account for either its development or its early
instinctive actions upon any other hypothesis than that of its
remembering, and remembering exceedingly well.

The only alternative is to declare with Von Hartmann that a living being
may display a vast and varied information concerning all manner of
details, and be able to perform most intricate operations, independently
of experience and practice.  Once admit knowledge independent of
experience, and farewell to sober sense and reason from that moment.

Firstly, then, we show that offspring has had every facility for
remembering; secondly, that it shows every appearance of having
remembered; thirdly, that no other hypothesis except memory can be
brought forward, so as to account for the phenomena of instinct and
heredity generally, which is not easily reducible to an absurdity.
Beyond this we do not care to go, and must allow those to differ from us
who require further evidence.

As regards the argument that the necessity of each moment will account
for likeness of result, without there being any need for introducing
memory, I admit that likeness of consequents is due to likeness of
antecedents, and I grant this will hold as good with embryos as with
oxygen and hydrogen gas; what will cover the one will cover the other,
for time writs of the laws common to all matter run within the womb as
freely as elsewhere; but admitting that there are combinations into which
living beings enter with a faculty called memory which has its effect
upon their conduct, and admitting that such combinations are from time to
time repeated (as we observe in the case of a practised performer playing
a piece of music which he has committed to memory), then I maintain that
though, indeed, the likeness of one performance to its immediate
predecessor is due to likeness of the combinations immediately preceding
the two performances, yet memory plays so important a part in both these
combinations as to make it a distinguishing feature in them, and
therefore proper to be insisted upon.  We do not, for example, say that
Herr Joachim played such and such a sonata without the music, because he
was such and such an arrangement of matter in such and such
circumstances, resembling those under which he played without music on
some past occasion.  This goes without saying; we say only that he played
the music by heart or by memory, as he had often played it before.

To the objector that a caterpillar becomes a chrysalis not because it
remembers and takes the action taken by its fathers and mothers in due
course before it, but because when matter is in such a physical and
mental state as to be called caterpillar, it must perforce assume
presently such another physical and mental state as to be called
chrysalis, and that therefore there is no memory in the case—to this
objector I rejoin that the offspring caterpillar would not have become so
like the parent as to make the next or chrysalis stage a matter of
necessity, unless both parent and offspring had been influenced by
something that we usually call memory.  For it is this very possession of
a common memory which has guided the offspring into the path taken by,
and hence to a virtually same condition with, the parent, and which
guided the parent in its turn to a state virtually identical with a
corresponding state in the existence of its own parent.  To memory,
therefore, the most prominent place in the transaction is assigned

To deny that will guided by memory has anything to do with the
development of embryos seems like denying that a desire to obstruct has
anything to do with the recent conduct of certain members in the House of
Commons.  What should we think of one who said that the action of these
gentlemen had nothing to do with a desire to embarrass the Government,
but was simply the necessary outcome of the chemical and mechanical
forces at work, which being such and such, the action which we see is
inevitable, and has therefore nothing to do with wilful obstruction?  We
should answer that there was doubtless a great deal of chemical and
mechanical action in the matter; perhaps, for aught we knew or cared, it
was all chemical and mechanical; but if so, then a desire to obstruct
parliamentary business is involved in certain kinds of chemical and
mechanical action, and that the kinds involving this had preceded the
recent proceedings of the members in question.  If asked to prove this,
we can get no further than that such action as has been taken has never
yet been seen except as following after and in consequence of a desire to
obstruct; that this is our nomenclature, and that we can no more be
expected to change it than to change our mother tongue at the bidding of
a foreigner.

A little reflection will convince the reader that he will be unable to
deny will and memory to the embryo without at the same time denying their
existence everywhere, and maintaining that they have no place in the
acquisition of a habit, nor indeed in any human action.  He will feel
that the actions, and the relation of one action to another which he
observes in embryos is such as is never seen except in association with
and as a consequence of will and memory.  He will therefore say that it
is due to will and memory.  To say that these are the necessary outcome
of certain antecedents is not to destroy them: granted that they are—a
man does not cease to be a man when we reflect that he has had a father
and mother, nor do will and memory cease to be will and memory on the
ground that they cannot come causeless.  They are manifest minute by
minute to the perception of all sane people, and this tribunal, though
not infallible, is nevertheless our ultimate court of appeal—the final
arbitrator in all disputed cases.

We must remember that there is no action, however original or peculiar,
which is not in respect of far the greater number of its details founded
upon memory.  If a desperate man blows his brains out—an action which he
can do once in a lifetime only, and which none of his ancestors can have
done before leaving offspring—still nine hundred and ninety-nine
thousandths of the movements necessary to achieve his end consist of
habitual movements—movements, that is to say, which were once difficult,
but which have been practised and practised by the help of memory until
they are now performed automatically.  We can no more have an action than
a creative effort of the imagination cut off from memory.  Ideas and
actions seem almost to resemble matter and force in respect of the
impossibility of originating or destroying them; nearly all that are, are
memories of other ideas and actions, transmitted but not created,
disappearing but not perishing.

It appears, then, that when in Chapter X. we supposed the clerk who
wanted his dinner to forget on a second day the action he had taken the
day before, we still, without perhaps perceiving it, supposed him to be
guided by memory in all the details of his action, such as his taking
down his hat and going out into the street.  We could not, indeed,
deprive him of all memory without absolutely paralysing his action.

Nevertheless new ideas, new faiths, and new actions do in the course of
time come about, the living expressions of which we may see in the new
forms of life which from time to time have arisen and are still arising,
and in the increase of our own knowledge and mechanical inventions.  But
it is only a very little new that is added at a time, and that little is
generally due to the desire to attain an end which cannot be attained by
any of the means for which there exists a perceived precedent in the
memory.  When this is the case, either the memory is further ransacked
for any forgotten shreds of details, a combination of which may serve the
desired purpose; or action is taken in the dark, which sometimes succeeds
and becomes a fertile source of further combinations; or we are brought
to a dead stop.  All action is random in respect of any of the minute
actions which compose it that are not done in consequence of memory, real
or supposed.  So that random, or action taken in the dark, or illusion,
lies at the very root of progress.

I will now consider the objection that the phenomena of instinct and
embryonic development ought not to be ascribed to memory, inasmuch as
certain other phenomena of heredity, such as gout, cannot be ascribed to

Those who object in this way forget that our actions fall into two main
classes: those which we have often repeated before by means of a regular
series of subordinate actions beginning and ending at a certain tolerably
well-defined point—as when Herr Joachim plays a sonata in public, or when
we dress or undress ourselves; and actions the details of which are
indeed guided by memory, but which in their general scope and purpose are
new—as when we are being married or presented at court.

At each point in any action of the first of the two kinds above referred
to there is a memory (conscious or unconscious according to the less or
greater number of times the action has been repeated), not only of the
steps in the present and previous performances which have led up to the
particular point that may be selected, but also of the particular point
itself; there is, therefore, at each point in a habitual performance a
memory at once of like antecedents and of a like present.

If the memory, whether of the antecedent or the present, were absolutely
perfect; if the vibration (according to Professor Hering) on each
repetition existed in its full original strength and without having been
interfered with by any other vibration; and if, again, the new wave
running into it from exterior objects on each repetition of the action
were absolutely identical in character with the wave that ran in upon the
last occasion, then there would be no change in the action and no
modification or improvement could take place.  For though indeed the
latest performance would always have one memory more than the latest but
one to guide it, yet the memories being identical, it would not matter
how many or how few they were.

On any repetition, however, the circumstances, external or internal, or
both, never are absolutely identical: there is some slight variation in
each individual case, and some part of this variation is remembered, with
approbation or disapprobation as the case may be.

The fact, therefore, that on each repetition of the action there is one
memory more than on the last but one, and that this memory is slightly
different from its predecessor, is seen to be an inherent and, _ex
hypothesi_, necessarily disturbing factor in all habitual action—and the
life of an organism should be regarded as the habitual action of a single
individual, namely, of the organism itself, and of its ancestors.  This
is the key to accumulation of improvement, whether in the arts which we
assiduously practise during our single life, or in the structures and
instincts of successive generations.  The memory does not complete a true
circle, but is, as it were, a spiral slightly divergent therefrom.  It is
no longer a perfectly circulating decimal.  Where, on the other hand,
there is no memory of a like present, where, in fact, the memory is not,
so to speak, spiral, there is no accumulation of improvement.  The effect
of any variation is not transmitted, and is not thus pregnant of still
further change.

As regards the second of the two classes of actions above referred
to—those, namely, which are not recurrent or habitual, _and at no point
of which is there a memory of a past present like the one which is
present now_—there will have been no accumulation of strong and well-knit
memory as regards the action as a whole, but action, if taken at all,
will be taken upon disjointed fragments of individual actions (our own
and those of other people) pieced together with a result more or less
satisfactory according to circumstances.

But it does not follow that the action of two people who have had
tolerably similar antecedents and are placed in tolerably similar
circumstances should be more unlike each other in this second case than
in the first.  On the contrary, nothing is more common than to observe
the same kind of people making the same kind of mistake when placed for
the first time in the same kind of new circumstances.  I did not say that
there would be no sameness of action without memory of a like present.
There may be sameness of action proceeding from a memory, conscious or
unconscious, of like antecedents, and _a presence only of like presents
without recollection of the same_.

The sameness of action of like persons placed under like circumstances
for the first time, resembles the sameness of action of inorganic matter
under the same combinations.  Let us for the moment suppose what we call
non-living substances to be capable of remembering their antecedents, and
that the changes they undergo are the expressions of their recollections.
Then I admit, of course, that there is not memory in any cream, we will
say, that is about to be churned of the cream of the preceding week, but
the common absence of such memory from each week’s cream is an element of
sameness between the two.  And though no cream can remember having been
churned before, yet all cream in all time has had nearly identical
antecedents, and has therefore nearly the same memories, and nearly the
same proclivities.  Thus, in fact, the cream of one week is as truly the
same as the cream of another week from the same cow, pasture, &c., as
anything is ever the same with anything; for the having been subjected to
like antecedents engenders the closest similarity that we can conceive
of, if the substances were like to start with.

The manifest absence of any connecting memory (or memory of like
presents) from certain of the phenomena of heredity, such as, for
example, the diseases of old age, is now seen to be no valid reason for
saying that such other and far more numerous and important phenomena as
those of embryonic development are not phenomena of memory.  Growth and
the diseases of old age do indeed, at first sight, appear to stand on the
same footing, but reflection shows us that the question whether a certain
result is due to memory or no must be settled not by showing that
combinations into which memory does not certainly enter may yet generate
like results, and therefore considering the memory theory disposed of,
but by the evidence we may be able to adduce in support of the fact that
the second agent has actually remembered the conduct of the first,
inasmuch as he cannot be supposed able to do what it is plain he can do,
except under the guidance of memory or experience, and can also be shown
to have had every opportunity of remembering.  When either of these tests
fails, similarity of action on the part of two agents need not be
connected with memory of a like present as well as of like antecedents,
but must, or at any rate may, be referred to memory of like antecedents

Returning to a parenthesis a few pages back, in which I said that
consciousness of memory would be less or greater according to the greater
or fewer number of times that the act had been repeated, it may be
observed as a corollary to this, that the less consciousness of memory
the greater the uniformity of action, and _vice versa_.  For the less
consciousness involves the memory’s being more perfect, through a larger
number (generally) of repetitions of the act that is remembered; there is
therefore a less proportionate difference in respect of the number of
recollections of this particular act between the most recent actor and
the most recent but one.  This is why very old civilisations, as those of
many insects, and the greater number of now living organisms, appear to
the eye not to change at all.

For example, if an action has been performed only ten times, we will say
by A, B, C, &c., who are similar in all respects, except that A acts
without recollection, B with recollection of A’s action, C with
recollection of both B’s and A’s, while J remembers the course taken by
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I—the possession of a memory by B will indeed
so change his action, as compared with A’s, that it may well be hardly
recognisable.  We saw this in our example of the clerk who asked the
policeman the way to the eating-house on one day, but did not ask him the
next, because he remembered; but C’s action will not be so different from
B’s as B’s from A’s, for though C will act with a memory of two occasions
on which the action has been performed, while B recollects only the
original performance by A, yet B and C both act with the guidance of a
memory and experience of some kind, while A acted without any.  Thus the
clerk referred to in Chapter X. will act on the third day much as he
acted on the second—that is to say, he will see the policeman at the
corner of the street, but will not question him.

When the action is repeated by J for the tenth time, the difference
between J’s repetition of it and I’s will be due solely to the difference
between a recollection of nine past performances by J against only eight
by I, and this is so much proportionately less than the difference
between a recollection of two performances and of only one, that a less
modification of action should be expected.  At the same time
consciousness concerning an action repeated for the tenth time should be
less acute than on the first repetition.  Memory, therefore, though
tending to disturb similarity of action less and less continually, must
always cause some disturbance.  At the same time the possession of a
memory on the successive repetitions of an action after the first, and,
perhaps, the first two or three, during which the recollection may be
supposed still imperfect, will tend to ensure uniformity, for it will be
one of the elements of sameness in the agents—they both acting by the
light of experience and memory.

During the embryonic stages and in childhood we are almost entirely under
the guidance of a practised and powerful memory of circumstances which
have been often repeated, not only in detail and piecemeal, but as a
whole, and under many slightly varying conditions; thus the performance
has become well averaged and matured in its arrangements, so as to meet
all ordinary emergencies.  We therefore act with great unconsciousness
and vary our performances little.  Babies are much more alike than
persons of middle age.

Up to the average age at which our ancestors have had children during
many generations, we are still guided in great measure by memory; but the
variations in external circumstances begin to make themselves perceptible
in our characters.  In middle life we live more and more continually upon
the piecing together of details of memory drawn from our personal
experience, that is to say, upon the memory of our own antecedents; and
this resembles the kind of memory we hypothetically attached to cream a
little time ago.  It is not surprising, then, that a son who has
inherited his father’s tastes and constitution, and who lives much as his
father had done, should make the same mistakes as his father did when he
reaches his father’s age—we will say of seventy—though he cannot possibly
remember his father’s having made the mistakes.  It were to be wished we
could, for then we might know better how to avoid gout, cancer, or what
not.  And it is to be noticed that the developments of old age are
generally things we should be glad enough to avoid if we knew how to do

Chapter XIII


IF we observed the resemblance between successive generations to be as
close as that between distilled water and distilled water through all
time, and if we observed that perfect unchangeableness in the action of
living beings which we see in what we call chemical and mechanical
combinations, we might indeed suspect that memory had as little place
among the causes of their action as it can have in anything, and that
each repetition, whether of a habit or the practice of art, or of an
embryonic process in successive generations, was an original performance,
for all that memory had to do with it.  I submit, however, that in the
case of the reproductive forms of life we see just so much variety, in
spite of uniformity, as is consistent with a repetition involving not
only a nearly perfect similarity in the agents and their circumstances,
but also the little departure therefrom that is inevitably involved in
the supposition that a memory of like presents as well as of like
antecedents (as distinguished from a memory of like antecedents only) has
played a part in their development—a cyclonic memory, if the expression
may be pardoned.

There is life infinitely lower and more minute than any which our most
powerful microscopes reveal to us, but let us leave this upon one side
and begin with the amœba.  Let us suppose that this structureless morsel
of protoplasm is, for all its structurelessness, composed of an infinite
number of living molecules, each one of them with hopes and fears of its
own, and all dwelling together like Tekke Turcomans, of whom we read that
they live for plunder only, and that each man of them is entirely
independent, acknowledging no constituted authority, but that some among
them exercise a tacit and undefined influence over the others.  Let us
suppose these molecules capable of memory, both in their capacity as
individuals, and as societies, and able to transmit their memories to
their descendants, from the traditions of the dimmest past to the
experiences of their own lifetime.  Some of these societies will remain
simple, as having had no history, but to the greater number unfamiliar,
and therefore striking, incidents will from time to time occur, which,
when they do not disturb memory so greatly as to kill, will leave their
impression upon it.  The body or society will remember these incidents,
and be modified by them in its conduct, and therefore more or less in its
internal arrangements, which will tend inevitably to specialisation.
This memory of the most striking events of varied lifetimes I maintain,
with Professor Hering, to be the differentiating cause, which,
accumulated in countless generations, has led up from the amœba to man.
If there had been no such memory, the amœba of one generation would have
exactly resembled time amœba of the preceding, and a perfect cycle would
have been established; the modifying effects of an additional memory in
each generation have made the cycle into a spiral, and into a spiral
whose eccentricity, in the outset hardly perceptible, is becoming greater
and greater with increasing longevity and more complex social and
mechanical inventions.

We say that the chicken grows the horny tip to its beak with which it
ultimately pecks its way out of its shell, because it remembers having
grown it before, and the use it made of it.  We say that it made it on
the same principles as a man makes a spade or a hammer, that is to say,
as the joint result both of desire and experience.  When I say
experience, I mean experience not only of what will be wanted, but also
of the details of all the means that must be taken in order to effect
this.  Memory, therefore, is supposed to guide the chicken not only in
respect of the main design, but in respect also of every atomic action,
so to speak, which goes to make up the execution of this design.  It is
not only the suggestion of a plan which is due to memory, but, as
Professor Hering has so well said, it is the binding power of memory
which alone renders any consolidation or coherence of action possible,
inasmuch as without this no action could have parts subordinate one to
another, yet bearing upon a common end; no part of an action, great or
small, could have reference to any other part, much less to a combination
of all the parts; nothing, in fact, but ultimate atoms of actions could
ever happen—these bearing the same relation to such an action, we will
say, as a railway journey from London to Edinburgh as a single molecule
of hydrogen to a gallon of water.  If asked how it is that the chicken
shows no sign of consciousness concerning this design, nor yet of the
steps it is taking to carry it out, we reply that such unconsciousness is
usual in all cases where an action, and the design which prompts it, have
been repeated exceedingly often.  If, again, we are asked how we account
for the regularity with which each step is taken in its due order, we
answer that this too is characteristic of actions that are done
habitually—they being very rarely misplaced in respect of any part.

When I wrote “Life and Habit,” I had arrived at the conclusion that
memory was the most essential characteristic of life, and went so far as
to say, “Life is that property of matter whereby it can remember—matter
which can remember is living.”  I should perhaps have written, “Life is
the being possessed of a memory—the life of a thing at any moment is the
memories which at that moment it retains”; and I would modify the words
that immediately follow, namely, “Matter which cannot remember is dead”;
for they imply that there is such a thing as matter which cannot remember
anything at all, and this on fuller consideration I do not believe to be
the case; I can conceive of no matter which is not able to remember a
little, and which is not living in respect of what it can remember.  I do
not see how action of any kind is conceivable without the supposition
that every atom retains a memory of certain antecedents.  I cannot,
however, at this point, enter upon the reasons which have compelled me to
this conclusion.  Whether these would be deemed sufficient or no, at any
rate we cannot believe that a system of self-reproducing associations
should develop from the simplicity of the amœba to the complexity of the
human body without the presence of that memory which can alone account at
once for the resemblances and the differences between successive
generations, for the arising and the accumulation of divergences—for the
tendency to differ and the tendency not to differ.

At parting, therefore, I would recommend the reader to see every atom in
the universe as living and able to feel and to remember, but in a humble
way.  He must have life eternal, as well as matter eternal; and the life
and the matter must be joined together inseparably as body and soul to
one another.  Thus he will see God everywhere, not as those who repeat
phrases conventionally, but as people who would have their words taken
according to their most natural and legitimate meaning; and he will feel
that the main difference between him and many of those who oppose him
lies in the fact that whereas both he and they use the same language, his
opponents only half mean what they say, while he means it entirely.

The attempt to get a higher form of a life from a lower one is in
accordance with our observation and experience.  It is therefore proper
to be believed.  The attempt to get it from that which has absolutely no
life is like trying to get something out of nothing.  The millionth part
of a farthing put out to interest at ten per cent, will in five hundred
years become over a million pounds, and so long as we have any millionth
of a millionth of the farthing to start with, our getting as many million
pounds as we have a fancy for is only a question of time, but without the
initial millionth of a millionth of a millionth part, we shall get no
increment whatever.  A little leaven will leaven the whole lump, but
there must be _some_ leaven.

I will here quote two passages from an article already quoted from on
page 55 of this book.  They run:—

    “We are growing conscious that our earnest and most determined
    efforts to make motion produce sensation and volition have proved a
    failure, and now we want to rest a little in the opposite, much less
    laborious conjecture, and allow any kind of motion to start into
    existence, or at least to receive its specific direction from
    psychical sources; sensation and volition being for the purpose
    quietly insinuated into the constitution of the ultimately moving
    particles.” {177a}


    “In this light it can remain no longer surprising that we actually
    find motility and sensibility so intimately interblended in nature.”

We should endeavour to see the so-called inorganic as living, in respect
of the qualities it has in common with the organic, rather than the
organic as non-living in respect of the qualities it has in common with
the inorganic.  True, it would be hard to place one’s self on the same
moral platform as a stone, but this is not necessary; it is enough that
we should feel the stone to have a moral platform of its own, though that
platform embraces little more than a profound respect for the laws of
gravitation, chemical affinity, &c.  As for the difficulty of conceiving
a body as living that has not got a reproductive system—we should
remember that neuter insects are living but are believed to have no
reproductive system.  Again, we should bear in mind that mere
assimilation involves all the essentials of reproduction, and that both
air and water possess this power in a very high degree.  The essence of a
reproductive system, then, is found low down in the scheme of nature.

At present our leading men of science are in this difficulty; on the one
hand their experiments and their theories alike teach them that
spontaneous generation ought not to be accepted; on the other, they must
have an origin for the life of the living forms, which, by their own
theory, have been evolved, and they can at present get this origin in no
other way than by the _Deus ex machinâ_ method, which they reject as
unproved, or a spontaneous generation of living from non-living matter,
which is no less foreign to their experience.  As a general rule, they
prefer the latter alternative.  So Professor Tyndall, in his celebrated
article (_Nineteenth Century_, November 1878), wrote:—

    “It is generally conceded (and seems to be a necessary inference from
    the lessons of science) that _spontaneous generation must at one time
    have taken place_” (italics mine).

No inference can well be more unnecessary or unscientific.  I suppose
spontaneous generation ceases to be objectionable if it was “only a very
little one,” and came off a long time ago in a foreign country.  The
proper inference is, that there is a low kind of livingness in every atom
of matter.  Life eternal is as inevitable a conclusion as matter eternal.

It should not be doubted that wherever there is vibration or motion there
is life and memory, and that there is vibration and motion at all times
in all things.

The reader who takes the above position will find that he can explain the
entry of what he calls death among what he calls the living, whereas he
could by no means introduce life into his system if he started without
it.  Death is deducible; life is not deducible.  Death is a change of
memories; it is not the destruction of all memory.  It is as the
liquidation of one company, each member of which will presently join a
new one, and retain a trifle even of the old cancelled memory, by way of
greater aptitude for working in concert with other molecules.  This is
why animals feed on grass and on each other, and cannot proselytise or
convert the rude ground before it has been tutored in the first
principles of the higher kinds of association.

Again, I would recommend the reader to beware of believing anything in
this book unless he either likes it, or feels angry at being told it.  If
required belief in this or that makes a man angry, I suppose he should,
as a general rule, swallow it whole then and there upon the spot,
otherwise he may take it or leave it as he likes.  I have not gone far
for my facts, nor yet far from them; all on which I rest are as open to
the reader as to me.  If I have sometimes used hard terms, the
probability is that I have not understood them, but have done so by a
slip, as one who has caught a bad habit from the company he has been
lately keeping.  They should be skipped.

Do not let him be too much cast down by the bad language with which
professional scientists obscure the issue, nor by their seeming to make
it their business to fog us under the pretext of removing our
difficulties.  It is not the ratcatcher’s interest to catch all the rats;
and, as Handel observed so sensibly, “Every professional gentleman must
do his best for to live.”  The art of some of our philosophers, however,
is sufficiently transparent, and consists too often in saying “organism
which must be classified among fishes,” instead of “fish,” {179a} and
then proclaiming that they have “an ineradicable tendency to try to make
things clear.” {179b}

If another example is required, here is the following from an article
than which I have seen few with which I more completely agree, or which
have given me greater pleasure.  If our men of science would take to
writing in this way, we should be glad enough to follow them.  The
passage I refer to runs thus:—

    “Professor Huxley speaks of a ‘verbal fog by which the question at
    issue may be hidden’; is there no verbal fog in the statement that
    _the ætiology of crayfishes resolves itself into a gradual evolution
    in the course of the mesosoic and subsequent epochs of the world’s
    history of these animals from a primitive astacomorphous form_?
    Would it be fog or light that would envelop the history of man if we
    said that the existence of man was explained by the hypothesis of his
    gradual evolution from a primitive anthropomorphous form?  I should
    call this fog, not light.” {180}

Especially let him mistrust those who are holding forth about protoplasm,
and maintaining that this is the only living substance.  Protoplasm may
be, and perhaps is, the _most_ living part of an organism, as the most
capable of retaining vibrations, but this is the utmost that can be
claimed for it.

Having mentioned protoplasm, I may ask the reader to note the breakdown
of that school of philosophy which divided the _ego_ from the _non ego_.
The protoplasmists, on the one hand, are whittling away at the _ego_,
till they have reduced it to a little jelly in certain parts of the body,
and they will whittle away this too presently, if they go on as they are
doing now.

Others, again, are so unifying the _ego_ and the _non ego_, that with
them there will soon be as little of the _non ego_ left as there is of
the _ego_ with their opponents.  Both, however, are so far agreed as that
we know not where to draw the line between the two, and this renders
nugatory any system which is founded upon a distinction between them.

The truth is, that all classification whatever, when we examine its
_raison d’être_ closely, is found to be arbitrary—to depend on our sense
of our own convenience, and not on any inherent distinction in the nature
of the things themselves.  Strictly speaking, there is only one thing and
one action.  The universe, or God, and the action of the universe as a

Lastly, I may predict with some certainty that before long we shall find
the original Darwinism of Dr. Erasmus Darwin (with an infusion of
Professor Hering into the bargain) generally accepted instead of the
neo-Darwinism of to-day, and that the variations whose accumulation
results in species will be recognised as due to the wants and endeavours
of the living forms in which they appear, instead of being ascribed to
chance, or, in other words, to unknown causes, as by Mr. Charles Darwin’s
system.  We shall have some idyllic young naturalist bringing up Dr.
Erasmus Darwin’s note on _Trapa natans_, {181a} and Lamarck’s kindred
passage on the descent of _Ranunculus hederaceus_ from _Ranunculus
aquatilis_ {181b} as fresh discoveries, and be told, with much happy
simplicity, that those animals and plants which have felt the need of
such or such a structure have developed it, while those which have not
wanted it have gone without it.  Thus, it will be declared, every leaf we
see around us, every structure of the minutest insect, will bear witness
to the truth of the “great guess” of the greatest of naturalists
concerning the memory of living matter.

I dare say the public will not object to this, and am very sure that none
of the admirers of Mr. Charles Darwin or Mr. Wallace will protest against
it; but it may be as well to point out that this was not the view of the
matter taken by Mr. Wallace in 1858 when he and Mr. Darwin first came
forward as preachers of natural selection.  At that time Mr. Wallace saw
clearly enough the difference between the theory of “natural selection”
and that of Lamarck.  He wrote:—

    “The hypothesis of Lamarck—that progressive changes in species have
    been produced by the attempts of animals to increase the development
    of their own organs, and thus modify their structure and habits—has
    been repeatedly and easily refuted by all writers on the subject of
    varieties and species, . . . but the view here developed tenders such
    an hypothesis quite unnecessary. . . .  The powerful retractile
    talons of the falcon and the cat tribes have not been produced or
    increased by the volition of those animals, neither did the giraffe
    acquire its long neck by desiring to reach the foliage of the more
    lofty shrubs, and constantly stretching its neck for this purpose,
    but because any varieties which occurred among its antitypes with a
    longer neck than usual _at once secured a fresh range of pasture over
    the same ground as their shorter-necked companions_, _and on the
    first scarcity of food were thereby enabled to outlive them_”
    (italics in original). {182a}

This is absolutely the neo-Darwinian doctrine, and a denial of the mainly
fortuitous character of the variations in animal and vegetable forms cuts
at its root.  That Mr. Wallace, after years of reflection, still adhered
to this view, is proved by his heading a reprint of the paragraph just
quoted from {182b} with the words “Lamarck’s hypothesis very different
from that now advanced”; nor do any of his more recent works show that he
has modified his opinion.  It should be noted that Mr. Wallace does not
call his work “Contributions to the Theory of Evolution,” but to that of
“Natural Selection.”

Mr. Darwin, with characteristic caution, only commits himself to saying
that Mr. Wallace has arrived at _almost_ (italics mine) the same general
conclusions as he, Mr. Darwin, has done; {182c} but he still, as in 1859,
declares that it would be “a serious error to suppose that the greater
number of instincts have been acquired by habit in one generation, and
then transmitted by inheritance to succeeding generations,” {183a} and he
still comprehensively condemns the “well-known doctrine of inherited
habit, as advanced by Lamarck.” {183b}

As for the statement in the passage quoted from Mr. Wallace, to the
effect that Lamarck’s hypothesis “has been repeatedly and easily refuted
by all writers on the subject of varieties and species,” it is a very
surprising one.  I have searched Evolution literature in vain for any
refutation of the Erasmus Darwinian system (for this is what Lamarck’s
hypothesis really is) which need make the defenders of that system at all
uneasy.  The best attempt at an answer to Erasmus Darwin that has yet
been made is “Paley’s Natural Theology,” which was throughout obviously
written to meet Buffon and the “Zoonomia.”  It is the manner of
theologians to say that such and such an objection “has been refuted over
and over again,” without at the same time telling us when and where; it
is to be regretted that Mr. Wallace has here taken a leaf out of the
theologians’ book.  His statement is one which will not pass muster with
those whom public opinion is sure in the end to follow.

Did Mr. Herbert Spencer, for example, “repeatedly and easily refute”
Lamarck’s hypothesis in his brilliant article in the _Leader_, March 20,
1852?  On the contrary, that article is expressly directed against those
“who cavalierly reject the hypothesis of Lamarck and his followers.”
This article was written six years before the words last quoted from Mr.
Wallace; how absolutely, however, does the word “cavalierly” apply to

Does Isidore Geoffroy, again, bear Mr. Wallace’s assertion out better?
In 1859—that is to say, but a short time after Mr. Wallace had written—he
wrote as follows:—

    “Such was the language which Lamarck heard during his protracted old
    age, saddened alike by the weight of years and blindness; this was
    what people did not hesitate to utter over his grave yet barely
    closed, and what indeed they are still saying—commonly too without
    any knowledge of what Lamarck maintained, but merely repeating at
    secondhand bad caricatures of his teaching.

    “When will the time come when we may see Lamarck’s theory
    discussed—and, I may as well at once say, refuted in some important
    points {184a}—with at any rate the respect due to one of the most
    illustrious masters of our science?  And when will this theory, the
    hardihood of which has been greatly exaggerated, become freed from
    the interpretations and commentaries by the false light of which so
    many naturalists have formed their opinion concerning it?  If its
    author is to be condemned, let it be, at any rate, not before he has
    been heard.” {184b}

In 1873 M. Martin published his edition of Lamarck’s “Philosophie
Zoologique.”  He was still able to say, with, I believe, perfect truth,
that Lamarck’s theory has “never yet had the honour of being discussed
seriously.” {184c}

Professor Huxley in his article on Evolution is no less cavalier than Mr.
Wallace.  He writes:—{184d}

    “Lamarck introduced the conception of the action of an animal on
    itself as a factor in producing modification.”

[Lamarck did nothing of the kind.  It was Buffon and Dr. Darwin who
introduced this, but more especially Dr. Darwin.]

    “But _a little consideration showed_” (italics mine) “that though
    Lamarck had seized what, as far as it goes, is a true cause of
    modification, it is a cause the actual effects of which are wholly
    inadequate to account for any considerable modification in animals,
    and which can have no influence whatever in the vegetable world, &c.”

I should be very glad to come across some of the “little consideration”
which will show this.  I have searched for it far and wide, and have
never been able to find it.

I think Professor Huxley has been exercising some of his ineradicable
tendency to try to make things clear in the article on Evolution, already
so often quoted from.  We find him (p. 750) pooh-poohing Lamarck, yet on
the next page he says, “How far ‘natural selection’ suffices for the
production of species remains to be seen.”  And this when “natural
selection” was already so nearly of age!  Why, to those who know how to
read between a philosopher’s lines, the sentence comes to very nearly the
same as a declaration that the writer has no great opinion of “natural
selection.”  Professor Huxley continues, “Few can doubt that, if not the
whole cause, it is a very important factor in that operation.”  A
philosopher’s words should be weighed carefully, and when Professor
Huxley says “few can doubt,” we must remember that he may be including
himself among the few whom he considers to have the power of doubting on
this matter.  He does not say “few will,” but “few can” doubt, as though
it were only the enlightened who would have the power of doing so.
Certainly “nature,”—for this is what “natural selection” comes to,—is
rather an important factor in the operation, but we do not gain much by
being told so.  If, however, Professor Huxley neither believes in the
origin of species, through sense of need on the part of animals
themselves, nor yet in “natural selection,” we should be glad to know
what he does believe in.

The battle is one of greater importance than appears at first sight.  It
is a battle between teleology and non-teleology, between the
purposiveness and the non-purposiveness of the organs in animal and
vegetable bodies.  According to Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and Paley,
organs are purposive; according to Mr. Darwin and his followers, they are
not purposive.  But the main arguments against the system of Dr. Erasmus
Darwin are arguments which, so far as they have any weight, tell against
evolution generally.  Now that these have been disposed of, and the
prejudice against evolution has been overcome, it will be seen that there
is nothing to be said against the system of Dr. Darwin and Lamarck which
does not tell with far greater force against that of Mr. Charles Darwin
and Mr. Wallace.

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *

                      WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, LTD.
                            PRINTERS, PLYMOUTH


{0a}  This is the date on the title-page.  The preface is dated October
15, 1886, and the first copy was issued in November of the same year.
All the dates are taken from the Bibliography by Mr. H. Festing Jones
prefixed to the “Extracts” in the _New Quarterly Review_ (1909).

{0b}  I.e. after p. 285: it bears no number of its own!

{0c}  The distinction was merely implicit in his published writings, but
has been printed since his death from his “Notebooks,”  _New Quarterly
Review_, April, 1908.  I had developed this thesis, without knowing of
Butler’s explicit anticipation in an article then in the press:
“Mechanism and Life,” _Contemporary Review_, May, 1908.

{0d}  The term has recently been revived by Prof. Hubrecht and by myself
(_Contemporary Review_, November 1908).

{0e}  See _Fortnightly Review_, February 1908, and _Contemporary Review_,
September and November 1909.  Since these publications the hypnosis seems
to have somewhat weakened.

{0f}  A “hormone” is a chemical substance which, formed in one part of
the body, alters the reactions of another part, normally for the good of
the organism.

{0g}  Mr. H. Festing Jones first directed my attention to these passages
and their bearing on the Mutation Theory.

{0i}  He says in a note, “This general type of reaction was described and
illustrated in a different connection by Pfluger in ‘Pfluger’s Archiv.
f.d. ges.  Physiologie,’ Bd.  XV.”  The essay bears the significant title
“Die teleologische Mechanik der lebendigen Natur,” and is a very
remarkable one, as coming from an official physiologist in 1877, when the
chemico-physical school was nearly at its zenith.

{0j}  “Contributions to the Study of the Lower Animals” (1904),
“Modifiability in Behaviour” and “Method of Regulability in Behaviour and
in other Fields,” in _Journ. Experimental Zoology_, vol. ii. (1905).

{0h}  See “The Hereditary Transmission of Acquired Characters” in
_Contemporary Review_, September and November 1908, in which references
are given to earlier statements.

{0k}  Semon’s technical terms are exclusively taken from the Greek, but
as experience tells that plain men in England have a special dread of
suchlike, I have substituted “imprint” for “engram,” “outcome” for
“ecphoria”; for the latter term I had thought of “efference,”
“manifestation,” etc., but decided on what looked more homely, and at the
same time was quite distinctive enough to avoid that confusion which
Semon has dodged with his Græcisms.

{0l}  “Between the ‘me’ of to-day and the ‘me’ of yesterday lie night and
sleep, abysses of unconsciousness; nor is there any bridge but memory
with which to span them.”—_Unconscious Memory_, p. 71.

{0m}  Preface by Mr. Charles Darwin to “Erasmus Darwin.”  The Museum has
copies of a _Kosmos_ that was published 1857–60 and then discontinued;
but this is clearly not the _Kosmos_ referred to by Mr. Darwin, which
began to appear in 1878.

{0n}  Preface to “Erasmus Darwin.”

{2}  May 1880.

{3}  _Kosmos_, February 1879, Leipsic.

{4}  Origin of Species, ed. i., p. 459.

{8a}  Origin of Species, ed. i., p. 1.

{8b}  _Kosmos_, February 1879, p. 397.

{8c}  Erasmus Darwin, by Ernest Krause, pp. 132, 133.

{9a}  Origin of Species, ed. i., p. 242.

{9b}  Ibid., p. 427.

{10a}  _Nineteenth Century_, November 1878; Evolution, Old and New, pp.
360. 361.

{10b}  Encyclopædia Britannica, ed. ix., art.  “Evolution,” p. 748.

{11}  Ibid.

{17}  Encycl. Brit., ed. ix., art.  “Evolution,” p. 750.

{23a}  Origin of Species, 6th ed., 1876, p. 206.

{23b}  Ibid., p. 233.

{24a}  Origin of Species, 6th ed., p. 171, 1876.

{24b}  Pp. 258–260.

{26}  Zoonomia, vol. i. p. 484; Evolution, Old and New, p. 214.

{27}  “Erasmus Darwin,” by Ernest Krause, p. 211, London, 1879.

{28a}  See “Evolution, Old and New,” p. 91, and Buffon, tom. iv. p. 383,
ed. 1753.

{28b}  Evolution, Old and New, p. 104.

{29a}  Encycl. Brit., 9th ed., art.  “Evolution,” p. 748.

{29b}  Palingénésie Philosophique, part x. chap. ii. (quoted from
Professor Huxley’s article on “Evolution,” Encycl. Brit., 9th ed., p.

{31}  The note began thus: “I have taken the date of the first
publication of Lamarck from Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire’s (Hist. Nat.
Générale tom. ii. p. 405, 1859) excellent history of opinion upon this
subject.  In this work a full account is given of Buffon’s fluctuating
conclusions upon the same subject.”—_Origin of Species_, 3d ed., 1861, p.

{33a}  Life of Erasmus Darwin, pp. 84, 85.

{33b}  See Life and Habit, p. 264 and pp. 276, 277.

{33c}  See Evolution, Old and New, pp. 159–165.

{33d}  Ibid., p. 122.

{34}  See Evolution, Old and New, pp. 247, 248.

{35a}  Vestiges of Creation, ed. 1860, “Proofs, Illustrations, &c.,” p.

{35b}  The first announcement was in the _Examiner_, February 22, 1879.

{36}  _Saturday Review_, May 31, 1879.

{37a}  May 26, 1879.

{37b}  May 31, 1879.

{37c}  July 26, 1879.

{37d}  July 1879.

{37e}  July 1879.

{37f}  July 29, 1879.

{37g}  January 1880.

{39}  How far _Kosmos_ was “a well-known” journal, I cannot determine.
It had just entered upon its second year.

{41}  Evolution, Old and New, p. 120, line 5.

{43}  _Kosmos_, February 1879, p. 397.

{44a}  _Kosmos_, February 1879, p. 404.

{44b}  Page 39 of this volume.

{50}  See Appendix A.

{52}  Since published as “God the Known and God the Unknown.”  Fifield,
1s. 6d. net.  1909.

{54a}  “Contemplation of Nature,” Engl. trans., Lond. 1776.  Preface, p.

{54b}  _Ibid._, p. xxxviii.

{55}  Life and Habit, p. 97.

{56}  “The Unity of the Organic Individual,” by Edward Montgomery,
_Mind_, October 1880, p. 466.

{58}  Life and Habit, p. 237.

{59a}  Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy.  Lardner’s Cab.
Cyclo., vol. xcix. p. 24.

{59b}  Young’s Lectures on Natural Philosophy, ii. 627.  See also Phil.
Trans., 1801–2.

{63}  The lecture is published by Karl Gerold’s Sohn, Vienna.

{69}  See quotation from Bonnet, p. 54 of this volume.

{70}  Professor Hering is not clear here.  Vibrations (if I understand
his theory rightly) should not be set up by faint _stimuli_ from within.
Whence and what are these _stimuli_?  The vibrations within are already
existing, and it is they which are the _stimuli_ to action.  On having
been once set up, they either continue in sufficient force to maintain
action, or they die down, and become too weak to cause further action,
and perhaps even to be perceived within the mind, until they receive an
accession of vibration from without.  The only “stimulus from within”
that should be able to generate action is that which may follow when a
vibration already established in the body runs into another similar
vibration already so established.  On this consciousness, and even
action, might be supposed to follow without the presence of an external

{71}  This expression seems hardly applicable to the overtaking of an
internal by an external vibration, but it is not inconsistent with it.
Here, however, as frequently elsewhere, I doubt how far Professor Hering
has fully realised his conception, beyond being, like myself, convinced
that the phenomena of memory and of heredity have a common source.

{72}  See quotation from Bonnet, p. 54 of this volume.  By “preserving
the memory of habitual actions” Professor Hering probably means, retains
for a long while and repeats motion of a certain character when such
motion has been once communicated to it.

{74a}  It should not be “if the central nerve system were not able to
reproduce whole series of vibrations,” but “if whole series of vibrations
do not persist though unperceived,” if Professor Hering intends what I
suppose him to intend.

{74b}  Memory was in full operation for so long a time before anything
like what we call a nervous system can be detected, that Professor Hering
must not be supposed to be intending to confine memory to a motor nerve
system.  His words do not even imply that he does, but it is as well to
be on one’s guard.

{77}  It is from such passages as this, and those that follow on the next
few pages, that I collect the impression of Professor Hering’s meaning
which I have endeavoured to convey in the preceding chapter.

{78}  That is to say, “an infinitely small change in the kind of
vibration communicated from the parent to the germ.”

{79}  It may be asked what is meant by responding.  I may repeat that I
understand Professor Hering to mean that there exists in the offspring
certain vibrations, which are many of them too faint to upset equilibrium
and thus generate action, until they receive an accession of force from
without by the running into them of vibrations of similar characteristics
to their own, which last vibrations have been set up by exterior objects.
On this they become strong enough to generate that corporeal earthquake
which we call action.

This may be true or not, but it is at any rate intelligible; whereas much
that is written about “fraying channels” raises no definite ideas in the

{80a}  I interpret this, “We cannot wonder if often-repeated vibrations
gather strength, and become at once more lasting and requiring less
accession of vibration from without, in order to become strong enough to
generate action.”

{80b}  “Characteristics” must, I imagine, according to Professor Hering,
resolve themselves ultimately into “vibrations,” for the characteristics
depend upon the character of the vibrations.

{81}  Professor Hartog tells me that this probably refers to Fritz
Müller’s formulation of the “recapitulation process” in “Facts for
Darwin,” English edition (1869), p. 114.—R.A.S.

{82}  This is the passage which makes me suppose Professor Hering to mean
that vibrations from exterior objects run into vibrations already
existing within the living body, and that the accession to power thus
derived is his key to an explanation of the physical basis of action.

{84}  I interpret this: “There are fewer vibrations persistent within the
bodies of the lower animals; those that there are, therefore, are
stronger and more capable of generating action or upsetting the _status
in quo_.  Hence also they require less accession of vibration from
without.  Man is agitated by more and more varied vibrations; these,
interfering, as to some extent they must, with one another, are weaker,
and therefore require more accession from without before they can set the
mechanical adjustments of the body in motion.”

{89}  I am obliged to Mr. Sully for this excellent translation of

{90a}  _Westminster Review_, New Series, vol. xlix. p. 143.

{90b}  Ibid., p. 145.

{90c}  Ibid., p. 151.

{92a}  “Instinct ist zweckmässiges Handeln ohne Bewusstsein des
Zwecks.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., Berlin, 1871, p. 70.

{92b}  “1.  Eine blosse Folge der körperlichen Organisation.

“2.  Ein von der Natur eingerichteter Gehirn-oder Geistesmechanismus.

“3.  Eine Folge unbewusster Geistesthiitigkeit.”—_Philosophy of the
Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 70.

{97}  “Hiermit ist der Annahme das Urtheil gesprochen, welche die
unbewusste Vorstellung des Zwecks in jedem einzelnen Falle vorwiegt; denn
wollte man nun noch die Vorstellung des Geistesmechanismus festhalten so
müsste für jede Variation und Modification des Instincts, nach den
äusseren Umständen, eine besondere constante Vorrichtung . . . eingefügt
sein.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_ 3d ed., p. 74.

{99}  “Indessen glaube ich, dass die angeführten Beispiele zur Genüge
beweisen, dass es auch viele Fälle giebt, wo ohne jede Complication mit
der bewussten Ueberlegung die gewöhnliche und aussergewöhnliche Handlung
aus derselben Quelle stammen, dass sie entweder beide wirklicher
Instinct, oder beide Resultate bewusster Ueberlegung sind.”—_Philosophy
of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 76.

{100}  “Dagegen haben wir nunmehr unseren Blick noch einmal schärfer auf
den Begriff eines psychischen Mechanismus zu richten, und da zeigt sich,
dass derselbe, abgesehen davon, wie viel er erklärt, so dunke list, dass
man sich kaum etwas dabei denken kann.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_,
3d ed., p. 76.

{101}  “Das Endglied tritt als bewusster Wille zu irgend einer Handlung
auf; beide sind aber ganz ungleichartig und haben mit der gewöhnlichen
Motivation nichts zu thun, welche ausschliesslich darin besteht, dass die
Vorstellung einer Lust oder einer Unlust das Begehren erzeugr, erstere zu
erlangen, letztere sich fern zu halten.”—_Ibid._, p. 76.

{102a}  “Diese causale Verbindung fällt erfahrungsmässig, wie wir von
unsern menschlichen Instincten wissen, nicht in’s Bewussisein; folglich
kann dieselbe, wenn sie ein Mechanismus sein soll, nur entweder ein nicht
in’s Bewusstsein fallende mechanische Leitung und Umwandlung der
Schwingungen des vorgestellten Motivs in die Schwingungen der gewollten
Handlung im Gehirn, oder ein unbewusster geistiger Mechanismus
sein.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_ 3d ed., p. 77.

{102b}  “Man hat sich also zwischen dem bewussten Motiv, und dem Willen
zur Insticthandlung eine causale Verbindung durch unbewusstes Vorstellen
und Wollen zu denken, und ich weiss nicht, wie diese Verbindung einfacher
gedacht werden könnte, als durch den vorgestellten und gewollten Zweck.
Damit sind wir aber bei dem allen Geistern eigenthümlichen und immanenten
Mechanismus der Logik angelangt, und haben die unbewusster
Zweckvorstellung bei jeder einzelnen Instincthandlung als unentbehrliches
Glied gefunden; hiermit hat also der Begrift des todten, äusserlich
prädestinirten Geistesmechanismus sich selbst aufgehoben und in das
immanente Geistesleben der Logik umgewandelt, und wir sind bei der
letzten Möglichkeit angekommen, welche für die Auffassung eines
wirklichen Instincts übrig bleibt: der Instinct ist bewusstes Wollen des
Mittels zu einem unbewusst gewollten Zweck.”—_Philosophy of the
Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 78.

{105a}  “Also der Instinct ohne Hülfsmechanismus die Ursache der
Entstehung des Hülfsmechanismus ist.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d
ed., p. 79.

{105b}  “Dass auch der fertige Hülfsmechanismus das Unbewusste nicht etwa
zu dieser bestimmten Instincthandlung necessirt, sondern blosse
prädisponirt.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 79.

{105c}  “Giebt es einen wirklichen Instinct, oder sind die sogenannten
Instincthandlungen nur Resultate bewusster Ueberlegung?”—_Philosophy of
the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 79.

{111}  “Dieser Beweis ist dadurch zu führen; erstens dass die
betreffenden Thatsachen in; der Zukunft liegen, und dem Verstande die
Anhaltepunkte fehlen, um ihr zukünftiges Eintreten aus den gegenwärtigen
Verhältnissen zu erschliessen; zweitens, dass die betreffenden Thatsachen
augenscheinlich der sinnlichen Wahrnehmung verschlossen liegen, weil nur
die Erfahrung früherer Fälle über sie belehren kann, und diese laut der
Beobachtung ausgeschlossen ist.  Es würde für unsere Interessen keinen
Unterschied machen, wenn, was ich wahrscheinlich halte, bei
fortschreitender physiologischer Erkenntniss alle jetzt für den ersten
Fall anzuführenden Beispiele sich als solche des zweiten Falls ausweisen
sollten, wie dies unleugbar bei vielen früher gebrauchten Beispielen
schon geschehen ist; denn ein apriorisches Wissen ohne jeden sinnlichen
Anstoss ist wohl kaum wunderbarer zu nennen, als ein Wissen, welches zwar
_bei Gelegenheit_ gewisser sinnlicher Wahrnehmung zu Tage tritt, aber mit
diesen nur durch eine solche Kette von Schlüssen und angewandten
Kenntnissen in Verbindung stehend gedacht werden könnte, dass deren
Möglichkeit bei dem Zustande der Fähigkeiten und Bildung der betreffenden
Thiere entschieden geleugnet werden muss.”—_Philosophy of the
Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 85.

{113}  “Man hat dieselbe jederzeit anerkannt und mit den Worten Vorgefühl
oder Ahnung bezeichnet; indess beziehen sich diese Wörte einerseits nur
auf zukünftiges, nicht auf gegenwärtiges, räumlich getrenntes
Unwahmehrnbares, anderseits bezeichnen sie nur die leise, dumpfe,
unbestimmte Resonanz des Bewusstseins mit dem unfehlbar bestimmten
Zustande der unbewussten Erkenntniss.  Daher das Wort Vorgefühl in
Rücksicht auf die Dumpfheit und Unbestimmtheit, während doch leicht zu
sehen ist, dass das von allen, auch den unbewussten Vorstellungen
entblösste Gefühl für das Resultat gar keinen Einfluss haben kann,
sondern nur eine Vorstellung, weil diese allein Erkenntniss enthält.  Die
in Bewusstsein mitklingende Ahnung kann allerdings unter Umständen
ziemlich deutlich sein, so dass sie sich beim Menschen in Gedanken und
Wort fixiren lässt; doch ist dies auch im Menschen erfahrungsmässig bei
den eigenthümlichen Instincten nicht der Fall, vielmehr ist bei diesen
die Resonanz der unbewussten Erkenntniss im Bewusstsein meistens so
schwach, dass sie sich wirklich nur in begleitenden Gefühlen oder der
Stimmung äussert, dass sie einen unendlich kleinen Bruchtheil des
Gemeingefühls bildet.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 86.

{115a}  “In der Bestimmung des Willens durch einen im Unbewussten
liegenden Process . . . für welchen sich dieser Character der
zweifellosen Selbstgewissheit in allen folgenden Untersuchungen bewähren
wird.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, p. 87.

{115b}  “Sondern als unmittelbarer Besitz vorgefunden wird.”—_Philosophy
of the Unconscious_, p. 87.

{115c}  “Hellsehen.”

{119a}  “Das Hellsehon des Unbewussten hat sie den rechten Weg ahnen
lassen.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, p. 90, 3d ed., 1871.

{119b}  “Man wird doch wahrlich nicht den Thieren zumuthen wollen, durch
meteorologische Schlüsse das Wetter auf Monate im Voraus zu berechnen, ja
sogar Ueberschwemmungen vorauszusehen.  Vielmehr ist eine solche
Gefühlswahrnehmung gegenwärtiger atmosphärischer Einflüsse nichts weiter
als die sinnliche Wahrnehmung, welche als Motiv wirkt, und ein Motiv muss
ja doch immer vorhanden sein, wenn ein Instinct functioniren soll.  Es
bleibt also trotzdem bestehen dass das Voraussehen der Witterung ein
unbewusstes Hellsehen ist, von dem der Storch, der vier Wochen früher
nach Süden aufbricht, so wenig etwas weiss, als der Hirsch, der sich vor
einem kalten Winter einen dickeren Pelz als gewöhnlich wachsen lässt.
Die Thiere haben eben einerseits das gegenwärtige Witterungsgefühl im
Bewusstsein, daraus folgt andererseits ihr Handeln gerade so, als ob sie
die Vorstellung der zukünftigen Witterung hätten; im Bewusstsein haben
sie dieselbe aber nicht, also bietet sich als einzig natürliches
Mittelglied die unbewusste Vorstellung, die nun aber immer ein Hellsehen
ist, weil sie etwas enthält, was dem Thier weder dutch sinnliche
Wahrnehmung direct gegeben ist, noch durch seine Verstandesmittel aus der
Wahrnehmung geschlossen werden kann.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, p.
91, 3d ed., 1871.

{124}  “Meistentheils tritt aber hier der höheren Bewusstseinstufe der
Menschen entsprechend eine stärkete Resonanz des Bewusstseins mit dem
bewussten Hellsehen hervor, die sich also mehr odor minder deutliche
Ahnung darstellt.  Ausserdem entspricht es der grösseren
Selbstständigkeit des menschlichen Intellects, dass diese Ahnung nicht
ausschliesslich Behufs der unmittelbaren Ausführung einer Handlung
eintritt, sondern bisweilen auch unabängig von der Bedingung einer
momentan zu leistenden That als blosse Vorstellung ohne bewussten Willen
sich zeigte, wenn nur die Bedingung erfüllt ist, dass der Gegenstand
dieses Ahnens den Willen des Ahnenden im Allgemeinen in hohem Grade
interessirt.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 94.

{126}  “Häufig sind die Ahnungen, in denen das Hellsehen des Unbewussten
sich dem Bewusstsein offenbart, dunkel, unverständlich und symbolisch,
weil sie im Gehirn sinnliche Form annehmen müssen, während die unbewusste
Vorstellung an der Form der Sinnlichkeit kein Theil haben
kann.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 96.

{128}  “Ebenso weil es diese Reihe nur in gesteigerter
Bewusstseinresonanz fortsetzt, stützt es jene Aussagen der
Instincthandlungen üher ihr eigenes Wesen ebenso sehr,” &c.—_Philosophy
of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 97.

{129}  “Wir werden trotzdem diese gomeinsame Wirkung eines
Masseninstincts in der Entstehung der Sprache und den grossen politischen
und socialen Bewegungen in der Woltgeschichte deutlich wieder erkennen;
hier handelt es sich um möglichst einfache und deutliche Beispiele, und
darum greifen wir zu niederen Thieren, wo die Mittel der
Gedankenmittheilung bei fehlender Stimme, Mimik und Physiognomie so
unvollkommen sind, dass die Uebereinstimmung und das Ineinandergreifen
der einzelnen Leistungen in den Hauptsachen unmöglich der bewussten
Verständigung durch Sprache zugeschrieben werden darf.”—_Philosophy of
the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 98.

{131a}  “Und wie durch Instinct dot Plan des ganzen Stocks in unbewusstem
Hellsehen jeder einzelnen Biene einwohnt.”—_Philosophy of the
Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 99.

{131b}  “Indem jedes Individuum den Plan des Ganzen und Sämmtliche
gegenwartig zu ergreifende Mittel im unbewussten Hellsehen hat, wovon
aber nut das Eine, was ihm zu thun obliegt, in sein Bewusstsein
fällt.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 99.

{132}  “Der Instinct ist nicht Resultat bewusster Ueberlegung, nicht
Folge der körperlichen Organisation, nicht blosses Resultat eines in der
Organisation des Gehirns gelegenen Mechanismus, nicht Wirkung eines dem
Geiste von aussen angeklebten todten, seinem innersten Wesen fremden
Mechanismus, sondern selbsteigene Leistung des Individuum aus seinem
innersten Wesen und Character entspringend.”—_Philosophy of the
Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 100.

{133}  “Häufig ist die Kenntniss des Zwecks der bewussten Erkenntniss
durch sinnliche Wahrnehmung gar nicht zugänglich; dann documentirt sich
die Eigenthümlichkeit des Unbewussten im Hellsehen, von welchem das
Bewusstsein theils nar eine verschwindend dumpfe, theils auch namentlich
beim Menschen mehr oder minder deutliche Resonanz als Ahnung
verspütt.”—_Philosophy of the Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 100.

{135}  “Und eine so dämonische Gewalt sollte durch etwas ausgeübt werden
könnon, was als ein dem inneren Wesen fremder Mechanismus dem Geiste
aufgepfropft ist, oder gar durch eine bewusste Ueberlegung, welche doch
stets nur im kahlen Egoismus stecken bleibt,” &c.—_Philosophy of the
Unconscious_, 3d ed., p. 101.

{139a}  Page 100 of this vol.

{139b}  Pp. 106, 107 of this vol.

{140}  Page 100 of this vol.

{141}  Page 99 of this vol.

{144a}  See page 115 of this volume.

{144b}  Page 104 of this vol.

{146}  The Spirit of Nature.  J. A. Churchill & Co., 1880, p. 39.

{149}  I have put these words into the mouth of my supposed objector, and
shall put others like them, because they are characteristic; but nothing
can become so well known as to escape being an inference.

{153}  Erewhon, chap. xxiii.

{160}  It must be remembered that this passage is put as if in the mouth
of an objector.

{177a}  “The Unity of the Organic Individual,” by Edward Montgomery.
_Mind_, October 1880, p. 477.

{177b}  Ibid., p. 483.

{179a}  Professor Huxley, Encycl. Brit., 9th ed., art.  Evolution, p.

{179b}  “Hume,” by Professor Huxley, p. 45.

{180}  “The Philosophy of Crayfishes,” by the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop
of Carlisle.  _Nineteenth Century_ for October 1880, p. 636.

{181a}  Les Amours des Plantes, p. 360.  Paris, 1800.

{181b}  Philosophie Zoologique, tom. i. p. 231.  Ed. M. Martin.  Paris,

{182a}  Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society.  Williams &
Norgate, 1858, p. 61.

{182b}  Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection, 2d ed., 1871,
p. 41.

{182c}  Origin of Species, p. 1, ed. 1872.

{183a}  Origin of Species, 6th ed., p. 206.  I ought in fairness to Mr.
Darwin to say that he does not hold the error to be quite as serious as
he once did.  It is now “a serious error” only; in 1859 it was “the most
serious error.”—Origin of Species, 1st ed., p. 209.

{183b}  Origin of Species, 1st ed., p. 242; 6th ed., p. 233.

{184a}  I never could find what these particular points were.

{184b}  Isidore Geoffroy, Hist. Nat. Gen., tom. ii. p. 407, 1859.

{184c}  M. Martin’s edition of the “Philosophie Zoologique” (Paris,
1873), Introduction, p. vi.

{184d}  Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th ed., p. 750.

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