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development ? if so, then animals have been changed by 'the Law of Change'-a mystery of words of great depth. When a walrus was developing into a cow, how did the development begin? whence did the new particles of matter come for the new form and habits ? and how did they begin to assume the new form?
The answer probably would be, that it was by the operation of a Law not yet understood. Then if you do not understand your Law, and have no means of explaining or proving it,-if it is merely a gratuitous invention, a mist of words to conceal your ignorance,—why pretend to be an exponent of that which you do not understand, and which after all your trouble is not explained at all? How easy it is to deceive oneself with a word! Lamarck had his words, efforts of internal sentiment'-'acts of organization,' 'influence of subtile fluids.' Then in another quarter we have Natural Selection, all expedients to conceal a deep chasm of the unknown with a thin veil of pretension ; but the chasm is there still, deep as eternity, and no verbal expedients will ever succeed in making us forget its existence.
The next English writer who adopted the theory of Transmutation was Professor Baden Powell, and this, but briefly, in his notes on · The Order of Nature,' published in 1859.
The position assumed by the learned Professor is, as far as I understand it, to admit ‘a Universal Reason and Supreme Intelligence' in the mechanism of the universe (233), but wholly to repudiate the idea of creation, and especially in the production of the various forms of life.
In noticing a suggestion of Playfair, that it might be worthy of consideration whether the original constitution of the planetary system might not be referable to a meliving, and those of its progenitors have, in the course of time, determined the form of its body, the number and condition of its organs-in short, the faculties which it enjoys. The otters, beavers, water-fowl, turtles and frogs were not made web-footed in order that they might swim ; but their wants having attracted them to the water in search of prey, they stretched out the toes of their feet to strike the water and move rapidly along the surface. By the repeated stretching of their toes, the skin which united them at the base acquired a habit of extension, until, in the course of time, the broad membranes which now connect their extremi. ties were formed.
In like manner, the antelopes and gazelles, in order to escape from the carnivorous animals, were compelled to exert themselves in running with greater speed; a habit which in the course of ages gave rise to the slenderness of their legs, and the agility and elegance of their forms.
The camelopard was not gifted with a long flexible neck because it was destined to live in the interior of Africa, where the soil was devoid of herbage; but being reduced to live on the foliage of lofty trees, it contracted a habit of stretching itself to reach the higher boughs, until its neck was elongated, and its fore legs became much longer than the hinder, so that at last it could raise its head twenty feet from the ground.*
Nature, we are told, is not an Intelligence, nor the Deity, but a delegated power ; a mere instrument—a piece of mechanism acting by necessity—an order of things constituted by the Supreme Being, and subject to laws which are the expression of his will. This Nature is obliged to proceed gradually in all her operations--she cannot produce
* Lyell's Analysis of Lamarck.
animals and plants of all classes all at once, but must always begin by the formation of the most simple kinds, and out of them elaborate the more complex, adding different systems of organs as they may be needed.
Nature is daily engaged in the formation of rudimentary sketches of animals and vegetables, by a process which the ancients termed spontaneous generation. She is always beginning anew, day by day, the work of creation, by forming monads, which are the only living things she gives birth to directly.
Such is the system which, though of great celebrity in its day, made very few converts, and would, perhaps, by this time have been shelved with other literary curiosities, had not Mr Darwin come forward, an illustrious disciple to retouch the Theory, to recast some of its parts, to supply its deficiencies, and to give the last finish to the genesis of mutation.
The main difference between the plan of the master and of the disciple is in the machinery by which the required transformations have been effected. In the general principle of Transmutation there is a perfect accordance, but each proposes a method of his own to accomplish the alleged phenomenon. According to Lamarck, it has been mainly by effort and by continued attempts to bring about a change, that the change has been realized; with Mr Darwin the agent has been a metaphor, or, dropping the metaphorical term, “the Sequence of Events,' which can be the cause of nothing, as it is itself a series of effects. Lamarck's agent, though a ridiculous absurdity, is something intelligible and tangible. Mr Darwin's is a phantom always eluding the grasp. We might, if criticising the Lamarckian system, inquire what became of the animals
before the change, so requisite for their new character in the drama of life, was fully accomplished ? How did the once thick-legged and slow animals, the pre-gazelles and the pre-antelopes, continue to escape the carnivorous animals, all the time that their legs were lengthening and refining, and their powers of speed accumulating? And how did the progenitors of the giraffe ward off starvation, in deserts without herbage, before their necks and tongues and front legs were prolonged to enable them to reach the foliage of the trees? and so on in every other case. These questions of course would be quite as puzzling if applied to the Darwinian system, and perhaps more so, as Mr Darwin demands an immensity of time for his mutations. His dogs, with slightly plastic limbs,' improving in the lapse of thousands of ages to enable them to catch hares, when all other food had failed them, would, it is to be feared, have long ago joined the people of dreams,' before the day of their improvement dawned on them.
The pictures of Lamarck's otter acquiring web-feet and an amphibious existence by frequenting the sides of streams in search of its prey, immediately suggests the more mag. nificent transformation of the bear into the whale. Lamarck's otter must surely have been first cousin to Darwin's bear.
When two great wizards, like Jannes and Jambres, descend to the water-side for the exercise of their art, there is no limit to the wonderful achievements which they may accomplish with their transforming rods.
After this the theory of Transmutation seems to have been dormant, at least in this country, till an anonymous author published “The Vestiges of the Natural Ilistory of Creation. The date of the fifth edition of this work now
before me is 1845, the first edition was probably published two or three years earlier. It met with great success, soon became a popular book, and is still enjoying a measure of popularity. This is to be attributed in part to the pleasant style of its composition, and to the lucid and intelligible tone of the statements it contains. It is an easy book to read, and the novelty of its subject made it an entertaining one. The scientific world is disposed to speak slightingly of the work as deficient in information, but the author does not seem to put forth the pretensions of a man of science, and he offers his statement simply as the result of his reading—he gathers from other writers his materials, and proposes his deductions on them with simplicity and modesty. There may be mistakes in the statements, or a deficiency of knowledge may here and there betray itself, but on the whole the book may be considered the least offensive of any that have yet appeared to advocate the theory of Transmutation.
It may be interesting to see the opinion of this author on Lamarck's system, as showing the disagreement amongst the advocates of the same cause. The author of the Vestiges, in making the following strictures, explains, in measure, his own views : ‘Early in this century, M. Lamarck, a naturalist of the highest character, suggested a hypothesis of organic progress which has incurred much ridicule, and scarcely ever had a single defender. He surmised, and endeavoured, with a great deal of ingenuity, to prove, that one being advanced in the course of generations to another, in consequence merely of its experience of wants calling for the exercise of its faculties in a particular direction, by which exercise new developments of organs took place, ending in variations sufficient to constitute a species.