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M. TRÉMAUX, the last who has entered the lists as the champion of Transmutation, has made his appearance even after Mr Darwin. His work ‘Origine et Transformations de l'homme et des autres êtres,' was published in 1865.
As his system is carefully considered, and differs, in its main principle, from the other writers of this school, with whom indeed he finds much fault for not having discovered the great secret of the sect, a separate chapter may be assigned to an analysis of his Theory. Unlike his predecessors, who trace the Origin of Life to the waters, M. Trémaux assures us that the soil has created or produced all animals, and has been the cause of their various transmutations. He commences at once with a sentence which enunciates his leading principle :
'La perfection des êtres est ou devient proportionelle au degré d'élaboration du sol sur lequel ils vivent; et, le sol est en général d'autant plus élaboré, qu'il appartient à une formation géologique plus récente' (17).
This is printed in capital letters in the text. This he calls his 'grand simple law,' though many supplementary clauses are appended to it in the progress of his inquiry. To the action of the soil he adds also, though apparently with reluctance, the difference of temperature of different
climates, as a sort of secondary instrument,' which has a certain action on plants, but has very little effect on man, who knows how to preserve himself from the excesses of temperature.'
Here, of course, the objection would be obvious, first, that very many animals depend altogether on a very high temperature for their existence, as others do on a cold one; and that apes and monkeys, and many other creatures, if placed on the very best recent’soil, in a cold, or even temperate climate, would speedily perish. A high temperature has also produced, or is inseparably connected with, a considerable division of the human race, the Negroes and their kindred tribes. But colour,' says M. Trémaux, ' with men, as with many animals, is only the little side of the question.' 'La coloration, chez l'homme, comme chez beaucoup d'animaux, n'est que le petit coté de la question ; chez l'homme le teint est le résultat d'une très faible modification de la peau ... et n'a aucune influence sur la constitution et les facultés' (23). Still, this distinction of colour is sufficient to make a broad division of the human race, and is not such a trifle as M. Trémaux would have us believe. It is a very evident and unquestioned result of temperature, and has produced a marked character, which all mankind has always acknowledged, though they have been slow to perceive in the effect of any soil any mark of diversity, at all comparable to such a distinction,
The general law has, moreover, to be qualified with the effect of frequent crossings, and a change of alimentary productions, which takes place in a sensible degree (assez sensible) between neighbouring countries.'
These two qualifications invalidate the theory; for the
instances would be few indeed, where these crossings did not take place, and where neighbouring tribes did not interchange the productions of the soil. All this, moreover, involves a history of mankind, to be worked out of the imagination ; for how did the first stock of men (educed out of a previous stock of superior apes) separate from the first family so as to avoid neighbourhood, crossings, and interchange of food ? For it is one part of this Theory, that a Species, to become such truly, must have been long isolated, and have lived long on one soil. When this process has been continued a sufficient time, then the Species is formed, with law of fecundity.
But man sprung from a very superior quadrumanous animal, very far superior to the gorilla. His history, therefore, and that of his predecessors, with the soil they lived on, &c., &c., have all to be sketched by the imagination—it cannot be a history of facts.
M. Trémaux attributes to the soil some undefined mysterious action, which he does not explain ; that it is something more than the difference of the food which it produces, is evident from the following passage.
*L'homme se nourrit de différentes espèces végétales et animales particulières à chacune des grandes divisions continentales. De la parait resulter un ensemble de physionomies propre à chacune de ces divisions, et même une certaine corrélation de forme, mais elle n'empêche nullement l'action du sol de se dessiner nettement sous cette influence particulière' (24).
The action of the soil,' then, is something over and above the action of the food it produces. A principle of transmutation exists in the soil : in the recent soils, the tendency of its action is towards perfection ; in the primi. tive soil, it is towards degeneration and debasement. What may be the nature of this action, is not unfolded to us ; it is, in fact, the mystery of M. Trémaux's system, and is analogous to the law of development,' and the independent productive power,' of the other writers of this school.
Like the rest of his fellow-labourers, M. Trémaux personifies Nature, and talks of her objects and intentions, as if the various forms of life had all been projected in an antecedent plan.
"Si l'on cherche à créer une nouvelle espèce par le croisement, on échoue ; ce qui est bien naturel, puisque, dans la Nature, son but est contraire, c'est à dire qu'il unifie les êtres qui y sont soumis au lieu de les diversifier; en d'autres termes son but est de grouper les êtres en espèces distinctes .... la Nature se refuse à faire une nouvelle espèce' (189).
Now this is remarkable language, as it is precisely that which, as we have seen, Saint Hilaire said he could not use-'I cannot make Nature as an intelligent being,' and yet M. Trémaux is strictly of the Material School, no writer can be more so.
All the perfect types of animals have been produced on recent soils. The primitive soil of the first geological ages was composed of disintegrations, effected at one epoch only; the recent soil of our epoch is made of disintegrations, effected during all the geological epochs,—the disintegration of the ancient rocks mingled in the soil renders it completely unfit for man (119—20). .
Man reaches perfection, or degenerates according to the recent or ancient soil on which he lives ; and as soon as he reaches the type proper to the conditions in which he is
chanical cause, he observes (147), “If the arrangements alluded to could be shown to be the results of still higher mechanical causes, it would but furnish a still higher proof of Intelligence, instead of being antagonistic to it; mechanism is the very exponent of mind,' and yet he objects to any inference of design or purpose—for the structure of the universe we can infer no final design or purpose whatever, which is perpetual in its' adjustments, offering no evidence of beginning or end? (237); though he adds these remarkable words, however, the limited evidence in some of its parts, of adjustment of means to ends, may warrant the conjecture of other higher unknown purposes.'
In the notes appended to “The Order of Nature,' the Professor very plainly takes his place in the School of Transmutation, objecting to the idea of creation,* as derived from religion, and therefore having no place in science.' That all Species were derived from older ones seems to him a necessity by the universal Law of Continuity; and if there is an absence of evidence to prove this by geological records, it is because the evidence has not yet been found (467). This point he takes up with some asperity, calling it' a trite objection,' which he thinks he has disposed of' in some previous publication.
Ile then quotes Professor Brown of Heidelberg, who
* It has been already shown that Creation is not necessarily connected with any religious idea, and that Lucretius, of all writers most adverse to religious impressions, freely uses the term ; take this instance, in which he says that things may be created without the intervention of the Deity :
Quas ob res, ubi viderimus nihil posse creari
Et quo quæque modo fiant operâ sine Divûm.-(i. 155.)
Donicùm ad extremum crescendi perfica finem