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an alga, or from the sea-weed to which it belongs : but whence did that alga come-from another spore, and so on, either ad infinitum, or from some first cause of its existence ?
Obviously, then, this is the origin of nothing, for Mr Darwin's primordial form’ as much needs an origin, . which he has not explained to us, as any of the animals that may have sprung from the primordial form.
Creation he cannot introduce, for it is the object of his book to exclude creation. Neither can he invoke Natural Selection, for there was nothing to select, when there was no life; neither can he, as a last resource, betake himself to Lamarck's convenient cloud of 'Spontaneous generation, for against that Theory Mr Darwin has protested; therefore nothing remains for him but to say that the first primordial form was,--to confess his ignorance of its origin, and to be content to say that it came into existence in a way that he is utterly unable to explain.
In this position we meet him and shake hands. This is exactly what we say: we are convinced that this was the origin of the primordial sea-weed, it came into existence in a way that we cannot explain. We have not the most distant idea of the process, it is utterly inconceivable to us, only we are sure that there is a Power which could and did effect that which we are unable to comprehend.
But all animals and vegetables spring from this one primordial form. In what way did the first springing commence; did the animal quality start first, or the vegetable? How did the movement commence, and in what direction ? The first step in this process, we are told, was
on the principle of Natural Selection, with divergence of character;' easy words these to pronounce, but not so
easy to explain. However, there was some' divergence of character' in the first spore: that is, it began to change its character,—some 'modification, some development,' some 'plastic' propensity appeared in our great Ancestor, and he produced—what? an improved spore certainly,—it could not be beyond that. But how could Natural Selection work here? where was the competition, where was the Struggle for Life? The new spore had to struggle with itself, or perhaps we can imagine that the great Ancestor produced (how we will not say) 'several modified,' spores, and thus the struggle began amongst the family, the unimproved ones were exterminated, and an advanced race began. A race of what? what new vegetable or what first animal ? that history does not reveal. Then male and female had to be developed, Natural Selection formed the two sexes, made some male and some female, invented all the mysteries of reproduction, and set the world a-going till the process finished in man.
Now Mr Darwin has told us that all this does not appear incredible,' and nevertheless he soon contradicts himself in these words : 'a difficulty has been advanced, that, looking on the dawn of life, when all organic beings, as we may imagine, presented the simplest structure, how could the first steps in advancement, or in the differentiation and specialization of parts have arisen? I can make no sufficient answer, and can only say that as we have no facts to guide us, all speculation on the subject would be baseless and useless' (137).
If Mr Darwin presents us with a history of the beginning of life which he frankly acknowledges he cannot explain, and for which he has no facts to guide him, how can he tell us that such a history is ‘not incredible?' what can this mean but that he requires us to believe an in. vention of his own imagination, and that we are to accept on trust that which he plainly tells us is inexplicable ?
Now in the above passage we see the failure of the system, and its ingenious author check-mated by his own acknowledgment. “No one ought to feel surprise,” he adds, ‘at much remaining unexplained in the Origin of Species, if due allowance be made for our profound ignorance of the mutual relation of the inhabitants of the world during the many past epochs of its history' (137).
If much remain unexplained about the Origin of Species, then Mr Darwin has given a false title to his book, ‘On the Origin of Species by * Natural Selection, and the preservation of favoured races in the Struggle for Life ;' for when we approach to the origin we cannot learn what it is; and when, after that, we seek for information in the first steps in advancement, Natural Selection is fairly abandoned, and Mr Darwin tells us he can give no answer to our inquiries, for he has no facts to guide him, and all speculation on the subject would be baseless and useless !
Now when the Origin of Species is the question, and we come to such a confession as this, can we help concluding that the author acknowledges his own defeat? the ingenious helmsman has steered the Theory on the rocks, and there it must await its destiny.
In this most important part of the discussion it is deeply interesting to find not only an acknowledgment of the failure of the Theory, but to meet with a profession of that principle which, if duly attended to, would have saved the author from this dilemma ? 'when we have no facts to guide us, and when we are profoundly ignorant of the mutual relation of the inhabitants of the world, during the many past epochs of its history, all speculation on the Origin of Species would be baseless and useless.
o The title chosen by the author for his book does not avoid the metaphor, and in that respect is in keeping with the rest of the volume- favoured races,'- who favours them ? or who bas shown them favour? They are the elect of Mr Darwin's system ; Natural Selection, another inetaphor, educates the elect and preserves them.
This is precisely the true state of the case, and with this conclusion we heartily agree-only, be it observed, that this principle contradicts the author's practice, as that which he attempts all through, from the first page to the last, is to give us a clear sketch of the mutual relation of the inhabitants of the earth during the many past epochs of its history. He tells us of their transformations, he describes to us how animals have been changed into other forms, he talks of their improvement, of their plastic qualities, of their modifications, of the changes of varieties into new species; he says that transformation has been going on from the dawn of life, is now going on, and will go on to ultimate perfection; he intimates the classes of animals which have been transformed in ten thousand generations ;' in short, he professes a perfect acquaintance with their general history in the past epochs of geological formation, and insists on the achievements of Natural Selection in bringing on animated nature from the beginning of things to the present hour; is this profound ignorance of the mutual relations of the inhabitants of the earth during the many past epochs of its history?' Let the reader judge.
It is however pleasant to find that there are occasions when the force of truth can bring the author to admit those sober reflections which common sense demands, which must be the basis of all truth, and which ought to
guide the most powerful as well as the most ordinary intellect.
But the approach to the dawn of life, and the search for the primordial form, bring us to a position where we can discover something real; for whither can we turn to investigate the early appearance of organic beings but to the records of geology? The earth, as it has been well said, has left us her autobiography, and this we must study to search as far as we can the epochs of her ancient formations. All the successive records of this great work it is our business carefully to consult, that we may understand the story of life, by a patient and cautious research. This labour has been undertaken by many an able student, and the story is now so well understood that the general outline of it will scarcely require any farther emendation. On the grand plan, and most of the details, there is a general harmony of sentiment. Geology is an established and consistent science..
We shall now see how Mr Darwin confronts the testimony of geology. “If my Theory be true,' says he, “it is indisputable that before the lowest Silurian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed, as long as, or probably far longer than the whole interval from the Silurian age to the present day; and that during these vast, yet quite un. known periods of time, the world swarmed with living creatures' (333). This surely is casting the whole system on the hazard of a die, it is a bold defiance and brow-beating of the evidence of nature, and is the most desperate and daring proposition ever yet risked in all the annals of science. My Theory must be true,' it affirms, and there. fore it is beyond dispute that the records of geology are of no account. The evidence that I want is not to be had