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adds or diminishes attributes and endowments, and always with a beneficial tendency to the being on which it operates ; in the great majority of instances it effects a change in the right direction, after numerous incomplete experi. ments indeed, but ultimately with success; for improvements in the universal struggle for life is the general result of its agency. Where does this power reside ? is it in the animals and vegetables themselves? or is it something exterior to them that superintends and directs this process of amelioration ? Is it nature that alters the structures and the organization ? and if so, what is nature ?
In not a few instances Mr Darwin speaks as if all this were accomplished by that metaphorical word, Nature. 'I see,' says he,' no limit to the amount of change, to the beauty and infinite complexity of the co-adaptations between all organic beings, one with another, and with their physical conditions of life, which may be effected in the long course of time by Nature's power of selection' (115).
Here Nature is an intelligent agent, elaborating organized beings with beautiful and skilful art, adapting them for the new circumstances of their improving condition. Nature has the power, the knowledge, the skill, and the good taste to advance organized beings towards perfection, in designs of admirable wisdom and beauty. Nature, then, bas all the attributes of the Creator, with only a different name; but is Nature an intelligent power, or is it a deity ? is it a god or a goddess ? Mr Darwin tells us, indeed, that he uses the term metaphorically; but why, in the first place, all through this grave and profound disquisition trifle with a metaphor, instead of using a reality ? and why, in the next place, forget that it is a metaphor, and continually at
tribute to it acts of intelligence and designs of incomparable skill and science ? That Mr Darwin does this beyond any other writer we shall presently see; indeed, he comprehensively informs us that · Natural Selection is a power incessantly ready for action, and is as imineasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of nature are to those of art' (65).
This, however, is not a very fortunate illustration ; for, as Mr Darwin makes Nature, and Nature's power of selection, and Natural Selection all one, it only amounts to this, that Nature's works are as superior to man's works as Nature's works are.
But here Natural Selection is described as always ready to perform inconceivable acts of scientific skill, and is the same as Nature elsewhere described, an intelligent, vigilant, and energetic POWER, so that unless this language be watched, we might be induced to follow the illusion that Natural Selection has an independent existence, per se, a position often assumed in this theory, and that not only in passing, but enlarged on as an established fact.
In the fourth chapter, the case is stated thus. It has been often said that I speak of Natural Selection as an active power or deity, but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets ? Every one knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions, and they are almost necessary for brevity. So, again, it is difficult to avoid personifying the word Nature, but I mean by Nature only the aggregate action and product of many laws, and by laws, the sequence of events as ascertained by us. With a little familiarity such superficial objection will be forgotten' (85).
Mr Darwin will not, however, allow us to forget these objections, which so far from being 'superficial,' go very deep against his theory. But with this explanation before us, we shall have only to apply the definition in the place of the term, and we shall have some curious results.
But first it is to be observed that the two grand principles of the theory are avowedly metaphors. Natural Selection is a metaphorical expression, and the Struggle for Existence is used in a large and metaphorical sense.' These are the two pillars of the whole theory; Natural Selection and the Struggle for Existence represent and express everything that Mr Darwin has to urge; take them away and nothing remains, and yet they are both metaphors. If these terms are metaphors, they are not realities, but verbal pictures or shadows, and are, therefore, vicious terms in a scientific disquisition. Neither are they only now and then, and by way of illustration, introduced, though even that would scarcely be admissible in handling the great revelation of the existence and origin of beings; but they occur in almost every page, to the exclusion of other terms—so that from first to last we are led by a metaphor at every step, as the poor belated traveller is sometimes led by Will-o'-the-wisp into the fatal morass.
Next we should note that an intelligent preference and choice is attributed to Natural Selection, and this is pressed upon us by the analogy of our own preference in improving breeds. We may suppose that at an early period one man preferred swift horses ; another, stronger and more bulky horses. How, it may be asked, can any analogous principle apply in Nature? I believe it can and does apply most efficiently, THOUGH IT WAS LONG BEFORE I SAW now, from the simple circumstance that the more diversified the de
scendents from any one species become in structure, constitution, and habits, by so much will they be better enabled to seize on many and widely diversified places in the polity of nature, and so be enabled to increase in numbers' (118).
The argument, then, is thus : we prefer to breed certain horses with certain qualities ; certain animals 'become' diversified, and the more they become so, the better able will they be to seize on new positions, and to establish themselves in a new condition of life; in other words, to 'become' new animals. And this is called an analogy! Well, let it stand for as much, if Mr Darwin wants to endow his metaphor with power of preference and selection ; let him make what he can out of the analogy of our using free choice in the breeding of animals ; but if there be this preference, then some intellect favours, selects, and prefers, or else the analogy is worth nothing. For the rest, we may observe, that it is not surprising Mr Darwin should have been a long time in discovering the analogy: a longer meditation still might well have been conceded to the solution of the problem, for analogies and metaphors are shadowy substances, which, after the closest acquaintance, are not always worthy of our confidence.
After all that has been said on the subject, it is to be hoped that the eyes of the reader will not be blinded with the dust of words by which this theory is made to push its way. Natural Selection is, as a fact, absolutely nothing: there is no power or intellect to select anything, and nothing is selected. The whole matter is this : animals, as it is pretended, in the course of time manifest some slight beneficial variation in their organization,—this they transmit to their progeny: the improved progeny has the best chance in the struggle for life, and takes the place occupied by the unimproved animals, which, unable to sustain their esistence owing to the superior qualities of their competitors, are infallibly exterminated. The successful animals, or the survivors, Mr Darwin, by a figure of speech, calls the selected ones; but Selection in his system simply means not perishing. This most inaccurate use of words may be thus illustrated. Let us suppose that the following paragraph should appear in a newspaper, · Yesterday a serious accident took place on the line. The mail-train rau off the line, precipitating all the carriages down a steep bank. Three of the passengers were killed on the spot, and seven severely wounded; all the rest, we are happy to say, not less than a hundred and fifty in number, were* selected.'
Now that this is the real meaning of this mystery, Mr Darwin frankly acknowledges : 'I have called this prin. ciple, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved by the term Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection ’ (64). This important passage reveals to us the motive which prompted Mr Darwin to invent the term, it was to introduce an imaginary resemblance between sentient beings making use of their reasoning faculties for preference and selection, and 'a series of events' incapable of making choice of anything. That the term has been successful, and flourishes splendidly in Mr Darwin's pages, we see at every turn ; Mr Darwin himself tells us he has such confidence in his figure of
* That Mr Darwin makes use of preservation as if it were a strict grammatical synonyme with selection, and vice versâ, we see in this passage :
Under such circumstances, the swiftest and slimmest wolves would bare the best chance of surviving, and so be preserved or selected ' (95).