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speech that he believes it can accomplish anything, even the most complicated, ingenious, and beautiful contrivances that it is possible to imagine in all the productions of nature; and yet when this effervescence of enthusiasm subsides, what is there to find ?—that certain animals continue to exist!
Natural Selection, therefore, we affirm is a term to be utterly discarded. It is a verbal deception, and the only substance to be discovered, after the elimination of the metaphor, is that a certain series of events is said to have taken place, though those events are contested and denied.
This we shall have occasion to insist on again and again, and it is of the utmost consequence to the due understanding of the theory of transmutation.
It may perhaps surprise some of us to find Sir C. Lyell expressing himself in the highest terms of admiration in his estimate of this same figure of specch: "To many, this doctrine of Natural Selection, or the preservation of favoured races " in the struggle for life," seems so simple, when once clearly stated, and so consonant with known facts and received principles, that they have difficulty in conceiving how it can constitute a great step in the progress of science. Such is often the case with important discoveries, but in order to assure ourselves that the doctrine was by no means obvious, we have only to refer back to the writings of skilful naturalists who attempted in the earlier part of the nineteenth century to theorize on this subject, before the invention of this new method of explaining how certain forms are supplanted by new ones, and in what manner these last are selected out of innumerable varieties and rendered permanent.'—(Antiquity of Man, 417.)
Thus Sir C. Lyell seems to think that, owing to this important discovery,' Mr Darwin is the Columbus of nature's hitherto undiscovered regions, and that now at last true light has dawned on physiology.
deus ille fuit, deus, inclyte Memmi,
In tam tranquillo et tam clarâ luce locavit.' This doctrine may perhaps appear too 'simple’ to some of its admirers, who can scarcely believe that so great ‘a discovery' can have been so easily made. Nevertheless, its simplicity all turns on this, that we are to believe that the slight advantageous variations, the result of accident, have appeared in animals, and that they have been accumulated till the changing animal, in the lapse of geological time, has, through innumerable mutations of antecedent animals now extinct, been ultimately transformed into some creature of different organization and character.
We have to believe that all these intermediate forms of extinct animals have really existed, and existed too for a very long time, as no new animal with advantageous variations sufficient to displace its congeners, can have been produced but in a long series of ages.
This we have to believe, and though geology 'does not reveal’any of the evidences of this history, owing to the 'extreme imperfection of its records ;' yet we are to believe that it ought to have revealed it.
Moreover, and that is the most important point of all, in believing that certain forms are supplanted by new ones,' we have to renounce our belief in the power and wis. dom of the Creator, and to take out of his hands the production of all living things.
All this is very simple, doubtless, to persons who have embraced the theory of transmutation, but it would seem indispensable that our understanding should be in a state of a corresponding simplicity before we could venture to launch after this Columbus in his newly-discovered world.
THE FUNCTIONS OF NATURAL SELECTION.
Having established the meaning of Natural Selection, we go on to consider the functions assigned to it in the theory.
Natural Selection can only act through and for the good of each being ;' and on this principle it chooses colours, makes leaf-eating insects green, and bark-feeders mottlegrey, the ptarmigan white in winter, the red grouse the colour of the heather, and the black grouse that of peaty earth. Grouse, if not destroyed at some period of their lives, would increase in countless numbers—hawks are guided by eyesight to their prey. 'Hence,' says the author, ‘I can see no reason to doubt that Natural Selection might be most effective in giving the proper colour to each kind of grouse, and in keeping that colour, when once acquired, true and constant' (89).
Natural Selection, therefore, foresaw the proper colour for effecting concealment, gave the tint that would best answer the purpose, and has preserved it.
* We must believe,' says Mr Darwin, that these tints are of service to these birds and insects in preserving themi from danger. There is no difficulty in believing this, we always have believed it; but then the question arises, as these colours have been assigned to the animals to preserve
them from danger, whose was the provident intellect that devised and predetermined this mode of defence, and then produced the means to render it efficacious ? We have no difficulty in answering the question, but in this theory no providential design, no supreme creative will, can be admitted; so that, if we ask again how these protecting tints were produced, we learn by referring to the definition, that it was ' by the aggregate action and product of the sequence of events as ascertained by us.' That is, we see things in a certain form, and that is the reason of their being so. Colours are produced to defend animals from danger, and answer the purpose well, but they were not designed or devised to produce this beneficial effect, but they have become what they are by a sequence of events; the effect is the cause of the effect; events produce themselves, and that is the cause of their being produced.
Now, as the author of this profound theory frequently reminds us of the vast superiority of the achievements of Natural Selection over anything that man can devise or accomplish, we are at liberty to apply this sort of reasoning with much greater force to the productions of human skill, as it must be so much easier to make machinery, such as is produced by the hands of man, than to imitate the smallest of the works of nature. When therefore we see a superior watch, or a highly improved steam-engine, and are asked who made them, we may confidently affirm that they were not designed or made by any one, but are the result of the aggregate action, and the product of the sequence of events as ascertained by us.'
But to proceed with the functions of the great Improver. Natural Selection gave winged seeds to the dandelion. If it profit a plant to have its seeds more and more widely