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disseminated by the wind, I see no greater difficulty in this being effected through Natural Selection than in the cotton-planter increasing and improving by selection the down in the pods of his cotton-trees' (91). Most people would say that it was not quite so easy to give wings to seeds as to improve cotton-plants by selecting the most downy pods. Mr Darwin seems to find no difficulty in it, but by what process he would enable a kidney-bean, a pea, or a mustard-seed to fly through the air he has not informed us. Wings however are a ready article in the theory, as we shall hereafter see.
In this particular case, it should be noted that the dandelion has not only improved itself, as every other being has in this theory, but it has had an eye to the benefit and settlement of its progeny. It has foreseen that it would
profit’its family to be more and more widely disseminated,' and having therefore determined to make its descend. ants colonists, has invested its seeds with volant qualities, to find their fortunes, as aëronauts, far away from the parental station. • Manifold are the transformations which have been brought about in the process of time, for 'we may believe that the progenitor of the ostrich was the bustard, and that as Natural Selection increased, in successive generations, the size and weight of the body, its legs were used more and its wings less, till they became incapable of flight' (152). In this authentic history of the feathered race we have the counterpart to the acquisition of wings, for it seems that animals may not only acquire wings but also get rid of the faculty of flying, though in this particular instance it is difficult to ascertain what the bustard has gained by turning himself into an ostrich. Considering the calamities that this
change has brought on the ostrich, one of the most persecuted of animals, we suspect he would not be sorry to return to his bustard origin if only he knew how. Natural Selection always operates for the benefit of the changing animal, but whether when animals have got into a scrape by 'bettering themselves, they can get out of it by retrogressive selection is perhaps a fact not yet determined.*
As however the breed of bustards still exists, it is clear that some only of that species were disposed to make the change: the more sober ones were content with the actual state of things, and thought it better to‘let well alone.'
As a general proposition we are to understand that wings may be acquired where they did not previously exist. “It requires a long succession of ages to adapt an organism to some new and peculiar form of life, as for instance to fly through the air (328); and, indeed, it is essential to this theory that every existing bird should have acquired the faculty of flight, not by original constitution and appointment, but by gradual mutation, and accumulation of beneficial qualities, tending to the development of wings. Mr Darwin discusses this transformation with well-sustained gravity, and finishes with these words :
We do not see the transitional grade through which the wings of birds have passed; but what special difficulty is there in believing that it might profit the modified descendants of the penguin, first to become enabled to flap along the surface of the sea, like the logger-headed duck, and ultimately to rise from its surface and glide through the air?' (329).
Such passages as these seem almost incredible in a
• Retrogressive Natural Selection seems to be admitted in the theory. On this subject more will be said hereafter.
treatise having any pretensions to scientific standing; and truly may we say, that if such reasoning as this belongs to even the lowest and most rudimentary form of science, then Cuvier, Agassiz, Müller, Owen, Jones, Sedgwick, Phillips, and others, never understood its import, nor comprehended the true method of investigating nature. None of these prodigies of interpretation, however, seem to start le Mr Darwin. Ilaving made up his mind to place the sceptre of creation in the hands of his Metaphor, he seems to rejoice in extravagant expressions which may in any way glorify the chief puppet of his theory. Hence he tells us
She can act on every internal organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on the whole machinery of life' (87). And with such a declaration, what may we not expect to be hazarded for its illustration ?
In one of the author's most eccentric passages, we have the following curious information accompanied by reasoning cqually curious. The tail of the giraffe looks like un artificially constructed fly-flapper; and it seems at first incredible that this should have been adapted for its present purpose by successive slight modifications, each better and better, for so trifling an object as driving away flies; yet we should pause before being too positive even in this case, for we know that the distribution and existence of cattle and other animals in South America absolutely depend on their power of resisting the attacks of insects ; so that individuals, which could by any means defend them. selves from these small enemies, would be able to range in new pastures, and thus gain a great advantage. A well. developed tail having been formed in an aquatic animal, it might subsequently come to be worked in for all sorts of
purposes—as a fly-flapper, an organ of prehension, or as aid in turning, as with the dog' (215).
There are several points to notice in this statement: first, a well-developed tail ‘had been formed in an aquatic animal. How formed? By Natural Selection, of course, for the theory allows of no other formative power; but as this is always an exceedingly slow operation, requiring many ages, there must have been some thousands of ages when aquatic animals had no tails at all! They were forming in the waters by Natural Selection, but how, during the tailless period of their history, they directed their course in the water is not explained ; fishes without tails would certainly be curiosities. However, such was their condition before their tails were formed. After this, the fishes having in the process of long ages acquired a tail, that important appendage to their existence came to be worked in !' How worked in, and who was the artificer of the work? The Metaphor, of course,—the ever watchful and ingenious Natural Selection. She 'worked in' the fishes' tails into the posterior extremities of the vertebral column of sundry land-animals. The meaning of which is, certain fishes 'came to be converted into land-animals, and then their tails were adapted to their new forms which they had acquired. Some for flappers (horses, cows, &c.), some as prehensile tails (monkeys), some as rudders in turning.
Thus, then, the tail of a horse may have been antecedently the caudal instrument of a shark, a cow may have derived her tail from the skate, and the giraffe owe his fly-flapper to a remote progenitor, the sturgeon.
Mr Darwin, solicitous to sustain the dignity of Natural Selection, feels it but due to her character to apologize for
the formation of a tail, through her instrumentality, for ‘so trifling an object as driving away flies.' We are then gravely informed, as if we had never heard it before, that cattle in hot countries cannot dispense with a tail—the distribution and existence of cattle and other animals in South America depend upon their power of resisting insects. The learned author need not have referred us to South America to prove his position ; what we see in England is convincing enough on that head. Cattle deprived of their tails in a hot summer in this country would go wild, and would probably perish in the excess of irritation. We are fully convinced that this is not a trifling matter. Natural Selection has not at all demeaned herself in condescending to work in 'fishes' tails into the organization of cattle and other animals. Thus, then, Mr Darwin comes to the conclusion that it really has been for the benefit of animals that they should have tails for fly-flappers ; only he must have the tail formed in his own peculiar way to suit his theory. The poor animals did not make their appearance in life with this necessary provision, but in a million of years or so they very slowly acquired a tail. To use his own words, “it was adapted for its present purpose, by successive slight modifications, each better and better '— the tail always growing a little longer because it was more advantageous for the beast to have it lengthened—whilst the beasts that had no tail growing, died off by myriads in the struggle for life. Now this, be it observed, is seriously meant, though not so expressed, for in this very part of his disquisition, Mr Darwin is careful to remind us that it certainly is not true that new organs appear suddenly in any class' (214). A memento to prevent us admitting a statement which might seem to imply a work of creation. We