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tant countries. After suggesting some reasons for un
*sning auch a journey, Mr Darwin adds, as a sort of osminz, Moreover a number of isolated facts soon be0,"ic uninteresting, the habit of comparison leads to generaization. On the other hand, as the traveller stars but a <scort space of time in each place, his descriptions must 253.erally consist of mere sketches, instead of detailed oburations, llence arises, as I have found to my cost, a constant tendency to fill up the gaps of knowledge by inaccurate 001, superficial hypotheses’ (608).
These very reinarkable words show, by the Author's own concution, the tendency of his mind at that period; and though he has not informed us what those inaccurate and #perficial hypotheses might be, yet as he has told us that at that time he was pondering on the origin of species, it seeing obvious to connect the hypotheses with the lucubrations. Whether we should be justified in so doing may be determined after a careful examination of the whole subject.
In a discussion on the origin of species, the first requisite would have been a definition of Species by the author, that we might accurately understand his object, and be sure that we had not misunderstood his meaning. Never was there a terin that more needed a careful definition than Species, for besides the deep importance of its true signifi. cation, many definitions of it have been propounded by many naturalists, so that unless Mr Darwin gives us his definition, we are left in the dark just in the point where light was most wanted. In this state the question commences. Mr Darwin not only has omitted to define what he intends by Species, but has made such contradictory statements on the subject (as we shall presently see), that we can only
endeavour to guess at his meaning by collecting his various assertions and making as just a comparison of them as the case will admit.
This therefore must be our first task, to collect Mr Darwin's statements on the subject of Species, after which we may examine the deductions resulting from the statements.
*I look,' says Mr Darwin,' on the term Species as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term Variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms' (54).
This is the nearest approximation to a definition which Mr Darwin has given us, though it only amounts to a negative statement, “that is, that Species and Variety do not essentially differ,' which, put in the positive form, will read, 'that Species and Variety are essentially the same,'—a startling proposition without doubt, and begging the whole question in limine; for if this be true,' there is no such thing as Species, which indeed we are told is a term arbitrarily invented; and then it will follow that nature's barrier against indefinite mutability is got rid of, and a clear stage made for Mr Darwin's theory. As this is, however, the only approach to a definition with which Mr Darwin has favoured us, we must observe, that there is enveloped in it a contradiction, concealed in artful words. The term Variety,' we are told, 'is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms?' Therefore Species is more distinct and less fluctuating. If Species is distinct and does not fluctuate, then it does essentially differ from Variety, which, as Variety, is not distinct and does fluctuate. But what does fluctuate mean here? It means that varieties can interchange and cross, without barrier, and that species can not. It means, for example,
that all the varieties of the dog can permanently fluctuate, inter se, making fertile crosses without limit, but that the species dog and the species fox can not.
Thus in fact Mr Darwin here confirms, as in other pas. sages, the point he denies.
Take again this statement. 'I look at varieties which are in any degree more distinct and permanent as steps leading to more strongly marked and more permanent varie. ties, and these latter leading to a sub-species, and so to species' (54). · Hence I believe a well-marked variety may be considered an incipient species.
The argument is curious, Species does not essentially differ from Variety, and yet there are varieties of a marked character differing from their congeners, in having the quality of greater permanency—they are more permanent' —these more permanent varieties are gradually advancing to the higher dignity of sub-species, and so ultimately to species where their permanent character is fully established. Well, then, permanency is, by Mr Darwin's own showing, the attribute of Species, and it is not that of Variety. Variety changes by slow but steady gradations till it becomes Species, and then its mutation is arrested for a long period of time, and all this is stated to make us understand that Species and Variety do not essentially differ!
But surely varieties might save themselves all this trouble, for if they do not essentially differ from that towards which they are progressing, why make a stir for the change ? and why persuade nature to make alterations for no conceivable object ?
Again. “It may be asked, how is it that varieties, which I have called incipient species, become ultimately CONVERTED
INTO GOOD AND DISTINCT SPECIES, which in most cases obviously differ from each other far more than do the varieties of the same species' (64).
Here then, after all, there is such a thing as a good and distinct species, and varieties differ so from them that a conversion, a change of character and quality, is to take place, and the fluctuating Variety is to become a good and distinct Species. If this does not show an essential difference, how is it to be shown ? and what more could we contend for who are fully convinced of the permanent and irrevocable laws of creation ?
Again, in speaking of the difference between the primrose and the cowslip, Mr Darwin says : 'We could hardly wish for better evidence of the two forms being specifically distinct. On the other hand, they are united by many intermediate links, and it is very doubtful whether these links are hybrids ; and there is a large amount of experimental evidence, showing that they descend from common parents, and consequently must be ranked as varieties' (52).
Here, in fact, is a tacit acknowledgment of all that naturalists have usually advanced on the subject of species. Creatures that descend from common parents are varieties of a species. If experiments of a large amount prove this, it is proved that they are varieties. If the links that unite them are not hybrids, this is also a proof. Hybridity is the result of an artificial violation of species, non-hybridity means fecundity and fertility. The cross between the Newfoundland and the Greyhound is not hybrid, though the difference of form is great between them. The cross between the jackal and the dog is hybrid. All this, we shall find, has often been asserted, and has been held suf
ficient to establish the definite distinctions of nature. The vast majority of naturalists have agreed with Mr Darwin that there is such a thing as good and distinct species.
The real difference between Mr Darwin and other writers is, that he puts the cart before the horse ; and that when others say that Species has produced multiplied Variety, Mr Darwin affirms that Variety is on the way to produce Species. He takes a prophetical view of the subject, denying that Species differs from Variety at present, though believing that it will differ in ages to come;' nevertheless, he also states that good and distinct species do already exist, and with this confusion and these contradictions we have to make out as well as we can what Mr Darwin means by Species.
After all this, it is curious to hear Mr Darwin make this remark : “To discuss whether such forms are rightly called species or varieties before any definition of these terms has been accepted, is vainly to beat the air' (õl). There are more ways of beating the air than one, and this we think Mr Darwin has taught us ; but why then has not Mr Darwin himself given us a definition of the thing he is attacking ? He is writing down Species as an “arbitrarily invented term,' and yet he never explains to us what he understands himself by the term. It is with him a phantom indeed-now here, now there—in no tangible form, for he neither describes to us what it is that he is attacking, nor does he give the definition of it by any other writer. He may be contradicting Buffon, Cuvier, De Candolle, Von Baer, St Hilaire, Herder, or others; we cannot pretend to say what particulat statement he may object to; only this we very clearly perceive, that he means by Species an established barrier of nature, ordained to prevent confusion, and this is the point