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beauty, and so betakes itself to cocks and hens as a refuge from creation, and seeks shelter under a Metaphor to escape from Omnipotence!
*Some naturalists believe'! all mankind believes it, all nations in all ages; not to believe it is to be stultified with the nepenthe of sophism, or drunken with the dregs of paradox. Our very nature is at war with such a delusion, and one of the first exercises of our awakened intellect is to confess in the words of the ancient days,
"He hath made all things beautiful in his time.' But we resume the description of Natural Selection. We have seen that one pied peacock was eminently attractive to the hens,' to convince us that the splendid plumage of the males is due to the selecting admiration of the females. We must suppose therefore that the male and female, long before the Silurian era, differed very little in the external appearance, but one peacock having by some lucky accident acquired a feather of striking appearance, he became a favourite with the ladies, so that in the next hatching the eggs fecundated by the beau, predominated over those by the plain males. Young peacocks were hatched with the paternal feather, they of course were also favourites with the fair sex, and the ornamented males increased in number. Natural Selection after this helped them, in the revolution of ages, to the rest of their grand plumage, the purple, green, gold, and cinnamon, the gorgeous-eyed long feathers of the sweeping train, the graceful crest, and the large lustrous eye. Natural Selection, or nature which really does not care for appearances, took no interest in this change going on, but, to gratify the fair, lent a helping hand, and thus we have beauty in the male birds.
In this way we may understand the moral qualities of birds by the appearance of the males. The dusky cocks, which differ little from the hens, have had quaker-eyed partners, fond of the drab colours and homely attire; the pea-hens, the pheasants, the birds of Paradise, the hummingbirds, and many more of the splendid species, descend from vain mothers, allured by gauds and garish show. The argus-pheasant, perhaps the most magnificent of male birds, is a sad instance of the frivolous disposition of his maternal ancestors. The crows and rooks spring from a grave and clerical lineage. The cock-sparrow argues the sobriety of taste that prevailed in his respectable family.
Mr Darwin, indeed, seems to have misgivings ‘lest it should appear childish to attribute any effect to such weak means’ (94); but after a little talking over the matter, concludes, as usual, that he 'sees no good ground to doubt,' and so inserts the article in his creed; for a creed it is, and continually presented to us as such, by the established formulary : 'I believe.
To finish this picture with the last touch, the author informs us that he would not attribute all such sexual differences to this agency, for some of the peculiarities of the males he cannot believe are attractive to the females, particularly the tuft of hair on the breast of the turkeycock, which he considers neither as useful nor ornamental' (95).
But has the learned author consulted the turkey-hens on this subject ? de gustibus non disputandum : the fair ones may admire a strong tuft of hair on their husband's breasts, who knows ? Philosophers and turkey-hens cannot be supposed always to see matters from one and the same point of view.
To meet all this with serious argument would be a waste of time, but still we might inquire how it comes that the plumage of the male birds is generally far superior to that of the females. In far the greater number of cases it is acknowledged to be so, when there is any material difference between the sexes. It is a rare case where the female surpasses the male in beauty. How is it then that admiration has all been on one side, and that the males, whose ardour of love seems to contrast with the coyness of the females, have been totally indifferent to the beauty of the fair sex? It is the male which generally seeks out and woos the female, as Mr Darwin notices; we should therefore have expected just the reverse of the established rule ; for if the males had selected the improving females and neglected the others, this would have been selection,' and the females would have inherited the ornaments which we are disposed to consider as the proper attribute of that sex.
Before this sketch of the general functions of Natural Selection is dismissed, it should be noted that some animals —and especially some classed as domestic—seem to resist Natural Selection ; in other words, they do not appear to manifest any tendency to transformation. Although I do not doubt that some domestic animals vary less than others, yet the rarity or absence of distinct breeds of the cat, the donkey, peacock, goose, &c., may be attributed in main part to selection not having been brought into play' (43). This is a curious admission of the author, as if he had forgotten hisi millions of ages with which he usually meets the objection that we are not able to discern any change effecting in animals in the present day. Indeed, in another passage, he notices that some have urged against his theory that the mummy cats of Egypt differed not at all from those
now in existence; to which he replies, 'What does this prove but that the cats of Egypt five thousand years ago resembled the present race?'—as if five thousand years were but a moment in his scale of time.
However, in the passage before us we see it acknowledged that Natural Selection has not been brought into play,' an expression which, when closely examined, means really that those animals have not begun to change themselves.
Their limbs have not been plastic '-a favourite little word with the author, in which is slily condensed the power of self-creation-and so they have not brought Natural Selection into play.
The author finishes his remarks on this part of his subject with the following droll observation : The goose seems to have a singularly inflexible organization.' Natural Selection, then, does not seem to be able to change a goose. That wise animal (for so we must esteem it) thinks it better to adhere to a conservative policy, and to be satisfied with things as they are, having no desire to lapse into a giraffe, a crab, an elephant, or a philosopher.
NATURAL SELECTION OPERATING IN INSTINCT.
In the Origin of Species there is a chapter dedicated to Instinct, and it is here that we now follow the author.
Instinct, even in its most striking examples, like every thing else in this theory, is to be traced to the operations of Natural Selection. ·Under changed conditions of life it is at least possible that slight modifications of Instinct might be profitable to a species;' and if it can be shown that instincts do vary ever so little, then I can see no difficulty in Natural Selection preserving and continually accumulating variations of instinct to any extent that was profitable. It is thus, I believe, that all the most complex and wonderful instincts have originated’ (229).
Surely,' says M. Flourens, 'we cannot take this as meant to be serious : Natural Selection choosing an instinct!
..... la poésie a ses licences, mais
Celle-ci passe un peu les bornes que j'y mets.' However, this we are to understand, that according to the theory no animals made their first appearance in the scene of life endowed with peculiar instincts, but acquired them
by the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous slight, yet profitable, variations ’ (230). Thus the honey-bee was