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This again is proof of their object, to adhere to the correct hexagonal pattern and the rhomboidal base. The plan is imprinted in their minds, so to speak ; the pattern is in mysterious vision before them, and they build according to the plan they have received, by a necessity of their nature.
This is their instinct, and it is as admirable as it is inexplicable.
These remarks should not be closed without noticing that though Mr Darwin makes the bees execute a very hard problem, and for a direct purpose, to secure the greatest economy of wax, he neither allows this to be the result of an instinct, nor will he permit it to be a design or intention of the bees themselves. In what quarter then is the motive or the calculation ? It is, as usual, with the great Pan, Natural Selection, the true Antitheos of the author's system. The bees, of course, no more know that they swept their spheres (imaginary, be it observed) at one particular distance from each other, than they know what are the several angles of the hexagonal prisms and of the basal rhombic plates. The motive-power of the process of Natural Selection (sequence of events) having been economy of wax, together with cells of due strength, and of the proper size and shape for the larvæ ; that individual swarm which made the best cells, and wasted least honey in the secretion of wax, having succeeded best, and having transmitted by inheritance their newly-acquired econonomical instincts to new swarms, these in their turn will have had the best chance of succeeding in the struggle for existence.
'Beyond this stage of perfection in architecture, Natural Selection could not lead; for the comb of the hive-bee, as far as we can see, is absolutely perfect in economizing wax? Natural Selection, therefore-a perfect geometrician-led the bees to adopt a perfect design of architectural skill. Doubtless, long before the Silurian era, Sequence of Events was Senior Wrangler in the year that the primal Spore took its degree.
But is all this really written in earnest ? and is the author not trifling with us? Does he soberly and seriously mean us to believe this fantastic fable? A swarm starting with a new batch of instincts ! A queen, producing, some day, twenty thousand eggs issuing in bees inclined to strike imaginary spheres! and then the new pirouette breed sus. tained by queens with the new faculty to produce the new instincts! and thus at last economy triumphing over all obstacles.
Certain it is, that if Natural Selection can lead to the striking of imaginary spheres, it can also lead learned men to strike out into the wildest freaks of imagination that ever yet were heard of.
But on what facts is based this theory of the struggle for existence ? who or what struggles for life with the bees? Each bee, of each variety, gets on very well in its line of life : the Mellipona does not fail, and as far as we know, wants nothing; and the Humble-bee, the constructor of rude cells, and of rough unsymmetrical architecture, prospers everywhere, as we have an opportunity of observing ; why then was it requisite to concoct the new order of architects? If the old varietes were well to do in the world, where was this struggle for their existence; where was the need to introduce any improvement in order to enable them to live and to surmount the obstacles to their existence ?
This struggle for existence, which the author has in
formed us, is to be taken in a large metaphorical sense, is in fact a mere jingle of words; it comes in to round the paragraphs and to help its brother metaphor, Natural Selection, in any of its great achievements. Twin brothers they are, of one family and one disposition.
Arcades ambo, Et cantare pares, et respondere parati. How wise, then, after these portentous speculations, appear the words of a great philosopher !
The main business of natural philosophy is to argue from phenomena without feigning hypotheses, and to deduce causes from effects, till we come to the First Cause, which is certainly not mechanical.'--(Newton.)
THE TRANSMUTATION SCHOOL.
The attempt has frequently been made to describe or explain the origin of life on our globe, but in every instance the result has been a signal failure. In nature's first labours no midwife was present, and they who could per. suade us that they know the mysteries of her secret chamber, are all sooner or later detected as vain pretenders. History has here no information to give us; science can afford us no help; but rather, by enlarging our knowledge of the complexities of organization, and the multiplicity of their relations, increase our astonishment at the vastness of the subjects which have to be explained. We can only hope to describe things as they actually are, and to interpret their design ; and in doing this, scrupulously and faithfully, we shall always have our hands full ; but if we would go on to explain by what method and by what particular adaptations of matter animated beings were first endowed with form and life, we descend to the low level of the charlatan, and return to the obsolete pretensions of the alchemist and magician. Whenever the attempt is seriously made, we perceive that it is mainly by the instrumentality of verbal inaccuracies, by the free use of expressions of a large and indefinite meaning, by analogical and metaphori
cal appliances to establish facts, by bold inventions of phenomena which have no existence in nature, and by frequently taking for granted the proposition to be proved..
These are the expedients of the modern school ; but in remoter days the exposition was by mythos, presented as a sacred tradition for the acceptance of faith, and not meant as a physiological system for examination and approbation.
One of the most ancient and most popular theories taught that all creatures were formed out of the earth, by itself, and that in dying they returned to their parent, as is well expressed in a verse of Lucretius.
Omniparens eadem rerum commune sepulchrum. The Epicureans spoke as if they thought that the earth had originally created animals ; Lucretius, the interpreter of that school, says of the earth that it has grown effete, and that she who first created all races, and gave forth the great beasts, now scarcely creates very little animals.
Jamque adeo fracta est ætas, effoetaque Tellus
Sæcla, deditque ferarum ingentia corpora partu (ii. 1150). He also attributes to the earth the creation of the human race, and says that all terrestrial animals, as well as the birds, owe their birth to her, who therefore justly receives the title * of mother.
In the infancy of knowledge this opinion could scarcely be avoided : the earth seems to produce all trees and plants, and some animals also ; moreover, as no other solid substance but the earth seemed at hand, out of which solid
Quare etiam atque etiam maternum nomen adepta