Page images
PDF
EPUB

before the change, so requisite for their new character in the drama of life, was fully accomplished ? How did the once thick-legged and slow animals, the pre-gazelles and the pre-antelopes, continue to escape the carnivorous animals, all the time that their legs were lengthening and refining, and their powers of speed accumulating? And how did the progenitors of the giraffe ward off starvation, in deserts without herbage, before their necks and tongues and front legs were prolonged to enable them to reach the foliage of the trees? and so on in every other case. These questions of course would be quite as puzzling if applied to the Darwinian system, and perhaps more so, as Mr Darwin demands an immensity of time for his mutations. His dogs, with slightly plastic limbs,' improving in the lapse of thousands of ages to enable them to catch hares, when all other food had failed them, would, it is to be feared, have long ago joined the people of dreams,' before the day of their improvement dawned on them.

The pictures of Lamarck's otter acquiring web-feet and an amphibious existence by frequenting the sides of streams in search of its prey, immediately suggests the more mag. nificent transformation of the bear into the whale. Lamarck's otter must surely have been first cousin to Darwin's bear.

When two great wizards, like Jannes and Jambres, descend to the water-side for the exercise of their art, there is no limit to the wonderful achievements which they may accomplish with their transforming rods.

After this the theory of Transmutation seems to have been dormant, at least in this country, till an anonymous author published “The Vestiges of the Natural Ilistory of Creation. The date of the fifth edition of this work now

before me is 1845, the first edition was probably published two or three years earlier. It met with great success, soon became a popular book, and is still enjoying a measure of popularity. This is to be attributed in part to the pleasant style of its composition, and to the lucid and intelligible tone of the statements it contains. It is an easy book to read, and the novelty of its subject made it an entertaining one. The scientific world is disposed to speak slightingly of the work as deficient in information, but the author does not seem to put forth the pretensions of a man of science, and he offers his statement simply as the result of his reading—he gathers from other writers his materials, and proposes his deductions on them with simplicity and modesty. There may be mistakes in the statements, or a deficiency of knowledge may here and there betray itself, but on the whole the book may be considered the least offensive of any that have yet appeared to advocate the theory of Transmutation.

It may be interesting to see the opinion of this author on Lamarck's system, as showing the disagreement amongst the advocates of the same cause. The author of the Vestiges, in making the following strictures, explains, in measure, his own views : ‘Early in this century, M. Lamarck, a naturalist of the highest character, suggested a hypothesis of organic progress which has incurred much ridicule, and scarcely ever had a single defender. He surmised, and endeavoured, with a great deal of ingenuity, to prove, that one being advanced in the course of generations to another, in consequence merely of its experience of wants calling for the exercise of its faculties in a particular direction, by which exercise new developments of organs took place, ending in variations sufficient to constitute a species.

cer

li

It is hardly necessary to remark how inadequate does the view of Lamarck appear to account for the rise of the organic kingdoms. If he had suggested a law of development for advancing the fundamental or internal organization in a succession of stages, like those of the individual ovum of the highest animal, and pointed to some abnormal and not yet understood tendency in organic beings to give rise, through the medium of generation, to modifications of external structure fitting the progeny for new conditions ; and if, to these ideas, he had added a more explicit acknow. ledgment of the whole being the evolution of a divine will, which was present in it all, he would, in my opinion, have come much nearer to fact, and obtained more patient hearing from mankind' (241).

The author of the Vestiges tells us that at first the earth presented only seas and sea-animals. Afterwards shores were formed, and animals fitted for living in such a field were produced by an advance of development from certain of the marine tribes. In time there was dry land and vegetation, and then the shore-animals gave birth to families fitted for that superior theatre of existence (258).

There is much reason to believe that 'certain large and important mammals, if not the whale,' have proceeded directly from the reptiles (263). The marine Saurians were progenitors of aquatic mammalia, whales, &c. (267). Elephants were derived from herbaceous cetacea (267). Birds sprung from fishes (263). The rhinoceros was the progenitor of the hog, and the horse was fined down from the elephant (a startling pedigree for the Racing Calendar). “In the prehensile upper lip of the horse we see the last relic of the proboscis of the elephant and tapir ; the clumping of the extremities into one shield or hoof, serving to

ani

support the body of the animal in soft, dry soil, sufficiently shows what kind of habitat determined the production of this interesting and useful genus' (269).

The walrus or morse furnished the origin to ruminating animals (269), and the family of bears (Ursidæ) came from the seals (271).

Man's parentage is not directly stated, but suggested, apparently in a hint : 'Last of all issued from the woods a being erect, majestic, and with many traits of external grace and beauty, to overspread the whole earth with his race,' &c., &c. (274).

As the system requires a parentage from an antecedent form for every 'newly-developed ’ life, we cannot suppose that the majestic creature' is exempt from the general rule, and we must therefore understand that when man 'issued from the woods' he had been there for ages with his progenitors—the Gorilla, the Oran-Otang or Chimpanzee, that he had gradually got rid of the lower pair of hands, that his legs and muscles had been developed’into those of the human form, that his foot and heel had become adapted for walking, that his face and brain had mightily improved, that he had acquired the power of speech; and endowed now with a conscience and imagination, and with a capacity for the abstract sciences, was able to produce from his Species a Homer, a Milton, a Newton, or a Laplace.

Such in a few words is this system. The origin of all life is to be traced to the waters; water is the general parent-åportov pièv bòwg. The great trunk of animality,' says the author, ‘lies in the ocean, up even to the mammalia.' A curious contradiction of the old creed which made earth “the great trunk of animality.'

is Silaha ise.JOL Fase be wus writti tunarullinill rochilinde') %a in bijna a le ;** .: i'm I puppient' — Isu nor

al. illud nt. Thierstund, endency i rolne enos" wi rst int riest. ienes suncet 1992 he ***. Sepse i sports brumeur, I r e ny ipertire creatures & ateism Tensi -captcd [Ticture.' 1.*Foto 1274.

21-22 lecarile. Ta ser+unnent its in two i pactar o Usuar tums var1:107 L umenat:.. 'et is surrose Daltir wel * 1 101 or in niiete perici. Täh d TOW] 8-17 PPK , I Folii tai isje in 10:11 Tould act are become bore Ike in tenant .n its innstitution an vipa i vas nir ilin 1. Do ter neinum*'v

***.18 nant, he spai 2017 f te laat vari iet #15 e est

n e ces. There are 1.109 Iub eel ‘U *** atmn 1€ Icetin - "1427th ovat aina Lie? "erm o s a 0 e 'De •11•11s 10 ot tul riu 6 De 0. Die t r the 11owing sentence ntesor? Weltuine selectie 'D.rar mit e Categy of their ment renemutata. Decause. Der Himmer imi 1> Atroca or wting Distances of 101 ! 1DO T - 17 of

Vype 831.. Vo see her what he se n ten leipment; it is in gin Barish ansnilin. ii Lils Vern IstItet of it t áp

val. in oil Jaana viere 1 ius dica ununuy i iisapdeur.

Tie irminal wd te meaning of terzionment' s le lisen nra; fram umetung hat nous, uni muence the Ixoenre of medies 5 ; Tindt detinerius in arrench exposition it erns

o fortement natural les orelites, mies, ju rzzerises, les veze tank dog oponya orqaning an inortinlunes vie brun, ies rocier de 1,19m 131-même, periaiement cunsulere fans es etres vivino. B y : Lomme croit en hanteur usqu i reize ju fis-huit ans, et paranelint, le développement enrier te toutes les parties te $ca corps en grusganggo na achieve it a trente ans.

In Avary inanca where the worl is legitimately use, it means ao:mantation, axtension, or inaprovement of something already existing. It naugh you the meaning of Transmatation.

Bartalmi roses it in this passage in the strict sense : Je peose, que de tampa at Pampa, pentaétre même à chaque génération, la Dature répand #vyp im tarian tertaifu portobre de talents qui restent ensevelis, lors de rien Trh p rila les pelupper.'

« PreviousContinue »