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varietdered only degreded from one pareneath the
illustrations; yet it is only by bringing the principle to some such practical test as this that its truth or probability can be recognized. It sounds at first plausible enough to say that profitable variations will naturally tend to the preservation of individuals ; but when we put it to the test, and see that it is theoretically improbable, and that there is a total lack of direct evidence that such has ever been the case, we are disposed to look upon it as more sound than sense.
E.rtent and Bearing of the Theory.—More cautious than Lamarek, Mr. Darwin does not dwell minutely upon either the beginning or the probable termination of organic life. We are chiefly left to infer that his original organic germ can be no other than Lamarck's gelatinous homogeneous spherule; and that man was developed from something analogous to an ape, and may be further perfected by the same process of development. In the earlier chapters we only hear of species becoming varieties and other species; and the author dwells mostly upon the nondistinction between specific differences and those which constitute varieties. As we progress we find that generic differences are considered only degrees of the same variation; then that all Vertebrata are descended from one parent, the type of which we shall in vain look for “until beds far beneath the lowest Silurian strata are discovered-a discovery of which the chance is very small."* It is only, however, in the concluding chapter that we find a full confession of belief.
“ It may be asked how far I extend the doctrine of the modification of species. The question is difficult to answer, because the more distinct the forms are which we consider, by so much the arguments fall away in force. But some arguments of the greatest weight extend very far. All the members of whole classes can be connected together by chains of affinities, and all can be classified on the same principle, in groups subordinate to groups. Fossil remains sometimes tend to fill up very wide intervals between existing orders. . . . . Therefore, I cannot doubt that the theory of descent with modification embraces all the members of the same class. I believe that animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number.
“ Analogy would lead me one step further, namely, to the belief that all animals and plants have descended from some one prototype. . . . . I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed by the Creator."'+
• Chap. I, p. 338, and see note by Sir R. Murchison, infri.
cludin from the is said to
As nothing is said to suggest the idea that man differs in anywise from the other “organic beings,” we are justified in concluding that his origin was from this same primordial form. This conclusion is still further confirmed by the enumeration of the many advantages to be derived from this view in natural history and psychology. After speaking of the simplification of system that will attend the reception of the development theory, and the far grander views of nature and creation that will accrue, Mr. Darwin continues :
“ The whole history of the world, as at present known, although of a length quite incomprehensible by us, will hereafter be recognised as a mere fragment of time, compared with the ages which have elapsed since the first creature, the progenitor of innumerable extinct and living descendants, was created.
"In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man* and his history. . . . .
... “As all the living forms of life are the lineal descendants of those which lived long before the Silurian epoch, we may feel certain that the ordinary succession by generation has never once been broken, and that no cataclysm has desolated the whole world. Hence we may look with some confidence to a secure future of equally inappreciable length. And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.”+
And what of our aspirations after a glorious immortality ? What of that wondrous scheme of redemption which the ancient
• In reference to the history of man, we take this opportunity of alluding to a work recently published, called “Pre-Adamite Man," and professing to be “the Story of our old Planet and its Luhabitants, told by Scripture and Science." The theory contained in it is, that the creation of man, as described in the first chapter of Genesis, is quite distinct from that in the second, and alludes to a pre-Adamite race that lived for long ages, and disappeared before Adam was created. These became the angels ; and some of them the fallen ones, which accounts for our finding no traces of their existence.
The book is well and pleasantly written; but it is very much to be regretted that very good, but non-scientific men, will join in a controversy which, if fought at all, must be fought by combatants with no flaw in their armour. A weak man, overthrown in however good a cause, does but injure the principle for which he fights. We cannot but respect the good and pious spirit in which this little book is written (with due allowance for the strange theory); but when we are told (p. 59) that water sufficiently heated separates into its component gases, oxygen and hydrogen, which again unite on cooling to form water, and that no fishes are found in any but the uppermost of the Silurian strata, with many other facts equally authentic, we cannot but deplore the weakness of the arguments that are but too frequently pressed into the service of reconciling Scripture and science.
† Chap. xiv., p. 489.
seers dimly foretold, gazing with rapt wonder into the profound obscure of the future, whence to them the star of Bethlehem was beginning to gleam ? What connection have these with a development theory? Dreams all-figments of a philosophic brain inventions of priestcraft! What room is there for these in a theory of development ? Immortality! How can we be immortal ? Our fathers, where are they? From the monad to our immediate monkey-parent, were they immortal ? And if not, what claim have we to such an endowment, save by a special interposition of Divine will and power? And it is the very essence of the development hypothesis to account for all phenomena without such special interposition ; all must be due to “ secondary causes."'* No, we shall live again it is true, but how different our life will be from that “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” to which we have been vainly and ignorantly aspiring. Our race shall be perfecting itself by its own powers and faculties, but we shall have no conscious part in it. Our course is run when the grim tyrant has visited us. Of mucus and infusoria we were made, and unto mucus and infusoria we shall return, to run again through the vast cycle of monad, worm, mollusc, &c., up to—where? Redemption! All honour to man rather, he requires no redemption,-he has never fallen. He has ceased climbing trees, and has expelled his former brethren into the wilderness; he has dispensed with his tail ; he has invented speech, and looms and railroads, and development hypotheses; he has had no time to fall; no leisure he to be redeemed." His own powers and the accidents of nature are all in all.
We are ready to grant that this is not argument; and that the hopes and faith of the Christian have no weight, no place even, in any development discussion. But we indicate the ahsolute incompatibility of this hypothesis with any faith in revelation, in order to guard the unwary against the specious fallacies of those who consider that “it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws.”+ As noble a conception it may be; indeed, we can see that more skill and ingenuity (not to speak irreverently) might be imagined necessary to create a germ, which after thousands of transformations and inillions of ages, should develop itself into so wondrous a mechanism as man, than to create man originally and independently. But this being, as we conceive, utterly at variance with His revealed word, and
excluding all possibility of that highest object of man's aspiration, immortality, it behoves us carefully to inquire into the evidences for such a view, before accepting it, and so virtually renouncing our most cherished hopes.
We have already intimated that Mr. Darwin is not always coherent in his reasoning, and accepts statements that are favourable to his views rather too hastily, and on unsatisfactory authority. One or two examples of this we must give, before proceeding systematically to state our objections to the theory. We have already pointed out the error of the argument founded on Mr. Horner's researches ; a little further on we find him referring with approval to Lepsius, whose authority has been discredited for long. The statement at p. 36 as to the inhabitants of Terra del Fuego eating their old women is extremely doubtful, to say the least, and not supported by any ethnological authority to which we have been able to refer. All these, however, may be matters of opinion, and admit of contest; but what can we think of the following statement at p. 64 ? “Even slow-breeding man has doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing-room for his progeny." True, were the fact so; but what does it mean? If it be intended to imply that one family has doubled its numbers in twenty-five years, it is simply an unmeaning fact ;-if that a colony has done so, it is equally unmeaning, and short of the truth. If it apply to a country, it is eminently inaccurate; England as an established country, increases probably faster than any other, and it required the fifty years from 1801 to 1851 to double its population. Again, if the statement be applied to man in general throughout the world, it is so utterly without foundation, as to require no refutation. Thus, in whatever aspect it be received, the statement is either unmeaning or grossly inaccurate.
As instances how facts and opinions may rapidly change their significance in accordance with the varying exigencies of the hypothesis, we select the following out of a great number of similar instances. At p. 109, we find it stated that “from the high geometrical ratio of increase of all organic beings, each area is already fully stocked with inhabitants, &c.;" but on the next page it is said that “probably no region is as yet fully stocked.”'* At p. 110 it is stated that “it is the most closely allied forms varieties of the same species, and species of the same genus, or related genera—which, from having nearly the same structure,
• Perhaps there may be a reference in one case to individuals, and in the other to species; but on this view the line of argument is obscure.
constitution, and habits, generally come into the severest competition with each other." Here we seem to have arrived at a general principle ; but at p. 114, another view requires support incompatible with this, and we are told that “the advantages of diversification of structure, with the accompanying differences of habit and constitution, determine that the inhabitants which thus jostle each other most closely, shall, as a general rule, belong to what we call different genera and orders.” And at p. 121 (all these occurring in the same chapter, and in different parts of the same argument) we find again that the struggle “ will be most severe between those forms which are most nearly related to each other in habits, constitution, and structure.”
Another series of discrepancies equally marked, though not so readily appreciable without much detail, occurs in the statements with regard to the comparative duration of fossil species and the strata in which they occur. According as it is requisite to prove one view or other, the formation is supposed to be of shorter, of identical, or of vastly longer duration than the species. At p. 293, it is said that “although each formation may mark a very long lapse of years, each, perhaps, is short, compared with the period requisite to change one species into another;" and yet, at p. 298, we find “parent species and modified descendants" existing in the “ upper and lower beds of a formation ;" and at p. 301, it is again doubted whether the period requisite for the deposit of one formation “would exceed the average duration of the same specific forms." These discrepancies may appear trifling to some; but they occur in, and seriously affect the stability of, the very heart and core of the geological argument.
There is no principle more frequently and distinctly enunciated in this work than that natural selection can only act by preserving variations of a minute character, which will enable ther possessor to contend more vigorously in the struggle for life. A: p. 205, natural selection is defined—“a power which acts solely by the preservation of profitable variations in the struggle for life;" and at p. 149, it is remarked that "it should never be forgotten that natural selection can act on each part of each being, solely through and for its advantage." By the terms of the hypothesis also natural selection is the sole means whereby species, genera, orders, &c., are formed. When we find, therefore, a species naturally selected because of the possession of a certain organ, we are perhaps justified in feeling some surprise that a closely allied species should have been selected, because of the absence of that organ. Yet such is the flexibility of this theory, that facts of this order only seem to strengthen it to the mind of its author. For instance, in Madeira there are various