Page images

ral selection." But how can one select if a thing be "isolated?" Even using the word in the sense of a confined area, Mr. Darwin admits that the conditions of life "throughout such area, will tend to modify all the individuals of a species in the same manner, in relation to the same conditions." (P. 104.) No evidence, however, is given of a species having ever been created in that way ; but granting the hypothetical influence and transmutation, there is no selection here. The author adds, " Although I do not doubt that isolation is of considerable importance in the production of new species, on the whole, I am inclined to believe, that largeness of area is of more importance in the production of species capable of spreading widely."—P. 105.

Now, on such a question as the origin of species, and in an express, formal, scientific treatise on the subject, the expression of a belief, where one looks for a demonstration, is simply provoking. We are not concerned in the author's beliefs or inclinations to believe. Belief is a state of mind short of actual knowledge. It is a state which may govern action, when based upon a tacit admission of the mind's incompetency to prove a proposition, coupled with submissive acceptance of an authoritative dogma, or worship of a favorite idol of the mind. We readily concede, and it needs, indeed, no ghost to reveal the fact, that the wider the area in which a species may be produced, the more widely it will spread. But we fail to discern its import in respect of the great question at issue.

We have read and studied with care most of the monographs conveying the results of close investigations of particular groups of animals but have not found what Darwin asserts to be the fact, at least as regards all those investigators of particular groups of animals and plants whoso treatises he has read, viz., that their authors "are, one and all, firmly convinced that each of the wellmarked forms or species was at the first independently created." Our experience has Icon that the monographers referred to have rarely committed themselves to any conjectural hypothesis whatever, upon the'origin of the species which they have closely studied.

Darwin appeals from the "experienced naturalists whose minds arc stocked with a multitude of facts" which he assumes to hare been "viewed from a point of view opposite to his own," to the "few naturalists endowed with much flexibility of mind," for a favorable reception of his hypothesis. We must confess that the minds' to whose conclusions we incline to bow belong to that truth-loving, truth-seeking, truth-imparting

class, which Robert Brown,* Bojanus,t Rudolphi, Cuvier.t Ehrenberg,§ Herold,|| Kb'lli

r,^[ and Siebold, worthily exemplify. The rightly and sagaciously generalizing intellect is associated with the power of endurance of continuous and laborious research, exemplarily manifested in such monographs as we have quoted below. Their authors are the men who trouble the intellectual world little with their beliefs, but enrich it greatly with theJr proofs. If close and long-continued research sustained by the determination to get accurate results, blunted, as Mr. Darwin seems to imply, the far-seeing discovering faculty, then are we driven to this paradox, viz., that the elucidation of the higher problems, nay the highest in biology, is to be sought for or expected in the lucubrations of those naturalists whose minds arc not weighted or troubled with more than a discursive and superficial knowledge of nature.

Lasting and fruitful conclusions have, indeed, hitherto been based only on the possession of knowledge; now we are called upon to accept an hypothesis on the plea of want of knowledge. The geological record, it is averred, is so imperfect! But what human record is not? Especially must the record of past organisms be much less perfect than of present ones. We freely admit it. But when Mr. Darwin, in reference to the absence of the intermediate fossil forms required by his hypothesis—and only the zob'tomical zoologist can approximatively appreciate their immense numbers — the countless hosts of transitional links which, on "natural selection," must certainly have existed at one period or another of the world's history—when Mr. Darwin exclaims what may be, or what may not be, the forms yet forthcoming out of the graveyards of strata, we would reply, that our only ground for prophesying of what may come, is by the analogy of what has come to light. We may expect, e.g., a chambered-sheil from a secondary rock; but not the evidence of a creature linking on the cuttle-fish to the lump-fish.

Mr. Darwin asks, "How is it that varieties, which I have called incipient species, become ultimately good and distinct species?" To which we rejoin with the question:—Do they become good and distinct species? Is there any one instance proved by observed,

* Prodromns Flortc Noyce Ilollandiai.

t Anatome Tcstudinis Kuropccre.

t Me'moires pour servir & 1'Anatomic des JIollusqucs.

$ Die Infusionsthierchen, als vollkommene Organismen.

|| Disquisitiones de Animalium vcrtebris careutium, etc.

•[ Entwickelungsgcschichto des Ccpbalopoden

:Vt< of wich transmutation? We have searched the volume in vain for such. When vre see the intervals that divide most species from their nearest congeners.'in the recent and especially the fossil series, we either doubt the fact of progressive conversion, or, aa Mr. Darwin remarks in his letter to .Dr. Asa Gray,* one's "imagination must fill up Tery wide blanks."

The last ichthyosaurus, by which the genus disappears in the chalk, is hardly distinguishable specifically from the first ichthyosaurus, which abruptly introduces that strange form of sen-lizard in the lias. The oldest Pterodactyle is as thorough and complete a one as the latest. No contrast can be more remarkable, nor, we believe, more instructive, than the abundance of evidence of the various species of ichthyosaurus throughout the manne strata of the oolitic and cretaceous periods, and the utter blank in reference to any form calculated to enlighten us as to whence the ichthyosaurus came, or what it graduated into, before or after those periods. The Enaliosauria of the secondary seas' were superseded by the Cetacea of the tertiary ones.

Professor Agassiz affirms:—

"Between two successive geological periods, changes have taken place among plants and animals. Bat none of these primordial forms of life which naturalists call species, are known to have changed during any of these periods. It cannot bo denied that the species of different successive periods are supposed by some naturalists to derive their distinguishing features from changes which have taken place in those of preceding ages, but this is a mere supposition, supported neither by physiological nor by geological evidence; and the assumption that animals and plants may change in a similar manner during one and the same period is equally gratuitous.''!

Cuvier adduced the evidence of the birds and beasts which had been preserved in the tombs of Egypt, to prove that no change in their specific characters had taken place during the thousands of years—two, three, or five—which had elapsed, according to the monumental evidence, since the individuals of those species were the subjects of the mummifier's skill.

Professor Agassiz adduces evidence to show that there are animals of species now living which have been for a much longer period inhabitants of our globe.

"It has been possible," he writes, " to trace the formation and growth of our coral reefs, cspc

* Proceedings of the Linnserm Society, 1868, p. 61.

t Contributions to Natural History: Essay on Classification, p. 61

cinllv in Florida, with sufficient precision to ascertain that it must take about eight thousand years for one of those coral walls to rise from its foundation to the level of the surface of the ocean. There are around the southernmost extremity of Florida alone, four such reefs, concentric with one another, which can l>e shown to have grown up one after the other. This (jives for the beginning of the first of these reefs an age of over thirty thousand years; and yet the corals l>y which they were all Imilt up arc the same identical species in all of them. These facts, then, furnish as direct evidence as we can obtain in any branch of physical inquiry, that some, at least, of the species of animals now existing, have been in existence over thirty thousand years, and have not undergone the slightest change during the whole of that period."*

To this, of course, the transmutationists reply that a still longer period of time might do what thirty thousand years have not done.

Professor Baden Powell, for example, affirms :—" Though each species may have possessed its peculiarities unchanged for a lapse of time, the fact that when long periods are considered, all those of our earlier period are replaced by new ones at a later period, proves that species change in the end, provided a sufficiently long time is granted." But here lies the fallacy: it merely proves that species are changed, it gives us no evidence as to the mode of change; transmutation, gradual or abrupt, is in this case mere assumption. We have no objection on any score to the change; we have the greatest desire to know how it is brought about. Owen has long stated his belief that some pre-ordained law or secondary cause is operative in bringing about the change; but our knowledge of such law, if such exists, can only be acquired on the prescribed terms. We, therefore, regard the painstaking and minute comparisons by Cuvier of the ostcological and every other character that could be tested in the mummified ibis, cat, or crocodile, with those of the species living in his time; and the equally philosophical investigations of the polypes operating at an interval of thirty thousand years in the building up of coral reefs, by the profound palaeontologist of Neuchatef, as of far higher value in reference to the inductive determination of the question of the origin of species than the speculations of Demaillet, Buftbn, Lamarck, "Vestiges," Baden Powell, or Darwin.

The essential clement in the complex idea of species, as it has been variously framed and defined by naturalists, vix., the bloodrelationship between all the individuals of such species, is annihilated on the hypothesis of "natural selection." According to * Ibid., p. 63.

this view a genus, a family, an order, a class, [ ture, and procreative phenomena, of the a sub-kingdom,—the individuals severally j truth of the opposite proposition, that "classrepresenting these grades of difference or | ification is the task of science, hut species relationship,—now differ from individuals of the work of nature," we believe that this

the same species only in degree: the species, like every other group, is a mere creature of the brain j it is no longer from nature. With the present evidence from form, struc

aphorism will endure; we are certain that it has not yet been refuted j and we repeat in the words of Linnwus, " Classis el Ordo est sapientue, Species natures opus."

An English Lady Of Rank As The Wife Of A Bedocin Chief.—" Hadji," the Syrian correspondent of the Boston Traveller, furnishes the following account of the freaks of an English lady of rank and beauty, who lias lately become tho wife of a Bedouin chief:—

"At tho hotel of Mr. Rarcy I found a most singular specimen of the English woman, who seems to emulate the character of tho famous and once powerful Lady Hester Stanhope. Known as Lady Digby, s'ho excites the mirth and ridicule of the natives, but as the wife of Sheikh Miguil—the Bedouin chief of Damascus —she wields a powerful influence among the Bedouins of the desert. Possessed of an ample fortune, Lady Ellenborough, once the favorite of tho court of St. James, after her full and divorce the wife of a Russian nobleman, and then of a Greek prince, established herself in Damascus a few years ngo. Here she prevailed upon a noted Bedouin chief to put away his wives und live with her. They spend their winters in town and their cummers in the desert, where she visits the old wives of the sheikh, taking with her many beautiful presents to appease their wrath and jealousy.

"She has frequently been seen in the desert, habited in the one loose robe of the children of the snndy waste, barefooted and bareheaded. In Damascus she wears the long white sheet, which covers her figure, but lives in good English style, still retaining the luxuries of civilized life and a French maid. Her constant attendance upon Protestant worship, when in town, gives travellers frequent opportunities of seeing her; and being a majestic woman in appearance, and still retaining traces of a wondrous beauty, f ho always excites attention and inquiry. I hear that sho has lately had her marriage with the sheikh legalized by the cadi of Damascus, and recorded by the British consulate.

"Her lord and master—for in this conntry a husband is most emphatically a 'lord of creation '—possesses nothing cither in face or figure to attract a woman of cultivated taste. Small in stature, darker than a mulatto, with small, piercing black eyes, and walking with tho swag

gering gait of the Bedouin, ho disappoints every one who sees him ; for one would naturally expect to see something in the appearance of the man which would account for this singular freak of an English lady of rank and fortune in choosing for herself a husband from among tho rude sons of the desert. But such expectations are far from being met at sight of this most inferior specimen of tho Bedouin race. This interesting couple are now on their way for Europe, where Lady Digby hopes to educate and civilize her tawny spouse."

Hit. CnuRCrt evinces almost as much invention in bestowing names upon his pictures as he does in painting them. "Twilight in tho Wilderness, the title of his new landscape is almost as good a name as " The Heart of the Andes ;" and there arc many who think the new picture is the better one of the two. It has, without a doubt, more poetical feeling and unity of design, and, in certain parts, has never been excelled by any of his previous performances. Now, that he has finished this picture, he will probably go to work upon his studies of icebergs, which he brought from Newfoundland lust year, and give us a composition of ocean grandeurs worthy of a companionship with his Niagara, his Heart of the Andes, and his Twilight in tho Wilderness. —Tribune.

Clergymen who wish to know how to advise, manage, or direct certain worldly, discordant and troublesome members, may rind it worth while to have the heads of such examined, their true characters thoroughly delineated and laid open to view, by which they may bo the better enabled to govern themselves, and to make less trouble. Professor Fowler, 308 Broadway, gives his exclusive attention to practical phrenology. Clergymen are invited to call.

A Fragment of his dearly bought experience is given incidentally by Mr. Sala, in his last paper on " Hogarth," where he relates how " an early patron " once pressed him to write "a good poem" — "in the Byron style," you "know," and offered him a guinea for it down.

From Chambers's Journal.

In the month of May, 1859, a South Australian fisherman saw a bottle washed on shore near the mouth of the river Murray. Ho picked it up, and found it quite incrusted with small shells. On opening the bottle, a piece of paper appeared, on which a few words were written, to the effect that the writer was on board a ship coming from Liverpool; that on the 4th of May, 1857, the ship was near the CapedeVerd Islands; that the paper, enclosed in a bottle, was about to be cast into the sea; and that the finder of the paper, whoever he might be, was requested to send it to the writer's brother at Sheffield.

Let us make the singular voyage of this paper the text for a brief discourse.

That light, solid bodies, floating on the surface of the ocean, will move hither and thither by the action of ebb and flood tide, we all know; that a strong wind will have the same effect, irrespective of tide, we also know; and sailors know, if landsmen do not, that there are moving currents in the ocean independent both of winds and tides. But it is not known, until after long-continued and carefully made observations, what is the average amount and direction of movement at any particular place. In all probability, he was no very profound philosopher who first conceived the idea of testing this matter by watching floating bodies on the surface of the water ; it was rather the manner of realizing the idea, than the idea itself, that deserves notice. A glass bottle, or a metal vessel shaped like a bottle, will sink in water if left open, because the specific gravity of glass and metal is greater than that of water; but if the bottle be securely corked and sealed, it will float, on account of the interior being filled with air instead of water. Let us suppose that a passenger, on the way to Australia, throws such a bottle overboard: unless it strikes against a rock, it may float about for a long period of time. Dut how is the thrower ever to know ■whither the bottle will float, or on what shore it may be thrown ?" Well," says some in

fenious individual, whose name has not been anded down to posterity, "let us write a few words on a piece of paper, requesting the finder of the bottle to send the paper to some particular address." The right plan is bit upon. If the finder be good-natured enough to respond to the appeal, and, moreover, make a record of the when and the ■where of the finding, he may render it certain that the bottle has performed a long and curious voyage, although the details of the Toynge are yet unknown. Thus the Australian fisherman picked up a bottle which

had for two years been knocking about the ocean, and must, under any circumstances, have travelled many thousand miles, let its course have been what it might.

Seventeen years ago, it occurred to Commander Becher that the Nautical Magazine might be made the vehicle for a systematic record of these interesting bottle-voyages. For a period of thirty or forty years previously, the newspapers had occasional paragraphs to the effect that a bottle had been "picked up," containing such and such items of information; and the question arose, whether these records, collected and tabulated, might not in time give useful information concerning the currents, tides, and winds of the ocean. Each record, it is true, is subject to possible calamities, numerous and varied. If the bottle be not well corked and sealed, water will enter, and bottle and paper will go to the bottom. If it strikes against a rock, its fate is equally disastrous. If it floats to some shore, it may be at a 6pot where it escapes human observation for a year or more, or even forever. If it be really picked up and opened, the contents may be unreadable by the finder; or he may not care about it; or he may be too poor or too ignorant to forward the paper to the required destination. Any one of these contingencies may happen. Still, good may result from a collecting of those papers which do come safely to hand, even if they bo only one in a hundred. So Commander Becher thought, and he carried out his plan in an ingenious manner. In order to keep his plan within practicable limits at first, he confined his attention to a portion of the Atlantic Ocean. He laid down a chart on Mcrcator's projection, extending from six degrees south latitude to sixty-three degrees north latitude; and from the coasts of Europe and Africa on the east, to those of North and South America on the west. This chart he caused to be engraved to the size of about eighteen inches by twelve. On it he laid down a sort of history of every bottle-voyage of which authentic information had come to hand. He made a black spot to denote the place of the ship when the bottle was thrown into the sea; another spot to denote the place where the bottle was picked up; and a straight line connecting the two. He would ot course have preferred to trace the crooked route— often, doubtless, a very crooked route—which the bottle had really followed; but this was precisely the kind of knowledge which he did not possess, and which, indeed, was the very problem to be ultimately solved. One hundred and nineteen bottles had their voyages and travels put into print in this way. Very curious it is to see the lines of route as thus marked out. Some—let the actual course have been what they may—display a tendency from cast to west j others as decided a leaning from west to east; and each is a member of a group pretty constant in its travelling characteristics. For instance, most of those which were thrown into the sea near the north-west coast of Africa were, if found at all, discovered on the shores of some or other among the West India Islands. If set afloat anywhere on the route between England and New York, they have a tendency to effect a landing about the Scilly Islands, or on the Cornwall or Devon coasts. If our arctic explorers launched a bottle when about to enter the stormy seas of Greenland, there was a fair chance that it would land somewhere on the Orkneys or the Hebrides; on the other hand, some of the bottles appear to have made most eccentric voyages; and it was evident that much had yet to be learned before the varying effects of currents, tides, and winds could be known.

This bottle-chart attracted a good deal of attention among nautical men. It was rendered more useful by several pages of appended text, giving the chief particulars of each bottle-voyage—such as the name of the ship, the signature of the person who cast the bottle into the sea, the date, the latitude and longitude, the place where, and the time when, the bottle was picked up, and the interval which had elapsed between the immersion and the finding of the bottle. A correspondence which followed the publication of the chart rendered evident the fact, that large numbers of these erratic bottles are always floating about, having a much greater chance of being lost altogether than of ever coming to hand. A surgeon on board an Indiamen stated that he threw bottles overboard every day during the voyage, each bottle containing a paper with a memorandum such as those above averted to; so far as he knew, very few of those bottles reached the hands of persons who, took any further interest in the matter. Sometimes the bottle, or its paper, had much to go through before the wishes of the writer could be fulfilled. In one instance, the commander of the Chanticleer threw a bottle overboard in the Atlantic; it was picked up by a peasant on the coast of Spain four months afterwards j he kept it two months, not knowing what to make of the matter; it passed into the hands of a more intelligent Spaniard, who sent it to the British consul at Corunna, by whom it was forwarded to the secretary of the admiralty. Sometimes the object of the writer was evidently a useful one—that of contributing his mite towards a history of the winds and waves; while others displayed mere vanity and waggery, the paper being

filled with odd scraps of verses and jokes. If there was a request that the paper should be sent to the admiralty, foreign officials displayed readiness in complying with the request j and even if the parties concerned were only moving in private life, the same thing was often courteously done. Thus, a bottle was picked up on the French coast, near Bayonne, which had been thrown into the sea nine months before by a passenger on board the merchant-ship Lady Louisa. The writing within directed that the paper should be sent to the passenger's brother, to a particular address at Woolwich; and after passing through many hands, the paper was transmitted by the minister of marine as directed.

The Nautical Magazine became a recognized treasury for narratives of these bottlevoyages j and the number increased so fast, that Commander Becher deemed it desirable to revise in 1852 the chart which he had prepared in 1843. He added sixty-two to the former number, and rendered his chart a much more fulljr occupied piece of paper than before. Again did the contributions accumulate, and again was the engraver set to work i for in 1856, Commander (now Captain) Becher caused a third edition of the chart to be prepared. A Mediterranean, series was also commenced in 1853, and beginnings have been made for an Indian and Pacific series j but for a long time to come the Atlantic will be the chief scene of bottlevoyaging, owing to the large number of ships that are always crossing it.

Some of these bottles make very long voyages, and, considering the circumstance, often in a short space of time, though in other cases the period has extended over several years. As we have already remarked, however, both time and space are left very vaguely determined, for there is a great doubt whether the bottle will be picked up just when it has concluded its voyage; while the route followed is in almost every instance much longer than a straight line between the two points. So far as concerns the measured distance in a straight line, we find instances of 690 miles, 2,020 miles, 2,260 miles, 3,600 miles, and 3,900 miles. The bottle found on the Australian coast in 1859, adverted to in our opening paragraph, must have made a voyage of very many thousand miles, for the editor of the Nautical Magazine, judging from the known directions of currents, inferred that it had been carried from the Cape de Verd Islands eastward or south-east by the Guinea current, then westward by the equatorial current, then along the American coast by the Brazilian current, then across the South Atlantic eastward towards the Cape of Good Hope, and then across a wide

« PreviousContinue »