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- Darwiniana - 4/52 -

respects of animals otherwise entirely different, but living within the same geographical area . . . the connection by series of special structures observed in animals widely scattered over the surface of the globe . . . the definite relations in which animals stand to the surrounding world, . . . the relations in which individuals of the same species stand to one another . . . the limitation of the range of changes which animals undergo during their growth . . . the return to a definite norm of animals which multiply in various ways . . . the order of succession of the different types of animals and plants characteristic of the different geological epochs, . . . the localization of some types of animals upon the same points of the surface of the globe during several successive geological periods . . . the parallelism between the order of succession of animals and plants in geological times, and the gradation among their living representatives . . . the parallelism between the order of succession of animals in geological times and the changes their living representatives undergo during their embryological growth, [I-5] . . . the combination in many extinct types of characters which in later ages appear disconnected in different types, . . . the parallelism between the gradation among animals and the changes they undergo during their growth, . . . the relations existing between these different series and the geographical distribution of animals, . . . the connection of all the known features of Nature into one system--"

In a word, the whole relations of animals, etc., to surrounding Nature and to each other, are regarded under the one view as ultimate facts, or in the ultimate aspect, and interpreted theologically; under the other as complex facts, to be analyzed and interpreted scientifically. The one naturalist, perhaps too largely assuming the scientifically unexplained to be inexplicable, views the phenomena only in their supposed relation to the Divine mind. The other, naturally expecting many of these phenomena to be resolvable under investigation, views them in their relations to one another, and endeavors to explain them as far as he can (and perhaps farther) through natural causes.

But does the one really exclude the other? Does the investigation of physical causes stand opposed to the theological view and the study of the harmonies between mind and Nature? More than this, is it not most presumable that an intellectual conception realized in Nature would be realized through natural agencies? Mr. Agassiz answers these questions affirmatively when he declares that "the task of science is to investigate what has been done, to inquire if possible how it has been done, rather than to ask what is possible for the Deity, since we can know that only by what actually exists;" and also when he extends the argument for the intervention in Nature of a creative mind to its legitimate application in the inorganic world; which, he remarks, "considered in the same light, would not fail also to exhibit unexpected evidence of thought, in the character of the laws regulating the chemical combinations, the action of physical forces, etc., etc." [I-6] Mr. Agassiz, however, pronounces that "the connection between the facts is only intellectual"--an opinion which the analogy of the inorganic world, just referred to, does not confirm, for there a material connection between the facts is justly held to be consistent with an intellectual--and which the most analogous cases we can think of in the organic world do not favor; for there is a material connection between the grub, the pupa, and the butterfly, between the tadpole and the frog, or, still better, between those distinct animals which succeed each other in alternate and very dissimilar generations. So that mere analogy might rather suggest a natural connection than the contrary; and the contrary cannot be demonstrated until the possibilities of Nature under the Deity are fathomed.

But, the intellectual connection being undoubted, Mr. Agassiz properly refers the whole to "the agency of Intellect as its first cause." In doing so, however, he is not supposed to be offering a scientific explanation of the phenomena. Evidently he is considering only the ultimate why, not the proximate why or how.

Now the latter is just what Mr. Darwin is considering. He conceives of a physical connection between allied species; but we suppose he does not deny their intellectual connection, as related to a supreme intelligence. Certainly we see no reason why he should, and many reasons why he should not, Indeed, as we contemplate the actual direction of investigation and speculation in the physical and natural sciences, we dimly apprehend a probable synthesis of these divergent theories, and in it the ground for a strong stand against mere naturalism. Even if the doctrine of the origin of species through natural selection should prevail in our day, we shall not despair; being confident that the genius of an Agassiz will be found equal to the work of constructing, upon the mental and material foundations combined, a theory of Nature as theistic and as scientific as that which he has so eloquently expounded.

To conceive the possibility of "the descent of species from species by insensibly fine gradations" during a long course of time, and to demonstrate its compatibility with a strictly theistic view of the universe, is one thing; to substantiate the theory itself or show its likelihood is quite another thing. This brings us to consider what Darwin's theory actually is, and how he supports it.

That the existing kinds of animals and plants, or many of them, may be derived from other and earlier kinds, in the lapse of time, is by no means a novel proposition. Not to speak of ancient speculations of the sort, it is the well-known Lamarckian theory. The first difficulty which such theories meet with is that in the present age, with all its own and its inherited prejudgments, the whole burden of proof is naturally, and indeed properly, laid upon the shoulders of the propounders; and thus far the burden has been more than they could bear. From the very nature of the case, substantive proof of specific creation is not attainable; but that of derivation or transmutation of species may be. He who affirms the latter view is bound to do one or both of two things: 1. Either to assign real and adequate causes, the natural or necessary result of which must be to produce the present diversity of species and their actual relations; or, 2. To show the general conformity of the whole body of facts to such assumption, and also to adduce instances explicable by it and inexplicable by the received view, so perhaps winning our assent to the doctrine, through its competency to harmonize all the facts, even though the cause of the assumed variation remain as occult as that of the transformation of tadpoles into frogs, or that of Coryne into Sarzia.

The first line of proof, successfully carried out, would establish derivation as a true physical theory; the second, as a sufficient hypothesis.

Lamarck mainly undertook the first line, in a theory which has been so assailed by ridicule that it rarely receives the credit for ability to which in its day it was entitled, But he assigned partly unreal, partly insufficient causes; and the attempt to account for a progressive change in species through the direct influence of physical agencies, and through the appetencies and habits of animals reacting upon their structure, thus causing the production and the successive modification of organs, is a conceded and total failure. The shadowy author of the "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation" can hardly be said to have undertaken either line, in a scientific way. He would explain the whole progressive evolution of Nature by virtue of an inherent tendency to development, thus giving us an idea or a word in place of a natural cause, a restatement of the proposition instead of an explanation. Mr. Darwin attempts both lines of proof, and in a strictly scientific spirit; but the stress falls mainly upon the first, for, as he does assign real causes, he is bound to prove their adequacy.

It should be kept in mind that, while all direct proof of independent origination is attainable from the nature of the case, the overthrow of particular schemes of derivation has not established the opposite proposition. The futility of each hypothesis thus far proposed to account for derivation may be made apparent, or unanswerable objections may be urged against it; and each victory of the kind may render derivation more improbable, and therefore specific creation more probable, without settling the question either way. New facts, or new arguments and a new mode of viewing the question, may some day change the whole aspect of the case. It is with the latter that Mr. Darwin now reopens the discussion.

Having conceived the idea that varieties are incipient species, he is led to study variation in the field where it shows itself most strikingly, and affords the greatest facilities to investigation. Thoughtful naturalists have had increasing grounds to suspect that a reexamination of the question of species in zoology and botany, commencing with those races which man knows most about, viz., the domesticated and cultivated races, would be likely somewhat to modify the received idea of the entire fixity of species. This field, rich with various but unsystematized stores of knowledge accumulated by cultivators and breeders, has been generally neglected by naturalists, because these races are not in a state of nature; whereas they deserve particular attention on this very account, as experiments, or the materials for experiments, ready to our hand. In domestication we vary some of the natural conditions of a species, and thus learn experimentally what changes are within the reach of varying conditions in Nature. We separate and protect a favorite race against its foes or its competitors, and thus learn what it might become if Nature ever afforded it equal opportunities. Even when, to subserve human uses, we modify a domesticated race to the detriment of its native vigor, or to the extent of practical monstrosity, although we secure forms which would not be originated and could not be perpetuated in free Nature, yet we attain wider and juster views of the possible degree of variation. We perceive that some species are more variable than others, but that no species subjected to the experiment persistently refuses to vary; and that, when it has once begun to vary, its varieties are not the less but the more subject to variation. "No case is on record of a variable being ceasing to be variable under cultivation." It is fair to conclude, from the observation of plants and animals in a wild as well as domesticated state, that the tendency to vary is general, and even universal. Mr. Darwin does "not believe that variability is an inherent and necessary contingency, under all circumstances, with all organic beings, as some authors have thought." No one supposes variation could occur under all circumstances; but the facts on the whole imply a universal tendency, ready to be manifested under favorable circumstances. In reply to the assumption that man has chosen for domestication animals and plants having an extraordinary inherent tendency to vary, and likewise to withstand diverse climates, it is asked:

"How could a savage possibly know, when he first tamed an animal, whether it would vary in succeeding generations and whether it would endure other climates? Has the little variability of the ass or Guinea-fowl, or the small power of endurance of warmth by the reindeer, or of cold by the common camel, prevented their domestication? I cannot doubt that if other animals and plants, equal in number to our domesticated productions, and belonging to equally diverse classes and countries, were taken from a state of nature, and could be made to breed for an equal number of generations under domestication, they would vary on an average as largely as the parent species of our existing domesticated productions have varied."

As to amount of variation, there is the common remark of naturalists that the varieties of domesticated plants or animals often differ more widely than do the individuals of distinct species in a wild state: and even in Nature the individuals of some species are known to vary to a degree sensibly wider than that which separates related species. In his instructive section on the breeds of the domestic pigeon, our author remarks that "at least a score of pigeons might be chosen which if shown to an ornithologist, and he were told that they were wild birds, would certainly be ranked by him as well-defined species. Moreover, I do not believe that any ornithologist would place the English carrier, the short-faced tumbler, the runt, the barb, pouter, and fantail, in the same genus; more especially as in each of these breeds several truly-inherited

Darwiniana - 4/52

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