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principal subject of ornament. In some it is the feathers of the crown worked into different forms of crest; in some it is the feathers of the throat, forming gorgets and beards of many shapes and hues; in some it is a special development of neck plumes, elongated into frills and tippets of extraordinary form and beauty. In a great number of genera the feathers of the tail are the special subjects of decoration, and this on every variety of plan and principle of ornament. In some the two central feathers are most elongated, the others decreasing in length on either side, so as to give the whole the wedge form. In others the converse plan is pursued, the two lateral feathers being most developed, so that the whole is forked after the manner of the common swallow. In others, again, they are radiated, or pointed and sharpened like thorns. In some genera there is an extraordinary development of one or two feathers into plumes of enormous length, with flat or spatulose terminations. Mere ornament and variety of form, and these for their own sake, is the only principle or rule with reference to which Creative Power seems to have worked in these wonderful and beautiful birds.” 1
But sexual selection will not explain all the variety of the world any more than all its beauty. The flinty shells of those microscopic organisms the Diatomacea are some striated, some fluted, punctured, or dotted in patterns of perfect and often complex beauty. In the same drop of moisture there may be some dozen or twenty forms, each with its own distinctive pattern, all as constant as they are distinctive, yet having all apparently the same habits, and without any perceptible difference of function. Orchids are flowers as varied 1 Reign of Law, p. 244.
and fantastic as they are beautiful, showing curious resemblances to bees, butterflies, spiders, &c., possessing strange springs and traps and pitfalls, none of which seem absolutely necessary for the fertilization of the flowers, since though actually of use as they exist, yet other flowers exist without them. In trees the distributions of the branches are different for each individual; in minerals the chemical combinations are most varied; the contours of hills, the windings of rivers, the coast-line of continents and islands, are different in every case-in everything there seems to be a disposition to indefinite variation in all conceivable directions. The inexhaustible variety of nature in all her domains is a fact that stares us in the face, and must remain a fact though the cause be ascertained, and must be attributed to the intention of the Creator unless we are to refrain from attributing to Him anything whatever: but the philosophy which denies that we can know anything of the Deity will not be looked for in an Essay the object of which is to illustrate His attributes of Wisdom and Beneficence.
The tendency to variation in all living things is the great fact on which Mr Darwin builds his theory of Natural Selection, and without the variety the continuous evolution of species would have been as impossible as the theory. It may be true that this variation in living forms is traceable to changes in the environment-we can see that the principle of heredity, in endeavouring to give the child the form of each of its two parents, must necessarily take a line somewhere between them; the new individual, subjected to a different play of outward forces, necessarily responds by variation; the smaller cycles of outward conditions, being but episodes in the
CAUSE OF VARIETY INTELLIGENT.
grand march of change, there can be no return of variations to their starting point; and so on-but every explanation of this kind is but a step backward towards that original nebulosity out of which all is believed to have cone, in which nebulosity it existed potentially, like the eaves folded up in a bud; and there is still demanded all the conscious intelligence which would be required for its production by immediate fiat, if that were possible.
Among the inhabitants of the world, as soon as we get a certan mental capacity we find a love of variety -in birds it is a probable fact, in man it is undoubted -it seems as necessary an accompaniment of any high order of mind as is the love of beauty and the clear perception of outward fact. How came these minds to possess it? and what ground is there for denying that they were intended to possess it? and what ground for denying it of the Divine mind? None but the excessive fear of Anthropomorphism, which denies that there is in nan any shadowing forth of God, and might on the same ground deny that truth is truth, and virtue is virzue.
MORAL ASPECTS OF EVOLUTION.
ALTHOUGH the Theory of Evolution rests on a basis of fact, and is to be accepted or rejected accoräng to the evidence, there can be no doubt that prejudce has influenced many minds against it, and that the prejudice arises mainly from the moral aspects of the doctrine. It may be well, therefore, to see what reassuring hints we can gather from evolutionist writers, and what we can add of ourselves, on this part of the subect.
§ 1. The Ascent of Man.
"Man, the outcome of creation's past,
As Bacon spoke of the living generation of men, his contemporaries, as the true ancients, so may we speak of the process of man's evolution as an ascent to a higher form and to the possession of nobler endowments. According to Mr Spencer, the forces within an orgaism balance the forces without-they are acted upon but they react; and they become of more consequence the higher the organism in the scale of life. It follow that as soon as there came into existence a being possesing mental and moral attributes like those of man the internal powers would count for more as conditiaing 1 A Tale of Eternity, by Gerald Massey.
MENTAL EXCELLENCES SELECTED.
the course of events, and the being would begin to control circumstances instead of being almost completely at their mercy. As soon as the intellectual and moral qualities began to be of more importance than bodily powers in the struggle for life, Natural Selection would operate chiefly on these, and the advance of man would be rapid. Where a beast would suffer in a period of scarcity, man's intelligent foresight would have made some provision; and where a lower animal would starve, through some little sickness preventing it from capturing food, man would receive help from his fellows and tide over the difficulty. When outward conditions changed, and it became necessary to a beast to possess greater strength and swiftness, or grow longer claws and teeth to catch its prey, man would construct traps and pit-falls, make sharper spears, and combine in hunting parties. With his rafts and canoes he would catch fish or cross over to neighbouring fertile islands; observing the course of nature, he would plant seeds and shoots for himself; by the discovery of fire he would reduce hard and stringy roots to a digestible condition, and render poisonous roots or herbs innocuous. In colder winters he would not be killed off because no thick fur grew on his back, for he would borrow the hides of animals, and build for himself a warmer shelter. The individuals of greatest ingenuity and fertility of mind would be best able to preserve themselves and offspring, and would become of most value to the tribe. Natural Selection having transferred its action to the mind, man would no longer be as one of the brutes, but would have become a being apart-" a being in some degree superior to nature, inasmuch as he knew how to control and regulate her action, and could keep himself in harmony