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sense or conscience1 is born with us, but did not exist in our far-off ancestors-for it is an instinct, and the growth of instincts is accounted for by the theory of Evolution. "The imperious word ought seems merely to imply the consciousness of the existence of a persistent instinct, either innate or partly acquired, serving him as a guide, though liable to be disobeyed. We hardly use the word ought in a metaphorical sense, when we say that hounds ought to hunt, pointers to point, and retrievers to retrieve their game.' What reason have we for believing that a faculty which originates in this way is trustworthy? Let attention be given to the following analogical argument :-When the human eye perceives difference of colour in objects, there is corresponding difference in the reflecting surfaces, although, as a matter of fact, the human eye has been evolved from an inferior eye, and the first rudiment of an eye that appeared on the theatre of the living world was not worthy to be called an eye at all. The vibrations of the ether have an existence external to the eye, and independent of the eye; and, being of a certain nature, they have certain relations with other objects; and when such an organ as the eye comes to exist, the relation between the retina and the ethereal vibrations is such that sensations of colour arise-the ether existed, the eye is attuned to it, and takes cognizance of it. Similarly, when the human understanding perceives the properties of numbers and of triangles, these perceptions are to be

1 "The moral sense or conscience " is a common expression. Mr Darwin, however, makes a just distinction: the moral sense tells us what we ought to do, and conscience reproves us if we disobey it.-Descent of Man, i. 93.

2 Ibid., i. 92.



relied on, although the mental powers of man have been attained by gradual evolution, and their first glimmerings in some lowly-organized form were not worthy to be called mental; for mathematical truths are necessary and eternal, independent of any mind whatsoever; but when a mind of sufficient calibre comes to be evolved, the truths cannot but be seen to be what they are. Still again, when the moral sense of man perceives a difference between right and wrong, the intimation is to be trusted, although the moral sense has been evolved from social instincts, and those instincts evolved by Natural Selection; for right and wrong are immutable, not depending on the will or act of any being, but springing out of relations, and when a nature like man's is evolved it necessarily becomes conscious of moral distinctions. Right and wrong are first, and the moral sense is afterwards, and is attuned to them, as the retina is attuned. to the previously-existing ethereal vibrations. The conscience may sometimes approve a wrong act; but so may the intellect of a mathematician miscalculate, the reasoning faculty of a logician mislead him, and the eye be occasionally deceived, or be colour-blind.

Conscience is what it is. We are what we are, and what we know ourselves to be, and Evolution has only shown us how long the path is by which we have reached this height. Is any chemical compound other than it is because we know of what elements it is constituted? Does water cease to have the properties of water, and to be trustworthy as a quencher of thirst, because its constituents are oxygen and hydrogen gases, which were not at all like the liquid they have formed? The fragrances which the chemist makes to rival the odour of the rose and sweetest flowers, are as delicious

as our sense perceives them to be. Does it matter that they were manufactured from the refuse of the stable ?

One thing more may be said in this place. The standard of morality is continually rising, similarly as our knowledge of mathematics is extending: man is coming to perceive more clearly what he ought to do and what he ought not to do, and is striving more to obey the imperious ought. But while actions must always have some quality, and there has ever been an ought and an ought not, the specific acts to be put under the two headings will differ with circumstances, and some things which once were right may become wrong. It may be right for the queen bee to kill her daughters, but would be wrong for Queen Victoria to kill the royal princesses. The wars between savage tribes have contributed to the advancement of the human race, through the operation of Natural Selection, and the more scientific warfare of civilized nations has sharpened the inventive faculties, and done other incidental good; but the time is come when war ought to cease. Evolution accounts for evil without aspersing the character of God-it shows that many "evils" have served a good purpose, and were not evils while they were doing so―actual evil is the lingering of a practice when the day of its usefulness is gone by, like an old law remaining on the statute-book when circumstances have completely changed. Thus the conclusion of pessimism, that the world is bad, and so cannot have had a Divine Author, is not favoured by Evolution, whose teaching comes nearer to the optimism of Leibnitz, in showing, not indeed that this is the best of all possible worlds, and must therefore have been created as it is, but that the creation (still going on) is a lengthened process, every


stage of which is good in its time, and preliminary to what is better.


§ 4. Duties suggested by Evolution.

"The ghosts of our own crimes long-buried will
Live after us and haunt our children still." 1

There is an unfounded fear in the minds of some that the acceptance of the theory of Evolution will abolish the sense of duty and the feeling of responsibility. A reviewer of Mr Darwin's Descent of Man says: "If our humanity be merely the natural product of the modified faculties of brutes, most earnest-minded men will be compelled to give up those motives by which they have attempted to live noble and virtuous lives, as founded on a mistake."2 On the contrary, whatever the temporary effect, and the effect on minds only half acquainted with the theory of Evolution, we believe the legitimate and lasting effect will be to increase the sense of responsibility by showing that every act is linked with others which it drags after it, entailing consequences to our own character and constitution, and very often to the constitution and character of others. With regard to ourselves, there is not a single faculty-functional or structural, moral, intellectual, or instinctive-which is not capable of improvement. There is no act, however trivial, which may not lay the foundation of a habit; and no habit, good or bad, which does not tend to become instinctive, and to go down to succeeding generations. Special tastes, general intelli

1 A Tale of Eternity.

2 Edin. Rev., July 1871. Miss Cobbe also enters a protest (Darwinism in Morals).

gence, qualities such as courage, temper (bad and good), are certainly transmitted. Deteriorated mental powers, equally with genius; insanity or bodily disease, quite as much as a sound mind and a vigorous health, are known to run in families. We find ourselves part and parcel of humanity, with less of individual independence than we supposed ourselves to possess, with duties which cannot be evaded, and with laws of variation, of development, and of inheritance, ever ready to put their stamp upon our deeds. If we find in ourselves any remnant of the brute we must try to strangle it-" Let the ape and tiger die;" and since higher instincts must have a beginning, we ought to give them their initial impulse by the every-day practice of good deeds and dispositions.

With regard to marriage Mr Darwin says: "Man might by selection do something, not only for the bodily constitution and frame of his offspring, but also for their intellectual and moral qualities. Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if in any marked degree inferior in body or mind, or if unable to avoid abject poverty for their children." On the other hand, as Mr Galton has remarked, if the prudent avoid marriage whilst the reckless marry, the inferior members of society will tend to supplant the better. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best, and rearing the largest number of offspring.

Respecting the education of the ignorant, there is good sense in the remarks made by Professor Allen Thomson at the British Association meeting in 1871,— If the law of the Survival of the Fittest be applicable to the mental as well as to the physical improvement of

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