« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
is to be nourished by milk, almost all the food of the mother turns to milk, and the young animal, without any direction, by the pure instinct of nature, immediately seeks for the teat, and is therefore fed with plenty: That which makes it evidently appear that there is nothing in this fortuitous, but the work of a wise and foreseeing Nature, is that those females which bring forth many young, as sows and bitches, have many teats, and those which have a small number have few.'-(De Nat. Deorum, 52.)
This popular illustration of the argument of design is in fact as convincing as anything we could learn from a scientific disquisition of the highest order : it is one of the ten thousand cases to be found in Nature; and if any one of them be admitted to be true, it must be fatal to the Theory of Transmutation.
Should any one be disposed to object that it is presumptuous, without a panoply of science and ability, to confront a giant in the physiological kingdom, the answer would be that when great men leave the beaten track of acknowledged science to wander in the wilderness of fiction and paradox, they lose much of their redoubtable attributes, and come down to the level of meaner intellects; for, to use the words of Shakspeare, 'See now how wit may be made a Jack-a-lent, when 'tis upon ill employment.'—(Merry Wives of Windsor.)
At any rate such has been the conviction of the writer of these pages, so that he has entertained a hope that if there be yet Goliaths in the world, there may be still found some smooth stones of the brook adequate for the formidable duel.
Mr Darwin, in the legitimate walks of science, stands high among the chief; for to say nothing of other publications, who, in this generation, has given to the world a more instructive or a more beautiful book than the Researches of the Cruise of the Beagle’? A new edition of the work is advertised, and it is to be hoped that it will appear without any alterations or additions, to accommodate it to the author's new creed. A view of Nature taken as the production of the Creator's will, can never be made to harmonize with the blind force of cellular tissues sprouting by accident into all the phenomena of life.
M. Flourens has published a short answer to Mr Darwin, contenting himself chiefly with pointing out the abuse of terms, and the verbal inaccuracies with which the Origin of Species is argued. The answer, as far as it .
very effective, and successfully assails the foundation of the Theory; but it is to be regretted that a writer, so well qualified for the task, should have confined himself chiefly to one view of the subject.
The services of Professor Philipps in this cause have been considerable. Quotations from his valuable publication, ‘Life, its Origin and Succession,' appear in the following chapters.
The whole of this controversy was indeed agitated more than thirty years ago, when Professor Sedgwick undertook to confute the author of the ‘Vestiges of Creation' in a celebrated article in the Edinburgh Review, and in another examination of the Theory of Transmutation in the learned Professor's prolegomena to the Studies of the University of Cambridge. The Vestiges never recovered from that severe concussion; the book has ever since been considered an exploded romance by the scientific world.
Mr Darwin places himself in the old battle-field occupied by the Vestiges, maintaining in reality the very
ground held by his predecessor. In the method of managing the argument there is a difference between the two writers, but in the object of the argument there is none; so that the force of proof urged by Professor Sedgwick against the Vestiges, applies in most points against Mr Darwin's Origin of Species.
In the Edinburgh Review there have been some able articles on Mr Darwin's Theory. In the April number of 1863, an article, of which the title is, ' Professor Huxley on Man's place in Nature,' is well worthy the careful attention of all those interested in this subject. The Review quotes an observation of Dugald Stewart : From those representations of human nature which tend to assimilate to each other the faculties of man and of the brutes, the transition to atheism is not very wide.'*
This transition is pointed out in the following pages, and it is shown how with some of the disciples of Transmutation there is no wish to conceal the atheistic import of the Theory
The Edinburgh Review remarks 'that it is necessary we should know to what this so-called Theory of Development is leading us. If it means that all the phenomena of the universe are the result of Nature's great progression from blind force to conscious intellect and will, to which alone we are to ascribe creative power, that is purely and simply the scientific form of the doctrine which denies a Creator altogether, or places the creative mind at an incalculable distance from its works' (p. 589).
* One of these articles is from the pen of the Duke of Argyll, for a part of it at least re-appears in the Reign of Law,' a book destined to celebrity for its successful opposition to Mr Darwin's Theory, as well as for its other intrinsic merits.
The question of design in the phenomena of Nature compels an advocate of that view to assume a position on the
very borders of theology in all the topics under discussion; it has however been the aim of the writer to speak with reserve on the higher aspect of the argument, and to keep for the latter part of the examination a direct reference to the atheism of Transmutation. There need be no apprehension of any serious damage likely to accrue to the received opinions from the disciples of this school, notwithstanding the positiveness of their doctrine, and its high pretensions. Common sense will, in the long run, be too strong for all their efforts, and civilized society will continue to entertain that indelible faith by which we believe that the world was framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of the things which do appear ;' a formulary of words which precisely excludes Mr Darwin's Theory.
The interests of science may, however, suffer detriment for a season by the agitation of this controversy, and we may fear that the partisans of Transmutation will be disputing about the interests of their hypothesis, and neglecting the higher pursuit of strict science. When we find learned men occupied about such questions as 'chains of linking forms taking a circuitous sweep, and extinct forms which geological research has not revealed’ (Darwin, 324), this seems little better than the sterile occupation of blowing soap-bubbles of the imagination, to the neglect of all the more exact demands of science.
Cuvier has thus expressed himself on this subject : * "The
* 'L'échelle prétendue des êtres n'est qu'une application erronée à la totalité de la création, de ces observations partielles qui n'ont de justesse qu'autant qu'on les restreint dans les limites où elles ont été faites, et cetto
pretended chain of beings, as applied to the whole creation, is but an erroneous application of those partial observations, which are only true when confined to the limits within which they were made ; and in my opinion it has in these modern times impeded, to a degree which can scarcely be imagined, the progress of natural science.'
. All this will, however, at last come right; and certain stars that have shot madly from their spheres, after a temporary blaze, will pass into the darkness of oblivion. Mr Darwin's labours in the interests of Transmutation must either be triumphant, or there will be an end of that Theory for ever; for as no one with so good a chance of success will ever appear again, if he should fail of his object, Transmutation will have to be carted back to the family vault of Epicurus, from which it was exhumed, and which is its congenial and appropriate resting-place.
application, selon moi, a nui, à un degré que l'on aurait peine à imaginer, aux progrès de l'histoire naturelle dans ces derniers temps.'-Règne Animal. Préface.
Cuvier, in the dedication of his 'Ossemens Fossiles'to Laplace, mentions it as a great advantage to himself in his earlier days that by associating with the geometricians and philosophers of the Institute, he was, to use his own words, 'penetrated with that severe spirit of synthesis and method which regulated his thoughts in his subsequent labours. It is greatly owing to that severe spirit that he became so illustrious in the scientific world. The imagination in him was held in firm restraint, without repressing the quickness of his sagacity and his innate genius. When the imagination is left at liberty in scientific pursuits, the result is almost always error and confusion.
"J'ai put surtout m'y pénétrer de cet esprit sévère, fruit de l'heureuse association établie dans son sein entre les mathématiciens et les naturalistes.'