Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

we know that in ancient Greece dishonesty was openly and actually associated with happy consequences when the concentrated experience of previous generations was held, not indeed to justify, but to excuse by utilitarian considerations, craft, dissimulation, sensuality, selfishness.”

This dogma is opposed to the moral consciousness of many as to the events of their own lives; and the author, for one, believes that it is absolutely contrary to fact.

History affords multitudes of instances: an example may be selected from one of the most critical periods of modern times. Let it be granted that Lewis the Sixteenth of France and his queen had all the defects attributed to them by the most hostile of serious historians; let all the excuses possible be made for his predecessor, Lewis the Fifteenth, and also for Madame de Pompadour: can it be pretended that there are grounds for affirming that the vices of the two former so far exceeded those of the latter, that their respective fates were plainly and evidently just? that while the two former died in their beds, after a life of the most extreme luxury, the others merited to stand forth through coming time as examples of the most appalling and calamitous tragedy?1

1 The same period supplies us with a yet more striking example. H. Von Sybel, in his "French Revolution" (translated by W. C. Perry), vol. iv. p. 321, says of the unfortunate young Lewis the Seventeenth : "No one can read the reports of the martyrdom of this unhappy child without the deepest emotion. Simon the Cobbler, a neighbour and admirer of Marat, had been appointed, on his recommendation, by Robespierre, as the jailer of the young Capet." "The ill-treatment of the feeble child became his daily refreshment from the ennui of the prison, his pastime and his patriotic office. He clothed the Prince in a sansculotte dress, compelled him to wear a Jacobin cap, made him drunk with ardent spirits, and forced him to sing indecent sougs. This treatment was varied by abuse, blows, and cruelties of every kind whenever the child made mention of his parents, whenever he showed the slightest

This theme, however, is too foreign to the immediate matter in hand to be further pursued, tempting as it is. But a passing protest against a superstitious and deluding dogma may stand,—a dogma which, like any other dogma, may be vehemently asserted and maintained, but which is remarkable for being destitute, at one and the same time, of both authoritative sanction and the support of reason and observation.

To return to the bearing of moral conceptions on "Natural Selection," it seems that, from the reasons given in this chapter, we may safely affirm-1. That “Natural Selection" could not have produced, from the sensations of pleasure and pain experienced by brutes, a higher degree of morality than was useful; therefore it could have produced any amount of "beneficial habits," but not abhorrence of certain acts as impure and sinful.

symptom of resistance to the humiliations inflicted on him, whenever news arrived of a victory of the Vendeans or the Austrians." "The brutal monster one day beat and kicked the boy because he would not repeat the words, 'My mother is a harlot.' Another time Simon was awakened in the night, and heard the child praying as he knelt by his bedside. 'I'll teach you,' he cried, 'to whine your paternosters,' and, pouring a pail of cold water over his body and his bed, he compelled him by blows from an iron-heeled shoe to pass the rest of the winter night in the wet, cold bed." After the death of Simon he was imprisoned in a little cell for six months, at the end of which time when his new jailer, Laurent, entered, "He was astonished when they led him by the dim light of a lantern to the entrance of a pestiferous den, from which a feeble voice answered him after repeated calls; but what was his horror, when, on the following day, he caused the door to be broken open, and penetrated the scene of misery itself! In this poisonous atmosphere a pale and emaciated child, with matted hair, lay upon a filthy lair, clothed with half-rotten rags, his head covered with an eruption, his neck with festering sores, and his whole body with swarms of vermin." Mr. Herbert Spencer may be safely challenged to explain by what crimes this child had merited so frightful and long-continued a chastisement.

2. That it could not have developed that high esteem for acts of care and tenderness to the aged and infirm which actually exists, but would rather have perpetuated certain low social conditions which obtain amongst certain savage tribes.

3. That it could not have evolved from ape sensations the noble virtue of a Marcus Aurelius, or the loving but manly devotion of a St. Lewis.

4. That, alone, it could not have given rise to the maxim fiat justitia, ruat cœlum.

5. That the interval between material and formal morality is one altogether beyond its power to traverse.

Also, that the anticipatory character of moral principles is a fatal bar to that explanation of their origin which is offered to us by Mr. Herbert Spencer. And, finally, that the solution of that origin proposed recently by Sir John Lubbock is a mere version of simple utilitarianism, appealing to the pleasure or safety of the individual, and therefore utterly incapable of solving the riddle it endeavours to explain.

Such appearing to be the case as to the power of "Natural Selection," we nevertheless find moral conceptions-formally moral ideas—not only spread over the civilized world, but manifesting themselves unmistakably (in however rudimentary a condition, and however misapplied) amongst the lowest and most degraded of savages. If from amongst these, individuals can be brought forward who seem to be destitute of any moral conception, similar cases also may easily be found in highly civilized communities. Such cases tell no more against moral intuitions than do cases of colour-blindness or idiotism tell against sight and reason. We have then, in distinct moral per

ception, a highly important and conspicuous fact, the existence of which is fatal to the theory of "Natural Selection," as put forward of late by Mr. Darwin and his most ardent followers. It must be remarked, however, that whatever force this fact may have against a belief in the origination of man from brutes by minute, fortuitous variations, it has no force whatever against the conception of the orderly evolution and successive manifestation of specific forms by ordinary natural law-even if we include amongst such the upright frame, the ready hand and massive brain of man himself.

CHAPTER X.

PANGENESIS.

A "provisional hypothesis" supplementing "Natural Selection."-Statement of the hypothesis.-Difficulty as to multitude of gemmules-as to certain modes of reproduction—as to formations without the requisite gemmules.-Mr. Lewes and Professor Delpino. -Difficulty as to developmental force of gemmules-as to their spontaneous fission.— Pangenesis and Vitalism.-Paradoxical reality.-Pangenesis scarcely superior to anterior hypotheses. -Buffon.-Owen.-Herbert Spencer. -"Gemmules” as mysterious as "physiological units.”—Conclusion.

In addition to the theory of "Natural Selection," by which it has been attempted to account for the origin of species, Mr. Darwin has also put forward what he modestly terms a provisional hypothesis" (that of Pangenesis), by which to account for the origin of each and every individual form.

66

Now, though the hypothesis of Pangenesis is no necessary part of "Natural Selection," still any treatise on specific origination would be incomplete if it did not take into consideration this last speculation of Mr. Darwin's. The hypothesis in question may be stated as follows: That each living organism is ultimately made up of an almost infinite number of minute particles, or organic atoms, termed "gemmules," each of which has the power of reproducing its kind. Moreover, these particles are sup

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »