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CHAPTER II.

THE REGULATIVE LAW OF LIFE AND GROWTH.

IT

T is indispensable, for realizing the significance of natural laws relating to health and beauty, that one should first of all understand the regulative law of all life, that which makes any manifestation of life what it is at any stage, makes all living things, mankind included, what they are, the law of evolution. It will therefore be necessary, before proceeding further, to give the true interpretation of this law, which is not only popularly misunderstood, but, despite all the discussion of it by scientific men, is as to some points often misconceived and misstated in quarters otherwise marked by intelligence and education. Why this should be so is not easily solved, unless it may be ascribed to the circumstance that very many persons have not examined at first-hand the works which have striven to demonstrate the existence of the law, but have received at second-hand the interpretations, adverse criticisms, and ridicule of it engendered in the heat of controversy. Certain it is, however, that although the most prominent modern enunciation of the law was at first received, save by a very few, with unbounded dissent, some of its stanchest scientific opponents were gradually won over to a recognition of it, which now includes, almost without exception, save as to details, the whole generation of scientific men which has arisen since its most remarkable modern affirmation.

But it is not, at least at first, intended to speak here as to the truth or falsity of the alleged law. We will therefore revert to the point of popular misinterpretation of its meaning, as stated. In brief, divested of all that is extraneous, the popular notion of this alleged law, as advocated by Darwin, is that man originates from a monkey. Charles Lamb, it will be remembered,

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spoke in fun, without a thought of anything else, of monkeys as his poor relations. That is, however, we believe, the strictly average popular notion of Darwin's scientific conception, with not a particle of fun about it, but in sober, serious earnest. Beyond that strictly popular view, through varying degrees of misinformation, we find a large amount of what Darwin wrote, either misinterpreted or else so inadequately stated as to give the falsest of impressions. This is not matter for great surprise to any one who has observed among mankind the tendency to seek the lines of least resistance, the saving of trouble, by adopting at second-hand opinions which can be obtained at firsthand only by labor. There is, however, to our knowledge one extremely surprising source of misinformation. The "Encyclopædia Britannica " stands pre-eminent among works of its kind. as embodying the most learned and thorough information on all important subjects. But, notwithstanding this, the reference to Darwin, under the article "Lamarck," is most misleading. The author of the article says:

It is therefore only the sufficiency of the Lamarckian hypothesis to explain the first commencement of new organs which is in question, if evolution by the mere operation of forces acting in the inorganic world be granted; and surely the Darwinian theory is equally helpless to account for the beginnings of a new organ, while it demands as imperatively that every stage in the assumed hereditary development of an organ must have been useful.

Just preceding that statement the author had remarked :

Thus, for example, neither theory considers that it has to deal, not with crude heaps of functional organs, but with exquisitely orderly forms, nor accounts for the symmetrical first appearance of parts or for sex; nor, though Lamarck tried hard, has he or any later writer reduced to physical law the rise of consciousness in association with structures which in their physical relations are mere mechanisms capable of reflex actions.

But, as generally understood, Lamarck's theory assumes that structure may make its beginning through need and correspondent reflex action simulating desire; whereas Darwin's theory assumes no such thing, but that the structure, however rudimentary, already exists. He illustrates his idea in one place

by citing the case of the eye, which in its simplest form is merely a nerve surrounded by pigment-cells and covered with translucent skin, but without any other apparatus, lens or anything else; so that, in consequence, it is capable of perceiving light, but not form. Thus it is hardly fair to speak of Darwin's theory as being helpless to account for a thing for which it does not attempt. to account, but expressly assumes in all cases to exist as the condition of modification. Neither does Darwin speak of, nor have in mind, "crude heaps of functional organs," but, as the preceding citation shows, structures that are orderly, however low in the scale of being; structures that, whether high or low in the scale, are susceptible of differentiation, which might, indeed, be retrogressive instead of progressive. Variability, dependent upon external conditions, the capacity of change, is always affirmed by him, and that implies the existence of the thing which can change. And so far is it from being correct to say that he (for of course he is included under the expression, "nor, though Lamarck tried hard, has he or any later writer") does not try to account for the manner in which sex may have arisen, besides the pointing of a number of his remarks in that direction, Darwin explicitly says, in "The Descent of Man":

In the dim obscurity of the past we can see that the early progenitor of all the vertebrata must have been an aquatic animal, provided with branchiæ, with the two sexes united in the same individual, and with the most important organs of the body (such as the brain and heart) imperfectly or not at all developed.

Finally, as to consciousness, Darwin assumes, as most men do, that it is probably, in however dim a degree sometimes, coextensive with animal life. Some of the Neo-Lamarckians, the disciples of the new school of Lamarck, now hold that there is consciousness in the simplest animal protoplasmic forms, and in truth, while watching the movements of infusoria through the microscope, it is difficult to deny them the attribute of consciousness as interpreted through movement apparently with purpose. Darwin seems to assume the existence of consciousness in at

least very low animal organisms, and in one of its two highest manifestations, as conscience, he discusses it in the following passage in "The Descent of Man." He says:

The moral nature of man has reached its present standard partly through the advancement of his reasoning powers and consequently of a just public opinion, but especially from his sympathies having been rendered more tender and widely diffused through the effects of habit, example, instruction, and reflection. It is not improbable that after long practice virtuous tendencies may be inherited. With the more civilized races the conviction of the existence of an all-seeing Deity has had a potent influence on the advance of morality. Ultimately man does not accept the praise and blame of his fellows as his sole guide, though few escape this influence; but his habitual convictions, controlled by reason, afford him the safest rule. His conscience then becomes the chief judge and monitor. Nevertheless, the first foundation or origin of the moral sense lies in the social instincts, including sympathy; and these instincts no doubt were primarily gained, as in the case of the lower animals, through natural selection.

It is quite pertinent to the above remarks to add an expression of Darwin's own. He says:

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Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of scie shows that, fortunately, this power does not long endure.

But, upon turning to the name of the author of the article in question on Lamarck, which incidentally does such scant justice to Darwin's views as represented by himself, we find it to be that of a Scotch professor, and the reader need hardly be reminded that many Scotchmen not only "jock wi difficoolty," but find it hard to receive new ideas without the surgical interference of which Sydney Smith spoke.

In the popular notion of Darwin's belief there are several implied errors: 1. That Darwin was the first person to conceive and formulate the theory of evolution. 2. That he confined himself to the derivation of man from some lower form. 3. That the form from which he believed man to be derived was some ape or monkey, as we now know those animals. It is therefore desirable here to notice these points in the order in which they are named.

Aristotle, who lived nearly four centuries before the beginning of the Christian era, left certain speculations on the subject

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