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as to past ages may be drawn.
Lyell termed these.
effects an autobiography of the earth. "The forces now operating upon earth are the same in kind and degree as those which in the remotest times produced geological changes."
Probably, in consequence of the havoc caused by local floods and earthquakes, a belief in great and universal. catastrophes was formed at a very early period; and to the Indian and Egyptian legends on this subject Lyell appends the remark, that the traditional connection of such catastrophes with a belief in repeated and universal corruption of morals may be easily explained.
At the end of the last century, the opinion was here and there expressed that the submergence of large extents of land, and the emergence of others, had taken place slowly; and the doctrine was in preparation that the mineral masses fall into various groups, succeeding one another in definite order. Werner then appeared and founded the special science of "Geognosy." He was not the first to see and teach the regular succession of rocks, but the sensation which he caused was universal. From his time dates the violent controversy of the Vulcanists and Neptunists, and into the midst of this controversy fell Cuvier's great discoveries on the animals of the Tertiary formation in the vicinity of Paris. By the works of Cuvier and Lamarck on fossil animals, the differences betwixt ancient and modern. organisms became apparent, and Cuvier's views, zoological as well as geological, gained the victory. The conviction was gradually established that long ages of repose and quiescence alternated on earth with shorter periods of universal catastrophes and revolutions."
Even after the appearance of Lyell's "Principles of Geology," the hypothesis of catastrophes received its special completion by Elie de Beaumont's theory of the structure and genesis of mountain chains. From the first, however, Lyell interposed, and derived the following conclusion from a comparison of the slow but continued. and perceptible upheavals and subsidences occurring in historic times, with the various modifications which organisms had meanwhile undergone. "In a word, the movement of the inorganic world is obvious and palpable, and might be likened to the minute-hand of a clock, the progress of which can be seen and heard; whereas the fluctuations of the living creation are nearly invisible, and resemble the motion of the hourhand of a time-piece. It is only by watching it attentively for some time, and comparing its relative position after an interval, that we can prove the reality of its motion."
Careful observation and logical deduction had thus arrived at conclusions diametrically opposite to the assertions of Cuvier, who inferred the geological catastrophes mainly from the striking difference of successive organisms. While botanists and zoologists prosecuted their studies on Cuvier's system, Geology was being metamorphosed under the hands of Lyell and his adherents. He proceeded from the most tangible basis. That it rained during the era of the coal formation, as it now rains, may be seen by the impress of rain-drops on the levels of that formation. The actions of rivers, the sediments of deltas, previously neglected, were now studied, and likewise the colossal mud deposits, such as are exhibited by the Nile and the Amazon, and also the
destructive work of the irregular motions of the sea, and the partly destructive, partly formative work of its regular currents. Calculations were made of the ploughing, grating, and grinding of glaciers, of the substances which mineral springs dissolve and deposit, of the displacements of material effected by existing agencies, of the manner in which the outlines of land and sea are altered by elevation and subsidence. Similarly, the comparison of ancient and modern coral reefs and oyster banks showed that these silent builders have not changed their habits. In short, the hypothesis of extraordinary events and forces, unheard of in our present era, seemed quite unnecessary; time only, and the continuous development of the earth's crust, were rendered evident.
The stage for reiterated acts of new creation of organisms had thus collapsed, and the hypothesis of such miraculous new creations became an anachronism, for which a well-merited end was inevitably prepared by the appearance of Darwin. With Darwinism, the doctrine of Descent is an historical necessity.
Charles Darwin was born in 1809, and, as the Naturalist attached to the Beagle in her voyage round the world, under Captain Fitzroy, in 1831-7, he enjoyed an opportunity of accumulating rich experiences. His important work on Coral Reefs gave the first adequate explanation of the phenomena resulting from the cooperation of geological movements, and the organic agency of the coral animal; his Monograph on Cirripedes bears witness to the exemplary care with which he can observe and systematically work out the relations of the minutest details. We make this remark, as the
opponents of the great inquirer endeavour to suppress. his merits and authority by maintaining that he is properly a mere dilettante, dealing with general abstractions," a stranger to the keen observation which takes full account of facts. How Darwin arrived at the idea which has made an epoch in science, he has himself made known in the introduction to his first work on the doctrine of Descent, namely, the "Origin of Species;"" and in more detail in a letter to Haeckel, published by the latter in his "History of Creation" (Natürlichen Schöpfungsgeschichte).
"Having reflected much on the foregoing facts, it seemed to me probable that allied species were descended from a common ancestor. But during several years I could not conceive how each form could have been modified so as to become admirably adapted to its place in nature. I began, therefore, to study domesticated animals and cultivated plants, and after a time perceived that man's power of selecting and breeding from certain individuals was the most powerful of all means in the production of new races. Having attended to the habits of animals and their relations to the surrounding conditions, I was able to realize the severe struggle for existence to which all organisms are subjected; and my geological observations had allowed me to appreciate to a certain extent the duration of past geological periods. With my mind thus prepared I fortunately happened to read Malthus's "Essay on Population;" and the idea of natural selection through the struggle for existence at once occurred to me. all the subordinate points in the theory, the last which I understood was the cause of the tendency in the
descendants from a common progenitor to diverge in character.”*
'That organisms are variable and not fixed in rigid forms, is a phenomenon so general that variability passes current as a self-evident property of organic existence. In the next chapter we shall inquire how far everything organic is necessarily subject to mutability. On the existence of this property rests the artificial breeding, or selection by man, consciously and unconsciously exercised from the earliest commencement of hunting and agriculture, of which, as Darwin says, "the importance mainly lies in the power of selecting scarcely appreciable differences, which are nevertheless found to be transmissible, and which can be accumulated until the result is made manifest to the eye of every beholder." In the "Origin of Species," as an example of methodic selection in the production of breeds, Darwin has chosen the pigeon, to the breeding of which he zealously devoted himself for many years.
The pigeon is specially adapted to the purpose of scientific observation of the phenomena of breeding, because, owing to its monogamic habits, it is easy to control, because it may be brought in a short time to striking variations, because the records of its breeding are tolerably complete, and, finally, because it is one of the few domestic animals of which the ancestral stock is scarcely open to a doubt.
The chief races produced by the fanciers may be grouped as follows. The Pouter Pigeons have a moderate beak, elongated legs and body, their œso
* Mr. Darwin has himself been good enough to re-write his letter from the German text. He kept no copy of the original M