Изображения страниц

in any great degree my theory; but none of the cases of difficulty, to the best of my judg ment, annihilate it." (p. 297) When it is remembered that his theory is, that slight variations occurring in an individual advantageous to it (not to its associates), in the struggle for life, is perpetuated by inheritance, it is no wonder that the case of sterile ants gave him so much trouble. Accidental sterility is not favorable to the individual, and its being made permanent by inheritance, is out of the question, for the sterile have no descendants. Yet these sterile females are not degenerations, they are in general larger and more robust than their associates.

We have thus seen that, according to Mr. Darwin, all the infinite variety of structure in plants and animals is due to the law of natural selection. "On the principle of natural selection with divergence of character," he says, "it does not seem incredible that, from some such low and intermediate form, both animals and plants have been developed, and if we admit this, we must likewise admit that all the organized beings which have ever lived on this earth may be descended from some one primordial form." (p. 573) We have seen also

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that he does not confine his theory to organic structure, but applies it to all the instincts and all the forms of intelligence manifested by irrational creatures. Nor does he stop there; he includes man within the sweep of the same law. "In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." (p. 577)

The "distant future" was near at hand. In his introduction to his work on the "Descent of Man," he says, he had determined not to publish on that subject, "as I thought that I should thus only add to the prejudices against my views. It seemed to me sufficient to indicate, in the first edition of my Origin of Species,' that by this work light would be thrown on the origin of man and his history; and this implies that man must be included with other organic beings in any general conclusion respecting his manner of appearance on this earth. Now the case wears a wholly dif ferent aspect. When a naturalist like Carl Vogt (we shall see in what follows what kind

[ocr errors]

of a witness he is) ventures to say in his ad-
dress as President of the National Institution
of Geneva (1869), 'Personne, en Europe au
moins, n'ose plus soutenir la création indépen-
dante et de toutes piéces, des espéces,' —it is
manifest that at least a large number of natu-
ralists must admit that species are the modified
descendants of other species; and this espe-
cially holds good of the younger and rising
Of the older and honored
chiefs in natural science, many unfortunately
are still opposed to evolution in every form."
Carl Vogt would not write thus. To him no
man is honored who does agree with him, and
any man who believes in God he execrates.

In 1871, Mr. Darwin ventured on the publication of his "Descent of Man." In that work, he endeavors to show that the proximate progenitor of man is the ape. He says "there is less difference of structure between the two, than between the higher and lower forms of apes themselves." Not only so, but he attempts to show that the mental faculties of man are derived by slight variations, long continued, from the measure of intellect possessed by lower animals. He even says, that there is less difference in intelligence between man and

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

the higher mammals, than there is between the intelligence of the ant and that of the coccus, insects of the same class.1

In like manner he teaches that man's moral nature has been evolved by slow degrees from the social instincts common to many animals. (pp. 68, 94) The moral element, thus derived, he admits might lead to very different lines of conduct. "If men," he says, "were reared under the same conditions as hives-bees, there can hardly be a doubt, that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill all their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering. (vol. i. p. 70)

"Lower animals, especially the dog, manifest love, reverence, fidelity, and obedience; and it is from these elements that the religious sentiment in man has been slowly evolved by a process of natural selection." (vol. i. p. 65)

The grand conclusion is, "man (body, soul, and spirit) is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhab

[ocr errors]

1 Descent of Man, etc. By Charles Darwin, M. A., F. R. S.; etc. New York, 1871, vol. i. p. 179.

itant of the Old World." (vol. ii. p. 372) Mr. Darwin adds: "He who denounces these views (as irreligious) is bound to explain why it is more irreligious to explain the origin of man as a distinct species by descent from some lower form, through the laws of variation and natural selection, than to explain the birth of the individual through the laws of ordinary reproduction." (vol. ii. p. 378)

The Sense in which Mr. Darwin uses the Word "Natural."

We have not yet reached the heart of Mr. Darwin's theory. The main idea of his system lies in the word "natural." He uses that word in two senses: first, as antithetical to the word artificial. Men can produce very marked varieties as to structure and habits of animals. This is exemplified in the production of the different breeds of horses, cattle, sheep, and dogs; and specially, as Mr. Darwin seems to think, in the case of pigeons. Of these, he says, "The diversity of breeds is something astonishing." Some have long, and some very short bills; some have large feet, some small; some long necks, others long wings and tails, while others have singularly short tails; some have thirty,


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »