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as limbs, but also limbs as machines. I felt immediately that I was upon firmer ground. The use of the word
organ ” for a limb told its own story; the word could not have become so current under this meaning unless the idea of a limb as a tool or machine had been
agreeable to common sense. What would follow, then, if we regarded our limbs and organs as things that we had ourselves manufactured for our convenience?
The first question that suggested itself was, how did we come to make them without knowing anything about it? And this raised another, namely, how comes anybody to do anything unconsciously?' The answer “ habit
was not far to seek. But can a person be said to do a thing by force of habit or routine when it is his ancestors, and not he, that has done it hitherto? Not unless he and his ancestors are one and the same person. Perhaps, then, they are the same person after all.* What is sameness? I remembered Bishop Butler's sermon on “ Personal Identity,” read it again, and saw very plainly that if a man of eighty may consider himself identical with the baby from whom he has developed, so that he may say, “I am the person who at six months old did
' this or that," then the baby may just as fairly claim identity with its father and mother, and say to its parents on being born, “ I was you only a few months ago.” By parity of reasoning each living form now on the earth must be able to claim identity with each generation of its ancestors up to the primordial cell inclusive.
Again, if the octogenarian may claim personal identity with the infant, the infant may certainly do so with the impregnate ovum from which it has developed. If so, the octogenarian will prove to have been a fish once in this his present life. This is as certain as that he was living yesterday, and stands on exactly the same foundation.
I am aware that Professor Huxley maintains otherwise. He writes: “ It is not true, for example, ... that a reptile was ever a fish, but it is true that the reptile embryo
” (and what is said here of the reptile holds good also for the human embryo), “ at one stage of its development, is an organism, which, if it had an independent existence, must be classified among
This is like saying, “ It is not true that such and such a picture was rejected for the Academy, but it is true that it was submitted to the President and Council of the Royal Academy, with a view to acceptance at their next forthcoming annual exhibition, and that the President and Council regretted they were unable through want of space, etc., etc.”-and as much more as the reader chooses. I shall venture, therefore, to stick to it that the octogenarian was once a fish, or if Professor Huxley prefers it, an organism which must be classified among fishes.”
But if a man was a fish once, he may have been a fish a a million times over, for aught he knows; for he must admit that his conscious recollection is at fault, and has nothing whatever to do with the matter, which must be decided, not, as it were, upon his own evidence as to what deeds he may or may not recollect having executed, but by the production of his signatures in court, with satisfactory proof that he has delivered each document as his act and deed.
This made things very much simpler. The processes of embryonic development, and instinctive actions, might be now seen as repetitions of the same kind of action by the same individual in successive generations. It was natural, therefore, that they should come in the course of time to be done unconsciously, and a consideration of the most obvious facts of memory removed ? Encycl. Brit., 9th ed., art. “Evolution," p. 750.
all further doubt that habit-which is based on memory - was at the bottom of all the phenomena of heredity.
I had got to this point about the spring of 1874, and had begun to write, when I was compelled to go to Canada, and for the next year and a half did hardly any writing. The first passage in Life and Habit which I can date with certainty is the one on page 52, which runs as follows:
“It is one against legion when a man tries to differ from his own past selves. He must yield or die if he wants to differ widely, so as to lack natural instincts, such as hunger or thirst, and not to gratify them. It is more righteous in a man that he should 'eat strange food,' and that his cheek should' so much as lank not,' than that he should starve if the strange food be at his command. His past selves are living in him at this moment with the accumulated life of centuries. Do this, this, this, which we too have done, and found our profit in it,' cry the souls of his forefathers within him. Faint are the far ones, coming and going as the sound of bells wafted on to a high mountain; loud and clear are the near ones, urgent as an alarm of fire.”
This was written a few days after my arrival in Canada, June 1874. I was on Montreal mountain for the first time, and was struck with its extreme beauty. It was a magnificent summer's evening; the noble St. Lawrence flowed almost immediately beneath, and the vast expanse of country beyond it was suffused with a colour which even Italy cannot surpass. Sitting down for a while, I began making notes for Life and Habit, of which I was then continually thinking, and had written the first few lines of the above, when the bells of Notre Dame in Montreal began to ring, and their sound was carried to and fro in a remarkably beautiful manner.
[Shrewsbury Edition, p. 43.]
I took advantage of the incident to insert then and there the last lines of the piece just quoted. I kept the whole passage with hardly any alteration, and am thus able to date it accurately.
Though so fully occupied in Canada that writing a book was impossible, I nevertheless got many notes together for future use. I left Canada at the end of 1875, and early in 1876 began putting these notes into more coherent form. I did this in thirty pages of closely written matter, of which a pressed copy remains in my commonplace-book. I find two dates among themthe first,“ Sunday, Feb. 6. 1876 ”; and the second, at the end of the notes, “ Feb. 12. 1876."
From these notes I find that by this time I had the theory contained in Life and Habit completely before me, with the four main principles which it involves, namely, the oneness of personality between parents and offspring; memory on the part of offspring of certain actions which it did when in the persons of its forefathers; the latency of that memory until it is rekindled by a recurrence of the associated ideas; and the unconsciousness with which habitual actions come to be performed.
The first half-page of these notes may serve as a sample, and runs thus:
“Those habits and functions which we have in common with the lower animals come mainly within the womb, or are done involuntarily, as our [growth of] limbs, eyes, etc., and our power of digesting food, etc.
of the chicken that it knows how to run about as soon as it is hatched, ... but had it no knowledge before it was hatched?
" It knew how to make a great many things before it was hatched.
“It grew eyes and feathers and bones.
“ After it is born it grows more feathers, and makes its bones larger, and develops a reproductive system.
Again we say it knows nothing about all this.
Whatever it does not know so well as to be unconscious of knowing it.
“Knowledge dwells upon the confines of uncertainty.
“When we are very certain, we do not know that we know. When we will very strongly, we do not know that we will.”
I then began my book, but considering myself still a painter by profession, I gave comparatively little time to writing, and got on but slowly. I left England for North Italy in the middle of May 1876 and returned early in August. It was perhaps thus that I failed to hear of the account of Professor Hering's lecture given by Professor Ray Lankester in Nature, 13th July 1876; though, never at that time seeing Nature, I should probably have missed it under any circumstances. On my return I continued slowly writing. By August 1877 I considered that I had to all intents and purposes completed my book. My first proof bears đate 13th October 1877
At this time I had not been able to find that anything like what I was advancing had been said already. I asked many friends, but not one of them knew of anything more than I did; to them, as to me, it seemed an idea so new as to be almost preposterous; but knowing how things turn up after one has written, of the existence of which one had not known before, I was particularly careful to guard against being supposed to claim originality. I neither claimed it nor wished for it; for if a theory has any truth in it, it is almost sure to