The theory — Individual variation — Darwin early looked for natural explanation of design — Creation its senses — Antisthenes Colebrooke Cudworth — Creative ideas — Anaxagoras — Aristotle — Mr. Clair Grece and Darwin — For design Mr. Darwin offers a mechanical pullulation of individual difference through chance but with consequent results that as advantageous or disadvantageous seem concerted — The Fathers — Nature the phenomenon of the noumenon a boundless externality of contingency that still is a life — Nature the object will only be when it reaches the subject — That object be or subject be both must be — Even the crassest material particle is already both elementarily — As it were even inorganic matter possesses instincts — Aristotle design and necessity — Internalization — Time space motion matter — The world — Contingency — A perspective of pictures — The Vestiges and evolution — Darwin deprecates genealogies but returns to them — The mud-fish — Initial proteine — There are so many mouths to eat it up now — Darwin recants his pentateuchal concession to creation — Depends on “fanciers and breeders” — The infinitudes of transition just taken by Mr. Darwin in a step — Hypothesis — Illustration at random — Difference would go on to difference not return to the identity — Mr. Lewes and Dr. Erasmus — The grandfather's filament — Seals — The bear and the whale — Dr. Erasmus on the imagination on weeping on fear on the tadpole's tail on the rationale of strabismus.
Gifford Lecture the Eighteenth.
WE have now reached something of an insight into the theorem or theory of Mr. Darwin. I know not that it can be better put than as we have seen it put in his own clear way by Mr. Huxley. “The suggestion” he says “that new species may result from the selective action of external conditions upon the variations from their specific type which individuals present and which we call ‘spontaneous’ because we are ignorant of their causation—that suggestion is the central idea of the Origin of Species and contains the quintessence of Darwinism.” Perhaps we might object to the phrase “variations from their specific type” as insufficiently exact. Variation from specific type we might say has already achieved the whole problem—at a word! If there is spontaneous variation from the specific type—if that is a fact then “the selective action of external conditions” seems supererogatory seems to have nothing left for it to do: what was wanted is already accomplished. A variation from the specific type a new creature is already there; and we are just simply ignorant of its causation. Mr. Darwin himself does not conceive the first variation to be more than an individual variation (children only individually vary from their parents)—he does not conceive it to be by any means a specific variation—a variation at once into a new creature. Specific variation a new creature is to Mr. Darwin only the result—perhaps after millions of generations—of the eventual accumulation by inheritance of an indefinite—almost of an infinite—number of individual differences. So much importance indeed does Mr. Darwin attach to the first individual difference to the very first initial modification as the absolutely first step in the process and the consequent divergence of character from the gradual accumulation of steps modifications that he would almost consent to withdraw the phrase natural selection. “Compared to the question of Creation or Modification” he says (ii. 371) “Natural Selection seems to me utterly unimportant.” And that brings us to the question that is between Mr. Darwin and ourselves—the question of design namely. Early in life Mr. Darwin's father “proposed that he should become a clergyman” and he himself in the first instance. was nothing loath. He was “heartily laughed at too” he says “by several of the officers of the Beagle for quoting the Bible.” Nevertheless he seems still early in life to have taken an antipathy to creation as the explanation of the adaptations and contrivances he saw in organic life. How was the woodpecker for instance so wonderfully formed for the climbing of trees he asked himself; and he could not at all quiet himself by the answer it has been just so made. That was a supernatural explanation and he for his part could only be satisfied with a natural one. If all that is inorganic is absolutely determined by natural law why should not all that is organic be similarly determined? And so as I have just quoted he came to his idea of “modification” on which as a principle of explanation he took his stand in opposition to and supersedure of “creation.” That was the colour he definitely nailed to his mast—“Creation or Modification.” And his or here is an italicized or; for to Mr. Darwin there could be no other or. In fact to the general crowd of naturalists at this moment it would appear that there can be—rather that there is no other or no other alternative whatever than “creation or modification.” A good deal depends here however on what sense is to be given to “creation.” Antisthenes must have believed snails and locusts to have been mere products of the earth; for Diogenes Laertius reports him to have called the Athenians no better than such low spawn when they bragged of being earth-born. The Indian philosophers too according to Colebrooke held the “spontaneous generation of worms nits maggots gnats and other vermin.” Then Ralph Cudworth was undoubtedly a most devout sincere and pious Christian; but he seems to have felt it such an indignity to God to hold that “God Himself doth all immediately; and as it were with His own hands form the body of every gnat and fly insect and mite” that he invented and extended as medium between God and the world what is known to all students as his “Plastic Nature.” This Cudworth describes not as “the divine not archetypal but only ectypal” as “reason immersed and plunged into matter and as it were fuddled in it and confounded with it.” We see then from this what sense Ralph Cudworth gave to creation. And I at least am so far of his mind that I as little believe God to have put hand to gnat or fly insect or mite as I believe Him to have manufactured quarried or mason-like made the little bare rock on the top of Arthur's Seat. But again in the other direction I am absolutely of the same mind with Cudworth in regard to ideas. To him “knowledge is older than all sensible things; νου̑ς nous is senior to the world and the architect thereof.” Since Anaxagoras it will be within recollection that is the view that has been argued in these lectures; and since Aristotle design has been the name of our conviction. “It is better to be than not to be” says Aristotle “and nature always strives to the better” (336b); “it is not the wood that makes the bed but the skill; and it is not water itself that makes out of itself an animal but nature” (335). Anaxagoras was as we know nicknamed νου̑ς; and with quite as much reason the boys and girls of Athens might have cried after Aristotle ϵ̓́νϵκα οὑ̑ ϵ̓́νϵκά του τϵ́λος τϵ́λος all of which words mean design. Mr. Darwin I repeat never made a greater mistake in his life than when he allowed Mr. Clair Grece's translation to make him believe that Aristotle like himself was above design and all for natural necessity on chance. As I say Aristotle might have been as appropriately called Design as Anaxagoras was called Mind; and even much more appropriately for Aristotle unlike Anaxagoras was true to his principles throughout; design was his first word and his last. Now it is in consequence of just such a belief in design that it is impossible for me to accept the theory which Mr. Darwin offers us in lieu of it. Mr. Darwin for his part has no such belief and he offers us instead a mechanical pullulation of individual difference which is to eventuate in all the beautiful and complicated forms whether of plant or animal which we see around us. We have seen that it was the alternative of “creation” or “modification” that determined him to this. Others might call in the supernatural the god from the machine if they liked; he for his part would only have the usual at work. He would see all these fine adaptations just naturally inflect themselves. He had only one sense for “creation” and apparently it was only the crass common literal one of a workman turning something out of hand. As we have seen also Cudworth to say nothing of Antisthenes and the Indians could not away with this conception but felt under a necessity to interpose a plastic nature between God and the world For their parts the most and greatest of the Fathers Clement of Alexandria Origen Athanasius Basil Hilary and especially Augustine believed that the world was called into existence even as by a wish; and in this way handiwork there was none. To a certain extent that illustrates what we may call perhaps the true or correct idea in the immediate reference. Nature is but the phenomenon of the noumenon the many of the one the externale of the internale thrown down from the unity of reasoned co-articulation and connectedness—thrown down and abroad into the infinitude of a disunited disconnected and disarticulated inorganic chaos which however turns upon itself—turns upon itself for restoration and return to the image from which it fell. Nature is not dead nature is a life and if all unconsciously to itself it has still an aim in view. “It is better to be than not to be” says Aristotle; and so as I take it it is that what is is. And if it is for the better that what is is so it is that this same better is never lost sight of. “We say that nature” as is the expression of this same Aristotle “always in all things strives—ὀρϵ́γϵσθαι—reaches stretches out hands to the better.” In a word nature would articulate itself nature would see nature would be seen—nay at the last nature would see its own self. Nature with all its rocks and seas and mountains with all its suns and moons and planets with all its vast star-systems and all its immensity of space and all its infinitude of time would be—if only that—no more than the blackness and silence of a point—no more than the blackness and silence of an all-indefinite point. But nature would not remain that—nature would be—nature would be a universe—a marvellous crystal universe with an eye to see it and an ear to hear it. The object would be the subject; and then only first of all would itself be—then only first of all would the object be the object—then only first of all would it be even an object. Nature must have a man to make it even nature—object must have subject to make it even object. Alone unseen the Bayadere of the universe will not even dance. Now the subject is what hears and sees and thinks while the object is what is heard and seen and thought; and that there be just that anything be—that there be anything both must be. But it is not to be supposed that there is only such union to be found when we come to find ourselves when we come to find a man. The mud of the river the sand by the sea the very dust beneath our feet is at once both. Were it not so it would be naught nothing; it would disappear—it would be incognizable of us. That it is cognizable of us depends upon this that it is already a concretion of categories a complexion of thoughts. As you may wash away all colour from a clot of blood and be left at last with a pure transparent ultimate a pure transparent web which held the colour so you may discharge materiature from any particle of dust or sand or mud and be left at last with a pure diamond of fibres intellectual. No particle of dust or sand or mud but is there in quantity and quality and measure in substance and accident in matter and form and in quite a congeries of many other categories. In this way one can see that it may be said that even inorganic matter possesses instincts. Not dog alone or rat or cat or bee or swallow is endowed with instinct but even the rocks and stones and all the materials around them. The lower animals to Mr. Darwin as he says “seem to have the very same attributes in a much lower stage of perfection than the lowest savage” (ii. 211). To him that is there is an intellectual gradation from the lowest animal to the highest man. Still he calls it “a strange view of instinct and wholly false” that would “regard intelligence as a developed instinct.” That however must arise from Mr. Darwin's peculiarity to look upon instinct as only an inherited habit. Most people mean by instinct the whole thinking faculty of an animal so far as it has a thinking faculty at all. It is in the same way that Aristotle though he says that “God and nature do nothing in vain” yet assigns to nature no divine quality but only one that is daemonic acting on unconscious motive even as we might conceive wood to act did it make out of itself a boat or a bed; for nature's ends are wrought out blindly and without reflection. Nevertheless even so working nature continues Aristotle 645a affords inexpressible delight to those who are able to discover causes and are philosophers by nature;” not but that as he says elsewhere 677a16— “design is not always to be looked for inasmuch as certain things being such as they are many others follow from them through necessity.” This operation of necessity as we see is what Mr. Darwin alone trusts to and under its iron feet unlike Aristotle he would annihilate design. But alone the consideration gives pause to that—the consideration what would the whole universe be did it not attain to an eye that would look at it to an ear that would listen to it? To that co-articulation of mutual necessities it is impossible for any thinking being to conceive of chance as the cause. As we saw it is better to be than not to be and so there is; but if there is then there is both object and subject. Either without the other were a blank; either without the other were in vain. In order that anything be there must both be. No one can look at nature even as it is there before our eyes without acknowledging that what it shows everywhere is the rise from lowest object up to highest subject. Science has already divided this rise and made of it a succession of terraces of which any one is already more reasonable than its predecessor. To take this succession and progression from below upwards is as it were a reversal of emanation a sort of retrograde emanation and the only truth perhaps of that whole doctrine. We have first utmost space and furthest time and then motion and the moved merely—the moved merely matter namely that as space is externality outwards has already commenced to be externality inwards and so approached the subject as it were individually and from within; while motion that has thrown the whole into the unity of law and system—astral system—is the same approach as it were universally and from without. Nay earlier still we may place the beginning of the approach. Space in itself is manifestly the externals as the externale; it is externality pure and simple externality as such; it is always out and out endlessly it is never in and in. And it lies there motionless a motionless infinite Out. There seems no pure internal framework there as in the clot of blood no hidden categorical nucleolus of ideas as in material particles. Yet even as these particles have categories space has as its soul time. Space is in the clutch of time: in each moment of time the whole infinitude of space at once is: no moment of time but is at once everywhere. Is it not strange just to think of that—that even the perishable moment of time is as everywhere in space at once infinite! And yet for us to count the infinitude of space we should require the eternity of time. Evidently whatever they are they must both go together; time and space are a concrete of which the one is the discretion and the other the continuity. But the universe in that it holds of the infinite and absolute is independent of either. No one can say where the world exists nor when—it is above any where or any when: it is its own there and then and everywhere and at once and always. As we have said it is the phenomenon of the noumenon; and as everywhere the turn and return of the out to the in it makes confession of its origin. Even in the finite there is rise of the object into the subject and science tells us of it—in astronomy and geology and botany and zoology and man. The whole effort of nature in its zoology is to get to man; and it is a long ascent to get to him through sponge and mollusc fish and reptile bird and beast. Nature all the time is in no hurry or haste however but spreads itself out in its contingency in millions and millions of indifferent shapes which nevertheless collect and gather themselves in their contingency to the rounds and rungs of their ladder in its rise. Nature scatters its living products abroad as the sea its shells upon the strand. Contingency is the word; he that cannot put himself at home with contingency as philosophically understood will never philosophize this world. Mr. Darwin's inherited individual differences will never prove a match for the contingency that is. Mr. Darwin had the richest memory of anecdotes in nature of any man that ever lived and with an even infinite conjectural ingenuity he carried every anecdote to its purpose in the march. But what these anecdotes were to illustrate or establish was in the first instance this. Mr. Darwin said to himself Children resemble their parents; but they also differ from them. Evidently therefore they are as likely to propagate differences as to propagate resemblances; for the fact of propagation the fact of inheritance is to be admitted is simply to be named. Now any given difference may be an advantage or it may be a disadvantage. That is the animal by reason of the difference propagated and inherited may be obstructed in the exercise of its functions and the use of its conditions; or in all these respects it may be furthered. The ultimate of obstruction can only be extinction. But in the case of furtherance inasmuch as furtherance only encourages furtherance ever the more and the more say for incalculable periods the ultimate can only be something perfectly new—can only be a new organism in fact that is tantamount to a new species. Now observe how all this time and even as I have been using the words—observe how we have all passed through a long fascinating and most natural-seeming perspective. We have all in imagination quite pleasedly and without a rub or a check assisted actually at a new birth. We could not help ourselves. Seeing that inherited difference going incalculably on and on we felt involuntarily minded to admit any intermediate metamorphosis with any terminal result whatever. We heard words which gave us a picture in imagination; and we submitted to them. Nothing can be more plausible than an incalculable time; nothing can be more plausible than an infinite series of infinitely small numbers—here of infinitely small differences that gradually pass into one another. It belongs to the human mind to picture an endless time—an endless continuity—and then break it up into an endless number of points—an endless number of discretes. We yield to the plausibility of all this then I say; we yield and—we are lost. But consider is it a fact that length of time will of itself account for anything? Is it a fact that we must allow the capability of insensible degrees to account for any change whatever? Given a thing that is granted to vary surely we may see it in imagination vary into anything whatever—should there further be granted any number of insensible degrees and any length of time we may wish. Such conditions must prove irresistible to any imagination that has not prepared and fortified itself for opposition in advance. Our possible mental pictures have really a most potent effect upon us but a new species made by man or made by nature has it been ever proved? Followers of Mr. Darwin have been asked Is it at all conceivable that any length of time or that any insensible degrees would ever convert a canary into an elephant or a bee into a bull? And followers of Mr. Darwin have always turned upon the questioner with contempt for his ignorance and indignation for his injustice. Did he not know that Mr. Darwin ever poured scorn on all such questions? Even in the case of a man so eminent as Dr. Robert Chambers and of a book so justly authoritative as the Vestiges did not Mr. Darwin find “the idea of a fish passing into a reptile monstrous”? Did not such things amuse him in the great geologist Sir Roderick Impey Murchison? and did it not give him “a cold shudder (ii. 334) to hear of any one”—Professor Parsons it was—“speculating about a true crustacean giving birth to a true fish? How very different his own ideas of genealogy were we may understand from this. “We might give to a bird the habits of a mammal” he says (ii. 335) “but inheritance would retain almost for eternity some of the bird-like structure and prevent a new creature ranking as a mammal.” That is a bird even though it had already the habits of a mammal would remain bird-like and never in all eternity rise to the rank of a mammal Fish amphibians reptiles birds mammals must have had for each of them as a class their one “necessary and peculiar progenitor having a character like the embryo” of an individual of each of them. It is Mr. Darwin's own declaration always “We must imagine”—he does not say discover—“we must imagine some form as intermediate—I cannot conceive (ii. 335) any existing reptile being converted into a mammal.” It is gross ignorance then to hear enemies of Mr. Darwin courageously maintain that they for their parts had never come from a cow just as though Mr. Darwin had ever said that! This is something like those enemies of Berkleianism who attribute to Berkeley the direct communication on the part of God to man of every possible absurd particular whereas Berkeley has no thought in his mind but of communication on the part of God to man of this whole orderly law-regulated systematized universe. Such caricaturists in objections are to be found in opposition to every new truth. As there were those who told Berkeley to knock his head against a lamp-post so there are those who tell Mr. Darwin they did not come from a cow! Well then I suppose we may grant that as on the part of the friends of Mr. Darwin to be all right. It is gross ignorance to say that Mr. Darwin ever holds us to come from a cow or can be construed into so holding. When Mr. Darwin called “the idea of a fish passing into a reptile monstrous” he also expressly declared as for his own part “I will not specify any genealogies—much too little known at present.” We see however that Mr. Darwin's knowledge must have very sensibly increased for we are in his debt in the end for several genealogies. He is quite confident at last for example that the early progenitor of man was a catarhine monkey covered with hair its ears pointed and capable of movement its foot prehensile its body provided with a tail and it habits arboreal (Descent of Man 155–60). At an earlier period he says “Our ancestor was an animal which breathed water had a swim bladder a great swimming tail an imperfect skull and undoubtedly was a hermaphrodite!” (ii. 266). Mr. Darwin is so sure of his affair here that he can say “undoubtedly.” Of course we for our parts are accordingly impressed; but if Mr. Darwin had said “Our ancestor was not an animal which breathed water had no imperfect skull and no great swimming tail and was undoubtedly not a hermaphrodite” I question whether we should not have been equally accipient and quite equally impressed. But now that Mr. Darwin has come after all to have as much confidence in genealogy as the author of the Vestiges himself we have to see that it is the lepidosiren or mud-fish that is his greatest favourite in the propagation race. When Sir Charles Lyell ventures to say a word about “the necessity of the continued intervention of creative power” Mr. Darwin is immediately reminded of the mud-fish and of the ease with which (to use his own expression) it will floor Lyell. “I cannot see this necessity” he says “and its admission I think would make the theory of natural selection valueless. Grant a simple archetypal creature like the mud-fish or lepidosiren with the five senses and some vestige of mind and I believe natural selection will account for the production of every vertebrate animal!” Why the mud-fish is such a favourite with Mr. Darwin probably is because as he tells us it is intermediate “between reptiles and fish between mammals and birds on the one hand and reptiles on the other hand.” The mud-fish should we look it up as we easily may in any zoological primer will be found a creature something like an eel and of no great size. When Mr. Darwin asked to be allowed to endow it with “the five senses and some vestige of mind” we may have thought that he was only asking to be granted what the problem itself amounted to; but should we look at the fish itself and consider what materials Mr. Darwin only asked for in order to make it a man I doubt not we shall admire his modesty. For the commencement of all the marvels of animal life Mr. Darwin as he says would seem to require only “a proteine compound chemically formed in some little pond with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts light heat electricity etc. present;” but alas! as he very pointedly laments “at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured and absorbed” now that there are so many “living creatures” all about (iii. 18). The want of this primordial life-matter which Mr. Darwin quite cheerfully opines might be quite easily “chemically formed” does not discourage him from evolving all animals whatever from a single specimen of them once he has got one—the mud-fish say which for him too has only to “appear.” “I have long regretted” he says (iii. 18) “that I truckled to public opinion and used the peritateuchal term of creation by which I really meant ‘appeared’ by some wholly unknown process.” This is how he recants the wind-up of his great book the Origin “into that grandeur of view” which sees “the Creator breathe life into a few forms or into one.” No no! there can be no “creation” but only “modification;” all the materials of which are imaginatively prepared for it in the first imagined “appearance” out of the first imagined proteine. Then how he got to all this! He tells Dr. Asa Gray (ii. 79) as we saw once already “All my notions about how species change are derived from long-continued study of the works of (and converse with) agriculturists and horticulturists;” and accordingly he admits “I have found it very important associating with fanciers and breeders.”
Nay he even confesses that he did not disdain to find himself seated in pursuit of knowledge under difficulties “amongst a set of pigeon fanciers in a gin palace in the borough!” (ii. 281). It is then in consequence of what he has learned in this way about pouters and fan-tails the horns of cattle and the wool of sheep together with bands stripes or bars upon the backs and legs of horses and donkeys (ii. 111) that he feels himself empowered at last to declare that “all vertebrata have descended from one parent” (ii. 211) and that analogy leads him to the conclusion of the descent also “from one parent of the great kingdoms (as vertebrata articulata and the rest)” (ii. 212). Nay so high did he mount in his rapture of discovery (imagination) “that ho applied the theory of evolution to the whole organic kingdom from plants to man!” (ii. 6). What a wonderful thing that first only chemically-formed proteine must have been which already contained in its invisible “seed-bags” as Jean Paul Richter might say plants animals and man Adam and Eve and all! Nay what a much more wonderful thing if possible is that spoon of mere individual difference by chance which alone enables Mr. Darwin to dig into the initial material identity and deal it out into the infinity of the infinitely varied plant life and infinitely varied animal life which we see around us! Once Mr. Darwin has finished with the vertebrata—only the vertebrata!—what a wonderful leap that is a salto mortale a flying leap on the single trapeze of “analogy” that enables him without more ado to find the articulata insecta mollusca molluscoida and what not all in the same Noah's ark of a pedigree with man! It is not an expensive matter to philosophize in that way. The grandfather Erasmus the first said omnia ex conchis or ex conchis omnia “all from oysters;” Mr. Darwin surpasses his grand father and cries all oysters too from proteine. For if one will consider of it there is at bottom on Mr. Darwin's part certainly with illustrations enow pictures enow little more than a cry. Let us look back on what we have seen—let us turn up any one page as alluded to in Mr. Darwin and we shall find with all his illustrations that the method of Mr. Darwin is one of hypothesis supposition probable conjecture only. It is so easy to prove this that without troubling to look back and turn up pages behind us I just open a book of Mr. Darwin's at random—I just positively take it up from my table open it at random and read what I see. I find I have opened at page 594 of the second edition of the Descent of Man. “At a very early period before man attained to his present rank in the scale many of his conditions would be different from what now obtains amongst savages. Judging from the analogy of the lower animals he would then either live with a single female or be a polygamist.” (He would not have been a bachelor it seems?) “The most powerful and able males would succeed best in obtaining attractive females.” (We know that the weakest succeed now in that respect quite as well as the strongest!) “They would also succeed best in the general struggle for life.…At this early period the ancestors of man would not be sufficiently advanced in intellect to look forward to distant contingencies; they would not foresee that the rearing of all their children especially their female children would make the struggle of life severer for the tribe. They would be governed more by their instincts. They would not at that period” and so on. That is a perfect specimen of how the mind of Mr. Darwin works. Difference would be—difference would go on incalculably into new identities not possibly turn back as all facts past or present seem on the whole to suggest into the old ones again. With him it is always so and so “would be.” One correspondent seems to have objected to him his constant “I believe or I am convinced” and to have advised rather what he might depend upon as “I prove” (ii. 240). “I cannot doubt” is another such expression of his. “I cannot doubt” be says “that during millions of generations individuals of a species will be born with some slight variation profitable to some part of its economy.” That is his whole doctrine in its one creative bud: individuals vary to advantage; and it rests on a mere subjective “I cannot doubt” and that too in regard to a mere mental picture of millions!—millions of generations!—that some one individual from time to time among them all we may be safe to assume will experience “some slight variation profitable to some part of its economy.” The whole tendency of the natural indefinite picture which as such we cannot well gainsay is to blind us to the pure assumption of the single proposition—individual differences will so accumulate to advantage in millions of generations as to constitute a new species. Of course it is useless to ask for the proof which the correspondent suggested; proof there can be none given; naturally that record of millions of generations can have a place only in the imagination; and by way of proof there can be nothing for it but illustratively to allude to all manner of conjectural likelihoods and specious possibilities which in a great many cases will be found to admit of a no not one whit less satisfactorily than of a yes. To read what Mr. Darwin in the Krausebook quotes from Mr. Lewes in regard to Erasmus Darwin one is led to believe that Mr. Lewes had a very high opinion of that respected grandsire. That is certainly the impression Mr. Darwin desires to convey. We come to the very opposite conclusion however when we turn up the passage and read in Mr. Lewes himself who tells us how Erasmus “as he proceeds gets more and more absurd;” how “as a poet his Botanic Garden by its tawdry splendour gained him a tawdry reputation;” and how “as a philosopher his Zoonomia gained him a reputation equally noisy and fleeting.” The grandson speaks of his grandfather's “overpowering tendency to theorize and generalize.” And certainly no one will dispute as much if he reads the Zoonomia. All life for Erasmus proceeds from an organic filament; there is a different one for the different kingdoms; yet probably he says at last “one and the same kind of living filament is and has been the cause of all organic life.” And here I for my part prefer the grandfather's filament to the grandson's proteine. Mr. Darwin conjectures seals to begin to feed on shore (ii. 339) and so consequently to vary; and yet he admits (ii. 336) “I know of no fact showing any the least incipient variation of seals feeding on the shore.” The grandfather will have it again that all animals were at first fish and became amphibious by feeding on shore and so gradually terrestrial. This is vastly more wholesale than what the grandson says about seals and yet I know not that the grandfather's teeming imagination ever gave birth to a more Brob-dingnagian monster than this on the part of the grandson. At page 141 of the latest issue of the Origin of Species we read: “In North America the black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open mouth thus catching almost like a whale insects in the water.” A bear swimming and catching insects even as a whale might—this on the part of Mr. Darwin is to make easy to us the transition of one animal into another. Truly as I said Mr. Darwin does not always scout genealogy! He could not stomach it in the case of Dr. Robert Chambers and the passage of a fish into a reptile; but in fifteen years—the interval between his reading and his writing—he has learned something—he has acquired himself a swallow wide enough for both a whale and a bear. The passage it seems according to a note in the Life and Letters (ii. 234) was omitted in the second edition. Nevertheless it is to be read in the last issue now. Mr. Darwin then must have deliberately restored it. I say deliberately for we find him November 24 1859 consulting Lyell about it. “Will you send me one line to say whether I must strike out about the whale? it goes to my heart!” Next day also we find him assuring this same Lyell “I will certainly leave out the whale and bear.” Nay in September of the following year he cannot help writing once more on the subject to Lyell but this time—so much has it gone to his heart—appealingly. “Observe” he cries—“observe that in my wretched polar bear case I do show the first step by which conversion into a whale ‘would be easy’ ‘would offer no difficulty!’” He had already said in the first of these three letters “In transitions it is the premier pas qui coute” and we are to understand therefore that supplied with the first step of the transition of a bear into a whale we could be at no loss in picturing to ourselves the easy remainder of the entire process. An easy remainder surely seeing we had to refer for it only to our own imaginations! It is to the imagination at all events that the grandfather testifies great gratitude. He cheerfully allows it a chief place in “metamorphoses” and surely with reason! It shall be the imagination of the mother that colours the eggs of her progeny; he even brings in the imagination of the father in a wonderful (Shandy-an) manner! Then it is by imagination afterwards of the original irritation of the lachrymal glands at birth that we are able during life to weep when in grief as it is by imagination of our first cold shivering also at birth that when in fear we always tremble etc. I suppose it is still the effects of imagination he alludes to when he says: “The tadpole acquires legs and lungs—when he wants them! and loses his tail—when it is no longer of service to him!” And certainly it is only by a signal effort of the imagination that he himself has been enabled to discover this astonishing rationale and causality of squinting (Zoonomia ii. 143). “Squinting is generally owing to one eye being less perfect than the other on which account the patient endeavours to hide the worst eye in the shadow of the nose!” We may break off here and resume next week.
From the book: