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t Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. New York, 18*5.
Explanations: a sequel to the same. New York, 1846.

J Hyatt: Memoirs Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., I., part ii, (1867);
Amer. Naturalist, vol. iv., pp. 230-237 (June, 1870).


accelerated cmbiyonic development would probably
result in tlic production of improved forms, as a re-
tarded developnient would give rise to an inferior
form. These results might ensue without any mate-
rial departure from the normal tenor of development.
Acceleration or retardation of development would be
promoted by flivorable or unfavorable external condi-
tions. Professor Edward Cope"'"^ soon afterward pro-
mulo:ated an identical theorv, which, in several elabo-

O oil

rate memoirs, he has most skillfully worked out.

Professor Theophilus Parsons,f in July, 1860, ad-
vanced the theory that ordinary generation might
occasionally result in the production of a form ad-
vanced by the whole difference between two species,
beyond the status of its parents. Kew species, he
supposed, came into existence by means of occasional
extraordinary births. A theory almost identical was in-
dependently propounded by Professor Pichard Owen,:}:
in 1868 ; and it is also the theory of Galton.g Pro-
fessor A. Kolliker, II of Germany, in 1861, in equal

* Cope : Transactions Amer. Phil. So;., xiii. (18u*.>) ; The Ihjpoth-
esis of Evolution, in Lippincott's INIagazine and "University Series,"
No. 4. Also, On the Origin of Genera.

t Parsons: Amer. Jour. Science [2], xxx,, p. 1.

X Owen : Anatomy of Vertebrates, chap. xl. ; Amer. Jour. Science
[2], xlvii., p. 33.

§ Galton : Hereditary Genius. An inquiry into its laws, etc,

II KiJlliker: Uehcr die Darwin sche SchOjfuni/sthcorie; ein Vor-
trag. Lcipsic, 18G4.


independence of Parsons, conjectured, in antagonism
to the theory of Darwin, that the development of spe-
cies is conducted through the normal processes of
generation. Professor St. George Mivart,* however,
has presented this view with the greatest degree of
fullness, candor, and ability. Finally, " partheno-gen-
esis," so called, or virginal births, has been advanced
by Ferris as an adequate explanation of the essential
phenomena of derivation.

The following is a systematic conspectus of the
several existing theories of the origin of species:

Conspectus of Theories of the Origin of Species.

Immediate Creation :

In single pairs Popular opinion.

In colonies Agassiz.

Derivation (Mediate Creation) :

Thronsli a force, -vNhicli is a mode of the Uuknow- )

" ' V Spencer.

able )

Through external forces.

Physical surroundings (Transmutation) De Mai ij . e t.

Conflicts of individuals, or "Natural Selection."

Embracing the mental and moral nature.

1 Darwin, Haeckee,
By insensible gradations ( Vari- _

\ Chapman, Gegen-

ative) !

J BAUR, etc.

* Mivart : On the Genesis of Species ; Amer. edit., 1871. Also,
Man and Apes; Amer. edit., 187-4.


With occasioual leaps (Saltativc) Huxley.

Excluding the miud and body of man Wallace.

Through an internal force, influenced by external Condi-
Perpetual effort to improvement (Cona- ) Lamarck, St.

tive-variative ) IIiLAiitE, etc.

Genetic processes exclusively (FUiative).

Prolonged development of embryo (Varia- )

y "Vestiges."
tive-fiUatke) )

( Hyatt and
Accelerated development ( Vanaiive-fdiaUve) <

Extraordinary births {Saltativc- ) Parsons, Owen, Kol-

thaumogene f liker, Mivart.

Partheno-geuesis (Saltative-fiUativc) . . . .Ferris, Kolliker.

2. Leading Arguments for Genetic Relationshij) of the

Terms of the Evolution,

It will be sufficiently obvious that the great lead-
ing facts of the organic world, to wliicli brief refer-
ence Las already been made, must be the chief reli-
ance of those who maintain that the paleontological
succession of animals is in the order of a true evolu-
tion, and that organisms existing to-day are the last
terms of a series which extends for a greater or less
distance into the po,st. The classes of facts to which
appeal is made in support of the /ad of an evolution
are, briefly: 1. The graduated succession of organic
forms in geological history; 2. The graduated rela-
tionships of animal and vegetal types in the existing


world ; 8. The correspondence of this gradation with
the successive phases presented by embryos in the
progress of their evolution.

As to the causes of this evolutionary relationship
of organisms, all those who maintain that speciiic
forms are derivative find countenance for their behef
in the admitted fact that, while species are generally
true to their lineage, they do vary, to a certain ex-
tent, so as to give rise to the phenomena of races and
varieties. If the variation is a definable amount in
brief periods, it may result in a wide divergence in
the course of a thousand generations; and thus the
origui of new specific forms become referable to the
action of those forces which we see in action under
ordinary circumstances. The idea of derivation of
species, the one from the other, is further counte-
nanced by the existence of typical plans of structure
running through the history of extinct forms and
throuo'h the world of livino^ ors^anisms.

Those who maintain that the evolution proceeds
from the influence of physical conditions make appeal,
1. To the universal and admirable correspondence
which we witness between the organs of animals and
plants and the situations in which they live; 2. To
the obvious and undisputed modifications produced
in individuals and even races under the influence of
climate, food, and physical circumstances; 3. The ex-


treme variations often witnessed in domesticated ani-
mals subjected to artificial food, lodgings, and treat-

Darwinism, so called, wliile holding to the sufTi-
ciency of external influences to account for tlie deri-
vation of species, relies rather upon the conflicts of
individual with individual in the struggle for exist-
ence, the result of which is the survival of the fittest.
The consequent slow deviation of the specific form is,
therefore, the resultant effect of all the physical forces
brought into play in the prosecution of the struggle.
It is not the direct impression of physical influences
upon the organism ; it is not an innate active impul-
sion to deviation, but a sort of residual effect. Dar-
winism as holding, 1. To the fact of an evolutionary
relationship of organic phenomena; 2. To the deriv-
ative character of each term, of the series, must appeal
primarily, as it does, to the same classes of facts, as
we have already instanced. It appeals further, as a
distinctive theorj-^, 1. To the well-known laws of in-
crease in the number of individuals of a species; 2.
To the consequent and undoubted rivalry between
them, tending to the destruction of those least fitted
to survive ; 3. To the assumed probability that hy-
bridism, or cross-breeding, would occasionally give rise
to forms better suited than cither of the parents to
the surrounding conditions, and therefore more like-


]y to survive than other forms which adhere to the
specific tj'pe; 4. To a certain amount of improvement
of the species resulting from the natural selection of
the best to perpetuate it ; 5. The hypothesis that this
variative improvement is capable of being continued
indefinitely; 6. To the phenomena of affiliated forms
and fundamental plans of structure in the existing
world and in the geological record, as evidence that
the variative improvement has been carried on to an
indefinite extent.

Here, it will be seen, are two hypotheses or as-
sumptions incorporated into a body of sound facts:
1. That improved self-perpetuating types may result
from hybrid connections; 2. That the graduated re-
lationships of animals and plants in time and space
are genetic. This is the very thing, and the only
thing, which the theory is called upon to prove. To
this and other difficulties we shall return.^

Those who maintain that the evolution of species

* Haeckel summarizes the inductive evidences of Darwinism as fol-
lows : 1. The Paleontological series (Phylogeny) ; 2. Embryological
development of the individual (Ontogeny) ; 3. The correspondence in
the terms of these two series ; 4. Comparative Anatomy (Typical forms
and structures) ; 5. Correspondence between comparative anatomy and
ontogeny ; 6. Rudimentaiy organs (Dysteleology) ; 7. The natural sys-
tem of organisms (classification) ; 8. Geographical distribution (Cho-
rology) ; 9. Adaptation to the environment (Oncology) ; 10. The unity
of biological phenomena (Naturl. SchOpfungsgesch. , pp. G-t3-5).


is caused wholly or partly by an iiilicreiit tendency to
improvement, or appetency to conform to the sur-
rounding conditions, regard this hypothesis favored by
the mutual relations between the organs of animals
and their environment, and the probability that when
the outward conditions become less favorable, beings
in which we discover so many provisions for their
best welfare would be provided with a tendency to-
ward organic changes corresponding to the changes
in external conditions.

The Lamarckian theory of inherent appetency is
little insisted on at the present day, and unmodified
Darwinism, it may be added, has fallen into a wide-
spread disrepute. Neither Huxley, nor Parsons, nor
Mivart, nor even Wallace, one of its original pro-
pounders, accepts the doctrine in its integrity; while
they all maintain that the principle of natural selec-
tion is a true conditioning^ cause of a certain amount
of variation ; or, at least, a means of preserving in
existence an improved form, when making its appear-
ance through any cause whatever. The most popu-
lar and plausible views respecting tlie efficient cause
of specific derivation are certain phases of the belief
in the sufficiency of natural generation for the pur-
pose. That is, assuming the fact of a derivative ori-
gin of species, the derivation of species from species
is not the result of the impression made by the envi-



ronment of tlie organisnij nor the result of the strug-
gles between weaker and stronger ; nor the effect of
an inherent tendency to change to perfect the adapta-
tions of the organism, but the result of extraordinary
incidents of the process of generative reproduction.
These views receive countenance in the fact that the
successive stages of embryonic development of higher
animals represent the adult stages of lower animals,
showing that the serial relation is a developmental
one, and also a relation of generative development.

The theory that a prolongation of the period of em-
brj^onic development may lead to more highly per-
fected forms, is based by the author of the " Vestiges"
on, 1. The fact that the period of embryonic develop-
ment is a period of progress from lower to higher; 2.
That the higher animals are characterized, as a rule,
by the longest periods of embryonic development; 3.
That the period is known in some cases to become
prolonged beyond the norm for the species. These
recognized facts are supplemented by the hypothesis
that, in cases of prolonged development, the rate of
development is as rapid as in cases of normal dura-
tion ; for, if the rate fall short of the norm in as great
a ratio as the lengthening of the term, the status
reached by the matured embryo would be no more
advanced, notwithstanding the prolonged develop-
ment. The theory, in addition to this, supposes that


■'L, iaLUlxiyfi


the improvement ■which takes place after birth is not
diminished in amount by the extraordinary prenatal

The hypothesis of Hyatt and Cope that the births
of superior forms are the result of an accelerated,
rather than a prolonged embr3'onic development, and
that an acceleration mav be effected throuoh the influ-
ence of improved conditions of vitality, is grounded
upon such facts as the following: 1. An acceleration
or retardation of development, either with or without
an alteration of the period, is known to take place
under circumstances of the kind alleged; as in the
case of the ova and tadpoles of frogs and other ba-
trachians, in which the rate and period both depend
npon temperature, and, in the case of tadpoles, also
upon the supply of food ; 2. Certain other batrachians
— notably Siredon lichenoides'^ — under seemingly un-
fiivorable conditions of existence, have been practi-
cally arrested in their development, and their larvcs
have reached a kind of reproductive maturity, and
have been described as adult forms, while, under
changed, and probably improved conditions, the de-
velopment of other specimens has been continued,
without interruption, to a conclusion which presents

* See Professor O. C. Marsli's observations in American Journal
of Science. Also, Tribune Extra, No. 8.


an adult which, without a knowledge of these facts,
would be taken, not only for a distinct species, but
for a distinct o-enus, family, and even order. This
hypothesis assumes that acceleration and retardation
are phenomena so general as to impress the whole of
organic nature. It also assumes, as an implication,
that there is no specific limit beyond which such em-
bryonic variations can not pass, or to which, if they
do pass it, there is no tendency in the offspring to re-
vert. That is, it denies all constancy in species, and
asserts that every species is liable to slight, continued,
unrestrained, and irremediable fluctuations throusfh
the accident of accelerated or retarded development.

The idea suggested by Parsons, and, independentU^,
by Owen, and adopted by Mivart, that the derivative
origin of species comes through occasional abnormal
births, rests, as a specialty, chiefly on the known oc-
currence of such births, and the occasional hereditary
transmission of their characteristics, especially in the
state of domestication. The theory assumes that this
cause of variation works out its results by percepti-
ble rather than imperceptible steps ; and that, conse-
quently, each specific form remains, as a rule, con-
stant It depends upon the influence of natural se-
lection to preserve in existence such extraordinary
births as possess improved fitness to survive. Its
most vulnerable point is the assumption that extraor-


dinary births are so frequent and general, and their
peculiarities so transmissible, as to alter by degrees
the whole aspect of the organic world.

The suggestion by Ferris and Kcilliker that the
phenomena of so-called "partheno-genesis" afibrd ex-
amples of a kind of specific derivation which may
have been sufficiently common and general to im-
press and mould the whole aspect of organic nature,
rests upon the fatal mistake of regarding as adults
certain extraordinary larval forms — like the inter-
mediate stages (misnamed "generations") of Cercaria
and certain Aphides. The idea of partheno-genesis is
a contempt of the universal law of life; and the as-
sumed facts are not facts, since the succession of forms
returns in all cases to an original form, which is the
only one to which genesis can be ascribed.

3. Prominent Objections to Theories of S2)ecific


(1.) In the Field of the Facts. — It becomes our next
duty, whether favorably or unfavorably impressed by
the doctrine of specific derivation, to examine can-
didly the difficulties which it encounters both in the
field of the facts and in the field of physiological
force. The great stubborn fact which every form of
the theory encounters at the very outset, is that, not-
withstandinoj variations, we are io^norant of a sinf^^le


instance of the derivation of one good species from
another. The world has been ransacked for an ex-
ample, and occasionally it has seemed for a time as
if an instance had been found of the orioination of a
genuine species bj so-called natural agencies; but we
only give utterance to the admissions of all the recent
advocates of derivative theories when we announce
that the long-sought experimentum crucis bas not been

According to common observation, while every
specific tj^pe manifests a certain degree of flexibility
under the influence of phj'sical conditions, this is ab-
solutely restricted within fixed limits. This proposi-
tion has been amply illustrated by Sir Charles Lyell,^
whose reasoning, though subsequently disavowed, was
framed in a more candid mood than the disavowal.
Sir Charles has also convincingly shown that so much
variation as is possible may be generally effected in
brief intervals of time, and that thereafter the variety
can be no further modified in the same dfrection. It
is also a matter of common observation that the di-
vergent form, when relieved of the physical con-
straint, rapidly reverts to its original type.

These statements are as true of divergencies result-
ing from hybridity as from the influence of domesti-

* Lyell : Principles of Geology^ eighth edit., pp. 573-577.


cation or other external aofencies. Neither have we
such a knowledge of the persistence of forms result-
ing from extraordinary births, as to be able to assert
that the tendency to reversion is not so dominant, as
to prevent the perpetuation of accidental features
which should impress whole faunas and floras, and
transmute whole assemblages of species.

According to the hypothesis of derivation, the va-
rieties of domesticated animals and plants are to be
regarded as incipient species capable of diverging fur-
ther and further from their original tj^pes. Varieties
ought, therefore, occasionally to come into existence
so divergent from the primitive stock that the phe-
nomena of hybridity should be possible between them
— /. e., the joint offspring of the variety and the orig-
inal stock, or two different varieties of the oriojinal
stock, should be incapable of generation. Such a phe-
nomenon has not yet arisen, and the Darwinists ad-
mit the fact with concern. Professor Huxley says:*
"I do not know that there is a single fiict which
would justify any one in saj'ing that any degree of
sterility has been observed between breeds absolutely
known to have been produced by selective breeding
from a common stock." Thou oh he asserts that it


may be possible, he sa3^s : " If it could be demonstra-

* Iluxlcy : On the Origin of Sj)ecies, p. 141.

66 evolutio:n', and its

ted that it is impossible to breed selectively from any
stock a form which shall not breed from another pro-
duced from the same stock; and if we were shown
that this must be the necessary and inevitable result
of all experiments, I hold that Mr. Darwin's hypoth-
esis would be utterly shattered."

But, it is readilv answered, our observations have
been confined to a period of time too brief to author-
ize us to set the limits to the possibility of variation.
To which we reply by appealing to the records of the
past. During the French occupation of Egypt under
the first Napoleon, extensive collections of specimens
of natural history w^ere made, including thousands of
mummied examples of animals existing in Egypt two
or three thousand years ago. These were studied and
reported upon by a committee of naturalists appoint-
ed by the Academy of Sciences. These eminent au-
thorities were so impressed by the evidence which
the mummied remains presented of the absolute con-
stancy of specific forms, that they add: "It seems as
if the superstition of the ancient Egyptians had been
inspired by Nature, with the view of leaving a monu-
ment of her history.'" " Among the animals thus pre-

* " II semble que la superstition des anciens Egyptiens ait e'te inspire
par la Natui*e, dans la vue de laisser un monument de son histoire," etc.
Annales du Museum dHistoire NatureJle, torn, i., pp. 235, 23G. La-
marck : Philosophie Zoologique, torn, i., p. G9.


served were the ape, the iclineumon, the crocodile,
and the ibis, besides many other wild quadrupeds,
birds, and reptiles, which are thus certified to have
remained constant during a period sufficiently long,
one would suppose, to have wrought sufficient change,
if total transmutation were possible, to be discern-
ible by a body of zoological experts, one of whom,
at least, would have been greatly gratified by such
discovery."^ But the strongest testimony of all to
the permanence of species w^as shown in the mum-
mies of domestic animals; for here were found abun-
dant examples of the bull, the dog, and the cat; and
such was the conformity of all these species to those
now livinoj, that there was no more diffi3rence, savs
Cuvier, between them than between the human mum-
mies and the embalmed bodies of men of the present
day. And yet these species have since been trans-
ported to all parts of the world, have endured the in-
fluences of all climates and all circumstances. The
bearing of such facts can not be gainsaid, and it is
to be regretted that Professor Huxley's candor has
not prevented him from passing them by with the
contemptuous assertion that they are "battered and

hackneyed." t

Perhaps the animals contemporary with man in

* The committee consisted of MM. Cuvier, Lacepede, and Lamarck,
t Huxley : Lay Sermons^ Addresses, and Reviews.



Europe during the Stone Age of that continent, do not
reach back to a higher than Egyptian antiquity ; but it
is worthy of mention that the bison, the reindeer, the
dog, sheep, cat, and other primitive animals have un-
dergone no perceptible alteration in the interval be-
tween prehistoric and recent times.

Some light may be thrown on the possibility of im-
portant change in the psychic characters of brutes by
contrasting their fixed intelligence with the progres-
sive intelligence of man. What progress has man
made in intellectual, a^sthetical, moral, and religious
development since the period when he was a dweller
in the caves of Europe, or a "mighty hunter" in the
primitive forests of Assyria ! But the domestic ani-
mals which have kept him company, and been the
witnesses of all his advance, have gathered no new
stores of intellectuality or knowledge. We detect no
tendency to develop toward the intellectual standard
of their master. Should we grant that the lack of ar-
ticulate speech is the bar to their progress, we grant
and claim thereby the impossibility of climbing up to
man till that bar is removed. But have they given
any surer signs of learning to articulate than they have
of learning to think? If not, then the bar remains.
This absolute fixity for a period of three or four thou-
sand years, and this absolute, unchanged, organic in-
capacity to take a step forward in intelligence, while


man is demonstrating the possibility of great move-
ments in brief periods, must be regarded as affording
little countenance to the hypothesis that any speech-
less, unreasoning pair of brutes has ever departed from
the norm so many times and so greatly as to have be-
come a speaking, reasoning, conscience-stricken Adam
and Eve.

But, in promising to make an appeal to the records
of the past, we did not propose to restrict ourselves
to an interval of two, three, or five thousand years.
This, affirms Lamarck, is too brief a period to sufEce
for the slow transmutation of species; w^e rely upon
the prolonged influence of geologic cycles. Well, we
will cite a few examples of that influence. American
geologists are very ftimiliar with a couple of species
of brachiopods which turn up under all lithological
conditions, and through a wide vertical range of for-
mations. Atrypa reticularis of Dalman, ranges from
the Clinton Group, near the bottom of the Upper Si-
lurian, through thelMiaGcara Shale and Limestone, the
Salina Group, the formations of the Lower Ilelder-
berg, the Oriskany Sandstone, the Corniferous and
Onondaga Limestones, the formations of the Uamil-
ton Group, the Portage and Chemung Groups, mak-
ing its last appearance in the Marshall Group, within
the bounds of the Carboniferous System. Geologists
may well rc-cxamine the evidences of the continuity


of the same species tbrougli so vast an interval of
time; but thouorh Mr. Whitfield - has sugorested the
probability of more than one species, the fact is,
that paleontologists have generally recognized but

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Online LibraryAlexander WinchellThe doctrine of evolution; its data, its principles, its speculations, and its theistic bearings → online text (page 3 of 10)