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saltations give rise to some of the gaps which appear to exist in the series of known forms.
Strongly and freely as we have ventured to disagree with Professor Kölliker, we have always done so with regret, and we trust without violating that respect which is due, not only to his scientific eminence and to the careful study which he has devoted to the subject, but to the perfect fairness of his argumentation, and the generous appreciation of the worth of Mr. Darwin's labours which he always displays. It would be satisfactory to be able to say as much for M. Flourens.
But the Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences deals with Mr. Darwin as the first Napoleon would have treated an “idéologue ;” and while displaying a painful weakness of logic and shallowness of information, assumes a tone of authority, which always touches upon the ludicrous, and sometimes passes the limits of good breeding.
For example (p. 56) :" M. Darwin continue : Aucune distinction absolue n'a été et ne peut être établie entre les espèces et les variétés.' Je vous ai déjà dit que vous vous trompiez; une distinction absolue sépare les variétés d'avec les espèces."
“ Je vous ai déjà dit ; moi, M. le Secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie des Sciences : et vous
“Qui n'êtes rien,
Pas même Académicien;' what do you mean by asserting the contrary?” Being devoid of the blessings of an Academy in England, we are unaccustomed to see our ablest men treated in this fashion even by a “ Perpetual Secretary.”
Or again, considering that if there is any one quality of Mr. Darwin's work to which friends and foes have alike borne witness, it is his candour and fairness in admitting and discussing objections, what is to be thought of M. Flourens' assertion, that
“M. Darwin ne cite que les auteurs qui partagent ses opinions." (P. 40.)
Once more (p. 65) :
“Enfin l'ouvrage de M. Darwin a paru. On ne peut qu'être frappé du talent de l'auteur. Mais que d'idées obscures, que d'idées fausses ! Quel jargon métaphysique jeté mal à propos dans l'histoire naturelle, qui tombe dans le galimatias dès qu'elle sort des idées claires, des idées justes ! Quel langage prétentieux et vide ! Quelles personifications puériles et surannées! O lucidité ! O solidité de l'esprit Français, que devenez-vous ?”
“Obscure ideas,”“ metaphysical jargon,” “ pretentious and empty language,” “puerile and superannuated personifications." Mr. Darwin has many and hot opponents on this side of the Channel and in Germany, but we do not recollect to have found precisely these sins in the long catalogue of those hitherto laid to his charge. It is worth while, therefore, to examine into these discoveries effected solely by the aid of the “lucidity and solidity” of the mind of M. Flourens.
According to M. Flourens, Mr. Darwin's great error is that he has personified Nature (p. 10), and further that he has
"imagined a natural selection : he imagines afterwards that this power of selecting (pouvoir d'élire) which he gives to Nature is similar to the power of man. These two suppositions admitted, nothing stops him : he plays with Nature as he likes, and makes her do all he pleases.” (P. 6.)
And this is the way M. Flourens extinguishes natural selection :
Voyons donc encore une fois, ce qu'il peut y avoir de fondé dans ce qu'on nomme élection naturelle.
“L'élection naturelle n'est sous un autre nom que la nature. Pour un être organisé, la nature n'est que l'organisation, ni plus ni moins.
“Il faudra donc aussi personnifier l'organisation, et dire que l'organisation choisit l'organisation. L'election naturelle est cette forme substantielle dont on jouait autrefois avec tant de facilité. Aristote disait que “Si l'art de bâtir était dans le bois, cet art agirait comme la nature.' A la place de l'art de bâtir M. Darwin met l'election naturelle, et c'est tout un : l'un n'est pas plus chimérique que l'autre." (P. 31.)
And this is really all that M. Flourens can make of Natural Selection. We have given the original, in fear lest a translation should be regarded as a travesty ; but with the original before the reader, we may try to analyse the passage. “For an organized being, Nature is only organization, neither more nor less.”
Organized beings then have absolutely no relation to inorganic nature: a plant does not depend on soil or sunshine, climate, depth in the ocean, height above it ; the quantity of saline matters in water have no influence upon animal life ; the substitution of carbonic acid for oxygen in our atmosphere would hurt nobody! That these are absurdities no one should know better than M. Flourens ; but they are logical deductions from the assertion just quoted, and from the further statement that natural selection means only that “organization chooses and selects organization.”
For if it be once admitted (what no sane man denies) that the chances of life of any given organism are increased by certain conditions (A) and diminished by their opposites (B), then it is mathematically certain that any change of conditions in the direction of (A) will exercise a selective influence in favour of that organism, tending to its increase and multiplication, while any change in the direction of (B) will exercise a selective influence against that organism, tending to its decrease and extinction.
Or, on the other hand, conditions remaining the same, let a given organism vary (and no one doubts that they do vary) in two directions : into one form (a) better fitted to cope with these conditions than the original stock, and a second (6) less well adapted to them. Then it is no less certain that the conditions in question must exercise a selective influence in favour of (a) and against (6), so that (a) will tend to predominance, and (6) to extirpation.
That M. Flourens should be unable to perceive the logical necessity of these simple arguments, which lie at the foundation of all Mr. Darwin's reasoning; that he should confound an irrefragable deduction from the observed relations of organisms to the conditions which lie around them, with a metaphysical “forme substantielle,” or a chimerical personification of the powers of Nature, would be incredible, were it not that other passages of his work leave no room for doubt upon the subject.
“On imagine une élection naturelle que, pour plus de ménagement, on me dit être inconsciente, sans s'apercevoir que le contre-sens littéral est précisément là : élection inconsciente.” (P. 52.)
“ J'ai déjà dit ce qu'il faut penser de l'élection naturelle. Ou l'élection naturelle n'est rien, ou c'est la nature : mais la nature douée d'élection, mais la nature personnifiée : dernière erreur du dernier siècle : Le xix® ne fait plus de personnifications.” (P. 53.)
M. Flourens cannot imagine an unconscious selection - it is for him a contradiction in terms. Did M. Flourens ever visit one of the prettiest watering-places of “ la belle France,” the Baie d'Arcachon? If so, he will probably have passed through the district of the Landes, and will have had an opportunity of observing the formation of “dunes” on a grand scale. What are these “dunes ?” The winds and waves of the Bay of Biscay have not much consciousness, and yet they have with great care "selected,” from among an infinity of masses of silex of all shapes and sizes, which have been submitted to their action, all the grains of sand below a certain size, and have heaped them by themselves over a great area. This sand has been “unconsciously selected.” from amidst the gravel in which it first lay with as much precision as if man had “consciously selected” it by the aid of a sieve. Physical Geology is full of such selections—of the picking out of the soft from the hard, of the soluble from the insoluble, of the fusible from the infusible, by natural agencies to which we are certainly not in the habit of ascribing consciousness.
But that which wind and sea are to a sandy beach, the sum of influences, which we term the "conditions of existence,” is to living organisms. The weak are sifted out from the strong.
A frosty night “selects” the hardy plants in a plantation from among the tender ones as effectually as if it were the wind, and they, the sand and pebbles, of our illustration ; or, on the other hand, as if the intelligence of a gardener had been operative in cutting the weaker organisms down. The thistle, which has spread over the Pampas, to the