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The point on which the Duke of Argyll lays most stress, is, that proofs of Mind everywhere meet us in Nature, and are more especially manifest wherever we find “contrivanco” or “beauty.” He maintains that this indicates the constant supervision and direct interference of the Creator, and cannot possibly be explained by the unassisted action of any combination of laws. Now, Mr. Darwin's work has for its main object, to show, that all the phenomena of living things,—all their wonderful organs and complicated structures, their infinite variety of form, size, and colour, their intricate and involved relations to each other,-may have been produced by the action of a few general laws of the simplest kind, laws which are in most cases mere statements of admitted facts. The chief of these laws or facts are the following:
1. The Law of Multiplication in Geometrical Progression. - All organized beings have enormous powers of multiplication. Even man, who increases slower than all other animals, could under the most favourable circumstances double his numbers every fifteen years, or a hundred-fold in a century. Many animals and plants could increase their numbers from ten to a thousand-fold every year.
2. The Law of Limited Populations.—The number of living individuals of each species in any country, or in the whole globe, is practically stationary ; whence it follows that the whole of this enormous increase must die off almost as fast as produced, except only those individuals for whom room is made by the death of parents. As a simple but striking example, take an oak forest. Every oak will drop annually thousands or millions of acorns, but till an old tree falls, not one of these millions can grow up into an oak. They must die at various stages of growth.
3. The Law of Heredity, or Likeness of Offspring to their Parents.—This is a universal, but not an absolute law. All creatures resemble their parents in a high degree, and in the majority of cases very accurately; so that even individual peculiarities, of whatever kind, in the parents, are almost always transmitted to some of the offspring.
4. The Law of Variation. This is fully expressed by the lines :
“No being on this earthly ball,
Is like another, all in all.” Offspring resemble their parents very much, but not wholly-each being possesses its individuality. This 6 variation " itself varies in amount, but it is always present, not only in the whole being, but in every part of every being. Every organ, every character, every feeling is individual ; that is to say, varies from the same organ, character, or feeling in every other individual.
5. The Law of unceasing Change of Physical Conditions upon the Surface of the Earth.—Geology shows us that this change has always gone on in times past, and we also know that it is now everywhere going on.
6. The Equilibrium or Harmony of Nature.- When a species is well adapted to the conditions which environ it, it flourishes ; when imperfectly adapted it decays; when ill-adapted it becomes extinct. If all the conditions which determine an organism's wellbeing are taken into consideration, this statement can hardly be disputed.
This series of facts or laws, are mere statements of what is the condition of nature. They are facts or inferences which are generally known, generally admitted—but in discussing the subject of the “ Origin of Species ”—as generally forgotten. It is from these universally admitted facts, that the origin of all the varied forms of nature may be deduced by a logical chain of reasoning, which, however, is at every step verified and shown to be in strict accord with facts ; and, at the same time, many curious phenomena which can by no other means be understood, are explained and accounted for. It is probable, that these primary facts or laws are but results of the very nature of life, and of the essential properties of organized and unorganized matter. Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his “First Principles" and his “ Biology” has, I think, made us able to understand how this may be; but at present we may accept these simple laws without going further back, and the question then is—whether the variety, the harmony, the contrivance, and the beauty we perceive in organic beings, can have been produced by the action of these laws alone, or whether we are required to believe in the incessant interference and direct action of the mind and will of the Creator. It is simply a question of how the Creator has worked. The Duke (and I quote him as having well expressed the views of the more intelligent of Mr. Darwin's opponents) maintains, that He has personally applied general laws to produce effects, which those laws are not in themselves capable of producing; that the universe alone, with all its laws intact, would be a sort of chaos, without variety, without harmony, without design, without beauty; that there is not (and therefore we may presume that there could not be) any self-developing power in the universe. I believe, on the contrary, that the universe is so constituted as to be self-regulating; that as long as it contains Life, the forms under which that life is manifested have an inherent power of adjustment to each other and to surrounding nature; and that this adjustment necessarily leads to the greatest amount of variety and beauty and enjoyment, because it does depend on general laws, and not on a continual supervision and re-arrangement of details. As a matter of feeling and religion, I hold this to be a far higher conception of the Creator and of the Universe that that which may be called the continual interference” hypothesis; but it is not a question to be decided by our feelings or convictions, it is a question of facts and of reason. Could the change, which Geology shows us has ever taken place in the forms of life, have been produced by general laws, or does it imperatively require the incessant supervision of a creative mind? This is the question for us to consider, and our opponents have the difficult task of proving a negative, if we show that there are both facts and analogies in our favour.
Mr. Darwin's Metaphors liable to Misconception. Mr. Darwin has laid himself open to much misconception, and has given to his opponents a powerful weapon against himself, by his continual use of metaphor in describing the wonderful co-adaptations of organic beings.
“It is curious,” says the Duke of Argyll, “ to observe the language which this most advanced disciple of pure naturalism instinctively uses, when he has to describe the complicated structure of this curious order of plants (the Orchids). Caution in ascribing intentions to nature,' does not seem to occur to him as possible. Intention is the one thing which he does see, and which, when he does not see, he seeks for diligently until he finds it. He exhausts every form of words and of illustration, by which intention or mental purpose can be described. "Contrivance '--'curious contrivance,'—' beautiful contrivance,'—these are expressions which occur over and over again. Here is one sentence describing the parts of a particular species : 'the Labellum is developed into a long nectary, in order to attract Lepidoptera, and we shall presently give reason for suspecting that the nectar is purposely so lodged, that it can be sucked only slowly in order to give time for the curious chemical quality of the viscid matter setting hard and dry.'” Many other examples of similar expressions are quoted by the Duke, who