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the foliage can be modified into various forms and modes of growth, the root, flower, and fruit remaining little altered ; in the cauliflower and brocoli the flower heads vary; in the garden pea the pod only changes. We get innumerable forms of fruit in the apple and pear, while the leaves and flowers remain undistinguishable; the same occurs in the gooseberry and garden currant. Directly however, in the very same genus) we want the flower to vary in the Ribes sanguineum, it does so, although inere cultivation for hundreds of years has not produced marked differences in the flowers of Ribes grossularia. When fashion demands any particular change in the form or size, or colour of a flower, sufficient variation always occurs in the right direction, as is shown by our roses, auriculas, and geraniums; when, as recently, ornamental leaves come into fashion susficient variation is found to meet the demand, and we have zoned pelargoniums, and variegated ivy, and it is discovered that a host of our commonest shrubs and herbaceous plants have taken to vary in this direction just when we want them to do so! This rapid variation is not confined to old and well-known plants subjected for a long series of generations to cultivation, but the Sikim Rhododendrons, the Fuchsias, and Calceolarias from the Andes, and the Pelargoniums from the Cape are equally accommodating, and vary just when and where and how we require them.
Turning to animals we find equally striking examples. If we want any special quality in any animal we have only to breed it in sufficient quantities and watch carefully, and the required variety is always found, and can be increased to almost any desired extent. In Sheep, we get flesh, fat, and wool ; in Cows, milk; in Horses, colour, strength, size, and speed ; in Poultry, we have got almost any variety of colour, curious modifications of plumage, and the capacity of perpetual egg-laying. In Pigeons we have a still more remarkable proof of the universality of variation, for it has been at one time or another the fancy of breeders to change the form of every part of these birds, and they have never found the required variations absent. The form, size, and shape of bill and feet, have been changed to such a degree as is found only in distinct genera of wild birds; the number of tail feathers has been increased, a character which is generally one of the most permanent nature, and is of high importance in the classification of birds; and the size, the colour, and the habits, have been also changed to a marvellous extent. In Dogs, the degree of modification and the facility with which it is effected, is almost equally apparent. Look at the constant amount of variation in opposite directions that must have been going on, to develop the poodle and the greyhound from the same original stock ! Instincts, habits, intelligence, size, speed, form, and colour, have always varied, so as to produce the very races which the wants or fancies or passions of men may have led them to desire. Whether they wanted a bull-dog to torture another animal, a grey
hound to catch a hare, or a bloodhound to hunt down their oppressed fellow-creatures, the required variations have always appeared.
Now this great mass of facts, of which a mere sketch has been here given, are fully accounted for by the “ Law of Variation” as laid down at the commencement of this paper. Universal variabilitysmall in amount but in every direction, ever fluctuating about a mean condition until made to advance in a given direction by " selection,” natural or artificial,
-is the simple basis for the indefinite modification of the forms of life;—partial, unbalanced, and consequently unstable modifications being produced by man, while those developed under the unrestrained action of natural laws, are at every step self-adjusted to external conditions by the dying out of all unadjusted forms, and are therefore stable and comparatively permanent. To be consistent in their views, our opponents must maintain that every one of the variations that have rendered possible the changes produced by man, have been determined at the right time and place by the will of the Creator. Every race produced by the florist or the breeder, the dog or the pigeon fancier, the ratcatcher, the sporting man, or the slavehunter, must have been provided for by varieties occurring when wanted; and as these variations were never withheld, it would prove, that the sanction of an allwise and all-powerful Being, has been given to that which the highest human minds consider to be trivial, mean, or debasing.
This appears to be a complete answer to the theory, that variation sufficient in amount to be accumulated in a given direction must be the direct act of the Creative Mind, but it is also sufficiently condemned by being so entirely unnecessary. The facility with which man obtains new races, depends chiefly upon the number of individuals he can procure to select from. When hundreds of florists or breeders are all aiming at the same object, the work of change goes on rapidly. But a common species in nature contains a thousand- or a million-fold more individuals than any domestic race; and survival of the fittest must unerringly preserve all that vary in the right direction, not only in obvious characters but in minute details, not only in external but in internal organs ; so that if the materials are sufficient for the needs of man, there can be no want of them to fulfil the grand purpose of keeping up a supply of modified organisms, exactly adapted to the changed conditions that are always occurring in the inorganic world.
The Objection that there are Limits to Variation. Having now, I believe, fairly answered the chief objections of the Duke of Argyll, I proceed to notice one or two of those adduced in an able and argumentative essay on the “ Origin of Species” in the North British Review for July, 1867. The writer first attempts to prove that there are strict limits to variation. When we begin to select variations in any one direction, the process is comparatively rapid, but after a considerable
amount of change has been effected it becomes slower and slower, till at length its limits are reached and no care in breeding and selection can produce any further advance. The race-horse is chosen as an example. It is admitted that, with any ordinary lot of horses to begin with, careful selection would in a few years make a great improvement, and in a comparatively short time the standard of our best racers might be reached. But that standard has not for many years been materially raised, although unlimited wealth and energy are expended in the attempt. This is held to prove that there are definite limits to variation in any special direction, and that we have no reason to suppose that mere time, and the selective process being carried on by natural law, could make any material difference. But the writer does not perceive that this argument fails to meet the real question, which is, not whether indefinite and unlimited change in any or all directions is possible, but whether such differences as do occur in nature could have been produced by the accumulation of variations by selection. In the matter of speed, a limit of a definite kind as regards land animals does exist in nature. All the swiftest animals
- deer, antelopes, hares, foxes, lions, leopards, horses, zebras, and many others, have reached very nearly the same degree of speed. Although the swiftest of each must have been for ages preserved, and the slowest must have perished, we have no reason to believe there is any advance of speed. The possible limit under existing conditions, and perhaps under possible