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because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure soon to follow. An origin such as is here advocated will also agree with the peculiar character of the modifications of form and structure which obtain in organized beings—the many lines of divergence from a central type, the increasing efficiency and power of a particular organ through a succession of allied species, and the remarkable persistence of unimportant parts, such as colour, texture of plumage and hair, form of horns or crests, through a series of species differing considerably in more essential characters. It also furnishes us with a reason for that more specialized structure” which Professor Owen states to be a characteristic of recent compared with extinct forms, and which would evidently be the result of the progressive modification of any organ applied to a special purpose in the animal economy.

Conclusion. We believe we have now shown that there is a tendency in nature to the continued progression of certain classes of varieties further and further from the original type-a progression to which there appears no reason to assign any definite limits—and that the same principle which produces this result in a state of nature will also explain why domestic varieties have a tendency, when they become wild, to revert to the original type. This progression, by minute steps, in various directions, but always checked and balanced by the necessary conditions, subject to which alone existence can be preserved, may, it is believed, be followed out so as to agree with all the phænomena presented by organized beings, their extinction and succession in past ages, and all the extraordinary modifications of form, instinct and habits which they exhibit. a majority of the most eminent living men of science. New facts, new problems, new difficulties as they arise are accepted, solved or removed by this theory; and its principles are illustrated by the progress and conclusions of every well established branch of human knowledge. It is the object of the present essay to show how it has recently been applied to connect together and explain a variety of curious facts which had long been considered as inexplicable anomalies.




THERE is no more convincing proof of the truth of a comprehensive theory, than its power of absorbing and finding a place for new facts, and its capability of interpreting phænomena which had been previously looked upon as unaccountable anomalies. It is thus that the law of universal gravitation and the undulatory theory of light have become established and universally accepted by men of science. Fact after fact has been brought forward as being apparently inconsistent with them, and one after another these very facts have been shown to be the consequences of the laws they were at first supposed to disprove. A false theory will never stand this test. Advancing knowledge brings to light whole groups of facts which it cannot deal with, and its advocates steadily decrease in numbers, notwithstanding the ability and scientific skill with which it may have been supported. The great name of Edward Forbes did not prevent his theory of “ Polarity in the distribution of Organic beings in Time”. from dying a natural death; but the most striking illustration of the behaviour of a false theory is to be found in the “ Circular and Quinarian System” of classification

propounded by MacLeay, and developed by Swainson, with an amount of knowledge and ingenuity that have rarely been surpassed. This theory was eminently attractive, both from its symmetry and completeness, and from the interesting nature of the varied analogies and affinities which it brought to light and made use of. The series of Natural History volumes in “ Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia,” in which Mr. Swainson developed it in most departments of the animal kingdom, made it widely known; and in fact for a long time these were the best and almost the only popular text-books for the rising generation of naturalists. It was favourably received too by the older school, which was perhaps rather an indication of its unsoundness. A considerable number of well-known naturalists either spoke approvingly of it, or advocated similar principles, and for a good many years it was decidedly in the ascendent. With such a favourable introduction, and with such talented exponents, it must have become established if it had had any germ of truth in it; yet it quite died out in a few short years, its very existence is now a matter of history; and so rapid was its fall that its talented creator, Swainson, perhaps lived to be the last man who believed in it.

Such is the course of a false theory. That of a true one is very different, as may be well seen by the progress of opinion on the subject of Natural Selection. In less than eight years “The Origin of Species” has produced conviction in the minds of

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Importance of the Principle of Utility. Perphaps no principle has ever been announced so fertile in results as that which Mr. Darwin so carnestly impresses upon us, and which is indeed a necessary deduction from the theory of Natural Selection, namely—that none of the definite facts of organic nature, no special organ, no characteristic form or marking, no peculiarities of instinct or of habit, no relations between species or between groups of species—can exist, but which must now be or once have been useful to the individuals or the races which possess them. This great principle gives us a clue which we can follow out in the study of many recondite phænomena, and leads us to seek a meaning and a purpose of some definite character in minutiæ which we should be otherwise almost sure to pass over as insignificant or unimportant.

Popular Theories of Colour in Animals.
The adaptation of the external colouring of animals

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