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as this. He did not even, I am assured, mention "natural selection," but appeared to believe, with Professor Tyndall,1 that "evolution" is "Mr. Darwin's theory." In his article on evolution in the latest edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," I find only a veiled perception of the point wherein Mr. Darwin is at variance with his precursors. Professor Huxley evidently knows little of these writers beyond their names; if he had known more, it is impossible he should have written that " Buffon contributed nothing to the general doctrine of evolution,"2and that Erasmus Darwin, "though a zealous evolutionist, can hardly be said to have made any real advance on his predecessors." 8 The article is in a high degree unsatisfactory, and betrays at once an amount of ignorance and of perception which leaves an uncomfortable impression.
If this is the state of things that prevails even now, it is not surprising that in i860 the general public should, with few exceptions, have known of only one evolution, namely, that propounded by Mr. Darwin. As a member of the general public, at that
1 Nineteenth Century, November 1878; Evolution, Old and New, pp. 360, 361.
2 Encyclopaedia Britannica, ed. ix., Art. "Evolution," p. 748.
time residing eighteen miles from the nearest human habitation, and three days' journey on horseback from a bookseller's shop, I became one of Mr. Darwin's many enthusiastic admirers, and wrote a philosophical dialogue (the most offensive form, except poetry and books of travel into supposed unknown countries, that even literature can assume) upon the "Origin of Species." This production appeared in the Press, Canterbury, New Zealand, in 1861 or 1862, but I have long lost the only copy I had.
HOW I CAME TO WRITE "LIFE AND HABIT," AND THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF ITS COMPLETION.
It was impossible, however, for Mr. Darwin's readers to leave the matter as Mr. Darwin had left it. We wanted to know whence came that germ or those germs of life which, if Mr. Darwin was right, were once the world's only inhabitants. They could hardly have come hither from some other world; they could not in their wet, cold, slimy state have travelled through the dry ethereal medium which we call space, and yet remained alive. If they travelled slowly, they would die; if fast, they would catch fire, as meteors do on entering the earth's atmosphere. The idea, again, of their having been created by a quasi-anthropomorphic being out of the matter upon the earth was at variance with the whole spirit of evolution, which indicated that no such being could exist except as himself the result, and not the cause, of evolution. Having got back from ourselves to the monad, we were suddenly to begin again with something which was either unthinkable, or was only ourselves again upon a larger scale—to return to the same point as that from which we had started, only made harder for us to stand upon.
There was only one other conception possible, namely, that the germs had been developed in the course of time from some thing or things that were not what we called living at all; that they had grown up, in fact, out of the material substances and forces of the world in some manner more or less analogous to that in which man had been developed from themselves.
I first asked myself whether life might not, after all, resolve itself into the complexity of arrangement of an inconceivably intricate mechanism. Kittens think our shoe-strings are alive when they see us lacing them, because they see the tag at the end jump about without understanding all the ins and outs of how it comes to do so. "Of course," they argue, "if we cannot understand how a thing comes to move, it must move of itself, for there can be no motion beyond our comprehension but what is spontaneous; if the motion is spontaneous, the thing moving must be alive, for nothing can move of itself or without our understanding why unless it is alive. Everything that is alive and not too large can be tortured, and perhaps eaten; let us therefore spring upon the tag;" and they spring upon it. Cats are above this; yet give the cat something which presents a few more of those appearances which she is accustomed to see whenever she sees life, and she will fall as easy a prey to the power which association exercises over all that lives as the kitten itself. Show her a toy-mouse that can run a few yards after being wound up; the form, colour, and action of a mouse being here, there is no good cat which will not conclude that so many of the appearances of mousehood could not be present at the same time without the presence also of the remainder. She will, therefore, spring upon the toy as eagerly as the kitten upon the tag.
Suppose the toy more complex still, so that it might run a few yards, stop, and run on again without an additional winding up; and suppose it so constructed that it could imitate eating and drinking, and could make as though the mouse were cleaning its face with its paws. Should we not at first be taken in ourselves, and assume the presence of the remaining facts of life, though in reality they were not there? Query, therefore, whether a machine so com