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ing that history repeats itself, so that anarchy will lead to despotism and despotism to anarchy; every nation can point to instances of men's minds having gone round and round so nearly in a perfect cycle that many revolutions have occurred before the cessation of a tendency to recur. Lastly, in the generation of plants and animals we have, perhaps, the most striking and common example of the inevitable tendency of all action to repeat itself when it has once proximately done so. Let only one living being have once succeeded in producing a being like itself, and thus have returned, so to speak, upon itself, and a series of generations must follow of necessity, unless some matter interfere which, had no part in the original combination, and, as it may happen, kill the first reproductive creature or all its descendants within a few generations. If no such mishap occurs as this, and if the recurrence of the conditions is sufficiently perfect, a series of generations follows with as much certainty as a series of seasons follows upon the cycle of the relations between the earth and sun. Let the first periodically recurring substance—we will say A—be able to recur or reproduce itself, not once only, but many times over, as A1, A2, &c; let A also have consciousness and a sense of self-interest, which qualities must, ex hypothesi, be reproduced in each one of its offspring; let these get placed in circumstances which differ sufficiently to destroy the cycle in theory without doing so practically—that is to say, to reduce the rotation to a spiral, but to a spiral with so little deviation from perfect cycularity as for each revolution to appear practically a cycle, though after many revolutions the deviation becomes perceptible; then some such differentiations of animal and vegetable life as we actually see follow as matters of course. A1 and A2 have a sense of self-interest as A had, but they are not precisely in circumstances similar to A's, nor, it may be, to each other's; they will therefore act somewhat .differently, and every living being is modified by a change of action. Having become modified, they follow the spirit of A's action more essentially in begetting a creature like themselves than in begetting one like A; for the essence of A's act was not the reproduction of A, but the reproduction of a creature like the one from which it sprung—that is to say, a creature bearing traces in its body of the main influences that have worked upon its parent.
Within the cycle of reproduction there are cycles upon cycles in the life of each individual, whether animal or plant. Observe the action of our lungs and heart, how regular it is, and . how a cycle having been once established, it is repeated many millions of times in an individual of average health and longevity. Remember also that it is this periodicity—this inevitable tendency of all atoms in combination to repeat any combination which they have once repeated, unless forcibly prevented from doing so—which alone renders nine-tenths of our mechanical inventions of practical use to us. There is no internal periodicity about a hammer or a saw, but there is in the steam-engine or watermill when once set in motion. The actions of these machines recur in a regular series, at regular intervals, with the unerringness of circulating decimals.
When we bear in mind, then, the omnipresence of this tendency in the world around us, the absolute freedom from exception which attends its action, the manner in which it holds equally good upon the vastest and the smallest scale, and the completeness of its accord with our ideas of what must inevitably happen when a like combination is placed in circumstances like those in which it was placed before—when we bear in mind all this, is it possible not to connect the facts together, and to refer cycles of living generations to the same unalterableness in the action of like matter under like circumstances which makes Jupiter and Saturn revolve round the sun, or the piston of a steamengine move up and down as long as the steam acts upon it?
But who will attribute memory to the hands of a clock, to a piston-rod, to air or water in a storm or in course of evaporation, to the earth and planets in their circuits round the sun, or to the atoms of the universe, if they too be moving in a cycle vaster than we can take account of ?1 And if not, why introduce it into the embryonic development of living beings, when there is hot a particle of evidence in support of its actual presence, when regularity of action can be ensured just as well without it as with it, and when at the best it is considered as existing under circumstances which it baffles us to conceive, inasmuch as it is supposed to be exercised without any conscious recollection? Surely a memory which is exercised without any consciousness of recollecting is only a periphrasis for the absence of any memory at all.
1 It must be remembered that this passage is put as if in the mouth of an objector.
REFUTATION—MEMORY AT ONCE A PROMOTER AND A DISTURBER OF UNIFORMITY OF ACTION AND STRUCTURE.
To meet the objections in the two foregoing chapters, I need do little more than show that the fact of certain often inherited diseases and developments, whether of youth or old age, being obviously not due to a memory on the part of offspring of like diseases and developments in the parents, does not militate against supposing that embryonic and youthful development generally is due to memory.
This is the main part of the objection; the rest resolves itself into an assertion that there is no evidence in support of instinct and embryonic development being due to memory, and a contention that the necessity of each particular moment in each particular case is sufficient to account for the facts without the introduction of memory.
I will deal with these two last points briefly first. As regards the evidence in support of the theory that instinct and growth are due to