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less and less continually, must always cause some disturbance. At the same time the possession of a memory on the successive repetitions of an action after the first, and, perhaps, the first two or three, during which the recollection may be supposed still imperfect, will tend to ensure uniformity, for it will be one of the elements of sameness in the agents—they both acting by the light of experience and memory.
During the embryonic stages and in childhood we are almost entirely under the guidance of a practised and powerful memory of circumstances which have been often repeated, not only in detail and piecemeal, but as a whole, and under many slightly varying conditions; thus the performance has become well averaged and matured in its arrangements, so as to meet all ordinary emergencies. We therefore act with great unconsciousness and vary our performances little. Babies are much more alike than persons of middle age.
Up to the average age at which our ancestors have had children during many generations, we are still guided in great measure by memory; but the variations in external circumstances begin to make themselves perceptible in our characters. In middle life we live more and more continually upon the piecing together of details of memory drawn from our personal experience, that is to say, upon the memory of our own antecedents; and this resembles the kind of memory we hypothetically attached to cream a little time ago. It is not surprising, then, that a son who has inherited his father's tastes and constitution, and who lives much as his father had done, should make the same mistakes as his father did when he reaches his father's age—we will say of seventy—though he cannot possibly remember his father's having made the mistakes. It were to be wished we could, for then we might know better how to avoid gout, cancer, or what not. And it is to be noticed that the developments of old age are generally things we should be glad enough to avoid if we knew how to do so.
If we observed the resemblance between successive generations to be as close as that between distilled water and distilled water through all time, and if we observed that perfect unchangeableness in the action of living beings which we see in what we call chemical and mechanical combinations, we might indeed suspect that memory had as little place among the causes of their action as it can have in anything, and that each repetition, whether of a habit or the practice of art, or of an embryonic process in successive generations, was an original performance, for all that memory had to do with it. I submit, however, that in the case of the reproductive forms of life we see just so much variety, in spite of uniformity, as is consistent with a repetition involving not only a nearly perfect similarity in the agents and their circumstances, but also the little departure therefrom that is inevitably involved in the supposition that a memory of like presents as well as of like antecedents (as distinguished from a memory of like antecedents only) has played a part in their development—a cyclonic memory, if the expression may be pardoned.
There is life infinitely lower and more minute than any which our most powerful microscopes reveal to us, but let us leave this, upon one side and begin with the amoeba. Let us suppose that this structureless morsel of protoplasm is, for all its structurelessness, composed of an infinite number of living molecules, each one of them with hopes and fears of its own, and all dwelling together like Tekke Turcomans, of whom we read that they live for plunder only, and that each man of them is entirely independent, acknowledging no constituted authority, but that some among them exercise a tacit and undefined influence over the others. Let us suppose these molecules capable of memory, both in their capacity as individuals, and as societies, and able to transmit their memories to their descendants, from the traditions of the dimmest past to the experiences of.their own lifetime. Some of these societies will remain simple, as having had no history, but to the greater number unfamiliar, and therefore striking, incidents will from time to time occur, which, when they do not disturb memory so greatly as to kill, will leave their impression upon it. The body or society will remember these incidents, and be modified by them in its conduct, and therefore more or less in its internal arrangements, which will tend inevitably to specialisation. This memory of the most striking events of varied lifetimes I maintain, with Professor Hering, to be the differentiating cause, which, accumulated in countless generations, has led up from the amoeba to man. If there had been no such memory, the amoeba of one generation would have exactly resembled the amoeba of the preceding, and a perfect cycle would have been established ; the modifying effects of an additional memory in each generation have made the cycle into a spiral, and into a spiral whose eccentricity, in the outset hardly perceptible, is becoming greater and greater with increasing longevity and more complex social and mechanical inventions.