Page images

succeeding generations. It can be clearly shown that the most wonderful instincts with which we are acquainted, namely, those of the hive-bee and of many ants, could not possibly have been acquired by habit." 1

This showed that, according to Mr. Darwin, I had fallen into serious error, and my faith in him, though somewhat shaken, was far too great to be destroyed by a few days' course of Professor Mivart, the full importance of whose work I had not yet apprehended. I continued to read, and when I had finished the chapter felt sure that I must indeed have been blundering. The concluding words, "I am surprised that no one has hitherto advanced this demonstrative case of neuter insects against the wellknown doctrine of inherited habit as advanced by Lamarck,"2 were positively awful. There was a quiet consciousness of strength about them which was more convincing than any amount of more detailed explanation. This was the first I had heard of any doctrine of inherited habit as having been propounded by Lamarck (the passage stands in the first edition, "the well-known doctrine of Lamarck," p. 242); and now to find that I had been only busying myself with a stale theory of this long-since exploded charlatan—with my book three parts

1 Origin of Species, 6th ed., 1876, p. 206. a Ibid., p. 233.

written and already in the press—it was a serious scare.

On reflection, however, I was again met with the overwhelming weight of the evidence in favour of structure and habit being mainly due to memory. I accordingly gathered as much as I could second-hand of what Lamarck had said, reserving a study of his "Philosophic Zoologique" for another occasion, and read as much about ants and bees as I could find in readily accessible works. In a few days I saw my way again; and now, reading the "Origin of Species" more closely, and I may say more sceptically, the antagonism between Mr. Darwin and Lamarck became fully apparent to me, and I saw how incoherent and unworkable in practice the later view was in comparison with the earlier. Then I read Mr. Darwin's answers to miscellaneous objections, and was met, and this time brought up, by the passage beginning "In the earlier editions of this work,"1 &c, on which I wrote very severely in "Life and Habit;"2 for I felt by this time that the difference of opinion between us was radical, and that the matter must be fought out according to the rules of the game. After this I went

1 Origin of Species, 6th ed., p. 171, 1876.
s Pp. 258-260.

through the earlier part of my book, and cut out the expressions which I had used inadvertently, and which were inconsistent with a teleological view. This necessitated only verbal alterations; for, though I had not known it, the spirit of the book was throughout teleological.

I now saw that I had got my hands full, and abandoned my intention of touching upon "Pangenesis." I took up the words of Mr. Darwin quoted above, to the effect that it would be a serious error to ascribe the greater number of instincts to transmitted habit. I wrote chapter xi. of "Life and Habit," which is headed " Instinct as Inherited Memory;" I also wrote the four subsequent chapters, " Instincts of Neuter Insects," " Lamarck and Mr. Darwin," "Mr. Mivart and Mr. Darwin," and the concluding chapter, all of them in the month of October and the early part of November 1877, the complete book leaving the binder's hands December 4, 1877, but, according to trade custom, being dated 1878. It will be seen that these five concluding chapters were rapidly written, and this may account in part for the directness with which I said anything I had to say about Mr. Darwin; partly this, and partly I felt I was in for a penny and might as well be in for a pound. I therefore wrote about Mr. Darwin's work exactly as I should about any one else's, bearing in mind the inestimable services he had undoubtedly—and must always be counted to have—rendered to evolution.


How 1 Came To Write "evolution, Old, And New"

Me. Darwin's "brief But Imperfect" Sketch, Of The Opinions Of The Writers On Evolution

Who Had Preceded Him The Reception Which

"evolution, Old And New," Met With.

Though my book was out in 1877, it was not till January 1878 that I took an opportunity of looking up Professor Ray Lankester's account of Professor Hering's lecture. I can hardly say how relieved I was to find that it sprung no mine upon me, but that, so far as I could gather, Professor Hering and I had come to pretty much the same conclusion. I had already found the passage in Dr. Erasmus Darwin which I quoted in "Evolution, Old and New," but may perhaps as well repeat it here. It runs—

"Owing to the imperfection of language, the offspring is termed a new animal; but is, in truth, a branch or elongation of the parent, since a part of the embryon animal is or was a part of the parent, and, therefore, in strict language, cannot be said to be entirely new at the time of

« EelmineJätka »