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him. Whatever concession to the opinion of Buffon Bonnet may have been inclined to make in 1769, in 1764, when he published his "Contemplation de la Nature," and in 1762 when his "Considerations sur les Corps Organises" appeared, he cannot be considered to have been a supporter of evolution. I went through these works in 1878 when I was writing "Evolution, Old and New," to see whether I could claim him as on my side; but though frequently delighted with his work, I found it impossible to press him into my service.
The pre-eminent claim of Buffon to be considered as the father of the modern doctrine of evolution cannot be reasonably disputed, though he was doubtless led to his conclusions by the works of Descartes and Leibnitz, of both of whom he was an avowed and very warm admirer. His claim does not rest upon a passage here or there, but upon the spirit of forty quartos written over a period of about as many years. Nevertheless he wrote, as I have shown in "Evolution, Old and New," of set purpose enigmatically, whereas there was no beating about the bush with Dr. Darwin. He speaks straight out, and Dr. Krause is justified in saying of him "that he was the first who pro
posed and persistently carried out a well-rounded theory" of evolution.
I now turned to Lamarck. I read the first volume of the "Philosophic Zoologique," analysed it and translated the most important parts. The second volume was beside my purpose, dealing as it does rather with the origin of life than of species, and travelling too fast and too far for me to be able to keep up with him. Again I was astonished at the little mention Mr. Darwin had made of this illustrious writer, at the manner in which he had motioned him away, as it were, with his hand in the first edition of the " Origin of Species," and at the brevity and imperfection of the remarks made upon him in the subsequent historical sketch.
I got Isidore Geoffroy's "Histoire Naturelle Generale," which Mr. Darwin commends in the note on the second page of the historical sketch, as giving "an excellent history of opinion" upon the subject of evolution, and a full account of Buffon's conclusions upon the same subject. This at least is what I supposed Mr. Darwin to mean. What he said was that Isidore Geoffroy gives an excellent history of opinion on the subject of the date of the first publication of Lamarck, and that in his work there is a full account of Buffon's fluctuating conclusions upon the same subject} But Mr. Darwin is a more than commonly puzzling writer. I read what M. Geoffroy had to say upon Buffon, and was surprised to find that, after all, according to M. Geoffroy, he, and not Lamarck, was the founder of the theory of evolution. His name, as I have already said, was never mentioned in the first edition of the " Origin of Species."
M. Geoffroy goes into the accusations of having fluctuated in his opinions, which he tells us have been brought against Buffon, and comes to the conclusion that they are unjust, as any one else will do who turns to Buffon himself. Mr. Darwin, however, in the " brief but imperfect sketch," catches at the accusation, and repeats it while saying nothing whatever about the defence. The following is still all he says :—" The first author who in modern times has treated" evolution "in a scientific spirit was Buffon. But as his opinions fluctuated greatly at% different periods, and as he does not enter on the causes or means of the transformation of species, I need not here enter on details." On the next page,
1 The note began thus: "I have taken the date of the first publication of Lamarck from Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire's (Hist. Nat. Generale, torn. ii. p. 405, 1859) excellent history of opinion upon this subject. In this work a full account is given of Buffon's fluctuating conclusions upon the same subject."—Origin of Species, 3d ed., 1861, p. xiv.
in the note last quoted, Mr. Darwin originally repeated the accusation of having been fluctuating in his opinions, and appeared to give it the imprimatur of Isidore Geoffroy's approval; the fact being that Isidore Geoffroy only quoted the accusation in order to refute it; and though, I suppose, meaning well, did not make half the case he might have done, and abounds with misstatements. My readers will find this matter particularly dealt with in "Evolution, Old and New," Chapter X.
I gather that some one must have complained to Mr. Darwin of his saying that Isidore Geoffroy gave an account of Buffon's "fluctuating conclusions" concerning evolution, when he was doing all he knew to maintain that Buffon's conclusions did not fluctuate; for I see that in the edition of 1876 the word "fluctuating" has dropped out of the note in question, and we now learn that Isidore Geoffroy gives "a full account of Buffon's conclusions," without the "fluctuating." But Buffon has not taken much by this, for his opinions are still left fluctuating greatly at different periods on the preceding page, and though he still was the first to treat evolution in a scientific spirit, he still does not enter upon the causes or means of the transformation of species. No one can understand Mr.
Darwin who does not collate the different editions of the " Origin of Species" with some attention. When he has done this, he will know what Newton meant by saying he felt like a child playing with pebbles upon the seashore.
One word more upon this note before I leave it. Mr. Darwin speaks of Isidore Geoffroy's history of opinion as "excellent," and his account of Buffon's opinions as "full." I wonder how well qualified he is to be a judge of these matters? If he knows much about the earlier writers, he is the more inexcusable for having said so little about them. If little, what is his opinion worth?
To return to the "brief but imperfect sketch." I do not think I can ever again be surprised at anything Mr. Darwin may say or do, but if I could, I should wonder how a writer who did not "enter upon the causes or means of the transformation of species," and whose opinions "fluctuated greatly at different periods," can be held to have treated evolution "in a scientific spirit." Nevertheless, when I reflect upon the scientific reputation Mr. Darwin has attained, and the means by which he has won it, I suppose the scientific spirit must be much what he here implies. I see Mr. Darwin