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says of his own father, Dr. Robert Darwin of Shrewsbury, that he does not consider him to have had a scientific mind. Mr. Darwin cannot tell why he does not think his father's mind to have been fitted for advancing science, "for he was fond of theorising, and was incomparably the best observer" Mr. Darwin ever knew.1 From the hint given in the "brief but imperfect sketch," I fancy I can help Mr. Darwin to see why he does not think his father's mind to have been a scientific one. It is possible that Dr. Robert Darwin's opinions did not fluctuate sufficiently at different periods, and that Mr. Darwin considered him as having in some way entered upon the causes or means of the transformation of species. Certainly those who read Mr. Darwin's own works attentively will find no lack of fluctuation in his case; and reflection will show them that a theory of evolution which relies mainly on the accumulation of accidental variations comes very close to not entering upon the causes or means of the transformation of species.2
I have shown, however, in "Evolution, Old and New," that the assertion that Buffon does not enter on the causes or means of the trans
1 Life of Erasmus Darwin, pp. 84, 85.
formation of species is absolutely without foundation, and that, on the contrary, he is continually dealing with this very matter, and devotes to it one of his longest and most important chapters,1 but I admit that he is less satisfactory on this head than either Dr. Erasmus Darwin or Lamarck.
As a matter of fact, Buffon is much more of a Neo-Darwinian than either Dr. Erasmus Darwin or Lamarck, for with him the variations are sometimes fortuitous. In the case of the dog, he speaks of them as making their appearance "by some chance common enough with Nature,"2 and being perpetuated by man's selection. This is exactly the "if any slight favourable variation happen to arise" of Mr. Charles Darwin. Buffon also speaks of the variations among pigeons arising "par hasard." But these expressions are only slips; his main cause of variation is the direct action of chang-ed conditions of existence, while with Dr. Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck the action of the conditions of existence is indirect, the direct action being that of the animals or plants themselves, in consequence of changed sense of need under changed conditions.
1 See Evolution, Old and New, pp. 159-165.
I should say that the sketch so often referred to is at first sight now no longer imperfect in Mr. Darwin's opinion. It was "brief but imperfect" in 1861 and in 1866, but in 1876 I see that it is brief only. Of course, discovering that it was no longer imperfect, I expected to find it briefer. What, then, was my surprise at finding that it had become rather longer? I have found no perfectly satisfactory explanation of this inconsistency, but, on the whole, incline to think that the greatest of living men felt himself unequal to prolonging his struggle with the word "but," and resolved to lay that conjunction at all hazards, even though the doing so might cost him the balance of his adjectives; for I think he must know that his sketch is still imperfect.
From Isidore Geoffroy I turned to Buffon himself, and had not long to wait before I felt that I was now brought into communication with the master-mind of all those who have up to the present time busied themselves with evolution. For a brief and imperfect sketch of him, I must refer my readers to "Evolution, Old and New."
I have no great respect for the author of the "Vestiges of Creation," who behaved hardly better to the writers upon whom his own work was founded than Mr. Darwin himself has done. Nevertheless, I could not forget the gravity of the misrepresentation with which he was assailed on page 3 of the first edition of the "Origin of Species," nor impugn the justice of his rejoinder in the following year,1 when he replied that it was to be regretted Mr. Darwin had read his work "almost as much amiss as if, like its declared opponents, he had an interest in misrepresenting it."2 I could not, again, forget that, though Mr. Darwin did not venture to stand by the passage in question, it was expunged without a word of apology or explanation of how it was that he had come to write it. A writer with any claim to our consideration will never fall into serious error about another writer without hastening to make a public apology as soon as he becomes aware of what he has done.
Reflecting upon the substance of what I have written in the last few pages, I thought it right that people should have a chance of knowing more about the earlier writers on evolution than they were likely to hear from any of our leading scientists (no matter how many lectures they may give on the coming of age of the
1 See Evolution, Old and New, pp. 247, 248. ! Vestiges of Creation, ed. i860, "Proofs, Illustrations, &c," p. lxiv. "Origin of Species") except Professor Mivart. A book pointing the difference between teleological and non-teleological views of evolution seemed likely to be useful, and would afford me the opportunity I wanted for giving a rdsumd of the views of each one of the three chief founders of the theory, and of contrasting them with those of Mr. Charles Darwin, as well as for calling attention to Professor Hering's lecture. I accordingly wrote " Evolution, Old and New," which was prominently announced in the leading literary periodicals at the end of February, or on the very first days of March I879,1 as "a comparison of the theories of Buffon, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, and Lamarck, with that ot Mr. Charles Darwin, with copious extracts from the works of the three firstnamed writers." In this book I was hardly able to conceal the fact that, in spite of the obligations under which we must always remain to Mr. Darwin, I had lost my respect for him and for his work.