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environ it, it flourishes; when imperfectly adapted it decays; when ill-adapted it becomes extinct. If all the conditions which determine an organism's wellbeing are taken into consideration, this statement can hardly be disputed.
This series of facts or laws, are mere statements of what is the condition of nature. They are facts or inferences which are generally known, generally admitted—but in discussing the subject of the “ Origin of Species ”—as generally forgotten. It is from these universally admitted facts, that the origin of all the varied forms of nature may be deduced by a logical chain of reasoning, which, however, is at every step verified and shown to be in strict accord with facts; and, at the same time, many curious phenomena which can by no other means be understood, are explained and accounted for. It is probable, that these primary facts or laws are but results of the very nature of life, and of the essential properties of organized and unorganized matter. Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his “First Principles” and his “ Biology” has, I think, made us able to understand how this may be; but at present we may accept these simple laws without going further back, and the question then is—whether the variety, the harmony, the contrivance, and the beauty we perceive in organic beings, can have been produced by the action of these laws alone, or whether we are required to believe in the incessant interference and direct action of the mind and will of the Creator. It is simply a
, question of how the Creator has worked. The Duke
(and I quote him as having well expressed the views of the more intelligent of Mr. Darwin's opponents) maintains, that He has personally applied general laws to produce effects, which those laws are not in themselves capable of producing; that the universe alone, with all its laws intact, would be a sort of chaos, without variety, without harmony, without design, without beauty; that there is not (and therefore we may presume that there could not be) any self-developing power in the universe. I believe, on the contrary, that the universe is so constituted as to be self-regulating; that as long as it contains Life, the forms under which that life is manifested have an inherent power of adjustment to each other and to surrounding nature; and that this adjustment necessarily leads to the greatest amount of variety and beauty and enjoyment, because it does depend on general laws, and not on a continual supervision and re-arrangement of details. As a matter of feeling and religion, I hold this to be a far higher conception of the Creator and of the Universe that that which may be called the continual interference” hypothesis; but it is not a question to be decided by our feelings or convictions, it is a question of facts and of reason. Could the change, which Geology shows us has ever taken place in the forms of life, have been produced by general laws, or does it imperatively require the incessant supervision of a creative mind? This is the question for us to consider, and our opponents have the difficult task of proving
a negative, if we show that there are both facts and analogies in our favour.
Mr. Darwin's Metaphors liable to Misconception. Mr. Darwin has laid himself open to much misconception, and has given to his opponents a powerful weapon against himself, by his continual use of metaphor in describing the wonderful co-adaptations of organic beings.
“It is curious,” says the Duke of Argyll, “to observe the language which this most advanced disciple of pure naturalism instinctively uses, when he has to describe the complicated structure of this curious order of plants (the Orchids). Caution in ascribing intentions to nature,' does not seem to occur to him as possible. Intention is the one thing which he does see, and which, when he does not see, he seeks for diligently until he finds it. He exhausts every form of words and of illustration, by which intention or mental purpose can be described. Contrivance'--' curious contrivance,'— beautiful contrivance,'—these are expressions which occur over and over again. Here is one sentence describing the parts of a particular species : "the Labellum is developed into a long nectary, in order to attract Lepidoptera, and we shall presently give reason for suspecting that the nectar is purposely so lodged, that it can be sucked only slowly in order to give time for the curious chemical quality of the viscid matter setting hard and dry.'” Many other examples of similar expressions are quoted by the Duke, who maintains that no explanation of these “contrivances” has been or can be given, except on the supposition of a personal contriver, specially arranging the details of each case, although causing them to be produced by the ordinary processes of growth and reproduction.
Now there is a difficulty in this view of the origin of the structure of Orchids which the Duke does not allude to. The majority of flowering plants are fertilized, either without the agency of insects or, when insects are required, without any very important modification of the structure of the flower. It is evident, therefore, that flowers might have been formed as varied, fantastic, and beautiful as the Orchids, and yet have been fertilized without more complexity of structure than is found in Violets, or Clover, or Primroses, or a thousand other flowers. The strange springs and traps and pitfalls found in the flowers of Orchids cannot be necessary per se, since exactly the same end is gained in ten thousand other flowers which do not possess them. Is it not then an extraordinary idea, to imagine the Creator of the Universe contriving the various complicated parts of these flowers, as a mechanic might contrive an ingenious toy or a difficult puzzle? Is it not a more worthy conception that they are some of the results of those general laws which were so co-ordinated at the first introduction of life upon the earth as to result necessarily in the utmost possible development of varied forms ?
But let us take one of the simpler cases adduced and see if our general laws are unable to account for it. A Case of Orchis-structure explained by Natural
Selection. There is a Madagascar Orchis—the Angræcum sesquipedale—with an immensely long and deep nectary. How did such an extraordinary organ come to be developed ? Mr. Darwin's explanation is this. The pollen of this flower can only be removed by the base of the proboscis of some very large moths, when trying to get at the nectar at the bottom of the vessel. The moths with the longest probosces would do this most effectually ; they would be rewarded for their long tongues by getting the most nectar ; whilst on the other hand, the flowers with the deepest nectaries would be the best fertilized by the largest moths preferring them. Consequently, the deepest nectaried Orchids and the longest tongued moths would each confer on the other an advantage in the battle of life. This would tend to their respective perpetuation, and to the constant lengthening of nectaries and probosces. Now let it be remembered, that what we have to account for, is only the unusual length of this organ. A nectary is found in many orders of plants and is especially common in the Orchids, but in this one case only is it more than a foot long. How did this arise? We begin with the fact, proved experimentally by Mr. Darwin, that moths do visit Orchids, do thrust their spiral trunks into the nectaries, and do fertilize them by carrying the pollinia of one flower to the stigina of another. He has further explained the exact mechanism