Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

more.

or animal, it must be a resultant of a joint forms, transiently cast up like waves. effort of all the vital forces of the organ. Each wave reacts in subsiding, and so ism. For this reason it is their epitome raises another. and representative, and can be nothing Dreary and unsatisfactory though it

The germ will have just such seem, to this conclusion are we driven, powers, and in such degree as may ena that no man can so much as imagine the ble it to continue the species of the parent beginning. A stupendous darkness plant or animal. If there be two sexes, hangs over the beginning as over the end; the embryo may reach the united perfec- no science, no thought, can penetrate it; tion of both, but can exceed them only for science moves among conditions and by the intervention of some other power, sensible appearances, but here is no con(a nisus, for example,) not inherent in dition, no appearance. And thought can the species or in the nature of matter. only gather the abstract of what is known;

Let it be considered that the laws of but here is nothing seen, or known. We living matter, though superior to those of are driven therefore to say, “in the bedead matter as to the forms they appear in, ginning God made the world,”—he spoke are not able to surpass or exceed necessity. it, and it was ;-but to us the manner of There is no action of an animal, of which his speech is, as of an eternal silence. the whole possibility does not lie in it Where it is impossible to know, it is a mechanically. Mind employs, but cannot comfort to discern the impossibility; persubdue, or surpass, the material and ne- haps the truest mark of ascertaining is to cessary laws. A man may not resist know the limits of knowledge. gravity, but by obeying it; “ we subdue Facts, on the other hand, press heavily nature by obeying its laws.”

against the progressive hypothesis. IdealWhat, then, shall be said of this nisus, ists are fond of declaring that nature has by which an animal is enabled to produce no breaks, no leaps, in ber system, that a something greater, and more powerful, “all is harmony and transition.” But than itself ? by which a plant may pro- the reverse is true, in the fact; there is even dace an animalcule; an animalcule a no such thing in science as a “transimollusk ; a mollusk a fish; a fish a ser tion, and in nature there is an appearpent; a serpent a bird ; a bird a quadru. ance, only, of transition, through imperped, and so on up to man? This is a fection of the senses. “ In the first ruprogress quite miraculous, out of the diments, and dark beginnings," as it limits of necessity and nature.

were, of things," matter appears dividThough we know that there is a spirit- ed into opposing properties, between ual nisus in man, the human soul striv- which there is correlation and opposiing continually against matter, yet tion, but no “ transition.". There is no it is the proper nature of the soul to do intermediate element between the positive so, and to fail of this, would be to fall and negative powers of matter ; the very short of its proper nature, as plants do notion of these forbids the possibility of that die seedless. But, were the actions an intermedium. Then, in the second of any man ever known to exceed the place, the elementary atoms themselves possibility of mind and matter? By an repel each other absolutely, and will not inward nisus to lift one's self off the be thrust together ; and, lastly, the ground, or to overleap one's own shadow! species of these elements, the chemical Just this kind of impossibility lies before species of iron, gold, oxygen, and the a “ nisus of species.”

others, cannot be compounded or conMathematicians are able to show us fused together, but discover differences, that the universe, taken as a whole, is chasms, so to speak, from one to another, changeless and fixed, every action bal. over which imagination cannot pass withanced by an equal reaction. Whatever, out going through darkness and vacuum. therefore, moves and exists in this uni- From gold to platinum, from lead to merverse, falls under this eternal law of equili- cury, from chlorine to iodine, it is a briums.

Man fancies himself making, great step; but these bodies are closely while he is only arranging, and rearrang: affined. It is impossible to name the ing. Animals seem to generate, and steps of a “transition” from hydrogen create,” force and power. It all lay to carbon; substances at once dissimilar latent in them, and was gathered from the and allied. The doctrine of a progress, powers of the food which they assimi- applied so readily to species of animals, lated. They, therefore, like crystals, makes a strange figure with those of and like the body of man, are only vague chemical atoms. Was there a rudimental

[ocr errors]

atom which began “to progress,” run.

To return an instant to this famous ning through the species of oxygen, hy. doctrine of types or stirpes ? What is drogen, chlorine, and the rest, in a pro- meant by a type, or by a stirps ? Mr. gress of some myriads of millennia? or Swainson's notion of types consists not is the process of atomic generation still at all with the Lamarkian notion of active, producing new species for us each transitions, or nisus. For the type is a day?

fixed form, one of a circle* of five forms. Every true species must have a differ The animal kingdom is first divided ence, a complete new feature; and this into three groups, and the lowest of feature, is a something which cannot be these into three others, making five in divided in half, and one-half conferred on all; and the whole five are a circle, or a transitional species. To be more completed group. Now, it follows from explicit—there is no transitional group the principles of this first group, that between the ape and man, which has every lesser group should vary in the one-half of the whole moral quality pro- same manner, and even that every speper to a man. For we believe this moral cies should vary in the same manner. quality to be a something indivisible, There are five varieties, for example, of existing either as a whole, or not at all. the species Man, and tive subdivisions A man who shows but one-half, or but of the genus Thrush. Such are the one trait, of his moral quality, is called water thrushes, the ground thrushes, insane or idiotic. Now the progressive slender-billed thrushes, hawk-like, or theory compels us to suppose that the destructive, and typical omniverous progenitors of the patriarchs were a moral thrushes. The water kind, which is lusus naturæ, a kind of idiots with one lowest, discover a mode which Nature half a soul, or with the rudiment of a takes to make one group of her thrushes soul.

live an aquatic life, by the side of brooks Nature passes by leaps or intervals, and pools, and in shady damp hollows. even in motion itself. Even gravity is They sing but seldom, and have inferior measured by pulses, and the cooling of a voices, like all birds of an aquatic habit. solid must be a rapid vibration of its They hunt water insects, and, perhaps, parts. Motion of a body, by gravita- can dive and swim; yet are indubitable tion in space, begins pulsatile, and so thrushes, not to be mistaken for any continues ; nor is there any smooth other kind. The second group are the gliding of masses, except in imagination, ground thrushes, which have stout legs, and in our imperfect senses. These with thick, short claws. They feed things are not matters of speculation, much upon berries, and habitually pick but of necessity, by the logic of dynamics. up insects and worms. Their make is

Much less can this ideal continuity domestic and thick-set; they build their and gliding of the forms into each other, nests low, sometimes on the ground. be discovered in the animal or vegetable The third kind are the timid slenderkingdom. Where two species approach limbed and slender-billed thrushes. They so near that an intermediate can be pro. should haunt meadows, sides of brooks, duced by their union, as between the and have other habits, analogous with horse and the ass, the intermediate, as is those of the plover and sandpiper ; but well known, is malformed, and of an they are true thrushes in their shape. unproductive nature. There is no in There remain two other groups, one stance, even among vegetables, of a hy- like hawks, with a strong notch in the brid species, capable of perfect self-con- bill—bold, loud singing, aerial, elegantly tinuance ; a fact of long observation, formed, and of plain blue, or brown colproving that nature, figuratively speak- ors ; and another, with shorter and ing, abhors an intermediate. Those va stouter bills, darker and plainer plumage, rieties, even of the human race, interme- and a clear, sharp, and varied song; diate between the more marked kinds, as which last are the typical kind, and stand between the Negro and Caucasian races, at the head of the group. If we adopt never become distinct and powerful na this elegant system of Mr. Swainson's, tions. There is no permanent nation of which discovers so perfect an accordance mulattoes, or of half-blood Malays, or of between the varieties of species and the semi-Caucasians in any part of the globe. habitations appointed them, we must lay

* The natural groups of animals are circular when they diverge in two directions from the type, the divergent branches reuniting in the remote, or abnormal, forms.

aside and forget the progressive hypothe land to create a walking type. Nor is sis, or rather the notion of a gradual there any effect in land or water which transition ; for, of every least group of should change one of these into the species there can only be five kinds, to other ; but contrarily, the aquatic should wit, the aquatic; the domestic, or ground- become more aquatic by any such influling; the slender-limbed, or amphibious; ence, and the terrestrial more terrestrial. the fierce, aerial; and the well-formed, The tendency should rather be downintelligent, typical. Between these there wards than upwards. But, in very fact, can be none but hybrids, or middling va no tendency, either way, is discoverable. rieties, of a perishable make. The we find, that in the order of crea“ gradual progression” would have to tion, the inferior were first created, and overleap these natural boundaries, set by then the superior, ending with man, it nature upon her forms; and which are seems no more than might have been there, whether we please to see it or expected, when the nature of things not—the animal being, of necessity, is considered, even before the proof of moulded to some habitat, lest it perish any order was shown by the geologists. through mere uncertainty.

But take them in what order we may, This ingenious theory has been in the facts of geology prove only that the volved in mystery, and laid open to ridi- inferior animals came first, because their cule, by its authors, through their earn- places were the first to be ready for them. estness in advancing the doctrine of But if any superior animal could find a mystical numbers; as if there was a sa- habitat sooner than its inferior, the supecredness in numbers tive and three. But rior may have been first in order. the Aristotelian syllogism of major, mi “ But why," it is ohjected, “will we nor and conclusion, is open to the same insist on the immediate and instantaridicule, if one chooses. One might as neous creation of an adult animal, seeing well ridicule nature for giving all quadru- that a natural and convenient means lay peds five toes, or rudiments of toes; “ As open for generating men and animals if there was a certain sacredness in num ont of the bodies of their inferiors ?” ber five!” Would three have done as well ? This order of creation, it is said, would

The body of an animal is so construct. be as far as possible in accordance with ed, it cannot vary its species in more the existing laws of matter. A certain than five directions. For, either it is species might be taken as a mould for typical, the brain and nerves predomi. the production of a higher species. Thus, nating; or it is active and aerial, the in the eggs of certain birds, at a certain respiratory and muscular predominating; moment, (a moment established by the or it is sluggish and inferior, deviating in eternal laws,) a species should be hatchthree different manners through predomi- ed, intermediate between bird and beast. nance of the digestive, the glandular, After a longer period, the earth being and circulatory apparatus; which make ready, the eggs of this intermediate prothe entire organic mass of the body. duce perfect quadrupeds of a low grade; The predominance of the digestive func- the series making a saltus, or leap, from tion, as in the hog and the duck, marks time to time, either by nisus, by law, or the abdominal, or aquatic, type ; of by miracle. Arrived now at the epoch which the fishes are an example, in the when an ape is to give birth to human circle of red-blooded animals. In am- species, let us consider the circumstances phibia the circulatory, and in reptiles and conditions of this immense saltus. the glandular, system, marks the type; An intelligent species of ape, inhabiting, giving to the one a round and slender it may be, a forest in Congo, or in the form,

and to the other a slow and endur- Caucasus, begins suddenly to produce ing circulation. Each type adheres to the human infants. A miraculous power habitat for wbich it is made. By the hy- causes all the females of this species to pothesis of Maclea, adopted and expand- conceive human embryos. By an equally ed by Swainson, a type is a something miraculous interference these females distinct in itself, and not an accidental nourish the fætus, suckle it when born result of circumstances. The same laws an infant, after a miraculous gestation, of matter which arranged the earth as it the life of the mother being preserved as is, would necessitate that the types of by miracle ; and finally, by a greater animals be made suitable to it; but there miracle, the helpless human infant is inis nothing in the nature of water to cre- structed by apes in all the offices needful ate an aquatic type, nor in the nature of to a human existence.

Here is a continuous and extravagant bodies they inhabit. From the lower departure from all the laws of nature, for parasitic species of this type, the higher the space of nine months' gestation and are to be gradually produced. The type fifteen years' education of a human infant. itself has its representatives in every The female ape, be it ever so intelli- natural group of animals, even in that of gent, will not suckle its young and edu- man. It is characterized by slender softcate it in this fashion, without miracu ness of make, timidity and paleness of lous interference. Precisely the same the fluids. These two, the aquatic and difficulty—a resort to miracle for every semi-aquatic types, continually originate slight event, or to some unimaginable in situations proper to them. They benisus, or “ law” which knows no law gin to be progressive at the instant of lies before this whole progressive hypo- production, and are gradually ripened thesis, taken with its stirpes, saltus, into higher forms. Cysts become pingrades, and infinite periods.

worms, pin-worms tæniæ, tæniæ rise On the other hand not a single law of gradually to be star-fish; these again are nature is violated, nor a note of order made pea-worms, and these insects; in. departed from by the creation of a perfect sects rise into higher forms. species in the place prepared for it. It The aquatic type, departing from sea appears in its place on earth, and goes on animalcules, ascends by another route tothere, harmoniously with preëxisting wards mollusca. By the time that pin forms.

worms are become insects, polypi have atIn regard to the theory of types, enter- tained the rank of cuttle-fish; these again tained by Swainson and other naturalists, change into cartilaginous fishes. Insects, it needs to be carefully separated from on the other hand, become reptiles, and the progressive hypothesis, as a theory both fishes and reptiles rise to the condiquite distinct from it, and incompatible tion of the higher classes, ending in quadwith it. By the progressive plan, nature, rupeds, apes and men.

Such is one rehaving produced germs by a miracle or sult of a union of the idea of type with nisus, in the water of the sea and rivers, that of progression. exalts them) gradually, or by saltus. If we insist on the existence of only Their numbers diminish as their frames one original type, or germ-the sea anibecome more complicated, and their re- malcule for example—then it follows that productive powers weaker. All the spe- animalcules were gradually exalted into cies, without exception, are progressing radiate and intestinal animals on the one simultaneously. There would, conse side, and into mollusks on the other ; quently, be a disappearance of the infe- that mollusks changed into fishes, and rior races, if the productive power of radiate animals into insects—the two sand and water be not continued as at sides of the circle coming together, as the first. At the present moment, as at before, in man. the first instant, this power is operating Or better, we may say, that the first everywhere, producing animalcules, and germ, or monad, branched in five direcripening these into germs of more com tions, producing five groups; that each, plex orders.

of these did the same on its part; but The number and species of the crea that of all these, the typical, or lineal tures thus generated, would be deter- only, arose to become vertebrate and humined by the variety of the situations man; the four aberrant branches perishprepared for them. In liquids generally, ing out, or remaining undeveloped. which contain vegetable or animal sub And here a new miracle must be inventstances, a class would appear like the ed for the branching of the first germ, and monad and the sponge-animalcules of for checking the development in each the lowest order, devoid of senses, and group of the four abnormal, imperfect perhaps even of sensations. These are branches. Or, if miracle be disliked, a of the aquatic type. In them the cellu new “ law” must be imagined, without lar, and least organized parts predomi- help of fact, a “ law," namely, of the nate, as in the abdominal parts of the “ cessation or extinction of races." We higher classes.

must imagine the life of a species to be I The second type will be the parasitic, limited like the life of an individuor semi-aquatic." It includes star-fishes, al, by secret causes in its nature. Of the intestinal worms, and those shapeless five branches that radiate from the first cystoid animals that appear in diseased germ, two at most may go on, and be flesh. These last are generated by the perpetuated. By a third wonder these

man.

a

two branches begin at last to approaching out on one side into vegetable, and each other. Originating forms more and on the other into animal species. As the more alike, they both end in producing vegetable germ perfects itself more and

more, becoming first a fungus, then a In the same manner an immense yarie- fern, then a palm, and so on through all ty of imaginary new modes and princi- the stages, to an oak or an elm, it deples may be invented, with no assistance parts farther and farther from the animal. from fact. Their various possibilities All that oak germs can do without a need not detain us here. The confusion miracle or a nisus,” is to produce they involve makes them admirable top- oaks of a more perfect kind. But where, ics of argument, the better as they lean with this nisus, is the vegetable proless and less upon sensuous evidence. gression to end ? Going farther and Their effect must be to intricate and retard farther from the animal nature, whither all science.

do these species tend? Shall we see Two modes of spontaneous generation them change into vegetable angels—trees are claimed as proved by the progres- of paradise ? sionists; one in liquids, and one in the But now, upon the simplest analogies, bodies of animals; the first by aid of it seems unnatural to admit any change in heat and electricity, and the second by species; since the same causes which force of animal life. The second kind sustain must also limit its existence. A are the intestinal worms. These, of monad must remain a monad; a bird, course, will never be produced until the bird ; a man, a man.

Each species, peranimals in which they live are first per- fecting its own specific nature, grows fected. Tænia, for instance the tape more and more like itself, and aims only worm, will not be generated until man is to perfect itself. A tree may, perhaps, made and perfected—and so of a mul. become more than ever a tree; a man, titude of others. In the same manner more than ever a man. A natural law vibrio will not appear, until vinegar and of “ progression” requires that there shall sour paste are made. Monad and vorti- be a self-likeness, from first to last, in the cella, living in a great variety of waters, thing which progresses. But because in the sea, rivers, pools, &c., may, with there is no rudiment of ape in tree, or their congeners, go on rising in their spe- of man in ape, the one cannot be perfectcies; but for the genera of tape worms, ed into the other. vinegar eels, and their kind, there is no will be instantly answered, that all hope of a progression. They waited for animals, including men, “ differ only in men to be produced, and vinegar to be degree, and not in essence:"—that as the made, and with the death and decay of ape is better than the dog ; in the same men and vinegar, they fall and are not. manner, the man is better than the ape. None of the existing superior animals, This opinion of a “ difference of deit seems, were produced from the worms gree,” taken for the only difference which inhabit their own bowels.

among species, seems to be the very root The superior animals must then have of the whole progressive doctrine. If the been produced from monads that inhabit addition of a little more—if the freer deopen waters, these alone being able to velopment of what is already present in elevate and perfect their kinds. Men a dog, can make an ape of it; and the arose on the molluscous side of the house, development of what is in an ape make it and not on the parasitic.

a man; then, truly, there are no species By another shape of protean possibile in nature. The germs of all animals are ity, there may have been five original one; and the germs of all plants are one; types. The molluscous and parasitic are as the hypothesis makes them to be. Adtwo of the five. Each continent had a mit this, and we seem to find the whole complete set of types of its own. In man latent in a polypus. Nay, the each set the typical stem alone perfected whole series of species lies potentially in itself, the others having their progression a grain of silica, or ammonia. Professor cut off

, or proceeding only to a certain Mulder would have the atoms of matter length, and then ceasing:

to be little vesicles, with shells of an Another of the endless confusions infinitesimal thinness, stuffed full of in which this hypothesis involves is, is powers and qualities, including those of that of an “intermediate germ,” branch. life, and perhaps of intelligence.* But

* See Mulder's Chemistry: American Edition.

« ElőzőTovább »