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apart from this we learn from every book of travel and consular report that they are succeeding by the application of better educated intelligence, and more persevering industry. Even if we grant subsidies, nationalise or control our railways, improve our ports, reorganise on a more rational system the distribution of work between our public departments, and their methods, the most essential thing will still be wanting if we have not also built up a system of education adapted to the needs and conditions of the modern world. It would be dangerous if the noise made about special matters like shipping subsidies caused us to forget where lies the real strength of our German kinsmen and rivals. We may fight subsidies by subsidies, but it is still more important to meet education by education, and keenness in work by corresponding keenness and industry.
ART. IV.-1. The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin. By
FRANCIS DARWIN, F.R.S. London: John Murray. 1887. 2. Darwinism. By ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE, F.R.S.
London: Macmillan. 1889. 3. History of Botany. By Julius von SACHS, F.M.R.S.
Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1890. 4. Collected Essays. By the Right Hon. THOMAS H. HUXLEY,
F.R.S. London: Macmillan. 1898. 5. Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley. By LEONARD
HUXLEY. London: Macmillan. 1900. The circumstances, however trivial, which attend an
- historical event are always interesting, and may be important. They are interesting because we like to feel that it touches, at any rate, the plane of our ordinary life, and is not wholly aloof; they may be important in so far as they may throw light on its causes and consequences.
The publication of the biographies and scientific correspondence of Darwin and Huxley have put us in possession of a complete account of the path by which Darwin was led to his great discovery, and of the difficulties which its acceptance met with. The story is sufficiently well known, but a brief summary will be useful.
Darwin went up to Cambridge as a young man of independent means, and, like many before and since, with a keen pleasure in the healthy enjoyment of life, especially when it took the form of fox-hunting and partridge-shooting. His career might have been a purely conventional one if he had not come under the influence of Henslow, the University Professor of Botany. Through him he received the offer of the post of unpaid naturalist on board the ‘Beagle. The problem which became the principal occupation of his life was first suggested to him by observations made in South America during the voyage. On his return he began to study it systematically, and found the first clue to its solution in 1838 in Malthus on Population. He pondered over it for some twenty years, and in 1856 began to write out his views on a scale which was never completed, for in 1858 Wallace, who was then in the Malay Archipelago, sent him an essay which contained exactly the same theory'; and, to make the coincidence even more complete, it was the recollection of Malthus which had suggested it, when he was prostrate with fever at Ternate, in the Moluccas.*
The Linnean Society was founded for the encouragement of natural history studies, and though its work attracts little public attention it is of sufficient importance to be provided with official quarters by the Government. In 1858 these were in the old Burlington House, in rooms now occupied by the Royal Academy. Here on July 1 a joint paper by Darwin and Wallace was read. It was communicated by Sir Charles Lyell and Sir Joseph Hooker. Darwin's share included extracts from a sketch written out as long ago as 1844. The title wasOn the Tendency of Species to form • Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and • Species by Natural Means of Selection.' Never, perhaps, was a theory of momentous importance launched in a more modest way. Our joint productions,' said Darwin,'excited 'very little attention.' † According to the account given in Darwin's 'Life and Letters,' there was no semblance of a • discussion.' Both Lyell and Hooker were present; the latter wrote, years afterwards, the interest excited was ‘intense, but the subject was too novel and too ominous for the old school to enter the lists before armouring.' I
Darwin's hand was now completely forced, and perhaps in the interest of science it was well that it should have been. In November of the following year he published the ‘Origin
of Species. This was only an abstract of the vaster and more detailed work which he had long laboured upon, but, looking at his uncertain health, might never have finished. And probably in its abbreviated form it attracted more attention and more readers than had the argument been overlaid with detail and treated more diffusely. He had, at any rate, the advantage at Cambridge of studying good models. The logic of this book' (Paley's 'Evidences '), he tells us in his autobiography, “and, as I may add, of
his “ Natural Theology,” gave me as much delight as • did Euclid's
He was satisfied with the result, at any rate, from a literary point of view. It was, he says, 'no doubt the chief
work of my life,' || and, from the first highly successful.' The clamour which it raised was in curious contrast to the silence with which the first promulgation of the theory was
hand, and the silenles Darwinster Abbtion of hisemurred to
received. Perhaps this measures the difference between an appeal to a public of wide and varied prejudice and emotion and a more apathetic, if instructed, audience. The storm of opposition, sometimes reasoned and critical, more often very much the reverse, gathered strength, as such storms are apt to do. The history of the campaign which followed may be read in the 'Life and Letters' of Darwin on the one hand, and those of Huxley on the other. All this has lapsed into the silence of historic calm. Some quarter of a century after, Charles Darwin was buried with the approval of his countrymen in Westminster Abbey, the resting-place of illustrious Englishmen. The elevation of his character perhaps reconciled some who would still have demurred to his scientific teaching. His grave is a few feet from that of Sir Isaac Newton. It was a happy circumstance that brought together the ashes of Cambridge's two greatest sons. For it is doubtful,' writes Huxley, if any single • book, except the “Principia,” ever worked so great and so • rapid a revolution in science, or made so deep an impression on the general mind.'*
Huxley proceeds to remark, and with perfect justice, that although the “ Origin ” has been close on thirty years • before the world, the strangest misconceptions of the • essential nature of the theory therein advocated are still
put forth by serious writers. The fact is that the popular impression which Darwin's work produced, though sound as far as it goes, by no means measures the depth of the revolution which he effected in scientific thought. It may, indeed, be asserted that this has been appreciated more thoroughly in foreign countries than at home. If so, this but illustrates the principle that things are perhaps best seen in their true proportions in perspective at a distance than near at hand.
The explanation of how this has come about may be deferred for the moment. It will be most instructive for the present to look at the problem which both Darwin and Wallace sought to solve as it presented itself to their minds. Darwin formulated this with admirable precision in the title which he deliberately chose for his memorable book—'The • Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection.' To apprehend the full significance of this a digression is necessary.
Suppose we take a number of organisms at random-say,
* Essays, vol. ii. pp. 286, 287.
for example, that we go into the fields and gather an armful of plants as they come to hand, and then proceed to sort them, what do we find ? It scarcely needs the experiment to assure us that we can throw the contents of our parcel into groups, each of which is composed of a larger or lesser number of individual specimens. But a little close inspection will show that our first sorting has by no means disposed of the business. Some of our groups will give us no difficulty ; although the individuals composing it are not as absolutely identical as if they were cast in the same mould, yet they so closely agree that we have no difficulty in associating them. A closer scrutiny of other groups will show that they are by no means so homogeneous. We have probably a group of buttercups, which, when we come to scrutinise it carefully, turns out, notwithstanding their general resemblance, to be composed of at least three distinct sorts. The distinctions are tangible and definite, but require careful scrutiny for their recognition. Our primary group has therefore to be broken up into subordinate ones. When we have carried discrimination till it is exhausted, we may survey the result. We shall be struck by the inequality of the differences which separate our groups. Some will appear to only differ in inconsiderable details; others not to have a single point in common. It is clear, then, that we have groups of two very different kinds.
If—as we may obviously do, without altering the essential nature of the problem-we substitute for the limited area from which we have drawn our material the whole field of Nature, we are face to face with a problem which has occupied science, as far, at any rate, as plants are concerned, since the sixteenth century—the classification of living things.
The study of botany developed out of medicine, and the first attempts of botanical writers were to enumerate and group plants which were useful in pharmacy or the arts. Such attempts, based on their properties, were soon seen to be inadequate. A scrutiny of the plants themselves led to classifications, more or less imperfect, resting on structure. It is interesting to observe that while Chinese botanical literature still remains in the stage corresponding to that of the fifteenth century in Europe, that of Japan, even before it came under European influence, in so far as it accurately discriminated native plants, was two centuries in advance. The explanation is in each case the same: the method in the one case was purely literary, and relied on tradition; in the other it went to Nature for its facts.