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than M. Flourens; but they are logical deductions from the assertion just quoted, and from the further statement that natural selection means only that “organisation chooses and selects organisation." For if it be once admitted (what no sane man denies) that the chances of life of any given organism are increased by certain conditions (A) and diminished by their opposites (B), then it is mathematically certain that any change of conditions in the direction of (A) will exercise a selective influence in favour of that organism, tending to its increase and multiplication, while any change in the direction of (B) will exercise a selective influence against that organism, tending to its decrease and extinction. Or, on the other hand, conditions remaining the same, let a given organism vary (and no one doubts that they do vary) in two directions: into one form (a) better fitted to cope with these conditions than the original stock, and a second (b) less well adapted to them. Then it is no less certain that the conditions in question must exercise a selective influence in favour of (a) and against (b), so that (a) will tend to predominance, and (b) to extirpation. That M. Flourens should be unable to perceive the logical necessity of these simple arguments, which lie at the foundation of all Mr. Darwin's reasoning; that he should confound an irrefragable
deduction from the observed relations of organisms to the conditions which lie around them, with a metaphysical “forme substantielle,” or a chimerical personification of the powers of Nature, would be incredible, were it not that other passages of his work leave no room for doubt upon the subject.
“On imagine une élection naturelle que, pourplus de ménagement, on medit 6tre inconsciente, sans s'apercevoirque le contresens littéralest précisément la : élection inconsciente.” (P. 52.)
“J’ai déjà dit ce qu'il faut penser de l'élection naturelle. Ou l'élection naturelle n'est rien, ou c'est la nature: mais la nature douée d'élection, mais la nature personnifiée : dernière erreur du dernier siècle : Lexixo me fait plus de personnifications.” (P. 53.)
M. Flourens cannot imagine an unconscious selection—it is for him a contradiction in terms. Did M. Flourens ever visit one of the prettiest watering-places of “la belle France,” the Baie d'Arcachon ' If so, he will probably have passed through the district of the Landes, and will have had an opportunity of observing the formation of “dunes” on a grand scale. What are these “dunes"? The winds and waves of the Bay of Biscay have not much consciousness, and yet they have with great care “selected,” from among an infinity of masses of silex of all shapes and sizes, which have been submitted to their action, all the grains of sand below a certain size, and have heaped them by themselves over a great area. This sand has been “unconsciously selected” from amidst the gravel in which it first lay with as much precision as if man had “consciously selected” it by the aid of a sieve. Physical Geology is full of such selections—of the picking out of the soft from the hard, of the soluble from the insoluble, of the fusible from the infusible, by natural agencies to which we are certainly not in the habit of ascribing consciousness. But that which wind and sea are to a sandy beach, the sum of influences, which we term the “conditions of existence,” is to living organisms. The weak are sifted out from the strong. A frosty night “selects” the hardy plants in a plantation from among the tender ones as effectually as if it were the wind, and they, the sand and pebbles, of our illustration; or, on the other hand, as if the intelligence of a gardener had been operative in cutting the weaker organisms down. The thistle, which has spread over the Pampas, to the destruction of native plants, has been more effectually “selected” by the unconscious operation of natural conditions than if a thousand agriculturists had spent their time in sowing it. It is one of Mr. Darwin's many great services to Biological science that he has demonstrated the significance of these facts. He has shown thatgiven variation and given change of conditionsthe inevitable result is the exercise of such an influence upon organisms that one is helped and another is impeded; one tends to predominate, another to disappear; and thus the living world bears within itself, and is surrounded by, impulses towards incessant change. But the truths just stated are as certain as any other physical laws, quite independently of the truth, or falsehood, of the hypothesis which Mr. Darwin has based upon them; and that M. Flourens, missing the substance and grasping at a shadow, should be blind to the admirable exposition of them, which Mr. Darwin has given, and see nothing there but a “dernière erreur du dernier siècle”—a personification of Nature—leads us indeed to cry with him: “O lucidité ! O solidité de l'esprit Français, que devemez-vous?” M. Flourens has, in fact, utterly failed to comprehend the first principles of the doctrine which he assails so rudely. His objections to details are of the old sort, so battered and hackneyed on this side of the Channel, that not even a Quarterly Reviewer could be induced to pick them up for the purpose of pelting Mr. Darwin over again. We have Cuvier and the mummies; M. Roulin and the domesticated animals of America; the difficulties presented by hybridism and by Palaeontology; Darwinism a risacciamento of De Maillet and Lamarck; Darwinism a system without a commencement, and its author bound to believe in M. Pouchet, &c. &c. How one knows it all by heart, and with what relief one reads at p. 65–
But we cannot leave M. Flourens without calling our readers' attention to his wonderful tenth chapter, “De la Préexistence des Germes et de l'Epigénèse,” which opens thus:– “Spontaneous generation is only a chimaera. This point established, two hypotheses remain : that of pre-existence and that of epigenesis. The one of these hypotheses has as little foundation as the other.” (P. 163.) “The doctrine of epigenesis is derived from Harvey: following by ocular inspection the development of the new being in the Windsor does, he saw each part appear successively, and taking the moment of appearance for the moment of formation he imagined epigenesis.” (P. 165.)
On the contrary, says M. Flourens (p. 167),
“The new being is formed at a stroke (tout d'un coup), as a whole, instantaneously ; it is not formed part by part, and at different times. It is formed at once at the single individual moment at which the conjunction of the male and female elements takes place.”
It will be observed that M. Flourens uses language which cannot be mistaken. For him, the labours of Won Baer, of Rathke, of Coste, and their contemporaries and successors in Germany, France, and England, are non-existent: and, as Darwin “imagina” natural selection, so Harvey “imagina” that doctrine which gives him an even greater claim to the veneration of posterity than his better known discovery of the circulation of the blood.
Language such as that we have quoted is, in fact, so preposterous, so utterly incompatible with