페이지 이미지
PDF

given direction, but they permit and favour a tendency in that direction which already exists. It is true that, in the long run, the origin of the organic molecules themselves, and of their tendencies, is to be sought in the external world; but if we carry our inquiries as far back as this, the distinction between internal and external impulses vanishes. On the other hand, if we confine ourselves to the consideration of a single organism, I think it must be admitted that the existence of an internal metamorphic tendency must be as distinctly recognised as that of an internal conservative tendency; and that the influence of conditions is mainly, if not wholly, the result of the extent to which they favour the one, or the other, of these tendencies. III. There is only one point upon which I fundamentally and entirely disagree with Professor Haeckel, but that is the very important one of his conception of geological time, and of the meaning of the stratified rocks as records and indications of that time. Conceiving that the stratified rocks of an epoch indicate a period of depression, and that the intervals between the epochs correspond with periods of elevation of which we have no record, he intercalates between the different epochs, or periods, intervals which he terms “Ante-periods.” Thus, instead of considering the Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, and Eocene periods, as continuously successive, he interposes a period before each, as an “Antetriaszeit,” “Antejura-zeit,” “Antecreta-zeit,” “Anteocenzeit,” &c. And he conceives that the abrupt changes between the Faunae of the different formations are due to the lapse of time, of which we have no organic record, during their “Ante-periods.” The frequent occurrence of strata containing assemblages of organic forms which are intermediate between those of adjacent formations, is, to my mind, fatal to this view. In the wellknown St. Cassian beds, for example, Palaeozoic and Mesozoic forms are commingled, and, between the Cretaceous and the Eocene formations, there are similar transitional beds. On the other hand, in the middle of the Silurian series, extensive unconformity of the strata indicates the lapse of vast intervals of time between the deposit of successive beds, without any corresponding change in the Fauna. Professor Haeckel will, I fear, think me unreasonable, if I say that he seems to be still overshadowed by geological superstitions; and that he will have to believe in the completeness of the geological record far less than he does at present. He assumes, for example, that there was no dry land, nor any terrestrial life, before the end of the Silurian epoch, simply because, up to the present time, no indications of fresh water, or terrestrial organisms, have been found in rocks of older date. And, in speculating upon the origin of a given group, he rarely goes further back than the “Ante-period,” which precedes that in which the remains of animals belonging to that group are found. Thus, as fossil remains of the majority of the groups of Reptilia are first found in the Trias, they are assumed to have originated in the “Antetriassic” period, or between the Permian and Triassic epochs. I confess this is wholly incredible to me. The Permian and the Triassic deposits pass completely into one another; there is no sort of discontinuity answering to an unrecorded “Antetrias”; and, what is more, we have evidence of immensely extensive dry land during the formation of these deposits. We know that the dry land of the Trias absolutely teemed with reptiles of all groups except Pterodactyles, Snakes, and perhaps Tortoises; there is every probability that true Birds existed, and Mammalia certainly did. Of the inhabitants of the Permian dry land, on the contrary, all that have left a record are a few lizards. Is it conceivable that these last should really represent the whole terrestrial population of that time, and that the development of Mammals, of Birds, and of the highest forms of Reptiles, should have been crowded into the time during which the Permian conditions quietly passed away, and the Triassic conditions began 2 Does not any such supposition become in the highest degree improbable, when, in the terrestrial or fresh-water Labyrinthodonts, which lived on the land of the Carboniferous epoch, as well as on that of the Trias, we have evidence that one form of terrestrial life persisted, throughout all these ages, with no important modification ? For my part, having regard to the small amount of modification (except in the way of extinction) which the Crocodilian, Lacertilian, and Chelonian Reptilia have undergone, from the older Mesozoic times to the present day, I cannot but put the existence of the common stock from which they sprang far back in the Palaeozoic epoch; and I should apply a similar argumentation to all other groups of animals.

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

[The remainder of this essay contains a discussion of questions of taxonomy and phylogeny, which is now antiquated. I have reprinted the considerations about the reconciliation of Teleology with Morphology, about “Dysteleology,” and about the struggle for existence within the organism, because it has happened to me to be charged with overlooking them.

In discussing Teleology, I ought to have pointed out, as I have done elsewhere (Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. ii. p. 202), that Paley “proleptically accepted the modern doctrine of Evolution,” (Natural Theology, chap. xxiii.). 1893.]

[graphic]

V
MR. DARWIN'S CRITICS1
[1871]

THE gradual lapse of time has now separated us by more than a decade from the date of the publication of the “Origin of Species”— and whatever may be thought or said about Mr. Darwin's doctrines, or the manner in which he has propounded them, this much is certain, that, in a dozen years, the “Origin of Species” has worked as complete a revolution in biological science as the “Principia" did in astronomy—and it has done so, because, in the words of Helmholtz, it contains “an essentially new creative thought.”

And as time has slipped by, a happy change

* 1. Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. By A. R. Wallace. 1870.-2. The Genesis of Species. By St. George Mivart, F.R.S. Second Edition. 1871. –3. Darwin's Descent of Man. Quarterly Review, July 1871.

* Helmholtz: Ueber das Ziel und die Fortschritte der Naturwissenschaft. Eröffnungsrede für die Naturforscherversammlung zu Innsbruck, 1869.

[graphic]
« 이전계속 »