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links of connection between the two; but the investigations of Kowalewsky and others upon the development of Amphioxus and of the Tunicata. prove, beyond a doubt, that the differences which were supposed to constitute a barrier between the two are non-existent. There is no longer any difficulty in understanding how the vertebrate type may have arisen from the invertebrate, though the full proof of the manner in which the transition was actually effected may still be lacking. Again, in 1859, there appeared to be a no less sharp separation between the two great groups of flowering and flowerless plants. It is only subsequently that the series of remarkable investigations inaugurated by Hofmeister has brought to light the extraordinary and altogether unexpected modifications of the reproductive apparatus in the Lycopodiaceae, the Rhizocarpeae, and the Gymnospermeae, by which the ferns and the mosses are gradually connected with the Phanerogamic division of the vegetable world. So, again, it is only since 1859 that we have acquired that wealth of knowledge of the lowest forms of life which demonstrates the futility of any attempt to separate the lowest plants from the lowest animals, and shows that the two kingdoms of living nature have a common borderland which belongs to both, or to neither. Thus it will be observed that the whole tendency of biological investigation, since 1859, has been in the direction of removing the difficulties which the apparent breaks in the series created at that time; and the recognition of gradation is the first step towards the acceptance of evolution. As another great factor in bringing about the change of opinion which has taken place among naturalists, I count the astonishing progress which has been made in the study of embryology. Twenty years ago, not only were we devoid of any accurate knowledge of the mode of development of many groups of animals and plants, but the methods of investigation were rude and imperfect. At the present time, there is no important group of organic beings the development of which has not been carefully studied; and the modern methods of hardening and section-making enable the embryologist to determine the nature of the process, in each case, with a degree of minuteness and accuracy which is truly astonishing to those whose memories carry them back to the beginnings of modern histology. And the results of these embryological investigations are in complete harmony with the requirements of the doctrine of evolution. The first beginnings of all the higher forms of animal life are similar, and however diverse their adult conditions, they start from a common foundation. Moreover, the process of development of the animal or the plant from its primary egg, or germ, is a true process of evolution—a progress from almost formless to more or less highly organised matter, in virtue of the properties inherent in that matter. To those who are familiar with the process of development, all d priori objections to the doctrine of biological evolution appear childish. Any one who has watched the gradual formation of a complicated animal from the protoplasmic mass, which constitutes the essential element of a frog's or a hen's egg, has had under his eyes sufficient evidence that a similar evolution of the whole animal world from the like foundation is, at any rate, possible. Yet another product of investigation has largely contributed to the removal of the objections to the doctrine of evolution current in 1859. It is the proof afforded by successive discoveries that Mr. Darwin did not over-estimate the imperfection of the geological record. No more striking illustration of this is needed than a comparison of our knowledge of the mammalian fauna of the Tertiary epoch in 1859 with its present condition. M. Gaudry's researches on the fossils of Pikermi were published in 1868, those of Messrs. Leidy, Marsh, and Cope, on the fossils of the Western Territories of America, have appeared almost wholly since 1870, those of M. Filhol on the phosphorites of Quercy in 1878. The general effect of these investigations has been to intro
duce to us a multitude of extinct animals, the existence of which was previously hardly suspected; just as if zoologists were to become acquainted with a country, hitherto unknown, as rich in novel forms of life as Brazil or South Africa once were to Europeans. Indeed, the fossil fauna of the Western Territories of America bid fair to exceed in interest and importance all other known Tertiary deposits put together; and yet, with the exception of the case of the American tertiaries, these investigations have extended over very limited areas; and, at Pikermi, were confined to an extremely small space.
Such appear to me to be the chief events in the history of the progress of knowledge during the last twenty years, which account for the changed feeling with which the doctrine of evolution is at present regarded by those who have followed the advance of biological science, in respect of those problems which bear indirectly upon that doctrine.
But all this remains mere secondary evidence. It may remove dissent, but it does not compel assent. Primary and direct evidence in favour of evolution can be furnished only by palaeontology. The geological record, so soon as it approaches completeness, must, when properly questioned, yield either an affirmative or a negative answer: if evolution has taken place, there will its mark be left; if it has not taken place, there will lie its refutation. What was the state of matters in 1859 2 Let us hear Mr. Darwin, who may be trusted always to state the case against himself as strongly as possible. “On this doctrine of the extermination of an infinitude of connecting links between the living and extinct inhabitants of the world, and at each successive period between the extinct and still older species, why is not every geological formation charged with such links? Why does not every collection of fossil remains afford plain evidence of the gradation and mutation of the forms of life 2 We meet with no such evidence, and this is the most obvious and plausible of the many objections which may be urged against my theory.” " Nothing could have been more useful to the opposition than this characteristically candid avowal, twisted as it immediately was into an admission that the writer's views were contradicted by the facts of palaeontology. But, in fact, Mr. Darwin made no such admission. What he says in effect is, not that palaeontological evidence is against him, but that it is not distinctly in his favour; and, without attempting to attenuate the fact, he accounts for it by the scantiness and the imperfection of that evidence.