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So in his " Methods of Study," he says: "In the Silurian period —at the dawn of life upon our earth—the plan of the animal creation, with its four fundamental ideas, was laid out. Radiates, mollusks, articulates, and vertebrates were present at the first representation of life upon our globe."
Now as to the type of species early appearing in those four divisions,—are they aborted, little developed, illy adapted to their sphere of life, and only rising to perfection after long periods, by " transmutation" through "natural selection," and "survival of the fittest"?
Take an example from the ancient Silurian seas, the trilobite, one of the lower orders of crustaceans. We find that creature with an eye, thus early in geological time, as perfectly adapted to its peculiar functions as that of the eagle of to-day, and infinitely more complex,—its eye had four hundred lenses, spherical, arranged in distinct compartments on the cornea, which latter projected conically upward, thus enabling its possessor, while resting or seeking its food at the bottom of the waters, to take in the largest possible field of view. And we find the same modifications of this organ adapted to similar functions in our day in the serolis. Says Anderson: "In none of her subsequent creations has Nature displayed greater elaboration in the parts, or more skillful and adaptive contrivance in arrangement, than in the visual organ #of this living crustaceous, the serolis, and the distinguishing type of the lowest fossiliferous rocks." Of the Briarian Pentacrinite of the Lias, Buckland says:
A comparison of this with later fossils, and with the existing Pentacriuu's Caput Medusae, shows in the organization of this very ancient species an equal degree of perfection, and a more elaborate combination of analogous organs, than occurs in other fossil species of more recent date, or in its living representative. It exhibits an amount of muscnlar apparatus infinitely greater than has yet been observed throughout the entire animal kingdom,—it is estimated to have had one hundred and fifty thousand bones, and two muscles to each bone.
The same author says:
The history of chambered shells shows that it is not always by a regular gradation from lower to higher degrees of organization that the progress of life has advanced. Many of the more simple forms have maintained their primeval simplicity through all the varied changes of our globe, whilst higher organizations preceeded many of the lower, some of the latter appearing for the first time, after the total annihilation of many species smd genera of more complex character. The carniverous trachelipodes of the tertiary, brought in to fill the place of the higher carniverous cephalopodes, affords an example of retrogression which seems fatal to the doctrine of regular progression. The nautili have perished in their simplicity,—the earliest fossil structure fundamentally, is seen in nautilus pompilus of our seas. Meantime the cognate family of ammonites, whose shells were more elaborately constructed than those of the nautili, commenced their existence at the same early period with them, and became extinct at the termination of the secondary period.
The mollusca and radiata of the very earliest periods, were more highly organized than the great mass of those now existing.
This tendency to degradation is found also in some cases among vertebrate fishes. Sauroids, of the greatest magnitude and very abundant, are found in the carboniferous and secondary periods, whilst their modern representatives (only two genera), the lepidostens of Lake Superior, and the polypterins of the Nile and Senegal, are mere pigmies; the latter only three or four feet long, the ancient saurins thirty or forty feet, furnished with teeth thrice longer than those of the hugest alligator, and ten times larger than those of the bulkiest lipidostens, and from mouth to tail covered with an impenetrable mail of enameled bone. Agassiz, speaking of the sauroidi of the early periods, and the degradation of their living representatives, says: "These ancient fishes bear the same relation to their living representatives, as our present elephants and tapirs [another example of degradation] do to the mastodon and anoplotherium of the primitive world." These ancient sauroidi occupy the same level in organization during the vast period represented by five succeeding geological formations, and when a change in their form takes place, it is degradation.
So also " the ganoids, one of the very highest groups of fishes ever known to have been developed, is a group now poorly represented, but for which the sturgeon may stand as a type, and which, in many important respects, more nearly resemble higher vertebrata than do the ordinary osseous fishes."
So Professor Owen claims that degradation has taken place among the reptiles—that the period of reptiles is past—and that the change in their species, genera and families, has been, upon the whole, from the complicated to the simple. The ophidians of the tertiary, e.g., indicate degradation in the absence of limbs, total in some families, in others (e.g., boas and pythons) represented by mere aborted hinder limbs concealed under the skin. They are also monstrous from the redundancy of parts, e. g., a vegetative repetition of vertebra and ribs, to the number of three or four hundred, forming the special contrivance by which the want of limbs is compensated.
If it be objected (as has been done) that the ancient saurins referred to are complex in type, combining the reptile and true fish, and therefore are not of the highest grade, I will give an example precisely answering such objection:
The macrauchenia a very recently extinct beast, presents a highly generalized type of structure, uniting in one organic form both artiodactyl and perissodactyl characters. At the same time the differentia of artiodactyl and perissodactyl forms existed as long ago as in the period of the Eocene ungulata, and that differentiation is very marked. [Mivart, 124.]
And the same author notes that
No armadilla now liviny presents nearly so remarkable a speciality of structure as was possessed by the extinct glyptodon; and also that the extinct machairodus, or sabre-toothed tiger, is characterized by a more highly differentiated and specially carniverous dentition than is shown by any predaceous beast of the present day.
Says Hugh Miller: "There is not one of the great divisions in which, in at least some prominent feature, through this mysterious element of degradation, the present is not inferior to the past."
Another geologic fact bears on our problem, viz., in the rock-record lines are found at which (almost) all previously existing life suddenly ceases, and suddenly there arises a new world of life. Such a gap is found between the eocene and cretaceous at the commencement of the tertiary period,—also between the trias and permian, abruptly cutting off secondary life from palaeozoic. Further, Agassiz claims "the ensemble of organized beings was renewed, not only in the interval of the great geological formations, but also at the time of the deposition of each particular member of all the formations."
Again, the geologic record fails to furnish us with those intermediate transition forms of life we should expect to find, had all life in concatenated development arisen out of "one primordial form."
All the most marked groups, bats, pterodactyls, chelonians, ichthyossauria, anoura, etc., appear at once upon the scene. Even the horse, the animal whose pedigree has been probably the best preserved, affords no conclusive evidence of specific origin by infinitesimal, fortuitous variations; while some forms, as the labyrinthodonts and trilobites, which seemed to exhibit gradual changes, are shown by further investigation to do nothing of the sort.
Sudden rise of new marked forms of life is a geologic fact,—so far as the record has yet spoken.
In a second article I shall use the data presented in this, and add another in seeking to reach the answer to our query: "Is Darwinism probable, and thus worthy of provisional acceptance?"
Rochester, N. Y.
THE malefactors crucified with Christ are supposed, by learned men, to have been Jewish zealots, carrying on guerrilla warfare with Roman authorities. They accepted Jehovah as their only king, and expected the Messiah soon to re-establish his dominion over the nation; and in this view they thought it treason to submit to imperial Rome. Hence their resistance was from motives partly political and partly religious; and their influence with the people was so great that they even succeeded to change the sacerdotal succession, introducing low and base men into the high priesthood from ignoble families, to insure protection for their own extreme measures and criminal practices.1
These violent partisans were ultraists in their devotion to Moses and the prophets, denouncing all moderate counsels as time-serving and wicked, and using the national prejudice against their foreign rulers as a pretext for converting the caves and fastnesses of their country into robber-dens to hide their ill-gotten treasures, and to carry on a predatory warfare against mankind in general, and especially those of the Gentile nations. As they often stole, they are called thieves by the evangelist; and as they sometimes did it with violence and murder, they are called Ustai, or robbers, by Josephus.
1 See Josephus' Jewish Wars, B. iii, C. x, S. 7; B. iy, C. iii, S 6.
The colloquy of the cross confirms this view of the malefactors. They both evince a Jewish training; they had evidently been indoctrinated into the prevailing belief in the Messiah as ordering a kingdom and exercising temporal dominion; and they show a lively interest in the great religious questions of their age and nation. One of them expresses a keen sense of the ridiculous, that a man dying as a malefactor by his side, should pretend to be born to David's golden throne, and to re-establish his kingdom above all its former glory. "He railed upon him." He regarded with contempt the claims to Messiahship of one nailed to a cross like himself, despised, spitted on, mocked, scourged, with no apparent power to ward off these evils by asserting his Messianic pre-eminence. "What! you our all-conquering leader? You who cannot extract a nail from your hands or feet, nor parry a blow of your enemies? If you are Christ, show it by extracting yourself and us from misery and impending death. Let us see in you something worthy of your great pretentions. Earn our gratitude by saving us with yourself from this state of torment." It can hardly be supposed that a man in his predicament should thus have addressed a fellow-sufferer from mere malignity. He did it rather from a keen sense of the ridiculous, that a crucified malefactor should set up to be their golden throne and all-conquering Messiah. Now, no one without fixed opinions of what their Messiah should be, could have conceived this ridiculous idea of the contrast of his glorious character and career with the despised and helpless sufferer by his side. Could a marauding savage from our frontier be expected to appreciate the keen satire upon Christianity in which Voltaire indulged? Are not such satires the dutgrowth of a perverted refinement, and of a training in literature, politics, and religion, which robbers, by instinct and by profession, do not generally enjoy? We do not say that this man was an elevated character, but only that he was not a vulgar thief and outlaw who had lived ignorant of and indifferent to Jewish ideas and prejudices. He understood what was expected of the Messiah; he had his own fixed ideas on the subject, and in his way had probably acted upon them through life; and hence the satrical vein of his words, despite his own agony.
So of the other thief; his prayer, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom," is the offshoot of Jewish training. The Messiah as a king, sitting on the throne of David, and ordering a kingdom for Israel which was to rule all nations, were ideas and terms common in the thought and speech of that people at that time. The penitent thief must, therefore, have been familiar with them, or his prayer for relief could hardly be supposed to have taken the form it