Page:Darwinism by Alfred Wallace 1889.djvu/468

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444
CHAP. XIV
DARWINISM

The same remark applies to the views of Professor Geddes on the laws of growth which have determined certain essential features in the morphology of plants and animals. The attempt to substitute these laws for those of variation and natural selection has failed in cases where we can apply a definite test, as in that of the origin of spines on trees and shrubs; while the extreme diversity of vegetable structure and form among the plants of the same country and of the same natural order, of itself affords a proof of the preponderating influence of variation and natural selection in keeping the many diverse forms in harmony with the highly complex and ever-changing environment.

Lastly, we have seen that Professor Weismann's theory of the continuity of the germ-plasm and the consequent non-heredity of acquired characters, while in perfect harmony with all the well-ascertained facts of heredity and development, adds greatly to the importance of natural selection as the one invariable and ever-present factor in all organic change, and that which can alone have produced the temporary fixity combined with the secular modification of species. While admitting, as Darwin always admitted, the co-operation of the fundamental laws of growth and variation, of correlation and heredity, in determining the direction of lines of variation or in the initiation of peculiar organs, we find that variation and natural selection are ever-present agencies, which take possession, as it were, of every minute change originated by these fundamental causes, check or favour their further development, or modify them in countless varied ways according to the varying needs of the organism. Whatever other causes have been at work, Natural Selection is supreme, to an extent which even Darwin himself hesitated to claim for it. The more we study it the more we are convinced of its overpowering importance, and the more confidently we claim, in Darwin's own words, that it "has been the most important, but not the exclusive, means of modification."