Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/273

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263
SKETCH OF CHARLES R. DARWIN, LL.D.

scientific thinkers of England, with whom the proportion of those ready to deny it grows less from year to year. In Germany it became, in the course of ten years, more or less completely accepted by those best qualified to judge, and was the occasion of the production of a considerable literature of arguments and facts in its favor, without encountering any very serious opposition. In France, the truth of the theory was far less extensively admitted, and it continued to be, for many years, the object of a vigorous and often bitter opposition, the echoes of which have hardly yet died away. A prolonged discussion took place in the French Academy of Sciences relative to the merits of the author of the theory in 1870, when Mr. Darwin was nominated to fill the vacancy in the zoölogical section caused by the death of M. Purkinge. M. Milne-Edwards first spoke in his favor, saying that, while he was himself absolutely opposed to evolutional doctrines, he rendered homage to the value of the special works of Mr. Darwin, especially to the theory of the formation of coral islands. M. Elie de Beaumont added his testimony to the value of this theory, and remarked that Mr. Darwin had done good work which he had spoiled by dangerous and unfounded speculations; he should not be elected until he had renounced them. M. Emile Blanchard was very severe upon Mr. Darwin for an hour, styling him an "intelligent amateur"; and M. Elie de Beaumont interpolated that his work was the "froth of science." M. de Quatrefages replied to M. Blanchard, saying that there were two men included in Mr. Darwin, a naturalist observer and a theoretical thinker: the naturalist is exact, sagacious, and patient; the thinker is original and penetrating, often just, sometimes too rash. That the theory with which his name is connected, that of natural selection, has in it something seductive and plausible, is shown by its having been worked out by such men as Darwin, Wallace, and Naudin, laboring independently and in different paths. If the ideas and the works of Darwin are such as some of his opponents represent, how can they have obtained the support, in less than ten years, of such men as Lyell, Hooker, Huxley, Karl Vogt, Lubbock, Haeckel, Filippi, and Brandt himself, who has just been elected correspondent in opposition to Mr. Darwin ? Then, having enumerated Mr. Darwin's works in geology, comprising seven real contributions to the science, and in zoölogy, his works on the origin of species and variation, and particularly his investigations of the strange variations in fowls, pigeons, and rabbits, M. de Quatrefages summed up by saying: "Mr. Darwin is an eminent naturalist, who wishes to remove from science the invocation of the first cause, and to seek the explanation of the natural facts of the organic world in secondary causes, as was done long ago in geology, chemistry, and physics. But he goes no further; and we ought not to judge Darwin by the words of a few disciples who seem never to have read his works. It would be unjust to make him responsible for the exaggerations and