Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/95

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
85
WALLACE ON "DARWINISM."

that toads and frogs should find it necessary to pass through the fish-like life of tadpoles—this class of facts may well puzzle the thinking mind; but the advantage of them is that they are facts; no one can dispute them; and taking our stand upon them we may guess that the processes of Nature are analogous, in cases in which we can not distinctly prove that they are so. May it not be, then, that the Eocene period of creation presented a condition of things out of which a higher condition was evolved, not simply by the perpetuation of advantageous variations, but much more by virtue of an internal principle of growth, similar to, or at least comparable with, the principle which develops the fœtus or which transforms tadpoles and caterpillars? Adopting this view, we should have in both cases a limit toward which transformations tended; as the butterfly is the ultimate form of the caterpillar, and the caterpillar was the forerunner and necessary ancestor of the butterfly, so equus may perhaps be regarded as the ultimate form of orohippus, and orohippus as the forerunner and necessary ancestor of equus. At all events, this view of the facts seems to be tenable, and it is free from certain difficulties by which the hypothesis of natural selection pure and simple is undoubtedly beset.

The question of growth, evolution, development, by an internal power similar to, and comparable with, that which we see daily and hourly at work all round about us, leads to the discussion of another and very interesting question—namely, whether man can perfectly be described as "derived from the lower animals." The expression is Mr. Wallace's. He speaks of "man in his bodily structure "as having been" derived from the lower animals, of which he is the culminating development."[1] I venture to question whether this is a correct statement of the facts of the case. I am not venturing to throw doubt upon Mr. Wallace's scientific deductions; on the other hand, their correctness shall for the sake of argument, if on no other ground, be fully granted; all the more readily in consideration of the important limitations of the principle of natural selection made in the case of man, as already noticed and discussed. What I venture to doubt is, whether the process of human evolution, as accepted by Mr. Wallace, can be rightly described by the terms which he applies to it. Certainly there is something in the conception of such derivation from which the feelings of most of us not unnaturally shrink, and from which they would gladly be free, if freedom can be had consistently with scientific truth. There is something in it of that" letting the house of a brute to the soul of a man," of which Lord Tennyson sings in his most recent volume. It may be worth


  1. Page 454.