Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/374

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You often allude to Lamarck's work; I do not know what you think about it, but it appeared to me extremely poor; I got not one fact or idea from it.

Writing to Lyell in 1863, he says:

You refer repeatedly to my view as a modification of Lamarck's doctrine of development and progress. . . . Plato, Buffon, my grandfather before Lamarck, and others, propounded the obvious views that if species were not created separately they must have come from other species, and I can see nothing else in common between the "Origin" [of Species] and Lamarck.

Darwin wrote to Hooker in 1844:

Heaven forfend me from Lamarck's nonsense of a "tendency to progression," "adaptations from the slow willing of animals," etc. But the conclusions I am led to are not widely different from his; though the means of change are wholly so.

Darwin had read "The Zoonomia" of his grandfather prior to 1825 in which "similar views [to those of Lamarck] are mentioned but without producing any effect" on him. He continues, with his usual candor:

Nevertheless it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views maintained and praised may have favored my upholding them under a different form in my "Origin of Species."

It is a regrettable fact that Darwin did not appreciate Lamarck's work. The failure of Lamarck's writings to produce any apparent influence on Darwin may be attributed, I think, to the form in which Lamarck's views are presented. He uses facts as illustrations of his ideas, while with Darwin the facts are all important as furnishing the evidence on which a theory is to be established. He misunderstood Lamarck's view in regard to the inheritance of acquired characters, yet held himself the same opinion in the main as had Lamarck. The modern idea of descent, as a system of branching due to divergence in those species descended from the same parent species, was expounded luminously by Lamarck, yet Darwin discovered it independently for himself. He says:

But at that time (1844) I overlooked one problem of great importance; and it is astonishing to me. . . how I could have overlooked it and its solution. This problem is the tendency in organic beings descended from the same stock to diverge greatly in character as they become modified. That they have diverged greatly is obvious from the manner in which species of all kinds can be classed under genera, genera under families, families under suborders, and so forth, and I can remember the very spot in the road where to my joy the solution occurred to me.

It is this same view that Lamarck had fully expounded thirty-five years before.

We have now arrived at the period just before the publication of Darwin's famous book. It is sometimes said that the time was ripe for the reception of the ideas formulated by Darwin—it was in the air,