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versal heart of man, and has become the tongue and voice of universal humanity ?
But we must forbear. If there be one omission in the great dramatist, if we have one cause of complaint against him, it is his almost rigid, his Baconian, resolution not to look beyond the region of human experience: for to this remark we cannot consider his fairies, witches, and ghosts, his Ariel or his Caliban, as forming any exception. In his days, at all events, popular faith in these ultra-human creations accepted them as beings of this world. But, when we compare Shakspeare with Spenser; when we consider how brief is the interval separating him from Luther, how deeply and how recently the religious heart of England had been stirred; how all her noblest sons had associated trust in God with loyalty to their nation and their sovereign ; we wonder why the poet should never have exhibited the influences of religious faith and resignation, or so cursorily or so coldly as scarcely to deserve the name, Men and women are made to drain the cup of misery to the dregs; but as from the depths into which they have fallen by their own weakness or the wickedness of others, the poet never raises them, in violation of the inexorable laws of nature, so neither does he put a new song' into their mouths, or any expression of confidence in God's righteous dealing. With as precise and hard a hand as Lord Bacon did he sunder the celestial from the terrestrial globe, the things of earth from those of heaven; resolutely and sternly refusing to look beyond the limits of this world, to borrow comfort in suffering and injustice from the life to come. Such expressions of faith might be out of place in . Macbeth,' or Cordelia,' or • Lear;' but we should have expected them in Richard II, and his queen, in Desdemona, and still more in Hamlet, who had been a student at Wittenberg. Yet Hamlet, who had pondered more than most men on the great questions of life and the destiny of man, when unexpectedly overtaken by death, has nothing more to say than those ominous words: “The rest is silence!' Even the vindication of God's order and judgment, of which he is made the instrument, leaves him as darkling as it finds him. Must we then think that the godly spirit and faith of Luther had departed ? that Protestantism had failed as well as Romanism ? or that Shakspeare, in thus ignoring the great central truth, like Bacon, was, like Bacon, unconsciously exhibiting the Calvinistic tendency, the downward and disorganizing progress of his age, by substituting man for God as the great centre of this universe, as the sole and engrossing subject of human interest?
ART. II.— The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Ser.
By Charles Darwin, M.A., F.R.S., &c. 2 vols. London, 1871. N Mr. Darwin's last work we possess at length a complete and
thorough exposition of his matured views. He gives us the results of the patient labour of many years' unremitting investigation and of the application of a powerful and acute intellect, combined with an extraordinarily active imagination, to an unequalled collection of most varied, interesting and important biological data. In his earlier writings a certain reticence veiled, though it did not hide, his ultimate conclusions as to the origin of our own species; but now all possibility of misunderstanding or of a repetition of former disclaimers on the part of any disciple is at an end, and the entire and naked truth as to the logical consequences of Darwinism is displayed with a frankness which we had a right to expect from the distinguished author. What was but obscurely hinted in the Origin of Species ’ is here fully and fairly stated in all its bearings and without disguise. Mr. Darwin has, in fact, crowned the edifice, and the long looked for and anxiously awaited detailed statement of his views as to the human race is now unreservedly put before us.
We rise from the careful perusal of this book with mingled feelings of admiration and disappointment. The author's style is clear and attractive-clearer than in bis earlier works—and his desire to avoid every kind of conscious misrepresentation is as conspicuous as ever.
The number of interesting facts brought forward is as surprising as is the ingenuity often displayed in his manipulation of them. Under these circumstances it is a most painful task to have to point out grave defects and serious shortcomings. Mr. Darwin, however, seems in his recent work even more than in his earlier productions to challenge criticism, and to have thrown out ideas and suggestions with a distinct view to their subsequent modification by others. It is but an act of fairness to call attention to this :
• False facts,' says Mr. Darwin, ‘are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.' -Descent of Man, vol. ii. p. 385.
Although we are unable to agree entirely with Mr. Darwin in this remark, it none the less contains an undoubted truth. We cannot agree, because we feel that a false theory which keenly solicits the imagination, put forward by a writer widely and deservedly esteemed, and which reposes on a multitude of facts difficult to verify, skilfully interwoven, and exceedingly hard to unravel, is likely to be very prejudicial to science. Nevertheless, science cannot make progress without the action of two distinct classes of thinkers : the first consisting of men of creative genius, who strike out brilliant hypotheses, and who may be spoken of as “theorizers' in the good sense of the word ; the second, of men possessed of the critical faculty, and who test, mould into shape, perfect or destroy, the hypotheses thrown out by the former class.
Obviously important as it is that there should be such theorizers, it is also most important that criticism should clearly point out when a theory is really proved, when it is but probable, and when it is a mere arbitrary hypothesis. This is all the more necessary if, as may often and very easily happen, from being repeatedly spoken of, and being connected with celebrated and influential names, it is likely to be taken for very much more than it is really worth.
The necessity of caution in respect to this is clearly shown by Mr. Darwin's present work, in which sexual selection,' from being again and again referred to as if it had been proved to be a vera causa, may readily be accepted as such by the uninstructed or careless reader.
For many persons, at first violently opposed through ignorance or prejudice to Mr. Darwin's views, are now, with scarcely less ignorance and prejudice, as strongly inclined in their favour.
Mr. Darwin's recent work, supplementing and completing, as it does, his earlier publications, offers a good opportunity for reviewing his whole position. We shall thus be better able to estimate the value of his convictions regarding the special subject of his present inquiry. We shall first call attention to his earlier statements, in order that we may see whether he has modified his views, and, if so, how far and with what results. If he has, even by his own showing and admission, been overhasty and seriously mistaken previously, we must be the more careful how we commit ourselves to his guidance now. We shall cndeavour to show that Mr. Darwin's convictions have undergone grave modifications, and that the opinions adopted by him now are quite distinct from, and even subversive of, the views he originally put forth. The assignment of the law of natural selection' to a subordinate position is virtually an abandonment of the Darwinian theory; for the one distinguishing feature of that theory was the all-sufficiency of natural selection.' Not
the less, however, ought we to feel grateful to Mr. Darwin for bringing forward that theory, and for forcing on men's minds, by his learning, acuteness, zeal, perseverance, firmness, and candour, a recognition of the probability, if not more, of evolution and of the certainty of the action of natural selection.' For though the “survival of the fittest' is a truth which readily presents itself to any one who considers the subject, and though its converse, the destruction of the least fit, was recognised thousands of years ago, yet to Mr. Darwin, and through Mr. Wallace's reticence) to Mr. Darwin alone, is due the credit of having first brought it prominently forward and demonstrated its truth in a volume which will doubtless form a landmark in the domain of zoological science.
We find even in the third edition of his Origin of Species' the following passages :— Natural selection can act only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a leap, but must advance by short and slow steps' (p. 214). Again he says :-'If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case' (p. 208). He adds:
• Every detail of structure in every living creature (making some little allowance for the direct action of physical conditions) may be viewed, either as having been of special use to some ancestral form, or as being now of special use to the descendants of this form-either directly, or indirectly through the complex laws of growth;' and if it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species, it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection' (p. 220).
It is almost impossible for Mr. Darwin to have used words by which more thoroughly to stake the whole of his theory on the non-existence or non-action of causes of any moment other than natural selection. For why should such a phenomenon annihilate his theory?? Because the very essence of his theory, as originally stated, is to recognise only the conservation of minute variations directly beneficial to the creature presenting them, by enabling it to obtain food, escape enemies, and propagate its kind. But once more he says:
* We have seen that species at any one period are not indefinitely variable, and are not linked together by a multitude of intermediate gradations, partly because the process of natural selection will always be very slow, and will act, at any one time, only on a very few forms ; and partly because the very process of natural selection almost Vol. 131.-No. 261.
implies the continual supplanting and extinction of preceding and intermediate gradations.'-P. 223.
Such are Mr. Darwin's earlier statements. At present we read as follows :
'I now admit, after reading the essay by Nägeli on plants, and the remarks by various authors with respect to animals, more especially those recently made by Professor Broca, that in the earlier editions of my "Origin of Species ” I probably attributed too much to the action of natural selection or the survival of the fittest.'
I had not formerly sufficiently considered the existence of many structures which appear to be, as far as we can judge, neither beneficial nor injurious; and this I believe to be one of the greatest oversights as yet detected in my work.'-—(Descent of Man,' vol. i. p. 152.)
A still more remarkable admission is that in which he says, after referring to the action of both natural and sexual selection :
• An unexplained residuum of change, perhaps a large one, must be left to the assumed action of those unknown agencies, which occasionally induce strongly marked and abrupt deviations of structure in our domestic productions.'-vol. i. p. 154.
But perhaps the most glaring contradiction is presented by the following passage :
No doubt man, as well as every other animal, presents structures, which as far as we can judge with our little knowledge, are not now of any service to him, nor have been so during any former period of his existence, either in relation to his general conditions of life, or of one sex to the other. Such structures cannot be accounted for by any form of selection, or by the inherited effects of the use and disuse of parts. We know, however, that many strange and strongly marked peculiarities of structure occasionally appear in our domesticated productions, and if the unknown causes which produce them were to act more uniformly, they would probably become common to all the individuals of the species.'—-vol. ii. p. 387.
Mr. Darwin, indeed, seems now to admit the existence of internal, innate powers, for he goes on to say :
• We may hope hereafter to understand something about the causes of such occasional modifications, especially through the study of monstrosities.'
• In the greater number of cases we can only say that the cause of each slight variation and of each monstrosity lies much more in the nature or constitution of the organism* than in the nature of the surrounding conditions; though new and changed conditions certainly play an important part in exciting organic changes of all kinds.'
* The italics in the quotations from Mr. Darwin's book in this article are,
in almost all cases, our's, and not the author's.