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" There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been 
originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one ; and that, while 
this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so 
simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been 
and are being evolved."— rA« Origin of Species, page 429. 






bt d. appleton and company. 


"While these selections can not but be useful to those 
who are perfectly familiar with the writings of Darwin, 
they are designed especially for those who know little, 
or nothing, about his line of research and argument, 
and yet would like to obtain a general idea of it in a 
form which shall be at once authentic, brief, and inex- 

This Tolume contains, of course, only an outline of 
the contents of the twelve volumes from which it is 
compiled, and for which it is by no means intended as 
a substitute. It will, on the contrary, we should hope, 
create an appetite which can be satisfied only by a care- 
ful reading of the works themselves. 

Darwin's repetitions, necessitated by his method of 
investigation and publication, and his unexampled can- 
dor in controversy, have been something of an embar- 
rassment in the classification of these passages ; so that 
we have been obliged in some instances to sacrifice con- 
tinuity to perspicuity. But, as one object of this book 
is to correct misrepresentations by giving Darwin's views 


in his own language, some of his own repetitions must 
be given also, in order to leave no doubt as to precisely 
what he said and did not say. It will probably be a 
long while before the dispute over the theory that he 
advocated will cease, but there is certainly no excuse 
for a difference of opinion with regard to the language 
that he used, and the meaning he attached to it. That 
language and that meaning will be found in these 
pages. Darwinism stated by its opponents is one thing, 
Darwinism stated by Darwin himself will be found to 
be quite another thing, for, to use his own exclamation, 
" great is the power of steady misrepresentation ! "' 

The order followed in the arrangement of these ex- 
tracts is not that of the books, but the one naturally 
suggested by our plan, which is designed to conduct the 
reader through the vegetable up to the animal kingdom, 
and up from the lowest to the highest animal, man, 
"the wonder and glory of the universe." 

The references are to the American edition of Dar- 
win's works published by D. Appleton & Co., New 

It is no part of our purpose to discuss the theory 
expounded here, but we can not refrain from joining 
in the general expression of admiration for its illustrious 
expounder. Lord Derby says, " He was one of half a 
dozen men of this century who will be remembered a 
century hence " ; and yet his friends were " more im- 
pressed with the dignified simplicity of his nature than 
by the great work he had done." Professor Huxley 


compares him to Socrates in wisdom and humility ; and, 
there could be no better authority than Mr. A. R. Wal- 
lace for the statement that *' there are none to stand 
beside him as equals in the whole domain of science." 
He has been extolled, since his death, by a host of re- 
ligious leaders in press and pulpit (some of whose utter- 
ances will be found on another page), and we concur 
with them in the opinion that science never had a 
champion whose temper and behavior were more nearly 
in accord with the practical injunctions of the Christian 
religion. Whateyer we or any one may think of Dar- 
win's scientific theories, no one can gainsay the value 
of his personal example, and few can be so prejudiced 
as to resist the fascination that will always be felt at the 
mention of his name. 
New York, February 1, 1884- 



" But with regard to the material world, we can at least go so 
far as this — we can perceive that events are brought about not 
by insulated interpositions of divine power, exerted in each par- 
ticular case, but by the establishment of general laws." — Whk- 
wbll: Bridgewater Treatise. 

"The only distinct meaning of the word ' natural ' is stated., 
fixed., or settled ; since what is natural as much requires and pre- 
supposes an intelligent agent to render it so, i. e., to effect it con- 
tinually or at stated times, as what is supernatural or miraculous 
does to effect it for once." — Btjtlee: Analogy of Revealed Ee- 

" To conclude, therefore, let no man out of a weak conceit of 
sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a 
man can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God's 
word, or in the book of God's works ; divinity or philosophy ; 
but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficience in 
both." — Bacon : Advancement of Learning. 

/ n 


" Surely in such a man lived that true charity which is the very 
essence of the true spirit of Christ." — Canon Pkotheho. 

" The moral lesson of his life is perhaps even more valuahle 
than is the grand discovery which he has stamped on the world's 
history." — The Ohserter (London). 

" Darwin's writings may be searched in vain for an irreverent 
or unbelieving word." — The Church Review. 

"The doctrine of evolution with which Darwin's name would 
always be associated lent itself at least as readily to the old promise 
of God as to more modem but less complete explanations of the 
universe." — Canon BAEBr. 

" The fundamental doctrine of the theist is left precisely as it 
was. The belief in the great Creator and Ruler of the Universe 
is, as we have seen, confessed by the author of these doctrines. 
The grounds remain untouched of faith in the personal Deity who 
is in intimate relation with individual sonls, who is their guide 
and helper in life, and who can be trusted in regard to the great 
hereafter." — The Church Quarterly Reciew. 

"It appears impossible to overrate the gain we have won in the 
stupendous majesty of this (Darwin's) idea of the Creator and 
creation." — Sunday-School Chronicle. 

" It is certain that Mr. Darwin's books contain a marvelous 
store of patiently accumulated and most interesting facts. Those 
facts seem to point in the direction of the belief that the Great 
Spirit of the Universe has wrought slowly and with infinite pa- 
tience, through innumerable ages, rather than by abrupt interven- 


tion and by means of great catastrophes, in the production of the 
results, in the animate and inanimate world, which now offer to 
the student of nature boundless scope for observation and inquiry." 
— The Christian World. 

" Let us see, in the funeral honors paid within these holy pre- 
cincts to our greatest naturalist, a happy trophy of the reconcilia- 
tion between faith and science." — The Guardian. 

" That there is some truth in the theory of evolution, however, 
most scientists, including those of Christian faith, believe, and 
Mr. Darwin certainly has done much to make the facts plain ; but 
no scientific principle established by him ever has undermined any 
truth of the Gospel." — The Congregationalist. 

" Christian believers are found among the ranks of evolution- 
ists without apparent prejudice to their faith. Professor Mivart, 
the zoologist; Professor Asa Gray, the botanist; Professor Le 
Conte and Professor Winchell, the geologists, may be named as 
among these. — The Preshyterian. 

" In all his simple and noble life Mr. Darwin was influenced 
by the profoundly religious conviction that nothing was beneath 
the earnest study of man which had been worthy of the mighty 
hand of God." — Canon Faerae. 

" He has not one word to say against religion ; . . . by-and-by 
it may be seen that he has done much to put religious faith as 
well as scientific knowledge on a higher plane." — Independent. 

" A celebrated author and divine has written to me that ' ho 
has gradually learned to see that it is just as noble a conception 
of the Deity to believe that he created a few original forms capable 
of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe 
that he required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused 
by the action of his laws.' " — Origin of Species^ page 422. 

" I am at the head of a college where to declare against it 
[evolution] would perplex my best students. They would ask me 
which to give up, science or the Bible. ... It is but the evolu- 
tion of Genesis when each ' brings forth after its kind.' Science 
tells the same story. But what is the limit of the fixedness of the 
law ? I believe that the evolution of new species is a question in 
science, and not of religion. It should be left to scientific men." 
— President McCosn. 


The Movements axd Habits of Plants. 

The Movement of Plants in Relation to their Wants . . .2 

The Power of Movement in Animal and Plant compared . . 4 

Advantages of Cross-Fertilization . . . . .6 

Potency of the Sexual Elements in Plants . ^ . . 6 

Experiments in Crossing . . . . . .8 

The Struggle for Existence among Seeds . . ... 9 

-Practical Application of these Views . . . . .9 

Marriages of First Cousins . . . . .11 

Development of the Two Sexes in Plants . . . .12 

Why the Sexes have been reseparated .... 14 

Comparative Fertility of Male and Female Plants . . .15 
Effect of Climate on Reproduction . . . .16 

Causes of Sterility among Plants . . . . .17 

An " Ideal Type " or Inevitable Modification ... 18 

Special Adaptations to a Changing Purpose . . . .19 

An Illustration ....... 21 

As interesting on the Theory of Development as on that of Direct 

Interposition . . . . . . .22 

The Sleep of the Plants ...... 24 

Self-Protection during Sleep . . . . . .25 

Influence of Light upon Plants ..... 28 

Influence of Gravitation upon Plants . . . . .29 

The Power of Digestion in Plants . . . .31 

Diverse Means by which Plants gain their Subsistence . . 34 

How a Plant preys upon Animals .... 35 



The Part plated by Worms in the History or this Planet. 

They preserve Valuable Ruins 
They prepare the Ground for Seed 
Intelligence of Worms 



The Laws of Variability with respect to Animals and Plants 
Inherited Effect of Changed Habits 
Effects of the Use and Disuse of Parts 
Vague Origin of our Domestic Animals 
Descent of the Domestic Pigeon 
Origin of the Dog . 
Origin of the Horse . 
Causes of Modifications in the Horse 
"^T alcing the Works of God a mere Moc kg 
Variability of Cultivated Plants . 
Savage Wisdom in the Cultivation of Plants 
Unknown Laws of Inheritance 

Laws of Inheritance that are fairly well established . 

Inherited Peculiarities in Man 

Inherited Diseases ..... 

Causes of Non-Inheritance 

Steps by which Domestic Races have been produced . 

Unconscious Selection .... 

Adaptation of Animals to the Fancies of Man 

Doubtful Species ..... 

Species an _Arbitra r y Term . ; ;; t. 

The True Plan of Creation" 


The Struggle for Existence. 
Death inevitable in the Fight for Life 
" Inexplicable on the Theory of Creation " 
Obscure Checks to Increase .... 
Climate as a Check to Increase . 
Influence of Insects in the Struggle for Existence 
No such Thing as Change in the Result of the Struggle 

. 62 

. 66 

. 68 

. 11 

. 74 

. 77 





Natural Selection; or, the Scrtital of the Fittest. 
^i^n Invented Hypothesis . . . . . .93 

•f^ow far the Theory may be extended .... 94 

Is there any Limit to what Selection can effect ? . . .96 

Has Organization advanced ? . . . . .97 

A Higher Workmanship than Man's . . . . .99 

Why Habits and Structure are not in Agreement . . 102 

No Modification in one Species designed for the Good of Another . 103 
-Illustrations of the Action of Natural Selection . . . 106 

Divergence of Character ...... 108 

Evolution of the Human Eye . . . • .110 


Geographical Disteibctios of Oegasic Beings. 

Isolated Continents never were united . . . .115 

Means of Dispersal . . . . . .116 

These Means of Transport not accidental . . . .118 

Diapergal during the Glacial Period . . . 119 

iiJ ^he Theory of C reation inadequate ..... J 22 

Causes of a Glacial Climate ..... 123 

Difficulties not yet removed . . . . . .124 

Identity of the Species of Islands with those of the Mainland ex- 
plained only by this Theory . . . . .125 



'^ Points of Correspondence between Man and the other Animals . 129 

The facts of Embryology anilihgj Ticory o f Developm ent . 131 

vTyn Principles tliat cxplaln^ the Facts ; ^ . . 184 

Embryology against Abrapt Changes .... 135 

Rudimentary Organs only to be explained on the Theory of De- 
velopment ....... 137 

" No other Explanation has ever been given " . . . 139 

Imity of Type explained by llclationship .... 140 

x^explicable on the Ordinary Tiow of Creation . . . 142 

Descent with Modification the only Explanation . . . 148 





The History of Life on the Theory of Descent with Modification . 
Letters retained in the Spelling but Useless in Pronunciation 
Man's Deficiency in Tail ...... 

Points of Resemblance between Man and Monkey . 
Variability of Man ...... 

■Causes of Variability in Domesticated Man . 

Action of Changed Conditions ..... 

The Inherited Effects of the Increased and Diminished Use of Parts 
lleversion as a Factor in the Development of Man 
Reversion in the Human Family .... 

Prepotence in the Transmission of Character 
Natural Selection in the Development of Man 
IIow Man became upright ..... 

The Brain enlarges as the Mental Faculties develop . 
Nakedness of the Skin ...... 

-^s Man the most helpless of the Animals ? . 




Mental Powers of Man and the Lower Animals compared. 

undamental Intuitions the same in Man and the other Annuals 
Man and the Lower Animals excited by the same Emotions 
All Animals possess some Power of Reasoning . 
The Power of Association in Dog and Savage 
The Lower Animals progress in Intelligence 
The Power of Abstraction .... 
The Evolution of Language — . 
Development of Languages and Species compared 
The Sense of Beauty ..... 
Development of the Ear for Music 



. Development op the Moral Sense. 

From the Social Instincts to the Moral Sense 
Human Sympathy among Animals 
The Love of Approbation .... 
Fellow-Feehng for our Fellow-Animals 
Development of the Golden Rule . 




^ Regret peculiar to Man, and why 
-Remorse explained . . . . . 

Development of Self-Control .... 
Variability of Conscience . . . . . 

Progress not an Invariable Rule 
^iAll Civilized Nations arc the Descendants of Barbarians . 
_^jy^ScT Snobling Beli^ fjflJIflaZ!::^ . 


. 202 

. 205 

. 209 

. 213 

The Genealogy of Max. 

Man a Sub-Order . . • . . 

The Birthplace of Man 

Origin of the Vertebrata . . . . 

From no Bone to Backbone . 
Does Mankind consist of Several Species ? 
The Races graduate into each other . 
Was the First Man a Speaking Animal ? . 
The Theory of a Single Pair . 
••Civilized out of Existence . . . . 




. 226 


. 229 


. 231 



Sexual Selection as as Agency to account for the Diffekesces 


Struggle of the Males for the Possession of the Females . . 236 

Courtship among the Lower Animals .... 237 

Why the Male plays the more Active Part in Courting . . 239 

Transmission of Sexual Characteristics .... 240 

An Objection answered ...... 242 

Difference between the Sexes created by Sexual Selection . 243 

How Woman could be made to reach the Standard of Man . . 246 

"Characteristic Selfishness of Man" . . . .247 

No Universal Standard of Beauty among Mankind . . . 248 

Development of the Beard . . . . .249 

Development of the Marriage-Tic ..... 250 

Unnatural Selection in JIarriage ..... 252 

Modifying Influences in Both Sexes ..... 254 

j" Grounds that will never be shaken " . . . . 256 





The Expression of the Emotions in Man and other Animals. 

The Principle of Associated Habit ..... 258 
The Principle of Antithesis . . . . .261 

Origin of the Principle of Antithesis ..... 263 
The Principle of the Action of the Excited Nervous System on the 

Body. ....... 265 

Means of the Expression of the Emotions. 
Vocal Organs .... 
Erection of the Hair 
Erection of the Ears . 
A Startled Ilorse . 
Weeping of Man and Brute 
The Grief-Muscles 

Voluntary Power over the Grief-Muscles 
" Down in the Mouth " 
Laughter . 

Expression of the Devout Emotions 
Frowning . 

Decision at the Mouth 
Anger . 
Sneering . 

Shrugging the Shoulders 
Blushing ..... 

Blushing not necessarily an Expression of Guilt 
Blushing accounted for 
A New Argument for a Single Parent-Stock 



The Provisional Hypothesis of Pangenesis. 

Functional Independence of the Units of the Body . 
Necessary Assumptions ..... 




^Two Objections answered 
Effect of Morbid Action 
Transmission limited . 


. 305 


. 307 


Objections to the Tiikort of Descent with Modification considered. 

^Misrepresentations cori-ected .... 
.^^>apse of Time and Extent of Area . 

Why the Higher Forms have not supplanted the Lower . 

The Amount of Life must have a Limit 

The Broken Branches of the Tree of Life 

Why we do not find Transitional Forms 

How could the Transititjnal Form have subsisted? 
^^AVhy Nature takes no Sadden Leaps . 
V-Ipiperfect Contrivances of Nature accounted for . 

Instincts as a Difficulty .... 

^me Instincts acquired and some lost 
^ Inmmierable Links necessarily lost . 

Plenty of Time for the Necessary Gradations 

Wide Intervals of Time between the Geological Formations 

Sudden Appearance of Groups of Allied Species . 
.^^ow little we know of Former Inhabitants of the World 
>The Extinction of Species involved in Mystery . 

Dead Links between Living Species . 

Living Descendants of Fossil Species 

/Unnecessary to explain the Cause of each Individual Difference 

>^?hy distasteful? ...... 

^^ ^eorJs h< ;tter wi th we Ttnnw ofjhe Creatbr*s La^B " 
~jTie Gra ndeur of this Tieg of Life^ . . _ . 
w^ot incompatible with the Belief in Immortally . ^ 

. 311 

. 316 

. 319 

. 323 

. 325 

. 329 

. 334 

. 337 

. 340 

. 343 

. 346 <. 

. 348 

349 <- 





The Power The most widely prevalent movement is 

in Plants essentially of the same nature as that of the 
page 1. stem of a climbing plant, which bends suc- 
cessively to all points of the compass, so that the tip 
revolves. This movement has been called by Sachs ** re- 
volving nutation"; but we have found it much more 
convenient to use the terms circumnutation and cir- 
cumnutate. As we shall have to say much about this 
movement, it will be useful here briefly to describe its 
nature. If we observe a circumnutating stem, which 
happens at the time to be bent, we will say toward the 
north, it will be found gradually to bend more and more 
easterly, until it faces the east ; and so onward to the 
south, then to the west, and back again to the north. If 
the movement had been quite regular, the apex would 
have described a circle, or rather, as the stem is always 
growing upward, a circular spiral. But it generally de- 
scribes irregular elliptical or oval figures ; for the ajDCx, 
after pointing in any one direction, commonly moves 
back to the opposite side, not, however, returning along 


the same line. Afterward other irregular ellipses or ovals 
are successively described, with their longer axes directed 
to different points of the compass. While describing 
such figures, the apex often travels in a zigzag line, or 
makes small subordinate loops or triangles. In the case 
o'f leaves the ellipses are generally narrow. 

Even the stems of seedlings before they 
^^^ ' have broken through the ground, as well as 
their buried radicles, circumnutate, as far as the pressure 
of the surrounding earth permits. In this universally 
present movement we have the basis or groundwork for 
the acquirement, according to the requirements of the 
plant, of the most diversified movements. 


'^^nts^and "^^^ most interesting point in the natural 

Habits of history of climbing plants is the various kinds 
Chmbmg ^f movement which they display in manifest 
page 202. relation to their wants. The most different 
organs — stems, branches, flower-peduncles, petioles, mid- 
ribs of the leaf and leaflets, and apparently aerial roots — 
all possess this power. 

1. The first action of a tendril is to place itself in a 
proper position. For instance, the tendril of Cohcea first 
rises vertically up, with its branches divergent and with 
the terminal hooks turned outward ; the young shoot at 
the extremity of the stem is at the same time bent to one 
side, so as to be out of the way. The young leaves of 
clematis, on the other hand, prepare for action by tem- 
porarily curving themselves downward, so as to serve as 

2. If a twining plant or a tendril gets by any accident 
into an inclined position, it soon bends upward, though 


gecluded from the light. The guiding stimulus no doubt 
is the attraction of gravity, as Andrew Knight showed to 
be the case with germinating plants. K a shoot of any 
ordinary plant be placed in an inclined position in a glass 
of water in the dark, the extremity will, in a few hours, 
bend upward ; and, if the position of the shoot be then 
reversed, the downward-bent shoot reverses its curvature ; 
but if the stolon of a strawberry, which has no tendency 
to grow upward, be thus treated, it will curve downward 
in the direction of, instead of in opposition to, the force 
of gravity. As with the strawberry, so it is generally with 
the twining shoots of the Hihhertia dentata, which climbs 
laterally from bush to bush ; for these shoots, if placed 
in a position inclined downward, show little and some- 
times no tendency to curve upward. 

3. Climbing plants, like other plants, bend toward 
the light by a movement closely analogous to the incurv- 
ation which causes them to revolve, so that their revolv- 
ing movement is often accelerated or retarded in ti-avel- 
ing to or from the light. On the other hand, in a few 
instances tendrils bend toward the dark. 

4. We have the spontaneous revolving movement 
which is independent of any outward stimulus, but is 
contingent on the youth of the part, and on vigorous 
health ; and this again, of course, depends on a proper 
temperature and other favorable conditions of life. 

5. Tendiils, whatever their homological nature may 
be, and the petioles or tips of the leaves of leaf -climbers, 
and apparently certain roots, all have the power of move- 
ment when touched, and bend quickly toward the touched 
side. Extremely slight pressure often suffices. If the 
pressure be not permanent, the part in question straight- 
ens itself and is again ready to bend on being touched. 

6. Tendrils, soon after clasping a support, but not 


after a mere temporary curvature, contract spirally. If 
they have not come into contact with any object, they 
ultimately contract spirally, after ceasing to revolve ; but 
in this case the movement is useless, and occurs only after 
a considerable lapse of time. 

With respect to the means by which these various 
movements are effected, there can be little doubt, from 
the researches of Sachs and H. de Vries, that they are 
due to unequal growth ; but, from the reasons already 
assigned, I can not believe that this explanation applies to 
the rapid movements from a delicate touch. 

Finally, climbing plants are sufficiently numerous to 
form a conspicuous feature in the vegetable kingdom, 
more especially in tropical forests. America, which so 
abounds with arboreal animals, as Mr. Bates remarks, 
likewise abounds, according to Mohl and Palm, with 
climbing plants ; and, of the tendril-bearing plants exam- 
ined by me, the highest developed kinds are natives of 
this grand continent, namely, the several species of Big- 
nonia, Eccremocarpus, Cohma, and Ampelopsis. But even 
in the thickets of our temperate regions the number of 
climbing species and individuals is considerable, as vrill 
be found by counting them. 


It has often been vaguely asserted that 
° ■ plants are distinguished from animals by not 
having the power of movement. It should rather be said 
that plants acquire and display this power only when it is 
of some advantage to them ; this being of comparatively 
rare occurrence, as they are affixed to the ground, and 
food is brought to them by the air and rain. We see 
how high in the scale of organization a plant may rise, 


when we look at one of the more perfect tendril-bearers. 
It first places its tendrils ready for action, as a polypus 
places its tentacula. K the tendril be displaced, it is 
acted on by the force of gravity and rights itself. It is 
acted on by the light, and bends toward or from it, or 
disregards it, whichever may be most advantageous. Dur- 
ing several days the tendrils or intemodes, or both, spon- 
taneously revolve with a steady motion. The tendril 
strikes some object, and quickly curls round and firmly 
grasps it. In the course of some hours it contracts into 
a spire, dragging up the stem, and forming an excellent 
spring. All movements now cease. By growth the tis- 
sues soon become wonderfully strong and durable. The 
tendril has done its work, and has done it in an admirable 

The Power It is impossible not to be struck with the 

of Movement i , i , i-> ^ • • 

in Plants resemblance between the foregoing movements 
page 571. of plants and many of the actions performed 
unconsciously by the lower animals. "With plants an as- 
tonishingly small stimulus suffices ; and even with allied 
plants one may be highly sensitive to the slightest con- 
tinued pressure, and another highly sensitive to a slight 
momentary touch. The habit of moving at certain pe- 
riods is inherited both by plants and animals ; and several 
other points of similitude have been specified. But the 
most striking resemblance is the localization of their 
sensitiveness, and the transmission of an influence from 
the excited part to another which consequently moves. 
Yet plants do not, of course, possess nerves or a central 
nervous system ; and Ave may infer that with animals 
such structures serve only for the more perfect transmis- 
sion of impressions, and for the more complete intercom- 
munication of the several parts. 



The Effects There are two important conclusions which 

of Cross and -u j j j ^ -i •• 

Self Fertiii- "^^7 '^^ deducea from my observations : 1. 
zation in the That the advantages of cross-fertilization do 
Km^dom^ not follow from some mysterious virtue in tho 
page 443. mere union of two distinct individuals, but 
from such individuals having been subjected during pre- 
vious generations to different conditions, or to their having 
varied in a manner commonly called spontaneous, so that 
in either case their sexual elements have been in some de- 
gree differentiated ; and, 2. That the injury from self- 
fertilization follows from the want of such differentiation 
in the sexual elements. These two propositions are fully 
established by my experiments. Thus, when plants of 
the Ipomcea and of the Mimnlus, which had been self- 
fertilized for the seven previous generations, and had been 
kejit all the time under the same conditions, were inter- 
crossed one with another, the offspring did not profit in 
the least by the cross. 

The curious cases of plants which can fer- 
tilize and be fertilized by any other individual 
of the same species, but are altogether sterile with their 
own pollen, become intelligible, if the view here pro- 
pounded is correct, namely, that the individuals of the 
same species growing in a state of nature near together 
have not really been subjected during several previous 
generations to quite the same conditions. 


p It is obvious that the exposure of two sets 

of plants during several generations to differ- 
ent conditions can lead to no beneficial results, as far as 


crossing is concerned, unless their sexual elements are 
thus affected. That every organism is acted on to a cer- 
tain extent by a change in its environment wiU not, I pre- 
sume, be disputed. It is hardly necessary to advance 
evidence on this head ; we can perceive the difference be- 
tween individual plants of the same species which have 
grown in somewhat more shady or sunny, dry or damp 
places. Plants which have been propagated for some gen- 
erations under different climates or at different seasons 
of the year transmit different constitutions to their seed- 
lings. Under such circumstances, the chemical consti- 
tution of their fluids and the nature of their tissues are 
often modified. Many other such facts could be adduced. 
In short, every alteration in the function of a part is 
probably connected with some corresponding, though 
often quite imperceptible, change in structure or compo- 

"Whatever affects an organism in any way, likewise 
tends to act on its sexual elements. "We see this in the 
inheritance of newly acquired modifications, such as those 
from the increased use or disuse of a part, and even from 
mutilations if followed by disease. "We have abundant 
evidence how susceptible the reproductive system is to 
changed conditions, in the many instances of animals ren- 
dered sterile by confinement ; so that they will not unite, 
or, if they unite, do not produce offspring, though the 
confinement may be far from close ; and of plants ren- 
dered sterile by cultivation. But hardly any cases afford 
more striking evidence how powerfully a change in the 
conditions of life acts on the sexual elements than those 
already given, of plants which are completely self-sterile 
in one country, and, when brought to another, yield, even 
in the first generation, a fair supply of self-fertilized 


But it may be said, granting that changed conditions 
act on the sexual elements, How can two or more plants 
growing close together, either in their native country or 
in a garden, be differently acted on, inasmuch as they 
appear to be exposed to exactly the same conditions ? 


Ta 447 ^^ °^y experiments with Digitalis pur- 

purea, some flowers on a wild plant were self- 
fertilized, and others were crossed with pollen from 
another plant growing within two or three feet distance. 
The crossed and self -fertilized plants raised from the 
seeds thus obtained produced flower-stems in number as 
100 to 47, and in average height as 100 to 70. Therefore, 
the cross between these two plants was highly beneficial ; 
but how could their sexual elements have been differen- 
tiated by exposure to different conditions ? If the progeni- 
tors of the two plants had lived on the same spot during 
the last score of generations, and had never been crossed 
with any plant beyond the distance of a few feet, in all 
probability their offspring would have been reduced to 
the same state as some of the plants in my experiments 
— such as the intercrossed plants of the ninth generation 
of Ipomma, or the self-fertilized plants of the eighth gen- 
eration of Mimulus, or the offspring from flowers on the 
same plant ; and in this case a cross between the two 
plants of Digitalis would have done no good. But seeds 
are often widely dispersed by natural means, and one of 
the above two plants, or one of their ancestors, may have 
come from a distance, from a more shady or sunny, dry 
or moist place, or from a different kind of soil containing 
other organic seeds or inorganic matter. 



„ ,,^ Seeds often lie dormant for several years 

Page 449. •' 

in the ground, and germinate when brought 

near the surface by any means, as by burrowing ani- 
mals. They would probably be affected by the mere cir- 
cumstance of haying long lain dormant ; for gardeners 
believe that the production of double flowers, and of 
fruit, is thus influenced. Seeds, moreover, which were 
matured during different seasons will have been subjected 
during the whole course of their development to differ- 
ent degrees of heat and moisture. 

It has been shown that pollen is often carried by 
insects to a considerable distance from plant to plant. 
Therefore, one of the parents or ancestors of our two 
plants of Digitalis may have been crossed by a dis- 
tant plant growing under somewhat different condi- 
tions. Plants thus crossed often produce an unusually 
large number of seeds ; a striking instance of this fact 
is afforded by the Bignnnia, which was fertilized by 
Fritz Miiller with pollen from some adjoining plants 
and set hardly any seed, but, when fertilized with pollen 
from a distant plant, was highly fertile. Seedlings from 
a cross of this kind grow with great vigor, and trans- 
mit their vigor to their descendants. These, therefore, 
in the struggle for life, will generally beat and exterminate 
the seedlings from plants which have long grown near 
together under the same conditions, and wiU thus tend 
to spread. 


Under a practical point of view, agricult- 
'^ ■ urists and horticulturists may learn something 
from the conclusions at which we have arrived. Firstly, 


we see that the injury from the close breeding of animals 
and from the self-fertilization of plants does not neces- 
sarily depend on any tendency to disease or weakness of 
constitution common to the related parents, and only in- 
directly on their relationship, in so far as they are apt to 
resemble each other in all respects, including their sexual 
nature. And, secondly, that the advantages of cross- 
fertilization depend on the sexual elements of the parents 
having become in some degree differentiated by the ex- 
posure of their progenitors to different conditions, or from 
their having intercrossed with individuals thus exj)osed; 
or, lastly, from what we call in our ignorance spontaneous 
variation. He therefore who wishes to pair closely related 
animals ought to keep them under conditions as different 
as possible. 

As some kinds of plants suffer much more 
Pace 459 

from self-fertilization than do others, so it 

probably is with animals from too close interbreeding. 
The effects of close interbreeding on animals, judging 
again from plants, would be deterioration in general vigor, 
including fertility, with no necessary loss of excellence 
of form ; and this seems to be the usual result. 

It is a common practice with horticulturists to obtain 
seeds from another place having a very different soil, so 
as to avoid raising plants for a long succession of genera- 
tions under the same conditions; but, with all the species 
which freely intercross by the aid of insects or the wind, 
it would be an incomparably better plan to obtain seeds 
of the required variety, which had been raised for some 
generations under as different conditions as possible, and 
sow then^ in alternate rows with seeds matured in the old 
garden, The two stocks would then intercross, with a 
thorougl^ bl§nding pf tbpir whole organizations, and with 


no loss of purity to the Tariety ; and this would yield far 
more favorable results than a mere exchange of seeds. 
We hare seen in my experiments how wonderfully the 
offspring profited in height, weight, hardiness, and fer- 
tility, by crosses of this kind. For instance, plants of 
Ipomcea thus crossed were to the intercrossed plants of 
the same stock, with which they grew in competition, as 
100 to 78 in height, and as 100 to 51 in fertility ; and 
plants of EschschoUzia similarly compared were as 100 to 
45 in fertility. In comparison with self-fertilized plants 
the results are still more striking ; thus cabbages derived 
from a cross with a fresh stock were to the self-fertihzed 
as 100 to 23 in weight. 

Florists may learn, from the four cases which have 
been fully described, that they have the power of fixing 
each fleeting variety of color, if they will fertilize the 
flowers of the desired kind with their own pollen for 
half a dozen generations, and grow the seedlings under 
the same conditions. But a cross with any other in- 
dividual of the same variety must be carefully prevented, 
as each has its own peculiar constitution. After a dozen 
generations of self-fertilization, it is probable that the 
new variety would remain constant even if grown under 
somewhat different conditions ; and there would no longer 
be any necessity to guard against intercrosses between 
the individuals of the same variety. 


With respect to mankind, my son George 
■ has endeavored to discover by a statistical in- 
vestigation whether the marriages of first cousins are at 
all injurious, although this is a degree of relationship 
which would not be objected to in our domestic animals ; 
and he has come to the conclusion from his own re- 


searches, and those of Dr. Mitchell, that the evidence as 
to any evil thus caused is conflicting, but on the whole 
points to its being very small. From the facts given in 
this volume we may infer that with mankind the mar- 
riages of nearly related persons, some of whose parents 
and ancestors had lived under very different conditions, 
would be much less injurious than that of persons who 
had always lived in the same place and followed the same 
habits of life. Nor can I see reason to doubt that the 
widely different habits of life of men and women in 
civilized nations, especially among the upper classes, 
would tend to counterbalance any evil from marriages 
between healthy and somewhat closely related persons. 


Under a theoretical point of view it is some 
■ gain to science to know that numberless struct- 
ures in hermaphrodite plants, and probably in hermaph- 
rodite animals, are special adaptations for securing an 
occasional cross between two individuals ; and that the 
advantages from such a cross depend altogether on the 
beings which are united, or their progenitors, having 
had their sexual elements somewhat differentiated, so 
that the embyro is benefited in the same manner as is a 
mature plant or animal by a slight change in its condi- 
tions of life, although in a much higher degree. 

Another and more important result may be deduced 
from my observations. Eggs and seeds are highly ser- 
viceable as a means of dissemination, but we now know 
that fertile eggs can be produced without the aid of the 
male. There are also many other methods by which, 
organisms can be propagated asexually. Why then have 
the two sexes been developed, and why do males exist 


which can not themselves produce offspring ? The an- 
swer lies, as I can hardly doubt, in the great good which 
is derived from the fusion of two somewhat differentiated 
individuals ; and with the exception of the lowest organ- 
isms this is possible only by means of the sexual elements, 
these consisting of cells separated from the body, con- 
taining the germs of every part, and capable of being 
fused completely together. 

It has been shown in the present volume that the 
offspring from the union of two distinct individuals, 
especially if their progenitors have been subjected to very 
different conditions, have an immense advantage in height, 
weight, constitutional vigor and fertOity over the self- 
fertilized offspring from one of the same parents. And 
this fact is amply sufficient to account for the develop- 
ment of the sexual elements, that is, for the genesis of 
the two sexes. 

It is a different question why the two sexes are some- 
times combined in the same individual, and are sometimes 
separated. As with many of the lowest plants and ani- 
mals the conjugation of two individuals, which are either 
quite similar or in some degree different is a common 
phenomenon, it seems probable, as remarked in the last 
chapter, that the sexes were primordiaUy separate. The 
individual which receives the contents of the other, may 
be called the female ; and the other, which is often smaller 
and more locomotive, may be called the male ; though 
these sexual names ought hardly to be applied as long as 
the whole contents of the two forms are blended into 
one. The object gained by the two sexes becoming united 
in the same hermaphrodite form probably is to allow of 
occasional or frequent self-fertilization, so as to insure 
the propagation of the species, more especially in the 
case of organisms affixed for life to the same spot. 


There does not seem to be any great diflBculty in under- 
standing how an organism, formed by the conjugation 
of two individuals which represented the two incipient 
sexes, might have given rise by budding first to a monoe- 
cious and then to an hermaphrodite form ; and in the 
case of animals even without budding to an hermaphro- 
dite form, for the bilateral structure of animals perhaps 
indicates that they were aboriginally formed by the fusion 
of two individuals. 


It is a more difficult problem why some 
*^^ ■ plants, and apparently all the higher animals, 
after becoming hermaphrodites, have since had their sexes 
reseparated. This separation has been attributed by some 
naturalists to the advantages which follow from a division 
of physiological labor. The principle is intelligible when 
the same organ has to perform at the same time diverse 
functions ; but it is not obvious why the male and female 
glands, when placed in different parts of the same com- 
pound or simple individual, should not perform their 
functions equally well as when placed in two distinct in- 
dividuals. In some instances the sexes may have been 
reseparated for the sake of preventing too frequent self- 
fertilization ; but this explanation does not seem prob- 
able, as the same end might have been gained by other 
and simpler means, for instance, dichogamy. It may be 
that the production of the male and female reproductive 
elements and the maturation of the ovules was too great 
a strain and expenditure of vital force for a single in- 
dividual to withstand, if endowed with a highly complex 
organization ; and that at the same time there was no 
need for all the individuals to produce young, and conse- 


quently that no injury, on the contrary, good, resulted 
from half of them, or the males, failing to produce off- 


The Differ. Thirteen bushes (of the spindle-tree) grow- 

ent Forms of • 1 1. • i. j • i. j * 

Fiowera, ^^o ^^*^ <*^G another in a hedge consisted of 
page 290. eight females quite destitute of pollen, and 
of five hermaphrodites with well-developed anthers. In 
the autumn the eight females were well covered with 
fruit, excepting one which bore only a moderate number. 
Of the five hermaphrodites, one bore a dozen or two 
fruits, and the remaining four bushes several dozen ; 
but their number was as nothing compared with those 
on the female bushes, for a single branch, between two 
and three feet in length, from one of the latter, yielded 
more than any one of the hermaphrodite bushes. The 
difference in the amount of fruit produced by the two 
sets of bushes is all the more striking, as from the 
sketches above given it is obvious that the stigmas of the 
polleniferous flowers can hardly fail to receive their own 
pollen ; while the fertilization of the female flowers de- 
pends on pollen being brought to them by flies and the 
smaller Hymenoptera, which are far from being such effi- 
cient carriers as bees. 

I now determined to observe more carefully during 
successive seasons some bushes growing in another place 
about a mile distant. As the female bushes were so 
highly productive, I marked only two of them with the 
letters A and B, and five polleniferous bushes with the 
letters C to G. I may premise that the year 1865 was 
highly favorable for the fruiting of all the bushes, espe- 
cially for the polleniferous ones, some of which were 


quite barren, except under such favorable conditions. 
The season of 1864 was unfavorable. In 1863 the female 
A produced "some fruit" ; in 1864 only nine ; and in 
1865 ninety-seven fruit. The female B in 1863 was 
"covered with fruit"; in 1864 it bore twenty-eight; 
and in 1865 "innumerable very fine fruits." I may add 
that three other female trees growing close by were ob- 
served, but only during 1863, and they then bore abun- 
dantly. With respect to the poUeniferous bushes, the one 
marked C did not bear a single fruit during the years 
1863 and 1864, but during 1865 it produced no less than 
ninety-two fruit, which, however, were very poor. I se- 
lected one of the finest branches with fifteen fruit, and 
these contained twenty seeds, or on an average 1 "33 per 
fruit. I then took by hazard fifteen fruit from an ad- 
joining female bush, and these contained forty-threo 
seeds ; that is, more than twice as many, or on an aver- 
age 2 '86 per fruit. Many of the fruits from the female 
bushes included four seeds, and only one had a single 
seed ; whereas, not one fruit from the poUeniferous 
bushes contained four seeds. Moreover, when the two 
lots of seeds were compared, it was manifest that those 
from the female bushes were the larger. The second 
poUeniferous bush, D, bore in 1863 about two dozen 
fruit, in 1864 only three very poor fruit, each containing 
a single seed ; and in 1865, twenty equally poor fruit. 
Lastly, the three poUeniferous bushes, E, F, and G, did 
not produce a single fruit during the three years 1863, 
1864, and 1865. 


A tendency to the separation of the sexes 

in the cultivated strawberry seems to be much 

more strongly marked in the United States than in Eu- 


rope ; and this appears to be the result of the direct action 
of climate on the reproductive organs. In the best ac- 
count which I have seen, it is stated that many of the 
varieties in the United States consist of three forms, 
namely, females, -which produce a heavy crop of fruit; 
of hermaphrodites, which " seldom produce other than 
a very scanty crop of inferior and imperfect berries " ; and 
of males, which produce none. The most skillful cul- 
tivators plant "seven rows of female plants, then one 
row of hermaphrodites, and so on throughout the field." 
The males bear large, the hermaphrodites mid-sized, and 
the females small flowers. The latter plants produce few 
runners, while the two other forms produce many ; con- 
sequently, as has been observed both in England and in 
the United States, the polleniferous forms increase rapidly 
and tend to supplant the females. 'We may therefore 
infer that much more vital force is expended in the pro- 
duction of ovules and fruit than in the production of 


The Differ- If the sexual elements belonging to the 

ent Forms of , -. -i ,i • • -n •,• 

Flower, same form are united, the union is an illegiti- 
page 345. mate One, and more or less sterile. With di- 
morphic species two illegitimate unions, and with trimor- 
phic species twelve are possible. There is reason to be- 
lieve that the sterility of these unions has not been spe- 
cially acquired, but follows as an incidental result from the 
sexual elements of the two or three forms having been 
adapted to act on one another in a particular manner, 
so that any other kind of union is inefficient, like that 
between distinct species. Another and still more remark- 
able incidental result is that the seedlings from an ille- 
gitimate union are often dwarfed and more or less com- 


pletely barren, like hybrids from the union of two widely 
distinct species. 


Fertilization ft is interesting to look at one of the mag- 
by Insects nificent exotic species (orchids), or, indeed, at 
page 245. one of our humblest forms, and obserye how 
profoundly it has been modified, as compared with all 
ordinary flowers — with its great labellum, formed of one 
petal and two petaloid stamens ; with its singular pollen- 
masses, hereafter to be referred to ; with its column 
formed of seven cohering organs, of which three alone 
perform their proper function, namely, one anther and 
two generally confluent stigmas ; with the third stigma 
modified into the rostellum and incapable of being fer- 
tilized ; and with three of the anthers no longer function- 
ally active, but serving either to protect the pollen of the 
fertile anther or to strengthen the column, or existing 
as mere rudiments, or entirely suppressed. "What an 
amount of modification, cohesion, abortion, and change 
of function do we here see ! Yet hidden in that column, 
with its surrounding petals and sepals, we know that 
there are fifteen groups of vessels, arranged three within 
three, in alternate order, which probably have been pre- 
served to the present time from being developed at a very 
early period of growth, before the shape or existence of 
any part of the flower is of importance for the well-being 
of the plant. 

Can we feel satisfied by saying that each orchid was 
created, exactly as we now see it, on a certain " ideal 
type " ; that the omnipotent Creator, having fixed on one 
plan for the whole order, did not depart from this plan ; 
that he, therefore, made the same organ to perform di- 


verse functions — often of trifling importance compared 
with their proper function — converted other organs into 
mere purposeless rudiments, and arranged all as if they 
had to stand separate, and then made them cohere ? la 
it not a more simple and intelligible view that all the 
OrcliidecB owe what they have in common to descent 
from some monocotyledonous plant, which, like so many 
other plants of the same class, possessed fifteen organs, 
arranged alternately, three within three, in five whorls ; 
and that the now wonderfully changed structure of the 
flower is due to a long course of slow modification — each 
modification having been preserved which was useful to 
the plant, during the incessant changes to which the or- 
ganic and inorganic world has been exposed ? 


Fertilization It has, I think, been shown that the Or- 
of Orchids, cMdecB exhibit an almost endless diversity of 
"■ beautiful adaptations. "When this or that part 
has been spoken of as adapted for some special purpose, it 
must not be supposed that it was originally always formed 
for this sole purpose. The regular course of events seems 
to be, that a part which originally served for one pur- 
pose becomes adapted by slow changes for widely differ- 
ent purposes. To give an instance : in all the Ophremy 
the long and nearly rigid caudicle manifestly serves for 
the application of the pollen-grains to the stigma, when 
the pollinia are transported by insects to another flower ; 
and the anther opens widely in order that the pollinium 
should be easily withdrawn ; but, in the Bee opTirys, the 
caudicle, by a slight increase in length and decrease in its 
thickness, and by the anther opening a little more widely, 
becomes specially adapted for the very different purpose 


of self-fertilization, through the combined aid of the 
weight of the pollen-mass and the vibration of the flower 
when moved by the wind. Every gradation between 
these two states is possible— of which we have a partial 
instance in 0. aranifera. 

Again, the elasticity of the pedicel of the pollinium 
in some VandecB is adapted to free the pollen-masses from 
their anther-cases ; but, by a further slight modification, 
the elasticity of the pedicel becomes specially adapted to 
shoot out the pollinium with considerable force, so as to 
strike the body of the visiting insect. The great cavity 
in the labellum of many VandecB is gnawed by insects, 
and thus attracts them ; but in Mormodes ignea it is 
greatly reduced in size, and serves in chief part to keep 
the labellum in its new position on the summit of the 
column. From the analogy of many plants we may in- 
fer that a long, spur-like nectary is primarily adapted to 
secrete and hold a store of nectar ; but in many orchids 
it has so far lost this function that it contains fluid only 
in the intercellular spaces. In those orchids in which 
the nectary contains both free nectar and fluid in the 
intercellular spaces, we can sec how a transition from the 
one state to the other could be effected, namely, by less 
and less nectar being secreted from the inner membrane, 
with more and more retained within the intercellular 
spaces. Other analogous cases could be given. 

Although an organ may not have been originally 
formed for some special purpose, if it now serves for this 
end, we are justified in saying that it is specially adapted 
for it. On the same principle, if a man were to make a 
machine for some special purpose, but were to use old 
wheels, springs, and pulleys, only slightly altered, the 
whole machine, with all its parts, might be said to be 
specially contrived for its present purpose. Thus through- 


out nature almost every part of each living being has 
probably served, in a slightly modified condition, for 
diverse purposes, and has acted in the living machinery 
of many ancient and distinct specific forms. 

In my examination of orchids, hardly any fact has 
struck me so much as the endless diversities of structure 
— the prodigality of resources — for gaining the very same 
end, namely, the fertilization of one flower by pollen 
from another plant. This fact is to a large extent in- 
telligible on the principle of natural selection. As all 
the parts of a flower are co-ordinated, if slight variations 
in any one part were preserved from being beneficial to 
the plant, then the other parts would generally have to 
be modified in some corresponding manner. But these 
latter parts might not vary at all, or they might not vary 
in a fitting mantier, and these other variations, whatever 
their nature might be, which tended to bring all the parts 
into more harmonious action with one another, would be 
preserved by natural selection. 


To give a simple illustration : in many 
^^ ■ orchids the ovarium (but sometimes the foot- 
stalk) becomes for a period twisted, causing the labellum 
to assume the ]X)sition of a lower petal, so that insects 
can easily visit the flower ; but from slow changes in the 
form or position of the petals, or from new sorts of in- 
sects visiting the flowers, it might be advantageous to 
the plant that the labellum should resume its normal 
position on the upper side of the flower, as is actually 
the case with Malaxis paludosa, and some species of 
Catasetunif etc. This change, it is obvious, might be 
simply effected by the continued selection of varieties 
which had their ovaria less and less twisted ; but, if the 



plant only afforded yarieties with the ovarium more 
twisted, the same end could be attained by the selection 
of such variations, until the flower was turned com- 
pletely round on its axis. This seems to have actually 
occurred with Malaxis pdludosa, for the labellum has ac- 
quired its present upward position by the ovarium being 
twisted twice as much as is usual. 

Again, we have seen that in most Vandem there is a 
plain relation between the depth of the stigmatic chamber 
and the length of the pedicel, by which the pollen-masses 
are inserted; now, if the chamber became slightly less 
deep from any change in the form of the column, or 
other unknown cause, the mere shortening of the pedicel 
would be the simplest corresponding change ; but, if the 
pedicel did not happen to vary in shortness, the slightest 
tendency to its becoming bowed from elasticity, as in 
Phalcenopsis, or to a backward hygrometric movement, 
as in one of the Maxillarias, would be preserved, and the 
tendency would be continually augmented by selection ; 
thus the pedicel, as far as its action is concerned, would 
be modified in the same manner as if it had been short- 
ened. Such processes carried on during many thousand 
generations in various ways, would create an endless di- 
versity of co-adapted structures in the several jDarts of 
the flower for the same general purpose. This view 
affords, I believe, the key which partly solves the prob- 
lem of the vast diversity of structure adapted for closely 
analogous ends in many large groups of organic beings. 


^ The more I study nature, the more I be- 

Page 286. . -, •{, • • . 

come impressed, with ever-mcrcasing force, 

that the contrivances and beautiful adaptations slowly 


acquired through each part occasionally varying m a 
slight degree but in many ways, with the preservation of 
those variations which were beneficial to the organism 
under complex and ever-varying conditions of life, tran- 
scend in an incomparable manner the contrivances and 
adaptations which the most fertile imagination of man 
could invent. 

The use of each trifling detail of structure is far from 
a barren search to those who believe in natural selection. 
When a naturalist casually takes up the study of an or- 
ganic being, and does not investigate its whole life (im- 
perfect though that study will ever be), he naturally 
doubts whether each trifling point can be of any use, or, 
indeed, whether it be due to any general law. Some 
naturalists believe that numberless structures have been 
created for the sake of mere variety and beauty — much 
as a workman would make different patterns. I, for 
one, have often and often doubted whether this or that 
detail of structure in many of the OrchidecB and other 
plants could be of any service ; yet, if of no good, these 
structures could not have been modeled by the natural 
preservation of useful variations ; such details can only 
be vaguely accounted for by the direct action of the con- 
ditions of life, or the mysterious laws of correlated growth. 
Fertilization This treatise affords me also an opportunity 
of Orchids, of attempting to show that the study of or- 
* ganic beings may be as interesting to an ob- 

server who is fully convinced that the structure of each 
is due to secondary laws as to one who views every trifling 
detail of structure as the result of the direct interposition 
of the Creator. 



The Power The so-called sleep of leaves is so conspicu- 

in Plant™'^'^ ^^^ ^ phenomenon that it was observed as early 
page 280. as the time of Pliny ; and since Linnsens pub- 
lished his famous essay, *^ Somnus Plantarum," it has 
been the subject of several memoirs. Many flowers close 
at night, and these are likewise said to sleep ; but we are 
not here concerned with their movements, for although 
effected by the same mechanism as in the case of young 
leaves, namely, unequal growth on the opposite sides (as 
first proved by Pfeffer), yet they differ essentially in being 
excited chiefly by changes of temperature instead of light ; 
and in being effected, as far as we can judge, for a differ- 
ent pur[5ose. Hardly any one supposes that there is any 
real analogy between the sleep of animals and that of 
plants, whether of leaves or flowers. It seems, therefore, 
advisable to give a distinct name to the so-called sleep- 
movements of plants. These have also generally been con- 
founded, under the term "periodic," with the slight daily 
rise and fall of leaves, as described in the fourth chapter ; 
and this makes it all the more desirable to give some dis- 
tinct name to sleep-movements. Nyctitropism and nycti- 
tropic, i. e., night-turning, may be applied both to leaves 
and flowers, and will be occasionally used by us ; but it 
would be best to confine the term to leaves. 

p 281 Leaves, when they go to sleep, move either 

upward or downward, or, in the case of the 
leaflets of compound leaves, forward, that is, toward the 
apex of the leaf, or backward, that is, toward its base ; or, 
again, they may rotate on their own axis without mov- 
ing either upward or downward. But in almost every 
case the plane of the blade is so placed as to stand nearly 


or quite vertically at night. Therefore the apex, or the 
base, or either lateral edge, may be directed toward the 
zenith. Moreover, the upper surface of each leaf, and 
more especially of each leaflet, is often brought into 
close contact with that of the oj)posite one ; and this is 
sometimes effected by singularly complicated movements. 
This fact suggests that the upper surface requires more 
protection than the lower one. For instance, the ter- 
minal leaflet in trifolium, after turning up at night so as 
to stand vertically, often continues to bend over until the 
upper surface is directed downward, while the lower sur- 
face is fully exposed to the sky ; and an arched roof is 
thus formed over the two lateral leaflets, which have their 
upper surfaces pressed closely together. Here we have 
the unusual case of one of the leaflets not standing verti- 
cally, or almost vertically, at night. 

Considering that leaves in assuming their nyctitropic 
positions often move through an angle of 90° ; that the 
movement is rapid in the evening ; that in some cases it 
is extraordinarily complicated ; that with certain seed- 
lings, old enough to bear true leaves, the cotyledons move 
vertically upward at night, while at the same time the 
leaflets move vertically downward ; and that in the same 
genus the leaves or cotyledons of some species move 
upward, while those of other species move downward — 
from these and other such facts, it is hardly possible to 
doubt that plants must derive some great advantage from 
such remarkable powers of movement. 


p -g. The fact that the leaves of many plants 

place themselves at night in widely different 

positions from what they hold during the day, but with 


the one point in common, that their upper surfaces avoid 
facing the zenith,- often with the additional fact that 
they come into close contact with opposite leaves or leaf- 
lets, clearly indicates, as it seems to us, that the object 
gained is the protection of the upper surfaces from being 
chilled at night by radiation. There is nothing improb- 
able in the upper surface needing protection more than 
the lower, as the two differ in function and structure. 
All gardeners know that plants suffer from radiation. It 
is this, and not cold winds, which the peasants of South- 
em Europe fear for their olives. Seedlings are often pro- 
tected from radiation by a very thin covering of straw ; 
and fruit-trees on walls by a few fir-branches, or even by 
a fishing-net, suspended over them. There is a variety 
of the gooseberry, the flowers of which, from being pro- 
duced before the leaves, are not protected by them from 
radiation, and consequently often fail to yield fruit. An 
excellent observer has remarked that one variety of the 
cherry has the petals of its flowers much curled back- 
ward, and after a severe frost all the stigmas were killed ; 
while, at the same time, in another variety with incurved 
petals, the stigmas were not in the least injured. 

We are far from doubting that an ad- 
' ditional advantage may be thus gained ; and 
we have observed with several plants, for instance, Des- 
modium gyrans, that while the blade of the leaf sinks 
vertically down at night, the petiole rises, so that the 
blade has to move through a greater angle in order to 
assume its vertical position than would otherwise have 
been necessary ; but with the result that all the leaves 
on the same plant arc crowded together, as if for mutual 

We doubted at first whether radiation would affect in 


any important manner objects so thin as are many cotyle- 
dons and leaves, and more especially affect differently 
their upper and lower surfaces ; for, although the tem- 
perature of their upper surfaces would undoubtedly fall 
when freely exposed to a clear sky, yet we thought that 
they would so quickly acquire by conduction the temper- 
ature of the surrounding air, that it could hardly make 
any sensible difference to them whether they stood hori- 
zontally, and radiated into the open sky, or yertically, 
and radiated chiefly in a lateral direction toward neigh- 
boring jjlants and other objects. We endeavored, there- 
fore, to ascertain something on this head, by preventing 
the leaves of several plants from going to sleep, and by 
exposing to a clear sky, when the temperature was be- 
neath the freezing-point, these as well as the other leaves 
on the same plants, which had already assumed their 
nocturnal vertical position. Our experiments show that 
leaves thus compelled to remain horizontal at night suf- 
fered much more injury from frost than those which were 
allowed to assume their normal vertical position. It may, 
however, be said that conclusions drawn from such ob- 
servations are not applicable to sleeping plants, the inhab- 
itants of countries where frosts do not occur. But in 
every country, and at all seasons, leaves must be exposed 
to nocturnal chills through radiation, which might be in 
some degree injurious to them, and which they would es- 
cape by assuming a vertical position. 

The Power Any one who had never observed continu- 

in Plants ously a sleeping plant would naturally suppose 
page 403. that the leaves moved only in the evening 
when going to sleep, and in the morning when awaking ; 
but he would be quite mistaken, for we have found no 
exception to the rule that leaves which sleep continue to 


move during the whole twenty-four hours ; they moye, 
however, more quickly when going to sleep and when 
awaking than at other times. 


The Power The extreme sensitiveness of certain seed.- 

inPlant™^^ lings to light is highly remarkable. The 
page 565. cotyledons of PTialaris became curved toward 
a distant lamp, which emitted so little light that a pen- 
cil held vertically close to the plants did not cast any 
shadow which the eye could perceive on a white card. 
These cotyledons, therefore, were affected by a difference 
in the amount of light on their two sides, which the eye 
could not distinguish. The degree of their curvature 
within a given time toward a lateral light did not cor- 
respond at all strictly with the amount of light which 
they received ; the light not being at any time in excess. 
They continued for nearly half an hour to bend toward a 
lateral light, after it had been extinguished. They bend 
with remarkable precision toward it, and this depends on 
the illumination of one whole side, or on the obscuration 
of the whole opposite side. The difference in the amount 
of light which plants at any time receive in comparison 
with what they have shortly before received seems in all 
cases to be the chief exciting cause of those movements 
which are influenced by light. Thus seedlings brought 
out of darkness bend toward a dim lateral light, sooner 
than others which had previously been exposed to day- 
light. We have seen several analogous cases with the 
nyctitropic movements of leaves. A striking instance 
was observed in the case of the periodic movements of 
the cotyledons of a cassia : in the morning a pot was 
placed in an obscure part of a room, and all the cotyle- 
dons rose up closed ; another pot had stood in the sun- 


light, and the cotyledons of course remained expanded ; 
both pots were now placed close together in the middle 
of the room, and the cotyledons which had been exposed 
to the sun immediately began to close, while the others 
opened ; so that the cotyledons in the two pots moved in 
exactly opposite directions while exposed to the same 
degree of hght. 

"We found that if seedlings, kept in a dark place, were 
laterally illuminated by a small wax-taper for only two 
or three minutes at intervals of about three quarters of 
an hour, they all became bowed to the point where the 
taper had been held. We felt much surprised at this 
fact, and, until we had read Wiesner's observations, we 
attributed it to the after-effects of the light ; but he has 
shown that the same degree of curvature in a plant may 
be induced in the course of an hour by several interrupt- 
ed illuminations lasting altogether for twenty minutes as 
by a continuous illumination of sixty minutes. We be- 
lieve that this case, as well as our own, may be explained 
by the excitement from light being due not so much to 
its actual amount, as to the difference in amount from 
that previously received ; and in our case there were re- 
peated alternations from complete darkness to light. In 
this and in several of the above-specified respects, light 
seems to act on the tissues of plants almost in the same 
manner as it does on the nervous system of animals. 


Gravitation excites plants to bend away 
' from the center of the earth, or toward it, or 
to place themselves in a transverse position with respect 
to it. Although it is impossible to modify in any direct 
manner the attraction of gravity, yet its influence could 
be moderated indirectly, in the several ways described in 


the tenth chapter ; and under such circumstances the 
same kind of eyidence as that given in the chapter on 
heliotropism showed in the plainest manner that apo- 
geotropic and geotropic, and probably diageotropic move- 
ments, are all modified forms of circumnutation. 

Different parts of the same plant and different species 
are affected by gravitation in widely different degrees and 
manners. Some plants and organs exhibit hardly a trace 
of its action. Young seedlings, which, as we know, cir- 
cumnutate rapidly, are eminently sensitive ; and we have 
seen the hypocotyl of Beta bending upward through 109** 
in three hours and eight minutes. The after-effects of 
apogeotropism last for above half an hour ; and horizon- 
tally-laid hypocotyls are sometimes thus carried tempo- 
rarily beyond an upright position. The benefits derived 
from geotropism, apogeotropism, and diageotropism, are 
generally so manifest that they need not be specified. 
With the flower-peduncles of Oxalis, epinasty causes them 
to bend down, so that the ripening pods may be pro- 
tected by the calyx from the rain. Afterward they are 
carried upward by apogeotropism in combination with 
hyponasty, and are thus enabled to scatter their seeds 
over a wider space. The capsules and flower-heads of 
Bome plants are bowed downward through geotropism, 
and they then bury themselves in the earth for the pro- 
tection and slow maturation of the seeds. This burying 
process is much facilitated by the rocking movement due 
to circumnutation. 

In the case of the radicles of several, probably of all 
seedling plants, sensitiveness to gravitation is confined to 
the tip, which transmits an influence to the adjoining 
upper part, causing it to bend toward the center of the 
earth. That there is transmission of this kind was proved 
in an interesting manner when horizontally extended 


radicles of the bean were exposed to the attraction of 
gravity for an hour or an hour and a half, and their tips 
were then amputated. Within this time no trace of cur- 
vature was exhibited, and the radicles were now placed 
pointing vertically downward ; but an influence had al- 
ready been transmitted from the tip to the adjoining 
part, for it soon became bent to one side, in the same 
manner as would have occurred had the radicle remained 
horizontal and been still acted on by geotropism. Eadi- 
cles thus treated continued to grow out horizontally for 
two or three days, until a new tip was reformed ; and 
this was then acted on by geotropism, and the radicle 
became curved perpendicularly downward. 


Insectivor- "^ ^° haxe seen that nitrogenous fluids act 

ous Plants, vcry differently on the leavesof Drosera from 
page 80. non-nitrogenous fluids, and as the leaves re- 
main clasped for a much longer time over various organic 
bodies than over inorganic bodies, such as bits of glass, cin- 
der, -wood, etc., it becomes an interesting inquiry whether 
they can only absorb matter already in solution, or ren- 
der it soluble ; that is, have the power of digestion. We 
shall immediately see that they certainly have this power, 
and that they act on albuminous compounds in exactly 
the same manner as does the gastric juice of mammals ; 
the digested matter being afterward absorbed. This fact, 
■which will be clearly proved, is a wonderful one in the 
physiology of plants. 

It may be well to premise, for the sake of 
any reader who knows nothing about the di- 

is effected by means of a ferment, pepsin, together with 


weak hydrochloric acid, though almost any acid will 
serve. Yet neither pepsin nor an acid by itself has 
any such power. We have seen that when the glands 
of the disk are excited by the contact of any object, es- 
pecially of one containing nitrogenous matter, the outer 
tentacles and often the blade become inflected ; the leaf 
being thus converted into a temporary cup or stomach. 
At the same time the discal glands secrete more copiously, 
and the secretion becomes acid. Moreover, they trans- 
mit some influence to the glands of the exterior tentacles, 
causing them to pour forth a more copious secretion, 
which also becomes acid or more acid than it was before. 
As this result is an important one, I will give the 
evidence. The secretion of many glands on thirty leaves, 
which had not been in any way excited, was tested with 
litmus-paper ; and the secretion of twenty-two of these 
leaves did not in the least affect the color, whereas that of 
eight caused an exceedingly feeble and sometimes doubt- 
ful tinge of red. Two other old leaves, however, which 
appeared to have been inflected several times, acted much 
more decidedly on the paper. Particles of clean glass 
were then placed on five of the leaves, cubes of albumen 
on six, and bits of raw meat on three, on none of which 
was the secretion at this time in the least acid. After 
an interval of twenty-four hours, when almost all the 
tentacles on these fourteen leaves had become more or 
less inflected, I again tested the secretion, selecting glands 
which had not as yet reached the center or touched any 
object, and it was now plainly acid. The degree of 
acidity of the secretion varied somewhat on the glands 
of the same leaf. On some leaves a few tentacles did 
not, from some unknown cau§e, become inflected, as 
often happens ; and in five instances their secretion was 
found not to be in the least acid ; while the secretion of 


the adjoining and inflected tentacles on the same leaf was 
decidedly acid. With leaves excited by particles of glass 
placed on the central glands, the secretion which collects 
on the disk beneath them was much more strongly acid 
than that poured forth from the exterior tentacles, which 
were as yet only moderately inflected. When bits of al- 
! bumen (and this is naturally alkaline) or bits of meat 
I were placed on the disk, the secretion collected beneath 
! them was likewise strongly acid. As raw meat moistened 
with water is slightly acid, I compared its action on lit- 
j mus-paper before it was placed on the leaves, and after- 
ward when bathed in the secretion ; and there could not 
be the least doubt that the latter was very much more 
acid. I have indeed tried hundreds of times the state of 
[ the secretion on the disks of leaves which were inflected 
over various objects, and never failed to find it acid. We 
I may, therefore, conclude that the secretion from unex- 
I cited leaves, though extremely viscid, is not acid or 
only slightly so, but that it becomes acid, or much more 
I strongly so, after the tentacles have begun to bend over 
any inorganic or organic object ; and still more strongly 
acid after the tentacles have remained for some time 
closely clasped over any object. 

I may here remind the reader that the secretion ap- 
pears to be to a certain extent antiseptic, as it checks the 
appearance of mold and infusoria, thus preventing for a 
time the discoloration and decay of such substances as the 
white of an egg, cheese, etc. It therefore acts like the 
gastric juice of the higher animals, which is known to 
arrest putrefaction by destroying the microzymes. 

I, „„ Cubes of about one twentieth of an inch 

(1*27 millimetre) of moderately roasted meat 
re placed on five leaves, which became in twelve hours 


closely inflected. After forty-eight hours I gently opened 
one leaf, and the meat now consisted of a minute central 
sphere, partially digested, and surrounded by a thick en- 
velope of transparent viscid fluid. The whole, without 
being much disturbed, was removed and placed under the 
microscope. In the central part the transverse striae on 
the muscular fibers were quite distinct ; and it was inter- 
esting to observe how gradually they disappeared, when 
the same fiber was traced into the surrounding fluid. 
They disappeared by the strise being replaced by trans- 
verse lines formed of excessively minute dark points, 
which toward the exterior could be seen only under a 
very high power ; and ultimately these points were lost. 

Finally, the experiments recorded in this 
' chapter show us that there is a remarkable 
accordance in the power of digestion between the gastric 
juice of animals, with its pepsin and hydrochloric acid, 
and the secretion of Drosera with its ferment and acid be- 
longing to the acetic series. We can, therefore, hardly 
doubt that the ferment in both cases is closely similar. 


Insectivor- Ordinary plants of the higher classes pro- 

ous Plants, (.^j-g \\^q requisite inorganic elements from the 
^^^^ " soil by means of their roots, and absorb carbonic 
acid from the atmosphere by means of their leaves and 
stems. But we have seen in a previous part of this work 
that there is a class of plants which digest and afterward 
absorb animal matter, namely, all the Droseraccce, Pingui- 
cula, and, as discovered by Dr. Hooker, Nepenthes, and 
to this class other species will almost certainly soon be 


added. These plants can dissolve matter out of certain 
Tegetable substances, such as pollen, seeds, and bits of 
leaves. Xo doubt their glands likewise absorb the salts 
of ammonia brought to them by the rain. It has also 
been shown that some other plants can absorb ammonia 
by their glandular hairs ; and these will profit by that 
brought to them by the rain. There is a second class of 
plants which, as we have just seen, can not digest, but 
absorb, the products of the decay of the animals which 
they capture, namely, Utricularia and its close allies ; 
and, from the excellent observations of Dr. Mellichamp 
and Dr. Canby, there can scarcely be a doubt that Sar- 
racenia and Darlingtonia may be added to this class, 
though the fact can hardly be considered as yet fully 
proved. There is a third class of plants which feed, as 
is now generally admitted, on the products of the decay 
of vegetable matter, such as the bird's-nest orchis {Xeot- 
tia), etc. Lastly, there is the well-knoAvn fourth class 
of parasites (such as the mistletoe), which are nourished 
by the juices of living plants. Most, however, of the 
plants belonging to these four classes obtain part of their 
carbon, like ordinary species, from the atmosphere. Such 
are the diversified means, as far as at present known, by 
which higher plants gain their subsistence. 


The genus described is Genlisea ornata. 

Insectivor- ^^^ utricle is formed by a slight enlarge- 

ous Plants, ment of the narrow blade of the leaf. A hol- 

'^ ■ low neck, no less than fifteen times as long as 

le utricle itself, forms a passage from the transverse slit- 

te orifice into the cavity of the utricle. A utricle which 

leasured ^ of an inch ( '795 millimetre) in its longer 


diameter had a neck || (10*583 millimetres) in length, 
and Y^ of an inch (-254 millimetre) in breadth. On 
each side of the orifice there is a long spiral arm, or tube ; 
the structure of which will be best understood be the fol- 
lowing illustration : Take a narrow ribbon and wind it 
spirally round a thin cylinder, so that the edges come 
tnto contact along its whole length ; then pinch up the two 
edges so as to form a little crest, which will, of course, 
wind spirally round the cylinder, like a thread round a 
screw. If the cylinder is now removed, we shall have a 
tube like one of the spiral arms. The two projecting edges 
are not actually united, and a needle can be pushed in easily 
between them. They are indeed in many places a little 
separated, forming narrow entrances into the tube ; but 
this may be the result of the drying of the specimens. 
The lamina of which the tube is formed seems to be a 
lateral prolongation of the lip of the orifice ; and the 
spiral line between the two projecting edges is continuous 
with the comer of the orifice. If a fine bristle is pushed 
down one of the arms, it passes into the top of the hollow 
neck. Whether the arms are open or closed at their ex- 
tremities could not be determined, as all the specimens 
were broken ; nor does it appear that Dr. Warming ascer- 
tained this point. 

So much for the external structure. Internally the 
lower part of the utricle is covered with spherical papillae, 
formed of four cells (sometimes eight, according to Dr. 
Warming), which evidently answer to the quadrifid pro- 
cesses within the bladders of Utricularia. These papilla) 
extend a little way up the dorsal and ventral surfaces 
of the utricle ; and a few, according to Warming may 
be found in the upper part. This upper region is cov- 
ered by many transverse rows, one above the other, of 
short, closely approximate hairs, pointing downward. 


These hairs have broad bases, and their tips are formed 
bj a separate cell. They are absent in the lower part of 
the utricle where the papillae abound. The neck is like- 
wise lined throughout its whole length with transverse 
rows of long, thin, transparent hairs, having broad bulb- 
ous bases, with similarly constructed sharp points. They 
arise from little projecting ridges, formed of rectangular 
epidermic cells. The hairs vary a little in length, but 
their points generally extend down to the row next be- 
low ; so that, if the neck is split open and laid flat, the 
inner surface resembles a paper of pins — the hairs repre- 
senting the pins, and the little transverse ridges repre- 
senting the folds of paper through which the pins are 
thrust. These rows of hairs are indicated in the previous 
figure by numerous transverse lines crossing the neck. 
The inside of the neck is also studded with papillae ; 
those in the lower part are spherical and formed of four 
cells, as in the lower part of the utricle ; those in the 
upper part are formed of two cells, which are much elon- 
gated downward beneath their points of attachment. 
These two-celled papillae apparently correspond with the 
bifid process in the upper part of the bladders of Utricu- 
laria. The narrow transverse orifice is situated between 
the bases of the two spiral arms. Ko valve could be 
detected here, nor was any such structure seen by Dr. 
AYarming. The lips of the orifice are armed with many 
short, thick, sharply pointed, somewhat incurved hairs 
or teeth. 

The two projecting edges of the spirally-wound lamina, 
forming the arms, are provided with short incurved hairs 
or teeth, exactly like those on the lips. These project 
inward at right angles to the spiral line of junction be- 
tween the two edges. The inner surface of the lamina 
supports two-celled, elongated papillae, resembling those 



in the upper part of the neck, but differing slightly from 
them, according to "Warming, in their footstalks being 
formed by prolongations of large epidermic cells ; where- 
as the papillae within the neck rest on small cells sunk 
amid the larger ones. These spiral arms form a conspic- 
uous difference between the present genus and Utricu- 

Lastly, there is a bundle of spiral vessels which, run- 
ning up the lower part of the linear leaf, divides close 
beneath the utricle. One branch extends up the dorsal 
and the other up the ventral side of both the utricle and 
neck. Of these two branches, one enters one spiral arm, 
and the other branch the other arm. 

The utricles contained much debris, or dirty matter, 
which seemed organic, though no distinct organisms could 
be recognized. It is, indeed, scarcely possible that any 
object could enter the small orifice and i)ass down the 
long, narrow neck, except a living creature. Within the 
necks, however, of some specimens, a worm, with retracted 
horny jaws, the abdomen of some articulate animal, and 
specks of dirt, probably the remnants of other minute 
creatures, were found. Many of the papillae within both 
the utricles and necks were discolored, as if they had ab- 
sorbed matter. 

From this description it is suflSciently obvious how 
genlisea secures its prey. Small animals entering the 
narrow orifice — ^but what induces them to enter is not 
known any more than in the case of Utricularia — would 
find their egress rendered difficult by the sharp incurved 
hairs on the lips, and, as soon as they passed some way 
down the neck, it would be scarcely possible for them to 
return, owing to the many transverse rows of long, straight, 
downward-pointing hairs, together with the ridges from 
which these project. Such creatures would, therefore, 


perish either within the neck or utricle ; and the quadrifid 
and bifid papillae would absorb matter from their decayed 
remains. The transverse rows of hairs are so numerous 
that they seem superfluous merely for the sake of pre- 
venting the escape of prey, and, as they are thin and 
delicate, they probably serve as additional absorbents, in 
the same manner as the flexible bristles on the infolded 
margins of the leaves of aldrovanda. The spiral arms, 
no doubt, act as accessory traps. Until fresh leaves are 
examined, it can not be told whether the line of junc- 
tion of the spirally-wound lamina is a little open along 
its whole course or only in parts, but a small creat- 
ure which forced its way into the tube at any point 
would be prevented from escaping by the incurved hairs, 
and would find an open path down the tube into the 
neck, and so into the utricle. If the creature perished 
within the spiral arms, its decaying remains would be ab- 
sorbed and utilized by the bifid papillae. We thus see 
that animals are captured by genlisea, not by means of 
an elastic valve, as with the foregoing species, but by a 
contrivance resembling an eel-trap, though more complex. 



The Forma- "WoEMS have played a more important part 
tionofVege- ^^ ^^xe historv of the world than most persons 

table Mold , , ^ t i j^ n i • j 

through the would at first suppose. in almost all humid 

Action of countries they are extraordinarily numerous. 

Earthworms, » , . ■ i i 

page 305. and for their size possess great muscular 
power. In many parts of England a weight of more than 
ten tons (10,516 kilogrammes) of dry earth annually 
passes through their bodies and is brought to the surface 
on each acre of land ; so that the whole superficial bed 
of vegetable mold passes through their bodies in the 
course of every few years. From the collapsing of the 
old burrows the mold is in constant though slow move- 
ment, and the particles composing it are thus rubbed to- 
gether. By these means fresh surfaces are continually 
exposed to the action of the carbonic acid in the soil, 
and of the humus-acids which appear to be still more 
efficient in the decomposition of rocks. The generation 
of the humus-acids is probably hastened during the diges- 
tion of the many half-decayed leaves which worms con- 
sume. Thus the particles of earth, forming the super- 
ficial mold, are subjected to conditions eminently favor- 
able for their decomj)osition and disintegration. More- 


over, the particles of the softer rocks suffer some amount 
of mechanical trituration in the muscular gizzards of 
worms, in which small stones serve as mill-stones. 

The finely lerigated castings, when brought to the 
surface in a moist condition, flow during rainy weather 
down any moderate slope ; and the smaller particles are 
washed far down even a gently inclined surface. Cast- 
ings when dry often crumble into small pellets, and these 
are apt to roll down any sloping surface. Where the 
land is quite level and is covered with herbage, and where 
the climate is humid so that much dust can not be blown 
away, it appears at first sight impossible that there should 
be any appreciable amount of subaerial denudation ; but 
worm-castings are blown, especially while moist and vis- 
cid, in one uniform direction by the prevalent winds 
which are accompanied by rain. By these several means 
I the superficial mold is prevented from accumulating to a 
I great thickness ; and a thick bed of mold checks in many 
ways the disintegration of the underlying rocks and frag- 
ments of rock. 

The removal of worm-castings by the above means 
leads to results which are far from insignificant. It has 
been shown that a layer of earth, '2 of an inch in thick- 
ness, is in many places annually brought to the surface 
1 per acre ; and if a small part of this amount flows, or 
^ rolls, or is washed, even for a short distance down every 
inclined surface, or is repeatedly blown in one direction, 
a great effect will be produced in the course of ages. It 
was found by measurements and calculations that on a 
surface with a mean inclination of 9° 26', 2*4 cubic inches 
of earth which had been ejected by worms crossed, in the 
course of a year, a horizontal line one yard in length ; so 

Eat 240 cubic inches would cross a line a hundred yards 
length. This latter amotmt in a damp state would 


weigh eleven and a half pounds. Thus a considerable 
weight of earth is continually moving down each side of 
every valley, and will in time reach its bed. Finally, this 
earth will be transported by the streams flowing in the 
valleys into the ocean, the great receptacle for all matter 
denuded from the land. It is known from the amount 
of sediment annually delivered into the sea by the Missis- 
sippi, that its enormous drainage-area must on an average 
be lowered '00263 of an inch each year ; and this would 
suffice in four and a half million years to lower the whole 
drainage-area to the level of the sea-shore. So that, if a 
small fraction of the layer of fine earth, '2 of an inch in 
thickness, which is annually brought to the surface by 
worms, is carried away, a great result can not fail to be 
produced within a period which no geologist considers 
extremely long. 


p T 308 Archaeologists ought to be grateful to 

° ' worms, as they protect and preserve for an 
indefinitely long period every object, not liable to decay, 
which is dropped on the surface of the land, by burying 
it beneath their castings. Thus, also, many elegant and 
curious tesselated pavements and other ancient remains 
have been preserved ; though no doubt the worms have 
in these cases been largely aided by earth washed and 
blown from the adjoining land, especially when culti- 
vated. The old tesselated pavements have, however, 
often suffered by having subsided unequally from being 
unequally undermined by the worms. Even old massive 
walls may be undermined and subside ; and no building 
is in this respect safe, unless the foundations lie six or 
seven feet beneath the surface, at a depth at which worms 


can not work. It is probable that many monoliths and 
some old walls have fallen down from haying been under- 
mined by worms. 


„ «f^q Worms prepare the ground in an excellent 

° " manner for the growth of fibrous-rooted plants 
and for seedlings of all kinds. They periodically expose 
the mold to the air, and sift it so that no stones larger 
than the particles which they can swallow are left in it. 
They mingle the whole intimately together, like a gar- 
dener who prepares fine soil for his choicest plants. In 
this state it is well fitted to retain moisture and to absorb 
all soluble substances, as well as for the process of nitrifi- 
cation. The bones of dead animals, the harder parts of 
insects, the shells of land-mollusks, leaves, twigs, etc., 
are before long all buried beneath the accumulating cast- 
ings of worms, and are thus brought in a more or less 
decayed state within reach of the roots of plants. "Worms 
likewise drag an infinite number of dead leaves and other 
parts of plants into their burrows, partly for the sake of 
plugging them up and partly as food. 

The leaves which are dragged into the burrows as 
food, after being torn into the finest shreds, partially di- 
gested, and saturated with the intestinal and urinary se- 
cretions, are commingled with much earth. This earth 
forms the dark-colored, rich humus which almost every- 
where covers the surface of the land with a fairly well- 
defined layer or mantle. Von Hensen placed two worms 
in a vessel eighteen inches in diameter, which was filled 
with sand, on which fallen leaves were strewed ; and 
these were soon dragged into their burrows to a depth of 
three inches. After about six weeks an almost uniform 
layer of sand, a centimetre ('4 inch) in thickness, was 


converted into humus by having passed through the ah- 
mentary canals of these two worms. It is believed by 
some persons that worm-burrows, which often penetrate 
the ground almost perpendicularly to a depth of five or 
six feet, materially aid in its drainage ; notwithstanding 
that the viscid castings piled over the mouths of the bur- 
rows prevent or check the rain-water directly entering 
them. They allow the air to penetrate deeply into the 
ground. They also greatly facilitate the downward pas- 
sage of roots of moderate size ; and these will be nourished 
by the humus with which the burrows are lined. Many 
seeds owe their germination to having been covered by cast- 
ings ; and others buried to a considerable depth beneath 
accumulated castings lie dormant, until at some future 
time they are accidentally uncovered and germinate. 

P 813 When we behold a wide, turf-covered ex- 

panse, we should remember that its smooth- 
ness, on which so much of its beauty depends, is mainly 
due to all the inequalities having been slowly leveled by 
worms. It is a marvelous reflection that the whole of 
the superficial mold over any such expanse has passed, 
and will again pass, every few years through the bodies 
of worms. The plow is one of the most ancient and most 
valuable of man's inventions ; but long before he existed 
the land was in fact regularly plowed, and still continues 
to be thus plowed, by earth-worms. It may be doubted 
whether there are many other animals which have played 
so important a part in the history of the world as have' 
these lowly organized creatures. Some other animals, 
however, still more lowly organized, namely corals, have 
done far more conspicuous work in having constructed 
innumerable reefs and islands in the great oceans ; but 
these are almost confined to the tropical zones. 



p We can hardly escape from the conclusion 

° ' that worms show some degree of intelligence 
in their manner of plugging up their burrows. Each 
particular object is seized in too uniform a manner, and 
from causes which we can generally understand, for the 
result to be attributed to mere chance. That every ob- 
ject has not been drawn in by its pointed end, may be 
accounted for by labor having been saved through some 
being inserted by their broader or thicker ends. No 
doubt worms are led by instinct to plug up their burrows ; 
and it might have been expected that they would have 
been led by instinct how best to act in each particular 
case, independently of intelligence, We see how diflBcult 
it is to judge whether intelligence comes into play, for 
even plants might sometimes be thought to be thus di- 
rected ; for instance, when displaced leaves redirect their 
upper surfaces toward the light by extremely complicated 
movements and by the shortest course. With animals, 
actions appearing due to intelligence may be performed 
through inherited habit without any intelligence, although 
aboriginally thus acquired. Or the habit may have been 
acquired through the preservation and inheritance of 
beneficial variations of some other habit ; and in this 
ease the new habit will have been acquired indeioendently 
of intelligence throughout the whole course of its devel- 
opment. There is no a priori improbability in worms 
having acquired special instincts through either of these 
two latter means. Nevertheless, it is incredible that in- 
stincts should have been developed in reference to objects, 
such as the leaves or petioles of foreign plants, wholly un- 
known to the progenitors of the worms which act in the 
described manner. Nor are their actions so unvarying 
or inevitable as are most true instincts. 


As worms are not guided by special instincts in each 
particular case, though possessing a general instinct to 
plug up their burrows, and, as chance is excluded, the 
next most probable conclusion seems to be that they try 
in many different ways to draw in objects, and at last suc- 
ceed in some one way. But it is surprising that an ani- 
mal so low in the scale as a worm should have the capacity 
for acting in this manner, as many higher animals have 
no such capacity. 

p Mr. Komanes, who has specially studied the 

minds of animals, believes that we can safely 
infer intelligence only when we see an individual profit- 
ing by its own experience. Now, if worms try to drag 
objects into their burrows first in one way and then in 
another, until they at last succeed, they profit at least in 
each particular instance by experience. 

p ^ One alternative alone is left, namely, that 

worms, although standing low in the scale of 
organization, possess some degree of intelligence. This 
will strike every one as very improbable ; but it may be 
doubted whether we know enough about the nervous sys- 
tem of the lower animals to justify our natural distrust 
of such a conclusion. With respect to the small size of 
the cerebral ganglia, we should remember what a mass of 
inherited knowledge, with some power of adapting means 
to an end, is crowded into the minute brain of a worker- 




The Varia- I SHALL in this volume treat, as fully as my 

mal3 and * materials permit, the whole subject of yaria- 
Piants under tion under domestication. We may thus hope 
tio™*^ vor i ^ obtain some light, little though it be, on the 
page 3. causes of Tariability, on the laws which govern 

it — such as the direct action of climate and food, the 
effects of use and disuse, and of correlation of growth — 
and on the amount of change to which domesticated or- 
ganisms are liable. 

Although man does not cause variability and can not 
even prevent it, he can select, preserve, and accumulate 
the variations given to him by the hand of Nature almost 
in any way which he chooses ; and thus he can certainly 
produce a great result. Selection may be followed either 
methodically and intentionally, or unconsciously and unin- 
tentionally. Man may select and preserve each successive 
Tariation, with the distinct intention of improving and 
altering a breed, in accordance with a preconceived idea ; 
and by thus adding up variations, often so slight as to 
be imperceptible by an uneducated eye, he has effected 
wonderful changes and improvements. It can, also, be 
clearly shown that man, without any intention or thought 


of improving the breed, by preserying in each successive 
generation the individuals which he prizes most, and 
by destroying the worthless individuals, slowly, though 
surely, induces great changes. As the will of man thus 
comes into play, we can understand how it is that do- 
mesticated breeds show adaptation to his wants and pleas- 
ures. We can further understand how it is that domestic 
races of animals and cultivated races of plants often ex- 
hibit an abnormal character, as compared with natural 
species ; for they have been modified not for their own 
benefit, but for that of man. 


Oriffinof When we compare the individuals of the 

Species, page same variety or sub variety of our older culti- 
^' vated plants and animals, one of the first points 

which strikes us is, that they generally differ more from 
each other than do the individuals of any one species or 
variety in a state of nature. And if we reflect on the 
vast diversity of the plants and animals which have been 
cultivated, and which have varied during all ages under 
the most different climates and treatment, we are driven to 
conclude that this great variability is due to our domestic 
productions having been raised under conditions of life 
not so uniform as, and somewhat different from, those to 
which the parent species had been exposed under nature. 

Changed habits produce an inherited effect, 
as in the period of the flowering of plants 
when transported from one climate to another. With 
animals the increased use or disuse of parts has had a 
more marked influence ; thus I find in the domestic duck 
that the bones of the wing weigh less and the bones of 
the leg more, in proportion to the whole skeleton, than 


do the same bones in the wild-dnck ; and this change may 
be safely attributed to the domestic duck flying much less, 
and walking more, than it5 wild parents. The great and 
inherited deyelopment of the udders in cows and goats in 
countries where they are habitually milked, in comparison 
with these organs in other countries, is probably another 
instance of the effects of use. Ifot one of our domestic 
animals can be named which has not in some country 
drooping ears ; and the view which has been suggested 
that the drooping is due to the disease of the muscles of 
the ear, from the animals being seldom much alarmed, 
seems probable. 

From facts collected by Heusinger, it ap- 
° * pears that white sheep and pigs are injured 
by certain plants, while dark-colored individuals escape. 
Professor Wyman has recently communicated to me a 
good illustration of this fact : on asking some farmers in 
Virginia how it was that all their pigs were black, they 
informed him that the pigs ate the paint-root {Lach- 
nanthes), which colored their bones pink, and which 
caused the hoofs of all but the black yarieties to drop 
off ; and one of the " crackers" (i. e., Virginia squatters) 
added, ** We select the black members of a litter for rais- 
ing, as they alone have a good chance of living." Hair- 
less dogs have imperfect teeth ; long-haired and coarse- 
haired animals are apt to have, as is asserted, long or 
many horns ; pigeons with feathered feet have skin be- 
tween their outer toes ; pigeons with short beaks have 
small feet, and those with long beaks large feet. Hence, 
if man goes on selecting, and thus agmenting, any pe- 
I culiarity, he will almost certainly modify unintentionally 

Kther parts of the structure, owing to the mysterious laws 
f correlation. 



Origin of From the facts alluded to in the first chap- 

Species, ter, I think there can be no doubt that use in 
P*^® ■ our domestic animals has strengthened and 
enlarged certain parts, and disuse diminished them, and 
that such modifications are inherited. Under free nature 
we have no standard of comparison by which to judge of 
the effects of long-continued use or disuse, for we know 
not the parent forms ; but many animals possess structures 
which can be best explained by the effects of disuse. As 
Professor Owen has remarked, there is no greater anomaly 
in nature than a bird that can not fly ; yet there are sev- 
eral in this state. The logger-headed duck of South 
America can only flap along the surface of the water, and 
has its wings in nearly the same condition ^s the domestic 
Aylesbury duck : it is a remarkable fact that the young 
birds, according to Mr. Cunningham, can fly, while the 
adults have lost this power. As the larger ground-feeding 
birds seldom take flight, except to escape danger, it is 
probable that the nearly wingless condition of several 
birds, now inhabiting or which lately inhabited several 
oceanic islands, tenanted by no beast of prey, has been 
caused by disuse. The ostrich, indeed, inhabits conti- 
nents, and is exposed to danger from which it can not 
escape by flight, but it can defend itself by kicking its 
enemies as efficiently as many quadrupeds. We may be- 
lieve that the progenitor of the ostrich genus had habits 
like those of the bustard, and that, as the size and weight 
of its body were increased during successive generations, 
its legs were used more, and its wings less, until they be- 
came incapable of flight. 


„ ,^„ The insects in Madeira which are not 

Pi^ 109. 

ground-feeders, and which, as certain flower- 
feeding Coleoptera and Lepidoptera, must habitually use 
their wings to gain their subsistence, have, as Mr. Wol- 
laston suspects, their wings not at all reduced, but even 
enlarged. This is quite compatible with the action of 
natural selection. For, when a new insect first arrived on 
the island, the tendency of natural selection to enlarge or 
to reduce the wings would depend on whether a greater 
number of individuals were saved by successfully battling 
with the winds, or by giving up the attempt and rarely 
or never flying. As with mariners shipwrecked near a 
coast, it would have been better for the good swimmers if 
they had been able to swim still farther, whereas it would 
have been better for the bad swimmers if they had not 
been able to swim at all and had stuck to the wreck. 

The eyes of moles and of some burrowing rodents are 
rudimentary in size, and in some cases are quite covered 
by skin and fur. This state of the eyes is probably due 
to gradual reduction from disuse, but aided, perhaps, by 
natural selection. In South America a burrowing rodent 
— ^the tuco-tuco, or ctenomys — is even more subterranean 
in its habits than the mole ; and I was assured by a Span- 
iard, who had often caught them, that they were fre- 
quently blind. One which I kept alive was certainly in 
this condition, the cause, as appeared on dissection, hav- 
ing been inflammation of the nictitating membrane. As 
frequent inflammation of the eyes must be injurious to 
any animal, and as eyes are certainly not necessary to ani- 
mals having subterranean habits, a reduction in their size, 
with the adhesion of the eyelids and growth of fur over 

I them, might in such case be an advantage ; and, if so, 
natural selection would aid the effects of disuse. 



Origin of ^^ ^^® ^^^^ ^^ most of our anciently do- 

Species, mesticated animals and plants, it is not pos- 
P^^^ * sible to come to any definite conclusion whether 
they are descended from one or several wild species. The 
argument mainly relied on by those who belieye in the 
multiple origin of our domestic animals is, that we find 
in the most ancient times, on the monuments of Egypt, 
and in the lake-habitations of Switzerland, much diver- 
sity in the breeds ; and that some of these ancient breeds 
closely resemble or are even identical with, those still 
existing. But this only throws far backward the history 
of civilization, and shows that animals were domesticated 
at a much earlier period than has hitherto been supposed. 
The lake-inhabitants of Switzerland cultivated several 
kinds of wheat and barley, the pea, the poppy for oil, and 
flax ; and they possessed several domesticated animals. 
They also carried on commerce with other nations. All 
this clearly shows, as Heer has remarked, that they had 
at this early age progressed considerably in civilization ; 
and this again implies a long-continued previous period 
of less advanced civilization, during which the domes- 
ticated animals, kept by different tribes in different 
districts, might have varied and given rise to distinct 
races. Since the discovery of flint tools in the superficial 
formations of many parts of the world, all geologists be- 
lieve that barbarian man existed at an enormously remote 
period ; and we know that at the present day there is 
hardly a tribe so barbarous as not to have domesticated at 
least the dog. 

The origin of most of our domestic animals will prob- 
ably forever remain vague. 


In attempting to estimate the amount of 
' stmctnral difference between allied domestic 
races, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing 
whether they are descended from one or several parent 
species. This point, if it could be cleared up, would be 
interesting ; if, for instance, it could be shown that the 
greyhound, bloodhound, terrier, spaniel, and bull-dog, 
which we all know propagate their kind truly, were the 
offspring of any single species. Then such facts would 
have great weight in making us doubt about the immu- 
tability of the many closely allied natural species — for 
instance, of the many foxes — inhabiting different quar- 
ters of the world. 


On<nn of Great as are the differences between the 

Species, breeds of the pigeon, I am fully convinced that 
^^^ ' the common opinion of naturalists is correct, 
namely, that all are descended from the rock-pigeon 
{Columba h'via), including under this term several geo- 
graphical races or subspecies, which differ from each 
other in the most trifling respects. As several of the rea- 
sons which have led me to this belief are in some degree 
applicable in other cases, I will here briefly give them. 
If the several breeds are not varieties, and have not pro- 
ceeded from the rock-pigeon, they must have descended 
from at least seven or eight aboriginal stocks ; for it is 
impossible to make the present domestic breeds by the 
crossing of any lesser number : how, for instance, could 
a pouter be produced by crossing two breeds unless one 
of the parent-stocks possessed the characteristic enormous 
crop ? The supposed aboriginal stocks must all have been 
rock-pigeons — that is, they did not breed or willingly 
perch on trees. But besides C. livia, with its geographical 


sub-species, only two or three other species of rock-pigeons 
are known, and these haye not any of the characters of 
the domestic breeds. Hence the supposed aboriginal 
stocks must either still exist in the countries where they 
were originally domesticated, and yet be unknown to or- 
nithologists — and this, considericg their size, habits, and 
remarkable characters, seems improbable — or they must 
have become extinct in the wild state. But birds breed- 
ing on precipices, and good fliers, are unlikely to be ex- 
terminated ; and the common rock-pigeon, which has the 
same habits with the domestic breeds, has not been exter- 
minated even on several of the smaller British islets, or 
on the shores of the Mediterranean. Hence the supposed 
extermination of so many species having similar habits 
with the rock-pigeon seems a very rash assumption. More- 
over, the several above-named domesticated breeds have 
been transported to all parts of the world, and therefore 
some of them must have been carried back again into 
their native country ; but not one has become wild or 
feral, though the dovecot-pigeon, which is the rock-pigeon 
in a very slightly altered state, has become feral in several 
places. Again, all recent experience shows that it is diffi- 
cult to get wild animals to breed freely under domestica- 
tion ; yet, on the hypothesis of the multiple origin of our 
pigeons, it must be assumed that at least seven or eight 
species were so thoroughly domesticated in ancient times 
by half -civilized man as to be quite prolific under confine- 

An argument of great weight, and applicable in sev- 
eral other cases, is, that the above-specified breeds, though 
agreeing generally with the wild rock-pigeon in constitu- 
tion, habits, voice, coloring, and in most parts of their 
structure, yet are certainly highly abnormal in other parts ; 
we may look in vain through the whole great family of 


Columbida for a beak like that of the English carrier, or 
that of the short-faced tumbler, or barb ; for reversed 
feathers like those of the Jacobin ; for a crop like that of 
the pouter; for tail-feathers like those of the fantail. 
Hence it must be assumed not only that half-civilized 
man succeeded in thoroughly domesticating several spe- 
cies, but that he intentionally or by chance picked out 
extraordinarily abnormal species ; and, further, that these 
very species have since all become extinct or unknown. 
So many strange contingencies are improbable in the 
highest degree. 


Animals and The first and chief point of interest in this 
Domesti^-^'^ chapter is, whether the numerous domesticated 
tion, ToU i, varieties of the dog have descended from a sin- 
^^^ ' gle wild species, or from several. Some au- 
thors believe that all have descended from the wolf, or 
from the jackal, or from an unknown and extinct species. 
Others again believe, and this of late has been the favor- 
ite tenet, that they have descended from several species, 
extinct and recent, more or less commingled together. 
"We shall probably never be able to ascertain their origin 
with certainty. Paleontology does not throw much light 
on the question, owing, on the one hand, to the close 
similarity of the skulls of extinct as well as living wolves 
and jackals, and owing, on the other hand, to the great 
dissimilarity of the skulls of the several breeds of the 
domestic dogs. It seems, however, that remains have 
been found in the later tertiary deposits more like those 

I of a large dog than of a wolf, which favors the belief of 
De Blainville that our do^ are the descendants of a 
single extinct species. On the other hand, some authors 


have had its wild prototype. This latter view is extremely 
improbable : it allows nothing for variation ; it passes 
"over the almost monstrous character of some of the 
breeds ; and it almost necessarily assumes that a large 
number of species have become extinct since man domes- 
ticated the dog ; whereas we plainly see that wild mem- 
bers of the dog-family are extirpated by human agency 
with much diflBculty ; even so recently as 1710 the wolf 
existed in so small an island as Ireland. 

Pa<»e 18 "^^ ^ period between four and five thousand 

years ago, various breeds — viz., pariah dogs, 
greyhounds, common hounds, mastiffs, house-dogs, lap- 
dogs, and turnspits — existed, more or less closely resem- 
bling our present breeds. But there is not sufficient evi- 
dence that any of these ancient dogs belonged to the same 
identical sub-varieties with our present dogs. As long as 
man was believed to have existed on this earth only about 
six thousand years, this fact of the great diversity of the 
breeds at so early a period was an argument of much 
weight that they had proceeded from several wild sources, 
for there would not have been sufiicient time for their di- 
vergence and modification. But now that we know, from 
the discovery of flint tools imbedded with the remains of 
extinct animals, in districts which have since undergone 
great geographical changes, that man has existed for an 
incomparably longer period, and bearing in mind that 
the most barbarous nations possess domestic dogs, the 
argument from insufficient time falls away greatly in 

T, „„ From this resemblance of the half -domes - 

Page 26. . 

ticated dogs in several countries to the wild 

species still living there — from the facility with which 

they can often be crossed together — from even half-tamed 


animals being so much valued by savages — and from the 
other circumstances previously remarked on which favor 
their domestication, it is highly probable that the domes- 
tic dogs of the world are descended from two well-defined 
species of wolf (viz., C. lupus and C. latrans), and from 
two or three other doubtful species (namely, the Euro- 
pean, Indian, and Xorth African wolves) ; from at least 
one or two South American canine species ; from several 
races or species of jackal ; and perhaps from one or more 
extinct species. 


Animals and The history of the horse is lost in antiquity. 
Domestica- Remains of this animal in a domesticated con- 
tion, vol. i, dition have been found in the Swiss lake-dwell- 
^ ■ ings, belonging to the Keolithic period. At 
the present time the number of breeds is great, as may 
be seen by consulting any treatise on the hoi-se. Looking 
only to the native ponies of Great Britain, those of the 
Shetland Isles, Wales, the New Forest, and Devonshire 
are distinguishable ; and so it is, among other instances, 
with each separate island in the great Malay Archipelago, 
j Some of the breeds present great differences in size, shape 
of ears, length of mane, jiroportions of the body, form of 
the withers and hind-quarters, and especially in the head. 
Compare the race-horse, dray-horse, and a Shetland pony 
in size, configuration, and disposition ; and see how much 
greater the difference is than between the seven or eight 
other living species of the genus Equus. 

IP 52^ Horses have often been observed, accord- 

ing to M. Gaudry, to possess a trapezium and 
rudiment of a fifth metacarpal bone, so that ''one sees 


appearing by monstrosity, in the foot of the horse, struct- 
ures which normally exist in the foot of the hipparion " — 
an allied and extinct animal. In various countries horn- 
like projections have been observed on the frontal bones 
of the horse : in one case described by Mr. Percival they 
arose about two inches above the orbital processes, and 
were ** very like those in a calf from five to six months 
old," being from half to three quarters of an inch in 


With respect to the causes of the modifica- 
" tions which horses have undergone, the con- 
ditions of life seem to produce a considerable direct effect. 
Mr. D. Forbes, who has had excellent opportunities of 
comparing the horses of Spain with those of South 
America, informs me that the horses of Chili, which 
have lived under nearly the same conditions as their 
progenitors in Andalusia, remain unaltered, while the 
Pampas horses and the Puno ponies are considerably 
modified. There can be no doubt that horses become 
greatly reduced in size and altered in appearance by liv- 
ing on mountains and islands ; and this apparently is 
due to want of nutritious or varied food. Every one 
knows how small and rugged the ponies are on the 
northern islands and on the mountains of Europe. Cor- 
sica and Sardinia have their native ponies ; and there 
were, or still are, on some islands on the coast of Vir- 
ginia, ponies like those of the Shetland Islands, which 
are believed to have originated through exposure to un- 
favorable conditions. The Puno ponies, which inhabit 
the lofty regions of the Cordillera, are, as I hear from 
Mr. D. Forbes, strange little creatures, very unlike their 
Spanish progenitors. Farther south, in the Falkland 


Islands, the offspring of the horses imported in 1764 
hare ah-eady so much deteriorated in size and strength, 
that they are unfitted for catching wild cattle -vrith the 
lasso ; so that fresh horses have to be brought for this 
purpose from La Plata at a great expense. The reduced 
size of the horses bred on both southern and northern 
islands, and on several mountain-chains, can hardly have 
been caused by the cold, as a similar reduction has oc- 
curred on the Virginian and Mediterranean islands. 

It is scarcely possible to doubt that the 

X &SC 56. .< •«■ 

long-continued selection of qualities service- 
able to man has been the chief agent in the formation of 
the several breeds of the horse. Look at a dray-horse, 
and see how well adapted he is to draw heavy weights, 
and how unlike in appearance to any allied wild animaL 
The English race-horse is known to be derived from the 
commingled blood of Arabs, Turks, and Barbs ; but selec- 
tion, which was carried on during very early times in 
England, together with training, have made him a very 
different animal from his parent stocks. 


Orifan of ^® ^^ several distinct species of the horse- 

Sp«:ies, genus becoming, by simple variation, striped 
page 130. ^^ ^^Q Yegs like a zebra, or striped on the 
shoulders like an ass. In the horse we see this tendency 
strong whenever a dun tint appears — a tint that ai> 
proaches to that of the general coloring of the other spe- 
cies of the genus. The appearance of the stripes is not 
accompanied by any change of form or by any other new 
icter. We see this tendency to become strii)ed most 
mgly displayed in hybrids from between several of the 


most distinct species. 'Now observe the case of the sev- 
eral breeds of pigeons : they are descended from a pigeon 
(including two or three sub-species or geographical races) 
of a bluish color, with certain bars and other marks ; and, 
when any breed assumes by simple variation a bluish tint, 
these bars and other marks invariably reappear ; but with- 
out any other change of form or character. When the 
oldest and truest breeds of various colors are crossed, we 
see a strong tendency for the blue tint and bars and marks 
to reappear in the mongrels. I have stated that the most 
probable hypothesis to account for the reappearance of 
very ancient characters is — that there is a tendency in 
the young of each successive generation to produce the 
long-lost character, and that this tendency, from unknown 
causes, sometimes prevails. And we have Just seen that 
in several species of the horse-genus the stripes are either 
plainer or appear more commonly in the young than in 
the old. Call the breeds of pigeons, some of which have 
bred true for centuries, species ; and how exactly parallel 
is the case with that of the species of the horse-genus ! 
For myself, I venture confidently to look back thousands 
on thousands of generations, and I see an animal strijied 
like a zebra, but perhaps otherwise very differently con- 
structed, the common parent of our domestic horse 
(whether or not it be descended from one or more wild 
stocks), of the ass, the hemionus, quagga, and zebra. 

He who believes that each equine species was inde- 
pendently created, will, I presume, assert that each spe- 
cies has been created with a tendency to vary, both under 
nature and under domestication, in this particular man- 
ner, so as often to become striped like the other species of 
the genus ; and that each has been created with a strong 
tendency, when crossed with species inhabiting distant 
quarters of the world, to produce hybrids resembling in 


their stripes, not their own parents, but other species of 
the genus. To admit this view is, as it seems to me, to 
reject a real for an unreal, or at least for an unknown, 
cause. It makes the works of God a mere mockery and 
deception ; I would almost as soon believe with the old 
and ignorant cosmogonists, that fossil shells had neyer 
lived, but had been created in stone so as to mock the 
shells living on the sea-shore. *— " 


. . , , I shall not enter into so much detail on 

Ammals and . 

Plants, vol. the variabihty of cultivated plants as m the 
i, page 322. ^^^q qJ domesticated animals. The subject is 
involved in much diflBculty. Botanists have generally 
neglected cultivated varieties, as beneath their notice. In 
several cases the wild prototype is unknown or doubtfully 
known ; and in other cases it is hardly possible to distin- 
guish between escaped seedlings and truly wild plants, so 
that there is no safe standard of comparison by which to 
judge of any supposed amount of change. Xot a few 
botanists believe that several of our anciently cultivated 
plants have become so profoundly modified that it is not 
possible now to recognize their aboriginal parent-forms. 
Equally perplexing are the doubts whether some of them 
are descended from one species, or from several inextrica- 
bly commingled by crossing and variation. Variations 
often pass into, and can not be distinguished from, mon- 
strosities ; and monstrosities are of little significance for 
otir purpose. Many varieties are propagated solely by 
grafts, buds, layers, bulbs, etc., and frequently it is not 
known how far their peculiarities can be transmitted by 
seminal generation. 


From innumerable experiments made 
through dire necessity by the savages of every 
land, with the results handed down by tradition, the nu- 
tritious, stimulating, and medicinal properties of the 
most unpromising plants were probably first discovered. 
It appears, for instance, at first an inexplicable fact that 
untutored man, in three distant quarters of the world, 
should have discovered, among a host of native plants, 
that the leaves of the tea-plant and mattee, and the ber- 
ries of the coffee, all included a stimulating and nutritious 
essence, now known to be chemically the same. "We can 
also see that savages suffering from severe constipation 
would naturally observe whether any of the roots which 
they devoured acted as aperients. We probably owe our 
knowledge of the uses of almost all plants to man having 
originally existed in a barbarous state, and having been 
often compelled by severe want to try as food almost 
everything which he could chew and swallow. 


The savage inhabitants of each land, hav- 
^^* ■ ing found out by many and hard trials what 
plants were useful, or could be rendered useful by various 
cooking processes, would after a time take the first step 
in cultivation by planting them near their usual abodes. 
Livingstone states that the savage Batokas sometimes left 
wild fruit-trees standing in their gardens, and occasion- 
ally even planted them, "a practice seen nowhere else 
among the natives." But Du Chailln saw a palm and 
some other wild fruit-trees which had been planted ; and 
these trees were considered private property. The next 
step in cultivation, and this would require but little fore- 
thought, would be to sow the seeds of useful plants ; and. 



as the soil near the hovels of the natives would often be 
in some degree manured, improYed varieties would sooner 
or later arise. Or a wild and unusually good variety of a 
native plant might attract the attention of some wise old 
savage ; and he would transplant it, or sow its seed. 
That superior varieties of wild fruit-trees occasionally are 
found is certain, as in the case of the American species of 
hawthorns, plums, cherries, grapes, and hickories, speci- 
fied by Professor Asa Gray. 

"We now know that man was sufl&ciently 
civilized to cultivate the ground at an im- 
mensely remote period ; so that wheat might have been 
improved long ago up to that standard of excellence 
which was possible under the then existing state of agri- 
culture. One small class of facts supports this view of 
the slow and gradual improvement of our cereals. In the 
most ancient lake-habitations of Switzerland, when men 
employed only flint-tools, the most extensively cultivated 
wheat was a peculiar kind, with remarkably small ears 
and grains. " While the grains of the modem forms are 
in section from seven to eight millimetres in length, the 
larger grains from the lake-habitations are six, seldom 
seven, and the smaller ones only four. The ear is thus 
much narrower, and the spikelets stand out more hori- 
zontally, than in our present forms." So again with bar- 
ley, the most ancient and most extensively cultivated 
kind had small ears, and the grains were ** smaller, 
shorter, and nearer to each other, than in that now 
grown ; without the husk they were two and one half 
lines long, and scarcely one and one half broad, while 
those now grown have a length of three lines, and almost 
the same in breadth." These small-grained varieties of 
wheat and barley are believed by Heer to be the parent- 


forms of certain existing allied yarieties, which have sup- 
planted their early progenitors. 


Ori'nn of ^^^ ^^^^ governing inheritance are for the 

Species, most part unknown. No one can say why the 
P^^® ■ same peculiarity in different individuals of the 
same species, or in different species, is sometimes inherited 
and sometimes not so ; why the child often reverts in cer- 
tain characters to its grandfather or grandmother or more 
remote ancestor ; why a peculiarity is often transmitted 
from one sex to both sexes, or to one sex alone, more com- 
monly but not exclusively to the like sex. It is a fact of 
some importance to us that peculiarities appearing in the 
males of our domestic breeds are often transmitted either 
exclusively, or in a much greater degree, to the males 
alone. A much more important rule, which I think may 
be trusted, is that, at whatever period of life a peculiarity 
jSrst appears, it tends to reappear in the offspring at a 
corresponding age, though sometimes earlier. In many 
cases this could not be otherwise : thus the inherited pe- 
culiarities in the horns of cattle could appear only in the 
offspring when nearly mature ; peculiarities in the silk- 
worm are known to appear at the corresponding cater- 
pillar or cocoon stage. But hereditary diseases and some 
other facts make me believe that the rule has a wider ex- 
tension, and that, when there is no apparent reason why 
a peculiarity should appear at any particular age, yet that 
it does tend to appear in the offspring at the same period 
at which it first appeared in the parent. I believe this 
rule to be of the highest importance in explaining the 
laws of embryology. These remarks are, of course, con- 
fined to the first appearance of the peculiarity, and not 


to the primary cause which may have acted on the orales 
or on the male element ; in nearly the same manner as 
the increased length of the horns in the offspring from a 
short-horned cow by a long-horned bull, though appear- 
ing late in life, is clearly due to the male element. 

Variation of If animals and plants had never been do- 
Pk^ vol. mesticated, and wild ones alone had been ob- 
i, page 443, serred, we should probably never have heard 
the saying that * * like begets like. " The proposition would 
have been as self-evident as that all the buds on the same 
tree are alike, though neither proposition is strictly true. 
For, as has often been remarked, probably no two indi- 
viduals are identically the same. All wild animals recog- 
nize each other, which shows that there is some difference 
between them ; and, when the eye is well practiced, the 
shepherd knows each sheep, and man can distinguish a 
fellow-man out of millions on millions of other men. 

The whole subject of inheritance is won- 
[ ' derful. When a new character arises, what- 

ever its nature may be, it generally tends to be inherited, 
at least in a temporary and sometimes in a most persistent 
manner. "What can be more wonderful than that some 
trifling peculiarity, not primordially attached to the spe- 
cies, should be transmitted through the male or female 
sexual cells, which are so minute as not to be visible 
to the naked eye, and afterward through the incessant 
changes of a long course of development, undergone either 
in the womb or in the egg, and ultimately appear in the 
offspring when mature, or even when quite old, as in the 
case of certain diseases ? Or, again, what can be more 

Kronderful than the well-ascertained fact that the minute 
vule of a good milking-cow will produce a male, from 


whom a cell, in union with an ovule, will produce a 
female, and she, when mature, will have large mammary 
glands, yielding an abundant supply of milk, and even 
milk of a particular quality ? Nevertheless, the real sub- 
ject of surprise is, as Sir H. Holland has well remarked, 
not that a character should be inherited, but that any 
should ever fail to be inherited. 


Animals and Though much remains obscure with respect 
Plants, vol. to inheritance, we may look at the following 
11, page 61. j^^g ^g fairly well established : Firstly, a tend- 
ency in every character, new and old, to be transmitted 
by seminal and bud generation, though often counteracted 
by various known and unknown causes. Secondly, re- 
version or atavism, which depends on transmission and 
development being distinct powers : it acts in various 
degrees and manners through both seminal and bud gener- 
ation. Thirdly, prepotency of transmission, which may be 
confined to one sex, or be common to both sexes. Fourth- 
ly, transmission, as limited by sex, generally to the same 
sex in which the inherited character first appeared ; and 
this in many, probably most cases, depends on the new 
character having first appeared at a rather late period of 
life. Fifthly, inheritance at corresponding periods of 
life, with some tendency to the earlier development of the 
inherited character. In these laws of inheritance, as dis- 
played under domestication, we see an ample provision for 
the production, through variability and natural selection, 
of new specific forms. 



Animals and ^^^^> gestures, Toice, and general bearing. 
Plants, voL are all inherited, as the illustrious Hunter and 
i, page 450. ^^ ^ Carlisle have insisted. My father com- 
municated to me some striking instances, in one of which 
a man died during the early infancy of his son, and my 
father, who did not see this son until grown up and out 
of health, declared that it seemed to him as if his old 
friend had risen from the grave, with all his highly pe- 
culiar habits and manners. Peculiar manners pass into 
tricks, and several instances could be given of their in- 
heritance ; as in the case, often quoted, of the father who 
generally slept on his back, with his right leg crossed over 
the left, and whose daughter, while an infant in the 
cradle, followed exactly the same habit, though an at- 
tempt was made to cure her. I will give one instance 
which has fallen under my own observation, and which is 
curious from being a trick associated with a peculiar state 
of mind, namely, pleasurable emotion. A boy had the 
singular habit, when pleased, of rapidly moving his fin- 
gers parallel to each other, and, when much excited, of 
raising both hands, with the fingers still moving, to the 
sides of his face on a level with the eyes : when this boy 
was almost an old man, he could still hardly resist this 
trick when much pleased, but from its absurdity concealed 
it. He had eight children. Of these, a girl, when 
pleased, at the age of four and a half years, moved her 
fingers in exactly the same way, and, what is still odder, 
when much excited, she raised both her hands, with her 

I fingers still moving, to the sides of her face, in exactly 
the same manner as her father had done, and sometimes 
even still continued to do so when alone. I never heard 
of any one, excepting this one man and his little daugh- 


ter, who had this strange habit ; and certainly imitation 
was in this instance out of the question. 


Animals and Large classes of diseases uusally appear at 
Plants, vol. certain ages, such as St. Vitus's dance in youth, 
") page . consumption in early mid-life, gout later, and 
apoplexy still later ; and these are naturally inherited at 
the same period. But, even in diseases of this class, in- 
stances have been recorded, as with St, Vitus's dance, 
showing that an unusually early or late tendency to the dis- 
ease is inheritable. In most cases the appearance of any 
inherited disease is largely determined by certain critical 
periods in each person's life, as well as by unfavorable 
conditions. There are many other diseases, which are 
not attached to any particular period, but which certainly 
tend to appear in the child at about the same age at which 
the parent was first attacked. An array of high authori- 
ties, ancient and modern, could be given in support of 
this proposition. The illustrious Hunter believed in it ; 
and Piorry cautions the physician to look closely to the 
child at the period when any grave inheritable disease 
attacked the parent. Dr. Prosper Lucas, after collecting 
facts from every source, asserts that affections of all kinds, 
though not related to any particular period of life, tend 
to reappear in the offspring at whatever period of life they 
first appeared in the progenitor. 

Esquirol gives several striking instances of 

insanity coming on at the same age as that of 

a grandfather, father, and son, who all committed suicide 

near their fiftieth year. Many other cases could be given, 

as of a whole family who became insane at the age of 


forty. Other cerebral affections sometimes follow the 
same rule — for instance, epilepsy and apoplexy. A woman 
died of the latter disease when sixty-three years old ; one 
of her daughters at forty-three, and the other at sixty- 
seven : the latter had twelve children, who all died from 
tubercular meningitis. I mention this latter case because 
it illustrates a frequent occurrence, namely, a change in 
the precise nature of an inherited disease, though still 
affecting the same organ. 

Two brothers, their father, their paternal uncles, seven 
cousins, and their paternal grandfather, were all simi- 
larly affected by a skin-disease, called pityriasis versicolor ; 
*' the disease, strictly limited to the males of the family 
(though transmitted through the females), usually ap- 
peared at puberty, and disappeared at about the age of 
forty or forty-five years." The second case is that of four 
brothers, who, when about twelve years old, suffered 
almost every week from severe headaches, which were 
relieved only by a recumbent position in a dark room. 
i Their father, paternal uncles, paternal grandfather, and 
grand-uncles all suffered in the same way from headaches, 
which ceased at the age of fifty-four or fifty-five in all 
those who lived so long. None of the females of the 
family were affected. 


Animals and -A- large number of cases of non-inheritance 

Plants, vol. are intelligible on the principle that a strong 

^ ^^^ ■ tendency to inheritance does exist, but that it 

^^^is overborne by hostile or unfavorable conditions of life. 

^^HTo one would expect that our improved pigs, if forced 

I^Blnring several generations to travel about and root in the 



ground for their own subsistence, would transmit, as truly 
as they now do, their short muzzles and legs, and their 
tendency to fatten. Dray-horses assuredly would not 
long transmit their great size and massive limbs, if com- 
pelled to live in a cold, damp, mountainous region ; we 
have, indeed, evidence of such deterioration in the horses 
which have run wild on the Falkland Islands. European 
dogs in India often fail to transmit their true character. 
Our sheep in tropical countries lose their wool in a few 
generations. There seems also to be a close relation be- 
tween certain peculiar pastures and the inheritance of an 
enlarged tail in fat-tailed sheep, which form one of the 
most ancient breeds in the world. With plants, we have 
seen that tropical varieties of maize lose their proper 
character in the course of two or three generations, when 
cultivated in Europe ; and conversely so it is with Euro- 
pean varieties cultivated in Brazil. Our cabbages, which 
here come so true by seed, can not form heads in hot 
countries. According to Carri^re, the purple-leafed beech 
and barberry transmit their character by seed far less 
truly in certain districts than in others. Under changed 
circumstances, periodical habits of life soon fail to be 
transmitted, as the period of maturity in summer and 
winter wheat, barley, and vetches. So it is with animals : 
for instance, a person, whose statement I can trust, pro- 
cured eggs of Aylesbury ducks from that town, where 
they are kept in houses, and are reared as early as possible 
for the London market ; the ducks bred from these eggs 
in a distant part of England, hatched their first brood on 
January 24th, while common ducks, kept in the same yard 
and treated in the same manner, did not hatch till the 
end of March ; and this shows that the period of hatch- 
ing was inherited. But the grandchildren of these Ayles- 
bury ducks completely lost their habit of early incuba- 



tion, and hatclied their eggs at the same time with the 
common ducks of the same place. 

Many cases of non-inheritance apparently result from 
the conditions of life continually inducing fresh yaria- 
bility. We have seen that when the seeds of pears, plums, 
apples, etc., are sown, the seedlings generally inherit some 
degree of family likeness. Mingled with these seedhngs, 
a few, and sometimes many, worthless, wild-looking plants 
commonly appear, and their appearance may be attributed 
to the principle of reversion. But scarcely a single seed- 
ling will be found perfectly to resemble the parent-form ; 
and this may be accounted for by constantly recurring 
variability induced by the conditions of life. 


Origin of Some effect may be attributed to the direct 

Species, and definite action of the external conditions 
^^^ ' of life, and some to habit ; but he would be a 
bold man who would account by such agencies for the 
differences between a dray and race horse, a greyhound 
and blood-hound, a carrier and tumbler pigeon. One of 
the most remarkable features in our domesticated races is 
that we see in them adaptation, not, indeed, to the ani- 
mal's or plant's own good, but to man's use or fancy. 
Some variations useful to him have probably arisen sud- 
denly, or by one step ; many botanists, for instance, be- 
lieve that the fuller's teasel, with its hooks, which can not 
be rivaled by any mechanical contrivance, is only a variety 
of the wild Dipsacus ; and this amount of change may 
have suddenly arisen in a seedling. So it has probably 
been with the turnspit-dog ; and this is known to have 
been the case with the ancon sheep. But when we compare 
he dray-horse and race-horse, the dromedary and camel. 


the various breeds of sheep fitted either for cultivated 
land or mountain-pasture, with the wool of one breed 
good for one purpose, and that of another breed for an- 
other purpose ; when we compare the many breeds of 
dogs, each good for man in different ways ; when we com- 
pare the game-cock, so pertinacious in battle, with other 
breeds so little quarrelsome, with "everlasting layers" 
which never desire to sit, and with the bantam, so small 
and elegant ; when we compare the host of agricultural, 
culinary, orchard, and flower-garden races of plants, most 
useful to man at different seasons and for different pur- 
poses, or so beautiful in his eyes — we must, I think, look 
further than to mere variability. We can not suppose 
that all the breeds were suddenly produced as perfect and 
as useful as wc now see them ; indeed, in many cases, 
we know that this has not been their history. The key 
is man's power of accumulative selection : Nature gives 
successive variations ; man adds them up in certain direc- 
tions useful to him. In this sense he may be said to have 
made for himself useful breeds. 

If selection consisted merely in separating 
^^ * some very distinct variety, and breeding from 
it, the principle would be so obvious as hardly to be worth 
notice ; but its importance consists in the great effect 
produced by the accumulation in one direction, during 
successive generations, of differences absolutely inappre- 
ciable by an uneducated eye — differences which I for one 
have vainly attempted to appreciate. Not one man in a 
thousand has accuracy of eye and judgment sufficient to 
become an eminent breeder. If gifted with these quali- 
ties, and he studies his subject for years, and devotes his 
lifetime to it with indomitable perseverance, he will suc- 
ceed, and may make great improvements ; if he wants 


any of these qualities, lie will assuredly fail. Few would 
readily believe in the natural capacity and years of prac- 
tice requisite to become even a skillful pigeon-fancier. 


_ . . . A man who intends keeping pointers nat- 

Species, urally tries to get as good dogs as he can, and 
page 25. afterward breeds from his own best dogs, but 
he has no wish or expectation of permanently altering the 
breed. Nevertheless, we may infer that this process, con- 
tinued during centuries, would improve and modify any 
breed, in the same way as Bakewell, Collins, etc., by this 
very same process, only carried on more methodically, did 
greatly modify, even during their lifetimes, the forms 
and qualities of their cattle. Slow and insensible changes 
of this kind can never be recognized unless actual meas- 
urements or careful drawings of the breeds in question 
have been made long ago, which may serve for compari- 
Bon. In some cases, however, unchanged or but little 
changed individuals of the same breed exist in less civil- 
ized districts, where the breed has been less improved. 
There is reason to believe that King Charles's spaniel has 
been unconsciously modified to a large extent since the 
time of that monarch. Some highly competent authori- 
"'' ties are convinced that the setter is directly derived from 
the spaniel, and has probably been slowly altered from it. 
It is known that the English pointer has been greatly 
changed within the last century, and in this case the 
change has, it is believed, been chiefly effected by crosses 
with the fox-hound ; but what concerns us is, that the 
^change has been effected unconsciously and gradually, 
^■nd yet so effectually, that, though the old Spanish 
^K>inter certainly came from Spain, Mr. Borrow has not 



seen, as I am informed by him, any native dog in Spain 
like our pointer. 

By a similar process of selection, and by careful train- 
ing, English race-horses have come to surpass in fleetness 
and size the parent Arabs, so that the latter, by the regu- 
lations for the Goodwood races, are favored in the weights 
which they carry. Lord Spencer and others have shown 
how the cattle of England have increased in weight and 
in early maturity, compared with the stock formerly kept 
in this country. 

p ^ If there exist savages so barbarous as never 

to think of the inherited character of the off- 
spring of their domestic animals, yet any one animal par- 
ticularly useful to them, for any special purpose, would 
be carefully preserved during famines and other acci- 
dents, to which savages are so liable, and such choice 
animals would thus generally leave more offspring than 
the inferior ones ; so that in this case there would be a 
kind of unconscious selection going on. We see the 
value set on animals even by the barbarians of Tierra del 
Fuego, by their killing and devouring their old women, 
in times of dearth, as of less value than their dogs. 


On the view here given of the important 
part which selection by man has played, it be- 
comes at once obvious how it is that our domestic races 
show adaptation in their structure or in their habits to 
man's wants or fancies. "VVe can, I think, further under- 
stand the frequently abnormal character of our domestic 
races, and likewise their differences being so great in ex- 
ternal characters, and relatively so slight in internal parts. 


or organs. Man can hardly select, or only -with much 
difficulty, any deviation of structure excepting such as 
is externally visible ; and, indeed, he rarely cares for 
what is internal. He can never act by selection, except- 
ing on variations which are first given to him in some 
slight degree by nature. No man would ever try to make 
a fantail till he saw a pigeon with a tail developed in 
some shght degree in an unusual manner, or a pouter till 
he saw a pigeon with a crop of somewhat unusual size ; 
and the more abnormal or unusual any character was 
when it first appeared, the more likely it would be to 
catch his attention. But to use such an expression as 
trying to make a fantail is, I have no doubt, in most 
cases, utterly incorrect. The man who first selected a 
pigeon with a slightly larger tail, never dreamed what 
the descendants of that pigeon would become through 
long-continued, partly unconscious and partly methodi- 
cal, selection. Perhaps the parent-bird of all fantails 
had only fourteen tail-feathers somewhat expanded, like 
the present Java fantail, or like individuals of other and 
distinct breeds, in which as many as seventeen tail-feath- 
ers have been counted. Perhaps the first pouter-pigeon 
did not inflate its crop much more than the turbit now 
does the upper part of its oesophagus — a habit which is 
disregarded by all fanciers, as it is not one of the points 
of the breed. 


Origin of The forms which possess in some consider- 

species, able degree the character of species, but which 
are so closely similar to other forms, or are so 
losely linked to them by intermediate gradations, that 
laturalists do not like to rank them as distinct species, 
in several respects the most important for us. We 


have every reason to believe that many of these doubtful 
and closely allied forms have permanently retained their 
characters for a long time ; for as long, as far as we know, 
as have good and true species. Practically, when a nat- 
uralist can unite by means of intermediate links any two 
forms, he treats the one as a variety of the other ; rank- 
ing the most common, but sometimes the one first de- 
scribed, as the species, and the other as the variety. But 
cases of great difficulty, which I will not here enumerate, 
sometimes arise in deciding whether or not to rank one 
form as a variety of another, even when they are closely 
connected by intermediate links ; nor will the commonly- 
assumed hybrid nature of the intermediate forms always 
remove the difficulty. In very many cases, however, one 
form is ranked as a variety of another, not because the 
intermediate links have actually been found, but because 
analogy leads the observer to suppose either that they do 
now somewhere exist, or may formerly have existed ; and 
here a wide door for the entry of doubt and conjecture is 

Hence, in determining whether a form should be 
ranked as a species or a variety, the opinion of naturalists 
having sound judgment and wide experience seems the 
only guide to follow. We must, however, in many cases, 
decide by a majority of naturalists, for few well-marked 
and well-known varieties can be named which have not 
been ranked as species by at least some competent 

That varieties of this doubtful nature are far from 
uncommon can not be disputed. Compare the several 
floras of Great Britain, of France, or of the United States, 
drawn up by different botanists, and see what a surprising 
number of forms have been ranked by one botanist as 
good species, and by another as mere varieties. Mr. H. 


C. Watson, to whom I lie under deep obligation for as- 
eistance of all kinds, has marked for me one hundred and 
eighty-two British plants, which are generally considered 
as varieties, but which have all been ranked by botanists 
as species ; and in making this list he has omitted many 
trifling varieties, but which nevertheless have been ranked 
by some botanists as species, and he has entirely omitted 
several highly polymorphic genera. Under genera, in- 
cluding the most polymorphic forms, Mr. Babington gives 
two hundred and fifty-one species, whereas Mr. Bentham 
gives only one hundred and twelve — a difference of one 
hundred and thirty-nine doubtful forms ! 


Certainly no clear line of demarkation has 
^^^ ' as yet been drawn between species and sub- 
I species — that is, the forms which in the opinion of some 
naturalists come very near to, but do not quite arrive at, 
the rank of species ; or, again, between sub-species and 
well-marked varieties, or between lesser varieties and in- 
dividual differences. These differences blend into each 
other by an insensible series ; and a series impresses the 
mind with the idea of an actual passage. 

Hence I look at individual differences, though of 
small interest to the systematist, as of the highest impor- 
tance for us, as being the first steps toward such slight 
varieties as are barely thought worth recording in works 
on natural history. And I look at varieties which are in 
any degree more distinct and permanent as steps toward 
more strongly-marked and permanent varieties ; and at 
the latter, as leading to sub-species, and then to species. 

fe passage from one stage of difference to another may, 


organism, and of the different physical conditions to 
which it has long been exposed ; but with respect to the 
more important and adaptive characters, the passage from 
one stage of difference to another may be safely attrib- 
uted to the cumulative action of natural selection, here- 
after to be explained, and to the effects of the increased 
use or disuse of parts. A well-marked variety may there- 
fore be called an incipient species ; but whether this be- 
lief is justifiable must be judged by the weight of the 
various facts and considerations to be given throughout 
this work. 

It need not be supposed that all varieties or incipient 
species attain the rank of species. They may become ex- 
tinct, or they may endure as varieties for very long pe- 
riods, as has been shown to be the case by Mr. Wollaston 
with the varieties of certain fossil land-shells in Madeira, 
and with plants by Gaston de Saporta. If a variety were 
to flourish so as to exceed in numbers the parent species, 
it would then rank as the species, and the species as the 
variety ; or it might come to supplant and exterminate 
the parent species ; or both might coexist, and both rank 
as independent species. But we shall hereafter return to 
this subject. 

From these remarks it will be seen that I look at the 
term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of con- 
venience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each 
other, and that it does not essentially differ from the 
term variety, which is given to less distinct and more 
fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in compari- 
son with mere individual differences, is also applied ai'bi- 
trarily, for convenience' sake. 


Orijrin of 



When the yiews adyanced by me in this 
Species, volume, and by Mr. Wallace, or when analo- 
page 425. gous views on the origin of species are generally 
admitted, we can dimly foresee that there will be a consid- 
erable rcTolution in natural history. Syst«matists will be 
able to pursue their labors as at present ; but they will not 
be incessantly haunted by the shadowy doubt whether 
this or that form be a true species. 

p ^ , Hereafter we shall be compelled to acknowl- 

edge that the only distinction between species 
and well-marked varieties is, that the latter are known, or 
believed, to be connected at the present day by interme- 
diate gradations, whereas species were formerly thus con- 
nected. Hence, without rejecting the consideration of the 
present existence of intermediate gradations between any 
two forms, we shall be led to weigh more carefully and to 
value higher the actual amount of difference between them. 
It is quite possible that forms now generally acknowledged 
to be merely varieties may hereafter be thought worthy of 
, specific names ; and in this case scientific and common 
I language will come into accordance. In short, we shall 
I have to treat species in the same manner as those natural- 
'< ists treat genera who admit that genera are merely arti- 
ficial combinations made for convenience. This may not 
be a cheering prospect ; but we shall at least be freed 
from the vain search for the undiscovered and undiscov- 
erable essence of the term species. 

iThe other and more general departments of natural 
story will rise greatly in interest. The terms used by 
turalists, of affinity, relationship, community of type. 


and aborted organs, etc., will cease to be metaphorical, 
and will have a plain signification. When we no longer 
look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as 
something wholly beyond his comprehension ; when we 
regard every production of nature as one which has had 
a long history ; when we contemplate every complex 
structure and instinct as the summing up of many con- 
trivances, each useful to the possessor, in the same way 
as any great mechanical invention is the summing up of 
the labor, the experience, the reason, and even the blun- 
ders of numerous workmen ; when we thus view each 
organic being, how far more interesting — I speak from 
experience — does the study of natural history become ! 

A grand and almost untrodden field of inquiry will be 
opened, on the causes and laws of variation, on correla- 
tion, on the effects of use and disuse, on the direct ac- 
tion of external conditions, and so forth. The study of 
domestic productions will rise immensely in value. A 
new variety raised by man will be a more important and 
interesting subject for study than one more species added 
to the infinitude of already recorded species. Our classi- 
fications will come to be, as far as they can be so made, 
genealogies, and will then truly give what may be called 
the plan of creation. 



' Ori'nnof -^ STEUGGLE for existence inevitably fol- 

Species, lows from the high rate at which all organic 

I P^ge • beings tend to increase. Every being, which 
during its natural lifetime produces several eggs or seeds, 
must suffer destruction during some period of its life, 
and during some season or occasional year, otherwise, on 
the principle of geometrical increase, its numbers would 
quickly become so inordinately gi-eat that no country 
could suppori; the product. Hence, as more individuals 
are produced than can possibly survive, there must in 
every case be a struggle for existence, either one indi- 
vidual with another of the same species, or with tlie in- 
dividuals of distinct species, or with the physical condi- 
tions of life. It is the doctrine of Malthus applied with 
manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable king- 
doms ; for in this case there can be no artificial increase 
of food, and no prudential restraint from marriage. Al- 

; though some species may be now increasing, more or less 

I rapidly, in numbers, all can not do so, for the world 
would not hold them. 

There is no exception to the rule that every organic 
being naturally increases at so high a rate, that, if not 

ryed, the earth would soon be covered with the 


progeny of a single pair. Even slow-breeding man has 
doubled in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in less than 
a thousand years, there would literally not be standing- 
room for his progeny. Linnaeus has calculated that if an 
annual plant produced only two seeds — and there is no 
plant so unproductive as this — and their seedlings next 
year produced two, and so on, then in twenty years there 
would be a million plants. The elephant is reckoned the 
slowest breeder of all known animals, and I have taken 
some pains to estimate its probable minimum rate of 
natural increase ; it will be safest to assume that it begins 
breeding when thirty years old, and goes on breeding till 
ninety years old, bringing forth six young in the interval, 
and surviving till one hundred years old ; if this be so, 
after a period of from seven hundred and forty to seven 
hundred and fifty years, there would be nearly nineteen 
million elephants alive, descended from the first pair. 


In a state of nature almost every full- 
grown plant anhually produces seed, and among 
animals there are very few which do not annually pair. 
Hence we may confidently assert that all plants and ani- 
mals are tending to increase at a geometrical ratio, that 
all would rapidly stock every station in which they could 
anyhow exist, and that this geometrical tendency to in- 
\ crease must be checked by destruction at some period of 
life. Our familiarity with the larger domestic animals 
tends, I think, to mislead us : we see no great destruction 
falling on them, but we do not keep in mind that thou- 
sands are annually slaughtered for food, and that in a 
state of nature an equal number would have somehow to f 
be disposed of. 


The only difference between organisms \rhich annually 
produce eggs or seeds by tfie thousand and those which 
produce extremely few is, that the slow breeders would 
require a few more years to people, under favorable con- 
ditions, a whole district, let it be ever so large. The con- 
dor lays a couple of eggs and the ostrich a score, and yet 
in the same country the condor may be the more numer- 
ous of the two ; the Fulmar petrel lays but one egg, yet 
it is believed to be the most numerous bird in the world. 
One fly deposits hundreds of eggs, and another, like the 
Hippoiosca, a single one ; but this difference does not 
determine how many individuals of the two species can 
be supported in a district. A large number of eggs is of 
some importance to those species which depend on a fluc- 
tuating amount of food, for it allows them rapidly to in- 
crease in number. But the real importance of a large 
number of eggs or seeds is to make up for much destruc- 
tion at some period of life ; and this period in the great 
majority of cases is an early one. If an animal can in 
any way protect its own eggs or young, a small number 
may be produced, and yet the average stock be f uUy kept 
up ; but, if many eggs or young are destroyed, many must 
be produced, or the species will become extinct. It would 
suffice to keep up the full number of a tree, which lived 
on an average for a thousand years, if a single seed were 
produced once in a thousand years, supposing that this 
seed were never destroyed, and could be insured to ger- 
minate in a fitting place. So that, in all cases, the aver- 
age number of any animal or plant depends only indi- 
rectly on the number of its eggs or seeds. 

In looking at Nature, it is most necessary to keep the 
foregoing considerations always in mind — never to forget 
^■at every single organic being may be said to be striving 
^B the utmost to increase in numbers ; that each lives by 



a struggle at some period of its life ; that heavy destruc- 
tion inevitably falls either on the young or old during 
each generation or at recurrent intervals. Lighten any 
check, mitigate the destruction ever so little, and the 
number of the species will almost instantaneously increase 
to any amount. 

"inexplicable on the theory of creation." 

Orioinof "^^ ^^^^ species tends by its geometrical 

Species, rate of reproduction to increase inordinately 
page 413. ^^ number, and as the modified descendants 
of each species will be enabled to increase by as much as 
they become more diversified in habits and structure, so 
as to be able to seize on many and widely different places 
in the economy of nature, there will be a constant tend- 
ency in natural selection to preserve the most divergent 
offspring of any one species. Hence, during a long-con- 
tinued course of modification, the slight differences charac- 
teristic of varieties of the same species tend to be aug- 
mented into the greater differences characteristic of the 
species of the same genus. New and improved varie- 
ties will inevitably supplant and exterminate the older, 
less improved, and intermediate varieties ; and thus spe- 
cies are rendered to a large extent defined and distinct 
objects. Dominant species belonging to the larger groups 
within each class tend to give birth to new and dominant 
forms ; so that each large group tends to become still 
larger, and at the same time more divergent in character. 
But, as all groups can not thus go on increasing in size, 
for the world would not hold them, the more dominant 
groups beat the less dominant. This tendency in the 
large groups to go on increasing in size and diverging in 
character, together with the inevitable contingency of 



mucli extinction, explains the arrangement of all the 
forms of life in groups subordinate to groups, all within 
a few great classes, which has prevailed throughout all 
time. This grand fact of the grouping of all organic 
beings under what is called the Natural System is utterly 
inexplicable on the theory of creation. 


Ori-nn of ^^® causes which check the natural tend- 

Species, ency of each species to increase are most ob- 
page 53. gcure. Look at the most vigorous species ; by 
as much as it swarms in numbers, by so much will it 
tend to increase still further. We know not exactly what 
the checks are even in a single instance. Nor will this 
surprise any one who reflects how ignorant we are on this 
head, even in regard to mankind, although so incompar- 
ably better known than any other animal. 

Eggs or very young animals seem generally to suffer 
most, but this is not invariably the case. With plants 
there is a vast destruction of seeds, but, from some obser- 
Tations which I have made it appears that the seedlings 
suffer most from germinating in ground already thickly 
stocked with other plants. Seedlings, also, are destroyed 
in vast numbers by various enemies ; for instance, on a 
piece of ground three feet long and two wide, dag and 
cleared, and where there could be no choking from other 
plants, I marked all the seedlings of our native weeds as 
they came up, and out of 357 no less than 295 were de- 
stroyed, chiefly by slugs and insects. If turf which has 
long been mown, and the case would be the same with 
turf closely browsed by quadrupeds, be let to grow, the 
i>re vigorous plants gradually kill the less vigorous. 


though fully grown plants ; thus out of twenty species 
growing on a little plot of mown turf (three feet by four) 
nine species perished, from the other species being allowed 
to grow up freely. 

The amount of food for each species, of course, gives 
the extreme limit to which each can increase ; but very 
frequently it is not the obtaining food, but the serving as 
prey to other animals, which determines the average 
number of a species. Thus, there seems to be little doubt 
that the stock of partridges, grouse, and hares on any 
large estate depends chiefly on the destruction of vermin. 
If not one head of game were shot during the next twenty 
years in England, and, at the same time, if no vermin 
were destroyed, there would, in all probability, be less 
game than at present, although hundreds of thousands of 
game animals are now annually shot. On the other band, 
in some cases, as with the elephant, none are destroyed 
by beasts of prey ; for even the tiger in India most rarely 
dares to attack a young elephant protected by its dam. 


Climate plays an important part in deter- 
mining the average numbers of a species, and 
periodical seasons of extreme cold or drought seem to be 
the most effective of all checks. I estimated (chiefly from 
the greatly reduced numbers of nests in the spring) that 
the winter of 1854-'55 destroyed four fifths of the birds 
in my own grounds ; and this is a tremendous destruc- 
tion, when we remember that ten per cent is an extraordi- 
narily severe mortality from epidemics with man. The 
action of climate seems at first sight to be quite inde- 
pendent of the struggle for existence ; but, in so far as 
climate chiefly acts in reducing food, it brings on the 


most severe struggle between the individuals, whether of 
the same or of distinct species, which subsist on the same 
kind of food. Even when climate — for instance, extreme 
cold — acts directly, it will be the least vigorous individu- 
als, or those which have got least food through the advanc- 
ing winter, which will suffer most. "WTien we travel from 
south to north, or from a damp region to a dry, we in- 
variably see some species gradually getting rarer and rarer, 
and finally disappearing ; and, the change of climate be- 
ing conspicuous, we are tempted to attribute the whole 
effect to its direct action. But this is a false view : we 
forget that each species, even where it most abounds, is 
constantly suffering enormous destruction at some period 
of its life, from enemies or from competitors for the same 
place and food ; and, if these enemies or competitors be 
in the least degree favored by any slight change of climate, 
they will increase in numbers ; and, as each area is already 
fully stocked with inhabitants, the other species must 
decrease. When we travel southward and see a species 
decreasing in numbers, we may feel sure that the cause 
lies quite as much in other species being favored as in 
this one being hurt. So it is when we travel northward, 
but in a somewhat lesser degree, for the number of spe- 
cies of all kinds, and therefore of competitors, decreases 
northward ; hence, in going northward, or in ascending a 
mountain, we far oftener meet with stunted forms, due 
to the directly injurious action of climate, than we do 
in proceeding southward or in descending a mountain. 
WTien we reach the Arctic regions, or snow-capped sum- 
mits, or absolute deserts, the struggle for life is almost 
exclusively with the elements. 



In several parts of the world insects deter- 
^^^ ' mine the existence of cattle. Perhaps Paraguay 
offers the most curious instance of this ; for here neither 
cattle nor horses nor dogs have ever run wild, though they 
swarm southward and northward in a feral state ; and 
Azara and Rengger have shown that this is caused by the 
greater number in Paraguay of a certain fly, which lays its 
eggs in the navels of these animals when first born. The 
increase of these flies, numerous as they are, must be ha- 
bitually checked by some means, probably by other para- 
sitic insects. Hence, if certain insectivorous birds were to 
decrease in Paraguay, the parasitic insects would probably 
increase ; and this would lessen the number of the navel- 
frequenting flies ; then cattle and horses would become 
feral, and this would certainly greatly alter (as indeed I 
have observed in parts of South America) the vegetation : 
this again would largely affect the insects, and this, as we 
have just seen in Staffordshire, the insectivorous birds, 
and so onward in ever-increasing circles of complexity. 
Not that under nature the relations will ever be as simple 
as this. Battle within battle must be continually recur- 
ring with varying success ; and yet in the long run the 
forces are so nicely balanced that the face of Nature re- 
mains for long periods of time uniform, though assuredly 
the merest trifle would give the victory to one organic 
being over another. Nevertheless, so profound is our 
ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel 
when we hear of the extinction of an organic being ; and, 
as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to deso- 
late the world, or invent laws on the duration of the 
forms of life ! 



Nearly all our orchidaceous plants abso- 
lutely require the visits of insects to remove 
their pollen-masses and thus to fertilize them. I find 
from experiments that humble-bees are almost indispensa- 
ble to the fertilization of the heart's-ease ( Viola tricolor), 
for other bees do not visit this flower. I have also found 
that the visits of bees are necessary for the fertilization of 
some kinds of clover : for instance, 20 heads of Dutch 
cloYBT {Trifolium repens) yielded 2,290 seeds, but 20 other 
heads protected from bees produced not one. Again, 100 
heads of red clover {T. pratense) produced 2,700 seeds, 
but the same number of protected heads produced not a 
single seed. Humble-bees alone visit red clover, as other 
bees can not reach the nectar. It has been suggested that 
moths may fertilize the clovers ; but I doubt -whether they 
could do so in the case of the red clover, from their weight 
not being sufficient to depress the wing-petals. Hence we 
may infer as highly probable that, if the whole genus of 
humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England, the 
heart's-ease and red clover would become very rare, or 
wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any 
district depends in a great measure on the number of 
field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests ; and 
Colonel Newman, who has long attended to the habits 
of humble-bees, believes that " more than two thirds 
of them are thus destroyed all over England." Xow, 
the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one 
. knows, on the number of cats ; and Colonel Newman 
says, "Near villages and small towns I have found 
the nests of humble-bees more numerous than else- 
where, which I attribute to the number of cats that 
destroy the mice." Hence it is quite credible that the 

Kresence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district 
light determine, through the intervention first of mice 


and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in 
that district ! 


P 68 When we look at the plants and bushes 

clothing an entangled bank, we are tempted to 
attribute their proportional numbers and kinds to what 
we call chance. But how false a view is this ! Every 
one has heard that, when an American forest is cut down, 
a very different vegetation springs up ; but it has been 
observed that ancient Indian ruins in the Southern United 
States, which must formerly have been cleared of trees, 
now display the same beautiful diversity and proportion 
of kinds as in the surrounding virgin forest. "What a 
struggle must have gone on during long centuries between 
the several kinds of trees, each annually scattering its 
seeds by the thousand ; what war between insect and in- 
sect — ^between insects, snails, and other animals with birds 
and beasts of prey — all striving to increase, all feeding on 
each other, or on the trees, their seeds and seedlings, or 
on the other plants which first clothed the ground and 
thus checked the growth of the trees ! Throw up a hand- 
ful of feathers, and all fall to the gi-ound according to 
definite laws ; but how simple is the problem where each 
shall fall compared to that of the action and reaction of 
the innumerable plants and animals which have deter- 
mined, in the course of centuries, the proportional num- 
bers and kinds of trees now growing on the old Indian 
ruins ! 

It is ffood thus to try in imagination to give 
Page 61. , ^ . A i. X 

to any one species an advantage over another. 

Probably in no single instance should we know what to 


do. This ought to convince us of our ignorance on the 
mutual relations of all organic beings — a conviction as 
necessary as it is diflBcult to acquire. All that we can 
do is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is 
striving to increase in a geometrical ratio ; that each at 
some period of its life, during some season of the year, 
during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for 
life and to suffer great destruction. "When ve reflect on 
this struggle, we may console ourselves with the fuU be- 
lief that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear 
is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigor- 
ous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply. 



y . . , The preservation, during the battle for 
Animals and life, of Varieties which possess any advantage 
Plants under jjj^ structure. Constitution, or instinct, I have 


tion, vol. i, called Natural Selection ; and Mr. Herbert 
page 6. Spencer has well expressed the same idea by 

the Survival of the Fittest. The term "natural selec- 
tion " is in some respects a bad one, as it seems to imply 
conscious choice ; but this will be disregarded after a little 
familiarity. No one objects to chemists speaking of 
"elective affinity"; and certainly an acid has no more 
choice in combining with a base than the conditions of 
life have in determining whether or not a new form be 
selected or preserved. The term is so far a good one as 
it brings into connection the production of domestic races 
by man's power of selection and the natural preservation 
of varieties and species in a state of nature. For brevity 
sake I sometimes speak of natural selection as an intelli- 
gent power ; in the same way as astronomers speak of the 
attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the 
planets, or as agriculturists speak of man making domes- 
tic races by his power of selection. In the one case, as in 


the other, selection does nothing without variability, and 
this depends in some manner on the action of the sur- 
rounding circumstances in the organism. I have, also, 
often personified the word Xature ; for I have found it 
difficult to avoid this ambiguity ; but I mean by nature 
only the aggregate action and product of many natural 
laws, and by laws only the ascertained sequence of events. 


Animals and ^^ scientific investigations it is i)ermitted 
Plants, YoLi, to invent any hypothesis, and if it explains 
P*se *• various large and independent classes of facta 

it rises to the rank of a well-grounded theory. The un- 
dulations of the ether and even its existence are hvpo- 
thetical, yet every one now admits the undulatory theory 
of light The principle of natural selection may be looked 
at as a mere hypothesis, but rendered in some degree 
probable by what we positively know of the variability of 
organic beings in a state of nature — by what we positively 
know of the struggle for existence, and the consequent 
almost inevitable preservation of favorable variations — 
and from the analogical formation of domestic races. 
Xow, this hypothesis may be tested — and this seems to me 
the only fair and legitimate manner of considering the 
whole question — by trying whether it explains several 
large and independent classes of facts ; such as the geo- 
logical succession of organic beings, their distribution in 
past and present times, and their mutual affinities and 
homologies. If the principle of natural selection does 
explain these and other large bodies of facts, it ought to 
be received. On the ordinary view of each species hav- 

rbeen independently created, we gain no scientific ex- 
ation of any one of these facts. We can only say that 


it has so pleased the Creator to command that the past 
and present inhabitants of the world should appear in a 
certain order and in certain areas ; that he has impressed 
on them tlie most extraordinary resemblances, and has 
classed them in groups subordinate to groups. But by 
such statements we gain no new knowledge ; we do not 
connect together facts and laws ; we explain nothing. 

p ^ These facts have as yet received no explana- 

° ' tion on the theory of independent creation ; 
they can not be grouped together under one point of view, 
but each has to be considered as an ultimate fact. As the 
first origin of life on this earth, as well as the continued 
life of each individual, is at present quite beyond the 
scope of science, I do not wish to lay much stress on the 
greater simplicity of the view of a few forms or of only 
one form having been originally created, instead of in- 
numerable miraculous creations having been necessary 
at innumerable periods ; though this more simple view 
accords well with Maupertuis's philosophical axiom of 
** least action." 


p In considering how far the theory of natu- \ 

ral selection may be extended — that is, in de- / 
termining from how many progenitors the inhabitants of / 
the world have descended — we may conclude that at least/ 
all the members of the same class have descended from Sf I 
single ancestor. A number of organic beings are included ' 
in the same class, because they present, independently of 
their habits of life, the same fundamental type of struct- 
ure, and because they graduate into each other. More- 
over, members of the same class can in most cases be 
shown to be closely alike at an early embryonic age. 


These facts can be explained on the belief of their de- 
scent from a common form ; therefore it may be safely 
admitted that all the members of the same class are 
descended from one progenitor. But as the members 
of quite distinct classes have something in common in 
structure and much in common in constitution, analogy 
would lead us one step further, and to infer as probable 
that all living creatures are descended from a single pro- 

Descent of Thus a large yet undefined extension may 

Man, part L, gafelv be given to the direct and indirect re- 

P*Ke 61 JO 

■ suits of natural selection ; but I now admit, 

after reading the essay by Nageli on plants, and the re- 
marks 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 perhaps 
attributed too much to the action of natural selection or 
the survival of the fittest. I have altered the fifth edition 
' of the "Origin" so as to confine my remarks to adaptive 
, changes of structure ; but I am convinced, from the light 
j; gained during even the last few years, that very many 
structures whicb now appear to us useless will here- 
after be proved to be useful, and will therefore come 
I' within the range of natural selection. Nevertheless, I 
' did not formerly consider sufficiently the existence of 
structures, which, as far as we can at present judge, are 
neither beneficial nor injurious ; and this I believe to be 
one of the greatest oversights as yet detected in my work. 
I may be permitted to say, as some excuse, that I had 
two distinct objects in view : firstly, to show that species 
had not been separately created ; and, secondly, that natu- 
ral selection had been the chief agent of change, though 
Igely aided by the inherited effects of habit, and slightly 


by the direct action of the surrounding conditions. I 
was not, however, able to annul the influence of my 
former belief, then almost universal, that each species 
had been purposely created ; and this led to my tacit 
assumption that every detail of structure, excepting rudi- 
ments, was of some special, though unrecognized, service. 
Any one with this assumption in his mind would natu- 
rally extend too far the action of natural selection, either 
during past or present times. Some of those who admit 
the principle of evolution, but reject natural selection, 
seem to forget, when criticising my book, that I had the 
above two objects in view ; hence if I have erred in giving 
to natural selection great power, which I am very far 
from admitting, or in having exaggerated its power, 
which is in itself probable, I have at least, as I hope, 
done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of 
separate creations. 


Animals and The foregoing discussion naturally leads to 
Plants, vol. ^iig question. What is the limit to the possible 
' ° " ' amount of variation in any part or quality, 
and, consequently, is there any limit to what selection 
can effect ? "Will a race-horse ever be reared fleeter than 
Eclipse ? Can our prize cattle and sheep be still further 
improved ? "Will a gooseberry ever weigh more than that 
produced by *' London " in 1852 ? "Will the beet-root in 
France yield a greater percentage of sugar ? "Will future 
varieties of wheat and other grain produce heavier crops 
than our present varieties ? These questions can not be 
positively answered ; but it is certain that we ought to 
be cautious in answering them by a negative. In some 
lines of variation the limit has probably been reached. 


Youatt believes that the reduction of bone in some.of our 
sheep has already been carried so far that it entails great 
delicacy of constitution. 

'No doubt there is a limit beyond which 
^°^ " ' the organization can not be modified compati- 
bly "With health or life. The extreme degree of fleetness, 
for instance, of which a terrestrial animal is capable, 
may have been acquired by our present race-horses ; but, 
as Mr. Wallace has well remarked, the question that in- 
terests us " is not whether indefinite and unlimited change 
in any or all directions is possible, but whether such 
differences as do occur in nature could have been pro- 
duced by the accumulation of varieties by selection." 
And in the case of our domestic productions, there can 
be no doubt that many parts of the organization, to 
which man has attended, have been thus modified to a 
greater degree than the corresponding parts in the natural 
species of the same genera or even families. We see this 
in the form and size of our light and heavy dogs or 
horses, in the beak and many other characters of our 
pigeons, in the size and quality of many fruits, in com- 
parison with the species belonging to the same natural 


Origin of The problem whether organization on the 

Species, page whole has advanced is in many ways excess- 
ively intricate. The geological record, at all 
times imperfect, does not extend far enough back to 
show with unmistakable clearness that within the known 
history of the world organization has largely advanced. 
Even at the present day, looking to members of the same 
class, naturalists are not unanimous which forms ought 


to be ranked as highest ; thus, some look at the selaceans 
or sharks, from their approach in some important points 
of structure to reptiles, as the highest fish ; others look 
at the teleosteans as the highest. The ganoids stand 
intermediate between the selaceans and teleosteans ; the 
latter at the present day are largely preponderant in 
number ; but formerly selaceans and ganoids alone ex- 
isted ; and in this case, according to the standard of 
highness chosen, so will it be said that fishes have ad- 
vanced or retrograded in organization. To attempt to 
compare members of distinct types in the scale of high- 
ness seems hopeless ; who will decide whether a cuttle- 
fish be higher than a bee — that insect which the great 
Von Baer believed to be " in fact more highly organized 
than a fish, although upon another type " ? In the com- 
plex struggle for life it is quite credible that crustace- 
ans, not very high in their own class, might beat ceph- 
alopods, the highest mollusks ; and such crustaceans, 
though not highly developed, would stand very high in 
the scale of invertebrate animals, if judged by the most 
decisive of all trials — the law of battle. Besides these 
inherent difficulties in deciding which forms are the most 
advanced in organization, we ought not solely to compare 
the highest members of a class at any two periods — though 
undoubtedly this is one and perhaps the most important 
element in striking a balance — ^but we ought to compare 
all the members, high and low, at the two periods. At 
an ancient epoch the highest and lowest molluscoidal ani- 
mals, namely, cephalopods and brachiopods, swarmed in 
numbers ; at the present time both groups are greatly 
reduced, while others, intermediate in organization, have 
largely increased ; consequently some naturalists main- 
tain that mollusks were formerly more highly developed 
than at present ; but a stronger case can be made out oa 


the opposite side, by considering the vast reduction of 
brachiopods, and the fact that our existing cephalopods, 
though few in number, are more highly organized than 
their ancient representatires. We ought also to compare 
the relative proportional numbers at any two periods of 
the high and low classes throughout the world ; if, for 
instance, at the present day fifty thousand kinds of ver- 
tebrate animals exist, and if we knew that at some for- 
mer period only ten thousand kinds existed, we ought 
to look at this increase in number in the highest class, 
which implies a great displacement of lower forms, as a 
decided advance in the organization of the world. We 
thus see how hopelessly difficult it is to compare with per- 
fect fairness, under such extremely complex relations, the 
standard of organization of the imperfectly-known faunas 
of successive periods. 

Origia of There may truly be said to be a constant 

Species, struggle going on between, on the one hand, 

" ' the tendency to reversion to a less perfect 
state, as well as an innate tendency to new variations, 
and, on the other hand, the power of steady selection to 
keep the breed true. In the long run selection gains the 
day, and we do not expect to fail so completely as to 
breed bird as coarse as a common tumbler-pigeon from a 
good short-faced strain. But, as long as selection is rapidly 
going on, much variability in the parts undergoing modi- 
fication may always be expected. 


Orioin of -^^ ^^^ ^^^ produce, and certainly has 

Spedea, produced, a great result by his methodical and 

page 65. unconscious means of selection, what may not 
itural selection affect ? Man can act only on external 


and visible characters : Nature, if I may be allowed to 
personify the natural preservation or survival of the fit- 
test, cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as 
they are useful to any being. She can act on every inter- 
nal organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on 
the whole machinery of life. Man selects only for his 
own good : Nature only for that of the being which she 
tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her, 
as is implied by the fact of their selection. Man keeps 
the natives of many climates in the same country ; he 
seldom exercises each selected character in some peculiar 
and fitting manner ; he feeds a long and a short beaked 
pigeon on the same food ; he does not exercise a long- 
backed or long-legged quadruped in any peculiar manner ; 
he exposes sheep with long and short wool to the same 
climate. He does not allow the most vigorous males to 
struggle for the females. He does not rigidly destroy all 
inferior animals, but protects during each varying season, 
as far as lies in his power, all his productions. He often 
begins his selection by some half-monstrous form ; or at 
least by some modification prominent enough to catch 
the eye or to be plainly useful to him. Under nature, the 
slightest differences of structure or constitution may well 
turn the nicely-balanced scale in the struggle for life, and 
so be preserved. How fleeting are the wishes and efforts 
of man ! how short his time ! and consequently how poor 
will be his results, compared with those accumulated by 
Nature during whole geological periods ! Can we won- 
der, then, that Nature's productions should be far "truer '* 
in character than man's productions ; that they should be 
infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions 
of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher 
workmanship ? 


It may metaphorically be said that natnral selection is 
daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, the 
slightest variations : rejecting those that are bad, pre- 
serving and adding up all that are good ; silently and 
insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity 
offers, at the improvement of each organic being in rela- 
tion to its organic and inorganic conditions of life. We 
see nothing of these slow changes in progress, until the 
hand of Time has marked the lapse of ages, and then so 
imperfect is our view into long-past geological ages that 
we see only that the forms of life are now different from 
what they formerly were. 

Although natural selection can act only 
' through and for the good of each being, yet 
characters and structures, which we are apt to consider 
as of very trifling importance, may thus be acted on. 
When we see leaf-eating insects green and bark-feeders 
mottled-gray, the Alpine ptarmigan white in winter, the 
red-grouse the color of heather, we must believe that 
these tints are of service to these birds and insects in 
preserving them from danger. Grouse, if not destroyed 
at some period of their lives, would increase in countless 
numbers..; they are known to suffer largely from birds of 
prey ; and hawks are guided by eye-sight to their prey — 
60 much so, that on parts of the Continent persons are 
warned not to keep white pigeons, as being the most 
liable to destruction. Hence natural selection might be 
effective in giving the proper color to each kind of grouse, 
and in keeping that color, when once acquired, true and 

K constant. Nor ought we to think that the occasional 
struction of an animal of any particular color would 
oduce little effect : we should remember how essential 


it is in a flock of white sheep to destroy a lamb with the 
faintest trace of black. 


Origin of He who belicves that each being has been 

Species, created as we now see it must occasionally 

° ' have felt surprise when he has met with an 
animal having habits and structure not in agreement. 
What can be plainer than that the webbed feet of ducks 
and geese are formed for swimming ? Yet there are upland 
geese with webbed feet which rarely go near the water ; 
and no one except Audubon has seen the frigate-bird, 
which has all its four toes webbed, alight on the surface 
of the ocean. On the other hand, grebes and coots are 
eminently aquatic, although their toes are only bordered 
by membrane. What seems plainer than that the long 
toes, not furnished with membrane, of the Orallatores, 
are formed for walking over swamps and floating plants ? 
— the water-hen and land-rail are members of this order, 
yet the first is nearly as aquatic as the coot, and the 
second nearly as terrestrial as the quail or partridge. In 
such cases, and many others could be given, habits have 
changed without a corresponding change of structure. 
The webbed feet of the upland goose may be said to have 
become almost rudimentary in function, though not in 
structure. In the frigate-bird, the deeply-scooped mem- 
brane between the toes shows that structure has begun to 

He who believes in separate and innumerable acts of 
creation may say that in these cases it has pleased the 
Creator to cause a being of one type to take the place of 
one belonging to another type ; but this seems to me only 
restating the fact in dignified language. He who believes 



in the straggle for existence and in the principle of natu- 
ral selection, wiU acknowledge that every organic being 
is constantly endeavoring to increase in numbers ; and 
that if any one being varies ever so little, either in habits 
or structure, and thus gains an advantage over some 
other inhabitant of the same country, it will seize on the 
place of that inhabitant, however different that may be 
from its own place. Hence it will cause him no surprise 
that there should be geese and frigate-birds with webbed 
feet, living on the dry land and rarely alighting on the 
water ; that there should be long-toed corn-crakes, living 
in meadows instead of in swamps ; that there should be 
woodpeckers where hardly a tree grows ; that there should 
be diving thrushes and diving Hymenoptera, and petrels 
with the habits of auks. 


Oritnn of Natural selection can not possibly produce 

Species, any modification in a species exclusively for 

the good of another species ; though through- 
>ut nature one species incessantly takes advantage of, and 
profits by, the structures of others. But natural selection 
m and does often produce structures for the direct in- 
''jury of other animals, as we see in the fang of the adder, 
and in the ovipositor of the ichneumon, by which its eggs 
are deposited in the Hving bodies of other insects. 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 
lave been produced through natural selection. Although 
lany statements may be found in works on natural his- 
bory to this effect, I can not find even one which seems to 


me of any weight. It is admitted that the rattlesnake 
has a poison-fang for its own defense, and for the de- 
struction of its prey ; but some authors suppose that at 
the same time it is furnished with a rattle for its own in- 
jury, namely, to warn its prey. I would almost as soon 
believe that the cat curls the end of its tail when prepar- 
ing to spring, in order to warn the doomed mouse. It is 
a much more probable view that the rattlesnake uses its 
rattle, the cobra expands its frill, and the puff-adder 
swells while hissing so loudly and harshly, in order to 
alarm the many birds and beasts which are known to 
attack even the most venomous species. Snakes act on 
the same principle which makes the hen ruffle her feath- 
ers and expand her wings when a dog approaches her 
chickens ; but I have not space here to enlarge on the 
many ways by which animals endeavor to frighten away 
their enemies. 

Natural selection will never produce in a being any 
structure more injurious than beneficial to that being, for 
natural selection acts solely by and for the good of each. 
No organ will be formed, as Paley has remarked, for the 
purpose of causing pain or for doing an injury to its pos- 
sessor. If a fair balance be struck between the good and 
evil caused by each part, each will be found on the whole 
advantageous. After the lapse of time, under changing 
conditions of life, if any part comes to be injurious, it 
will be modified ; or, if it be not so, the being will become 
extinct as myriads have become extinct. 

Natural selection tends only to make each organic 
being as perfect as, or slightly more perfect than, the 
other inhabitants of the same country with which it comes 
into competition. And we see that this is the standard 
of perfection attained under nature. The endemic pro- 
ductions of New Zealand, for instance, are perfect one 



compared with another ; but they are now rapidly yield- 
ing before the advancing legions of plants and animals 
introduced from Europe. Natural selection will not pro- 
duce absolute perfection, nor do we always meet, as far 
as we can judge, with this high standard under nature. 
The correction for the aberration of light is said by Mul- 
ler not to be perfect even in that most perfect organ, the 
human eye. 

Natural selection will modify the structure 
Page 67 

of the young in relation to the parent, and of 

the parent in relation to the young. In social animals it 
■will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit 
of the whole community, if the community profits by 
the selected change. "What natural selection can not do 
is, to modify the structure of one species, without giving 
it any advantage, for the good of another species ; and, 
though statements to this effect may be found in works 
of natural history, I can not find one case which will bear 
investigation. A structure used only once in an animal's 
life, if of high importance to it, might be modified to any 
extent by natural selection ; for instance, the great jaws 
possessed by certain insects, used exclusively for opening 
the cocoon, or the hard tip to the beak of unhatched 
birds, used for breaking the egg. It has been asserted 
that, of the best short-beaked tumbler-pigeons, a greater 
number perish in the egg than are able to get out of it, 
80 that fanciers assist in the act of hatching. Now, if 
Nature had to make the beak of a full-grown pigeon very 
short for the bird's own advantage, the process of modifi- 
cation would be very slow, and there would be simultane- 
ously the most rigorous selection of all the young birds 
within the egg, which had the most powerful and hardest 
beaks, for all with weak beaks would inevitably perish ; 


or, more delicate and more easily broken shells might be 
selected, the thickness of the shell being known to vary 
like every other structure. 


r, ■ ■ f In order to make it clear how, as I believe. 

Origin 01 ' ' 

Species, natural selection acts, I must beg permission 
page 70. |.Q gj^^g Qjjg Qj. ^^Q imaginary illustrations. 

Let us take the case of a woK, which preys on various 
animals, securing some by craft, some by strength, and 
some by fleetness ; and let us suppose that the fleetest 
prey, a deer for instance, had from any change in the 
country increased in numbers, or that other prey had de- 
creased in numbers, during that season of the year when 
the wolf was hardest pressed for food. Under such cir- 
cumstances the swiftest and slimmest wolves would have 
the best chance of surviving, and so be preserved or se- 
lected — provided always that they retained strength to 
master their prey at this or some other period of the year, 
when they were compelled to prey on other animals. I 
can see no more reason to doubt that this would be the 
result, than that man should be able to improve the fleet- 
ness of his greyhounds by careful and methodical selec- 
tion, or by that kind of unconscious selection which fol- 
lows from each man trying to keep the best dogs without 
any thought of modifying the breed. I may add that, 
according to Mr. Pierce, there are two varieties of the 
wolf inhabiting the Catskill Mountains in the United 
States, one with a light greyhound-like form, which pur- 
sues deer, and the other more bulky, with shorter legs, 
which more frequently attacks the shepherd's flocks. 


^ Certain plants excrete sweet juice, appar- 

ently for the sake of eliminating something in- 
jurious from the sap : this is effected, for instance, by 
glands at the base of the stipules in some LeguminoscBy 
and at the backs of the leaves of the common laurel. 
This juice, though small in quantity, is greedily sought 
by insects ; but their visits do not in any way benefit the 
plant. Now, let us suppose that the juice or nectar was 
excreted from the inside of the flowers of a certain num- 
ber of plants of any species. Insects in seeking the nectar 
would get dusted with pollen, and would often transport 
it from one flower to another. The flowers of two dis- 
tinct individuals of the same species would thus get 
crossed ; and the act of crossing, as can be fully proved, 
gives rise to vigorous seedlings, which consequently would 
Lave the best chance of flourishing and surviving. The 
plants which produced flowers with the largest glands or 
nectaries, excreting most nectar, would oftenest be visited 
by insects, and would oftenest be crossed ; and so in the 
long run would gain the upper hand and form a local 
variety. The flowers, also, which had their stamens and 
pistils placed, in relation to the size and habits of the 
particular insect which visited them, so as to favor in any 
degree the transportal of the pollen, would likewise be 
favored. We might have taken the case of insects visit? 
ing flowers for the sake of collecting pollen instead of 
nectar ; and, as pollen is formed for the sole purpose of 
fertilization, its destruction appears to be a simple loss 
to the plant ; yet if a little pollen were carried, at first 
occasionally and then habitually, by the pollen-devour- 
ing insects from flower to flower, and a cross thus 
effected, although nine tenths of the pollen were de- 
stroyed, it might still be a great gain to the plant to 
be thus robbed ; and the individuals which produced 


more and more pollen, and had larger anthers, would 
be selected. 

When our plant, by the above process long continued, 
had been rendered highly attractive to insects, they would, 
unintentionally on their part, regularly carry pollen from 
flower to flower. 



According to my view, varieties are species 
in the process of formation, or are, as I have 
called them, incipient species. How, then, does the 
lesser difference between varieties become augmented into 
the greater difference between species ? That this does 
habitually happen, we must infer from most of the in- 
numerable species throughout nature presenting well- 
marked differences ; whereas varieties, the supposed pro- 
totypes and parents of future well-marked species, pre- 
sent slight and ill-defined differences. Mere chance, as 
we may call it, might cause one variety to differ in some 
character from its parents, and the offspring of this va- 
riety again to differ from its parent in the very same 
character and in a greater degree ; but this alone would 
never account for so habitual and large a degree of 
difference as that between the species of the same 

As has always been my practice, I have sought light 
on this head from our domestic productions. We shall 
here find something analogous. It will be admitted that 
the production of races so different as short-horn and 
Hereford cattle, race and cart horses, the several breeds 
of pigeons, etc., could never have been effected by the 
mere chance accumulation of similar variations during 
many successive generations. In practice, a fancier is, 



•r instance, struck by a pigeon having a slightly shorter 
beak ; another fancier is struck by a pigeon having a 
rather longer beak ; and, on the acknowledged principle 
that "fanciers do not and will not admire a medium 
standard, but like extremes," they both go on (as has 
actually occurred with the sub-breeds of the tumbler- 
pigeon) choosing and breeding from birds with longer 
and longer beaks, or with shorter and shorter beaks. 
Again, we may suppose that, at an early period of history, 
the men of one nation or district required swifter horses, 
while those of another required stronger and bulkier 
horses. The early differences would be very slight ; but, 
in the course of time, from the continued selection of 
swifter horses in the one case, and of stronger ones in the 
other, the differences would become greater, and would 
be noted as forming two sub-breeds. Ultimately, after 
the lapse of centuries, these sub-breeds would become 
converted into two well-established and distinct breeds. 
As the differences became greater, the inferior animals 
with intermediate characters, being neither very swift 
nor very strong, would not have been used for breeding, 
and will thus have tended to disappear. Here, then, we 
see in man's productions the action of what may be called 
the principle of divergence, causing differences, at first 
barely appreciable, steadily to increase, and the breeds to 
diverge in character, both from each other and from their 
common parent. 

But how, it may be asked, can any analogous prin- 
ciple apply in nature ? I believe it can and does apply 
most eflBciently (though it was a long time before I saw 
how), from the simple circumstance that the more diver- 
sified the descendants from any one species become in 
structure, constitution, and habits, by so much will they 
be better enabled to seize on many and widely diversified 


places in the polity of nature, and so be enabled to in- 
crease in numbers. 

The advantage of diversification of struct- 
ure in the inhabitants of the same region is, 
in fact, the same as that of the physiological division of 
labor in the organs of the same individual body — a sub- 
ject so well elucidated by Milne-Edwards. No physiolo- 
gist doubts that a stomach adapted to digest vegetable 
matter alone, or flesh alone^ draws most nutriment from 
these substances. So in the general economy of any land, 
the more widely and perfectly the animals and plants are 
diversified for different habits of life, so will a greater 
number of individuals be capable of there supporting 
themselves. A set of animals, with their organization 
but little diversified, could hardly compete with a set more 
perfectly diversified in structure. It may be doubted, 
for instance, whether the Australian marsupials, which 
are divided into groups differing but little from each 
other, and feebly representing, as Mr. Waterhouse and 
others have remarked, our carnivorous, ruminant, and 
rodent mammals, could successfully compete with these 
well-developed orders. In the Australian mammals, we 
see the process of diversification in an early and incom- 
plete stage of development. 


Ori<nn of ^o supposc that the eye with all its inim- 

Species, itable contrivances for adjusting the focus 
^^°^ ' to different distances, for admitting different 
amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and 
chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural 
selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest 


degree. When it was first said that the snn stood still 
and the world turned round, the common sense of man- 
kind declared the doctrine false ; but the old saying of 
Vox populi vox Dei, as every philosopher knows, can not 
be trusted in science. 

p 145 Within the highest division of the animal 
kingdom, namely, the Vertebrata, we can start 
from an eye so simple that it consists, as in the lancelet, 
of a little sac of transparent skin, furnished with a nerve 
and lined with pigment, but destitute of any other ap- 
paratus. In fishes and reptiles, as Owen has remarked, 
** the range of gradations of dioptric structures is very 
great." It is a significant fact that even in man, ac- 
cording to the high authority of Virchow, the beau- 
tiful crystalline lens is formed in the embryo by an ac- 
cumulation of epidermic cells, lying in a sac-like fold 
of the skin ; and the vitreous body is formed from em- 
bryonic subcutaneous tissue. To arrive, however, at a 
just conclusion regarding the formation of the eye, with 
aU its marvelous yet not absolutely perfect characters, it 
is indispensable that the reason should conquer the im- 
agination ; but I have felt the difficulty far too keenly 
to be surprised at others hesitating to extend the prin- 
ciple of natural selection to so startling a length. 

It is scarcely possible to avoid comparing the eye with 
a telescope. We know that this instrument has been per- 
fected by the long-continued efforts of the highest human 
intellects ; and we naturally infer that the eye has been 
formed by a somewhat analogous process. But may not 
this inference be presumptuous ? Have we any right to 
assume that the Creator works by intellectual powers like 
those of man ? If we must compare the eye to an optical 
instrument, we ought in imagination to take a thick 


layer of transparent tissue, with spaces filled with fluid, 
and with a nerve sensitive to light beneath, and then sup- 
pose every part of this layer to be continually changing 
slowly in density, so as to separate into layers of different 
densities and thicknesses, placed at different distances 
from each other, and with the surfaces of each layer slowly 
changing in form. Further, we must suppose that there 
is a power, represented by natural selection or the sur- 
vival of the fittest, always intently watching each slight 
alteration in the transparent layers ; and carefully pre- 
serving each which, under varied circumstances, in any 
way or in any degree, tends to produce a distincter image. 
We must suppose each new state of the instrument to be 
multiplied by the million ; each to be preserved until a 
better one is produced, and then the old ones to be all 
destroyed. In living bodies, variation will cause the 
slight alterations, generation will multiply them almost 
infinitely, and natural selection will pick out with unerr- 
ing skill each improvement. Let this process go on for 
millions of years ; and during each year on millions of 
individuals of many kinds ; and may we not believe that 
a living optical instrument might thus be formed as su- 
perior to one of glass as the works of the Creator are to 
those of man ? 



"•Ori«nn of We are tlius brought to the question which 

Species, has been largely discussed by naturalists, name- 
^ ■ ly, whether species have been created at one or 
more points of the earth's surface. Undoubtedly there 
are many cases of extreme difficulty in understanding how 
the same species could possibly have migrated from some 
one point to the several distant and isolated points where 
now found. Nevertheless the simplicity of the view that 
each species was first produced within a single region 
captivates the mind. He who rejects it rejects the vera 
causa of ordinary generation with subsequent migration, 
and calls in the agency of a miracle. It is universally 
admitted that in most cases the area inhabited by a 
species is continuous ; and that, when a plant or animal 
inhabits two points so distant from each other, or with an 
interval of such a nature, that the space could not have 
been easily passed over by migration, the fact is given as 
something remarkable and exceptional. The incapacity 
of migrating across a wide sea is more clear in the case of 
terrestrial mammals than perhaps with any other organic 
beings ; and, accordingly, we find no inexplicable in- 
stances of the same mammals inhabiting distant points 


of the world. No geologist feels any difficulty in Great 
Britain possessing the same quadrupeds with the rest of 
Europe, for they were no doubt once united. But, if the 
same species can be produced at two separate points, why 
do we not find a single mammal common to Europe and 
Australia or South America ? The conditions of life are 
nearly the same, so that a multitude of European animals 
and plants have become naturalized in America and Aus- 
tralia ; and some of the aboriginal plants are identically 
the same at these distant points of the northern and 
southern hemispheres. The answer, as I believe, is, that 
mammals have not been able to migrate, whereas some 
plants, from their varied means of dispersal, have mi- 
grated across the wide and broken interspaces. The 
great and striking influence of barriers of all kinds is 
intelligible only on the view that the great majority of 
species have been produced on one side, and have not been 
able to migrate to the opposite side. Some few families, 
many sub-families, very many genera, and a still greater 
number of sections of genera, are confined to a single 
region : and it has been observed by several naturalists 
that the most natural genera, or those genera in which 
the species are most closely related to each other, are 
generally confined to the same country, or, if they have 
a wide range, that their range is continuous. What a 
strange anomaly it would be, if a directly opposite rule 
were to prevail, when we go down one step lower in the 
series, namely, to the individuals of the same species, and 
these had not been, at least at first, confined to some one 
region ! 

Hence it seems to me, as it has to many other natu- 
ralists, that the view of each species having been produced 
in one area alone, and having subsequently migrated from 
that area as far as its powers of migration and subsistence 


under past and present conditions permitted, is the most 
probable. Undoubtedly many cases occur, in which we 
can not explain how the same species could have passed 
from one point to the other. But the geographical and 
climatal changes, which have certainly occurred within 
recent geological times, must hare rendered discontinuous 
the formerly continuous range of many species. So that 
we are reduced to consider whether the exceptions to con- 
tinuity of range are so numerous and of so grave a nature 
that we ought to give up the belief, rendered probable 
by general considerations, that each species has been pro- 
duced within one area, and has migrated thence as far as 
it could. 


Ori"m of Whenever it is fully admitted, as it will 

Species, some day be, that each species has proceeded 
P*S^ - • from a single birthplace, and when in the 
course of time we know something definite about the 
means of distribution, we shall be enabled to speculate 
with security on the former extension of the land. But 
I do not believe that it will ever be proved that within 
the recent period most of our continents which now 
stand quite separate have been continuously, or almost 
continuously, united with each other, and with the many 
existing oceanic islands. Several facts in distribution, 
such as the great difference in the marine faunas on the 
opposite sides of almost every continent, the close rela- 
tion of the tertiary inhabitants of several lands and even 
seas to their present inhabitants, the degree of affinity 
between the mammals inhabiting islands with those of 

I the nearest continent, being in part determined (as we 
Bhall hereafter see) by the depth of the intervening ocean, 
these and other such facts are opposed to the admission 


of such prodigious geographical revolutions within the 
recent period as are necessary on the view advanced by 
Forbes and admitted by his followers. The nature and 
relative proportions of the inhabitants of oceanic islands 
are likewise opposed to the belief of their former con- 
tinuity with continents. Nor does the almost universally 
volcanic composition of such islands favor the admission 
that they are the wrecks of sunken continents ; if they 
had originally existed as continental mountain-ranges, 
some at least of the islands would have been formed, like 
other mountain-summits, of granite, metamorphic schists, 
old fossiliferous and other rocks, instead of consisting of 
mere piles of volcanic matter. 


Page 326 Living birds can hardly fail to be highly 

effective agents in the transportation of seeds. 
I could give many facts showing how frequently birds of 
many kinds are blown by gales to vast distances across 
the ocean. We may safely assume that under such cir- 
cumstances their rate of flight would often be thirty-five 
miles an hour ; and some authors have given a far higher 
estimate. I have never seen an instance of nutritious 
seeds passing through the intestines of a bird ; but hard 
seeds of fruit pass uninjured through even the digestive 
organs of a turkey. In the course of two months I 
picked up in my garden twelve kinds of seeds out of the 
excrement of small birds, and these seemed perfect, and 
some of them, which were tried, germinated. But the 
following fact is more important : the crops of birds do 
not secrete gastric juice, and do not, as I know by trial, 
injure in the least the germination of seeds ; now, after 
a bird has found and devoured a large supply of food, it 



is positively asserted that all the grains do not pass into 
the gizzard for twelve or even eighteen hours. A bird in 
this interval might easily be blown to the distance of five 
hundred miles, and hawks are known to look out for 
tired birds, and the contents of their torn crops might 
thus readily get scattered. Some hawks and owls bolt 
their prey whole, and, after an interval of from twelve 
to twenty hours, disgorge pellets, which, as I know from 
experiments made in the Zoological Gardens, include 
seeds capable of germination. Some seeds of the oat, 
wheat, millet, canary, hemp, clover, and beet germinated 
after having been from twelve to twenty-one hours in the 
stomachs of different birds of prey ; and two seeds of 
beet grew after having been thus retained for two days 
and fourteen hours. Fresh-water fish, I find, eat seeds 
of many land and water plants : fish are frequently de- 
voured by birds, and thus the seeds might be transported 
from place to place. I forced many kinds of seeds into 
the stomachs of dead fish, and then gave their bodies to 
fishing-eagles, storks, and pelicans ; these birds, after an 
interval of many hours, either rejected the seeds in pel- 
lets or passed them in their excrement ; and several of 
these seeds retained the power of germination. Certain 
seeds, however, were always killed by this process. 

Locusts are sometimes blown to great distances from 
the land ; I myself caught one three hundred and seventy 
miles from the coast of Africa, and have heard of others 
caught at greater distances. 

As icebergs are known to be sometimes 

loaded with earth and stones, and have even 

carried brushwood, bones, and the nest of a land-bird, it 

can hardly be doubted that they must occasionally, as 

suggested by Lyell, have transported seeds from one part 


to another of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and during 
the Glacial period from one part of the now temperate 
regions to another. In the Azores, from the large num- 
ber of plants common to Europe, in comparison with the 
species on the other islands of the Atlantic, which stand 
nearer to the mainland, and (as remarked by Mr. H. C. 
Watson) from their somewhat northern character in 
comparison with the latitude, I suspected that these 
islands had been partly stocked by ice-borne seeds during 
the Glacial epoch, 


p 129 These means of transport are sometimes 

called accidental, but this is not strictly cor- 
rect ; the currents of the sea are not accidental, nor is 
the direction of prevalent gales of wind. It should be 
observed that scarcely any means of transport would carry 
seeds for very great distances : for seeds do not retain 
their vitality when exposed for a great length of time to 
the action of sea- water ; nor could they be long carried 
in the crops or intestines of birds. These means, how- 
ever, would suffice for occasional transport across tracts 
of sea some hundred miles in breadth, or from island to 
island, or from a continent to a neighboring island, but 
not from one distant continent to another. The floras of 
distant continents would not by such means become min- 
gled ; but would remain as distinct as they now are. The 
currents, from their course, would never bring seeds from 
North America to Britain, though they might and do bring 
seeds from the West Indies to our western shores, where, 
if not killed by their very long immersion in salt-water, 
they could not endure our climate. Almost every year, 
one or two land-birds are blown across the whole Atlantic 


Ocean, from North America to the western shores of Ire- 
land and England ; but seeds could be transported by these 
rare wanderers only by one means, namely, by dirt ad- 
hering to their feet or beaks, which is in itself a rare acci- 
dent. Even in this case, how small would be the chance 
of a seed falling on favorable soil and coming to maturity ! 
But it would be a great error to argue that, because a well- 
stocked island, like Great Britain, has not, as far as is 
known (and it would be very difficult to prove this), re- 
ceived within the last few centuries, through occasional 
means of transport, immigrants from Europe or any 
other continent, a poorly-stocked island, though standing 
more remote from the mainland, would not receive col- 
onists by similar means. Out of a hundred kinds of seeds 
or animals transported to an island, even if far less well- 
stocked than Britain, perhaps not more than one would 
be so well fitted to its new home as to become natural- 
ized. But this is no valid argument against what would 
be effected by occasional means of transport, during the 
long lapse of geological time, while the island was being 
upheaved, and before it had become fully stocked with 
inhabitants. On almost bare land, with few or no de- 
structive insects or birds living there, nearly every seed 
which chanced to arrive, if fitted for the climate, would 
germinate and survive. 


The Glacial period is defined "as a period 
* of great cold and of enormous extension of ice 
upon the surface of the earth. It is believed that glacial 
periods have occurred repeatedly during the geological 
history of the earth, but the term is generally applied to 
the close of the Tertiary epoch, when nearly the whole of 
^Europe was subjected to an Arctic climate." 


Origin of The identity of many plants and animals. 

Species, on mountain-summits, separated from each 
^^°® ■ other by hundreds of miles of lowlands, where 
Alpine species could not possibly exist, is one of the most 
striking cases known of the same species living at distant 
points, without the apparent possibility of their haying 
migrated from one point to the other. It is indeed a 
remarkable fact to see so many plants of the same species 
living on the snowy regions of the Alps or Pyrenees, and 
in the extreme northern parts of Europe ; but it is far 
more remarkable that the plants on the White Mountains, 
in the United States of America, are all the same with 
those of Labrador, and nearly all the same, as we hear 
from Asa Gray, with those on the loftiest mountains of 
Europe. Even as long ago as 1747 such facts led Gmelin 
to conclude that the same species must have been inde- 
pendently created at many distinct points ; and we might 
have remained in this same belief, had not Agassiz and 
others called vivid attention to the Glacial period, which, 
as we shall immediately see, affords a simple explanation 
of these facts. We have evidence of almost every con- 
ceivable kind, organic and inorganic, that, within a very 
recent geological period. Central Europe and North Amer- 
ica suffered under an Arctic climate. The ruins of a 
house burned by fire do not tell their tale more plainly 
than do the mountains of Scotland and Wales, with their 
scored flanks, polished surfaces, and perched bowlders, 
of the icy streams with which their valleys were lately 
filled. So greatly has the climate of Europe changed, 
that in Northern Italy gigantic moraines, left by 
old glaciers, are now clothed by the vine and maize. 
Throughout a large part of the United States erratic 
bowlders and scored rocks plainly reveal a former cold 


The former influence of the glacial climate on the dis- 
tribution of the inhabitants of Europe, as explained by 
Edward Forbes, is substantially as follows. But we shall 
follow the changes more readily by supposing a new gla- 
cial period slowly to come on, and then pass away, as 
formerly occurred. As the cold came on, and as each 
more southern zone became fitted for the inhabitants of 
the north, these would take the places of the former in- 
habitants of the temperate regions. The latter, at the 
same time, would travel farther and farther southward, 
unless they were stopped by barriers, in which case they 
would perish. The mountains would become covered 
with snow and ice, and their former Alpine inhabitants 
would descend to the plains. By the time that the cold 
had reached its maximum, we should have an Arctic fauna 
and flora, covering the central parts of Europe, as far 
south as the Alps and Pyrenees, and even stretching into 
Spain. The now temperate regions of the United States 
would likewise be covered by Arctic plants and animals, 
and these would be nearly the same with those of Europe ; 
for the present circumpolar inhabitants, which we suppose 
to have everywhere traveled southward, are remarkably 
uniform round the world. 

As the warmth returned, the Arctic forms would re- 
treat northward, closely followed up in their retreat by the 
productions of the more temperate regions. And, as the 
snow melted from the bases of the mountains, the Arctic 
forms would seize on the cleared and thawed ground, 
always ascending, as the warmth increased and the snow 
still further disappeared, higher and higher, while their 
brethren were pursuing their northern journey. Hence, 
when the warmth had fully returned, the same species, 
which had lately lived together on the European and 
North American lowlands, would again be found in the 


Arctic regions of the Old and New Worlds, and on many 
isolated mountain-summits far distant from each other. 

Thus we can understand the identity of many plants 
at points so immensely remote as the mountains of the 
United States and those of Europe. 


„ „„, As on the land, so in the waters of the sea. 

Page 334. ... . 

a slow southern migration of a marine fauna, 

which, during the Pliocene or even a somewhat earlier 
period, was nearly uniform along the continuous shores of 
the Polar Circle, will account, on the theory of modifica- 
tion, for many closely allied forms now living in marine 
areas completely sundered. Thus, I think, we can under- 
stand the presence of some closely allied, still existing and 
extinct tertiary forms on the eastern and western shores 
of temperate North America ; and the still more striking 
fact of many closely allied crustaceans (as described in 
Dana's admirable work), some fish and other marine ani- 
mals, inhabiting the Mediterranean and the seas of Japan 
— these two areas being now completely separated by the 
breadth of a whole continent and by wide spaces of ocean. 
These cases of close relationship in species either now 
or formerly inhabiting the seas on the eastern and west- 
em shores of North America, the Mediterranean and 
Japan, and the temperate lands of North America and 
Europe, are inexplicable on the theory of creation. "We 
can not maintain that such species have been created 
alike, in correspondence with the nearly similar physical 
conditions of the areas ; for, if we compare, for instance, 
certain parts of South America with parts of South Africa 
or Australia, we see countries closely similar in all their 
physical conditions, with their inhabitants utterly dis- 



Mr. Croll, in a series of admirable memoirs, 
*° ■ has attempted to show that a glacial condition 
of climate is the result of various physical causes, brought 
into operation by an increase in the eccentricity of the 
earth's orbit. All these causes tend toward the same end ; 
but the most powerful appears to be the indirect influence 
of the eccentricity of the orbit upon oceanic currents. 
According to Mr. Croll, cold periods regularly recur eyery 
ten to fifteen thousand years ; and these at long intervals 
are extremely severe, owing to certain contingencies, of 
which the most important, as Sir C. Lyell has shown, is 
the relative position of the land and water. Mr. Croll 
believes that the last great Glacial period occurred about 
two hundred and forty thousand years ago, and endured 
with slight alterations of climate for about one hundred 
and sixty thousand years. With respect to more ancient 
Glacial periods, several geologists are convinced from di- 
rect evidence that such occurred during the Miocene and 
Eocene formations, not to mention still more ancient for- 
mations. But the most important result for us, arrived 
at by Mr. Croll, is that, whenever the northern hemisphere 
passes through a cold period, the temperature of the 
southern hemisphere is actually raised, with the winters 
rendered much milder, chiefly through changes in the 
direction of the ocean-currents. So conversely it will be 
with the northern hemisphere, while the southern passes 
through a glacial period. This conclusion throws so 
much light on geographical distribution that I am strong- 
ly inclined to trust in it. 


I am far from supposing that all the diffi- 
culties in regard to the distribution and affini- 
ties of the identical and allied species, which now live so 
widely separated in the north and south, and sometimes 
on the intermediate mountain-ranges, are removed on the 
views above given. The exact lines of migration can not 
be indicated. We can not say why certain species and 
not others have migrated ; why certain species have been 
modified and have given rise to new forms, while others 
have remained unaltered. "We can not hope to explain 
such facts, until we can say why one species and not an- 
other becomes naturalized by man's agency in a foreign 
land ; why one species ranges twice or thrice as far, and 
is twice or thrice as common, as another species within 
their own homes. 

Various special difficulties also remain to be solved ; 
for instance, the occurrence, as shown by Dr. Hooker, of 
the same plants at points so enormously remote as Ker- 
guelen Land, New Zealand, and Fuegia ; but icebergs, as 
suggested by Lyell, may have been concerned in their 
dispersal. The existence at these and other distant points 
of the southern hemisphere of species which, though 
distinct, belong to genera exclusively confined to the 
south, is a more remarkable case. Some of these species 
are so distinct that we can not suppose that there has 
been time since the commencement of the last Glacial 
period for their migration and subsequent modification to 
the necessary degree. The facts seem to indicate that 
distinct species belonging to the same genera have mi- 
grated in radiating lines from a common center ; and I 
am inclined to look in the southern, as in the northern 
hemisphere, to a former and warmer period, before the 


commencement of the last Glacial period, when the Ant- 
arctic lands, now covered with ice, supported a highly- 
peculiar and isolated flora. It may be suspected that, be- 
fore this flora was exterminated during the last Glacial 
epoch, a few forms had been already widely dispersed to 
yarious points of the southern hemisphere by occasional 
means of transport, and by the aid, as halting-places, of 
now sunken islands. Thus the southern shores of Amer- 
ica, Australia, and New Zealand, may have become slight- 
ly tinted by the same peculiar forms of life. 


Origin of The most striking and impoi-tant fact for 

Species, ^is is the affinity of the species which inhabit 
page » • islands to those of the nearest mainland, with- 
out being actually the same. Numerous instances could 
be given. The Galapagos Archipelago, situated under 
the equator, lies at the distance of between five hundred 
and six hundred miles from the shores of South America. 
Here almost every product of the land and of the water 
bears the unmistakable stamp of the American Continent. 
There are twenty-six land-birds ; of these, twenty-one or 
I)erhaps twenty-three are ranked as distinct species, and 
would commonly be assumed to have been here created ; 
yet the close affinity of most of these birds to American 
species is manifest in every character, in their habits, 
gestures, and tones of voice. So it is with the other ani- 
mals, and with a large proportion of the plants, as shown 
by Dr. Hooker in his admirable Flora of this archipelago. 
The naturalist, looking at the inhabitants of these vol- 
canic islands in the Pacific, distant several hundred miles 
from the continent, feels that he is standing on American 


land. Why should this be so ? why should the species 
which are supposed to have been created in the Galapagos 
Archipelago, and nowhere else, bear so plainly the stamp 
of affinity to those created in America ? There is nothing 
in the conditions of life, in the geological nature of the 
islands, in their height or climate, or in the proportions 
in which the several classes are associated together, which 
closely resembles the conditions of the South American 
coast ; in fact, there is a considerable dissimilarity in all 
these respects. On the other hand, there is a consider- 
able degree of resemblance in the volcanic nature of the 
soil, in the climate, height, and size of the islands, be- 
tween the Galapagos and Cape de Verd Archipelagos ; 
but what an entire and absolute difference in their inhab- 
itants ! The inhabitants of the Cape de Verd Islands 
are related to those of Africa, like those of the Galapagos 
to America. Facts such as these admit of no sort of ex- 
planation on the ordinary view of independent creation ; 
whereas, on the view here maintained, it is obvious that 
the Galapagos Islands would be likely to receive colonists 
from America, whether by occasional means of transport 
or (though I do not believe in this doctrine) by formerly 
continuous land, and the Cape de Verd Islands from 
Africa ; such colonists would be liable to modification, 
the principle of inheritance still betraying their original 

Many analogous facts could be given : indeed, it is an 
almost universal rule that the endemic productions of 
islands are related to those of the nearest continent, or of 
the nearest large island. The exceptions are few, and 
most of them can be explained. Thus, although Ker- 
guelen Land stands nearer to Africa than to America, the 
plants are related, and that very closely, as we know from 
Dr. Hooker's account, to those of America : but, on the 


view that this island has been mainly stocked by seeds 
brought with earth and stones on icebergs, drifted by the 
prevailing currents, this anomaly disappears. New Zea- 
land in its endemic plants is much more closely related 
to Australia, the nearest mainland, than to any other re- 
gion : and this is what might have been expected ; but 
it is also plainly related to South America, which, al- 
though the next nearest continent, is so enormously re- 
mote that the fact becomes an anomaly. But this diffi- 
culty partially disappears on the view that New Zealand, 
South America, and the other southern lands have been 
stocked in part from a nearly intermediate though distant 
point, namely, from the Antarctic islands, when they were 
clothed with vegetation, during a warmer tertiary period, 
before the commencement of the last Glacial period. The 
affinity, which, though feeble, I am assured by Dr. Hooker 
is real, between the flora of the southwestern comer of 
Australia and of the Cape of Good Hope, is a far more 
remarkable case ; but this affinity is confined to the 
plants, and wiU, no doubt, some day be explained. 



The Descent He who wishes to decide whether man is 
of Man, the modified descendant of some pre-exist- 
^*°* ' ing form would probably first inquire whether 

man varies, however slightly, in bodily structure and in 
mental faculties ; and, if so, whether the variations are 
transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws 
which prevail with the lower animals. Again, are the 
variations the result, as far as our ignorance permits us to 
judge, of the same general causes, and are they governed 
by the same general laws, as in the case of other organ- 
isms ; for instance, by correlation, the inherited effects of 
use and disuse, etc. ? Is man subject to similar malcon- 
formations, the result of arrested development, of redu- 
plication of parts, etc. , and does he display in any of his 
anomalies reversion to some former and ancient type of 
structure ? It might also naturally be inquired whether 
man, like so many other animals, has given rise to vari- 
eties and sub-races, differing but slightly from each other, 
or to races differing so much that they must be classed 
as doubtful species. How are such races distributed 
over the woi:ld ; and how, when crossed, do they react on 
each other in the first and succeeding generations ? And 
so with many other points. 


The inquirer would next come to the important point 
whether man tends to increase at so rapid a rate as to lead 
to occasional severe struggles for existence ; and conse- 
quently to beneficial Tariations, whether in body or mind, 
being preserved, and injurious ones eliminated. Do the 
races or species of men, whichever term may be applied, 
encroach on and replace one another, so that some finally 
become extinct ? We shall see that all these questions, as 
indeed is obvious in respect to most of them, must be 
answered in the aflannative, in the same manner as with 
the lower animals. 


The Descent I* is notorious that man is constructed on 
of Man, the same general type or model as other mam- 
■ mals. All the bones in his skeleton can be 

compared with corresponding bones in a monkey, bat, or 
seal. So it is with his muscles, nerves, blood-vessels, and 
internal viscera. The brain, the most important of all 
the organs, follows the same law, as shown by Huxley and 
other anatomists. Bischoff, who is a hostile witness, ad- 
mits that every chief fissure and fold in the brain of man 
has its analogy in that of the orang ; but he adds that at 
no period of development do their brains perfectly agree ; 
nor could perfect agreement be expected, for otherwise 
their mental powers would have been the same. 

Man is liable to receive from the lower ^imals, and 
to communicate to them, certain diseases, as hydropho- 
bia, variola, the glanders, syphilis, cholera, herpes, etc. ; 
and this fact proves the close similarity of their tissues 
and blood, both in minute structure and composition, far 
more plainly than does their comparison under the best 


microscope, or by the aid of the best chemical analysis. 
Monkeys are liable to many of the same non-contagious 
diseases as we are ; thus Eengger, who carefully observed 
for a long time the Cehus AzarcB in its native land, found 
it liable to catarrh, with the usual symptoms, and which, 
when often recurrent,, led to consumption. These mon- 
keys suffered also from apoplexy, inflammation of the 
bowels, and cataract in the eye. The younger ones when 
shedding their milk-teeth often died from fever. Medi- 
cines produced the same effect on them as on us. Many 
kinds of monkeys have a strong taste for tea, coffee, and 
spirituous liquors : they will also, as I have myself seen, 
smoke tobacco with pleasure. Brehm asserts that the 
natives of JSTortheastern Africa catch the wild baboons by 
exposing vessels with strong beer, by which they are made 
drunk. He has seen some of these animals, which he 
kept in confinement, in this state ; and he gives a laugha- 
ble account of their behavior and strange grimaces. On 
the following morning they were very cross and dismal ; 
they held their aching heads with both hands, and wore 
a most pitiable expression : when beer or wine was offered 
them, they turned away with disgust, but relished the 
juice of lemons. An American monkey, an Ateles, after 
getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and 
thus was wiser than many men. These trifling facts 
prove how similar the nerves of taste must be in monkeys 
and man, and how similarly their whole nervous system 
is affected. 

Man is infested with internal parasites, sometimes 
causing fatal effects ; and is plagued by external para- 
sites, all of which belong to the same genera or families 
as those infesting other mammals, and in the case of 
scabies to the same species. Man is subject, like other 
mammals, birds, and even insects, to that mysterious law 



which causes certain normal processes, such as gestation, 
as "well as the maturation and duration of yarious dis- 
eases, to follow lunar periods. His wounds are repaired 
by the same process of healing ; and the stumps left after 
the amputation of his limbs, especially during an early 
embryonic period, occasionally poagess some power of re- 
generation, as in the lowest animals. 

Man is developed from an ovule, about the 
125th of an inch in diameter, which differs in 
no respect from the ovules of other animals. The embryo 
itself at a very early period can hardly be distinguished 
from that of other members of the vertebrate kingdom. 
At this period the arteries run in arch-like branches, as if 
to carry the blood to branchi^ which are not present in 
the higher vertebrata, though the slits on the side of the 
neck still remain, marking their former position. At a 
somewhat later period, when the extremities are developed, 
"the feet of lizards and mammals," as the illustrious Von 
Baer remarks, *' the wings and feet of birds, no less than 
the hands and feet of man, all arise from the same funda- 
mental form." It is, says Professor Huxley, "quite in 
the later stages of development that the young human 
being presents marked differences from the young ape, 
while the latter departs as much from the dog in its de- 
velopments as the man does. Startling as this last asser- 
tion may appear to be, it is demonstrably true." 


Origin of This is one of the most important subjects 

Species, (embryology) in the whole round of natural 

^ ■ history. The metamorphoses of insects, with 

which everyone is familiar, are generally effected abruptly 



by a few stages ; but the transformations are in reality 
numerous and gradual, though concealed. A certain 
ephemerous insect {Chloeon), during its deyelopment, 
molts, as shown by Sir J. Lubbock, above twenty times, 
and each time undergoes a certain amount of change ; 
and in this case we see the act of metamorphosis per- 
formed in a primary and gradual manner. Many insects, 
and especially certain crustaceans, show us what wonder- 
ful changes of structure can be effected during develop- 
ment. Such changes, however, reach their climax in the 
so-called alternate generations of some of the lower ani- 
mals. It is, for instance, an astonishing fact that a deli- 
cate branching coralline, studded with i^olypi and attached 
to a submarine rock, should produce, first by budding 
and then by transverse division, a host of huge floating 
jelly-fishes ; and that these should produce eggs, from 
which are hatched swimming animalcules, which attach 
themselves to rocks, and become developed into branch- 
ing corallines ; and so on in an endless cycle. The belief 
in the essential identity of the jirocess of alternate gen- 
eration and of ordinary metamorphosis has been greatly 
strengthened by Wagner's discovery of the larva or mag- 
got of a fly, namely, the Cecidomyia, producing asexually 
other larvae, and these others, which finally are developed 
into mature males and females, propagating their kind in 
the ordinary manner by eggs. 

p ^ It has been already stated that various parts 
in the same individual, which are exactly alike 
during an early embryonic period, become widely different 
and serve for widely different purposes in the adult state. 
So, again, it has been shown that generally the embryos 
of the most distinct species belonging to the same class are 
closely similar, but become, when fully developed, widely 


dissimilar. A better proof of this latter fact can not be 
given than the statement by Yon Baer that "the em- 
bryos of mammalia, of birds, lizards, and snakes, prob- 
ably also of chelonia, are in their earliest states exceed- 
ingly like one another, both as a whole and in the mode 
of development of their parts ; so much so, in fact, that 
we can often distinguish the embryos only by their size. 
In my possession are two little embryos in spirit, whose 
names I have omitted to attach, and at present I am 
quite unable to say to what class they belong. They may 
be lizards or small birds, or very young mammalia, so 
complete is the similarity in the mode of formation of 
the head and trunk in these animals. The extremities, 
however, are still absent in these embryos. But, even if 
they had existed in the earliest stage of their develop- 
ment, we should learn nothing, for the feet of lizards and 
mammals, the wings and feet of birds, no less than the 
hands and feet of man, all arise from the same funda- 
mental form." The larv» of most crustaceans, at corre- 
sponding stages of development, closely resemble each 
other, however different the adults may become ; and so 
it is with very many other animals. A trace of the law of 
embryonic resemblance occasionally lasts till a rather late 
age : thus birds of the same genus, and of allied genera, 
often resemble each other in their immature plumage ; as 
we see in the spotted feathers in the young of the thrush 
group. In the cat tribe, most of the species when adult 
are striped or spotted in lines ; and stripes or spots can 
be plainly distinguished in the whelp of the lion and the 
puma. We occasionally though rarely see something of 
the same kind in plants ; thus the first leaves of the ulex 
or furze, and the first leaves of the phyllodineous acacias, 
are pinnate or divided like the ordinary leaves of the 


•r. „«^ How, then, can we explain these several 

Pqiyp 390 

° " facts in embryology — namely, the very general, 
though not universal, difference in structure between the 
embryo and the adult ; the various parts in the same in- 
dividual embryo, which ultimate become very unlike and 
serve for diverse purposes, being at an early period of 
growth alike ; the common, but not invariable, resem- 
blance between the embryos or larvae of the most distinct 
species in the same class ; the embryo often retaining, 
while within the egg or womb, structures which are of no 
service to it, either at that or at a later period of life ; 
on the other hand, larvae, which have to provide for their 
own wants, being perfectly adapted to the surrounding 
conditions ; and, lastly, the fact of certain larvae stand- 
ing higher in the scale of organization than the mature 
animal into which they are developed ? I believe that all 
these facts can be explained as follows : 

It is commonly assumed, perhaps from monstrosities 
affecting the embryo at a very early period, that slight 
variations or individual differences necessarily appear at 
an equally early period. We have little evidence on this 
head, but what we have certainly points the other way ; 
for it is notorious that breeders of cattle, horses, and 
various fancy animals, can not positively tell, until some 
time after birth, what will be the merits or demerits of 
their young animals. We see this plainly in our own chil- 
dren ; we can not tell whether a child will be tall or short, 
or what its precise features will be. The question is not, 
at what period of life each variation may have been 
caused, but at what period the effects are displayed. The 
cause may have acted, and I believe often has acted, on 
one or both parents before the act of generation. It de- 


serves notice that it is of no importance to a yerj young 
animal, as long as it remains in its mother's womb or in 
the egg, or as long as it is nourished and protected by its 
parent, whether most of its characters are acquired a 
little earlier or later in life. It would not signify, for in- 
stance, to a bird which obtained its food by having a 
much-curved beak whether or not while young it pos- 
sessed a beak of this shape, as long as it was fed by its 

I have stated in the first chapter that at whatever age 
a variation first appears in the parent, it tends to reappear 
at a corresponding age in the offspring. Certain varia- 
tions can only appear at corresponding ages ; for instance, 
peculiarities in the caterpillar, cocoon, or imago states 
of the silk-moth ; or, again, in the full-grown horns of 
cattle. But variations, which, for all that we can see, 
might have first appeared either earlier or later in life, 
likewise tend to reappear at a corresponding age in the 
offspring and parent. I am far from meaning that this 
m is invariably the case, and I could give several exceptional 
■t cases of variations (taking the word in the largest sense) 
Bwhich have supervened at an earlier age in the child than 
^in the parent. 

These two principles, namely, that slight variations 
generally appear at a not very early period of life, and are 
inherited at a corresponding not early period, explain, as 
I believe, all the above specified leading facts in embry- 


Origin of Unless we admit transformations as pro- 

Species, digious as those advocated by Mr. Mivart, such 
^*°'^ ■ as the sudden development of the wings of 
birds or bats, or the sudden conversion of a Hipparion 


into a horse, hardly any light is thrown by the belief in 
abrupt modifications on the deficiency of connecting links 
in our geological formations. But against the belief in 
such abrupt changes embryology enters a strong protest. 
It is notorious that the wings of birds and bats, and the 
legs of horses or other quadrupeds, are undistinguishable 
at an early embryonic period, and that they become differ- 
entiated by insensibly fine steps. Embryological resem- 
blances of all kinds can be accounted for, as we shall 
hereafter see, by the progenitors of our existing species 
having varied after early youth, and having transmitted 
their newly acquired characters to their offspring at a 
corresponding age. The embryo is thus left almost un- 
affected, and serves as a record of the past condition of 
the species. Hence it is that existing species during the 
early stages of their development so often resemble an- 
cient and extinct forms belonging to the same class. On 
this view of the meaning of embryological resemblances, 
and indeed on any view, it is incredible that an animal 
should have undergone such momentous and abrupt trans- 
formations as those above indicated, and yet should not 
bear even a trace in its embryonic condition of any sud- 
den modification, every detail in its structure being de- 
veloped by insensibly fine steps. 

He who believes that some ancient form was trans- 
formed suddenly through an internal force or tendency 
into, for instance, one furnished with wings, will be al- 
most compelled to assume, in opposition to all analogy, 
that many individuals varied simultaneously. It can not 
be denied that such abrujit and great changes of struct- 
ure are widely different from those which most species 
apparently have undergone. He will further be com- 
pelled to believe that many structures beautifully adapted 
to all the other parts of the same creature and to the 


surrounding conditions, hare been suddenly produced; 
and of such complex and wonderful coadaptations he 
will not be able to assign a shadow of an explanation. 
He will be forced to admit that these great and sudden 
transformations hare left no trace of their action on the 
embryo. To admit all this is, as it seems to me, to enter 
into the realms of miracle, and to leave those of science. 


Descent of ^ot One of the higher animals can be 

Man, page named which does not bear some part in a <> 

rudimentary condition ; and man forms no ex- 
ception to the rule. Kudimentary organs must be dis- 
tinguished from those that are nascent, though in some 
cases the distinction is not easy. The former are either 
absolutely useless, such as the mammae of male quadru- 
peds, or the incisor teeth of ruminants which never cut 
through the gums ; or they are of such slight service to 
their present possessors that we can hardly suppose that 
they were developed under the conditions which now ex- 
ist. Organs in this latter state are not strictly rudiment- 
ary, but they are tending in this direction. Nascent 
organs, on the other hand, though not fully developed, 
are of high service to their possessors, and are capable of 
further development. Rudimentary organs are eminently 
variable ; and this is partly intelligible, as they are use- 
less, or nearly useless, and consequently are no longer 
subjected to natural selection. They often become wholly 
suppressed. When this occurs, they are nevertheless 
V liable to occasional reappearance through reversion — a 


Pace 12 Rudiments of various muscles have been 

observed in many parts of the human body ; 
and not a few muscles which are regularly present in 
some of the lower animals can occasionally be detected in 
man in a greatly reduced condition. Every one must 
have noticed the power which many animals, especially 
horses, possess of moving or twitching their skin ; and 
this is effected by the panniculus carnosus. Remnants 
of this muscle in an efficient state are found in various 
parts of our bodies : for instance, the muscle on the fore- 
head, by which the eyebrows are raised. 

P "e 13 Some few persons have the power of con- 

tracting the superficial muscles on their scalps ; 
and these muscles are in a variable and partially rudiment- 
ary condition. M. A. de Candolle has communicated 
to me a curious instance of the long-continued persistence 
or inheritance of this power, as well as of its unusual 
development. He knows a family in which one member, 
the present head of the family, could, when a youth, 
pitch several heavy books from his head by the movement 
of the scalp alone ; and he won wagers by performing 
this feat. His father, uncle, grandfather, and his three 
children possess the same power to the same unusual de- 
gree. This family became divided eight generations ago 
into two branches ; so that the head of the above-men- 
tioned branch is cousin in the seventh degree to the head 
of the other branch. This distant cousin resides in an- 
other part of France ; and, on being asked whether he 
possessed the same faculty, immediately exhibited his 
power. This case offers a good illustration how persist- 
ent may be the transmission of an absolutely useless 
faculty, probably derived from our remote semi-human 
progenitors, since many monkeys have, and frequently 



use, the power of largely moying their scalps up and 

p ^ 2 It is well known that in the males of all 

mammals, including man, rudimentary mam- 
mae exist. These in several instances have become well 
developed, and have yielded a copious supply of mUk. 
Their essential identity in the two sexes is likewise shown 
by their occasional sympathetic enlargement in both dur- 
ing an attack of the measles. 


„ „, The homological construction of the whole 

Page 24. ° 

frame in the members of the same class is 
intelligible, if we admit their descent from a common 
progenitor, together with their subsequent adaptation to 
diversified conditions. On any other view, the similarity 
of pattern between the hand of a man or monkey, the 
foot of a horse, the flipper of a seal, the wing of a bat, 
etc., is utterly inexplicable. It is no scientific explana- 
tion to assert that they have all been formed on the same 
ideal plan. With respect to development, we can clearly 
understand, on the principle of variations supervening at 
a rather late embryonic period, and being inherited at a 
corresponding period, how it is that the embryos of won- 
derfully different forms should still retain, more or less 
perfectly, the structure of their common progenitor. No 
other explanation has ever been given of the marvelous 
fact that the embryos of a man, dog, seal, bat, reptile, 
etc., can at first hardly be distinguished from each other. 
In order to understand the existence of rudimentary 
organs, we have only to suppose that a former progenitor 
possessed the parts in question in a perfect state, and that 



under changed habits of life they became greatly reduced, 
either from simple disuse or through the natural selection 
of those individuals which were least encumbered with a 
superfluous part, aided by the other means previously 

Thus we can understand how it has come to pass that 
man and all other vertebrate animals have been con- 
structed on the same general model, why they pass 
through the same early stages of development, and why 
they retain certain rudiments in common. Consequently 
we ought frankly to admit their community of descent ; 
to take any other view is to admit that our own struct- 
ure, and that of all the animals around us, is a mere snare 
laid to entrap our judgment. This conclusion is greatly 
strengthened, if we look to the members of the whole 
animal series, and consider the evidence derived from 
their affinities or classification, their geographical distri- 
bution, and geological succession. It is only our natural 
prejudice and that arrogance which made our forefathers 
declare that they were descended from demi-gods which 
leads us to demur to this conclusion. But the time will 
before long come when it will be thought wonderful that 
naturalists, who were well acquainted with the compara- 
tive structure and development of man and other mam- 
mals, should have believed that each was the work of a 
separate act of creation. 


Orioin of ^® ^^^® ^^^ *^^^ *^® members of the same 

Species, class, independently of their habits of life, re- 
page 882. gembie each other in the general plan of their 
^ organization. This resemblance is often expressed by the 
term "unity of type"; or by saying that the several 


parts and organs in the different species of the class are 
homologous. The whole subject is included under the 
general term of Morphology. This is one of the most in- 
teresting departments of natural history, and may almost 
be said to be its very soul. What can be more curious 
than that the hand of a man, formed for grasping, that 
of a mole for digging, the leg of the horse, the paddle of 
the porpoise, and the wing of the bat, should all be con- 
structed on the same pattern, and should include similar 
bones, in the same relatiye positions ? How curious it is, 
to give a subordinate though striking instance, that the 
hind-feet of the kangaroo, which are so well fitted for 
bounding over the open plains, those of the chmbing, 
leaf-eating koala, equally well fitted for grasping the 
branches of trees, those of the ground-dwelling, insect or 
root eating, bandicoots, and those of some other Austra- 
lian marsupials, should all be constructed on the same ex- 
traordinary type, namely, with the bones of the second 
and third digits extremely slender and enreloped within 
the same skin, so that they appear like a single toe fur- 
nished with two claws ! Notwithstanding this similarity 
of pattern, it is obvious that the hind-feet of these several 
animals are used for as widely different purposes as it is 
possible to conceive. The case is rendered all the more 
striking by the American opossums, which follow nearly 
the same habits of life as some of their Australian rela- 
tives, having feet constructed on the ordinary plan. Pro- 
fessor Flower, from whom these statements are taken, 
remarks in conclusion, " "We may call this conformity to 
type, without getting much nearer to an explanation of 
the phenomenon"; and he then adds, '*but is it not 
powerfully suggestive of true relationship, of inheritance 
from a common ancestor ? " 


How inexplicable are the cases of serial 
° ' homologies on the ordinary view of creation I 
Why should the brain be inclosed in a box composed of 
Buch numerous and such extraordinarily shaped pieces of 
bone, apparently representing vertebrae ? As Owen has re- 
marked, the benefit derived from the yielding of the sepa- 
rate pieces in the act of parturition by mammals will by 
no means explain the same construction in the skulls of 
birds and reptiles. Why should similar bones have been 
created to form the wing and the leg of a bat, used as 
they are for such totally different purposes, namely, fly- 
ing and walking ? Why should one crustacean, which 
has an extremely complex mouth formed of many parts, 
consequently always have fewer legs ; or conversely, those 
with many legs have simpler mouths ? Why should the 
sepals, petals, stamens, and pistils, in each flower, though 
fitted for such distinct purposes, be all constructed on the 
same pattern ? 

On the theory of natural selection, we can, to a cer- 
tain extent, answer these questions. We need not here 
consider how the bodies of some animals first became di- 
vided into a series of segments, or how they became di- 
vided into right and left sides, with corresponding organs, 
for such questions are almost beyond investigation. It is, 
however, probable that some serial structures are the re- 
sult of cells multiplying by division, entailing the multi- 
plication of the parts developed from such cells. It must 
suflice for our purpose to bear in mind that an indefinite 
repetition of the same part or organ is the common char- 
acteristic, as Owen has remarked, of all low or little spe- 
cialized forms ; therefore the unknown progenitor of the 
Vertebrata probably possessed many vertebrse ; the un- 


known progenitor of the Articulata, many segments ; and 
the nnknown progenitor of flowering plants, many leaves 
arranged in one or more spires. "We have also formerly 
seen that parts many times repeated are eminently liable 
to vary, not only in number, but in form. Consequently 
such parts being already present in considerable numbers, 
and being highly variable, would naturally afford the 
materials for adaptation to the most different purposes ; 
yet they would generally retain, through the force of in- 
heritance, plain traces of their original or fundamental 
resemblance. They would retain this resemblance all the 
more, as the variations, which afforded the basis for their 
subsequent modification through natural selection, would 
tend from the first to be similar, the parts being at an 
early stage of growth alike, and being subjected to nearly 
the same conditions. Such parts, whether more or less 
modified, unless their common origin became wholly ob- 
scured, would be serially homologous. 


Griffin of ^^ works on natural history, rudimentary 

Species, organs are generally said to have been created 
page 400. ttf^j. ^.j^g ^^^^ ^f symmetry," or in order "to 

complete the scheme of Nature." But this is not an ex- 
planation, merely a restatement of the fact. Xor is it 
consistent with itself : thus the boa-constrictor has rudi- 
ments of hind-limbs and of a pelvis, and if it be said that 
these bones have been retained " to complete the scheme 
of Nature," why, as Professor Weismann asks, have they 
not been retained by other snakes, which do not possess 
even a vestige of these same bones ? "What would be 
thought of an astronomer who maintained that the satel- 


the sake of symmetry," because the planets thus reYolve 
round the sun ? An eminent physiologist accounts for 
the presence of rudimentary organs, by supposing that 
they serve to excrete matter in excess, or matter injurious 
to the system ; but can we suppose that the minute pa- 
pilla, which often represents the pistil in male flowers, 
and which is formed of mere cellular tissue, can thus act ? 
Can we suppose that rudimentary teeth, which are subse- 
quently absorbed, are beneficial to the rapidly growing 
embryonic calf by remoying matter so precious as phos- 
phate of lime ? When a man's fingers have been ampu- 
tated, imperfect nails have been known to appear on the 
stumps, and I could as soon believe that these vestiges of 
nails are developed in order to excrete horny matter, as 
that the rudimentary nails on the fin of the manatee have 
been developed for this same purpose. 

On the view of descent with modification, the origin 
of rudimentary organs is coniparatively simple ; and we 
can understand to a large extent the laws governing their 
imperfect development. 


Q- -^Qf Organs in a rudimentary condition plainly 

Species, show that an early progenitor had the organ 
page 424. ^^ ^ fuUy-developed condition; and this in 
some cases implies an enormous amount of modification 
in the descendants. Throughout whole classes various 
structures are formed on the same pattern, and at a very 
early age the embryos closely resemble each other. There- 
fore I can not doubt that the theory of descent with modi- 
fication embraces all the members of the same great class 
or kingdom. I believe that animals are descended froi 


at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an 
equal or lesser number. 

> Analogy would lead me one step further, namely, to 
the belief that all animals and plants are descended from 
some one prototype. But analogy may be a deceitful 
guide. ^Nevertheless, all living things have much in com- 
mon, in their chemical composition, their cellular struct- 
ure, their laws of growth, and their liability to injurious 
influences. "We see this even in so trifling a fact as that 
the same poison often similarly affects plants and ani- 
mals ; or that the poison secreted by the gall-fly produces 
monstrous growths on the wild-rose or oak-tree. With 
all organic beings, excepting, perhaps, some of the very 
lowest, sexual reproduction seems to be essentially simi- 
lar. With all, as far as is at present known, the germinal 
vesicle is the same ; so that all organisms start from a 
common origin. If we look even to the two main divis- 
ions — ^namely, to the animal and vegetable kingdoms — 
certain low forms are so far intermediate in character 
that naturalists have disputed to which kingdom they 
should be referred. As Professor Asa Gray has re- 
marked, "the spores and other reproductive bodies of 
many of the lower algse may claim to have first a charac- 
teristically animal, and then an unequivocally vegetable 
existence." Therefore, on the principle of natural selec- 
tion with divergence of character, it does not seem in- 
credible that, from some such low and intermediate form, 
both animals and plants may have been developed ; and, 
if we admit this, we must likewise admit that all the 
organic beings which have ever lived on this earth may 
be descended from some one primordial form. But this 
inference is chiefly grounded on analogy, and it is imma- 
terial whether or not it be accepted. 



p On the yiew of each organism with all its 

separate parts having been specially created, 
how utterly inexplicable is it that organs bearing the 
plain stamp of inutility, such as the teeth in the embry- 
onic calf, or the shriveled wings under the soldered wing- 
covers of many beetles, should so frequently occur ! Na- 
ture may be said to have taken pains to reveal her scheme 
of modification, by means of rudimentary organs, of em- 
bryological and homologous structures, but we are too 
blind to understand her meaning. 


OriKin of There remains, however, this difficulty. 

Species, After an organ has ceased being used, and has 

page 4 1. 'hecome in consequence much reduced, how 
can it be still further reduced in size until the merest 
vestige is left ; and how can it be finally quite obliterated ? 
It is scarcely possible that disuse can go on producing any 
further effect after the organ has once been rendered 
functionless. Some additional explanation is here requi- 
site which I can not give. If, for instance, it could be 
proved that every part of the organization tends to vary 
in a greater degree toward diminution than toward aug- 
mentation of size, then we should be able to understand 
how an organ which has become useless would be ren- 
dered, independently of the effects of disuse, rudimentary, 
and would at last be wholly suppressed ; for the variations 
toward diminished size would no longer be checked by 
natural selection. The principle of the economy of 
growth, explained in a former chapter, by which the ma- 
terials forming any part, if not useful to the possessor, 
are saved as far as is possible, will perhaps come into play 



in rendering a useless part rudimentary. But this prin- 
ciple will almost necessarily be confined to the earlier 
stages of the process of reduction ; for we can not sup- 
pose that a minute papilla, for instance, representing in 
a male flower the pistil of the female flower, and formed 
merely of cellular tissue, could be further reduced or 
absorbed for the sake of economizing nutriment. 

Finally, as rudimentary organs, by whatever steps 
they may hare been degraded into their present useless 
condition, are the record of a former state of things, and 
have been retained solely through the power of inherit- 
ance, we can understand, on the genealogical view of 
classification, how it is that systematists, in placing or- 
ganisms in their proper places in the natural system, 
have often found rudimentary parts as useful as, or even 
sometimes more useful than, parts of high physiological 
importance. Eudimentary organs may be compared with 
the letters in a word, still retained in the spelling, but 
become useless in the pronunciation, but which serve as 
a clew for its derivation. On the view of descent with 
modification, we may conclude that the existence of organs 
in a rudimentary, imperfect, and useless condition, or 
quite aborted, far from presenting a strange difficulty, as 
they assuredly do on the old doctrine of creation, might 
even have been anticipated in accordance with the views 
here explained. 


Descent According to a popular impression, the ab- 

of Man, sence of a tail is eminently distinctive of man ; 
***^ ' but, as those apes which come nearest to him 
are destitute of this organ, its disappearance does not 
relate exclusively to man. The tail often differs remark- 


ably in length within the same genus : thus in some spe-j 
cies of Macacus it is longer than the whole body, and is j 
formed of twenty-four yertebrae ; in others it consists of 
a scarcely visible stump, containing only three or four 
vertebrae. In some kinds of baboons there are twenty-five, 
while in the mandrill there are ten very small stunted cau- 
dal vertebrae, or, according to Cuvier, sometimes only five. 
The tail, whether it be long or short, almost always tapers 
toward the end ; and this, I presume, results from the 
atrophy of the terminal muscles, together with their ar- 
teries and nerves, through disuse, leading to the atrophy 
of the terminal bones. But no explanation can at present 
be given of the great diversity which often occurs in its 
length. Here, however, we are more specially concerned 
with the complete external disappearance of the tail. 
Professor Broca has recently shown that the tail in all 
quadrupeds consists of two portions, generally separated 
abruptly from each other ; the basal portion consists of 
vertebrae, more or less perfectly channeled and furnished 
with apophyses like ordinary vertebrae ; whereas those 
of the terminal portion are not channeled, are almost 
smooth, and scarcely resemble true vertebrae. A tail, 
though not externally visible, is really present in man 
and the anthropomorphous apes, and is constructed on 
exactly the same pattern in both. In the terminal jior- 
tion the vertebrae, constituting the os coccyx, are quite 
rudimentary, being much reduced in size and number. 
In the basal portion, the vertebraa are likewise few, are 
united firmly together, and are arrested in development ; 
but they have been rendered much broader and flatter 
than the corresponding vertebrae in the tails of other ani- 
mals ; they constitute what Broca calls the accessory 
sacral vertebras. These are of functional importance by 
supporting certain internal parts and in other ways ; and 


their modification is directly connected with the erect or 
semi-erect attitude of man and the anthropomorphous 
es. This conclusion is the more trustworthy, as Broca 
rmerly held a different view, which he has now aban- 
doned. The modification, therefore, of the basal caudal 
vertebrae in man and the higher apes may hare been ef- 
fected, directly or indirectly, through natural selection. 

But what are we to say about the rudimentary and 
variable vertebrae of the terminal portion of the tail, 
forming the os coccyx? A notion which has often been, 
and will no doubt again be ridiculed, namely, that fric- 
tion has had something to do with the disappearance of 
the external portion of the tail, is not so ridiculous as it 
at first appears. Dr. Anderson states that the extremely 
short tail of Macacus brunneus is formed of eleven ver- 
tebrae, including the imbedded basal ones. The extremity 
is tendinous and contains no vertebrae ; this is succeeded 
by five rudimentary ones, so minute that together they 
are only one line and a half in length, and these are per- 
manently bent to one side in the shape of a hook. The 
free part of the tail, only a little above an inch in length, 
includes only four more small vertebrae. This short tail 
is carried erect ; but about a quarter of its total length is 
doubled on to itself to the left ; and this terminal part, 
which includes the hook-like portion, serves " to fill up 
the interspace between the upper divergent portion of the 
callosities " ; so that the animal sits on it, and thus renders 
it rough and callous. 


Descent ^ small Unimportant points of resem- 

of Man, blance between man and the Quadrumana are 
page loO. jjQ^ commonly noticed in systematic works, 
and as, when numerous, they clearly reveal our relation- 


ship, I will specify a few such points. The relative posi-| 
i^ tion of our features is manifestly the same ; and the vari- 
^ ous emotions are displayed by nearly similar movements 
of the muscles and skin, chiefly above the eyebrows and 
round the mouth. Some few expressions are, indeed, 
almost the same, as in the weeping of certain kinds of 
monkeys and in the laughing noise made by others, dur- 
ing which the corners of the mouth are drawn backward, 
and the lower eyelids wrinkled. The external ears are 
curiously alike. In man the nose is much more prominent 
than in most monkeys ; but we may trace the commence- 
ment of an aquiline curvature in the nose of the Hoolock 
Gibbon ; and this in the Semnopithecus nasica is carried 
to a ridiculous extreme. 

The faces of many monkeys are ornamented with 
beards, whiskers, or mustaches. The hair on the head 
grows to a great length in some species of Semnopithe- 
cus ; and in the Bonnet monkey {Macacus radiatus) it 
radiates from a point on the crown, with a parting down 
the middle. It is commonly said that the forehead gives 
I to man his noble and intellectual appearance ; but the 
thick hair on the head of the Bonnet monkey terminates 
downward abruptly, and is succeeded by hair so short and 
fine that at a little distance the forehead, with the excep- 
tion of the eyebrows, appears quite naked. It has been 
erroneously asserted that eyebrows are not present in any 
monkey. In the species just named the degree of naked- 
ness of the forehead differs in different individuals ; and 
Eschricht states that in our children the limit between 
the hairy scalp and the naked forehead is sometimes not 
well defined ; so that here we seem to have a trifling case 
of reversion to a progenitor, in whom the forehead had 
not as yet become quite naked. 
^ It is well known that the hair on our arms tends to 


converge from above and below to a point at the elbow. 
This curious arrangement, so unlike that in most of the 
lower mammals, is common to the gorilla, chimpanzee, 
orang, some species of Hylobates, and even to some few 
American monkeys. But in Hylobates agilis the hair on 
the fore-arm is directed downward or toward the wrist in 
the ordinary manner ; and in H. lar it is nearly erect, 
with only a very slight forward inclination ; so that in 
this latter species it is in a transitional state. It can 
hardly be doubted that with most mammals the thickness 
of the hair on the back and its direction are adapted to 
throw off the rain ; even the transverse hairs on the fore- 
legs of a dog may serve for this end when he is coiled 
up asleep. Mr. Wallace, who has carefully studied the 
habits of the orang, remarks that the convergence of the 
hair toward the elbow on the arms of the orang may be 
explained as serving to throw off the rain, for this animal 
during rainy weather sits with its arms bent, and with 
the hands clasped round a branch or over its head. Ac- 
cording to Livingstone, the gorilla also "sits in pelting 
rain with his hands over his head." If the above ex- 
planation is correct, as seems probable, the direction of 
the hair on our own arms offers a curious record of our 
former state ; for no one supposes that it is now of any 
use in throwing off the rain ; nor, in our present erect 
condition, is it properly directed for this purpose. 

p It must not be supposed that the resem- 

blances between man and certain apes in the 
above and many other points — such as in having a naked 
forehead, long tresses on the head, etc. — are all necessarily 
the result of unbroken inheritance from a common pro- 
genitor, or of subsequent reversion. Many of these re- 
semblances are more probably due to analogous variation. 


which follows, as I have elsewhere attempted to show, 
from co-descended organisms having a similar constitution, 
and having been acted on by like causes inducing similar 
modifications. With respect to the similar direction of 
the hair on the fore-arms of man and certain monkeys, 
as this character is common to almost all the anthropo- 
morphous apes, it may probably be attributed to inherit- 
ance ; but this is not certain, as some very distinct Ameri- 
can monkeys are thus characterized. 


Descent •"■*' ^^ manifest that man is now subject to 

of Man, much Variability. No two individuals of the 
P*^® ■ same race are quite alike. We may compare 
millions of faces, and each will be distinct. There is an 
equally great amount of diversity in the proportions and 
dimensions of the various parts of the body, the length 
of the legs being one of the most variable points. Al- 
though in some quarters of the world an elongated skull, 
and in other quarters a short skull prevails, yet there is 
great diversity of shape even within the limits of the 
same race, as with the aborigines of America and South 
Australia — the latter a race ''probably as pure and ho- 
mogeneous in blood, customs, and language as any in 
existence " — and even with the inhabitants of so confined 
an area as the Sandwich Islands. An eminent dentist 
assures me that there is nearly as much diversity in the 
teeth as in the features. The chief arteries so frequently 
run in abnormal courses, that it has been found useful 
for surgical purposes to calculate from 1,040 corpses how 
often each course prevails. The muscles are eminently 
variable : thus those of the foot were found by Professor 
Turner not to be strictly alike in any two out of fifty 



bodies ; and in some the deviations were considerable. 
He adds that the x>ower of performing the appropriate 
movements must have been modified in accordance with 
the several deviations. Mr. J. "Wood has recorded the 
occurrence of 295 muscular variations in thirty-six sub- 
jects, and in another set of the same number no less than 
558 variations, those occurring on both sides of the body 
being only reckoned as one. In the last set, not one body 
out of the thirty-six was " found totally wanting in de- 
partures from the standard descriptions of the muscular 
system given in anatomical text-books." A single body 
presented the extraordinary number of twenty-five dis- 
tinct abnormalities. The same muscle sometimes varies 
in many ways : thus Professor Macalister describes no 
less than twenty distinct variations in the palmaris ac- 


I Descent With respect to the causes of variability, 

' of Man, we are in all cases very ignorant ; but we can 
^^^^ ' see that in man, as in the lower animals, they 
stand in some relation to the conditions to which each 
species has been exposed during several generations. Do- 
mesticated animals vary more than those in a state of 
nature ; and this is apparently due to the diversified and 
changing nature of the conditions to which they have 
been subjected. In this respect the different races of 
man resemble domesticated animals, and so do the indi- 
viduals of the same race, when inhabiting a very wide 
area, like that of America. » We see the influence of di- 
versified conditions in the more civilized nations ; for the 
members belonging to different grades of rank, and fol- 

Iwing different occupations, present a greater range of 
1 ■ 


character than do the members of barbarous nations. 
But the uniformity of savages has often been exaggerat- 
ed, and in some cases can hardly be said to exist. It is, 
nevertheless, an error to speak of man, even if we look 
only to the conditions to which he has been exposed, as 
**far more domesticated" than any other animal. Some 
savage races, such as the Australians, are not exposed to 
more diversified conditions than are many species which 
have a wide range. In another and much more impor- 
tant respect, man differs widely from any strictly domes- 
ticated animal ; for his breeding has never long been con- 
trolled, either by methodical or unconscious selection. 
No race or body of men has been so completely subjugat- 
ed by other men as that certain individuals should be 
preserved, and thus unconsciously selected, from some- 
how excelling in utility to their masters. Nor have cer- 
tain male and female individuals been intentionally picked 
out and matched, except in the well-known case of the 
Prussian grenadiers ; and in this case man obeyed, as 
might have been expected, the law of methodical selec- 
tion ; for it is asserted that many tall men were reared 
in the villages inhabited by the grenadiers and their tall 
wives. In Sparta, also, a form of selection was followed, 
for it was enacted that all children should be examined 
shortly after birth ; the well-formed and vigorous being 
preserved, the others left to perish. 

If we consider all the races of man as forming a single 
species, his range is enormous ; but some separate races, 
as the Americans and Polynesians, have very wide ranges. 
It is a Avell-known law that widely-ranging species are 
much more variable than species with restricted ranges ; 
and the variability of man may with more truth be com- 
pared with that of widely-ranging species than^ith that 
of domesticated animals. 




Not only does variability appear to be induced in man 
and the lower animals by the same general causes, but in 
both the same parts of the body are affected in a closely 
analogous manner. 


This is a most perplexing subject. It can 
not be denied that changed conditions pro- 
duce some, and occasionally a considerable, effect on or- 
ganisms of all kinds ; and it seems at first probable that 
if sufficient time were allowed this would be the invariable 
result. But I have failed to obtain clear evidence in favor 
of this conclusion ; and valid reasons may be urged on 
the other side, at least as far as the innumerable struct- 
ures are concerned, which are adapted for special ends. 
There can, however, be no doubt that changed conditions 
induce an almost indefinite amount of fluctuating varia- 
bility, by which the whole organization is rendered in 
some degree plastic. 

In the United States, above one million soldiers, 
who served in the late war, were measured, and the States 
in which they were born and reared were recorded. 
From this astonishing number of observations it is 
proved that local influences of some kind act directly on 
stature ; and we further learn that " the State where 
the physical growth has in great measure taken place, and 
the State of birth, which indicates the ancestry, seem to 
exert a marked influence on the stature." For instance, 
it is established that ** residence in the Western States, 
during the years of growth, tends to produce increase of 
stature." On the other hand, it is certain that, with 
sailors, their life delays growth, as shown " by the great 

'erence between the statures of soldiers and sailors at 


the ages of seventeen and eighteen years." Mr. B. A. 
Gould endeavored to ascertain the nature of the influences 
which thus act on stature ; but he arrived only at nega- 
tive results, namely, that they did not relate to climate, 
the elevation of the land, soil, nor even " in any control- 
ling degree " to the abundance or the need of the comforts 
of life. This latter conclusion is directly opposed to that 
arrived at by Villerme, from the statistics of the height 
of the conscripts in different parts of France. When we 
compare the differences in stature between the Polynesian 
chiefs and the lower orders within the same islands, or 
between the inhabitants of the fertile volcanic and low 
barren coral islands of the same ocean, or, again, between 
the Fuegians on the eastern and western shores of their 
country, where the means of subsistence are very differ- 
ent, it is scarcely possible to avoid the conclusion that 
better food and greater comfort do influence stature. But 
the preceding statements show how difficult it is to arrive 
at any precise result. Dr. Beddoe has lately proved that, 
with the inhabitants of Britain, residence in towns and 
certain occupations have a deteriorating influence on 
height ; and he infers that the result is to a certain extent 
inherited, as is likewise the case in the United States. 
Dr. Beddoe further believes that, wherever a "race attains 
its maximum of physical development, it rises highest in 
energy and moral vigor." 


Descent ^^ ^^ ^®^^ known that use strengthens the 

of Man, muscles in the individual, and complete dis- 
page 32, ^^^^ ^^ ^-^^ destruction of the proper nerve, 
weakens them. When the eye is destroyed, the optic 


nerve often becomes atrophied. When an artery is tied, 
the lateral channels increase not only in diameter, but in 
the thickness and strength of their coats. When one 
kidney ceases to act from disease, the other increases in 
size, and does double work. Bones increase not only in 
thickness, but in length, from carrying a greater weight. 
Different occupations, habitually followed, lead to changed 
proportions in various parts of the body. Thus it was 
ascertained by the United States commission that the 
legs of the sailors employed in the late war were longer 
by 0'217 of an inch than those of the soldiers, though the 
sailors were on an average shorter men ; while their arms 
were shorter by 1*09 of an inch, and therefore, out of 
proportion, shorter in relation to their lesser height. This 
shortness of the arms is apparently due to their greater 
use, and is an unexpected result ; but sailors chiefly use 
their arms in pulling, and not in supporting weights. 
With sailors, the girth of the neck and the depth of the 
instep are greater, while the circumference of the chest, 
waist, and hips is less, than in soldiers. 

Whether the several foregoing modifications would 
become hereditary, if the same habits of life were fol- 
lowed during many generations, is not known, but it is 

In infants, long before birth, the skin on 
° * the soles of the feet is thicker than on any 
other part of the body ; and it can hardly be doubted that 
this is due to the inherited effects of pressure during a 
a long series of generations. 

It is familiar to every one that watchmakers and en- 

, gravers are liable to be short-sighted, while men living 

much out-of-doors, and especially savages, are generally 

tng-sighted. Short-sight and long-sight certainly tend 


to be inherited. The inferiority of Europeans, in com- 
parison with savages, in eye-sight and in the other senses, 
is no doubt the accumulated and transmitted effect of 
lessened use during many generations. 

Although man may not have been much 
modified during the latter stages ^f his exist- 
ence through the increased or decreased use of parts, the 
facts now given show that his liability in this respect has 
not been lost ; and we positively know that the same law 
holds good with the lower animals. Consequently we 
may infer that when at a remote epoch the progenitors 
of man were in a transitional state, and were changing 
from quadrupeds into bipeds, natural selection would 
probably have been greatly aided by the inherited effects 
of the increased or diminished use of the different parts 
of the body. 


Descent ^^ man, the canine teeth are perfectly ef- 

of Man, ficient instruments for mastication. But their 

page . ^j.^g canine character, as Owen remarks, ''is 
indicated by the conical form of the crown, which termi- 
nates in an obtuse point, is convex outward and flat or 
sub-concave within, at the base of which surface there is 
a feeble prominence. The conical form is best expressed 
in the Melanian races, especially the Australian. The 
canine is more deeply implanted, and by a stronger fang 
than the incisors." Nevertheless, this tooth no longer 
serves man as a special weapon for tearing his enemies 
or prey ; it may, therefore, as far as its proper function 
is concerned, be considered as rudimentary. In every 
large collection of human skulls some may be found, as 


Hackel observes, "with the canine teeth projecting consid- 
erably beyond the others in the same manner as in the 
anthropomorphous apes, but in a less degree. In these 
cases, open spaces between the teeth in the one jaw are 
left for the reception of the canines of the opposite jaw. 
An interspace of this kind in a CafEre skull, figured by 
Wagner, is surprisingly wide. Considering how few are 
the ancient skulls which have been examined, compared 
to recent skulls, it is an interesting fact that in at least 
three cases the canines project largely ; and in the Xau- 
lette jaw they are spoken of as enormous. 

Of the anthropomorphous apes the males alone have 
their canines fully developed ; but in the female gorilla, 
and in a less degree in the female orang, these teeth pro- 
ject considerably beyond the others : therefore the fact, 
of which I have been assured, that women sometimes 
have considerably projecting canines, is no serious objec- 
tion to the belief that their occasional great development 
in man is a case of reversion to an ape-like progenitor. 
He who rejects with scorn the belief that the shape of his 
own canines and their occasional great development in 
other men are due to our early forefathers having been 
provided with these formidable weapons, will probably 
reveal, by sneering, the line of his descent. For, though 
he no longer intends, nor has the power, to use these 
teeth as weapons, he will unconsciously retract his "snarl- 
ing muscles" (thus named by Sir C. Bell), so as to expose 
them ready for action, like a dog prepared to fight." 

Many muscles are occasionally develoi)ed in man, 
which are proper to the Quadrumana or other mammals. 
Professor Vlacovich examined forty male subjects, and 
found a muscle, called by him the ischio-pubic, in nine- 
teen of them ; in three others there was a ligament which 
^presented this muscle ; and in the remaining eighteen 


no trace of it. In only two out of thirty female subjects 
was this muscle developed on both sides, but in three 
others the rudimentary ligament was present. This 
muscle, therefore, appears to be much more common in 
the male than in the female sex ; and on the belief in the 
descent of man from some lower form the fact is intelli- 
gible ; for it has been detected in several of the lower 
animals, and in all of these it serves exclusively to aid the 
male in the act of reproduction. 

Pa'^e 43 That this unknown factor is reversion to a 

former state of existence may be admitted as 
in the highest degree probable. It is quite incredible that 
a man should through mere accident abnormally resemble 
certain apes in no less than seven of his muscles, if there 
had been no genetic connection between them. On the 
other hand, if man is descended from some ape-like crea- 
ture, no valid reason can be assigned why certain muscles 
should not suddenly reappear after an interval of many 
thousand generations, in the same manner as with horses, 
asses, and mules, dark-colored stripes suddenly reappear 
on the legs and shoulders, after an interval of hundreds, 
or more probably of thousands, of generations. 


Animals and When the child resembles either grand- 
Plants, Vol. parent more closely than its immediate parents, 
) page . Q^j, attention is not much arrested, though in 
truth the fact is highly remarkable ; but when the child 
resembles some remote ancestor or some distant member 
in a collateral line — and in the last case we must attribute 
this to the descent of all the members from a common 
progenitor — we feel a just degree of astonishment. When 


one parent alone displays some newly-acqnired and gener- 
ally inheritable character, and the offspring do not in- 
herit it, the cause may lie in the other parent haying the 
power of prepotent transmission. But when both parents 
are similarly characterized, and the child does not, what- 
ever the cause may be, inherit the character in question, 
but resembles its grandparents, we have one of the sim- 
l^lest cases of reversion. We continually see another 
and even more simple case of atavism, though not gen- 
erally included under this head, namely, when the son 
more closely resembles his maternal than his paternal 
grandsire in some male attribute, as in any peculiarity in 
the beard of man, the horns of the bull, the hackles or 
comb of the cock, or, as in certain diseases necessarily 
confined to the male sex ; for, as the mother can not pos- 
sess or exhibit such male attributes, the child must in- 
herit them, through her blood, from his maternal grand- 

The cases of reversion may be divided into two main 
classes, which, however, in some instances, blend into one 
another ; namely, first, those occurring in a variety or race 
which has not been crossed, but has lost by variation some 
character that it formerly possessed, and which afterward 
reappears. The second class includes all cases in which 
an individual with some distinguishable character, a race, 
or species, has at some former period been crossed, and 
a character derived from this cross, after having disap- 
peared during one or several generations, suddenly reap- 

' From these facts we may perhaps infer that 

the degraded state of so many half-castes is in 

rt due to reversion to a primitive and savage condition, 

idnced by the act of crossing, even if mainly due to the 


unfavorable moral conditions under which they are gener- 
ally reared. 


Animals and When individuals, belonging to the same 
Plants, Vol. family, but distinct enough to be recognized, 
I page . ^j. ^jjgji ^^Q well-marked races, or two spe- 
cies, are crossed, the usual result, as stated in the pre- 
vious chapter, is, that the offspring in the first genera- 
tion are intermediate between their parents, or resemble 
one parent in one part and the other parent in another 
part. But this is by no means the invariable rule, for in 
many cases it is found that certain individuals, races, and 
species, are prepotent in transmitting their likeness. This 
subject has been ably discussed by Prosper Lucas, but is 
rendered extremely complex by the prepotency sometimes 
running equally in both sexes, and sometimes more 
strongly in one sex than in the other ; it is likewise com- 
plicated by the presence of secondary sexual characters, 
which render the comparison of crossed breeds with their 
parents difficult. 

It would appear that in certain families some one an- 
cestor, and after him others in the same family, have had 
great power in transmitting their likeness through the 
male line ; for we can not otherwise understand how the 
same features should so often be transmitted after mar- 
riages with many females, as in the case of the Austrian 
emperors ; and so it was, according to Niebuhr, with the 
mental qualities of certain Eoman families. The famous 
bull Favorite is believed to have had a prepotent influ- 
ence on the short-horn race. It has also been observed 
with English race-horses that certain mares have generally 
transmitted their own character, while other mares of 



equally pure blood have allowed the character of the sire 
to prevail. A famous black greyhound. Bedlamite, as I 
hear from Mr. C. M. Brown, " invariably got all his pup- 
pies black, no matter what was the color of the bitch " ; 
but then Bedlamite '*had a preponderance of black in 
his blood, both on the sire and dam side." 


Descent -^^^'^ i^ ^^^ rudest state in which he now 

of Man, exists is the most dominant animal that has 

P*^^ ■ ever appeared on this earth. He has spread 
more widely than any other highly organized form ; and 
all others have yielded before him. He manifestly owes 
this immense superiority to his intellectual faculties, to 
his social habits, which lead him to aid and defend his 
fellows, and to his corporeal structure. The supreme 
importance of these characters has been proved by the 
final arbitrament of the battle for life. Through his 
powers of intellect, articulate language has been evolved ; 
and on this his wonderful advancement has mainly de- 
pended. As Mr. Chauncey Wright remarks : **A psy- 
chological analysis of the fa-culty of language shows that 
even the smallest proficiency in it might require more 
brain-power than the greatest proficiency in any other 
direction." He has invented and is able to use various 
weapons, tools, traps, etc., with which he defends him- 
self, kills or catches prey, and otherwise obtains food. 
He has made rafts or canoes for fishing or crossing over to 
neighboring fertile islands. He has discovered the art of 
making fire, by which hard and stringy roots can be ren- 
dered digestible, and poisonous roots or herbs innocuous. 
This discovery of fire, probably the greatest ever made by 
man, excepting language, dates from before the dawn of 


history. These several inventions, by which man in the 
rudest state has become so pre-eminent, are the direct 
results of the development of his powers of obseryation, 
memory, curosity, imagination, and reason. 

„ _» Archaeoloprists are convinced that an enor- 

Page 50. ° . 

mous interval of time elapsed before our an- 
cestors thought of grinding chipped flints into smooth 
tools. One can hardly doubt that a man-like animal 
who possessed a hand and arm sufficiently perfect to 
throw a stone with precision, or to form a flint into a 
rude tool, could, with sufficient practice, as far as me- 
chanical skill alone is concerned, make almost anything 
which a civilized man can make. The structure of the 
hand in this respect may be compared with that of the 
vocal organs, which in the apes are used for uttering 
various signal-cries, or, as in one genus, musical cadences ; 
but in man the closely similar vocal organs have become 
adapted through the inherited effects of use for the utter- 
ance of articulate language. 

Turning now to the nearest allies of men, and there- 
fore to the best representatives of our early progenitors, 
we find that the hands of the Quadrumana are constructed 
on the same general pattern as our own, but are far less 
perfectly adapted for diversified uses. Their hands do 
not serve for locomotion so well as the feet of a dog ; as 
may be seen in such monkeys as the chimpanzee and 
orang, which walk on the outer margins of the palms, or 
on the knuckles. Their hands, however, are admirably 
adapted for climbing trees. Monkeys seize thin branches 
or ropes, with the thumb on one side and the fingers and 
palm on the other, in the same manner as we do. They 
can thus also lift rather large objects, such as the neck of 
a bottle, to their mouths. Baboons turn over stones and 


scratch up roots with their hands. They seize nuts, in- 
sects, or other small objects with the thumb in opposition 
to the fingers, and no doubt they thus extract eggs and 
the young from the nests of birds. American monkeys 
beat the wild oranges on the branches until the rind is 
cracked, and then tear it off with the fingers of the two 
hands. In a wild state they break open hard fruits with 
stones. Other monkeys open mussel-shells with the two 
thumbs. With their fingers they pull out thorns and 
burs, and hunt for each other's parasites. They roll 
down stones, or throw them at their enemies ; neyerthe- 
less, they are clumsy in these various actions, and, as I 
haye myself seen, are quite unable to throw a stone with 


Descent If it be an advantage to man to stand firm- 

of Man, ly on his feet and to have his hands and arms 
page 5- tree, of which, from his pre-eminent success in l^ 
the battle of life, there can be no doubt, then I can see 
no reason why it should not have been advantageous to 
the progenitors of man to have become more and more 
erect or bipedal. They would thus have been better able 
to defend themselves with stones or clubs, to attack their 
prey, or otherwise to obtain food. The best built indi- 
viduals would in the long run have succeeded best, and 
have survived in larger numbers. K the gorilla and a few 
allied forms had become extinct, it might have been ar- 
gued, with great force and apparent truth, that an ani- 
mal could not have been gradually converted from a 
quadruped into a biped, as all the individuals in an inter- 
mediate condition would have been miserably ill-fitted 
for progression. But we know (and this is well worthy 


of reflection) that the anthropomorphous apes are now 
actually in an intermediate condition ; and no one doubts 
that they are on the whole well adapted for their condi- 
tions of life. Thus the gorilla runs with a sidelong, 
shambling gait, but more commonly progresses by resting 
on its bent hands. The long-armed apes occasionally use 
their arms like crutches, swinging their bodies forward 
between them, and some kinds of Hylobates, without 
having been taught, can walk or run upright with toler- 
able quickness ; yet they move awkwardly, and much less 
securely than man. We see, in short, in existing monk- 
eys a manner of progression intermediate between that 
of a quadruped and a biped ; but, as an unprejudiced 
judge insists, the anthropomorphous apes approach in 
structure more nearly to the bipedal than to the quad- 
rupedal type. 

As the progenitors of man became more and more 
erect, with their hands and arms more and more modified 
for prehension and other purposes, with their feet and legs 
at the same time transformed for firm support and pro- 
gression, endless other changes of structure would have 
become necessary. The pelvis would have to be broad- 
ened, the spine peculiarly curved, and the head fixed in 
an altered position, all which changes have been attained 
by man. 

The free use of the arms and hands, partly 
^ ■ the cause and partly the result of man's erect 
position, appears to have led in an indirect manner to 
other modifications of structure. The early male fore- 
fathers of man were, as previously stated, probably fur- 
nished with great canine teeth ; but, as they gradually 
acquired the habit of using stones, clubs, or other weap- 
ons, for fighting with their enemies or rivals, they would 


use their jaws and teeth less and less. In this case, the 
jaws, together with the teeth, wonld become reduced in 
size, as we may feel almost sure from innumerable analo- 
gous cases. 


jj As the various mental faculties gradually , 

of Man, developed themselves the brain would almost 
P^^ ^'*' certainly become larger. No one, I presume, 
doubts that the large proportion which the size of man's 
brain bears to his body, compared to the same proportion 
in the gorilla or orang, is closely connected with his 
higher mental powers. We meet with closely analogous 
facts with insects, for in ants the cerebral ganglia are of 
extraordinary dimensions, and in all the Hymenoptera 
these ganglia are many times larger than in the less in- 
telligent orders, such as beetles. On the other hand, no 
one supposes that the intellect of any two animals or of 
any two men can be accurately gauged by the cubic con- 
tents of their skulls. It is certain that there may be 
extraordinary mental activity with an extremely small 
absolute mass of nervous matter : thus the wonderfully 
diversified instincts, mental powers, and affections of ants 
are notorious, yet their cerebral ganglia are not so large 
' as the quarter of a small pin's head. Under this point of 
view, the brain of an ant is one of the most marvelous 
atoms of matter in the world, perhaps more so than the 
brain of a man. 

p The gradually increasing weight of the 

brain and skull in man must have influenced 

the development of the supporting spinal column, more 


especially while he was becoming erect. As this change 
of position was being brought about, the internal pressure 
of the brain will also have influenced the form of the 
skull ; for many facts show how easily the skull is thus 
affected. Ethnologists believe that it is modified by the 
kind of cradle in which infants sleep. Habitual spasms 
of the muscles and a cicatrix from a severe burn have 
permanently modified the facial bones. In young persons 
whose heads have become fixed either sideways or back- 
ward, owing to disease, one of the two eyes has changed 
its position, and the shape of the skull has been altered 
apparently by the pressure of the brain in a new direction. 
I have shown that with long-eared rabbits even so trifling 
a cause as the lopping forward of one ear drags forward 
almost every bone of the skull on that side ; so that the 
bones on the opposite side no longer strictly correspond. 
Lastly, if any animal were to increase or diminish much 
in general size, without any change in its mental powers, 
or if the mental powers were to be much increased or 
diminished, without any great change in the size of the 
body, the shape of the skull would almost certainly be 
altered. I infer this from my observations on domestic 
rabbits, some kinds of which have become very much 
larger than the wild animal, while others have retained 
nearly the same size, but in both cases the brain has been 
much reduced relatively to the size of the body. Now, I 
was at first much surprised on finding that in all these 
rabbits the skull had become elongated or dolichocepha- 
lic ; for instance, of two skulls of nearly equal breadth, 
the one from a wild rabbit and the other from a large 
domestic kind, the former was 3*15 and the latter 4 "3 
inches in length. One of the most marked distinctions 
in different races of men is that the skull in some is elon- 
gated, and in others rounded ; and here the explanation- 


suggested by the case of the rabbits may hold good ; for 
Welcker finds that short "men incline more to brachy- 
cephaly, and tall men to dolichocephaly " ; and tall men 
may be compared with the larger and longer-bodied rab- 
bits, all of which have elongated skulls, or are dolicho- 

From these several facts we can understand, to a cer- 
tain extent, the means by which the great size and more 
or less rounded form of the sknll have been acquired by 
man ; and these are characters eminently distinctive of 
him in comparison with the lower animals. 


Descent Another most conspicuous difference be- 

of Man, tween man and the lower animals is the 
page 56. nakedness of the skin. Whales and porpoises 
{Cetacea), dugongs {Sirenia), and the hippopotamus are 
naked ; and this may be advant^eous to them for gliding 
through the water ; nor would it be injurious to them 
from the loss of warmth, as the species, which inhabit the 
colder regions, are protected by a thick layer of blubber, 
serving the same purpose as the fur of seals and otters. 
Elephants and rhinoceroses are almost hairless; and, as 
certain extinct species, which formerly lived under an 
Arctic climate, were covered with long wool or hair, it 
would almost appear as if the existing species of both 
genera had lost their hairy covering from exposure to 
heat. This appears the more probable, as the elephants 
in India, which live on elevated and cool districts, are 
more hairy than those on the lowlands. May we then 
infer that man became divested of hair from having abo- 
, riginally inhabited some tropical land ? That the hair 
is chiefly retained in the male sex on the chest and face. 


and in both sexes at the junction of all four limbs with 
the trunk, favors this inference — on the assumption that 
the hair was lost before man became erect ; for the parts 
which now retain most hair would then have been most 
protected from the heat of the sun. The crown of the 
head, however, offers a curious exception, for at all times 
it must have been one of the most exposed parts, yet it is 
thickly clothed with hair. The fact, however, that the 
other members of the order of Primates, to which man 
belongs, although inhabiting various hot regions, are well 
clothed with hair, generally thickest on the upper sur- 
face, is opposed to the supposition that man became naked 
through the action of the sun. 

Descent "^^^ different races differ much in hairiness ; 

of Man, and in the individuals of the same race the 
^^°^ ■ hairs are highly variable, not only in abun- 
dance, but likewise in position : thus in some Europeans 
the shoulders are quite naked, while in others they bear 
thick tufts of hair. There can be little doubt that the 
hairs thus scattered over the body are the rudiments of 
the uniform hairy coat of the lower animals. This view 
is rendered all the more probable, as it is known that 
the fine, short, and pale-colored hairs on the limbs and 
other parts of the body occasionally become developed 
into *' thick-set, long, and rather coarse dark hairs," 
when abnormally nourished near old-standing inflamed 

I am informed by Sir James Paget that often several 
members of a family have a few hairs in their eyebrows 
much longer than the others ; so that even this slight 
peculiarity seems to be inherited. These hairs, too, seem 
to have their representatives ; for in the chimpanzee, and 
in certain species of Macacus, there are scattered hairs of 


considerable length rising from the naked skin above the 
eyes, and corresponding to our eyebrows ; similar long 
hairs project from the hairy covering of the superciliary 
ridges in some baboons. 


j)gg,^Qj It has often been objected to snch views as 

of Man, the foregoing, that man is one of the most 
^^^^ ' helpless and defenseless creatures in the worid ; 
and that during his early and less well-developed condi- 
tion he would have been still more helpless. The Duke 
of Argyll, for instance, insists that ** the human frame 
has diverged from the structure of brutes, in the direction 
of greater physical helplessness and weakness. That is 
to say, it is a divergence which of all others it is most 
impossible to ascribe to mere natural selection." He ad- 
duces the naked and unprotected state of the body, the 
absence of great teeth or claws for defense, the small 
strength and speed of man, and his slight power of dis- 
covering food or of avoiding danger by smell. To these 
deficiencies there might be added one still more serious, 
namely, that he can not climb quickly, and so escape from 
enemies. The loss of hair would not have been a great 
injury to the inhabitants of a warm country. For we 
know that the unclothed Fuegians can exist under a 
wretched climate. When we compare the defenseless 
state of man with that of apes, we must remember that 
the great canine teeth with which the latter are provided 
are possessed in their full development by the males alone, 
and are chiefly used by them for fighting with their rivals ; 
yet the females, which are not thus provided, manage to 

In regard to bodily size or strength, we do not know 


whether man is descended from some small species, like 
the chimpanzee, or from one as powerful as the gorilla ; 
and, therefore, we can not say whether man has become 
larger and stronger, or smaller and weaker, than his 
ancestors. We should, however, bear in mind that an 
animal possessing great size, strength, and ferocity, and 
which, like the gorilla, could defend itself from all ene- 
mies, would not perhaps have become social ; and this 
would most effectually have checked the acquirement of 
the higher mental qualities — such as sympathy and the 
love of his fellows. Hence it might have been an im- 
mense advantage to man to have sprung from some com- 
paratively weak creature. 

The small strength and speed of man, his want of 
natural weapons, etc., are more than counterbalanced, 
firstly, by his intellectual powers, through which he has 
formed for himself weapons, tools, etc., though still re- 
maining in a barbarous state, and, secondly, by his social 
qualities, which lead him to give and receive aid from his 
fellow-men. No country in the world abounds in a greater 
degree with dangerous beasts than Southern Africa ; no 
country presents more fearful physical hardships than the 
Arctic regions ; yet one of the puniest of races, that of 
the Bushmen, maintains itself in Southern Africa, as do 
the dwarfed Esquimaux in the Arctic regions. The an- 
cestors of man were, no doubt, inferior in intellect, and 
probably in social disposition, to the lowest existing sav- 
ages ; but it is quite conceivable that they might have 
existed, or even flourished, if they had advanced in intel- 
lect, while gradually losing their brute-like powers, such 
as that of climbing trees, etc. But these ancestors would 
not have been exposed to any special danger, even if far 
more helpless and defenseless than any existing savages, 
had they inhabited some warm continent or large island. 


roch as AustraHa, New Guinea, or Borneo, which is now 
the home of the orang. And natural selection arising 
from the competition of tribe with tribe, in some such 
large area as one of these, together with the inherited 
effects of habit, would, under favorable conditions, have 
sufficed to raise man to his present high position in the 
organic scale. 



Descent No doubt the difference in this respect is 

of Man, enormous, even if we compare the mind of one 
page 66. » . i i , t i 

01 the lowest savages, who has no words to 

express any number higher than four, and who uses 
hardly any abstract terms for common objects or for the 
affections, with that of the most highly organized ape. 
The difference would, no doubt, still remain immense, 
even if one of the higher apes had been improved or civ- 
ilized as much as a dog has been in comparison with its 
parent-form, the wolf or jackal. The Fuegians rank 
among the lowest barbarians ; but I was continually 
struck with surprise how closely the three natives on 
board H. M. S. Beagle, who had lived some years in Eng- 
land, and could talk a little English, resembled us in dis- 
position and in most of our mental faculties. If no 
organic being excepting man had possessed any mental 
power, or if his powers had been of a wholly different 
nature from those of the lower animals, then we should 
never have been able to convince ourselves that our high 
faculties had been gradually developed. But it can be 
shown that there is no fundamental difference of this 
kind. We must also admit that there is a much wider 


interval in mental power between one of the lowest fishes, 
as a lamprey or lancelet, and one of the higher apes than 
between an ape and man ; yet this interval is filled up by 
numberless gradations. 

Nor is the difference slight in moral disposition be- 
tween a barbarian, such as the man described by the old 
navigator Byron, who dashed his child on the rocks for 
dropping a basket of sea-urchins, and a Iloward or Clark- 
son ; and in intellect between a savage, who uses hardly 
any abstract terms, and a Newton or Shakespeare. Dif- 
ferences of this kind between the highest men of the 
highest races and the lowest savages, are connected by 
the finest gradations. Therefore it is possible that they 
might pass and be developed into each other. 

In what manner the mental powers were 

° ' first developed in the lowest organisms is as 

hopeless an inquiry as how life itseK first originated. 

These are problems for the distant future, if they are ever 

to be solved by man. 


As man possesses the same senses as the 
lower animals, his fundamental intuitions must 
be the same. Man has also some few instincts in com- 
mon, as that of self-preservation, sexual love, the love of 
the mother for her new-bom offspring, the desire pos- 
sessed by the latter to suck, and so forth. But man, per- 
haps, has somewhat fewer instincts than those possessed 
by the animals which come next to him in the series. 
The orang in the Eastern islands and the chimpanzee in 


Africa build platforms on which they sleep ; and, as both 
Bpecies follow the same habit, it might be argued that 
this was due to instinct, but we can not feel sure that it 
is not the result of both animals having similar wants, 
and possessing similar powers of reasoning. These apes, 
as we may assume, avoid the many poisonous fruits of the 
tropics, and man has no such knowledge : but, as our do- 
mestic animals, when taken to foreign lands, and when 
first turned out in the spring, often eat poisonous herbs, 
which they afterward avoid, we can not feel sure that 
the apes do not learn from their own experience or from 
that of their parents what fruits to select. It is, how- 
ever, certain, as we shall presently see, that apes have an 
instinctive dread of serpents, and probably of other dan- 
gerous animals. 

The fewness and the comparative simplicity of the 
instincts in the higher animals are remarkable in contrast 
with those of the lower animals. Cuvier maintained that 
instinct and intelligence stand in an adverse ratio to each 
other ; and some have thought that the intellectual facul- 
ties of the higher animals have been gradually developed 
from their instincts. But Pouchet, in an interesting 
essay, has shown that no such inverse ratio really exists. 
Those insects which possess the most wonderful instincts 
are certainly the most intelligent. In the vertebrate 
series, the least intelligent members, namely, fishes and 
amphibians, do not possess complex instincts ; and among 
mammals the animal most remarkable for its instincts, 
namely, the beaver, is highly intelligent, as will be ad- 
mitted by every one who has read Mr. Morgan's excellent 




The fact that the lower animals are excited 
Page 69. 

by the same emotions as ourselTes is so well 

established, that it will not be necessary to weary the 
reader by many details. Terror acts in the same manner 
on them as on ns, causing the muscles to tremble, the 
heart to palpitate, the sphincters to be relaxed, and the 
hair to stand on end. Suspicion, the offspring of fear, 
is eminently characteristic of most wild animals. It is, I 
think, impossible to read the account given by Sir E. 
Tennent, of the behavior of the female elephants, used 
as decoys, without admitting that they intentionally prac- 
tice deceit, and well know what they are about. Courage 
and timidity are extremely variable qualities in the indi- 
viduals of the same species, as is plainly seen in our dogs. 
Some dogs and horses are iU-tempered, and easily turn ^ ., 
sulky ; others are good-tempered ; and these qualities are y' 
certainly inherited. Every one knows how liable animals 
are to furious rage, and how plainly they show it. Many, 
ftnd probably true, anecdotes have been pubhshed on the 
long-delayed and artful revenge of various animals. The 
accurate Eengger and Brehm state that the American 
and African monkeys which they kept tame ceri^inly 
revenged themselves. Sir Andrew Smith, a zoologist 
whose scrupulous accuracy was known to many persons, 
told me the following story of which he was himself an 
eye-witness : At the Cape of Good Hope an officer had 
often plagued a certain baboon, and the animal, seeing 
him approaching one Sunday for parade, poured water 
into a hole and hastily made some thick mud, which he 
skillfully dashed over the officer as he passed by, to the 
amusement of many by-standers. For long afterward 


the baboon rejoiced and triumphed whenever he saw his 

p hQ The love of a dog for his master is noto- 

rious ; as an old writer quaintly says, *'A 
dog is the only thing on this earth that luvs you more 
than he luvs himself." 

In the agony of death a dog has been known to caress 
his master, and every one has heard of the dog suffering 
under vivisection, who licked the hand of the operator ; 
this man, unless the operation was fully justified by an 
increase of our knowledge, or unless he had a heart of 
stone, must have felt remorse to the last hour of his life. 

p ^ ^ Most of the more complex emotions are 

common to the higher animals and ourselves. 
Every one has seen how jealous a dog is of his master's 
affection, if lavished on any other creature ; and I have 
observed the same fact with monkeys. This shows that 
animals not only love, but have desire to be loved. Ani- 
mals manifestly feel emulation. They love approbation 
or praise ; and a dog carrying a basket for his master ex- 
hibits in a high degree self-complacency or pride. There 
can, I think, be no doubt that a dog feels shame, as dis- 
tinct from fear, and something very like modesty when 
begging too often for food. A great dog scorns the snarl- 
ing of a little dog, and this may be called magnanimity. 
Several observers have stated that monkeys certainly dis- 
like being laughed at ; and they sometimes invent imagi- 
nary offenses. In the Zoological Gardens I saw a baboon 
who always got into a furious rage when his keeper took 
out a letter or book and read it aloud to him ; and his 
rage was so violent that, as I witnessed on one occasion, 
he bit his own leg till the blood flowed. 



All animals feel wonder, and many exhibit curiosity. 
They sometimes suffer from this latter quality, as when 
the hunter plays antics and thus attracts them ; I have 
witnessed this with deer, and so it is with the wary cha- 
mois, and with some kinds of wild-ducks. Brehm gives 
a curious account of the instinctive dread which his 
monkeys exhibited for snakes ; but their curiosity was so 
great that they could not desist from occasionally satiat- 
ing their horror in a most human fashion, by lifting up 
the lid of the box in which the snakes were kept. I was 
so much surprised at his account, that T took a stuffed 
and coiled-up snake into the monkey-house at the Zoo- 
logical Gardens, and the excitement thus caused was one 
of the most curious spectacles which I ever beheld. 


^ ^, Of all the faculties of the human mind. 

Page 75. 

it will, I presume, be admitted that reason 

stands at the summit. Only a few persons now dispute 
that animals possess some power of reasoning. Animals 
may constantly be seen to pause, deliberate, and resolve. 
It is a significant fact that the more the habits of any 
particular animal are studied by a naturalist, the more 
he attributes to reason and the less to unlearned instincts. 
In future chapters we shall see that some animals ex- 
tremely low in the scale apparently display a certain 
amount of reason. No doubt it is often difficult to dis- 
tinguish between the power of reason and that of instinct. 
For instance. Dr. Hayes, in his work on "The Open 
Polar Sea," repeatedly remarks that his dogs, instead of 
continuing to draw the sledges in a compact body, di- 
verged and separated when they came to thin ice, so that 
their weight might be more evenly distributed. This 


was often the first warning which the travelers received 
that the ice was becoming thin and dangerons. Now, 
did the dogs act thus from the experience of each indi- 
vidual, or from the example of the older and wiser dogs, 
or from an inherited habit, that is, from instinct ? This 
instinct may possibly have arisen since the time, long 
ago, when dogs were first employed by the natives in 
drawing their sledges ; or the Arctic wolves, the piarent- 
stock of the Esquimau dog, may have acquired an in- 
stinct, impelling them not to attack their prey in a close 
pack, when on thin ice. 

Archbishop Sumner formerly maintained 
that man alone is capable of progressive im- 
provement. That he is capable of incomparably greater 
and more rapid improvement than is any other animal, 
admits of no dispute ; and this is mainly due to his power 
of speaking and handing down his acquired knowledge. 
With animals, looking first to the individual, every one 
who has had any experience in setting traps knows that 
young animals can be caught much more easily than old 
ones ; and they can be much more easily approached by 
an enemy. Even with respect to old animals, it is im- 
possible to catch many in the same place and in the same 
kind of trap, or to destroy them by the same kind of 
poison ; yet it is improbable that all should have partaken 
of the poison, and impossible that all should have been 
caught in a trap. They must leafn caution by seeing 
their brethren caught or poisoned. 

Our domestic dogs are descended from 

Page 80. ^Qi^gg ^^^ jackals, and though they may not 

have gained in cunning, and may have lost in wariness 

and suspicion, yet they have progressed in certain moral 


qualities, such as in affection, trustworthiness, temper, 
and probably in general intelligence. 


Descent "^^^ savage and the dog have often found 

of Man, water at a low level, and the coincidence under 
page 77- gmj^ circumstances has become associated in 
their minds. A cultivated man would perhaps make 
some general proposition on the subject ; but from all 
that we know of savages it is extremely doubtful whether 
they would do so, and a dog certainly would not. But a 
savage, as well as a dog, would search in the same way, 
though frequently disappointed ; and in both it seems to 
be equally an act of reason, whether or not any general 
proposition on the subject is consciously placed before the 
mind. The same would apply to the elephant and the 
bear making currents in the air or water. The savage 
would certainly neither know nor care by what law the 
desired movements were effected ; yet his act would be 
guided by a rude process of reasoning, as surely as would 
a philosopher in his longest chain of deductions. There 
would no doubt be this difference between him and one 
of the higher animals, that he would take notice of much 
slighter circumstances and conditions, and would observe 
any connection between them after much less experience, 
and this would be of paramount importance. I kept a 
daily record of the actions of one of my infants, and 
when he was about eleven months old, and before he 
could speak a single word, I was continually struck with 
the greater quickness with which all sorts of objects and 
sounds were associated together in his mind, compared 
with that of the most intelligent dogs I ever knew. But 
the higher animals differ in exactly the same way in this 


power of association from those low in the scale, such as 
the pike, as well as in that of drawing inferences and of 


p To maintain, independently of any direct 

evidence, that no animal during the course of 
ages has progressed in intellect or other mental faculties, 
is to beg the question of the evolution of species. We 
have seen that, according to Lartet, existing mammals 
belonging to several orders have larger brains than their 
ancient tertiary prototypes. 

It has often been said that no animal uses any tool ; 
but the chimpanzee, in a state of nature, cracks a native 
fruit, somewhat like a walnut, with a stone. Rengger 
easily taught an American monkey thus to break open 
hard palm-nuts ; and afterward, of its own accord, it used 
stones to open other kinds of nuts, as well as boxes. It 
thus also removed the soft rind of fruit that had a dis- 
agreeable flavor. Another monkey was taught to open 
the lid of a large box with a stick, and afterward it used 
the stick as a lever to move heavy bodies ; and I have my- 
self seen a young orang put a stick into a crevice, slip 
his hand to the other end, and use it in the proper man- 
ner as a lever. The tamed elephants in India are well 
known to break off branches of trees and use them to 
drive away the flies ; and this same act has been observed 
in an elephant in a state of nature. 

The Duke of Argyll remarks that the fash- 

' ioning of an implement for a special purpose 

is absolutely peculiar to man ; and he considers that this 

forms an immeasurable gulf between him and the brutes. 


This is no doubt a very important distinction ; but there 
appears to me much truth in Sir J. Lubbock's suggestion 
that, when primeval man &Tst used flint-stones for any 
purpose, he would have accidentally splintered them, and 
would then have used the sharp fragments. From this 
step it would be a small one to break the flints on pur- 
pose, and not a very wide step to fashion them rudely. 
This latter advance, however, may have taken long ages, 
if we may judge by the immense interval of time which 
elapsed before the men of the neolithic period took to 
grinding and polishing their stone tools. In breaking 
the flints, aa Sir J. Lubbock likewise remarks, sparks 
would have been emitted, and in grinding them heat 
would have been evolved ; thus the two usual methods of 
" obtaining fire may have originated." The nature of fire 
would have been known in the many volcanic regions 
where lava occasionally flows through forests. 


If one may judge from various articles 
which have been published lately, the greatest 
stress seems to be laid on the supposed entire absence in 
animals of the power of abstraction, or of forming gen- 
eral concepts. But when a dog sees another dog at a dis- 
tance, it is often clear that he perceives that it is a dog in 
the abstract ; for when he gets nearer his whole manner 
suddenly changes, if the other dog be a friend. A recent 
writer remarks that in all such cases it is a pure assump- 
tion to assert that the mental act is not essentially of the 
same nature in the animal as in man. If either refers 
what he perceives with his senses to a mental concept, 
then so do both. When I say to my terrier, in an eager 
voice (and I have made the trial many times), "Hi, hi. 


where is it ? " she at once takes it as a sign that some- 
thing is to be hunted, and generally first looks quickly 
all around, and then rushes into the nearest thicket, to 
pcent for any game, but, finding nothing, she looks up 
into any neighboring tree for a squirrel. Now, do not 
these actions clearly show that she had in her mind a gen- 
eral idea or concept that some animal is to be discovered 
and hunted ? 

It may be freely admitted that no animal is self-con- 
scious, if by this term it is implied that he reflects on 
such points as whence he comes or whither he will go, or 
what is life and death, and so forth. But how can we 
feel sure that an old dog with an excellent memory and 
some power of imagination, as shown by his dreams, 
never reflects on his past pleasures or pains in the chase ? 
And this would be a form of self-consciousness. On the 
other hand, as Biichner has remarked, how little can the 
hard-worked wife of a degraded Australian savage, who 
uses very few abstract words, and can not count above 
four, exert her self-consciousness, or reflect on the nature 
of her own existence ! It is generally admitted that the 
higher animals possess memory, attention, association, 
and even some imagination and reason. If these powers, 
which differ much in different animals, are capable of 
improvement, there seems no great improbability in more 
complex faculties, such as the higher forms of abstraction, 
and self-consciousness, etc., having been evolved through 
the development and combination of the simpler ones. 
It has been urged against the views here maintained that 
it is impossible to say at what point in the ascending 
scale animals become capable of abstraction, etc. ; but 
who can say at what age this occurs in our young chil- 
dren ? We see at least that such powers are developed in 
children by imperceptible degrees. 



This faculty (language) has justly been 
considered as one of the chief distinctions be- 
tween man and the lower animals. But man, as a highly 
competent judge, Archbishop Whately, remarks, " is not 
the only animal that can make use of language to express 
what is passing in his mind, and can understand, more 
or less, what is so expressed by another." In Paraguay 
the Cebus azarcB when excited utters at least six distinct 
sounds, which excite in other monkeys similar emotions. 
The moTcments of the features and gestures of monkeys 
are understood by us, and they partly understand ours, 
as Rengger and others declare. It is a more remarkable 
fact that the dog, since being domesticated, has learned 
to bark in at least four or five distinct tones. Although 
barking is a new art, no doubt the wild parent-species of 
the dog expressed their feelings by cries of various kinds. 
With the domesticated dog we have the bark of eager- 
ness, as in the chase ; that of anger, as well as growling ; 
the yelp or howl of despair, as when shut up ; the baying 
at night ; the bark of joy, as when starting on a walk 
with his master ; and the very distinct one of demand or 
supplication, as when wishing for a door or window to be 
opened. According to Houzeau, who paid particular at- 
tention to the subject, the domestic fowl utters at least a 
dozen significant sounds. 

The habitual use of articulate language is, however, 
peculiar to man ; but he uses, in common with the lower 
animals, inarticulate cries to express his meaning, aided 
by gestures and the movements of the muscles of the 
face. This especially holds good with the more simple 
and vivid feelings, which are but little connected with 
our higher intelligence. Our cries of pain, fear, surprise. 


anger, together with their appropriate actions, and the 
nmrmur of a mother to her beloved child, are more ex- 
pressive than any words. That which distinguishes man 
from the lower animals is not the understanding of artic- 
ulate sounds, for, as every one knows, dogs understand 
many words and sentences. In this respect they are at 
the same stage of development as infants, between the 
ages of ten and twelve months, who understand many 
words and short sentences, but can not yet utter a single 
word. It is not the mere articulation which is our distin- 
guishing character, for parrots and other birds possess this 
power. Nor is it the mere capacity of connecting definite 
sounds with definite ideas ; for it is certain that some 
parrots, which have been taught to speak, connect unerr- 
ingly words with things, and persons with events. The 
lower animals differ from man solely in his almost infi- 
nitely larger power of associating together the most diver- 
sified sounds and ideas ; and this obviously depends on 
the high development of his mental powers. 

As Home Tooke, one of the founders of the noble 
science of philology, observes, language is an art, like 
brewing or baking ; but writing would have been a better 
simile. It certainly is not a true instinct, for every lan- 
guage has to be learned. It differs, however, widely from 
all ordinary arts, for man has an instinctive tendency to 
speak, as we see in the babble of our young children ; 
while no child has an instinctive tendency to brew, bake, 
or write. Moreover, no philologist now supposes that 
any language has been deliberately invented ; it has been 
slowly and unconsciously developed by many steps. The 
sounds uttered by birds offer in several respects the near- 
est analogy to language, for all the members of the same 
species utter the same instinctive cries expressive of their 
emotions ; and all the kinds which sing exert their power 


instinctively ; but the actual song, and even the call- 
notes, are learned from their parents or foster-parents. 
These sounds, as Daines Barrington has proved, " are no 
more innate than language is in man." The first attempts 
to sing " may be compared to the imperfect endeavor in 
a child to babble." The young males continue practic- 
ing, or, as the bird-catchers say, " recording," for ten or 
eleven months. Their first essays show hardly a rudi- 
ment of the future song ; but as they grow older "we can 
perceive what they are aiming at ; and at last they are 
said "to sing their song round." Nestlings which have 
learned the song of a distinct species, as with the canary- 
birds educated in the Tyrol, teach and transmit their new 
song to their offspring. The slight natural differences of 
song in the same species inhabiting different districts may 
be appositely compared, as Barrington remarks, " to pro- 
vincial dialects " ; and the songs of allied though distinct 
species may be compared with the languages of distinct 
races of man. I have given the foregoing details to show 
that an instinctive tendency to acquire an art is not pe- 
culiar to man. 

"With respect to the origin of articulate language, 
after having read on the one side the highly interesting 
works of Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood, the Rev. F. Farrar, 
and Professor Schleicher, and the celebrated lectures of 
Professor Max Miiller on the other side, I can not doubt 
that language owes its origin to the imitation and modifi- 
cation of various natural sounds, the voices of other ani- 
mals, and man's own instinctive cries, aided by signs and 

Page 8Y ^* ^^' therefore, probable that the imitation 

of musical cries by articulate sounds may have 

given rise to words expressive of various complex emo- 


tions. The strong tendency in our nearest allies, the 
monkeys, in microcephalous idiots, and in the barbarous 
races of mankind, to imitate whateyer they hear, deserves 
notice, as bearing on the subject of imitation. Since 
monkeys certainly understand much that is said to them 
by man, and, when wild, utter signal-cries of danger to 
their fellows ; and since fowls giye distinct warnings for 
danger on the ground, or in the sky from hawks (both, 
as well as a third cry, intelligible to dogs), may not some 
unusually wise ape-like animal have imitated the growl 
of a beast of prey, and thus told his fellow-monkeys the 
nature of the expected danger ? This would have been 
a first step in the formation of a language. 

As the voice was used more and more, the vocal organs 
would have been strengthened and perfected through the 
principle of the inherited effects of use ; and this would 
have reacted on the povrer of speech. 

p ^ - The fact of the higher apes not using their 

vocal organs for speech no doubt depends on 
their intelligence not having been sufficiently advanced. 
The possession by them of organs, which with long-con- 
tinued practice might have been used for speech, although 
not thus used, is paralleled by the case of many birds 
which possess organs fitted for singing, though they never 
sing. Thus, the nightingale and crow have vocal organs 
similarly constructed, these being used by the former for 
diversified song, and by the latter only for croaking. 


Descent '^^® formation of different languages and 

of Man, of distinct species and the proofs that both 
page 90. jjg^^g i^gg^ developed through a gradual pro- 
cess are curiously parallel. But we can trace the forma- 


tion of many words further back than that of species, 
for we can perceive how they actually arose from the imi- 
tation of various sounds. "We find in distinct languages 
striking homologies due to community of descent, and 
analogies due to a similar process of formation. The 
manner in which certain letters or sounds change when 
others change is very like correlated growth. We have 
in both cases the reduplication of parts, the effects of 
long-continued use, and so forth. The frequent presence 
of rudiments, both in languages and in species, is still 
more remarkable. The letter m in the word am means 
/; so that, in the expression / arn, a superfluous and use- 
less rudiment has been retained. In the spelling also of 
words, letters often remain as the rudiments of ancient 
forms of pronunciation. Languages, like organic beings, 
can be classed in groups under groups ; and they can be 
classed either naturally according to descent, or artificially 
by other characters. Dominant languages and dialects 
spread widely, and lead to the gradual extinction of other 
tongues. A language, like a species, when once extinct, 
never, as Sir C. Lyell remarks, reappears. The same 
language never has two birthplaces. Distinct languages 
may be crossed or blended together. We see variability 
in every tongue, and new words are continually cropping 
up ; but, as there is a limit to the powers of the memory, 
single words, like whole languages, gradually become ex- 
tinct. As Max Muller has well remarked : ** A struggle 
for life is constantly going on among the words and gram- 
matical forms in each language. The better, the shorter, 
the easier forms are constantly gaining the upper hand, 
and they owe their success to their own inherent yirtue." 
To these more important causes of the survival of certain 
words, mere novelty and fashion may be added ; for there 
is in the mind of man a strong love for slight changes 


in all things. The suryival or preservation of certain 
favored words in the struggle for existence is natural 

The perfectly regular and wonderfully complex con- 
struction of the languages of many barbarous nations has 
often been advanced as a proof, either of the divine ori- 
gin of these languages, or of the high art and former 
civilization of their founders. Thus F. von Schlegel 
writes : *'In those languages which appear to be at the 
lowest grade of intellectual culture, we frequently ob- 
serve a very high and elaborate degree of art in their 
grammatical structure. This is especially the case with 
the Basque and the Lapponian, and many of the Ameri- 
can languages." But it is assuredly an error to speak of 
any language as an art, in the sense of its having been 
elaborately and methodically formed. Philologists now 
admit that conjugations, declensions, etc., originally ex- 
isted as distinct words, since joined together ; and, as such 
words express the most obvious relations between objects 
and persons, it is not surprising that they should have 
been used by the men of most races during the earliest 
ages. With respect to perfection, the following illustra- 
tion will best show how easily we may err : a crinoid 
sometimes consists of no less than one hundred and fifty 
thousand pieces of shell, all arranged with perfect sym- 
metry in radiating lines ; but a naturalist does not con- 
sider an animal of this kind as more perfect than a bi- 
lateral one with comparatively few parts, and with none 
of these parts alike, excepting on the opposite sides of 
the body. He justly considers the differentiation and 
specialization of organs as the test of perfection. So with 
languages ; the most symmetrical and complex ought not 
to be ranked above irregular, abbreviated, and bastard- 
ized languages. 



jjgg^Q^ This sense has been declared to be peculiar 

of Man, to man. I refer here only to the pleasure 
page 9 • given by certain colors, forms, and sounds, 
and which may fairly be called a sense of the beautiful ; 
with cultivated men such sensations are, however, inti- 
mately associated with complex ideas and trains of 
thought. When we behold a male bird elaborately dis- 
playing his graceful plumes or splendid colors before the 
female, while other birds, not thus decorated, make no 
such display, it is impossible to doubt that she admires 
the beauty of her male partner. As women everywhere 
deck themselves with these plumes, the beauty of such 
ornaments can not be disputed. As we shall see later, 
the nests of humming-birds and the playing passages of 
bower-birds are tastefully ornamented with gayly-colored 
objects ; and this shows that they must receive some kind 
of pleasure from the sight of such things. With the 
great majority of animals, however, the taste for the 
beautiful is confined, as far as we can judge, to the at- 
tractions of the opposite sex. The sweet strains poured 
forth by many male birds during the season of love are 
certainly admired by the females, of which fact evidence 
will hereafter be given. If female birds had been incapa- 
ble of appreciating the beautiful colors, the ornaments, 
and voices of their male partners, all the labor and anx- 
iety exhibited by the latter in displaying their charms 
before the females would have been thrown away ; and 
this it is impossible to admit. Why certain bright colors 
should excite pleasure can not, I presume, be explained, 
any more than why certain flavors and scents are agree- 
able ; but habit has something to do with the result, for 



that which is at first unpleasant to our senses, ultimately 
becomes pleasant, and habits are inherited. 


Descent -^ Critic has asked how the ears of man, 

of Man, and he ought to have added of other animals, 
could have been adapted by selection so as 
to distinguish musical notes. But this question shows 
some confusion on the subject ; a noise is the sensation 
resulting from the co-existence of several aerial ''simple 
vibrations" of various periods, each of which intermits 
80 frequently that its separate existence can not be per- 
ceived. It is only in the want of continuity of such 
vibrations, and in their want of harmony inter se, that a 
noise differs from a musical note. Thus an ear to be 
capable of discriminating noises — and the high impor- 
tance of this power to all animals is admitted by every 
one — must be sensitive to musical notes. We have evi- 
dence of this capacity even low down in the animal scale ; 
thus crustaceans are provided with auditory hairs of dif- 
ferent lengths, which have been seen to vibrate when the 
proper musical notes are struck. As stated in a previous 
chapter, similar observations have been made on the hairs 
of the antenn£B of gnats. It has been positiyely asserted 
by good observers that spiders are attracted by music. It 
is also well known that some dogs howl when hearing 
particular tones. Seals apparently appreciate music, and 
their fondness for it " was well known to the ancients, 
and is often taken advantage of by the hunters at the 
present day." 

Therefore, as far as the mere perception of musical 
notes is concerned, there seems no special difficulty in the 
case of man or of any other animal. 


But if it be further asked why musical tones in a 
certain order and rhythm give man and other animals 
pleasure, we can no more give the reason than for the 
pleasantness of certain tastes and smells. That they do 
give pleasure of some kind to animals we may infer from 
their being produced during the season of courtship by 
many insects, spiders, fishes, amphibians, and birds ; for, 
unless the females were able to appreciate such sounds 
and were excited or charmed by them, the persevering 
eSorts of the males and the complex structures often 
possessed by them alone would be useless ; and this it is 
impossible to believe. 



Descent I FULLY subscribe to the judgment of those 

of Man, writers who maintain that, of all the differences 
^^^ ' between man and the lower animals, the moral 
sense or conscience is by far the most important. This 
sense, as Mackintosh remarks, ** has a rightful supremacy 
over every other principle of human action " ; it is summed 
up in that short but imperious word ought, so full of high 
significance. It is the most noble of all the attributes of 
man, leading him without a moment's hesitation to risk 
his life for that of a fellow-creature ; or, after due delib- 
eration, impelled simply by the deep feeling of right or 
duty, to sacrifice it in some great cause. 

A moral being is one who is capable of 
comparing his past and future actions or mo- 
tives, and of approving or disapproving of them. We 
have no reason to suppose that any of the lower animals 
have this capacity ; therefore, when a Newfoundland dog 
drags a child out of the water, or a monkey faces danger 
to rescue its comrade, or takes charge of an orphan monk- 
ey, we do not call its conduct moral. But in the case of 
man, who alone can with certainty be ranked as a moral 
being, actions of a certain class are called moral. 




The following proposition seems to me in 
a high degree probable — namely, that any ani- 
mal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, 
the parental and filial affections being here included, 
would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as 
soon as its intellectual powers had become as well, or 
nearly as well, developed as in man. For, firstly, the 
social instincts lead an. animal to take pleasure in the 
society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sym- 
pathy with them, and to perform various services for 
them. The services may be of a definite and evidently 
instinctive nature ; or there may be only a wish and 
readiness, as with most of the higher social animals, to 
aid their fellows in certain general ways. But these feel- 
ings and services are by no means extended to all the in- 
dividuals of the same species, only to those of the same 
association. Secondly, as soon as the mental faculties had 
become highly developed, images of all past actions and 
motives would be incessantly passing through the brain 
of each individual ; and that feeling of dissatisfaction, or 
even misery, which invariably results, as we shall hereafter 
see, from any unsatisfied instinct, would arise, as often as 
it was perceived that the enduring and always present 
social instinct had yielded to some other instinct, at the 
time stronger, but neither enduring in its nature, nor 
leaving behind it a very vivid impression. It is clear that 
many instinctive desires, such as that of hunger, are in 
their nature of short duration ; and, after being satisfied, 
are not readily or vividly recalled. Tliirdly, after the 
power of language had been acquired, and the wishes of ^ 
the community could be expressed, the- common opinion 
how each member ought to act for the public good would 



naturally become in a paramount degree the guide to 
action. But it should be borne in mind that, however 
great weight we may attribute to public opinion, our re- 
gard for the approbation and disapprobation of our fellows 
depends on symj^athy, which, as we shall see, forms an 
essential part of the social instinct, and is, indeed, its 
foundation-stone. Lastly, habit in the individual would 
ultimately play a v€ry important part in guiding the con- 
duct of each member ; for the social instinct, together 
with sympathy, is, like any other instinct, greatly strength- 
ened by habit, and so consequently would be obedience to 
the wishes and judgment of the community. These sev- 
eral subordinate propositions must now be discussed, and 
some of them at considerable length. 

It may be well first to premise that I do not wish to 
maintain that any strictly social animal, if its intellectual 
faculties were to become as active and as highly developed 
as in man, would acquire exactly the same moral sense as 
ours. In the same manner as various animals have some 
sense of beauty, though they admire widely different ob- 
jects, so they might have a sense of right and wrong, 
though led by it to follow widely different lines of con- 
duct. If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were 
reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, 
there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females 
would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill 
their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fer- 
tile daughters ; and no one would think of interfering. 
Nevertheless, the bee, or any other social animal, would 
gain in our supposed case, as it appears to me, some feel- 
ing of right or wrong, or a conscience. For each indi- 
vidual would have an inward sense of possessing certain 
stronger or more enduring instincts, and others less strong 
or enduring ; so that there would often be a struggle as 


to which impulse should be followed ; and satisfaction, 
dissatisfaction, or eyen misery "would be felt, as past im- 
pressions were compared during their incessant passage 
through the mind. In this case an inward monitor would 
tell the animal that it would hare been better to have 
followed the one impulse rather than the other. The one 
course ought to have been followed, and the other ought 
not ; the one would have been right and the other wrong. 


p Who can say what cows feel when they sur- 

round and stare intently on a dying or dead 
companion ? Apparently, however, as Houzeau remarks, 
they feel no pity. That animals sometimes are far from 
feeling any sympathy is too certain ; for they will expel a 
wounded animal from the herd, or gore or worry it to 
death. This is almost the blackest fact in natural history, 
unless, indeed, the explanation which has been suggested 
is true, that their instinct or reason leads them to expel 
an injured companion, lest beasts of prey, including 
man, should be tempted to follow the troop. In this case 
their conduct is not much worse than that of the North 
American Indians, who leave their feeble comrades to 
perish on. the plains ; or the Feejeeans, who, when their 
parents get old, or fall ill, bury them alive. 

p Several years ago a keeper at the Zoological 

Gardens showed me some deep and scarcely 
healed wounds on the nape of his own neck, inflicted on 
him, while kneeling on the floor, by a fierce baboon. The 
little American monkey, who was a warm friend of this 
keeper, lived in the same large compartment, and was 
dreadfully afraid of the great baboon. Nevertheless, as 


soon as lie saw his friend in peril, lie rushed to the resciie| 
and by screams and bites so distracted the baboon tha 
the man was able to escape, after, as the surgeon thought,^ 
running great risk of his life. 

Besides love and sympathy, animals exhibit other 
qualities connected with the social instincts, which in us. 
would be called moral ; and I agree with Agassiz that 
dogs possess something very like a conscience. 

P lo*; With mankind, selfishness, experience, and 

imitation, probably add, as Mr. Bain has 
shown, to the power of sympathy ; for we are led by the 
hope of receiving good in return to perform acts of sym- 
pathetic kindness to others ; and sympathy is much 
strengthened by habit. In however complex a manner this 
feeling may have originated, as it is one of high impor- 
tance to all those animals which aid and defend one an- 
other, it will have been increased through natural selec- 
tion ; for those communities which included the greatest 
number of the most sympathetic members would flourish 
best and rear the greatest number of offspring. 

It is, however, impossible to decide, in many cases 
whether certain social instincts have been acquired 
through natural selection, or are the indirect result of 
other instincts and faculties, such as sympathy, reason, 
experience, and a tendency to imitation ; or, again, 
whether they are simply the result of long-continued 
habit. So remarkable an instinct as the placing sentinels 
to warn the community of danger can hardly have been 
the indirect result of any of these faculties ; it must, 
therefore, have been directly acquired. On the other 
hand, the habit followed by the males of some social 
animals of defending the community, and of attacking 
their enemies or their prey in concert, may perhaps have 


originated from mutual sympathy ; but courage, and in 
most cases strength, must have been previously acquired, 
probably through natural selection. 


_ Although man has no special instincts to 

tell him how to aid his fellow-men, he still 
has the impulse, and with his improved intellectual facul- 
ties would naturally be much guided in this respect by 
reason and experience. Instinctive sjrmpathy would also 
cause him to value highly the approbation of his fellows ; 
for, as Mr. Bain has clearly shown, the love of praise and 
the strong feeling of glory, and the still stronger horror of 
Bcom and infamy, "are due to the workings of sym- 
pathy." Consequently, man would be influenced in the 
highest degree by the wishes, approbation, and blame of 
his fellow-men, as expressed by their gestures and lan- 

I guage. Thus the social instincts, which must have been 
acquired by man in a very rude state, and probably even 
by his early ape-like progenitors, still give the impulse to 
some of his best actions ; but his actions are in a higher 
degree determined by the expressed wishes and judgment 
of his fellow-men, and unfortunately very often by his 
own strong selfish desires. But as love, sympathy, and 

, self-command become strengthened by habit, and as the 
power of reasoning becomes clearer, so that man can 
Talue justly the judgments of his fellows, he will feel 
himself impelled, apart from any transitory pleasure or 
pain, to certain lines of conduct. He might then declare 
— not that any barbarian or uncultivated man could thus . 
think — I am the supreme judge of my own conduct, and, < 
in the words of Kant, I will not in my own person violate 

I he dignity of humanity. 



p 103 Sympathy beyond the confines of man, 

that is, humanity to the lower animals, seems 
to be one of the latest moral acquisitions. It is appar- 
ently unfelt by savages, except toward their pets. How 
little the old Komans knew of it is shown by their abhor- 
rent gladiatorial exhibitions. The very idea of humanity, 
as far as I could observe, was new to most of the Gauchos 
of the Pampas. This virtue, one of the noblest with 
which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from 
our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely 
diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings. 
As soon as this virtue is honored and practiced by some 
few men, it spreads through instruction and example to 
the young, and eventually becomes incorporated in public 

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we 
recognize that we ought to control our thoughts, and 
** not even in inmost thought to think again the sins that 
made the past so pleasant to us." Whatever makes any 
bad action familiar to the mind renders its performance 
by so much the easier. As Marcus Aurelius long ago 
said : '* Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will 
be the character of thy mind ; for the soul is dyed by the 

p ^ Looking to future generations, there is no 

cause to fear that the social instincts will grow 
weaker, and we may expect that virtuous habits will grow 
stronger, becoming perhaps fixed by inheritance. In this 
case the struggle between our higher and lower impulses 
will be less severe, and virtue will be triumphant. 



„ ,„„ There can be no doubt that the difference 

Page 12o. 

between the mind of the lowest man and that 
of the highest animal is immense. An anthropomorphous 
ape, if he could take a dispassionate yiew of his own case, 
would admit that though he could form an artful plan to 
plunder a garden, though he could use stones for fight- 
ing or for breaking open nuts, yet that the thought of 
fashioning a stone into a tool was quite beyond his scope. 
Still less, as he would admit, could he follow out a train 
of metaphysical reasoning, or solve a mathematical prob- 
lem, or reflect on God, or admire a grand natural scene. 
Some apes, however, would probably declare that they 
could and did admire the beauty of the colored skin and 
fur of their partners in marriage. They would admit 
that, though they could make other apes understand by 
cries some of their perceptions and simpler wants, the 
notion of expressing definite ideas by definite sounds had 
never crossed their minds. They might insist that they 
were ready to aid their fellow-apes of the same troop in 
many ways, to risk their lives for them, and to take charge 
of their orphans ; but they would be forced to acknowl- 
edge that disinterested love for all living creatures, the 
most noble attribute of man, was quite beyond their com- 

Nevertheless, the difference in mind between man and 
the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree 
and not of kind. "We have seen that the senses and in- 
tuitions, the various emotions and faculties, such as love, 
memory, attention, curiosity, imitation, reason, etc., of 
which man boasts, may be found in an incipient, or even 
sometimes in a well-developed condition, in the lower 

animals. They are also capable of some inherited im- 



provement, as we see in the domestic dog compared with 
the wolf or jackal. If it could be proved that certain 
high mental powers, such as the formation of general 
concepts, self -consciousness, etc., were absolutely peculiar 
to man, which seems extremely doubtful, it is not im- 
probable that these qualities are merely the incidental 
results of other highly-advanced intellectual faculties ; 
and these again mainly the result of the continued use of 
a perfect language. At what age does the new-born 
infant possess the power of abstraction, or become self- 
conscious, and reflect on its own existence ? We can not 
answer ; nor can we answer in regard to the ascending 
organic scale. The half -art, half -instinct of language still 
bears the stamp of its gradual evolution. The ennobling 
belief in God is not universal with man ; and the belief 
in spiritual agencies naturally follows from other mental 
powers. The moral sense perhaps affords the best and 
highest distinction between man and the lower animals ; 
but I need say nothing on this head, as I have so lately 
endeavored to show that the social instincts — the prime 
principle of man's moral constitution — with the aid of 
active intellectual powers and the effects of habit, natu- 
rally lead to the golden rule, "As ye would that men 
should do to you, do ye to them likewise " ; and this lies 
at the foundation of morality. 


Descent Why does man regret, even though trying 

of Man, to banish such regret, that he has followed the 
^"^^ ■ one natural impulse rather than the other ? 
and why does he further feel that he ought to regret his 
conduct ? Man in this respect differs profoundly from 
the lower animals. Nevertheless we can, I think, see 



with some degree of clearness the reason of this differ- 

Man, from the activity of his mental faculties, can 
not avoid reflection : past impressions and images are 
incessantly and clearly passing through his mind. Now, 
with those animals which live permanently in a body, the 
Bocial instincts are ever present and persistent. Such 
animals are always ready to utter the danger-signal, to 
defend the community, and to give aid to their fellows in 
accordance with their habits ; they feel at all times, with- 
out the stimulus of any special passion or desire, some 
degree of love and sympathy for them ; they are unhappy 
if long separated from them, and always happy to be 
again in their company. So it is with ourselves. Even 
when we are quite alone, how often do we think -with 
pleasure or pain of what others think of us — of their 
imagined approbation or disapprobation ! — and this all 
follows from sympathy, a fundamental element of the 
social instincts. A man who possessed no trace of such 
instincts would be an unnatural monster. On the other 
hand, the desire to satisfy hunger, or any passion such as 
vengeance, is in its nature temporary, and can for a time 
be fully satisfied. Xor is it easy, perhaps hardly pos- 
sible, to call up with complete vividness the feeling, for 
instance, of hunger ; nor, indeed, as has often been re- 
marked, of any suffering. The instinct of self-preserva- 
tion is not felt except in the presence of danger ; and 
many a coward has thought himself brave until he has 
met his enemy face to face. The wish for another man's 
property is perhaps as persistent a desire as any that can 
be named ; but even in this case the satisfaction of actual 
possession is generally a weaker feeling than the desire : 

r~"ny a thief, if not an habitual one, after success has 
ndered why he stole some article. 


Several critics have objected that though 
some slight regret or repentance may be ex- 
plained by the view advocated in this chapter, it is impos- 
sible thus to account for the soul-shaking feeling of 
remorse. But I can see little force in this objection. My 
critics do not define what they mean by remorse, and I 
can find no definition implying more than an overwhelm- 
ing sense of repentance. Eemorse seems to bear the 
same relation to repentance as rage does to anger, or agony 
to pain. It is far from strange that an instinct so strong 
and so generally admired as maternal love should, if dis- 
obeyed, lead to the deepest misery, as soon as the impres- 
sion of the past cause of disobedience is weakened. Even 
when an action is opposed to no special instinct, merely 
to know that our friends and equals despise us for it is 
enough to cause great misery. Who can doubt that the 
refusal to fight a duel through fear has caused many men 
an agony of shame ? Many a Hindoo, it is said, has been 
stirred to the bottom of his soul by having partaken of 
unclean food. Here is another case of what must, I 
think, be called remorse. Dr. Landor acted as a magis- 
trate in "West Australia, and relates that a native on his 
farm, after losing one of his wives from disease, came and 
said that "he was going to a distant tribe to spear a 
woman, to satisfy his sense of duty to his wife." I told 
him that if he did so I would send him to prison for life. 
He remained about the farm for some months, but got 
exceedingly thin, and complained that he could not rest 
or eat, that his wife's spirit was haunting him because he 
had not taken a life for hers. I was inexorable, and 
assured him that nothing should save him if he did. 
Nevertheless, the man disappeared for more than a year, 


and then returned in high condition ; and his other wife 
told Dr. Landor that her husband had taken the life of a 
woman belonging to a distant tribe ; but it was impossi- 
ble to obtain legal evidence of the act. The breach of a 
rule held sacred by the tribe will thus, as it seems, give 
rise to the deepest feelings, and this quite apart from the 
social instincts, excepting in so far as the rule is grounded 
on the judgment of the community. How so many 
strange superstitions have arisen throughout the world 
we know not ; nor can we tell how some real and great 
crimes, such as incest, have come to be held in an abhor- 
rence (which is not, however, quite universal) by the 
lowest savages. It is even doubtful whether in some 
tribes incest would be looked on with greater horror than 
would the marriage of a man with a woman bearing the 
same name, though not a relation. " To violate this law 
is a crime which the Australians hold in the greatest ab- 
horrence, in this agreeing exactly with certain tribes of 
North America. When the question is put in either 
district, is it worse to kill a girl of a foreign tribe, or to 
marry a girl of one's own, an answer just opposite to 
ours would be given without hesitation." We may, 
therefore, reject the belief, lately insisted on by some 
writers, that the abhorrence of incest is due to our pos- 
sessing a special God-implanted conscience. 


Man, prompted by his conscience, will 
through long habit acquire such perfect self- 
command, that his desires and passions will at last yield 
instantly and without a struggle to his social sympathies 
and instincts, including his feeling for the judgment of 
his fellows. The still hungry or the still revengeful 


man will not think of stealing food, or of wreaking his ' 
vengeance. It is possible, or, as we shall hereafter see, 
even probable, that the habit of self-command may, like 
other habits, be inherited. Thus at last man comes to| 
feel, through acquired and perhaps inherited habit, that j 
it is best for him to obey his more persistent impulses. 
The imperious word ought seems merely to imply the] 
consciousness of the existence of a rule of conduct, how- 
ever it may have originated. Formerly it must have been] 
often vehemently urged that an insulted gentleman ought' 
to fight a duel. "We even say that a pointer ought to| 
point, and a retriever to retrieve game. If they fail to j 
do so, they fail in their duty and act wrongly. 

If any desire or instinct leading to an action opposed 
to the good of others still appears, when recalled to mind, 
as strong as, or stronger than, the social instinct, a man 
will feel no keen regret at having followed it ; but he will 
be conscious that, if his conduct were known to his fel- 
lows, it would meet with their disapprobation ; and few 
are so destitute of sympathy as not to feel discomfort 
when this is realized. If he has no such sympathy, and 
if his desires leading to bad actions are at the time strong, 
and when recalled are not overmastered by the persistent 
social instincts and the judgment of others, then he is 
essentially a bad man ; and the sole restraining motive 
left is the fear of punishment, and the conviction that 
in the long run it would be best for his own selfish inter- 
ests to regard the good of others rather than his own. 

It is obvious that every one may with an easy con- 
science gratify his own desires, if they do not interfere 
with his social instincts, that is, with the good of others ; 
but in order to be quite free from self-reproach, or at least 
of anxiety, it is almost necessary for him to avoid the 
disapprobation, whether reasonable or not, of his fellow- 



men. IN'or must he break through the fixed habits of his 
life, especially if these are supported by reason ; for, if 
he does, he will assuredly feel dissatisfaction. He must 
likewise avoid the reprobation of the one God or gods 
in whom, according to his knowledge or superstition, he 
may believe ; but in this case the additional fear of divine 
punishment often supervenes. 


p ^ ^ Suicide during former times was not gen- 
erally considered as a crime, but rather, from 
the courage displayed, as an honorable act ; and it is still 
practiced by some semi-civilized and savage nations with- 
out reproach, for it does not obviously concern others of 
the tribe. It has been recorded that an Indian thug 
conscientiously regretted that he had not robbed and 
strangled as many travelers as did his father before him. 
In a rude state of civilization the robbery of strangers is, 
indeed, generally considered as honorable. 

Slavery, although in some way beneficial during an- 
cient times, is a great crime ; yet it was not so regarded 
until quite recently, even by the most civilized nations. 
And this was especially the case because the slaves be- 
longed iu general to a race different from that of their 
masters. As barbarians do not regard the opinion of 
their women, wives are commonly treated like slaves. 

p How so many absurd rules of conduct, as 

well as so many absurd religious beliefs, have 
originated, we do not know ; nor how it is that they have 
become, in all quarters of the world, so deeply impressed 
on the minds of men ; but it is worthy of remark that a 
belief constantly inculcated during the early years of life. 


while the brain is impressible, appears to acquire almost 
the nature of an instinct ; and the very essence of an 
instinct is that it is followed independently of reason. 
Neither can we say why certain admirable virtues, such 
as the love of truth, are much more highly appreciated 
by some savage tribes than by others ; nor, again, why- 
similar differences prevail even among highly civilized 
nations. Knowing how firmly fixed many strange cus- 
toms and superstitions have become, we need feel no sur- 
prise that the self-regarding virtues, supported as they 
are by reason, should now appear to us so natural as to 
be thought innate, although they were not valued by 
man in his early condition. 

The wislies and opinions of the members 
° * of the same community, expressed at first 
orally, but later by writing also, either form the sole 
guides of our conduct, or greatly re-enforce the social in- 
stincts ; such opinions, however, have sometimes a tend- 
ency directly opposed to these instincts. This latter 
fact is well exemplified by the law of honor, that is,, the 
law of the opinion of our equals, and not of all our coun- 
trymen. The breach of this law, even when the breach 
is known to be strictly accordant with true morality, has 
caused many a man more agony than a real crime. We 
recognize the same influence in the burning sense of shame 
which most of us have felt, even after the interval of 
years, when calling to mind some accidental breach of a 
trifling, though fixed, rule of etiquette. 



Descent ^^ must remember that progress is no in- 

of Man, variable rule. It is very difficult to say why 
^^^ ' one civilized nation rises, becomes more pow- 
erful, and spreads more widely, than another ; or why the 
same nation progresses more quickly at one time than at 
another. We can only say that it depends on an increase 
in the actual number of the population, on the number 
of the men endowed with high intellectual and moral 
faculties, as well as on their standard of excellence. Cor- 
poreal structure appears to have little influence, except 
so far as vigor of body leads to vigor of mind. 

It has been urged by several writers that, as high in- 
tellectual powers are advantageous to a nation, the old 
Greeks, who stood some grades higher in intellect than 
any race that has ever existed, ought, if the power of 
natural selection were real, to have risen still higher in 
the scale, increased in number, and stocked the whole of 
Europe. Here we have the tacit assumption, so often 
made with respect to corporeal structures, that there is 
some innate tendency toward continued development in 
mind and body. But development of all kinds depends 
on many concurrent favorable circumstances. Natural 
selection acts only tentatively. Individuals and races 
may have acquired certain indisputable advantages, and 
yet have perished from failing in other characters. The 
Greeks may have retrograded from a want of coherence 
between the many small states, from the small size of 
their whole country, from the practice of slavery, or 
*from extreme sensuality ; for they did not succumb until 
"they were enervated and corrupt to the very core." 
The Western nations of Europe, who now so immeasura- 
bly surpass their former savage progenitors, and stand at 



the summit of civilization, owe little or none of their i 
superiority to direct inheritance from the old Greeks, 
though they owe much to the written works of that won- 
derful people. 

The remarkable success of the English as! 
colonists, compared to other European nations, • 
has been ascribed to their "daring and persistent ener- 
gy"; a result which is well illustrated by comparing the 
progress of the Canadians of English and French ex- 
traction ; but who can say how the English gained their 
energy ? There is apparently much truth in the belief 
that the wonderful progress of the United States, as well 
as the character of the people, is the result of natural 
selection ; for the more energetic, restless, and coura- 
geous men from all parts of Europe have emigrated during 
the last ten or twelve generations to that great country, 
and have there succeeded best. 


The evidence that all civilized nations are 

PflrCG 144 

the descendants of barbarians consists, on the 

one side, of clear traces of their former low condition in 

still-existing customs, beliefs, language, etc. ; and, on the 

other side, of proofs that savages are independently able 

to raise themselves a few steps in the scale of civilization, 

and have actually thus risen. The evidence on the first 

head is extremely curious, but can not be here given : I 

refer to such cases as that of the art of enumeration, 

which, as Mr. Tylor clearly shows by reference to the 

words still used in some places, originated in counting 

the fingers, first of one hand and then of the other, and 


lastly of the toes. "We have traces of this in our own 
decimal system, and in the Roman numerals, where, after 
the V, which is supposed to be an abbreviated picture of 
a human hand, we pass on to VI, etc., when the other 
hand no doubt was used. So again, "when we speak of 
threescore and ten, we are counting by the vigesimal sys- 
tem, each score thus ideally made standing for 20 — for 
' one man ' as a Mexican or Carib would put it." Accord- 
ing to a large and increasing school of philologists, every 
language bears the marks of its slow and gradual evolu- 
tion. So it is with the art of writing, for letters are ru- 
diments of pictorial representations. It is hardly possible 
to read Mr. McLennan's work and not admit that almost 
all civilized nations still retain traces of such rude habits 
as the forcible capture of wives. What ancient nation, 
as the same author asks, can be named that was originally 
monogamous ? The primitive idea of justice, as shown 
by the law of battle and other customs of which vestiges 
still remain, was likewise most rude. Many existing su- 
perstitions are the remnants of former false religious be- 
liefs. The highest fol'm of religion — the grand idea of 
God hating sin and loving righteousness — ^was unknown 
during primeval times. 

Turning to the other kind of evidence : Sir J. Lub- 
bock has shown that some savages have recently improved 
a little in some of their simpler arts. From the extremely 
curious account which he gives of the weapons, tools, and 
arts in use among savages in various parts of the world, 
it can not be doubted that these have nearly all been in- 
dependent discoveries, excepting perhaps the art of making 
fire. The Australian boomerang is a good instance of one 
such independent discovery. The Tahitians when first 
visited had advanced in many respects beyond the inhab- 
itants of most of the other Polynesian islands. There 


are no just grounds for the belief that the high culture 
of the native Peruvians and Mexicans was derived from 
abroad ; many native plants were there cultivated, and a 
few native animals domesticated. We should bear in 
mind that, judging from the small influence of most mis- 
sionaries, a wandering crew from some semi-civilized land, 
if washed to the shores of America, would not have pro- 
duced any marked effect on the natives, unless they had 
already become somewhat advanced. Looking to a very 
remote period in the history of the world, we find, to use 
Sir J. Lubbock's well-known terms, a paleolithic and neo- 
lithic period ; and no one will pretend that the art of 
grinding rough flint tools was a borrowed one. In all 
parts of Europe, as far east as Greece, in Palestine, 
India, Japan, New Zealand, and Africa, including Egypt, 
flint tools have been discovered in abundance ; and of 
their use the existing inhabitants retain no tradition. 
There is also indirect evidence of their former use by the 
Chinese and ancient Jews. Hence there can hardly be a 
doubt that the inhabitants of these countries, which in- 
clude nearly the whole civilized world, were once in a 
barbarous condition. To believe that man was aborigi- 
nally civilized and then suffered utter degradation in so 
many regions is to take a pitiably low view of human 
nature. It is apparently a truer and more cheerful view 
that progress has been much more general than retro- 
gression ; that man has risen, though by slow and inter- 
rupted steps, from a lowly condition to the highest stand- 
ard as yet attained by him in knowledge, morals, and 



jjgg^^Qt There is no evidence that man was aborigi- 

of Man, nally endowed with the ennobling belief in 
P*^ ' the existence of an Omnipotent God. On the 
contrary, there is ample evidence, derived not from hasty 
travelers, but from men who have long resided with sav- 
ages, that numerous races have existed, and still exist, 
who have no idea of one or more gods, and who have no 
words in their languages to express such an idea. The 
question is, of course, wholly distinct from that higher 
one, whether there exists a Creator and Euler of the uni- 
verse ; and this has been answered in the aflBrmative by 
some of the highest intellects that have ever existed. 

If, however, we include under the term '* religion" 
the belief in unseen or spiritual agencies, the case is 
wholly different ; for this belief seems to be universal 
with the less civilized races. Nor is it difficult to com- 
prehend how it arose. As soon as the important facul- 
ties of the imagination — wonder and curiosity, together 
with some power of reasoning — ^had become partially de- 
veloped, man would naturally crave to understand what 
was passing around him, and would have vaguely specu- 
lated on his own existence. As Mr. McLennan has re- 
marked : " Some explanation of the phenomena of life a 
man must feign for himself ; and, to judge from the uni- 
versality of it, the simplest hypothesis, and the first to 
occur to men, seems to have been that natural phenom- 
ena are ascribable to the presence in animals, plants, 
and things, and in the forces of nature, of such spirits 

[prompting to action as men are conscious they themselves 
possess." It is also probable, as Mr, Tylor has shown, 
that dreams may have first given rise to the notion of 


subjective and objectiye impressions. When a savage 
dreams, the figures which appear before him are believed 
to have come from a distance, and to stand over him ; or 
"the soul of the dreamer goes out on its travels, and 
comes home with a remembrance of what it has seen." 
But, until the faculties of imagination, curiosity, reason, 
etc., had been fairly well developed in the mind of man, 
his dreams would not have led him to believe in spirits, 
any more than in the case of a dog. 

The tendency in savages to imagine that natural ob- 
jects and agencies are animated by spiritual or living 
essences is, perhaps, illustrated by a little fact which I 
once noticed. My dog, a full-grown and very sensible ani- 
mal, was lying on the lawn during a hot and still day ; 
but at a little distance a slight breeze occasionally moved 
an open parasol, which would have been wholly disre- 
garded by the dog had any one stood near it. As it was, 
every time that the parasol slightly moved, the dog 
growled fiercely and barked. He must, I think, have 
reasoned to himself, in a rapid and unconscious manner, 
that movement, without any apparent cause, indicated 
the presence of some strange living agent, and that no 
stranger had a right to be on his territory. 

The belief in spiritual agencies would easily pass into 
the belief in the existence of one or more gods. For sav- 
ages would naturally attribute to spirits the same pas- 
sions, the same love of vengeance, or simplest form of 
justice, and the same affections, which they themselves 
feel. The Fuegians appear to be in this respect in an 
intermediate condition, for, when the surgeon on board 
the Beagle shot some young ducklings as specimens, 
York Minster declared, in the most solemn manner, 
" Oh, Mr. Bynoe, much rain, much snow, blow much " ; 
and this was evidently a retributive punishment for 


wasting human food. So, again, he related how, when 
his brother killed a "wild man," storms long raged, 
much rain and snow fell. Yet we could never discover 
that the Fuegians believed in what we should call a God, 
or practiced any religious rites ; and Jemmy Button, with 
justifiable pride, stoutly maintained that there was no 
devil in his land. This latter assertion is the more re- 
markable, as with savages the belief in bad spirits is far 
more common than that in good ones. 

The feeling of religious devotion is a highly complex 
one, consisting of love, complete submission to an exalted 
and mysterious superior, a strong sense of dependence, 
fear, reverence, gnititude, hope for the future, and per- 
haps other elements. No being could experience so com- 
plex an emotion until advanced in his intellectual and 
moral faculties to at least a moderately high level. Nev- 
ertheless, we see some distant approach to this state of 
mind in the deep love of a dog for his master, associ- 
ated with complete submission, some fear, and perhaps 
other feelings. The behavior of a dog, when returning 
to his master after an absence, and, as I may add, of a 
monkey to his beloved keeper, is widely different from 
that toward their fellows. In the latter case, the trans- 
ports of joy appear to be somewhat less, and the sense of 
equality is shown in every action. Professor Branbach 
goes so far as to maintain that a dog looks on his master 
as on a god. 

The same high mental faculties which first led man 
to believe in unseen spiritual agencies, then in fetichism, 
polytheism, and ultimately in monotheism, would infal- 
libly lead him, as long as his reasoning powers remained 
poorly developed, to various strange superstitions and cus- 
toms. Many of these are terrible to think of — such as th« 
sacrifice of human beings to a blood-loving god ; the trial 


of innocent persons by the ordeal of poison or fire ; witch- 
craft, etc. — yet it is well occasionally to reflect on these 
superstitions, for they show us what an infinite debt of 
gratitude we owe to the improvement of our reason, to 
science, and to our accumulated knowledge. As Sir J. 
Lubbock has well observed, "It is not too much to say 
that the horrible dread of unknown evil hangs like a 
thick cloud over savage life, and embitters every pleas- 
ure." These miserable and indirect consequences of our 
, highest faculties may be compared with the incidental 
' and occasional mistakes of the instincts of the lower ani- 


Descent SoME naturalists, from being deeply im- 

of Man, pressed with the mental and spiritual powers 
page 46. ^^ man, have divided the whole organic world 
into three kingdoms, the human, the animal, and the vege- 
table, thus giving to man a separate kingdom. Spiritual 
powers can not be compared or classed by the natural- 
ist : but he may endeavor to show, as I have done, that 
the mental faculties of man and the lower animals do not 
differ in kind, although immensely in degree. A differ- 
ence in degree, however great, does not justify us in 
placing man in a distinct kingdom, as will perhaps be 
best illustrated by comparing the mental powers of two 
insects, namely, a coccus or scale-insect and an ant, 
which undoubtedly belong to the same class. The differ- 
ence is here greater than, though of a somewhat different 
kind from, that between man and the highest mammal. 
The female coccus, while young, attaches itself by its 
proboscis to a plant ; sucks the sap, but never moves 
again; is fertilized and lays eggs; and this is its whole 
history. On the other hand, to describe the habits and 
mental powers of worker-ants would require, as Pierre 
Huber has shown, a large volume ; I may, however, 
briefly specify a few points. Ants certainly communi- 



cate information to each other, and several unite for 
the same work, or for games of play. They recognize 
their fellow -ants after months of absence, and feel 
sympathy for each other. They build great edifices, 
keep them clean, close the doors in the evening, and 
post sentries. They make roads as well as tunnels under 
rivers, and temporary bridges over them, by clinging 
together. They collect food for the community, and, 
when an object, too large for entrance, is brought to the 
nest, they enlarge the door, and afterward build it up 
again. They store up seeds, of which they prevent the 
germination, and which, if damp, are brought up to the 
surface to dry. They keep aphides and other insects as 
milch-cows. They go out to battle in regular bands, and 
freely sacrifice their lives for the common weal. They 
emigrate according to a preconcerted plan. They cap- 
ture slaves. They move the eggs of their aphides, as 
well as their own eggs and cocoons, into warm parts of 
the nest, in order that they may be quickly hatched ; 
and endless similar facts could be given. On the whole, 
the difference in mental power between an ant and a coc- 
cus is immense ; yet no one has ever dreamed of placing 
these insects in distinct classes, much less in distinct 
kingdoms. No doubt the difference is bridged over by 
other insects ; and this is not the case with man and the 
higher apes. But we have every reason to believe that 
the breaks in the series are simply the results of many 
forms having become extinct. 


P T 149 '^^^ greater number of naturalists who 
have taken into consideration the whole struct- 
ure of man, including his mental faculties, have followed 


Blumenbacli and Cuyier, and have placed man in a sepa- 
rate order, under the title of the Bimana, and therefore 
on an equality with the orders of the Quadmmana, Car- 
nivora, etc. Eecently many of our best naturalists have 
recurred to the view first propounded by Linnaeus, so re- 
markable for his sagacity, and hare placed man in the 
same order with the Quadmmana, under the title of the 
Primates. The justice of this conclusion will be ad- 
mitted : for, in the first place, we must bear in mind the 
comparative insignificance for classification of the great 
development of the brain in man, and that the strongly- 
marked differences between the skulls of man and the 
Quadmmana (lately insisted upon by Bischoff, Aeby, and 
others) apparently follow from their differently developed 
brains. In the second place, we must remember that 
nearly all the other and more important differences be- 
tween man and the Quadmmana are manifestly adaptive 
in their nature, and relate chiefly to the erect position of 
man ; such as the stmcttire of his hand, foot, and j)el- 
vis, the curvature of his spine, and the position of his 
head. The family of seals offers a good illustration of 
the small importance of adaptive characters for classifica- 
tion. These animals differ from all other Camivora in 
the form of their bodies and in the structure of their 
limbs, far more than does man from the higher apes ; 
yet in most systems, from that of Cuvier to the most re- 
cent one by Mr. Flower, seals are ranked as a mere family 
in the order of the Camivora. If man had not been his 
own classifier, he would never have thought of founding 
a separate order for his own reception. 

., As far as differences in certain important 

points of structure are concerned, man may 

no doubt rightly claim the rank of a sub-order ; and this 


rank is too low, if we look chiefly to his mental faculties. 
Nevertheless, from a genealogical point of view, it appears 
that this rank is too high, and that man ought to form 
merely a family, or possibly even only a sub-family. If 
we imagine three lines of descent proceeding from a com- 
mon stock, it is quite conceivable that two of them might 
after the lapse of ages be so slightly changed as still to 
remain as species of the same genus, while the third line 
might become so greatly modified as to deserve to rank 
as a distinct sub-family, family, or even order. But in 
this case it is almost certain that the third line would 
still retain through inheritance numerous small points 
of resemblance with the other two. Here, then, would 
occur the difficulty, at present insoluble, how much 
weight we ought to assign in our classifications to strong- 
ly-marked differences in some few points — that is, to the 
amount of modification undergone — and how much to 
close resemblance in numerous unimportant points, as 
indicating the lines of descent of genealogy. To attach 
much weight to the few but strong differences is the most 
obvious and perhaps the safest course^ though it appears 
more correct to pay great attention to the many small 
resemblances, as giving a truly natural classification. 

In forming a Judgment on this head with reference to 
man, we must glance at the classification of the SimiadcB. 
This family is divided by almost all naturalists into the 
Catarrhine group, or Old World monkeys, all of which 
are characterized (as their name expresses) by the peculiar 
structure of their nostrils, and by having four premolars 
in each jaw ; and into the Platyrrhine group or New World 
monkeys (including two very distinct sub-groups), all of 
which are characterized by differently constructed nos- 
trils, and by having six joremolars in each jaw. Some 
other small differences might be mentioned. Now man 


nnquestionably belongs in his dentition, in the stmcture 
of his nostrils, and some other respects, to the Catarrhine 
or Old World division ; nor does he resemble the Platyr- 
rhines more closely than the Catarrhines in any charac- 
ters, excepting in a few of not much importance and 
apparently of an adaptive nature. It is, therefore, against 
all probability that some New "World species should have 
formerly varied and produced a man-like creature, with 
all the distinctive characters proper to the Old World 
division, losing at the same time all its own distinctive 
characters. There can, consequently, hardly be a doubt 
that man is an offshoot from the Old World Simian 
stem, and that, under a genealogical point of view, he 
must be classed with the Catarrhine division. 

p^^ jgg And, as man from a genealogical point of 

view belongs to the Catarrhine or Old World 
stock, we must conclude, however much the conclusion 
may revolt our pride, that our early progenitors would 
have been properly thus designated. But we must not 
fall into the error of supposing that the early progeni- 
tor of the whole Simian stock, including man, was identi- 
cal with, or even closely resembled, any existing ape or 


Pace 155 ^^ ^^® naturally led to inquire, where was 

the birthplace of man at that stage of descent 
when our progenitors diverged from the Catarrhine stock ? 
The fact that they belonged to this stock clearly shows 
that they inhabited the Old World ; but not Australia 
nor any oceanic island, as we may infer from the laws of 
geographical distribution. In each great region of the 
world the living mammals are closely related to the ex- 


tinct species of the same region. It is, therefore, prob-^ 
able that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes 
closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee ; and, as these 
two species are now man's nearest allies, it is somewhat 
more probable that our early progenitors lived on the 
African Continent than elsewhere. But it is useless to 
speculate on this subject ; for two or three anthropomor- 
phous apes, one the Dryopithecus of Lartet, nearly as 
large as a man, and closely allied to Hylobates, existed 
in Europe during the Miocene age ; and since so remote 
a period the earth has certainly undergone many great 
revolutions, and there has been ample time for migration 
on the largest scale. 

At the period and place, whenever and wherever it 
was, when man first lost his hairy covering, he probably 
inhabited a hot country ; a circumstance favorable for 
the frugiferous diet on which, judging from analogy, he 
subsisted. We are far from knowing how long ago it 
was when man first diverged from the Catarrhine stock ; 
but it may have occurred at an epoch as remote as the 
Eocene * period ; for that the higher apes have diverged 
from the lower apes as early as the Upper Miocene period 
is shown by the existence of the Dryopithecus. We are 
also quite ignorant at how rapid a rate organisms, whether 
high or low in the scale, may be modified under favorable 
circumstances; we know, however, that some have re- 
tained the same form during an enormous lapse of time. 
From what we see going on under domestication, we learn 
that some of the co-descendants of the same species may 
be not at all, some a little, and some greatly changed, all 
within the same period. Thus it may have been with 

* Eocene. — The earliest of the three divisions of the Tertiary epoch of 
geologists. Rocks of this age contain a small proportion of shells identi- 
cal with species now living. 


man, who has undergone a great amount of modification 
in certain characters in comparison with the higher apes. 

The great break in the organic chain between man 
and his nearest allies, which can not be bridged over by 
any extinct or living species, has often been advanced as 
a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from 
some lower form ; but this objection will not appear of 
much weight to those who, from general reasons, believe 
in the general principle of evolution. Breaks often occur 
in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp, and 
defined, others less so in various degrees ; as between the 
orang and its nearest allies — between the Tarsius and the 
other Lemurid(B — between the elephant, and in a more 
striking manner between the Omithorhynchus or Echidna, 
and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely 
on the number of related forms which have become ex- 
tinct. At some future period, not very distant as meas- 
ured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost 
certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races 
throughout the world. At the same time the anthro- 
pomorphous apes, as Professor SchaafEhausen has re- 
marked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break be- 
tween man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for 
it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, 
as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape 
as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro 
or Australian and the gorilla. 

With respect to the absence of fossil remains, serving 
to connect man with his ape-like progenitors, no one will 
lay much stress on this fact who reads Sir C. Lyell's dis- 
cussion, where he shows that in all the vertebrate classes 
the discovery of fossil remains has been a very slow and 
fortuitous process. Nor should it be forgotten that those 
regions which are the most likely to afford remains con- 



necting man with some extinct ape-like creature, have 
not as yet been searched by geologists. 

In attempting to trace the genealogy of the Mammalia, 
and therefore of man, lower down in the series, we be- 
come involved in greater and greater obscurity ; but as a 
most capable judge, Mr. Parker, has remarked, we have 
good reason to believe that no true bird or reptile inter- 
venes in the direct line of descent. 


Page 158 U^^(i Vertebrata are defined as " the highest 

division of the animal kingdom, so called from 
the presence in most cases of a backbone composed of 
numerous joints or vertehrce, which constitutes the cen- 
ter of the skeleton and at the same time supports and 
protects the central parts of the nervous system. "] 

Every evolutionist will admit that the five great ver- 
tebrate classes, namely, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibi- 
ans, and fishes, are descended from some one prototype ; 
for they have much in common, especially during their 
embryonic state. As the class of fishes is the most lowly 
organized, and appeared before the others, we may con- 
clude that all the members of the vertebrate kingdom are 
derived from some fish-like animal. The belief that ani- 
mals so distinct as a monkey, an elephant, a humming- 
bird, a snake, a frog, and a fish, etc., could all have sprung 
from the same parents, will appear monstrous to those 
who have not attended to the recent progress of natural 
history. For this belief implies the former existence of 
links binding closely together all these forms, now so ut- 
terly unlike. 

Nevertheless, it is certain that groups of animals have 
existed, or do now exist, which serve to connect sev- 


eral of the great vertebrate classes more or less closely. 
We have seen that the Ornithorhynchus graduates toward 
reptiles ; and Professor Huxley has discovered, and is 
confirmed by Mr. Cope and others, that the Dinosaurians 
are in many important characters intermediate between 
certain reptiles and certain birds — the birds referred to 
being the ostrich-tribe (itself evidently a widely-diffused 
remnant of a larger group) and the Archeopteryx, that 
strange Secondary bird, with a long, lizard-like tail. 
Again, according to Professor Owen, the Ichthyosaurians 
— ^great sea-lizards furnished with paddles — present many 
aflBnities with fishes, or rather, according to Huxley, 
with amphibians ; a class which, including in its highest 
division frogs and toads, is plainly allied to the Ganoid 
fishes. These latter fishes swarmed during the earlier 
geological periods, and were constructed on what is called 
a generalized type, that is, they presented diversified affini- 
ties with other groups of organisms. The Lepidosiren is 
also so closely allied to amphibians and fishes that natural- 
ists long disputed in which of these two classes to rank it ; 
it, and also some few Ganoid fishes have been preserved 
from utter extinction by inhabiting rivers, which are har- 
bors of refuge, and are related to the great waters of the 
ocean in the same way that islands are to continents. 

Lastly, one single member of the immense and diver- 
sified class of fishes, namely, the lancelet or amphioxus, 
is so different from all other fishes, that Hackel main- 
tains that it ought to form a distinct class in the verte- 
brate kingdom. This fish is remarkable for its negative 
characters ; it can hardly be said to possess a brain, ver- 
tebral column, or heart, etc., so that it was classed by 
the older naturalists among the worms. Many years ago 
Professor Goodsir perceived that the lancelet presented 
some affinities with the Ascidians, which are invertebrate, 


hermaphrodite, marine creatures permanently attached to 
a support. They hardly appear like animals, and con- 
sist of a simple, tough, leathery sack, with two small pro- 
jecting orifices. They belong to the Molluscoida of 
Huxley — a lower division of the great kingdom of the 
Mollusca ; but they have recently been placed by some 
naturalists among the Vermes or worms. Their larvae 
somewhat resemble tadpoles in shape, and have the power 
of swimming freely about. M. Kovalevsky has lately ob- 
served that the larvae of Ascidians are related to the Ver- 
tebrata, in their manner of development, in the relative 
position of the nervous system, and in possessing a struct- 
ure closely like the cliorda dorsalis of vertebrate animals ; 
and in this he has been since confirmed by Professor 

^ Thus, if we may rely on embryology, ever 

° ' the safest guide in classification, it seems that 
we have at last gained a clew to the source whence the 
Vertebrata were derived. We should then be justified in 
believing that at an extremely remote period a group of 
animals existed, resembling in many respects the larvae of 
our present Ascidians, which diverged into two great 
branches — the one retrograding in development and pro- 
ducing the present class of Ascidians, the other rising to 
the crown and summit of the animal kingdom by giving 
birth to the Vertebrata. 


The most ancient progenitors in the king- 
dom of the Vertebrata, at which we are able 
to obtain an obscure glance, apparently consisted of a 
group of marine animals, resembling the larvae of exist- 


ing Ascidians. These animals probably gave rise to a 
group of fishes, as lowly organized as the lancelet ; and 
from these the Ganoids, and other fishes like the Lepido- 
siren, must have been developed. From such fish a 
Tery small advance would carry us on to the Amphibians. 
We have seen that birds and reptiles were once intimately 
connected together ; and the Monotremata now connect 
mammals with reptiles in a slight degree. But no one can 
at present say by what line of descent the three higher 
and related classes, namely, mammals, birds, and reptiles, 
were derived from the two lower vertebrate classes, 
namely, amphibians and fishes. In the class of mammals 
the steps are not difficult to conceive which led from the 
ancient Monotremata to the ancient Marsupials ; and 
from these to the early progenitors of the placental mam- 
mals. We may thus ascend to the Lemuridm j and the 
interval is not very wide from these to the Simiadm. The 
Simiadce then branched off into two great stems, the New 
^orld and Old World monkeys ; and from the latter, 
at a remote period, Man, the wonder and glory of the 
universe, proceeded. 

Thus, we have given to man a pedigree of prodigious 
length, but not, it may be said, of noble quality. The 
world, it has often been remarked, appears as if it had 
long been preparing for the advent of man : and this, in 
one sense, is strictly true, for he owes his birth to a long 
line of progenitors. If any single link in this chain had 
never existed, man would not have been exactly what he 
now is. Unless we willfully close our eyes, we may, with 
our present knowledge, approximately recognize our par- 
entage ; nor need we feel ashamed of it. The most hum- 
ble organism is something much higher than the inor- 
ganic dust under our feet ; and no one with an unbiased 
mind can study any living creature, however humble. 



without being struck with enthusiasm at its maryeloug' 
structure and properties. 


Descent ^^^ question whether mankind consists of 

of Man, one or several species has of late years been 

^^^® ' much discussed by anthropologists, who are 
divided into the two schools of monogenists and polygen- 
ists. Those who do not admit the principle of evolution 
must look at species as separate creations, or as in some 
manner as distinct entities ; and they must decide what 
forms of man they will consider as species by the analogy 
of the method commonly pursued in ranking other or- 
ganic beings as species. But it is a hopeless endeavor 
to decide this point, until some definition of the term 
"species" is generally accepted ; and the definition must 
not include an indeterminate element such as an act of 
creation. We might as well attempt without any defini- 
tion to decide whether a certain number of houses should 
be called a village, town, or city. We have a practical 
illustration of the difficulty in the never-ending doubts 
whether many closely-allied mammals, birds, insects, and 
plants, which represent each other respectively in North 
America and Europe, should be ranked as species or geo- 
graphical races ; and the like holds true of the produc- 
tions of many islands situated at some little distance from 
the nearest continent. 

Those naturalists, on the other hand, who admit the 
principle of evolution, and this is now admitted by the 
majority of rising men, will feel no doubt that all the 
races of man are descended from a single primitive stock • 
whether or not they may think fit to designate the races 
as distinct species, for the sake of expressing their amount 



of difference. With our domestic animals, the question 
whether the various races have arisen from one or more 
species is somewhat different. Although it may be ad- 
mitted that all the races, as well as all the natural species 
within the same genus, have sprung from the same primi- 
tive stock, yet it is a fit subject for discussion whether 
all the domestic races of the dog, for instance, have ac- 
quired their present amount of difference since some one 
species "v^jas first domesticated by man ; or whether they 
owe some of their characters to inheritance from distinct 
species which had already been differentiated in a state 
of nature. With man no such question can arise, for he 
can not be said to have been domesticated at any particu- 
lar period. 

During an early stage in the divergence of the races 
of man from a common stock, the differences between the 
races and their number must have been small ; conse- 
quently, as far as their distinguishing characters are con- 
cerned, they then had less claim to rank as distinct spe- 
cies than the existing so-called races. Nevertheless, so 
arbitrary is the term of species, that such early races 
would, perhaps, have been ranked by some naturalists as 
distinct species, if their differences, although extremely 
slight, had been more constant than they are at present, 
and had not graduated into each other. 


Pa<'e 174 ^^^ *^® °^^^^ weighty of all the arguments 

against treating the races of man as distinct 
species is, that they graduate into each other, independ- 
ently, in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having 
intercrossed. Man has been studied more carefully than 
any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible di- 


versity among capable judges whether he should be classed 
as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jac- 
quinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), 
seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fif- 
teen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two 
(Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according 
to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove 
that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it 
shows that they graduate into each other, and that it is 
hardly possible to discover clear, distinctive characters be- 
tween them. 

Every naturalist who has had the misfortune to under- 
take the description of a group of highly- varying organ- 
isms, has encountered cases (I speak after experience) 
precisely like that of man ; and, if of a cautious disposi- 
tion, he will end by uniting all the forms which graduate 
into each other under a single species ; for he will say to 
himself that he has no right to give names to objects 
which he can not define. Cases of this kind occur in the 
order which includes man, namely, in certain genera of 
monkeys ; while in other genera, as in Cercopithecus, 
most of the species can be determined with certainty. In 
the American genus Cehus, the various forms are ranked 
by some naturalists as species, by others as mere geo- 
graphical races. Now, if numerous specimens of Cehus 
were collected from all parts of South America, and those 
forms which at present appear to be specifically distinct 
were found to graduate into each other by close stejjs, 
they would usually be ranked as mere varieties or races ; 
and this course has been followed by most naturalists 
with respect to the races of man. 



From the fundamental differences between 
= ■ certain languages, some philologists have in- 
ferred that when man first became widely diffused, he was 
not a speaking animal ; but it may be suspected that 
languages, far less perfect than any now spoken, aided 
by gestures, might have been used, and yet have left no 
traces on subsequent and more highly-developed tongues. 
Without the use of some language, however imperfect, it 
appears doubtful whether man's intellect could have risen 
to the standard implied by his dominant position at an 
early period. 

Whether primeval man, when he possessed but few 
arts, and those of the rudest kind, and when his power 
of language was extremely imperfect, would have de- 
served to be called man, must depend on the definition 
which we employ. In a series of forms graduating in- 
sensibly from some ape-like creature to man as he now 
exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point 
when the term "man" ought to be used. But this is a 
matter of very little importance. So, again, it is almost 
a matter of indifference whether the so-called races of 
man are thus designated, or are ranked as species or sub- 
species ; but the latter term appears the more appro- 
priate. Finally, we may conclude that, when the prin- 
ciple of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will 
be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and 
the polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death. 


One other question ought not to be passed over with- 
out notice, namely, whether, as is sometimes assumed, 
each sub-species or race of man has sprung from a single 


pair of progenitors. With our domestic animals a new 
race can readily be formed by carefully matching the 
varying offspring from a single pair, or even from a single 
individual possessing some new character ; but most of 
our races have been formed, not intentionally from a 
selected pair, but unconsciously, by the preservation of 
many individuals which have varied, however slightly, in 
some useful or desired manner. If in one country stronger 
and heavier horses, and in another country lighter and 
fleeter ones were habitually preferred, we may feel sure 
that two distinct sub-breeds would be produced in the 
course of time, without any one pair having been sepa- 
rated and bred from in either country. Many races have 
been thus formed, and their manner of formation is 
closely analogous to that of natural species. We know, 
also, that the horses taken to the Falkland Islands have, 
during successive generations, become smaller and weaker, 
while those which have run wild on the Pampas have ac- 
quired larger and coarser heads ; and such changes are 
manifestly due, not to any one pair, but to all the indi- 
viduals having been subjected to the same conditions, 
aided, perhaps, by the principle of reversion. The new 
sub-breeds in such cases are not descended from any sin- 
gle pair, but from many individuals which have varied in 
different degrees, but in the same general manner ; and 
we many conclude that the races of man have been simi- 
larly produced, the modifications being either the direct 
result of exposure to different conditions, or the indirect 
result of some form of selection. 



Descent When Tasmania was first colonized the na- 

of Man, tives Were roughly estimated by some at seven 
^*°^ ■ thousand and by others at twenty thousand. 
Their number was soon greatly reduced, chiefly by fight- 
ing with the English and with each other. After the 
famous hunt by all the colonists, when the remaining 
natives delivered themselves up to the government, they 
consisted only of one hundred and twenty individuals, 
who were in 1832 transported to Flinders Island. This 
island, situated between Tasmania and Australia, is forty 
miles long, and from twelve to eighteen miles broad : it 
seems healthy, and the natives were well treated. Never- 
theless, they suffered greatly in health. In 1834 they 
consisted (Bonwick, p. 250) of forty-seven adult males, 
forty-eight adult females, and sixteen children, or in all 
of one hundred and eleven souls. In 1835 only one hun- 
dred were left As they continued rapidly to decrease, 
and as they themselves thought that they should not 
perish so quickly elsewhere, they were removed in 1847 
to Oyster Cove in the southern part of Tasmania. They 
then consisted (December 20, 1847) of fourteen men, 
twenty-two women, and ten children. But the change of 
site did no good. Disease and death still pursued them, 
and in 1864 one man (who died in 1869) and three 
elderly women alone survived. The infertility of the 
women is even a more remarkable fact than the liability 
of all to ill-health and death. At the time when only 
nine women were left at Oyster Cove, they told Mr. Bon- 
wick (p. 386), that only two had ever borne children : 
and these two had together produced only three children ! 
"With respect to the cause of this extraordinary state 
of things. Dr. Story remarks that death followed the at- 


tempts to civilize the natives. ''If left to themselves to 
roam as they were wont and undisturbed, they would 
have reared more children, and there would have been 
less mortality." Another careful observer of the natives, 
Mr. Davis, remarks : *' The births have been few and the 
deaths numerous. This may have been in a great meas- 
ure owing to their change of living and food ; but more 
so to their banishment from the mainland of Van Die- 
men's Land, and consequent depression of spirits " (Bon- 
wick, pp. 388, 390). 

■p jgj Although the gradual decrease and ulti- 

mate extinction of the races of man is a highly 
complex problem, depending on many causes which differ 
in different places and at different times, it is the same 
problem as that presented by the extinction of one of the 
higher animals — of the fossil horse, for instance, which 
disappeared from South America, soon afterward to be 
replaced, within the same districts, by countless troops 
of the Spanish horse. The New-Zealander seems con- 
scious of this parallelism, for he compares his future fate 
with that of the native rat, now almost exterminated by 
the European rat. Though the difficulty is great to our 
imagination, and really great, if we wish to ascertain the 
precise causes and their manner of action, it ought not 
to be so to our reason, as long as we keep steadily in mind 
that the increase of each species and each race is con- 
stantly checked in various ways ; so that, if any new 
check, even a slight one, be superadded, the race will 
surely decrease in number ; and decreasing numbers will 
sooner or later lead to extinction ; the end, in most cases, 
being promptly determined by the inroads of conquering 



Descent ^^ haxe thus far been baffled in all our 

of Man, attempts to account for the differences be- 
P^^ tween the races of man ; but there remains 

one important agency, namely, sexual selection, which ap- 
pears to have acted powerfully on man, as on many other 
animals. I do not intend to assert that sexual selection 
willaccount for all the differences between the races. An 
unexplained residuum is left, about which we can only 
say, in our ignorance, that as individuals are continually 
born with, for instance, heads a little rounder or nar- 
rower, and with noses a little longer or shorter, such 
slight differences might become fixed and uniform, if the 
unknown agencies which induced them were to act in a 
more constant manner, aided by long-continued inter- 
crossing. Such variations come under the provisional 
class, alluded to in our second chapter, which for the 
want of a better term are often called spontaneous. Nor 
do I pretend that the effects of sexual selection can be 
indicated with scientific precision ; but it can be shown 
that it would be an inexplicable fact if man had not been 
modified by this agency, which appears to have acted 


powerfully on inininaerable animals. It can further be 
shown that the differences between the races of man, as 
in color, hairiness, form of features, etc., are of a kind 
which might have been expected to come under the in- 
fluence of sexual selection. 


Descent There can be no doubt that with almost 

of Man, all animals, in which the sexes are separate, 
^^°^ ■ there is a constantly recurrent struggle be- 
tween the males for the possession of the females. 

Our difficulty in regard to sexual selection lies in un- 
derstanding how it is that the males which conquer other 
males, or those which prove the most attractive to the 
females, leave a greater number of offspring to inherit 
their superiority than their beaten and less attractive 
rivals. Unless this result does follow, the characters 
which give to certain males an advantage over others 
could not be perfected and augmented through sexual se- 
lection. When the sexes exist in exactly equal numbers, 
the worst-endowed males will (except where polygamy 
prevails) ultimately find females, and leave as many off- 
spring, as well fitted for their general habits of life, as 
the best-endowed males. From various facts and con- 
siderations, I formerly inferred that with most animals, 
in which secondary sexual characters are well developed, 
the males considerably exceeded the females in number ; 
but this is not by any means always true. If the males 
were to the females as two to one, or as three to two, or 
even in a somewhat lower ratio, the whole affair would 
be simple ; for the better-armed or more attractive males 
would leave the largest number of offspring. But, after 


investigating, as far as possible, the numerical proportion 
of the sexes, I do not belieye that any great inequality in 
number commonly exists. In most cases sexual selection 
appears to have been effective in the following manner : 

Let us take any species, a bird for instance, and di- 
vide the females inhabiting a district into two equal bod- 
ies, the one consisting of the more vigorous and bett«r- 
[ nourished individuals, and the other of the less vigor- 
ous and healthy. The former, there can be little doubt, 
would be ready to breed in the spring before the others ; 
and this is the opinion of Mr. Jenner Weir, who has 
carefully attended to the habits of birds during many 
years. There can also be no doubt that the most vigor- 
ous, best-nourished, and earliest breeders would on an 
average succeed in rearing the largest number of fine off- 
spring. The males, as we have seen, are generally ready 
to breed before the females ; the strongest, and with 
some species the best armed of the males, drive away the 
weaker ; and the former would then unite with the more 
vigorous and better-nourished females, because they are 
the first to breed. Such vigorous pairs would surely 
rear a larger number of offspring than the retarded fe- 
males, which would be compelled to unite with the con- 
quered and less powerful males, supposing the sexes to be 
numerically equal ; and this is all that is wanted to add, 
in the course of successive generations, to the size, strength, 
and courage of the males, or to improve their weapons. 


p But in very many cases the males wliich 

conquer their rivals do not obtain possession 

of the females, independently of the choice of the latter. 

The courtship of animals is by no means so simple and 


short an affair as might be thought. The females are 
most excited by, or prefer pairing with, the more orna- 
mented males, or those which are the best songsters, or 
play the best antics ; but it is obviously probable that 
they Avould at the same time prefer the more vigorous 
and lively males, and this has in some cases been con- 
firmed by actual observation. Thus, the more vigorous 
females, which are the first to breed, will have the choice 
of many males ; and, though they may not always select 
the strongest or best armed, they will select those which 
are vigorous and well armed, and in other respects the 
most attractive. Both sexes, therefore, of such early 
pairs would, as above explained, have an advantage over 
others in rearing offspring ; and this apparently has suf- 
ficed, during a long course of generations, to add not 
only to the strength and fighting powers of the males, 
but likewise to their various ornaments or other attrac- 

In the converse and much rarer case, of the males se- 
lecting particular females, it is plain that those which 
were the most vigorous, and had conquered others, would 
have the freest choice ; and it is almost certain that they 
would select vigorous as well as attractive females. Such 
pairs would have an advantage in rearing offspring, more 
especially if the male had the power to defend the female 
during the pairing-season, as occurs with some of the 
higher animals, or aided her in providing for the young. 
The same principles would apply if each sex preferred 
and selected certain individuals of the opposite sex ; sup- 
posing that they selected not only the more attractive 
but likewise the more vigorous individuals. 



229 ^® ^^® naturally led to inquire why the 

""* male, in so many and such distinct classes, 
has become more eager than the female, so that he 
searches for her, and plays the more active part in court- 
ship. It would be no advantage, and some loss of power, 
if each sex searched for the other ; but why should the 
male almost always be the seeker ? The ovules of plants 
after fertilization have to be nourished for a time ; hence 
the pollen is necessarily brought to the female organs — 
being placed on the stigma by means of insects or the 
wind, or by the spontaneous movements of the stamens ; 
and, in the Alg<B, etc., by the locomotive power of the 
antherozooids. With lowly-organized aquatic animals, 
permanently aflfixed to the same spot, and having their 
sexes separate, the male element is invariably brought to 
the female ; and of this we can see the reason, for even 
if the ova were detached before fertilization, and did 
not require subsequent nourishment or protection, there 
would yet be greater difficulty in transporting them than 
the male element, because, being larger than the latter, 
they are produced in far smaller numbers. So that many 
of the lower animals are, in this respect, analogous with 
plants. The males of affixed and aquatic animals, having 
been led to emit their fertilizing element in this way, it 
is natural that any of their descendants, which rose in 
the scale and became locomotive, should retain the same 
habit ; and they would approach the female as closely as 
possible, in order not to risk the loss of the fertilizing 
element in a long passage of it through the water. With 
some few of the lower animals, the females alone are 
fixed, and the males of these must be the seekers. But 


it is difficult to understand why the males of species, 
of which the progenitors were primordially free, should 
inyariably have acquired the habit of approaching the 
females, instead of being approached by them. But, in 
all cases, in order that the males should seek efficiently, 
it would be necessary that they should be endowed with 
strong passions; and the acquirement of such passions 
would naturally follow from the more eager leaving a 
larger number of offspring than the less eager. 


p 232 Why certain characters should be inherited 
by both sexes, and other characters by one sex 
alone, namely, by that sex in which the character first ap- 
peared, is in most cases quite unknown. We can not even 
conjecture why, with certain sub-breeds of the pigeon, 
black striae, though transmitted through the female, 
should be developed in the male alone, while every other 
character is equally transferred to both sexes. Why, 
again, with cats, the tortoise-shell color should, with rare 
exceptions, be developed in the female alone. The very 
same character, such as deficient or supernumerary digits, 
color-blindness, etc., may with mankind be inherited by 
the males alone of one family, and in another family by 
the females alone, though in both cases transmitted 
through the opposite as well as through the same sex. 
Although we are thus ignorant, the two following rules 
seem often to hold good : that variations which first ap- 
pear in either sex at a late period of life tend to be de- 
veloped in the same sex alone ; while variations which 
first appear early in life in either sex tend to be devel- 
oped in both sexes. I am, however, far from supposing 
that this is the sole determining cause. 


„ „„„ An excellent case for inrestigation is af- 

Page 233. ° 

forded by the deer family. In all the species, 

but one, the horns are developed only in the males, 
though certainly transmitted through the females, and 
capable of abnormal development in them. In the rein- 
deer, on the other hand, the female is provided with 
horns ; so that, in this species, the horns ought, accord- 
ing to our rule, to appear early in life, long before the 
two sexes are mature, and have come to differ much in 
constitution. In all the other species the horns ought to 
appear later in life, which would lead to their develop- 
ment in that sex alone in which they first appeared in 
the progenitor of the whole family. Now, in seven spe- 
cies, belonging to distinct sections of the family, and in- 
habiting different regions, in which the stags alone bear 
horns, I find that the horns first appear at periods vary- 
ing from nine months after birth in the roebuck, to ten, 
twelve, or even more months in the stags of the six other 
and larger species. But with the reindeer the case is 
widely different ; for, as I hear from Professor Nilsson, 
who kindly made special inquiries for me in Lapland, the 
horns appear in the young animals within four or five 
weeks after birth, and at the same time in both sexes. 
So that here we have a structure developed at a most 
unusually early age in one species of the family, and like- 
wise common to both sexes in this one species alone. 

Finally, from what we have now seen of 
^^ " ■ the relation which exists in many natural spe- 
cies and domesticated races, between the period of the 
development of their characters and the manner of their 
transmission — for example, the striking fact of the early 
growth of the horns in the reindeer, in which both sexes 
bear horns, in comparison with their much later growth 


in the other species in which the male alone bears horns 
— we may conclude that one, though not the sole cause of 
characters being exclusiyely inherited by one sex, is their 
development at a late age. And, secondly, that one, 
though apparently a less efficient cause of characters be- 
ing inherited by both sexes, is their development at an 
early age, while the sexes differ but little in constitution. 
It appears, however, that some difference must exist 
between the sexes even during a very early embryonic 
period, for characters developed at this age not rarely 
become attached to one sex. 


Descent Several writers have objected to the whole 

^^j^*°' theory of sexual selection, by assuming that 
° * with animals and savages the taste of the fe- 
male for certain colors or other ornaments would not re- 
main constant for many generations ; that first one color 
and then another would be admired, and consequently 
that no permanent effect could be produced. We may 
admit that taste is fluctuating, but it is not quite arbi- 
trary. It depends much on habit, as we see in mankind ; 
and we may infer that this would hold good with birds 
and other animals. Even in our own dress, the general 
character lasts long, and the changes are to a certain ex- 
tent graduated. Abundant evidence will be given in two 
places in a future chapter, that savages of many races 
have admired for many generations the same cicatrices on 
the skin, the same hideously perforated lips, nostrils, or 
ears, distorted heads, etc. ; and these deformities present 
some analogy to the natural ornaments of various animals. 
Nevertheless, with savages such fashions do not endure 
forever, as we may infer from the differences in this re- 


spect between allied tribes on the same continent. So 
again the raisers of fancy animals certainly have admired 
for many generations and still admire the same breeds ; 
they earnestly desire slight changes, which are considered 
as improTements, but any great or sudden change is 
looked at as the greatest blemish. With birds in a state 
of nature we have no reason to suppose that they would 
admire an entirely new style of coloration, even if great 
and sudden variation often occurred, which is far from 
being the case. We know that dovecot pigeons do not 
willingly associate with the variously colored fancy 
breeds ; that albino birds do not commonly get partners 
in marriage ; and that the black ravens of the Feroe Isl- 
ands chase away their piebald brethren. But this dis- 
like of a sudden change would not preclude their appre- 
ciating slight changes, any more than it does in the case 
of man. Hence with respect to taste, which depends on 
many elements, but partly on habit and partly on a love 
of novelty, there seems no improbability in animals ad- 
miring for a very long period the same general style of or- 
namentation or other attractions, and yet appreciating 
slight changes in colors, form, or sound. 


w _»„ There can be little doubt that the great- 

J'age 563. . . ° . 

er size and strength of man, m comparison 

with woman, together with his broader shoulders, more 
developed muscles, rugged outline of body, his greater 
courage and pugnacity, are all due in chief part to in- 
heritance from his half-human male ancestors. These 
- characters would, however, have been preserved or even 
augmented during the long ages of man's savagery, by 


the success of the strongest and boldest men, both in the 
general struggle for life and in their contest for wives ; a 
success which would have insured their leaving a more 
numerous progeny than their less favored brethren. It is 
not probable that the greater strength of man was primari- 
ly acquired through the inherited efEects of his having 
worked harder than woman for his own subsistence and 
that of his family ; for the women in all barbarous na- 
tions are compelled to work at least as hard as the men. 
With civilized people the arbitrament of battle for the 
possession of the women has long ceased ; on the other 
hand, the men, as a general rule, have to work harder 
than the women for their joint subsistence, and thus their 
greater strength will have been kept up. 

With respect to diilerences of this nature between 
man and woman, it is probable that sexual selection has 
played a highly important part. I am aware that some 
writers doubt whether there is any such inherent differ- 
ence ; but this is at least probable from the analogy of 
the lower animals which present other secondary sexual 
characters. No one disputes that the bull differs in dis- 
position from the cow, the wild-boar from the sow, the 
stallion from the mare, and, as is well known to the keep- 
ers of menageries, the males of the larger apes from the 
females. Woman seems to differ from man in mental dis- 
position, chiefly in her greater tenderness and less selfish- 
ness ; and this holds good even with savages, as shown 
by a well-known passage in Mungo Park's " Travels," and 
by statements made by many other travelers. Woman, 
owing to her maternal instincts, displays these qualities 
toward her infants in an eminent degree ; therefore it is 
likely that she would often extend them toward her fel- 
low-creatures. Man is the rival of other men ; he de- 


lights in competition, and this leads to ambition which 
passes too easily into selfishness. These latter qualities 
seem to be his natural and unfortunate birthright. It is 
generally admitted that with woman the powers of intui- 
tion, of rapid perception, and perhaps of imitation, are 
more strongly marked than in man ; but some, at least, of 
these faculties are characteristic of the lower races, and 
therefore of a past and lower state of civilization. 

The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the 
two sexes is shown by man's attaining to a higher emi- 
nence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman — wheth- 
er requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or 
merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were 
made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, 
painting, sculpture, music (inclusive both of composition 
and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with 
half a dozen names under each subject, the two lists would 
not bear comparison. We may also infer, from the law 
of the deviation from averages, so well illustrated by Mr. 
Galton, in his work on " Hereditary Genius," that if men 
are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in 
many subjects, the average of mental power in man must 
be above that of woman. 

Among the half-human progenitors of man, and 
among savages, there have been struggles between the 
males during many generations for the possession of the 
females. But mere bodily strength and size would do 
little for victory, unless associated with courage, persever- 
ance, and determined energy. "With social animals, the 
young males have to pass through many a contest before 
they win a female, and the older males have to retain 
their females by renewed battles. They have, also, in the 
case of mankind, to defend their females, as well as their 
young, from enemies of all kinds, and to hunt for their 


joint subsistence. But to avoid enemies or to attack them 
with success, to capture wild animals, or to fashion 
weapons, requires the aid of the higher mental faculties, 
namely, observation, reason, invention, or imagination. 
These various faculties will thus have been continually 
put to the test and selected during manhood ; they will, 
moreover, have been strengthened by use during this same 
period of life. Consequently, in accordance with the 
principle often alluded to, we might expect that they 
would at least tend to be transmitted chiefly to the male 
offspring at the corresponding period of manhood. 

ARD or MAN. 

It must be borne in mind that the tenden- 
Page 565. . , . , 

cy in characters acquired by either sex late m 

life, to be transmitted to the same sex at the same age, 
and of early acquired characters to be transmitted to both 
sexes, are rules which, though general, do not always 
hold. If they always held good, we might conclude (but 
I here exceed my proper bounds) that the inherited ef- 
fects of the early education of boys and girls would be 
transmitted equally to both sexes ; so that the present 
inequality in mental power between the sexes would not 
be effaced by a similar course of early training ; nor can 
it have been caused by their dissimilar early training. In 
order that woman should reach the same standard as man, 
she ought, when nearly adult, to be trained to energy and 
perseverance, and to have her reason and imagination 
exercised to the highest point ; and then she would prob- 
ably transmit these qualities chiefly to her adult daugh- 
ters. All women, however, could not be thus raised, un- 
less during many generations those who excelled in the 


above robust virtues were married, and produced offspring 
in larger numbers than other women. As before re- 
marked of bodily strength, although men do not now 
fight for their wives, and this form of selection has 
passed away, yet during manhood they generally under- 
go a severe struggle in order to maintain themselves and 
their families ; and this will tend to keep up or even 
increase their mental powers, and, as a consequence, the 
present inequality between the sexes. 


In most, but not all parts of the world, the 
men are more ornamented than the women, 
and often in a different manner ; sometimes, though 
rarely, the women are hardly at all ornamented. As the 
women are made by savages to perform the greatest share 
of the work, and as they are not allowed to eat the best 
kinds of food, so it accords with the characteristic selfish- 
ness of man that they should not be allowed to obtain or 
use the finest ornaments. Lastly, it is a remarkable fact, 
as proved by the foregoing quotations, that the same 
fashions in modifying the shape of the head, in ornament- 
ing the hair, in painting, tattooing, in perforating the 
nose, lips, or ears, in removing or filing the teeth, etc., 
now prevail, and have long prevailed, in the most distant 
quarters of the world. It is extremely improbable that 
these practices, followed by so many distinct nations, 
should be due to tradition from any common source. 
They indicate the close similarity of the mind of man, to 
whatever race he may belong, just as do the almost uni- 
versal habits of dancing, masquerading, and making rude 



The senses of man and of the lower animals 
seem to be so constituted that brilliant colors 
and certain forms, as well as harmonious and rhythmical 
sounds, give pleasure and are called beautiful ; but why 
this should be so we know not. It is certainly not true 
that there is in the mind of man any universal standard 
of beauty with respect to the human body. It is, how- 
ever, possible that certain tastes may in the course of 
time become inherited, though there is no evidence in 
favor of this belief ; and if so each race would possess its 
"own innate ideal standard of beauty. It has been argued 
that ugliness consists in an approach to the structure of 
the lower animals, and no doubt this is partly true with 
th^ more civilized nations, in which intellect is highly 
appreciated ; but this explanation will hardly apply to all 
forms of ugliness. The men of each race prefer what 
they are accustomed to ; they can not endure any great 
change ; but they like variety, and admire each charac- 
teristic carried to a moderate extreme. Men accustomed 
to a nearly oval face, to straight and regular features, 
and to bright colors, admire, as we Europeans know, 
these points when strongly developed. On the other 
hand, men accustomed to a broad face, with high cheek- 
bones, a depressed nose, and a black skin, admire these 
peculiarities when strongly marked. No doubt charac- 
ters of all kinds may be too much developed for beauty. 
Hence a perfect beauty, which implies many characters 
modified in a particular manner, will be in every race a 
prodigy. As the great anatomist Bichat long ago said, 
if every one were cast in the same mold, there T^ould 
be no such thing as beauty. If all our women were 


to become as beautiful as the Venus de' Medici, we should 
for a time be charmed ; but we should soon wish for te- 
riety ; and, as soon as we had obtained variety, we should 
wish to see certain characters a little exaggerated beyond 
the then existing common standard. 

_ ^ It is well known that with many Hotten- 

tot women the posterior part of the body 
projects in a wonderful manner ; they are steatopygous ; 
and Sir Andrew Smith is certain that this peculiarity is 
greatly admired by the men. He once saw a woman who 
was considered a beauty, and she was so immensely de- 
Teloped behind, that when seated on level ground she 
could not rise, and had to push herself along until she 
came to a slope. Some of the women in the various ne- 
gro tribes have the same peculiarity ; and, according to 
Burton, the Somal men " are said to choose their wives 
by ranging them in a line, and by picking her out who 
projects farthest a tergo. Nothing can be more hateful 
to a negro than the opposite form." 


p 602 With respect to the beard in man, if we 

turn to our best guide, the Quadrumana, we 
find beards equally developed in both sexes of many spe- 
cies, but in some, either confined to the males, or more 
developed in them than in the females. From this fact 
and from the curious arrangement, as well as the bright 
colors of the hair about the head of many monkeys, it is 
highly probable, as before explained, that the males first 
acquired their beards through sexual selection as an orna- 
ment, transmitting them in most cases, equally or nearly 
so, to their offspring of both sexes. We know from 


Eschricht that, with mankind, the female as well as the 
male foetus is furnished with much hair on the face, 
especially round the mouth ; and this indicates that we 
are descended from progenitors of whom both sexes are 
bearded. It appears therefore at first sight probable that 
man has retained his beard from a very early period, 
while woman lost her beard at the same time that her 
body became almost completely divested of hair. Even 
the color of our beards seems to have been inherited from 
an ape-like progenitor ; for, when there is any difference 
in tint between the hair of the head and the beard, the 
latter is lighter colored in all monkeys and in man. In 
those Quadrumana in which the male has a larger beard 
than that of the female, it is fully developed only at ma- 
turity, just as with mankind ; and it is possible that 
only the later stages of development have been retained 
by man. In opposition to this view of the retention of 
the beard from an early period, is the fact of its great ta- 
riability in different races, and even within the same race ; 
for this indicates reversion — long-lost characters being 
very apt to vary on reappearance. 


Descent Although the manner of the development 

of Man, of the marriage-tie is an obscure subject, as 
page 590. ^^ ^^^ -^^^^^ ^^^^ ^j^^ divergent opinions on 

several points between the three authors who have studied 
it most closely, namely, Mr. Morgan, Mr. McLennan, and 
Sir J. Lubbock, yet, from the foregoing and several other 
lines of evidence, it seems probable that the habit of mar- 
riage, in any strict sense of the word, has been gradually 
developed ; and that almost promiscuous, or very loose, 
intercourse was once extremely common throughout the 


world. Kevertheless, from the strength of the feeling of 
jealousy all through the animal kingdom, as well as from 
the analogy of the lower animals, more particularly of 
those which come nearest to man, I can not believe that 
absolutely promiscuous intercourse prevailed in times 
past, shortly before man attained to his present rank in 
the zoological scale. Man, as I have attempted to show, 
is certainly descended from some ape-like creature. With 
the existing Quadrumana, as far as their habits are known, 
the males of some species are monogamous, but live dur- 
ing only a part of the year with the females ; of this the 
orang seems to afford an instance. Several kinds, for 
example, some of the Indian and American monkeys, are 
strictly monogamous, and associate all the year round 
with their wives. Others are polygamous, for example, 
the gorilla and several American species, and each family 
lives separate. 

Therefore, looking far enough back in the 

Pace 591 . 

* stream of time, and judging from the social 

habits of man as he now exists, the most probable view 

is that he aboriginally lived in small communities, each 

with a single wife, or, if powerful, with several, whom 

he jealously guarded against all other men. Or he may 

not have been a social animal, and yet have lived with 

several wives, like the gorilla ; for all the natives " agree 

that but one adult male is seen in a band ; when the 

young male grows up, a contest takes place for mastery, 

and the strongest, by killing and driving out the others, 

establishes himself as the head of the community." The 

younger males, being thus expelled and wandering about, 

would, when at last successful in finding a partner, pre- 

Tent too close interbreeding within the limits of the same 



Although savages are now extremely licentious, and 
although communal marriages may formerly have largely 
prevailed, yet many tribes practice some form of mar- 
riage, but of a far more lax nature than that of civilized 
nations. Polygamy, as just stated, is almost universally 
followed by the leading men in every tribe. Neverthe- 
less, there are tribes, standing almost at the bottom of 
the scale, which are strictly monogamous. This is the 
case with the Veddahs of Ceylon ; they have a saying, 
according to Sir J. Lubbock, that *' death alone can sepa- 
rate husband and wife." An intelligent Kandyan chief, 
of course a polygamist, " was perfectly scandalized at the 
utter barbarism of living with only one wife, and never 
parting until separated by death." It was, he said, "just 
like the Wanderoo monkeys." Whether savages who now 
enter into some form of marriage, either polygamous or 
monogamous, have retained this habit from primeval 
times, or whether they have returned to some form of 
marriage, after passing through a stage of promiscuous 
intercourse, I will not pretend to conjecture. 


Descent ^^^ scans with scrupulous care the ehar- 

of Man, acter and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and 
^^^® * dogs before he matches them ; but, when he 
comes to his own marriage, he rarely or never takes any 
such care. He is impelled by nearly the same motives as 
the lower animals, when they are left to tlieir own free 
choice, though he is in so far superior to them that he 
highly values mental charms and virtues. On the other 
hand, he is strongly attracted by mere wealth or rank. 
Yet he might by selection do something not only for the 
bodily constitution and frame of his offspring, but for 


their intellectual and moral qualities. Both sexes ought 
to refrain from marriage, if they are in any marked de- 
gree inferior in hody or mind ; but such hopes are Uto- 
pian, and will never be even partially realized until the 
laws of inheritance are thoroughly known. Every one 
does good service who aids toward this end. When the 
principles of breeding and inheritance are better un- 
derstood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our 
Legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining 
whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious 
to man. 

The advancement of the weKare of mankind is a most 
intricate problem : all ought to refrain from marriage 
who can not avoid abject poverty for their children ; for 
poverty is not only a great evil, but tends to its own in- 
crease by leading to recklessness in marriage. On the 
other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the prudent 
avoid marriage, while the reckless maiTV, the inferior 
members tend to supplant the better members of society. 
Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to 
his present high condition through a struggle for exist- 
ence consequent on his rapid multiplication ; and, if he 
is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must 
remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would 
sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not 
be more successful in the battle of life than the less 
gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though lead- 
ing to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly dimin- 
ished by any means. There should be open competition 
for all men ; and the most able should not be prevented 
by laws or customs from succeeding best, and rearing the 
largest number of offspring. Important as the struggle 
for existence has been, and even still is, yet, as far as the 
highest part of man's nature is concerned, there are 


other agencies more important. For the moral qualities 
are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more 
through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, in- 
struction, religion, etc., than through natural selection ; 
though to this latter agency may be safely attributed the 
social instincts which afforded the basis for the develop- 
ment of the moral sense. 


With animals in a state of nature, many 
° ' characters proper to the males, such as size, 
strength, special weapons, courage, and pugnacity, have 
been acquired through the law of battle. The semi- 
human progenitors of man, like their allies the Quadru- 
mana, will almost certainly have been thus modified ; 
and, as savages still fight for the possession of their 
women, a similar process of selection has probably gone 
on in a greater or less degree to the present day. Other 
characters proper to the males of the lower animals, such 
as bright colors and various ornaments, have been ac- 
quired by the more attractive males having been preferred 
by the females. There are, however, exceptional cases 
in which the males are the selectors, instead of having 
been the selected. We recognize such cases by the fe- 
males being more highly ornamented than the males — 
their ornamental characters having been transmitted ex- 
clusively or chiefly to their female offspring. One such 
case has been described in the order to which man belongs, 
that of the Ehesus monkey. 

Man is more powerful in body and mind than woman, 
and in the savage state he keeps her in a far more abject 
state of bondage than does the male of any other animal ; 
therefore it is not surprising that he should have gained 


the power of selection. Women are everywhere conscious 
of the value of their own beauty ; and, when they have 
the means, they take more delight in decorating them- 
selves with all sorts of ornaments than do men. They 
borrow the plumes of male birds, with which nature has 
decked this sex in order to charm the females. As women 
have long been selected for beauty, it is not surprising 
that some of their successive variations should have been 
transmitted exclusively to the same sex ; consequently 
that they should have transmitted beauty in a somewhat 
higher degree to their female than to their male offspring, 
and thus have become more beautiful, according to gen- 
eral opinion, than men. Women, however, certainly 
transmit most of their characters, including some beauty, 
to their offspring of both sexes ; so that the continued 
preference by the men of each race for the more attractive 
women, according to their standard of taste, will have 
tended to modify in the same manner all the individuals 
of both sexes belonging to the race. 

p ^ He who admits the principle of sexual se- 
lection will be led to the remarkable conclusion 
that the nervous system not only regulates most of the 
existing functions of the body, but has indirectly influ- 
enced the progressive development of various bodily 
structures and of certain mental qualities. Courage, 
pugnacity, perseverance, strength and size of body, weap- 
ons of all kinds, musical organs, both vocal and instru- 
mental, bright colors and ornamental appendages, have 
all been indirectly gained by the one sex or the other, 
through the exertion of choice, the influence of love and 
jealousy, and the appreciation of the beautiful in sound, 
color, or form ; and these powers of the mind manifestly 
depend on the development of the brain. 



Descent Many of the views which have been ad- 

ofMan, vanced are highly speculative, and some no 
^^^^ ■ doubt will prove erroneous ; but I have in 
every case given the reasons which have led me to one 
view rather than to another. It seemed worth while to 
try how far the principle of evolution would throw light 
on some of the more complex problems in the natural 
history of man. False facts are highly injurious to the 
progress of science, for they often endure long ; but false 
views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for 
every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their false- 
ness ; and, when this is done, one path toward error is 
closed and the road to truth is often at the same time 

The main conclusion here arrived at, and now held 
by many naturalists who are well competent to form a 
sound judgment, is that man is descended from some less 
highly organized form. The grounds upon which this 
conclusion rests will never be shaken, for the close simi- 
larity between man and the lower animals in embryonic 
development, as well as in innumerable points of structure 
and constitution, both of high and of the most trifling 
importance — the rudiments which he retains, and the 
abnormal reversions to which he is occasionally liable — 
are facts which can not be disputed. They have long 
been known, but until recently they told us nothing with 
respect to the origin of man. Now, when viewed by the 
light of our knowledge of the whole organic world, their 
meaning is unmistakable. The great principle of evolu- 
tion stands up clear and firm, when these groups of facts 
are considered in connection with others, such as the 
mutual affinities of the members of the same group, their 


geographical distribution in past and present times, and 
their geological succession. It is incredible that all these 
facts should speak falsely. He who is not content to 
look, like a savage, at the phenomena of nature as dis- 
connected, can not any longer believe that man is the 
work of a separate act of creation. He will be forced to 
admit that the close resemblance of the embryo of man 
to that, for instance, of a dog — the construction of his 
skull, limbs, and whole frame on the same plan with that 
of other mammals, independently of the uses to which 
the parts may be put — the occasional reappearance of 
various structures, for instance of several muscles, which 
man does not normally possess, but which are common 
to the Quadrumana — and a crowd of analogous fact^ — all 
point in the plainest manner to the conclusion that man 
is the co-descendant with other mammals of a common 



The subject is treated under three Principles : the, Prin- 
ciple of Associated Habit ; the Principle of Antithesis ; 
and the Principle of the direct action of the nervous 
system independent of Will and Habit. 


Expression of It is notorions how powerful is the force 
the Emotions, of habit. The most complex and difficult 
^^°^ ■ movements can in time be performed without 
the least effort or consciousness. It is not positively 
known how it comes that habit is so eifieient in facilitat- 
ing complex movements ; but physiologists admit that 
*' the conducting power of the nervous fibers increases with 
the frequency of their excitement." This applies to the 
nerves of motion and sensation, as well as to those con- 
nected with the act of thinking. Tliat some physical 
change is produced in the nerve-cells or nerves which are 
habitually used can hardly be doubted, for otherwise it is 
impossible to understand how the tendency to certain ac- 
quired movements is inherited. 

_ ^ It is known to every one how difficult or 

° ' even impossible it is, without repeated trials, 

to move the limbs in certain opposed directions whicli 


have never been practiced. Analogous cases occur with 
sensations, as in the common experiment of rolling a 
marble beneath the tips of two crossed fingers, when it 
feels exactly like two marbles. Every one protects himself 
when falling to the ground by extending his arms, and as 
Professor Alison has remarked, few can resist acting thus 
when voluntarily falling on a soft bed. A man when 
going out-of-doors puts on his gloves quite unconsciously ; 
and this may seem an extremely simple operation, but he 
who has taught a child to put on gloves knows that this 
is by no means the case. 

When our minds are much affected, so are the move- 
ments of pur bodies. 

„ „„ To those who admit the gradual evolution 

■V Page 30. . . " 

^ of species, a most strikmg instance of the per- 

fection with which the most difficult consensual move- 
" ments can be transmitted, is afforded by the humming- 
bird Sphinx-moth {Macroglossd) ; for this moth, shortly 
after its emergence from the cocoon, as shown by the 
bloom on its unruffled scales, may be seen poised station- 
ary in the air, with its long, hair-like proboscis uncurled 
and inserted into the minute orifices of flowers ; and no 
one, I believe, has ever seen this moth learning to per- 
form its difficult task, which requires such unerring aim. 

_, „„ A vulgar man often scratches his head 

Page 82. ° 

when perplexed in mind ; and I believe that 

he acts thus from habit, as if he experienced a slightly 

uncomfortable bodily sensation, namely, the itching of 

his head, to which he is particularly liable, and which he 

thus relieves. Another man rubs his eyes when perplexed, 

or gives a little cough when embarrassed, acting in either 

case as if he felt a slightly uncomfortable sensation in his 

eyes or windpipe. 


From the continued use of the eyes, these organs are 
especially liable to be acted on through association under 
various states of the mind, although there is manifestly 
nothing to be seen. A man, as Gratiolet remarks, who 
vehemently rejects a proposition, will almost certainly 
shut his eyes or turn away his face ; but, if he accepts the 
proposition, he will nod his head in affirmation and open 
his eyes widely. The man acts in this latter case as if he 
clearly saw the thing, and in the former case as if he did 
not, or would not, see it. I have noticed that persons in 
describing a horrid sight often shut their eyes moment- 
arily and .firmly, or shake their heads, as if not to see or 
to drive away something disagreeable ; and I have caught 
myself, when thinking in the dark of a horrid spectacle, 
closing my eyes firmly. 

' „^ There are other actions which are com- 

Page 34. 

monly performed under certain circumstances, 

independehtly of habit, and which seem to be due to imi- 
tation or some sort of sympathy. Thus persons cutting 
anything with a pair of scissors may be seen to move 
their jaws simultaneously with the blades of the scissors. 
Children learning to write often twist about their tongues 
as their fingers move, in a ridiculous fashion. When a 
I»ublic singer suddenly becomes a little hoarse, many of 
those present may be heard, as I have been assured by a 
gentleman on whom I can rely, to clear their throats ; 
but here habit probably comes into play, as we clear our 
own throats under similar circumstances. 

p Eeflex actions, in the strict sense of the 

term, are due to the excitement of a peripheral 

nerve, which transmits its influence to certain nerve-cells, 

and these, in their turn, excite certain muscles or glands 


into action ; and all this may take place without any sen- 
sation or consciousness on our part, though often thus 
accompanied. As many reflex actions are highly ex- 
pressiye, the subject must here be noticed ^t some little 
length. We shall also see that some of them graduate 
into, and can hardly be distinguished from, actions which 
have arisen through habit. Coughing and sneezing are 
familiar instances of reflex actions. 

p ^ The conscious wish to perform a reflex ac- 

tion sometimes stops or interrupts its perform- 
ance, though the proper sensory nerves may be stimulated. 
For instance, many years ago I laid a small wager with a 
dozen young men that they would not sneeze if they took 
snuff, although they all declared that they invariably did 
so ; accordingly, they all took a pinch, but, from wishing 
much to succeed, not one sneezed, though their eyes 
watered, and all, without exception, had to pay me the 

Dogs, when they wish to go to sleep on a ear- 
pet or other hard surface, generally turn round 
and round and scratch the ground with their fore-paws in 
a senseless manner, as if they intended to trample down 
the grass and scoop out a hollow, as, no doubt, their wild 
parents did, when they lived on open, grassy plains or in 
the woods. 


Expression Certain states of the mind lead, as we have 

tions, s^en in the last chapter, to certain habitual 

page 50. movements which were primarily, or may still 
be, of service ; and we shall find that, when a directly op- 


posite state of mind is induced, there is a strong and in- 
voluntary tendency to the performance of movements of 
a directly opposite nature, though these have never been 
of any service. 

When a dog approaches a strange dog or man in a 
savage or hostile frame of mind, he walks upright and 
very stiffly ; his head is slightly raised, or not much low- 
ered ; the tail is held erect and quite rigid ; the hairs 
bristle, especially along the neck and back ; the pricked 
ears are directed forward, and the eyes have a fixed stare. 
These actions follow from the dog's intention to attack 
his enemy, and are thus to a large extent intelligible. 
As he prepares to spring with a savage growl on his 
enemy, the canine teeth are uncovered, and the ears are 
pressed close backward on the head ; but with these lat- 
ter actions we are not here concerned. Let us now sup- 
pose that the dog suddenly discovers that the man whom 
he is approaching is not a stranger, but his master ; and 
let it be observed how completely and instantaneously his 
whole bearing is reversed. Instead of walking upright, 
the body sinks downward or even crouches, and is thrown 
into flexuous movements ; his tail, instead of being held 
stiff and upright, is lowered and wagged from side to 
side ; his hair instantly becomes smooth ; his ears are 
depressed and drawn backward, but not closely to the 
head ; and his lips hang loosely. From the drawing back 
of the ears, the eyelids become elongated, and the eyes 
no longer appear round and staring. It should be added 
that the animal is at such times in an excited condition 
from joy ; and nerve-force will be generated in excess, 
which naturally leads to action of some kind. Not one 
of the above movements, so clearly expressive of affection, 
are of the least direct service to the animal. They are 


erplicable, as far as I can see, solely from being in com- 
plete opposition or antithesis to the attitude and move- 
ments which, from intelligible causes, are assumed when 
a dog intends to fight, and which consequently are ex- 
pressive of anger. 


"We will now consider how the principle of 
"°^ * antithesis in expression has arisen. With so- 
cial animals, the power of intercommunication between 
the members of t'le same community — and, with other 
species, between the opposite sexes, as well as between the 
young and the old — is of the highest importance to them. 
This is generally effected by means of the voice, but it is 
certain that gestures and expressions are to a certain ex- 
tent mutually intelligible. Man not only uses inarticu- 
late cries, gestures, and expressions, but has invented 
articulate language ; if, indeed, the word invented can be 
applied to a process completed by innumerable steps, half- 
consciously made. Any one who has watched monkeys 
will not doubt that they perfectly understand each other's 
gestures and expression, and to a large extent, as Rengger 
asserts, those of man. An animal when going to attack 
another, or when afraid of another, often makes itself 
appear terrible, by erecting its hair, thus increasing the 
apparent bulk of its body, by showing its teeth, or bran- 
dishing its horns, or by uttering fierce sounds. 

As the power of intercommunication is certainly of 
high service to many animals, there is no a priori improb- 
ability in the supposition that gestures manifestly of an 
opposite nature to those by which certain feelings are 
already expressed should at first have been voluntarily 
employed under the influence of an opposite state of feel- 


ing. The fact of the gestures being now innate would 
be no valid objection to the belief that they were at first 
intentional ; for, if practiced during many generations, 
they would probably at last be inherited. Nevertheless, 
it is more than doubtful, as we shall immediately see, 
whether any of the cases which come under our present 
head of antithesis have thus originated. 

With conventional signs which are not innate, such 
as those used by the deaf and dumb and by savages, the 
principle of opposition ox antithesis has been partially 
brought into play. The Cistercian monks thought it sin- 
ful to speak, and, as they could not avoid holding some 
communication, they invented a gesture language, in 
which the princij)le of opposition seems to have been em- 
ployed. Dr. Scott, of the Exeter Deaf and Dumb Insti- 
tution, writes to me that '* opposites are greatly used in 
teaching the deaf and dumb, who have a lively sense of 
them." Nevertheless I have been surprised how few une- 
quivocal instances can be adduced. This depends partly 
on all the signs having commonly had some natural 
origin ; and partly on the practice of the deaf and dumb 
and of savages to contract their signs as much as possible 
for the sake of rapidity. Hence their natural source or 
origin often becomes doubtful, or is completely lost ; as 
is likewise the case with articulate language. 

When a cat, or rather when some early pro- 
° * genitor of the species, from feeling affection- 
ate, first slightly arched its back, held its tail perpen- 
dicularly upward and pricked its ears, can it be believed 
that the animal consciously wished thus to show that 
its frame of mind was directly the reverse of that when, 
from being ready to fight or to spring on its prey, it as- 
sumed a crouching attitude, curled its tail from side to 


side, and depressed its ears ? Even still less can I belieye 
that my dog voluntarily put on his dejected attitude and 
"hot-house face," which formed so complete a contrast 
to his previous cheerful attitude and whole bearing. It 
can not be supposed that he knew that I should under- 
stand his expression, and that he could thus soften my 
heart and make me give up visiting the hot-house. 

Hence, for the development of the movements which 
come under the present head, some other principle, dis- 
tinct from the will and consciousness, must have inter- 
vened. This principle appears to be that every move- 
ment which we have voluntarily performed throughout 
our lives has required the action of certain muscles ; and, 
when we have performed a directly opposite movement, 
an opposite set of muscles has been habitually brought 
into play — as in turning to the right or to the left, in 
pushing away or pulling an object toward us, and in lift- 
ing or lowerinof a weight. 


Expressioa The most striking case, though a rare and 

tions, abnormal one, which can be adduced of the 

page 66. direct influence of the nervous system, when 
strongly affected, on the body, is the loss of color in the 
hair, which has occasionally been observed after extreme 
terror or grief. One authentic instance has been record- 
ed, in the case of a man brought out for execution in 
India, in which the change of color was so rapid that it 
was perceptible to the eye. 

Another good case is that of the trembling of the 
muscles, which is common to man and to many, or most, 
of the lower animals. Trembling is of no service, often 


of much disservice, and can not have been at first ac- 
quired through the will, and then rendered habitual in 
association with any emotion. I am assured by an emi- 
nent authority that young children do not tremble, but 
go into convulsions, under the circumstances which would 
induce excessive trembling in adults. Trembling is ex- 
cited in different individuals in very different degrees, 
and by the most diversified causes — by cold to the surface, 
before fever-fits, although the temperature of the body is 
then above the normal standard ; in blood-poisoning, de- 
lirium tremens, and other diseases ; by general failure of 
power in old age ; by exhaustion after excessive fatigue ; 
locally from severe injuries, such as burns ; and, in an 
especial manner, by the passage of a catheter. Of all 
emotions, fear notoriously is the most apt to induce 
trembling ; but so do occasionally great anger and joy. 
I remember once seeing a boy who had just shot his first 
snipe on the wing, and his hands trembled to such a de- 
gree from delight that he could not for some time reload 
his gun ; and I have heard of an exactly similar case 
with an Australian savage, to whom a gun had been lent. 
Fine music, from the vague emotions thus excited, causes 
a shiver to run down the backs of some persons. 

When animals suffer from an agony of 
° ' pain, they generally writhe about with fright- 
ful contortions ; and those which habitually use their 
voices utter piercing cries or groans. Almost every mus- 
cle of the body is brought into strong action. With man 
the mouth may be closely compressed, or, more com- 
monly, the lips are retracted, with the teeth clinched or 
ground together. 


The heart will be all the more readily 
affected through habitual associations, as it 
is not under the control of the will. A man when mod- 
erately angry, or even when enraged, may command the 
movements of his body, but he can not prevent his heart 
from beating rapidly. His chest will, perhaps, give a few 
heaves, and his nostrils just quiver, for the movements of 
respiration are only in part voluntary. In like manner, 
those muscles of the face which are least obedient to the 
will will sometimes alone betray a slight and passing 
emotion. The glands, again, are wholly independent of 
the will, and a man suffering from grief may command 
his features, but can not always prevent the tears from 
coming into his eyes. A hungry man, if tempting food 
is placed before him, may not show his hunger by any 
outward gesture, but he can not check the secretion of 

^ ..V With all, or almost all, animals, even with 

Pa<»e 77. 
° birds, terror causes the body to tremble. The 

skin becomes pale, sweat breaks out, and the hair bris- 

„ ^ A physician once remarked to me, as a 

Pasre 79. r j ' 

' proof of the exciting nature of anger, that a 
man when excessively jaded will sometimes invent imagi- 
'nary offenses, and put himself into a passion, unconscious- 
ly, for the sake of reinvigorating himself ; and, since hear- 
ing this remark, I have occasionally recognized its full 

Exertion stimulates the heart, and this re- 
acts on the brain, and aids the mind to bear 
heavy load. 




Expression WiTH many kinds of animals, man included, 

tions^ ™°' ^^® vocal organs are efficient in the highest de- 
page 83. gree as a means of expression. We have seen 
in the last chapter that, when the sensorium is strongly 
excited, the muscles of the body are generally thrown 
into violent action ; and, as a consequence, loud sounds 
are uttered, however silent the animal may generally be, 
and although the sounds may be of no use. Hares and 
rabbits, for instance, never, I believe, use their vocal 
organs, except in the extremity of suffering ; as, when a 
wounded hare is killed by the sportsman, or when a 
young rabbit is caught by a stoat. Cattle and horses 
suffer great pain in silence, but when this is excessive, 
and especially when associated with terror, they utter 
fearful sounds. 

That animals utter musical notes is fa- 

° ' miliar to every one, as we may daily hear in 

the singing of birds. It is a more remarkable fact that 

an ape, one of the Gibbons, produces an exact octave of 

musical sounds, ascending and descending the scale by 


half-tones ; so that this monkey, "alone of brute mam- 
mals, may be said to sing." From this fact, and from 
the analogy of other animals, I have been led to infer 
that the progenitors of man probably uttered musical 
tones before they had acquired the power of articulate 
speech ; and that, consequently, when the voice is used 
under any strong emotion, it tends to assume, through the 
principle of association, a musical character. 


„ „^ The enraged lion erects his mane. The 

bristling of the hair along the neck and back 
of the dog, and over the whole body of the cat, especially 
on the tail, is familiar to every one. With the cat it ap- 
parently occurs only under fear ; with the dog, under 
anger and fear ; but not, as far as I have observed, under 
abject fear, as when a dog is going to be flogged by a 
severe gamekeeper. If, however, the dog shows fight, as 
sometimes happens, up goes his hair. I have often no- 
ticed that the hair of a dog is particularly liable to rise 
if he is half angry and half afraid, as on beholding some 
object only indistinctly seen in the dusk. 

p ^ ^ Birds belonging to all the chief orders ruf- 

fle their feathers when angry or frightened. 
Every one must have seen two cocks, even quite young 
birds, preparing to fight with erected neck-hackles ; nor 
can these feathers when erected serve as a means of de- 
fense, for cock-fighters have found by experience that it 
is advantageous to trim them. The male Ruff {Machetes 
pugnax) likewise erects its collar of feathers when fight- 
ing. When a dog approaches a common hen with her 
chickens, she spreads out her wings, raises her tail, ruf- 


fles all her feathers, and, looking as ferocious as possible, 
dashes at the intruder. 

X, ,«,. Several kinds of snakes inflate themselves 

Page 105. . . 

when irritated. The puff-adder ( Clotho arie- 

tans) is remarkable in this respect ; but, I believe, after 
carefully vratching these animals, that they do not act 
thus for the sake of increasing their apparent bulk, hut 
simply for inhaling a large supply of air, so as to pro- 
duce their surjiri singly loud, harsh, and prolonged hiss- 
ing sound. 


p ^ J. The ears through their movements are high- 

ly expressive in many animals ; but in some, 
such as man, the higher apes, and many ruminants, they 
fail in this respect. A slight difference in position serves 
to express in the plainest manner a different state of 
mind, as we may daily see in the dog ; but we are here 
concerned only with the ears being drawn closely back- 
ward and pressed to the head. A savage frame of mind 
is thus shown, but only in the case of those animals which 
fight with their teeth ; and the care which they take to 
prevent their ears being seized by their antagonists ac- 
counts for this position. Consequently, through habit 
and association, whenever they feel slightly savage, or 
pretend in their play to be savage, their ears are drawn 
back. That this is the true explanation may be inferred 
from the relation which exists in very many animals be- 
tween their manner of fighting and the retraction of their 

All the Camivora fight with their canine teeth, and 
all, as far as I have observed, draw their ears back when 
feeling savage. 


Expressions The actions of a horse "vrhen much startled 

t^oDs ^^^ highly erpressive. One day my horse was 

page 130. much frightened at a drilling-machine, coyered 
by a tarpaulin, and lying on an open field. He raised 
his head so high that his neck became almost perpen- 
dicular ; and this he did from habit, for the machine lay 
on a slope below, and could not have been seen with more 
distinctness through the raising of the head ; nor, if any 
sound had proceeded from it, could the sound have been 
more distinctly heard. His eyes and ears were directed 
intently forward ; and I could feel through the saddle 
the palpitations of his heart. "With red, dilated nostrils 
he snorted violently, and, whirling round, would have 
dashed off at full speed, had I not prevented him. The 
distention of the nostrils is not for the sake of scenting 
the source of danger, for, when a horse smells carefully 
at any object and is not alarmed, he does not dilate his 
nostrils. Owing to the presence of a valve in the throat, 
a horse when panting does not breathe through his open 
mouth, but through his nostrils ; and these consequently 
have become endowed with great powers of expansion. 
This expansion of the nostrils, as well as the snorting, 
and the palpitations of the heart, are actions which have 
become firmly associated during a long series of genera- 
tions with the emotion of terror ; for terror has habitually 
led the horse to the most violent exertion in dashing away 
at full speed from the cause of danger. 


p Many years ago, in the Zoological Gardens, 

I placed a looking-glass on the floor before 

two young orangs, who, as far as it was known, had never 


before seen one. At first they gazed at their own images 
with the most steady surprise, and often changed their 
point of view. They then approached close and protruded 
■their lips toward the image, as if to kiss it, in exactly the 
same manner as they had previously done toward each 
other, when first placed, a few days before, in the same 
room. They next made all sorts of grimaces, and put 
themselves in various attitudes before the mirror ; they 
pressed and rubbed the surface ; they placed their hands 
at different distances behind it ; looked behind it ; and 
finally seemed almost frightened, started a little, became 
cross, and refused to look any longer. 

When we try to perform some little action which is 
difficult and requires precision, for instance, to thread a 
needle, we generally close our lips firmly, for the sake, I 
presume, of not disturbing our movements by breathing ; 
and I noticed the same action in a young orang. The 
poor little creature was sick, and was amusing itself by 
trying to kill the flies on the window-panes with its 
knuckles ; this was difficult as the flies buzzed about, and 
at each attempt the lips were flrmly compressed, and at 
the same time slightly protruded. 


Expression Infants while young do not shed tears or 

of the Emo- • n i x j j • i 

tions weep, as is well known to nurses and medical 

page 153, men. This circumstance is not exclusively 
due to the lachrymal glands being as yet incapable of se- 
creting tears. I first noticed this fact from having acci- 
dentally brushed with the cuff of my coat the open eye 
of one of my infants, when seventy-seven days old, causing 
this eye to water freely ; and, though the child screamed 
violently, the other eye remained dry, or was only slightly 


snffnsed with tears. A similar slight effusion occurred 
ten days previously in both eyes during a screaming-fit. 
The tears did not run over the eyelids and roll down the 
cheeks of this child, while screaming badly, when one 
hundred and twenty-two days old. This first happened 
seventeen days later, at the age of one hundred and 
thirty-nine days. A few other children have been ob- 
served for me, and the period of free weeping appears to 
be very variable. In one case, the eyes became slightly 
suffused at the age of only twenty days ; in another, at 
sixty-two days. With two other children, the tears did 
not run down the face at the ages of eighty-four and 
one hundred and ten days ; but in a third child they did 
run down at the age of one hundred and four days. In 
one instance, -as I was positively assured, tears ran down 
at the unusually early age .of forty-two days. It would 
appear as if the lachrymal glands required some practice 
in the individual before they are easily excited into action, 
in somewhat the same manner as various inherited con- 
Bensual movements and tastes require some exercise be- 
fore they are fixed and perfected. This is all the more 
likely with a habit like weeping, which must have been 
acquired since the period when man branched off from 
the common progenitor of the genus Homo and of the 
non-weeping anthropomorphous apes. 

p .„ A woman, who sold a monkey to the Zoo- 

logical Society, believed to have come from 
Borneo {Macacus maurus or M. inornatus of Gray), said 
that it often cried ; and Mr. Bartlett, as well as the 
keeper Mr. Sutton, have repeatedly seen it, when grieved, . 
or even when much pitied, weeping so copiously that the 

tears rolled down its cheeks. 


„ ,^^ A New Zealand chief "cried like a child 

Page 155. 

because the sailors spoiled his favorite cloak 

by powdering it with flour." I saw in Tierra del Fuego 

a native who had lately lost a brother, and who alternately 

cried with hysterical violence, and laughed heartily at 

anything which amused him. "With the civilized nations 

of Europe there is also much difference in the frequency 

of weeping. Englishmen rarely cry, except under the 

pressure of the acutest grief ; whereas, in some parts of 

the Continent, the men shed tears much more readily and 


The insane notoriously give way to all their emotions 

with little or no restraint ; and I am informed by Dr. J; 

Crichton Browne that nothing is more characteristic of 

simple melancholia, even in the male sex, than a tendency 

to weep on the slightest occasions, or from no cause. 

They also weep disproportionately on the occurrence of 

any real cause of grief. The length of time during which 

some patients weep is astonishing, as well as the amount 

of tears which they shed. 

The Indian elephant is known sometimes 
' to weep. Sir E. Tennent, in describing those 
which he saw captured and bound in Ceylon, says some 
" lay motionless on the ground, with no other indication 
of suffering than the tears which suffused their eyes and 
flowed incessantly." Speaking of another elephant he 
says : " When overpowered and made fast, his grief was 
most affecting ; his violence sank to utter prostration, 
and he lay on the ground, uttering choking cries, with 
tears trickling down his cheeks." 



Expression of With respect to the eyebrows, they may 
the Emotions, occasionally be seen to assume an oblique po- 
^^^ ' sition in persons suffering from deep dejection 
or anxiety ; for instance, I have observed this movement 
in a mother while speaking about her sick son ; and it is 
sometimes excited by quite trifling or momentary causes 
of real or pretended distress. The eyebrows assume this 
position owing to the contraction of certain muscles 
(namely, the orbiculars, corrugators, and pyramidals of 
the nose, which together tend to lower and contract the 
eyebrows) being partially checked by the more powerful 
action of the central fasciae of the frontal muscle. These 
latter fasciae, by their contraction, raise the inner ends 
alone of the eyebrows ; and, as the corrugators at the 
same time draw the eyebrows together, their inner ends 
become puckered into a fold or lump. The eyebrows are 
at the same time somewhat roughened, owing to the hairs 
being made to project. Dr. J. Crichton Browne has also 
often noticed, in melancholic patients who keep their eye- 
brows persistently oblique, " a peculiar acute arching of 
the upper eyelid." The acuto arching of the eyelids de- 
pends, I believe, on the inner end alone of the eyebrows 
being raised ; for, when the whole eyebrow is elevated 
and arched, the upper eyelid follows in a slight degree the 
same movement. 

But the most conspicuous result of the opposed con- 
traction of the above-named muscles is exhibited by the 
peculiar furrows formed on the forehead. These muscles, 
when thus in conjoint yet opposed action, may be called, 
for the sake of brevity, the grief -muscles. When a per- 
son elevates his eyebrows by the contraction of the whole 
frontal muscle, transverse wrinkles extend across the 


whole breadth of the forehead ; but, in the present case, 
the middle fasciae alone are contracted ; consequently, 
transverse furrows are formed across the middle part alone 
of the forehead. The skin over the exterior parts of both 
eyebrows is at the same time drawn downward and 
smoothed by the contraction of the outer portions of the 
orbicular muscles. The eyebrows are likewise brought 
together through the simultaneous contraction of the 
corrugators ; and this latter action generates vertical fur- 
rows, separating the exterior and lowered part of the skin 
of the forehead from the central and raised part. The 
union of these vertical furrows with the central and trans- 
verse furrows produces a mark on the forehead which has 
been compared to a horseshoe ; but the furrows more 
strictly form three sides of a quadrangle. They are often 
conspicuous on the foreheads of adult, or nearly adult, 
persons, when their eyebrows are made oblique ; but with 
young children, owing to their skin not easily wrinkling, 
they are rarely seen, or mere traces of them can be de- 


p ^ Few persons, without some practice, can 

voluntarily act on their grief-muscles ; but, 
after repeated trials, a considerable number succeed, while 
others never can. The degree of obliquity in the eye- 
brows, whether assumed voluntarily or unconsciously, dif- 
fers much in different persons. With some who apparently 
have unusually strong pyramidal muscles, the contraction 
of the central fasciae of the frontal muscle, although it 
may be energetic, as shown by the quadrangular furrow^ 
on the forehead, does not raise the inner ends of the eye- 
brows, but only prevents their being so much lowered as 


they otherwise would have been. As far as I have been 
able to observe, the grief -muscles are brought into action 
much more frequently by children and women than by 
men. They are rarely acted on, at least with grown-up 
persons, from bodily pain, but almost exclusively from 
mental distress. Two persons, who, after some practice, 
succeeded in acting on their grief -muscles, found by look- 
ing at a mirror that, when they made their eyebrows 
oblique, they unintentionally at the same time depressed 
the comers of their mouths ; and this is often the case 
when the expression is naturally assumed. 

The power to bring the grief-muscles freely into play 
appears to be hereditary, like almost every other human 
faculty. A lady belonging to a family famous for having 
produced an extraordinary number of great actors and 
actresses, and who can herself give this expression "with 
singular precision," told Dr. Crichton Browne that all 
her family had possessed the power in a remarkable de- 
gree. The same hereditary tendency is said to have ex- 
tended, as I likewise hear from Dr. Browne, to the last 
descendant of the family, which gave rise to Sir Walter 
Scotfs novel of *'Eed Gauntlet"; but the hero is de- 
scribed as contracting his forehead into a horseshoe mark 
from any strong emotion. I have also seen a young 
woman whose forehead seemed almost habitually thus 
contracted, independently of any emotion being at the 
time felt. 

The grief-muscles are not very frequently brought 
into play ; and, as the action is often momentary, it 
easily escapes observation. Although the expression, when 
observed, is universally and instantly recognized as that 
of grief or anxiety, yet not one person out of a thousand 
who has never studied the subject is able to say precisely 
what change passes over the sufferer's face. Hence proba- 


bly it is that this expression is not even alluded to, as far 
as I have noticed, in any work of fiction, with the excep- 
tion of " Eed Gauntlet " and of one other novel ; and the 
authoress of the latter, as I am informed, belongs to the 
famous family of actors just alluded to ; so that her 
attention may have been specially called to the subject. 


To say that a person "is down in the 
^ ' mouth " is synonymous with saying that he is 
out of spirits. The depression of the corners may often 
be seen, as already stated on the authority of Dr. Crich- 
ton Browne and Mr. Nicol, with the melancholic insane, 
and was well exhibited in some photographs, sent to me 
by the former gentleman, of patients with a strong tend- 
ency to suicide. It has been observed with men belong- 
ing to various races, namely, with Hindoos, the dark hill- 
tribes of India, Malays, and, as the Rev. Mr. Hagenauer 
informs me, with the aborigines of Australia. 

When infants scream they firmly contract the muscles 
round their eyes, and this draws up the upper lip ; and, 
as they have to keep their mouths widely open, the de- 
pressor muscles running to the corners are likewise 
brought into strong action. This generally, but not in- 
variably, causes a slight angular bend in the lower lip on 
both sides, near the corners of the mouth. 

Pa-'e 196 ^^ ^^ remarkable how small a depression of 

the corners of the mouth gives to the counte- 
nance an expression of low spirits or dejection, so that an 
extremely slight contraction of these muscles would be 
sufficient to betray this state of mind. 


I may here mention a trifling observation, as it will 
serve to snm np our present subject. An old lady with 
a comfortable but absorbed expression sat nearly oppo- 
site to me in a railway-carriage. "While I was looking at 
her I saw that her depressores anguli orU became very 
slightly yet decidedly contracted ; but, as her counte- 
nance remained as placid as ever, I reflected how mean- 
ingless was this contraction, and how easily one might be 
deceived. The thought had hardly occurred to me when 
I saw that her eyes suddenly became suffused with tears 
almost to overflowing, and her whole countenance fell. 
There could now be no doubt that some painful recollec- 
tion, perhaps that of a long-lost child, was passing 
through her mind. As soon as her sensorium was thus 
affected, certain nerve-cells from long habit instantly 
transmitted an order to all the respiratory muscles, and 
to those round the mouth, to prepare for a fit of crying. 
But the order was countermanded by the will, or rather 
by a later acquired habit, and all the muscles were obedi- 
ent, excepting in a slight degree the depressores anguU 
oris. The mouth was not even opened ; the respiration 
was not hurried ; and no muscle was affected except those 
which draw down the comers of the mouth. 


Expression Many curious discussions have been writ- 

tions, ^° o^ *^® causes of laughter with grown-up 

page 200. persons. The subject is extremely complex. 
Something incongruous or unaccountable, exciting sur- 
prise and some sense of superiority in the laugher, who 
must be in a happy frame of mind, seems to be the com- 
monest cause. The circumstances must not be of a mo- 
mentous nature ; no poor man would laugh or smile on 


suddenly hearing that a large fortune had been bequeathed 
to him. 

Page 201 ^^^ imagination is sometimes said to be 

tickled by a ludicrous idea ; and this so-called 
tickling of the mind is curiously analogous with that of 
the body. Every one knows how immoderately children 
laugh and how their whole bodies are convulsed when 
they are tickled. The anthropoid apes, as we have seen, 
likewise utter a reiterated sound, corresponding with our 
laughter, when they are tickled, especially under the arm- 
pits. I touched with a bit of paper the sole of the foot 
of one of my infants, when only seven days old, and it 
was suddenly jerked away and the toes curled about, as 
in an older child. Such movements, as well as laughter 
from being tickled, are manifestly reflex actions ; and 
this is likewise shown by the minute unstriped muscles, 
which serve to erect the separate hairs on the body, con- 
tracting near a tickled surface. Yet laughter from a 
ludicrous idea, though involuntary, can not be called a 
strictly reflex action. In this case, and in that of laugh- 
ter from being tickled, the mind must be in a pleasura- 
ble condition ; a young child, if tickled by a strange man, 
would scream from fear. The touch must be light, and 
an idea or event, to be ludicrous, must not be of grave 
import. The parts of the body which are most easily 
tickled are those which are not commonly touched, such 
as the armpits or between the toes, or parts such as the 
soles of the feet, which are habitually touched by a broad 
surface ; but the surface on which we sit offers a marked 
exception to this rule. 

P " 202 '^^^ sound of laughter is produced by a 

° * deep inspiration followed by short, interrupted, 

spasmodic contractions of the chest, and especially of the 


diaphragm. Hence we hear of " laughter holding both 
his sides," From the shaking of the body, the head 
nods to and fro. The lower jaw often quivers up and 
down, as is likewise the case with some sjiecies of baboons, 
when thev are much pleased. 

During laughter the mouth is opened more or less 
widely, with the comers drawn much backward, as well 
as a little upward ; and the upper lip is somewhat raised. 
The drawing back of the comers is best seen in moderate 
laughter, and especially in a broad smile — the latter epi- 
thet showing how the mouth is widened. 

Although we can hardly account for the 
shape of the mouth during laughter, which 
leads to wrinkles being formed beneath the eyes, nor for 
the peculiar reiterated sound of laughter, nor for the 
quivering of the jaws, nevertheless we may infer that all 
these effects are due to some common cause ; for they are 
all characteristic and erpressire of a pleased state of mind 
in various kinds of monkeys. 

It is scarcely possible to point out any difference be- 
tween the tear-stained face of a person after a paroxysm 
of excessive laughter and after a bitter crying-fit. It is 
probably due to the close similarity of the spasmodic 
movements caused by these widely different emotions 
that hysteric patients alternately cry and laugh with vio- 
lence, and that young children sometimes pass suddenly 
from the one to the other state. Mr. Swinhoe informs 
me that he has often seen the Chinese, when suffering 
from deep grief, burst out into hysterical fits of laughter. 

I was anxious to know whether tears are freely shed 
during excessive laughter by most of the races of men, 
and I hear from my correspondents that this is the case. 


One instance was observed with the Hindoos, and they 
themselves said that it often occurred. So it is with 
the Chinese. The women of a wild tribe of Malays in 
the Malacca Peninsula sometimes shed tears when they 
laugh heartily, though this seldom occurs. With the 
Dyaks of Borneo it must frequently be the case, at least 
with the women, for I hear from the Eajah C. Brooke 
that it is a common expression with them to say, "We 
nearly made tears from laughter." 

Expression Young orangs, when tickled, grin and 

tions make a chuckling sound; and Mr. Martin 

page 133. says that their eyes grow brighter. As soon as 
their laughter ceases, an expression may be detected pass- 
ing over their faces, which, as Mr. Wallace remarked to 
me, may be called a smile. I have also noticed some- 
thing of the same kind with the chimpanzee. Dr. Du- 
chenne — and I can not quote a better authority — informs 
me that he kept a very tame monkey in his house for a 
year ; and, when he gave it during meal-times some choice 
delicacy, he observed that the corners of its mouth were 
slightly raised ; thus an expression of satisfaction, partak- 
ing of the nature of an incipient smile, and resembling 
that often seen on the face of man, could be plainly per- 
ceived in this animal. 


p fr 220 With some sects, both past and present, 
religion and love have been strangely com- 
bined ; and it has even been maintained, lamentable as 
the fact may be, that the holy kiss of love differs but 
little from that which a man bestows on a woman, or a 
woman on a man. Devotion is chiefly expressed by the 



face being directed toward the heavens, with the eyeballs 
upturned. Sir C. Bell remarks that, at the approach of 
sleep, or of a fainting-fit, or of death, the pupils are 
drawn upward and inward ; and he believes that "when 
we are rapt in devotional feelings, and outward impres- 
sions are unheeded, the eyes are raised by an action nei- 
ther taught nor acquired " ; and that this is due to the 
same cause as in the above cases. That the eyes are 
upturned during sleep is, as I hear from Professor Don- 
ders, certain. With babies, while sucking their mother's 
breast, this movement of the eyeballs often gives to them 
an absurd appearance of ecstatic delight ; and here it 
may be clearly perceived that a struggle is going on 
against the position naturally assumed during sleep. But 
Sir C. Bell's explanation of the fact, which rests on the 
assumption that certain muscles are more under the con- 
trol of the will than others, is, as I hear from Professor 
Donders, incorrect. As the eyes are often turned up in 
prayer, without the mind being so much absorbed in 
thought as to approach to the unconsciousness of sleep, 
the movement is probably a conventional one — the result 
of the common belief that Heaven, the source of Divine 
power to which we pray, is seated above us. 

A humble kneehng posture, with the hands upturned 
and palms joined, appears to us, from long habit, a ges- 
ture so appropriate to devotion, that it might be thought 
to be innate ; but I have not met with any evidence to 
this effect with the various extra-European races of man- 
kind. During the classical period of Roman history it 
does not appear, as I hear from an excellent classic, that 
the hands were thus joined during prayer, Mr. Hens- 
leigh Wedgwood has apparently given the true explana- 
tion, though this implies that the attitude is one of slav- 
ish subjection. " When the suppliant kneels and holds 


up his hands with the palms joined, he represents a cap- 
tive who proves the completeness of his submission by 
offering up his hands to be bound by the victor. It is 
the pictorial representation of the Latin dare manus, to 
signify submission." Hence it is not probable that either 
the uplifting of the eyes or the joining of the open hands, 
under the influence of devotional feelings, is an innate or 
a truly expressive action ; and this could hardly have been 
expected, for it is very doubtful whether feelings such as 
we should now rank as devotional affected the hearts of 
men while they remained during past ages in an uncivil- 
ized condition. 


Expression "W'e may now inquire how it is that a frown 

tions^ ^ should express the perception of something 
page 225. difficult or disagreeable, either in thought or 
action. In the same way as naturalists find it advisable 
to trace the embryological development of an organ in 
order fully to understand its structure, so with the move- 
ments of expression it is advisable to follow as nearly as 
possible the same plan. The earliest and almost sole ex- 
pression seen during the first days of infancy, and then 
often exhibited, is that displayed during the act of 
screaming ; and screaming is excited, both at first and 
for some time afterward, by every distressing or displeas- 
ing sensation and emotion — by hunger, pain, anger, jeal- 
ousy, fear, etc. At such times the muscles round the 
eyes are strongly contracted ; and this, as I believe, ex- 
plains to a large extent the act of frowning during the 
remainder of our lives. I repeatedly observed my own 
infants, from under the age of one week to that of two 
or three months, and found that, when a screaming-fit 
came on gradually, the first sign was the contraction of 


the cormgators, which produced a slight frown, quickly 
followed by the contraction of the other muscles round 
the eyes. 

p ^ Screaming or weeping begins to be Tolun- 

° " tarily restrained at an early period of life, 
whereas frowning is hardly ever restrained at any age. 
It is perhaps worth notice that, with children much given 
to weeping, anything which perplexes their minds, and 
which would cause most other children merely to frown, 
readily makes them weep. So with certain classes of the 
insane, any effort of mind, however slight, which with 
an habitual frowner would cause a slight frown, leads to 
their weeping in an unrestrained manner. It is not more 
surprising that the habit of contracting the brows at the 
first perception of something distressing, although gained 
during infancy, should be retained during the rest of our 
lives, than that many other associated habits acquired at 
an early age should be permanently retained both by man 
and the lower animals. For instance, fuU-gro^vn cats, 
when feeling warm and comfortable, often retain the 
habit of alternately protruding their fore-feet with ex- 
tended toes, which habit they practiced for a definite 
purpose while sucking their mothers. 


n ooo With voung children sulkiness is shown 

Page 232. . - ° 

by pouting, or, as it is sometimes called, 

"making a snout." When the comers of the mouth are 
much depressed, the lower lip is a little everted and pro- 
truded ; and this is likewise called a pout. But the 
pouting here referred to consists of the protrusion of 
both lips into a tubular form, sometimes to such an ex- 


tent as to project as far as the end of the nose, if this be 
short. Pouting is generally accompaniei by frowning, 
and sometimes by the utterance of a booing or whooing 
noise. This expression is remarkable, as almost the sole 
one, as far as I know, which is exhibited much more 
plainly during childhood, at least with Europeans, than 
during maturity. There is, however, some tendency to 
the protrusion of the lips with the adults of all races 
under the influence of great rage. Some children pout 
when they are shy, and they can then hardly be called 

p " 234 Young orangs and chimpanzees protrude 
their lips to an extraordinary degree, when 
they are discontented, somewhat angry, or sulky ; also 
when they are surprised, a little frightened, and even 
when slightly pleased. Their mouths are protruded ap- 
parently for the sake of making the various noises proper 
to these several states of mind ; and its shape, as I ob- 
served with the chimpanzee, differed slightly when the 
cry of pleasure and that of anger were uttered. As soon 
as these animals become enraged, the shape of the mouth 
wholly changes, and the teeth are exposed. The adult 
orang when wounded is said to emit "a singular cry, 
consisting at first of high notes, which at length deepen 
into a low roar. While giving out the high notes he 
thrusts out his lips into a funnel shape, but in uttering 
the low notes he holds his mouth wide open," With the 
gorilla, the lower lip is said to be capable of great elonga- 
tion. If, then, our semi-human progenitors protruded 
their lips when sulky or a little angered, in the same 
manner as do the existing anthropoid apes, it is not an 
anomalous, though a curious fact, that our children 
should exhibit, when similarly affected, a trace of the 


same expression, together with some tendency to utter 
a noise. For it is not at all unusual for animals to re- 
tain, more or less perfectly, during early youth, and sub- 
sequently to lose, characters which were aboriginally pos- 
sessed by their adult progenitors, and which are still 
retained by distinct species, their near relations, 


P " 236 ^^ determined man probably ever had an 
habitually gaping mouth. Hence, also, a 
small and weak lovver jaw, which seems to indicate that 
the mouth is not habitually and firmly closed, is com- 
monly thought to be characteristic of feebleness of char- 
acter. A prolonged effort of any kind, whether of body 
or mind, implies previous determination; and if it can 
be shown that the mouth is generally closed with firmness 
before and during a great and continued exertion of the 
muscular system, then, through the principle of associa- 
tion, the mouth would almost certainly be closed as soon 
as any determined resolution was taken. 


Expression The lips are sometimes protruded durinsr 

of the Emo- • , , • . i • i t j 

tions ^g6 m a manner the meanmg of which I do 

page 243. not Understand, unless it depends on our de- 
scent from some ape-like animal. Instances hare been 
observed, not only with Europeans, but with the Austra- 
lians and Hindoos. The lips, however, are much more 
commonly retracted, the grinning or clinched teeth being 
thus exposed. This has been noticed by almost every 
one who has written on expression. The appearance is 
as if the teeth were uncovered, ready for seizing or tear- 


ing an enemyj though there may be no intention of acting 
in this manner. Mr. Dyson Lacy has seen this grinning 
expression with the Australians, when quarreling, and 
so has Gaika with the Caffres of South Africa. Dickens, 
in speaking of an atrocious murderer who had just been 
caught, and was surrounded by a furious mob, describes 
**the people as jumping up one behind another, snarling 
with their teeth, and making at him like wild beasts." 
Every one who has had much to do with young children 
must have seen how naturally they take to biting, when 
in a passion. It seems as instinctive in them as in young 
crocodiles, who snap their little jaws as soon as they 
emerge from the egg. 


Expression The expression here considered, whether 

tions, ^^3-^ of a playful sneer or ferocious snarl, is 

page 253. one of the most curious which occurs in man. 
It reveals his animal descent ; for no one, even if rolling 
on the ground in a deadly grapple with an enemy, and 
attempting to bite him, would try to use his canine teeth 
more than his other teeth. We may readily believe from 
our affinity to the anthropomorphous apes that our male 
semi-human progenitors possessed great canine teeth, and 
men are now occasionally born having them of unusually 
large size, with interspaces in the opposite jaw for their 
reception. We may further suspect, notwithstanding 
that we have no support from analogy, that our semi-hu- 
man progenitors uncovered their canine teeth when pre- 
pared for battle, as we still do when feeling ferocious, or 
when merely sneering at or defying some one, without 
any intention of making a real attack with our teeth. 




ression Extreme disgust is expressed by move- 

tk)£^ ^™°' ments round the mouth identical with those 
page 253. preparatory to the act of Tomiting. The 
mouth is opened widely, with the upper lip strongly 
retracted, which wTinkles the sides of the nose, and with 
the lower lip protruded and everted as much as possible. 
This latter movement requires the contraction of the 
muscles which draw downward the comers of the mouth. 

It is remarkable how readily and instantly retching or 
actual vomiting is induced in some persons by the mere 
idea of having partaken of any unusual food, as of an 
animal which is not commonly eaten ; although there is 
nothing in such food to cause the stomach to reject it. 
When vomiting results, as a reflex action, from some real 
cause — as from too rich food, or tainted meat, or from an 
emetic — it does not ensue immediately, but generally 
after a considerable interval of time. Therefore, to ac- 
count for retching or vomiting being so quickly and easi- 
ly excited by a mere idea, the suspicion arises that our 
progenitors must formerly have had the power (like that 
possessed by ruminants and some other animals) of vol- 
untarily rejecting food which disagreed with them, or 
which they thought would disagree with them ; and now, 
though this power has been lost, as far as the will is con- 
cerned, it is called into involuntary action, through the 
force of a formerly well-established habit, whenever the 
mind revolts at the idea of having partaken of any kind 
of food, or at anything disgusting. This suspicion re- 
ceives support from the fact, of which I am assured by 
Mr. Sutton, that the monkeys in the Zoological Gardens 
often vomit while in perfect health, which looks as if the 
act were voluntary. We can see that as man is able to 


communicate, by language to his children and others, the 
knowledge of the kinds of food to be avoided, he would 
have little occasion to use the faculty of voluntary rejec- 
tion ; so that this power would tend to be lost through 


Expression "We may now inquire why men in all parts 

tions, ' of the world, when they feel — whether or not 
page 271. they wish to show this feeling — that they can- 
not or will not do something, or will not resist something 
if done by another, shrug their shoulders, at the same time 
often bending in their elbows, showing the palms of their 
hands with extended fingers, often throwing their heads 
a little on one side, raising their eyebrows, and opening 
their mouths. These states of the mind are either simply 
passive, or show a determination not to act. None of the 
above movements are of the least service. The explana- 
tion lies, I can not doubt, in the principle of unconscious 
antithesis. This principle here seems to come into play as 
clearly as in the case of a dog, who, when feeling savage, 
puts himself in the proper attitude for attacking and for 
making himself appear terrible to his enemy ; but, as soon 
as he feels affectionate, throws his whole body into a di- 
rectly opposite attitude, though this is of no direct use 
to him. 

Let it be observed how an indignant man who resents 
and will not submit to some injury holds his head erect, 
squares his shoulders, and expands his chest. He often 
clinches his fists, and puts one or both arms in the proper 
position for attack or defense, with the muscles of his 
limbs rigid. He frowns — that is, he contracts and low- 
ers his brows — and, being determined, closes his mouth. 


The actions and attitude of a helpless man are, in CTery 
one of these respects, exactly the reverse. 


_ . Blushing is the most peculiar and the most 

Expression ° ■"■ 

of the human of all expressions. Monkeys redden 

Emotions, from passion, but it would require an OTcr- 
^^ ' whelming amount of evidence to make us be- 
lieve that any animal could blush. The reddening of the 
face from a blush is due to the relaxation of the muscular 
coats of the small arteries, by which the capillaries be- 
come filled with blood ; and this depends on the proper 
yaso-motor center being affected. No doubt, if there be 
at the same time much mental agitation, the general cir- 
culation will be affected ; but it is not due to the action 
of the heart that the net-work of minute vessels covering 
the face becomes, under a sense of shame, gorged with 
blood. We can cause laughing by tickling the skin ; 
weeping or frowning, by a blow ; trembling, from a fear 
of pain, and so forth ; but we can not cause a blush, as 
Dr. Burgess remarks, by any physical means — that is, by 
any action on the body. It is the mind which must be 
affected. Blushing is not only involuntary, but the wish 
to restrain it, by leading to self-attention, actually in- 
creases the tendency. 

p ^ The tendency to blush is inherited. Dr. 

Burgess gives the case of a family, consisting 
of a father, mother, and ten children, all of whom, with- 
out exception, were prone to blush to a most painful de- 
gree. The children were grown up ; " and some of them 
were sent to travel, in order to wear away this diseased 
sensibility, but nothing was of the slightest avail." Even 


peculiarities in blushing seem to be inherited. Sir James 
Paget, while examining the spine of a giri, was struck at 
her singular manner of blushing : a big splash of red ap- 
peared first on one cheek, and then other splashes yari- 
ously scattered over the face and neck. He subsequently 
asked the mother whether her daughter always blushed 
in this peculiar manner, and was answered, "Yes, she 
takes after me." Sir J. Paget then perceived that, by 
asking this question, he had caused the mother to blush ; 
and she exhibited the same peculiarity as her daughter. 

•„ .,,0 Mr* Washington Matthews has often seen 

Page 318. , , , ,-1 , <. ,-, 

a blush on the faces of the young squaws be- 
longing to various wild Indian tribes of North America. 
At the opposite extremity of the continent, in Tierra del 
Fuego, the natives, according to Mr. Bridges, ** blush 
much, but chiefly in regard to women ; but they cer- 
tainly blush also at their own personal appearance." 
This latter statement agrees with what I remember of 
the Fuegian, Jemmy Button, who blushed when he was 
quizzed about the care which he took in polishing his 
shoes, and in otherwise adorning himself. 

Several trustworthy observers have assured 
me that they have seen on the faces of negroes 
an appearance resembling a blush, under circumstances 
which would have excited one in us, though their skins 
were of an ebony-black tint. Some describe it as blush- 
ing brown, but most say that the blackness becomes more 

I will give an instance of the extreme dis- 
turbance of mind to which some sensitive men 
are liable. A gentleman, on whom I can rely, assured 


me that he had been an eye-witness of the following 
scene : A small dinner-party was given in honor of an 
extremely shy man, who, when he rose to return thanks, 
rehearsed the speech, which he had evidently learned by 
heart, in absolute silence, and did not utter a single 
word ; but he acted as if he were speaking with much 
emphasis. His friends, perceiving how the case stood, 
loudly applauded the imaginary bursts of eloquence, 
whenever his gestures indicated a pause, and the man 
never discovered that he had remained the whole time 
completely silent. On the contrary, he afterward re- 
marked to my friend, with much satisfaction, that he 
thought he had succeeded uncommonly well. 


p ^ It is not the sense of guilt, but the thought 

° " that others think or know us to be guilty, 
which crimsons the face. A man may feel thoroughly 
ashamed at having told a small falsehood, without blush- 
ing ; but if he even suspects that he is detected he will 
instantly blush, especially if detected by one whom he 

On the other hand, a man may be convinced that God 
witnesses all his actions, and he may feel deeply conscious 
of some fault and pray for forgiveness ; but this will not, 
as a lady who is a great blusher believes, ever excite a 
blush. The explanation of this difference between the 
knowledge by God and man of our actions lies, I presume, 
in man's disapprobation of immoral conduct being some- 
what akin in nature to his depreciation of our personal 
appearance, so that through association both lead to simi- 
lar results ; whereas the disapprobation of God brings up 
no such association. 



Many a person has blushed intensely when accused of 
some crime, though completely innocent of it. 

„ „„ . An action may be meritorious or of an in- 

Page 334, . •' 

different nature, but a sensitive person, if he 

suspects that others take a different view of it, will blush. 
For instance, a lady by herself may give money to a beg- 
gar without a trace of a blush, but if others are present, 
and she doubts whether they approve, or suspects that 
they think her influenced by display, she will blush. So 
it will be, if she offers to relieve the distress of a decayed 
gentlewoman, more particularly of one whom she had 
previously known under better circumstances, as she can 
not then feel sure how her conduct will be viewed. But 
such cases as these blend into shyness. 

The belief that blushing was specially de- 
signed by the Creator is opposed to the gen- 
eral theory of evolution, which is now so largely accepted ; 
but it forms no part of my duty here to argue on the 
general question. Those who believe in design will find 
it difficult to account for shyness being the most frequent 
and efficient of all the causes of blushing, as it makes the 
blusher to suffer and the beholder uncomfortable, without 
being of the least service to either of them. They will 
also find it difficult to account for negroes and other dark- 
colored races blushing, in whom a change of color in the 
skin is scarcely or not at all visible. 


The hypothesis which appears to me the most prob- 
able, though it may at first seem rash, is that attention 
closely directed to any part of the body tends to interfere 


with the ordinary and tonic contraction of the small 
arteries of that part. These vessels, in consequence, be- 
come at such times more or less relaxed, and are in- 
stantly filled with arterial blood. This tendency will 
have been much strengthened, if frequent attention has 
been paid during many generations to the same part, 
owing to nerve-force readily flowing along accustomed 
channels, and by the power of inheritance. Whenever 
we believe that others are depreciating or even consid- 
ering our personal appearance, our attention is vividly 
directed to the outer and visible parts of our bodies ; and 
of all such parts we are most sensitive about our faces, 
as no doubt has been the case during many past genera- 
tions. Therefore, assuming for the moment that the cap- 
illary vessels can be acted on by close attention, those of 
the face will have become eminently susceptible. Through 
the force of association, the same effects will tend to fol- 
low whenever we think that others are considering or 
censuring our actions or character. 

p It is known that the involuntary move- 

ments of the heart are affected if close atten- 
tion be paid to them. Gratiolet gives the case of a man 
who, by continually watching and counting his own pulse, 
at last caused one beat out of every six to intermit. On 
the other hand, my father told me of a careful observer, 
who certainly had heart-disease and died from it, and 
who positively stated that his pulse was habitually irregu- 
lar to an extreme degree ; yet to his great disappointment 
it invariably became regular as soon as my father entered 
the room. 



P " 342 When we direct our whole attention to 
any one sense, its acuteness is increased ; and 
the continued habit of close attention, as with blind 
people to that of hearing, and with the blind and deaf to 
that of touch, appears to improve the sense in question 
permanently. There is, also, some reason to believe, 
judging from the capacities of different races of man, that 
the effects are inherited. Turning to ordinary sensations, 
it is well known that pain is increased by attending to it ; 
and Sir B. Brodie goes so far as to believe that pain may 
be felt in any part of the body to which attention is 
closely drawn. 


Expression I have endeavored to show in considerable 

tions^ ^^' detail that all the chief expressions exhibited 
page 361. by man are the same throughout the world. 
This fact is interesting, as it affords a new argument in 
favor of the several races being descended from a single 
parent-stock, which must have been almost completely 
human in structure, and to a large extent in mind, before 
the period at which the races diverged from each other. 
No doubt similar structures adapted for the same purpose 
have often been independently acquired through variation 
and natural selection by distinct species ; but this view 
will not explain close similarity between distinct species 
in a multitude of unimportant details. Now, if we bear 
in mind the numerous points of structure having no rela- 
tion to expression, in which all the races of man closely 
agree, and then add to them the numerous points, some 
of the highest importance and many of the most trifling 
value, on which the movements of expression directly or 
indirectly depend, it seems to me imjorobable in the high- 


-c degree that so much similarity, or rather identity 
of structure, could hare been acquired by independent 
means. Yet this must have been the case if the races of 
man are descended from several aboriginally distinct spe- 
cies. It is far more probable that the many points of 
close similarity in the various races are due to inheritance 
from a single parent-form, which had already assumed a 
human character. 






Animals and Every one would wish to explain to h im- 

plants under gg|f gygjj ^jj jj^jj imperfect manner, how it is 
Domestica- ■■,■,« 

tion, vol. ii, possible lor a character possessed by some re- 
page 349. mote ancestor suddenly to reappear in the off- 
spring ; how the effects of increased or decreased use of a 
limb can be transmitted to the child ; how the male sex- 
ual element can act not solely on the ovules, but occasion- 
ally on the mother-form ; how a hybrid can be produced 
by the union of the cellular tissue of two plants inde- 
pendently of the organs of generation ; how a limb can 
be reproduced on the exact line of amputation, with 
neither too much nor too little added ; how the same 
organism may be produced by such widely different pro- 
cesses as budding and true seminal generation ; and, 
lastly, how, of two allied forms, one passes in the course 
of its development through the most complex metamor- 
phoses, and the other does not do so, though when ma- 
ture both are alike in every detail of structure. I am 
aware that my view is merely a provisional hypothesis or 
speculation ; but, until a better one be advanced, it will 
serve to bring together a multitude of facts which are 
at present left disconnected by any efficient cause. As 



Whewell, the historian of the inductive sciences, remarks, 
** Hypotheses may often be of service to science when 
they inTolve a certain portion of incompleteness, and 
even of error." Under this point of view I venture to 
advance the hypothesis of pangenesis, which implies that 
every separate part of the whole organization reproduces 
itself. So that ovules, spermatozoa, and pollen-grains — 
the fertilized egg or seed, as well as buds — include and 
consist of a multitude of germs thrown off from each 
separate part or uniL 


Physiologists agree that the whole organ- 
ism consists of a multitude of elemental parts, 
which are to a great extent independent of one another. 
Each organ, says Claude Bernard, has its proper life, its 
autonomy ; it can develop and reproduce itself independ- 
ently of the adjoining tissues. A great German author- 
ity, Virchow, asserts still more emphatically that each 
system consists of an ** enormous mass of minute centers 
of action. . . . Every element has its own sx)ecial action, 
and, even though it derive its stimulus to activity from 
other parts, yet alone effects the actual performance of 
duties. . . . Every single epithelial and muscular fiber- 
cell leads a sort of parasitical existence in relation to the 
rest of the body. . . . Every single bone-corpuscle really 
possesses conditions of nutrition peculiar to itself." Each 
element, as Sir J. Paget remarks, lives its appointed time 
and then dies, and is replaced after being cast off or ab- 
sorbed. I presume that no physiologist doubts that, for 
instance, each bone-corpuscle of the finger differs from 
the corresponding corpuscle in the corresponding joint of 


the toe ; and there can hardly be a doubt that even those 
on the corresponding sides of the body differ, though al- 
most identical in nature. This near approach to identity 
is curiously shown in many diseases in which the same 
exact points on the right and left sides of the body are 
similarly affected ; thus Sir J. Paget gives a drawing of a 
diseased pelvis, in which the bone has grown into a most 
complicated pattern, but "there is not one spot or line 
on one side which is not represented, as exactly as it 
would be in a mirror, on the other. 

Many facts support this view of the independent life 
of each minute element of the body. Virchow insists 
that a single bone-corpuscle or a single cell in the skin 
may become diseased. The spur of a cock, after being in- 
serted into the ear of an ox, lived for eight years, and ac- 
quired a weight of three hundred and ninety-six grammes 
(nearly fourteen ounces) and the astonishing length of 
twenty-four centimetres, or about nine inches ; so that 
the head of the ox appeared to bear three horns. The 
tail of a pig has been grafted into the middle of its back, 
and reacquired sensibility. Dr. Oilier inserted a piece of 
periosteum from the bone of a young dog under the skin 
of a rabbit, and true bone was developed. A multitude 
of similar facts could be given. 

P 368 What can be more wonderful than that 
characters, which have disappeared during 
scores, or hundreds, or even thousands of generations, 
should suddenly reappear perfectly developed, as in the 
case of pigeons and fowls, both when purely bred and 
especially when crossed ; or as with the zebrine stripes on 
dun-colored horses, and other such cases ? Many mon- 
strosities come under this same head, as when rudimentary 
organs are redeveloped, or when an organ which we must 



believe was possessed by an early progenitor of the species, 
but of which not eren a rudiment is left, suddenly reap- 
pears, as with the fifth stamen in some ScropMilariacece. 

p In every Living creature we may feel as- 

° ' sured that a host of long-lost characters lie 
ready to be evolved under proper conditions. How can 
we make intelligible, and connect with other facts, this 
wonderful and common capacity of reversion — this power 
of calling back to life long-lost characters ? 

p Imperfect nails sometimes appear on the 

stumps of the amputated fingers of man ; and 
it is an interesting fact that with the snake-like saurians, 
which present a series with more and more imperfect 
limbs, the terminations of the phalanges first disappear, 
" the nails becoming transferred to their proximal rem- 
nants, or even to parts which are not phalanges." 

„ „„., Mr. Salter and Dr. Maxwell Masters have 

Page 387. 

found pollen within the ovules of the passion- 
flower and of the rose. Buds may be developed in the 
most unnatural positions, as on the petal of a flower. 
Numerous analogous facts could be given. 

I do not know how physiologists look at such facts as 
the foregoing. According to the doctrine of pangenesis, 
the gemmules of the transposed organs become developed 
in the wrong place, from uniting with wrong cells or 
aggregates of cells during their nascent state ; and this 
would follow from a slight modification in their elective 

^m. p 388 ^^ ^^^ ordinary view it is unintelligible 
^B^ * how changed conditions, whether acting on 

^■le embryo, the voung or the adult, can cause inherited 



modifications. It is equally or even more unintelligible, 
on any ordinary view, how the effects of the long-contin- 
ued use or disuse of a part, or of changed habits of body 
or mind, can be inherited. A more perplexing problem 
can hardly be proposed ; but on our view we have only 
to suppose that certain cells become at last structurally 
modified, and that these throw off similarly modified 
gemmules. This may occur at any period of develop- 
ment, and the modification will be inherited at a corre- 
sponding period ; for the modified gemmules will unite 
in all ordinary cases with the proper preceding cells, and 
will consequently be developed at the same period at 
which the modification first arose. With respect to 
mental habits or instincts, we are so profoundly ignorant 
of the relation between the brain and the power of 
thought that we do not know positively whether a fixed 
habit induces any change in the nervous system, though 
this seems highly probable ; but, when such habit or other 
mental attribute, or insanity, is inherited, we must be- 
lieve that some actual modification is transmitted ; and 
this implies, according to our hypothesis, that gemmules 
derived from modified nerve-cells are transmitted to the 


Pa^e 869 ^ ^^^® ^°^ enumerated the chief facts 
which every one would desire to see connected 
by some intelligible bond. This can be done, if we make 
the following assumptions, and much may be advanced 
in favor of the chief one. The secondary assumptions 
can likewise be supported by various physiological con- 
siderations. It is universally admitted that the cells or 
units of the body increase by self-division or proliferation, 
retaining the same nature, and that they ultimately be- 


come converted into the various tissues and substances of 
the body. But besides this means of increase I assume 
that the units throw off minute granules which are dis- 
persed throughout the whole system ; that these, when 
supplied with proper nutriment, multiply by self -division, 
and are ultimately developed into units like those from 
which they were originally derived. These granules may 
be called gemmules. They are collected from all parts 
of the system to constitute the sexual elements, and their 
development in the next generation forms a new being ; 
but they are likewise capable of transmission in a dormant 
state to future generations and may then be developed. 
Their development depends on their union with other 
partially developed or nascent cells which precede them 
in the regular course of growth. Why I use the term 
union will be seen when we discuss the direct action of 
pollen on the tissues of the mother-plant. Gemmules 
are supposed to be thrown off by every unit, not only 
during the adult state, but during each stage of develop- 
ment of every organism ; but not necessarily during the 
continued existence of the same unit. Lastly, I assume 
that the gemmules in their dormant state have a mutual 
affinity for each other, leading to their aggregation into 
buds or into the sexual elements. Hence, it is not the 
reproductive organs or buds which generate new organ- 
isms, but the units of which each individual is composed. 
These assumptions constitute the provisional hypothesis 
which I have called pangenesis. 

„ „-,„ But I have further to assume that the 

Page 372. 

gemmules in their undeveloped state are capa- 
ble of largely multiplying themselves by self-division, 
like independent organisms. Delpino insists that to 
*' admit of multiplication by fissiparity in corpuscles. 


analogous to seeds or buds ... is repugnant to all anal- 
ogy." But this seems a strange objection, as Thuret has 
seen the zoospore of an alga divide itself, and each half 
germinated. Haeckel divided the segmented ovum of a 
siphonophora into many pieces, and these were developed. 
Nor does the extreme minuteness of the gemmules, which 
can hardly differ much in nature from the lowest and 
simplest organisms, render it improbable that they should 
grow and multiply. A great authority, Dr. Beale, says 
that " minute yeast-cells are capable of throwing off buds 
or gemmules, much less than the ia^af^a of an inch in 
diameter " ; and these he thinks are capable of subdivision 
practically ad infinitum.^* 

A particle of small-pox matter, so minute as to be 
borne by the wind, must multiply itself many thousand- 
fold in a person thus inoculated ; and so with the con- 
tagious matter of scarlet fever. It has recently been 
ascertained that a minute portion of the mucous discharge 
from an animal affected with rinderpest, if placed in the 
blood of a healthy ox, increases so fast that in a short 
space of time "the whole mass of blood, weighing many 
pounds, is infected, and every small particle of that blood 
contains enough poison to give, within less than forty- 
eight hours, the disease to another animal." 

p ^ The gemmules derived from each part or 

organ must be thoroughly dispersed through- 
out the whole system. "We know, for instance, that even 
a minute fragment of a leaf of a begonia will reproduce 
the whole plant ; and that if a fresh-water worm is 
chopped into small pieces, each will reproduce the whole 
animal. Considering also the minuteness of the gemmules 
and the permeability of all organic tissues, the thorough 
dispersion of the gemmules is not surprising. That 


matter may be readily transferred without the aid of ves- 
sels from part to part of the body, we have a good in- 
stance in a ease recorded by Sir J. Paget of a lady, whose 
hair lost its color at each successive attack of neuralgia 
and recovered it again in the course of a few days. With 
plants, however, and probably with compound animals, 
such as corals, the gemmules do not ordinarily spread 
from bud to bud, but are confined to the parts developed 
from each separate bud ; and of this fact no explanation 
can be given. 


But we have here to encounter two objec- 

Page 380. , ' 

tions which apply not only to the regrowth 

of a part, or of a bisected individual, but to fissiparous 
generation and budding. The first objection is that the 
part which is reproduced is in the same stage of develop- 
ment as that of the being which has been operated on or 
bisected ; and in the case of buds, that the new beings 
thus produced are in the same stage as that of the bud- 
ding parent. Thus a mature salamander, of which the 
tail has been cut off, does not reproduce a larval tail ; 
and a crab does not reproduce a larval leg. In the case 
of budding it was shown in the fii^t part of this chapter 
that the new being thus produced does not retrograde in 
development — that is, does not pass through those earlier 
stages which the fertilized germ has to pass through. 
Nevertheless, the organisms operated on or multiplying 
themselves by buds must, by our hypothesis, include 
innumerable gemmules derived from every part or unit 
of the earlier stages of development ; and why do not 
such gemmules reproduce the amputated part or the 
whole body at a corresponding early stage of develop- 
ment ? 


The second objection, which has been insisted on by 
Delpino, is that the tissues, for instance, of a mature sala- 
mander or crab, of which a limb has been removed, are 
already differentiated and have passed through their 
whole course of development ; and how can such tissues 
in accordance with our hypothesis attract and combine 
with the gemmules of the part which is to be reproduced ? 
In answer to these two objections we must bear in mind 
the evidence which has been advanced, showing that at 
least in a large number of cases the power of regrowth 
is a localized faculty, acquired for the sake of repairing 
special injuries to which each particular creature is liable ; 
and, in the case of buds or fissiparous generation, for the 
sake of quickly multiplying the organism at a period of 
life when it can be supported in large numbers. These 
considerations lead us to believe that in all such cases a 
stock of nascent cells or of partially developed gemmules 
are retained for this special purpose either locally or 
throughout the body, ready to combine with the gem- 
mules derived from the cells which come next in due 
succession. If this be admitted, we have a sufficient 
answer to the above two objections. Anyhow, pangenesis 
seems to throw a considerable amount of light on the 
wonderful power of regrowth. 


P 392 ^® ha-TB as yet spoken only of the removal 

of parts, when not followed by morbid action : 
but, when the operation is thus followed, it is certain that 
the deficiency is sometimes inherited. In a former 
chapter instances were given, as of a cow, the loss of 
whose horn was followed by suppuration, and her calves 
were destitute of a horn on the same side of their heads. 


But the evidence which admits of no doubt is that given 
by Brown-Sequard with respect to Gninea-pigs, which, 
after their sciatic nerves had been divided, gnawed ofE 
their own. gangrenous toes, and the toes of their offspring 
were deficient in at least thirteen instances on the corre- 
sponding feet. The inheritance of the lost part in several 
of these cases is all the more remarkable as only one 
parent was affected ; but we know that a congenital de- 
ficiency is often transmitted fi-om one parent alone — for 
instance, the offspring of hornless cattle of either sex, 
when crossed with perfect animals, are often hornless. 
How, then, in accordance with our hypothesis can we ac- 
count for mutilations being sometimes strongly inherited, 
if they are followed by diseased action ? The answer 
probably is that all the gemmules of the mutilated or 
amputated part are gradually attracted to the diseased 
surface during the reparative process, and are there de- 
stroyed by the morbid action. 


Paee 396 "^^^ transmission of dormant gemmules 

during many successive generations is hardly 
in itself more improbable, as previously remarked, than 
the retention during many ages of rudimentary organs, 
or even only of a tendency to the production of a rudi- 
ment ; but there is no reason to suppose that dormant 
gemmules can be transmitted and propagated forever. 
Excessively minute and numerous as they are believed to 
be, an infinite number, derived, during a long course of 
modification and descent, from each unit of each progeni- 
tor, could not be supported or nourished by the organism. 
But it does not seem improbable that certain gemmules, 
under favorable conditions, should be retained and go 


on multiplying for a much longer period than others. 
Finally, on the view here given, we certainly gain some 
insight into the wonderful fact that the child may depart 
from the type of both its parents, and resemble its grand- 
parents, or ancestors removed by many hundreds of gen- 

p ^ g The child, strictly speaking, does not grow 

" into the man, but includes germs which slowly 

and successively become developed and form the man. 
In the child, as well as in the adult, each part generates 
the same part. Inheritance must be looked at as merely 
a form of growth, like the self-division of a lowly-organ- 
ized unicellular organism. Eeversion depends on the 
transmission from the forefather to his descendants of 
dormant gemmules, which occasionally become developed 
under certain known or unknown conditions. Each 
animal and plant may be compared with a bed of soil 
full of seeds, some of which soon germinate, some lie dor- 
mant for a period, while others perish. "When we hear 
it said that a man carries in his constitution the seeds of 
an inherited disease, there is much truth in the expression. 
No other attempt, as far as I am aware, has been made, 
imperfect as this confessedly is, to connect under one 
point of view these several grand classes of facts. An 
organic being is a microcosm — a little universe, formed 
of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably 
minute and numerous as the stars in heaven. 



Ori"!!! of Several writers have misapprehended or 

Species, objected to the term Natural Selection. Some 
* have even imagined that natural selection in- 
duces variability, whereas it implies only the preservation 
of such variations as arise and are beneficial to the being 
under its conditions of life. No one objects to agricul- 
turists speaking of the potent effects of man's selection ; 
and in this case the individual difference given by nature, 
which man for some object selects, must of necessity first 
occur. Others have objected that the term selection im- 
plies conscious choice in the animals which become modi- 
fied ; and it has even been urged that, as plants have no 
volition, natural selection is not applicable to them ! In 
the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection 
is a false term ; but who ever objected to chemists speak- 
ing of the elective affinities of the various elements ? — 
and yet an acid can not strictly be said to elect the base 
with which it in preference combines. It has been said 
that I speak of natural selection as ah active power or 
Deity ; but who objects to an author speaking of the at- 
traction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets ? 
Every one knows what is meant and is implied by such 
metaphorical expressions ; and they are almost necessary 


for brevity. So again it is difficult to avoid personifying 
the word Nature ; but I mean by Nature, only the aggre- 
gate action and product of many natural laws, and by 
laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us. With a 
little familiarity such superficial objections will be for- 
gotten. J 


Oii«Tm of -^s ™y conclusions have lately been much 

Species, misrepresented, and it has been stated that I 
^^^® ■ attribute the modification of species exclusively 
to natural selection, I may be permitted to remark that 
in the first edition of this work, and subsequently, I 
placed in a most conspicuous position — namely, at the 
close of the introduction — the following words : "I am 
convinced that natural selection has been the main but 
not the exclusive means of modification-" This has been 
of no avail. Great is the power of steady misrepresenta- 
tion ; but the history of science shows that fortunately 
this power does not long endure. 

It can hardly be supposed that a false theory would 
explain, in so satisfactory a manner as does the theory of 
natural selection, the several large classes of facts above 
specified. It has recently been objected that this is an 
unsafe method of arguing ; but it is a method used in 
judging of the common events of life, and has often been 
vised by the greatest natural philosophers. The undula- 
tory theory of light has thus been arrived at ; and the 
belief in the revolution of the earth on its own axis was 
until lately supported by hardly any direct evidence. It 
is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light 
on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of 
life. Who can explain what is the essence of the attrac- 
tion of gravity ? No one now objects to following out 


the results consequent on this unknown element of at- 
traction ; notwithstanding that Leibnitz formerly accused 
Newton of introducing "occult qualities and miracles 
into philosophy." 

/I see no good reason why the views given in this 
YOTime should shock the religious feelings of any one. It 
is satisfactory, as showing how transient such impressions 
are, to remember that the greatest discovery ever made 
by man, namely, the law of the attraction of gravity, was 
also attacked by Leibnitz, "as subversive of natural, and 
inferentially of revealed, religion." A celebrated author 
and divine has written to me that "he has gradually 
learned to see that it is just as noble a conception of the 
Deity to believe that he created a few original forms 
capable of self -development into other and needful forms, 
as to believe that he required a fresh act of creation to 
supply the voids caused by the action of his laws."^ 


Origin of The mere lapse of time by itself does 

Species, nothing, either for or against natural selection. 
I state this because it has been erroneously 
asserted that the element of time has been assumed by 
me to play an all-important part in modifying species, as 
if all the forms of life were necessarily undergoing change 
through some innate law. Lapse of time is only so far 
important, and its importance in this respect is great, 
that it gives a better chance of beneficial variations aris- 
ing, and of their being selected, accumulated, and fixed. 
It likewise tends to increase the direct action of the phys- 
ical conditions of life, in relation to the constitution of 
each organism. 

If we turn to nature to test the truth of these re- 


marks, and look at any small isolated area, such as an 
oceanic island, although the number of species inhabiting 
it is small, as we shall see in our chapter on *' Geographi- 
cal Distribution," yet of these species a very large propor- 
tion are endemic — that is, have been produced there, and 
nowhere else in the world. Hence an oceanic island at 
first sight seems to have been highly favorable for the 
production of new species. But we may thus deceive 
ourselves, for, to ascertain whether a small isolated area, 
or a large open area like a continent, has been most favor- 
able for the production of new organic forms, we ought to 
make the comparison within equal times ; and this we are 
incapable of doing. 

Although isolation is of great importance in the pro- 
duction of new species, on the whole I am inclined to 
believe that largeness of area is still more important, es- 
pecially for the production of species which shall prove 
capable of enduring for a long period, and of spreading 
widely. Throughout a great and open area, not only will 
there be a better chance of favorable variations, arising 
from the large number of individuals of the same species 
there supported, but the conditions of life are much more 
complex from the large number of already existing spe- 
cies ; and if some of these many species become modified 
and improved, others will have to be improved in a cor- 
responding degree, or they will be exterminated. Each 
new form, also, as soon as it has been much improved, 
will be able to spread over the open and continuous area, 
and will thus come into competition with many other 
forms. Moreover, great areas, though now continuous, 
will often, owing to former oscillations of level, have 
existed in a broken condition ; so that the good effects 
of isolation will generally, to a certain extent, have con- 
curred. Finally, I conclude that, although small isolated 


areas have been in some respects highly favorable for the 
production of new species, yet that the course of modifi- 
cation will generally have been more rapid on large areas ; 
and what is more important, that the new forms produced 
on large areas, which already have been victorious over 
many competitors, will be those that will spread most 
widely, and will give rise to the greatest number of new 
varieties and species. They will thus play a more impor- 
tant part in the changing history of the organic world. 


Ori-nn of ^^^ ^* ^^J ^® objected that if all organic 

Species, beings thus tend to rise in the scale, how is it 
^**^ * that throughout the world a multitude of the 
lowest forms still exist ; and how is it that in each great 
class some forms are far more highly developed than 
others ? Why have not the more highly developed forms 
everywhere supplanted and exterminated the lower ? 
Lamarck, who believed in an innate and inevitable tend- 
ency toward perfection in all organic beings, seems to 
have felt this difficulty so strongly that he was led to 
suppose that new and simple forms are continually being 
produced by spontaneous generation. Science has not as 
yet proved the truth of this belief, whatever the future 
may reveal. On our theory the continued existence of 
lowly organisms offers no difficulty ; for natural selection, 
or the survival of the fittest, does not necessarily include 
progressive development — it only takes advantage of such 
variations as arise and are beneficial to each creature 
under its complex relations of life. And it may be asked, 
What advantage, as far as we can see, would it be to an 
infusorian animalcule — to an intestinal worm — or even to 


an earth-worm, to be highly organized ? If it were no 
advantage, these forms would be left, by natural selection, 
unimproved or but little improved, and might remain for 
indefinite ages in their present lowly condition. And 
geology tells us that some of the lowest forms, as the 
infusoria and rhizopods, have remained for an enormous 
period in nearly their present state. But to suppose that 
most of the many now existing low forms have not in the 
least advanced since the first dawn of life would be ex- 
tremely rash ; for every naturalist who has dissected some 
of the beings now ranked as very low in the scale must 
have been struck with their really wondrous and beauti- 
ful organization. 

Nearly the same remarks are applicable if we look to 
the different grades of organization within the same great 
group ; for instance, in the vertebrata, to the co-existence 
of mammals and fish — among mammalia, to the co-exist- 
ence of man and the ornithorhynchus — among fishes, to 
the co-existence of the shark and the lancelet (Amphiox- 
us), which latter fish in the extreme simplicity of its 
structure approaches the invertebrate classes. But mam- 
mals and fish hardly come into competition with each 
other ; the advancement of the whole class of mammals, 
or of certain members in this class, to the highest grade 
would not lead to their taking the place of fishes. Physi- 
ologists believe that the brain must be bathed by warm 
blood to be highly active, and this requires aerial respira- 
tion ; so that warm-blooded mammals when inhabiting the 
water lie under a disadvantage in having to come contin- 
ually to the surface to breathe. "With fishes, members of 
the shark family would not tend to supplant the lancelet ; 
for the lancelet, as I hear from Fritz Miiller, has as sole 
companion and competitor on the barren, sandy shore 
of South Brazil an anomalous annelid. The three lowest 


orders of mammals, namely, marsupials, edentata, and 
rodents, co-exist in South America in the same region 
with numerous monkeys, and probably interfere little 
with each other. Although organization, on the whole, 
may have advanced and be still advancing throughout 
the world, yet the scale will always present many degrees 
of perfection ; for the high advancement of certain whole 
classes, or of certain members of each class, does not at 
all necessarily lead to the extinction of those groups with 
which they do not enter into close competition. In some 
cases, as we shall hereafter see, lowly organized forms 
appear to have been preserved to the present day, from 
inhabiting confined or peculiar stations, where they have 
been subjected to less severe competition, and where their 
scanty numbers have retarded the chance of favorable 
variations arising. 

Finally, I believe that many lowly organized forms 
now exist throughout the world, from various causes. In 
some cases variations or individual differences of a favor- 
able nature may never have arisen for natural selection 
to act on and accumulate. In no case, probably, has 
time sufficed for the utmost possible amount of develop- 
ment. In some few cases there has been what we must 
call retrogression of organization. But the main cause 
lies in the fact that under very simple conditions of life a 
high organization would be of no service — possibly would 
be of actual disservice, as being of a more delicate nature, 
and more liable to be put out of order and injured. 

Looking to the first dawn of life, when all organic 
beings, as we may believe, presented the simplest struct- 
ure, how, it has been asked, could the first steps in the 
advancement or differentiation of parts have arisen ? 


Pa"e 100 ^^ ^® ^^^® ^° ^^^^ ^^ guide us, specula- 

tion on the subject is almost useless. It is, 
however, an error to suppose that there would be no 
struggle for existence, and, consequently, no natural se- 
lection, until many forms had been produced : yariations 
in a single species inhabiting an isolated station might be 
beneficial, and thus the whole mass of indiyiduals might 
be modified, or two distinct forms might arise. But, as I 
remarked toward the close of the Introduction, no one 
ought to feel surprised at much remaining as yet unex- 
plained on the origin of species, if we make due allowance 
for our profound ignorance on the mutual relations of 
the inhabitants of the world at the present time, and 
still more so during past ages. 


Origin of What, then, checks an indefinite increase 

Species, in the number of species ? The amount of life 

" ■ (I do not mean the number of specific forms) 
supported on an area must have a limit, depending so 
largely as it does on physical conditions ; therefore, if an 
area be inhabited by very many species, each or nearly 
each species will be represented by few individuals ; and 
such species will be liable to extermination from acci- 
dental fluctuations in the nature of the seasons or in the 
number of their enemies. The process of extermination 
in such cases would be rapid, whereas the production of 
new species must always be slow. Imagine the extreme 
case of as many species as individuals in England, and 
the first severe winter or very dry summer would extermi- 
nate thousands on thousands of species. Rare species, and 
each species will become rare if the number of species in 
any country becomes indefinitely increased, will, on the 


principle often explained, present within a given period 
few favorable variations ; consequently, the process of 
giving birth to new specific forms would thus be retarded. 
When any species becomes very rare, close interbreeding 
will help to exterminate it ; authors have thought that 
this comes into play in accounting for the deterioration 
of the aurochs in Lithuania, of red deer in Scotland, 
and of bears in Norway, etc. Lastly, and this I am in- 
clined to think is the most important element, a dominant 
species, which has already beaten many competitors in its 
own home, will tend to spread and supplant many others. 
Alph. de Candolle has shown that those species which 
spread widely tend generally to spread very widely ; con- 
sequently, they will tend to supplant and exterminate 
several species in several areas, and thus check the inor- 
dinate increase of specific forms throughout the world. 
Dr. Hooker has recently shown that in the southeast cor 
ner of Australia, where, apparently, there are many in- 
vaders from different quarters of the globe, the endemic 
Australian species have been greatly reduced in number. 
How much weight to attribute to these several considera- 
tions I will not pretend to say ; but conjointly they must 
limit in each country the tendency to an indefinite aug- 
mentation of specific forms. 


On<nn of ^^^ affinities of all the beings of the same 

Species, class havc sometimes been represented by a 
^**^ ' great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks 
the truth. The green and budding twigs may represent 
existing species ; and those produced during former years 
may represent the long succession of extinct species. At 
each period of growth all the growing twigs have tried 


to branch out on all sides, and to overtop and kill the 
surrounding twigs and branches, in the same manner as 
species and groups of species have at all times overmas- 
tered other species in the great battle for life. The limbs 
divided into great branches, and these into lesser and 
lesser branches, were themselves once, when the tree was 
young, budding twigs ; and this connection of the former 
and present buds by ramifying branches may well repre- 
sent the classification of all extinct and living species in 
groups subordinate to groups. Of the many twigs which 
flourished when the tree was a mere bush, only two or 
three, now grown into great branches, yet survive and 
bear the other branches ; so with the species which lived 
during long-past geological periods, very few haye left 
living and modified descendants. From the first growth 
of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and 
dropped off; and these fallen branches of various sizes 
may represent those whole orders, families, and genera 
which have now no living representatives, and which are 
known to us only in a fossil state. As we here and there 
see a thin straggling branch springing from a fork low 
down in a tree, and which by some chance has been fa- 
vored and is still alive on its summit, so we occasionally 
see an animal like the ornithorhynchus or lepidosiren, 
which in some small degree connects by its affinities two 
large branches of life, and which has ajiparently been 
saved from fatal competition by having inhabited a pro- 
tected station. As buds give rise by growth to fresh 
buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on 
all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe 
it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with 
its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and 
covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful 



Ori^nn of It may be urged that, when several closely- 

Species, allied species inhabit the same territory, we 
^^^ * surely ought to find at the present time many 
transitional forms. 

p ^ I believe that species come to be tolerably 

° well-defined objects, and do not at any one 

period present an inextricable chaos of varying and inter- 
mediate links : first, becanse new varieties are very slowly 
formed, for variation is a slow process, and natural selec- 
tion can do nothing until favorable individual differences 
or variations occur, and until a place in the natural polity 
of the country can be better filled by some modification 
of some one or more of its inhabitants. And such new 
places will depend on slow changes of climate, or on the 
occasional immigration of new inhabitants, and, probably, 
in a still more important degree, on some of the old in- 
habitants becoming slowly modified, with the new forms 
thus produced and the old ones acting and reacting on 
each other. So that, in any one region and at any one 
time, we ought to see only a few species presenting slight 
modifications of structure in some degree permanent ; 
and this assuredly we do see. 

Secondly, areas now continuous must often have ex- 
isted within the recent period as isolated portions, in 
which many forms, more especially among the classes 
which unite for each birth and wander much, may have 
separately been rendered sufficiently distinct to rank as 
representative species. In this case, intermediate varieties 
between the several representative species and their com- 
mon parent must formerly have existed within each 
isolated portion of the land, but these links during the 


process of natural selection will have been supplanted 
and exterminated, so that they will no longer be found 
in a living state. 

Thirdly, when two or more varieties have been formed 
in different portions of a strictly continuous area, inter- 
mediate varieties will, it is probable, at first have been 
formed in the intermediate zones, but they will generally 
have had a short duration. For these intermediate va- 
rieties will, from reasons already assigned (namely, from 
what we know of the actual distribution of closely-allied 
or representative species, and likewise of acknowledged 
varieties), exist in the intermediate zones in lesser num- 
bers than the varieties which they tend to connect. From 
this cause alone the intermediate varieties will be liable 
to accidental extermination ; and, during the process of 
further modification through natural selection, they will 
almost certainly be beaten and supplanted by the forma 
which they connect ; for these from existing in greater 
numbers will, in the aggregate, present more varieties 
and thus be further improved through natural selection 
and gain further advantages. 

Lastly, looking not to any one time, but to all time, 
if my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, 
linking closely together all the species of the same group, 
must assuredly have existed ; but the very process of 
natural selection constantly tends, as has been so often 
remarked, to exterminate the parent-forms and the inter- 
mediate links. Consequently evidence of their former 
existence could be found only among fossil remains, which 
are preserved, as we shall attempt to show in a future 
chapter, in an extremely imperfect and intermittent 



p 283 Professor Pictet, in commenting on early 
transitional forms, and taking birds as an il- 
lustration, can not see how the successive modifications 
of the anterior limbs of a supposed prototype could pos- 
sibly have been of any advantage. But look at the pen- 
guins of the Southern Ocean ; have not these birds their 
front limbs in this precise intermediate state of "neither 
true arms nor true wings " ? Yet these birds hold their 
place victoriously in the battle for life ; for they exist in 
infinite numbers and of many kinds. I do not suppose 
that we here see the real transitional grades through 
•which the wings of birds have passed ; but what special 
diflSculty is there in believing that it might profit the 
modified descendants of the penguin, first to become en- 
abled to flap along the surface of the sea like the logger- 
headed duck, and ultimately to rise from its surface and 
glide through the air ? 

„ „„„ The several difficulties here discussed. 

Page 289. 

namely — that, though we find in our geologi- 
cal formations many links between the species which now 
exist and which formerly existed, we do not find infinite- 
ly numerous fine transitional forms closely joining them 
all together ; the sudden manner in which several groups 
of species first appear in our European formations — the 
almost entire absence, as at present known, of formations 
rich in fossils beneath the Cambrian strata — are all "un- 
doubtedly of the most serious nature. "We see this in 
the fact that the most eminent paleontologists, namely, 
Cuvier, Agassiz, Barrande, Pictet, Falconer, E. Forbes, 
etc., and all our greatest geologists, as Lyell, Murchison, 
Sedgwick, etc., have unanimously, often vehemently, 
maintained the immutability of species. But Sir Charles 

Lyell now gives the support of his high authority to the 


opposite side ; and most geologists and paleontologists 
are much shaken in their former belief. Those who be- 
lieve that the geological record is in any degree perfect 
will undoubtedly at once reject the theory. For my part, 
following out Lyell's metaphor, I look at the geological 
record as a history of the world imperfectly kept, and 
written in a changing dialect ; of this history we possess 
the last volume alone, relating only to two or three coun- 
tries. Of this volume, only here and there a short chapter 
has been preserved ; and of each page, only here and there 
a few lines. Each word of the slowly-changing language, 
more or less different in the successive chapters, may 
represent the forms of life which are entombed in our 
consecutive formations, and which falsely appear to us 
to have been abruptly introduced. On this view, the 
difficulties above discussed are greatly diminished, or even 


p It has been asked by the opponents of such 

views as I hold, how, for instance, could a 
land carnivorous animal have been converted into one 
with aquatic habits ; for how could the animal in its 
transitional state have subsisted ? It would be easy to 
show that there now exist carnivorous animals presenting 
close intermediate grades from strictly terrestrial to aquatic 
habits ; and, as each exists by a struggle for life, it is clear 
that each must be well adapted to its place in nature. 
Look at the Mustela vison of North America, which 
has webbed feet, and which resembles an otter in its fur, 
short legs, and form of tail. During the summer this 
animal dives for and preys on fish, but during the long 
winter it leaves the frozen waters, and preys, like other 


polecats, on mice and land animals. If a different case 
had been taken, and it had been asked how an insectivor- 
ous quadruped could possibly have been converted into 
a flying bat, the question would have been far more diffi- 
cult to answer. Yet I think such difficulties have little 

Here, as on other occasions, I lie under a heavy dis- 
advantage, for, out of the many striking cases which I 
have collected, I can give only one or two instances of 
transitional habits and structures in allied species ; and 
of diversified habits, either constant or occasional, in the 
same species. And it seems to me that nothing less than 
a long list of such cases is sufficient to lessen the difficulty 
in any particular case like that of the bat. 


Origin of Finally, then, although in many cases it is 

Species, most difficult cvcu to conjecture by what tran- 
' sitions organs have arrived at their present 
state, yet, considering how small the proportion of liv- 
ing and known forms is to the extinct and unknown, I 
have been astonished how rarely an organ can be named, 
toward which no transitional grade is known to lead. It 
certainly is true that new organs, appearing as if created for 
some special purpose, rarely or never appear in any being 
— as indeed is shown by that old but somewhat exagger- 
ated canon in natural history of " Natura non facit sal- 
tum." "We meet with this admission in the writings of al- 
most every exx)erienced naturalist ; or as Milne-Edwards 
has well expressed it, Nature is prodigal in variety, but 
niggard in innovation. Why, on the theory of Creation, 
should there be so much variety and so little real novelty ? 
Why should all the parts and organs of many indejDend- 


ent beings, each supposed to have been separately created 
for its proper place in nature, be so commonly linked to- 
gether by graduated steps ? Why should not Nature take 
a sudden leap from structure to structure ? On the the- 
ory of natural selection, we can clearly understand why 
she should not ; for natural selection acts only by taking 
advantage of slight successive variations ; she can never 
take a great and sudden leap, but must advance by short 
and sure though slow steps. 


„ ,„„ If our reason leads us to admire with en- 

Page 163. 

tliusiasra a multitude of inimitable contriv- 
ances in nature, this same reason tells us, though we may 
easily err on both sides, that some other contrivances are 
less perfect. Can we consider the sting of the bee as per- 
fect, which, when used against many kinds of enemies, 
can not be withdrawn, owing to the backward serratures, 
and thus inevitably causes the death of the insect by tear- 
ing out its viscera ? 

If we look at the sting of the bee, as having existed in 
a remote progenitor as a boring and serrated instrument 
like that in so many members of the same great order, 
and that it has since been modified but not perfected for 
its present purpose with the poison originally adapted 
for some other object, such as to produce galls, since inten- 
sified, we can perhaps understand how it is that the use of 
the sting should so often cause the insect's own death : 
for, if on the whole the power of stinging be useful to 
the social community, it will fulfill all the requirements 
of natural selection, though it may cause the death of 
some few members. If we admire the truly wonderful 
power of scent by which the males of many insects find 


their females, can we admire tlie production for this sin- 
gle purpose of thousands of drones, which are utterly use- 
less to the community for any other purpose, and which 
are ultimately slaughtered by their industrious and sterile 
sisters ? It may be difficult, but we ought to admire the 
savage instinctive hatred of the queen-bee, which urges 
her to destroy the young queens, her daughters, as soon 
as they are born, or to perish herself in the combat ; for 
undoubtedly this is for the good of the community ; and 
maternal love or maternal hatred, though the latter fortu- 
nately is most rare, is all the same to the inexorable prin- 
ciple of natural selection. If we admire the several ingen- 
ious contrivances by which orchids and many other plants 
are fertilized through insect agency, can we consider as 
equally perfect the elaboration of dense clouds of pollen 
by our fir-trees, so that a few granules may be wafted by 
chance on to the ovules ? 


Ormn of Many instincts are so wonderful that their 

Species, development will probably appear to the read- 
^^°^ ' er a difficulty sufficient to overthrow my whole 
theory. I may here premise that I have nothing to do 
with the origin of the mental powers, any more than I 
have with that of life itself. We are concerned only with 
the diversities of instinct and of the other mental facul- 
ties in animals of the same class. 

I will not attempt any definition of instinct. It 
would be easy to show that several distinct mental actions 
are commonly embraced by this term ; but every one un- 
derstands what is meant when it is said that instinct 
impels the cuckoo to migrate and to lay her eggs in other 
birds' nests. An action, which we ourselves require ex- 


perience to enable us to perform, when performed by an 
animal, more especially by a very young one, without ex- 
perience, and when performed by many individuals in the 
same way, without their knowing for what purpose it is 
performed, is usually said to be instinctive. But I could 
show that none of these characters are universal. A little 
dose of judgment or reason, as Pierre Huber expresses it, 
often comes into play, even with animals low in the scale 
of nature. 

Pa^e 206 ^^ ^^ suppose any habitual action to be- 

come inherited — and it can be shown that this 
does sometimes happen — then the resemblance between 
what originally was a habit and an instinct becomes so 
close as not to be distinguished. If Mozart, iustead of 
playing the piano-forte at three years old with wonder- 
fully little practice, had played a tune with no practice at 
all, he might truly be said to have done so instinctively. 
But it would be a serious error to suppose that the greater 
number of instincts have been acquired by habit in one 
generation, and then transmitted by inheritance to suc- 
ceeding generations. It can be clearly shown that the 
most wonderful instincts with which we are acquainted, 
namely, those of the hive-bee and of many ants, could not 
possibly have been acquired by habit. 

Pa"-e 208 ^^J> i* ^^ ^^cn asked, if instinct be vari- 

able, has it not granted to the bee *' the abil- 
ity to use some other material when wax was deficient " ? 
But what other natural material could bees use ? They 
will work, as I have seen, with wax hardened with vermil- 
ion or softened with lard. Andrew Knight observed that 
his bees, instead of laboriously collecting propolis, used a 
cement of wax and turpentine, with which he had cov- 


ered decorticated trees. It has lately been shown that bees, 
instead of searching for pollen, will gladly use a very dif- 
ferent substance, namely, oatmeal. Fear of any particular 
enemy is certainly an instinctive quality, as may be seen 
in nestling birds, though it is strengthened by experience, 
and by the sight of fear of the same enemy in other ani- 
mals. The fear of man is slowly acquired, as I have else- 
where shown, by the various animals which inhabit desert 
islands ; and we see an instance of this even in England, 
in the greater wildness of all our large birds in compari- 
son with our small birds ; for the large birds have been 
most persecuted by man. We may safely attribute the 
greater wildness of our large birds to this cause ; for in 
uninhabited islands large birds are not more fearful than 
small ; and the magpie, so wary in England, is tame in 
Xorway, as is the hooded crow in Egypt. 


P " 210 ^^ ^^^ ^® doubted whether any one would 

have thought of training a dog to point, had 
not some one dog naturally shown a tendency in this 
line ; and this is known occasionally to happen, as I once 
saw, in a pure terrier : the act of pointing is probably, 
as many have thought, only the exaggerated pause of an 
animal preparing to spring on its prey. When the first 
tendency to point was once displayed, methodical selec- 
tion and the inherited effects of compulsory training in 
each successive generation would soon complete the work ; 
and unconscious selection is still in progress, as each man 
tries to procure, without intending to improve the breed, 
dogs which stand and hunt best. On the other hand, 
habit alone in some cases has suflBced ; hardly any animal 
is more diflScult to tame than the young of the wild rab- 


bit ; scarcely any animal is tamer than the young of the 
tame rabbit ; but I can hardly suppose that domestic 
rabbits have often been selected for tameness alone ; so 
that we must attribute at least the greater part of the 
inherited change from extreme wildness to extreme tame- 
ness to habit and long-continued close confinement. 

Natural instincts are lost under domestication : a re- 
markable instance of this is seen in those breeds of fowls 
which very rarely or never become "broody," that is, 
never wish to sit on their eggs. Familiarity alone pre- 
vents our seeing how largely and how permanently the 
minds of our domestic animals have been modified. It is 
scarcely possible to doubt that the love of man has become 
instinctive in the dog. All wolves, foxes, jackals, and 
species of the cat genus, when kept tame, are most eager 
to attack poultry, sheep, and pigs ; and this tendency has 
been found incurable in dogs which have been brought 
home as puppies from countries such as Tierra del Fuego 
and Australia, where the savages do not keep these do- 
mestic animals. How rarely, on the other hand, do our 
civilized dogs, even when quite young, require to be 
taught not to attack poultry, sheep, and pigs ! No doubt 
they occasionally do make an attack, and are then beaten ; 
and, if not cured, they are destroyed ; so that habit and 
some degree of selection have probably concurred in civil- 
izing by inheritance our dogs. On the other hand, young 
chickens have lost, wholly by habit, that fear of the dog 
and cat which no doubt was originally instinctive in 
them ; for I am informed by Captain Hutton that the 
young chickens of the parent-stock, the Oallus ianhiva, 
when reared in India under a hen, are at first excessively 
wild. So it is with young pheasants reared in England 
under a hen. It is not that chickens have lost all fear, 
but fear only of dogs and cats, for if the hen gives the 


danger-chuckle, they will run (more especially young tur- 
f- keys) from under her, and conceal themselTcs in the sur- 
rounding grass or thickets ; and this is evidently done 
for the instinctive purpose of allowing, as we see in wild 
ground-birds, their mother to fly away. But this instinct 
retained by our chickens has become useless under domes- 
tication, for the mother-hen has almost lost by disuse the 
power of flight. 

Hence, we may conclude that, under domestication, 
instincts have been acquired, and natural instincts have 
been lost, partly by habit, and partly by man selecting 
and accumulating, during successive generations, peculiar 
I mental habits and actions, which at first appeared from 
what we must in our ignorance call an accident 


Origin of ^^^ main cause of innumerable interme- 

Species, diate links not now occurring everywhere 
I P*°® ■ throughout nature depends on the very pro- 
1 cess of natural selection, through which new varieties 
continually take the places of and supplant their parent- 
forms. But just in proportion as this process of exter- 
mination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the 
number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly 
existed, be truly enormous. Why, then, is not every geo- 
logical formation and every stratum full of such inter- 
mediate links ? Geology assuredly does not reveal any 
such finely-graduated organic chain ; and this, perhaps, 
is the most obvious and serious objection which can be 
urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I be- 
lieve, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record. 
In the first place, it should always be borne in mind 
what sort of intermediate forms must, on the theory, have 


formerly existed. I have found it difficult, when looking 
at any two species, to avoid picturing to myself forms 
directly intermediate between them. But this is a wholly 
false view ; we should always look for forms intermediate 
between each species and a common but unknown pro- 
genitor ; and the progenitor will generally have differed 
in some respects from all its modified descendants. To 
give a simple illustration : the fantail and pouter pigeons 
are both descended from the rock-pigeon ; if we possessed 
all the intermediate varieties which have ever existed, we 
should have an extremely close series between both and 
the rock-pigeon ; but we should have no varieties directly 
intermediate between the fantail and pouter ; none, for 
instance, combining a tail somewhat expanded with a 
crop somewhat enlarged, the characteristic features of 
these two breeds. These two breeds, moreover, have be- 
come so much modified, that, if we had no historical or 
indirect evidence regarding their origin, it would not 
have been possible to have determined, from a mere com- 
parison of their structure with that of the rock-pigeon, 
C. livia, whether they had descended from this species or 
from some other allied form, such as C. oenas. 

p 2 It is just possible by the theory, that one 

of two living forms might have descended 
from the other ; for instance, a horse from a tapir ; and 
in this case direct intermediate links will have existed be- 
tween them. But such a case would imply that one form 
had remained for a very long period unaltered, while its 
descendants had undergone a vast amount of change ; 
and the principle of competition between organism and 
organism, between child and parent, will render this a 
very rare event ; for in all cases the new and improved 


forms of life tend to supplant the old and unimproved 

By the theory of natural selection all living species 
have been connected with the parent-species of each 
genus, by differences not greater than we see between the 
natural and domestic varieties of the same species at the 
present day ; and these parent-species, now generally ex- 
tinct, have in their turn been similarly connected with 
more ancient forms ; and so on backward, always con- 
verging to the common ancestor of each great class. So 
that the number of intermediate and transitional links, 
between all living and extinct species, must have been 
inconceivably great. But ^suredly, if this theory be 
true, such have lived upon the earth. 


Independently of our not finding fossil re- 
mains of such infinitely numerous connecting 
links, it may be objected that time can not have suflficed 
for so great an amount of organic change, all changes 
having been effected slowly. It is hardly possible for me 
to recall to the reader who is not a practical geologist 
the facts leading the mind feebly to comprehend the lapse 
of time. He who can read Sir Charles Lyell's grand 
work on the " Principles of Geology," which the future 
historian will recognize as having produced a revolution 
in natural science, and yet does not admit how vast have 
been the past periods of time, may at once close this 

P 269 ^iVTien geologists look at large and compli- 
cated phenomena, and then at the figures 
representing several million years, the two produce a 


totally different effect on the mind, and the figures are 
at once pronounced too small. In regard to subaerial 
denudation, Mr. Croll shows, by calculating the known 
amount of sediment annually brought down by certain 
rivers, relatively to their areas of drainage, that one thou- 
sand feet of solid rock, as it became gradually disinte- 
grated, would thus be removed from the mean level of 
the whole area in the course of six million years. This 
seems an astonishing result, and some considerations lead 
to the suspicion that it may be too large, but even if 
halved or quartered it is still very surprising. Few of 
us, however, know what a million really means : Mr. 
Croll gives the following illustration : take a narrow strip 
of paper, eighty-three feet four inches in length, and 
stretch it along the wall of a large hall ; then mark off 
at one end the tenth of an inch. This tenth of an inch 
will represent one hundred years, and the entire strip a 
million years. But let it be borne in mind, in relation 
to the subject of this work, what a hundred years implies, 
represented as it is by a measure utterly insignificant in 
a hall of the above dimensions. Several eminent breeders, 
during a single lifetime, have so largely modified some of 
the higher animals, which propagate their kind much 
more slowly than most of the lower animals, that they 
have formed what well deserves to be called a new sub- 
breed. Few men have attended with due care to any one 
strain for more than half a century, so that a hundred 
years represents the work of two breeders in succession. 

p ^ Now let us turn to our richest geological 

museums, and what a paltry display we be- 
hold ! That our collections are imperfect is admitted by 
every one. The remark of that admirable paleontologist, 
Edward Forbes, should never be forgotten, namely, that 


very many fossil species are known and named from single 
and often broken specimens, or from a few specimens 
collected on some one spot. Only a small portion of the 
surface of the earth has been geologically explored, and 
no part with sufficient care, as the important discoyeries 
made every year in Europe prove. No organism wholly 
soft can be preserved. Shells and bones decay and dis- 
appear when left on the bottom of the sea, where sediment 
is not accumulating. We probably take a quite erroneous 
view, when we assume that sediment is being deposited 
over nearly the whole bed of the sea, at a rate sufficiently 
quick to imbed and preserve fossil remains. Throughout 
an enormously large proportion of the ocean, the bright 
blue tint of the water bespeaks its purity. The many 
cases on record of a formation conformably covered, after 
an immense interval of time, by another and later forma- 
tion, without the underlying bed having suffered in the 
interval any wear and tear, seem explicable only on the 
view of the bottom of the sea not rarely lying for ages in 
an unaltered condition. The remains which do become 
imbedded, if in sand or gravel, will, when the beds are 
upraised, generally be dissolved by the percolation of 
rain-water charged with carbonic acid. Some of the many 
kinds of animals which live on the beach between high 
and low water mark seem to be rarely preserved. For 
instance, the several species of the ChthamalincB (a sub- 
family of sessile cirripeds) coat the rocks all over the world 
in infinite numbers : they are all strictly littoral, with 
the exception of a single Mediterranean species, which 
inhabits deep water, and this has been found fossil in 
Sicily, whereas not one other species has hitherto been 
found in any tertiary formation ; yet it is known that 
the genus ChtJiamalus existed during the Chalk period. 
Lastly, many great deposits, requiring a vast length of 


time for their aceumulation, are entirely destitute of 
organic remains, without our being able to assign any 
reason ; one of the most striking instances is that of the 
Flysch formation, which consists of shale and sandstone, 
several thousand, occasionally even six thousand, feet in 
thickness, and extending for at least three hundred miles 
from Vienna to Switzerland ; and, although this great 
mass has been most carefully searched, no fossils, except 
a few vegetable remains, have been found. 


p 271 ^^^ the imperfection in the geological 

record largely results from another and more 
important cause than any of the foregoing ; namely, 
from the several formations being separated from each 
other by wide intervals of time. This doctrine has been 
emphatically admitted by many geologists and paleon- 
tologists, who, like E. Forbes, entirely disbelieve in the 
change of species. "When we see the formations tabulated 
in written works, or when we follow them in nature, it 
is difl&cult to avoid believing that they are closely con- 
secutive. But we know, for instance, from Sir R. Mur- 
chison's great work on Russia, what wide gaps there are 
in that country between the superimposed formations ; 
so it is in North America, and in many other parts of 
the world. The most skilKul geologist, if his attention 
had been confined exclusively to these large territories, 
would never have suspected that, during the periods 
which were blank and barren in his own country, great 
piles of sediment, charged with new and peculiar forms 
of life, had elsewhere been accumulated. And if, in each 
separate territory, hardly any idea can be formed of the 


length of time wMch has elapsed between the consecutive 
formations, we may infer that this could nowhere be 
ascertained. The frequent and great changes in the 
mineralogical composition of consecutive formations, 
generally implying great changes in the geography of the 
surrounding lands, whence the sediment was derived, 
accord with the belief of vast intervals of time having 
elapsed between each formation. 

p <r 2^8 ^^ ^^ all-important to remember that natu- 
ralists have no golden rule by which to dis- 
tinguish species and varieties ; they grant some little 
variability to each species, but, when they meet with a 
somewhat greater amount of difference between any 
two forms, they rank both as species, unless they are 
enabled to connect them together by the closest inter- 
mediate gradations ; and this, from the reasons just as- 
signed, we can seldom hope to effect in any one geological 
section. Supposing B and C to be two species, and a 
third. A, to be found in an older and underlying bed ; 
even if A were strictly intermediate between B and C, 
it would simply be ranked as a third and distinct species, 
unless at the same time it could be closely connected by 
intermediate varieties with either one or both forms. 
Nor should it be forgotten, as before explained, that A 
might be the actual progenitor of B and C, and yet would 
not necessarily be strictly intermediate between them in 
all respects. So that we might obtain the parent-species 
and its several modified descendants from the lower and 
upper beds of the same formation, and, unless we obtained 
numerous transitional gradations, we should not recog- 
nize their blood-relationship, and should consequently 
rank them as distinct species. 



Origin of The abrupt manner in which whole groups 

Species, of species suddenly appear in certain forma- 
tions has been urged by several paleontolo- 
gists — for instance, by Agassiz, Pictet, and Sedgwick — 
as a fatal objection to the belief in the transmutation of 
species. If numerous species, belonging to the same 
genera or families, have really started into life at once, 
the fact would be fatal to the theory of evolution through 
natural selection. For the development by this means 
of a group of forms, all of which are descended from some 
one progenitor, must have been an extremely slow pro- 
cess ; and the progenitors must have lived long before 
their modified descendants. But we continually overrate 
the perfection of the geological record, and falsely infer, 
because certain genera or families have not been found 
beneath a certain stage, that they did not exist before 
that stage. In all cases positive paleontological evidence 
may be implicitly trusted ; negative evidence is worthless, 
as experience has so often shown. We continually forget 
how large the world is, compared with the area over 
which our geological formations have been carefully ex- 
amined ; we forget that groups of species may elsewhere 
have long existed, and have slowly multiplied, before 
they invaded the ancient archipelagoes of Europe and 
the United States. We do not make due allowance for 
the intervals of time which have elapsed between our 
consecutive formations — ^longer, perhaps, in many cases 
than the time required for the accumulation of each 
formation. These intervals will have given time for the 
multiplication of species from some one parent-form ; 
and, in the succeeding formation, such groups or species 
will appear as if suddenly created. 



„ .-- Eyen in so short an interval as that he- 

Page 283. 

tween the first and second edition of Pictet's 
great work on Paleontology, published in 1844-'46 and in 
1853-57, the conclusions on the first appearance and dis- 
appearance of several groups of animals have been consid- 
erably modified ; and a third edition would require still 
further changes. I may recall the well-known fact that 
in geological treatises, published not many years ago, 
mammals were always spoken of as having abruptly come 
in at the commencement of the tertiary * series. And now 
one of the richest known accumulations of fossil mammals 
belongs to the middle of the secondary series ; and true 
mammals have been discovered in the new red sandstone 
at nearly the commencement of this great series. Cuvier 
used to urge that no monkey occurred in any tertiary 
stratum ; but now extinct species have been discovered in 
India, South America, and in Europe, as far back as the 
Miocene stage. Had it not been for the rare accident of 
the preservation of footsteps in the new red sandstone of 
the United States, who would have ventured to suppose 
that no less than at least thirty different bird-like ani- 
mals, some of gigantic size, existed during that period ? 
Not a fragment of bone has been discovered in these beds. 
Not long ago, paleontologists maintained that the whole 
class of birds came suddenly into existence during the 
Eocene period ; but now we know, on the authority of 
Professor Owen, that a bird certainly lived during the dep- 
osition of the upper greensand ; and still more recently, 
that strange bird, the archeopteryx, with a long, lizard- 

• Tertiabt. — ^The latest geological epodi, immediatelj preceding the 
establishment of the present order of things. 


like tail, bearing a pair of feathers on each joint, and with 
its wings furnished with two free claws, has been discoy- 
ered in the oolitic slates of Solenhofen. Hardly any re- 
cent discovery shows more forcibly than this, how little 
we as yet know of the former inhabitants of the world. 


Ori<nn of "^^^ extinction of species has been involved 

Species, in the most gratuitous mystery. Some au- 
page . thors have even supposed that as the individ- 
ual has a definite length of life, so have species a definite 
duration. No one can have marveled more than I have 
done at the extinction of species. When I found in La 
Plata the tooth of a horse imbedded with the remains 
of mastodon, megatherium, toxodon, and other extinct 
monsters, which all co-existed with still living shells at a 
very late geological period, I was filled with astonishment ; 
for, seeing that the horse, since its introduction by the 
Spaniards into South America, has run wild over the 
whole country and has increased in numbers at an un- 
paralleled rate, I asked myself what could so recently 
have exterminated the former horse under conditions of 
life apparently so favorable. But my astonishment was 
groundless. Professor Owen soon perceived that the 
tooth, though so like that of the existing horse, belonged 
to an extinct species. Had this horse been still living, 
but in some degree rare, no naturalist would have felt 
the least surprise at its rarity ; for rarity is the attribute 
of a vast number of species of all classes, in all countries. 
If we ask ourselves why this or that species is rare, we 
answer that something is unfavorable in its conditions of 
life ; but what that something is we can hardly ever tell. 
On the supposition of the fossil horse still existing as a 


rare species, vre might hare felt certain, from the analogy 
of all other mammals, even of the slow-breeding elephant, 
and from the history of the naturalization of the domes- 
tic horse in South America, that under more favorable 
conditions it would in a very few years have stocked the 
whole continent. But we could not have told what the 
unfavorable conditions were which checked its increase, 
whether some one or several contingencies, and at what 
period of the horse's life, and in what degree, they sever- 
ally acted. If the conditions had gone on, however slow- 
ly, becoming less and less favorable, we assuredly should 
not have perceived the fact, yet the fossil horse would cer- 
tainly have become rarer and rarer, and finally extinct ; 
— its place being seized on by some more successful com- 

It is most difficult always to remember that the in- 
crease of every creature is constantly being checked by 
unperceived hostile agencies ; and that these same unper- 
ceived agencies are amply sufficient to cause rarity, and 
finally extinction. So little is this subject understood 
that I have heard surprise repeatedly expressed at such 
great monsters as the mastodon and the more ancient 
dinosaurians having become extinct ; as if mere bodily 
strength gave victory in the battle of life. Mere size, 
on the contrary, would in some cases determine, as has 
been remarked by Owen, quicker extermination from 
the greater amount of requisite food. Before man inhab- 
ited India or Africa, some cause must have checked the 
continued increase of the existing elephant. A highly 
capable judge. Dr. Falconer, believes that it is chiefly in- 
sects which, from incessantly harassing and weakening 
the elephant in India, check its increase ; and this was 
Brace's conclusion with respect to the African elephant 
in Abyssinia. It is certain that insects and blood-suck- 


ing bats determine the existence of the larger naturalized 
quadrupeds in several parts of South America. 

p^ ^ ggg I may repeat what I published in 1845, 
namely, that to admit that species generally 
become rare before they become extinct — to feel no sur- 
prise at the rarity of a species, and yet to marvel greatly 
when the species ceases to exist, is much the same as to 
admit that sickness in the individual is the forerunner of 
death — to feel no surprise at sickness, but, when the sick 
man dies, to wonder and to suspect that he died by some 
deed of violence. 


No one will deny that the Hipparion is 
intermediate between the existing horse and 
certain older ungulate forms. What a wonderful con- 
necting link in the chain of mammals is the Typotherium 
from South America, as the name given to it by Professor 
Gervais expresses, and which can not be placed in any 
existing order ! The Sirenia form a very distinct group 
of mammals, and one of the most remarkable peculiarities 
in the existing dugong and lamentin is the entire absence 
of hind limbs, without even a rudiment being left ; but 
the extinct Halitherium had, according to Professor 
Flower, an ossified thigh-bone "articulated to a well-de- 
fined acetabulum in the pelvis," and it thus makes some 
approach to ordinary hoofed quadrupeds, to which the 
Sirenia are in other respects allied. The cetaceans or 
whales are widely different from all other mammals, but 
the tertiary Zeuglodon and Squalodon, which have been 
placed by some naturalists in an order by themselves, 
axe considered by Professor Huxley to be undoubtedly 


cetaceans, ''and to constitute connecting links with the 
aquatic camivora." 

Even the wide interval between birds and reptiles 
has been shown by the naturalist just quoted to be par- 
tially bridged over in the most unexpected manner, on 
the one hand, by the ostrich and extinct Archeopteryx, 
and on the other hand, by the Compsognathus, one of 
the dinosaurians — that group which includes the most 
gigantic of all terrestrial reptiles. Turning to the In- 
vertebrata, Barrande asserts, and a higher authority could 
not be named, that he is every day taught that, although 
palaeozoic animals can certainly be classed under existing 
groups, yet that at this ancient period the groups were 
not so distinctly separated from each other as they now 

Some writers have objected to any extinct species, or 
group of species, being considered as intermediate be- 
tween any two living species or groups of species. If by 
this term it is meant that an extinct form is directly in- 
termediate in all its characters between two living forms 
or groups, the objection is probably valid. But in a 
natural classification many fossil species certainly stand 
between living species, and some extinct genera between 
living genera, even between genera belonging to distinct 
families. The most common case, especially with respect 
to very distinct groups, such as fish and reptiles, seems 
to be that, supposing them to be distinguished at the 
present day by a score of characters, the ancient members 
are separated by a somewhat lesser number of characters ; 
BO that the two groups formerly made a somewhat nearer 
approach to each other than they now do. 



p gjj It maybe asked in ridicule, whether I sup- 

pose that the megatherium and other allied 
huge monsters, which formerly lived in South America, 
have left behind them the sloth, armadillo, and ant-eater, 
as their degenerate descendants. This can not for an 
instant be admitted. These huge animals have become 
wholly extinct, and have left no progeny. But in the 
caves of Brazil there are many extinct species which are 
closely allied in size and in all other characters to the 
species still living in South America ; and some of these 
fossils may have been the actual progenitors of the living 
species. It must not be forgotten that, on our theory, 
all the species of the same genus are the descendants of 
some one species ; so that, if six genera, each having 
eight species, be found in one geological formation, and 
in a succeeding formation there be six other allied or 
representative genera each with the same number of 
species, then we may conclude that generally only one 
species of each of the older genera has left modified de- 
scendants, which constitute the new genera containing 
the several species ; the other seven species of each old 
genus having died out and left no progeny. Or, and this 
will be a far commoner case, two or three species in two 
or three alone of the six older genera will be the parents 
of the new genera : the other species and the other whole 
genera having become utterly extinct. In failing orders, 
with the genera and sj)ecies decreasing in numbers as is 
the case with the Edentata of South America, still fewer 
genera and species will leave modified blood-descendants. 



Animals and ^^ accordance with the views maintained 
Plants, voU by me in this work and elsewhere, not only 
11, page o. ^^^ various domestic races, but the most dis- 
tinct genera and orders within the same great class — for 
instance, mammals, birds, reptiles, and fishes — are all 
the descendants of one common progenitor, and we must 
admit that the whole vast amount of difference between 
these forms has primarily arisen from simple variability. 
To consider the subject under this point of view is enough 
to strike one dumb with amazement. But our amaze- 
ment ought to be lessened when we reflect that beings 
almost infinite in number, during an almost infinite lapse 
of time, have often had their whole organization rendered 
in some degree plastic, and that each slight modification 
of structure which was in any way beneficial under ex- 
cessively complex conditions of life has been preserved, 
while each which was in any way injurious has been 
rigorously destroyed. And the long-continued accumu- 
lation of beneficial variations wiU infallibly have led to 
structures as diversified, as beautifully adapted for various 
purposes and as excellently co-ordinated, as we see in the 
animals and plants around us. Hence I have spoken of 
selection as the paramount power, whether applied by 
man to the formation of domestic breeds, or by nature to 
the production of species. 

If an architect were to rear a noble and commodious 
edifice, without the use of cut stone, by selecting from 
the fragments at the base of a precipice wedge-formed 
stones for his arches, elongated stones for his lintels, and 
flat stones for his roof, we should admire his skill and 
regard him as the paramount power. Now, the frag- 


ments of stone, though indispensable to the architect, 
bear to the edifice built by him the same relation which 
the fluctuating variations of organic beings bear to the 
varied and admirable structures ultimately acquired by 
their modified descendants. 

Some authors have declared that natural selection ex- 
plains nothing, unless the precise cause of each slight 
individual difference be made clear. If it were explained 
to a savage utterly ignorant of the art of building, how 
the edifice had been raised stone upon stone, and why 
wedge-formed fragments were used for the arches, flat 
stones for the roof, etc., and if the use of each part and 
of the whole building were pointed out, it would be un- 
reasonable if he declared that nothing had been made 
clear to him, because the precise cause of the shape of 
each fragment could not be told. But this is a nearly 
parallel case with the objection that selection explains 
nothing, because we know not the cause of each individ- 
ual difference in the structure of each being. 

The shape of the fragments of stone at the base of 
our precipice may be called accidental, but this is not 
strictly correct ; for the shape of each depends on a long 
sequence of events, all obeying natural laws ; on the na- 
ture of the rock, on the lines of deposition or cleavage, 
on the form of the mountain, which depends on its up- 
heaval and subsequent denudation, and lastly on the 
storm or earthquake which throws down the fragments. 
But in regard to the use to which the fragments may 
be put, their shape may be strictly said to be accidental. 


P 42'r f And here we are led to face a great diffi- 
culty, in alluding to which lam aware that 
I am traveling beyond my proper province. An omnis- 


cient Creator must have foreseen every consequence which 
results from the laws imposed by him. But can it be 
reasonably maintained that the Creator intentionally or- 
dered, if we use the words in any ordinary sense, that 
certain fragments of rock should assume certain shapes 
so that the builder might erect his edifice ? If the vari- 
ous laws which have determined the shape of each frag- 
ment were not predetermined for the builder's sake, can 
it be maintained with any greater probability that he 
specially ordained for the sake of the breeder each of the 
innumerable variations in our domestic animals and 
plants — many of these variations being of no service to 
man, and not beneficial, far more often injurious, to the 
creatures themselves ? Did he ordain that the crop and 
tail-feathers of the pigeon should vary in order that the 
fancier might make his grotesque pouter and fantail 
breeds ? Did he cause the frame and mental qualities 
of the dog to vary in order that a breed might be formed 
of indomitable ferocity, with jaws fitted to pin down the 
bull for man's brutal sport ? But if we give up the 
principle in one case — if we do not admit that the varia- 
tions of the primeval dog were intentionally guided in 
order that the greyhound, for instance, that perfect image 
of symmetry and vigor, might be formed — no shadow of 
reason can be assigned for the belief that variations, alike 
in nature and the result of the same general laws, which 
have been the groundwork through natural selection of 
the formation of the most perfectly adapted animals in 
the world, man included, were intentionally and specially 
guided. However much we may wish it, we can hardly 
follow Professor Asa Gray in his belief '* that variation 
has been led along certain beneficial lines," like a stream 
** along definite and useful lines of irrigation." If we 

assume that each particular variation was from the be- 


ginning of all time preordained, then that plasticity of 
organization, which leads to many injurious deviations 
of structure, as well as the redundant power of reproduc- 
tion which inevitably leads to a struggle for existence, 
and, as a consequence, to the natural selection or survival 
of the fittest, must appear to us superfluous laws of na- 
ture. On the other hand, an omnipotent and omniscient 
Creator ordains everything and foresees everything. Thus 
we are brought face to face with a diflSaulty as insoluble 
as is that of free-will and predestination.^' 


Descent The main conclusion arrived at in this 

<'^^*"' work, namely, that man is descended from 
some lowly organized form, will, I regret to 
think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can 
hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians. 
The astonishment which I felt on first seeing a party of 
Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never be for- 
gotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my 
mind — ^such were our ancestors. These men were abso- 
lutely naked and bedaubed with paint, their long hair 
was tangled, their mouths frothed with excitement, and 
their expression was wild, startled, and distrustful. They 
possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals lived on 
what they could catch ; they had no government, and 
were merciless to every one not of their own small tribe. 
He who has seen a savage in his native land will not feel 
much shame, if forced to acknowledge that the blood of 
some more humble creature flows in his veins. For my 
own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic 
little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to 
save the life of his keeper, or from that old baboon, who. 


descending from the mountains, carried away in triumph 
his young comrade from a crowd of astonished dogs — as 
from a savage who delights to tori:ure his enemies, offers 
up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse, 
treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is 
haunted by the grossest superstitions. 

Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having 
risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very 
summit of the organic scale ; and the fact of his having 
thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed 
there, may give him hope for a still higher destiny in the 
distant future. But we are not here concerned with 
hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason 
permits us to discover it ; and I have given the evidence 
to the best of my ability. We must, however, acknowl- 
edge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble quali- 
ties, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, 
with benevolence which extends not only to other men 
but to the humblest living creature, with his godlike 
intellect which has penetrated into the movements and 
constitution of the solar system — with all these exalted 
powers — man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible 
stamp of his lowly origin. 


Ori<Tn of Authors of the highest eminence seem to 

Species, be fully satisfied with the view that each spe- 
^*°^ ' cies has been independently created. To my 
mind it accords better with what we know of the laws 
impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production 
and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the 
worid should have been due to secondary causes, like 


those determining the birth and deabh of the individual. 
When I view all beings not as special creations, but as 
the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived 
long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was de- 
posited, they seem to me to become ennobled. Judging 
from the past, we may safely infer that not one living 
species will transmit its unaltered likeness to a distant 
futurity. And of the species now living very few will 
transmit progeny of any kind to a far distant futurity ; 
for the manner in which all organic beings are grouped, 
shows that the greater number of species in each genus, 
and all the species in many genera, have left no descend- 
ants, but have become utterly extinct. We can so far 
take a prophetic glance into futurity as to foretell that it 
will be the common and widely-spread species, belonging 
to the larger and dominant groups within each class, 
which will ultimately prevail and procreate new and domi- 
nant species. As all the living forms of life are the lineal 
descendants of those which lived long before the Cam- 
brian epoch, we may feel certain that the ordinary succes- 
sion by generation has never once been broken, and that 
no cataclysm has desolated the whole world. Hence we 
may look with some confidence to a secure future of great 
length. And as natural selection works solely by and for 
the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endow- 
ments will tend to progress toward perfection. 


It is interesting to contemplate a tangled 
bank, clothed with many plants of many 
kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various in- 
sects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the 
damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately con- 



stmcted forms, so different from each other, and depend- 
ent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all 
been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, 
taken in the largest sense, being growth with reproduc- 
tion ; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduc- 
tion ; yariability from the indirect and direct action of the 
conditions of life, and from use and disuse : a ratio of 
mcrease so high as to lead to a struggle for life, and as a 
consequence to natural selection, entailing divergence of 
character and the extinction of less-improved forms. 
Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, 
the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiv- 
ing, namely, the production of the higher animals, direct- 
ly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with 
its several powers, having been originally breathed by the 
Creator into a few forms or into one ; and that, while 
this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law 
of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most 
beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being 
evolved. (7 , , : 


Descent ^ ^°^ aware that the assumed instinctive 

of Man, belief in God has been used by many persons 
^***® ■ as an argument for his existence. But this is 
a rash argument, as we should thus be compelled to be- 
lieve in the existence of many cruel and malignant spirits, 
only a little more powerful than man ; for the belief in 
them is far more general than in a beneficent Deity. The 
idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem 
to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated 
by long-continued culture. 

He who believes in the advancement of man from 


some low organized form, -will naturally ask, How does 
this bear on tlie belief in the immortality of the soul ? 
The barbarous races of man, as Sir J. Lubbock has shown, 
possess no clear belief of this kind ; but arguments de- 
rived from the primeval beliefs of savages are, as we have 
just seen, of little or no avail. Few persons feel any anx- 
iety from the impossibility of determining at what precise 
period in the development of the individual, from the 
first trace of a minute germinal vesicle, man becomes an 
immortal being ; and there is no greater cause for anxiety 
because the period can not possibly be determined in the 
gradually ascending organic scale. 

I am aware that the conclusions arrived at in this 
work will be denounced by some as highly irreligious ; 
but he who denounces them is bound to show why it 
is more irreligious to explain the origin of man as a 
distinct species by descent from some lower form, 
through the laws of variation and natural selection, 
than to explain the birth of the individual through the 
laws of ordinary reproduction. The birth both of the 
species and of the individual are equally parts of that 
grand sequence of events, which our minds refuse to 
accept as the result of blind chance. The understand- 
ing revolts at such a conclusion, whether or not we are 
able to believe that every slight variation of structure — 
the union of each pair in marriage — the dissemination 
of each seed — and other such events, have all been or- 
dained for some special purpose. 

Journal of Among the scenes which are deeply im- 

01126*603^^' P^^ssed on my mind, none exceed in sublim- 
ity the primeval forests undefaced by the 
hand of man ; whether those of Brazil, where the powers 


of life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fnego, 
where death and decay prevail. Both are temples filled 
with the varied productions of the God of Nature ; no \ 
one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not ^ fi 
feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of i- 
his bod v. 


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