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ColumiJia lCniba:!3it2 ISiobgical Series. 



By Henry Fairfield Osborn, Sc.D. Princeton. 


By Arthur Willey, B.Sc. Lond. Univ. 

3. FISHES, LIVING AND FOSSIL. An Introductory Study. 

By Bashford Dean, Ph.D. Columbia. 


By Edmund B. Wilson, Ph.D. J. H.U. 


From the Greeks to Darwin 










All rights reserved 

Copyright, 1894, 

Set up and electrotyped July, 1894. Reprinted September, i? 

J. S. Cushing & Co. — Berwick & Smith 
Norwood Mass. U.S.A. 


Sameg JlcCosfj 



This volume has grown out of lectures first de- 
livered in Princeton in 1890, upon the period 
between Buffon and Darwin, and completed in a 
fuller course delivered in Columbia in 1893, which 
covered also the period before Buffon. When I 
began the study, my object was to bring forward 
the many strong and true features of pre-Darwinian 
Evolution, which are so generally passed over or 
misunderstood. When all the materials were 
brought together from the earliest times, the evi- 
dence of continuity in the development of the idea 
became more clear, and to trace these lines of 
development has gradually become the central 
motive of these lectures. More thorough research, 
which may, perhaps, be stimulated by these out- 
lines will, I believe, strengthen this evidence. 

I am greatly indebted to my friends Professor 
George Macloskie and Professor Alexander T. 
Ormond for assistance and critical advice in con- 
nection with the revision of the proofs. 

H. F. o. 

Columbia College, July nth, 1894. 




I. The Anticipation and Interpretation of Nature i 

Preliminary Survey. Environment of the Evolution idea. Periods 
of its development. Nature of the idea. The scientific method of 
thought. The Advance of Philosophy. Advance of Zoology and 
Botany. Embryology. 

II. Among the Greeks 29 

Conditions of Greek thought. The Greek Periods. lonians and 
Eleatics : Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Xenophanes. The 
Physicists: Heraclitus, Empedocles, Democritus, Anaxagoras. 
Aristotle and his followers. Pliny, Epicurus, Lucretius. The legacy 
of the Greeks to later Evolution. 

III. The Theologians and Natural Philosophers 69 

Transition from Greek Philosophy to Christian Theology. The 
Fathers and Schoolmen : Gregory, Augustine, Erigena, Aquinas. 
Arabic Science and Philosophy: Avicenna, Avempace, Abubacer. 
Bruno and Suarez. The awakening of Science. Characteristics of 
Evolution in Philosophy. The Natural Philosophers : Bacon, Des- 
cartes, Leibnitz, Kant, Lessing, Herder, Schelling. 

IV. The Evolutionists of the Eighteenth Century 106 

The two series of Evolutionists. The speculative Evolutionists : 
Duret, Kircher, Maupertuis, Diderot, Bonnet, De Maillet, Robinet, 
Oken. The Naturalists : Linnaeus, Buffon, E. Darwin. 

V. From Lamarck to St. Hilaire 152 

Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck. Lamarck. Goethe. Treviranus. 
Cuvier. Geoffroy St. Hilaire. Discussion between Cuvier and St. 
Hilaire. Bory de St. Vincent. Isidore St. Hilaire. Decline of the 
Evolution idea. 

VI. Darwin 209 

The first half-century. Miscellaneous writers. The Embryolo- 
gists : Meckel, Baer, Serres. The followers of Buffon : Herbert, 
Buch, Haldeman, Spencer. The Progressionists : Chambers, Owen. 
The Selectionists: Wells, Matthew, St. Hilaire, Naudin, Wallace. 
Darwin. Darwin and Wallace in 1858. Retrospect. 

Wir konnen bei Betrachtung des Weltgebaudes in seiner weitesten 
Ausdehnung, in seiner letzten Teilbarkeit uns der Vorstellung nicht 
erwehren, dass dem Ganzen eine Idee zum Grunde liege, wornach Gott 
in der Natur, die Natur in Gott von Ewigkeit zu Ewigkeit schafFen und 
wirken moge. Anschauung, Betrachtung, Nachdenken fiihren uns 
naher an jene Geheimnisse. Wir erdreisten uns und wagen auch 
Ideen; wir bescheiden uns und bilden Begriife, die analog jenen 
Uranfangen sein mochten. — Goethe. 



There are and can exist but two ways of investigating and discovering truth. 
The one hurries on rapidly from the senses and particulars to the most general 
axioms, and from them, as principles and their supposed indisputable truth, 
derives and discovers the intermediate axioms. This is the way now in use. The 
other constructs its axioms from the senses and particulars by ascending continu- 
ally and gradually till it finally arrives at the most general axioms, which is the true 
but unattempted way. 

We are wont to call that human reasoning which we apply to Nature the 
anticipation of Nature (as being rash and premature), and that which is properly 
deduced from thmgs the interpretation of Nature. — BACON, Novum Organunt. 

In the growth of the numerous lesser ideas 
which have converged into the central idea of the 
history of life by Evolution, we find ancient pedi- 
grees for all that we are apt to consider modern. 
Evolution has reached its present fulness by slow 
additions in twenty-four centuries. When the 
truths and absurdities of Greek, mediaeval, and 
sixteenth to nineteenth century speculation and 
observation are brought together, it becomes clear 
that they form a continuous whole, that the influ- 
ences of early upon later thought are greater than 
has been believed, that Darwin owes more even to 
the Greeks than we have ever recognized. It is 
Jtrue that until 1858 speculation far outran fact, 


and that the development of the idea was at times 
arrested and even retrogressive ; yet the conviction 
grows with inquiry that the Evolution law was 
reached not by any decided leap, but by the pro- 
gressive development of every subordinate idea 
connected with it, until it was recognized as a 
whole by Lamarck, and later by Darwin. 

In order to prove this, I endeavour to trace 
back some of these lesser ideas to their sources, 
and to bring the comparatively little known early 
evolutionists into their true relief as original think- 
ers and contributors, or mere borrowers and imi- 
tators. This is possible only because such search 
has already been very ably made among certain 
authors and in certain periods by other writers, to 
whom I am largely indebted for whatever success 
I have attained in this first attempt to cover the 
whole period and to establish the evidence of con- 

Little national bias has been shown in the search 
for anticipations of Darwin among his precursors ; 
as one instance, the highest praises of Lamarck 
have been sounded in Germany, and of Goethe in 
France. The greatest defects I find in the histori- 
cal literature of this subject are the lack of sense 
of proportion as to the original merits of different 
writers, and the non-appreciation of the continuity 
of evolution thought. In general, we need more 
critical and thorough work than has yet been given 
us. Many heralded anticipations are not anticipa- 


tions at all, if we speak of Darwinism in the 
restricted sense and not as all-embracing. Others 
are genuine, yet they consist of speculative ideas 
which had been retold or rediscovered several times 
over, as in the case of the law of Survival of the 

The estimates I have reached as to several of 
the founders of the idea are therefore different 
from those advanced by others. By considering 
together all the historic stages of the development 
even in a brief manner, we can trace the continuity, 
the increasing momentum of the idea, and conse- 
quently the increasing indebtedness to previous 
suggestion. We can see how many of the prophe- 
cies were themselves foretold. Most obvious is the 
fact that Greek speculations and suggestions were 
borrowed and used over and over again as if origi- 
nal, continuity in the lesser ideas which cluster 
around Evolution being quite as marked as in the 
main idea. To fully follow out all such genetic 
threads would, however, require a far m^ore ex- 
haustive research than this aims to be. 

Apart froxn suggestion we meet with many re- 
markable coincidences in the lines of independent 
and even simultaneous discovery, notably those 
between Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck, between . 
Lamarck and Treviranus, before we reach the 
crowning and most exceptional case of Darwin 
and Wallace. At different periods similar facts 
were leading men to similar conclusions, and we 


gather many fine illustrations of the force of uncon- 
scious induction. Means of intercommunication 
were slow, and we should advance cautiously before 
concluding that any of the greater evolutionists 
were dealing with borrowed ideas. 

Finally, I have attempted to estimate each author 
from his thought a^s a whole, before placing him 
in the scales with his predecessors, contemporaries, 
and successors. When we study single passages, 
we are often led widely afield. Haeckel, for ex- 
ample, appears to have far overstated the relative 
merits of Oken, a writer who shines forth brightly 
in certain passages, and goes under a cloud in 
others, his sum total being obscure and weak. 
Krause has placed Erasmus Darwin over Lamarck 
without sufficient consideration. Huxley has treated 
Treviranus and Lamarck with almost equal re- 
spect; they are really found to be most unequal 
when tested by their approach to the modern con- 
ception of Evolution. We must inquire into the 
sources or grounds of the conclusions advanced by 
each writer, how far derived from others, how far 
from observation of Nature, and consider the sound- 
ness of each as well as his suggestiveness and origi- 
nality, before we can judge fairly what permanent 
links he may have added or welded into the chain 
of thought. 


Outlines of the Whole Development. 

The history, as a whole, before Darwin, at first 
sight appears to have been mainly the anticipation 
of Nature; but closer examination reveals much 
genuine interpretation of Nature. Before the mid- 
dle of this century, in fact, natural science was not 
ready for Evolution on the inductive line. The 
way had to be paved for it; one proof of this is 
found in the failure of the strong Evolution move- 
ment in France during the latter part of the last, 
and beginning of this century. In the middle of 
this century came the time and the man who ranks 
as the great central thinker. Under the impetus of 
Darwin, the first steps were to establish, as a natural 
law, what had ranked as an hypothesis or theory, 
and this has been most thoroughly done in the last 
thirty-five years. We are now taking our uncertain 
steps in search of the separate factors of this law, 
and cannot foresee when these will be completed. 
' Before and after Darwin ' will always be the ante 
et post urbem conditam of biological history. Before 
Darwin, the theory ; after Darwin, the factors. 

We remember that there are usually three stages 
in connection with the discovery of a law of Nature ; 
first, that of dim suggestion in pure speculation, 
with eyes closed to facts; second, that of clear 
statement as a tentative or working hypothesis in 
an explanation of certain facts; and finally, the 


proof or demoastration. Darwin came in for the 
proof, profiting richly by the hard struggles of his 
predecessors over the first two stages. Lamarck 
has lately risen in popular knowledge as having 
propounded Evolution, but among his contempora- 
ries and predecessors in France, Germany, and 
England, we find Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, Goethe, 
Treviranus, and searching for their inspiration, we 
are led back to the natural philosophers, begin- 
ning with Bacon, and ending with Herder. Among 
these men we find the second birth or renaissance 
of the idea, and among the Greeks its first birth. 

Evolution, as a natural explanation of the origin 
of the higher forms of life, succeeded the old 
mythology and autochthony in Greece, and devel- 
oped from the teachings of Thales and Anaximan- 
der into those of Aristotle. This great philosopher 
had a general conception of the origin of higher 
species by descent from lower, yet he could not 
know of any actual Evolution series, such as we 
have derived from Paleontology. He also consid- 
ered certain of the factors of Evolution underlying 
the general law, and it is startling to find him, over 
two thousand years ago, clearly stating, and then 
rejecting, the theory of the Survival of the Fittest 
as an explanation of the evolution of adaptive 

The Greek natural history literature, from begin- 
ning to end, is a continuous source of pleasure 
and surprise. Amid wide differences of opinion as 


to how far the Greeks actually anticipated later 
discoveries, the true conclusion is, that they antici- 
pated many of our modern theories by suggestion ; 
thus they carried the Evolution idea well Into its 
suggestive stage, which was so much ground gained 
for those w^ho took it up in Europe. Greek specu- 
lations greatly hastened the final result, although, 
judged by modern scientific standards, they arose 
mainly as a series of happy conjectures. We know 
that Greek philosophy tinctured early Christian 
theology; It is not so generally realized that the 
Aristotelian notion of the development of life led 
to the true Interpretation of the Mosaic account 
of the Creation. 

There was, in fact, a long Greek period in the 
history of the Evolution Idea, extending among the 
Fathers of the Church, and later, among some of 
the Schoolmen, in their commentaries upon Crea- 
tion which accord very closely with the modern 
thelstic conceptions of Evolution. If the ortho- 
doxy of Augustine had remained the teaching of 
the Church, the final establishment of Evolution 
would have come far earlier than It did, certainly 
durino; the eIo:hteenth instead of the nineteenth 
century, and the bitter controversy over this truth 
of Nature would never have arisen. As late as 
the seventeenth century, the Jesuit Suarez and 
others contended that the Book of Genesis con- 
tained a literal account of the mode of Creation, 
and thereby Special Creation acquired a firm 


status as a theory in the contemporary philosophy. 
Singularly enough, Milton's epics appeared shortly 
afterwards, exerting an equally profound influence 
upon English Protestant thought, so that Huxley 
has aptly termed Special Creation, ' the Miltonic 
hypothesis.' Thus the opportunity of a free, un- 
checked development out of natural science was lost. 

During the long Middle Ages, the Evolution 
idea made no advance. Finally it began to retro- 
gress, when Greek natural philosophy shared in the 
general suppression of the rationalistic movement 
of thought of Arabic origin. Later the hard and 
fast conceptions and definitions of species, devel- 
oped in the rapid rise of systematic Botany and 
Zoology, were grafted upon the Mosaic account of 
the Creation, establishing a Special Creation theory 
for the origin of each species. Later still, when 
it was discovered in Paleontology that species of 
different kinds had succeeded each other in time, 
the ' Special ' theory was again remodelled to 
cover a succession of creations extending down 
almost to the present day. Thus an ecclesiastical 
dogma developed into a pseudo-scientific theory 
full of inconsistencies but stoutly maintained by 
leading zoologists and botanists. 

The history of the central Evolution idea be- 
fore Darwin therefore follows its rise and fall as 
the broad explanation of the history of life, which 
we must throw into contrast with the steady rise 
of the special knowledge of the lesser ideas which 


centre in it. As a whole, it rose among the Greeks, 
declined with the decay of Greek science, was kept 
alive by Greek influence in Theology, and fell in 
the opposition to rationalism. When it was first 
revived in France and Germany, it was either 
inspired by Greek freedom of speculation and sug- 
gestiveness, or permeated by Greek fallacies. 

In the first revival the natural philosophers 
took the lead, followed, in the second, by a series 
of rashly speculative writers. Then the working 
and observing naturalists took it up. Considering 
the Greek movement as the first, this was the 
second genuine progressive movement towards the 
Evolution theory; it reached its height with La- 
marck, and then declined, or rather failed to make 
a permanent or widespread impression. In the 
middle of this century, all the ground gained was 
apparently but not really lost ; science, church, and 
laity were almost at one upon the Special Creation 
theory. The open dissenters were comparatively 
few and very guarded in the expression of their 
opinions. Young Darwin was among the few who 
kept before his mind both theories ; he met and 
successfully overcame the great tide of adverse 
opinion ; a conquest which Germany has recognized 
by rechristening Evolution — Darwinismus. Since 
1858 more works upon Evolution have appeared 
each year than in all the centuries previous. 

In this more recent history, which I hope to take 
up in the same spirit in another course, we again 


trace the rise and fall of certain ideas; even our 
present thought leaders having their remote paral- 
lels in the past. For even amidst our present 
wealth of facts the impassable boundaries of human 
thouQ^ht seem to confine us to unconscious revivals 
of Greek conceptions. There are many observers, 
but few who can strike out into the absolutely 
virgin soil of novel suggestion. 

The special phases of Evolution development 
may accordingly be marked off in the following 
manner: — 

The Anticipation of Nature : Greek Evolution. 

I. 640 B.C -1600 A.D. 

Greek Evolution in Christian Theology ; in Arabic 

The rise, decline, revival, and final decline of the 
Greek Natural History and Greek conception of 
Evolution. Of this period were Thales, Anaxi- 
mander, Anaximenes, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, 
Empedocles, Democritus, Anaxagoras, Aristotle, 
Epicurus, Lucretius, Gregory, Augustine, Bruno, 
Avempace, Abubacer. 

The Interpretation of Nature: Modern Evo- 

II. 1600-1800 A.D. 

Philosophical Evolution. 
Emancipation of Botany and Zoology from Greek 


The beginnings of Modem Evolution as part of 
a natural order of the universe. Suggestions of 
inductive Evolution, as based upon the transfor- 
mation and filiation of species, by the natural phi- 
losophers. Bacon, Descartes, Leibnitz, Hume, Kant, 
Lessing, Herder, Schelling. 

Revival of Greek Evolution ideas in specula- 
tive form by such speculative philosophical writers 
and naturalists as Maupertuis, Diderot, De Maillet, 
Robinet, Bonnet, Oken. 

III. 1730-1850 A.D. 

Modern Inductive Evolution, 3^ Period: Buff on 
to St. Hi lair e. 

Rapid extension of Zoology, Botany and Paleon- 
tology. Rise and decline of inductive Evolution. 
Scattered observation and speculation upon the 
filiation and transformation of species. 

Linuceus, Buffon, E. Darwin, Lamarck, Goethe, 
Treviranus, Geof. St. Hilaire, St. Vincent, Is. St. 
Hilaire. Miscellaneous writers : Grant, Rafinesque, 
Virey, Dujardin, d'Halloy, Chevreul, Godron, Leidy, 
Unger, Carus, Lecoq, Schaafhausen, Wolff, Meckel, 
Von Baer, Serres, Herbert, Buch, Wells, Matthew, 
Naudin, Haldeman, Spencer, Chambers, Owen. 

IV. 1858-1893 A.D. 

Modern Inductive Evolution, ^th Period: Darwin, 

Evolution established inductively and deductively 
as a law of Nature. The factor of Natural Selec- 


tion established. Observation and speculation upon 
other factors of Evolution. 

No sharp lines actually separated these periods ; 
each passed gradually into the next. The decline 
of Greek, and especially of Aristotelian influence 
in natural science, was extremely gradual, and was 
overlapped by the awakening of the spirit of origi- 
nal research upon animals and plants, and of the 
science of medicine. Similarly, what we may call 
the Philosophers' period ran insensibly into the 
Buffon or third period, for the later naturalists 
began their work contemporaneously with the later 
philosophers. Perhaps the sharpest transition was 
at the close of the third period, in which a distinct 
anti-Evolution school had sprung up and succeeded 
in firmly entrenching itself, so that Darwin and 
Wallace began the present era with some ab- 

Environment of the Evolution Idea. 

As we have seen in this resume, the idea had 
a Ions: struofgle for ofrowth and existence in the 
twenty-four centuries between Thales and Darwin, 
yet it never wholly suspended animation. I may 
emphasize again the standpoint of these lectures, 
that the final conception of Evolution is to be 
regarded as a cluster of many subsidiary ideas, 
which slowly evolved in the environment of advan- 
cing human knowledge. Like an animal or plant, 



made, up of many different parts which have been 
added one by one along the ages, we can take up 
this history as we should a bit of biological research ; 
consider the idea as living and still growing, and 
seek the first stages of each of its parts. These 
we will find in the earliest guesses as to the origin 
of life from matter; in conjectures about develop- 
ment and reproduction ; in early observed evidences 
of heredity, degeneration, variation, and of the 
affiliation between organisms ; in the first apprecia- 
tion of environment and its influences, of internal 
changes in the body and their influences, of adapta- 
tion or fitness, of the survival of the fittest organ- 
isms, and finally of the survival of the fittest organs. 
As each part of every organism has begun as a 
rudiment and followed its own independent history,, 
so each of these subsidiary ideas rose in a crude 
form, and became increasingly clear and definite. 

We have then three objects in view : first, to^ 
follow the broad idea of Evolution as a natural 
law; second, to trace back the birth and develop- 
ment of each of its parts ; third, to keep constantly 
in mind the changing environment of knowledge 
and prejudice. The uncongenial influences were by 
no means confined to those mentioned above; the- 
introduction and long persistence of scientific falla- 
cies, such as Abiogenesis, the uncertain methods of 
scientific thinking, the limited knowledge of Nature, 
and especially of animal and plant life, are all to be 
considered. As these were cleared away,, the envi- 


ronment became more congenial, and the idea began 
its unchecked development. 

If we look at the idea in itself, we first dis- 
tinguish between the law of Evolution as an expla- 
nation of the origin of all forms of life ; second, the 
evidences for such a law, and third, the theories 
and conjectures as to the natural causes or factors 
underlying this law or constituting it. The full 
conception came very late. Apparently Lamarck 
was the first to grasp Evolution in its modern 
significance, and to see the analogy between the 
past history of life and a great widely branching 
tree, having its roots in the simplest organisms, 
its shorter branches in the lower, and its longer 
branches in the higher forms of life. According 
to this now familiar analogy, the living forms of 
to-day are the terminal twigs of great branches 
which represent the lines of extinct ancestors. 
These branches united near the trunk with others, 
whilst still other branches, with their terminal 
branchlets, have entirely died out in past time. 
Or, to trace the history upwards instead of down- 
wards and begin at the roots, the lower branches 
of the tree are comparatively few, and represent the 
great classes of animals which divided and sub- 
divided into orders, sub-orders, families, genera, 
species, and so on. 

Prior to Lamarck this branching nature of de- 
scent was only very crudely perceived. This was 
because Aristotle's general view that the existing 


forms of life constituted a scale of ascent from the 
polyps to man, had been revived in different as- 
pects, such as the ' perfection chain ' of Leibnitz, 
or the famous 'echelle' of Bonnet. It is evident 
that the modern conception grew out of the dis- 
covery of the extinction of earlier and intermediate 
forms of life such as came from Paleontology, and 
that it is essentially different from the ancient 
' ladder ' or ' chain ' conception, which regarded the 
existing terminal twigs of the tree as directly affili- 
ated to each other, rather than through the extinct 
earlier branches. Pre-Lamarckian Evolution was 
mainly a conception of the gradual rise of higher 
forms of life by descent and modification from 
lower forms still existing. This, in contrast with 
the notions of sudden production of life from the 
earth or by Special Creation, was based upon slow 
development, and had the distinction always of 
being a naturalistic explanation. 

The variety of terms under which Evolution has 
figured, to a certain extent mark the chapters in 
its history. In France, the early terms ' transmuta- 
tion' and 'filiation' have partly given way to the 
more modern ' transformisme'. In England, Evo- 
lution has been known as the ' doctrine of deriva- 
tion,' as the 'development hypothesis,' and as the 
'descent theory.' For the first half of this century, 
Evolution was known mainly as the Lamarckian 
theory, just as later it universally became the Dar- 
winian theory; while very recently ' Lamarckism ' 


and ' Darwinism ' have each acquired special mean- 
ings, and the comprehensive term ' Evolution,' first 
used by St. Hilaire in this sense, has come in as the 
permanent designation of the law. This embraces 
more and more as our knowledge advances, so we 
speak even of the first naturalistic views of the 
gradual succession of species as Evolution because 
they contained the idea in the germ. 

The Scientific Method of Thought. 

The slow discovery of scientific modes of obser- 
vation and thought constituted a very important 
feature in the environment of the Evolution idea. 
Now working, as a matter of course,, by the induc- 
tive-deductive or observe-and-guess method, first 
observing a few facts, for a preliminary induction 
or ' working hypothesis ' to apply tentatively to cer- 
tain classes of facts, we hardly appreciate that this 
effective mental machinery is a comparatively recent 
discovery. When, again, some obstinate or newly 
discovered fact compels us to abandon one 'working 
hyjDothesis ' which for a time has not only satisfied 
but served us, and construct another, and finally, 
after seesawing between observation and speculation, 
we experience the pleasure of extracting the truth, 
we have meanwhile run up an unpayable debt to 
the past. 

The early Greeks were mainly deductive or a 
priori in their method. Aristotle, coming much 



later, after methods of thought had been studied, 
understood and taught induction almost as clearly 
as Bacon, but he mainly practised deduction. This 
was well, for in his period and during his lifetime, 
few steps in advance could have been made by the 
safer method, while he unquestionably promoted 
many great truths deductively. Giordano Bruno 
also recommended induction to others, but found it 
too tedious for his own purposes. While Bacon 
upheld induction in his writings as the true philo- 
sophical method, there is abundant evidence that it 
was already established as the method of scientific 
research by Harvey, who discovered the circulation 
of the blood. Mayo and others, quite independently 
and even in advance of Bacon ; so it is not just that 
he should be credited with the revival of induction 
as applied to science during the seventeenth century; 
he was rather the first to formulate and teach it. 

During the long Middle Ages, men had not ob- 
served Nature; they had studied Aristotle's views 
of Nature, and were anchored fast to Greek science 
by a traditional reverence. " Bornons ce respect que 
nous avons pour les anciens^,^ said Pascal in his 
Pensees. This is also the vein of one of Bacon's 
Aphorisms : " Again, the reverence for antiquity and 
the authority of men who have been esteemed great 
in philosophy and general unanimity, have retarded 
men from advancing in science and almost enchanted 
them." Bacon also drew a satirical picture of the 
condition of natural science as it was early in the 


seventeenth century : " If the natural history extant, 
though apparently of great bulk and variety, were 
to be carefully weeded of its fables, antiquities, 
quotations, frivolous disputes, philosophy, orna- 
ments, it would shrink to a slender bulk." 

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
valuable materials were slowly gathering for the 
induction of Evolution. In the first revival of the 
idea the advances made were mainly deductive, yet 
each of the great philosophers of this period referred 
to one or more observations, and clearly aimed to 
establish a basis of fact for the mutability of species. 
This rational method spread so rapidly that a 
considerable part of the speculations of the natural- 
ists Buffon and Erasmus Darwin, in the latter part 
of the seventeenth century, was directly based upon 
observation and was true interpretation. These 
were by far the most logical thinkers among . the 
large number of eighteenth century evolution- 
ists, who gave the imagination such free rein in 
support of the idea that Evolution and the 'working 
hypothesis' together fell into disrepute. A school 
that was professedly purely observational and induc- 
tive was established by Linnaeus and Cuvier, and, 
owing to the genius of these naturalists, gained such 
ascendency that it was only after a bitter struggle 
in the early part of the nineteenth century, that the 
discredited working hypothesis acquired its true 
place as an instrument of thought. The evolu- 
tionists of the eighteenth and early part of the nine- 


teenth century contended against great odds. They 
upheld a theory as to the origin of life which could 
not be established inductively in the existing state 
of knowledge, and which even at the time of the 
publication of the Origifz of Species lacked veri- 
fication. Although for the most part devout men, 
they were declared arch enemies of sound religion, 
and although right in their contention for the value 
of the inductive-deductive method of thought, they 
w^ere also proclaimed as the enemies of sound scien- 
tific thinking. 

The Advance of Natural Philosophy. 

The belief that the Bible contained a revelation 
of scientific as well as of spiritual and moral truths 
was not supported by the most prominent of the 
early theologians, nor many centuries later by 
Bacon. It is edifying to read the appeals of these 
two great Christian philosophers, Augustine and 
Bacon, for freedom of scientific thought, against the 
error of searching the Scriptures for laws of Nature. 

" It very often happens," says Augustine, " that there is some 
question as to the earth or the sky, or the other elements of this 
world . . . respecting which one who is not a Christian has knowl- 
edge derived from most certain reasoning or observation" (that 
is, a scientific man), "and it is very disgraceful and mischievous 
and of all things to be carefully avoided, that a Christian speaking 
of such matters as being according to the Christian Scriptures, 
should be heard by an unbeliever talking such nonsense that the 
unbeliever perceiving him to be as wide from the mark as east 
from west, can hardly restrain himself from laughing." 


Bacon {Novum Organum, Book I., Sec. 45), in 
his Aphorisms, deplores the corruption of Philoso- 
phy by the mixing up with it of superstition and 
theology, saying that it is most injurious both as a 
whole and in parts, and continues : — 

" Against it we must use the greatest caution. . . . Yet some 
of the moderns have indulged this folly with such consummate 
inconsiderateness that they have endeavoured to build a system of 
Natural Philosophy on the First Chapter of Genesis, the Book of 
Job, and other parts of Scripture ; seeking thus the dead amongst 
the living" (the interests of the soul). "And this folly is the 
more to be prevented and restrained, because not only fantastical 
philosophy but heretical religion spring from the absurd mixture 
of matters Divine and human. It is therefore most wise soberly 
to render unto faith the things that belong to faith." In the Intro- 
duction of The Great Instatcration, he says : " For man, being 
a member and interpreter of Nature, acts and understands so far 
as he has observed of the order, the works, and the mind of 
Nature, and can proceed no further, for no power is able to loose 
or break the chain of causes, nor is Nature to be conquered but 
by submission." 

A hard preliminary battle had to be fought by 
the philosophers for natural causation as against 
supernatural interference in the governing of the 
living world. Here lies the main debt of natural 
science to Philosophy ; and to omit mention of the 
great names of the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 
turies would leave a serious gap in these outlines. 
The natural philosophers of this time were more 
scientific than the professed scientists. They 
reached below metaphysics into questions which 


to-day are left more exclusively to science. The 
order of the Universe and the laws of Nature formed 
a large part of speculation from the times of Bacon 
to Schelling; in fact, now and again this speculation 
sprang directly from observation of Nature, and it 
is a most striking fact that every great philosopher 
touched upon the Evolution idea. Bruno was a 
radical evolutionist, although his notions were more 
Oriental than European. Bacon foresaw the close 
bearings of Variation and of experimental Evolution 
upon species transformation. Descartes cautiously 
advocated the Evolution idea. Leibnitz may even 
be considered the head of a school of evolutionists. 
Kant in his earlier writings held advanced views. 
Thus the naturalists, whenever they passed from 
direct observation to speculation upon the causes of 
things, drew their suggestions and inspiration largely 
from these philosophers. 

This need not lead us into the history of the 
discussion of primary causes, nor of the mechanical 
and monistic versus the dualistic view of Nature. 
The evolution of life as an organic law, more com- 
plex but comparable to any inorganic law, such as 
gravitation, is one phase of natural causation. For 
whatever principle regulates the rapid fall of a 
wounded bird to the earth, is the same in kind, so 
far as our philosophy of Nature is concerned, as 
that which, during millions of years, has slowly 
evolved the bird from the earth. Some of the 
Greeks early saw this truth; yet in the progress 


of later thought in Europe, the Hving world was 
the last to come under this principle of natural 
causation. The battle for it had to be first fought 
out in Cosmogony, then in Geology. So keen a 
philosopher as Kant believed that he saw two prin- 
ciples in Nature ; one of natural causes reigning 
in lifeless matter, one of teleological causes reign- 
ing in living matter. This was because he could 
not conceive of any natural principle which could 
explain the beautiful adaptations and designs of 
Nature. From Geology the spread of the truth of 
natural causation reached the origin of the lower 
forms of life, and finally the origin of man. It is 
therefore a striking case of parallelism that the 
advance of our knowledge of development has 
repeated the actual cosmic order of development. 
Man first perceived Evolution in objects most 
remote, gradually in objects nearer to him, finally 
in himself. 

Advance of Zoology and Botany. 

The general state of knowledge of the different 
forms of life, next to the suggestiveness of Philoso- 
phy, was the most important factor in the environ- 
ment of the Evolution idea, as food to the organism. 
The comparatively elementary knowledge of Aris- 
totle rendered his speculations upon Evolution, at 
most, happy guesses at the truth. Embryology, 
Paleontology, Comparative Anatomy, and Distribu- 
tion, the four pillars of modern Evolution, arose in 


the eighteenth century, but were not built into 
their scientific inductive form until the nineteenth 

Yet the Greek traditions in natural history per- 
sisted as the environment of the Evolution idea as 
late as the end of the eighteenth century, and, as 
we shall see, the idea itself was framed solely upon 
Greek speculation. Most prominent among these 
Greek guesses at the truth was the doctrine of 
Abiogenesis, ox generatio cequivoca — the spontane- 
ous origin of life from lifeless matter. This fallacy 
exerted a most potent influence in shaping the 
crude theories of Evolution which were advanced 
during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries;, 
the absurdity of these theories reacting unfavourably 
upon the true Evolution idea by throwing it into 

The accumulation of the natural evidences of 
Evolution was the work of centuries. Besides the 
advances in Astronomy, Geology, and Physical 
Geography, there was the slow upbuilding of the 
great branches of Biology. First, correct ideas of 
structure or Comparative Morphology of animals 
and plants, and connected with this the structure 
of extinct forms preserved as fossils; with this 
knowledge came the appreciation of the meaning 
of variations and of gradual development in struct- 
ure, and the meaning of vestigial or degenerate 
structures. Then came the knowledge of functioni 
and the physiology, first of man, thea of the lower; 


animals ; then the true ideas of individual develop- 
ment from the ^%%, or Embryology, connected with 
which many fallacies were current. Finally, Natu- 
ral Environment began to be studied, or the rela- 
tion of animals and plants to each other and to 
the surface of the globe, in connection with Dis- 
tribution. In short, Evolution needed materials for 
induction. Unwilling Nature had to slowly yield 
up her secrets, and Evolution could not be con- 
ceived in its phyletic sense until all the knowledge 
embraced in Phylogeny had been more or less 
fully attained. 

Let us first look at Structure. Anatomy had 
its infancy among the Greeks, and dissection was 
rudely practised. Aristotle was descended from a 
long race of physicians, yet his treatise on the 
structure of man is believed to show that he did 
not practise dissection. Scientific anatomy dates 
back to Galen, while modern anatomy began with 
the school of the University of Padua, where the 
human body was first fully dissected. In structure 
Aristotle observed the law of Analogy, as, for exam- 
ple, in his comparison of the functions of the fore 
and hind limbs. But the principle of Homology, 
or the fundamental likeness of type structure 
between the fore and hind limbs, was first pointed 
out by Vicq d'Azyr in 1805. Now Analogy is the 
Will-o'-the-wisp of Evolution ; it is always leading 
us astray, as it did St. Hilaire in the third period, 
for functionally similar forms and forms with an 


external resemblance are produced over and over 
again in Nature, and do not always point to phy- 
letic affinity, while Homology is one of our safest 
guides. The relations of organs to each other, or 
the idea that one structure is sacrificed for the 
development of another, now known as the law of 
Econoiny of Growth, was also perceived by Aris- 
totle, but was first clearly stated by Goethe in 1807, 
and by St. Hilaire in 18 18. Aristotle, following 
Democritus, was strongly impressed with the law 
of Adaptatio7i, or the wonderful fitness of certain 
structures for certain ends, and Adaptation, with 
all its beautiful manifestations in Nature, has always 
been the focus of the differences between the 
Special Creationists and Evolutionists. 

Degeneration, or the gradual decline of structures 
in form and usefulness, does not appear to have 
been perceived by Aristotle, although in his analy- 
sis of " Movement " he employs a very similar idea 
in connection with development. We first meet 
with Degeneration as part of an explanation of the 
origin of species, in the writings of Linuceus and 
Buffon in the eighteenth century ; but the idea 
itself was much older, because we find it expressed 
in a passage of criticism of Sylvius upon Vesa- 
lius. Vesalius (15 14-1564) had brought the charge 
against Galen (a.d. 131-200) that his work could 
not have been founded upon the human body, be- 
cause he had described an intermaxillary bone. 
This bone, Vesalius observed, is found in the lower 


animals but not in man. Sylvius (i 6 14-1672) de- 
fended Galen warmly, and argued that the fact that 
man had no intermaxillary bone at present was no 
proof that he did not have it in Galen's time. " It 
is luxury," he said, "it is sensuality which has 
gradually deprived man of this bone." This pas- 
sage proves that the idea of degeneration of struct- 
ure through disuse, as well as the idea of the 
inheritance of the effects of habit, or the ' transmis- 
sion of acquired characters,' is a very ancient one. 

Development, or increasing perfection of struct- 
ure in course of Evolution, was the central thought 
of Aristotle's natural philosophy, but the term it- 
self, as applied to the gradual increase in organs 
and single structures in the evolutionary sense, was 
first clearly used by Lamarck. 

Embryological development was rightly conceived 
a priori by Aristotle in the form of Epigenesis, for 
he regarded the embryo as a mass of particles con- 
taining the potential capacity of development into 
the form of the adult. The term ' Evolution ' was 
first introduced for the opposed embryological 
theory that the embryo contained the complete 
form in miniature, and that development consisted 
merely in the enlargement of this miniature. This 
doctrine of ' emboUement ' of Bonnet, defended by 
■Swammerdam, Haller, Reaumur, and Cuvier, like 
the doctrine of Abiogenesis, long stood in the way 
of the progress of the Evolution idea; for if it 
were true that all beings had been preformed from 


the beginning, there could naturally be no evolu- 
tion of form, nor any necessity for a theory of 
Evolution. Long before Aristotle, the principle 
of Syngenesis, or formation of the embryo by the 
union of elements from both parents, was rightly 
understood by Empedocles. The notion of heredi- 
tary transmission of characters was extremely an- 
cient, and was naturally founded upon the early 
observed likeness of offspring to parents. Aris- 
totle also commented upon the principles of the 
prepotency of the characteristics of one parent 
over the other, as well as of Atavism. 

The growth of Embryology as an objective sci- 
ence came, of course, with the invention of micro- 
scopic lenses. Degraff, in the discovery of the 
ovum in 1678, Leeuwenhoek (i 632-1 723) in the 
discovery of the spermatozoon, laid the foundations 
of the science which Meckel, in 181 3, and Von Baer, 
in 1827, built into one of the keystones of Evolu- 
tion. Von Baer's law, that higher animals passed 
through embryonic stages in which they resemble 
the adult forms of lower types, was also dimly per- 
ceived by Aristotle, but not, of course, in its vital 
relation to Evolution. 

Aristotle also distinguished between living and 
lifeless matter as the organic and inorganic, but in 
common with all the Greeks, and, in fact, with all 
zoologists up to comparatively recent times, he 
believed in A biogenesis, or the spontaneous develop- 
ment of living from lifeless matter. This belief 


was handed down through all the Middle Ages, and 
appeared in its crudest form as an explanation, not 
only of the origin of the lowest forms of life, but 
of the higher forms, even as late as the beginning 
of this century. As a spurious naturalistic expla- 
nation it was one of the greatest impediments to 
the growth of the true Evolution idea. 

The law of Biogenesis, or of life from life, was 
clearly stated in Harvey's famous and oft-quoted 
dictum, omne vivum ex ovo, but was not finally de- 
monstrated until quite late in the present century. 
The belief in spontaneous or direct origin from the 
earth thus began amongst the Greeks as an expla- 
nation of the origin of man and of the highest 
forms of life ; it was gradually contracted to the 
origin of the lower and smaller forms of life, and 
finally, to the lowest invisible forms of bacteria, 
until, as an outcome of the discussions which are 
still fresh in our memory, between Pouchet and 
Pasteur in France, and Bastian and Tyndall in 
England, the theory of spontaneous origin of any 
form of life, even the lowest, was completely 



Die Griinder der griechischen Naturphilosophie im siebenten und sechsten 
Jahrhundert vor Christus waren es, die zuerst diesen wahren Grundstein der 
Erkenntniss legten und einen natiirlichen gemeinsamen Urgrund aller Dinge zu 
erkennen suchten. — Haeckel. 

Never has the influence of Nature upon thought 
been more evident than in the philosophy and natu- 
ral history of the Greeks. Whatever they may have 
drawn from the vague, abstract notions of develop- 
ment and transformation of Asiatic philosophers, 
they certainly recast into comparatively modern 
Evolutionism. No landlocked people could have 
put forth the rich suggestions of natural law 
which came from tlie long line of natural philoso- 
phers from Thales to Aristotle. 

Their earliest known philosophy was a philosophy 
of Nature, of the origin and causes of the Universe. 
As Zeller observes, they aimed directly at a theory 
before considering the severe conditions required for 
the attainment of scientific knowledge. How, then, 
can we explain the nearness of their easy guesses 
at the secrets of Nature to the results of modern 
labor ? Only through this influence of the ' milieu^ 
of their physical surrounding upon their thought. 
It is in the environment of the sea we find the 
inspiration of Greek biological prophecy. Along 



the shores and in the waters of the blue y^gean, 
teeming with what we now know to be the earliest 
and simplest forms of animals and plants, they 
founded their hypotheses as to the origin and suc- 
cession of life. Lucretius the Roman was Greek 
in spirit, but dwelling inland he substituted a ter- 
restrial theory. Even the early Greek natural phi- 
losophy sprang more or less from observation, and 
therefore had some concrete value. It was not 
wholly imaginative. 

The spirit of the Greeks was vigorous and hope- 
ful. Not pausing to test their theories by research, 
they did not suffer the disappointments and delays 
which come from our own efforts to wrest truths 
from Nature. Combined with great freedom and 
wide range of ideas, independence of thought, and 
tendencies to rapid generalization, they had genuine 
gifts of scientific deduction, which enabled them to 
reach truth, as it were, by inspiration. As a case 
in point, Aristotle advanced a true theory of the 
nature of embryonic development by a very easy 
process, when contrasted with the slow steps which 
led to the establishment of the same theory of Epi- 
genesis in the eighteenth century. 

Their development from a childish to a mature 
philosophy was a slow one, and their thought upon 
Nature passed through four phases. First, the pre- 
historic mythological phase, which left its imprints 
in guesses as to the strange origin of monstrous 
forms of life, by the first natural philosophers who 


endeavoured to replace mythological by natural 

These pioneers contributed the spirit of the 
second phase, seen in the naturalism of the pre- 
Socratic period, suggesting Evolution, but neither 
conceiving of Evolution by slow stages of develop- 
ment nor seeking to explain Adaptation or Design 
in their systems of natural causation. They could 
not, in fact, speculate upon Design, as Zeller very 
acutely observes in reply to Lange, until the idea 
of Design as the result of a controlling Intelligence 
had arisen, and this idea was first developed by 
Anaxagoras, the last of the Physicists. He was 
followed by Socrates, who enlarged the theistic 
principle, which in the natural philosophy of Plato 
and in the natural history of Aristotle, inspired 
the third or teleological phase of thought. Then 
came the fourth phase, which was a naturalistic 
reaction to the novel and widely opposed mechani- 
cal or materialistic conceptions of the Universe 
developed by the Epicureans. 



The Greek Periods. {After Zeller^ 





First Period. 


Earlier Materialistic. 

Second Period. 


The Prehistoric Traditions. 
I. The Three Earliest Schools, 

The lonians. Thales (624-548), 
Anaximander (611-547), Anax- 
imenes (588-524), Diogenes 
(440- ). 
The Pythagoreans. (580-430.) 
The Eleatics. Xenophanes (576- 
480), Parmenides (544- ). 
II. Physicists. 

HeracHtus (535-475), Empedocles 
(495-435 )» Democritus (450- 
), Anaxagoras, (500-428). 
Socrates (470-399), Plato (427- 

Aristotle (384-322). 
The Peripatetics, or post-Aristotelian 

school, including Theophrastus, 

Preaxagoras, Herophilus, Erasis- 


A. I. The Stoics. 

II. The Epicureans. Epicurus (341- 

270 B.C.). 
III. The Sceptics. 

B. I. Eclecticisfn. Galen (131-201 a.d.). 

In Zeller's volumes on Greek Philosophy, and 
in his special discussion of Evolution among the 
Greeks, Die Griechischeii Vorgdnger Darwin s^ 
we find a full examination of the speculations of 
these ancient philosophers. Lange and Haeckel 

Third Period. 

Later Materialistic. 


tend to read into these speculations opinions which 
Zeller, with his more critical and exact analysis, 
throws into their actual relative value. 

The Ionians and Eleatics. 

Thales and Anaximander, the earliest Ionians, 
were students of Astronomy and of the origin of 
the Universe. So far as we know, they were the 
first who endeavoured to substitute a natural expla- 
nation of things for the old myths. Thales was 
also the first of the long line of natural philosophers 
who looked upon the great expanse of mother ocean 
and declared water to be the matter from which all 
things arose, and out of which they exist. This 
idea of the aquatic or marine origin of life, which 
is now a very widely accepted theory, is therefore 
an extremely ancient one. As has been said, it 
could only have arisen in a country surrounded 
by warm marine currents prodigal with shore and 
deep sea life. 

Anaximander (611-547), the Milesian, is termed 
by Haeckel the prophet of Kant and Laplace in 
Cosmogony, and of Lamarck and Darwin in Biol- 
ogy ! His theories were still largely imbued with 
mythology, and the more closely we examine them, 
the less they seem to resemble modern ideas. If 
we reduce this superlative prophetic mantle, we 
still find Anaximander imbued with a wealth of 
suggestion, and a literal prophet of some of the 


eighteenth century, rather than of the nineteenth 
century, speculations upon Evolution. He con- 
ceived of the earth as first existing in a fluid 
state. From its gradual drying up all living creat- 
ures were produced, beginning with men. These 
aquatic men first appeared in the form of fishes in 
the water, and they emerged from this element 
only after they had progressed so far as to be able 
to further develop and sustain themselves upon 
land. This is rather analogous to the bursting of 
a chrysalis, than to progressive development from a 
simpler to a more advanced structure by a change 
of organs, yet a germ of the Evolution idea is 
found here. 

We find that Anaximander advanced some rea- 
sons for this view. He pointed to man's long help- 
lessness after birth as one of the proofs that he 
cannot be in his original condition. His hypothet- 
ical ancestors of man were supposed to be first 
encased in horny capsules, floating and feeding in 
water ; as soon as these ' fish-men ' were in a con- 
dition to emerge, they came on land, the capsule 
burst, and they took their human form. Anaxi- 
mander, naturally, is not staggered by the differ- 
ences of internal organization necessary for aquatic 
or terrestrial life, nor are we to translate the word 
fX€Ta/3Lovu as ' adaptation ' to new conditions of life, 
but simply as implying that the original fis*h-men 
persisted through their metamorphoses long enough 
to reproduce true men on land. There is, how- 


ever, the dim notion here of survival or persistence 
throughout decidedly trying circumstances, which 
was greatly developed later by Empedocles. In 
the fragments of Anaximander's teachings we find 
he does not speculate upon the origin of other land 
animals, or intimate that he has any notion of the 
development of higher from lower organisms, ex- 
cept in the case of man. As to the origin of life 
in the beginning, he was the first teacher of the 
doctrine of Abiogenesis, believing that eels and 
other aquatic forms are directly produced from life- 
less matter. 

Grotesque as these ideas of Anaximander are, 
they indicate a marked advance over the autochtho- 
nous myths of earlier times, according to which 
man grew, like a plant, directly out of the earth ; 
for we find here an attempt to explain human 
origin upon the basis of natural analogies. Unfor- 
tunately, so little knowledge of Anaximander's work 
is left us, that we can only obtain these vague 
glimpses of his opinions. Anaximenes, his pupil 
(588-524), found in air the cause of all things. Air, 
taking the form of the soul, imparts life, motion, 
and thought to animals. He introduced the idea 
of primordial terrestrial slime, a mixture of earth 
and water, from which, under the influence of the 
sun's heat, plants, animals, and human beings were 
directly produced — in the abiogenetic fashion. 
Diogenes of Apollonia (440- ), a late adherent 
of the Ionian school, also derived both plants and 


animals from this primordial earth slime. This 
is the prototype of Oken's Ur-Schleim. 

Xenophanes (576-480) was the founder of the 
Eleatic school, and is believed to have been a pupil 
of Anaximander. He agreed with his master so 
far as to trace the origin of man back to the transi- 
tion period between the fluid or water and solid or 
land stages of the development of the earth, but we 
do not know how far he elaborated his ideas. The 
ultimate origin of life he traced to spontaneous 
generation, believing that the sun in warming the 
earth produces both animals and plants. He is 
famous in the annals of science as being the first 
to recognize fossils as remains of animals formerly 
alive, and to see in them the proofs that the seas 
formerly covered the earth, and that water was the 
element from which the earth emerged. Parmen- 
IDES, his pupil, developed his cosmogony, and also 
derived men from the primitive earth slime directly 
engendered by the sun's heat. 

The Physicists. 

The Physicists, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Democ- 
ritus, and Anaxagoras, were far bolder and more 
fruitful in their suggestions. Among them we find 
that the vague notions of metamorphosis and the 
notions of Abiogenesis derived from the lonians 
were developed into surprising anticipations of the 
true Evolution idea. 


Heraclitus of Ephesus (535-475) gave the 
impetus to this advance. He was so profoundly 
impressed with the ceaseless revolutions in the 
Universe that he saw in movement the universal 
law. Everything was perpetually transposed into 
new shapes. It must not be supposed for a 
moment that Heraclitus had even a remote notion 
of the transformation process of life. He was 
rather a metaphysician than a natural philosopher ; 
and his principal contribution to the Evolution idea 
was manifestly in his broad view of Nature, as 
involved in perpetual changes, yet always consti- 
tuting a uniform whole. 

Empedocles of Agrigentum (495-435) took a 
great stride beyond his predecessors, and may 
justly be called the father of the Evolution idea. 
He was not only a poet and musician, but made 
the first observations in Embryology which are 
recorded. Among his first physical principles we 
find the four elements — fire, air, water, and earth 
— played upon by two ultimate forces, a combining 
force, or love, and a separating force, or hate. He 
believed in Abiogenesis, or spontaneous generation, 
as the explanation of the origin of life, but that 
Nature does not produce the lower and higher 
forms simultaneously or without an effort. Plant 
life came first, and animal life developed only after 
a long series of trials. After the first formation of 
the earth, and before it was surrounded by the sun, 
plants arose, and from their budding forth came 


animals. But this origin he believed to be a very 
gradual process, for even now the living world pre- 
sents a series of incomplete products. All organ- 
isms arose through the fortuitous play of the two 
great forces of Nature upon the four elements. 
Thus animals first appeared, not as complete indi- 
viduals, but as parts of individuals, — heads without 
necks, arms without shoulders, eyes without their 
sockets. As a result of the triumph of love over 
hate, these parts began to seek each other and 
unite, but purely fortuitously. Thus out of this 
confused play of bodies, all kinds of accidental and 
extraordinary beings arose, — animals with the heads 
of men, and men with the heads of animals, even 
with double chests and heads like those of the 
guests in the Feast of Aristophanes. But these 
unnatural products soon became extinct, because 
they were not capable of propagation. Here it 
would appear that Empedocles was mainly endeav- 
ouring to give a naturalistic theory for the origin 
of the Centaurs, Chimaeras, and other creations of 
Greek mythology. Thus, at least, Lucretius inter- 
preted Empedocles many centuries later, putting 
these conjectures into verse (Book V. 860): — 

" Hence, doubtless, Earth prodigious forms at first 
Gendered, of face and members most grotesque : 
Monsters half-man, half-woman, not from each 
Distartt, yet neither total ; shapes unsound. 
Footless and handless, void of mouth or eye, 
Or from misj unction, maimed, of limb with limb : 


To act all impotent, or flee from harm, 

Or nurture ^ take, their loathsome days t'extend. 

These sprang at first and things alike uncouth • 
Yet vainly ; for abhorrent Nature quick 
Checked their vile growths ; . . . 

Hence, doubtless, many a tribe has sunk supprest, 
Powerless its kind to gender.^ For whate'er 
Feeds on the living ether, craft or speed. 
Or courage stern, from age to age preserves 
In ranks uninjured : . . . 

Yet Centaurs lived not ; nor could shapes like these 
' Live ever, from two different natures reared. 
Discordant limbs and powers by powers reversed." 

Empedocles imagined that after these unnatural 
products became extinct, other forms arose which 
were able to support themselves and multiply ; but 
even these were not formed at once. First came 
shapeless masses built of earth and water, or earth 
slime, without limbs, organs of reproduction, or 
speech, thrown from fires beneath the earth. Later 
came the separation of the two sexes and the exist- 
ing mode of reproduction. These trials of Nature 
were not a succession of organisms, improving as 
time went on, but a series of direct births from 
Nature, which were unfit to live, and hence elimi- 
nated, until, after ceaseless trials, Nature produced 
the fit and perpetual tribes. 

Thus, in the ancient teachings of Empedocles, 
we find the germ of the theory of the Survival 

i~2 It is interesting to note the remote parallel with the modern notion 
of the * struggle for existence ' as, mainly, success in feeding and in leaving 


of the Fittest, or of Natural Selection. And the 
absolute proof that Empedocles' crude hypothesis 
embodied this world famous thought, is found in 
passages in Aristotle's Physics, in which he refers 
to Empedocles as having first shown- the possibility 
of the origin of the fittest forms of life through 
chance rather than through Design. With Empe- 
docles himself, however, it was no more than the 
potential germ of suggestion, which, in the brilliant 
mind of Aristotle, was stated precisely in its modern 
form, as we shall see later in our study of Aristotle. 

Lange attributes to Democritus a similar inter- 
pretation of Empedocles' teaching, namely, the 
" attainment of adaptations through the infinitely 
repeated play of production and annihilation, in 
which finally that alone survives which bears the 
guarantee of persistence through its relatively 
fortuitous constitution." But Zeller takes a more 
conservative and sounder view of the real meaning 
of this old philosopher of Agrigentum. He says 
this could not have been advanced by Empedocles 
as an explanation of Design in Nature, because 
this idea had not yet been formulated in the 
Greek mind. 

Empedocles was an evolutionist only in so far 
as he taught the gradual substitution of the less by 
the more perfect forms of life. He had a dim 
adumbration of the truth. There is no glimmer- 
ing of slow development through the successive 
modification of lower into higher forms. His 


beings, which were incapable of feeding, reproduc- 
ing, or defending themselves, were all produced 
spontaneously, or directly from the earth. He thus 
simply modified the abiogenetic hypothesis, and, by 
happy conjecture, gave his theory a semblance of 
modern Evolution, with four sparks of truth, — 
first, that the development of life was a gradual 
process ; second, that plants were evolved before 
animals ; third, that imperfect forms were gradually 
replaced (not succeeded) by perfect forms ; fourth, 
that the natural cause of the production of perfect 
forms was the extinction of the imperfect. 

Democritus (450- B.C.), the founder of the 
Atomistic philosophy, and precursor of materialism, 
studied and compared the principal organs of man 
and the lower animals. Cuvier has called him the 
first comparative anatomist. He did not, as Zeller 
points out, further the Evolution idea, because his 
teaching was not constructive in the way of advanc- 
ing explanations of natural phenomena ; it was sim- 
ply destructive as regards Teleology. He perceived 
Design and admired the adaptations of Nature, but 
left their origin unexplained. As Zeller observes, 
Democritus had a gift for observing the purposeful 
direction and the functions of bodily organs, and 
was in every way inclined, one would think, to 
explain these adaptations upon the principles of his 
mechanical philosophy, for he stood far from a tele- 
ological conception of Nature, yet he advanced no 
explanations. He denied that the Universe was 


created or ordered by reason. He adopted the 
older views as to the origin of animals and plants 
directly from the terrestrial slime. His main indi- 
rect contribution to the sub-structure of Evolution 
was his perception of the principle of the adaptation 
of smgle structures and orgajts to certain purposes, 
— an important step in advance, for Empedocles' 
notion of adaptation extended only to organisms as 
a whole. 

Anaxagoras (500-428 B.C.) took a further step. 
According to Plato and Aristotle, this philosopher 
was the first to attribute adaptations in Nature to 
Intelligent Design, and was thus the founder of 
Teleology. He also was the first to trace the 
origin of animals and plants to pre-existing germs 
in the air and ether. That the idea of Design was 
only developed in his mind to a very limited extent 
is shown in his history of the Universe. All things 
existed, in some form, from the beginning. There 
were the germs, seeds, or miniatures of plants, ani- 
mals, and minerals intermingled in the mass of 
matter. These germs had to be separated from the 
mass and arranged under the direction of Mind or 
Reason. The original chaos was heated ; it divided 
into cold mist and warm ether. Water, earth, and 
minerals were formed from the former. The germs 
of plants were floating in the air; then they were 
carried down by the rains, and produced vegetation. 
The germs of animals, including those of man, were 
in the ether; they were fructified by the warm and 


moist terrestrial slime. In regard to Anaxagoras' 
conception of adaptations as due to intelligent 
design in Nature, Zeller says : — 

*' The question whether the purposefulness of the tendencies of 
Nature (Natureinrichtung) could be explained without a purpose- 
ful working natural force — this question could not be raised until 
men had observed adaptation in Nature and had begun to attribute 
it to Intelligent Design. No one, according to Aristotle and 
Plato, had taken this step before Anaxagoras. But even he ap- 
plied this newly discovered principle in exceptional cases, — not 
to the origin of life, surely, for he derived plants and animals from 
the air and ether. He did not, therefore, further the explanation 
of the problem of design in Nature, which Empedocles is mis- 
takenly supposed to have raised." 


Give me no peeping scientist, if I 
Shall judge God's grandly-ordered world aright; 
But give, to plant my Cosmic survey high, 
The wisest of wise Greeks, the Stagirite. 

— John Stuart Blackie. 

With Aristotle (384-322) we enter a new world. 
He towered above his predecessors, and by the 
force of his own genius created Natural History. 
In his own words, lately quoted by Romanes, we 
learn that the centuries preceding him yielded him 
nothing but vague speculation : — 

" I found no basis prepared ; no models to copy. . . . Mine 
is the first step, and therefore a small one, though worked out with 
much thought and hard labor. It must be looked at as a first 
step and judged with indulgence. You, my readers, or hearers 
of my lectures, if you think I have done as much as can fairly be 


required for an initiatory start, as compared with more advanced 
departments of theory, will acknowledge what I have achieved 
and pardon what I have left for others to accomphsh." 

In the Physics and in the Natural History of 
Animals, are contained Aristotle's views of Nature 
and his remarkable observations upon the plant 
and animal kingdoms. He was thoroughly versed 
in old Greek philosophy, and begins many of his 
treatises with a history of opinion, after the modern 
German fashion. He frequently quotes and dis- 
cusses the opinions of Empedocles, Parmenides, 
Democritus, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, and others. 
He undoubtedly inherited his taste for science from 
the line of physicians upon his father's side, perhaps 
from the Asclepiads, who are said to have practised 
dissection. He was attracted to natural history by 
his boyhood life upon the seashore, and the main 
parts of his ideas upon Evolution were evidently 
drawn from his own observations upon the grada- 
tions between marine plants and the lower and 
higher forms of marine animals. He was the first 
to conceive of a genetic series, and his conception 
of a single chain of evolution from the polyps to 
man was never fully replaced until the beginning 
of this century. It appeared over and over again 
in different guises. In all his philosophy of Nature, 
Aristotle w^as guided partly by his preconceived 
opinions derived from Plato and Socrates, and 
partly by convictions derived from his own obser- 
vations upon the wonderful order and perfection 


of the Universe. His ' perfecting principle ' in 
Nature is only one of a score of his legacies to 
later speculation upon Evolution causation. Many 
of our later writers are Aristotelians without appar- 
ently being conscious of it. 

Let us first look at Aristotle's equipment as a 
naturalist. He enters a plea for the study and dis- 
section of lower types : " Hence we ought not with 
puerile fastidiousness to neglect the contemplation 
of more ignoble animals ; for in all animals there 
is something to admire because in all there is 
the natural and the beautiful." He distinguished 
five hundred species of mammals, birds, and fishes, 
besides exhibiting an extensive knowledge of polyps, 
sponges, cuttlefish, and other marine forms of life. 
His four essays upon the parts, locomotion, genera- 
tion, and vital principle of animals, show that he 
fully understood Adaptation in its modern sense ; 
he recognized the analogies if not the homologies 
between different organs like the limbs ; he dis- 
tinguished between the homogeneous tissues made 
up of like parts and the heterogeneous organs 
made up of unlike parts ; he perceived the under- 
lying principle of physiological division of labour in 
the different organs of the body ; he perceived the 
unity of plan or type in certain classes of animals, 
and considered rudimentary organs as tokens 
whereby Nature sustains this unity ; he rightly con- 
ceived of life as the function of the organism, not as a 
separate principle ; he anticipated Harvey's doctrine 


of Epigenesis in embryonic development ; he fully 
perceived the forces of hereditary transmission, 
of the prepotency of one parent or stock, and of 
Atavism or Reversion ; he also perceived the ' com- 
pensation of growth ' principle as shown in a pas- 
sage of his upon the origin of horns : " Having 
now explained the purpose of horns, it remains 
to see the necessity of matter, by which Nature 
gave horns to animals ; we see that Nature taking 
away matter from the front teeth (alluding to the 
ruminants) has added it to the horns." He saw 
the fundamental difference between animals and 
plants, and distinguished the organic or living 
world from the inorganic or lifeless world. 

In his treatise upon the Generatio7z of Animals 
(I. Sec. 35) we find him discussing the Heredity 
theories of Hippocrates and Heraclitus, which were 
similar to those of Democritus, and to the later 
Pangenesis of Darwin. He says : — 

" Children resemble their parents not only in congenital char- 
acters, but in those acquired later in life. For cases are known 
where parents have been marked by scars, and children have 
shown traces of these scars at the same points ; a case is also 
reported from Chalcedon in which a father had been branded with 
a letter, and the same letter somewhat blurred and not sharply 
defined appeared upon the arm of his child." 

Aristotle, however, does not accept the Pan- 
genesis hypothesis of Heredity, nor does he suggest 
the inheritance of normal functional modifications. 
In his History of Animals he again refers to the 


inheritance of mutilations, remarking that such in- 
heritance, although observed, is decidedly rare.-^ 

We can pass leniently by errors which are strewn 
among such grand contributions to Biology and to 
the very foundation-stones of the Evolution idea. 
Aristotle showed practical ignorance of human 
anatomy and physiology; he failed to establish a 
natural classification; he also fostered the abio- 
genetic myth, that not only smaller but larger 
animals, such as frogs, snakes, and eels, are pro- 
duced spontaneously from the mud. Some of these 
and many other of his mistaken teachings were not 
wholly outlived until the present century ; yet we 
may not allow them to detract from our general 
admiration of his great genius. His failures in 
descriptive science were chiefly in statements where 
he departed from his own principle of verification, 
and relied upon the scientific hearsay of his day. 

Aristotle's method has been fully discussed in 
Lewes' very interesting work, Aristotle ; a Chap- 
ter in the History of Science, While Plato had 
relied upon intuitions as the main ground of true 
knowledge, Aristotle relied upon experiment and 
induction. " We must not," he said, " accept a 
general principle from logic only, but must prove 
its application to each fact ; for it is in facts that we 
must seek general principles, and these must always 
accord with facts. Experience furnishes the partic- 

1 See Brock, " Einige altere Autoren iiber die Vererbung erworbener 
Eigenscbaften." Biol^g. Centralbl. VIII. p. 491. 


ular facts from which induction is the pathway to 
general laws " {History of Animals, I. 6). He held 
that errors do not arise because the senses are false 
media, but because we put false interpretations 
upon their testimony. 

Aristotle's theories as to the origin and succes- 
sion of life went far beyond what he could have 
reached by the legitimate application of his pro- 
fessed method of procedure. Having now briefly 
considered the materials of his knowledge, let us 
carefully examine how he put his facts together 
into an Evolution system which had the teachings 
of Plato and Socrates for its primary philosophical 

Aristotle believed in a complete gradation in 
Nature, a progressive development corresponding 
with the progressive life of the soul. Nature, he 
says, proceeds constantly by the aid of gradual 
transitions from the most imperfect to the most 
perfect, while the numerous analogies which we 
find in the various parts of the animal scale show 
that all is governed by the same laws, — in other 
words, Nature is a unit as to its causation. The 
lowest stage is the inorganic, and this passes into 
the organic by direct metamorphosis, matter being 
transformed into life. Plants are animate as com- 
pared with minerals, and inanimate as compared 
with animals ; they have powers of nourishment 
and reproduction, but no feeling or sensibility. 
Then come the plant-animals, or Zoophytes ; these 


are the marine creatures, such as sponges and sea- 
anemones, which leave the observer most in doubt, 
for they grow upon rocks and die if detached. 
(Polyps Aristotle wrongly thought were plants, 
while sponges he rightly considered animals.) The 
third step taken by Nature is the development of 
animals with sensibility, — hence desire for food 
and other needs of life, and hence locomotion to 
fulfil these desires. Here was a more complex and 
energetic form of the original life. Man is the 
highest point of one long and continuous ascent ; 
other animals have the faculty of thought; man 
alone generalizes and forms abstractions ; he is 
physically superior in his erect position, in his 
purest and largest blood supply, largest brain, and 
highest temperature. 

How was this progression effected ? 

Here we come to the second feature in Aris- 


totle's theory, which is more or less metaphys- 
ical, — it is the idea of the development of the 
potentiality of perfection into actuality, the creation 
of form in matter, " Nature does nothing without 
an aim." " She is always striving after the most 
beautiful that is possible.' Aristotle perceived a 
most marvellous adaptation in the arrangement of 
the world, and felt compelled to assume Intelligent 
Design as the primary cause of things, by the per- 
fection and regularity which he observed in Na- 
ture. Nothing, he held, which occurs regularly 
can be the result of accident. This perfection is 



the outcome of an all-pervading moveme7it, which we 
should, in nineteenth-century language, speak of 
as an ' internal perfecting tendency.' In Aristotle's 
conception of ' movement,' as outlined in his Phys- 
ics, we find something very analogous to our 
modern biological conception of transformation in 
development, for he analyzes ' movement ' as every 
change, as every realization of what is possible, 
consisting in : {a) Substajitial movement, origin 
and decay, as we should now say, development and 
degeneration ; (b) Quaittitative movement, addition 
and subtraction, or, in modern terms, the gain and 
loss of parts ; {c) Qualitative movement, or the 
transition of one material into another, in meta- 
morphosis and change of function ; (d) Local move- 
ment, or change of place, in the transposition 
of parts. 

Thus Aristotle thought out the four essential 
features of Evolution as a process; but we have 
found no evidence that he actually applied this 
conception to the development of organisms or of 
organs, as we do now in the light of our modern 
knowledge of the actual stages of Evolution. This 
enables us to understand Aristotle's view of Nature 
as the principle of motion and rest comprised in 
his four Causes. Here again he is more or less 
metaphysical. The first is the 'physical Material 
cause,' or matter itself ; the second is the ' physical 
Formal cause,' or the forces of the ' perfecting prin- 
ciple'; the third is the 'abstract Final cause,' the 


fitness, adaptation, or purpose, the good of each and 
all ; the fourth, presiding over all, is the ' Efficient 
cause,' the Prime Mover, or God. Aristotle attrib- 
uted all the imperfections of Nature to the struggle 
between the material and formal causes, — to the 
resistance of matter to form. There is room for 
difference of opinion as to whether he considered 
the Efficient cause, or God, as constantly present 
and working in Nature, or as having established a 
preordained harmony. Romanes points out that 
Aristotle, in his Metaphysics, asks the question 
whether the principle of order and excellence is self- 
existing from the beginning (i.e. the operation of 
natural laws), or whether, like the discipline of an 
army, it is apparently inherent, but really due to a 
general in the background. 

Whether or not Aristotle viewed the Prime Mover 
as sustaining his laws or as having preordained them, 
he certainly does not believe in Special Creation, 
either of adaptations or of organisms, nor in the 
interference of the Prime Mover in Nature ; the 
struggle towards perfection is a natural process, 
as where he says : " It is due to the resistance of 
matter to form that Nature can only rise by de- 
grees from lower to higher types." There is, there- 
fore, no doubt that he was not a teleologist in the 
ordinary sense ; at the very heart of his theory of 
Evolution was this ' internal perfecting tendency,' 
driving organisms progressively forward into more 
perfect types. He viewed man as the flower of 


Nature, towards which all had been tending, the 
crowning end, purpose, or final cause. His theory 
was then anthropocentric : " plants are evidently 
for the sake of animals and animals for the sake 
of man ; thus Nature, which does nothing in vain, 
has done all things for the sake of man." 

Aristotle's view is brought out clearly and emphat- 
ically in the most striking passage of all his writings 
where he undertakes to refute Empedocles. This 
is of the greatest interest to-day, because Aristotle 
clearly states and rejects a theory of the origin or 
adaptive structures in animals altogether similar to 
that of Darw^in. Aristotle perceived in Emped- 
ocles' crude suggestion of the survival of adapted 
and extinction of inadapted beings, the gist of an 
argument which might be applied not only to entire 
organisms but to parts of organisms, to explain pur- 
posive structures, and which might thus become a 
dangerous rival to his own theory of the origin of 
purposive structures by the direct operation of his 
' perfecting principle.' In the following passages, 
selected from the early books of his Physics, we 
seem to gain a clear insight into Aristotle's whole 
chain of reasoning, in a manner which enables us 
to compare it with modern lines of thought. The 
headings and parentheses are my own ; the pas- 
sages are selected and adapted from Taylor's trans- 
lation of the Physics and brought together to give 
a clear idea of Aristotle's meaning in his own 


a. Nature is twofold, namely. Form and Matter, 

For if we look to the ancient philosophers, such 
as Empedocles and Democritus, it would seem that 
matter alone should be regarded, for they attended 
in a very small degree to form . . . but 
it is the province of physical science to have a 
knowledge of both. Further, it belongs to physical 
science to consider the purpose or end for which a 
thing subsists. The poet was led to say : — 

" An end it has, for which it was produced." 

This is absurd, for not that which is last deserves 
the name of end, but that which is most perfect. 

b. Of Fortuity in Nature, 

Empedocles^ says that the greater part of the 
members of animals were generated by chance; 
while there are others who assign chance as the cause 
of the heavenly bodies, and Intellect (or Design) as 
the cause of all earthly bodies. But it is more 
probable that the heavens should have been produced 
by Nature, Intellect (Design), or something else of 
this kind, and that they should exist through such 
a designing cause than that frail and mortal animals 
were produced by it; for order and a firm and cer- 

^ Empedocles does not speak rightly when he says that many things are 
inherent in animals because it thus happened in their generation; as for instance 
a spine composed of many vertebrae not produced for some purpose, but from 
chance or accident. {Farts of Animals, Book I.) 


tain constitution or being are far more obvious in 
celestial natures than in us ; but an uncertain, in- 
constant, and fortuitous condition is rather the prop- 
erty of the mortal race. . . . Chance and 
fortune are sequels (secondary) to both Intellect and 
Nature. Hence if chance were in an eminent degree 
the cause of the heavens, it would nevertheless be 
necessary that Intellect and Nature should be prior 
causes of many other things as well as of this Uni- 
verse itself. 

c. Of Necessity {Law) and Design in Nature. 

We must show first, why Nature is a cause which 
subsists for some purpose^ and second, how necessity 
(Natural law) subsists in physical concerns, for all 
natural causes are referred to this. But some may 
question what hinders Nature from operating for 
some purpose rather than from necessity ; for exam- 
ple, that rain falls for the benefit of the corn rather 
than because that ascending vapour must be cooled 
and cooling it must descend as water. But Jupiter 
rains not that corn may be increased, but from 
necessity. Similarly, if some one's corn is destroyed 
by rain, it does not rain for this purpose, but as an 
accidental circumstance. It does not appear to be 
from fortune or chance that it frequently rains in 
winter, but from necessity (law). 


d. Adaptive Structures not Produced by Survivals 
of the Fittest, 

What, then, hinders but that the parts in Nature 
may also thus arise (namely, according to law). 
For instance, that the teeth should arise from 
necessity, the front teeth sharp and adapted to 
divide the food, the grinders broad and adapted to 
breaking the food into pieces. 

(Another explanation may be offered.) Yet, it 
may be said that they were not made for this pur- 
pose [i.e. for this adaptation), but that this (adapta- 
tive) purposive arrangement came about by chance ; 
and the same reasoning is applied to other parts of 
the body in which existence for some purpose is 
apparent. And it is argued that where all things 
happened as if they were made for some purposCy 
being aptly (adaptive ly) united by chance^ these were 
preserved^ but such as were not aptly (adaptively) 
made, these were lost and still perish^ according to 
what Empedocles says concerning the bull species 
with human heads. This, therefore, and similar 
reasoning, may lead some to doubt on this 

It is, however, impossible that these (adaptive) 
parts should subsist (arise) in this manner; for these 
parts, and everything which is produced in Nature,, 
are either always, or, for the most part, thus (i.e. 
adaptively) produced ; and this is not the case 
with anything which is produced by fortune or 


chance/ even as it does not appear to be fortune or 
chance that it frequently rains in winter. ... If these 
things appear to be either by chance, or to be for 
some purpose, — and we have shown that they can- 
not be by chance, — then it follows that they must 
be for some purpose. There is, therefore, a pur- 
pose in things which are produced by, and exist 
from, Nature. 

e. A Sequence of Purposive Productio7ts, 

Since, also, Nature is twofold, consisting of mat- 
ter and of form, the latter being an end for the sake 
of which the rest subsists, form will also be a cause 
for the sake of which natural productions subsist. 
. . . Further still, it is necessary (i.e. according to 
law) that germs should have been first produced, and 
not immediately animals ; and that soft mass which 
first subsisted was the germ. In plants, also, there 
is purpose, but it is less distinct ; and this shows 
that plants were produced in the same manner as 
animals, not by chance, as by the union of olives 
upon grape vines. Similarly, it may be argued, 
that there should be an accidental generation (or 
production) of the germs of things, but he who 
asserts this subverts Nature herself, for Nature 
produces those things which, being continually 
moved by a certain principle contained in them,- 
selves, arrive at a certain end. 

1 Compare Darwin : " I have spoken of variations sometimes as if they 
were due to chance. This is a wholly incorrect expression; it merely serves 
to acknowledge plainly our ignorance of the cause of each particular variation." 


These passages seem to contain absolute evi- 
dence that Aristotle had substantially the modern 
conception of the Evolution of life, from a primor- 
dial, soft mass of living matter to the most perfect 
forms, and that even in these he believed Evolu- 
tion was incomplete for they were progressing to 
higher forms. His argument of the analogy be- 
tween the operation of natural law, rather than of 
chance, in the lifeless and in the living world, is a 
perfectly logical one, and his consequent rejection 
of the hypothesis of the Survival of the Fittest, a 
sound induction from his own limited knowledge 
of Nature. It seems perfectly clear that he placed 
all under secondary natural laws. If he had ac- 
cepted Empedocles' hypothesis, he would have 
been the literal prophet of Darwinism. 

The Post- Aristotelians. 

Thus, in this great natural philosopher, we reach 
the highest level attained by the Greeks, and we 
now pass to a rapid decline in Greek productive- 
ness until its final extinction. We notice a marked 
chasm between his theistic, or dualistic, teaching 
and the sceptical, or rather agnostic, and, to a cer- 
tain extent, monistic, teaching of Epicurus. This 
gap widened. The materialistic and agnostic ten- 
dency of Empedocles, Democritus, and Epicurus 
was revived by Lucretius, and culminated in him 
for the time. The theistic tendency of Aristotle 


led to his adoption by, and great influence with, 
the philosophers of the early Christian Church. 
In general, the movement of free physical inquiry 
among the Greeks was checked by the conquest 
of Alexander and the loss of national independ- 
ence. The interest in investigation into Nature, 
and speculation upon the causes of things, sub- 
sided. Ethics rose among the Stoics. The Epi- 
cureans developed a mechanical and anti-teleologi- 
cal conception of the Universe, but they did not 
advance the inquiry into natural causation. 

Aristotle's scientific teachings were continued by 
his pupils among the Peripatetics, Theophrastus 
and Preaxagoras, and their successors, Herophilus 
and Erasistratus. Unfortunately, the greater part 
of the works of Theophrastus, who was both bota- 
nist and mineralogist, are lost; his History of 
Plants was an attempt to supplement the History 
of Animals of his master. The last two members 
of this school were physicians, who continued their 
studies in Alexandria and became the most dis- 
tinguished human anatomists of the time before 

Pliny (a.d. 23-79), the Roman, the next natural- 
ist of note, was rather a collector of anecdotes than 
an observer. The last of the Greek naturalists 
were Dioscoridus, a physician, observer, and bota- 
nist living in the time of the Caesars, and the cele- 
brated Galen, physician and anatomist, living under 
-Marcus Aurelius. Galen (131-200) has been com- 


pared both with Hippocrates (b.c. 460-377) and 
with Aristotle, whose method of observation he 
followed and applied to human anatomy. This 
was the waning of the scientific movement under 
Grecian influence. 

Let us now return to the successors of Democri- 
tus. The only writer of the Third or Post-Aris- 
totelian Period of Greek Philosophy who concerns 
us here is Epicurus. 

Epicurus' (341-270) chief interest in philosophy 
was to establish the principle of natural versus that 
of supernatural causation. He originated nothing 
in Evolution, but gathered from Empedocles and 
Democritus arguments in support of the principle 
of natural law. Zeller observes as his characteristic 
that he was totally lacking in the scientific spirit 
which could qualify him as an investigator. His 
main animus was to combat the supernatural from 
every side, yet he was unable to direct his followers 
to any naturalistic explanation of value, giving them 
rather free rein in the choice of the most ground- 
less hypotheses. As for the general conception 
that the purposeful could arise by selection or sur- 
vival from the unpurposeful, which is credited to 
Epicureanism by some modern writers, this con- 
ception belongs primarily to Aristotle, who, as we 
have seen, formulated the crude myth of Empedo- 
cles into the language of modern science, with the 
motive of clearly stating a possible explanation of 
the origin of the purposeful in order to clearly 


refute it. Epicurus was influenced by Democritus 
and his doctrine of Atomism, excluding Teleology 
at every present point as well as at the beginning 
of the world, supporting the mechanical conception 
of Nature, and maintaining that every individual 
thing is to be explained in a purely mechanical 
manner. Convinced that only natural causes pre- 
vail, Epicurus did not concern himself with in- 
quiries as to their character. He also taught 
the origin of life by spontaneous generation, that 
living beings arose directly from the earth, including 
many marvellous forms, and adopted Empedocles' 
notion, that only those capable of life and reproduc- 
tion have been preserved. 

From Epicurus we take a long leap in time to 
T. Lucretius Carus, the Roman poet, whose inquiry 
into the origin and nature of living things, as we 
have observed, revived the teachings of Emped- 
ocles, of Democritus, and especially of Epicurus. 
He connected with these many observations of his 
own. The fact that he was an original observer of 
Nature must be inferred from his considerable 
knowledge of animals and plants. It is possible 
that the observations treated in his great poem may 
have been more precisely recorded in some of his 
lost books. 

Lucretius (99-55) was the second poet of Evo- 
lution. His De Rerum Natura resuscitated the 
doctrines of Epicurus, and set them in a far more 
favourable light, building up anew the mechanical 


conception of Nature. Lucretius was also familiar 
with Empedocles, and, as we have seen, puts his 
teachings in verse. Here, again, is a difference of 
opinion between Lange and Zeller. Lange refers 
to the end of the first book, in which he claims that 
Lucretius briefly announces the magnificent doc- 
trine first proposed by Empedocles, that all the 
adaptations to be found in the Universe, and espe- 
cially in organic life, are merely special cases of the 
infinite possibilities of mechanical events. Thus 
Lucretius says : — 

" For verily not by design do the first beginnings of things 
station themselves each in his right place, occupied by keen- 
sighted intelligence, . . . but because after trying motions and 
unions of every kind, at length they fall into arrangements, such 
as those out of which this our sum of things has been formed, . . . 
and the earth, fostered by the heat of the sun, begins to renew 
this produce, and the race of living things to come up and 

Zeller rightly contends that Lucretius did not 
really apply the Empedocles theory to the origin 
of adaptations as in the modern Darwinian sense ; 
for his treatment is simply a poetical restatement of 
Empedocles' own words, unmodified by the great 
advances of science. The creations which, accord- 
ing to Lucretius, were thus eliminated from the 
earth were the mythical monsters, such as the 
Centaurs and the Chimaeras. 

Lucretius places the mechanical conception of 
Nature over against the teleological ; we find that 


he does not carry his conception of Nature as 
Aristotle does into the law of gradual development 
of organic life, but like Parmenides, Democritus, 
and Anaxagoras, he conceives of animals as arising 
directly from the earth : " Plants and trees," he says 
(Book V. 780), " arise directly out of the earth in 
the same manner that feathers and hair grow from 
the bodies of animals. Living beings certainly have 
not fallen down from heaven, nor, as Anaxagoras 
supposed, have land animals arisen from the sea. 
But as even now many animals under the influence 
of rain, and the heat of the sun, arise from the 
earth, so under the fresh, youthful, productive 
forces of the younger earth, they were spontane- 
ously produced in larger numbers. In this manner 
were first produced birds, from the warmth of 
spring ; then other animals sprang from the womb 
of the earth, since first mounds grew up from 
which people sprang forth, for they had been 
nourished within. In an analogous manner these 
young earth-children were nourished by springs 
of milk." 

Only as an after-thought, not as a part of Nature's 
method, Lucretius borrows from Epicurus, and thus 
probably indirectly from Empedocles, the Survival 
of the Fittest idea that some of these earth-born 
beings were unable to live, and were replaced by 
others. As a rationalist, he naturally suppressed 
the mythological Centaur and Chimaera from his 
direct history of Creation. In the following pas- 


sages we find these purely fanciful speculations of 
Lucretius beautifully expressed : — 

" And first the race she reared of verdant herbs, 
Ghstening o'er every hill ; the fields at large 
Shone with the verdant tincture, and the trees 
Felt the deep impulse, and with outstretched arms 
Broke from their bonds rejoicing. As the down 
Shoots from the winged nations, or from beasts 
Bristles or hair, so poured the new-born earth 
Plants, fruits, and herbage. Then, in order next. 
Raised she the sentient tribes, in various modes, 
By various powers distinguished : for nor heaven 
Down dropped them, nor from ocean's briny waves 
Sprang they, terrestrial sole ; whence, justly, Earth 
Claims the dear name of mother, since alone 
Flowed from herself whate'er the sight surveys. 

E'en now oft rears she many a sentient tribe, 
By showers and sunshine ushered into day. 
Whence less stupendous tribes should then have risen 
More, and of ampler make, herself new-formed. 
In flower of youth, and Ether all mature. 

Of these birds first, of wing and plume diverse, 
Broke their light shells in springtime : as in spring 
Still breaks the grasshopper his curious web, 
And seeks, spontaneous, foods and vital air. 

Hence the dear name of mother, o'er and o'er. 
Earth claims most justly, since the race of man 
Long bore she of herself, each brutal tribe 
Wild-wandering o'er the mountains, and the birds 
Gay-winged, that cleave, diverse, the Hquid air." 

It thus appears that we cannot truly speak of 
Lucretius as an evolutionist, in the sense of grad- 
ual development by descent, although he believed 


in the successive appearance of different forms of 
life. His nearest approach to true Evolution teach- 
ing was in his account of the development of the 
faculties and arts among the races of men. In 
shutting out Aristotle and his view of Nature, he 
excluded the only Greek who came near the mod- 
ern idea of descent of higher forms from lower. 
The animals and plants of Lucretius arise full- 
formed direct from the earth. This is not Evolu- 
tion, yet it plays an important part in the later 
history of the idea. Views not unlike these were 
revived as late as the eighteenth century. 

Although a Roman, Lucretius was virtually a 
Greek in his natural philosophy. He terminated 
a period of thought, and in his poem summed up 
all the non-Aristotelian teachings in a pure form. 
After him the Greek ideas were grafted upon 
Arabic and Christian philosophy and science. 
This is, therefore, the point at which to consider 
what were the Greek legacies to their followers. 

The Legacy of the Greeks. 

The first element in the legacy of the Greeks 
was their scientific curiosity, their desire to find a 
natural explanation for the origin and existence of 
things. This is by no means a universal character- 
istic of the human mind, for we know that many 
Eastern races are wholly devoid of it, and have 
made no scientific progress. The ground motive 


in science is a high order of curiosity, led on by 
ambition to overcome obstacles. 

The first biological question asked by the Greeks 
was as to the origin of life ; and extremely early 
arose the doctrine of Anaximander, that all life 
originated in spontaneous generation from the 
water. Later this was somewhat modified into the 
doctrine that life originated in the primordial ter- 
restrial slime, or mingling of earth and water, 
especially along the emerging shores of the earth. 
This was held by Empedocles. Later still, quite a 
distinct idea was put forth by Anaxagoras, that life 
originated in the coming together and development 
of pre-existent germs in the air or ether, animals 
and plants springing directly from them. This 
origin of life from germs, of course surreptitiously 
placed the problem only one degree further back, 
apparently, but not really evading the difficulty. 
It was a fruitful idea, and thereafter many of the 
doctrines as to the origin of life contained the con- 
ception of primordial germs. Aristotle came near- 
est the modern conception of protozoan primordial 
life when he wrote that all animals and plants origi- 
nated in germs composed of soft masses of matter, 
although he inconsistently taught that even some 
of the higher forms sprang directly from the earth, 
leaving out the germ stage altogether. 

The real Evolution idea among the Greeks had 
its roots in the notion of the changing rather than 
of the fixed order of things, which came from 


Heraclltus. The essence of this principle, that 
everything was in a state of movement, and noth- 
ing had reached a state of rest, underlies the later 
doctrine of the gradually increasing perfection of 
organisms. The essence of the idea of the grad- 
ual development of organisms, however, was much 
earlier, for it originated with Anaximander, upon 
whose rude notion of the origin of the 'fish-men' 
Empedocles and other writers built up their theo- 
ries. Empedocles added to the conception of devel- 
opment a number of important principles. First, 
he suggested that plant life preceded animal life, 
and this suggestion was taken up and expanded by 
Aristotle. Second, he concluded that the present 
world of life was still formative or incomplete, a 
modification of the general notion of Heraclitus. 
Third, he suggested, with apparently remarkable 
prevision, that the first organisms were formless 
masses without distinctions of sex, that afterwards 
the sexes were separated, and that the existing 
modes of reproduction of the less perfect were 
followed by the more perfect. This idea, as we 
have seen, however, was not even remotely related 
to our modern conception of primordial asexual 
organisms, for his 'formless masses' were mytho- 
logical monsters. 

Empedocles further set forth a rude doctrine of 
the successive production directly from the earth 
of larger animal types possessing greater or lesser 
capacity of living and reproducing. The less per- 


feet forms, as well as the more perfect, were pro- 
duced fortuitously. The misshapen, ill-combined 
monsters were eliminated, one after the other, until 
finally Nature produced animals capable of feeding 
themselves and of propagation. Aristotle devel- 
oped a wholly different notion of successive develop- 
ment, more like the modern theory in the succession 
of higher organisms from lower by descent and 

Together with these vague conceptions of the 
fact of the gradual Evolution of life, was associated 
as a theoretical explanation, first, the dimly fore- 
shadowed 'Survival of the Fittest ' theory of Emped- 
ocles, that the perfect forms were finally produced 
as the result of a long series of fortuitous combina- 
tions, and the wholly diverse theory of Aristotle 
that there was no fortuity in Evolution, but that 
the succession of forms was due to the action of an 
internal perfecting principle originally implanted 
by the Divine Intelligence. 

Finally, the principles of Adaptation, or fitness of 
certain structures to certain ends, had been clearly 
brought out, and gave rise to the distinct problem 
of the origin or cause of adaptations. So that we 
can find in Aristotle, most clearly stated, the great 
question which has been one of the burning ques- 
tions of Biology ever since — Whether or not 
adaptations are due solely to the fortuitous com- 
bination of parts } 

Thus the Greeks left the later world face to face 


with the problem of Causation in three forms: first, 
whether Intelligent Design is constantly operating 
in Nature ; second, whether Nature is under the 
operation of natural causes originally implanted by 
Intelligent Design ; and third, whether Nature is 
under the operation of natural causes due from the 
beginning to the laws of chance, and containing no 
evidences of design, even in their origin. 



Eine hochst wichtige Betrachtung der Geschichte der Wissenschaften ist die, 
dass sich aus den ersten Anfangen einer Entdeckung manches in den Gang des 
Wissens heran- und durchzieht, welches den Fortschritt hindert, sogar ofters 
lahmt. — Goethe. 

As all learning in Europe was for centuries under 
the guardianship of the Church, it is important to 
look into the teachings of the great theologians 
upon the origin and development of life. This 
teaching sprang from two sources, — the revelation 
of the order of Creation in the Book of Genesis, 
and the natural philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. 

Philo of Alexandria introduced in the first century 
what has been described as the ' Hellenizing of the 
Old Testament,' or the allegorical method of exe- 
gesis. By this, as Erdmann observes, the Bible 
narrative was found to contain a deeper, and par- 
ticularly an allegorical, in addition to its literal, 
interpretation; this was not conscious disingenu- 
ousness but a natural mode of amalgamating the 
Greek philosophic with the Hebraic doctrines. 

Among the Christian Fathers the movement 
towards a partly naturalistic interpretation of the 
order of Creation was made by Gregory of Nyssa 
in the fourth century, and was completed by Augus- 
tine in the fourth and fifth centuries. Plainly as 



the direct or instantaneous Creation of animals and 
plants appeared to be taught in Genesis, Augustine 
read this in the light of primary causation and the 
gradual development from the imperfect to the 
perfect of Aristotle. 

This most influential teacher thus handed down 
to his followers opinions which closely conform to 
the progressive views of those theologians of the 
present day who have accepted the Evolution 
theory. In proof of this Greek influence we find 
that Augustine also adopted some of the Greek 
notions of the spontaneous generation of life. In 
the Middle Ages analogous views were held by 
Erigena, Roscellinus, William of Occam, Albertus 
Magnus; and Augustine was finally followed by 
Aquinas, who is now one of the leading authorities 
of the Church. Bruno struck out into an altogether 
different vein of thought. 

The reaction against this scientific reading of 
Genesis naturally came when Christian theology 
shook off Aristotelianism, and this was brought 
about indirectly by the opposition to the Arabic 
science, which also embodied much of Aristotle. 
Thus the first outspoken opponent of Augustine's 
teaching, and first champion of literalism, was Sua- 
rez, a Jesuit of Spain, a country which had become 
the second home of Arabic science and philosophy. 

No advance whatever in the development of the 
Evolution idea was made in this long period ; scien- 
tific speculation and observation were at a standstill 


except among the Arabs. It is a record of the 
preservation of the progress towards the idea which 
the Greeks had made. In the very decades when 
this progress was stamped out of theology in Spain 
and Italy, the modern era in the development of 
the idea was opening in the teachings of Francis 
Bacon and of the natural philosophers who closely 
succeeded him. 

The Fathers and Schoolmen. 

Gregory of Nyssa (331-396) taught that Crea- 
tion was potential. God imparted to matter its 
fundamental properties and laws. The objects and 
completed forms of the Universe developed gradu- 
ally out of chaotic material. 

Augustine (353-430) drew this distinction still 
more sharply, as Cotterill and Guttler show, between 
the virtual creation of organisms, the ratio semi- 
nalis, and the actual visible coming forth of things 
out of formless matter. All development takes its 
natural course through the powers imparted to 
matter by the Creator. Even the corporeal struct- 
ure of man himself is according to this plan and 
therefore a product of this natural development. 
Augustine, as to the origin of life, took his ground 
half-way between Biogenesis and Abiogenesis. 
From the beginning there had existed two kinds of 
germs of living things : first, visible ones, placed by 
the Creator in animals and plants ; and second, in- 


visible ones, latent and becoming active only under 
certain conditions of combination and temperature. 
It is these which produce plants and animals in 
great numbers without any co-operation of existing 
organisms. Augustine thus sought a naturalistic 
interpretation of the Mosaic record, or potential 
rather than special creation, and taught that in 
the institution of Nature we should not look 
for miracles but for the laws of Nature. As 
Moore says : " Augustine distinctly rejected Special 
Creation in favour of a doctrine which, without any 
violence to language, we may call a theory of 

Cotterill traces the history of Augustine's thought 
upon Genesis. At first he found almost insuper- 
able difHculties in the literal, as contrasted with the 
allegorical, interpretation. It seems that the account 
of Creation was a favourite subject of ridicule with 
the Manichaeans, who denied the inspiration of the 
Old Testament. Thus the outcome of Augustine's 
studies was a volume entitled De Genesi contra 

Augustine took a sound philosophical position 
upon natural causation, and after considering the 
question of time, and saying that we ought not to 
think of the six days of the Creation as being 
equivalent to these solar days of ours, nor of the 
working of God itself as God now works anything 
in time, but rather as He has worked from Whom 
time itself had its beginning. In explaining the 


passage, " In the beginning God created the heaven 
and the earth," he says: — 

" In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth, as 
if this were the seed of the heaven and the earth, although as 
yet all the matter of heaven and of earth was in confusion ; but 
because it was certain that from this the heaven and the earth would 
be, therefore the material itself is called by that name." Again, 
as in the foregoing passage, in a later passage he speaks of 
Creation as of things being brought into due order, — " not by 
intervals of time, but by series of causes, so that those things 
which in the mind of God were made simultaneously might be 
brought to their completion by the sixfold representation of 
that one day." 

Of these passages Cotterill remarks : — • 

"We observe that both the language itself and, yet more, 
Augustine's profound sense of the impossibility of representing 
in the forms of finite thought the operations of the infinite and 
eternal Mind compelled this great theologian to look beyond 
the mere letter of the inspired history of Creation, and to indi- 
cate principles of interpretation which supply by anticipation 
very valuable guidance, when we compare other conclusions of 
modern science with this teaching of Holy Scripture." 

Cotterill continues that Augustine again illus- 
trates the work of Creation by the growth of a tree 
from its seed, in which are originally all its various 
branches and other parts, which do not suddenly 
spring up such and so large as they are when 
complete, but in that order with w^hich we are 
familiar in Nature. All these things are in the 
seed, not by material substance, but by causal energy 
and potency, and " even so as in the grain itself 


there were invisible all things simultaneously which 
were in time to grow into the tree, so the world 
itself is to be thought of, when God simultaneously 
created all things, as having at the same time in 
itself all things that were made in it and with it, 
when the day itself was created: not only the 
heaven with the sun and moon and stars, and so 
forth, but also those things which the water and 
the earth produced potentialiter atque causaliter ; 
before that, in due time, and after long delays, they 
grew up in such manner as they are now known to 
us in those works of God which He is working even 
to the present hour." 

With Augustine the progress of comment upon 
the interpretation of Genesis came nearly to an 
end. As Guttler observes, men in the cloisters and 
other centres of culture turned to medicine and 
ethics ; yet, even in this dark period, an occasional 
friend of the gradual-creation idea appeared. Such 
was John Scotus Erigena (800- ), who simply 
borrowed from Aristotle and Augustine : " From 
the Uncreated Creating Principles go forth created 
and self-created beings under the embracing causcB 
primordiales. These causce are equivalent to the 
Greek ' ideas,' that is the kinds, the eternal forms 
and unchangeable grounds of reason upon which 
the world is regulated. Under the influence of the 
third person of the Godhead, the potentialities of 
matter are developed, out of which creatures take 
their origin. In a retrogressive circle, all things 


return to God " ; here Erigena turned to Plato's 
conception of Final Cause. 

Thomas Aquinas. — Of much greater influence 
is the teaching of Thomas Aquinas (i 225-1 274) as 
late as the middle of the thirteenth century, for he 
was and is one of the highest authorities in the 
Church. He does not contribute to the Evolution 
idea, but simply expounds Augustine : " As to pro- 
duction of plants, Augustine holds a different view, 
. . . for some say that on the third day plants 
were actually produced, each in his kind — a view 
favoured by the superficial reading of Scripture. 
But Augustine says that the earth is then said to 
have brought forth grass and trees causaliter ; that 
is, it then received power to produce them." (Quot- 
ing Genesis II. 4): "For in those first days, . . . 
God made creation primarily or causaliter, and 
then rested from His work." 

Arabic Science and Philosophy. 

If we now look back several centuries before 
Aquinas to the Arabs, we find that, while science 
declined in Europe, it was kept alive, or rather re- 
vived, in Arabia. The natural philosophy of the 
Arabs, which was largely derived from Aristotle, 
was destined to exert a considerable influence 
in Europe. Between 813 and ^^-i^ Aristotle was 
translated into Arabic, and his works were soon 
held in the greatest reverence. Avicenna (980-1037) 


marked the highest point which science reached 
in Arabia, and the cuhnination of the encyclopaedic 
and oriQ:ina] studies. Thereafter there was a de- 
cHne in the East, and about the same period there 
came the inauguration of scientific and philosophi- 
cal studies in the West. Between 961 and 976 
scientific works were rapidly imported into Spain, 
and the interest in these subjects became intense. 
The three writers from whom we may quote 
fragments are Avicenna in Arabia, and Avempace 
and Abubacer in Spain. Draper quotes from Avi- 
cenna on the origin of mountains, showing that he 
was a uniformitarian : — 

" Mountains may be due to two causes. Either they are effects 
of upheavals of the crust of the earth, such as might occur during 
a violent earthquake, or they are the effect of water, which, cut- 
ting for itself a new route, has denuded the valleys, the strata being 
of different kinds, some soft, some hard. The winds and waters 
disintegrate the one, but leave the other intact. Most of the emi- 
nences of the earth have had this latter origin. It would require 
a long period of time for all such changes to be accomplished, 
during which the mountains themselves might be somewhat dimin- 
ished in size. But that water has been the main cause of these 
effects, is proved by the existence of fossil remains of aquatic and 
other animals on many mountains." 

This indicates that a careful search through 
Arabic natural philosophy would probably yield 
other evidences of knowledge, not only of the uni- 
formity of past and present geological changes, but 
of the gradual development of life. It is unlikely 
that the Arabs read Aristotle without extending his 


theory of the origin of Hfe to their wide survey of 

We take from Guttler the following passages re- 
garding the Spanish philosophers : — 

" The Arabic philosophers in Spain threw into a stronger light 
the natural connection between the inorganic and the organic 
world. In Avempace's (Ibn-Badja) treatise there are said to 
exist between men, animals, plants, and minerals, strong relations 
which bind them into a single and united whole. Through 
various grades of development, the human soul rises from the 
level of the instincts which it shares with animals to the ' acquired 
intellect,' wherein it frees itself more and more from the material 
and the potential. The ' acquired intellect ' is only an eUmination 
of the ' active intellect,' or the Godhead, and thereby it is pos- 
sible to identify in the last stage of recognition the subject with 
the object, the thought with the existence." 

Avempace, as he was known in Europe, died 
in 1 1 38. He was succeeded by Abubacer (Ibn- 
Tophail), who died in 1185. 

Abubacer was also a poet, and he handled an 
analogous theme in an Oriental romance upon the 
birth of the ' Nature-man ' : — 

" There happens to be under the equator an island, where Man 
comes into the world without father or mother ; by spontaneous 
generation he arises, directly in the form of a boy, from the earth, 
while the spirit, which, like the sunshine, emanated from God, 
unites with the body, growing out of a soft, unformed mass. 
Without any intelligent surroundings, and without education, this 
',' through simple observation of the outer world, and 
through the combination of various appearances, rises to the 
knowledge of the world and of the Godhead. First he perceives 
the individuals, and then he recognizes the various species as 


independent forms ; but as he compares the varieties and species 
with each other, he comes to the conclusion that they are all 
sprung from a single animal spirit, and at the same time that the 
entire animal race forms a single whole. He makes the same dis- 
covery among the plants, and finally he sees the animal and plant 
forms in their unity, and discovers that among all their differences 
they have sensitiveness and feeling in common ; from which he 
concludes that animals and plants are only one and the same 

In the middle of the twelfth century, the transla- 
tion of the works of the Arabs into Latin began. 
The Church Provincial Council of Paris in 1209 
forbade the study of these Arabic writers, and 
included Aristotle's Natural Philosophy in the 
interdict, although Albertus Magnus and Thomas 
Aquinas endeavoured to uphold the orthodoxy of 
Aristotle against the prejudices which the heretical 
glosses of Arabic writers had raised against him. 

Bruno and Suarez. 

In the same year with Bruno, the most extreme 
rationalist among the theologians in science, was 
born Suarez, the most extreme conservative. 

Giordano Bruno (i 548-1600), in his biology, 
imbibed the diverse influences of the Greeks, of 
Lucretius, of Arabic philosophy, and of Oriental 
mysticism, and evolved a highly speculative and 
vague system of natural philosophy. From the 
physics of the Stoics he derived the idea that all 
living beings had a greater or less share of the 

BRUNO. 79 

Universal Force, a force which leads to steps corre- 
sponding in the world of organized beings to a 
gradated scale of development (like the scale of 
Aristotle, or, later, of Bonnet, in which each form 
was a starting-point for the next). Therefore 
Bruno saw in plants the latent forces of the gene- 
ration of animals ; in stones, the collective kinds 
of plants ; in man, the whole lower creation. 
Giittler traces Bruno's philosophy to Nicolas of 
Cusa, and characterizes it as monistic. Lange and 
Erdmann more accurately speak of his system as 
pantheistic. In profession, but not in method, 
Bruno was scientific. He followed Aristotle, and 
forestalled Bacon, in teaching Induction ; one of 
his chief maxims being that " the investigation 
of Nature in the unbiased light of reason is our 
only guide to truth." Bruno's admirers have re- 
cently claimed for him anticipation not only of the 
method of Bacon, but of the ' perfection ' doctrine 
and the theory of monads of Leibnitz, and point 
out in his physical teachings the theory of the 
centre of gravity of planets, of the elliptical orbits 
of comets, and the perfect sphericity of the earth. 

By selecting certain passages from his profuse 
writings, we may credit Bruno with teaching some 
elements of the Evolution idea; but we must first 
see how such special passages are enlarged by 
others, in order to reach Bruno's real conceptions. 
In estimating his originality, we must be familiar 
with Greek, Arabic, and Oriental writings, from 


which he drew as an omnivorous reader. Some of 
the passages quoted by Brinton and others give a 
very misleading idea of the real extent of Bruno's 
grasp, for we unconsciously read into them our 
present knowledge, as where he says : " The mind of 
man differs from that of lower animals and of plants, 
not in quality but in quantity. . . . Each individ- 
ual is the resultant of innumerable individuals. . . . 
Each species is the starting-point for the next. . . . 
No individual is the same to-day as yesterday." 

Bruno, with Aristotle, finds that this eternal 
change is not purposeless, but is ever towards the 
elimination of defects ; hence his alleged anticipa- 
tion of the optimism of Leibnitz and of the theory 
of the perfectibility of man. As to 'matter 'and 
'form,' we again find him following Aristotle in 
some passages ; with him, Form seems to stand 
for the ultimate law of the objective Universe, yet 
matter is not complete in its forms, because 
" Nature produces its objects not by subtraction 
and addition, but only by separation and unfolding. 
Thus taught the wisest men among the Greeks ; 
and Moses, in describing the origin of life, intro- 
duces the universal efficient Being thus speaking : 
' Let the earth bring forth the living creature ; 
let the waters bring forth the living creature that 
hath life' — as though he said — 'let matter bring 
them forth.' " But we find an important departure 
from Aristotle, where Bruno conceives of matter 
not as potential but as actual and active. 

BRUNO. 8 1 

There is thus great room for difference of opinion 
as to how far Bruno was an evolutionist in our 
sense, and we find different authors taking different 
standpoints according to their greater or less appre- 
ciation of the essential elements of the Evolution 
idea. Lasson holds that Bruno was a follower of 
Empedocles, and therein a prophet of Darwinism, 
in the capacity of perfection and the unity of devel- 
opment of organic life. Krause, in his biography 
of Erasmus Darwin, maintains that Bruno held 
merely to the identity of the human and animal 
soul, without actually conceiving their unity of 
origin. Here enters Aristotelianism again in 
Bruno's thought, for while he conceived all Evo- 
lution as based on endless changes in matter, he 
describes this movement simply as the outward 
expression of an indwelling soul. This intelli- 
gence is displayed in three grades, which corre- 
spond with the steps in the 'scale of development, 
because we are free to suppose that " to the sound 
of the harp of the Universal Apollo (the World 
Spirit), the lower organisms are called by stages 
to higher, and the lower stages are connected by 
intermediate forms with the higher. . . . Every 
species is first shown in Nature before it passes 
into life, thus each becomes the starting-point for 
the next ; as in the expansion of the form of the 
embryo there is an unbroken continuity into the 
species of man or beast." At other points he 
speaks as if this soul or intelligence was conceived 


in a dualistic sense, for he says : " The perfecting 
power of intelligence does not rest upon another 
or upon more, but upon the whole." 

In Geology, Bruno appears as a uniformitarian, 
and describes the gradual changes in Nature, not 
as cataclysmal, but as following their natural course. 
Thus, he argues against the short six thousand 
years of the Biblical chronology. This was also 
not original with Bruno ; for he was preceded in 
the tenth century by Arabic geologists, as seen 
in the quotation from Avicenna. It is highly prob- 
able that Bruno drew upon the Arabs for many 
other of his scientific ideas. 

Finally we may quote a passage from Bruno's 
satire, — the Cabala of the Pegasan Horse^ pub- 
lished in 1585, a dialogue between Sabasto and 
Onorio, in which Bruno affirms the Oriental doc- 
trine of Metempsychosis, and explains his views 
of the development of organic life. He first com- 
pares the animal and human intellect and contrasts 
monkeys with men in their absence of tool-bearing 
hands. Speaking of the tongue of the parrot as 
fitted to utter any sort of sound, he says that the 
parrot lacks perception and memory equal and akin 
to man's ; then he touches upon the instincts of 
the parrot and opposes the idea that they are alto- 
gether different from the intelligence of man. Then 
he passes on to say that the lower animals are 
directed by an unerring intelligence, yet this is not 
identical with the efficient universal intelligence 


which directs and causes all to understand. Thus, 
"above all animals there is an active sense; that is, 
one which causes all different sensations, and by 
which all are actually sensitive ; and one active in- 
tellect, the one, that is, which causes all different 
understanding and by which all are actively intelli- 
gent." He goes on to say that out of the same 
corporeal material, all bodies are made, and then 
occurs the following paragraph : " I add this — 
' that through diverse causes, habits, orders, meas- 
ures, and numbers of body and spirit, there are 
diverse temperaments and natures, different organs 
are produced, and different genera of things appear.'" 
Francisco Suarez (1548-16 17) was almost the 
last eminent representative of Scholasticism. Mivart, 
in his Genesis of Species, places him among the post- 
mediasval theologians of high authority, who devoted 
a separate section of their works " in opposition to 
those who maintain the distinct creation of the vari- 
ous kinds — or substantial forms — of organic life." 
We thus derive the impression that Suarez should 
be classed with Augustine and Aquinas as a teacher 
of development; but Huxley in his brilliant article, 
" Mr. Darwin's Critics," ^ completely dismisses this 
enrolment with the Evolutionists, and sets him up 
as a rigid Special Creationist. He was, in fact, the 
third great theologian to treat of Creation, and yet 
as he differed radically in his interpretation of Gene- 
sis from both Augustine and Aquinas, he may be 

^ The Contemporajy Review, 1 87 1. 


considered one of the founders of the Special-Crea- 
tion view as orthodox teaching upon the origin 
of species, — the teaching which more than any 
other has led to the schism among the philoso- 
phers of Nature. Mivart quotes a number of 
passages showing that Suarez gave this matter con- 
siderable thought. As was later done by Linnaeus, 
Suarez pointed out that there might be some new 
or post-creation species which were generated by 
the commingling of original species ; he considered 
the mule and the leopard as instances of this kind. 

Huxley also shows that Suarez devotes a special 
treatise, Tractatus de opere sex Dierum, to the dis- 
cussion of all the problems which arise out of the 
Mosaic account of Creation; he here reviews the 
opinions of Philo and Augustine upon these ques- 
tions, and distinctly rejects them. He suggests that 
the failure of Aquinas to controvert Augustine's 
interpretation, arose from his deference to the au- 
thority of Augustine, and he maintains that the ' day ' 
of Scripture was a natural day of twenty-four hours, 
not a period of time as Augustine considered it ; he 
further declares that the entire work of Creation 
took place in the space of six days. Huxley con- 
cludes: — 

" As regards the creation of animals and plants, therefore, it is 
clear that Suarez, so far from distinctly asserting derivative creation, 
denies it as distinctly and positively as he can ; that he is at much 
pains to refute St. Augustine's opinions ; that he does not hesitate 
to regard the faint acquiescence of St. Thomas Aquinas in the 


views of his brother- saint, as a kindly subterfuge on the account 
of Divus Thomas, and that he affirms his own view to be that 
which is supported by the authority of the Fathers of the Church." 

Mivart, in his Lessons from Nature, has repHed 
to Huxley, claiming that while Suarez rejected Au- 
gustine's view as to the fact of Creation, he testifies 
as to the validity of the principles on which the 
doctrine of derivative Creation reposes/ Yet he is 
not able to controvert Huxley's exposition of Sua- 
rez' real opinions ; he does controvert Huxley's state- 
ment that Suarez is a leading authority, and quotes 
Cardinal Norris and others upon the views of Au- 
gustine, Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas, to 
the effect that these teachers are still the standards 
upon these questions. 

The truth is that all classes of theologians de- 
parted from the original philosophical and scientific 
standards of some of the Fathers of the Church, 
and that Special Creation became the universal 
teaching from the middle of the sixteenth to the 
middle of the nineteenth centuries. It is the recent 
establishment of Evolution which has led to the 
revival of Augustine's broad and true interpretation, 
and there is no doubt that Mivart 's contention so 
far as the older writers are concerned is correct. 

^ Lessons from Nature. London, 1876. Page 447. 

s6 theologians and natural philosophers. 

The Awakening of Science. 

Before speaking of the philosophers who now 
became the custodians of the Evolution idea and 
of the speculative writers of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, let us glance for a moment 
at the general advance of knowledge. 

Universities in Europe were founded at the 
beginning of the twelfth century, following those 
established by the Arabs ; Oxford was founded at 
the beginning of the thirteenth century. During a 
long period all naturalists were simply compilers. 
Among these compilers were Clusius, Rondelet, 
Belon ; finally we find Conrad Gesner (15 16-1565) 
writing a complete bibliography of Zoology, and 
leading the naturalists of the sixteenth century. 
About this time Cesalpin (15 19-1603) wrote of 
Vegetable Anatomy, and there sprang up in Padua 
the School of Anatomy of Vesalius (15 14-1564), 
Fallopius, and his pupil Fabricius, who in turn 
taught the immortal Harvey. In 1619 Harvey 
discovered the circulation of the blood and founded 
Embryology. The systematic classification of ani- 
mals and plants then arose as a distinct branch in 
the writings of Ray (1628-1704), Tournefort, and 
Magnol. Ray was the precursor of Linnaeus. In 
the second half of the seventeenth century and 
beginning of the eighteenth, the study of the 
smaller organisms began with Leeuwenhoek, Mal- 
pighi, and Swammerdam. " We owe to this period," 


says St. Hilaire, " the foundation of Microscopy ; 
Anatomy enriched and joined to Physiology ; Com- 
parative Anatomy studied with care ; Classification 
placed on a rational and systematic basis." It was 
these sciences and especially the rise of clearer ideas 
on the nature of species, which first gave specu- 
lation upon Evolution its modern trend, bringing 
up the origin and the mutability of species as two 
great central questions. 

During these two progressive centuries there 
were three classes of writers who contributed more 
or less directly to the foundations of modern Evo- 
lution, before its open exposition by Buffon. First, 
the Naturalists, among whom few speculative 
questions were in vogue, were nevertheless really 
building up the future materials of thought. Second, 
the Speculative Evolutionists, who gave a free 
rein to thoroughly unsound ideas upon the origin 
of species and preserved many of the early Greek 
notions. Finally, there were the great Natural. 
Philosophers, such as Bacon, Descartes, Leibnitz,. 
Hume, ending with the later German school, Kant,, 
Lessing, Herder, and Schelling. 

It is a very striking fact, that the basis of our 
modern methods of studying the Evolution prob- 
lem was established not by the early naturalists 
nor by the speculative writers, but by the Philos- 
ophers. They alone were upon the main track of 
modern thought. It is evident that they were 
groping in the dark for a working theory of the 


Evolution of life, and it is remarkable that they 
clearly perceived from the outset that the point 
to which observation should be directed was not 
the past but the present mutability of species, and 
further, that this mutability was simply the varia- 
tion of individuals on an extended scale. Thus 
Variation was brought into prominence as the 
point to which observation should be directed. 

This is one of the contributions of the Philos- 
ophers to the history of the Evolution theory. It 
seems to have sprung up afresh out of the advances 
in Biology of the previous century, for it was some- 
thing which is not found among the Greeks. It 
was Bacon who pointed out the evidence for Vari- 
ation in animals and plants, and the bearing of this 
upon the production of new species and upon the 
gradations of life. Leibnitz took a second step 
in indicating that the Evolution of life was a 
necessary part of a system of cosmic philosophy, 
and although wholly at sea in his theory of Evo- 
lution, he added to the evidence for it by giving 
examples of gradations of character between living 
and extinct forms, as proofs of the universal grada- 
tion or connection between species. Thus, among 
these philosophers we find pointed out the gra- 
dations of type, the facts of variation, and the 
bearing of these facts upon the production of new 
species, also the analogy between artificial selection 
practised by man in producing new forms and the 
production of new forms in Nature. 


These were original departures, in which these 
writers were thoroughly logical and sound, and 
were laying foundations for those observations 
which finally led to the establishment of the Evo- 
lution theory. Yet it must not be inferred that 
the Evolution of life was a very prominent ele- 
ment in their philosophy. 

In the larger aspect of their teaching, namely, 
in the broad question of Evolution itself as the 
law of the Universe, they all found their inspira- 
tion in Greek literature. Bacon did not put forth 
a general Evolution system ; Descartes and Leib- 
nitz, who were the first to do so, drew from Greek 
poetry and philosophy, and the same is true of 
all the later philosophers. Kant and the later 
German philosophers drew not only from these 
sources, but from suggestions found in contempo- 
rary science, from Linnaeus and especially from 
Buffon. It is very probable also that careful search 
among the earlier naturalists would reveal an antici- 
pation of some of the problems which are set forth 
in Bacon and Leibnitz. 

Their first great gift, as we have said, was in 
establishing the right trend to observation ; their 
second gift was the outcome of their battle for the 
principle of natural causation. From Bacon to 
Kant, who, it is true, wavered in advocating this 
principle, this was a theme of the first rank ; that is, 
the operation of natural causes in the world rather 
than of the constant interference of a Creator in 


his works. In the doubts which were felt as to 
natural causation, we see proofs of the close rela- 
tions between the Church, the State, and Science, 
and that this principle, as well as that of Evolu- 
tion, was under the ban of unorthodoxy. 

The Natural Philosophers. 

Francis Bacon (i 561-1626) thought lightly of 
Greek science. He strongly condemned the rever- 
ence for it as a bar to progress, and in his sweeping 
criticisms was far too severe, especially upon Aris- 
totle, in whom he undoubtedly found his famous 
principles of induction. 

" Nor," he says, " must we omit the opinion or, rather, proph- 
ecy of an Egyptian priest in regard to the Greeks, that they 
would forever remain children without any antiquity of knowledge, 
or knowledge of antiquity ; for they certainly have this in com- 
mon with children, that they are prone to talking and incapable 
of generation, their wisdom being loquacious and unproductive of 
effects. Hence the external signs derived from the origin and 
birthplace of our philosophy are not favourable." 

He failed to appreciate Greek suggestiveness, 
and little foresaw the influence it was destined to 
exert in framing modern Evolution. If we are to 
judge Bacon himself by his maxims and aphorisrns, 
no place would be too high for him ; but judging 
him by his actual researches and practices, and 
carefully estimating his real influence upon poster- 
ity, we must place him below Harvey, whose brill- 

BACON. 91 

iant application of the inductive method in science 
he is said to have ignored. 

In the Advancement of Learjting (Book V.) he 
points out the art of indication. " For indication 
proceeds (i) from experiment to experiment, or 
(2) from experiment to axioms, which may again 
point out new experiments. The former we call 
learned experience, and the latter the interpretation 
of Nature, Novum Organum, or new machine of 
mind." This ' art ' substantially implies the use of 
the working hypothesis. That Bacon, as early as 
1620, fully grasped the wealth of knowledge, which 
could be gained from observation, experiment, and 
induction, is shown repeatedly in the course of his 
works. The following passages are cited because 
they bear especially upon the question of species, 
and show that Bacon was one of the first, if not the 
first, to raise the problem of the mutability of spe- 
cies as possibly a result of the accumulation of 
variations. He speaks, in the first place, of varia- 
tions of an extreme kind [Novum Organum^ Book 
II., Section 29). 

"In the eighth rank of prerogative instances, we will place 
deviating instances, such as the errors of Nature or strange and 
monstrous objects, in which Nature deviates and turns from her 
ordinary course. For the errors of Nature differ from singular 
instances, inasmuch as the latter are the miracles of species, the 
former of the individuals. Their use is much the same, for they 
rectify the understanding in opposition to habit, and reveal com- 
mon forms. For with regard to these, also, we must not desist 
from inquiry till we discern the cause of the deviation ; the 


cause does not, however, in such cases rise to a regular form, but 
only in the latent process towards such a form, for he who is ac- 
quainted with the paths of Nature will more readily observe their 
deviations, and vice versa, he who has learnt her deviations will be 
able more accurately to describe her paths." 

Having thus spoken of deviations or variations, 
and of the necessity of understanding the normal 
type in order to detect the variation, also of the de- 
sirability of studying the cause of the variation, 
Bacon proceeds to point out that it is possible for 
man to produce variations experimentally, and shows 
that living objects are well adapted to experimental 
work : — 

" They differ again from singular instances, by being much more 
apt for practice and the operative branch. For it would be very 
difficult to generate new species, but less so to vary known species, 
and thus produce many rare and unusual results. The passage 
from the miracles of Nature to those of Art is easy ; for if Nature 
be once seized in her variations and the cause be manifest, it will 
be easy to lead her by Art to such variation as she was first led 
to by chance ; and not only to that, but others, since deviations 
on the one side lead and open the way to others in every direction." 

In the above passage Bacon points out that in arti- 
ficial selection we take advantage of the chance varia- 
tions of Nature, and accumulate them. In the next 
passage he points out the presence of transitional 
forms in Nature between two types (Section 30.) : 

" In the ninth rank of prerogative instances we will place bor- 
dering instances, which we are also wont to term participants. They 
are such as exhibit those species of bodies which appear to be 
composed of two species, or to be the rudiments between one and 

BACON. 93 

the other. They may well be classed with the singular or hetero- 
clite instances ; for in the whole system of things, they are rare and 
extraordinary. Yet from their dignity they must be treated of 
and classed separately, for they point out admirably the order and 
constitution of things, and suggest the causes of the number and 
quality of the more common species in the Universe, leading the 
understanding from that which is, to that which is possible. We 
have examples of them in Moss, which is something between pu- 
trescence and a plant ; in some Comets, which hold a place between 
stars and ignited meteors ; in Flying Fishes, between fishes and 
birds ; and in Bats, between birds and quadrupeds." 

Bacon also observed " that plants sometimes de- 
generate to the point of changing into other plants," 
but so far as I know gave no grounds of support 
for this opinion. These quotations show that even 
at the beginning of the seventeenth centupy, the 
mutability of species was a live question, which was 
being more or less discussed, and that mutability 
was seen in its modern bearings upon Evolution. 

Bacon went further, and in his Nova Atlantis we 
find he projects the establishment of a Scientific 
Institution, to be devoted to the progress of the 
natural sciences, for experiments upon the meta- 
morphoses of organs and observations upon what 
causes species to vary ; for researches which would 
reveal the manner in which species had multiplied 
and become diversified in a state of Nature. After 
three centuries this project is materializing so that 
one of our new experimental stations might well 
be called the Baconian Institute of Experimental 


The central idea of the grand Evolution of life is 
frequently implied rather than clearly expressed in 
Bacon's writings. He differed from Descartes and 
later philosophers in proposing the method by 
which the natural system of the Universe could be 
ascertained, rather than in speculating upon the 
system itself. 

Rene Descartes (i 596-1650) threw off the yoke 
of Scholasticism in France as Bacon had in Eng- 
land. His thought took an entirely different turn, 
rather the philosophical than the scientific. In his 
Principes de la Philosophie, published in 1637, he 
cautiously advanced his belief that the physical 
universe is a mechanism, and that as such it is 
explicable upon physical principles. Buffon cred- 
its him with taking here the most daring step 
possible in philosophy, in attempting to explain all 
things upon principles of natural law. There is 
no doubt that at the time Descartes took this step, 
it required even greater moral courage than his, 
to break away from the prevailing dogmas as to 
Special Creation. In a passage upon Creation, 
which Huxley aptly terms a singular exhibition of 
force and weakness, Descartes wavers between his 
conviction as to the true order of things, and the 
prevailing teaching : 

He marks the difference between the natural order of gradual 
development and the unnatural doctrine of sudden creation, which 
at the time had become the prevaihng and prescribed teaching. 
Further, he intimates that all things are ordered by natural laws : 


"All the same, if we can imagine a few intelligible and simple 
principles upon which the stars, and earth, and all the visible 
world might have been produced (although we well know that 
it has not been produced in this fashion), we reach a better 
understanding of the nature of all things than if we describe 
simply how things now are, or how we believe them to have been, 
crea:ted. Because I beheve I have discovered such principles, 
I shall endeavour to explain them." 

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (i 646-1 716), the 
first of the great philosophers of Germany, advo- 
cated two ideas in his writings which exerted a 
great and widely misleading influence in Biology. 
The first was his doctrine of Continuity, and the 
second, his doctrine of Perfectibility in the Monads. 
The law of Perfectibility is said to have been sug- 
gested by Bruno, but as applied to the animal 
creation certainly came more or less directly from 
Aristotle. It is surprising to find how Leibnitz' 
principle of Continuity adapted itself to the idea 
of Evolution of organic beings. In part from obser- 
vations of his own, and probably in part influenced 
by Aristotle, Leibnitz expressed the law of Conti- 
nuity as applied to life as follows : " All natural 
orders of beings present but a single chain, in which 
the different classes of animals, like so many rings, 
are so closely united that it is not possible either 
by observation or imagination to determine where 
one ends or begins." 

He was very familiar both with Bacon and 
Descartes, and by the former had probably had 
his attention called to the matter of Variation. 


Huxley quotes from the Protogcsa (XXVI.) a pas- 
sage which proves that Leibnitz also had his own 
thoughts and observations upon the mutability of 
species. He is speaking of the fossil Ammonites 
related to the living Nautilus, and, after noting the 
infinite variations in their shells, and the gradations 
which are presented among these forms, says : — 

" Some are surprised that there are to be seen everywhere in 
rocks such objects as one might seek for in vain elsewhere in the 
known world, or certainly, at least, in his own neighbourhood. 
Such are the horns of Ammon (Ammonites), which are reckoned 
a kind of Nautilus, although they are said to differ always both in 
form and size, sometimes indeed being found a foot in diameter, 
from all those animal natures which the sea exhibits. Yet who 
has thoroughly searched those hidden recesses or subterranean 
depths? And how many animals hitherto unknown to us has 
a new world to offer? Indeed it is credible that by means of 
such great changes (of habitat) even the species of animals are 
often changed." 

His law of Continuity was in another passage 
expressed as follows — showing conclusively that he 
held very positive views as to the evolution of life : — 

"All advances by degrees in Nature, and nothing by leaps, 
and this law as applied to each, is part of my doctrine of Con- 
tinuity. Although there may exist in some other world species 
intermediate between Man and the Apes, Nature has thought it 
best to remove them from us, in order to establish our superiority 
beyond question. I speak of intermediate species, and by no 
means limit myself to those leading to Man. I strongly approve 
of the research for analogies ; plants, insects, and Comparative 
Anatomy will increase these analogies, especially when we are 
able to take advantage of the microscope more than at present." 


Leibnitz' main teachings, as in part a revival 
of Aristotle's, certainly had an entirely different 
trend from those of Bacon and Descartes. He 
stimulated the speculations of Diderot, Maupertuis, 
Bonnet, Robinet, and others, of the speculative 
writers ; in short, he founded a 'school ' with his Con- 
tinuity doctrines. On the other hand, like Bacon, 
he appears, in such passages as those quoted above, 
to have especially directed research to those natural 
gradations between species which have become the 
pillars of Evolution. 

Spinoza (i 632-1 677) took a similar but firmer 
ground in regard to natural causation : " The 
natural laws and principles by which all things are 
made and some forms are changed into others, 
are everywhere and through all time the same." 
To Pascal (162 3-1 662) was attributed by Geoff roy 
St. Hilaire a thoroughly evolutionistic view as to 
the origin of animals and plants ; yet diligent search 
by other authors has failed to locate this in any 
of his writings. In the close of his treatise upon 
Optics, Newton (i 642-1 727) pointed out the uni- 
formity of structure which pervades all animal 
types. Hume (1711-1776) also concluded that the 
world might have been generated rather than created 
by the activity of its own inherent principles, and 
Leslie Stephens points out that he also considered 
the ' survival of the fittest ' principle. 

In those days of few printed books and concen- 
trated thought, such scattered suggestions as these 


generated into opinions and theories. They are 
the minor features of the environment of the Evolu- 
tion idea. The final and the fullest expression of 
Evolution in philosophical literature is found in 

Emmanuel Kant (i 724-1804) was born sixteen 
years after Buffon and Linnaeus, and therefore 
thought and wrote after natural history had made 
very great advances. The ideas of Selection, Adap- 
tation, Environment, and Inheritance, which are 
attributed to him as original by Haeckel, are also 
found in the works of Buffon. Buffon's most ex- 
treme views were expressed between 1 760-70, while 
Kant's extreme views were expressed between 1757 
and 1 77 1. 

We owe to Schultze a very full exposition of all 
the passages in the writings of the great Konigsberg 
philosopher which bear upon the Evolution theory. 
In his earlier years (1755), Kant published a work 
entitled The General History of Nature and Theory 
of the Heavens, embracing an attempt to reconcile 
Newton and Leibnitz, or Nature from the mechan- 
ical and teleological standpoints. At this time he 
was attracted by the mechanism of Lucretius. 
Haeckel points out, that in this work Kant took a 
very advanced position as to the domain of natural 
causation, or, as Haeckel terms it, ' mechanism in 
the domain of life,' while in his later work (1790), 
his criticism of The Teleological Faculty of Judg- 
ment, he took a much more conservative position. 

KANT. 99 

In the former, he considers all Nature under the 
domain of natural causes, while in the latter, he 
divides Nature into the 'inorganic' in which nat- 
ural causes prevail, and the ' organic ' in which the 
active teleological principle prevails. There was, 
therefore, in Kant's later work a cleft between 
primeval matter and the domain of life ; for in the 
latter he assumed the presence of final causes act- 
ing for definite ends. As Haeckel says : — 

^' After having quite correctly maintained the origin of organic 
forms out of raw matter by mechanical laws (in the manner of 
crystallization) , as well as a gradual development of the different 
species by descent from one common original parent, Kant adds, 
* but he, the archaeologist of Nature, that is the paleontologist, 
must for this end ascribe to the common mother, an organization 
ordained purposely with a view to the needs of all her offspring, 
otherwise the possibility of suitability of form in the products of 
the animal and vegetable kingdoms cannot be conceived at all.' " 

Of course we cannot here follow out all the rea- 
sons for Kant's change of view from his earlier to 
his later years ; we simply see that he was staggered 
by the impossibility of human investigation ever 
reaching an explanation of the laws which have 
governed the derivation of all organic beings, from 
polyps to men ; he declared that this doctrine (of 
Evolution) was compatible with the mechanical 
conception of Nature, although no natural science 
can attain it ; it would therefore remain a daring 
flight of reason. In a striking passage upon the 
limits of our knowledge, he says : — 


" It is quite certain that we cannot become sufficiently acquainted 
with organized creatures and their hidden potentiaHties by aid of 
purely mechanical natural principles, much less can we explain 
them ; and this is so certain, that we may boldly assert that it is 
absurd for man even to conceive such an idea, or to hope that 
a Newton may one day arise even to make the production of a 
blade of grass comprehensible, according to natural laws ordained 
by no intention; such an insight we must absolutely deny to 

As Haeckel observes, Darwin rose up as Kant's 
Newton ; for he offered an explanation of the pro- 
duction and of the development of those very 
structures and adaptations in Nature, which re- 
mained wholly unexplained until 1858. Haeckel 
expresses evident disappointment at Kant's posi- 
tion ; yet this position may be regarded as rais- 
ing Kant higher in the scale of science, if not of 
philosophy. If he could not even conceive of any 
natural law whereby these beautiful adaptations of 
Nature could be explained, he was not justified in 
making a bold assumption of the existence of such 
a law. The feeling that Newton and other physi- 
cal philosophers had supplied the inorganic world 
with its regulating principles would have made it 
logical for Kant, like Descartes, to carry his reason- 
ing a step further into the world of life. But his 
logic and philosophy w^ere held back by his scien- 
tific instinct for evidence, and evidence was then 
wholly lacking ; for even the explanation offered by 
Lamarck was not available. 

Kant was undoubtedly familiar with the writings 


of Buffon and Maupertuis ; he alludes to them both ; 
in his second work, prepared in 1757, but not pub- 
lished until much later, it is evident that his stand- 
point towards Evolution was very similar to that of 
Buffon in what we call his ' middle period.' Later, 
in 1 763, he parallels Buffon in tracing back all the 
higher forms of life to simpler elementary forms. 
He traces the changes produced in man by migra- 
tion, differences of climate and the like, and deduces 
the law of degeneration from the originally created 
types of species. In 1771 he also brings man into 
the ranks of Nature, and alludes to his former 
quadrupedal attitude, here agreeing with Buffon and 
Helvetius. In his study upon the races of man we 
also find that he expresses the principle of Survival 
of the Fittest, as applied to groups of organisms, 
very much in the form in which it had been stated 
by Buffon. In this connection he quotes Maupertuis. 
He also sees the force of accidental variation and 
of artificial selection in the production of certain 
external colours. 

Kant's comprehensive view of Evolution, and his 
hesitation as to the problem of causation, is all 
summed up in the following remarkable passage 
(i 790), quoted by Schultze : — 

" It is desirable to examine the great domain of organized 
beings by means of a methodical comparative anatomy, in order 
to discover whether we may not find in them something resem- 
bUng a system, and that too in connection with their mode of gen- 
eration, so that we may not be compelled to stop short with a mere 


consideration of forms as they are — which gives us no insight into 
their generation — and need not despair of gaining a full insight 
into this department of Nature. The agreement of so many kinds 
of animals in a certain common plan of structure, which seems to 
be visible not only in their skeletons, but also in the arrangement 
of the other parts — so that a wonderfully simple typical form, by 
the shortening and lengthening of some parts, and by the suppres- 
sion and development of others, might be able to produce an 
immense variety of species — gives us a ray of hope, though 
feeble, that here perhaps some results may be obtained, by the 
application of the principle of the mechaitism of Nature, without 
which, in fact, no science can exist. This analogy of forms (in 
so far as they seem to have been produced in accordance with a 
common prototype, notwithstanding their great variety) strengthens 
the supposition that they have an actual blood-relationship, due to 
derivation from a common parent ; a supposition which is arrived 
at by observation of the graduated approximation of one class of 
animals to another, beginning with the one in which the principle 
of purposiveness seems to be most conspicuous, namely man, and 
extending down to the polyps, and from these even down to mosses 
and lichens, and arriving finally at raw matter, the lowest stage of 
Nature observable by us. From this raw matter and its forces, the 
whole apparatus of Nature seems to have been derived according 
to mechanical laws (such as those which resulted in the produc- 
tion of crystals) ; yet this apparatus, as seen in organic beings, is 
so incomprehensible to us, that we feel ourselves compelled to 
conceive for it a different principle. But it would seem that the 
archaeologist of Nature is at liberty to regard the great Family of 
creatures (for as a Family we must conceive it, if the above-men- 
tioned continuous and connected relationship has a real founda- 
tion) as having sprung from the immediate results of her earliest 
revolutions, judging from all the laws of their mechanisms known 
to or conjectured by him." 

What a connecting link between all past and 
future thought lies in this great passage ! We can 

HERDER. 103 

trace the influence of every earlier philosopher from 
Aristotle down, and recognize the problems which 
have faced every later one. 

Lessing's (i 729-1 781) views of Cosmology in- 
cluded the doctrine of a law of development which 
embraced all Nature, and led him also to the idea 
of a gradated scale of organisms. 

JoHANN Gottfried Herder (i 744-1803) was a 
student of Kant in Konigsberg between 1762 and 
1764. We have seen that Kant's earliest contribu- 
tion to the Evolution theory was published in 1755, 
so that it is probable that Herder came under the 
influence of Kant's earlier views. As shown by 
Barenbach, who has made a special study of this 
side of his philosophy in his Herder als Vorganger 
Darwin s. Herder was less cautious than his 
master, and appears almost as a literal prophet of 
the modern natural philosophy. In a general way 
he upholds the doctrine of the transformation of 
the lower and higher forms of life, of a continuous 
transformation from lower to higher types, and of 
the law of Perfectibility. " Every combination of 
force and form," he says, "is neither stability nor 
retrogression, but progress. Take off the outer 
shell and there is no death in Nature. Every dis- 
turbance marks the transfer to a higher type." In 
his Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit^ published in 
Tubingen in 1806, we find the following passage: — 

"A certain unity of type pervades all the different forms of 
life, like a main type which can display the widest variations. 


Similarities of external and, still more, of internal, structure per- 
vade all the land animals and are repeated in man. The am- 
phibia, birds, fishes, insects, water animals, depart in widening 
degrees from this main type, which is lost in the plant and inor- 
ganic creation. Our vision reaches no further, but all these trans- 
fers render it not improbable that in the series of extinct forms 
the same type, in a ruder and simpler form, may have prevailed. 
We can, therefore, assume that, according to their nearness to 
man, all beings have their greater or less likeness to him, and that 
the nature of all life seems to conform to a main single plasticity 
of organization." 

We see here that Herder clearly formulated the 
doctrine of unity of type, which prevailed among all 
the evolutionists of the period immediately following. 

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775- 
1854) at the age of twenty published his Ideen zur 
einer Philosophie der Natur. Here he first unfolded 
his ideas of the Philosophy of Nature, Kant having 
spoken of the science of Nature. One section of 
his philosophy was followed and developed by Oken, 
but Schelling was greatly admired also by Kiel- 
meyer, and undoubtedly exercised great influence 
upon Goethe. Isidore St. Hilaire pays him a high 
tribute, and speaks at length of the admiration felt 
for Schelling in France; he places him midway 
between the general philosopher, typified by the 
more metaphysical writers, and the philosopher of 
natural objects, such as Geoffroy St. Hilaire. 
Schelling independently arrived at the conclusion 
of Kielmeyer, that all the functions of life are but 
the diverse modifications of a single force. 


We here meet with a natural culmination of the 
progress of the Evolution idea in philosophy, caused 
by this departure from induction. 

For Schelling's method was deductive, and he 
souo^ht in deduction the main sources of human 
knowledge. At the point of empiricism, where, 
according to -Cuvier, science ends, he held that true 
science begins. By this he meant, that if the 
human reason can question and answer upon its 
own existence, and upon its relations to the Crea- 
tor, it can also answer upon all Creation ; it can 
comprehend and reconstruct the order of the Uni- 
verse. " To philosophize upon Nature, it is to 
create Nature." Because the hypothesis springs 
from the mind, and is merely tested by experiment, 
he places the direct fruits of hypothesis or deductive 
science above inductive science. This might be 
termed a reversion to Greek natural philosophy 
or methods of thought brilliant but unproductive 
of fixed results. 



Die Idee der Metamorphose ist eine hochst ehrwiirdige, aber zugleich hochst 
gefahrliche Gabe von oben. Die fiihrt ins Formlose, zerstort das Wissen, lost es 
auf. — Goethe. 

Beside the philosophers between Bacon and Kant 
we distinguish two- other classes of evolutionists 
during the latter part of the seventeenth and the 
whole of the eighteenth century. These are, first, 
the speculative writers from Duret to Oken, partly 
philosophers, partly naturalists and of other pro- 
fessions, who resuscitated some of the crude, as 
well as some of the valuable scientific hypotheses of 
the Greeks ; and second, the great naturalists of the 
eighteenth century, who, with the philosophers, laid 
the real foundations of the modern Evolution idea. 

The Speculative Evolutionists. 

The lists of speculative writers are not yet com- 
plete. Among the curiosities of Evolution litera- 
ture are included the works of Duret, the mayor of 
a town in France, also of Kircher and Bonnami, 
two priests. Of real interest are the speculations 
of Maupertuis, a mathematician and astronomer ; of 
Diderot, the political writer ; of Bonnet, the eminent 
naturalist; of De Maillet, French consul at Leghorn; 



of Robinet, one of the popular scientists of his time ; 
and finally of Oken, professor of natural history in 
the University of Zurich during the first third of 
the present century. Some surprise may be felt at 
my placing Oken in this group, for his Physio-Phi- 
losophie, and his ' Ur-Schleim Theorie,' are considered 
by some to raise him high as a prophet of Modern 

Yet Oken is a fair exponent; in his 'sea-foam' 
and ' spontaneous generation ' vagaries we find him 
drawing from such an ancient and imaginative 
authority as Anaximander. In fact, when we ana- 
lyze his contributions we find that they actually 
represent the last survivals of Greek Evolution with 
a veneer of eighteenth-century progress. When we 
read him through and through we see that he is about 
as truly an anachronism as old Claude Duret of 

This is more or less true of all these speculators. 
They were not actually in the main Evolution 
movement ; they were either out of date or upon the 
side tracks of thought. They can be sharply distin- 
guished from both the naturalists and philosophers 
in the fact that their speculations advanced without 
the support of observation, and without the least 
deference to inductive canons. Several of them 
were very popular writers, and unchecked specula- 
tion was so much their characteristic that they 
undoubtedly retarded the development of the true 
Evolution idea by drawing ridicule upon all genu- 


ine search for a naturalistic explanation of the 
phenomena of life. 

We find them reviving Greek ideas both in the 
spontaneous origin of life in different forms and 
in metamorphoses and transformations, hardly less 
sudden than those of Empedocles. Another source 
of their authority is the highly imaginative natural 
history literature of the Middle Ages. In all this 
chaff there is of course some wheat, as is often the 
case in speculation unhindered by observation. Lines 
of suggestion coming near to modern thought upon 
heredity are found especially in the essays of Mau- 
pertuis, who drew from Democritus and Anaxagoras. 
De Maillet outlined the theory of ' transmission of 
acquired characters ' in a crude form similar to that 
of Empedocles. Robinet conceived Evolution on 
a large scale, borrowing a mistaken interpretation of 
Aristotle. Oken stated somewhat more distinctly 
than had been done previously the hypothesis of the 
cellular origin of life. As Bonnet was the contempo- 
rary of Buffon, and Oken lived thirty years later 
than Lamarck, the study of this group carries us 
well beyond the period in which the sound founda- 
tions of Modern Evolution were laid. 

We are indebted to Ducasse and Varigny for 
pointing out some of the quaint early biological lit- 
erature of the seventeenth century. Claude Duret 
in his Histoire Admirable des Plantes, published in 
1609, is a direct transformationist. Among other 
remarkable tales he describes and figures a tree, ' not, 


it is true, common in France, but frequently observed 
in Scotland ' (a country which the Mayor evidently 
considered so remote that his observation would 
probably not be gainsaid) ; from this tree leaves are 
falling ; upon one side they strike the water and 
slowly transform into fishes, upon the other they 
strike land and turn into birds. Father Bonnami 
was another writer of similar comedies. In the 
latter part of the century appeared the Mundus 
Subterraneus of Father Kircher (Amsterdam, 
1678, 2 vols.) ; this is full of ' authentic observations ' 
of the same stamp. The worthy priest describes 
orchids giving birth to birds and even to very small 
men ; this occurs when they touch the ground where 
a sort of fecundation occurs by the spermaticus 
humor superjluus humo sparsus — ubi congressus 
factus est. 

Benoit de Maillet ( 1 656-1 738) did not pause 
long over the dry facts within the reach of contem- 
porary natural science in his famous Telliamed. In 
his earlier years, before this book was written, we 
learn that he was a careful student of Geology and 
Paleontology, and that he perceived the true nature 
and origin of fossils. This in itself entitles him to 
considerable credit, when we remember that at the 
time there were wide differences of opinion regard- 
ing fossils. Natural theology found in them proofs 
of the universal Deluge, while such an acute 
thinker as Voltaire, who scoffed alternately at relig- 
ion and science, claimed that the shells on the 


mountain-tops had been thrown aside by pilgrims 
on their journeys to Rome, and that petrified 
fishes were the remains of their unfinished repasts. 

It was probably his readings among the Greeks, 
as well as his own paleontological and geological 
studies, which gave De Maillet his central hypoth- 
esis that all terrestrial animals had their origin in 
marine forms by direct descent ; that birds were 
derived from flying fishes, lions from sea-lions, and 
man from riiomme marin^ the husband of the mer- 
maid ! De Maillet soberly collected all the narra- 
tives of the mermaid, which were abundant in the 
literature of that period, then reasoning that the 
mermaid must have espoused, derived man from 
the metamorphosis of her husband. 

These extravagant ideas are mingled with the 
rudiments of a principle. For De Maillet, in every 
case, endeavours to explain this metamorphosis, or 
transformation, by the influences of environment 
and habit. The aquatic organism finds its way 
upon land ; there its new surroundings of air and 
herbage, and its efforts to accommodate itself, are 
followed by a series of modifications. In modern 
terms, ' it acquires new characters.' The rash 
feature of De Maillet's views is, that he believes 
these modifications take place within the short 
period of a single life; they are then transmitted 
to the descendants, which do not revert to the 
aquatic form. Thus, in his account of the origin 
of birds, he describes flying fishes as, " driven out 


of the water by the ardour of the chase or by pur- 
suit, or carried by the wind,, they might have fallen 
some distance from the shore among plants, which, 
while supplying them with food, prevented them 
from returning to the water. Here, under the influ- 
ence of the air, their anterior fins with their raised 
membranes transformed into wings, barbules, and 
feathers, the skin became covered with down, the 
ventral fins became limbs, the body was remodelled, 
the neck and the beak became elongated, and the 
fish discovered itself a bird." 

Huxley speaks as if scant justice had been done 
to Maillet, but we must infer that he has not 
thoroughly examined the remarkable metamorphoses 
of which the above is a moderate example. St. 
Hilaire more critically and justly says : — 

" Quant a De Maillet, qui fait naitre les oiseaux des poissons 
volants, les reptiles des poissons rampants, et les hommes des 
tritons, ses reveries, en partie renouvel^es d'Anaximandre, ont 
leur place marquee, non dans I'histoire de la science, mais dans 
celle des aberrations de I'esprit humain." 

His remarkable theories were expounded in 
1749, and republished in 1756; the letters of the 
title of his book reversed those of his own name, — 
Telliamed^ ou Entretiens d'u7i pkilosopke iJidien avec 
uii missionaire /ran fats sur la diminutio7i de la 
Mer. The argument is sustained in a dialogue 
which is of a thoroughly reverent character, 
De Maillet endeavouring to show that his system 
conforms to the teachings of Genesis. He inter- 


preted the days of Genesis as so many gradual 
periods or epochs, holding that the first period of 
life was preceded by a universal Deluge, and that 
the origin of life began with the gradual recession 
of the sea from the earth. Here re-enters the 
favourite Greek doctrine of pre-existing germs. 
These germs were predetermined as to the forms 
to which they should give rise, but only those forms 
developed to which the gradually changing envi- 
ronment was favourable. Thus, the lower forms 
of life appeared while the waters were still in ex- 
cess, while, as the waters receded, higher and 
higher forms arose. But the scene of develop- 
ment was invariably the sea; the germs gave rise 
to no land forms direct, but land forms were always 
developed by transformation from marine forms. 
Thus, all organisms were arranged in two series : 
first, the aquatic and marine, springing directly 
from the germs ; and second, the terrestrial and 
aerial, arising by metamorphosis from the marine. 
In these transformations De Maillet was not 
embarrassed by the fixity of characters or by the 
fact that no such metamorphoses had ever been 
witnessed. Yet, we find buried in all this fiction 
two suggestions of theory. De Maillet claims 
for the scientist the right to search into Nature 
direct for her secrets. He finds in the world proofs 
that the days of Genesis were great epochs of time, 
and he suggests in his metamorphoses, absurd as 
they are, the idea of the modification of organisms 


by environment and habit, and the transmission of 
these modifications to the descendants ; in other 
words, he advocates the ' transmission of acquired 

Peter Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698- 
1759) was a French mathematician and astronomer 
of considerable reputation in his day. As one of 
the most prominent members of the eighteenth- 
century French circle in Berlin, he was elected 
President of the Berlin Academy in 1 746. 

His contributions to the Evolution idea are 
pointed out by Perrier. We see in them the influ- 
ence of Leibnitz, and learn that the reputation of 
Maupertuis suffered from his having borrowed 
other ideas of the German philosopher in a paper 
which he advanced upon the Conservation of En- 
ergy doctrine. In an obscure article, Systeme de 
la Nature: Essai sur la Formation des Corps Orga- 
nises (1751), which has been unearthed in the 
course of the present diligent search for all the 
prophecies of Evolution, we find that Maupertuis 
had an original theory as to the nature of living 
matter; that he advanced an hypothesis of genera- 
tion very similar to that of Darwin, and also a 
theory of the origin of new species. He did not 
anticipate the ' Evolution ' or emboitement of Bonnet, 
but advanced an hypothesis of transformism, based 
upon the idea that all material particles are in some 
degree invested with the psychical properties of 
the higher organisms ; in other words, the monistic 


idea. By this assumption of the investment of non- 
living matter with the properties of Hving matter, 
he was in a position to readily derive the latter from 
the former, and to directly unite the animate and 
inanimate worlds. He does not enter into detail 
as to the origin of life, but carries us a step further 
in his ideas of heredity, somewhat on the lines of 
Democritus, and of Buffon, who had published his 
similar ' theory of generation ' five years earlier 


"The elementary particles which form the embryo are each 
drawn from the corresponding structure in the parent, and con- 
serve a sort of recollection {souvenir) of their previous form, 
so that in the offspring they will reflect and reproduce a resem- 
blance to the parents. ... If some of the particles happen to 
be missing, an imperfect being is formed ... if the elements of 
the different species are united, a hybrid is produced. ... In 
some cases a child resembles one of his ancestors more than even 
its parents ; in this case we may suppose that the material particles 
conserve more strongly the habits they possessed in the ancestral 

Maupertuis thus gives us a theory which resembles 
both the ' Pangenesis ' of Darwin and the ' Peri- 
genesis' of Haeckel.^ 

These principles of reproduction and heredity 
enable Maupertuis to explain readily the origin of 
new species, and here again we find a striking an- 
ticipation of one modern doctrine of the cause of 

1 In Haeckel's " Perigenesis of the plastidules," we have a theory of hered- 
ity based upon the assumption that the material hereditary particles preserve 
a power of repetition of former states analogous to that witnessed in memory. 


fortuitous variation : We can, he says, thus readily 
explain how new species are formed, ... by sup- 
posing that the elementary particles may not always 
retain the order which they present in the parents, 
but may fortuitously produce differences, which, 
multiplying and accumulating, have resulted in the 
infinite variety of species which we see at the 
present time. The modifications arising from 
different habits cause the varieties thus formed to 
be sterile inter se ; thus these new species are kept 

Evolution, according to this hypothesis, advances 
by fortuity, by the chance combinations of hered- 
itary elements which produce new characters. 
Divergence is continued and fostered by physio- 
logical isolation. 

Denis Diderot^ (171 3-1 784) must also be ranked 
as one of the speculative contributors to the theory 
of the origin of species. Perrier points out that it 
was an essay published in 1751 by Maupertuis, 
under an assumed name, which called forth Dide- 
rot's Pensees sur U Interpretation de la Nature^ 
published in 1754. He leaves aside the question 
of the nature of inorganic material particles, and 
begins his system by endowing all organic parti- 
cles with a sort of rudimentary sensibility, which 

1 Denis Diderot, the famous man of letters of the middle of the eighteenth 
century, became an opponent of the teleological teaching of the day. He is 
believed to have contributed to D'Holbach's Systhne de la Nature, which was 
characterized as the Bible of Atheism. . The passages quoted, however, indicate 
that Diderot was a theist. 


impels them to constantly change their position 
in search for the most favourable position, — a 
form of the attraction and repulsion doctrine of 
Empedocles applied to organic particles : " The 
animal," he says, " is a system of different organic 
molecules, which, impelled by dim sensations simi- 
lar to those of obtuse and vague touch, — sensations 
which have been imparted to them by Him who 
created matter in general, — have combined, until 
each has found the position most suitable to its 
form and to its repose. This position may be 
changed by the innumerable disturbances caused 
by an access of new particles which have not yet 
obtained their repose." 

He proceeds by asking the question, whether 
plants and animals have always been what they 
now are, then continuing in a spirit similar to that 
of Descartes, he revives the Anaxagorean doctrine 
of pre-existent germs in a modified form : — 

" Even if Revelation teaches us that species left the hands of 
the Creator as they now are, the philosopher who gives himself 
up to conjecture comes to the conclusion that life has always had 
its elements scattered in the mass of inorganic matter ; that it 
finally came about that these elements united ; that the embryo 
formed of this union has passed through an infinitude of organi- 
zation and development ; that it has acquired, in succession, move- 
ment, sensation, ideas, thought, reflection, conscience, emotions, 
signs, gestures, articulation, language, laws, and finally the sciences 
and arts ; that millions of years have elapsed during each of these 
phases of development, and that there are still new developments 
to be taken which are as yet unknown to us." 


The hypothesis of Diderot does not imply his 
advocacy of an ' internal perfecting tendency, ' for 
his particles do not arrange themselves in any pre- 
determined order. It is rather a form of the Survival 
of the Fittest theory applied, not to entire organisms, 
but to the particles of which it is composed. Blind 
and ceaseless trials, such as those imagined by Em- 
pedocles, Democritus, and Lucretius, are made by 
these particles, impelled by their rude sensibility. 
As a sequel of many failures, finally a favourable 
combination is formed, which persists until a recom- 
bination is rendered necessary. 

I have met another passage by Diderot, quoted in 
Morley's biography (II. p. 91), which Morley (not 
knowing of Empedocles' hypothesis) speaks of as an 
anticipation of a famous modern theory, referring of 
course to ' Natural Selection.' This is especially 
valuable because it affords another conclusive proof 
that the idea of the ' Survival of the Fittest ' must 
actually be traced back to Empedocles, six centuries 
before Christ. It is contained in an imaginary 
dialogue upon the teleological view of Nature 
between ' Saunderson ' and the ' Professor ' : — 

" I may at least ask of you, for example, who told you — you 
and Leibnitz and Clarke and Newton — that in the first instances 
of the formation of animals, some were not without heads and 
others without feet? I may mention . . . that all the faulty 
combinations of matter disappeared, and that those individuals only 
survived whose mechanism implied no important misadaptation 
(contradiction), and who had the power of supporting and per- 
petuating themselves." 


Charles Bonnet (i 720-1 793) was in no modern 
sense an evolutionist, although he was long known 
as such and was the author of the term. He derived 
it from e-volvo to express his remarkable theory of 
life, which was an adaptation of Leibnitz' philosophy 
to embryology. The term became a nomen nudum 
when the doctrine of 'Epigenesis' replaced that of 
' Evolution,' and was finally taken up by, and applied 
as appropriate to, our modern doctrine of develop- 
ment. We recall, in passing, the great and prolonged 
discussions during the eighteenth and the early part 
of the nineteenth century, between the ' evolution- 
ist ' and ' epigenetic ' school of embryonic develop- 
ment, as absorbing an immense amount of time and 
energy and diverting the attention of naturalists 
from the greater problem of the genesis of species. 

When we examine Bonnet's ' Evolution or expan- 
sion of the invisible into visibility ' and absence 
of generation in the strict sense of the term, we find 
it difficult to believe that Cuvier, and many other 
eminent naturalists, were among Bonnet's support- 
ers. Erasmus Darwin was among his opponents, 
and we see in his Zoonomia a quaint criticism of 
Bonnet's extravagant hypothesis : — 

" Many ingenious philosophers have found so great difficulty in 
conceiving the manner of reproduction in animals, that they have 
supposed all the numerous progeny to have existed in miniature in 
the animal originally created. This idea, besides its being unsup- 
ported by any analogy we are acquainted with, ascribes a greater 
continuity to organized matter than we can readily admit, . . . 

BONNET. 119 

these embryons . . . must possess a greater degree of minute- 
ness than that which was ascribed to the devils who tempted St. 
Anthony, of whom twenty thousand were said to have been able to 
dance a saraband on the point of a needle without the least incom- 
moding each other." 

We become more charitable in judging Bonnet as 
a man of science when we learn that, beginning in 
1740, while associated with Reaumur in the Univer- 
sity of Geneva, he made a series of admirable obser- 
vations and original discoveries, such as those upon 
' parthenogenesis ' in the Aphides or Tree Lice, the 
mode of reproduction in the Bryozoa, the respira- 
tion of insects, and that it was the unfortunate fail- 
ure of his eyesight in 1 754 which turned him from 
observation to speculation. His speculations were 
as unsound as his observations had been sound and 

Bonnet, in 1 764, published his Conte^nplations de 
la Nature, and in 1768 his Palhtghzesie Philoso- 
phique, ou idees sur retat passe et sur Vetat des Etres 
vivants. The latter work is dedicated "to the 
friends of Truth and of Virtue, who are mine." 

Bonnet found his inspiration in the law of Conti- 
nuity of Leibnitz, and along different lines of rea- 
soning he reached the same conclusion as the great 
German philosopher, that no such thing as genera- 
tion, in the strict sense of the term, occurs in 
Nature. Leibnitz' law of Continuity he expands 
into the idea that all creation forms a continuous 
chain from the mineral up to the top of the animal 


world. In the present order of life there are no 
successive acts of creation, as is generally believed 
by those who attempt to adapt the discoveries of 
Palaeontology to the Mosaic account. The Uni- 
verse moves on by its own internal forces, and the 
whole of organic life was contained preformed in 
the germs of the first beings. Life thus forms a 
scale of absolutely unbroken individuals ; the vari- 
eties form links from species to species; the first 
term of this chain is the atom, the last is the most 
elevated of cherubim ; the chain is not broken by 
death, for the individual is the bearer of all future 
germs. Here we find an adumbration of the 
' immortality or continuity of the germ-plasm ' in 
relation to the death of the individual. 

Added to this law of Continuity, is an Aristote- 
lian 'internal perfecting principle,' which causes 
these germs to pass from the mineral to the plant, 
from the plant to the animal, from the animal to 
man. In these transformations. Bonnet does not 
seem to have been deterred by his anatomical 
knowledge, nor to have in the least degree em- 
bodied the ideas of transformism which were then 


being adv.anced by Buffon ; he^ believes that the 
appearance of higher forms is simply the unfolding 
of pre-existing germs, and not due to evolution by 
modification, nor to the appearance of new lower 
forms by Abiogenesis. Why does not Evolution 
produce animals wholly unfit for their environ- 
ment } This difiiculty is met by Bonnet's assump- 


tion that as the whole future life was predetermined, 
so is the whole order of the inorganic Universe. 
There can, therefore, be no possibility of an animal 
or plant appearing out of its proper environment. 

Bonnet belonged to the cataclysmic school, be- 
lieving that the globe had been the scene of great 
revolutions, and that the chaos described by Moses 
was the closing chapter of one of these ; thus, the 
Creation described in Genesis may be only a resur- 
rection of animals previously existing. Bonnet 
formulated his echelle or scale in a manner which 
suggests, not the branching system of Lamarck, 
but the continuous links of a chain in which the 
higher types are simply connected with the lower 
in direct continuity. It is the old scale of Aristotle 
enlarged and defined by more modern terminology. 

J. B. Rene Robinet (i 735-1820) was another of 
the speculative group. In his two works, — De la 
Nature, published in 1 766, and Considerations Philo- 
sophiques sur la gradation naturelle des formes de 
retre, published in 1 768, — he advances a remark- 
able evolutionary structure. He denies all distinc- 
tion between the organic and inorganic, and reaches 
an ' echelle des etres,' which embraces all things. 
Influenced by Leibnitz' law of Continuity, he sup- 
poses that Nature has an aim or constant tendency 
towards the perfection of each type ; since the 
beginning her aim has been to produce Man, and 
the higher apes appear as the last efforts of Nature 
before she succeeded in making Man. It is unnec- 


essary to add that Robinet was a daring speculator. 
He claimed that one's first steps should be guided 
by facts, but that beyond this, man's reason and 
intelligence should not be trammelled by observa- 
tion or by experiment, but should advance free 
from induction. 

Robinet sees in man the chef-d'oeuvre of Nature. 
All the variations exhibited in the lower forms of 
animals, from the original prototype upwards, are to 
be regarded as so many trials which Nature medi- 
tates upon ; not only the orang-outang, but the 
horse, the dog, even minerals and fossils, — are not 
these experiments of Nature ? But man is for the 
time only the last of the series, for beings more per- 
fect may replace him at any time. Robinet departs 
so early from observation to hypothesis, that he may 
be placed as one of the most extreme and irrational 
of this group. His work, De la Nature, is one of 
the greatest curiosities of natural history literature ; 
he gives a long and serious catalogue of stones and 
other inorganic objects which bear accidental and 
remote resemblances to the various bodily organs of 
man and the lower animals. These are figured and 
seriously described, together with monsters of vari- 
ous kinds, and mermaids well authenticated, as some 
of the early trials of Nature in the attempt to produce 

In one of his general principles Robinet was 
sound. Like Leibnitz and unlike Bonnet and De 
Maillet, he was a uniformitarian. Nature, he says, 

OK EN. 123 

never advances by leaps. He applies this, how- 
ever, to the origin of life, and says there is no break 
between the organic and inorganic. The law of 
Continuity applies to germs of inanimate as well 
as of animate matter, — these germs are capable 
of developing into every possible form ; thus, all 
matter is living and there is only one kingdom, — 
the Animal Kingdom. The germs develop from 
the simplest to the most complex, and animals thus 
arising form a continuous chain of beings, of which 
the first link is a prototype of the utmost simplicity. 
Germs, we see, being infinitely small and placed far 
beyond the reach of experimental affirmation or 
denial, are the favourite field of the speculations of 
all these philosophers. 

There is no idea of filiation or of Evolution in the 
true sense in Robinet's system of a gradual change 
of a lower form into a higher ; all the lower, inter- 
mediate, and higher forms are held to be the direct 
products of the germs of Nature. In sexual repro- 
duction, for example, the two parents do not pro- 
duce these germs, but are simply the bearers of 
them, and generation consists merely in placing 
these germs under circumstances in which they can 

Lorenzo Oken ^(1776-1851) approached the prob- 
lems of life with certain preconceived notions of 
how things ought to be ; as half philosopher, half 

1 Oken was born at Baden and was educated at Wurtzburg; was later Pro- 
fessor in the University of Zurich. 


naturalist, it is evident that most of his conclusions 
were reached purely a priori, Haeckel extrava- 
gantly writes in his praise that " no doctrine ap- 
proaches so nearly to the natural theory of descent 
as that contained in Oken's much-decried Natur 
Philosophie. " Yet in his cellular conception of 
the primordial forms of life, Oken was, in part, 
anticipated by Buffon, by the elder Darwin and by 
Lamarck ; as has been said in his sea-slime theory, 
he follows so primitive a naturalist as Anaximander ; 
and in judging of his supposed anticipation of the 
cell doctrine of Schleiden and Schwann, we must 
keep in mind the stress that is laid throughout all 
his philosophy upon the spherical form of his meta- 
physical ' All.' The skull, for example, he believed 
to be one of these manifestations of the archetypal 
sphere ; it is not surprising that he conceived the 
cell as a sphere. 

There is thus room for wide differences of opin- 
ion about Oken ; his writings are such compounds 
of apparent sense and actual nonsense, that only by 
selecting and putting together certain favourably 
read passages, can we accord him the rank Haeckel 
claims for him as a prophet, whereas if we review 
as a whole his elements of ' physio-philosophy,' it 
appears that his prophecies of one page are capable 
upon the following page of interpretation as the 
vaguest speculations and absurdities. He published 
his outline of the Philosophie der Natur in 1802, in 
the same year in which Lamarck and Treviranus 

OK EN. 125 

independently outlined their theories of Biology and 
Evolution. Oken's work is certainly not to be men- 
tioned in the same breath with theirs, from the 
modern standpoint. His work upon Generation — 
Die Zeugii7ig — appeared in 1805, containing his Ur- 
Schleim ( ? protoplasm) and vesicular cell theory. His 
" Manual of the Philosophy of Nature " appeared in 
1809, in the same year with Lamarck's Philosophie 
Zoologique ; again Oken suffers severely by com- 
parison. Lamarck's is a work of science, Oken's is 
a tissue of speculation. In estimating Oken further, 
we must remember that he is a follower of the school 
of Schelling, and that Schelling's method was to 
rapidly abandon scientific induction for deduction, 
and to pass to the interpretation of Nature from a 
subjective standpoint. Oken's writings show that 
he was consistent in this method, and Erdmann re- 
calls that Oken's conversion of the whole of philos- 
ophy into the philosophy of Nature is a carrying 
out of what Schelling merely touched upon. 

It is the famous Ur-Schleim doctrine, in which 
Oken's admirers read notions of the original proto- 
plasmic and cellular basis of all life, and in which 
it is said he saw the fundamental substance out of 
which by differentiation life has arisen.^ " Every 
organic thing has arisen out of slime, and is noth- 
ing but slime in different forms. This primitive 
slime originated in the sea, from inorganic matter, 

^ These quotations are from Tulk's translation, the Elements of Physio- 
philosophy, published in 1847. 


in the course of planetary evolution. The origin 
of life {generatio originaria) occurred upon the 
shores, where water, air, and earth were joined." 
The Ur-Schleim assumed the form of microscopi- 
cally minute bladders, and Nature has for its unit 
an infinity of these. Each of these bladders has 
an outer dense envelope and a fluid internal con- 
tent. This ' infusorium,' as he calls it, has the form 
of a sphere, and is developed in the following man- 
ner: it is first an aggregate of an almost infinite 
number of organic points; as the result of the oxy- 
dizing process, the original fluid form is replaced 
by a vesicle with a flowing interior and firm periph- 
ery; in this are united the three life processes 
of feeding, digestion, and respiration. The whole 
organic world consists of infusoria, and both plants 
and animals are simply its modifications. 

Generation, according to Oken, is the synthesis 
or bringing together of organic spheres ; as with 
Robinet, it is the synthesis of germs, and with 
Maupertuis and Diderot, the synthesis of particles. 
Like the Greeks, Oken imagined that the combina- 
tion of these infinitely numerous mucous points 
or infusoria, composed of carbon mixed in equal 
quantities with water and air, found its most favour- 
able conditions at the junction of sea and land. 
" All life," he says, " is from the sea; the whole sea 
is alive. Love arose out of sea-foam." In one 
passage, he says : " If new individuals originate, 
they could not originate directly from others, but 

OK EN. 127 

they must be resolved into the Ur-Schleimr A 
few pages further on he offers his hypothesis of the 
origin of man, which is entirely inconsistent with 
any form of cell doctrine, when he says : " Man also 
is the offspring of some warm and gentle seashore, 
and probably rose in India, where the first peaks 
appeared above the waters. A certain mingling of 
water, of blood warmth, and of atmosphere, must 
have conjoined for his production; and this may 
have happened only once and at one spot." When 
we consider that this was allowed to stand in a 
work translated in 1847, long after Buffon's, E. Dar- 
win's, and Lamarck's speculations upon the origin 
of man had been published, it shows that Oken was 
not only a Greek survival as a thinker, but that he 
entirely ignored the contemporary progress of sci- 
ence in France and England. In another passage 
he says, entirely oblivious as well of his Ur-Schleim 
as of his previous statements : " Man has not been 
created, but developed, so the Bible itself teaches 
us. God did not make man out of nothing, but took 
an elemental body then existing — an earth-clod or 
carbon ; moulded it into form, thus making use of 
water; and breathed into it life — namely, air — 
whereby galvanism or the vital process arose." 

128 evolutionists of the eighteenth century. 

The Great Naturalists. 

The first of the great naturalists, Linnaeus and 
Buffon, were born, only four days apart, early in 
the eighteenth century, or eighty-one years after 
the death of Bacon. 

In the environment of the idea of Evolution, 
LiNN^us (i 707-1 778) may be considered not as a 
positive but as one of the negative factors, as founding 
the ' school of facts ' of which Cuvier was later the dis- 
tinguished leader. Linn^us had been preceded as 
a systematist by Wotton in 1552, one of the last of 
the Aristotelian zoologists ; by Gessner of the same 
period, and one of the first zoologists who shook off 
the traditions of Aristotle; by Aldrovandi in 1599; 
by Sperling in 1661 ; and by Ray, who first clearly 
pointed out the two criteria of a species, as per- 
manence of form and appearance, and non-fertility 
with other species. Ray was followed by a number 
of dry, descriptive writers, who worked upon the 
larger groups of animals and plants. Finally the 
turning-point to modern Zoology and Botany was 
marked by the great work of Linnaeus, the Systema 
Naturce. The binary system of nomenclature 
therein proposed was a mere tool for the expression 
of his broad conceptions of the relation of animals 
and plants to each other. Species were in his 
mind the units of direct Creation ; each species bore 
the impression of the thought of the Creator, not 
only in its external form but in its anatomical struc- 

LINN^US. 129 

ture, its faculties, its functions ; and the end of 
classification was to consider all these facts and to 
arrange animals in a natural system according 
to their greater or less likeness. 

Linnaeus thus took a broad view of the true 
basis of classification upon general structure, a 
view which was expanded and developed by Cuvier. 
As Perrier observes in his admirable critique of 
Linnaeus, he adopted the aphorism of Leibnitz 
natura non facit saltum ; to him every species was 
exactly intermediate between two others: "We 
reckon as many species as issued in pairs from the 
hands of the Creator." These were his earlier views 
in all his writings between 1735 and 1751, in which 
the sentence nullce specice novce recurs, expressing 
his idea of the absolute fixity of species from the 
period of their creation as described in Genesis, the 
only change being that of the extension in numbers, 
not of variation in kind. Yet Linnaeus was too 
close an observer to continue to hold this idea of 
absolute fixity, and in 1762 we find his views had 
somewhat altered, and this is of particular interest 
because of the hypothesis which he advanced to 
explain the origin of new species : " All the species 
of one genus constituted at first (that is, at the 
Creation) one species, ab initio u^iam constituerint 
speciem ; they were subsequently multiplied by 
hybrid generation, that is, by intercrossing with 
other species." He was thus inclined to admit a 
great increase of species, more or less recent 


in origin, arising by hybridity, and losing their 
perfection of type. He elsewhere suggested that 
degeneration was the result of the influences of 
climate or environment. 

In the last and thoroughly revised edition of the 
Systema NaturcB, which appeared in 1766, we no 
longer find this fundamental proposition of his 
earlier works, jzuUcb species novce. This change of 
view was, however, of a very mild character in com- 
parison with the very radical views as to the muta- 
bility of species which Buffon was expressing about 
the same time. The influence of Linuccus was 
vast; far greater than that of Buffon among his 
contemporaries. The two men were compared to 
the disadvantage of the latter, and Buffon has been 
charged with jealousy of the great Swede. The 
reason why the works of Linnaeus were more influ- 
ential is obvious ; his system was adapted to the 
general state of knowledge in his day, while the 
ideas of Buffon were in advance of his day, and 
incapable of proof in the existing stage of knowledge. 

George Louis Leclerc Buffon (i 707-1 788) 
may be called the naturalist founder of the modern 
applied form of the Evolution theory. It is true 
that his conception of the range of Evolution 
changed during three periods of his life ; that it is 
difficult to gather from his conflicting statements 
exactly what his opinions were, yet he laid the basis 
of modern Evolution in Zoology and Botany. We 
claim this for him, because he first pointed out, on 

BUFFO N. 131 

a broad scale, the mutability of species in relation 
to changes of environment. Moreover, he ad- 
vanced beyond the Greek and philosophical evolu- 
tionists, in first working out a definite theory of 
the causes of mutability. His writings, which 
cover the widest range of subjects, from Cosmogony 
down to some of the minutiae of Zoology, undoubt- 
edly exercised a great influence in England and in 
Europe. He sowed the seed of suggestion in some 
passages, which, it is true, were mostly speculative, 
and these seeds germinated in the minds of the 
later German Natural Philosophers, and among 
Buffon's contemporary naturalists, while ripening 
and bearing fruit in his successor, Lamarck, and 
others, both in France and England. Buffon's 
suggestiveness was one of his chief merits. It 
sprang from an imagination which Diderot eulo- 
gized : " Heureux le philosophe systematique a qui 
la Nature aura donne comme autrefois a Epicure, 
a Lucrece, a Aristote, a Platon, une imagination 
forte. ..." This imagination made and unmade 
Buffon, for it touched alike his soundest and 
unsoundest speculations. 

In his early period Buffon shared the views of 
Linnaeus, his contemporary, and it is interesting to 
contrast these two great men, — one the founder of 
the view of Classification as a fixed system of the 
divine order of things, and the ne plus ultra of 
Botany and Zoology — the other the founder of 
the directly opposed view of Classification as an 


invention of man, and of the laws governing the 
relations of animals and their environment as the 
chief end of science. In an early edition of Buf- 
fon's Histoire Naturelle, we find him using almost 
the exact words of Linnaeus : " In animals, species 
are separated by a gap which Nature cannot bridge 
over. . . . We see him, the Creator, dictating his 
simple but beautiful laws and impressing upon each 
species its immutable characters." 

Krause points out that as early as 1755 {Histoire 
Naturelle, tome v. pp. 103, 104) Buffon found in 
comparative anatomy many difficulties in the Spe- 
cial Creation theory. " The pig," he says, " does not 
appear to have been formed upon an original, 
special, and perfect plan, since it is a compound of 
other animals ; it has evidently useless parts, or 
rather parts of which it cannot make any use, toes 
all the bones of which are perfectly formed, and 
which, nevertheless, are of no service to it. Nature 
is far from subjecting herself to final causes in the 
formation of her creatures." In always looking for 
a purpose or design in every part, he continues, 
" We fail to see that we thus deprive philosophy 
of its true character, and misrepresent its object, 
which consists in the knowledge of the ' how ' of 
things, the way in which Nature acts. . . ." This 
thought was reiterated by Goethe. 

In 1 76 1 w^e find that he had advanced to a belief 
in the frequent mutability of species: " How many 
species, being (' denaturees ') perfected or degenerated 

BUFF ON. 133 

by the great changes in land and sea, by the favours 
or disfavours of Nature, by food, by the prolonged 
influences of climate, contrary or favourable, are 7to 
longer what they formerly were'' Again he says : 
" One is surprised at the rapidity with which species 
vary, and the facility with which they lose their 
primitive characteristics in assuming new forms." 

We are tempted to translate the term ' dena- 
turees ' by our modern term ' evolved,' since, as we 
see above, Buffon embraced in it the two modern 
ideas of development {^ perfectioniiement') and de- 
generation i!; degeneration'). But this would convey 
a broader conception than seems to have been at 
any time in his mind ; for, by the express use of 
' denaturees' he gives us an insight into the limits 
of his conception. He could not wholly shake off 
the idea that each species was originally a special 
type, as impressed by the Creator, containing some 
ineffaceable and permanent characters, and that 
variation consisted in the departure from these 
natural and original characters. Thus he was 
deeply impressed with the fixity of type impression 
among the larger animals, such as the quadrupeds, 
believing them to be comparatively invariable. 
Throughout Buffon's writings we find this waver- 
ing between the science of Genesis and the evidence 
of zoology. It is sometimes expressed in para- 
graphs which closely follow one another, wherein it 
is difficult to decide whether Buffon is ironical or 
not. Referring, in one instance, to his idea of unity 


of type, he seems to indicate that, in creating ani- 
mals, the Supreme Being only employed a single 
idea, and at the same time varied it in every possi- 
ble manner ; passing on to the unity of type which 
pervades certain families, he says, in effect : If we 
reason out this matter, we find that the fundamen- 
tal idea of the family is community of origin for the 
man and the ape, as well as for the horse and the 
ass. The ass is a degenerate horse ; the ape is a 
degenerate man. In carrying this back to its logi- 
cal extreme, we are forced to admit that these 
animals sprang from a common source, — from one 
animal, which, in the succession of time, has pro- 
duced by perfecting itself {se per/ectionna7tt), and 
by degeneration, all the races of other animals. 
But no, he continues (whether seriously or not it is 
hard to say), it is certain by Revelation that all 
animals have shared the benefits of direct creation, 
and have issued, completely formed, pair by pair, 
from the hands of the Creator. 

"... Mais non : il est certain, par la r^v^lation, que tous les 
animaux ont ^galement particip^ a la grace de la creation ; que 
les deux premiers de chaque espece, et de toutes les especes, sont 
sortis tout formes des mains du Cr^ateur ; et Ton doit croire qu'ils 
^taient tels k peu pres qu'ils nous sont aujourd'hui repr^sent^s 
par leurs descendants." 

It is this wavering of opinion and this change 
from earlier to later views which has led different 
writers to hold such widely different opinions as to 
Buffon's share in the development of the Evolution 

BUFFON. 135 

idea. M. de Lanessan claims for him the position 
which is usually accorded to Lamarck ; and, on the 
other hand, other writers, such as Isidore St. Hilaire 
and Haeckel, assign him a much less important 
position. St. Hilaire shows clearly that his opin- 
ions marked three periods. Quatrefages hardly 
realizes the great influence exerted by the writings 
of Buffon's middle period, when his views were 
most extreme. Lanessan, his greatest admirer, be- 
lieves that he has anticipated not only Lamarck in 
his conception of the action of environment, but 
Darwin in the struggle for existence and Survival 
of th.e Fittest. There is no doubt that in some 
passages Buffon doubted not only the fixity, but 
even the reality of species, genera, families, and 
other taxonomic divisions ; also that he wrote of 
the chain of organic life from the zoophytes to the 
monkeys and man, thus borrowing from Aristotle 
and suggestive of Bonnet and his famous scale. 

Buffon's ideas regarding the physical basis of 
heredity are very similar to those of Democritus, 
and certainly contain the basis of the conception 
of the Pangenesis theory of Darwin, for he supposes 
that the elements of the germ-cells were gathered 
from all parts of the body. He does not expressly 
speak of the transmission of acquired characters as 
a logical part of his theory of heredity, but such 
transmission was undoubtedly in his mind, although 
not clearly formulated as by Lamarck. 

He illustrates the direct influences of environ- 


ment in the changes observed in the different races 
of men as connected with differences of climate. 
He carefully traces the modifications which are due 
to the domestication of various wild animals. He 
speaks of the formation of new varieties of animals 
by artificial selection, and shows that similar results 
may be produced in Nature by geographical migra- 
tion, thus having in mind the ' segregation ' law, 
later developed by Wagner. 

The struggle for existence, the elimination of the 
least-perfected species, the contest between the 
fecundity of certain species and their constant 
destruction, are all clearly expressed in various pas- 
sages. Thus we find Buffon anticipating Malthus ^ 
in the following passage : — 

" Le cours ordinaire de la nature vivante, est en g^n^ral toujours 
constant, toujours le meme ; son mouvement, toujours r^gulier, 
roule sur deux points in^branlables : I'un, la f^condit^ sans bornes 
donn^e a toutes les especes ; I'autre, les obstacles sans nombre 
qui r^duisent cette f^condite a une mesure d^termin^e et ne lais- 
sent en tout temps qu'a peu pres la meme quantity d'individus de 
chaque espece." 

Again, his idea of the elimination of the least- 
perfected species is shown in the following passage, 
also quoted by De Lanessan : — 

" Les especes les moins parfaites, les plus d^licates, les plus 
pesantes, les moins agissantes, les moins armies, etc., ont d^ja dis- 
paru or disparaitront." 

1 Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) published his famous work, An 
Essay on the Principle of Population as it affects the Future Ifnprovement of 
Society, in 1798, while Buffon made the last addition to his Histoire N^aturelle 
in 1789. As another instance of continuity it is interesting to recall the obli- 
i?ation Darwin expresses to Malthus. 

BUFFON. 137 

Buffon not only saw the negative influences of 
environment in the reduction of numbers and in 
the reduction of imperfect types, but also its posi- 
tive action in the production of new characters, and 
here we come upon the third and main feature of 
what may be called his theory of the factors of Evo- 
lution ; namely, the direct action of environment in 
the modification of the structure of animals and 
plants and the conservation of these modifications 
through heredity. He applied this factor to the 
origin of new species in the New World of Amer- 
ica. It is amusing to the modern zoologist to note 
that Buffon, in common with all his contemporaries, 
always conceived of the New World as not only 
new in point of discovery, but as new in its zoologi- 
cal evolution. He illustrated his ideas as to the 
direct action of environment in saying that Old- 
World types, finding their way into the New World, 
would there undergo modifications sufficient to cause 
us to regard them as new species ; and in this con- 
nection Buffon expresses the uniformitarian idea 
which Lamarck carried to such an extreme (which 
was opposed to his general cataclysmal teaching, 
that Nature is in a continual state of transition) ; 
namely, that man must consider and observe 
changes which are going on in his own period in 
order to understand what has gone on in the past, 
and what will happen in the future. 

It is with such passages as these that Buffon 
inspired later writers to consider the great problem. 


He may be said to have asked all the questions 
which were to be answered in the course of the 
succeeding century. It is in this suggestiveness 
that we find his chief merits. As St. Hilaire says, 
his glory lies in what he prepared for his successors, 
in his creation of a philosophy of Comparative 
Zoology, his views of community of origin, laws of 
geographical distribution, extinction of old species, 
and successive apparition of new species. In order 
to be fair to Buffon's followers, we must further test 
the breadth of his conception by his application of 
it to the succession of life ; and we here find in 
numerous passages, as pointed out by Quatrefages, 
that his conception was very limited. 

After having maintained in his first period the 
extreme Special Creation view, and in his second 
period, especially between 1761 and 1766, the 
extreme transmutation view, he returned finally 
to the moderate view, that species were neither 
fixed nor mutable, but that specific types could 
assume a great variety of forms. 

In his theory of Evolution, considering tempera- 
ture, climate, food, and capillarity as the three 
causes of change, alteration, and degeneration of 
animals, he does not employ the terms heredity or 
transmission of acquired characters, although it is 
evident that these factors are implied. In other 
words, Quatrefages points out, Buffon did not follow 
his theory into its details. 

He also failed to reach the phyletic or branching 


idea of Evolution. He expressly says that the re- 
lations of species furnish a problem beyond our 
reach : — 

" Nous ne pourrions nous prononcer plus affirmativement si les 
limites qui separent les especes, ou la chaine qui les unit, nous 
^taient mieux connues ; mais qui peut avoir suivi la grande filia- 
tion de toutes les genealogies dans la nature? II faut etre n^ avec 
elle et avoir pour ainsi dire, des observations contemporaines." 

Buffon thus left untouched many problems for 
his successors, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and 

Erasmus Darwin (i 731-1802), grandfather of 
the great naturalist, is one of the most interesting 
figures in our present history. In his volumes of 
verse we find that he is one of the poets of the Evo- 
lution idea, following Empedocles and Lucretius, 
and followed by the greater poet Goethe. In the 
Temple of Nature, published after his death, in the 
year 1802 memorable for coincidences, he gives in 
poetical form the ideas which had matured during 
the last ten years of his life. His earlier writings 
were the Botanic Garden and Loves of the Plajits, 
two volumes of verse completed and published 
about 1788, and his Zoo7iomia, a large medico- 
philosophical work published in 1794. 

We owe to Dr. Ernst Krause a careful study of 
the works of Erasmus Darwin, originally published 
in Kosmos, and subsequently republished in Eng- 
lish, with a biography of Erasmus Darwin written 


by Charles Darwin. Krause has selected from the 
Temple of Nature many verses showing Dr. Dar- 
win's views of Evolution, and opening with his 
belief in the Greek doctrine of the spontaneous 
origin of life, which we have seen revived during 
the eighteenth century in so many extravagant 
forms, but which Dr. Darwin restricts to the lowest 
organisms : 

" Hence without parents, by spontaneous birth, 
Rise the first specks of animated earth. 

Organic life beneath the shoreless waves 
Was born and nurs'd in ocean's pearly caves ; 
First, forms minute, unseen by spheric glass. 
Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass ; 
These, as successive generations bloom, 
New powers acquire and larger limbs assume ; 
Whence countless groups of vegetation spring, 
And breathing realms of fin and feet and wing." 

Then, in the transition from sea to dry land, 
came the amphibious, and finally the terrestrial 
forms of life. Gradually new powers are acquired. 
In these metamorphoses. Dr. Darwin does not re- 
vive the fancies of such writers as De Maillet, but 
illustrates his views by changes such as those seen 
in the development from the tadpole to the frog. 
Passing on, he speaks of cross-fertilization, and 
finally reaches the origin of Man. We here find 
a very interesting section. Dr. Darwin quotes 
Buffon and Helvetius to the effect that many fea- 


tures in the anatomy of man point to a former 
quadrupedal position, and indicate that he is not 
yet fully adapted to the erect position ; that, fur- 
ther, Man may have arisen from a single family of 
monkeys (we here suppose the family is used in the 
ordinary sense), in which, accidentally, the opposing 
muscle brought the thumb against the tips of the 
fingers, and that this muscle gradually increased in 
size by use in successive generations/ Thus, Dar- 
win calls our attention to Buffon's anticipation of 
the Natural Selection idea as applied to man, in 
the survival of an accidental variation in a muscle 
of the greatest importance in the history of man. 
Dr.- Darwin devotes a whole canto to the human 

" The hand, first gift of Heaven ! to man belongs ; 
Untipt with claws, the circling fingers close, 
With rival points the bending thumbs oppose, 
Trace the nice lines of Form with sense refined, 
And clear ideas charm the thinking mind." 

He passes on to outline the development of the hu- 
man faculties. Later he describes the fierce struggle 
for existence, in verses which remind us of Tenny- 
son's lines upon Nature, red in tooth and claw. 
Not only do animals destroy each other and plants, 

^ This recalls the modern parody : — 

" There was an ape in days that were earlier; 
Centuries passed and his hair became curlier; 
Centuries more and his thumb gave a twist, 
And he was a man and a Positivist." 


but even the plants struggle among themselves for 
soil, moisture, air, and light, and he connects this 
with the idea which we have already seen expressed 
by Buffon and Malthus, that this struggle checks 
the naturally rapid increase of life, and thus is ad- 
vantageous and beneficial in the end. As Dr. 
Krause points out, Darwin just misses the connec- 
tion between this struggle and the Survival of the 

These passages show that Dr. Darwin was at the 
last — that is in his latest writings — a firm evolution- 
ist, and that he had advanced considerably beyond 
the tentative views expressed many years before in 
the Zoonomia and Botanic Garden. Krause, in his ad- 
mirable biography, does not, however, give Darwin's 
predecessors sufficient credit ; his ideas, it is true, 
were largely gathered from his own notes as a phy- 
sician and as a lifelong observer of Nature, but they 
indicate also a very careful reading of Leibnitz, as 
in his allusion to the change of genera in the Am- 
monites ; to Buffon, as in ideas connected with the 
struggle for existence and variations under artificial 
selection ; to Linnaeus, Blumenthal, and others. 
As to the origin of life, he drew from the Greeks, 
especially from Aristotle, limiting spontaneous gen- 
eration, however, to the lowest organisms ; they also 
gave him the fundamental idea of Evolution, for he 
says, " This idea of the gradual formation and im- 
provement of the Animal world seems not to have 
been unknown to the ancient philosophers." His 


general philosophy of Nature, as under the opera- 
tion of natural laws rather than of the supernatural, 
he himself in the Zoonomia attributes to David 

Dr. Darwin's theory of the causes of Evolution 
was not similar to Buffon's, for he nowhere lays 
stress upon the modifications induced by the direct 
action of Environment ; on the other hand, he be- 
lieved that modifications spring from within by the 
reactions of the organism ; thus he fully anticipated 
what is now known as the Lamarckian theory, and 
extended it even further than Lamarck, since he en- 
dowed plants with sensibility and attributed their 
evolution to their own efforts towards the attain- 
ment of certain structures. His view of the origin 
of adaptations or of design in Nature was thor- 
oughly naturalistic, believing that adaptations had 
not been specially created, but that they had been 
naturally and gradually acquired by powers of de- 
velopment planted within the original organisms by 
the Creator. 

In a defence of Lamarck's originality, Quatre- 
fages mistakenly attributes to Dr. Darwin the theory 
of an 'inherent perfecting tendency'; but this we 
find is an entire misconception. Let us, therefore, 
carefully examine Dr. Darwin's theory as expounded 
in the chapter ' Generation ' of the Zoonomia. In 
this chapter he combats Bonnet's doctrine of 
emboitement, and defends the idea of individual 
development by successive additions of parts to the 


embryo. In the original formation of the embryo 
he rejects the Pangenesis theory of Buffon, that is, 
of the conjugation of like parts from the two par- 
ents. " These organic particles, he (Mr. Buffon) 
supposes to exist in the spermatic fluids of both 
sexes, and that they are derived thither from every 
part of the body, and must therefore resemble, as he 
supposes, the parts from whence they are derived." 
He substitutes for this a theory of his own, of the 
addition of parts, which takes little account of the 
laws of heredity. 

The individual life begins, as all life originally be- 
gan, from a single filament. " Shall we conjecture," 
he says, " that one and the same kind of living fila- 
ment is and has been the cause of all organic life 1 
. . . I suppose this living filament, of whatever 
form it may be, whether sphere, cube, or cylinder, to 
be endowed with the capability of being excited into 
action by certain kinds of stimulus." This irrita- 
bility and excitability is the first step in Darwin's 
conception of Evolution. It is that whereby ani- 
mals and plants react to their environment, causing 
changes in their own structure, and these changes 
are transmitted to their offspring. 

In this chapter upon Generation, he throws out 
a wealth of suggestion and inquiry which indicates 
a thorough appreciation of the problems which 
were yet to be solved, as well as of the broadest 
aspects of Evolution. He touches upon Embry- 
ology, Comparative Anatomy, the Colouring of 


Animals, Artificial Selection, and treats Environ- 
ment almost in its broadest sense. We may briefly 
follow the outline of his argument for Evolution in 
the Zoo7iomia. He says : — 

" When we revolve in our minds the metamorphoses of ani- 
mals, as from the tadpole to the frog; secondly, the changes 
produced by artificial cultivation, as in the breeds of horses, dogs, 
and sheep ; thirdly, the changes produced by conditions of climate 
and of season, as in .the sheep of warm climates being covered 
with hair instead of wool, and the hares and partridges of northern 
climates becoming white in winter : when, further, we observe 
the changes of structure produced by habit, as seen especially in 
men of different occupations ; or the changes produced by artifi- 
cial mutilation and prenatal influences, as in the crossing of 
species and production of monsters; fourth, 'when we observe the 
essential unity of plan in all warm-blooded animals, — we are led to 
conclude that they have been alike produced from a similar living 

Having thus discussed some of the most obvious 
arguments for mutability, he proceeds to speculate 
upon the causes of these changes. " Fifthly," he 
says, "all animals undergo transformations which 
are in part produced by their own exertions, in re- 
sponse to pleasures and pains, and many of these 
acquired forms or propensities are transmitted to 
their posterity!' 

This, so far as I know, is the first clear and 
definite statement of the theory of the transmission 
of acquired characters considered as one of the fac- 
tors of Evolution. We will now continue to ex- 
amine Darwin's argument, and later will illustrate 


his application of his theory. He proceeds to dis- 
cuss the wants of animals, arranging them first 
under the head of sexual characters, as horns, 
spurs, developed for purposes of combat and pro- 
curing the females. Thus, the horns of the stag 
have not been developed to protect him from the 
boar, but from other stags. He here misses the 
idea of the sexual selection of the horns developed 
as ornaments to the male. Other organs, he says, 
are developed in the search for food. Cattle have 
acquired rough tongues to pull off the blades of 
grass ; and of these and similar organs he says : 
" All which seem to have been gradually pro- 
duced during many generations, by the perpetual 
endeavour of the creatures to supply the want of 
food, and to have been delivered to their posterity 
with constant improvements for the purpose re- 
quired." Again he says : " There are organs devel- 
oped for protective purposes, diversifying both the 
form and colour of the body for concealment and for 
combat." He here definitely unfolds the idea of 
protective colouring. 

He closes his long argument by pointing out the 
close gradations in Nature from the higher to the 
lower forms, and the substantial similarity between 
the animal and vegetable kingdoms in their modes 
of generation or reproduction, and concludes as 
follows : — 

" From thus meditating upon the minute portion of time in 
which many of the above changes have been produced, would it 


be too bold to imagine, in the great length of time since the 
earth began to exist, perhaps millions of ages before the com- 
mencement of the history of mankind, that all warm-blooded ani- 
mals have arisen from one living filament, which the first great 
Cause imbued with animality, with the power of acquiring new 
parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sen- 
sations, volitions, and associations, and thus possessing the faculty 
of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of de- 
livering down those improvements by generation to posterity, world 
without end ? " 

We must remember in reading this sentence that 
by generation Darwin means inheritance, heredity 
being a term which was introduced much later. If 
we analyze this sentence, we see that it involves, 
first, a clear idea of the evolution of all forms of 
life from a single filament or minute organic mass, 
as we should express it to-day, — a minute mass of 
protoplasm; second, that this evolution has occu- 
pied millions of years and has been controlled not 
by supernatural causes but by natural causes. The 
directing power to which he alludes has sprung 
from its efforts to meet its new needs in course of 
its changing environment. For it is clear from the 
context that by the term 'inherent activity,' Dar- 
win does not allude to an automatic perfecting prin- 
ciple such as we find originated with Aristotle, but 
that the power of improvement rests with the ani- 
mal's own efforts, the effects of these efforts upon 
the body being transmitted. Darwin seems to feel 
that he may be charged with irreverence in thus 
substituting the idea of Evolution for that of Spec- 


ial Creation; he meets this by establishing his 
hypothesis upon a basis of natural causation or 
secondary causes, and says : — 

"For if we may compare infinities, it would seem to require a 
greater infinity or power to cause the causes of effects, than to 
cause the effects themselves ; that is, to establish the laws of Cre- 
ation rather than to directly create." 

There are many single passages which further 
illustrate Darwin's ideas. It is first, perfectly clear 
that he derives all forms of life from a single fila- 
ment, which we may translate into a single proto- 
plasmic mass. Upon this, however, he does not 
build a branching or phyletic system of Evolution, 
but simply leaves this part of the system out, and 
passes on to illustrations of the causes and laws of 
Evolution. As pointed out above, his fundamental 
idea is what has since been called ' Archaesthetism ' 
by Cope. According to this, growth is stimulated 
by irritability and sensibility, or in Darwin's lan- 
guage — in the passage upwards from the original 
filament • " The most essential parts of the system 
are first formed by the irritations (of hunger, thirst, 
etc., above mentioned) and by the pleasurable sen- 
sations attending those irritations, and by exertions 
in consequence of painful sensations, similar to 
those of hunger and suffocation. ... In confir* 
mation of these ideas, it may be observed that all 
parts of the body endeavour to grow or to make 
additional parts of themselves throughout our lives." 
{Zoonomia^ XXXIX. 3.) 


I have carefully searched for these passages, and 
find a most striking confirmation of Charles Dar- 
win's well-known sentence : " It is curious how 
largely my grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, antic- 
ipated the views and erroneous grounds of opinion 
of Lamarck in his Zoonomiar Among the pas- 
sages above quoted, and in those following, we find 
the whole framework and even in part the very 
language of Lamarck's Four Laws. 

Dr. Darwin again illustrates his theory, speaking 
of the Evolution of Man : — 

" Now as labour strengthens the muscles employed and m- 
creases their bulk, it would seem that a few generations of labour 
or indolence may in this respect change the form and tempera- 
ment of the body." {Zoonomia, pp. 356, 501.) "Add to these 
the various changes produced in the forms of mankind by their 
early modes of exertion . . . which became hereditary." 

On the following page he applies the law of 
transmission of acquired characters to the lower 
animals. After speaking of the snout of the pig, 
the trunk of the elephant, the rough tongues of 
cattle, and beaks of birds, he says : — 

" All which seem to have been gradually produced during many 
generations by the perpetual endeavour of the creatures to supply 
the want of food, and to have been delivered to their posterity 
with constant improvement of them for the purposes acquired." 

As regards the origin of plants, he at one point 
mentions the suggestion of Linnaeus : " And that 
from thence, as Linnaeus has conjectured in respect 


to the vegetable world, it is not impossible but the 
great variety of species of animals which now ten- 
ant the earth, may have had their origin from the 
mixture of a few natural orders." Elsewhere he 
speaks of plants as having arisen in the contest for 
light and air. He carries the idea of sensibility and 
irritability into plant life, and his theory of plant 
evolution is similar to that of animal evolution. 

Erasmus Darwin was, however, fully conscious 
of the limitations of his theory of Evolution ; for in 
speaking of protective colouring (p. 510), he says: 
" The final cause of these colours is readily under- 
stood, as they serve some purpose of the animal, but 
the efficient cause would seem almost beyond con- 
jecture." The same question we have seen pro- 
pounded by Kant at about the same period : " How 
can purposeful forms of organization arise without 
a purposeful working cause } How can a work full 
of design build itself up without a design and with- 
out a builder 1 " Of course we do not know whether 
Darwin had this suggested to him by Kant, but it 
is exceedingly interesting to see him so clearly state 
the old, old problem which his grandson later largely 

While this chapter on Generation is a compara- 
tively small part of the Zoonomia, we learn that it 
attracted much attention at the time. Dr. McCosh 
tells the writer that he read the work while in Edin- 
burgh. It made a considerable sensation, and was 
replied to by Thomas Brown, M.D. This reply, 


together with his article upon " Cause and Effect," 
won for Dr. Brown the professorship of Moral Phi- 
losophy in the University. We see, therefore, that 
in England, as we shall see in France, the adherents 
of the Evolution doctrine found the spirit of the 
Universities hostile; and as we pass from man to 
man in these outlines of the Evolution idea, select- 
ing certain paragraphs and ignoring all the contem- 
porary literature, we must not lose sight of the fact 
that the major weight of opinion was, throughout 
all this period, upon the side of Special Creation. 
For one argument like Dr. Darwin's upon the 
gradual development side, there were hundreds 
upon the side of sudden production. 


Ainsi, la nature, toujours agissante, toujours impassible, renouvelant et vari- 
ant toute esp6ce de corps, n'en pr6servant aucun de la destruction, nous ofFre une 
sc^ne imposante et sans terme, et nous montre en elle une puissance particuli^re 
qui n'agit que par necessite. — Lamarck. 

We have now come to an important step in the 
history of the Evolution theory; that is, the rela- 
tion of Erasmus Darwin to Lamarck. We shall see, 
in treating Lamarck, that the parallelism between 
the line of reasoning of these two men is very strik- 
ing. They not only used the same illustrations, but 
almost the same language ; and by putting together 
various passages from Darwin's writings, we can re- 
construct, almost verbatim, the four principles of 
Lamarck. Darwin's work was published in 1794 
while as Huxley points out, in his Recherches sur 
les causes des prmcipaux fails physiques, written in 
1776, but notpubhshed until 1794, Lamarck adopted 
Buffon's maturer and more conservative views, as 
shown in the following sentence : — 

All the individuals of this nature are derived from similar indi- 
viduals, which altogether constitute the entire species. ... If 
there exist many varieties produced by the action of environment, 
these varieties do not degenerate to the point of forming new 
species. . . . 

It was not until 1801, seven years after the publi- 
cation of the Zoonomia, that Lamarck published his 



theory of the mutability of species, and this theory 
had two main features, namely, that animals were 
evolved, not, as Buffon supposed, by the direct exter- 
nal action of environment, but by environment acting 
upon internal structure through the nervous system, 
and by the transmission of the modifications thus 
produced. As regards the origin of plants, Lamarck 
believed with Buffon, that they were evolved by the 
direct action of environment. Lamarck nowhere 
makes an}^ allusion to the Zoonomia, and De Lanes- 
san has pointed out that he also pays a very scant 
tribute to Buffon, while there is the strongest inter- 
nal evidence that Lamarck was largely influenced 
by the writings of Buffon's second period. 

How shall we explain this coincidence or appar- 
ent plagiarism } We must adopt one of two alter- 
natives. One is, as later in the famous and quite 
as closely parallel Wallace-Darwin case, that both 
naturalists arrived independently at the same con- 
clusions, influenced alike by the writings of Linnaeus 
and Buffon and by their own observations upon 
Nature ; or, we must suppose that Lamarck bor- 
rowed freely from Darwin without giving him credit. 
We should hesitate before adopting the latter alter- 
native, when we consider that the interchange of 
thought between the two countries was not as 
constant as at present, also that Dr. Darwin's views 
were buried rather obscurely in a great quarto 
mainly devoted to medicine, and in two long didac- 
tic poems. Again, we must note that Geoffroy St. 


Hilaire, while crediting Goethe, Buffon, and others 
with having partly anticipated Lamarck, and giving 
a very complete bibliographical description of the 
subject, nowhere mentions Erasmus Darwin. It 
does not seem probable that Darwin's work could 
have been used by Lamarck, and have remained 
wholly unknown to St. Hilaire. The dates and the 
points of internal evidence still seem to justify 
the suggestion of Charles Darwin, and the very 
strong suspicion of Dr. Krause, that Lamarck was 
familiar with the Zoonomia^ and made use of it in 
the development of his theory. 

M. Ch. Martins, the biographer of Lamarck, 
calls attention to the fact that Laplace supported 
Lamarck in the doctrine of the inheritance of ac- 
quired habits, as applied to the origin of the mental 
faculties of man ; and in the passages quoted by 
Martins to sustain this point, we have evidence that 
both Laplace and Lamarck anticipated Spencer. 
We have seen that the general doctrine of transmis- 
sion of acquired characters was an old one. It had 
been expressed in France by others, by De Maillet, 
for example. The most important testimony in 
favour of Lamarck's originality is his own. It is in 
a very striking passage in the introduction of the 
last edition of his Animaux sans Veriebres (p. 2). 
This was Lamarck's latest work. He says : — 

" I set forth my general theory. It deserves close attention ; 
and as far as possible, men should determine how far I am well 
founded in all that I have written. I have, in fact, advanced a 


general theory upon the origin of Ufe and upon its modes of mani- 
festation, upon the origin of the faculties, upon the variations and 
phenomena of organization of different animals, — a theory con- 
sistent in its principles and applicable to all cases. // is the first, 
so it seems to me, which has been presented, the only theory, there- 
fore, which exists, because I do not know any work which offers 
another theory based upon such a large number of principles and 
considerations. This theory of mine recognizes in Nature the 
power to produce some result, in fact, all the results we see. Is 
it well established ? Certainly, it seems to me so ; and all my 
observations tend to confirm it. Otherwise I would not publish 
it. It rests with those who do not accept it to substitute another, 
with equally wide apphcation, or with a still wider application to 
the facts. But this I hardly believe to be possible/' 

Upon this sentence it seems that we have satis- 
factory evidence that Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck 
independently evolved their views, and this is further 
confirmed by a careful reading of Lamarck's first 
exposition of his theory in his work of 1802. This 
has very little similarity with Darwin's form of 
statement or language, although it embodies essen- 
tially the same theory. To Huxley's rather pointed 
question : " It would be interesting to know what 
was the occasion of Lamarck's change of view 
between 1779 and 1802?" — we may answer that 
this change was probably due to the change of his 
studies from Botany to Zoology, for it was upon 
animal life that his theory was developed. 

156 from lamarck to st. hilaire. 


Lamarck (i 744-1829), as the founder of the 
complete modern theory of Descent, is the most 
prominent figure between Aristotle and Darwin. 
One cannot compare his Philosophie Zoologique with 
all previous and contemporary contributions to the 
Evolution theory, or learn the extraordinary diffi- 
culties under which he laboured, and that this work 
was put forth only a few years after he had turned 
from Botany to Zoology, without gaining the great- 
est admiration for his genius. No one has been 
more misunderstood, or judged with more partiality 
by over or under praise. The stigma placed upon 
his writings by Cuvier, who greeted every fresh 
edition of his works as a ' nouvelle folie', and the 
disdainful allusions to him by Charles Darwin (the 
only writer of whom Darwin ever spoke in this 
tone), long placed him in the light of a purely ex- 
travagant, speculative thinker. Yet, as a fresh in- 
stance of the certainty with which men of science 
finally obtain recognition, it is gratifying to note 
the admiration which has been accorded to him in 
Germany by Haeckel and others, by his country- 
men, and by a large school of American and Eng- 
lish writers of the present day ; to note, further, 
that his theory was finally taken up and defended 
by Charles Darwin himself, and that it forms the 
very heart of the system of Herbert Spencer. 

None the less, it is now a question under discus- 


sion, whether Lamarck's factor is a factor in Evolu- 
tion at all ! If it prove to be no factor, Lamarck 
will sink gradually into obscurity as one great 
figure in the history of opinion. If it prove to be 
a real factor, he will rise into a more eminent posi- 
tion than he now holds, — into a rank not far below 

Jeanne Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, other- 
wise known as the Chevalier de Lamarck, was, 
according to his biographer, a man of great phys- 
ical and moral courage. He distinguished himself 
by an act of singular bravery in the army, and, re- 
ceiving an injury, re-entered life as a doctor. He 
was first attracted to Botany by the rich flora ob- 
served during his military service near Monaco, and, 
coming to Paris, he gained Buffon's attention, and 
became an intimate friend of his household. His 
Flore Franfaise, written in six months, was printed 
under Buffon's direction, and passed through many 
editions. This was a systematic work, an adapta- 
tion of the system of Linnaeus to the flora of France. 
He seems to have been gifted with exceptionally 
rapid observation, with great facility in writing, 
and with unusual powers of definition and descrip- 
tion. At the age of forty-nine he was transferred, 
under the Directory, to a Zoological chair in the 
Jardins des Plantes. Lamarck was especially 
placed in charge of the invertebrates, and at the 
same time Geoffroy St. Hilaire was appointed to the 
care of the vertebrates. He took up the study of 


Zoology with such zeal and success, that he almost 
immediately introduced striking reforms in classifi- 
cation. The early fruits of Lamarck's zoological 
studies were not only a series of very. valuable addi- 
tions to the classification of animals, such as the 
divisions, Vertebrata and Invertebrata, and the 
groups, Crustacea, Arachnida, and Annelida, but 
the rapid development of a true conception of the 
mutability of species, and of the great law of the 
origin of species by descent. 

His devotion to the study of the small forms of 
life, probably with inferior facilities for work, for he 
was extremely poor, gradually deprived him of the 
use of his eyes, and in 18 19 he became completely 
blind. The last two volumes of the first edition of 
his Histoire Nature lie des Animaux sans Vertebres^ 
which was begun in 18 16 and completed in 1822, 
was carried on by dictation to his daughter, who 
showed him the greatest affection; after Lamarck 
was confined to his room, it is said she never left the 
house. Lamarck was thus saddened in his old age 
by extreme poverty and by the harsh reception of 
his transmutation theories, in the truth of which he 
felt the most absolute conviction. 

The development of Lamarck's views was, as we 
have seen above, apparently coincident with his 
turning from Botany to Zoology. His route of 
observation lay along Comparative Zoology and 
Botany, as Goethe's lay along the Comparative 
Anatomy and Morphology of plants and animals. 


It seems that the most speculative of all his writings 
were his earlier physical treatises. One of these 
early works was his Recherches sur les causes des 
principaux faits physiques^ written in 1766, pre- 
sented to the Academy in 1780, and published in 
1 794, (the date of the Zoonomia). Here Lamarck, 
as we have seen, affirms his belief in the immutability 
of species and strong disbelief in the theory of the 
spontaneous origin of life, saying that all the physi- 
cal forces we know, combined, cannot form a single 
organic being capable of reproduction. All individ- 
uals in organic life descend from other individuals 
altogether similar, which taken together constitute 
the entire species. It is certain from this that in 
1766 Lamarck held views similar to those of his 
master, Buffon, in his third period. It is possible 
that prior to 1794 his own opinions had become 
modified, but that he had left his original rnanu- 
script unchanged for publication. 

In his Hydrogeologie, published in 1802, he devel- 
oped his uniformitarian ideas in Geology and pro- 
posed the term ' Biology ' for the sciences of life. 
In the same year appeared his Recherches sur V Or- 
ganisation des Corps Vivants^ in which he first 
sketches out his Evolution theory. This work was 
particularly upon the origin of the living body, upon 
the causes of its development, and its progressive 
composition. It is in the preface of this work that 
he speaks of projecting a ' Physique Terrestre,' to 
include three parts : Hydreologie, Meteoro logic, and 


Biologie, The two latter sections were never com- 
pleted. It is important to note that in this work he 
projects a scale of life somewhat similar to that of 
Bonnet and of Aristotle. This shows that in his 
mind at that time, the history of life presented itself 
as a vertical chain of masses of organisms not of 
species ; so far as appears, he had not then developed 
the branching idea. This chain he puts forth to 
show the 'degradation' or gradation from the high- 
est to the lowest forms, indicating the march of 
Nature in its progressive developments. Here and 
elsewhere Lamarck acknowledges his indebtedness 
to the Greeks, especially to Aristotle. Two main 
principles are brought out in this work anticipating 
his later theory of the causes of Evolution : first, it 
is not organs which have given rise to habits, but 
•habits, modes of life, and environment which have 
given rise to organs ; as illustrated by the blindness 
of the mole, by the presence of teeth in mammals, 
and the absence of teeth in birds. His second 
principle is, that life is an order and condition of 
things in the parts of all bodies which possess it, 
which renders possible all the organic movements 

There is no evidence in this work that Lamarck 
had seen Darwin's Zooriomia, The parallelism 
with the Zoonomia comes out much more promi- 
nently in Lamarck's most important speculative 
work, the Philosophie Zoologique, published in 
1809, in which his earlier views are developed and 


expanded. This is characterized by a clear and 
beautiful style, and by a logical development of the 
argument, in which Lamarck's whole scheme of 
Evolution is gradually unfolded. His theory was 
never developed beyond this point, although he 
restated it in a more condensed form in the intro- 
duction to both editions of his Histoire des Ani- 
maux sans Vertebres between 1816 and 1822. 

The Philosophie Zoologique shows that three 
truths had now come to him from his labours in 
Botany and Zoology, and presumably from his 
wider readings of Buffon's earlier writings, of 
Linnaeus, and of the Greeks, to whom he makes 
allusion. These are, first, the certainty that spe- 
cies vary under changing external influences ; 
second, that there is a fundamental unity in 
the animal kingdom ; third, that there is a progres- 
sive and perfecting development. Among the 
influences of environment he cites the cases of the 
supposed influence of water upon plants and upon 
the lower animals ; the influence of air in forming 
the entire respiratory system of birds ; the influence 
of light upon plants, directly upon the colouring of 
animals, and upon the development and degenera- 
tion of eyes, and the influences of heat. The main 
influences come under the law of Use and Disuse, 
for he believes that Nature does not effect her 
changes directly, but through the reaction of ani- 
mals to their environment. 

He thus differs widely from Buffon : " Lack of em- 


ployment of an organ becoming constant under the 
influence of certain habits, gradually impoverishes 
the organ and ends by causing it to disappear en- 
tirely." In the Discours preliminaire^ he outlines 
his work as divided into three parts. The first is 
to treat of the subject in general, of methods of re- 
search, of artificial distinctions raised by man in 
classification, of the real meaning of the term ' spe- 
cies,' of the proofs. of the 'degradation' (Evolution) 
of organization from one end to the other of the 
animal scale, of the influences of environment and 
habit as causes favouring or arresting the develop- 
ment of animals, of the natural order and classifica- 
tion of animals. In this first section his whole 
theory of Evolution is to be expanded, which we 
will examine later. In the second part, he considers 
the essential phenomena and physiological condi- 
tions of life or ' orgasme ' and irritability, of the 
peculiarities of cellular tissue, of the conditions 
of spontaneous generation. This section covers 
what we would now term the general principles of 
Biology. The third part is devoted to the develop- 
ment of the nervous system, sensation, action, and 
intelligence, including a theory of the origin and 
formation of the nerves, and of the development of 
mental faculties and ideas, lower and higher. Here 
he treats of the relation of the mind of man to that 
of the lower animals. 

Lamarck's general philosophy of Nature comes 
forth here. He is, first of all, an advocate of the 


search for secondary causes, as opposed to arrest 
with supernatural causation. He believes that we 
see in Nature a certain order originally imposed by 
its Author, which is manifested in the successive de- 
velopment of life; we thus study natural forces and 
Nature abandoned to its laws. In this sense we 
see Nature creating and developing without cessa- 
tion towards higher and higher types. External 
conditions do not alter this order of development, 
but give it infinite variety by directing the scale of 
being into an infinite number of branches. Lamarck 
denied, absolutely, the existence of any ' perfecting 
tendency ' in Nature, and regarded Evolution as the 
final necessary effect of surrounding conditions on 
life. Thus, in his Teleology, he adopted the mod- 
ern standpoint. Instead of suggesting that animals 
had been created for a certain mode of life, he sup- 
posed that their mode of life had itself created them. 
Wings were not given to birds to enable them to 
fly, but they had developed wings in attempting to 

fly- _ 

In his discussion of Evolution in general, in the 
section, ' De rOrdre naturel des Animaux,' he 
says : — 

" In considering the natural order of animals, the very positive 
gradation which exists in their structure, organization, and in the 
number as well as in the perfection of their faculties, is very far 
removed from being a new truth, because the Greeks themselves 
fully perceived it ; but they were unable to expose the principles 
and the proofs of this evolution, because they lacked the knowl- 


edge necessary to establish it. In consideration of this gradation 
of life, there are only two conclusions which face us as to its 
origin : — The conclusion adopted up to to-day : Nature (or its 
Author) in creating animals has foreseen all possible sorts of cir- 
cumstances in which they would be destined to live, and has given 
to each species a constant organization, as well as a form deter- 
mined and invariable in its parts, which forces each species to live 
in the places and climates where it is found, and there to preserve 
the habits which we know belong to it. My personal conclusion : 
Nature, in producing successively all the species of animals, and 
commencing by the most imperfect or the most simple to con- 
clude its labour in the most perfect, has gradually completed their 
organization ; and of these animals, while spreading generally in 
all the habitable regions of the globe, each species has received, 
under the influence of environment which it has encountered, the 
habits which we recognize and the modifications in its parts which 
observation reveals in it." 

The first conclusion (Special Creation), he goes 
on to say, is one which has been held by nearly 
every one up to the present time. It attributes to 
each animal a constancy of structure, and parts 
which have never varied and will never vary. To 
disprove the second conclusion (Evolution), he con- 
tinues, it is necessary to prove, first, that each point 
upon the surface of the globe never varies in its 
nature, climate, exposure, elevation, and so forth. 

The belief in the uniformity of past and present 
changes was the next great factor in the develop- 
ment of Lamarck's theory. It arose from his con- 
templation of the data of Geology in connection 
with those of Biology, as was afterwards the case 
with Darwin, in so marked a degree. In Geology he 


was an ardent advocate of the doctrine of uniform- 
ity, as against the cataclysmal school. The main 
principles are laid down in his Hydrogeologie, that 
all the revolutions of the earth are extremely slow. 
"For Nature," he says, "time is nothing. It is 
never a difficulty, she always has it at her disposal ; 
and it is for her the means by which she has accom- 
plished the greatest as well as the least of her 
results. For all the evolution of the earth and of 
living beings, Nature needs but three elements, — 
space, time, and matter." Lamarck, unlike Buffon, 
did not touch Cosmogony ; but in his observations 
upon Geology he learnt, the first of all lessons, that 
in speculating upon the past we should not regard 
it as a period of catastrophe, that the true method 
of study is to observe the steady march of Nature 
at the present time ; for its present operations suffice 
to explain all the facts which we observe in all its 
past. This led Lamarck to the extreme of denying 
all catastrophes in Geology, and all leaps or sudden 
transitions in living Nature. " Nature," he repeats, 
" to perfect and to diversify animals requires merely 
matter, space, and time." 

After this review of Lamarck's self-education, 
intellectual equipment, and the influences of his 
collateral studies, we come to his theory of the fac- 
tors and nature of the Evolution of life, which were 
first fully expressed in the Philosophie Zoologique, 
and formulated later in the Histoire Naturelle into 
the four well-known propositions : — 


First Law. — Life by its internal forces tends 
continually to increase the volume of every body 
that possesses it, as well as to increase the size of 
all the parts of the body up to a limit which it 
brings about. 

Second Law. — The production of a new organ 
or part results from a new need or want, which 
continues to be felt, and from the new movement 
which this need initiates and causes to continue. 
(This is the psychical factor in his theory, which 
Cope later has termed Archsesthetism.) 

Third Law. — The development of organs and 
their force or power of action are always in direct 
relation to the employment of these organs. (At 
another point he expands this into two sub-laws : 
" In every animal which has not passed the term of 
its development, the more frequent and sustained 
employment of each organ strengthens little by 
little this organ, develops it, increases it in size, 
and gives it a power proportioned to the length of 
its employment; whereas the constant lack of use 
of the same organ insensibly weakens it, deteriorates 
it, progressively diminishes its powers, and ends by 
causing it to disappear." This is now known as 
the Law of Use and Disuse, o'r Kinetogenesis.) 

Fourth Law. — All that has been acquired or 
altered in the organization of individuals during 
their life is preserved by generation, and trans- 
mitted to new individuals which proceed from those 
which have undergone these changes. 


In his earlier work this was first expressed by 
Lamarck as follows : — 

" All that Nature has caused individuals to acquire or lose by 
the influences of environment to which they have been long 
exposed, and consequently by the influence of the predominant 
employment of a certain organ, or by that of the continued lack 
of use of the same part, — all this Nature conserves by generation 
to the new individuals which arise, provided that these acquired 
variations (changements) are common to both sexes, or to those 
which have produced these new individuals." 

This law is now known as ' the inheritance of 
acquired characters,' or better, to revive Lamarck's 
original idea expressed in the word changements, 
we should call it the theory of inheritance of 
acquired cha7iges or variations. 

This theory ^ of Lamarck is seen to be substan- 
tially similar to that of Erasmus Darwin, and to 
depart widely from that of Buffon, for Lamarck 
does not follow Buffon in supposing that environ- 
ment directly produces changes in animals, either 
in their form or organization. In a single sentence 

^Premiere loi. — La vie, par ses propres forces, tend continuellement k 
accroitre le volume de tout corps qui la possede, et k etendre les dimensions 
de ses parties, jusqu'k un terme qu'elle amene elle-meme. 

Deuxieme loi. — La production d'un nouvel organe dans un corps animal 
resulte d'un nouveau besoin survenu qui continue de se faire sentir, et d'un 
nouveau mouvement que ce besoin fait naitre et entretient. 

Troisieme loi. — Le developpement des organes et leur force d'action sont 
constamnient en raison de I'emploi de ces organes. 

Quatrieme loi. — Tout ce qui a ete acquis, trace ou change dans I'organisa- 
tion des individus, pendant le cours de leur vie, est conserve par la generation 
et transmis aux nouveaux individus qui proviennent de ceux qui ont eprouve 
ces changements. 


of the Philosophie Zoologique he summarizes his 
own doctrine as follows: — 

" But great changes in environment bring about changes in the 
habits of animals. Changes in their wants necessarily bring about 
parallel changes in their habits. If new wants become constant 
or very lasting, they form new habits, the new habits involve the 
use of new parts, or a different use of old parts, which results 
finally in the production of new organs and the modification of 
old ones." 

Again, he says : — 

"Circumstances influence the forms of animals. But I must 
not be taken literally, for environment can effect no direct changes 
whatever upon the organization of animals." 

He illustrates his theory in advancing proofs 
that it is not the organ which gives origin to the 
habit, but the habit w^hich gives origin to the 
organ, and points out examples of the effects of use 
and disuse. He refers all rudimentary structures 
to disuse, such as the embryonic teeth of the whale- 
bone whales, which had recently been discovered 
by St. Hilaire, the eyes of the mole, and of the 
Proteus, the blind salamander of the Austrian caves. 
He is inconsistent with his own theory when he 
says that the organ of hearing has been developed 
everywhere by the direct action of vibrations of 
sound. Again, he explains the development of the 
webbed feet of birds, by their being attracted to 
swampy ground by hunger, making efforts to swim, 
spreading the toes, the skin being thus stretched 
between them. 


His conception of the initial causal relation of 
the desires and wants of animals is illustrated in 
the following paragraphs: — 

"I conceive that a Gasteropod mollusc, which, as it crawls 
along, finds the need of touching the bodies in front of it, makes 
efforts to touch those bodies with some of the foremost parts of 
the head, and sends to these every time quantities of nervous 
fluids as well as of other liquids ; I conceive and say, that it must 
result from this reiterated afflux towards the point in question, 
that the nerves which abut at these points will, by slow degrees, 
be extended. Now, as in the same circumstances, other fluids of 
the same animal flow also to the same places, and especially nour- 
ishing fluids, it must follow that two or more tentacles will appear 
and develop insensibly on the points referred to." 

As illustrating the sensitiveness of lowly organized 
animals to the action of evironment, he cites a series 
of his observations upon Hydra, when moving about 
in search of light. 

Numerous other examples are given of the sup- 
posed origin of other parts of the body, among which 
we may select his account of the origin of the hoofs 
in mammals : 

"All mammals sprang from saurians, more or less similar to 
our crocodiles. They first appeared under the form of amphib- 
ian mammals with four feebly developed Hmbs. These primi- 
tive forms divided in the manner according to which they fed. 
Some, accustoming themselves to browse upon shrubs, became the 
source of the ungulates. Advancing upon the earth, they experi- 
enced the need of having longer limbs, their toes became elongated, 
and the habit of resting upon their four feet during the greater 
part of the day has caused a thick horn to arise, which envelops 


the extremity of the toes of their feet. The other mammals re- 
mained amphibious, Uke the seals." 

He also explains the origin of the horns in the 
ruminant animals by the efforts which they have 
made to butt their heads together in their periods 
of anger ; thus has been formed a secretion of matter 
upon the forehead. The fleet types of ruminants 
which have been exposed to the attacks of carnivo- 
rous animals, have been obliged to fly, and have 
thus acquired the habit of making very rapid move- 
ments ; thus have been formed the types of Gazelle, 
Deer, and so forth. Such crude illustrations cer- 
tainly could not predispose his contemporaries in 
favour of his theory. 

He was still less happy in his account of the limbs 
of snakes : 

"The snakes sprang from reptiles with four extremities, but 
having taken up the habit of moving along the earth and conceal- 
ing themselves among bushes, their bodies, owing to repeated 
efforts to elongate themselves and to pass through narrow spaces, 
have acquired a considerable length out of all proportion to their 
width. Since long feet would have been very useless, and short 
feet would have been incapable of moving their bodies, there 
resulted a cessation of use of these parts, which has finally caused 
them to totally disappear, although they were originally part of the 
plan of organization in these animals." 

It is evident that Lamarck was forced to give 
such illustrations as these, because, shut off as he 
was from experiment and further observation, they 
were the only ones which came within his range of 


imagination; with all their absurdities, they present 
a semblance to the expressions of some modern 

In his theory of Heredity, Lamarck postulated 
the inheritance of acquired characters, which we 
have learned to-day is the crucial point in his whole 
system. He did not expand Buffon's theories in 
regard to the physical basis of Transmission. He 
brings out the results which spring from free inter- 
crossing, showing that according to his theory, in 
the union of individuals which have been subjected 
to different environments, the effects of environment 
would be neutralized, whereas the crossing of in- 
dividuals which had been subjected to the same 
environment would hasten and perpetuate the trans- 
mission of similar effects. To this principle he 
refers the fact that the accidental changes induced 
by the habits of men are not perpetuated, since 
they do not occur in both parents, whereas the 
formation of distinct races in widely different parts 
of the world, is due to the uniformity of their 

Lamarck foresaw the great difficulties which would 
arise in classification from his theory of the filiation 
and mutability of all animal and plant types, and he 
fully grasped the immediate bearings of the theory 
upon the definition of species. He writes : " Nature 
exhibits to us individuals succeeding each other, but 
the species among them have only a relative sta- 
bility, and are only temporarily invariable." Quatre- 


fages remarks that he does not clearly distinguish 
between species, races, and varieties. 

The definition of species was in Lamarck's time 
the test of the creed of the naturalist. Isidore St. 
Hilaire, in the Histoire Naturelle Generate, gives us 
an interesting outline of the history of these defini- 
tions, beginning with that of Linnaeus, including 
Buffon's earlier and later definitions, and Cuvier's 
later definitions; Lamarck's is admirable: — 

" A species is a collection of similar individuals which are per- 
petuated by generation in the same condition, as long as their 
environment has not changed sufficiently to bring about variation 
in their habits, their character, and their form." 

Certainly no better definition of a species could 
be given to-day. 

We have seen that Lamarck's final conception of 
filiation, or the idea of the branching of life, had not 
been reached in 1802, in which he gives a vertical 
scale of the succession of groups of animals quite 
similar to that which had been developing on the 
false conception of phylogeny from the time of Aris- 
totle. It is interesting, therefore, to place, side by 
side, his first scale of 1802 with that which he pub- 
lished in the Philosophic Zoologique, of 1809. 





Jusqu'a Leur Aneantissement. 

Nota. — l.'s. progression de la degradation n'est nulle part rdguliere 
ou proportionnelle ; mais elle existe dans Pensemble d'une mani^re 

Une colonne vertdbrale, faisant la base d'un 
squelette articuld. 

Point de colonne vert^brale ; point de veritable 

1. Les Mammaux 

2. Les'Oiseaux 

3. Les Reptiles 

4. Les Poissons 

5. Les Mollusques 

6. Les Annelides 

7. Les Crustac^s 

8. Les Arachnides 

9. Les Insectes 

10. Les Vers 

11. Les Radiaires 

12. Les Polypes 

In 1802 he expressly speaks of the shaded grada- 
tion in the complication of organization, not as a 
lineal series of species, or even of genera, for he 
says such a series does not exist. But, " I speak of 
a series quite regularly gradated in its principal 
masses; that is to say, in the principal known 
systems of organization. Such a series in this case 
certainly offers lateral ramifications in many direc- 
tions, the extremities of which are truly isolated 
points." This early conception of Lamarck's may 
be compared to a fir-tree with a single central stem 
and radiating branches. He says, "that such a 



natural series has recently been denied, and that 
some have substituted for a gradated series a re- 
ticulated series, in which animals and plants are 
spread out as upon a map. Such a reticulated 
series has seemed sublime to some modern writers, 
and Hermann has attempted to add probability 
to it. But those who study more profoundly the 
organization of living bodies, and occupy them- 
selves less exclusively with the consideration of 
species, will see that this view will have to be 
entirely abandoned." 


1°. Serie des Animaux 


2°. Serie des Animaux 











This later conception of Lamarck's of the tree of 
life as branching, not as radiating from a single 


central stem, but as branching from the roots into 
larger and smaller stems, was first published in 
1809. This, so far as we know, was the first of the 
great phyletic trees, the construction of which has 
since occupied so large a portion of the energy of 
zoologists, and has been carried to the farthest ex- 
treme by Haeckel. 

In his second table Lamarck derives the fishes 
from the molluscs ; but in a third table, published 
in 181 5, while it is of the same branching character, 
he declares that he can no longer connect the 
vertebrates at any point with the invertebrates ! 
He therefore places them by themselves, without 
attempting to filiate them. The third table, there- 
fore, represents Lamarck's latest views. 

His true conception of Phylogeny grew out of 
his appreciation of the fact that many forms of life 
had become extinct. He says (Philosophie Zoolo- 
gique, Chapter 3) — "Those who have carefully 
examined large collections of species, are aware 
how they shade into each other, and that when we 
find species which are apparently isolated, it is only 
because we have not yet obtained the intermediate 
forms. ... I do not wish to say that existing 
animals form a simple and evenly graded series, 
but they form a branching series, irregularly gra- 
dated, the gaps having been filled by lost forms. 
It follows that the species which terminate each 
branch of the series are related, upon one side at 
least with others which shade into them." As 


early as 1802 he held that affinities indicate com- 
munity of parentage, and that it is necessary to 
prove that the series which constitutes the animal 
scale resides essentially in the distribution of the 
principal masses which compose it, and not in that 
of the species, nor even of the genera. As we see 
in the above tables, Lamarck's attempts at recon- 
structing the tree of life were crude, but consider- 
ing the infancy of Paleontology and the entire 
absence of embryological knowledge, his specula- 
tions appear more to his credit. He supposed that 
mammals passed through amphibious mammals back 
to saurians similar to crocodiles. The seals or 
aquatic mammalia gave rise to the Unguiculates or 
clawed animals, and when the claws became too 
long, the Carnivores made efforts to retract them. 
Some primitive mammals did not leave the water 
at all, but lost their limbs and became the Cetacea. 
It is strange that Lamarck grasped the true idea 
of extinction of the lower types, but not of the higher 
types. He could not credit the extinction of such 
perfect forms as the Mastodon or the Paleotherium 
by any of the forces of Nature, but believed that 
they had probably been exterminated by man, or 
that these species might still be found alive else- 
where. He thoroughly believed in the extinction 
of lower types, for example, of the Molluscs, and 
that the lower types had given way to the higher, 
the ranks of the lower types being constantly replen- 
ished by incessant creation of the lowest forms. 


As animals progressed, new forms were constantly 
arising in the primitive scale. One of the strongest 
objections which Lamarck had to meet, one which 
shows that his theory of Transmutation excited a 
lively discussion at the time, as Darwinism did after- 
wards, was the persistency of certain lower types. 
When Geoffrey St. Hilaire brought back his rich 
collections of mummied cats and other animals 
from the tombs of Egypt, and it was found that 
these were identical with the actual living repre- 
sentatives of the same species, and that these species 
had existed without variation between two and three 
thousand years, it was considered very strong evi- 
dence against the Transmutation theory. Lamarck 
replied that in Egypt there had been substantially 
no change of environment, both the soil and the 
climate had remained the same during that great 
period ; that being the case, no new habits had been 
imposed upon animals, and the persistence of their 
characters was therefore readily explained. 

It is also noteworthy that Lamarck, adopting for 
animals the indirect action of environment, adopted 
for plants a theory of the direct action of environ- 
ment, in the absence of any nervous system whereby 
these organisms could respond to external stimuli. 
He thus coincided with Buffon in regard to plant 
evolution. He cites numerous instances of rapid 
modification by drought, by change of habitat, by 
cultivation, and concludes: " All is effected by 
changes undergone in the nutrition of the plant, 


in its methods of absorption, and in its transpira- 
tions, in the quantity of caloric, light, air, and 
humidity; finally, in the superiority which certain 
of its vital movements can take on over others." 
In his transfer from the study of Botany to Zool- 
ogy, Lamarck's interests seem to have been wholly 
weaned from the study of plants. He does not 
show the least glimmering of the ideas of the 
struggle for existence among the plants, and does 
not by any means enlarge Buffon's ideas upon this 

In his speculations upon the origin of life, La- 
marck at first seems to have rejected the doctrine of 
Abiogenesis, but later (1802) he placed the origin 
and continuous generation of the lowest forms of 
life out of inorganic matter, at the base of his scale 
of Evolution. He says: — 

" In the waters of the ancient world, and at the present time, 
very small masses of mucilaginous matter were collected. Under 
the influences of light, certain elements, caloric and electric, entered 
these little bodies. These corpuscles became capable of taking 
in and exhaling gases ; vital movements began, and thus an ele- 
mental plant or animal sprang into existence. Possibly higher 
forms of life, such as infest the intestines, originate in this way, 
Nature is thus always creating." 

He believed that by these little masses of gelati- 
nous matter, brought together by attraction, a tissue 
' cellulaire ' was formed, containing gases and vital 
movements ; that these little forms of life were the 
original inhabitants of the globe ; moreover, that 


spontaneous generation of these organisms was still 
going on.^ 

After studying Lamarck and finding how much 
there is of great value in his system, we have to re- 
cord that he exerted astonishingly little influence, 
and, in France at least, was only followed by a single 
writer. This was partly due to the stigma which 
was placed upon the transmutation theory, and the 
strong opposition to Lamarck's doctrine by Cuvier, 
the most influential naturalist of the time. As La- 
marck retired from active life after the loss of his 
eyesight, he became a less and less known figure ; 
he could take no direct part in spreading his doc- 
trines, and left the arena of discussion open to 
Cuvier and St. Hilaire. 

Lamarck, as a naturalist, exhibited exceptional 
powers of definition and description, while in his 
philosophical writings upon Evolution, his specula- 
tion far outran his observations, and his theory 
suffered from the absurd illustrations which he 
brought forward in support of it. It was such ex- 
amples as the method of evolution of the snakes, 
which gave Lamarck's critics their opportunity of 
throwing all his ideas into ridicule ; and from some 
of these brief illustrations his critics spread the im- 
pression that he believed animals acquired new or- 
gans simply by wishing for them. His really sound 
speculation in Zoology was also injured by his ear- 
lier and thoroughly worthless speculation in Chem- 

iQken's similar theory was not advanced until 1805. 


istry and other branches of science. Another 
marked defect was, that Lamarck was completely 
carried away with the belief that his theory of the 
transmission of acquired characters was adequate 
to explain all the phenomena. He did not, like his 
contemporaries, Erasmus Darwin and Goethe, per- 
ceive and point out, that certain problems in the 
origin of adaptations were still left wholly untouched 
and unsolved. Believing that he saw a great Evo- 
lution factor, and applying it to organic nature, he 
was blind to its deficiencies and to every other 
factor, and sought to establish it as a sufficient ex- 
planation of every change in the animal world. His 
arguments are, in most cases, not inductive, but de- 
ductive, and are frequently found not to support his 
law, but to postulate it. Another defect was his 
limited conception of Natural Environment, in 
which he was inferior to his contemporary, Trevira- 
nus. Treviranus and St. Hilaire enlarged upon 
Buffon's view of Environment, while Lamarck did 
not. The greatest gap in his reasoning has become 
obvious since his time ; namely, that it turned upon 
the assumption that acquired characters are inher- 
ited ; this he took for granted and never endeavoured 
to demonstrate. 

None the less we must close by placing La- 
marck in the first rank. He was the first natur- 
alist to become profoundly convinced of the great 
law, and to place it in the form of a system ; he 
suffered social and scientific ostracism for this con- 

GOETHE. l8l 

viction, maintaining and repeating his arguments to 
his death-bed. There is a pathetic strain in the in- 
troduction to the last edition of his Animaux sans 
Vertedres : — 

"Avant d'atteindre le terme de mon existence, j'ai pens^ que 
dans un nouvel ouvrage, susceptible d'etre consid^r^ comme 
une seconde Edition de mon Systeme des Animaux sans VertebreSy 
je devais exposer les principaux faits que j'ai recuellis pour mes 
legons. . . . Ainsi que mes observations et mes reflexions sur la 
source de ces faits." 

JoHANN Wolfgang Goethe (i 749-1832) was 
the greatest poet of Evolution; he saw the law 
as a poet, as a philosopher, and as an anatomist. 

While making the most substantial contribu- 
tions to the scientific evidences, he did not, like 
his French contemporary, formulate a system. He 
was born five years later and died three years 
earlier than Lamarck, yet never knew of his writ- 
ings. This circumstance Haeckel truly calls a 
tragic loss to science, for Goethe would have made 
the buried Philosophie Zoologique known to the 

The brilliant early achievements of Goethe in 
science afford another illustration of the union of 
imagination and powers of observation as the essen- 
tial characteristics of the naturalist. When he took 
his journey into Italy, and the poetic instinct began 
to predominate over the scientific, science lost a 
disciple who would have ranked among the very 
highest, if not the highest. Of this time Goethe 


says : " I have abandoned my master Loder for my 
friend Schiller, and Linnaeus for Shakespeare." 
Yet Goethe, in the midst of poetry, never lost his 
passion for scientific studies. He seems to have 
felt instinctively that what contemporary science 
needed was not only observation, but generaliza- 
tion. He showed his own power of scientific 
generalization in his famous studies upon the meta- 
morphoses of plants, and in his discovery (later 
independently reached by Oken) of the vertebrate 
theory of the skull, which, indeed, was only a part 
of his contribution to Comparative Osteology and 

His inspiration was undoubtedly drawn partly 
from Buffon and largely from the school of German 
natural philosophers. He also imbibed the Greek 
influence, and in his general view of Nature, ex- 
pressed in his Gott und Welt, we see the ideas of 
God working in Nature and of the unity of the 
development process. This he also brought out in 
the dialogue between Thales and Anaxagoras in 
the Walpurgis7iacht. Here is unfolded the con- 
ception of the uniformity of past and present pro- 
cesses in Geology and Cosmogony. It is astonish- 
ing that Goethe never came across the works of 
Lamarck. He anticipated Lamarck as an evolution- 
ist in his Metamorphoses of Plajzts, which was pub- 
lished in 1790, and the Lamarckian principle is 
one in which he would have undoubtedly felt the 
deepest interest. His sympathies in France were 

GOETHE. ' 183 

wholly with Geoffroy St. Hilaire and his conten- 
tion for Philosophical Anatomy and Philosophical 
Biology. Showing that to the very last Goethe took 
the keenest interest in science, and placed the 
movements of scientific thought above political 
revolutions, we learn of his following the debates 
between St. Hilaire and Cuvier ; here is the 
famous incident of his eighty-first year, told by 
Soret, and quoted by Haeckel : — 

"Monday, Aug. 2d, 1830. — The news of the outbreak of the 
revolution of July arrived in Weimar to-day, and has caused 
general excitement. In the course of the afternoon I went to 
Goethe. ' Well,' he exclaimed as I entered, ' what do you think 
of this great event ? The volcano has burst forth, all is in flames, 
and there are no more negotiations behind closed doors.' * A 
dreadful affair,' I answered ; ' but what else could be expected 
under the circumstances, and with such a ministry, except that it 
would end in the expulsion of the present royal family ? ' * We 
do not seem to understand each other, my dear friend,' replied 
Goethe. ' I am not speaking of those people at all ; I am inter- 
ested in something very different. I mean the dispute between 
Cuvier and Geoffroy de Saint Hilaire, which has broken out in the 
Academy, and which is of such great importance to science.' 
This remark of Goethe's came upon me so unexpectedly that I 
did not know what to say, and my thoughts for some minutes 
seemed to have come to a complete standstill. ' The affair is of 
the utmost importance,' he continued, ' and you cannot form any 
idea of what I felt on receiving the news of the meeting on the 
19th. In Geoffroy de Saint Hilaire we have now a mighty ally 
for a long time to come. But I see also how great the sympathy 
of the French scientific world must be in this affair, for, in spite 
of the terrible political excitement, the meeting on the 19th was 
attended by a full house. The best of it is, however, that the 


synthetic treatment of Nature, introduced into France by GeofFroy, 
can now no longer be stopped. This matter has now become 
pubHc through the discussions in the Academy, carried on in the 
presence of a large audience ; it can no longer be referred to secret 
committees, or be settled or suppressed behind closed doors.' " 

It is not surprising that Goethe was appreciated 
in France, and that he was highly praised by- 
Isidore St. Hilaire. In Cuvier we find the follow- 
ing allusion to his essays on Comparative Anatomy : 
" One finds in them, with astonishment, nearly 
all the propositions which have been separately 
advanced in recent times." And Richard Owen, 
somewhat later, wrote : " Goethe had taken the 
lead in his inquiries into Comparative Osteology." 
Carus, in his preface to his Transcende^ital Anat- 
omy, wrote: " If we go back as far as possible 
into the history of the labours undertaken with the 
view to arrive at the philosophic conception of the 
skeleton, we find that the first idea of the meta- 
morphosis of the osseous forms ; that is, that all 
forms are but modifications, more or less traceable, 
of one and the same type ; this idea belongs to 

The ' unity of type ' hypothesis, which exercised 
such a potent influence in Europe, was developed 
in Goethe's mind in 1796; this was the concep- 
tion which formed the chief basis of his idea of 
Evolution : — 

"Thus much, then, we have gained, that we may assert, without 
hesitation, that all the more perfect organic natures, such as fishes, 

GOETHE, 185 

amphibious animals, birds, mammals, and man at the head of the 
list, were all formed upon one original type, which varies only 
more or less in parts which "are none the less permanent, and 
which still daily changes and modifies its form by propagation." 

With him, this unity of type was broadly based 
upon his own observations, and was partly a gener- 
alization. This led him to a correct explanation of 
half-developed, or vestigial, structures, which are 
among the strongest evidences of the law of Evolu- 
tion. He thoroughly understood the relations of 
the anatomy of man to that of lower forms, and 
speaks of vestigial structures in man as follows : 
" These structures, which in lower organisms are 
developed in stronger measure, and in man, in spite 
of his higher organism, are not wholly lost." It was 
this interpretation as a working hypothesis, which 
led to one of Goethe's most brilliant achievements 
in Comparative Anatomy, — his prediction of the dis- 
covery of premaxillary bones in man. This raised 
a storm of opposition which now seems hardly 
credible, in spite of which Goethe succeeded in 
verifying his prediction. 

Thus, Goethe stepped from observation to gener- 
alization, from generalization to the working hypoth- 
esis, which he turned into use as the guide to fresh 
research. He advanced upon the truly modern scien- 
tific method; yet, he always preserved the proper 
balance between observation and generalization. 
He says of Kant, that, if he had once held Kant's 
conception of derivation and of filiation, as deduced 


by reason, and could have undertaken lines of 
inquiry, nothing would have prevented him from 
carrying out its proofs. 

He was superior to all his three contemporaries, 
Lamarck, Treviranus, and St. Hilaire, in his realiza- 
tion that certain problems were very far from solu- 
tion ; in a work, written in 1 794-95, but not published 
until long afterwards, he remarked that, " the ques- 
tion for future naturalists will be to determine how, 
for instance, cattle got their horns, and not for what 
they are used." He thus, with Kant, felt the gap 
in the lack of a natural explanation for the origin 
of purposive structures. 

Goethe's theory of the factors, so far as formulated, 
had the spirit of Buffon and Lamarck, and is beauti- 
fully expressed in the passage Haeckel selects from 
his Metamorphosis of Animals (1819) : — 

" All members develop themselves according to eternal laws, 
And the rarest form mysteriously preserves the primitive type. 
Form, therefore, determines the animal's way of life, 
And in turn the way of life powerfully reacts upon all form. 
Thus the orderly growth of form is seen to hold 
Whilst yielding to change from externally acting causes." ^ 

In his Metamo7phoses of Plants, published in 
1790, we find Goethe's ideas clearly expressed. 
He here derives all plants from a single original 
form, and all the elaborate structures of the plant 
from the leaf. He called his theory, ' Bildimg und 
Umbildung' or ' Formation and Transformation.' 

1 This contains the Aristotelian 'matter and form' notion, together with a 
perception of the factors of Lamarck (4th line) and of Buffon (6th line). 


The ' Urbild,' or type, was composed of the internal 
original common characters, or, as we should say, 
the ' stem characters,' lying at the base of all forms, 
and these original structures were preserved by 

The preservation of this type was opposed by 
a continuous progressive development, and this 
was necessitated by the relations of the organism to 
the outer world. The former, or type, is the cen- 
tripetal structural force, or specification ; while the 
latter, or progressive development, is the centrifugal 
structural force, or metamorphosis. Goethe prized 
highly the conception of these two opposed forces, 
which we now know as Heredity and Variation, or 
Inheritance and Adaptation. Morphology was 
Goethe's favourite study, and upon transformation 
depended all his ideas of the Descent theory. Phy- 
letic series, and the methods of ascertaining them, 
were wholly unknown to him, but structural series, 
or the modifications of a primitive type or arche- 
type, exhibited successively in the lower and higher 
types of plants and in the lower and higher types 
of animals, were clearly perceived, and, as we have 
seen above, they led Goethe to a thoroughly philo- 
sophical interpretation of structures in all stages of 
Evolution, in the three phases of Development, Bal- 
ance, and Degeneration. 

Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus (i 776-1837), a 
prominent German naturalist and contemporary of 
Lamarck and Goethe, has the distinction of defin- 


ing ' Biology ' as the science of living Nature, in 
1802. It is an interesting coincidence that both he 
and Lamarck independently felt the need of a 
comprehensive term for the principles underlying 
Botany and Zoology, and proposed it in the same 

Huxley has also placed Treviranus beside La- 
marck as one of the founders of the Evolution 
theory; but a careful study of Treviranus' chief 
work — Biologie oder P hilosophie der lebendejt 
Natur — does not justify our ranking these two 
men together. In the other extreme, Treviranus, as 
an evolutionist, has been too widely ignored. He 
is not named by any of the French writers; his 
own countryman, Haeckel, has shown his posi- 
tion clearly, but places him below Oken. I may 
give a rather full statement of his views. His Bio- 
logie was published several years after Lamarck's 
first essay upon Evolution, but in the preface of 
his last work, — Erscheiiiungen und Gesetze des 
Organischen Lebens, which was published in 1830, 
— Treviranus states that he had reached his conclu- 
sions independently of and prior to Lamarck. 
Even in this case we cannot claim for Trevira- 
nus great originality ; for in his conception of Evo- 
lution he does not advance very far beyond the 
standpoint reached by Buffon in his middle period, 
and he appears to us rather as a very careful student 
and compiler not only of Buffon but of Leibnitz, 
Kant, Schelling, — all of whom suggested the 


Evolution theory, — also of Linnaeus, Harvey, and 
Blumenbach. He had moreover the advantage of 
the new Paleontology of Cuvier and of the travels 
of Humboldt. 

His point of approach to Nature is that of the 
German natural philosophers. He places life upon 
the chemical and mechanical basis, and in his intro- 
duction enters a vigorous protest against the purely 
speculative work upon the one side, — die Traume 
und Visionen, — probably having in mind his worthy 
predecessor Bonnet and others whom I have placed 
in the speculative group. On the other side, he 
protests against the dry systematic work which 
Linnaeus had left to his posterity, — his terms with- 
out his genius, — a Botany and Zoology devoid of 
all higher generalizations. 

" An author," he says, " can have no sadder and more spirit- 
kilUng duty than the reading and writing of compilations. The 
teachings of Natural Science have long been standing isolated like 
the pyramids in the deserts of Egypt, as if the value of Natural 
History were not rather the application than the mere possession 
of facts. What have Botany and Zoology been hitherto, but a dry 
register of names, and what man who has not lost his sense for 
higher work can find time for these gymnastics of memory? But 
once regard systematic work as a part of Biology, and nomencla- 
ture as a means rather than as an end, and both take their place 
in science, contributing to the whole in which the intellect of man 
perceives the unity and harmony of Natural Law. Even the work 
of Linnaeus, as it does not reach the highest point, is mere con- 
struction. The author will give opinion and theory a place in 
this work, but he is far from those who give their dreams and 
fancies a reality and permanence, believing that his own theories 


may perish, and hoping to direct the current of thought in Biol- 
ogy to adapt itself to Nature, and not to make Nature adapt her- 
self to the current of thought. Let us not direct the stream of 
Nature, but be directed by her. Let us publish a work which 
will collect the numerous thoughts lying scattered throughout 
the writings of Natural History, and this generalization will have 
greater value than all the descriptions of new forms." 

Treviranus thus ranges himself with the school 
of Buffon, Lamarck, Geoffroy St. Hilaire, and 
Goethe, as against the school of Linnaeus and 
Cuvier. He believed that it was possible to dis- 
cover the Philosophy of Nature, and his whole 
work is written in an admirable spirit. In the 
succeeding introductory chapters upon the inter- 
pretation of living Nature, he considers the impor- 
tance of Biology, its fundamental principles, possible 
systems of Biology, methods of experimental Biol- 
ogy, as well as the use of the hypothesis, — that is, 
the working hypothesis, — as the essential weapon 
of progress towards the truth. He defines Biology 
as "the study of the different forms and appear- 
ances of organic life, of the conditions and laws 
under which these exist, and of the causes by which 
they are kept in operation." In the Laws of Life 
(p. 58), he points out that every part of the organ- 
ism is subservient to the whole, that Nature never 
builds up one organ or system of organs without 
causing others to suffer reduction. This is equiva- 
lent to the ' loi de balancement ' of St. Hilaire, or the 
modern law of ' compensation of growth,' the defi- 


ciency of one part being made up by the greater 
development of another. He also, as clearly as 
Lamarck, perceives the causal relation between 
function and structure. In his conception of 
natural environment, he with Schelling perceives 
that every class of animals exerts upon living 
Nature influences similar to those exerted in the 
animal or plant by their organs and systems of 
organs upon each other. 

He has two chief thoughts in regard to environ- 
ment. First, the influences of life upon life, and of 
life upon Nature ; and second, the constant revolu- 
tions of life and climate. He says that the wider the 
limits reached by the action or by the incidence or 
impact of environment upon the living organism, 
so much higher the grade of the organism must be. 
The lowest rudiments of life — vita mmima — are 
those in which the action of environment falls with 
least specialization, and these rudiments mark the 
transition to lifeless matter. This conception of 
environment, as the action and reaction of life upon 
Nature and of life upon life, he amplifies in connec- 
tion with the law of Buffon and Malthus, that the 
struggle for existence consists, not only in repro- 
duction, but in reproduction increasing in quantity 
according to the destructive influences of surround- 
ing life. An animal must have more progeny as the 
number of its enemies increases. 

We thus see that Treviranus breathed the spirit 
of the most philosophical of his predecessors, and 


was essentially modern in his method. We, there- 
fore, expect to find an equal breadth of view in his 
treatment of the problem of Evolution. Here we 
are disappointed, for we find only another proof of 
the insuperable difficulties under which these early 
evolutionists laboured, in the comparatively limited 
knowledge they possessed of the forms and succes- 
sions of life. As soon as Treviranus departs from 
these first principles of Biology and undertakes an 
application of these principles to a theory of devel- 
opment of animal life, he becomes more and more 
speculative, and shows himself much inferior to 
Lamarck in his approach to the truth. 

In his conception of Evolution, we see him trans- 
lating Buffon's term ' dhiaturee, ' by ' degeneration ' ; 
for he means by ' degeneration ' exactly what we 
now term 'adaptation,' or modification, by the ac- 
tion of external formative forces ; in other words, 
both development and degeneration. His theory of 
the Evolution factors is very similar to that of 
Buffon, as he traces degeneration solely to the influ- 
ences of varying external conditions, and this he be- 
lieves to be the modifying factor in single organisms. 
The perpetual changes in living surroundings bring 
about constant changes in the organization of the 

In course of these changes old species are de- 
stroyed and new ones take their places. He brings 
out clearly the idea of the action of environment in 
the elimination of species, groups, and families, but 


does not assign this as a cause of the origin of adap- 
tations. Thus, many species become extinct, while 
others become diminished in numbers. Man, him- 
self, exhibits the direct modifying influence of his 
environment by wide variations in his structure. 
The history of the older geological periods is given 
us in the succession of fossils. Here, Treviranus 
added to the work of Cuvier the idea of modifica- 
tion in time, an idea which Cuvier never adopted. 

Continuing to extend his Evolution theory (Vol. 
III., p. 225), we find that he believed in Abioge- 
nesis : — 

Every form of life can be produced by physical forces in one 
of two ways : either by coming into being out of formless (inor- 
ganic) matter, or by the modification of an already existing form 
by a continued process of shaping. . . . Wherever Nature has 
exerted her building forces she has brought forth Autochthones, 
living bodies, 

. . . qui rupto robore natty 
Compositive into, nullos habuere parentes. 

Wherever Hke conditions prevailed, of climate, earth, water, atmos- 
phere, and a similar geographical position, these Autochthones 
were similar, and the species which developed from them remained 
similar as long as the environment was unaltered. But in studying 
the form of any particular country, it is very hard to determine 
which forms are native or autochthonous, and which have spread 
into the country by migration from other countries. 

He then proceeds to anachronistic theories of the 
abiogenetic origin of these Autochthones : — 

" But how did these species arise ? Were they born fully formed, 
like Aphrodite, from sea-foam ? Or as simple zoophytes ? They 


could only have arisen by the development from generation to gen- 
eration of similar forms ; these primitive forms are the Encrinites, 
Pentacrinites, Ammonites, and other zoophytes of the Old World, 
from which all organisms of the higher classes have arisen. Each 
species has its period of growth, of full bloom, and decline ; the 
latter is a period of degeneration. Thus, it is not only the great 
catastrophes of Nature which have caused extinction, but the 
completion of cycles of existence, out of which new cycles have 
begun. Thus, in Nature, all is in a state of flux and transfer ; 
even man has not reached the highest term of his existence, but 
will progress to still higher regions, and produce a nobler type of 

These sentences show that Treviranus did not 
add anything to the main theory of Evolution, al- 
though a strong advocate of it. His ideas upon 
descent are much less clear and accurate than those 
of Lamarck ; and in his views of the original, spon- 
taneous origin of some of the higher forms of life, 
as shown in the sentence last quoted, he is very far 
afield. Haeckel is mistaken when he states that 
Treviranus refers to the lowest organisms in the 
term ' zoophytes,' for Treviranus couples with this 
term such complex forms as Crinoids and Ammo- 
nites. As to the factors of Evolution, he does not 
advance beyond Buffon, and in his general concep- 
tion he virtually takes the position held much 
earlier by Goethe, for he summarizes his views 
in the sentence : " In every living being there exists 
the capability of an endless variety of form- 
assumption ; each possesses the power to adapt its 
organization to the changes of the outer world, and it 



IS this power, put into action by the change of the 
universe, that has raised the simple zoophytes of the 
primitive world to continually higher stages of or- 
ganization, and has introduced a countless variety 
of species into animate Nature." 

Georges Cuvier (i 769-1832), as the great oppo- 
nent of Lamarckian doctrines in particular, of Evo- 
lution in general, and of the methods of thought 
which were surely leading to its demonstration, de- 
serves a few words in this history. It is interesting 
to note that in forming his personal opinions, he re- 
versed the order taken by Linnaeus, Lamarck, and 
St. Hilaire ; for, starting with views very similar to 
the most advanced held by Buffon upon the muta- 
bility of species, he arrived at a point as conserva- 
tive as the early position of Linnaeus, insisting upon 
the fixity, not only of species, but of varieties. His 
definition was of the kind destined to prevail until 
1858. "All the beings belonging to one of these 
forms (perpetuated since the beginning of all things, 
that is, the Creation) constitute what we call spe- 
cies." As head of the illustrious Ecole des Fails, 
he laughed, and set his pupils laughing, over the 
* Philosophy of Nature,' characterizing it as ' La tete 
de la tete' 

It is strange that whenever Cuvier left his ob- 
jective studies for speculation, he was exceptionally 
unsound ; in his Embryology he believed in ' Evo- 
lution ' versus ' Epigenesis ' ; in his Discours sur 
les Revolutions sur la Surface du Globe, he advo- 


cated the doctrine of Catastrophism versus Unifor- 
mity ; he also advanced, and later retracted, the 
theory of a ' succession of special creations.' As 
the chief founder of Comparative Anatomy and 
Paleontology, he introduced the modern conception 
of Paleontology as past Zoology. He first de- 
scribed Anchitherium, and pointed out its resem- 
blance to the Horse ; this is a form which, perhaps, 
more than any other, is to-day part of the most 
convincing fossil testimony of Evolution ; yet Cuvier 
failed to see in it any proofs of the ' filiation ' hy- 
pothesis he was opposing. His influence was almost 
unbounded ; a favourite of Napoleon, he was able 
to build up a great school in the Jardin des Plantes, 
and exerted his political influence in keeping the 
' transformists ' out of position. He was followed by 
De Candolle, the botanist, by Dumeril, the inver- 
tebrate zoologist, by De Blainville, the paleontolo- 
gist ; in Germany, by Vogt and Bronn. Richard 
Owen partly shared Cuvier's views, and partly those 
of St. Hilaire. 

Geoffroy St. Hilaire (i 772-1844), another 
of the distinguished French naturalists of the 
early part of this century, was long a colleague 
of Lamarck in the Jardin des Plantes. We cannot 
read his works without perceiving that he was by 
birth a philosopher, and by adoption a naturalist. 
Although his theory of the causes was profoundly 
different from that of Lamarck, he belonged to the 
Buffon-Lamarck school of thought, as opposed to 

ST. HI LAI RE. 197 

that of Cuvier, and in support of this school his 
name came into wide celebrity by the famous dis- 
cussion of 1830 in the French Academy of Sciences, 
to which Goethe alluded. He added largely to 
the evidences of ' filiation ' and contributed sev- 
eral entirely original theoretical ' factors ' of trans- 
formation ; nevertheless, there is an undercurrent 
of doubt as to the extent of the law of Evolution, 
in all his writings. He was not a radical evolution- 
ist like Lamarck. 

Perrier, Quatrefages, and the younger St. Hilaire 
have carefully studied his opinions and history. 
St. Hilaire was a pupil of Buffon, but as a thinker 
he mainly acknowledges his debt to the German 
Natural Philosophers and especially to Schelling 
in his researches upon the philosophy of Nature; 
although he does not follow Schelling in his advo- 
cacy of the superiority of the deductive method. 

St. Hilaire's method was professedly inductive. 
Ideas, he said, should be directly engendered by 
facts. His conceptions were often a priori, but his 
demonstrations were always a posteriori. In his 
speculation upon Evolution, we see that St. Hilaire 
was by no means always consistent with his method, , 
but was very largely influenced by certain classes 
of facts which came under his direct observation,- 
and reasoned from these to laws touching facts of 
quite a distinct character. Goethe says of him: 
" He recalls Buffon in some points of view. He 
does not stop at Nature existing or achieved; he 


studies it in the germ, in its development, and in its 
future. He projects the idea of unity, which Buffon 
had just touched upon." There were three branches 
of study in which St. Hilaire was most deeply inter- 
ested. First, Comparative Anatomy ; second, Tera- 
tology ; and third, what came to be known as 
Philosophical Anatomy when he finally embodied it 
in the Philosophie Anatomique. This was published 
in 1818, and w^as the work so greatly admired by 
Goethe. The narrower range of his studies, the 
dominating influence of his ' unity of type ' principle 
and the sudden departures from type seen in his 
pathological studies, shaped the growth of St. 
Hilaire 's limited and peculiar view of Evolution. 

He has been mistakenly spoken of as the suc- 
cessor of Lamarck. It is simply true that he took 
up the general doctrines of transformism at the 
point where Lamarck could no longer defend them. 
As a remarkable coincidence, Buffon, Lamarck, and 
Hilaire all became transformists at the same age of 
life. His son, Isidore St. Hilaire, as well as Quatre- 
fages and Perrier, show very clearly that he was 
more properly the disciple and expander of Buffon. 
He denied the inherited influences of habit, which 
formed Lamarck's central thought, and maintained 
that the direct action of environment was the sole 
cause of transformation, always regarding organisms 
as comparatively passive in their ' milieu! Thus he 
found it necessary to greatly differentiate Buffon's 
conception of environment, especially on its chemi- 

ST. NIL A IRE. 199 

cal atmospheric side, attributing very marked results 
to its influence upon the respiratory functions, as 
in his account of the evolution of the crocodiles 
from the saurians. 

It was between 1825 and 1828 that Geoffroy 
published his memoirs upon the fossil Teleosaurs 
of Caen, and connected them by theoretical descent 
with the existing Gavials.^ Changing environment 
and respiration were, he believed, the chief factors 
in this transformation.^ 

" Le monde ambiant est tout puissant pour une alteration des 
corps organises. ... La respiration constitue, selon moi, une 
ordonn^e si puissante pour la disposition des formes animales qu'il 
n'est meme point n^cessaire que le milieu des fluides respiratoire 
se modifie brusquement et fortement, pour occasioner des formes 
tres peu sensiblement alt^r^es." 

The atmosphere, acting upon the pulmonary cells, 
brings about '' modifications which are favourable or 
destructive {'/u7testes ' ) ; these are inherited, and they 
infi^uence all the rest of the organizatioii of the animal 
because if these modifications lead to injurious efi'ects, 
the animals which exhibit them perish and are replaced 
by others of a somewhat difi['ere7it form, a form 
changed so as to be adapted to (a la convenance) the 
new environment^ This is a very striking state- 
ment of a law of variation due to the influences 
of environment, and of the survival or extinction of 

1 Recherches sur des grands Sauriens trouves h letat fossile, Mem. Acad. 
d. Sciences, Paris, 1 83 1. 

'^ Influence du monde ambiant pour modifier les formes animales. Mem. 
de TAcad. d. Sc, XII., p. 63, 1833, 


types according to the favourable or unfavourable 
character of the variation. Perrier italicizes this 
passage and points out its anticipation of Darwinism. 
Another highly characteristic feature of his theory 
was, that he included in it what has recently been 
termed 'saltatory evolution', and strongly opposed 
Lamarck's fundamental principle that all transfor- 
mation is extremely slow. It is evident that this 
idea was suggested to him by the sudden transfor- 
mations observed in his teratological studies. This 
enabled him to maintain Evolution without de- 
monstrating the existence of intermediate forms. 
Intermediate forms had begun to be a stumbling- 
block to evolutionists. Where, it was asked, was 
evidence of a transition between amphibians and 
reptiles, and between reptiles and birds } This 
also enabled St. Hilaire to avoid a difficulty he 
himself raised, that characters of new forms of life 
would not be maintained pure, owing to the blends 
of interbreeding; these sudden saltations or leaps 
from type to type secured the necessary physiologi- 
cal isolation. As a rapid transformationist, he was 
not, however, an imitator of De Maillet, who, we 
remember, believed in the transformation of adult 
forms. St. Hilaire denied the possibility of these 
rapid leaps in the adult condition, and believed that 
they took place mainly in the embryonic condition ; 
here, the underlying causes of sudden transformation 
were profound changes induced in the ^^^ by external 
influences, accidents as it were, regulated by law. 


As it involved rapid, as well as gradual, transfor- 
mation, St. Hilaire's system did not always require 
the existence of intermediate links. For instance, 
he advanced as an hypothesis the suggestion that 
the first bird might have issued directly from the 
^^^ laid by a reptile, and, as a bird could not be fer- 
tilized or intercrossed by its reptilian relatives, the 
new characters could not be suppressed by inter- 
crossing: "It is evidently not by an insensible 
change that the inferior types of oviparous verte- 
brates have given rise to the superior organization of 
the group of birds. An accident, within the range 
of possibility, and not very great in its original pro- 
duction, but of an incalculable importance in all its 
effects, has sufficed to produce in all parts of the 
body the conditions of the bird type." 

Finally, his attitude towards transformism, as 
explaining all forms of life, was much less positive 
and sweeping than Lamarck's.' His view of Evo- 
lution may be summed up in this sentence : " Spe- 
cies vary with their environment, and existing 
species have descended by modification from earlier 
and somewhat simpler species." He admitted that 
the question to be decided by future paleontological 
research, is whether " the living forms of to-day 
have descended by a succession of generations, and 
without break, from the extinct forms of the ante- 
diluvian period." He looked for, and found, proofs 
and evidences, within his own reach, in Embryology, 
in the history of metamorphoses and in Teratology. 


Not even in speculation did he trace back all forms 
of life to a simple prototype ; he thus narrowed 
Lamarck's wide field of conjecture in Phylogeny. 

We find a full account of the famous discussion 
of the year 1830, between St. Hilaire and Cuvier, 
in Perrier's Philosophie Zoologique avant Darwin. 
It is also frequently alluded to in the Histoire 
Naturelle Generale, by the younger St. Hilaire. 

Linnaeus opened his Systema NaturcB with the 
statement that the true greatness of man consists 
in his observing, reasoning, and forming conclu- 
sions, but the main tendency of his own work was 
to carry his conclusions only to the point of distin- 
guishing between the separate forms of life, not to 
the causes of these distinctions. Buffon held that 
the first aim of science was to describe exactly, and 
to determine particular facts, but that we must de- 
vote ourselves to something higher ; namely, to com- 
bine and generalize upon the facts, and to judge 
particular causes in the light of the more general 
causes of Nature. Thus, Linnaeus and Buffon were 
the founders of two distinct schools. Linnaeus was 
upheld by Cuvier and all the systematic writers ; 
Buffon by Lamarck, Treviranus, Goethe, and St. Hil- 
aire. Into this higher region of generalization, which 
Goethe took up only to abandon, few naturalists 
dared to stir. The followers of Linnaeus showed 
themselves weakest where they attempted deduction, 
and we have contrasted the soundness of Cuvier s 
Comparative Anatomy with the worthlessness of his 


speculation. The Buffon school came into ridicule 
by some of the wild hypotheses in their earlier 
books; for neither Buffon nor Lamarck knew when 
to apply the curb. Excessive speculation brought 
a reaction. After Kielmeyer, Schelling, and Goethe, 
there was a return to the older methods of simple 
observation and record. As we have seen, this was 
partly justified by the fact that the whole philosophy 
of the speculative writers, and much of that of 
Buffon and Lamarck, was deductive, rather than in- 
ductive. Geoffroy St. Hilaire sought to revive 
speculation and place it upon the true inductive- 
deductive basis in his Philosophie Ajiatomique. 

On the 15th February, 1830, matters came to a 
crisis; St. Hilaire read before the Academy of 
Sciences at Paris, in the name of Latreille and him- 
self, a report upon the investigations of two young 
naturalists. The conclusions reached in the report 
were advanced in support of St. Hilaire's chief 
doctrine of the ujiiversal unity of plan of com- 
position ; this was his" central life thought, leading 
him to emphasize the resemblances rather than the 
differences between animals, and to lay the founda- 
tion of the study of ' parallelism ' in development. 
In this case he was illustrating his principle by the 
supposed analogy between the organization of some 
cephalopod molluscs and the vertebrates. It 
seemed to Cuvier that these conclusions consti- 
tuted a direct attack, and this brought on a discus- 
sion of the questions which had been marking a 


widening gap between the opinions of the two great 
schools. Cuvier replied by a criticism of the posi- 
tion of St. Hilaire as to this 'unity of plan,' and 
rightly sought to demonstrate that there were 
several distinct plans of animal organization. He 
carefully analyzed the arguments brought forward, 
and showed conclusively that in the types cited by 
St. Hilaire the organs in their position gave evi- 
dence simply of analogy and of resemblance, not 
of a real unity of plan ; that these molluscs led to 
no other types. Further, he said that St. Hilaire's 
method contained nothing new, and reverted simply 
to the views of Aristotle. 

In following the details of this discussion, we 
see that Cuvier was entirely correct in his facts, 
and wrong in his principle ; while St. Hilaire was 
wrong in his facts, and right in the principle which 
he advocated. The effect was to drive Cuvier, who 
issued with the greater eclat^ into the extreme posi- 
tion of recommending naturalists to confine them- 
selves solely to the exposition of positive facts with- 
out attempting to draw from them inductions. 
This sharp issue, therefore, exerted a retarding 
influence upon the progress of inquiry into Evo- 
lution; for Cuvier, in his brilliant lectures in the 
College de France, threw increased weight against 
the method and teachings of St. Hilaire, as he 
had previously done against those of Lamarck. 

BoRY DE Saint Vincent (i 780-1846) seems to 
have been the only loyal successor of Lamarck in 


France. Like his leader, he was both a naturalist, 
and, for a time, an army officer. In the former 
capacity, he was, for a time, with the expedition 
of Baudin. Quatrefages has given the following 
sketch of his views : 

In several papers, but especially in the article 
' Creation ' of the Dictzon7taire Classique de F His- 
toire Naturelle, of which he was the editor, he 
developed, in more than one point, the doctrines 
of Lamarck, and drew from them conclusions which 
belonged to himself. 

Bory admits the spontaneous daily formation of 
new species, not, it is true, upon our continents, 
which have for a long time been peopled with both 
animals and plants, but only in countries consid- 
ered by him lese ancient in formation. He cites, 
for example, the island of Madagascar, which he 
believes to have only recently issued from the sea, 
under the influence of volcanic forces. According 
to him, this island contains more ''polymorphic 
species than all the terra firma of the Old World." 
On this relatively modern soil he says species are 
not yet fixed. Nature, in hastening to constitute 
the types, seems to have neglected to regulate the 
accessory organs. On the other hand, in the con- 
tinents more anciently formed, the development of 
plants has, perforce, followed an identical route for 
an incalculable number of generations. The plants 
have thus become arrested in their types, and do 
not present the variations so frequent in new coun- 


tries. Bory thus introduces a new idea in the 
influence exercised on the fixation of specific char- 
acters by the action of a long series of ancestors 
placed under constant conditions. According to 
him, this, so to speak, is habit exercising its powers, 
not only on individuals, but even on species. But 
in this conception, without being apparently aware 
of it, he places himself in formal contradiction to 
the master of whom he proclaims himself a disci- 
ple. We have seen, in fact, that in the opinion of 
Lamarck, all organized forms were being constantly 
modified according to new needs, and it follows 
that each generation was separated more and more 
from its ancestors. While with Bory heredity would 
have, as its result, the fixation of characters, with 
Lamarck it is constantly causing them to vary, 
by accumulating the little differences acquired in 
each generation. In this point of view, Bory must 
be regarded as an aberrant disciple of Lamarck. 
The idea of Bory, of the fixation of characters by 
heredity, was subsequently taken up and enlarged 
by his countryman, Naudin. 

Isidore St. Hilatre (i 805-1861) serves us as a 
mirror of the further recession of opinion from 
transformism in France. The tide of hostile influ- 
ence had set too strongly against the doctrine ; and 
we find the son taking a still more conservative 
position than his father, whom, nevertheless, he 
loyally defended. 

He advanced a theory of ' the limited variability 


of species' (rather than of the mutability) in his 
classic work, Histoire Generale et Particuliere 
d' Anomalies de r Organization, 1832, and his 
U Histoire Naturelle des Regnes Organiques. He 
was undoubtedly swayed by the difficulty of finding 
positive evidence for transformation, and further 
by the negative evidence of the stability of species 
afforded by the rich collections of mummied animals 
brought back from Egypt. Thus, in his theory, 
he dwelt upon the limited variability rather than 
the mutability of species, believing in transmission 
only to the point of forming a new race. This is 
fully set forth in his Histoire Naturelle (Vol. I., 
p. 431). At the conclusion of his review of the 
history of opinion upon Evolution in France, he 
gives it, as his own opinion, that characters are 
neither actually fixed nor variable, both depending 
upon the fixity or the variability of environment. 
New characters are the resultant of two forces: 
first, the modifying influence of new surroundings ; 
and, second, the conserving influence of Heredity. 
When the former predominates, variations result, 
such as are seen among savages and in the domes- 
tication of animals. These variations among wild 
animals extend to modifications of colour and exter- 
nal characters, but in domestication the differences 
are much more marked. So much for changes 
going on at the present time. As to past time, the 
' theory of limited variability ' links itself with that 
of * filiation,' or descent from analogous forms, as 


opposed to that of Cuvier of ' successive creations/ 
or of migration of existing species from other quar- 
ters of the globe. He concludes by saying, very 
guardedly, that this acceptance of the transmutation 
theory rests upon the actual very limited state of 

It is another striking coincidence that in the 
very year (1859) in which this passage was pub- 
lished the Origin of Species appeared. The last 
stages of the decline of the main ' transmutation ' 
movement in France were coincident with its 
sudden and final revival and establishment in 



Es ist fur Menschen ungereimt, auch nur einen solchen Anschlag zu fassen, 
Oder zu hoifen, dass noch etwa dereinst ein Newton aufstehen konne, der auch 
nur die Erzeugung eines Grashalms nach Naturgesetzen, die keine Absicht geordnet 
hat, begreiflich machen werde, sondern man muss diese Einsicht dem Menschen 
schlechterdings absprechen. — KanT. 

With Bory de St. Vincent and the younger St. 
Hilaire the original movement in France, which 
had begun with Buffon and extended over nearly 
a hundred years, came to a close. In the mean- 
time, from the early part of the century, the seed 
had been scattering. In England, on the Conti- 
nent, and in America, the Evolution theory found 
here and there a friend who passingly restated, 
or slightly expanded, views already expressed by 
Buffon, Lamarck, Goethe, or Treviranus. Some 
original ideas also sprang up in out of the way 
quarters, and have been unearthed from their 
hiding-places since the theory has been estab- 
lished ; we must place them, as it were', in an 
alcove of this history, because they certainly had 
little or no direct connection with the main devel- 
opment of the Evolution idea; they were not put 
forth as part of a general system, and exerted no 
influence upon either Darwin or Wallace. 

F 209 


The First Half-Century. 

Darwin, in his Historical Sketch of the Progress of 
Opinion, and Haeckel, in his Schopfungsgeschichte, 
have outlined the views of these miscellaneous con- 
tributors to the Evolution theory. The most sur- 
prising thought raised by a review of the original 
works, and of the passages quoted by the above 
authors, is that so many came near the theory and 
were neither captured by it nor drawn on to its 
further serious exposition as the key to the history 
of life. Only one writer between 1809 and 1858 
came out in a really vigorous and sustained defence 
of the evolutionary system of the Universe. This 
was the unknown author of the Vestiges of Creatioji. 

We are now familiar with the main sources of 
suggestion, and can consider some of these writers 
more critically than Darwin or Haeckel have done, 
from the standpoint of originality. It would be 
interesting to know whether Wells, for example, 
who so clearly set forth the Natural Selection 
theory in 181 3, had seen any of the other ' antici- 
pations ' which have been quoted. So with the two 
other 'selectionists,' Matthew and Naudin. There 
were a series of original writers who independently 
approached Evolution upon the embryological side, 
such as Meckel, Von Baer, and Serres. Others ad- 
vocated or independently advanced the laws sug- 
gested by Buffon, of modification due to the direct 
action of environment under the influence of wide 


geographical distribution. Among these were Her- 
bert von Buch, Haldeman, and Schaafhausen the 
anthropologist. We find a partial revival of Goethe's 
doctrines by the botanists Schleiden and Lecoq. 

Lamarckism found very few followers. The 
Greek idea of pre-existent germs of species was 
revived by Keyserling. The Aristotelian notion of 
an internal impulse or tendency towards progression 
was more or less clearly revived by the 'progres- 
sionists ' in the Vestiges of Creation and in Owen's 
essay on the " Nature of Limbs." 

Other writers who expressed a more or less pos- 
itive belief in the mutability of species were : Virey^ 
in 1817, Grant ^ in 1826, Rafinesque^ in 1836, Du- 
jardin^ in 1843, d'Halloy^ in 1846. Chevreul^ and 
Godron,' in 1846 and 1847, advanced views some- 
what similar to those of the younger St. Hilaire. 
We note also Leidy in 1850, T. Unger, the bot- 
anist, in 1852, Carus and Schaafhausen^ in 1853, 
Lecoq in 1854.^ 

Sachs has shown how the botanists Brown, Nageli, 
and Hofmeister were approaching the theory. 

1 Article " Especes," Diet, d' Hist. Naturelle de Deterville, 

2 Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. XIV., p. 283. 

* New Flora of North America, 1836, pp. 6, 18. 

* Ann. d. Sc. Nat., 3^ ser., t. IV., p. 279. 

^ Bulletins de PAcadetJiie Roy. Bruxelles, torn. XIII. , p. 581. 

6 Considerations Generates sur les Variations des Individus. Mem. d. 1. 
Soc. Roy. et Centr. d' Agriculture, 1846, p. 287. 

^ De VEspece et des Races. Mem. d. 1. Societe d. Sciences de Nancy, 
1847, P- 182. Published as a separate book in 1859. 

8 Verb. d. Naturh. Ver. d. Preus. Rhein, Ueber Best'dndigkeit und Um- 
wandlung der Arten, Bonn, 1853. 

^ Etudes s. I. Geographie Botanique de V Europe, Paris, 1 854, p. 199. 

212 DARWIN. 

The Embryologists. 

Let us first glance at the embryologists. Meckel 
(1781-1833) followed Wolff (1735-1794)111 the series 
of German founders of Embryology. Wolff had 
emphasized the transmutations of structure, so that, 
from seeds on the one side and eggs on the other, 
came the many and diverse organisms. Meckel 
more clearly anticipated Von Baer in 181 1, in the 
passage: "There is no good physiologist who has 
not been struck, incidentally, by the observation 
that the original form of all organisms is one and 
the same, and that out of this one form, all, the 
lowest as well as the highest, are developed in such 
a manner that the latter pass through the perma- 
nent forms of the former as transitory stages." 

Von Baer, in 1834, in a lecture entitled "The 
Most General Law^s of Nature in all Development," 
maintained that : " Only in a very childish view of 
Nature could species be regarded as permanent and 
unchangeable types, and that, in fact, they can be 
only passing series of generations, which have de- 
veloped by transmission from the common origi- 
nal form." (See Haeckel, Vol. I., p. 112.) Serres, 
in his Precis d'Anatomie Transceiidente (1842, 
p. 135), enlarged the arguments of Meckel, and 
showed that the missing links in the chain of Evo- 
lution may all be discovered, if we seek them, in 
the life of the embryo. When we compare animals 
arrived at their complete development, we find many 

BUCH. 213 

differences between them ; but if we compare them 
during their successive stages of Evolution, we see 
that these differences were preceded by resem- 
blances ; that, in fact. Comparative Anatomy is an ar- 
rested embryology, and Embryology is a transitory 
comparative anatomy. 

The Followers of Buffon. 

Among those who took up, more especially, the 
ideas of Buffon and Linnaeus, was the Rev. W. Her- 
bert, in his work on the 'AmaryllidacecB^ ^^2il^ iri 
which he declares that "horticultural experiments 
have established, beyond the possibility of refutation, 
that botanical species are only a higher and more 
permanent class of varieties " ; that single species of 
each genus were created in an originally plastic con- 
dition, and that these had produced, by intercrossing 
and by variation, all our existing species. He 
thus takes a point midway between Linnaeus and 

Another Buffonian was Christian Leopold 
VON BucH (i 773-1853), a well-known naturalist 
and geologist. In 1836 he published an essay 
entitled, " Physical Description of the Canary 
Islands." We find that he is struck, like Hum- 
boldt, with the problem raised by the geograph- 
ical distribution of plants ; unlike the great traveller, 
he does not hesitate, but proceeds to solve it. He 
says : — 

1 See also the fourth volume of the Horticultural Transactions, 1822. 

214 DARWIN. 

" The individuals of genera on continents spread and widely- 
diffuse themselves; owing to differences of localities, nourishment, 
and soil, they form varieties ; and in consequence of their isola- 
tion and never being crossed by other varieties and so brought 
back to the main type, they, in the end, become a permanent 
and distinct species. Then, perhaps, in other ways, they meet 
with other descendants of the original form, — which have likewise 
become new varieties, — and both now become distinct species, no 
longer mingling with one another. Not so on islands. Being 
commonly confined in narrow valleys, or within the limits of small 
zones, individuals can reach one another and destroy every com- 
mencing production of a permanent variety." 

We find in Von Buch a clear conception of the 
force of Isolation or Segregation, which had been 
observed by Buffon, as we have seen ; his theory 
of Evolution is also that of the direct action of 
environment, advocated by Buffon and St. Hilaire. 

In 1844 (Bos^. Journ. Nat. Hist., 1843-44), Hal- 
DEMAN gave a full discussion of the arguments for 
and against the ' Lamarckian hypothesis,' in a paper 
entitled " Enumeration of the Recent Fresh-water 
Mollusca which are Common to North America 
and Europe." He wrote, apparently, from Lyell's 
exposition of Lamarck, rather than from the original 
author himself. He inclined strongly to the trans- 
mutation theory, although hesitating to offer a 
direct opinion. As to the causes of modification, 
he ignores Lamarck's special theor}% and tends 
rather to adopt Buffon's factor of the direct action 
of the environment. 

Herbert Spenxer appeared as one of the few 


out-and-out evolutionists before the publication of 
the Origin of Species, In his articles, " Illogical 
Geology " ^ and " The Development Hypothesis," 
he strongly contrasts the difficulties of the Special 
Creation hypothesis with the arguments for devel- 
opment. He does not enter into the question of 
the factors of Evolution, although such passages as 
the following might be interpreted as showing his 
inclination to Buffon's theory: "... Any exist- 
ing species, animal or vegetable, when placed under 
conditions different from its previous ones, imme- 
diately begins to undergo certain changes of struct- 
ure fitting it for the new conditions. . . . There is 
at work a modifying influence of the kind they 
assign as the cause of these specific differences." 

The Progressionists. 

The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation 
appeared in England, in 1844, — the only volume 
wholly devoted to Evolution between the Philoso- 
phie Zoologique, and the Origin of Species. It was 
published anonymously, but is now attributed to 
Robert Chambers (i 802-1871), because of his lib- 
eral views and considerable knowledge of Geology; 
yet he never acknowledged the authorship which 
still remains unclaimed. Although intelligently and 
reverently written, it met a scathing reception from 
the reviewers upon the score of false science and 

1 These articles were republished in 1865, in an American edition of 
Spencer's Essays, entitled, " Illustrations of Universal Progress." 

2l6 DARWIN. 

infidelity. We may, in part, excuse the author for 
preserving the somewhat in valorous incognito, when 
we read in the North British Review : " Prophetic 
of infidel times, and indicating the unsoundness 
of our general education, the Vestiges has started 
into public favour with a fair chance of poisoning 
the fountains of science, and sapping the founda- 
tions of religion." The great sensation which this 
book caused, and its rapid sale, through ten edi- 
tions in nine years, is proof that the truth of 
Evolution was ready to burst forth like a volcano, 
and that the times were ready for Darwin. The 
volume was the strongest presentation of the scien- 
tific evidences for Cosmic Evolution versus Special 
Creation which had appeared. We find that the 
author begins with the solar system ; his middle 
point is the origin of life from inorganic matter, 
and his final point is man as last in the develop- 
ment of the animal kingdom. Of man's origin, 
he says : — 

" But the idea that any of the lower animals have been con- 
cerned in any way in the origin of man — is not this degrading? 
Degrading is a term expressive of a notion of the human mind, 
and the human mind is liable to prejudices which prevent its 
notions from being invariably correct. ... It has pleased Provi- 
dence to arrange that one species should give birth to another, 
until the second highest gave birth to man, who is the very high- 
est : be it so, it is our part to admire and to submit." 

The work shows the author's familiarity with 
Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, St. Hilaire, 


and Serres. In the first edition (p. 174), he rejects 
Lamarck's hypothesis, "which has incurred much 
ridicule and scarcely ever had a single defender," 
on the ground that the arbitrary modification of 
form by the needs of the animal could never have 
led to the unities and analogies of structure which 
we observe. On the previous page, he advocates 
(without credit) St. Hilaire's modification of Buffon's 
hypothesis of the direct action of environment. 
Light, heat, the chemical constitution of the at- 
mosphere, he says, " may have been the immediate 
prompting cause of all those advances from species 
to species which we have seen, upon other grounds, 
to be necessarily supposed as having taken place " ; 
he continues that these ideas are merely thrown 
out as hints towards the formation of a just hypoth- 
esis which will come with advancing knowledge. 
He considers these natural laws as instruments in 
working out and realizing all the forms of being 
of the original Divine Conception. These views 
were more definitely expressed in the tenth edition, 
which appeared in 1853 (p. 155). Here he gives 
as his final opinion that the animal series is the 
result, first, of an iinptilse, imparted by God, 
advancing all the forms of life, through the various 
grades of organization, from the lowest to the 
highest plants and animals. (This is the Aristote- 
lian ' internal perfecting principle ' somewhat dis- 
guised.) As this first 'perfecting' impulse would 
evidently produce types not fitted to their environ- 

2 1 8 DAR WIN. 

ment, the author adds a second impulse, tending to 
modify organic structures in accordance with their 
environment, food, nature of the habitat, meteoric 
agencies, and thus to produce the ' adaptations ' 
of the natural theologian. 

This progressive advance with modification would 
also leave a gap at the bottom of the scale ; to fill 
this up, the author, like Lamarck, supposes that 
there is a continuous spontaneous generation of 
the lowest forms of life, of primordial nucleated 
vesicles, the meeting-point between the organic 
and inorganic ; this generation he believes to be an 
electro-chemical operation. 

The author has been aptly termed a ' pro- 
gressionist,' because of his belief in the inter- 
nal perfecting or ' progressing ' principle. Owen, 
and in a measure Louis Agassiz, should also be 
classed as ' progressionists.' 

Richard Owen (i 8 10-1892), whose recent death 
marked the last of the old school, was the leading 
comparative anatomist of the world in the period 
after Cuvier, with whom he studied. 

He was not, however, a scientific successor of 
Cuvier in a strict sense, but followed also St. 
Hilaire and Oken in Philosophical Anatomy 
and in a guarded acceptance of the transmuta- 
tion theory. From Oken and Goethe he de- 
veloped his famous, but now wholly discarded, 
theory of the skull, as derived from the modifica- 
tions of vertebrae ; the idea of archetypal or perfect 

OWEN. 219 

type forms as ancestral to modern, degenerate, or 
vestigial types, seems alio to have been his cen- 
tral thought in connection with Evolution. The 
vast range of his knowledge in Comparative Anat- 
omy and Osteology brought within his view series 
of structures in all stages of usefulness, and espe- 
cially those which were transitory or vestigial in 
existing species, and persistent or well-developed 
in extinct species. Thus in his essay on " The 
Nature of Limbs," in 1849, he wrote: " The arche- 
typal idea was manifested long prior to the exist- 
ence of those animal species that actually exemplify 
it"; and in the same work we find the following 
passage : " To what natural laws or secondary 
causes the orderly succession and progression of 
species may have been committed, we are, as yet, 
ignorant." Again, in 1858, in his address before 
the British Association, he spoke of the axiom " of 
the continuous operation of creative power, or 
ordained becoming of living things," — indicating 
that his belief in the discovery of natural law was 
limited by his belief in the continuous operation 
of the supernatural law. He cited the Apteryx 
of New Zealand especially, with its excessively 
degenerate wings, as shaking our confidence in the 
theory of Special Creation. It thus appears that, 
prior to the publication of Darwin's work, Owen 
was an evolutionist in a limited degree, somewhat 
in the manner of Buffon ; that is, in holding to the 
production of many modern species by modifica- 

220 DARWIN. 

tion, chiefly in the line of degeneration from older 
and more perfect types.^ There is no evidence 
whatever that he was an evolutionist in the large, 
comprehensive sense of Lamarck. 

Upon the publication of the Origin of Species^ 
Owen took an unfortunate position of hostility to 
the evidences for the natural factors of Evolution 
which Darwin sought to establish, and at the same 
time claimed that he had long held' a belief in 
transmutation. In the preface of his Anatomy of 
Vertebrates, published in 1866, we find the follow- 
ing sentence : " Therefore, with every disposition to 
acquire information and receive instruction, as to 
how species become such, I am still compelled, as 
in 1849, to confess ignorance of the mode of oper- 
ation of the natural law or secondary cause of their 
succession on the earth. But that it is an 'orderly 
succession,' or according to law, and also ' pro- 
gressive,' or in the ascending course, is evident 
from actual knowledge of extinct species." He 
then goes on to say that the basis of belief in the 
succession and progression of species was laid by 
the demonstration of the unity of plan as shown 
in special and general homologies (Vicq d'Azyr 
and St. Hilaire), by comparison of embryonic 
stages of higher animals with the adult forms of 
lower animals (Meckel, Von Baer), by the succes- 
sion of species in time. He concludes : " How 
inherited, or what may be the manner of operance 
of the secondary cause in the production of species. 

WELLS. 221 

remains in the hypothetical state exemplified by 
the guess-endeavours of Lamarck, Darwin, Wallace, 
and others." 

This attitude of hostility towards modern Evolu- 
tion was apparently maintained throughout Owen's 
life, and although he outlived Darwin, I am not 
aware that he ever published his acceptance of 
the theory. In some of his lectures he is said to 
have held that a limited degree of degeneration 
is due to disuse. 

The Selectionists. 

The modern theory of Natural Selection was ex- 
pressed first by Dr. W. C. Wells, in 1813, then by 
St. Hilaire the elder, then by Matthew, in 1831, and 
finally, with considerably less clearness, if at all, by 
Naudin, in 1852. Darwin gives us references to 
the two English writers. That of Wells is the first 
statement of the theory of the survival, not simply 
of fittest organisms, as understood by previous 
writers, such as Buffon and Treviranus, but of or- 
ganisms surviving because of their possession of 
favourable variations in single characters. Wells' 
paper, read before the Royal Society in 181 3, was 
entitled, " An Account of a White Female, part of 
whose Skin resembles that of a Negro " ; it was not 
published until 1818.^ He here recognizes the prin- 
ciple of Natural Selection, as applied to the races 

1 See his Two Essays upon the Dew and Single Vision. 

222 DARWIN. 

of men, and to the explanation of the origin of sin- 
gle characters. In Darwin's words : — 

" After remarking that negroes and mulattoes enjoy an immunity 
from certain tropical diseases, he observes, firstly, that all animals 
tend to vary in some degree, and, secondly, that agriculturists im- 
prove their domesticated animals by selection ; and then, he adds, 
but what is done in this latter case by art seems to be done with 
equal efficacy, though more slowly, by Nature, in the formation 
of varieties of mankind, fitted for the country which they inhabit. 
Of the accidental varieties of man, which would occur among the 
first few and scattered inhabitants of the middle regions of Africa, 
some one would be better fitted than the others to bear the diseases 
of the country. This race would consequently multiply, while the 
others would decrease ; not only from their inability to sustain the 
attacks of disease, but from their incapacity of contending with 
their more vigorous neighbours. The colour of this vigorous race 
I take for granted, from what has been already said, would be 
dark. But the same disposition to form varieties still existing, a 
darker and a darker race would in the course of time occur ; and 
as the darkest would be the best fitted for the climate, this would 
at length become the most prevalent, if not the only race, in the 
particular country in which it had originated." 

This is certainly the most complete of all the 
anticipations of Darwinism. 

In 1 83 1 Patrick Matthew published a work en- 
titled Naval Timber and Arboriculture. It con- 
tained, in an appendix, a brief statement of a theory 
of the origin of species of which Darwin says : 
" The differences of Mr. Matthew's views from mine 
are not of much importance. He seems to consider 
that the world was nearly depopulated at successive 
periods, and then restocked, and he gives as an al- 

NAUDIN. 223 

ternative, that ' new forms may be generated without 
the presence of any mould or germ of former aggre- 
gates.' I am not sure that I understand some 
passages ; but it seems that he attributes some in- 
fluence to the direct action of the conditions of Hfe. 
He clearly saw, however, the full force of the prin- 
ciple of Natural Selection." Mr. Matthew was not 
satisfied with this handsome recognition of his pri- 
ority ; and is said to have placed on a subsequent 
title-page, after his name, " Discoverer of the prin- 
ciple of Natural Selection." 

Charles Naudin, a veteran French botanist, is 
the last of the French precursors of Darwin. He 
followed Lamarck in the general transmutation doc- 
trine, although he offered quite a different theory 
of the causes of transmutation. In an article en- 
titled " Philosophical Considerations upon Species 
and Varieties," in the Revue Horticole (1852, p. 102), 
Naudin put forth his views upon the origin of spe- 
cies, which were published with some reluctance 
by the editors of that journal, because of their 
heretical character, transmutation then being at 
the height of its unpopularity. Quatrefages has 
outlined Naudin's views very carefully, yet we can- 
not perceive with him any evidence that Naudin 
understood the selection theory. Naudin does not 
speculate upon the origin of life. He bases his 
belief in transmutation upon ' unity of type,' as 
proof, not of a preconceived plan, but of a common 
parentage. From common sources existing species 

224 DARWIN. 

have issued through long intermediate series, and 
the sum of their analogies and differences repre- 
sents their greater or less remoteness from each 
other and from the common source. From rela- 
tively few primordial types, Nature has given birth 
to all the organisms which people the globe. He 
quite literally follows Lamarck's conception of filia- 
tion as a branching system, but he widely departs 
from Lamarck as to the causes of Evolution. With 
Goethe, he sees in living organisms a 'plasticity' 
which renders them susceptible to direct modifica- 
tion by environment and opposes the conservative 
power of Atavism, or hereditary transmission of 
type. As with Bory de St. Vincent, he believes 
that the younger primitive types presented greater 
* plasticity,' but with advancing ages the forces of 
heredity accumulated and became stronger. 

Behind that ' plasticity ' and ' Atavism,' however, 
Naudin places a higher power, — ' Finality, ' — a 
mysterious force, which, he says, some would call 
' fatality ' and others ' providence,' the continuous 
action of which upon beings determines the form, 
size, and duration of each species in relation to the 
order of things of which it forms a part. The 
natural species is a product, then, of Atavism and 
of Finality. By Finality, Naudin evidently does not 
imply an internal perfecting tendency in Nature, 
but rather a continuous controlling principle above 
the reign of secondary causes. Naudin evidently 
felt the need of something behind Natural Law in 

NAUDIN. 225 

the production of the adaptations of Nature. The 
following most interesting passage in Naudin's 
paper, quoted below, is that in which Quatrefages 
and Varigny believe that this author anticipated 
the theory of Natural Selection: — 

"We do not think that Nature has made her species in a 
different fashion from that in which we proceed ourselves in order 
to make our variations. To tell the truth, we have practised her 
very method. When we wish, out of some zoological or botanical 
species, to obtain a variety which answers to such or such of our 
needs, we select {choisissons) out of the large number of the 
individuals of this species, so as to make them the starting-point 
of a new stirp, those which seem already to depart from the 
specific type in the direction which suits us ; and by a rational 
and continuous sorting of the descendants, after an undetermined 
number of generations, we create types or artificial species, which 
correspond more or less with the ideal type we had imagined, and 
which transmit the acquired characters to their descendants in 
proportion to the number of generations upon which our efforts 
have been bearing. Such is, in our opinion, the method followed 
by Nature, as well as by ourselves. She has wished to create 
races conformable to her needs ; and with a comparatively small 
number of primitive types, she has successively, and at different 
periods, given birth to all the animal and vegetable species which 
people the earth." . . . 

We cannot find in this passage clear proof of 
anticipation of Darwinism.^ The Survival of the 
Fittest, as due to the possession of favourable varia- 
tions, was evidently not in Naudin's mind ; still less 

1 This was Darwin's opinion after carefully studying Naudin's paper 
in 1859: "I declare I cannot see a /««<:// closer approach to Wallace and 
me in Naudin than in Lamarck, — we all agree in modification and descent. 
... But I cannot find one word like the struggle for Existence and Natural 
Selection." {Life and Letters, ist ed. II., p. 247.) 

226 DARWIN. 

is it in his system of Evolution as explained above. 
A very careful reading of this passage shows that 
in the comparison of methods pursued by man and 
by Nature, his emphasis is plainly not upon the 
natural selection but upon the natural succession 
of types. Man causes types to succeed each other 
artificially ; Nature also causes types to succeed 
each other; he does not say that Nature selects 
the fittest types. A single passage like this is 
often very misleading ; we must always study the 
author's whole context. A century earlier Buffon 
had much more clearly expressed the idea of the 
survival of the fittest species of plants. 

In 1855 appeared an article^ by Alfred Russel 
Wallace, " On the Law which has regulated the 
Introduction of New Species." This contains a 
very strong argument for the theory of descent, 
as explaining the facts of classification, of distribu- 
tion, and of succession of species in geological time 
during the great changes upon the earth. Wallace 
at this time showed himself a strong and fearless 
evolutionist, although he had not apparently arrived 
at his subsequent theory of the causes of change. 

State of Opinion in the Mid-Century. 

In all that has passed in these lectures the anti- 
evolutionists have been kept in the background. Yet 

1 Annals and Magazine of Natural History, September, 1855. Repub- 
lished in 1870 in Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection. A Series 
of Essays. Macmillan & Co., London. 

LYELL. 227 

they formed the great working majority in numbers 
and influence. By considering only the evolution- 
ists, we have wholly lost the perspective of opinion 
in the mid-century. This perspective must be re- 
gained in order to appreciate the revolution of 
thought brought about by Darwin. 

Lyell, who believed in Natural Causation as part 
of his doctrine of Uniformity, had been teaching 
that, " as often as certain forms of animals and plants 
disappeared, for reasons quite unintelligible to us, 
others took their place by virtue of a causation, 
which was quite beyond our comprehension." He 
had carefully studied, and rejected, the Lamarckian 
explanation. The very apologetic tone in which 
Darwin himself confessed to Hooker, Lyell, and 
Gray, in turn, his nascent belief in the mutability of 
species, proves that he did not consider this belief as 
an enviable or altogether desirable possession. " I 
formerly spoke," he wrote, " to very many naturalists 
on the subject of Evolution, and never once met with 
any sympathetic agreement. It is probable that 
some did then believe in Evolution, but they were 
either silent, or expressed themselves so ambigu- 
ously, that it was not easy to understand their mean- 
ing." Later, after the completion of the Origin, he 
wrote : " If I can only convince Hooker, Lyell, and 
Huxley that species are mutable " ; again, in reply to 
Huxley's somewhat guarded acceptance of the 
theory : " like a good Catholic who has received ex- 
treme unction, I can now sing ' nunc dimittis. 

228 DARWIN. 

Think now of convincing this high priest of Evo- 
lution. In America, Asa Gray was one of the first 
to espouse Darwin's cause. 

In France, which we have found to be the home 
of the modern theory for nearly a century. Evolu- 
tion came as an unwelcome returning exile. As 
in England, opinion had finally become settled 
upon the fixity of species. A proffered translation 
of the Origi7t was contemptuously rejected by a 
publishing firm in Paris. Darwin craved an open- 
minded audience, which was almost impossible to 
find on the Continent. " Do you know of any good 
and speculative foreigners to whom it would be 
worth while to send my book } " he wrote to Huxley. 
This is all by way of evidence of the well-known 
fact that all the progress which had been made in 
the long centuries we have been considering was, 
for the time, a latent force. The Evolution idea, 
with the numerous truths which had accumulated 
about it, was again almost wholly subordinate to 
the Special Creation idea. 


It is impossible to give Darwin his true relief in 
the brief limits of these outlines, that is, in propor- 
tion to his actual work and influence, as compared 
with his predecessors, and it is difficult to say any- 
thing about him which has not been better said be- 
fore. We can, however, ask two questions which 

DARWIN. 229 

connect him with this history, and can be brought 
into a stronger Hght than has been done hithei*to. 
First, how much did Darwin owe to the evolution- 
ists who went before him ? Second, what was the 
course of his own changing opinion upon the 
factors of Evolution? 

As to the first, he owed far more to the past than 
is generally believed, or than he himself was con- 
scious of, especially to the full and true conception 
of the Evolution idea, which had already been 
reached, to the nature of its evidences, and, to some 
extent, to the line of its factors. Although antici- 
pated by others, Darwin conceived, and worked 
out, the theory of Natural Selection. What he 
owed to no one came from his genius and his won- 
derful application of the inductive method of search 
after natural laws. Like Lamarck alone, among all 
his predecessors, Darwin was early fired with the 
truth of the idea and was equally ready to suffer 
social and scientific ostracism in its pursuit. 

Second, I will endeavour to trace the Influences 
which moulded Darwin's earlier and later opinions ; 
how, starting with some leaning towards the theo- 
ries of modification of Buffon and Lamarck, he 
reached an almost exclusive belief in his own theory, 
and then gradually inclined to adopt Buffon's, 
and then Lamarck's theories as well, until in his 
maturest writings he embraced a threefold causa- 
tion in the origin of species. Namely, as first and 
most important, the Darwin-Wallace factor of 

230 DARWIN. 

Natural Selection; second, as of considerable im- 
portance, the E. Darwin-Lamarck factor of the in- 
heritance of the effects of use and disuse ; third, as 
still of some importance, the Buffon factor of the 
direct action of the environment. Yet he reached 
each of these factors, not so much through the 
arguments advanced by their authors, as by his 
own and by contemporary observations. 

All this connects Darwin with the past; not by 
way of diminishing his lustre, but of doing the 
past justice. And now a word as to the method 
which enabled him, in a single lifetime, to leap 
along over the progress of centuries. The long 
retention of his theory from publication marks the 
contrast of his caution with the impetuousness of 
Lamarck. He sought a hundred facts and obser- 
vations where his predecessors had sought one ; 
his notes filled volumes, and he stands out as the 
first evolutionist who worked 'upon true Baconian 
principles.' It was this characteristic which, com- 
bined with his originality, won the battle for the 
Evolution idea. As Canon Kingsley wrote to 
Maurice : " Darwin is conquering everywhere, and 
rushing in like a flood by the mere force of truth 
and fact." When the grandfather, Erasmus Dar- 
win, held back at the inadequacy of his own theory 
to explain the origin of adaptation in colour, he dis- 
played the rare scientific temper which he trans- 
mitted to the grandson. Krause has pointed out, 
what is in fact most obvious, how largely the 



thoughts of these elder and younger evolutionists of 
the same family ran in parallel lines. They seemed 
to have inborn tendencies to look at Nature in the 
same way. 

Another cause of Darwin's success where all 
others had failed was his life at a time when the 
storehouse of facts was fairly bursting for want of a 
generalization; the progress in every branch since 
Lamarck's time had been prodigious. Again, even 
this combination of temperament and circumstance 
might have failed but for Darwin's rare education 
from Nature upon the voyage of the Beagle. He 
had gained little or nothing from the routine 
methods of education in school and university, 
as we learn in his own words: " My scientific tastes 
appear to have been certainly innate. ... I con- 
sider that all I have learnt of any value has been 
self-taught. . . . My innate taste for natural his- 
tory strongly confirmed and directed by the voyage 
of the Beagkr Humboldt's Perso7ial Narrative, 
and Herschel's Introduction to the Study of Natural 
Philosophy aroused his enthusiasm. His natural 
taste for Geology, chilled by earlier teachers, was 
revived during an excursion with Professor Sedg- 
wick, from whom he learned " that science consists 
in grouping facts so that general laws and conclu- 
sions may be drawn from them." This was in 
183 1 ; and upon his return he entered upon his 
' Voyage.' 

His training for such an undertaking had 

232 DARWIN. 

been slight, and when we read what he saw 
during these three years, between the age of 
twenty-two and twenty-five, we realize the great- 
ness of his genius. The procession of life in time 
had already come passingly before him. He now 
learnt for himself, first, the great lesson of uni- 
formity of past and present causes, that for Nature 
* time is nothing.' The rocks, the fossils, the life 
of the continents and islands passed before his 
mind like a panorama of that grand history which 
had come singly and in fragments to every evo- 
lutionist preceding him. Only a few decades back, 
Humboldt had taken a somewhat similar journey 
in South America, and had written: "This phe- 
nomenon " (the distribution of plants) " is one of 
the most curious in the history of organic forms. 
I say history, for in vain would reason forbid man 
to form hypotheses upon the origin of things ; he 
still goes on puzzling himself with insoluble prob- 
lems relating to the distribution of beings." The 
same phenomena came to Darwin's mind as the 
greatest and most pressing for solution, and he 
returned from this voyage determined to solve 
the problem of the origin of species by induction. 
There were but two theories to choose from, the 
Special Creation theory, and the Transmutation 
theory. He took them up with an open mind. 

Now let us see how the full-grown Evolution idea 
had come to him. At the age of eighteen, while 
in the University of Edinburgh, Darwin formed the 



acquaintance of Dr. Grant, who, on one occasion, 
burst forth into high praise of the doctrines of 
Lamarck. Darwin had even eadier read the Zoo- 
7iomia, but without receiving any effect from it. 
"Nevertheless," he says, "it is probable that the 
hearing, rather early in life, such views maintained 
and praised, may have favoured my upholding them 
in a different form in my Origin of SpeciesT It is 
very evident from all Darwin's criticisms of Lamarck 
that he never studied him carefully in the original, 
so that all he owed at this time to his grandfather 
and to Lamarck was the general idea of the evolu- 
tion of life. Later, however, on the Beagle, he 
took with him Lyell's Principles of Geology, in 
which Lamarck's doctrines are admirably set forth 
and fully discussed, so that there is little doubt that 
the problem of transformation was, after all, most 
strongly brought to him by Lamarck indirectly 
through Lyell's able treatment. In 1834, during 
the voyage, Darwin was still a special creationist, 
yet the problem of mutability haunted him, as 
it was brought home by the strong evidences of 
change which met him on every side. He says : — 

" I had been deeply impressed by the discovery in the Pampean 
collection of great fossil animals covered with armour, like that on 
the existing Armadillos ; secondly, by the manner in which closely 
allied animals replaced one another in proceeding southwards over 
the Continent ; and thirdly, by the South-American character of 
most of the products of the Galapagos Archipelago, and more 
especially by the manner in which they differed on each island of 
the group, none of the islands appearing to be very ancient in a 

234 DARWIISr. 

geological sense. It was evident that such facts as these, as well 
as many others, could only be explained on the supposition that 
species gradually became modified ; and the subject haunted me. 
But it was equally evident that neither the action of the surround- 
ing conditions,^ nor the will of the organisms ^ (especially in the 
case of plants), could account for the innumerable cases in which 
organisms of every kind are beautifully adapted to their habits of 
life ; for instance, the woodpecker or the tree frog to climb trees, 
or a seed for dispersal, by hooks or plumes. I had always been 
much struck by such adaptations ; and until these could be ex- 
plained, it seemed to me almost useless to endeavour to prove by 
indirect evidence that species have been modified." 

It was after his return in 1837 that Darwin 
opened his first note-book for the collection of facts 
which bore in any way on variation in animals and 
plants under domestication and in Nature. He 
says : " I worked on true Baconian principles, and 
without any theory collected facts on a wholesale 
scale, more especially with respect to domesticated 
products, by printed inquiries, by conversation with 
skilful breeders and gardeners, and by extensive 
reading." This is the most deliberate and rigid 
instance of the application of the inductive method 
which we have met with in our whole study of the 
contributors to the Evolution theory. Darwin soon 
saw the force of Selection as the secret of man's 
success in forming useful races of animals and 
plants; and in October, 1838, while reading Mal- 
thus on population, the idea of Selection in a state 
of Nature first occurred to him as the result of the 

1 He here refers to Buffon's factor. 

2 He here refers to and misconceives Lamarck's factor. 

DARWIN. 235 

struggle for existence, or rather for life, between 
different individuals and species. Four years later 
he briefly set down his views, and in 1844 he allowed 
himself to write out his progress. He had already 
reached the main line of argument of his Origin 
of Species, including the now familiar tripod of his 
theory. Struggle, Variation, and Selection ; also his 
principle of Sexual Selection, yet he attached much 
more weight to the influence of external conditions 
and to the inheritance of acquired habits than in 
the Origin^ of 1859. 

At this time Darwin naturally looked into the 
literature of the subject, and was reading Geoffroy 
St. Hilaire. He carefully read and abstracted 
Haldeman's arguments for and against the devel- 
opment theory. He studied De Candolle upon geo- 
graphical distribution, and Brown upon variation. 
He was also fearful lest he should be classed with 
Lamarck. He wrote to Hooker (Jan. 11, 1844): — 

"... I have now been, ever since my return, engaged in a 
very presumptuous work, and I know no one individual who would 
not say a very foolish one. I was so struck with the distribution 
of the Galapagos organisms, etc., and with the character of the 
American fossil mammifers, etc., that I determined to collect, 
bhndly, every sort of fact, which could bear in any way on what 
are species. ... At last, gleams of Hght have come, and I am 
almost convinced (quite contrary to the opinion that I started 
with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immuta- 
ble. Heaven forfend me from Lamarck nonsense of a ' tendency 

1 See Life and Letters, Vol. II., p. 14. This was Huxley's observation 
upon this essay in reply to a request for a criticism frona the editor. This 
essay should be published. 

236 DARWIN, 

to progression,' ' adaptations from the slow willing of animals,' 
etc. ! But the conclusions I am led to are not widely different 
from his ; though the means of change are wholly so." In another 
place he wrote : " Lamarck's work appeared to me to be extremely 
poor ; I got not a fact or idea from it." 

By 1856, Darwin had sent Hooker his manu- 
scripts. He had also, as a matter of greatest in- 
terest to us in the development of his views, swung 
entirely away from any sympathy with the theories 
of Buffon and Lamarck, and had reached the ex- 
treme position as to the powers of Natural Selection 
which he continued to hold for some years. Several 
passages show this : — 

"... External conditions (to which naturalists so often appeal) 
do, by themselves, very little. How much they do, is the point, 
of all others, on which I feel myself very weak. I judge from 
the facts of variation under domestication, and I may yet get 
more light. . . . The formation of a strong variety or species I 
look at as almost wholly due to the selection of what may be 
incorrectly called 'chance '^ variations, or variability." As to the 
powers of Natural Selection, he wrote to Lyell, in 1859 : " Grant a 
simple archetypal creature, like the Mud-fish or Lepidosiren, with 
the five senses and some vestige of mind, and / believe Natural 
Selection will ace oicntfoi' the production of every vertebrate animal.'" 

He was more cautious in publication, for in the 
first edition of the Origin of Species, which appeared 
in the same year, he said : " I am convinced that 
Natural Selection has been the main, but not the 
exclusive, means of modification." 

In the use of ' chance,' Darwin recalls to mind the 

1 His meaning in the use of the word * chance ' was not the ordinary one. 
See 6th edition of the Origin, p. 121 : "I have sometimes spoken," etc. 

DARWIN, 237 

old passage in Aristotle of the two alternatives in 
our views of Nature. Darwin's standpoint was 
different from either ; by ' chance variations ' he 
refers to those occurring under unknown laws, not 
under the ' blind fortuity ' of Empedocles, nor under 
the ' progressive principle ' of Aristotle. He found 
no evidence for an internal perfecting principle. 
In connection with the first edition of the Origin, 
he wrote : " The so-called improvement of our 
short-horn cattle, pigeons, etc., does not presuppose 
or require any aboriginal 'power of adaptation,' 
or ' principle of improvement' If I have a second 
edition, I will reiterate ' Natural Selection,' and as 
a general consequence, ' Natural Improvement.' " 

He mistakenly attributed to Lamarck the view 
held by the author of the Vestiges, when he disavowed 
holding " the Lamarckian or Vestigian doctrine of 
'necessary progression,' that is, of progression inde- 
pendent of conditions." This is further shown in 
his correspondence concerning Nageli. {^Life and 
Letters, Vol. III., p. 49, letter to Victor Carus, 1866) : 
" I am, however, far from agreeing with him that 
the acquisition of certain characters which appear 
to be of no service to plants, offers any great diffi- 
culty, or affords a proof of some innate tendency 
in plants towards perfection."^ This standpoint 

1 Nageli, a distinguished German botanist, believed that he found in his 
studies of the Evolution of plants, proofs of the existence of an internal 
perfecting principle in life, by which, independently of all outside agencies, 
the Plant Kingdom is constantly tending to a higher degree of perfection. 
These views were published in 1865. Somewhat similar views have been 
advanced by Baer, KoUiker, and others. 

238 DARWIN. 

is further brought out in Darwin's very interesting 
correspondence with Asa Gray upon the evidence 
for Design in Nature : " I cannot think the world, 
as we see it, is the result of chance; and yet I 
cannot look at each separate thing as the result of 
Design. To take a crucial example, you lead me 
to infer that you believe 'that variation has been 
led along certain beneficial lines.' I cannot believe 
this." ^ Again : *' I must think that it is illogical 
to suppose that the variations, which natural selec- 
tion preserves for the good of any being, have been 
designed." In still another passage:^ "I am in- 
clined to look at everything as resulting from 
designed laws, with the details, whether good or 
bad, left to the working out of what we may call 
' chance.' Not that this notion at all satisfies me." 
This makes sufiiciently clear Darwin's opinions 
at this time upon the theories of all his predeces- 
sors except one, namely, St. Hilaire. Huxley, in 
his early correspondence upon the Origin of Spe- 
cies, tried to convince Darwin of the possibility of 
occasional rapid leaps or changes in Nature, anal- 
ogous to those which St. Hilaire had advocated, 
although Huxley probably did not have this author 
in mind nor contemplate any great extremes of 
transformation. Darwin held to his original prop- 
osition, handed down from Leibnitz : ' Natura non 
facit saltum' concluding : " It would take a great 

1 Life and Letters, Vol. II., p. 353, and p. 378. 

2 Life and Letters, Vol. II., p. 312. 



deal more evidence to make me admit that forms 
have often changed /^r saltumr^ 

The idea of the Survival of the Fittest came to 
Darwin only through the suggestion of Malthus, 
who, in turn, probably borrowed it from Buffon. 
He was unaware of any of the distinct anticipa- 
tions of his theory. His attention was called to 
Matthew's article in i860; to that of Wells in 
1865; to Naudin's paper in 1859. Some one, 
also, called his attention to Aristotle and Em- 
pedocles. It is possible that his eye may have 
caught the passage in St. Hilaire suggesting the 
idea, without his conscious recollection of it. The 
strong passage in Erasmus Darwin's poem may also 
have survived in his memory, yet as far as Dar- 
win knew, the idea of the ' struggle for life ' came 
first from Malthus ; it grew upon him in reading 
De Candolle, W. Herbert, and Lyell, of whom he 
said, " Even they have not written strongly enough." 
The force of this 'struggle ' gradually intensified itself 
in his mind to a point where he believed it was such 
that not merely the entire adaptive form of the ani- 
mal, but even a slight adaptive variation in a single 
character, would turn the scale in favour of survival ! 
This was during the period of his extreme faith 
in the Natural Selection factor, which reached its 
highest point about 1858. He gradually receded 
from this extreme, as shown in a letter to Victor 
Carus in 1869: "... I have been led to infer 

1 Life and Letters, Vol. II., p. 274 (i860). 

240 DARWIN. 

that single variations are of even less importance, 
in comparison with individual differences, than I 
formerly thought." He here refers to the aggre- 
gate of distinction between two forms. 

This reaction was accompanied by a slow change 
of mind towards the Lamarckian factor of the 
inheritance of the effects of use and disuse. This 
was brought about, apparently, not through a re- 
newed study of the Philosophie Zoologique^ but by 
Darwin's own observations upon the domesticated 
animals, especially in his records of structures 
which were developing and degenerating entirely 
apart from the main course of the artificial selec- 
tion of breeders, as well as from the weight of 
utility or usefulness in the scale of survival in 
Nature. He may have been influenced also by the 
thorough Lamarckism of Herbert Spencer, although 
this does not appear in the Life and Letters. 

Darwin's gradual recession from his exclusion 
of the Buff on - St. Hilaire factor also evidently 
began in course of the preparation of his great 
work upon ' Variation.' He was influenced by his 
own wider range of observation, and, later, by the 
observations of Wagner, of Allen, and others. As 
early as 1862 he wrote to Lyell {Life mid Letters, 
Vol. n., p. 390): — 

" I hardly know why I am a little sorry, but my present work is 
leading me to believe rather more in the direct action of physical 
conditions. I presume I regret it, because it lessens the glory of 
Natural Selection, and is so confoundedly doubtful. Perhaps I 



shall change again when I get all my facts under one point of 
view, and a pretty hard job this will be." 

Fourteen years later, Darwin had positively in- 
cluded Buffon's factor among the causes of Evolu- 
tion. In 1876 he wrote to Moritz Wagner: — 

" When I wrote the Origin, and for some years afterwards, I 
could find little good evidence of the direct action of the environ- 
ment ; now there is a large body of evidence, and your case of 
the Saturnia is one of the most remarkable of which I have heard." 

In 1878 he fully included^ Wagner's theory as 
one cause of origin of species, through the direct 
action of environment in the same country or 
through geographical isolation. In 1877 he also 
wrote to Morse : " I quite agree about the high 
value of Mr. Allen's works, as showing how much 
change may be expected apparently through the 
direct action of the conditions of life." There is 
thus no doubt that the idea of Natural Selection, 
as almost the sole factor, came to a climax in Dar- 
win's mind and then gradually appeared less im- 
portant and exclusive. In preparing his work on 
' Variation,' the importance of the problem of 
heredity came before him, and in writing to Hux- 
ley, in 1865,^ he gives a 'brief of his point of view 
at the time, in concisely stating what a working 
theory of heredity should embrace : — 

" The case stands thus : in my next book I shall publish long 
chapters on bud and seminal-variation, on inheritance, reversion, 

1 Letter to Semper, Life and Letters, Vol. III., p. l6o. 
=2 Life and Letters, Vol. III., p. 44. 




effects of use and disuse, etc. I have also, for many years, 
speculated on the different forms of reproduction. Hence it 
comes to be a passion with me to try to connect all such facts 
by some sort of hypothesis." 

Here, again, Darwin reached independently an 
hypothesis which had been already formulated by 
Buffon, Maupertuis, and foreshadowed by Democri- 
tus and Hippocrates. Concerning Buffon's unex- 
pected anticipation, he wrote to Huxley, to whom 
he had submitted his manuscript : — 

" I have read Buffon : whole pages are laughably like mine. 
It is surprising how candid it makes one to see one's views in 
another man's words. . . . Nevertheless, there is a fundamental 
distinction between Buffon's views and mine. He does not sup- 
pose that each cell or atom of tissue throws off a little bud. ..." 

Among Darwin's last words upon the factors of 
Evolution are those in the sixth edition of the 
Origin of Species (1880, p. 424). In the modi- 
fication of species he refers as causes, successively 
to his own, to Lamarck's, and to Buffon's factor in 
the following clear language: "This has been 
effected chiefly through the natural selection of 
numerous, successive, slight, favourable variations; 
aided in an important manner by the inherited 
effects of the use and disuse of parts ; and in an un- 
important manner — that is, in relation to adaptive 
structures, whether past or present — by the direct 
action of external conditions, and by variations 
which seem to us in our ignorance to arise spon- 
taneously." Later, in the Descent of Man (1881, 


p. 32), he speaks of the effects of use as probably 
becoming hereditary, showing that he still did not 
consider the evidence as convincing as that relat- 
ing to disuse (loc, cit,, p. 32). " The chief agents 
in causing organs to become rudimentary seem 
to have been disuse, at that period of life when the 
organ is chiefly used (and this is generally during 
maturity), and also inheritance at a corresponding 
period of life." It should be repeated that these 
decided changes of opinion were, in part, a tacit 
acceptance of work done elsewhere, especially in 
Germany, rather than the direct outcome of Dar- 
win's own observations. In part they certainly 
reflected his own observations and maturer judg- 

Darwin and Wallace. 

Finally, we record the most striking of all the 
many coincidences and independent discoveries in 
the history of the Evolution idea. Darwin's long 
retention of his theory from publication between 
1837 and 1858 came near costing him his eminent 
claims to priority; for in the latter year Alfred 
Russel Wallace had also reached a similar theory. 
By the happy further coincidence of a friendship, 
which always remained of the most generous order, 
Wallace sent his freshly completed manuscript to 
Darwin. But for his friends Hooker and Lyell, 
Darwin would even then have held back his work. 
By their co-operation, two modest papers appeared 



in \}oi^ Journal of the Lin^icEan Society, June 30, 1858, 
the first consisting of an abstract of Darwin's manu- 
scripts of 1839 and 1844, from the second part, 
entitled " On the Variation of Organic Beings in a 
State of Nature; on the Natural Means of Selec- 
tion ; on the Comparison of Domestic Races and 
True Species"; also the letter of 1857 to Asa 
Gray. The second consisted of the paper by Wal- 
lace, written in February, 1858, entitled "On the 
Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from 
the Original Type." 

The line of thought in these two papers is almost 
directly parallel, as shown in these columns: — 


There is in Nature a struggle 
for existence, as shown by Mal- 
thus and De Candolle. 

Rapid multiplication, if un- 
checked, even of slow-breeding 
animals like the elephant . . . 

Great changes in the environ- 
ment occur. 

It has been shown in a former 
part of this work that such changes 
of external conditions would, from 
their acting upon the reproductive 
system, probably cause the or- 
ganization ... to become plastic. 

Can it be doubted that . . . 
any minute variation in struct- 
ure, habits, or instincts, adapting 
that individual better to the new 
conditions, would tell upon its 
vigour and health ? 


The life of wild animals is a 
struggle for existence ... in which 
the weakest and least perfect must 
always succumb. 

Even the least prolific of ani- 
mals would increase rapidly if 

A change in the environment 
may occur. 

(No cause of variation as- 

Varieties do frequently occur 

All variations from the typical 
form have some definite effect, 
however slight, on the habits or 
capacities of the individuals. 
Abundance or rarity of a species 
is dependent on its more or less 


In the struggle it would have a perfect adaptation. If any species 

better chance of surviving; and should produce a variety having 

those of the offspring who inher- slightly increased powers of pre- 

ited the variation, be it ever so serving existence, that variety 

slight, would also have a better must inevitably in time acquire a 

chance. superiority in numbers. 

Remarkable as this parallelism^ is, it is not com- 
plete. The line of argument is the same, but the 
point d'appui is different. Darwin dwells upon 
variations in single characters, as taken hold of by 
Selection ; Wallace mentions variations, but dwells 
u^on full-formed varieties, as favourably or unfavour- 
ably adapted. It is perfectly clear that with Darwin 
the struggle is so intense that the chance of sur- 
vival of each individual turns upon a single and 
even slight variation. With Wallace, Varieties are 
already presupposed by causes which he does not 
discuss, a change in the environment occurs, and 
those varieties which happen to be adapted to it 
survive. There is really a wide gap between these 
two statements and applications of the theory. 

Unlike Darwin, Wallace has conserved his earlier 
views entire ; he is still a rigid Natural Selection- 
ist, and has incorporated the extreme views of Dar- 
win upon the importance of variations in single 
characters. As one of the leaders of thought in 
contemporary Evolution, Wallace belongs chiefly 
to the after-Darwin period. 

1 A further striking feature in this parallelism of thought is that Wallace, 
like Darwin, first caught the suggestion of the struggle for existence from 
reading Malthus. 

246 DAR WIN. 


Now that we have brought together the evi- 
dences, our difficulty lies in choosing the via media 
between an overestimate and an underestimate of 
actual continuity. 

From the ' formless masses ' of the thought of 
Empedocles we have traced Evolution to its per- 
fect expression by Darwin. The metaphysical en- 
vironment of the idea has been seen shaping itself 
in the better understanding of the relations of Causa- 
tion, Design, and Creation, while the natural en- 
vironment has been seen expanding with the 
biological sciences. Two of Aristotle's principles, 
midway between physics and metaphysics, seem to 
have exerted a great and often misleading influence. 
I refer first to his ' perfecting tendency ' which led 
Leibnitz and all his naturalist and speculative 
followers away from the search for a natural cause 
of Adaptation ; and second, his ' unity of type,' 
which, as finally developed in the mind of St. Hilaire 
and Owen, proved to be a compromise between 
Special Creation and Evolution. 

The idea of Evolution, rooted in the cosmic evo- 
lution and ' movement ' of Heraclitus and Aristotle, 
has passed to the progressive development and 
succession of life seen in Empedocles, Aristotle, 
Bruno, Descartes, Goethe, and in the more concrete 


* mutability of species ' of Bacon, Leibnitz, Buffon, 
Lamarck, and St. Hilaire. 

The direct transition from the inorganic to the 
organic is seen to have had a host of friends, nearly 
to the present time, including, besides all the Greeks, 
Lucretius, Augustine, Maillet, Buffon, Erasmus 
Darwin, Lamarck, Treviranus, Oken, and Chambers- 
Then we have seen the difficulty of ' origin ' removed 
one step back by the ' pre-existent germs ' of Anaxa- 
goras, revived by Maillet, Robinet, Diderot, and 
Bonnet. Again, the rudiments of the monistic idea 
of the psychic properties of all matter, foreshadowed 
by Empedocles, are seen revived by Maupertuis and 
Diderot. The difficulty of origin has been avoided 
by the assumption of primordial minute masses, 
which we have seen developed from the 'soft germ' 
of Aristotle, to the ' vesicles ' and ' filaments ' of 
Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Oken, and 
finally into our primordial protoplasm. 

To the inquiry : Where did life first appear ? we 
find the answer, ' in the sea,' given by Thales, 
Anaximander, and Maillet ; ' between sea and land,' 
is the answer of Anaximenes, Diogenes, Democritus, 
and Oken; 'from the earth,' is the soHtary reply of 
Lucretius. Now we are too wise to answer it. For 
the succession of life we have followed the ' ascend- 
ing scale ' of Aristotle, Bruno, Leibnitz, and others, 
until Buffon realized its inadequacy, and Lamarck 
substituted the simile of the branching tree. Of 
man as the summit of the scale, and still in process 

248 DARWIN. 

of becoming more perfect in his endowments, we 
learn from Empedocles, Aristotle, Robinet, Diderot, 
Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and Treviranus. 

Man's origin and descent has always been of the 
first interest to man himself. The idea of his slow 
development is suggested by the crude observation 
of Anaximander, and takes its more scientific form 
in Lucretius, Bruno, and Leibnitz. Man's relation 
to other primates as a result of evolution is de- 
veloped by Bruno, Leibnitz, Buffon, Kant, Herder. 
Bruno perceives the importance of the tool-bearing 
hands, and most interesting is the appreciation by 
Buffon, Helvetius, and Erasmus Darwin, that the 
opposition of the thumb, rendering its bearers fittest 
to survive, may have originated as a happy accident. 

Of the greatest moment of all, is our pursuit of 
the problem of Adaptation as it first presented itself 
to Empedocles, Democritus, Anaxagoras; and 
second, as it became connected with Causation 
in the minds of Aristotle, Buffon, Kant, Erasmus 
Darwin, Goethe, and Charles Darwin. Around the 
solution of this problem we have seen centre the 
development of four conceptions ; namely, of ' en- 
vironment,' ' struggle for existence,' ' variation,' and 
' survival of the fittest.' 

We have seen first how ideas of Adaptation 
in immutable types were recast into the grander 
Adaptation in mutable types under changing en- 
vironment ; also how the full modern conception of 
Adaptation slowly arose through philosophical 


Anatomy and Embryology, as pursued by Buffon, 
Kant, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Goethe, Trevi- 
ranus, St. Hilaire, and Serres. The significance of 
' degeneration ' and of ' vestigial structures ' mean- 
while grew clear in the interpretations of Sylvius, 
Buffon, Kant, Goethe, and Lamarck. 

' Environment' as a transforming factor was ap- 
parently observed late, for we have seen it first de- 
velop in the writings of Bacon, Maillet, Buffon, Kant, 
Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Treviranus, St. Hilaire, 
St. Vincent, Buch, and others. The ' struggle for 
existence ' we have traced to Anaximander, and 
more clearly in its bearing upon feeding and propa- 
gation, to Empedocles and Lucretius. Buffon and 
Malthus greatly developed it afresh, while Erasmus 
Darwin, Treviranus, De Candolle, and others gave 
it its modern form. ' Variation ' is of seventeenth 
century origin, at least when considered partly as 
evidence of, partly as a factor in. Evolution ; we 
have seen it treated by Bacon, Leibnitz, Maupertuis, 
Lamarck, and St. Hilaire, terminating with its full 
exposition in the first half of the century as a link 
of Darwinism. 

The broad conception of fortuitous combinations 
and of accidental variations in relation to Survival 
and hence to Adaptation, is found to be one of the 
most ancient scientific ideas of which we have record 
in history. It is seen to follow two lines. The first 
is the survival of the fittest forms or types of life, 
considered as a whole, as a collection of similar 

250 DARWIN. 

individuals, or as a ' variety ' in modern terms. This 
we have seen originate with Empedocles and receive 
the support of Epicurus and Lucretius, and much 
more recently of Hume, Diderot, and others. In 
its relation to modern Evolution, we see it brought 
out afresh by Buffon, Malthus, Kant, Wells, Mat- 
thew, and Wallace. The second line is the survival 
of certain types, because of the possession of some 
fortuitously adaptive combination of parts or of 
some favourable variation in a single organ. This 
conception we also trace from Diderot back to 
Empedocles ; but it is apparently a spontaneous 
and independent discovery as we find it in Buffon 
and Helvetius, who transmit it to Erasmus Darwin. 
Finally, it is again rediscovered, or grandly evolved 
by induction and observation by Charles Darwin, 
who raises it to its present magnitude as a central 
principle in the living world. 

An entirely distinct line of thought is that of 
Erasmus Darwin and of Lamarck that life itself is 
a process of adaptation to new conditions and that 
the adaptive changes acquired in course of life are 
transmitted and accumulated in successive genera- 
tions. This is a theory for adaptations of certain 
kinds which awaits further proof. 

It is also for the future to determine whether 
the predecessors of Darwin and Darwin himself, in 
the principle to which he gave a life of thought, 
have fully answered the old, old problem, or whether 
we shall look for still another Newton in our phi- 
losophy of Nature. 


For the general succession of evolutionists, in Philosophy 
especially, the student is referred to Huxley in his article " Evolu- 
tion " in the Ericyclopadia Britannic a, to Haeckel in his History of 
Creation^ and to Schultze in his Philosophie der Naturwissen- 
schaft. Upon the long discussion of the problem of the mutability 
of species which occurred between the time of Linnaeus and of 
St. Hilaire, by far the best work is Isidore St. Hilaire's Histoire 
Naturelle Generate. I have also depended largely upon the full 
and critical studies of the French evolutionists by Perrier, Qua- 
trefages, Martins, Varigny, Lanessan. The German natural phi- 
losophers and poets have been explored for their Evolution 
tendencies in special studies by Schultze, Barenbach, and Haeckel. 
Goethe especially has been searched with rich results. We owe 
to Germany, also, Krause's Life of Erasmus Darivin. To the 
English writers we owe the articles already mentioned, a number of 
biographies in the Britannica, Darwin's outline in his introduction 
of the Origin of Species, F. Darwin's Life and Letters of Charles 
Darwin, and the vigorous interchange of opinions upon Evolu- 
tion in theological literature between Huxley and Mivart In 
this country Packard has contributed an article to the Standard 
Natural History, but Lamarckism in America is a subject which 
still deserves careful study. 

Zeller has given us the most critical and reliable studies of the 
early or pre- Aristotelian Greek evolutionists. For the later Greek 
period, I have referred to the general works of Lange and Erd- 
mann ; and to the special studies of Cotterill, Moore, Guttler, 
Brunnhofer, and others for the later Greek and Mediaeval period. 
Lewes' Aristotle is a mine of information, yet the author strangely 



enough wholly fails to appreciate or bring forward Aristotle's 
important contributions to the Evolution idea. In fact, Aristotle 
has been generally ignored in this connection. 

General Articles and Works. 

Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire : '• Histoire Naturelle Gdndrale des 

Regnes Organiques.' Paris, 1 844-1 862. 3 vols. 
Huxley, Thomas H.: 'Evolution.' Enc. Britannica, Vol. VIII., 

pp. 744-772. 
Haeckel, Ernst: 'Natiirliche Schbpfungsgeschichte.' ist ed., 1868. 

4th ed., 'The History of Creation' (translation), 1892. 

2 vols. 
Erdmann : ' History of Philosophy.' 3 vols. Swann, Sonnenschein 

& Co., London. 
Lange : ' History of Materialism.' 
FiSKE : ' Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy.' 
SCHULTZE, Fritz: 'Philosophic der Naturwissenschaft.' Leipsic, 

1881. 2 vols. 
Packard, A. S. : Introduction to the ' Standard Natural History.' 

Boston, 1885. 

The Greek Period. 

Zeller, Edward : ' History of the Greek Philosophy.' 

* Ueber die Griechischen Vorganger Darwin's.' Abhand. 

d. Berliner Akad., 1878, p. 
Lewes, G. H.: 'Aristotle; a Chapter in the History of Science.' 

London, 1864. 
Aristotle, Works of. Taylor's translation. 6 vols. 
G. Pouchet: ' La Biologic Aristot^lique.' Paris, 1885. 
Romanes, George J. : ' Aristotle as a Naturalist.' Contemporary 

Review, 1891. 
Cotterill, Henry : ' Does Science aid Faith in Regard to Creation? ' 

London, 1883. 
MooRE, Aubrey : ' Science and Faith.' 
Guttler, C. : ' Lorenz Okcn und sein Verhaltniss zur Modernen 

Entwickelungslchre.' Leipsic, 1884. 
Brunnhofer: 'Giordano Bruno's Welt Anschauung.' Leipsic, 1882. 
Huxley, T. H. : 'Critiques and Addresses.' London, 1883. 
MiVART, St. George: 'On the Genesis of Species.' London, 1871. 

'Lessons from Nature.' London, 1876. 


The Natural Philosophers and Specidative Evolutionists. 

Bacon : ' Novum Organum and Advancement of Learning.' Bohn 

SCHULTZE, Fritz : ' Kant und Danvin, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der 

Entwickelungslehre.'' Jena, 1875. 
Barenbach, Friedrich von : ' Herder als Vorganger Darwin's und 

der Modernen Naturphilosophie' Berlin, 1877. 
De Maupertuis, Peter Louis Moreau: 'Systeme de la Nature.' 

Paris, 1 75 1. 
De Maillet, M.: 'Telliamed ou Entretiens d'un Philosophe Indien 

sur la diminution de la Mer, avec un Missionaire Fran9ais.' 

Basle, 1749. 2^'"« ed. Paris, 1754. 2 vols. 
Lewes, G. H. : 'A Precursor of the Vestiges? (Robinet.) 
Eraser's Magazine, November, 1857, pp. 526-531. 
Robinet, J. B. : ' Considdrations Philosophiques de la Gradation Natu- 

relle des Formes de I'etre, ou, les Essais de la Nature qui 

apprend k faire THomme.' Paris, 1768. 
Varigny, Henri de: ^La Philosophic Biologique aux xvii^ et xviii^ 

Siecles.' Revue Scientifique, Aug. 29, 1889, pp. 226-234. 
' Experimental Evolution.' London, 1892. 
Descartes, Rene : ' Principes de la Philosophic.' Paris, 1637. 
DucASSE : ' Etude Historique ct Critique sur le Transformismc' Paris. 
Bonnet, C. : 'La Palingdndsic Philosophiquc, ou Iddcs sur I'Etat passd 

et sur I'Etat futur des ]&trcs Vivants.' Geneva, 1770. 

2 vols. 
DuRET, Claude : '■ Histoire Admirable des Plantes ct Herbes esmer- 

vcillablcs et miraculeuses en Nature' .... Paris, 1609. 
Oken, Lorenz: 'Elements of Physiophilosophy ' (translation). Lon- 
don, Ray Society, 1847. 
MoRLEY, John : ' Didcr6t and the Encyclopaedists.' London. 

The French Evolutionists. 

M.J. DE Lanessan: 'Buffon et Darwin.' Revue Scientifique, 1889. 

1°, pp. 385-391 ; 2°, pp. 425-432. 
Edmond Perrier : 'La Philosophic Zoologique avant Darwin.' 2^*"^ 

ed. Paris, 1886. (Bibl. Scient. Internat., XLVH.) 
A. de Quatrefages: 'Darwin et ses Precurseurs Franqais, Etude sur 

le Transformismc.' Paris, 1892. (Bibl. Scient. Internat., 




Lamarck, J. B. P. A. de: ' Recherches sur rOrganization des Corps 
Vivants.' Paris, 1802. 
< Philosophic Zoologique.' Paris, 1809. Edition, Charles 

Martin's. Paris, 1873. 2 vols. 
' Histoire Naturelle des Animaux sans Vertebres.' 2^™« ed. 
Paris, 1835-1845. II vols. 
St. Hilaire, Geoffroy: ^Principes de Philosophic Zoologique.' 

Paris, 1830. 
St. Hilaire, Isidore : ' Vie de Geoffroy St. Hilaire.' Paris. 

The English and German Evolutionists. 

Darwin, Erasmus : *■ Zoonomia ; or, the Laws of Organic Life.' 

London, 1794. 2 vols. 
<The Botanic Garden,' 1788. 

'The Temple of Nature.' London, 1803. (Posthumous.) 
Krause, Ernst, and Darwin, Charles: 'Erasmus Darwin.' Lon- 
don, 1879. 
Treviranus, Gottfried Reinhold : ♦ Biologic oder Philosophic der 

lebenden Natur.' Gbttingen, 1802. 6 vols. 
*■ Erschcinungen und Gesetze des Organischen Lebens.' 

Bremen, 1 83 1. 2 vols. 
Kalischer, S. : 'Goethe und Darwin' in 'Wage,' Nr. 11 and 12. 

Berlin, 1876. 
Haeckel, Ernst : ' Die Naturanschauung von Darwin, Goethe, und 

Lamarck.' Jena, 1882. 
Darwin, Charles: 'Origin of Species.' 6th ed. London, 1880. 
Darwin, Francis : ' Life and Letters of Charles Darwin.' London, 

1888. 3 vols. 


Abiogenesis, among the Greeks, 23, 27; 
Anaximenes, 35 ; Diogenes, 36 ; 
Xenophanes, 36; Empedocles, 37; 
Democritus, 42 ; Aristotle, 48 ; Epi- 
curus, 60; Lucretius, 62; theory of, 
in relation to Creation, Augustine, 
71; Maillet, 112; Oken, 126, 127; 
E. Darwin, 140 ; Lamarck, 178 ; Tre- 
viranus, 192 ; St. Vincent, 205 ; Cham- 
bers, 218. Between water and land, 
Anaximander, 34; Xenophanes, 36. 
Direct transition front inorganic mat- 
ter, Aristotle, 48. Marine, Thales, 
33; Anaximander, 34; Maillet, no. 
Terrestrial slime, ox earth and water, 
Anaximenes, 35; Diogenes, 36; De- 
mocritus, 42; Oken, 125. Terrestrial, 
direct from the soil, Lucretius, 62. 

Abubacer, Oriental romances upon ' Na- 
ture Man,' 'j'j. 

Acquired characters,transmission of,Aris- 
totle, 46; Sylvius, 26; rapid acqui- 
sition, Maillet, no; E. Darwin, 145- 
148; Lamarck, 165 -171; Goethe, 
186; Darwin, 240. 

Adaptation, problem of, in organisms, 
Empedocles, 39; in single struct- 
ures, Democritus, 42; in relation to 
intelligent design, Anaxagoras, 42; 
causes of, Aristotle, 52-56; Kant, 
100; E. Darwin, 150; Goethe, 186; 
Chambers, 218 ; Darwin, 234. 

Analogy in structure, Aristotle, 24, 

Anatomy, Greek, 34; revival of, 86; 
comparative, Buffon, 132; Kant, 
loi ; philosophical. Herder, 104 ; 
Schelling, 104 ; comparative, Goethe, 
184 ; philosophical, St. Hilaire, 203 ; 
relation to embryology, Serres, 213 ; 
philosophical, Owen, 218. 

Anaxagoras, Adaptation and Design, 
42 ; germs of life, 42. 

Anaximander, his natural philosophy, 33. 

Anaximenes, his natural philosophy, 35. 

Aquinas, exposition of Augustine, 75. 

Arabs, the natural philosophy of, 75-77. 

Archassthetism, influence of desires 
and wants of animals ; upon struct- 
ure, Aristotle, 49; E. Darwin, 147; 
Lamarck, 169 ; Darwin 236. 

Aristotle, relation to his predecessors, 
43; works, 45; principal contribu- 
tions, 45; heredity, 46; errors, 47; 
progressive development, 48 ; on 
' movement,' 48 ; teleology, 51 ; form 
and matter, 53; on fortuity, 53; on 
' design,' 54 ; on survival of the fittest, 
55 ; on primordial germs, 56 ; his 
successors, 58; opposed by theolo- 
gians, 78. 

Augustine, upon science and religion, 
19; potential creation, 71; abiogene- 
sis, 72 ; upon cosmic Evolution, 73, 
74 ; upon organic Evolution, 73 ; of)- 
posed by Suarez. 

Avempace, unity of inorganic and or- 
ganic forces, 77. 

Avicenna, Uniformitarianism in geology, 

Bacon, Francis, science and religion, 20 ; 
failure to appreciate the Greeks, 90 ; 
induction, 91 ; mutability of species, 
91 ; variation, 92 ; experimental Evolu- 
tion, 93; artificial selection, 92; 
gradations between species, 93. 

Baer, embryological evidence of the mu- 
tability of species, 212. 

Biogenesis, Harvey's dictum, 28; La- 
marck, 178. 

Bonnet, relation to Leibnitz ; ' Evolu- 
tion,' 118; continuity, 119; perfect- 
ing tendency, 120; pre-existing germs, 
120; scale of ascent, 121. 




Branching nature of ascent, Lamarck, 
172-176; St. Hilaire, 201-202. 

Bruno, sources of his ideas, 78, 79 ; sup- 
posed anticipations, 80; perfecting 
tendency, 80 ; interpretation of 
'Genesis,' 80; Uniformitarianism, 82; 
origin of man, 82. 

Buch, geographical distribution, 213 ; 
direct action environment, 214; seg- 
regation, 214. 

Buffon, characteristics, 130-131 ; change 
of views, 132 ; conception of teleol- 
ogy, 132 ; mutability of species, 133 ; 
development and degeneration, 133 ; 
unity of type, 134; scale of ascent, 
135 ; pangenesis, 135 ; direct influence 
of environment, 136; segregation, 
136; struggle for existence, 136; im- 
perfect phyletic views, 139; anticipa- 
tion of Darwinism, 141. 

Causation, relation of natural and super- 
natural, Aristotle, 50, 51; problems 
of, left by the Greeks, 68 ; natural, 
Augustine, 72; natural, philosophers 
upon, 89 ; Descartes, 94 ; Spinoza, 97 ; 
Kant, 100 ; E. Darwin, 148 ; Lamarck, 
163 ; Owen, 219 ; ' finality,' Naudin, 
224 ; Darwin, 237-238. 

Chambers, ' The Vestiges,' 215 ; cosmic 
Evolution, 216 ; descent of man, 216 ; 
saltatory Evolution, 217; perfecting 
tendency, 217 ; abiogenesis, 218, 

Continuity of Germs (hereditary), Robi- 
net, 122. 

Creation, Potential, Gregory, 71 ; Augus- 
tine, 71; Erigena, 74; Aquinas, 75; 
Bruno, 80; Descartes, 95. Special, 
Descartes upon, 94 ; Suarez, 83 ; Buf- 
fon, 134 ; Lamarck, 159 ; succession of 
creations, Cuvier, 196 ; Darwin, 232. 

Cuvier, early and late views, 195 ; catastro- 
phism, 196; special creations, 196; 
discussion with St. Hilaire, 202-204. 

Darwin, Charles, relation to the past, 229 ; 
changes of opinion, 229; induction, 
230, 234 ; hereditary and educational 
influences, 231 ; evolution idea, 233 ; 
development of his opinions, 235; 
natural selection, 236; perfecting 
principle, 237 ; ' Design,' 238 ; ' salta- 
tory Evolution,' 238 ; survival of the 
fittest, 239; Lamarck's factor, 240; 
Buffon's factor, 240, 241 ; heredity, 

242; final opinions, 243; relation to 
Wallace, 243. 

Darwin, Erasmus, principal writings, 139 ; 
abiogenesis, 140; origin of man, 141; 
accidental variation, favourable, 141 ; 
struggle for existence, 142 ; indebted- 
ness to the Greeks, 142; anticipa- 
tion of Lamarck, 143; primordial 
germ, 144; evidences of Evolution, 
145 ; transmission of acquired charac- 
ters, 145 ; sexual characters, 147 ; irri- 
tability, 147, 148 ; evolution of man, 
149; limitations of his theory, 150; 
relations to Lamarck, 152-155. 

Degeneration, Aristotle, 25; Sylvius and 
Vesalius, 25 ; Kant, loi ; Buffon, 133, 
134; disuse, Owen, 219-220; caused 
by disuse, Darwin, 240-242. 

Democritus, anticipation of materialism. 
41 ; attitude towards adaptation, 42 ; 
the universe a mechanism, 42. 

Descartes, on special creation and a 
natural order of development, 95. 

Design, intelligent, Anaxagoras, 42 ; Aris- 
totle, 49, 53, 54; misconception of, 
Buffon, 132; Darwin, 238. 

Development, progressive, Aristotle, 26; 
Buffon, 133 ; Owen, 220. 

Dider6t, relation to Empedocles, psychic 
attraction and repulsion, 115; sur- 
vival of fittest combinations, 116; 
conception of Evolution, 116. 

Diogenes, spontaneous origin of life, 36. 

Economy of growth, law of, Aristotle, 
25, 46; Goethe, 25; St. Hilaire, 25; 
Treviranus, 190. 

Embryology, advance of, 27; evidence 
of Evolution and unity of type, 
Meckel, 212; Baer, 212; Serres, 212; 
Owen, 220. 

Empedocles, succession of life, 37 ; for- 
tuitous origin, 38 ; survival of the 
fittest, 39 ; struggle for existence, 39 ; 
relation to modern Evolution, 41 ; 
criticised by Aristotle, 55 ; attraction 
and repulsion, 37. 

Environment, Influences of, Maillet, 112; 
direct, Buffon, 136, 137 ; Kant, loi ; 
indirect, E. Darwin, 147; Lamarck, 
172 ; direct, Lamarck, 177-178 ; Trevi- 
ranus, 191 ; action upon early stages 
of development, St. Hilaire, 199; 
action upon fixation of type, St. Vin- 
cent, 205; Buch, 214; Haldeman,2i4; 



Spencer, 215; Chambers, 217; Nau- 
din, 224 ; Darwin, 240. 

Epicurus, lack of scientific spirit, 59; 
mechanical philosophy, 60. 

Evolution, Ceaseless changes in the 
Universe, Heraclitus, 37; natural 
philosophers, 88; Leibnitz, 88, 95; 
Descartes, 94 ; Lamarck, 163 ; Cham- 
bers, 216 ; historic terms, 15 ; and 
natural causation, 21 ; Embottement, 
26 ; in terms of move7nent, Aristotle, 
50 ; ' Saltatory,' St. Hilaire, 200. Still 
in process, Empedocles, 38 ; Aristotle, 
48; Diderdt, 116. Evidences of, in 
transitions between species, Bacon, 93 ; 
Leibnitz, 96 ; Kant, 102 ; E. Darwin, 
145. [See also Vestigial Structures.] 
Gradual development, Empedocles, 
40 ; Aristotle, 48 ; Bruno, 80 ; Des- 
cartes, Leibnitz, 96; DiderSt, 116; 
Goethe, 187. [See also Scale of 

Evolution, Experimental, Bacon, 92, 93. 

Fixation of type, St. Vincent, 206 ; Nau- 

din, 224. 
Form and matter, relations of, Aristotle, 

49. 53*. Bruno, 80; Goethe, 186; 

Treviranus, 194. 
Fortuity vs. Design, Democritus, 42; 

opinions of Aristotle, 53; Diderdt, 

117; Darwin, 238. 
Fossils, as evidence of past history of the 

globe, Xenophanes, 36; Leibnitz, 

96; Maillet, 112. 

Geographical distribution, Buffon, 136; 
Buch, 214 ; Darwin, 240 ; Humboldt, 
232; De Candolle, 235. 

Germs, pre-existent, doctrine of, Anax- 
agoras, 42; Maillet, 112; Bonnet, 120; 
Diderfit, 119-120; Robinet, 122. 

Germs or cells, primordial, the original 
simple forms of life, Aristotle, 56; 
Buffon, 13s; Kant, loi; E. Darwin, 
144 ; Lamarck, 178 : primordial 
spheres, Oken, 126; primordial types, 
Treviranus, 194. 

Goethe, mental characteristics, 181; in- 
fluence of Buffon and the Greeks, 182 ; 
philosophical anatomy, 183 ; com- 
parative anatomy, 184 ; unity of type, 
184 ; vestiges, 185 ; method, 185 ; 
adaptation problem, 186 ; matter and 

form, 186 ; theory of transformation, 

Greeks, the natural philosophy of, 29; 
influence of their surroundings, 29; 
spirit of, 30 ; phases of their natural 
philosophy, 31, 32; their legacy to 
later thought, 64-68 ; influence upon 
the Fathers, 69-71 ; cosmic Evolution, 
89 ; influence upon speculative 
group, 108. 

Gregory of Nyssa, potential creation, 71. 

Heraclitus, contribution to the Evolution 
idea, 37. 

Herbert, production of new species by 
intercrossing, 213. 

Herder, influence of Kant, 103 ; pro- 
gressive development, 103; unity of 
type, 103. 

Heredity ('pangenesis,' 'perigenesis'), 
theories of Aristotle, 46 ; Maupertuis, 
114; Buffon, 135; Lamarck, 171; 
Darwin, 242. 

Homology in structure, Vicq d'Azyr, 24. 

Inductive method, Aristotle, 16, 47; 
Bruno, 17, 79; Bacon, 17, 91; and 
deductive, Schelling, 105; Goethe, 
185; Treviranus, 189; induction and 
deduction, Cuvier and St. Hilaire, 
202-204 ; Darwin, 230-234. 

Internal perfecting tendency, Aristotle, 
50; Bruno, 80; Leibnitz, 20; Herder, 
103; Bonnet, 120; Chambers, 217; 
Owen, 219 ; opposed by Darwin, 237. 

Kant, indebtedness to Buffon, 98; tele- 
ology. 99; Evolution, 99; natural 
causation, 100; man, loi ; survival of 
the fittest, loi ; unity of type, 102 ; 
scale of ascent, 102. 

Lamarck, relations to E. Darwin, 152- 
155 ; life and characteristics, 156-158 ; 
change of views, 159-161 ; conception 
of nature, 163; of Evolution, 163; 
uniformity, 165; his factors, 165-167; 
illustrations, 168-171 ; irritability, 169 ; 
heredity, 171 ; species, 170-172 ; phy- 
logeny, 172-176; action of environ- 
ment, 177, 178 ; abiogenesis, 178 ; 
primordial cells, 178; defects and 
failure of his system, 179-181. 

Lange, opinions upon Democritus' and 
Empedocles' doctrines andDesign,40. 



Leibnitz, continuity and perfectibility, 20 ; 
scale of beings, 95 ; mutability of 
species, 96; man and the primates, 

Lessing, law of development, 103. 

Linnaeus, characteristics, 128; fixity of 
species, 129; new hybrids, 130; com- 
parison with Buffon, 130 ; his method 
of thought, 202. 

Lucretius, relations to Empedocles and 
Epicurus, 60-62 ; survival of the fit- 
test, 62 ; abiogenesis, 63. 

Lyell, exposition of Lamarckism, 233; 
his views, 227. 

Man, Origin of, Anaximander, 34 ; Oken, 
127. Slow development of, Anaximan- 
der, 34; in the faculties and arts, 
Lucretius, 64; in mental evolution. 
Bruno, 80 ; relation to apes, Leibnitz, 
96; E. Darwin, 147. Relation to 
other primates, tool-bearing hands, 
Bruno, 82; Leibnitz, 96; Kant, 10 1 ; 
unity of type, Herder, 104 ; Robinet, 
121; Buffon, 134; Buffon and Helve- 
tius, 140-141 ; tool-bearing hands, E. 
Darwin, 141; Chambers, 216. Surn- 
mit of Evolution , Aristotle, 49, 51, 52 ; 
Robinet, 123 ; E. Darwin, 141. 

Maillet, sudden transformations, no; 
suddenly acquired characters, no; 
uniformity, 112; marine and terres- 
trial forms, 112. 

Matthew, principle of natural selection, 

Matter, see Form. 

Maupertuis, psychic properties of matter, 
113; heredity, 114; fortuitous varia- 
tion, 115. 

Meckel, embryological evidence of Evo- 
lution, 212. 

Metamorphosis, stidden transformation, 
Duret, 108; Bonnami, 109; Kircher, 
109; Maillet, no. 

Mutability of species, natural philoso- 
phers upon, 88 ; Bacon, 91 ; Leibnitz, 
96; Buffon, 132; Lamarck, 163', St, 
Vincent, 205 ; embryological evi- 
dence, Baer, 212. 

Naudin, unity of type, 223 ; phylogeny, 
224; environment, 224; finality, 224; 
fixation of type, 224 ; artificial selec- 
tion, 225. 

Oken, relation to the Greeks, 124; Ur- 
Schleim, 125; abiogenesis, 126; cel- 
lular theory, 126; origin of man, 127. 

Origin of species (see Mutability and 
Evolution) by intercrossing, Bruno, 
84; Linnaeus, 130; Herbert, 213. 

Owen, archetypal idea, 218 ; continuous 
creation, 219 ; degeneration, 219; evi- 
dences of Evolution, 220. 

Parmenides, 36. 

Pascal, influence of the Greeks, 17; 
upon Evolution, 97. 

Pliny, natural history of, 58. 

Psychic properties of matter, attraction 
and repulsion, Empedocles, 37 ; Mau- 
pertuis, 113; Dider6t, 115. 

Robinet, scale, 121 ; man and apes, 121 ; 
uniformity, 122 ; pre-existent germs, 32. 

Saltatory Evolution, St. Hilaire, 200-201 ; 
Chambers, 217 ; Darwin, 238 ; Hux- 
ley, 238. 

Scale of Ascent, y9'(^?« the polyps to man, 
Aristotle, 48 ; Bruno, 81 ; continuity, 
Leibnitz, 96; Kant, 102; Lessing, 
103 ; Herder, 103 ; continuity, Bon- 
net, 121 ; Robinet, 102; Buffon, 135 ; 
Lamarck, 172. 

Schelling, deductive character of his 
philosophy, 105 ; philosophy of 
nature, 104; influence upon St. 
Hilaire. 197. 

Segregation, similar in its results to arti- 
ficial selection, Buffon, 136; Buch, 
214; Darwin, 241. 

Selection, Artificial, relation to Evolution, 
Bacon, 92; Buffon, 136; segregation, 
Buffon, 112; survival of the fittest. 
Wells, 222; Naudin, 225; Darwin, 
235; Natural Selection, see Survival 
of the Fittest. 

Serres, embryological evidence of Evolu- 
tion, 212, 213. 

Spencer, early publications, 215. 

St. Vincent, life, 204; abiogenesis, 205; 
fixity of type, 205; hereditary sta- 
bility, 206. 

St, Hilaire, Geoffroy, characteristics, 197; 
sources of his opinions and method, 
197 ; his special theories, 198 ; envi- 
ronment, 199; anticipation of Dar- 
winism, 199; 'saltatory Evolution,' 
200; phylogeny and limited view of 



Evolution, 201, 202; discussion with 
Cuvier, 202-204 *> unity of type, 203. 

St. Hilaire, Isidore, theory of limited 
variability, 207 ; stabiHty of types, 207; 
influence of environment, 208. 

Struggle for existence, Anaximander, 35 ; 
in feeding and propagation, Em- 
pedocles, 39; Buffon, 136; Malthus, 
136; E. Darwin, 142; Treviranus, 
191 ; De Candolle, W. Herbert, Lyell, 
239; Darwin, 239, 244; Wallace, 244. 

Suarez, special creation, 83 ; post-crea- 
tion species, 84; opposes Augustine, 
84; literalism, 85. 

Survival of the Fittest, forms or varieties 
of life, Empedocles, 39 ; supported 
by Epicurus, 60 ; by Lucretius, 61 ; 
Hume, 97 ; Buffon, 136 ; Kant, loi ; 
St. Hilaire, 199; Wells, 222; Mat- 
thew, 223; Naudin, 225; Darwin, 
236; Wallace, 245. Single advan- 
tageous variations and organs stated 
and opposed by Aristotle, 55 ; Dide- 
rdt, by fortuitous combinations of 
particles, 116; by combinations of 
organs, 117; survival of opposable 
thumb, Buffon, 141 ; E. Darwin, 141 ; 
St. Hilaire, 199 ; Darwin, 239, 244. 

Teleology of Aristotle, 51 ; opposed by 

Democritus, 42; by Epicurus, 60; 

by Lucretius, 61 ; Kant, 99 ; Buffon, 

132; Darwin, 238. 
Thales, suggestion of marine origin of 

life, 33. 
Treviranus, his ' biology,' 188 ; his method, 

189 ; compensation of growth, 190 ; 

environment, 191 ; struggle for exist- 

ence, 191; factors of Evolution, 192; 
abiogenesis, 193; primordial polyps, 
194 ; matter and form, 194-195. 
Type, unity of, Aristotle, 45 ; Bruno, 80 ; 
Leibnitz, 96; Newton, 97; Kant, 102; 
Herder, 103 ; Buffon, 134 ; E. Darwin, 
145; Goethe, 184; St. Hilaire, 198, 
203 ; Archetype, Owen, 219 ; Naudin, 

Uniformitarianism, similarity of past 
and present changes, Avicenna, 76 ; 
Bruno, 82; Maillet, 112; Buffon, 137; 
Lamarck, 165 ; Darwin, 232. 

Variation and Evolution, Bacon, 88,92; 
Leibnitz, 99 ; fortuitous, from sexual 
union, Maupertuis, 115; St. Hilaire, 
199; Brown, 235; Darwin, 244; Wal- 
lace, 244. 

Variation, fortuitous, by fortuitous com- 
binations, Empedocles, 38; Dider6t, 
117; St. Hilaire, 199; Wells, 222; 
Darwin's opinion, 237. 

Variability, theory of limited. Is. St. 
Hilaire, 206-208. 

Vestigial structures, meaning of, Aris- 
totle, 45 ; Buffon, 132 ; Goethe, 185. 

Wallace, on the evidence of Evolution, 
226; statement of his theory, 244; 
distinction of, 245. 

Wells, theory of natural selection, 222. 

Xenophanes, 36. 

Zeller, division of the Greek periods, 32 ; 
upon origin of idea of Design, 40, 42. 

Columbia University Biological Series. 



Da Costa Professor of Biology in Columbia College, 

This series is founded upon a course of popular University 
lectures given during the winter of 1892-3, in connection with 
the opening of the new department of Biology in Columbia 
College. The lectures are in a measure consecutive in charac- 
ter, illustrating phases in the discovery and application of the 
theory of Evolution. Thus the first course outlined the de- 
velopment of the Descent theory; the second, the application 
of this theory to the problem of the ancestry of the Vertebrates, 
largely based upon embryological data; the third, the applica- 
tion of the Descent theory to the interpretation of the structure 
and phylogeny of the Fishes or lowest Vertebrates, chiefly based 
upon comparative anatomy ; the fourth, upon the problems of 
individual development and Inheritance, chiefly based upon the 
structure and functions of the cell. 

Since their original delivery the lectures have been carefully 
rewritten and illustrated so as to adapt them to the use of Col- 
lege and University students and of general readers. The vol- 
umes as at present arranged for include: 

I. From the Greeks to Darwin. By Hen^ky Faibfield 


II. Ampliioxus and the Ancestry of the Tertebrates. 

By Arthur Willey. 

III. Fishes^ Living and Fossil. By Bashford Deai;?-. 

IV. The Cell in Development and Inheritance. By 

Edmukd B. WiLS02sr. 

Two other volumes are in preparation. 







Da Costa Professor of Biology in Columbia College. 

Ready m September, 

This opening volume, " From the Greeks to Darwin," is an 
outline of the development from the earliest times of the idea of 
the origin of life by evolution. It brings together in a continu- 
ous treatment the progress of this idea from the Greek philoso- 
pher Thales (640 B.C.) to Darwin and Wallace. It is based 
partly upon critical studies of the original authorities, partly 
upon the studies of Zeller, Perrier, Quatrefages, Martin, and 
other writers less known to English readers. 

This history differs from the outlines which have been pre- 
viously published, in attempting to establish a complete conti- 
nuity of thought in the growth of the various elements in the 
Evolution idea, and especially in the more critical and exact 
study of the pre-Darwinian writers, such as Buffon, Goethe, 
Erasmus Darwin, Treviranus, Lamarck, and St. Hilaire, about 
whose actual share in the establishment of the Evolution theory 
vague ideas are still current. 

I. The Akticipatiok aj^d Interpretatioi!^^ of Nature. 
II. Among the Greeks. 

III. The Theologians and Natural Philosophers. 

IV. The Evolutionists of the Eighteenth Century. 
V. From Lamarck to St. Hilaire. 

VI. The First Half-century and Darwin. 
In the opening chapter the elements and environment of the 
Evolution idea are discussed, and in the second chapter the re- 
markable parallelism between the growth of this idea in Greece 
and in modern times is pointed out. In the succeeding chap- 
ters the various periods of European thought on the subject are 
covered, concluding with the first half of the present century, 
especially with the development of the Evolution idea in the 
mind of Darwin. 




Tutor in Biology, Columbia College ; Balfour Student of the 
University of Cambridge. 

Ready in September. 

The purpose of this vohime is to consider the problem of the 
ancestry of the Vertebrates from the standpoint of the anat- 
omy and development of Amphioxus and other members of the 
group Protochordata. The work opens with an Introduction, 
in which is given a brief historical sketch of the speculations 
of the celebrated anatomists and embryologists, from Etienne 
Geoft'roy St. Hilaire down to our own day, upon this problem. 
The remainder of the first and the whole of the second chapter 
is devoted to a detailed account of the anatomy of Amphioxus 
as compared with that of higher Vertebrates. The third chapter 
deals with the embryonic and larval development of Amphioxus, 
w^hile the fourth deals more briefly with the anatomy, embryology, 
and relationships of the Ascidians; then the other allied forms, 
Balanoglossus, Cephalodiscus, are described. 

The work concludes with a series of discussions touch- 
ing the problem proposed in the Introduction, in which it is 
attempted to define certain general principles of Evolution by 
which the descent of the Vertebrates from Invertebrate ancestors 
may be supposed to have taken place. 

The work contains an extensive bibliography, full notes, and 
135 illustrations. 



Chapter I. Anatomy of Amphioxus. 
11. Ditto. 

III. Development of Amphioxus. 

IV. The Ascidians. 

V. The Protochordata in their Eelation to 
THE Problem of Vertebrate Descent. 




Instructor in Biology, Columbia College. 

This work has been prepared to meet the needs of the gen- 
eral student for a concise knowledge of the Fishes. It contains 
a review of the four larger groups of the strictly fishlike forms. 
Sharks, Chimaeroids, Teleostomes, and the Dipnoans, and adds 
to this a chapter on the Lampreys. It presents in figures the 
prominent members, living and fossil, of each group; illustrates 
characteristic structures; adds notes upon the important phases 
of development, and formulates the views of investigators as to 
relationships and descent. 

The recent contributions to the knowledge of extinct Fishes 
are taken into special account in the treatment of the entire 
subject, and restorations have been attempted, as of Dinichthys, 
Ctenodus, and Cladoselache. 

The writer has also indicated diagram matically, as far as 
generally accepted, the genetic relationships of fossil and living 

The aim of the book has been mainly to furnish the student 
with a well-marked ground-plan of Ichthyology, to enable him to 
better understand special works, such as those of Smith Wood- 
ward and Giinther. The work is fully illustrated, mainly from 
the writer's original pen-drawings. 



I. Fishes. Their Essential Characters. Sharks, Chimaeroids, Teleo- 
stomes, aud Luug-tishes. Their Appearance in Time and their 
II. The Lampreys. Their Position with Reference to Fishes. Bdel- 
lostoma, Myxiue, Petromyzon, Palneospondylus, 

IIL The Shark Group. Anatomical Characters. Its Extinct Members, 
Acatithodian, Cladoselachid, Xenacanthid, Cestracionts. 

IV. Chimaeroids. Structures of Callorhynchus aud Chimaera. Squalo- 
raja and Myriacanthus. Life-habits aud Probable iielationsljips. 
V. Teleostomes. The Forms of Recent " Ganoids." Habits and Dis- 
tribution. The Relations of Prominent Extinct Forms. Crosso- 
pterygiaus. Typical " Bony Fishes. " 

VI. The Evolution of the Groups of Fishes. Aquatic Metamerism. 
Numerical Lines. Evolution of Gill-cleft Characters, Paired and 
Unpaired Fins, Aquatic Sense-organs. 

Vn. The Development of Fishes. Prominent Features in Embryonic 
and Larval Development of Members of each Group. Summaries. 




Professor of Invertebrate Zoology, Columbia College. 

This volume contains a presentation in a simple form of the 
present state of our knowledge regarding cell-organization and 
its bearings upon the phenomena of development. 

The point of view and mode of treatment differs widely from 
that taken in Hert wig's recent work on the Cell. The cell is 
treated primarily as the basis or substratum of inheritance. 
Attention is therefore directed at the outset especially to the 
germ-cells — to their structure and maturation, their union in 
fertilization, to the phenomena of cell-division, and to the earlier 
stages of embryological development as illustrating the problems 
of cell-dynamics. 

These chapters are used as an introduction to a more general 
account of the cell, considered both as an independent organism 
and as a unit of more complex structure and action. The organ- 
ization of the cell is fully described, the functions of its various 
parts critically discussed, and a review given of modern theories 
of protoplasmic structure and action. The latter part of the 
work is devoted mainly to recent discoveries in experimental 
embryology in their bearing on the current theories of Weis- 
mann, Hertwig, and others, regarding the essential nature of 
development, differentiation, and regeneration. The volume 
will be fully illustrated. 

Just Puhlished, 




Professor cf Zoology in Otnens College : Late Fellow of 
at. John's College, Cambridge. 


C. F. MARSHALL, M.D , B.Sc, F.R.C.S. 

Cloth, 12mo, pp. 363. $2.00. 






A Course of Elementary Instruction in Prac= 

tical Biology. By T. H. Huxley and H. N. Maktix. 
Revised by Gr. B. Howes and D. H. Scott. Cloth, 12mo. 

' * The value of its metliod lias been fully tested, and the many works 
which have appeared since and have applied the plan in various depart- 
ments show how perfectly it meets the needs of the day. ... It marked 
the beginning of a new era in studies upon living organisms — an era where 
the study of isolated parts was largely discontinued and the organism began 
to be studied in its entirety. In this regard it seems to us that the Practical 
Biology is far superior to most of the later works which have been designed 
to partially or wholly supplant it." — Microscopical Journal. 

" Huxley and Martin's ' Practical Biology ' has long since won an envia- 
ble place as a text -book in our best institutions," — Science, 

Lessons in Elementary Biology. By T. Jeffery 

Parker, F.R.S., Professor of Biology in the University of 
Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Cloth, 12mo. $2.60. 

"The author has made a well-rounded treatise on the subject neither too 
meagre nor too technical, a careful reading of which will give one a good 
foundation for the further study of this most interesting science." — School 

Text=book of Elementary Biology. By H. J. 

Campbell, M.D. Cloth, 12mo. $1.60. 

"A well analyzed, clearly phrased, skilfully illustrated (136 illustra- 
tions), scientifically prepared, pedagogically arranged text-book on a subject 
not overburdened with good material for teaching." — Journal of Education. 







San Francisco Medical Center 


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