Thursday, 24 July 2008

It's Not Darwin's or Wallace's Theory

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES WITHOUT DARWIN AND WALLACE

By

Milton Wainwright BSc, PhD
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, England


Copyright, M. Wainwright (2008), all rights reserved
Email:m.wainwright@sheffield.ac.uk


INTRODUCTION

This essay is devoted to history of the development of the theory of evolution, via the process of natural selection. It is provided in response to what I believe is censorship by a small, but highly influential, part of the current academic community. This belief has been strengthened by my recent, unsuccessful attempts to get published my work on Darwin. Over the last six months or so a paper on the admission by Darwin and Wallace that they were beaten to natural selection role has been forwarded, in the normal way, to four academic journals and a shorter version has also been sent to a UK magazine devoted to the popularisation of biology. In all cases, the paper was summarily rejected without reviewer’s comments; no reasons were given for it having been denied any serious consideration. This experience has led me to conclude that any academic article proving that Darwin did not originate the theory of evolution, via natural selection, will be censored by the scientific community. This situation reminds me of the story (perhaps apocryphal) about the Russian scientist who stated that in the Soviet Union, he could criticise Darwin, but not the Government, while in the West, he was able to criticise the Government, but not Darwin.
In the light of this experience, I have decided not to waste further time submitting the first article, given here, to the normal peer review process; instead I have produced this pamphlet (given here on the Web) for general circulation. Ironically, censorship has forced me into the ways of scientists of the past, who often published their ideas in booklets like this one.
Dr Milton Wainwright, Sheffield, July 1st, 2008


About the Author

Dr Milton Wainwright has been a research scientist and academic for nearly forty years, specialising in studies on unusual aspects of the biology of microorganisms and the history and philosophy of science, notably in relation to the story of the development of antibiotics and the germ theory. He is the author of Miracle Cure-The Story of Penicillin and the Golden Age of Antibiotics; An Introduction to Fungal Biotechnology and An Introduction to Environmental Biotechnology. Dr Wainwright is also active in the area of the public communication of science and frequently writes letters concerning scientific controversies to newspapers, both in the UK and abroad. He sums up his philosophical position as being that of an agnostic, secularist and free thinker.



Thanks to my colleague, and long standing friend, Dr Jim Gilmour for his support over many years, and for acting as a critic to my views on Darwin.


It is often said that evolution was “in the air” during the years prior to the publication of On the Origin of Species. In reality-it wasn’t in the air-it was in books.


Two Quotes Published Before, and During, Darwin’s Voyage on the Beagle

As the field of existence is limited and preoccupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better-suited-to-circumstance individuals who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater powers of occupancy than any other kind: the weaker and less circumstance-suited being prematurely destroyed. This principle is in constant action: it regulates the colour, the figure, the capacities, and instincts; those individuals in each species whose colour and covering are best suited to concealment or protection from enemies, or defence from inclemencies or vicissitudes of climate, whose figure is best accommodated to health, strength, defence, and support: in such immense waste of primary and youthful life those only come forward to maturity from the strict ordeal by which nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness to continue their kind of reproduction (Matthew,1831a).

When great changes are made on the surface of a country, as when forests are changed into open land, and marshes into corn fields, or any change that is considerable, the changes in climate must correspond; and as the wild productions are very much affected by that, they must also undergo changes; and these changes may in time amount to the entire extinction of a some of the old tribes, both of plants and animals, the modification of others to the hereditary specific characters admit and the introduction of not varieties, but species altogether new. That not only may, but must have been the case. The productions of soils and climate are as varied as these are, and when change takes place in either of these, if the living productions cannot alter their habits so as to accommodate themselves to the change, there is no alternative they must perish (Mudie,1832).


A PRECISE comment by Darwin:

In 1831,Mr Patrick Matthew, published his work on Naval Timbers and Arboriculture, in which he gives PRECISELY the same view of the origin of species as that provided by Mr Wallace and myself in the Linnean Journal, and as that enlarged in the present volume (i.e. On the Origin of Species) (Origin of Species,4th edition, p.xv).



THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES WITHOUT DARWIN AND WALLACE

Milton Wainwright

Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN

Charles Darwin is usually portrayed as the greatest naturalist of all time, a genius who originated the theory of natural selection to explain the theory of evolution or, transmutation as it was often called in Victorian times. But did Darwin originate any of the ideas given in his famous book On the Origin of Species, first published in 1859? To answer this question I have produced a simulated paper using quotes taken from books and journals written before the end of 1857. In order to produce this simulated paper, I have arranged these quotes in a logical order and have provided reference to their origin. However, except for the occasional linking word (underlined) nothing has been added; the subheadings used were in use at the time the associated quote was written; the italicised words and punctuation were also used by the authors. In some cases the authors quote ideas to demonstrate their opposition to transmutation, nevertheless in so doing, they put such ideas into the public domain, from where they could be accessed by Darwin, or any other naturalist of the day. I have also capitalised “Man” throughout. The simulated paper shows that a) had the Origin of Species not been written, a theory of evolution by natural selection (approximating to that provided by Darwin and Wallace), could have been produced by any naturalist using the literature already published up to 1857, and b) that neither Darwin, nor Alfred Russel Wallace, originated the ideas published in the Origin.


It is important to note that Darwin, potentially, had access to all of the quotes given below. In contrast, none of the authors of these quotes had access to any of Darwin’s notebooks.

Simulated Paper

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY A NATURAL PROCESS OF SELECTION*

By A Learned Victorian

No organism is, nor ever has been created, which is not microscopic. Whatever is larger has not been created, but developed. Man has not been created but developed (Oken,1847).

The transmutation theory defined

Mr Sedgwick, a critic of transmutation, sums up the theory as follows: It was contended that we know nothing but second causes, and that they are all in all-that the commencement of organic life was nothing more that one of a the material changes in the endless cycle of movements going on continually before our eyes-a natural combination produced by the elemental power of the natural world; and as purely natural as any new mechanical deposit or any new chemical combination. This view of the commencement of the organic world was called “spontaneous generation”, but other theorists were not content to rest at this point. They further assumed that the humblest of forms of organic life, having thus begun, had also a natural tendency to bread upwards, so as to ascend (by a law of progressive development)on a natural scale of organic forms:-that a monad thus passed by natural means (and by natural means alone)into the more complicated form of some zoophyte-the zoophyte into a mollusc-the mollusc, by a like succession of natural steps, into a fish, a reptile, a bird, and a mammal:-and lastly, but not leastly, that by a like natural progression(in which all idea of creative power is excluded)some inferior mammal passed into a monkey and monkey into Man. The successive changes, implied in this theory, were not sudden,
but slow and gradual, and brought about, during the lapse of ages by the insensible sliding of one species into another. Thus by the simple operations of second causes we obtain, on the principal of this theory, two classes of phenomenon, one defined by the words “spontaneous generation,” the other by such terms as “progressive development” or transmutation of species.” (Sedgwick,1850). Mr King concludes: The world, throughout its epochs in past history, has been furnished with life in accordance with the times and seasons, each species being adapted to its age, the place, and its fellow species of life (King,1856). The transmutation theory is a stumbling block in the way only of those who will not see the truth. Nature left no gaps on her grand scheme; the gaps referred to simply demonstrate the narrow gap of human knowledge. Unity of design implies for instance unity of execution: if gaps appear, the time is not come for their being filled up. In the fullness of time all will be developed, and then, and not till then, if ever, can we comprehend full scheme of creation (Knox,1852). Lamarck, one of the most distinguished naturalists of the day, openly professes his belief, that both animals and vegetables are incessantly changing under the influence of climate, food, domestication, the crossing of breeds etc., and he remarks, that if the species now in existence appear to be fixed in their character it is because the circumstances that modify these species requires an enormous time for action and would consequently require numerous generations to establish the fact (Dunglison,1832).

Transmutation merely an “orderly miracle”, not and explanation for creation

If with the Progressionists we conceive the species of living things undergo transmutation at the present day; that this transmutation is from a lower to a higher type; and that all the kinds of living beings which have ever existed upon the Earth’s surface have originated in this way; the idea is a perfectly legitimate one and must be admitted or rejected according to the evidence available; but if fully proved, it would not be, in any sense and explanation of creation; “such creation in the manner of natural law” would in fact simply be an orderly miracle. (Hooker,1856).

How did life originate?

Some suppose that everything was originally fluid, that this universal fluid gave existence to animals which were at first of the simplest kind, such as monads, and other infusorial microscopic animalcules; that in process of time, and by acquiring different habits, the races of these animals became complicated and assumed that diversity of nature and character in which they now exist (Anon,1818).
The nucleated vesicle, the fundamental form of all organization, we must regard as the meeting point between the inorganic and the organic –the end of the mineral and beginning of the vegetable ad animal kingdoms, which then start in different directions, but in perfect parallelism and analogy…We are drawn on to the supposition the first step in the creation of life upon the planet was a chemico-electric operation, by which simple germinal vesicles were produced. This is so much, but what were the next steps? The answer, an advance, under favour of peculiar conditions, from the simplest being to the next more complicated, and this through the medium of the ordinary process of generation (i.e. without the help of the Creator) ( Chambers,1844).
The author (of the Vestiges) would have us believe, that, as soon as the Earth was at a temperature suitable for life, germs of rudimentary species were introduced in the moist ground, or in the ocean, by a natural process. (Anon,1846). From the simplest primitive germs or rudiments may be evolved, by what has been termed spontaneous generation, all the various forms of vegetable and animals organic life, the particular form being determined by the conditions to which the germs are incidentally subjected, and the development, multiplication, and variations of species depending on the same contingencies acting throughout unbounded time, and aided by certain principles of action and change within the beings thus developed (Anon,1850).

From organic molecula to Man

The formation of Man and animals long puzzled those world makers, who would attribute everything to material causes. At length a discovery was supposed to be made of primitive animalcula, or organic molecula, from which every kind of animal was formed; a shapeless, clumsy, microscopical object. This, by the natural tendency of original propagation to vary to protect the species, produced other better organized. These again produced other more perfect than themselves, till at last appeared the most complete of species, mankind, beyond whose perfection it is impossible for the work of generation to proceed (Sullivan, 1794).

A theory of life obeying only natural laws

The genera and species of animals that inhabit this globe are evidently subject to change; some are entirely extinguished –As old species perish, do new species rise up! Is there some secret law of animal reproduction by which there is a succession of species in the course of ages? (Polehampton,1815).
There is general gradation through the animal race and through the whole vegetable system. By gradation, I mean the various degrees of powers, faculties and organisation (White,1799). The inevitable relation of all the successive forms to one primitive type constitutes the legitimate and undeniable evidence of some regular order of causes presiding over their production, operating through periods of time of enormous length, during which old species have slowly disappeared by the action of natural causes, and new allied species have gradually appeared beyond all doubt as much in accordance with other equally natural, even if at present unknown, laws (Baden Powell,1856a). No animal can produce itself, but depends on its parent as the pre-existent efficient cause. The doctrine of equivocal generation or spontaneous generation of things, i.e. fortuitously and without cause of its kind, is utterly false, an idle conceit of ignorant philosophers and the bold assertion of an impious atheist (Marten,1737).
The creation of the Earth as it at present exists, has been going on for millions of years, an assumption based upon the observed rate of sedimentary deposit, as taking place now, i.e. a few inches a century (Anon,1857a). Geology reveals to us a gradual extinction of species, accompanied by a successive appearance of new species, it reveals to us also that the surface of the Earth has undergone great mutations; that land and sea have frequently changed places; and that the climate of the several regions of the world, owing to many causes, has greatly varied. Natural history is replete with striking accounts of the modification produced in a race of animals by climate, diet and the enforcement of new habits (Anon,1845).
If these observations are correct, no organ or system of organs, nor any new type in the animal world, can be said to have suddenly appeared on the stage of existence. There are certain laws to which nature herself is compelled to submit, and by which all her operations must be regulated…I cannot help believing that amongst them is to be found the laws of progressive development (Nash,1833).
Finally Mr Morgan concludes: Each animal derives from the sum of its organization a sensibility to external nature, and a power of reacting upon it, such as is sufficient for the continuance of its existence (Morgan,1822).

*Wilson, J. uses the expression, “origin of species” in 1829-31, Quarterly J. Agriculture 2, 1829-31, p.335; the expression “natural process of selection” was used by Patrick Matthew in 1831, see references below.




Change in nature occurs from one species to another over immense periods of time

The author of the “Vestiges” concludes that the whole system of creation, with all its diversified forms inanimate and animate, from its first to its last stage unfolding was brought forth under the operation of one great law of progressive development by which the “simplest and most primitive type gave birth to the next type above it,” by which “this gain”, produced the next higher, and so on to the very highest, the stages of advance being in all cases very small-namely, from one species only to another, so that the phenomenon has always been of a simple modest character (Fishbough,1852). As we ascend in the (geological) series we meet new tribes, new genera, and new species. Generation succeeds generation. Old forms disappear and are replaced by new ones, which in turn become obsolete. The duration of a single species comprehends an immense period of years…..The geologist represents periods of duration of millions of years, as the astronomer represents the distance of fixed stars from Earth, by millions of miles. (Foster and Whitney,1851).
Comparative anatomy, when aided by geology, becomes retrospective, and exhibits a vast series of living things adapted to the condition of the Earth’s surface at the several periods of their existence, and gradually ascending from simple to more complex forms of organisations: hence some physiologists have surmised that all varieties of organic structures may be mere adaptations of a simple and primary form. ..The rate according to which conditions of change are produced is a very slow one (Clark, 1836).

Fossils and the succession of life

Fossils inform us that from time to time great convulsions of nature have occurred-that numerous species, and not only species, but entire genera have been swept from the Earth, and that when the paroxysm had subsided and the fit of physical passion was over, life did not recommence from the exact point where it was arrested, but started up in a variety of new organisms in company with a portion only of the old (Anon,1857b). The fossil species do not differ less from the living to which they make their nearest approach, than various animals that are familiar to us do from others that belong to the same tribes, and which are found, under one species or other, over the whole world (Good,1837).
There has in fact been a succession of races of animals and plants living on the globe, their creation having been regulated by certain laws, the species having been created in a regular order, and no species once extinct having ever been re-created. The species of animals and plants that now inhabit the Earth have come into existence, slowly one after the other. There have been no sudden and general catastrophes by which entire populations have been at once destroyed over the whole Earth. Whenever we have the appearance of sudden breaks we can always trace it to the fact of vast intervals of time having elapsed, during which no deposition of rock took place in the district under examination, or during which beds of rock once formed have been washed away (Anon,1856a).
Finally, the noted American geologist, Mr Rogers notes that: We see exemplified a general and important law concerning the distribution of fossils, which is, that those species whose geographical distribution is the widest possess likewise the greatest vertical range, or, by being adapted to a greater variety of localities and physical conditions, they have been suited to withstand a greater series of vicissitude, and to endure therefore a longer time. Mr Lea called the attention of the meeting to the importance of Prof. Hall’s observations on the fossil Brachipoda, where he demonstrated that many species had been made from one, the difference of forms having arisen from difference of age, locality, etc.
It follows that Man must also be included amongst fossil species, or rather that a sudden transition from one condition of being to another must be disallowed, and that the same gradual alteration of species, already fully developed by M. Deshayes in his comparison of fossil shells of the different periods of the tertiary formations, must be extended to animals and perchance to Man (Smith,1833).

Fossil record contains “Missing Links”

If the species of fossilized mammals had changed by degrees as we may assume, we ought to find traces of this gradual modification, some intermediate condition, this however, is not the case (Hunt,1834). However, the known fossil flora and formation of any formation constitute a mere fragment of what, by all parity of reason, we must suppose to have been the actual series of organised beings of that period; and the aggregate of all such these known series are probably as small as a proportion of the whole of those that existed in still earlier periods, and whose remains were in like manner imbedded but, from the necessity of the case, have all been destroyed (Baden Powell,1856i). Mr Lyell notes that: On passing from the Lower Geensand to the Gault we suddenly reach one of those new epochs, scarcely any of the fossil species being common to the lower and upper cretaceous systems, a break in the chain implying no doubt many missing links in the series of geological monuments, which we may some day be able to supply (Lyell,1855). And as Mr De la Beche states: The scarcity of organic remains observed in the lowest of fossiliferous deposits by no means proves a scarcity of life at the same period, though from it we may infer that the testaceous and other animals with solid parts were not abundant.
Are fossil forms immutable as some distinguished naturalists maintain; or do not our domestic animals and our cultivated plants prove the contrary? If these, by change of situation, of climate, of nourishment, and by every other circumstances that operates upon them, can change their relations, it is possible that many fossil species to which no originals can be found, may not be extinct, but have gradually passed into others. (Anon, 1826a).

For want of fairness, it should however, be pointed out that Mr Hugh Miller believes that: The possible fossil can have no more standing than the possible angel (Miller,1850).

The Flood not necessary to explain animal extinction

The opinion entertained by Cuvier concerning the extinction of these animals such of them at least as are found in the soil of alluvial earth, is that it has been produced by water, or by some sudden inundation that overwhelmed the land to a sudden height. There is indeed, no appearance of the bones having been carried or transported by water; and there is no reason to suspect that the catastrophe arose from a wave or current having such force as to carry everything along with it. If a deluge were the cause, it must have been as a simple submersion of the land under the water, without anything like the sudden submersion of the land, which some geologists have imagined. Some perhaps may think that a sudden catastrophe is not a supposition necessary for the explanation of these appearances (Polehampton and Good,1821).
The Reverend Buckland believes that the extinction of this species (of elk) is attributable rather to the continued persecution it endured from its enemies, accelerated by incidental local causes, than to any general catastrophe that overwhelmed the globe ( Buckland,1825).

Species experience modification

Species experience modification more or less considerable; they change and are sometimes extinguished. A species may be lost in two ways. 1) It may be entirely destroyed by a sudden and violent convulsion, which overwhelms the quarter of the globe which it inhabits. 2) It may gradually disappear in consequence of a long series of insensible changes and successive alterations (La Cepede,1798-1803).


Progression of types not merely a direct “Chain of Being”

The true idea of progression in any sense, is clearly no longer to be recognised in any single line of ascent from more simple to more
complex forms, but must be sought in some new and apparently less obvious train of relations not as yet made out (Baden Powell,1856j).
The whole progress of nature is so very gradual, that the most perfect of inferior species comes very near to that which is immediately above it. The whole chasm of nature, from the plant to Man, is filled with divers kinds of creatures, rising one after another, by an ascent so gentle and easy, that the little transitions and deviations from one species to another are almost insensible. The intermediate space is so well husbanded and merged that there is scarcely a degree of perception, which does not appear in one part of the world of life. (Bartlett,1830).
Nature only acknowledges individuals, and varies them constantly; so as to produce new species and, then, particularly among plants. Genera vary also, but so slowly as not to be easily perceived. It is probable that new genera are also forming and that all our generic and specific forms of animals and plants have been produced by successive deviations from the original types discovered among the fossils of the former earth (Rafinesque,1836) .

Sufficient time available for transmutation to take place

But changes also take place in the organic creation: by cultivation and domestication, by climate and food, by mixture of races and perpetuation of peculiarities, plants, brutes and Man undergo extensive changes. The various breeds of domestic animals, the result of chance, or care, are monuments of the mutability in the form of species…Where does this capacity of change terminate? Is it impossible that it may reach so far as transmute the organised forms of one geological period into another? Here in, as in the former case we shall not lack time. We have no occasion to embarrass ourselves for want of thousands, or if it be necessary, of million of years….These researches have led us to consider as indubitably proved; namely the creation of new species fitted to new conditions of the elements in successive periods of the Earth’s early history (Anon,1832).
The biblical story of creation is no hindrance to the above view since, as Mr Hope points out: In the first place the Hebrew word, translated in modern language by that of day only means an indefinite period, and therefore cannot accurately be rendered by that of a day, which signifies a definite period (Hope, 1831).

Lamarckism

Lamarck supposed the doctrine of appetency, i.e. new organs are formed in animals before destitute of them by the existence of desire in the animal constantly tending in a given direction. Thus the desire of masticating food produced teeth (Baker Adams,1845a). There is however, a fundamental mould which organises bodies relative to each species, and which brings back deformed races to their primitive type; dogs whose tails and ears are cut off beget little ones with their tales and ears, circumcised men engender uncircumcised children (Anon,1835a).

Acquired characteristics not inherited

A general law has ordained that the offspring shall always be constructed according to the natural and primitive constitution of the parents, and therefore shall inherit only their connate peculiarities and not any of their acquired qualities (Anon,1815). Mr Lawrence has also commented that peculiarities in Man being congenital are transmitted from parent to offspring in hereditary succession…….Although the constitution of Man is much affected by external and adventitious causes, such as climate, food, modes of life etc., this is confined to the individual and not transmitted to the offspring (Anon,1831).
Mr Gaskell concludes that: experience tells us that no change can by any means be brought about in an individual and transmitted to his offspring. The cause of change in a species must therefore operate, not by altering the parents, but by disposing them to produce an offspring more or less different from themselves (Gaskell, 1833).

An apparent example of the transfer of acquired habits from parents to offspring

Notwithstanding the above, the views of Mr Knight are relevant here: I ascertained by repeated experiment that a terrier, whose parents had been in the habit of fighting with polecats will instantly shew every mark of anger when he first perceives the sent of that animal, even though the animal itself be concealed from sight. The peculiarities of character can therefore be traced to no other source than the acquired habits of parents, which are inherited by the offspring, and become what I shall call instinctive hereditary propensities. These propensities, or modifications of the natural instinctive powers of animals, are capable of endless variation and change; and hence their habits soon become adapted to different conditions and different stages of domestication, the acquired habits of the parents being transferred hereditarily to the offspring (Knight,1808).

Natura non facit saltum

Whenever we find geological strata we have confirmation of the well known saying, “Natura non facit saltum.” In fact all natural changes are gradual under circumstances. The condition of life gradually changes, and the organic forms are modified to meet these changes. Certain species disappear while others, adapted to the altered circumstances are called into existence (Hamilton,1855).

Why does such prodigal variety exist in nature?

Nature teeming one day in the vigour of youth produced the first animal, a shapeless clumsy microscopical object. This, by the natural tendency of original propagation to vary, and perfect the species, produced other organized brethren. These again produced other more perfect than themselves; till at last appeared the most complete species of animals, the human kind (Anon,1749).
We perceive a constant tendency in organized nature to take on considerable variety; there is in every species an infinite diversity which nature seems willing to perpetuate and render permanent in species
(Boyne,1815). It may be from the latent remains of these mixed varieties that nature, from combining causes, sometimes produces plants and animals more perfect that the class from which they sprang (Lorain ,1825). If we review every region of the globe, from the scorching sands of the equator to the icy realms of the poles, or from the lofty mountain summits to the dark abysses of the deep; if we penetrate into caverns, and secret recesses of the Earth; nay, if we take up the minutest portion of stagnant water, we meet with life in some new and unexpected form, yet ever adapted to the circumstances of its situation (Roget,1834a). Why is this prodigal variety? Why have not all the butterflies, at least all who feed on the same plant, the same markings? And once more, those strange microscopic atomies the Diatomacea and the Infusoria-why are their tiny shells of flint as fantastically various as they are? (Anon,1855c).
Further, of all the hundred thousand million of plants, trees, herbs, and flowers, with which our globe is variegated, there are not perhaps two individuals precisely alike, in every point of view in which they may be contemplated, yea, there is not perhaps, a single leaf in the forest, when minutely examined, that will not be found to differ, in certain aspects, from its fellows (Anon,1831b).

Mr Hewett Cottrell Watson on variation and the transmutation of species

Looking to present events in Nature, and to results produced by the interfering agency of Man, the following conclusions seem reasonable:
1stly-The central type of a species is reproduced and remains the same through many successive generations.
2ndly-Nevertheless individual plants do occasionally differ more or less widely from the central type, and thus become varieties.
3rdly-The descendants of varieties frequently revert to the central type of the species from which those varieties originated. But we cannot show that all varieties eventually do thus revert.
4thly-The effect of cultivation and perhaps more permanently different from their central type together with the occurrence of hereditary varieties among wild species give plausibility to the supposition that varieties do not always revert to the central type of the species from which they originated.
5thly A variety (if such there be) in which the tendency to revert to the central type of the original species, would possess the essential character of a species in itself-namely, its own distinct and permanent central type. It has not yet been proved that any such variety exists, neither can it be disproved.
6thly –The discordant opinion of botanists, as to which plants are species and which are variations only-the occurrence of varieties intermediate between presumed species-the power of changing from the central type into varieties and back again to the central type-the tendency of some varieties to become hereditary, probably in obedience to the law of “like producing like”-with other facts points towards the conclusion that varieties may gradually become species; although these facts are far from sufficient to establish the conclusion.
On the whole, therefore, we seem justified in asserting that our knowledge of the present events in nature, taken by itself, should incline us to the conclusion which is directly adverse to the theory of “progressive development” or “transition of species” yet without affording us actual disproof of that theory.
Mr Watson does not however, stop here, but continues:
It is otherwise when our thought embraces the vastly widening space of time, the events of which are investigated by geologists. There, we find ample evidence to justify the conclusion that different species succeeded to each other. And no better mode of accounting for this succession ahs been suggested than the hypothesis that one species passed into another under changing external conditions. Supposing this transition of species to have taken place very gradually, and through a series of descents, it would not require more changes (from central types into varieties and from a less variety into a greater) than we see actively occurring in the production of varieties at the present period of the Earth’s history. Could we ascertain that some varieties will continue to vary from the central type through many successive descents; and that as they become less similar to their original central type, the tendency of “like to produce like” will overpower and supersede the tendency to revert to the original type. In this case we might hold the “transmutability of species” to be a theory well founded on facts. At present it is scarcely more than a plausible hypothesis, invented to account for facts, and accounting for them better than any other hypothetical suggestion has done (Watson, 1848)

Difficulty of admitting that all nature living things are the separate acts of creation

Although a believer is successive creations and against the idea of transmutation, Mr Pictet nevertheless comments:. Do all animals appear exact as they issued from the hands of the Creator, or have only a certain number of types been introduced, whence the others were derived. It seems to me difficult to admit that each one of these innumerable species, if the accurate determination of which we are so often in doubt, was in all its characters of detail a distinct and separate act of creation (Pictet,1844-45).

Variations are hereditary and become permanent

As early as 1828, Mr Lloyd noted that: It is a well known fact, that considerable varieties arise within the limits of one species; and such varieties are often transmitted to the offspring, and become in great measure, permanent or fixed in the race…their diversities having proceeded from the action of external, or other causes, on the stock originally the same, or tribes of an entirely distinct origin from the beginning….. Yet although it seems that the existence of varieties cannot be attributed to the slow and gradual operation of climate upon successive generations, numerous facts lead to the conclusion that there is a natural tendency among races, both of men and animals, to the production of varieties suited in form and constitution to the local circumstances of the country where thy arise. Or it may perhaps, be better explained, in some cases, by supposing that, whatever varieties occur, the ability to establish a footing in any country belongs to those only which possess a constitution adaptable to local circumstances (Lloyd,1828).
Varieties, in natural history, are such diversities in individuals and their progeny as are observed to take place within the limits of species. Varieties are modifications produced in races of animals and plants by the agency of external causes; they are congenital. Varieties are hereditary, or transmitted to the offspring with a greater or lesser degree of constancy. Permanent varieties are those which having once taken place, continue to be propagated in the breed in perpetuity. (Prichard,1813).
Amongst instances of variety of structure originating in the race of Man which are propagated through many generations, may be mentioned the oft-observed fact of supernumerary toes and fingers. These organic peculiarities are often transmitted to children, even when one of the parents is of the ordinary form, for three of four generations. Hence there is reason to believe that if persons of this organic peculiarity were to intermarry exclusively, we might have a permanent race characterised by six toes and fingers (Anon,1842c).

Organized beings become adapted to conditions

In the distribution of organized beings over the surface of the Earth, we generally find an adaptation of the former to the various conditions of the latter. In many cases this adaptation is so great, that organized beings cannot exist but in the peculiar circumstances in which they are first engendered. From this law arises a great variety of organized beings which we find adapted to occupy almost every existing condition in nature (Lankester,1841).

Adapted species and varieties of plants become naturalized

The tendency is to naturalize on every plant on Earth those species and varieties best adapted to the situation and circumstances. The natural course(of agriculture) would be to encourage and continue those plants which had best adapted themselves to the locations, and which from generation to generation produce the most perfect and the most vigorous stock(Anon,1843).

Hybrids are not always sterile

Although Mr Prichard believes that hybrids are generally sterile, he notes that: The casual intermixture of breeds, or the production of hybrids, is a phenomenon observed occasionally in nature, and in many instances it must be admitted that hybrids have been found to be capable of procreation (Prichard,1836). It is even probable that two species of distinct sections may occasionally generate a race very different from the parents, yet resembling both, and not barren, as is usually the case with mules, but capable of reproducing. And such a brood, some hold to be a new and distinct species in the scale of nature brought to light by her own operations, and in the very same way that she occasionally multiplied and continues to increase the stupendous members of the vegetable kingdom
(Morton,1847) . In the higher animals, Mr Morton gives examples (of hybrids) even from different genera. In birds, they are very numerous, especially in the gallinaceous tribes. In plants, they are so common that Mr Herbert maintains that “botanical species are only a higher and more permanent type of “varieties”, and he would discard them altogether, retaining only the “genera” to designate those characters which hitherto have been attributed to “species”. It thus appears that mules are not always “sterile”, even in nature (Smith,1855).

Adaptation of animals and plants to circumstance

The capability of plants to bear the action of direct light varies according to their specific nature. One species is organized to suite the atmosphere of dense woods into which only will diffuse light penetrate; another is planted by nature on the exposed face of an unburnt rock, upon which the rays of shadeless sun are daily striking; in this case the light necessary to one would be detrimental to the other (Anon,1841a).
Now shells, more than any other class, are the slaves of circumstances; they cannot withdraw themselves from the action of exterior influences. If a change of food and habitation can alter, as they do, the forms of our domestic animals and cultivated plants; would not differences of bottom depth, temperature and agitation of the waters in which they live, vary the inhabitants of the sea? (Anon,1827).
From the sum total of external causes, the character and identity of each species is a fixed and immutable necessity. If the conditions change, the organism must alter, or the species perish. The number of possible organism is therefore limited…The number of organized beings is likewise influenced by their balance among each other. For as agriculture banishes many vegetables, considered as weeds, so the multiplication of Man has expelled certain species from his presence. It is by no means improbable that the same law may have operated among inferior animals and diminished the sum total of organic forms. In these kingdoms the brown rat has totally annihilated the black species and probably will do the same wherever it appears. The extinction, not only of species, but also genera, is a fact now proved beyond the possibility of contradiction, by the evidence of their remains preserved, within the bowels of the earth. Whether new combinations occasionally spring up by hybrid production or by varieties impressed by physical circumstances being permanent, is a subject of curious enquiry. The view which these pages unfold seem to set to rest a question long being agitated concerning the plurality of inhabited worlds; by demonstrating that the animals and vegetable races, which exist in our planet, must be peculiar to it. Each individual has its peculiar organization in virtue of the physical circumstances in which it is placed; and a greater or less degree of propinquity to the sun would be sufficient to alter the least if these conditions. The chemical constitution of this planet cannot exactly resemble that of another: their organized products cannot therefore be the same (Morgan,1819).

Varieties must be transmitted to the offspring

In relation to variation, Mr Flourens notes that: if the species had not a certain tendency to vary, it would not vary; and, in like manner, without a certain tendency to transmit the acquired varieties, they would end with the individual and would not produce a variety. All the mechanism turns upon these two internal causes, the tendency of the species to vary, and the transmission of the acquired variations. Mr Flourens however, accepts that species are fixed (Fluorens, 1855).

Form is varied to needs

The Reverend Jenyns suggests that: in explanation of the modified form of the bill of the two kinds of crossbills that, in birds which use the beak as pinchers for detaching the seeds of fir cones, and tearing them violently away, the shape of the this organ may, to a certain extent, be affected by different forms of fructification in the different species of conifers (Jenyns, 1856).

Affinities between species branch like a tree

Now when the laws of classification are ascertained, a type or specimen is to be taken, and the question asked,”which approaches the nearest to it in all affinities which characterise the class; and which the nearest to this and so on”. The result will be the formation of a natural group around a characteristic type. This will not be found to from a direct or linear series, answering to the figure of a chain or a cone of being, to a circular, quinary, or dichotomous system or to any precise artificial system. It may form a figure very irregular at its circumference; for it seeks no boundary line without; it enlarges from the central type. And as it ramifies in various directions, its continuity may be that of a branching tree. But so evident is its continuity, that the attempt at natural classification can hardly be begun before the mind becomes impressed with the firm persuasion that analogy and affinity reign throughout- that the whole botanical kingdom is constructed on a plan (Agassiz, 1850).
Again, some naturalists have thought that the series or lines (in the animal kingdom) has always been one uninterrupted series in the same direction, from the monad up to man: they have attempted to establish a zoological scale with these views; but this effort has failed, for the series of animals is not single. Animals appear rather to form a great number of series, which seem sometimes to proceed in parallel lines, sometimes to diverge and rise to different elevations. As we ascend it is true, in the animal scale, from monads to Man, we mark, no doubt a progressive complication…But a closer observation shows that the gradation exists only between animals which may be considered as the types of each species of these groups; and it often happens that certain species of an inferior group possesses a structure and faculties more perfect that the lowest species of a group, of which the chief representative possess an organization much more complex that that of all the former (Milne Edwards,1856)

Semen contributes more than a stimulus to life

Lamarck denies that the seed or germ contains all the parts in miniature of the mature plant or animal. Peculiarity of extended form and internal organizations, as well as hereditary diseases, are transmitted from father to son; and the mule resembles the ass as much as it does the horse, which appears to indicate that each parent has substantially and materially combined to form the new being, and not that the semen has merely furnished a particular stimulus to establish life, and the curious phenomenon constituting individuality (Harlan,1835). Mr Muller is convinced that : In the most perfect animals also, and even in Man we must suppose that the ovum and the semen contain within themselves all the conditions necessary for the production of a new being endowed with life and mind (Muller, 1843).

Definition of “Species” to include transitions

If we admit transitions, we can only define a Species as a particular abstract form, more or else completely realized in nature under peculiar conditions which we do not yet understand; but which if as is it is usual the case, we admit the fixity of Species, we are bound to exercise sufficient care in our observations to avoid risking accidental variations to this rank. In reference to Mr Jordan’s views it was observed, that he also regarded the Species as an absolute, and not an abstract form, but on this ground calls every tolerably constant variety a species(Henfrey,1849).

Species descend from a common parentage

As Man by removing species from their appropriate haunts, superinduces changes on the their physical constitution and adaptations, to what extent may not the same take place in wild nature, so that in a few generations, distinctive characters may be acquired, such as are recognised as indicative of species diversity. May not then a large proportion of what are considered species to be have been descended from a common parentage? (Blyth, 1837)

Climate alone not sufficient to induce change

For if anything differentiates the species, or the classes of each species, it is certainly the difference of the semen…there are climates proper only to certain species, or certain species adapted to particular climates; but not that differences of climate could change the same species from black to white. The sun has no power of altering and modifying the germina of reproduction. (Justamond, 1776)

Excessive multiplication and a check to such

Nature’s increase must be checked since, as Mr Fothergill notes: if no check on their increase (of rats) should operate destructively for the space of four years a number not far short of three million might be produced from a single pair in this time. Now the consequences of such an active and productive principle of increase if suffered continuously to operate without a check would soon be fatally obvious (Fox, 1830).
Nature has not left the individuals of species without many safeguards against the dangers to which they are exposed. Yet multitudes of seeds perish without germination, and the greatest portion of the animal kingdom perish before violence, long before reaching the limits of which their life susceptible, so “natural death” is rather an exception than the
rule in nature. But the life of the species, if we may speak, is far more carefully guarded. To every species is given a degree of fecundity far beyond that which would be required for its perpetuity, if not exposed to occasional accidents and disastrous seasons; while for the excessive multiplication consequent on a favourable season checks are provided in the limited supply of nourishment and enemies which increase by the increase in their prey. Thus individuals may perish in countless myriads, but the species endures from age to age (Baker Adams,1845b). Everywhere we see the arrangements for the species perfect; the individual is left, as it were, to take his chance amidst the melee of the various laws affecting him. The system has the fairness of a lottery, in which every one has the like chance of drawing a prize (Chambers,1844b).

Law of prey

The law of prey is the existing law of nature, of organised matter. It is the law whereby the balance of creation appears to be preserved, one class preying upon another, and also individuals of the same class preying on each other-vegetables as well as animals. Throughout organic creation, nature has provided that every race, animal and vegetable shall produce more offspring than is required to fill the space the parents occupy (Goldsmith,1852).

A natural process of selection

Since it appears from what we know of natural history in general, that the whole number of varieties of form observable in nature pass into and from one another by gradations always very close and sometimes obscure and hardly traceable; since also, many modifications of specific form are undoubtedly produced by time and by long exposure to modifying circumstances; and since there is a general parallelism and resemblance traceable in different groups throughout nature; therefore it is possible that according to some law, of which at present we know nothing more than the supposed effects, species are capable of occasionally producing by the ordinary means of succession other species differently organised, which, once established occupy new ground, and become themselves the starting pointy of new changes (Ansted,1855).
As the field of existence is limited and preoccupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better-suited-to-circumstance individuals who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater powers of occupancy than any other kind: the weaker and less circumstance-suited being prematurely destroyed. This principle is in constant action: it regulates the colour the figure, the capacities, and instincts; those individuals in each species whose colour and covering are best suited to concealment or protection from enemies, or defence from inclemencies or vicissitudes of climate, whose figure is best accommodated to health, strength, defence, and support: in such immense waste of primary and youthful life those only come forward to maturity from the strict ordeal by which nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness to continue their kind of reproduction (Matthew,1831a).
The transmutationists suppose changes in external physical condition, affecting the character of species: these may be such as would tend to the extinction of a particular species, but some varieties of that species might
possess peculiarities better suited to those changed conditions, and thus would be able to survive. They would be few; but they would propagate descendents in whom those characteristics would be more strongly marked, sustained and favoured by the changed conditions. Thus for a period of longer or shorter, as the external changes advanced, the old form would die out, and these rare varieties would maintain a struggling existence, until at length, the state of things become more settled, and the type determined in accordance with them, a new fixed species would begin to increase and multiply; and it would be of such common and wide-spread species that we would ever expect to find it in fossil remains (Baden Powell,1856b). It is therefore a fair inference, that if the favourable conditions were continued, and the variety was locally isolated, from the rest of the species; it would become a permanent type or species (Baden Powell,1856c).
Throughout these unfathomable depths of primeval time which it transcends imagination to conceive or arithmetic to express, the organic world is, and always has been, emphatically one; modelled on one plan, and amid all diversity exhibiting one common feature of a grand recondite and comprehensive unity of design (Baden Powell,1856d). It is eminently consistent with the great principle of the uniformity of nature through all time, to suppose that like many lesser laws in the natural world, that of the existing permanency of species may yet be subordinate to a greater and more comprehensive law of change, requiring such vast periods for its accomplishment that no measurable portion of time may suffice for the production of a sensible (i.e. recognisable) amount of variation (Baden Powell,1856e). It is clearly preposterous to maintain that an ancient event ill understood is an absolute deviation from all natural order, merely because we cannot at once interpret it; or that it is beyond all physical causes, because we do not daily see instances of its occurrence, by the action of such causes (Baden Powell,1856f).
We must still remember all this is but a hypothesis, there is still no positive evidence to establish it as a demonstrated theory. Yet as a mere philosophical conjecture, the idea of transmutation of species under adequate changes of condition, seems supported by fair analogy and probability (Baden Powell,1856g).
We would reply to the objection that intermediate links and stages are missing –it is because they were rare and transient. The new species appear in company with older forms not closely allied, still persistent, because not affected by the changes (Baden Powell,1856h).
Species are likely to be as strictly permanent as at present for many thousands, perhaps millions, of years to come, provided the external conditions remain the same. When the distribution of continents and
oceans, the elevation of the land, the direction of currents, and the like circumstances, shall have undergone a great and notable change, influencing the climate and productions of existing lands and even presenting new regions for the diffusion of life, we might then well expect that some existing forms might be lost, and that such a gradual change of species, and eventually even of whole genera, might at length take place as would fully exemplify, and account for, the observed changes in ancient formations (Baden Powell,1856k).
That such an event as the extermination of one species, and the substitution of a new one in its place, must be an event of so rare a character, that no noticeable instance of it could be expected to take
place within the range of our observation (Baden Powell,1856l). A species is not merely the logical subdivision of a genus, but implies the idea of distinctive characteristics derived from a parent and the reproduction of like individuals: it involves, not only the consideration of type, but descent (Baden Powell,1856m).
Finally, Mr Bachman sums up this question as follows: Why is it that no sooner is a plant, a bird, quadruped, or man himself removed to a different country and climate, and subjected to other modes of life, and fed on different kinds of food, these circumstances should so soon have an influence on the generation process, none of us is prepared to give a satisfactory answer. The parents undergo no change; the varieties are produced in their descendants,-produced in these new situations and under new modes of life to which they were subjected (Bachman,1850) .

In Nature, slight causes produce great effects

The ductility and adaptability in the animal constitution is of the most important arrangement in creation. Through it the creatures which people the globe are prepared for certain changes of climate, food, soil and the like. Without such a provision every change of external conditions would have been attended with pain and inconvenience to life, if not with its extinction. And yet we do not know the limits of animal adaptability: Nature often brings about the most important and gigantic results by the slightest and most imperceptible of causes (Anon, 1846b).

Definition of variety: sexual reproduction as its source

A variety of its species is a species of a secondary origin that differs from the primary species whence it has sprung, in possessing different properties or qualities, which properties or qualities it is endowed with the power of transmission to posterity. Although varieties are unstable, it will be found that their instability does not proceed from a proclivity to change or tendency to re-assume the primitive characteristics of the species from which they sprung, but it is merely the effects of their sexual reproduction:-a cause which, in many instances produces the like instability amongst species that have existed from the beginning (Bishop, 1829).

Like Man, nature selects

To form new varieties of vegetables, as well as of flowers and useful plants of every description, it is necessary to take advantage of their sexual differences, and to operate in a manner analogous to crossing the breeds in animals. Even this practise is but an imitation of what takes place in nature by the agency of bees and other insects and of the wind
(Loudon,1831).

Evidence of variation from studying pigeons

The wild rock pigeon is the stock from which ornithologists generally now agree the domestic pigeon and it varieties derived. ”Under this species” write Mr Selby, “we include not only the common pigeon or the inhabitant of the dove-cot but all those numerous varieties, or as they are frequently termed, races of domesticated pigeons, so highly prized and fostered with such care and attention by the amateur breeder, or pigeon fancier; for however, diversified the forms, colour, or peculiarity of habit may be, we consider them all as having originated from a few accidental varieties of the common pigeon and not from any cross of the a bird with other species, no signs of, or marks whatsoever of such being apparent in any of the numerous varieties known to us. In fact the greater part of them owe their existence to the interference and art of Man; for by separating from the parent stock such accidental varieties as have occasionally occurred by subjecting these to captivity and domestication and by assorting them and pairing them together as fancy and caprice suggested, he has at intervals generated all the various races and peculiar varieties which, it is well known, when once produced may be perpetuated for an indefinite period, by being kept separate from, and unmixed with others; or what by those interested in such pursuits is usually termed “breeding in and in “. Such also, we may add, is the opinion of most eminent naturalist as to there origin, and it is strongly insisted on by M. Temminck in his valuable Histoire Generale Naturelle de Pigeons. Indeed the varieties, however, much they differ in colour, size, or other particulars, if permitted, breed freely and indiscriminately with each other and produce a progeny equally prolific is another and convincing proof of their common and self-same origin; for it is one of those universal laws of nature, extending even to plants, and one which if set aside or not enforced, would plunge all animated matter into indescribable confusion that the offspring produced by such intercourse of different, that is distinct, species is incapable of further increase (Anon, 1837).

Evidence of a general plan of animal construction

In the formation of animals there seems to have been a constant reference, as it were, to some general type or plan of construction, which is filled up in different forms of being, so as to put them in relation to the circumstances for which they were destined. Nothing in the whole of the history of organisation is more curious than the uniformity and simplicity of the general plan of construction. As if, when the circumstance and conditions of a creature required some peculiar form and combination of the organs, they were sought amongst already existing organisation, rather than constructed anew (Anon,1841b).

Homologous parts and evidence for the use and disuse of organs

By a “Homologue”, Owen means the same organ in different animals under every variety of form and function. Thus the pectoral fins of the fish, the wings of the bird, the fore-feet of the mammal, and the arms and hands of Man, are said to be homologous parts, because they are really the same organs under different modifications (Anon,1851).
In following the transitions from one model of animal structure, we often observe that a particular organ has been greatly enlarged, or otherwise modified to suit some particular purpose, foreign to its usual destination, or qualifying it for performing some new office, rendered necessary by the particular circumstances in which the animal is placed. Thus the ribs, which in quadrupeds are usually employed for respiration, are in the serpent converted into auxiliary organs of progressive motion: and in Draco velans, or flying lizard, they are extended outwards from the sides to serve as wings. In like manner in the Crustacea, organs of the same general structure are converted sometimes into jaws, sometimes into feelers (or palpi), and sometimes into feet, and the transition from one to the other is so gradual that it is difficult to draw a proper distinction between the two. In pursuing the ascending scale of animal nature, we meet also with instances of a contrary change, yet still resulting from the continued application of the same principle. An organ which served an important purpose in one animal may be of less use in another, occupying a higher situation in the scale, and change of circumstances may even render it wholly useless. In such cases we find that it is gradually discarded from the system, becoming continually smaller, till it disappears altogether. We may often however, perceive some traces of its existence, but only on a rudimentary state, and as if ready to be developed, when the occasion may demand (Roget,1834b).

Rudimentary organs

Rudimentary and perhaps useless organs come into existence through a general plan, of which they are witnesses to us. They tell the same great fact which is so loudly proclaimed by all phenomena of the restoration of parts and renovation of tissue, that the grouping of organised matter into definite and special forms is not a wanton or chance effect, but is the direct and inevitable consequence of invariable physical laws (Draper,1856); when the organic creation is admitted to have been affected by a general law, we see nothing in these abortive parts but harmless peculiarities of development (Chambers,1844c).

A critique of “Paley’s watch”

We perceive, then, how admirably adapted the structures of every creature is to the circumstance in which it is placed, and the element in which it moves, and that, however great may be the modifications which particular organs may undergo to the attainment of specific ends, they are all accomplished in accordance with the grand general laws of the animal economy, which shows how superior the works of nature are to the loftiest productions of human ingenuity. A piece of mechanism, as a watch constructed by Man, however beautiful the workmanship and valuable the materials, is designed for one important purpose, which it subserves and that alone, and cannot be appropriated to a different purpose, without a total change in the whole materials. But in the structure of the animal economy, by a slight modification of the organs, various and important ends are attained and the animal is adapted to the air, to the land, or to the waters, and yet this principle is one and individually the same (Anon,1853).

Struggle for existence

The limit which providence appear to have placed to every thing is curtailed-every animated being whether vegetable of animal is subject to be cut short long before that limit is reached; so that there appears to be a perpetual struggle throughout nature. (Elliotson,1831).
In a large herd of cattle, the strongest bull drives from him all the younger and weaker individuals of his own sex, and remains sole master of the herd; so that all the young which are produced must have their origin from one which possessed the maximum power and physical strength, and which, consequently, in the struggle for existence, was the best able to maintain his ground and defend himself from every enemy. In a like manner, any animals which procure their food by means of agility, strength or delicacy of sense, the ones best organised must always obtain the greatest quantity; and must therefore become physically the strongest, and be thus enabled by routing its opponents to transmit its superior qualities to a greater number of offspring. The same law, therefore, which
was intended by Providence to keep up the typical qualities of a species, can be easily converted by Man into a means of raising different varieties; but it is also clear that if Man did not keep these breeds by regulating the sexual intercourse, they would all naturally soon revert to original type. Farther, it is only on this principle that we satisfactorily account for all degenerating effects said to be produced by the much-censured practise of “breeding in and in”. There would almost seem in some species, to be a tendency, in every separate family, to some particular kind of deviation; which is only counteracted by the various crossings, which, in a state of nature, must take place, and by the above-mentioned law, which causes each race to be chiefly propagated by the most typical and perfect individuals. In a like manner amongst animals which procure their food by means of their agility, strength, or delicacy if sense, the one best organized must always obtain the greatest quantity; and must therefore, become physically the strongest, and be this enabled by routing its opponents to transmit its superior qualities to a greater number of offspring (Blyth,1835).
In relation to hybrids, Mr Lyell states that: Every species which has spread itself from a small point over a wide area, must in like manner have marked its progress by the diminution, or the entire expiration, of some other, and must maintain its ground by a successful struggle against the encroachment of other plants and animals (Lyell,1832). Unhealthy plants are the first which are cut of by the causes prejudicial to the species, being usually stifled by more vigorous individuals of their own kind. If therefore the relative fecundity and, or, hardiness of hybrids be in the least degree inferior, they cannot maintain their footing for many generations, even if they were ever produced beyond one generation in the wild state. In the universal struggle for existence, the right of the strongest eventually prevails, and the strength and durability of a race depends mainly on its prolificness, in which hybrids are known to be deficient (Lyell,1835).

Survival of the most able

Birds, beast and insects overpower, ensnare and lie in wait to prey upon another, and it is necessary they should do so to keep their numbers within bounds, for nature produces more of every species than she is able to maintain (Tucker,1768).
Notwithstanding that change of place, simply, may have impression to improve the species, yet it is more to circumstances connected with the change to which the chief part of the improvement must be referred. In the agitation which accompanies emigration, the ablest in body and mind-the most powerful varieties of the race will be thrown into their natural position as leaders, impressing the stamp of their character on the people at large and constituting the more reproductive part, while the feebler or more improvident varieties will generally sink under the incidental hardships (Matthew 1831,p.373).
The great law of nature is not limited to Man; it extends with equal force to the animal and vegetable creations. A couple of rabbits or a flock of sheep would fill the Earth, if their increase were not checked by want of food or space or climate. In all cases, the law of increase is the same whether as affects Man or animals, or vegetables; they all increase in the geometric ratio and the necessity that limits their indefinite multiplication is the impossibility of obtaining an indefinite amount of subsistence (Wade,1834).

Sexual selection and survival of the best fitted to circumstance

The pugnacious disposition in the males of some animals is not to be regarded as accidental, but resulting from a wise and excellent law of Nature, which always studies the good of the species without regard to the individuals. Did not the females prefer the males which are victorious, feebleness and degeneracy would soon mark the animals creation but in consequence of this general rule, the various races of animals are kept up by those individuals who are not only most to be admired for their external appearance, but most valued for their intrinsic spirit and energy (Jesse,1835).
The greatest number of females will of course fall to the share of the most vigorous males and the strongest individuals of both sexes, by driving away the weakest, will enjoy the best food and most favourable situations for themselves and their offspring. A severe winter, or scarcity of food, by destroying the weak and the unhealthy, has all the good effects of the most skilful selection. In cold and barren lands, no animal can live to the age of maturity, but those who have strong constitutions; the weak and the unhealthy do not live a to propagate their infirmities (Sebright,1809). The season of coupling with animals is a period of strife, and the most robust prevail and maintain the vigour of the species. It is also remarkable that the amorous instinct of females of all animals leads them to prefer the most vigorous of males (Ryan,1837). Finally, Mr Owen makes the following remarks on the utility of antlers: these weapons perform the same office in the Deer that the large spurs in the Cock effect, preserving the strongest and healthiest buck to the greatest number of roes. (Owen,1841).
The strongest produce the most progeny and improve the species
The final cause of the contest amongst males (of cocks and quails) seems to be, that the strongest and most active animals shall propagate the species, which should have hence become improved ((Darwin [Erasmus], 1818).
Nature’s plan of selection

It has often been remarked that wild animals, undergo but very slight changes either in from, size or colour; the reason for this, in many tribes is obvious. We may take the class to which deer belongs as an example. At the season of the rut, when the herds commingle, great contentions take place between the males, by which the larger number of females falls to the most vigorous and healthy males, and a strong progeny is the result. Besides which, many of the weaker animals not infrequently are carried off by the cold and privations of winter, thus leaving parents of good constitution, and able to support their young, during the earliest periods of their life. In those uncongenial seasons, the robust however, do not suffer to an extent sufficient to produce permanent injury, as the range they take is extensive, and this space makes up for local deficiency of herbage, and exercise overbalances the sedative effects of cold. Many other reasons might be advanced where it is necessary; these however, are sufficient to show that here we have nature’s plan of selection, which Man but imitates in the care he bestows in pairing animals to breed together (Beart Simonds,1849).

Errors in speciation result from variation

It is only by a very extensive comparison of forms, even when brought from the same locality, that we are justified in pronouncing a probable opinion as to their specific isolation, so often does it happen that when we have chanced first to meet with two specimens which we should rank as distinct species, on account of their obvious differences, the supposed boundary between them is altogether done away with by the subsequent discoveries of osculant forms, which establish a complete transition from one to another, so that no line of demarcation can possibly be drawn between them. And when we come to compare together suites of specimens from different localities the damage of error from reliance on a small number of individuals is still more multiplied, since their divergent forms are likely to be more numerous and more strongly marked, and
some of the intermediate links may be wanting. Even when such difficulties exist, if we find two sets of forms manifestly tending one towards another, and each of them exhibiting a considerable range of variation, we shall generally, I feel sure, err on the right side in uniting them under a single specific designation, rather than ranking them as distinct species (Carpenter,1855).

Evidences of the existence of variation under circumstance

Dr Harlan, a distinguished American naturalist, informed the author, that testaceous molusca removed from one river to another in America were observed in time to change the form of their shells. Mr Gray also states that great varieties of form are produced in shells of the same species when removed from calm to agitated water (Bakewell,1839).
When we have under our eyes a series of modification impressed upon species, as in Limaces, which have lived under different circumstances with regard to temperature and when we remark that their modifications are capable of being reduced to constant laws, we may believe that modifying agencies, which have acted with such power on certain races, have had a equal effect on others, and we may foresee by an induction, not at all forced, the future results of observations on the subject (Long, 1839).

Fauna and Fauna of islands unique

The flora of islands is restricted in the number of species, but highly deserving attention; and it would even appear that they possess species peculiar to themselves, an extremely important and interesting fact (Pickering,1830) (see (c) in next section for further examples).

Geographical distribution of organized beings

a) Dispersal from original centre of existence. Prichard states that the various tribes of organized beings were originally placed in certain regions, to which they are by their nature peculiarly adapted, probably a single pair of each species, from where their offspring have dispersed themselves to as remote a distance from the original centre of their existence as their own powers of locomotion, their capacity to endure change of climate and the absence of physical obstacles to their migration have enabled them to wander (Sears,1856).
b) Dissimilarity between species most marked in animals which occupy the same country. A remarkable fact connected with the locality of the antelope genus, is that the several species appear not only to mix, but to receive no modifications from climate. It is not those which are farthest separated by geographical position that differ most; the dissimilarity being greatest between the several species of the same country. Hence we may infer that those specific differences cannot have resulted only from temperature, a conclusion which is strengthened by the observations of Pallas, according to which the species which are most similar barest the strongest antipathy towards each other (Shoberl, 1834).
It should be noted that the differences which are observed between the animals of different faunas are no more to be ascribed to the influences of climate than their organisation is to the influence of the physical forces of nature. If it were so, we should necessarily find all animals precisely the same when placed under the same circumstances (Hughes,1855).
c) Different species found on closely allied islands or regions. Owing to the weakness of their flight, one island of an archipelago often contains a peculiar species of Lories (parrots), which is wanting on other islands of the same group (Prichard,1855). Similarly, Mr Waterhouse has found that the spotted Phalanger is subject to considerable variation in its colouring, and this is not only due to age, but M. Temminck, who has examined many specimens, informs us that he can perceive slight differences in hue of the fur of individuals brought from different islands (i.e., Amboyna,
Waigiou, Banda and New Guinea),(Waterhouse,1846a). Additionally:
A series of specimens of the Phalangers under consideration, accompanied with their skulls, both from New South Wales and from van Diemen’s Land, is required to enable us to determine in a satisfactorily manner, whether the animals called vulpine and fulginosa are specifically identical.
Now if in tracing the dispersion of the genera and species of organized beings plants and animals) it should appear that they exist in those regions only to which they may have wandered or been conveyed by accidental means, from some single point regarded as the primitive or original seat, the inference that each species has descended from a single origin is warranted; but if on the contrary, the same species are found in locations separated by natural barriers of vast distance as to forbid this
supposition, the opinion of their distinct and separate origins is equally authorised (Anon,1842b). It has always struck me that naturalists have been somewhat at variance with the geologists. They have found on, or given peculiar species of plants etc. to remote islands when these have been thought to be of a later origin than the continents themselves; while species have been limited to the first periods of creation. For example, if St Helena is of subsequent formation to the great continents then its possessing a distinct new species of plant, or animated being whatsoever, must either be a conclusive proof that a successive creation of species goes forward or that the naturalists are wrong in their definition or discrimination of species: most probably the latter (Webster, 1834)
It also seems a general law, that plants whose organisation is more affected by external agencies, become, from the very cause, more circumscribed in their distribution, simply because a greater difference in
the circumstances under which they would be placed brought with it an amount of change in their structure, which exceeded the limits prescribed by Nature (Anon,1856c).
d) Effects of isolation on the development of species. Laying aside those forms which are manifestly endemic (the numerical proportions of which usually accords with distance from the nearest mainland), again and again are we baffled by the near resemblance of the various creatures to the continental types-whilst the minute differences which they display from them, are at the same time so permanently fixed, that we are almost precluded under the ordinary acceptance of a “species”, from regarding the two as undoubted descendants of a common stock: and thus, it is that the insular faunas have frequently been magnified, in the novelties which they are supposed to contain far beyond what is right. For example, in the Annulose tribes, I believe that the reduction in space which geological convulsions have at various epochs brought about, has been commonly succeeded (inter alia) by a reduction in the stature of these species which have been cut off from their fellows. We should remember that immense periods of time are apparently necessary before any perceptible change can come over creatures from the stoppage of their migratory progress, and the unnatural–inbreeding of several tribes; so that in islands geologically recent we must not invariably expect to discover evidence of this law. We should also remember that species are differently constituted ab ovo, and will sometimes give a different result from the operation of causes which are identical. In conclusion, I believe that the vast proportion of species which have been usually considered to be “representative” ones, were members, in the first instance of the self-same assemblages, which have wondered to a distance from their original haunts, and were afterwards, through the submergence of the intervening land, cut off from their allies (Wollaston,1856).

Indefinite radiation (Divergence)

The true physiological system is one of irregular and indefinite radiation, and of reiterate divergence and ramification from a varying number of successive subordinate typical plans; often modified in the extremes till the general aspect have become entirely changed, but still retaining, to the very ultimate limits, certain fixed and constant distinctive characters by which the true affinities of species may be always known, the modification of each successive type being always in the directions in relation to particular localities, or to particular modes of providing sustenance; in short, to the particular circumstances under which a species was appointed to exist in the locality which it indigenously inhabits (Blyth,1836).
Each original race that survives will become one root from which diverged several races, differing more or less from it, and from each other, and while some of these might subsequently disappear, probably more than one would survive into the next geologic period: the very dispersion itself increasing the chances of survival (Anon,1857c).
It must now and then occur, that some divergent branch of a species, falling into circumstances which give it more complex experiences, and demand actions somewhat more involved, will have certain of its organs further differentiated in proportionally small degrees-will become slightly heterogeneous. Thus in the natural course of things, there will from time to time arise an increased heterogeneity, both of the Earth’s fauna and fauna and of individual races including Man (Anon,1857c).

The importance of isolation

The isolation of the new variety, or of those destined to be the founders of it, is necessary. The action of the law of diversity having prepared the way, isolation constitutes the chief circumstance in the change of conditions controlling all the rest. And, whether it is brought about by accident or by design (i.e. by breeding) is entirely immaterial (Humbrickhouse,1854). Mr Burnett agrees, stating that-I have been able to conclude that when a deviation from the main type is found, the species in which this is found must be separated from the others within which, in classification from other data, it has been placed (Burnett,1852).
Or as Mr Schouw would have it: The easiest way in which we can imagine the origin of new species, must be, either that an existing species assumes other characters though alteration of climate or soil, or that accidental deviations from the normal type become constant through isolation(Schouw,1852).
Finally, the need for isolation in order to maintain varieties has long been recognised by breeders; as Mr Prichard states: Varieties are sometimes permanently fixed in the breed so long as it remains unmixed (Prichard,1843). Finally, Mr Chambers note that: The probability is that the modification takes place in an offshoot of the original tribe, which has removed into a different set of circumstances, these circumstances the cause of the change. Thus there is no need to presume that the original tribe is at all affected by any such modification (Chambers, 1846).
In respect to Man, Mr Cooke Taylor states: We are a family in which any if these peculiarities had a tendency to occur from the general stock, as to necessitate frequent intermarriage of its members, their peculiarities would be repeated, propagated and in a few generations rendered permanent. But this isolation could only take place when the world was thinly inhabited and a wide space intervened between family and family (Cooke Taylor,1841).

Instinct

If asked to give a definition of Instinct, we would say, it is that propensity of animals, which directs or implies them to do certain things, usually for the preservation or the continuation of their species, at the fittest time and with the greatest perfection, quite independent of knowledge, without experience from themselves and without teaching from others (Garratt, 1856a). For example, a bird of any species, though never having been in the company with either of its parents or one of its species will yet, nevertheless, not only construct its nest without the least deviation from the true model, both as to the shape and size, but will also compose it of the very same materials, and place them, too, in the very same order (Garratt,1856b). But instinct is sometimes at fault, and its powers are uselessly applied, for example a hen will sit with great tenacity on a rounded piece of chalk, and the tame squirrel, in confinement, hoards up food which it will never require or touch (Thompson,1851b).
None will deny, we believe, the existence of the first primordial law of our animal economy, the instinct of “self-preservation”. It belongs to every living creature, and is the “reactive principle” which protects our particular nature against the efforts of universal nature” (Anon,1830). However, generally speaking, instinct, as regards self-preservation, is secondary to that which influences the propagation and defence of the
off spring. In males, the sexual desire, and in females, the care of their young absorb every other consideration, and the powerful hand of Nature, by the agencies, provided for the due perpetuation and protection of the various races of animals (Thompson,1851b).

Mimicry

Nature indeed, has in many insects carried the mimetic art to so great a degree of nicety, that some of then appear to have robbed the tree of its leaves to form for themselves artificial wings, so exactly do they resemble them in form, substance and vascular structure-some representing green and others dry withered leaves. Sometimes this mimicry, if we may call it so, is so exquisite that a whole insect might be mistaken for a portion of a branching spray of a tree, or for a dead lifeless twig- appearances which seem to be intended to deceive their natural enemies (Anon,1828).

Migration

The immediate cause of these movements, which we class under the head of irregular migration, seems to be the excessive multiplication of the
species, and the consequent want of sufficing nourishment, which naturally leads them to seek elsewhere for a more abundant supply.
Periodical migrations such as those of many birds and fishes are more probably produced by the desire which these animals experience of returning to their native haunts for the purpose of producing and rearing their young in the places most fitted for their reception and increase (Anon,1832b).

Extinction

The same law constantly shows itself in active operation. Inferior races have in some instances become extinct simply by the intrusion of a more vigorous race, just as a feeble plant prevailing over a considerable extent of country is sometimes pushed out of existence by the continual encroachment of a hardy and more vigorous grass (Anon, 1855b). When great changes are made on the surface of a country, as when forests are changed into open land, and marshes into corn fields, or any other change that is considerable, the change of climate must correspond; and as the wild productions are very much affected by that, they must also undergo changes; and these changes may in time amount to the entire extinction of some of the old tribes, both of plants and animals, the modification of others to the full extent that the hereditary specific characters admit, and the introduction of not varieties only, but species altogether new. That not only may, but must have been the case. The productions of soils and climate are as varied as these are, and when changes take place in either of these, if the living productions cannot alter their habits so as to accommodate themselves to change, there is no alternative, they must perish (Mudie, 1832). Finally Mr Leidy comments: A study of the Earth’s crust teaches us that very many species of plants and animals became extinct at successive periods, while other races originated to occupy their places. This probably was the result of many causes, of a change in exterior conditions incompatible with the life of certain species, and favourable to the primitive production of others. But such a change does not always satisfactorily explain the extinction of species (Leidy,1853).

The Laws of Nature deduced

The Law of Adaptation-The removal of an animal from its original habitat to a country having a different climate, soil and vegetation, is almost invariably productive of certain changes in from, size, weight and instinct of that animal. These changes take place not merely as a lusus naturae, (sport or freak of nature) but in accordance with a fixed law which underlies the nature of all species of animal. This Law, I have termed the Law of Adaptation. This then is the Law of Adaptation. The original habitat of an animal having been changed, external circumstances, climate, food, modes of life and animal association-demand either the sacrifice of certain qualities or attributes, or of life itself, and nature, to preserve the life invariably sacrifices the qualities or attributes whenever the animal possesses sufficient vitality to undergo the change. This law of adaptation is one of fundamental importance and needs to be thoroughly understood…by it we are enabled of the phenomenal varieties of the inferior orders of animals. Change of habitat produces many and permanent varieties in the lower orders of animals. These varieties descend from sire and dam to offspring for many generations until the original of the animal is lost, or so obscured by tradition as to be little better than lost.
Law of Uniformity-Mr P.S. Humbrickson, of Ohio, considers that “there are two laws, which prevail in all procreations, impregnation, and hybridisation of animals and plants, by which, old varieties are as such continued, and new ones come into existence. To the first I give the name
of the Law of Uniformity. It may this be defined: within any given species every individual-considered with reference to himself, and those
like him, from the same proximate ancestry-contains in him the elements of Uniformity. To the second I will give the name- the Law of Diversity.
The Law of Diversity- The Law of Diversity may thus be defined: Within any given species, every individual-considered in reference to every other individual, and those unlike him, whether of the same or different proximate ancestry-contains in him the elements of Diversity (Dadd,1856).

Animals and plants have a single point of origin

We may assume that the more perfect animals are less prone to, perhaps never do, make their appearance in several places independently.
Professor Schouw himself illustrates (editorial comment by A. Henfrey), both in this and some other chapters the extent to which diffusion takes place, even under our own eyes; and therefore, when geological time is taken as an element in the question, and a gradual and successive creations of forms is admitted, there seems a fair case for arguing that all plants had single specific centres (Schouw,1852).

Variations, spontaneous, or induced by Man, useful in husbandry

In the year 1791, one ewe on the farm of Seth Wright, gave birth to a male lamb, which without any known cause, had a longer body and shorter legs than the rest of the breed (so-called, Otter sheep). The shape of this animal rendering it unable to leap over fences, it was determined to propagate its peculiarities and the experiment proved successful and new race of sheep was produced. It seems uniformly the fact that when both parents are of the same breed, the lambs that are produced inherit the otter form (Ward,1849).
A breed of animals may be said to be improved when any desired quality has been increased by art beyond what was in the same breed in a state of nature; the swiftness of the race horse, the propensity to fatten cattle, and the fine wool in sheep, are improvements which have been made in particular varieties of a species to which those animals belong….the most improved breed will return to a state of nature, or perhaps defects will arise, which did not exist when the breed was in a natural state unless the greatest attention is paid to the selection of the individuals who are to breed together (Skinner,1827).
We can readily admit that natural hybridisation may have been going on since the first tree, as each of the cases came into existence; but how came them to exist in the first instance? If nature has been sporting in this way for so long a period, she will no doubt continue until the end of time. If she has done so in the case of our fruits and culinary vegetables, may she have not been doing so in the case of all other plants and trees, and therefore may not these recognised now as species, at least, have been so produced? (McIntosh,1855).


Laws of hybridisation determined

The ring-necked pheasants, which I have caused to breed with common pheasants, have produced me hybrids, some of which resembled the former, and others were absolutely identical with the second. The produce of these hybrids, together with themselves, or with one of the two species, give the same varieties of plumage, nevertheless, the young pheasants of the second generation resume most frequently the plumage of one of the two species of these birds; and it has generally appeared to me that the most common livery of the pheasant of the second generation, and successively of those following has their number increased, was that of the common pheasant; still those retain the white collar, a character which, from many successive generations distinguishes the descendants that proceed from the alliance (Anon,1855d).

A random source of Nature’s novelty

We are told (in the Vestiges of Creation) that Mr Babbage’s engine produces numbers according to a certain law up to a particular point, and then, most unexpectedly, perhaps even unaccounted, the laws if the series is changed, and the next term exhibits a striking departure from the order previously followed; and so it is argued, it may be in nature. Each organism may propagate after its kind for immense periods, so as to give the impression of being and invariable law; but at a certain stage the order may change, and the next term exhibits a striking departure from what went before it. The argument-if it can be called an argument amounts to this Mr Babbage’s machine produced a series of numbers, but numbers only, but according to different laws of succession; ergo Nature may also produce in the same way, and with similar variations, different races of plants and animals. The argument would have been perfect if the engine had produced something else other than numbers; if, as Professor Dod supposes, ”while watching Mr Babbage’s machine, presenting to us successive numbers by the revolution of its plates, we should suddenly see one of the plates revolving itself into types arranging themselves in the order of a page from Paradise Lost or even The Vestige of Creation.” (Buchanan, 1857).

Accidental variation originating from seeds

It is well known that these very varieties of plants which are most important and interesting, those in which the most considerable deviations from the normal character of species occur, are not produced in the individual stock, to whatever influences of nature and art this may be exposed, but are connected with the reproduction in their origin, since they grow up as it were accidentally from seed. The origin of the varieties mentioned here does not depend so much upon an alteration gradually insinuating itself into the external conditions of existence, as upon a development, under favourable conditions, of the multiformity possible within the limits of a certain type, which is implies especially in the fact that very different varieties may arise from one and the same sowing, even when the seed are from one and the same fruit, and this without the influence of impregnation from a foreign source, and under equal external circumstances (Henfrey, 1853).

Obtaining varieties by accidental variation

Mr Henfrey uses the following approach to produce new varieties, which he deems superior to cross-fertilization which often produced sterile hybrids: To obtain from a plant not yet modified varieties of a kind determined beforehand I first apply myself to producing variation in any direction, selecting from the reproducers, not the one of the accidental varieties which approaches nearest to the form I wish to obtain, but simply that which differs most from the type. In the second variation, the same care would lead me to choose a deviation, the greatest possible at first, then the most different from that I have chosen in the first place. The necessary result of following the course through several generations is the extreme tendency to vary the product thus obtained (Henfrey,1853b).

Insects protect plants against “breeding in and in”

It is probable that the same law holds among plants as among animals, and that breeding in and in would, in the course of time, be fatal to any species. Nature has provided against this emergency by attracting the insect, to the flower, who bears the pollen of one perfect flower to the stigma of another flower of the same species (Flagg, 1855).

Sexual generation needed to produce novelty and new species

Dr Erasmus Darwin has noted an important fact concerning the origin of novelty in animals and plants; he states: It was observed above that vegetable buds and bulbs which are produced without a mother, are always exact resemblances of their parent; as appear in grafting fruit trees, and in the flower buds of the dioeceous plants, which are always of the same sex on the same tree; the same is true of hermaphrodite insects. if they could have produced young without a mother they would not have been capable of that change or improvement which is seen in all animals, and in the vegetables, which are procreated by the male embryon received ad nourished by the female. And it is hence probable, that if vegetables could only have been produced by buds, and not by sexual generation, there would not at this time have existed one thousandth part of their present number of species; which have probably been mule-productions; nor could any kind of improvement or change have happened to them except by the difference of soil and climate (Darwin [Erasmus],1818b).

Only genera were created

The Reverend W. Herbert believes that: All species of plants now existing have branched from original genera, or in other words, that genera alone were created; and that most of those plants, which are now considered species, are no more than permanent varieties (Herbert,1820-21).

Species surely not created to entertain Man

Surely, it will not be contended that species were created with a view that Man should be able to distinguish them! Surely differences were not imposed merely to fascinate the progress of human knowledge! Is it not more much more rational to conclude, that, as great differences in the structure import corresponding diversities in habit, so by some rule, minor differences also imply an equivalent diversity in degree (Blyth,1836b).

Evolution not a simple, linear process

But take care not to believe that the first series of evolution is a simple one. As the evolution of the animal and vegetable kingdom may be said to have preceded with nearly equal paces, so the different sections of vegetables cannot be said to have arisen out of a parallel or radiant series (Fries,1826).

Origin of Man like the diversified branches of the living tree

All things are constantly assuming forms; and these are in accordance with the existing exciting causes. The germ of Man has been discovered in the lower forms of the animal kingdom and traced through all of its progressive stages of development, rising from the lower degrees through the great body of the animal creation, with its many and diversified branches and their modifications, up to the blooming perfection of the living tree, whose fruit is the organisation of Man (Davies, 1852).

Infirmities more regularly inherited in Man than more nobler parts

There would seem to be a tendency in nature to transmit weakness and infirmities rather than the noble parts of our being. Of this there is so much hazard that whenever great powers are blended with any defects, we are tempted to rejoice in our hearts on finding that the line of succession is broken (Anon,1836).


Man only a superior kind of monkey

Several writers (notably, Mr Charles White), who have pleased themselves with describing what they call a regular gradation or chain of beings, represent Man only as superior kind of monkey; and place the unfortunate African as the connecting link between the superior races of mankind, and the orang-outang; they deny in short that he is generically distinguished from monkeys (Nicholson,1821).

Application of the Theory to the origins of Man

How Man from the Monkey sprung, as some will teach.
First dropped his tail, then gained the power of speech
Then thought compared and
Judg’d till there arose at length,
Newton, Descartes and Locke’s angelic strength. (Anon, 1800).

Or. less poetically: The human similitude at last appears in character of a monkey; the monkey rises into the baboon, the baboon is exalted to the ourang outang, and the chimpanzee, with a more human toe and shorter arms gives birth to Man (Brewster,1845).
If Man had been created by a special miracle then, of course, we cannot be expected to explain such an operation on scientific principles; but if he has gradually raised from the condition of a reptile, we can understand some of the successive steps by which he has been elevated. It is certain that highest and most intellectual inhabitants of the Earth were successively fishes, reptiles, mammals, apes and men. It is also certain that, from the first we knew of Man he has progressed. It is probable that our ancestors were amongst the reptiles. At that time, the ancestors of all races of Man and of the apes may have been but one species. If the ancestors of the ape left the water first and became permanent residents on the land, they would immediately assume a character peculiar to themselves, and suited to their new habitation. They would soon differ from their marine brethren in many important peculiarities. Ages afterwards another portion may have left the water, and landed on another island, and become the ancestors of the negroes. Still later and on another island, the ancestors of the white man may have landed; and thus although all originally were one species; they have been so differently affected by the different circumstances which have operated on them, that they seem to be fundamentally unlike. A new species may result from an accident, a disease, a violent impression, or any cause which radically affects the organs of the parent. If the new species thus produced happened to be, by their new peculiarity, better adapted, to circumstances and difficulties that beset them, it would be likely to be perpetuated, and might seem like a miraculous adaptation. It may be that the human complexion originated in this way. White men may be perpetuated and improved albinos, whose ancestors were black, and whose whiteness was at first a diseased condition, but it was rendered permanent by its adaptation to mountains and northern regions (Grimes,1851).
Mr Delametherie enters on the enquiry whether Man be in any respect essentially different from other animals. He concludes that this is not so; and he attempts to shew that the supposed differences, which have been pointed out between Man and the most perfect ourang–outang, are less distinct and important than those which exist between the European and many tribes of savages (Delametherie, 1806).
We may therefore with a fair degree of probability, conclude that the origin of some of the leading varieties of the human race, for instance the Negro and Mongolian, which cannot altogether be explained by the action of physical causes, may in such a spontaneous manner have arisen at a period to which history reaches not. Having arisen, we may understand how by isolation and exposure to different circumstances, they may have become perpetuated (Ward,1849).

Millions of years needed for Man’s origin

Millions of generations toiled and died while coral was forming in the ocean, and its waters were becoming salt: i.e. as we suppose as much time elapsed as would be occupied by millions of generations of men. A generation is never less that thirty years; sixty million years at least must have elapsed therefore while the Earth was undergoing this process. At least sixty millions of years more elapsed while a soil forming on the earth, before the said Earth could from or nurse a man. Nature appears to have retired before this time had left Earth to produce such beings as she could sustain. At some unknown period after the soil was formed Man rose from the Earth. We are not to understand, however, that Man was at first erect for we read that his footsteps were then unformed and his tongue untuned, and he stayed in this pitiful state for countless ages. (Barlow,1814)

Lack of variation in Man

There is a universal principal in existence, of gradual never-ceasing-change; and the vulgar notion that Man forms the last link in a chain which will never be continued beyond him is the consequence of interested teachings. The reason why Man has not undergone any extensive organic alterations since his residence here, is that no change of sufficient importance to endanger his existence as a species has taken place in the condition of the elements by which he has been surrounded during that period, and which also could produce such a result; but that he at different times and in different ways been modified (Anon,1842b).

Artificial selection and application of survival of the fittest to Man

Those who attend to the improvement of domestic animals, when they find individuals possessing, in greater degree than common, the qualities they desire, couple a male and female of these together, then take the best of their offspring as new stock, and in this way proceed, till they approach as near the point in view, as the nature of things will permit. But, what is done here by art seems to be done with equal efficiency, 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 region of Africa, some would be better fitted than 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 attack of disease, but from their incapacity of contesting the more vigorous neighbours. In a civilised country, which has long been populated, these varieties, for the most part, quickly disappear, from the intermarriages of different females. Thus is a very tall man be produced he very commonly marries a woman much less tall than himself, and their progeny scarcely differs in size from their countrymen. In districts however, of very small extent, and having little intercourse with other countries an accidental difference in appearance of the inhabitant will often descend to their posterity(Wells,1818).
Mr Stark has also noted that: among the higher ranks, the most children are reared. Among the lower classes, more than half are cut off before they attain their fifteenth year; and in numerous unhealthy towns, a half of all who are born to the lower classes are cut off before they reach the fifth year. The natural physiological consequences if this is that among the adults of the higher classes, there exist, a much larger proportion of individuals of feeble frames than among the lower classes. They are consequently, not only more liable to disease, but, of necessity, die in larger proportions than the adults of the lower classes (Stark,1851).

Role of isolation in the development of Man

If in the present condition of the world, when there is free intercourse among the inhabitants, and so constant an intermixture of race, such changes are to a certain extent going on, it is easy to conceive that changes still more remarkable might have taken place when human society was in its infancy; when nations were separated by impassable seas and mountains, when there was nothing to interfere with the influence of climate food, and mode of life on the physical and moral character; and when repeated intermarriages among individuals of the same tribe were favourable to the transmission of accidental peculiarities of structure to succeeding generations (Brodie,1853).

Analogy between the actions of Nature and breeding by Man

The French naturalist Naudin states: We don’t believe that nature has proceeded to form its species in another manner than we ourselves proceed in creating our varieties; let us say even better: it is her very procedure that we have transported to our practise. We draw forth a variety which will correspond to such of our needs, and we choose and the great number of individuals of this species to make from it the point of departure for a new line, those which appear to us to separate themselves already from the specific type in the sense which suits us, and by a rational sorting and following the products obtains, we arrive, at the end of an indetermined number of generations, at the creation of varieties or artificial species which respond more or less well to the ideal type which we have formed and which transmits so much better to their descendants the acquired characteristics which are our efforts have borne in a greater number of generations. Such is, in our ideas, the means followed by nature; like us, she wanted to form a race to appropriate them to her needs; and selectively small number of primordial types, she caused to be borne successively, and at divers epochs all the animal and vegetables species which inhabit the globe (Naudin,1852).

“Peculiarities” or “variations” in relation to hereditary disease in Man

In the less complicated animals where we have opportunities of making experiments, it has been remarked that peculiarities the causes of which we never attempt to explain, may be easily preserved. Beside those which are well known, a single–hoofed boar, as mentioned by Bradley, is now in the possession of Sir Joseph Banks. From a sow with cleft hoof, a litter is produced, the individuals of which are formed, some like the sire and, others like the dam. Probably nothing more is necessary to produced a race of single hoofed swine, than the selection of all these which are formed.
It was shewn that among the inferior animals, peculiarities, or variations, as they are called, occur, which do not exist in either parent but which may be perpetuated in their offspring. To accomplish this it is necessary to seclude the race; and if we wish to preserve the variety in its greatest perfection, we also withdraw from the flock such as are least marked. To apply this to the human race, we must refer to the remote period when they subsisted chiefly by hunting or pasturage, and required a large tract of land for their support. In such a state of mankind single families governed by patriarchs would, from necessity, or choice, migrate as often as the district became too populous. On all these occasions, the weakest must submit not only to migrations but gradually to seek security in the most secluded or inaccessible places; and as the general population increased, they would at last, be confined to the most remote places.
Thus secluded from the rest of mankind the family must constantly intermarry and by peculiarity of form or hereditary disposition, would, with greater probability, be perpetuated. If this peculiarity were favourable, it would be preserved, with more certainty, because the inclinations of each sex would induce alliances with the best favoured, and the most vigorous would live to the age of forming such alliances. Even should the peculiarities be less favourable, they might gradually be lessened by the first mentioned causes; and the premature death of those who partake most of the hereditary diseased disposition, would be very much increased, if as was shewn with scrofula, the climate should be as to induce and early development of the disease in a exasperated form. The operation of the first mentioned causes would be slow, because we well know that hereditary peculiarity will apparently cease for a generation or two, and afterwards shew itself in the offspring of a couples entirely free from it. To extinguish it, as far as possible, no means occur but that the general intercourse with other communities, which takes place in proportion as to the members of each approach the other, or in proportion as migration to and from them is facilitated. Even then, individuals inferior in talent, enterprise, or successful industry will remain in the spot, and this class will be the last to show any considerable improvement (Adams, 1815).


Application of the Theory to the needs of human society

On the whole, the increasing direction of the population must have for the race of Man at large, a tendency upwards, towards a higher moral as well as higher intellectual level,” the very struggle for life and the survival of the fittest” will work in this direction, and may be regarded as a good result. It is therefore manifestly desirable that no weak or diseased person should transmit his defects to posterity (Wilson,1832). There is thus a universal law operating, not only in races and nations, but in subdivisions of races, civilised or barbarous. In both, those who attain superior powers of obtaining subsistence will obtain development and those with inferior
powers will be made slaves or become extinct. The law in some shape or other operates whenever animal or vegetable life appears even in the lowest degree (Anon,1855). In the struggle for existence in which all European populations are engaged internally, the weak in body and mind are commonly lost in the race; they become impoverished and shunned by others, and leave behind no progeny or heirs to their defects (Edmonds,1832a). It is therefore manifestly desirable that no weak or diseased person should transmit his defects to posterity. Even if his life were a blessing to an unhealthy person, it can never be so to the society in which he lives (Edmonds,1832b).

Objection to the Theory-some examples

Since the theory of transmutation and the origin of species, by a natural process of selection is obviously not universally held, from a desire for fairness, it is perhaps desirable that some examples should be provided of objections to the said theory:
1). Plants and animals never diverge, beyond small ascertained limits, from the fixed character of their families, resisting the effects of every kind of influence, whether proceeding from natural causes or human interference. Nature has been tortured in a thousand ways, to cause her to depart from the long beaten paths; but she is obdurate on every point. Man would improve her kinds and hybrids are produced, but there the improvement ends. Had the reptiles sprung from fishes, why, upon the principle of progression, should there have been fishes still? Had Man derived from the monkey, why are there so many species of the one class, and only one single great family of the other (Anderson,1851).
2). Hybridisation in general is only between nearly allied species, those which are widely different in structure and constitution not being capable of any artificial union. As species that are very dissimilar appear to have some natural impediment which prevents their reciprocal fertilisation, so does the obstacle, of whatever nature it may be, present to the intercourse of different genera (Downing,1855).
The following provides a criticism of the positive power of the natural process of selection –The capacity of change, and of being influenced by external circumstances, such as we really find in nature, and therefore such as we must in science represent it, is a tendency, not to improve, but to deteriorate. And there is no evidence of a species acquiring an entirely new sense, faculty, or organ, in addition to, or on place of, what it had before (Anon,1844).
Finally, Mr Strickland continues to invoke the Creator thus: We find detached volcanic islets which have been ejected from beneath the ocean (such as the Galapagos, for instance,) inhabited by terrestrial forms allied to those of the nearest continent though hundreds of miles distant, and evidently never connected with them. But this fact may indicate that the Creator, in forming new organisms to discharge the functions required by, the ever vacillating balance of Nature, has thought fit to preserve the regularity of the System by modifying the types of structures already established in the adjacent localities rather than to proceed per saltum by introducing forms of most foreign aspect (Strickland and Melville,1848).

Lack of intermediates in fossil record

If the species have changed by degree, as they assume, we ought to find traces of gradual modification. Thus between the Plaetherium and the species of our days, we should be able to discover some intermediate forms, and yet no discovery has ever been made (Scott,1837). The possible fossil can have no more standing in this controversy than the possible angel (Miller,1850).

Critique of Malthus’s theory of Population

The hypothesis, that population (in Man) left to itself will increase in a geometrical progression, while the means of subsistence can only be enlarged in an arithmetical progression is a mere fantasy (Anon,1820).

Response to criticisms of the Development Theory

Critics seem to me to appear to betray a singular degree of alarm at the bare suspicion of a leaning towards the “obnoxious theory” of development, as if their whole scientific or even personnel reputation were at stake (Baden Powell,1856n,). Their weakness in reason is abundantly compensated by loudness of dogmatism and a pre-emptory style of assertion that “species are real existences” and that “transmutation is impossible” all of which has an imposing effect when supported by the aid of a kind of mystified eloquence, and seconding the more awful denunciations so authoritatively pronounced against the heterodox speculations of the developmental school (Baden Powell,1856o). Now the questions of origins involve equally remarkable consequences which ever way it is viewed. If there are “developments” of existing allied species only modified as to suit the particular conditions under which they exist, a principle is conceded which cannot be consistently refused in other cases. If they are the result of special intervention to bring them into existence out of nothing, they constitute such a multiplication of miracle as the strenuous advocate must disavow; and after all, according to all acknowledged principles, a miracle continually and regularly repeated ceases to be a miracle (Baden Powell,1856p).

The views of Sir Humphrey Davy

The following statements, by no less an authority than Sir Humphrey Davy, show how the theory of transmutation was being considered by eminent men of science, even as early as 1838:
In those strata which are deepest, and which must, consequently be supposed to be the earliest deposited, forms even of vegetable life are rare, shells and vegetable remains are found in the next order; the bones of fishes and oviparous reptiles exist in the following class; the remains of birds, with those of the same genera mentioned before; in the next order, there are quadrupeds all extinct species in a more recent class; and it is only in a loose and slightly consolidated strata of gravel and sand, and which are usually called diluvian formations, that the remains of animals such as now people the globe are found, with others belonging to extinct species, a gradual approach to the present system of things, a succession of destructions and creation preparatory to the existence of man (Davy,1838).
If trout from a lake, or another river were introduced into this river, they would not at once change their characters; but the change would take place gradually. Thus I have known trout from lake in Scotland remarkable for their deep red flesh, introduced into another lake, where the trout had only white flesh, and they retained their peculiar redness of flesh for many years. At first they all associated together in spawning in the brook which fed the lake, but those newly introduced were easily known from their darker backs and brighter sides. By degrees however, from the influence of food and other causes they became changed; the young trout of the introduced variety had flesh less red than their parents; and in about twenty years the variety was entirely lost, and all fish were in their original white state A very speculative reasoner might certainly defend the hypothesis of the change of species in a long course of ages from the establishment of a particular changes of hereditary. It might be said, that the trout after having thickened their stomachs by feeding on larvae with hard cases gained the power of eating shell-fish, and were gradually changed to gillaroos and to char; their red spots and yellow colour if their body and fins increasing. In the same manner, it might be said, that the large trout which feed almost entirely on small fishes gained more spines in their pectoral fins and became new species; but I shall not go so far; and I know no facts of this kind (Davy,1832).
Davy has one of his imaginary philosophers argue against transmutation as follows: I will not support the sophisms of that school which supposes that living nature has undergone gradual changes by the effects of its irritabilities and appetencies; that the fish has, in millions of generations, ripened into the quadruped and the quadruped into man; and that the system of life, by its own inherent powers, has fitted itself to the physical changes in the system of the universe (Davy 1838, p.140).

Why is Nature not producing new beings today?

With respect to those who may ask, why nature does not produce new beings, we inquire of them in turn, upon what foundation they suppose this fact. What is it that authorizes them to believe this sterility of nature? Do they know if, in the various combinations which she is every instant forming, nature is not occupied in producing new beings without the cognizance of the observers? Who has informed them that this nature is not actually assembling in her immense laboratory the elements suitable to bring to life entirely new generations that will have nothing in common with those of the species at present existing (D’Holbach, 1770).

Present day transmutation would be best seen in germs

If there be any real transmutation of species, or spontaneous generation and present creation of new species, we might expect to find it amongst those minute and simple organisms or germs, which seem to have some common relation to vegetable and animal life; and may be presumed more liable to change in evolution from the influences surrounding them. Yet we have no certain evidence of this having ever occurred and many facts adverse to it (Prichard,1850).

Does the Theory conflict with theology?

That “mystery of mysteries”, the replacement of extinct species by others, could it ever come under our cognizance would be found to be a natural contradistinction to a miraculous process (Herschel,1836). How are these facts to be reconciled with the literal interpretation given to us in the first chapter of Genesis? Our own answer to that question would be that of the Reverend Baden Powell…”that this reconciliation is impossible and unnecessary” (Anon,1856b). The theologian might yet protest that: if the power of production of new forms of animal and vegetable life can be supposed to reside in the laws of nature, it seems that there is no phenomenon in the universe that will require a higher power: and we are reduced at once to materialism and atheism (Anon,1835b).
Involvement of design not necessary-What we see in Nature is a relation of means and ends. When we call this design, or contrivance, we commit in logic what is called a sub reptio, we assume the very point on which the argument hinges, and which requires to be proved. We see design where we appreciate the use resulting from such a given combination, we ignore it when we do not; although apart from our private feelings of fitness, there is just the same evidence of design in the one case as in the other (Everett Hale,1852).

Involvement of catastrophes in the progression of life

Although Mr Lyell insists on omitting a role for catastrophe, the results of geological research appear to confirm, more and more, that all this progressive organic nature, from the first onset to our own time, has an essential connection, and, although disturbed in many ways by the catastrophes which the earth has suffered, has never been altogether interrupted; in a word, that it represents a single history of development, and not a series of separate creations (Henfrey,1853). p.9
The phenomena of life, as they are now presented to us are admirably adapted to the order of things; and if we go back to the successive catastrophes which this globe has suffered, we may naturally suppose that these awful convulsions, and the subsequent revival of animation, were accompanied by corresponding alterations in the manifestations of life. In like manner, if we suppose other place to be filled with living creatures, life most probably there presents, features altogether different from those with which we are familiar, and such as are peculiarly suited to the circumstances under which it has been created (Anon,1823b).
Finally Mr Hitchcock invokes a role for meteoritic stones in affecting the extinction species: Moreover, without miraculous interference for protection, or an entire change of the present laws of nature, animals must have been exposed to occasional violent disorganization; as for instance from the falling of heavy bodies upon them; or from the shock of projectiles; even though they were no tendency in their nature to dissolution (Hitchcock,1852).

Life not restricted to this globe

Why should we persuade ourselves that the boundless universe must contain no more inhabitants than those crawling about this little globe (St John Mildmay,1831). Life is in all probability not confined to our planet,
nor to our solar system, it must extend its effects to all possible circumstances of organic combinations within the infinite spheres which fill the heavens (Anon,1823). Every argument leads us to the conclusion that the life of other worlds is, on the whole, governed by the same laws as that of our Earth. The same infinite variety which astonishes
the eye and mind of Man, when he studies our animal creation here below and the exquisite adaptation of these countless forms to their precise purpose, must needs continue throughout creation (Anon,1855e).
Throughout the whole range of organic existence, both animal and vegetable, there is evident adaptation of species and individuals to the particular circumstances in which they are found. Nor, is it less true that all animals and vegetables exhibit a broad general adaptation to the great cosmical and chemical peculiarities of the Earth itself. The conditions indispensable for the existence of each organic species are such, that we cannot imagine its vital possibility except in its present astronomical habitat. Any great change from the earth’s value for gravitation, the atmospheric pressure, the average heat and light, or greatly increased variations in these elements of condition, would prove fatal to all our present species (Hunt,1852).

CONCLUSIONS

If we cast a superficial glance over the surface of the Earth, we find it everywhere teaming with life and organisation, admirably adapted to varying external conditions of soil, atmosphere and temperature. We admire the profuse luxuriance, the richly diversified beauty, and the lovely harmony of effect, with which our planet is adorned and animated.
We feel the life, the richness of variety and, think perchance that Nature’s countless aspects must have existed as they manifest themselves, even from “creation’s dawn”. The more extensive however, the review of the distribution of animals and plants the more is the conclusion strengthened, that it has been regulated by certain laws, that their several species are derived from single centres or sources, and that their present dispersion is to be referred to means provided for such by nature (Ward,1846).
There is more beauty and utility of design in this continual balancing of life to circumstance, and greater conformity to those dispositions of nature which are manifest to us, than in total destruction and new creation (Matthew,1831b).

ADIEU

Finally we, as a mere species of the animal kingdom, designated Man, with all our vanities and hopes for a future spent in eternity, should reflect at length on the implications of the above theory which I respectfully, and humbly proffer to you dear reader; the likely reality that, instead of being the product of a benevolent Creator, we are the outcome of eternal and natural laws. Rather than regarding ourselves as the inspired progeny of divine action, we may yet recognise our ultimate fate which, though apparently devoid of hope, contains within its truth the recognition that we are heirs to our own destiny and that we can make of this world what we choose. No better summation of this ultimate outcome can be proffered than that which has already been offered to us in the following sentiment by that great French philosopher, Jouffroy: (Having been steeped in this Victorian prose for so long, I thought I would conclude by providing this simulation of the style):
The discoveries of science also perplex us particularly the science of geology, which implicates nature in a series of attempts, proceeding from the less to the more perfect, and at length placing Man upon Earth.
Thus Man seems only to be an essay on the part of the Creator, an essay among many others, which he has been pleased to make and destroy. The immense reptiles, those shapeless animals, which have disappeared from the face of the Earth, have formerly lived on it, as we do now. Why should not the day also come, when our race will be blotted out, when our bones, as they are discovered, will be looked upon by the species that are then alive, as the rude sketches of nature, in a first experiment? And if then we are only a link in this chain of creations, more or less imperfect, how, should we regard ourselves? What are our titles to hope and pride? (Jouffroy,1838).

REFERENCES

(Note. Anon refers to reviews of published works; these contained added comments and analysis by anonymous reviewers).

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Prichard, J.C. (1836). Researches into the Physical History of Mankind, Vol.1., p.139, London, Sherwood.
Prichard, J.C. (1843). Natural History of Man, London, pp.74-5.
Prichard, J.C. (1850). See Quarterly Review, vol.86,p.17.
Prichard, J.C. (1855). Researches into the Physical History of Mankind, Vol.1, London, Houlston and Stoneman, p.61.
Rafinesque, C.S.(1836). The World, London, Rich.
Rogers, H.D. (1844). Address to the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists, New York, Wiley and Putnam, pp.33, 17.
Roget, M.P. (1834a). Animal and Vegetable Physiology,Vol.1., London, Pickering, p.13.
Roget, M.P. (1834b).ibid, pp.56-57.
Ryan, M.(1837). The Philosophy of Marriage. London, Churchill.
Schouw, J.F. (1852). Earth Plants and Man, London, Bohm, pp.20-22.
Scott, W. (1837). The Harmony of Phrenology with the Scriptures, Edinburgh, Fraser, p.16
Sears, R. (1856). Wonders of the World, New York, Sears, p.116.
Sebright, J.S. (1809). The Art of Improving the Breeds of Domestic Animals. A Letter addressed to Sir Joseph Banks, p.86.
Sedgwick,A.(1850).A Discourse on the Studies of the University of Cambridge, London, Parker, pp.xv11-xix.
Skinner, J.S. (1827). The American Farmer, 9, 20, Baltimore, J.D.Toy.
Smith, E. (1833). Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Vol.2, p.634.
Smith, C.H. (1855). Natural History of the Human Species, Boston, Sheldon, p.81.
St John Mildmay, H.P. (1831). The Light of Nature Pursued, Cambridge, Hillard and Brown, Vol.3, p.130.
Stark, J.M. (1851).Contribution to the Vital Statistics of Scotland, Journal of the Statistical Society of Scotland 14, 79. London, Parker.
Strickland, H.E. and Melville, A.S. (1848). The Dodo and its Kindred, London, Van Voorst.
Sullivan, R. J. (1794). A View of Nature, Vol.4, pp.6-7, London, Becket.
Thompson, E.P. (1851a). The Passion of Animals, London, Chapman Hall, pp. 157-58.
Thompson, E.P. (1851b). ibid, p.153.
Tucker, A. (1768). The Light of Nature Pursued, London.
Wade, J. (1834). History of the Middle and Working Classes, London, Effingham and Wilson, pp.318-319.
Ward, S.H. (1849). The Natural History of Mankind, London, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, pp.153-55.
Waterhouse, G.R. (1846a). The Natural History of Mammalia,Vol.1. London, Bailliere, p.275.
Waterhouse, G.R. (1846b). ibid, p.293.
Watson, H.C. (1845). On the theory of progressive development, applied in explanation of the origin and transmutability of species. The Phytologist, London,Van Voorst, p.225.
Webster W.H.B. (1834). Narrative of a Voyage to the Southern Atlantic Ocean in the Years 1828, 29, 30, London, Bentley, p.312.
Wells, W.C. (1818). Account of the female of the white race of mankind part of whose skin resembles that of negro. Two Essays, London, Longman, pp.435-436.
White, C. (1799). An account of the regular gradation in Man and in different animals and plants. London Medical and Physiological Journal, p.405.
Wilson, W.D. (1832). First Principles of Political Economy, Cornell, Baird, pp.23-24.
Wollaston, T.V. (1856). On the Variation of Species with Especial Reference to the Insecta, London, Van Yoorst, pp.7-194.


Comments on the Above Simulation

The above simulation was constructed largely from information obtained by searching Google Books. It might be argued therefore that I have a distinct advantage over Darwin in having access to this resource and knowing with hindsight what Darwin wrote. These factors have obviously aided my search for what might, at first sight, appear to be obscure quotes, not readily available to Darwin. However, it should be borne in mind that Darwin was an avid reader and, because of his wealth was able to buy as many books as he needed to stock his personal library; doubtless to the envy of his naturalist contemporaries. He also had access to information acquired by corresponding with friends and fellow naturalists. It should also be remembered that by the late Victorian age, the amount of literature on natural history, although growing, was nothing like what is available today. In fact, Darwin had only to have access to some hundred or so books and periodicals to have found the information I have included in the above simulation; his position as a gentleman of independent means should easily have given him the time to do so. Of course, he could have obtained most of the basic ideas by reading only a fraction of these sources.
It is immediately obvious that “Anon” is a major source of the above quotes. Why then are there so many anonymous pre-Darwin Wallace references to evolution and natural selection? The answer is simple, during the period 1800 to 1860, a large number of influential, weekly, monthly or yearly magazines were published which were aimed at providing the Victorian intellectual and educated reader with news and reviews on most aspects of the arts and sciences. Book reviews in particularly prove to be an important source of such information. These were generally written anonymously and were not simply reviews of the work in question; instead, they generally contained additional information, or ideas, provided by the anonymous reviewer. Darwin would of course have been familiar with journals such as the Monthly Review or Gentleman’s Magazine and would have found them an invaluable source of information on all aspects of the species question. In fact it is not too fanciful to suggest that one could come up with most of what is in the Origin merely by abstracting the relevant information from such Victorian magazines.
It is noteworthy that none of the above quotes appear in full in the Origin of Species. In fact, although Darwin mentions the work of a number of naturalists in passing, he appears systematically loathed to include paragraphs of their work; a fact which points to the obvious conclusion that he wanted to give the impression that the ideas presented in the Origin arose de novo from his own mind. The first edition of On the Origin of Species, surprisingly for a book of the period, lacks an extensive introductory historical chapter. It is usually believed that Darwin was in too much of a hurry to complete On the Origin of Species to bother to produce such an introduction; a Historical Sketch did however, eventually appear in later editions. However, recent scholarship shows that this was not the case, and Darwin had completed his Historical Sketch before finishing the first edition (Johnson, 2007). Once again, it seems that Darwin was content to allow the first edition readers to believe that the ideas it contained are exclusively his own. Had Darwin in fact included some, or all, of the quotes given above, the Origin of Species would have been recognised from the outset, not as the work of a genius, but as what in fact it is-the last, best available summary of Victorian thought on the “species question”.
Even when the Historical Sketch was eventually included it gave less than fulsome credit to others. For example, my simulated paper owes much to the work of the Reverend Harry Baden Powell (father of the Baden Powell of scouting fame). Darwin refers to Baden Powell’s work in the historical introduction, but includes none of the many remarkable quotes given above, which he access to. By 1856, Baden Powell’s book was the best available synthesis of the idea of evolution, by the process of natural selection and it is inconceivable that Darwin was unaware of its existence. Baden Powell wrote to Darwin complaining of plagiarism, and once again poor Darwin was put on the defensive. However, despite his initial anger, Baden Powell subsequently wrote a glowing review of On the Origin of Species (Johnson, 2007).
Why have scholars generally ignored the work provided in the above simulation, notably that of Baden Powell? (Wollaston’s book, by the way, is also remarkable). The answer is that biologists, particularly most Darwin scholars, have bent over backwards to avoid the merest suggestion that someone else, other than their hero, might have originated the theory of natural selection. Darwin and the Origin of Species have been recently subjected, respectively, to more hagiography and hyperbole that any other author and his book in history. This was not always the case however. The following comment by the eminent geologist, the Reverend Professor Haughton referred to Darwin’s,1858, Linnaean Society paper as being “simply the application of the Malthus doctrine that none but the healthiest, the most vigorous and best provided for of a species can survive…. To this there can be no objection, except for want of novelty.” (J.Geological Soc., Dublin, 1860, 8,151-1520)
These comments are however, nothing compared to those of Roy Davies, who in a recent book concludes (Davies, 2008):

Now I am convinced that Charles Darwin-British national hero, hailed as the greatest naturalist the world has ever known, the originator of one of the greatest ideas of the nineteenth century-lied, cheated and plagiarised in order to be recognised as the man who discovered the theory of evolution.

Davies does an excellent job of showing that Alfred Russel Wallace was robbed, by Darwin’s influential friends, of priority on publication for natural selection. The only problem with this is, as I have shown- neither Darwin nor Wallace deserve credit for having originated natural selection, or the other components of the so-called “Darwin Theory”.
There can be no doubt however, that the appearance of the Origin had a major impact on the writings of both geologists and naturalists. For example, during the decade from 1850, it was common practise for natural scientists to end their works with a statement of belief in the almighty Creator, no matter what philosophising had come before. It was an absolute requirement that the author should conform to the standard doctrine and place his beliefs in a theological context. Following the appearance of Darwin’s book, this was no longer considered necessary and such statements tended to fade away; biology was at last liberated from religion.
Davies also does us the service of pointing out that the evolutionist Loren Eiseley also recognized that the Darwin myth has been created by ignoring the contribution of pre-Darwin-Wallace naturalists. Eiseley echoed the words of Darlington when he stated;

There has been also the complication introduced through the unconscious process of myth-making, the desire, in other words, to keep this man (Darwin) and his discovery inviolate-a unique act of genius without precedent and without precursive steps. There has thus arisen a tendency to see Darwin’s forerunners as having no relation to his own accomplishment. They are dismissed, as Darwin was inclined to dismiss his own grandfather, as part of the history of error, as speculative, as lacking in facts

Eiseley, by the way, believed that Darwin got most of his ideas from reading Edward Blyth. Clearly them, just as Darwin did not originate natural selection, I have similarly not originated the idea that his “genius” was largely derived from the work of others (see Davies (2008),pp. 30-31).
It is important to consider the Origin in its true historical context. So many complex ideas have been added to the theory of evolution over the last 150 years, many of which have been labelled “Darwinian”. In the minds of his contemporaries however, the message can be summed up by the following quote:
“We perceive that there are three essential elements in Darwin’s theory: variability, struggle for life and natural selection of the strongest and most favoured races.” (The Eclectic Review, 1860, 3, 223).
As we have seen, there were countless references to these, and many other evolutionary, ideas long before Darwin provided his Linnaean Society paper (in 1858) and, in the following year, On the Origin of Species. Nevertheless, the Origin had a powerful impact on science, which cannot be underestimated. For example, it saw off the culture, of both scientists and theologians writing arrogant, sarcastic and insulting reviews against anyone daring to speculate on the transmutation theory. Prior to the Origin, the above simulated paper would almost certainly have come in for a barbed review; in order to give the flavour of such, I have provided the following example, written in the then current style.

We do not know and feign to guess the identity of the self aggrandised “A Learned-Victorian”, nor the whereabouts of the zöological garden in which he lately resides together with his cousin, the “man of the woods”, or as the disciples of the Swedish illuminate would have it, “0rang-Utan.” We do well however, to recognise that our errant philosopher relies much upon the thoughts, if ill-considered musing can be so-elevated, of the not so very Reverend Baden Powell, whose rebellious nature, like the worm in the apple, infects the mind of our errant savant. But all right thinking men will join us in rebelling against such atheistic ramblings-the product of an addled mind directed against the benevolent works of the ever divine and forgiving Creator. Yet we take comfort from the fact that He, whose works of nature are forever lost in the unknowable mists of time, will take pity on such an obvious product of a deeply deranged mind. Should our minor philosopher ever deign to shew his face, upon which the dim lights of Hades must reflect, let us take pity on this poor creature, and in once voice loudly proclaim to him the sure and certain knowledge that God, in his unyielding and infinite wisdom, created all matter and life-from the merest animalcular speck to his highest and most exulted creation-Man (Wainwright, 2008, I could not help enjoying myself by providing this simulated reference)).

Both Darwin and Wallace believed in gradualism that is that transmutation takes place over millions of years; they were therefore highly critical of Cuvier’s view that nature has been periodically wiped out by catastrophes, and then reinstated by new creations. Catastrophism in the sense of a catastrophe, selectively, bringing about the extinction of parts of nature has however, recently made a comeback, for example in the supposed extinction of the dinosaurs by an asteroid impact.

ON THE ORIGIN OF DARWIN HYPERBOLE AND MYTH

It is inevitable that we shall see Darwin worship reach new heights during the upcoming bicentennial of Darwin’s birth. It is of interest therefore to look at the origin of such Darwin iconography. The forty years immediately following the appearance of Darwin’s “species book” were largely devoted to arguments over its scientific content. By the turn of the century however, the hyperbole about Darwin was in full swing with the appearance of statements like the following:
Darwin did more for mankind than if he had built a thousand hospitals.
This century will be called Darwin’s century. He was one of the greatest men who ever touched this globe. His doctrine of evolution, his doctrine of the survival of the fittest, his doctrine of the origin of species, has removed from every thinking mind the last vestige of orthodox Christianity (Ingersoll,1902).
As we have seen, Darwin originated none of the ideas claimed for him in this eulogy; nor can any rational statement suggest that his work had any effect of the development of hospitals up to 1902! This statement is particularly important because it shows how, even at this, relatively early, date Darwin iconology was being used as a means of attacking Christianity.
The hyperbole continued into the 1930s:
Like Abraham Lincoln, who was born on the same day (12th February,1809), Darwin worked for freedom, though perhaps without ever thinking of it … We would say that we owe to Darwin one of the finest illustrations if scientific mood and method that the world has seen (Thomson, 1932).
By the middle of Wold War Two, Darwin was even being touted as the man who had solved the mystery of life’s origin:
At the turn of the century you weren’t intellectual at all if you didn’t believe that the great English scientist had not only thrown light on the variation of species, but had solved the mystery of the origin of life (Erskine,1943).
Some commentators however, were beginning to recognise that many Darwinians were increasingly substituting religion with a new creed:
To Darwinians- except Darwin- natural selection seemed a dogma to be put in the place of the Athanasian creed. It was a form of religious hope; a promise of ultimate perfection (Whipple, 1928).

Resistance by some biologists to the Darwin myth

Not everyone however, was convinced that Darwin had in fact achieved what all the hyperbole was crediting him with, and criticisms of his role in the development of the theory of evolution and natural selection began to appear. The most notable of such critics was the famous geneticist, C.D. Darlington (Darlington, 1959). Here’s a quote about Darlington’s reservations from Barry Gale’s book, Evolution without Evidence (Gale, 1982):
Darlington sees Darwin as having skill and persistence as an inquirer, observer, and recorder and having a certain independence of thought, but also as an intellectually opportunistic cowardly sort of person, who took certain ideas from his predecessors, the medical evolutionists” James C. Prichard and William Lawrence, did not acknowledge his debt, and then presented a theory “a little loose in its arguments “in order for him to hide if attacked. Darwin’s “self-centredness”( Darlington continues), made him unaware of what his predecessors had written.
Darlington discovered the mechanics of chromosomal crossover and its role in inheritance and thereby its importance in evolution. He is famous for the following, self-effacing quote “I have never proved anything. I do not count on doing so. What I do count on is to assemble such evidences and arguments as will make those who disagree with me feel more and more uncomfortable.” Darlington’s view of Darwin and his work are certainly not the “ravings of some mad creationist”, but the considered opinion of a notable biologist who actively supported evolution (and eugenics) and made major contributions to the science of genetics. Similar views were also expressed by the French historian of ideas and culture, Jacques Barzum. Barzum said of Darwin “In short, he does not belong with the great thinkers of mankind.” (Barzum, 1941); Barzum also again complains that Darwin ignored his sources, a criticism which is far from rare and is taken up in the following quote:
Charles Darwin was somewhat selective in acknowledging his predecessors, preferring to create a golden chain from Lyell to himself, rather than tying his theories to those of Lamarck and his grandfather or Robert Chambers (Brown, 1996).
And again, we have the same criticisms, of Darwin, made by the evolutionist Samuel Butler (Willey, 1960):
Why had not Darwin acknowledged his debts more fully, and why had he waited until 6000 copies of his book had been sold before acknowledging them at all? Could it be…that Darwin had deliberately played down the work of his forerunners in order to exalt his own? Had he not done this largely by speaking constantly of “my” theory”, by implying that natural selection was the sole explanation of evolution, and that he had discovered them both.
We are accustomed to hearing that On the Origin of Species is one of the great intellectual products of mankind. Here however, is an alternative viewpoint (which also places Darwin’s book into its historical context) given by the eminent embryologist and evolutionist, Professor H. Graham Cannon (Cannon, 1958):
The very title of the book-the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life-this was something that the (Victorian) public could understand because it was going on all round them-in the back streets and in the work houses. Was this the reason for the amazing success of the Origin? It became a best seller overnight, but did all the 1,250 people who bought copies on the first day read the book and if so did they understand anything beyond what the title appeared so easily to explain? As a matter of fact the title contained an omission and a mistake but nobody seemed to notice that! The style is utterly ponderous and dull, but that, of course, may be a matter of taste. What is certain however, is that it could easily have been cut down to much less than half. But Darwin and perhaps the Victorian public did not believe in brevity. It is full of the most muddled thinking and amazing irrelevancies. …The success of the Origin would appear to be one of those cases of crowd psychology, when a book becomes fashionable for some reason not obvious. We of this generation have seen books published on abstruse astronomy and on relativity that have met with similar success (This, remember, was written before A Brief History of Time!)
Although, as we have seen, Darwin did not originate the ideas expressed in the Origin he provided an extremely influential synthesis which appeared at exactly the right time in history. As Cannon (p.17) says of the effect of the Origin:
Whatever the cause of its success it established the idea of evolution at once. It produced a greater effect on biological thought than any other book ever published and its effect did not stop there at biology. People became evolution minded. They began to realize that everything around them, from the clothes they wore to the political party to which they subscribed, had all gradually evolved from simpler beings.
If Darwin enthusiasts would only keep their rhetoric within in the bounds of rational statements like this, then no one would need to accuse them of going over the top in their icon worship.
The above criticisms of Darwin could of course be wrong, but they are all made by scientists and not “rabid theocrats”. It is interesting that many such quotes were made in the 1950-1960s. Why then do we not hear more of such alternative views of Darwin and his work nowadays? Certainly, no new scholarship has come to light to allow us to elevate Darwin to the status of a genius, or to that of one of the greatest thinkers of all time, despite the impression given by the works of the current high priests of Darwinism and members of an uncritical media who support them. The answer is, I think, simple. The current fashion for over- egging Darwin is a response to what is perceived by Darwinists (and most other biologists) as a direct threat to civilisation from creationists, notably in North America. Such irrational hero worship does not however, belong in science instead, it is the stock in trade of zealots who wish to use Darwin for their own purposes, namely to promote atheism.


Alfred Russel Wallace and the “Vestiges”

The Natural History of the Vestiges of Creation (published at first anonymously published by Chambers ) was the best summary of evolution prior to the appearance of “On the Origin of Species” and it did much to deflect the criticism of the idea of evolution and smooth the way for Darwin’s later contribution. It was necessary for both Darwin and his followers, notably T.H.Huxley to dismiss the “Vestiges “so as to highlight Darwin’s supposed de novo origin of the ideas of evolution and natural selection. Alfred Russel Wallace however, was less concerned about establishing his priority on these ideas and so was more generous in his comments on Chamber’s work, as can be seen in the following which he wrote to a friend in December, 1845:
I have rather a more favourable opinion of the “Vestiges” than you appear to have I do not consider it a hasty generalization, but rather an ingenious hypothesis, strongly supported by some striking facts and analogies, but which remain to be proved by more facts and additional light which more research may through upon the problem. It furnishes a subject for every observer of nature to attend to; every fact he observes will make either for or against it.
Writing sixty years after, Wallace adds this judgement on the “Vestiges”,
A book which in my opinion has always been undervalued and which, when it first appeared, was almost as much abused, and for much the same reasons, as was Darwin’s “Origin of Species” fifteen years later.
These quotes come from a paper by A.O. Lovejoy, published in 1990, who also comments:
By 1847 Wallace had become thoroughly convinced f the truth of tranformism; and from that time forward his mind was occupied with the problem of explaining its modus operundi of evolution. At the time he writes:
The great problem of the origin of species was already formulated in my mind. I believed the conception of evolution through natural law, so clearly formulated in the “Vestiges”, so far as it went, a true one: and I firmly believed a full and careful study of the facts of nature would ultimately lead to the solution to the problem
(Lovejoy,1909).

Other claims that Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species was not original

Samuel Butler was critical of Darwin for not acknowledging his sources, as follows:
Nor again had I blamed him (Darin) for taking his facts at second hand; no one of us is to be blamed for this; provided he takes well-established facts and acknowledges his sources( Butler,1880). A
And again:
That he is still generally believed to have been the originator of this theory (of evolution) is due to the fact that he claimed it, and that a powerful literary backing at once came forward to support him. It seems at first sight improbable that those who zealously urged his claims were unaware that so much had been written on the subject, but when we find Mr Wallace himself so ignorant on this subject as he still is, or affects to be, there is no limit or affected ignorance of the kind of biologist who would write reviews in leading journals thirty years ago. Mr Darwin claimed evolution as his own theory. Of course, he would not claim it if he has no right to it. Then by all means give him credit of it. This was the most natural view to take, and it was generally taken (Butler,1904).
Here are some other early comments on Darwin’s lack or originality
The grand conception of the uniform origin and development of all things earthly or sidereal, thus summed up for us in one word evolution, belongs by right neither to Charles Darwin nor any other single thinker. It is the joint product of innumerable workers, all working up, though some of them unconsciously, towards a grand final unified theory of the universe. The fact is one might draw up quite a long list of Darwinians before Darwin…Depend upon it no one man ever yet himself discovered anything. Before Darwin, many men of science were evolutionists: after Darwin, all men of science became so at once (|Grant Allen,1889).
And
That a book having the name of Charles Darwin on its title-page would be extensively read, is a matter of course; but that, without it containing the smallest tittle of new evidence on the subject of the evolution of one species from another, should have been regarded as establishing that theory may well excite our surprise (Phillips,1860).

Darwin and Pangenesis-Another “Appropriated” idea

I had always assumed that Charles Darwin was responsible for originating one idea, namely the theory of Pangenesis. Now, since this idea has long been discredited few Darwinists care to refer to it; as a result they will probably be glad to learn that it can be attributed elsewhere! Conway Zirkle (Zirkle, 1946), showed that the theory of pangenesis goes back into antiquity and that in more modern times it was referred to by Onken in 1847. Once again Darwin got himself into arguments over priority, this time with Richard Owen over pangenesis. Owen stated (Clark, 1984):
It may be a defect of my power; but I fail, after every endeavour, to appreciate the “fundamental difference” between Mr. Darwin’s cell-hypothesis of 1886 and mine of 1849.
Worse still, Darwin had to openly admit that Herbert Spencer had also beaten him to the idea (Zirkle, 1946); yet again, Darwin was claiming, as his own, an idea that had already been published elsewhere.

Just Before the “Origin”

I will end with the following words of Herbert Spencer, taken from his Essays of 1858, the year before On the Origin of Species appeared (Spencer,1858):
Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all. The supporters of the Development theory can however, show that any existing species-animal or vegetable-when placed under conditions different from its previous ones, immediately begins to undergo certain changes of structure fitting it to the new conditions. They can show that in cultivated plants, in domesticated animals, and in several races of men, such alterations have taken place. They can show that the degrees of difference so produced are often, as in dogs, greater that those on which distinctions of species are in other case founded. And thus they can show that throughout all organic nature there is at work a modifying influence of the kind they assign to the cause of specific differences: an influence which, though slow in action, does in time, if the circumstances demand it produce a marked changes-an influence which, to all appearance would produce in millions of years, and under the great varieties of condition which geological records imply, any amount of change.

If Darwin’s ideas were not novel, why were they accepted as such?

While the scientific community as a whole accepted Darwin’s ideas as novel (which is surprising, in light of the information given above) it is important to stress that those who felt that their ideas had been plagiarised did not remain silent. We have seen that Patrick Matthew, Herbert Spencer and Baden Powell all wrote to Darwin expressing their annoyance in this regard. Spencer’s publisher also claimed priority for Spencer over Darwin in their advertising literature.
Here is a criticism of Darwin from 1860, which broadly agrees with what I have discovered (Anon, 1860):

Mr Darwin rarely refers to the writings of his predecessors whom, rather than from the phenomenon of distribution of the inhabitants of South America, he might be supposed to have derived his ideas on the origin of species. When he does allude to them their expositions on the subject are inadequately represented.

A similar comment was made in reference to Darwin’s ideas as expressed in the Linnaean Society paper of 1858 (Anon, 1857-60):

To this there can be no objection, except for want of novelty.

I have often heard the argument that Darwin did not quote his sources because this was not a standard practise in his day. This is nonsense. A quick look at a copy of the “ Vestiges”, for example, shows that Robert Chambers gives frequent footnote references to the work of others; for example in the late edition of 1860, we find on page 114, the following:

Dr Weissenborg in the New Series of “Magazine of Natural History” vol.i,p.574.

There is simply no reason why Darwin could not have extensively referenced the work of others in this way.

The socio-religious implications of evolution

As the following quote shows, as early as 1836, it was recognised that the species problem had major implications for society in relation to the spread of materialism and atheism (Anon, 1836).

For the production of new forms of animal and vegetable life must be regarded as it ever has been, as the highest and most interesting exercise in creative power: and if that power can be supposed to reside in the laws of nature, it seems to us that there is no phenomenon in the universe that will require a higher power: and we are reduced at once to materialism and atheism.

A remarkable prediction

Charles Wells, Patrick Matthew and Baden Powell made major contributions to pre-“Origin” evolutionary theory. Another name which often crops up is Edward Blyth, whom Darwin used frequently used as a source of information. Blyth made the following remarkable comment which seems to predict the appearance of Darwin:

The above is confessedly a hasty and imperfect sketch, a mere approximation toward an apt classification of “variations”, but if it chance to meet the eye, and be fortunate to engage the attention of any experienced naturalist, who shall think it worth his while to follow up the subject and produce a better arrangement of these diversities, my object in indicating the present article will be amply recompensed.

This statement follows on from Blyth’s comments on the survival of the best fitted animals and sexual selection (Blyth,1835). It was published in The Magazine of Natural History, which we know Darwin read and contributed to. One cannot escape the conjecture that Darwin read this comment by Blyth, on his return from the voyages on the Beagle and that it was this that stimulated his interest in the “species question”. From that point on, Darwin was determined to be the naturalist predicted, in almost revelatory manner, by Blyth.

A contemporary criticism of the view that Darwin came to his ideas on transmutation while voyaging on the Beagle, rather than by reading the literature

Darwin mythology states that Darwin came to his transmutational views while voyaging in the “Beagle”. In On the Origin of Species, he states;

When on board HMS “Beagle” as a naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species-that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by some of greatest philosophers.

Here is critique of this view given, anonymously, in 1860:

Perhaps what was meant might be, that the distribution and geological relations of the organized beings generally had suggested transmutational views. But what the “certain facts” were, and what may be the nature of the light which they threw upon the mysterious beginnings if species is not mentioned or further alluded to in the present work…Mr Darwin rarely refers to the writings of his predecessors, from whom, rather than from the phenomenon of the distribution of the inhabitants of S. America, he might be supposed to have derived his ideas ion the origin of species (Anon,1860).

A Victorian, critique of natural selection

The arguments of the Darwinian school are chiefly derived from the variations to be met with in animals and plants; but these seldom occur in the wild state, but only after subjection to control by Man. Wherever it does take place under Man’s influence, it results in a weakening in the animal of those qualities which render it most fit to maintain the “struggle for life” After a return to the wild state, the bird of animal loses the qualities it had acquired in domesticity, and again merges into the common stock. Thus, if the theory of progressive and profitable development were correct, it should not do so, but should impart its properties to its fellows (Crawfurd,1868).

Huxley’s Pre-Origin views

History has allocated T.H. Huxley the role of Darwin’s bulldog. However, the following comment, given in 1856, shows how remarkable was his thinking on evolution, pre-Origin

The individuals of every species are on all hand admitted to be modifiable by conditions, the principle of which may be parental, climatal and educational. Any individual may be made to deviate to a certain extent from the typical form of its species by a modification of light, heat etc, which it receives, and by training, and will tend to transmit the deviation thus produced to its offspring. It is conceivable that the offspring may be further modified in the same way and may transmit its further deviation from the original type to its offspring, and so on until any imaginable amount of divergence results (Huxley,1856).


Darwin’s and Wallace’s belief in the inheritance of acquired characteristics

The fact that both Darwin and Wallace were followers of Lamarck comes as something of an embarrassment to the Darwinists, especially since they are fond of lampooning Lamarck in the belief that this increases the status of their hero. Here however is what Wallace had to say about his own, and Darwin’s, belief in Lamarckism:
Darwin always believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics, such as the result of use and disuse of organs, and the influence of the effects of climate, food etc. on the individual. I also accepted the theory at first, but when I had studied Mr Galton’s experiments and Dr Weismann’s theory of the continuity of the germ plasm I had to change my views (Wallace, 1908).
Finally, while Darwinists are clearly guilty of exaggerating the genius of their hero and his contribution to the development of the theory of evolution, I am aware of the dangers of falling into a similar trap by denying Darwin any recognition. I will reiterate that I believe that in On the Origin of Species, Darwin produced the best synthesis of evolution by natural selection then available, and that his book clearly came at just the right time in history to affect a revolution in biology and the way we think. Just to show that I can give a quote showing Darwin in a favourable light I will finish with the words of Alfred Russell Wallace (Wallace, 1908b) (Even so, I cannot bring myself to avoid making the caveat that Wallace was clearly unaware of the extensive, pre-1857, work on evolution and natural selection, done by others, when he said these words):
I know not how, or to whom, to express fully my admiration of Darwin’s book. To him it would seem flattery, to others self praise; but I do honestly believe that with however, much patience I had worked and experimented on the subject, I could never have approached the completeness of his book; its vast accumulation of evidence, its overwhelming argument, and its admirable tone and spirit. Mr Darwin has created a new science and a new Philosophy; and I believe that never has such a complete illustration of a new branch of knowledge been due to the labours and researches of a single man. Never have such vast masses of widely scattered and hitherto quite unconnected facts been combined into a system and brought to bear upon the establishment of such a grand and new and simple philosophy.




REFERENCES

Anon. (1836). Calcutta Christian Observer, Vol.5 p.10.
Anon. (1857-60). Journal of the Geological Society of Dublin, p.157.
Anon. (1860). Edinburgh Review, p. 496, p.504
Barzun, J. (1941). Darwin, Marx, and Wagner: Critique of a Heritage
Brown, J. (1996). Review of Dempster’s book, British Journal History of Science 19, 118-119.
Butler, S. (1880).Unconscious Memory, London, Cape, p.144
Butler, S. (1904). Essays on Life and Science, p.168-69.
Cannon, H.G. (1958). The Evolution of Living Things, Manchester, Manchester University Press.
Clark, R.W. (1984). The Survival of Charles Darwin, New York, Random House, p.170.
Crawfurd, J. (1868). American Phrenological Journal, p.231
Darlington. C.D. (1959). Darwin’s Place in History, Oxford, Blackwell
Erskine, J. (1943). Complete Life, New York, Books for Libraries Press, p.212.
Davies, R. (2008). The Darwin Conspiracies, London, Golden Square.
Gale, B.G. (1982). Evolution without Evidence, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press.
Grant Allen, Falling in Love, London, Smith Elder, 1889 pp.52-56.
Huxley, T.H. (1856). Medical Times and Gazette, London, Churchill, Vol.12, p.483.
Ingersoll, R.G. (1902). Some Mistakes of Moses, New York, Dresden, pp.494, 398.
Johnson, C.N. (2007). The Preface to Darwin’s Origin of Species:
The curious history of the Historical Sketch. Journal of the History of Biology, 40, 529-556.
Lovejoy, A.O. (1909). Popular Science Monthly,pp.254,504.
Phillips, J. (1860). Annals and Magazine of Natural History vol.7,p.399, London, Taylor Francis.
Spencer H. (1858). Essays, London, Longman, pp. 389-395
Thomson, J.A. (1932). The Great Biologists, London, Methuen, pp.90-91.
Wallace, A.R. (1908). My Life, London, Chapman and Hall, p.237.
Wallace, A.R. (1908b). ibid.p.197.
Whipple, T.K. (1928). Spokesman, New York, Appleton, p.40.
Willey, B. (1960). Darwin and Butler, London, Chatto and Windus, p.75.
Zirkle, C. (1946). Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 35, 91-47.









SOME FINAL POINTS

Early reference to the use of the terms “Natural Selection” and “Origin of Species”
Here is reference to the use of the term “natural selection” in relation to the laws of human mortality, published in 1829;change its application from Man to animals or plants and you have an early reference to the process of natural selection:
Not that individual lives have actually improved; but considered in the aggregate, such as were originally constituted for outliving their contemporaries, and who continued to exist under the most favourable circumstances, ultimately stand prominent, competing amongst themselves for protracted longevity, to the exclusion fo all the rest. Indeed this natural selection of particular lives, out of a very considerable mass, repeatedly occurs among centenaries, at later periods, and according to their retrospective degrees of constitutional vigour (Corbaux, F.(1829). On the laws of mortality and the intensity of human life. The Philosophical Magazine,Vol.5, p.201,London, Taylor.)
Here is an early reference to use of “origin of species”, given in 1838:
Origin of the world, origin of the species, questions of races, destiny of Man in this life and the other---he (Mr Jouffroy)is ignorant of none of these points. (Ripley, G.(1838), Philosophical Miscellanies, Boston Hilliar, p.302).
James Hutton’s contribution
James Hutton made some remarkable contributions to natural selection in his book of 1794, An Investigation of the Principles of Knowledge and the Progress of Reason (see Pearson, P.N. Nature, 425, 665, 2003). In response to Pearson’s paper, W.L. Abler wrote “ Natural selection was a heresy in Darwin’s day, but a common one” (Abler W.L. What Darwin knew, Nature, 279, 2003). (I have not emphasised Hutton’s work here because of my inability to obtain his book (in three volumes) and check his work; it also does not seem to appear on Google books).
A remarkable coincidence (?)
After Darwin wrote “On the Origin of Species” a certain Patrick Matthew claimed that he had published the idea of natural selection in 1831. Darwin had to admit that this was the case, but claimed that he had never read Matthew’s work and so could not have been influenced by it. Here however, is remarkable coincidence. In the sketch made in 1839 and copied in 1844 (See Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, p.45). Darwin uses the expression “natural means of selection” which was of course later changed to “natural selection”. Compare this with “natural process of selection”, the phrase used by Matthew. Coincidences do of course occur!

Darwin only “almost convinced” about the immutability of species as late as 1844

Here is famous quote which is rarely given in full but which, when it is, shows that as late as 1844, Darwin was only “almost convinced” about the immutability of species:

I was so struck with distribution of Galapagos organisms, etc.etc. and with the character of the American fossil mammifers, etc.etc. that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact which could bear any way on what are species-I have read heaps of agricultural and horticultural books, and have never ceased collecting facts. At last gleams of light have come and I am almost convinced (contrary to the opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable. Heaven forefend me from Lamarckian nonsense on a “tendency to progression “adaptatations 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, I think I have found out (here’s presumption) the simple way in which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends. (Letter 729, Darwin to Hooker, 11th Jan., 1844 , The Darwin Correspondence).

What is interesting about this statement is that a) Darwin admits that he is getting his facts from elsewhere, i.e. that he has “never ceased collecting facts” and that b) he states “I think I have found out” about the mechanism by which species are adapted; note he does not say “I think I have developed a theory as to how species are adapted”. To me this is a frank admission that he is developing a synthesis by using other people’s ideas.

Darwin’s notebooks and priority

A number of my colleagues argue that Darwin had priority on natural selection and some of the other ideas given in the Origin because he mentions them in his notebooks, opened in the late 1830s to mid-1840s. However, notebook entries do not establish priority in science; it is what appears in the public domain that matters. In any case, as can be seen from the above examples, much about natural selection etc had already been published prior to 1838.



Hype regarding the Sales Figures for “On the Origin of Species”

The rapid sales of the first edition of Darwin’s book (to the trade if not the public) is often exaggerated as some kind of recognition of its importance and impact on Victorian society. However, comparison with another best seller of this period, by George Combe, puts the success of Darwin’s book into context. Combe’s, The Constitution of Man sold 350,000 copies between 1828 and 1900 compared with sales of the Origin of only 50,000 over the period 1859 to 19009 (plus 48,00 in cheap edition, to 1900) (search Combe on the “Victorian Web” on Google). To quote this source
” Thus the fuss popularly believed to have resulted from Darwin’s Origin of Species pales in comparison to that of Combe’s Constitution, one of the most influential books of the 19th century”.

What made Hooker convert to transmutation?

Until 1856, J.D. Hooker was staunchly against transmutation, yet he instigated the publication of the Darwin Wallace papers in 1858. What made him change his mind? In 1856, Hooker (1856) states:
The general inquirer…will ask himself whether it is most accordant with the operation of Natural Laws that the Oak-tree or Acorn should have appeared suddenly and as a special creation on the surface of the globe, or be an altered form of a pre-existing tree, of greater or less complexity of structure; and will doubtless choose the latter hypothesis as involving less of the marvellous at first sight, and appearing to explain the mystery of creation. But unfortunately transmutation brings us no nearer to the origin of species, except the doctrine of progressive development has allowed and, as we can show the study of plants affords such positive evidence against progressive development and non in its favour.
Hooker was, of course, in constant contact with Darwin, yet despite this was, even as late as 1856, still against transmutation. It would seem then that by this date, nothing Darwin had produced convinced Hooker that he was on the right track. What changed his mind?-Presumably the appearance of Wallace’s paper. Hooker, J.D.(1856). Hooker’s Journal of Botany, London, Lowell Reeve, Vol.3, p.252.

Matthews, last mention of his theory of natural selection

The last attempt by Matthew to claim priority on natural selection appears to have been published as a footnote to a paper he wrote in 1861(Matthew,1861) which reads:
See my Theory of the Law of the origin of species by natural competitive selection published in my volume “Naval Timbers and Arboriculture” more than thirty years ago, and again recently published by Mr Darwin, when the intellect of the country has become more able and more willing to comprehend the subject. Mathew, P.(1861). National prospects. The Farmer’s Magazine, London, Rogerson, p.357.

Wallace’s late claim to natural selection

In his autobiography (Wallace,1908), published in 1908, Wallace makes the following claim in relation to his major works:
The first and most important of these is my independent discovery of the these is my independent discovery of the theory of natural selection in 1858, in my paper on “The Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type” This is reprinted in my “Natural Selection and Tropical Nature;” and it has been so fully recognized by Darwin himself and by naturalists generally that I need say no more about it here.
No mention is made in Wallace’s biography of Matthew or Wells. Wallace, A.R.(1908). My Life a Record of Events and Opinions, London, Chapman and Hall, pp.380-381.


BEYOND DARWIN


a) Evolution occurs by “jumps”

Here is reference, by Kolliker, to the view that evolution does not occur by small changes taking place over long periods. Professor Kolliker was an active critic of Darwins’ views. Stephen J. Gould has extended this idea in modern times.
We have always thought that Mr Darwin has unnecessarily hampered himself by adhering so strictly to his favourite “Natura non facit saltum”. We greatly suspect that she does make considerable jumps in the way of variation now and then, and that these saltations give rise to some of the gaps which appear to exist in the series of known forms (see Huxley T.H.(1893), Darwinia, p.97, London, Macmillan).

b) A Historical Reference to “Astroevolution”

Darwin tended to avoid philosophical arguments. On the Origin of the Species provides a straightforward synthesis of the then available arguments on the species question, extended by various references to Darwin’s own observations. Darwin avoids speculating on issues such as how life originated, although his grandfather Erasmus Darwin had earlier commented on this subject. In the same way, Darwin does not speculate on the possibility of life on other planets, or “globes” as they were frequently called. Other Victorian thinkers did however, consider the possibility of life on “other worlds”, the most famous contribution being that of William Whewell. As we have seen above, some commented on the possibility that the development of life on earth had been influenced by the catastrophic arrival of comets or asteroids from space, a possibility, which Darwin, the strict gradualist, did not entertain, or at least did not mention.
One of the most remarkable comments on the possibility that life might evolve in areas of the universe other than earth was made as (remarkably) early as 1770, by the French atheist and philosopher, Baron D’Holbach who, in his The System of Nature (D’Holbach, 1770, pp.62-64) theorises as follows:

…some reflections seem to favour the supposition, and to render more probable, the hypothesis that man is a production formed in the course of time; who is peculiar to the globe he inhabits, and as a result of the peculiar laws by which he is directed; who, consequently can only date his formation as coeval with that of this planet…..Whatever may be the supposition adopted, plants animals, men, can only be regarded as productions inherent in and natural to our globe, in the position or in the circumstances in which it is actually found; these productions would be changed if this globe, by any revolution, should happen to shift its situation. What appears to strengthen this hypothesis, is that on our ball itself, all the productions vary by reasons of its different climates…There is then sufficient foundation to conjecture, that, if by any accident our globe should be come displaced, all its productions would necessarily be changed; for, causes being no longer the same, or no longer acting in the same manner, the effects would necessarily no longer be what they now are: all productions, that they may be able to conserve themselves, or maintain their actual existence, have occasion to co-order themselves to the whole form from which they have emanated; without this, they would no longer be in a capacity to subsist…Transport, by imagination, a man from our planet onto Saturn, his lungs will presently be rent by an atmosphere too rarefied for his mode of being, his members will be frozen with the intensity of the cold; he will perish for want of finding elements analogous to his actual existence; transport another onto Mercury, the excess heat will quickly destroy him.
Thus Man, the same as everything else that exists on our planet, as well as in all others, may be regarded as in a state of continual vicissitude;
thus, the last term of the existence of Man is, to us, as unknown, as indistinct, as the first; there is, therefore, no contradiction in the belief, that the species vary incessantly; and it is impossible to know what he will become, as to know what he has been.
A similar statement was given much later by Ansted in 1852:
The conditions that obtain on our Earth may not be universally met with ;the ultimate elements of which another planet is comprised may be different from those here found; the proportions in which these elements are combined in the most abundant and characteristic materials are still more likely to be different; the proportion of light and heat, the extent of and nature of infinite variation; and when the limits of one planet are passed, the forms so familiar to us as to seem essential to matter may entirely alter, and new and unimagined contrivances appear, producing results not less perfectly and beautifully adapted to existing circumstances (Amsted,D.T. (1852). A Manual Of Geography, London, Parker,p.186.).

c) The concept of “Experiential Capital”
The following concept was developed in 1860 by George Combe (Combe,1860, The Constitution of Man, Edinburgh, Maclachlan) , although it might today be regarded as being obvious, it need at some point to be stated:
The difference between Man and other organic beings is this. With them the experience of the individual dies with the individual being of no value to the species, neither more nor less capable of adapting itself to external circumstances whether these change or stay the same, The experience of the individual man can be communicated pretty fully to his fellows, can accumulate with age, and can be converted into a sort of experiential capital for use by the race or species. Thus experiential capital constantly accumulating, gives the power to Man of adapting himself better and better to external circumstances and of accommodating himself to them as they change. No limit can be discerned to the accumulation of the experiential capital, and therefore no limit to Man’s power of adapting and accommodating himself to external circumstances.
(Do I note more than a whiff of the concept of the meme in this?)

Law of mutual aid

Darwin and his original followers emphasised the role of competition in natural selection. The Russian scientist Kropotkin however, pointed out the importance of “mutual aid”:
Who are the fittest; those who are continually at war with each other, or those who support one another? We at once see that those animals that acquire habits of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest…mutual aid is as much a law of animal life as in mutual struggle (Kropatkin,1902).
Not surprisingly, however, such mutual aid had been recognised before the turn of the twentieth century by, for example, William Whewell:
We see this necessity even in animals, especially in those which are gregarious. In their associated condition they derive help and advantages from on another: and many of them, especially those that live, travel and hunt in companies, are seen to reckon upon each others actions with great precision and confidence (Whewell,1847).

Kropotkin, P.(1902). Mutual Aid a Factor in Evolution (see Forgotten Books, 2008), p.12.
Whewell, W.(1847). The Elements of Morality, New York, Harper,Vol.1, p.49.

After being summarily rejected by there journals, without having been sent out to referees or subjected to editorial comment, the following paper was finally published in the Saudi Journal of Biological Science 15, 1-8, 2008.


NATURAL SELECTION: IT’S NOT DARWIN’S (OR WALLACE’S) THEORY

Milton Wainwright
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK
Abstract-For nearly 150 years, since soon after the appearance of the On the Origin of Species, we have known that neither Charles Darwin nor Alfred Russel Wallace originated the theory of natural selection. This certainty is based on the fact that both of these great naturalists admitted that they were beaten to the theory by at least two other naturalists. Since Darwin and Wallace readily accepted that they did not originate natural selection why the do we insist on crediting them with this seminal discovery? Here, I will show how Darwin and Wallace’s lack of priority on natural selection has been kept from both the scientific community as well as the general public.
Introduction
The English naturalist, Charles Darwin is universally regarded as the originator of the theory natural selection, the mechanism by which evolution is, in the main, thought to operate. It will therefore come as a surprise to many to discover that a number of other scientists originated the theory of natural selection long before Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace announced their versions in 1858. As we shall see, both of these great scientists openly admitted that they were not the originators of natural selection; this much at least is beyond argument. Here, I will highlight the story of how a Scottish arboriculturist, Patrick Matthew beat both Darwin and Wallace to natural selection.
Matthew’s ideas are given in the Appendix of his book On Naval Timbers and Arboriculture, published in 1831. My aim here is not to show that Matthew was the first to come up with the theory but merely that, by publishing his ideas in 1831, he has priority on the idea over both Darwin and Wallace. As we shall also see, Matthew was himself beaten to the theory by at least three other scientists; clearly, if Matthew was not the first to originate the theory, then neither Darwin nor Wallace can possibly deserve the accolade.
Although mentioned in passing by some historians, Matthew’s contribution, like that of the other pre-Darwin-Wallace originators of natural selection, has been effectively marginalised for more than a century and a half. As a result, I conclude by suggesting that it is now time for the biological community to accept the simple fact that neither Darwin nor Wallace originated the theory of natural selection.
A bolt from the blue
On April 10th, 1860, Charles Darwin wrote to a letter to Charles Lyell in which he mentions a depressing fact, one that he almost certainly hoped he would never have to admit-he had learned that someone had beaten him to the theory of natural selection and there was simply no way of getting around the fact; that someone was a Scottish tree expert, or arboriculturist, called Patrick Matthew.
Matthew was born in Dundee in 1790, into a wealthy family and died
in 1874; although he attended Edinburgh University, he appears never to have graduated, but returned to his family’s estate in Erol, Scotland where he devoted the rest of his life to growing trees. It was here that he wrote his theory of natural selection, which was published in 1831(Matthew, 1831); that is, at a time when Darwin, still a creationist and opposed to the theory of transmutation, was just about to begin his famous voyage on the Beagle.
The letter that Lyell received from Darwin was factual, rather than emotional (Darwin, 1860a):
Now for a curious thing. In last Saturday’s Gardeners’ Chronicle, a Mr Patrick Matthews (Darwin here incorrectly spells Matthew’s name) publishes long extracts from his work on “Naval Timber & Arboriculture” published in 1831, in which he briefly, but completely anticipates the theory of Nat. Selection ---I have ordered the book, as some few passages are rather obscure, but it is, certainly I think, a complete but not developed anticipation!... Anyhow one may be excused in not having discovered the fact in a work on “Naval Timber.”
Then, in a letter to J.D Hooker, dated April 13th, 1860, Darwin wrote the following (Darwin, 1860b):
Questions of priority so often lead to odious quarrels that I should esteem it a great favour if you would read the enclosed. If you think it proper that I should send it (and of this there can hardly be any question), and if you think it full and ample enough, please alter the date to the date on which you post it, and let that be soon. The case in the Gardeners’ Chronicle seems a little stronger than in Matthew’s book, for the passages are therein scattered in three places; but it would be mere hair-splitting to notice that. If you object to my letter, please return it, but I do not expect that you will but I thought that you would not object to run your eye over it.
Lyell dutifully did as he was requested and the following statement appeared in Darwin’s name in the Gardeners’ Chronicle on April 21st, 1860 (Darwin, 1860c):
I have been much interested by Mr Patrick Matthew’s communication in the number of your paper dated April 7th. I freely acknowledge that Mr Matthew has anticipated by many years the explanation which I have offered of the origin of species, under the name of natural selection. I think that no one will feel surprised that neither I, nor apparently any other naturalist had heard of Mr Matthew’s views, considering how briefly they are given, and that they appeared in the appendix to a work on Naval Timber and Arboriculture. I can do no more than offer my apologies to Mr Matthew for my entire ignorance of his publication. If another edition of my work is called for, I will insert to the forgoing effect.
Here then, we have Darwin admitting that he was beaten to the theory of natural selection by Patrick Matthew. In a subsequent letter, written in the same month to the, American naturalist, Asa Gray he states:
Have you noticed how completely I have been anticipated by Mr P.Matthew, in Gardeners’ Chronicle? (Darwin, 1860d)
In a letter he subsequently wrote to J.L.A. Quatrefages de Bréau on April 25th, 1861 Darwin again admits that Matthew had beaten him, but continues to insert the same caveats, namely the contribution was small,
it appeared in an obscure book, and no one noticed it (Darwin, 1861):
…an obscure writer on forest trees in 1830 (actually, 1831), in Scotland, most expressly and clearly anticipated my views –though he put his case so briefly that no single person ever noticed the scattered passage in his book.
Darwin seems to becoming somewhat desperate here, since (as we shall see later) he neglects to mention that two reviews of Matthew’s book had in fact appeared soon after its publication, both of which mention his reference to the species problem; Darwin’s claim that no single person ever noticed Matthew’s work, is therefore clearly incorrect. The fact that Darwin admitted that he lacked priority, on what is usually regarded as his theory, has obviously not just come to light, nor was it hidden away in Darwin’s letters. On the contrary, it has been in the public domain for nearly a hundred and fifty years.
Darwin eventually included reference to Matthew’s work in the “Historical Sketch” he included in later editions (such as the sixth, Darwin, 1872) of the Origin of Species. After commenting that Matthew had the same views as Wallace and himself he states that:
Unfortunately the view was given by Mr Matthew, very briefly in scattered passages in an Appendix to a work on a different subject, so that it remained unnoticed until Mr Matthew himself drew attention to it in the “Gardeners’ Chronicle” on April 7th,1860. The differences of Mr Matthew’s view from mine are not of much importance, he seems to consider that the world was nearly depopulated at successive periods, and then restocked…
Although Darwin admits that he does not understand much of what Matthew, writes, he concedes that: “He (Matthew) saw clearly the full force of the principle of natural selection.”
What about Alfred Russel Wallace, the man generally viewed as the co-discoverer of natural selection; what did he think about Matthew’s
contribution? In a book review on Butler’s Evolution Old and New of, 1879, Wallace made the following comments (Wallace, 1879):
We come next to Mr Patrick Matthew, who in 1831 put forth his views on the developmental theory in a work on arboriculture: and we think that most naturalists will be amazed at the range and accuracy of his system ,and will give him the highest credit as the first to see the important principles of human and “natural selection,” conformity to conditions and reversion to ancestral types; and also the unity of life, the varying degrees of individuality and the continuity of ideas or habits forming an abiding memory, thus combining all the best essential features of the theories put forward by Lamark, Darwin and Mr Butler himself (my emphasis in bold)
And:
These and many other passages, show how fully and clearly Mr Matthew apprehended the theory of natural selection, as well as the existence of more obscure laws of evolution, many years in advance of Mr Darwin, and myself and in giving almost the whole of what Mr Matthew has written on the subject Mr Butler will have helped to call attention to one of the most original thinkers of the first half of the 19th century.
Although Wallace does not state what he means by the “existence of more obscure laws of evolution” in Matthew’s work, I assume he is referring to Matthew’s mix of natural selection and catastrophism, which I will discuss later.
The “cover up”-marginalising Matthew’s work for nearly hundred and fifty Years
I do not intend here to discuss Matthew’s theory of natural selection in detail. Fortunately, a full modern account of Matthew’s work has been provided in the excellent book by Dempster (Dempster, 1996). Instead, I will concentrate on investigating the simple question-why has Matthew’s work been kept from the public for so long; why has there been a cover up and why has it lasted for nearly a hundred and fifty years? However, we can get the gist of Matthew’s ideas from the following passage quoted from On Naval Timbers by Wallace:
As the field of existence is limited and preoccupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better-suited-to-circumstance individuals who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater powers of occupancy than any other kind: the weaker and less circumstance-suited being prematurely destroyed. This principle is in constant action: it regulates the colour, the figure, the capacities, and instincts; those individuals in each species whose colour and covering are best suited to concealment or protection from enemies, or defence from inclemencies or vicissitudes of climate, whose figure is best accommodated to health, strength, defence, and support: in such immense waste of primary and youthful life these only come forward to maturity from the strict ordeal by which nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness to continue their kind of reproduction.
Matthew then goes on to show how this law “tends to the production of almost uniform groups of individuals, which we term species.” No wonder then that both Wallace and Darwin were so impressed by Matthew’s work and had to concede, somewhat grudgingly on Darwin’s part, that Matthew had beaten them both to the theory of natural selection.
What then of the “cover up “? Why is the fact that Darwin and Wallace, on their own admission, relinquished priority of the theory of natural selection not generally known? Let us go back to the opening quote from the letter which Darwin wrote to Lyell. Darwin spells Matthew’s name wrong, but goes on to provide a clear admission of Matthew’s priority. Firstly, there is no doubting the date of Matthew’s book, 1831, and the fact that his theory of natural selection appeared well before the Darwin–Wallace papers presented at the famous meeting of the Linnaean Society in 1858. Secondly, Darwin states that Matthew “briefly but completely anticipates his own and Wallace’s contribution. To add more emphasis to this point, Darwin states,” it is certainly I think, a complete but not developed anticipation.” It needs to be remembered that this letter appeared in 1860, only a year after Darwin’s triumphant release of the On the Origin of Species. One can only imagine how disappointed Darwin felt when he realised that, no matter how superb his book was; no matter how well it was selling, and no matter how much praise he was getting for his theory-he simply had not originated the theory of natural selection. He, and his friends, could no longer argue that by working on the theory for so long Darwin disserved credit on the theory. All that Darwin could now do was admit the fact that he had been beaten. His followers meanwhile were then left with a damage limitation exercise.
How then was the frank admission, by both Darwin and Wallace, that Matthew had priority explained away by evolutionists? At this point, I will explain how it was possible for Darwinists to marginalise Matthew’s priority on natural selection. The first strategy is the simplest-don’t confront the problem, just ignore it. Few major Victorian biologists ever even mentioned Matthew (or the other pre-Darwin-Wallace or natural selectionists) and his name appears only briefly in a small number of books on evolution. Some biologists have however, been honourable enough to mention that a certain Patrick Matthew had suggested a “similar” theory before Darwin but used some amazing slights of hand, which are still used by today’s Darwinists, to diminish his contribution. A good example of this is provided by Sir Alistair Hardy, in his book, The Living Stream (Hardy, 1965). In a book of some three hundred pages Hardy then, Cambridge emeritus professor of zoology, has only the following to say about Matthew:
I should just mention, before coming to this new stream (of ideas), the idea of natural selection was expressed by Dr Charles Wells in 1813 and Patrick Matthew in 1831.
No mention here of Darwin’s comments on Matthew. The second approach to the “cover up” is-if you do mention Matthew then describe his work using words like “ similar “ or “brief ”. Next, always add implied insults, like “Matthew was a mere gardener”, or “expert on wood growing”, i.e. hide the fact that Matthew was a bona fide scientist working in an important area of agriculture; if Matthew can be called an amateur scientist, then so can Darwin and Wallace. Next, never mention the fact that both Darwin and Wallace had absolutely, and unequivocally, stated that Matthew had come up with “their” theory in 1831. Continue by always diluting Matthew’s contribution by pointing out that others had come up with similar ideas to Darwin and, for good measure, mention that the Greeks also believed in evolution. Alternatively, you can claim that “natural selection was in the “air“, until Darwin, single handily, clutched it from the ether. Again, always point out that Darwin provided a far more advanced version of natural selection than that proposed by Matthew, but make sure not to mention the fact that Darwin had nearly another thirty years (with all the attended improvements in biological knowledge) in which to develop his ideas. Finally, and this is the usual modern response to Matthew, grudgingly admit that Darwin was not the first, but then add “Well, why does it matter?”
The answer to the above question is simple-why should Darwin have his name added to a theory which, on his own admission, he did not originate? A number of modern evolutionists have used a more complicated slight of hand to overcome this problem. Essentially, they claim that Darwin did not fully understand his own theory and therefore was not in a position to determine whether, or not, Matthew had beaten him to the idea (Wells, 1973). The last named author, by the way, also points out that Matthew gave passing reference to natural selection in his book Emigration Fields (Wells, 2002), published in 1839, eight years after On Naval Timbers appeared; clearly then Matthew’s commitment to his idea extended over more than a “few lines” given in an appendix.
Yet another sophism used by those wishing to obscure Matthew’s contribution is to state that while the two theories are the same, Darwin and Matthew arrived at them from different standpoints. Darwin, it is concluded, came to “his theory” after long years of deliberation and was aware that it was a “true theory”, i.e. one that could be extended by the addition of new evidence. Matthew in contrast, it is claimed, saw natural selection as an obvious, fact, a law of nature which seemed so self-evident that there was really no need to produce endless examples (as Darwin did in the Origin of Species) of man-made selection to demonstrate its veracity. Now there is no doubt that Matthew saw natural selection in this way, but why should this approach make his conclusions any less valid? Matthew obviously concluded that there was no need to write “the big book”, simply because he saw natural selection as an obvious law of nature. This explanation also covers the argument that Matthew cannot be taken seriously because his exposition of natural selection is too short; why should conciseness, leading to brevity, be a sin?
The next strategy used to marginalise Matthew is not to attack his theory, but to attack the book in which it was published. We have already seen that Darwin claimed that Matthew’s book was obscure and, by implication, of little importance. Admittedly Matthew published his ideas in an appendix which is “rambling” by modern standards, but certainly not so by the standards of the time it was written. The Appendix is, in fact part of an extremely important book. The production of naval timbers was crucial for the operation of the Merchant and Royal Navy in Victoria’s Britain; without such timbers, Britain could not have ruled the waves and extend its ever growing empire. The fact that Matthew places his ideas on natural selection in the Appendix of his book in no way implies that he thought that they were of little value; the Appendix also includes mention of some of his political views, which he obviously expected to be taken extremely seriously.
What does Richard Dawkins have to say about Matthew? Dawkins only reference to Matthew is to claim that he saw natural selection as “a negative force only” (Dawkins, 2008), and he clearly sees no need to dwell on the fact that both Darwin and Wallace admitted that Matthew had priority on the theory of natural selection. In contrast, the late Steven Jay Gould claimed that Matthew’s natural selection refers to a positive, rather than negative, force (Gould, 2002). We therefore have the two great evolutionary writers of our age at odds over a fundamental point- was Matthew’s view of natural selection positive or negative?
Gould accepts that it was almost commonplace for biologists, who gave consideration to evolution, prior to Darwin-Wallace, to think in terms of natural selection, but they tended to regard the survival of the fittest as a negative process which led to the elimination of the unfit and thereby preserved the type; even William Paley, it seems, was willing to accept this kind of natural selection. Unlike Dawkins however, Gould thinks that Matthew’s view of natural selection, was (like Darwin’s view) positive.
Of course, not all authors on evolution have felt the need to overlook, or dismiss, Matthew. As early as 1885, Grant Allen in his biography of Darwin (Grant Allen, 1885) calls Matthew:
The unconscious author of the principle of natural selection
(What Allen means by “unconscious” is not immediately obvious).
In 1913, Raphael Zon, of the U.S. Forest Service, wrote an article for the American Naturalist entitled Darwinism in Forestry (Zon, 1913) in which he makes the following comment:
Here then is a most interesting fact which seems to me of deep significance to foresters. The first Darwinian, who twenty nine years before Darwin formulated the law of natural selection was a forester (He is of course referring here to Matthew) and:
My purpose is… to restore the memory of one who ploughed the same fields as we do now, the name of the forester whose idea, although it did not perish, slumbered almost unknown for nearly thirty years until another and bigger man brought it to life and general recognition.
By the mid 1980s, Matthew’s work was becoming better known and evolutionary texts could no longer reasonably avoid mentioning his name. Some, like Soren Lovtrup’s in his Darwin: the Refutation of a Myth (Lovtrup, 1987) did just that, but as usual in less than glowing terms:
After Darwin’s grandfather, Patrick Matthew, was the first person to state the theory of evolution which is called Darwinism. He was a true precursor, but in contrast to Darwin he did little to elaborate or corroborate the theory
Like most other evolutionists, modern and ancient, who refer to Matthew, Lovtrup then goes on to protect the Darwin myth by adding the following:
Patrick Matthew has made a contribution to evolutionary thought modest, but not insignificant. His reward is that he is not the entirely forgotten person he would otherwise have been.
Scant reward, it would seem, for a person who beat both Darwin and Wallace to natural selection, and who was the first to elaborate, what might be regarded as, the modern evolutionary synthesis of natural selection and catastrophism. In regard to the latter, Darwin was a strict gradualist and believed that evolution progressed by a serious of small steps over an exceedingly long period of time. He argued against Cuvier’s idea that catastrophes played a major role in evolution. It is important to recognise however, that Cuvier believed that catastrophes completely wiped out all of the inhabitants of the Earth and that the planet was then re-populated with completely new species. Matthew, in contrast, believed that catastrophes, by destroying only part of the Earth’s population, provide a driving force behind new innovation in species; natural selection over along period occurred, but catastrophes also played a major part in evolution. This idea is of course familiar to us because of the generally accepted view that the extinction of the dinosaurs, and event which changed the whole course of evolution, was brought about by an asteroid impact. Trevor Palmer, in his book on catastrophism, has recently emphasised that Matthew can be considered to be the originator of the most recent view of evolution because his theory includes elements of both natural selection and catastrophe (Palmer,1999). Palmer, by the way, appears generally more sympathetic to Matthew’s cause than most evolution writers. However, even he looses his nerve, as if fearful of losing credibility amongst his fellow Darwinists when he states:
Matthewism might be an appropriate name for a new synthesis. Matthewism is an ugly word and, also, its use would no doubt lead to interminable arguments about what exactly Matthew did or did not say about evolution (in fact he said very little and did not express himself very well). Hence the idea must be rejected.
Even the more sympathetic Palmer then cannot avoid following the usual approach of diminishing Matthew by claiming that he said little (presumably compared to Darwin, nearly thirty years later) and that he should have expressed himself better.
Finally, we have to answer the question-did Darwin know of Matthew’s work, and was he influenced by it? Or put less politely-did Darwin steal the idea of natural selection from Matthew?
As I mentioned above, Matthew’s work was the subject of two reviews which could have alerted any scientist, or general reader, to Matthew’s views on the species question. The first of these reviews, appeared in the Gardeners’ Magazine of 1832, and emphasised that the book was important to the welfare of Britain and to “her extension of her dominions”; it then discusses the all important Appendix which contained Matthew’s ideas on natural selection, as follows:
An appendix of 29 pages concludes the book…one of the subjects discussed in this Appendix is the puzzling one, of the origin of species and variates; and if the author has hereon originated no original views (and of this we are far from certain), he has certainly exhibited his own in an original manner.
Clearly anyone, including Darwin, who was interested in the “species question” would have read this and wondered what this somewhat elusive quote meant. The other anonymous review, which appeared in the United Services Journal, commended Matthew’s description of naval architecture and then states:
But we disclaim participation in his rumination on the law of nature……
The authors of these two reviews were obviously well aware that the book had something significant to say and included and important and novel section on the development of species, i.e. evolution. These two reviews also give lie to the, frequently expressed, view that Matthew buried his ideas in an obscure, little known, book.
Have we any evidence to show that Darwin ever read Matthew’s book or the above reviews? Well, we have to remember that in 1831, Darwin was not interested in the species problem and was still a convinced creationist. By being on board the Beagle, he would have missed the publication of Matthew’s book and the associated reviews; of course he could have read both the book and the reviews on his return to England when he began opening his notebooks on the species problem.
In fact, there exists more than a hint that Darwin did, in fact, read Matthew’s book. This hint revolves around the similarity of language found in the two accounts of natural selection. Matthew states:
There is more beauty and utility of design in this continual balancing of life to circumstances, and greater conformity to those dispositions of nature which are manifest to us, than in the total destruction and new creation.
Now compare this with Darwin:
There is grandeur in this view of, with its several powers having been originally breathed by the Creator into few forms or into one…
Loren Eisley, in his book on Darwin (Eisley, 1959) provides evidence that, by 1844, Darwin was well aware of Matthew’s book; and that he took the phrase “natural process of selection” from it and modified it to “natural selection”. Although the term “selection” was used, by Victorians, in relation to plant and animal breeding, I can find no other reference to the use of a “natural process of selection”; as a result, it cannot be said that Darwin modified a term that was already in wide use.
Although they never met, Darwin and Matthew entered into some friendly correspondence, beginning on the 13th of June, 1862, (Darwin, 1862) when, in response to the suggestion by Matthew that they might meet, Darwin replied that he would like to meet “the first enunciator of the theory of Natural Selection” (yet another admission, by Darwin, of Matthew’s priority), but that he had to decline the offer because of his poor health. In 1871, the two scientists had further correspondence in which Matthew complained that he had always been unable to devote much time on to the question of evolution because of his long-standing commitment to politics. He then went on to make the following remarkable statement concerning his views:
There cannot be a doubt that in the scheme of Nature there exists high design and constructive power carried out by general Law and the great probability is that these laws are everlasting, as Nature itself is, tho’ under these laws subject to revolution.. .. That there is a principle of beneficence operating here the dual parentage and family affection pervading all the higher animal kingdom affords proof. A sentiment of beauty pervading Nature, with only some few exceptions affords evidence of intellect and benevolence in the scheme of Nature. The principal of beauty is clearly from design and cannot be accounted for by natural selection. Could any fitness of things contrive a rose, a lily (sic) or the perfume of a violet.
Matthew then goes on to point out that he is an atheist, and that:
There is no doubt that man is left purposefully in ignorance of a future existence. Their (i.e. the Christians) pretended revelations are wretched nonsense.
Darwin’s responded by saying that it was clear that the older man showed no sign in his letter of his four score years, i.e. that he had lost any of his mental faculties. Maybe if some, non-religious, form of design is eventually incorporated into biology then Patrick Matthew might be seen as the author of an entirely novel theory.
But is it Matthew’s theory?
An obvious problem facing anyone who is attempting to correct the record on priority in science is that the person one is championing over the, generally accepted, discoverer of a scientific principle may have also been beaten to the idea. Although I have given prominence to the work of Patrick Matthew in this essay, I have not at any point claimed that Matthew was the first to enunciate the theory of natural selection. This pitfall has been avoided simply because at least three other scientists, Hutton, Edward Blyth and William Charles Wells, came up with versions of natural selection before Matthew (and therefore also Darwin and Wallace). William Charles Wells’ contribution is particularly interesting because Darwin admitted his priority. Wells’ version of natural selection appeared in 1813, some eight years before Matthew’s work. The famous Victorian scientist and evolutionist, John Tyndall referred to Wells’ contribution during his inaugural address of 1874, (Tyndall,1874) when he stated:
In 1831, Dr Wells founder of our present theory of dew, read before the Royal Society a paper in which, to use the words of Mr Darwin, “he distinctly recognises the principle of natural selection; and this is the first recognition that has been indicated.”
Tyndall then goes on to add his endorsement of Wells as follows:
The thoroughness and skill with which Wells pursued his work, and the obvious independence of his character, rendered him long ago a favourite with me, and it gives me the liveliest of pleasure to alight upon the additional testimony to his penetration.”
The reference to Darwin’s comments on Wells’ priority is given in letter to Hooker he wrote in October, 1865 in which he says:
Talking of the Origin, a Yankee has called my attention to a paper attached to Dr Wells famous Essay on Dew, which he was read in 1813 to the Royal Society, but not printed, in which he applies most distinctly the principle of N. Selection to the races of man. So poor old Patrick Matthew is not the first, and he cannot or ought not any longer put on his Title pages the “Discoverer of the principal of natural selection.
Darwin appears to have been unaware that Wells’ paper was in fact published, in 1818. The last sentence relates to Matthew’s habit of putting this statement, claiming ownership of natural selection, in his books and on his calling cards. It is noteworthy that Darwin, in expressing his obvious satisfaction in debunking Matthew’s claim to be the originator of the theory of natural selection, assigns priority to Wells, and in so doing, once again, admits that he, and Wallace, clearly have no priority on the theory. In his Historical Sketch, Darwin somewhat tempered his praise of Wells by stating that:
He applies it (natural selection) only to the races of man and to certain characters alone.
By criticising Wells’ priority in this way Darwin is, of course unwittingly, re-asserting Matthew’s priority on natural selection.

Conclusion: I hope I have been successful in demonstrating the simple fact that neither Darwin nor Wallace originated the theory of natural selection. In my opinion, there can no longer be any excuse for us to marginalise the contributions of scientists like Hutton, Wells and Matthew. Surely, we can marvel at the work of Darwin and Wallace without exaggerating their contributions to the history of the development of evolution.
Not surprisingly, I am not alone in thinking that, for expediency’s sake, we have allowed a big lie regarding the history of the theory of natural selection to continue in the face of all of the evidence (See in particular Dempster, 1996). The mathematicians and astronomers, Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe have commented on the way in which
Darwin and Wallace have been falsely given priority on natural selection (in relation to Edward Blyth’s claim for priority) as follows:
The failure of biologists to insist on this matter being set right is somewhat surprising….It would seem to us that that a sin of omission remains to be redeemed by the world of professional biology.
Although we can be certain that neither Darwin nor Wallace originated the theory of natural selection, it is less certain who should be awarded the accolade. I have concentrated here on the contribution of Patrick Matthew, but of course we know that, amongst others, Edward Blyth (Blyth, 1835), Hutton (Pearson, 2003) and the Reverend Baden Powell (Baden Powell, 1856), J.C. Prichard (Prichard, 1813) and Charles Wells (Wells, 1818; Wells, 1973), originated earlier versions of the natural selection; the notorious book by Robert Chambers, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (Chambers, 1844) also did much to expose the Victorian public to the idea of evolution, or transmutation, prior to the appearance of On the Origin of Species. I suppose we could follow Darwin’s lead and allocate priority to Matthew (he excludes Wells because he concentrated only on the development of Man). However, while natural selection cannot be credited to either Darwin or Wallace, arguments will continue about who deserves priority on this, one of the most important and influential of all scientific ideas.
Of course, the fact that Darwin and Wallace do not have priority on natural selection does not in any way reduce their contribution to the theory. Nor, to the chagrin of the creationists, does it in any way impact on the theory of evolution.
Finally, it is noteworthy that I sent an article, similar to this in most details, to four leading journals devoted to the history of biology and medicine; all four journals rejected the paper without supplying any editorial criticism whatsoever; such is the power of Darwinist censorship in biology, even today!

REFERENCES

Baden Powell, Reverend (1856). The Unity of the Worlds of Nature, London, Longman.
Blyth, E. (1835). The varieties of animals. Magazine of Natural History
30, 40-54.
Chambers, R. (1844). The Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, London, Churchill.
Clark, R.W. (1984). The Survival of Charles Darwin, New York, Random House, p.170.
Darwin, C.R. (1860a). Letter to Lyel, C., Letter, 2754.
Darwin, C.R. (1860b). Letter to Hooker, J.D., Letter, 2758.
Darwin, C.R. (1860c). Letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, Letter, 2766.
Darwin, C.R. (1860d). Letter to Gray, A., Letter, 2767.
Darwin, C.R. (1861). Letter to Quatrefages de Breau, J.L.A., Letter, 3127.
Darwin, C.R. (1862). Letter to Matthew P., Letter, 3600.
(Darwin’s letters, referred to above, can be found online at the Darwin Correspondence Online).
Darwin, C.R. (1872). The Origin of Species, 6th edition, London, Murray.
Dawkins, R. (2008). Why Darwin matters, The Guardian, London, 9, February.
Dempster, W.J. (1996). Evolutionary Concepts in the Nineteenth Century. Natural Selection and Patrick Matthew, Edinburgh, Pentland Press.
Eisley, L. (1958). Darwin’s Century, New York: Doubleday.
Gould, S.J. (2002). The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Harvard, Harvard University Press.
Grant Allen. (1885). Charles Darwin, London, Longman’s Green.
Hardy, A. (1965).The Living Stream, London, Collins.
Hoyle, F and Wickramasinghe, C. (1981). Evolution from Space, New York, Simon and Schuster.
Lovtrup, S. (1987). Darwinism: the Refutation of A Myth, London, Croom Helm.
Matthew, P. (1831). On Naval Timbers and Arboriculture, Edinburgh, Black.
Milne Edwards, H. (1846). A Manual of Zoology, London, Renshaw, pp.186-187.
Palmer, T. (1999). Controversy:Catastrophism and Evolution the Ongoing Debate, New York, Kluwer.
Pearson, P.N. (2003). Book review of Hutton, J. (1794). An Investigation of the Principals of Knowledge and the Progress of Reason, from Sense to Science and Philosophy. Nature, 425, 665.
Prichard, J.C. (1813). Researches into the Physical History of Man, London.
Spencer H. (1858). Essays, London, Longman, pp. 389-395
Tyndall, J. (1874). The Belfast Address to the British Association. Nature, 10, 309-319.
Wallace, A.R. (1879. Review of S. Butler, Evolution Old and New. Nature, 20, 141-144.
Wells, W.C. (1818). Two Essays, London.
Wells, K. D. (1973). The historical context of natural selection: The case for Patrick Matthew. Journal of the History of Biology 6, 225-258.
Wells, K.D. (2002). Darwinism around the world (Book Review), Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 15, 683-685.
Zon, R. (1913). Darwinism in forestry, The American Naturalist, 47, 540-546.

Additional Notes relevant to the above paper
Huxley’s reference to Matthew and Wells and Natural Selection
Thomas Huxley (“Darwin’s bulldog”) made the following reference to Matthew and Wells
The theory of natural selection, or survival of the fittest, was first suggested by Wells in 1813,and further elaborated by Matthew in 1831.But the pregnant suggestions of these writers remained practically unnoticed and forgotten until the theory was independently devised and promulgated by Darwin and Wallace in 1858, and the effects of its publication was immediate and profound.
Huxley appears here to be confusing the effect of the appearance of On the Origin of Species with the appearance of the 1858 papers by Darwin and Wallace, the effect of which cannot be said to have been “immediate and profound.” (Huxley, T.H. (1893). Collected Essays-Darwinia,Vol.2.p. 222, London, Macmillan).
John Tyndall’s reference to Charles Wells and Natural Selection
In 1813 Dr Wells, the founder of our present theory of Dew, read before the Royal Society a paper in which, in the words of Darwin,”he distinctly recognizes the principle of natural selection, and this is the first recognition that has been indicated.” The thoroughness and skill with which Wells pursued his work, and the obvious independence of his character, rendered him long ago a favourite with me; and it gave me the liveliest of pleasure to alight upon this further additional testimony to his penetration (Tyndall, J. (1892). Fragments of Science, Vol.2, p.172, London, Longmans).
The Case of the Missing Letters
In his description of how the Wallace-Darwin papers came to be presented at the Linnean Society meeting of July,1858, Sir Joseph Hooker commented as follows (Hooker,1909):
There are no letters (concerning this affair) relating to it, not even answers to Mr Darwin’s of June 18,25,and 26;and Sir Leonard Lyell has at my request very kindly, but vainly, searched his correspondence for any relating to this subject beyond the two above mentioned. There are none of my letters to either Lyell or Darwin, no evidence of their having existed beyond the letters of acknowledgement of the receipt of some of them; and most surprising of all, Mr Wallace’s letter and its enclosure has disappeared.
How remarkable that of the vast quantity of letters relating to Darwin, the most important of all are missing. Perhaps someone stole them at some point in the hope of making some money. Alternatively, maybe they were destroyed because they contained something that Darwin followers and apologists might have found embarrassing; perhaps they may resurface in the future; certainly a case worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Hooker, J. (1909) Popular Science Monthly, April, 1909, p406.

AWARENESS OF THE “SPECIES QUESTION” BEFORE DARWIN RETURNED FROM HIS VOYAGE ON THE BEAGLE (1836)

In order to emphasise how much was known about the “species question” before Darwin ever took an interest, I have taken out the following quotes (given above) up to 1837, that is soon after Darwin arrived home from his voyages on the Beagle.
The Transmutation Theory
Lamarck, one of the most distinguished naturalists of the day, openly professes his belief, that both animals and vegetables are incessantly changing under the influence of climate, food, domestication, the crossing of breeds etc., and he remarks, that if the species now in existence appear to be fixed in their character it is because the circumstances that modify these species requires an enormous time for action and would consequently require numerous generations to establish the fact (Dunglison,1832)..
How did life originate?
Some suppose that everything was originally fluid, that this universal fluid gave existence to animals which were at first of the simplest kind, such as monads, and other infusorial microscopic animalcules; that in process of time, and by acquiring different habits, the races of these animals became complicated and assumed that diversity of nature and character in which they now exist (Anon,1818).
From an organic molecula to Man

The formation of Man and animals long puzzled those world makers, who would attribute everything to material causes. At length a discovery was supposed to be made of primitive animalcula, or organic molecula, from which every kind of animal was formed; a shapeless, clumsy, microscopical object. This, by the natural tendency of original propagation to vary to protect the species, produced other better organized. These again produced other more perfect than themselves, till at last appeared the most complete of species, mankind, beyond whose perfection it is impossible for the work of generation to proceed (Sullivan,1794).
A theory of life obeying only natural laws
The genera and species of animals that inhabit this globe are evidently subject to change; some are entirely extinguished –As old species perish, do new species rise up! Is there some secret law of animal reproduction by which there is a succession of species in the course of ages? (Polehampton,1815). The whole progress of nature is so very gradual, that the most perfect of inferior species comes very near to that which is immediately above it. The whole chasm of nature, from the plant to Man, is filled with divers kinds of creatures, rising one after another, by an ascent so gentle and easy, that the little transitions and deviations from one species to another, are almost insensible. The intermediate space is so well husbanded and merged that there is scarcely a degree of perception, which does not appear in one part of the world of life. (Bartlett, 1830). There is general gradation through the animal race and through the whole vegetable system. By gradation, I mean the various degrees of powers, faculties and organisation (White,1799). No animal can produce itself, but depends on its parent as the pre-existent efficient cause. The doctrine of equivocal generation or spontaneous generation of things, i.e. fortuitously and without cause of its kind, is utterly false, an idle conceit of ignorant philosophers and the bold assertion of an impious atheist (Marten,1737). If these observations are correct, no organ or system of organs, nor any new type in the animal world, can be said to have suddenly appeared on the stage of existence. There are certain laws to which nature herself is compelled to submit, and by which all her operations must be regulated…I cannot help believing that amongst them is to be found the laws of progressive development (Nash,1833). Finally Mr Morgan concludes: Each animal derives from the sum of its organization a sensibility to external nature, and a power of reacting upon it, such as is sufficient for the continuance of its existence (Morgan,1822).

*Wilson, J. uses the expression, “origin of species” in 1829-31, Quarterly J. Agriculture 2, 1829-31, p.335; the expression “natural process of selection” was used by Patrick Matthew in 1831, see references below.
Fossils and the succession of life
The fossil species do not differ less from the living to which they make their nearest approach, than various animals that are familiar to us do from others that belong to the same tribes, and which are found, under one species or other, over the whole world (Good,1837). Finally, the noted American geologist, Mr Rogers notes that: We see exemplified a general and important law concerning the distribution of fossils, which is, that those species whose geographical distribution is the widest possess likewise the greatest vertical range, or, by being adapted to a greater variety of localities and physical conditions, they have been suited to withstand a greater series of vicissitude, and to endure therefore a longer time. Mr Lea called the attention of the meeting to the importance of Prof. Hall’s observations on the fossil Brachipoda, where he demonstrated that many species had been made from one, the difference of forms having arisen from difference of age, locality, etc. It follows that Man must also be included amongst fossil species, or rather that a sudden transition from one condition of being to another must be disallowed, and that the same gradual alteration of species, already fully developed by M. Deshayes in his comparison of fossil shells of the different periods of the tertiary formations, must be extended to animals and perchance to Man (Smith,1833). The scarcity of organic remains observed in the lowest of fossiliferous deposits by no means proves a scarcity of life at the same period, though from it we may infer that the testaceous and other animals with solid parts were not abundant.
Fossil record contains “Missing Links”
If the species of fossilized mammals had changed by degrees as we may assume, we ought to find traces of this gradual modification, some intermediate condition, this however, is not the case (Hunt,1834). Are fossil forms immutable as some distinguished naturalists maintain; or do not our domestic animals and our cultivated plants prove the contrary? If these, by change of situation, of climate, of nourishment, and by every other circumstances that operates upon them, can change their relations, it is possible that many fossil species to which no originals can be found, may not be extinct, but have gradually passed into others. (Anon, 1826a).
The Flood not necessary to explain animal extinctions
The opinion entertained by Cuvier concerning the extinction of these animals such of them at least as are found in the soil of alluvial earth, is that it has been produced by water, or by some sudden inundation that overwhelmed the land to a sudden height. There is indeed, no appearance of the bones having been carried or transported by water; and there is no reason to suspect that the catastrophe arose from a wave or current having such force as to carry everything along with it. If a deluge were the cause, it must have been as a simple submersion of the land under the water, without anything like the sudden submersion of the land, which some geologists have imagined. Some perhaps may think, that a sudden catastrophe is not a supposition necessary for the explanation of these appearances (Polehampton and Good,1821). The Reverend Buckland believes that the extinction of this species (of elk) is attributable rather to the continued persecution it endured from its enemies, accelerated by incidental local causes, than to any general catastrophe that overwhelmed the globe ( Buckland,1825).
Lamarckism
There is however, a fundamental mould which organises bodies relative to each species, and which brings back deformed races to their primitive type; dogs whose tails and ears are cut off beget little ones with their tales and ears, circumcised men engender uncircumcised children (Anon,1835a).

Species experience modification

Species experience modification more or less considerable; they change and are sometimes extinguished. A species may be lost in two ways. 1) It may be entirely destroyed by a sudden and violent convulsion, which overwhelms the quarter of the globe which it inhabits. 2) It may gradually disappear in consequence of a long series of insensible changes and successive alterations (La Cepede,1798-1803).
Sufficient time available for transmutation to take place
But changes also take place in the organic creation: by cultivation and domestication, by climate and food, by mixture of races and perpetuation of peculiarities, plants, brutes and Man undergo extensive changes. The various breeds of domestic animals, the result of chance, or care, are monuments of the mutability in the form of species…Where does this capacity of change terminate? Is it impossible that it may reach so far as transmute the organised forms of one geological period into another? Here in, as in the former case we shall not lack time. We have no occasion to embarrass ourselves for want of thousands, or if it be necessary, of million of years….These researches have led us to consider as indubitably proved; namely the creation of new species fitted to new conditions of the elements in successive periods of the Earth’s early history (Anon,1832). The biblical story of creation is no hindrance to the above view since, as Mr Hope points out: In the first place the Hebrew word, translated in modern language by that of day only means an indefinite period, and therefore cannot accurately be rendered by that of a day, which signifies a definite period (Hope, 1831).


Acquired characteristics not inherited
A general law has ordained that the offspring shall always be constructed according to the natural and primitive constitution of the parents, and therefore shall inherit only their connate peculiarities and not any of their acquired qualities (Anon,1815). Mr Lawrence has also commented that peculiarities in Man being congenital are transmitted from parent to offspring in hereditary succession…….Although the constitution of Man is much affected by external and adventitious causes, such as climate, food, modes of life etc., this is confined to the individual and not transmitted to the offspring (Anon,1831). Mr Gaskell concludes that: experience tells us that no change can by any means be brought about in an individual and transmitted to his offspring. The cause of change in a species must therefore operate, not by altering the parents, but by disposing them to produce an offspring more or less different from themselves (Gaskell, 1833).

An apparent example of the transfer of acquired habits from parents to offspring

Notwithstanding the above, the views of Mr Knight are relevant here: I ascertained by repeated experiment that a terrier, whose parents had been in the habit of fighting with polecats will instantly shew every mark of anger when he first perceives the sent of that animal, even though the animal itself be concealed from sight. The peculiarities of character can therefore be traced to no other source than the acquired habits of parents, which are inherited by the offspring, and become what I shall call instinctive hereditary propensities. These propensities, or modifications of the natural instinctive powers of animals, are capable of endless variation and change; and hence their habits soon become adapted to different conditions and different stages of domestication, the acquired habits of the parents being transferred hereditarily to the offspring (Knight,1808).
Why does such prodigal variety exist in nature?
Nature only acknowledges individuals, and vary them constantly; so as to produce new species and, then, particularly among plants. Genera vary also, but so slowly as not to be easily perceived, It is probable that new genera are also forming and that all our generic and specific forms of animals and plants have been produced by successive deviations from the original types discovered among the fossils of the former earth (Rafinesque,1836) .We perceive a constant tendency in organized nature to take on considerable variety; there is in every species an infinite diversity which nature seems willing to perpetuate and render permanent in species (Boyne,1815). Nature teeming one day in the vigour of youth produced the first animal, a shapeless clumsy microscopical object. This, by the natural tendency of original propagation to vary, and perfect the species, produced other organized brethren. These again produced other more perfect than themselves; till at last appeared the most complete species of animals, the human kind (Anon,1749). If we review every region of the globe, from the scorching sands of the equator to the icy realms of the poles, or from the lofty mountain summits to the dark abysses of the deep; if we penetrate into caverns, and secret recesses of the Earth; nay, if we take up the minutest portion of stagnant water, we meet with life in some new and unexpected form, yet ever adapted to the circumstances of its situation (Roget,1834a). Further, of all the hundred thousand million of plants, trees, herbs, and flowers, with which our globe is variegated, there are not perhaps two individuals precisely alike, in every point of view in which they may be contemplated, yea, there is not perhaps, a single leaf in the forest, when minutely examined, that will not be found to differ, in certain aspects, from its fellows (Anon,1831b).
Variations are hereditary and become permanent
As early as 1828, Mr Lloyd noted that: It is a well known fact, that considerable varieties arise within the limits of one species; and such varieties are often transmitted to the offspring, and become in great measure, permanent or fixed in the race…their diversities having proceeded from the action of external, or other causes, on the stock originally the same, or tribes of an entirely distinct origin from the beginning….. Yet although it seems that the existence of varieties cannot be attributed to the slow and gradual operation of climate upon successive generations, numerous facts lead to the conclusion that there is a natural tendency among races, both of men and animals, to the production of varieties suited in form and constitution to the local circumstances of the country where thy arise. Or it may perhaps, be better explained, in some cases, by supposing that, whatever varieties occur, the ability to establish a footing in any country belongs to those only which possess a constitution adaptable to local circumstances (Lloyd,1828). Varieties, in natural history, are such diversities in individuals and their progeny as are observed to take place within the limits of species. Varieties are modifications produced in races of animals and plants by the agency of external causes; they are congenital. Varieties are hereditary, or transmitted to the offspring with a greater or lesser degree of constancy. Permanent varieties are those which having once taken place, continue to be propagated in the breed in perpetuity. (Prichard,1813).
Hybrids are not always sterile
Although Mr Prichard believes that hybrids are generally sterile, he notes that: The casual intermixture of breeds, or the production of hybrids, is a phenomenon observed occasionally in nature, and in many instances it must be admitted that hybrids have been found to be capable of procreation (Prichard,1836).
Adaptation of animals and plants to circumstance
Now shells, more than any other class, are the slaves of circumstances; they cannot withdraw themselves from the action of exterior influences. If a change of food and habitation can alter, as they do, the forms of our domestic animals and cultivated plants; would not differences of bottom depth, temperature and agitation of the waters in which they live, vary the inhabitants of the sea? (Anon,1827). From the sum total of external causes, the character and identity of each species is a fixed and immutable necessity. If the conditions change, the organism must alter, or the species perish. The number of possible organism is therefore limited…The number of organized beings is likewise influenced by their balance among each other. For as agriculture banishes many vegetables, considered as weeds, so the multiplication of Man has expelled certain species from his presence. It is by no means improbable that the same law may have operated among inferior animals and diminished the sum total of organic forms. In these kingdoms the brown rat has totally annihilated the black species and probably will do the same wherever it appears. The extinction, not only of species, but also genera, is a fact now proved beyond the possibility of contradiction, by the evidence of their remains preserved, within the bowels of the earth. Whether new combinations occasionally spring up by hybrid production or by varieties impressed by physical circumstances being permanent, is a subject of curious enquiry. The view which these pages unfold seem to set to rest a question long being agitated concerning the plurality of inhabited worlds; by demonstrating that the animals and vegetable races, which exist in our planet, must be peculiar to it. Each individual has its peculiar organization in virtue of the physical circumstances in which it is placed; and a greater or less degree of propinquity to the sun would be sufficient to alter the least if these conditions. The chemical constitution of this planet cannot exactly resemble that of another: their organized products cannot therefore be the same (Morgan,1819).
Species descend from a common parentage
As Man by removing species from their appropriate haunts, superinduces changes on the their physical constitution and adaptations, to what extent may not the same take place in wild nature, so that in a few generations, distinctive characters may be acquired, such as are recognised as indicative of specie diversity. May not then a large proportion of what are considered species to be have been descended from a common parentage? (Blyth, 1837)
Climate alone not sufficient to induce change
For if anything differentiates the species, or the classes of each species, it is certainly the difference of the semen…there are climates proper only to certain species, or certain species adapted to particular climates; but not that differences of climate could change the same species from black to white. The sun has no power of altering and modifying the germina of reproduction. (Justamond, 1776).
Why are novel species found on remote islands?
It has always struck me that naturalists have been somewhat at variance with the geologists. They have found on, or given peculiar species of plants etc. to remote islands when these islands have been thought to be of a later origin than the continents themselves; while species have been limited to the first periods of creation. For example, if St Helena is of subsequent formation to the great continents then its possessing a distinct new species of plant, or animated being whatsoever, must either be a conclusive proof that a successive creation of species goes forward or that the naturalists are wrong in their definition or discrimination of species: most probably the latter (Webster, 1834). Mr Pickering adds: The flora of islands is restricted in the number of species, but highly disserving attention; and it would even appear that they possess species peculiar to themselves, and extremely important and interesting fact (Pickering,1830).
Excessive multiplication and a check to such
Nature’s increase must be checked since, as Mr Fothergill notes: if no check on their increase (of rats) should operate destructively for the space of four years a number not far short of three million might be produced from a single pair in this time. Now the consequences of such an active and productive principle of increase if suffered continuously to operate without a check would soon be fatally obvious (Fox, 1830). As the field of existence is limited and preoccupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better-suited-to-circumstance individuals who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater powers of occupancy than any other kind: the weaker and less circumstance-suited being prematurely destroyed. This principle is in constant action: it regulates the colour the figure, the capacities, and instincts; those individuals in each species whose colour and covering are best suited to concealment or protection from enemies, or defence from inclemencies or vicissitudes of climate, whose figure is best accommodated to health, strength, defence, and support: in such immense waste of primary and youthful life those only come forward to maturity from the strict ordeal by which nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness to continue their kind of reproduction (Matthew,1831a).
Definition of variety: sexual reproduction as its source
A variety of its species is a species of a secondary origin that differs from the primary species whence it has sprung, in possessing different properties or qualities, which properties or qualities it is endowed with the power of transmission to posterity. Although varieties are unstable, it will be found that their instability does not proceed from a proclivity to change or tendency to re-assume the primitive characteristics of the species from which they sprung, but it is merely the effects of their sexual reproduction:-a cause which, in many instances produces the like instability amongst species that have existed from the beginning (Bishop, 1829).

A natural process of selection

As the field of existence is limited and preoccupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better-suited-to-circumstance individuals who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater powers of occupancy than any other kind: the weaker and less circumstance-suited being prematurely destroyed. This principle is in constant action: it regulates the colour the figure, the capacities, and instincts; those individuals in each species whose colour and covering are best suited to concealment or protection from enemies, or defence from inclemencies or vicissitudes of climate, whose figure is best accommodated to health, strength, defence, and support: in such immense waste of primary and youthful life those only come forward to maturity from the strict ordeal by which nature tests their adaptation to her standard of perfection and fitness to continue their kind of reproduction (Matthew,1831a).
Evidence of variation from studying the study of pigeons
The wild rock pigeon is the stock from which ornithologists generally now agree the domestic pigeon and it varieties derived. ”Under this species” write Mr Selby, “we include not only the common pigeon or the inhabitant of the dove-cot but all those numerous varieties, or as they are frequently termed, races of domesticated pigeons, so highly prized and fostered with such care and attention by the amateur breeder, or pigeon fancier; for however, diversified the forms, colour, or peculiarity of habit may be, we consider them all as having originated from a few accidental varieties of the common pigeon and not from any cross of the a bird with other species, no signs of, or marks whatsoever of such being apparent in any of the numerous varieties known to us. In fact the greater part of them owe their existence to the interference and art of Man; for by separating from the parent stock such accidental varieties as have occasionally occurred by subjecting these to captivity and domestication and by assorting them and pairing them together as fancy and caprice suggested, he has at intervals generated all the various races and peculiar varieties which, it is well known, when once produced may be perpetuated for an indefinite period, by being kept separate from, and unmixed with others; or what by those interested in such pursuits is usually termed “breeding in and in “. Such also, we may add, is the opinion of most eminent naturalist as to there origin, and it is strongly insisted on by M. Temminck in his valuable Histoire Generale Naturelle de Pigeons. Indeed the varieties, however, much they differ in colour, size, or other particulars, if permitted, breed freely and indiscriminately with each other and produce a progeny equally prolific is another and convincing proof of their common and self-same origin; for it is one of those universal laws of nature, extending even to plants, and one which if set aside or not enforced, would plunge all animated matter into indescribable confusion that the offspring produced by such intercourse of different, that is distinct, species is incapable of further increase (Anon, 1837).

Homologous parts and evidence for the use and disuse of organs

In following the transitions from one model of animal structure, we often observe that a particular organ has been greatly enlarged, or otherwise modified to suit some particular purpose, foreign to its usual destination, or qualifying it for performing some new office, rendered necessary by the particular circumstances in which the animal is placed. Thus the ribs, which in quadrupeds are usually employed for respiration, are in the serpent converted into auxiliary organs of progressive motion: and in Draco velans, or flying lizard, they are extended outwards from the sides to serve as wings. In like manner in the Crustacea, organs of the same general structure are converted sometimes into jaws, sometimes into feelers (or palpi), and sometimes into feet, and the transition from one to the other is so gradual that it is difficult to draw a proper distinction between the two. In pursuing the ascending scale of animal nature, we meet also with instances of a contrary change, yet still resulting from the continued application of the same principle. An organ which served an important purpose in one animal may be of less use in another, occupying a higher situation in the scale, and change of circumstances may even render it wholly useless. In such cases we find that it is gradually discarded from the system, becoming continually smaller, till it disappears altogether. We may often however, perceive some traces of its existence, but only on a rudimentary state, and as if ready to be developed, when the occasion may demand (Roget,1834b).

Struggle for existence

In a large herd of cattle, the strongest bull drives from him all the younger and weaker individuals of his own sex, and remains sole master of the herd; so that all the young which are produced must have their origin from one which possessed the maximum power and physical strength, and which, consequently, in the struggle for existence, was the best able to maintain his ground and defend himself from every enemy. In a like manner, any animals which procure their food by means of agility, strength or delicacy of sense, the ones best organised must always obtain the greatest quantity; and must therefore become physically the strongest, and be thus enabled by routing its opponents to transmit its superior qualities to a greater number of offspring. The same law, therefore, which
was intended by Providence to keep up the typical qualities of a species, can be easily converted by Man into a means of raising different varieties; but it is also clear that if Man did not keep these breeds by regulating the sexual intercourse, they would all naturally soon revert to original type. Farther, it is only on this principle that we satisfactorily account for all degenerating effects said to be produced by the much-censured practise of “breeding in and in”. There would almost seem in some species, to be a tendency, in every separate family, to some particular kind of deviation; which is only counteracted by the various crossings, which, in a state of nature, must take place, and by the above-mentioned law, which causes each race to be chiefly propagated by the most typical and perfect individuals. In a like manner amongst animals which procure their food by means of their agility, strength, or delicacy if sense, the one best organized must always obtain the greatest quantity; and must therefore, become physically the strongest, and be this enabled by routing its opponents to transmit its superior qualities to a greater number of offspring (Blyth,1835).

Survival of the most able

Birds, beast and insects overpower, ensnare and lie in wait to prey upon another, and it is necessary they should do so to keep their numbers within bounds, for nature produces more of every species than she is able to maintain (Tucker,1768).
Notwithstanding that change of place, simply, may have impression to improve the species, yet it is more to circumstances connected with the change to which the chief part of the improvement must be referred. In the agitation which accompanies emigration, the ablest in body and mind-the most powerful varieties of the race will be thrown into their natural position as leaders, impressing the stamp of their character on the people at large and constituting the more reproductive part, while the feebler or more improvident varieties will generally sink under the incidental hardships (Matthew 1831,p.373).
The great law of nature is not limited to Man; it extends with equal force to the animal and vegetable creations. A couple of rabbits or a flock of sheep would fill the Earth, if their increase were not checked by want of food or space or climate. In all cases, the law of increase is the same whether as affects Man or animals, or vegetables; they all increase in the geometric ratio and the necessity that limits their indefinite multiplication is the impossibility of obtaining an indefinite amount of subsistence (Wade,1834).

Sexual selection and survival of the best fitted to circumstance

The pugnacious disposition in the males of some animals is not to be regarded as accidental, but resulting from a wise and excellent law of Nature, which always studies the good of the species without regard to the individuals. Did not the females prefer the males which are victorious, feebleness and degeneracy would soon mark the animals creation but in consequence of this general rule, the various races of animals are kept up by those individuals who are not only most to be admired for their external appearance, but most valued for their intrinsic spirit and energy (Jesse,1835).
The greatest number of females will of course fall to the share of the most vigorous males and the strongest individuals of both sexes, by driving away the weakest, will enjoy the best food and most favourable situations for themselves and their offspring. A severe winter, or scarcity of food, by destroying the weak and the unhealthy, has all the good effects of the most skilful selection. In cold and barren lands, no animal can live to the age of maturity, but those who have strong constitutions; the weak and the unhealthy do not live a to propagate their infirmities (Sebright,1809). The season of coupling with animals is a period of strife, and the most robust prevail and maintain the vigour of the species. It is also remarkable that the amorous instinct of females of all animals leads them to prefer the most vigorous of males (Ryan,1837).
The strongest produce the most progeny and improve the species

The final cause of the contest amongst males (of cocks and quails) seems to be, that the strongest and most active animals shall propagate the species, which should have hence become improved ((Darwin [Erasmus], 1794).
Every species which has spread itself from a small point over a wide area, must in like manner have marked its progress by the diminution, or the entire expiration, of some other, and must maintain its ground by a successful struggle against the encroachment of other plants and animals (Lyell,1832). Unhealthy plants are the first which are cut of by the causes prejudicial to the species, being usually stifled by more vigorous individuals of their own kind. If therefore the relative fecundity and, or, hardiness of hybrids be in the least degree inferior, they cannot maintain their footing for many generations, even if they were ever produced beyond one generation in the wild state. In the universal struggle for existence, the right of the strongest eventually prevails, and the strength and durability of a race depends mainly on its prolificness, in which hybrids are known to be deficient (Lyell,1835).

Geographical distribution of organized beings

Dissimilarity between species most marked in animals which occupy the same country. A remarkable fact connected with the locality of the antelope genus, is that the several species appear not only to mix, but to receive no modifications from climate. It is not those which are farthest separated by geographical position that differ most; the dissimilarity being greatest between the several species of the same country. Hence we may infer that those specific differences cannot have resulted only from temperature, a conclusion which is strengthened by the observations of Pallas, according to which the species which are most similar barest the strongest antipathy towards each other (Shoberl, 1834).

Indefinite radiation (Divergence)

The true physiological system is one of irregular and indefinite radiation, and of reiterate divergence and ramification from a varying number of successive subordinate typical plans; often modified in the extremes till the general aspect have become entirely changed, but still retaining, to the very ultimate limits, certain fixed and constant distinctive characters by which the true affinities of species may be always known, the modification of each successive type being always in the directions in relation to particular localities, or to particular modes of providing sustenance; in short, to the particular circumstances under which a species was appointed to exist in the locality which it indigenously inhabits (Blyth,1836).

Instinct

None will deny, we believe, the existence of the first primordial law of our animal economy, the instinct of “self-preservation”. It belongs to every living creature, and is the “reactive principle” which protects our particular nature against the efforts of universal nature” (Anon,1830).

Mimicry

Nature indeed, has in many insects carried the mimetic art to so great a degree of nicety, that some of then appear to have robbed the tree of its leaves to form for themselves artificial wings, so exactly do they resemble them in form, substance and vascular structure-some representing green and others dry withered leaves. Sometimes this mimicry, if we may call it so, is so exquisite that a whole insect might be mistaken for a portion of a branching spray of a tree, or for a dead lifeless twig- appearances which seem to be intended to deceive their natural enemies (Anon,1828).

Migration

The immediate cause of these movements, which we class under the head of irregular migration, seems to be the excessive multiplication of the
species, and the consequent want of sufficing nourishment, which naturally leads them to seek elsewhere for a more abundant supply.
Periodical migrations such as those of many birds and fishes are more probably produced by the desire which these animals experience of returning to their native haunts for the purpose of producing and rearing their young in the places most fitted for their reception and increase (Anon,1832b).

Extinction

When great changes are made on the surface of a country, as when forests are changed into open land, and marshes into corn fields, or any other change that is considerable, the change of climate must correspond; and as the wild productions are very much affected by that, they must also undergo changes; and these changes may in time amount to the entire extinction of some of the old tribes, both of plants and animals, the modification of others to the full extent that the hereditary specific characters admit, and the introduction of not varieties only, but species altogether new. That not only may, but must have been the case. The productions of soils and climate are as varied as these are, and when changes take place in either of these, if the living productions cannot alter their habits so as to accommodate themselves to change, there is no alternative, they must perish (Mudie, 1832).

Variations, spontaneous, or induced by Man, useful in husbandry

A breed of animals may be said to be improved when any desired quality has been increased by art beyond what was in the same breed in a state of nature; the swiftness of the race horse, the propensity to fatten cattle, and the fine wool in sheep, are improvements which have been made in particular varieties of a species to which those animals belong….the most improved breed will return to a state of nature, or perhaps defects will arise, which did not exist when the breed was in a natural state unless the greatest attention is paid to the selection of the individuals who are to breed together (Skinner,1827).

Semen contributes more than a stimulus to life

Lamarck denies that the seed or germ contains all the parts in miniature of the mature plant or animal, while Mr Harlan goes even further by stating that: Peculiarity of extended from and internal organizations, as well as hereditary diseases, are transmitted from father to son; and the mule resembles the ass as much as it does the horse, which appears to indicate that each parent has substantially and materially combined to form the new being, and not that the semen has merely furnished a particular stimulus to establish life, and the curious phenomenon constituting individuality (Bailey,1835).

Sexual generation needed to produce novelty and new species

Dr Erasmus Darwin has noted an important fact concerning the origin of novelty in animals and plants; he states: It was observed above that vegetable buds and bulbs which are produced without a mother, are always exact resemblances of their parent; as appear in grafting fruit trees, and in the flower buds of the dioeceous plants, which are always of the same sex on the same tree; the same is true of hermaphrodite insects. if they could have produced young without a mother they would not have been capable of that change or improvement which is seen in all animals, and in the vegetables, which are procreated by the male embryon received ad nourished by the female. And it is hence probable, that if vegetables could only have been produced by buds, and not by sexual generation, there would not at this time have existed one thousandth part of their present number of species; which have probably been mule-productions; nor could any kind of improvement or change have happened to them except by the difference of soil and climate (Darwin [Erasmus],1794b).

Like Man, nature selects

To form new varieties of vegetables, as well as of flowers and useful plants of every description, it is necessary to take advantage of their sexual differences, and to operate in a manner analogous to crossing the breeds in animals. Even this practise is but an imitation of what takes place in nature by the agency of bees and other insects and of the wind ( Loudon, 1831).

Infirmities more regularly inherited in Man than more nobler parts

There would seem to be a tendency in nature to transmit weakness and infirmities rather than the noble parts of our being. Of this there is so much hazard that whenever great powers are blended with any defects, we are tempted to rejoice in our hearts on finding that the line of succession is broken (Anon.1836).

“Peculiarities” or “variations” in relation to hereditary disease in Man

In the less complicated animals where we have opportunities of making experiments, it has been remarked that peculiarities the causes of which we never attempt to explain, may be easily preserved. Beside those which are well known, a single–hoofed boar, as mentioned by Bradley, is now in the possession of Sir Joseph Banks. From a sow with cleft hoof, a litter is produced, the individuals of which are formed, some like the sire and, others like the dam. Probably nothing more is necessary to produced a race of single hoofed swine, than the selection of all these which are formed.
It was shewn that among the inferior animals, peculiarities, or variations, as they are called, occur, which do not exist in either parent but which may be perpetuated in their offspring. To accomplish this it is necessary to seclude the race; and if we wish to preserve the variety in its greatest perfection, we also withdraw from the flock such as are least marked. To apply this to the human race, we must refer to the remote period when they subsisted chiefly by hunting or pasturage, and required a large tract of land for their support. In such a state of mankind single families governed by patriarchs would, from necessity, or choice, migrate as often as the district became too populous. On all these occasions, the weakest must submit not only to migrations but gradually to seek security in the most secluded or inaccessible places; and as the general population increased, they would at last, be confined to the most remote places.
Thus secluded from the rest of mankind the family must constantly intermarry and by peculiarity of form or hereditary disposition, would, with greater probability, be perpetuated. If this peculiarity were favourable, it would be preserved, with more certainty, because the inclinations of each sex would induce alliances with the best favoured, and the most vigorous would live to the age of forming such alliances. Even should the peculiarities be less favourable, they might gradually be lessened by the first mentioned causes; and the premature death of those who partake most of the hereditary diseased disposition, would be very much increased, if as was shewn with scrofula, the climate should be as to induce and early development of the disease in a exasperated form. The operation of the first mentioned causes would be slow, because we well know that hereditary peculiarity will apparently cease for a generation or two, and afterwards shew itself in the offspring of a couples entirely free from it. To extinguish it, as far as possible, no means occur but that the general intercourse with other communities, which takes place in proportion as to the members of each approach the other, or in proportion as migration to and from them is facilitated. Even then, individuals inferior in talent, enterprise, or successful industry will remain in the spot, and this class will be the last to show any considerable improvement (Adams, 1815).

Man only a superior kind of monkey

Several writers (notably, Mr Charles White), who have pleased themselves with describing what they call a regular gradation or chain of beings, represent Man only as superior kind of monkey; and place the unfortunate African as the connecting link between the superior races of mankind, and the orang-outang; they deny in short that he is genetically distinguished from monkeys (Nicholson,1821).

Application of the Theory to the origins of Man

How Man from the Monkey sprung, as some will teach.
First dropped his tail, then gained the power of speech
Then thought compared and
Judg’d till there arose at length,
Newton, Descartes and Locke’s angelic strength. (Anon, 1800).

Mr Delametherie enters on the enquiry whether Man be in any respect essentially different from other animals. He concludes that this is not so; and he attempts to shew that the supposed differences, which have been pointed out between Man and the most perfect ourang–outang, are less distinct and important than those which exist between the European and many tribes of savages (Delametherie, 1806).

Millions of years needed for Man’s origin

Millions of generations toiled and died while coral was forming in the ocean, and its waters were becoming salt: i.e. as we suppose as much time elapsed as would be occupied by millions of generations of men. A generation is never less that thirty years; sixty million years at least must have elapsed therefore while the Earth was undergoing this process. At least sixty millions of years more elapsed while a soil forming on the earth, before the said Earth could from or nurse a man. Nature appears to have retired before this time had left Earth to produce such beings as she could sustain. At some unknown period after the soil was formed Man rose from the Earth. We are not to understand, however, that Man was at first erect for we read that his footsteps were then unformed and his tongue untoned, and he stayed in this pitiful state for countless ages. (Barlow,1814)

Artificial selection and application of survival of the fittest to Man

Those who attend to the improvement of domestic animals, when they find individuals possessing, in greater degree than common, the qualities they desire, couple a male and female of these together, then take the best of their offspring as new stock, and in this way proceed, till they approach as near the point in view, as the nature of things will permit. But, what is done here by art seems to be done with equal efficiency, 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 region of Africa, some would be better fitted than 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 attack of disease, but from their incapacity of contesting the more vigorous neighbours (Wells,1818).



Application of the Theory to the needs of human society

On the whole, the increasing direction of the population must have for the race of Man at large, a tendency upwards, towards a higher moral as well as higher intellectual level,” the very struggle for life and the survival of the fittest” will work in this direction, and may be regarded as a good result. It is therefore manifestly desirable that no weak or diseased person should transmit his defects to posterity (Wilson,1832). In the struggle for existence in which all European populations are engaged internally, the weak in body and mind are commonly lost in the race; they become impoverished and shunned by others, and leave behind no progeny or heirs to their defects (Edmonds,1832a). It is therefore manifestly desirable that no weak or diseased person should transmit his defects to posterity. Even if his life were a blessing to an unhealthy person, it can never be so to the society in which he lives (Edmonds,1832b).

Critique of Malthus’s theory of Population

The hypothesis, that population (in Man) left to itself will increase in a geometrical progression, while the means of subsistence can only be enlarged in an arithmetical progression is a mere fantasy (Anon,1820).

Why is Nature not producing new beings today?

With respect to those who may ask, why nature does not produce new beings, we inquire of them in turn, upon what foundation they suppose this fact. What is it that authorizes them to believe this sterility of nature? Do they know if, in the various combinations which she is every instant forming, nature is not occupied in producing new beings without the cognizance of the observers? Who has informed them that this nature is not actually assembling in her immense laboratory the elements suitable to bring to life entirely new generations that will have nothing in common with those of the species at present existing (D’Holbach, 1770).

Does the Theory conflict with theology?

That “mystery of mysteries”, the replacement of extinct species by others, could it ever come under our cognizance would be found to be a natural contradistinction to a miraculous process (Herschel,1836). The theologian might yet protest that: if the power of production of new forms of animal and vegetable life can be supposed to reside in the laws of nature, it seems that there is no phenomenon in the universe that will require a higher power: and we are reduced at once to materialism and atheism (Anon,1835b).

Involvement of catastrophes in the progression of life

The phenomena of life, as they are now presented to us are admirably adapted to the order of things; and if we go back to the successive catastrophes which this globe has suffered, we may naturally suppose that these awful convulsions, and the subsequent revival of animation, were accompanied by corresponding alterations in the manifestations of life. In like manner, if we suppose other place to be filled with living creatures, life most probably there presents, features altogether different from those with which we are familiar, and such as are peculiarly suited to the circumstances under which it has been created (Anon,1823b).

Life not restricted to this globe

Why should we persuade ourselves that the boundless universe must contain no more inhabitants than those crawling about this little globe (St John Mildmay,1831). Life is in all probability not confined to our planet,
nor to our solar system, it must extend its effects to all possible circumstances of organic combinations within the infinite spheres which fill the heavens (Anon,1823).

REFERENCES

(Note. Anon refers to reviews of published works; these contained added comments and analysis by anonymous reviewers).


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Anon(1800). The Millennium: A Poem. Monthly Review, V. l37, London.
Anon. (1815). British Critic, p.7.
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Anon. (1820). Retrospective Review 2, 191.
Anon. (1823). Monthly Review, p.1.
Anon,1823b. Monthly Review, p.503.
Anon.(1826a). Edinburgh Philosophical Journal ,p298
Anon. (1827). Philosophical Magazine, pp.105-106
Anon. (1828). The Monthly Review 37, p371.
Anon. (1830). The Southern Review, 6, 126, Charleston, Miller.
Anon (1831). Transylvanian Journal of Medical and Associate Sciences, 4,85.
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Anon.(1832). Quarterly Review, pp.107, and 125.
Anon. (1832b). Quarterly Review, Vol.94, p.339, Review of American Ornithology by Alexander Wilson.
Anon. (1835a). London Medical Surgical Journal, p.493.
Anon. (1835b). Biblical Repository and Classical Review,Vol.17, p.117.
Anon (1836). American Quarterly Review 20,483.
Barlow, J. (1814). See review in The Panoplist and Missionary Magazine,
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Dunglison, R.(1832). Human Physiology, Philadelphia, Carey and Lea, p.310.
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Edmonds, T.R. (1832b). ibid, p.23.

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Matthew, P. (1831b). ibid, p.384.
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(Copyright, M.Wainwright,2008). Last amended, January 15th, 2009

9 comments:

ad760 said...

I like your thesis and think your pamphleteering is a needed approach.
The arguments are easy to follow but the article is very visually unappealing - possibly limiting its readership.
Any chance that some subheads, pull quotes and illustrations might be added to make it more eye-candy-ish? Michael Marshall

hkukbilingualidiot said...

I agree on the point about the theory of Evolution being a culmination of numerous concepts put together by a vast range naturalists, and as such not the creation of either Wallace or Darwin alone, but that aside what you were saying that even if Darwin or Wallace never took notice of this accumulation of facts and experimental proofs someone else could have just developed the most fundamental theory of life. The truth is, however, that Darwin and Wallace WERE in fact those people who did. If it were someone else we would have just recognised those people instead. It is true that we have given them too much credit for their work with even greater emphasis on it being Darwin's work regardless of others throughout the same era with just as much contribution but the bottom line is Darwin DID bring it to a much wider audience, not JUST within the academic sphere and for that your article might be better suited to be a philosphical debate than a scietific one. All in all, it doesn't matter who developed the idea as long as the wider public understood what was going on, and it is only a bonus if their name is eternally linked to the theory.

By the way, I agree on your use of the internet to publish your views but the layout is really difficult manoeuvre around and it is hard to finish reading all of it.

Will Thackara said...

This interesting essay is worth reading, but I strongly support the suggestions regarding visual presentation -- and add my own: that just one version of the paper be posted.

PaulMStein said...

I greatly appreciate Doctor Wainwright for posting this paper. It provides a fantastic view into the thoughts on the topic around that time.

I'm wondering, if a better format for the paper, however, would have led to a better outcome. The mass of information here is probably too overwhelming for a modern article, unfortunately. How many journal pages would this article cover? I'm sorry to say this, but if it is any more than six to eight, I can see how an editor would dismiss it outright. It might have been more receptive if you briefly showed how the final writings of Darwin and Wallace compared with what is presented here.

To the previous commenters, regarding the presented format, unfortunately, blogposts on Blogger are present this way and only this way. For you PCers having problems with reading this, simply do a quick cut and paste to Microsoft Word, change the font to TimesNewRoman, and print it out.

Geof said...

Very much enjoyed reading this. It is a nice counterpart to all those papers on how Wallace was dished by Darwin! Obviously there is a deification of Darwin going on (if the application of such a word is possible)for the probable reason that natural selection is still fighting for recognition among the general public (who if they are not deists are generally Lamarkians.) I am not sure about the title though. Isn't natural selection everybody's (an every species') theory? In other words it is not a theory: it is a discovery.

Well done though and much appreciated.

Geof Rayner

19e7b14c-150e-11e1-aeba-000bcdcb8a73 said...

This is all a bit OTT if you ask me. Has the scientific community ever been suggesting that Darwin alone was responsible for 'inventing' the theory of evolution? Did Watson and Crick have a eureka moment and come up with the structure of DNA? The answer to both questions is no. Science was then, as is now, formulated on the adaptation of other people's idea: evolution if you will.

19e7b14c-150e-11e1-aeba-000bcdcb8a73 said...

This is all a bit OTT if you ask me. Has the scientific community ever been suggesting that Darwin alone was responsible for 'inventing' the theory of evolution? Did Watson and Crick have a eureka moment and come up with the structure of DNA? The answer to both questions is no. Science was then, as is now, formulated on the adaptation of other people's idea: evolution if you will. Anon, PhD student.

Scott Hatfield . . . . said...

Sorry, but you don't seem to really understand the historical sources you cite. One would get the idea that you have produced evidence that Wells, Matthews and Blyth had not only first proposed arguments similar to Darwin's, but that they had realized their importance and taken the time to build an enormous synthesis of data from multiple fields....which, in case you missed it, is exactly what Darwin did. Wells, Matthews and Blyth all anticipated Darwin's hypothesis of natural selection, and there are millennia of quotes that could be adduced to point to precursors of evolutionary thought. We do NOT give Darwin credit for coming up with the idea of evolution. Instead, he justly deserves credit for marshaling evidence on behalf of two propositions: that living things share common descent, in a nested tree-like pattern, and that there is a natural explanation for that pattern of change. Neither Darwin's grandfather, or Wells, or Chambers, or Aristotle, etc. did that in a scientific, testable manner. Darwin did. That's why he receives credit, and that's why people who attempt to do historical analysis of science by cutting-and-pasting from Google Books are wasting their time.

Tom Wight said...

I think Mr Hatfield has missed the focus of this essay; that is, not to deny Darwin's work but to put it in perspective. There is no denying the impact the Origin of Species has had.

I also believe that in schools it is taught that Darwin, and Darwin alone, came up with everything. Absolutely everything. There was no mention of Wallace during GCSE or GCE Biology. We were taught to believe Darwin was a genius and a highly original thinker.

Again there is no doubt his work was important but I do not think he should be idolised in the way he is.