Lamarck, the Founder of Evolution - His Life and Work
by Alpheus Spring Packard
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"Many ingenious philosophers have found so great difficulty in conceiving the manner of the reproduction of animals that they have supposed all the numerous progeny to have existed in miniature in the animal originally created, and that these infinitely minute forms are only evolved or distended as the embryon increases in the womb. This idea, besides being unsupported by any analogy we are acquainted with, ascribes a greater tenuity to organized matter than we can readily admit" (p. 317); and in another place he claims that "we cannot but be convinced that the fetus or embryon is formed by apposition of new parts, and not by the distention of a primordial nest of germs included one within another like the cups of a conjurer" (p. 235).

9. To explain instinct he suggests that the young simply imitate the acts or example of their parents. He says that wild birds choose spring as their building time "from the acquired knowledge that the mild temperature of the air is more convenient for hatching their eggs;" and further on, referring to the fact that seed-eating animals generally produce their young in spring, he suggests that it is "part of the traditional knowledge which they learn from the example of their parents."[156]

10. Hybridity. He refers in a cursory way to the changes produced by the mixture of species, as in mules.

Of these ten factors or principles, and other views of Dr. Darwin, some are similar to those of Lamarck, while others are directly opposed. There are therefore no good grounds for supposing that Lamarck was indebted to Darwin for his views. Thus Erasmus Darwin supposes that the formation of organs precedes their use. As he says, "The lungs must be previously formed before their exertions to obtain fresh air can exist; the throat or oesophagus must be formed previous to the sensation or appetites of hunger and thirst" (Zoonomia, p. 222). Again (Zoonomia, i., p. 498), "From hence I conclude that with the acquisition of new parts, new sensations and new desires, as well as new powers, are produced" (p. 226). Lamarck does not carry his doctrine of use-inheritance so far as Erasmus Darwin, who claimed, what some still maintain at the present day, that the offspring reproduces "the effects produced upon the parent by accident or cultivation."

The idea that all animals have descended from a similar living filament is expressed in a more modern and scientific way by Lamarck, who derived them from monads.

The Erasmus Darwin way of stating that the transformations of animals are in part produced by their own exertions in consequence of their desires and aversions, etc., is stated in a quite different way by Lamarck.

Finally the principle of law of battle, or the combat between the males for the possession of the females, with the result "that the strongest and most active animal should propagate the species," is not hinted at by Lamarck. This view, on the contrary, is one of the fundamental principles of the doctrine of natural selection, and was made use of by Charles Darwin and others. So also Erasmus anticipated Charles Darwin in the third great want of "security," in seeking which the forms and colors of animals have been modified. This is an anticipation of the principle of protective mimicry, so much discussed in these days by Darwin, Wallace, and others, and which was not even mentioned by Lamarck. From the internal evidence of Lamarck's writings we therefore infer that he was in no way indebted to Erasmus Darwin for any hints or ideas.[157]


[152] Vol. ii., 3d edition. Our references are to this edition.

[153] Krause, The Scientific Works of Erasmus Darwin, footnote on p. 134: "See 'Athenaeum,' March, 1875, p. 423."

[154] Zoonomia, i., p. 505 (3d edition, p. 335).

[155] The subject of protective mimicry is more explicitly stated by Dr. Darwin in his earlier book, The Loves of the Plants, and, as Krause states, though Roesel von Rosenhof in his Insekten-Belustigungen (Nurnberg, 1746) describes the resemblance which geometric caterpillars, and also certain moths when in repose, present to dry twigs, and thus conceal themselves, "this group of phenomena seems to have been first regarded from a more general point of view by Dr. Darwin."

[156] Zoonomia, vol. i., p. 170.

[157] Mr. Samuel Butler, in his Evolution, Old and New, taking it for granted that Lamarck was "a partisan of immutability till 1801," intimates that "the secret of this sudden conversion must be found in a French translation by M. Deleuze of Dr. Darwin's poem, The Loves of the Plants, which appeared in 1800. Lamarck—the most eminent botanist of his time—was sure to have heard of and seen this, and would probably know the translator, who would be able to give him a fair idea of the Zoonomia" (p. 258).

But this notion seems disproved by the fact that Lamarck delivered his famous lecture, published in 1801, during the last of April or in the first half of May, 1800. The views then presented must have been formed in his mind at least for some time—perhaps a year or more—previous, and were the result of no sudden inspiration, least of all from any information given him by Deleuze, whom he probably never met. If Lamarck had actually seen and read the Zoonomia he would have been manly enough to have given him credit for any novel ideas. Besides that, as we have already seen, the internal evidence shows that Lamarck's views were in some important points entirely different from those of Erasmus Darwin, and were conceptions original with the French zooelogist.

Krause in his excellent essay on the scientific works of Erasmus Darwin (1879) refers to Lamarck as "evidently a disciple of Darwin," stating that Lamarck worked out "in all directions" Erasmus Darwin's principles of "will and active efforts" (p. 212).



Lamarck's mind was essentially philosophical. He was given to inquiring into the causes and origin of things. When thirty-two years old he wrote his "Researches on the Causes of the Principal Physical Facts," though this work did not appear from the press until 1794, when he was fifty years of age. In this treatise he inquires into the origin of compounds and of minerals; also he conceived that all the rocks as well as all chemical compounds and minerals originated from organic life. These inquiries were reiterated in his "Memoirs on Physics and Natural History," which appeared in 1797, when he was fifty-three years old.

The atmosphere of philosophic France, as well as of England and Germany in the eighteenth century, was charged with inquiries into the origin of things material, though more especially of things immaterial. It was a period of energetic thinking. Whether Lamarck had read the works of these philosophers or not we have no means of knowing. Buffon, we know, was influenced by Leibnitz.

Did Buffon's guarded suggestions have no influence on the young Lamarck? He enjoyed his friendship and patronage in early life, frequenting his house, and was for a time the travelling companion of Buffon's son. It should seem most natural that he would have been personally influenced by his great predecessor, but we see no indubitable trace of such influence in his writings. Lamarckism is not Buffonism. It comprises in the main quite a different, more varied and comprehensive set of factors.[158]

Was Lamarck influenced by the biological writings of Haller, Bonnet, or by the philosophic views of Condillac, whose Essai sur l'Origine des Connaissances humaines appeared in 1786; or of Condorcet, whom he must personally have known, and whose Esquisse d'un Tableau historique des Progres de l'Esprit humain was published in 1794?[159] In one case only in Lamarck's works do we find reference to these thinkers.

Was Lamarck, as the result of his botanical studies from 1768 to 1793, and being puzzled, as systematic botanists are, by the variations of the more plastic species of plants, led to deny the fixity of species?

We have been unable to find any indications of a change of views in his botanical writings, though his papers are prefaced by philosophical reflections.

It would indeed be interesting to know what led Lamarck to change his views. Without any explanation as to the reason from his own pen, we are led to suppose that his studies on the invertebrates, his perception of the gradations in the animal scale from monad to man, together with his inherent propensity to inquire into the origin of things, also his studies on fossils, as well as the broadening nature of his zooelogical investigations and his meditations during the closing years of the eighteenth century, must gradually have led to a change of views.

It was said by Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire that Lamarck was "long a partisan of the immutability of species,"[160] but the use of the word "partisan" appears to be quite incorrect, as he only in one instance expresses such views.

The only place where we have seen any statement of Lamarck's earlier opinions is in his Recherches sur les Causes des principaux Faits physiques, which was written, as the "advertisement" states, "about eighteen years" before its publication in 1794. The treatise was actually presented April 22, 1780, to the Academie des Sciences.[161] It will be seen by the following passages, which we translate, that, as Huxley states, this view presents a striking contrast to those to be found in the Philosophie zoologique:

"685. Although my sole object in this article [article premier, p. 188] has only been to treat of the physical cause of the maintenance of life of organic beings, still I have ventured to urge at the outset that the existence of these astonishing beings by no means depends on nature; that all which is meant by the word nature cannot give life—namely, that all the faculties of matter, added to all possible circumstances, and even to the activity pervading the universe, cannot produce a being endowed with the power of organic movement, capable of reproducing its like, and subject to death.

"686. All the individuals of this nature which exist are derived from similar individuals, which, all taken together, constitute the entire species. However, I believe that it is as impossible for man to know the physical origin of the first individual of each species as to assign also physically the cause of the existence of matter or of the whole universe. This is at least what the result of my knowledge and reflection leads me to think. If there exist any varieties produced by the action of circumstances, these varieties do not change the nature of the species (ces varietes ne denaturent point les especes); but doubtless we are often deceived in indicating as a species what is only a variety; and I perceive that this error may be of consequence in reasoning on this subject" (tome ii., pp. 213-214).

It must apparently remain a matter of uncertainty whether this opinion, so decisively stated, was that of Lamarck at thirty-two years of age, and which he allowed to remain, as then stated, for eighteen years, or whether he inserted it when reading the proofs in 1794. It would seem as if it were the expression of his views when a botanist and a young man.

In his Memoires de Physique et d'Histoire naturelle, which was published in 1797, there is nothing said bearing on the stability of species, and though his work is largely a repetition of the Recherches, the author omits the passages quoted above. Was this period of six years, between 1794 and 1800, given to a reconsideration of the subject resulting in favor of the doctrine of descent?

Huxley quotes these passages, and then in a footnote (p. 211), after stating that Lamarck's Recherches was not published before 1794, and stating that at that time it presumably expressed Lamarck's mature views, adds: "It would be interesting to know what brought about the change of opinion manifested in the Recherches sur l'Organisation des Corps vivans, published only seven years later."

In the appendix to this book (1802) he thus refers to his change of views: "I have for a long time thought that species were constant in nature, and that they were constituted by the individuals which belong to each of them. I am now convinced that I was in error in this respect, and that in reality only individuals exist in nature" (p. 141).

Some clew in answer to the question as to when Lamarck changed his views is afforded by an almost casual statement by Lamarck in the addition entitled Sur les Fossiles to his Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres (1801), where, after speaking of fossils as extremely valuable monuments for the study of the revolutions the earth has passed through at different regions on its surface, and of the changes living beings have there themselves successively undergone, he adds in parenthesis: "Dans mes lecons j'ai toujours insiste sur ces considerations." Are we to infer from this that these evolutionary views were expressed in his first course, or in one of the earlier courses of zooelogical lectures—i.e., soon after his appointment in 1793—and if not then, at least one or two, or perhaps several, years before the year 1800? For even if the change in his views were comparatively sudden, he must have meditated upon the subject for months and even, perhaps, years, before finally committing himself to these views in print. So strong and bold a thinker as Lamarck had already shown himself in these fields of thought, and one so inflexible and unyielding in holding to an opinion once formed as he, must have arrived at such views only after long reflection. There is also every reason to suppose that Lamarck's theory of descent was conceived by himself alone, from the evidence which lay before him in the plants and animals he had so well studied for the preceding thirty years, and that his inspiration came directly from nature and not from Buffon, and least of all from the writings of Erasmus Darwin.


[158] See the comparative summary of the views of the founders of evolution at the end of Chapter XVII.

[159] While Rousseau was living at Montmorency "his thought wandered confusedly round the notion of a treatise to be called 'Sensitive Morality or the Materialism of the Age,' the object of which was to examine the influence of external agencies, such as light, darkness, sound, seasons, food, noise, silence, motion, rest, on our corporeal machine, and thus, indirectly, upon the soul also."—Rousseau, by John Morley (p. 164).

[160] Butler's Evolution, Old and New (p. 244), and Isidore Geoffroy St. Hilaire's Histoire naturelle generale, tome ii., p. 404 (1859).

[161] After looking in vain through both volumes of the Recherches for some expression of Lamarck's earlier views, I found a mention of it in Osborn's From the Greeks to Darwin, p. 152, and reference to Huxley's Evolution in Biology, 1878 ("Darwiniana," p. 210), where the paragraphs translated above are quoted in the original.



I. From the Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres (1801).

The first occasion on which, so far as his published writings show, Lamarck expressed his evolutional views was in the opening lecture[162] of his course on the invertebrate animals delivered in the spring of 1800, and published in 1801 as a preface to his Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres, this being the first sketch or prodromus of his later great work on the invertebrate animals. In the preface of this book, referring to the opening lecture, he says: "I have glanced at some important and philosophic views that the nature and limits of this work do not permit me to develop, but which I propose to take up elsewhere with the details necessary to show on what facts they are based, and with certain explanations which would prevent any one from misunderstanding them." It may be inferred from this that he had for some time previous meditated on this theme. It will now be interesting to see what factors of evolution Lamarck employed in this first sketch of his theory.

After stating the distinctions existing between the vertebrate and invertebrate animals, and referring to the great diversity of animal forms, he goes on to say that Nature began with the most simply organized, and having formed them, "then with the aid of much time and of favorable circumstances she formed all the others."

"It appears, as I have already said, that time and favorable conditions are the two principal means which nature has employed in giving existence to all her productions. We know that for her time has no limit, and that consequently she has it always at her disposal.

"As to the circumstances of which she has had need and of which she makes use every day in order to cause her productions to vary, we can say that they are in a manner inexhaustible.

"The essential ones arise from the influence and from all the environing media (milieux), from the diversity of local causes (diversite des lieux), of habits, of movements, of action, finally of means of living, of preserving their lives, of defending themselves, of multiplying themselves, etc. Moreover, as the result of these different influences the faculties, developed and strengthened by use (usage), became diversified by the new habits maintained for long ages, and by slow degrees the structure, the consistence, in a word the nature, the condition of the parts and of the organs consequently participating in all these influences, became preserved and were propagated by generation.[163]

"The bird which necessity (besoin) drives to the water to find there the prey needed for its subsistence separates the toes of its feet when it wishes to strike the water[164] and move on its surface. The skin, which unites these toes at their base, contracts in this way the habit of extending itself. Thus in time the broad membranes which connect the toes of ducks, geese, etc., are formed in the way indicated.

"But one accustomed to live perched on trees has necessarily the end of the toes lengthened and shaped in another way. Its claws are elongated, sharpened, and are curved and bent so as to seize the branches on which it so often rests.

"Likewise we perceive that the shore bird, which does not care to swim, but which, however, is obliged (a besoin) to approach the water to obtain its prey, will be continually in danger of sinking in the mud, but wishing to act so that its body shall not fall into the liquid, it will contract the habit of extending and lengthening its feet. Hence it will result in the generations of these birds which continue to live in this manner, that the individuals will find themselves raised as if on stilts, on long naked feet; namely, denuded of feathers up to and often above the thighs.

"I could here pass in review all the classes, all the orders, all the genera and species of animals which exist, and make it apparent that the conformation of individuals and of their parts, their organs, their faculties, etc., is entirely the result of circumstances to which the race of each species has been subjected by nature.

"I could prove that it is not the form either of the body or of its parts which gives rise to habits, to the mode of life of animals, but, on the contrary, it is the habits, the mode of life, and all the influential circumstances which have, with time, made up the form of the body and of the parts of animals. With the new forms new faculties have been acquired, and gradually nature has reached the state in which we actually see her" (pp. 12-15).

He then points out the gradation which exists from the most simple animal up to the most composite, since from the monad, which, so to speak, is only an animated point, up to the mammals, and from them up to man, there is evidently a shaded gradation in the structure of all the animals. So also among the plants there is a graduated series from the simplest, such as Mucor viridescens, up to the most complicated plant. But he hastens to say that by this regular gradation in the complication of the organization he does not mean to infer the existence of a linear series, with regular intervals between the species and genera:

"Such a series does not exist; but I speak of a series almost regularly graduated in the principal groups (masses) such as the great families; series most assuredly existing, both among animals and among plants, but which, as regards genera and especially species, form in many places lateral ramifications, whose extremities offer truly isolated points."

This is the first time in the history of biological science that we have stated in so scientific, broad, and modern form the essential principles of evolution. Lamarck insists that time without limit and favorable conditions are the two principal means or factors in the production of plants and animals. Under the head of favorable conditions he enumerates variations in climate, temperature, the action of the environment, the diversity of local causes, change of habits, movement, action, variation in means of living, of preservation of life, of means of defence, and varying modes of reproduction. As the result of the action of these different factors, the faculties of animals, developed and strengthened by use, become diversified by the new habits, so that by slow degrees the new structures and organs thus arising become preserved and transmitted by heredity.

In this address it should be noticed that nothing is said of willing and of internal feeling, which have been so much misunderstood and ridiculed, or of the direct or indirect action of the environment. He does speak of the bird as wishing to strike the water, but this, liberally interpreted, is as much a physiological impulse as a mental desire. No reference also is made to geographical isolation, a factor which he afterwards briefly mentioned.

Although Lamarck does not mention the principle of selection, he refers in the following way to competition, or at least to the checks on the too rapid multiplication of the lower invertebrates:

"So were it not for the immense consumption as food which is made in nature of animals which compose the lower orders of the animal kingdom, these animals would soon overpower and perhaps destroy, by their enormous numbers, the more highly organized and perfect animals which compose the first classes and the first orders of this kingdom, so great is the difference in the means and facility of multiplying between the two.

"But nature has anticipated the dangerous effects of this vast power of reproduction and multiplication. She has prevented it on the one hand by considerably limiting the duration of life of these beings so simply organized which compose the lower classes, and especially the lowest orders of the animal kingdom. On the other hand, both by making these animals the prey of each other, thus incessantly reducing their numbers, and also by determining through the diversity of climates the localities where they could exist, and by the variety of seasons—i.e., by the influences of different atmospheric conditions—the time during which they could maintain their existence.

"By means of these wise precautions of nature everything is well balanced and in order. Individuals multiply, propagate, and die in different ways. No species predominates up to the point of effecting the extinction of another, except, perhaps, in the highest classes, where the multiplication of the individuals is slow and difficult; and as the result of this state of things we conceive that in general species are preserved" (p. 22).

Here we have in anticipation the doctrine of Malthus, which, as will be remembered, so much impressed Charles Darwin, and led him in part to work out his principle of natural selection.

The author then taking up other subjects, first asserts that among the changes that animals and plants unceasingly bring about by their production and debris, it is not the largest and most perfect animals which have caused the most considerable changes, but rather the coral polyps, etc.[165] He then, after dilating on the value of the study of the invertebrate animals, proceeds to define them, and closes his lecture by describing the seven classes into which he divides this group.

II. Recherches sur l'Organisation des Corps vivans, 1802 (Opening Discourse).

The following is an abstract with translations of the most important passages relating to evolution:

That the portion of the animal kingdom treated in these lectures comprises more species than all the other groups taken together is, however, the least of those considerations which should interest my hearers.

"It is the group containing the most curious forms, the richest in marvels of every kind, the most astonishing, especially from the singular facts of organization that they present, though it is that hitherto the least considered under these grand points of view.

"How much better than learning the names and characters of all the species is it to learn of the origin, relation, and mode of existence of all the natural productions with which we are surrounded.

"First Part: Progress in structure of living beings in proportion as circumstances favor them.

"When we give continued attention to the examination of the organization of different living beings, to that of different systems which this organization presents in each organic kingdom, finally to certain changes which are seen to be undergone in certain circumstances, we are convinced:

"1. That the nature of organic movement is not only to develop the organization but also to multiply the organs and to fulfil the functions, and that at the outset this organic movement continually tends to restrict to functions special to certain parts the functions which were at first general—i.e., common to all parts of the body;

"2. That the result of nutrition is not only to supply to the developing organization what the organic movement tends to form, but besides, also by a forced inequality between the matters which are assimilated and those which are dissipated by losses, this function at a certain term of the duration of life causes a progressive deterioration of the organs, so that as a necessary consequence it inevitably causes death;

"3. That the property of the movement of the fluids in the parts which contain them is to break out passages, places of deposit, and outlets; to there create canals and consequently different organs; to cause these canals, as well as the organs, to vary on account of the diversity both of the movements and of the nature of the fluids which give rise to them; finally to enlarge, elongate, to gradually divide and solidify [the walls of] these canals and these organs by the matters which form and incessantly separate the fluids which are there in movement, and one part of which is assimilated and added to the organs, while the other is rejected and cast out;

"4. That the state of organization in each organism has been gradually acquired by the progress of the influences of the movement of fluids, and by those changes that these fluids have there continually undergone in their nature and their condition through the habitual succession of their losses and of their renewals;

"5. That each organization and each form acquired by this course of things and by the circumstances which there have concurred, were preserved and transmitted successively by generation [heredity] until new modifications of these organizations and of these forms have been acquired by the same means and by new circumstances;

"6. Finally, that from the uninterrupted concurrence of these causes or from these laws of nature, together with much time and with an almost inconceivable diversity of influential circumstances, organic beings of all the orders have been successively formed.

"Considerations so extraordinary, relatively to the ideas that the vulgar have generally formed on the nature and origin of living bodies, will be naturally regarded by you as stretches of the imagination unless I hasten to lay before you some observations and facts which supply the most complete evidence.

"From the point of view of knowledge based on observation the philosophic naturalist feels convinced that it is in that which is called the lowest classes of the two organic kingdoms—i.e., in those which comprise the most simply organized beings—that we can collect facts the most luminous and observations the most decisive on the production and the reproduction of the living beings in question; on the causes of the formation of the organs of these wonderful beings; and on those of their developments, of their diversity and their multiplicity, which increase with the concourse of generations, of times, and of influential circumstances.

"Hence we may be assured that it is only among the singular beings of these lowest classes, and especially in the lowest orders of these classes, that it is possible to find on both sides the primitive germs of life, and consequently the germs of the most important faculties of animality and vegetality."

Modification of the organization from one end to the other of the animal chain.

"One is forced," he says, "to recognize that the totality of existing animals constitute a series of groups forming a true chain, and that there exists from one end to the other of this chain a gradual modification in the structure of the animals composing it, as also a proportionate diminution in the number of faculties of these animals from the highest to the lowest (the first germs), these being without doubt the form with which nature began, with the aid of much time and favorable circumstances, to form all the others."

He then begins with the mammals and descends to molluscs, annelids, and insects, down to the polyps, "as it is better to proceed from the known to the unknown;" but farther on (p. 38) he finally remarks:

"Ascend from the most simple to the most compound, depart from the most imperfect animalcule and ascend along the scale up to the animal richest in structure and faculties; constantly preserve the order of relation in the group, then you will hold the true thread which connects all the productions of nature; you will have a just idea of its progress, and you will be convinced that the most simple of its living productions have successively given existence to all the others.

"The series which constitutes the animal scale resides in the distribution of the groups, and not in that of the individuals and species.

"I have already said[166] that by this shaded graduation in the complication of structure I do not mean to speak of the existence of a linear and regular series of species or even genera: such a series does not exist. But I speak of a quite regularly graduated series in the principal groups, i.e., in the principal system of organizations known, which give rise to classes and to great families, series most assuredly existing both among animals and plants, although in the consideration of genera, and especially in that of species, it offers many lateral ramifications whose extremities are truly isolated points.

"However, although there has been denied, in a very modern work, the existence in the animal kingdom of a single series, natural and at the same time graduated, in the composition of the organization of beings which it comprehends, series in truth necessarily formed of groups subordinated to each other as regards structure and not of isolated species or genera, I ask where is the well-informed naturalist who would now present a different order in the arrangement of the twelve classes of the animal kingdom of which I have just given an account?

"I have already stated what I think of this view, which has seemed sublime to some moderns, and indorsed by Professor Hermann."

Each distinct group or mass of forms has, he says, its peculiar system of essential organs, but each organ considered by itself does not follow as regular a course in its degradations (modifications).

"Indeed, the least important organs, or those least essential to life, are not always in relation to each other in their improvement or their degradation; and an organ which in one species is atrophied may be very perfect in another. These irregular variations in the perfecting and in the degradation of non-essential organs are due to the fact that these organs are oftener than the others submitted to the influences of external circumstances, and give rise to a diversity of species so considerable and so singularly ordered that instead of being able to arrange them, like the groups, in a single simple linear series under the form of a regular graduated scale, these very species often form around the groups of which they are part lateral ramifications, the extremities of which offer points truly isolated.

"There is needed, in order to change each internal system of organization, a combination of more influential circumstances, and of more prolonged duration than to alter and modify the external organs.

"I have observed, however, that, when circumstances demand, nature passes from one system to another without making a leap, provided they are allies. It is, indeed, by this faculty that she has come to form them all in succession, in proceeding from the simple to the more complex.

"It is so true that she has the power, that she passes from one system to the other, not only in two different families which are allied, but she also passes from one system to the other in the same individual.

"The systems of organization which admit as organs of respiration true lungs are nearer to systems which admit gills than those which require tracheae. Thus not only does nature pass from gills to lungs in allied classes and families, as seen in fishes and reptiles, but in the latter she passes even during the life of the same individual, which successively possesses each system. We know that the frog in the tadpole state respires by gills, while in the more perfect state of frog it respires by lungs. We never see that nature passes from a system with tracheae to a system with lungs.

"It is not the organs, i.e., the nature and form of the parts of the body of an animal, which give rise to the special habits and faculties, but, on the contrary, its habits, its mode of life, and the circumstances in which individuals are placed, which have, with time, brought about the form of its body, the number and condition of its organs, finally the faculties which it possesses.

* * * * *

"Time and favorable circumstances are the two principal means which nature employs to give existence to all her productions. We know that time has for her no limit, and that consequently she has it always at her disposition.

"As to the circumstances of which she has need (besoin) and which she employs every day to bring about variations in all that she continues to produce, we can say that they are in her in some degree inexhaustible.

"The principal ones arise from the influence of climate, from that of different temperatures, of the atmosphere, and from all environing surroundings (milieux); from that of the diversity of places and their situations; from that of the most ordinary habitual movements, of actions the most frequent; finally from that of the means of preservation, of the mode of life, of defence, of reproduction, etc.

"Moreover, as the result of these different influences the faculties increase and strengthen themselves by use, diversify themselves by the new habits preserved through long periods, and insensibly the conformation, the consistence—in a word, the nature and state of the parts and also of the organs—consequently participate in all these influences, are preserved and propagate themselves by generation" (Systeme des Animaux sans Vertebres, p. 12).

* * * * *

"It is easy for any one to see that the habit of exercising an organ in every living being which has not reached the term of diminution of its faculties not only makes this organ more perfect, but even makes it acquire developments and dimensions which insensibly change it, with the result that with time it renders it very different from the same organ considered in another organism which has not, or has but slightly, exercised it. It is also very easy to prove that the constant lack of exercise of an organ gradually reduces it and ends by atrophying it."

Then follow the facts regarding the mole, spalax, ant-eater, and the lack of teeth in birds, the origin of shore birds, swimming birds and perching birds, which are stated farther on.

"Thus the efforts in any direction, maintained for a long time or made habitually by certain parts of a living body, to satisfy the needs called out (exiges) by nature or by circumstances, develop these parts and cause them to acquire dimensions and a form which they never would have obtained if these efforts had not become an habitual action of the animals which have exercised them. Observations made on all the animals known would furnish examples of this.

"When the will determines an animal to any kind of action, the organs whose function it is to execute this action are then immediately provoked by the flowing there of subtile fluids, which become the determining cause of movements which perform the action in question. A multitude of observations support this fact, which now no one would doubt.

"It results from this that multiplied repetitions of these acts of organization strengthen, extend, develop, and even create the organs which are there needed. It is only necessary to closely observe that which is everywhere happening in this respect to firmly convince ourselves of this cause of developments and organic changes.

"However, each change acquired in an organ by habitual use sufficient to have formed (opere) it is preserved by generation, if it is common to the individuals which unite in the reproduction of their kind. Finally, this change propagates itself and is then handed down (se passe) to all the individuals which succeed and which are submitted to the same circumstances, without their having been obliged to acquire it by the means which have really created it.

"Besides, in the unions between the sexes the intermixtures between individuals which have different qualities or forms are necessarily opposed to the constant propagation of these qualities and forms. We see that which in man, who is exposed to such different circumstances which influence individuals, prevents the qualities of accidental defects which they have happened to acquire from being preserved and propagated by heredity (generation).

"You can now understand how, by such means and an inexhaustible diversity of circumstances, nature, with sufficient length of time, has been able to and should produce all these results.

"If I should choose here to pass in review all the classes, orders, genera, and species of animals in existence I could make you see that the structure of individuals and their organs, faculties, etc., is solely the result of circumstances to which each species and all its races have been subjected by nature, and of habits that the individuals of this species have been obliged to contract.

"The influences of localities and of temperatures are so striking that naturalists have not hesitated to recognize the effects on the structure, the developments, and the faculties of the living bodies subject to them.

"We have long known that the animals inhabiting the torrid zone are very different from those which live in the other zones. Buffon has remarked that even in latitudes almost the same the animals of the new continent are not the same as those of the old.

"Finally the Count Lacepede, wishing to give to this well-founded fact the precision which he believed it susceptible, has traced twenty-six zooelogical divisions on the dry parts of the globe, and eighteen over the ocean; but there are many other influences than those which depend on localities and temperatures.

"Everything tends, then, to prove my assertion—namely, that it is not the form either of the body or of its parts which has given rise to habits and to the mode of life of animals, but, on the contrary, it is the habits, the mode of life, and all the other influential circumstances which have with time produced the form of the bodies and organs of animals. With new forms new faculties have been acquired, and gradually nature has arrived at the state where we actually see it.

* * * * *

"Finally as it is only at that extremity of the animal kingdom where occur the most simply organized animals that we meet those which may be regarded as the true germs of animality, and it is the same at the same end of the vegetable series; is it not at this end of the scale, both animal and vegetable, that nature has commenced and recommenced without ceasing the first germ of her living production? Who is there, in a word, who does not see that the process of perfection of those of these first germs which circumstances have favored will gradually and after the lapse of time give rise to all the degrees of perfection and of the composition of the organization, from which will result this multiplicity and this diversity of living beings of all orders with which the exterior surface of our globe is almost everywhere filled or covered?

"Indeed, if the manner (usage) of life tends to develop the organization, and even to form and multiply the organs, as the state of an animal which has just been born proves it, compared to that where it finds itself when it has reached the term where its organs (beginning to deteriorate) cease to make new developments; if, then, each particular organ undergoes remarkable changes, according as it is exercised and according to the manner of which I have shown you some examples, you will understand that in carrying you to the end of the animal chain where are found the most simple organizations, and that in considering among these organizations those whose simplicity is so great that they lie at the very door of the creative power of nature, then this same nature—that is to say, the state of things which exist—has been to form directly the first beginnings of organization; she has been able, consequently, by the manner of life and the aid of circumstances which favor its duration, to progressively render perfect its work, and to carry it to the point where we now see it.

"Time is wanting to present to you the series of results of my researches on this interesting subject, and to develop—

"1. What really is life.

"2. How nature herself creates the first traces of organization in appropriate groups where it had not existed.

"3. How the organic or vital movement is excited by it and held together with the aid of a stimulating and active cause which she has at her disposal in abundance in certain climates and in certain seasons of the year.

"4. Finally, how this organic movement, by the influence of its duration and by that of the multitude of circumstances which modify its effects, develops, arranges, and gradually complicates the organs of the living body which possesses them.

"Such has been without doubt the will of the infinite wisdom which reigns throughout nature; and such is effectively the order of things clearly indicated by the observation of all the facts which relate to them." (End of the opening discourse.)

APPENDIX (p. 141).

On Species in Living Bodies.

"I have for a long time thought that species were constant in nature, and that they were constituted by the individuals which belong to each of them.

"I am now convinced that I was in error in this respect, and that in reality only individuals exist in nature.

"The origin of this error, which I have shared with many naturalists who still hold it, arises from the long duration, in relation to us, of the same state of things in each place which each organism inhabits; but this duration of the same state of things for each place has its limits, and with much time it makes changes in each point of the surface of the globe, which produces changes in every kind of circumstances for the organisms which inhabit it.

"Indeed, we may now be assured that nothing on the surface of the terrestrial globe remains in the same state. Everything, after a while, undergoes different changes, more or less prompt, according to the nature of the objects and of circumstances. Elevated areas are constantly being lowered, and the loose material carried down to the lowlands. The beds of rivers, of streams, of even the sea, are gradually removed and changed, as also the climate;[167] in a word, the whole surface of the earth gradually undergoes a change in situation, form, nature, and aspect. We see on every hand what ascertained facts prove; it is only necessary to observe and to give one's attention to be convinced of it.

"However, if, relatively to living beings, the diversity of circumstances brings about for them a diversity of habits, a different mode of existence, and, as the result, modifications in their organs and in the shape of their parts, one should believe that very gradually every living body whatever would vary in its organization and its form.

"All the modifications that each living being will have undergone as the result of change of circumstances which have influenced its nature will doubtless be propagated by heredity (generation). But as new modifications will necessarily continue to operate, however slowly, not only will there continually be found new species, new genera, and even new orders, but each species will vary in some part of its structure and its form.

"I very well know that to our eyes there seems in this respect a stability which we believe to be constant, although it is not so truly; for a very great number of centuries may form a period insufficient for the changes of which I speak to be marked enough for us to appreciate them. Thus we say that the flamingo (Phoenicopterus) has always had as long legs and as long a neck as have those with which we are familiar; finally, it is said that all animals whose history has been transmitted for 2,000 or 3,000 years are always the same, and have lost or acquired nothing in the process of perfection of their organs and in the form of their different parts. We may be assured that this appearance of stability of things in nature will always be taken for reality by the average of mankind, because in general it judges everything only relatively to itself.

"But, I repeat, this consideration which has given rise to the admitted error owes its source to the very great slowness of the changes which have gone on. A little attention given to the facts which I am about to cite will afford the strongest proof of my assertion.

"What nature does after a great length of time we do every day by suddenly changing, as regards a living being, the circumstances in which it and all the individuals of its species are placed.

"All botanists know that the plants which they transplant from their natal spot into gardens for cultivation there gradually undergo changes which in the end render them unrecognizable. Many plants naturally very hairy, there become glabrous or nearly so; a quantity of those which were procumbent or trailing there have erect stems; others lose their spines or their thorns; finally, the dimensions of parts undergo changes which the circumstances of their new situation infallibly produce. This is so well known that botanists prefer not to describe them, at least unless they are newly cultivated. Is not wheat (Triticum sativum) a plant brought by man to the state wherein we actually see it, which otherwise I could not believe? Who can now say in what place its like lives in nature?

"To these known facts I will add others still more remarkable, and which confirm the view that change of circumstances operates to change the parts of living organisms.

"When Ranunculus aquatilis lives in deep water, all it can do while growing is to make the end of its stalks reach the surface of the water where they flourish. Then all the leaves of the plant are finely cut or pinked.[168] If the same plant grows in shallower water the growth of its stalks may give them sufficient extent for the upper leaves to develop out of the water; then its lower leaves only will be divided into hair-like joints, while the upper ones will be simple, rounded, and a little lobed.[169] This is not all: when the seeds of the same plant fall into some ditch where there is only water or moisture sufficient to make them germinate, the plant develops all its leaves in the air, and then none of them is divided into capillary points, which gives rise to Ranunculus hederaceus, which botanists regard as a species.

"Another very striking proof of the effect of a change of circumstances on a plant submitted to it is the following:

"It is observed that when a tuft of Juncus bufonius grows very near the edge of the water in a ditch or marsh this rush then pushes out filiform stems which lie in the water, are there deformed, becoming disturbed (tracantes), proliferous, and very different from that of Juncus bufonius which grows out of water. This plant, modified by the circumstances I have just indicated, has been regarded as a distinct species; it is the Juncus supinus of Rotte.[170]

"I could also give citations to prove that the changes of circumstances relative to organisms necessarily change the influences which they undergo on the part of all that which environs them or which acts on them, and so necessarily bring about changes in their size, their shape, their different organs.

"Then among living beings nature seems to me to offer in an absolute manner only individuals which succeed one another by generation.

"However, in order to facilitate the study and recognition of these organisms, I give the name of species to every collection of individuals which during a long period resemble each other so much in all their parts that these individuals only present small accidental differences which, in plants, reproduction by seeds causes to disappear.

"But, besides that at the end of a long period the totality of individuals of such a species change as the circumstances which act on them, those of these individuals which from special causes are transported into very different situations from those where the others occur, and then constantly submitted to other influences—the former, I say, assume new forms as the result of a long habit of this other mode of existence, and then they constitute a new species, which comprehends all the individuals which occur in the same condition of existence. We see, then, the faithful picture of that which happened in this respect in nature, and of that which the observation of its acts can alone discover to us."

III. Lamarck's Views on Species, as published in 1803.

In the opening lecture[171] of his course at the Museum of Natural History, delivered in prairial (May 20-June 18), 1803, we have a further statement of the theoretical views of Lamarck on species and their origin. He addresses his audience as "Citoyens," France still being under the regime of the Republic.

The brochure containing this address is exceedingly rare, the only copy existing, as far as we know, being in the library of the Museum of Natural History in Paris. The author's name is not even given, and there is no imprint. Lamarck's name, however, is written on the outside of the cover of the copy we have translated. At the end of the otherwise blank page succeeding the last page (p. 46) is printed the words: Esquisse d'un Philosophie zoologique, the preliminary sketch, however, never having been added.

He begins by telling his hearers that they should not desire to burden their memories with the infinite details and immense nomenclature of the prodigious quantity of animals among which we distinguish an illimitable number of species, "but what is more worthy of you, and of more educational value, you should seek to know the course of nature." "You may enter upon the study of classes, orders, genera, and even of the most interesting species, because this would be useful to you; but you should never forget that all these subdivisions, which could not, however, be well spared, are artificial, and that nature does not recognize any of them."

"In the opening lecture of my last year's course I tried to convince you that it is only in the organization of animals that we find the foundation of the natural relations between the different groups, where they diverge and where they approach each other. Finally, I tried to show you that the enormous series of animals which nature has produced presents, from that of its extremities where are placed the most perfect animals, down to that which comprises the most imperfect, or the most simple, an evident modification, though irregularly defined (nuance), in the structure of the organization.

"To-day, after having recalled some of the essential considerations which form the base of this great truth; after having shown you the principal means by which nature is enabled to create (operer) her innumerable productions and to vary them infinitely; finally, after having made you see that in the use she has made of her power of generating and multiplying living beings she has necessarily proceeded from the more simple to the more complex, gradually complicating the organization of these bodies, as also the composition of their substance, while also in that which she has done on non-living bodies she has occupied herself unremittingly in the destruction of all preexistent combinations, I shall undertake to examine under your eyes the great question in natural history—What is a species among organized beings?

"When we consider the series of animals, beginning at the end comprising the most perfect and complicated, and passing down through all the degrees of this series to the other end, we see a very evident modification in structure and faculties. On the contrary, if we begin with the end which comprises animals the most simple in organization, the poorest in faculties and in organs—in a word, the most imperfect in all respects—we necessarily remark, as we gradually ascend in the series, a truly progressive complication in the organization of these different animals, and we see the organs and faculties of these beings successively multiplying and diversifying in a most remarkable manner.

"These facts once known present truths which are, to some extent, eternal; for nothing here is the product of our imagination or of our arbitrary principles; that which I have just explained rests neither on systems nor on any hypothesis: it is only the very simple result of the observation of nature; hence I do not fear to advance the view that all that one can imagine, from any motives whatever, to contradict these great verities will always be destroyed by the evidence of the facts with which it deals.

"To these facts it is necessary to add these very important considerations, which observation has led me to perceive, and the basis of which will always be recognized by those who pay attention to them; they are as follows:

"Firstly, the exercise of life, and consequently of organic movement, constitutes its activity, tends, without ceasing, not only to develop and to extend the organization, but it tends besides to multiply the organs and to isolate them in special centres (foyers). To make sure whether the exercise of life tends to extend and develop the organization, it suffices to consider the state of the organs of any animal which has just been born, and to compare them in this condition with what they are when the animal has attained the period when its organs cease to receive any new development. Then we will see on what this organic law is based, which I have published in my Recherches sur les Corps vivans (p. 8), i.e., that—

"'The special property of movement of fluids in the supple parts of the living body which contain them is to open (frayer) there routes, places of deposit and tissues; to create there canals, and consequently different organs; to cause these canals and these organs to vary there by reason of the diversity both of the movements as well as the nature of the fluids which occur there; finally to enlarge, to elongate, to divide and to gradually strengthen (affermir) these canals and their organs by the matters which are formed in the fluids in motion, which incessantly separate themselves, and a part of which is assimilated and united with organs while the rest is rejected.'

"Secondly, the continual employment of an organ, especially if it is strongly exercised, strengthens this organ, develops it, increases its dimensions, enlarges and extends its faculties.

"This second law of effects of exercise of life has been understood for a long time by those observers who have paid attention to the phenomena of organization.

"Indeed, we know that all the time that an organ, or a system of organs, is rigorously exercised throughout a long time, not only its power, and the parts which form it, grow and strengthen themselves, but there are proofs that this organ, or system of organs, at that time attracts to itself the principal active forces of the life of the individual, because it becomes the cause which, under these conditions, makes the functions of other organs to be diminished in power.

"Thus not only every organ or every part of the body, whether of man or of animals, being for a long period and more vigorously exercised than the others, has acquired a power and facility of action that the same organ could not have had before, and that it has never had in individuals which have exercised less, but also we consequently remark that the excessive employment of this organ diminishes the functions of the others and proportionately enfeebles them.

"The man who habitually and vigorously exercises the organ of his intelligence develops and acquires a great facility of attention, of aptitude for thought, etc., but he has a feeble stomach and strongly limited muscular powers. He, on the contrary, who thinks little does not easily, and then only momentarily fixes his attention, while habitually giving much exercise to his muscular organs, has much vigor, possesses an excellent digestion, and is not given to the abstemiousness of the savant and man of letters.

"Moreover, when one exercises long and vigorously an organ or system of organs, the active forces of life (in my opinion, the nervous fluid) have taken such a habit of acting (porter) towards this organ that they have formed in the individual an inclination to continue to exercise which it is difficult for it to overcome.

"Hence it happens that the more we exercise an organ, the more we use it with facility, the more does it result that we perceive the need (besoin) of continuing to use it at the times when it is placed in action. So we remark that the habit of study, of application, of work, or of any other exercise of our organs or of any one of our organs, becomes with time an indispensable need to the individual, and often a passion which it does not know how to overcome.

"Thirdly, finally, the effort made by necessity to obtain new faculties is aided by the concurrence of favorable circumstances; they create (creent) with time the new organs which are adapted (propres) to their faculties, and which as the result develop after long use (qu'en suite un long emploi developpe).

"How important is this consideration, and what light it spreads on the state of organization of the different animals now living!

"Assuredly it will not be those who have long been in the habit of observing nature, and who have followed attentively that which happens to living individuals (to animals and to plants), who will deny that a great change in the circumstances of their situation and of their means of existence forces them and their race to adopt new habits; it will not be those, I say, who attempt to contest the foundation of the consideration which I have just exposed.

"They can readily convince themselves of the solidity of that which I have already published in this respect.[172]

"I have felt obliged to recall to you these great considerations, a sketch of which I traced for you last year, and which I have stated for the most part in my different works, because they serve, as you have seen, as a solution of the problem which interests so many naturalists, and which concerns the determination of species among living bodies.

"Indeed, if in ascending in the series of animals from the most simply organized animalcule, as from the monad, which seems to be only an animated point, up to the animals the most perfect, or whose structure is the most complicated—in a word, up to animals with mammae—you observe in the different orders which comprise this great series a gradation, shaded (nuance), although irregular, in the composition of the organization and in the increasing number of faculties, is it not evident that in the case where nature would exert some active power on the existence of these organized bodies she has been able to make them exist only by beginning with the most simple, and that she has been able to form directly among the animals only that which I call the rough sketches or germs (ebauches) of animality—that is to say, only these animalcules, almost invisible and to some extent without consistence, that we see develop spontaneously and in an astonishing abundance in certain places and under certain circumstances, while only in contrary circumstances are they totally destroyed?

"Do we not therefore perceive that by the action of the laws of organization, which I have just now indicated, and by that of different means of multiplication which are due to them (qui en derivent), nature has in favorable times, places, and climates multiplied her first germs (ebauches) of animality, given place to developments of their organizations, rendered gradually greater the duration of those which have originally descended from them, and increased and diversified their organs? Then always preserving the progress acquired by the reproductions of individuals and the succession of generations, and aided by much time and by a slow but constant diversity of circumstances, she has gradually brought about in this respect the state of things which we now observe.

"How grand is this consideration, and especially how remote is it from all that is generally thought on this subject! Moreover, the astonishment which its novelty and its singularity may excite in you requires that at first you should suspend your judgment in regard to it. But the observation which establishes it is now on record (consignee), and the facts which support it exist and are incessantly renewed; however, as they open a vast field to your studies and to your own researches, it is to you yourselves that I appeal to pronounce on this great subject when you have sufficiently examined and followed all the facts which relate to it.

"If among living bodies there are any the consideration of whose organization and of the phenomena which they produce can enlighten us as to the power of nature and its course relatively to the existence of these bodies, also as to the variations which they undergo, we certainly have to seek for them in the lowest classes of the two organic kingdoms (the animals and the plants). It is in the classes which comprise the living bodies whose organization is the least complex that we can observe and bring together facts the most luminous, observations the most decisive on the origin of these bodies, on their reproduction and their admirable diversification, finally on the formation and the development of their different organs, the whole process being aided by the concurrence of generations, of time, and of circumstances.

"It is, indeed, among living bodies the most multiplied, the most numerous in nature, the most prompt and easy to regenerate themselves, that we should seek the most instructive facts bearing on the course of nature and on the means she has employed to create her innumerable productions. In this case we perceive that, relatively to the animal kingdom, we should chiefly give our attention to the invertebrate animals, because their enormous multiplicity in nature, the singular diversity of their systems of organization and of their means of multiplication, their increasing simplification, and the extreme fugacity of those which compose the lowest orders of these animals, show us much better than the others the true course of nature, and the means which she has used and which she is still incessantly employing to give existence to all the living bodies of which we have knowledge.

"Her course and her means are without doubt the same for the production of the different plants which exist. And, indeed, though it is not believed, as some naturalists have wrongly held, but without proof, that plants are bodies more simple in organization than the most simple animals, it is a veritable error which observation plainly denies.

"Truly, vegetable substance is less surcharged with constituent principles than any animal substance whatever, or at least most of them, but the substance of a living body and the organization of these bodies are two very different things. But there is in plants, as in animals, a true gradation in organization from the plant simplest in organization and parts up to plants the most complex in structure and with the most diversified organs.

"If there is some approach, or at least some comparison to make between vegetables and animals, this can only be by opposing plants the most simply organized, like fungi and algae, to the most imperfect animals like the polyps, and especially the amorphous polyps, which occur in the lowest order.

"At present we clearly see that in order to bring about the existence of animals of all the classes, of all the orders, and of all the genera, nature has had to begin by giving existence to those which are the most simple in organization and lacking most in organs and faculties, the frailest in constituency, the most ephemeral, the quickest and easiest to multiply; and we shall find in the amorphous or microscopic polyps the most striking examples of this simplification of organization, and the indication that it is solely among them that occur the astonishing germs of animality.

"At present we only know the principal law of the organization, the power of the exercise of the functions of life, the influence of the movement of fluids in the supple parts of organic bodies, and the power which the regenerations have of conserving the progress acquired in the composition of organs.

"At present, finally, relying on numerous observations, seeing that with the aid of much time, of changes in local circumstances, in climates, and consequently in the habits of animals, the progression in the complication of their organization and in the diversity of their parts has gradually operated (a du s'operer) in a way that all the animals now known have been successively formed such as we now see them, it becomes possible to find the solution of the following question:

"What is a species among living beings?

"All those who have much to do with the study of natural history know that naturalists at the present day are extremely embarrassed in defining what they mean by the word species.

"In truth, observation for a long time has shown us, and shows us still in a great number of cases, collections of individuals which resemble each other so much in their organization and by the ensemble of their parts that we do not hesitate to regard these collections of similar individuals as constituting so many species.

"From this consideration we call species every collection of individuals which are alike or almost so, and we remark that the regeneration of these individuals conserves the species and propagates it in continuing successively to reproduce similar individuals.

"Formerly it was supposed that each species was immutable, as old as nature, and that she had caused its special creation by the Supreme Author of all which exists.

"But we can impose on him laws in the execution of his will, and determine the mode which he has been pleased to follow in this respect, so it is only in this way that he permits us to recognize it by the aid of observation. Has not his infinite power created an order of things which successively gives existence to all that we see as well as to all that which exists and which we do not know?

"Assuredly, whatever has been his will, the omnipotence of his power is always the same; and in whatever way this supreme will has been manifested, nothing can diminish its greatness. As regards, then, the decrees of this infinite wisdom, I confine myself to the limits of a simple observer of nature. Then, if I discover anything in the course that nature follows in her creations, I shall say, without fear of deceiving myself, that it has pleased its author that she possesses this power.

"The idea that was held as to species among living bodies was quite simple, easy to grasp, and seemed confirmed by the constancy in the similar form of the individuals which reproduction or generation perpetuated. There still occur among us a very great number of these pretended species which we see every day.

"However, the farther we advance in the knowledge of the different organized bodies with which almost every part of the surface of the globe is covered, the more does our embarrassment increase in determining what should be regarded as species, and the greater is the reason for limiting and distinguishing the genera.

"As we gradually gather the productions of nature, as our collections gradually grow richer, we see almost all the gaps filled up, and our lines of demarcation effaced. We find ourselves compelled to make an arbitrary determination, which sometimes leads us to seize upon the slightest differences between varieties to form of them the character of that which we call species, and sometimes one person designates as a variety of such a species individuals a little different, which others regard as constituting a particular species.

"I repeat, the richer our collections become, the more numerous are the proofs that all is more or less shaded (nuance), that the remarkable differences become obliterated, and that the more often nature leaves it at our disposal to establish distinctions only minute, and in some degree trivial peculiarities.

"But some genera among animals and plants are of such an extent, from the number of species they contain, that the study and the determination of these species are now almost impossible. The species of these genera, arranged in series and placed together according to their natural relations, present, with those allied to them, differences so slight that they shade into each other; and because these species are in some degree confounded with one another they leave almost no means of determining, by expression in words, the small differences which distinguish them.

"There are also those who have been for a long time, and strongly, occupied with the determination of the species, and who have consulted rich collections, who can understand up to what point species, among living bodies, merge one into another (fondent les unes dans les autres), and who have been able to convince themselves, in the regions (parties) where we see isolated species, that this is only because there are wanting other species which are more nearly related, and which we have not yet collected.

"I do not mean to say by this that the existing animals form a very simple series, one everywhere equally graduated; but I say that they form a branching series, irregularly graduated, and which has no discontinuity in its parts, or which at best has not always had, if it is true that it is to be found anywhere (s'il est vrai qu'il s'en trouve quelque part). It results from this that the species which terminates each branch of the general series holds a place at least on one side apart from the other allied species which intergrade with them. Behold this state of things, so well known, which I am now compelled to demonstrate.

"I have no need (besoin) of any hypothesis or any supposition for this: I call to witness all observing naturalists.

"Not only many genera, but entire orders, and some classes even, already present us with portions almost complete of the state of things which I have just indicated.

"However, when in this case we have arranged the species in series, and they are all well placed according to their natural relations, if you select one of them, and it results in making a leap (saut pardessus) over to several others, you take another one of them a little less remote; these two species, placed in comparison, will then present the greatest differences from each other. It is thus that we had begun to regard most of the productions of nature which occur at our door. Then the generic and specific distinctions were very easy to establish. But now that our collections are very much richer, if you follow the series that I have cited above, from the species that you first chose up to that which you took in the second place, and which is very different from the first, you have passed from shade to shade without having remarked any differences worth noticing.

"I ask what experienced zooelogist or botanist is there who has not thoroughly realized that which I have just explained to you?

"Or how can one study, or how can one be able to determine in a thorough way the species, among the multitude of known polyps of all orders of radiates, worms, and especially of insects, where the simple genera of Papilio, Phalaena, Noctua, Tinea, Musca, Ichneumon, Curculio, Capricorn, Scarabaeus, Cetonia, etc., etc., already contain so many closely allied species which shade into each other, are almost confounded one with another? What a host of molluscan shells exist in every country and in all seas which elude our means of distinction, and exhaust our resources in this respect! Ascend to the fishes, to the reptiles, to the birds, even to the mammals, and you will see, except the lacunae which are still to be filled, everywhere shadings which take place between allied species, even the genera, and where after the most industrious study we fail to establish good distinctions. Does not botany, which considers the other series, comprising the plants, offer us, in its different parts, a state of things perfectly similar? In short, what difficulties do not arise in the study and in the determination of species in the genera Lichena, Fucus, Carex, Poa, Piper, Euphorbia, Erica, Hieracium, Solanum, Geranium, Mimosa, etc., etc.?

"When these genera were established but a small number of species were known, and then it was easy to distinguish them; but at present almost all the gaps between them are filled, and our specific differences are necessarily minute and very often insufficient.

"From this state of things well established we see what are the causes which have given rise to them; we see whether nature possesses the means for this, and if observation has been able to give us our explanation of it.

"A great many facts teach us that gradually as the individuals of one of our species change their situation, climate, mode of life, or habits, they thus receive influences which gradually change the consistence and the proportions of their parts, their form, their faculties, even their organization; so that all of them participate eventually in the changes which they have undergone.

"In the same climate, very different situations and exposures at first cause simple variations in the individuals which are found exposed there; but, as time goes on, the continual differences of situation of individuals of which I have spoken, which live and successively reproduce in the same circumstances, give rise among them to differences which are, in some degree, essential to their being, in such a way that at the end of many successive generations these individuals, which originally belonged to another species, are at the end transformed into a new species, distinct from the other.

"For example, if the seeds of a grass, or of every other plant natural to a humid field, should be transplanted, by an accident, at first to the slope of a neighboring hill, where the soil, although more elevated, would yet be quite cool (frais) so as to allow the plant to live, and then after having lived there, and passed through many generations there, it should gradually reach the poor and almost arid soil of a mountain side—if the plant should thrive and live there and perpetuate itself during a series of generations, it would then be so changed that the botanists who should find it there would describe it as a separate species.

"The same thing happens to animals which circumstances have forced to change their climate, manner of living, and habits; but for these the influences of the causes which I have just cited need still more time than in the case of plants to produce the notable changes in the individuals, though in the long run, however, they always succeed in bringing them about.

"The idea of defining under the word species a collection of similar individuals which perpetuate the same by generation, and which have existed thus as anciently as nature, implies the necessity that the individuals of one and the same species cannot mix, in their acts of generation, with the individuals of a different species. Unfortunately observation has proved, and still proves every day, that this consideration has no basis; for the hybrids, very common among plants, and the unions which are often observed between the individuals of very different species among animals, have made us perceive that the limits between these species, supposed to be constant, are not so rigid as is supposed.

"In truth, nothing often results from these singular unions, especially when they are very incongruous, as the individuals which result from them are usually sterile; but also, when the disparities are less great, it is known that the drawbacks (defauts) with which it has to do no longer exist. However, this means alone suffices to gradually create the varieties which have afterwards arisen from races, and which, with time, constitute that which we call species.

"To judge whether the idea which is formed of species has any real foundation, let us return to the considerations which I have already stated; they are, namely—

"1. That all the organic bodies of our globe are veritable productions of nature, which she has created in succession at the end of much time.

"2. That in her course nature has begun, and begins anew every day, by forming the simplest organic bodies, and that she directly forms only these—that is to say, only these first primitive germs (ebauches) of organization, which have been badly characterized by the expression of "spontaneous generations" (qu'on a designees mal-a-propos par l'expression de Generations spontanees).

"3. That the first germs (ebauches) of the animals and plants were formed in favorable places and circumstances. The functions of life beginning and an organic movement established, these have necessarily gradually developed the organs, so that after a time and under suitable circumstances they have been differentiated, as also the different parts (elles les ont diversifies ainsi qui les parties).

"4. That the power of increase in each portion of organic bodies being inherited at the first production (effets) of life, it has given rise to different modes of multiplication and of regeneration of individuals; and in that way the progress acquired in the composition of the organization and in the forms and the diversity of the parts has been preserved.

"5. That with the aid of sufficient time, of circumstances which have been necessarily favorable, of changes that all parts of the surface of the globe have successively undergone in their condition—in a word, with the power that new situations and new habits have in modifying the organs of bodies endowed with life—all those which now exist have been imperceptibly formed such as we see them.

"6. Finally, that according to a similar order of things, living beings, having undergone each of the more or less great changes in the condition of their organization and of their parts, that which is designated as a species among them has been insensibly and successively so formed, can have only a relative constancy in its condition, and cannot be as ancient as nature.

"But, it will be said, when it is necessary to suppose that, with the aid of much time and of an infinite variation in circumstances, nature has gradually formed the different animals that we know, would we not be stopped in this supposition by the sole consideration of the admirable diversity which we observe in the instinct of different animals, and by that of the marvels of all sorts which their different kinds of industry present?

"Will one dare to carry the spirit of system (porter l'esprit de systeme) to the point of saying that it is nature, and she alone, which creates this astonishing diversity of means, of ruses, of skill, of precautions, of patience, of which the industry of animals offers us so many examples! What we observe in this respect in the class of insects alone, is it not a thousand times more than is necessary to compel us to perceive that the limits of the power of nature by no means permit her herself to produce so many marvels, and to force the most obstinate philosophy to recognize that here the will of the supreme author of all things has been necessary, and has alone sufficed to cause the existence of so many admirable things?

"Without doubt one would be rash, or rather wholly unreasonable, to pretend to assign limits to the power of the first author of all things; and by that alone no one can dare to say that this infinite power has not been able to will that which nature herself shows us she has willed.

"This being so, if I discover that nature herself brings about or causes all the wonders just cited; that she creates the organization, the life, even feeling; that she multiplies and diversifies, within limits which are not known to us, the organs and faculties of organic bodies the existence of which she sustains or propagates; that she has created in animals by the single way of need, which establishes and directs the habits, the source of all actions, from the most simple up to those which constitute instinct, industry, finally reason, should I not recognize in this power of nature—that is to say, of existing things—the execution of the will of its sublime author, who has been able to will that it should have this power? Shall I any the less wonder at the omnipotence of the power of the first cause of all things, if it has pleased itself that things should be thus, than if by so many (separate) acts of his omnipotent will he should be occupied and occupy himself still continually with details of all the special creations, all the variations, and all the developments and perfections, all the destructions and all the renewals—in a word, with all the changes which are in general produced in things which exist?

"But I intend to prove in my 'Biologie' that nature possesses in her faculties all that is necessary to have to be able herself to produce that which we admire in her works; and regarding this subject I shall then enter into sufficient details which I am here obliged to omit.[173]

"However, it is still objected that all we see stated regarding the state of living bodies are unalterable conditions in the preservation of their form, and it is thought that all the animals whom history has transmitted to us for two or three thousand years have always remained the same, and have lost nothing nor acquired anything in the perfecting of their organs and in the form of their parts.

"While this apparent stability has for a long time been accepted as true, it has just been attempted to establish special proofs in a report on the collections of natural history brought from Egypt by the citizen Geoffroy."

Quotes three paragraphs in which the reporters (Cuvier and Geoffroy St. Hilaire) say that the mummied animals of Thebes and Memphis are perfectly similar to those of to-day. Then he goes on to say:

"I have seen them, these animals, and I believe in the conformity of their resemblance with the individuals of the same species which live to-day. Thus the animals which the Egyptians worshipped and embalmed two or three thousand years ago are still in every respect similar to those which actually live in that country.

"But it would be assuredly very singular that this should be otherwise; for the position of Egypt and its climate are still or very nearly the same as at former times. Therefore the animals which live there have not been compelled to change their habits.

"There is, then, nothing in the observation which has just been reported which should be contrary to the considerations which I have expressed on this subject; and which especially proves that the animals of which it treats have existed during the whole period of nature. It only proves that they have existed for two or three thousand years; and every one who is accustomed to reflect, and at the same time to observe that which nature shows us of the monuments of its antiquity, readily appreciates the value of a duration of two or three thousand years in comparison with it.

"Hence, as I have elsewhere said, it is sure that this appearance of the stability of things in nature will always be mistaken by the average of mankind for the reality; because in general people only judge of everything relatively to themselves.

"For the man who observes, and who in this respect only judges from the changes which he himself perceives, the intervals of these changes are stationary conditions (etats) which should appear to be limitless, because of the brevity of life of the individuals of his species. Thus, as the records of his observations and the notes of facts which he has consigned to his registers only extend and mount up to several thousands of years (three to five thousand years), which is an infinitely small period of time relatively to those which have sufficed to bring about the great changes which the surface of the globe has undergone, everything seems stable to him in the planet which he inhabits, and he is inclined to reject the monuments heaped up around him or buried in the earth which he treads under his feet, and which surrounds him on all sides.[174]

* * * * *

"It seems to me [as mistaken as] to expect some small creatures which only live a year, which inhabit some corner of a building, and which we may suppose are occupied with consulting among themselves as to the tradition, to pronounce on the duration of the edifice where they occur: and that going back in their paltry history to the twenty-fifth generation, they should unanimously decide that the building which serves to shelter them is eternal, or at least that it has always existed; because it has always appeared the same to them; and since they have never heard it said that it had a beginning. Great things (grandeurs) in extent and in duration are relative.[175]

"When man wishes to clearly represent this truth he will be reserved in his decisions in regard to stability, which he attributes in nature to the state of things which he observes there.[176]

"To admit the insensible change of species, and the modifications which individuals undergo as they are gradually forced to vary their habits or to contract new ones, we are not reduced to the unique consideration of too small spaces of time which our observations can embrace to permit us to perceive these changes; for, besides this induction, a quantity of facts collected for many years throws sufficient light on the question that I examine, so that does not remain undecided; and I can say now that our sciences of observation are too advanced not to have the solution sought for made evident.

"Indeed, besides what we know of the influences and the results of heteroclite fecundations, we know positively to-day that a forced and long-sustained change, both in the habits and mode of life of animals, and in the situation, soil, and climate of plants, brings about, after a sufficient time has elapsed, a very remarkable change in the individuals which are exposed to them.

"The animal which lives a free, wandering life on plains, where it habitually exercises itself in running swiftly; the birds whose needs (besoins) require them unceasingly to traverse great spaces in the air, finding themselves enclosed, some in the compartments of our menageries or in our stables, and others in our cages or in our poultry yards, are submitted there in time to striking influences, especially after a series of regenerations under the conditions which have made them contract new habits. The first loses in large part its nimbleness, its agility; its body becomes stouter, its limbs diminish in power and suppleness, and its faculties are no longer the same. The second become clumsy; they are unable to fly, and grow more fleshy in all parts of their bodies.

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