In proof of this statement, we might instance any number of cases where recently abandoned brick-yards and other clayey excavations, were situated at considerable distances from any natural water-courses, or fish-stocked ponds, from which spawn could have been derived, and yet these excavations have no sooner been filled with permanently standing rain water, than certain small fishes of the Cyprinidae and other families, have made their appearance therein. Nobody has thought of stocking these standing pools of water with the fish in question, nor has there been any surface overflow to account for their presence, nor any other apparent means of transportation, if we except the fish-catching birds, and they generally swallow their food in the water or on the nearest tree to the point of capture. Any theory accounting for the presence of spawn is, therefore, out of the question. This spawn must have traversed hard clay deposits for the distance of half a mile or more to make their appearance in these waters. The only possible explanation of this class of phenomena, and they are by no means infrequent, is to be found in "favoring conditions" and the "presence of vital units." They are primordial manifestations of life, and such as would have made their appearance in any corresponding latitude of the southern hemisphere, under the same favoring conditions.
And this is true of all living organisms from the lowest morphological cell, in the ichthyologic world, to the highest and lordliest conifer that grows. Their spawn and seeds are perishable by heat, but the vital principle that organizes them is as imperishable in one element as another. No seven-times heated furnace, much less the experimental flasks of the physicist, will affect a vital principle of nature any more than a May-morning puff of the east wind would shake Olympus. And all the countless myriads of vital units in nature are now manifesting themselves in animal and vegetal forms, under favoring conditions, the same as in those far-distant epochs of the world's history when a more exuberant vegetation prevailed, if not a more abounding animal life. The same persistent, ever-acting law of vital development and growth has been present, in all conditions and circumstances of matter, ever since the detritus of the silicious rocks felt the first influence of the rains, the dews, and the sunlight. Then the earth commenced "to bring forth the grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-trees yielding fruit, after his kind;" and in their growth was laid the foundation of animal life. Whether there was any audible or inaudible command of God uttered at the time, is not the question. It is the fact of vital growth that we are after, and not the command. The geologic records attest the fact, as well as the ever-acting vital law; and it is enough for us to know, with sturdy old Richard Hooker, that all law—and especially all vital law—"has her seat in the bosom of God, and her voice is the harmony of the world."
Professor Beale, while resolutely combating the physical hypothesis of life, is not a little unfortunate in his use of scientific terms. He is constantly using those of "living matter" and "dead matter," as if they contained no fatal concession to the materialists, with which to completely overthrow his own ultimate conclusions as to life. For he gains nothing by merely substituting "bioplasm" and "bioplasts" for "protoplasm" and "plastide particles." The essential plasma in both cases is the same, and behind each lies the vital unit or principle therein manifested—the invisible, indestructible germ or ZRA of the Bible genesis. Living organisms come, of course, from this essential plasma, but without an elementary principle or vital unit therein, there would be no "bioplasts," in the sense in which Professor Beale uses this term. These bioplasts are living organisms which take up nutrient matter and convert it by assimilation into tissues, nerves, fibres, bones, etc.—into the higher and more complex organs that go to make up living structure. This mysterious transmutation of one thing into another, as organic matter into living organisms, is due to a vitally implanted principle, not to these little bioplasts, or mere epithelial and other tools with which the vital principle works. To apply the term "living matter" to the tools with which a living structure is built up, is to lose sight of the master-mechanic using them for an apparently intelligent purpose. The microscope may demonstrate that these little bioplasts throb—have life; but there is no intelligent purpose manifested by them except as they are moved by an unseen hand that conclusively directs the whole structural work—builds up the one complete symmetrical structure, not its thousand independent parts having no relation to a general plan. The future lord and occupant of the mansion is presumably present, and if he uses tools that "throb and have life," it is because everything he touches is quickened into life that it may be the more obedient to his will. If this structure be the soul-endowed one of man, the vital principle imparted is that which fashions the epithelial tools, and uses them, as well in laying the embryological foundation, as in crowning its work with that many-colored "dome of thought flashing the white radiance of eternity."
Mr. Joseph Cook, who enthusiastically follows Professor Beale in his theory of life, in one of his "Boston Monday Lectures," says; "It is beyond contradiction that we know that these little points ('bioplasts') of structureless matter spin the threads, and weave the warp and woof, of organisms." With all due respect to this distinguished lecturer, we must except to not less than three points in as many lines of his over-confident statement. In the first place, we know nothing respecting the "beginnings of life," which may not be contradicted with some show of reason. Take his own definition of "bioplasts," as copied from Professor Beale, coupled with what they both term "nutrient matter" and "germinal matter," or bioplasm, and this confident assertion of his will land him at once where the highest powers of the microscope fail to give back any intelligible answer, or where neither assertion nor contradiction avails anything. A bioplast, they tell us, is a germinal point in germinal matter or bioplasm. It is also assumed that the central portion of every cell in an organic tissue is a bioplast. Here this wonderful little weaver of tissue sits spinning his threads and weaving them into the warp and woof of "formed matter"—that which, according to Professor Beale, becomes "dead matter" as soon as it is woven! But it is admitted that the nerve fibres constitute an uninterrupted network which admits of no endings—that is, whose ultimate reticulations lie beyond the microscopic limit. But there is a cell in every hundredth part of an inch of these ultimate reticulations, in each of which one of these bioplastic weavers sits plying his threads into the warp and woof of nerve tissue, if not of nerve force. What is known of these little weavers, either by Mr. Joseph Cook or Professor Lionel S. Beale? Manifestly nothing, unless they have been specially favored with microscopes of over 2,800 diameters—the highest yet made,—and have fathomed the ultimate implications of nerve force; an assumption on the part of the Boston lecturer to which we are bound to except.
Nor are these "bioplasts" mere structureless matter, however minute they may be as "little points." They differ only from "morphological cells," in the definitional language employed by different theorists, and lack the all-essential accuracy of distinction necessary to scientific classification. To define a bioplast as a germinal point in germinal matter, or bioplasm, is to draw no satisfactory line of distinction between the two, except that the one is a mere aggregation of the other. A germinal mass is only made up of germinal points—those considered as the least of any given whole—however infinitesimal they may be in theoretical statement. If any germinal point in germinal matter, therefore, be a bioplast, then every germinal point, to the extent of making up its entire mass, must be a bioplast; and the distinction between the two becomes merely verbal, and without generic signification. But every morphological cell is conceded to be an organism, whether it lie within or beyond the microscopic limit. And it invariably exhibits a greater or less amount of cellular activity at its centre. It grows rather than spins; it builds up tissue, rather than weaves it into warp and woof; it assimilates nutritive matter rather than plies a loom in any conceivable sense in which we may view that industrial machine. No matter what we may call this point of vital activity in a cell—whether it be a bioplast, a plastid, a physiological unit, or a granule of "elementary life-stuff"—it simply performs the one single function of life to which it is specifically assigned in the process of "building up" any one identical individual of a species, whether it be a man, an ape, a tree, or a parasitic fungus. The very admission that the bioplast spins, makes it an organism, and not mere structureless matter. For the first thread it spins is manifestly for its own covering or the ornamentation of its own cell-walls. And to speak of these as "structureless matter" is to confound all scientific sense, as well as meaning.
The third objection to Mr. Cook's statement is, that if bioplasts spin, it is as dependent, and not as independent machines or agencies. There are millions of these bioplasts—taking the word in the sense in which Professor Beale uses it—in every living organism considered as a biological whole. In the case of man, there are millions of them within a comparatively small compass; and each has its own cell to which its specific work is assigned. Now, these germinal points, or bioplasts, in each of these myriads of cells, work, not separately and independently, like so many oysters in their respective shells, but harmoniously and together, as if under the supervisional direction of one supreme architect and builder. This builder is that one elementary principle of life, appertaining to each specific individual as a species, with which nature was endowed from the beginning, and which, in the case of man, was a direct emanation from Deity. It is this vital principle manifesting itself in all living organisms, not from them; directing Professor Beale's "bioplastic weavers," not directed by them; availing itself of necessary plasmic conditions, if not giving rise to them in the first instance; observing no developmental processes by which one form of life laps over upon another, and following no order but that of universal harmony in the Divine intendment. There is struggle and rivalry for existence, even among the same classes, orders, genera, and species, and the smallest and weakest must give place to the largest and strongest everywhere, and vice versa, as Time, the greatest of all rodents, gnaws away at the mystical tree of life. But in every living organism, from the lowest and simplest to the highest and most complex, all bioplastic spinners of filamentous tissue, all plastide weavers of membranous or spun matter, all epithelial bobbin-runners, and other anatomical helpers and workers, perform their respective tasks under the special supervision we have named, that is, under the higher unit of life. They all work for the advancement and well-being of the higher organism of which they form a component and necessarily subordinate part.
The fact that Professor Beale has discovered that what he calls bioplasm and germinal points or bioplasts may take on a distinct and separate color from tissue, when subjected to a solution of carmine in ammonia, is no evidence that he has penetrated the adytum of this sacred temple of Life, wherein lies the "mystery of mysteries." It is an important discovery so far as tracing tissue is concerned, but it admits him into no higher mystery within the temple built by God than another may attain to by the accidental discovery that the tissues may take on the same color in some other solution—by no means an improbable discovery. Carmine in ammonia is not the only solution that may aid science in the investigations now being carried forward by the vitalists and non-vitalists with so much bitterness and asperity of feeling between them; and now that Professor Beale has made his happy discovery, it is by no means certain that some other equally persistent worker in this interesting field of inquiry may not hit upon quite as happy a discovery in the same or some equivalent direction—one that shall throw the bioplasmic theory as far into the shade as Mr. Cook thinks the bioplasts have already thrown the cells.
But decidedly the most objectionable statement of Professor Beale, although one confidently re-affirmed by our "Boston Monday Lecturer," is that which makes bioplasm and bioplasts the only "living matter." We have already referred to the phrases "living matter" and "non-living matter" as altogether objectionable in biological statement, since they are more than half-way concessions to the materialists, who contemptuously order the vitalists to take a "back seat" in the discussions now going forward as to the true origin of life. But the objection we here make is less technical, and touches a far more vital point in the inquiry. It is true that Professor Beale speaks of "formed matter," as if it were a peculiar something—a sort of tertium quid—between living and non-living matter. But he distinctly avers that the substance which turns red in his carmine solutions is the "only living matter," and hence asserts, inferentially at least, that all other matter, in any and every living organism, is "dead matter." But we may just as confidently aver that no matter is living in any vital organism which has not been assimilated and built up into living membranous tissue capable of responding (in the case of man) to his will, as well as performing the autonomous functions of plants and the lower animals. For all these membranous tissues are innumerably thronged with bioplasts or plastide particles, not for the purposes of obedience to man's will, or of performing any autonomous function, but simply to supply the tissues with the necessary nutrient matter to make up for the constant waste that is going on in a healthy living organ. This waste is very much greater than has heretofore been supposed, so that the man or animal of to-day may be an entirely distinct and separate one, considered materially, from that of a year or more ago. And this averment would have a decided advantage over Professor Beale's, since, in meeting a friend, we might be certain that four-fifths of him at least was alive, while the other one-fifth was industriously at work to keep him alive, instead of a stalking corpse, as he would otherwise be, upon the street. Besides, it would obviate the necessity, on the part of the vitalists, of giving themselves four-fifths away to the materialists, as Professor Beale virtually does in the argument.
The too rude touch of a child's hand will rob the canary bird of its life—stifle its musical throat, hush its most ecstatic note, still its exquisite song, and render forever mute and silent its voice. But where are Professor Beale's bioplasts which, but a moment before, were not only weaving the nerves, tissues, muscles, bones, and even the wonderful plumage of this canary bird, but plying the invisible threads of song—throwing off its chirps, carols, trills, quavers, airs, overtures and brilliant roulades, as if the little vocalist had caught its inspiration from the very skies? Where, we repeat, are these bioplasts now? They are all quietly and industriously at work as before. The occupant of the song-mansion is gone, but not one of these bioplasts has dropped a clew, thrown down a shuttle, abandoned a loom, or fled in dismay to the core of its cell. They still pulsate, throb, throw off tissue. No chemical change has yet intervened to break down their cell-walls, or interfere with the occupations assigned them. The machinery that ran their looms is stopped—that is all. The invisible shuttles have ceased to ply—the meshes of their tangled webs are broken—the more delicate threads of song are snapped in sunder, but the bioplastic spinners and weavers are all there. Not one of them has been displaced from its seat, nor in any way disturbed or molested in its work. If they are conscious of any danger, it is that the occupant of this little song-mansion has suddenly stepped out—is no longer present to direct their tasks. The icy hand of decay and death will soon be upon them—these poor bioplastic weavers of tissue—but the vocal spark, the "bright gem instinct with music," is beyond the reach of these dusky messengers. Where it is, not man, but the Giver of all life knows. We only know, when our faith is uplifted by inspiration, that—
"The soul of music never dies, Nor slumbers in its shell; 'Tis sphere-descended from the skies, And thence returns to dwell."
Force-Correlation, Differentiation and Other Life Theories.
Among the more startling, if not decidedly brilliant, vital theories which have been advanced within the last few years, is that which makes life an "undiscovered correlative of force." Those who have the reputation of being the profoundest thinkers and delvers in the newly-discovered realm of Force-correlation in Europe, and who have more or less modestly contributed to that reputation themselves, have evidently thought to eclipse, if not to entirely throw into the shade, the great exploit of Leverrier, in pointing out the exact place in their empirical heavens where the superior optics of some future observer shall behold, in all its glory, this "undiscovered correlative of force," which they have indicated as lying within the higher possibilities and potentialities of matter. Precisely what they mean by this undiscovered correlate, is what puzzles us quite as much to determine as it does the materialists to explain. Were they to define life as an "undiscovered force" simply, their definition would manifestly lack in brilliancy what it would conclusively make up in precision and accuracy of definitional statement. But such a poor metaphrastic and half-circular exposition of vital force would never answer the necessities of that profounder profundity required for the success of modern scientific treatises. Hence the interpolation of this "correlative" of theirs. Let us ascertain, if we can, what it means, since they are so chary of informing us themselves.
A "correlate" of a thing—any thing—simply implies the reciprocal relation it bears to some other thing. As a cognate term it expresses nothing, can express nothing, but reciprocity of relationship, such as father to son, brother to sister, uncle to aunt, nephews to nieces, etc. As applied to vital force, it means nothing more nor less than that this particular force stands in some sort of relationship to the other forces of nature, or, as they would have us believe, the material forces of nature. And the simple strength or potentiality of this relationship is what makes all the difference between the severally related forces of the universe, since it would be as impossible to differentiate a fixed relationship as to change the nature of vital units. But whether vital force, as a distinct correlate, is paternal or filial, brotherly or sisterly, avuncular or amital in its relationship, is not stated. The scientific formula, however, may be stated thus: As A (chemical force) is to B (molecular force) so is C (a third known force) to x (the vital or unknown force); so that, by multiplying the antecedents and consequents together, and eliminating the value of x, we may mathematically obtain the value of vital force.
But to eliminate the value of x is what troubles them. Herbert Spencer has tried his hand at it, but failed to express life under any higher correlation than "molecular force;" nor can he definitely inform us whether either force is third or fourth cousin to the other. But he manifestly regards their relationship as constituting either a very attractive or highly repulsive force. In his vexation at not finding the value of x, he is driven from mathematical to mechanical biology, and gives us this new definitional value of life—that singularly contumacious quantity which so persistently refuses to be eliminated in scientific equations: "Life is molecular machinery worked by molecular force." But as Professor Beale has utterly demoralized, if not demolished, this machinery, in his recent treatise on "The Mystery of Life," we will spare it any further blows, and proceed to the consideration of "molecular force."
Before we proceed however, to the consideration of this force, let us definitely understand the meaning of the terms we shall be called upon to use. We can have no difficulty in understanding the meaning of "molecular attraction," or that force acting immediately on the integrant molecules or particles of a body, as distinguished from the attraction of gravitation which acts at unlimited distances. But when it comes to ascribing other and higher manifestations of power to molecules, such as have not been scientifically shown to exist, we must feel our way with caution, and demand of these pretentious molecules, or rather of their materialistic backers, a reason for the faith, or rather force, that is in them.
It is agreed by all physicists, as well as chemists, that a "molecule" is the smallest conceivable quantity of a simple or compound substance, as an "atom" is the smallest conceivable quantity of an element which enters into combination with other elements to form material substance. For instance, the smallest conceivable quantity of water is a molecule, while the smallest conceivable quantity of either of the two elements of which water is composed, is an atom. In every molecule of water, therefore, there are three elementary atoms, two of hydrogen and one of oxygen. And since a molecule, as a general rule, contains two or more atoms, and may contain many of them, why not predicate dynamic force of the atoms, which lie one step nearer the elementary forces of nature? For the mightiest forces of nature lie in these elements, when forced into unnatural alliances, or chained up in durance vile. It is in the elements of matter, and not in its molecules, that this tremendous dynamic force resides. Man, knowing this, harnesses them into his service, first by forcing them into unnatural alliances, as in the case of charcoal, sulphur and saltpetre, and then successfully pitting them in conflict against the rocks and the general inertia of matter. To charge all the destructive work they do on the innocent and harmless molecules, which are two steps removed from the actual force expended, is drawing conclusions from the sheerest hypothetical data. It is the office of "molecular force," if there is any meaning to the term beyond what is expressed by "molecular attraction," to conserve matter—bind rocks together, not rend them in sunder.
If the dynamic forces of nature lie pent up in the molecules, then man must array molecular force against molecular force in order to rend rocks and tear mountains in sunder. This theory of molecular force, as extended to vital physics in the force-doctrine of life, is irreconcilably at war with the principal phenomena of life, and should be classed with the other undiscovered correlates of force, which Professor Beale speaks of as "the fictions of a mechanical imagination." The truth is that these much abused and much slandered molecules are the most innocent and harmless things in nature. They never become destructive unless some other force than that inhering in themselves drags them into its service and hurls them along a devastating path. Of themselves, they are the very quintessence of quiessence in the universe, and, when formed in nature's laboratory, at once seek quiet and loving companionship with kindred molecules, and retain it forever afterwards. The idea that they should break away from their loving molecular embrace, and, by any process of differentiation or constructive agency of their own, seek an alliance with some living dog-germ in order to be built up into living dog-tissue, presents about as perverse and wayward an impulse on the part of matter as can well be imagined by the scientific mind. That the dog-germ should seek to get hold of, and differentiate them, we can well understand. The Circean witchery and enticement is all on the part of the dog-germ, not in the inclination of the molecules.
If there is any truth in this molecular-force-theory of life, it is about time for us to discard some of the old categories respecting matter, motion, and life, and substitute new ones in their place. In the multiplicity of new scientific terms constantly springing up for recognition in these days, there ought to be no difficulty in expressing the true categories, and assigning to them their proper definitional value. To include physical force, chemical force, molecular force, and vital force all under one and the same category, and then interpret their several modes of action on any theory of force-correlation, is not emancipating language from the gross thraldom into which their "molecular machinery" has driven it. Besides, there is moral force, mental force, the force of will, the force of reason, the force of honesty, the force of fraud, etc., and any number of other forces, all possessing more or less impetus or momentum, and capable of binding or coercing persons and things, in all their diversified relations, correlations, incidences, coincidences, affinities, antagonisms, and so on through an interminable chapter of interchangeable predications. All these different expressions of force are to be tethered together—definitionally bound hand and foot—under the one explanatory head of "force-correlation." We protest against the labor of thus unifying all the natural forces of the universe, even if it were practicable under scientific methods.
But Professor Tyndall denies that "molecular groupings" and "molecular motions" explain anything—account for anything—in the way of explicating life-manifestations, or determining what life is. And it would be difficult to cite a stronger and more determined materialist as authority on the point we are considering. He says: "If love were known to be associated with a right-handed spiral motion of the molecules of the brain, and hate with the left-handed, we should remain as ignorant as before, as to the cause of motion." But there is no proof that the molecules of the brain manifest any other motions than those necessary for keeping up the normal condition of health and vital activity in the brain itself. No one can be certain that he has seen these molecules in a state of mental activity; for where portions of the human brain have been exposed to microscopic examination, even in perfect states of consciousness on the part of those whose brains have been laid bare, there can be no certainty that the molecular action, if any, is referable to one set of movements more than another. And even in the case of animalcules, as seen in the object glass of the microscope, there is no absolute certainty that their quick, darting or jerking movements are due to any life-manifestation, as heretofore assumed. Some quite as well defined forms are entirely motionless, and if all were so, it would be idle to predicate vitality of them. These infinitessimal and constantly varying forms, many of them not the one hundred-thousandth part of an inch in length, to say nothing of their other dimensions, may owe their oscillations, wave movements, darting and other manifestations, and even their molecular arrangements and rearrangements, to other causes than those strictly "vital." And it should be borne in mind that their actual movements are just as much exaggerated under the microscope as their real dimensions. But as they make their appearance in organic infusions only, they are presumably vital organisms rather than fomentative or mere filamentous yeast-manifestations.
Professor Huxley, while conceding that molecular changes may take place under environing life-conditions, or in protoplasmic matter, denies that the "primordial cells" possesses in any degree the characteristics of a "machine," nor can they undergo any differentiating process by which the character of their manifestations can be changed. And he even denies to them the poor right to originate or in any way modify their own plasma. He says: "They are no more the producers of vital phenomena, than the shells scattered in orderly line along the sea-beach are the instruments by which the gravitative force of the moon acts upon the ocean. Like these, the cells mark only where the vital tides have been, and how they have acted." This is undoubtedly true of all cells in which the vital or functional office has ceased, as in the case of Professor Beale's "formed matter." The cells are the result of the vital principle that lies behind them, and simply indicate where life exists, or has manifestly ceased to exist. Where the vital currents have ceased to flow, the wreck of primordial cells is quite as wide and disastrous as where millions of sea-shells have been strewn along a desolated and storm-swept sea-beach. They all come, both the cells and shells, from the preA"xisting vital units, or determinate germs, that fall into their own incidences of movement, without any concurrence of physical conditions beyond their own inherent tendency to development. For "conditions" do not determine life; they only favor its manifestation.
But some of the materialists claim that what we call "vital units," or invisible, indestructible germs, are at best only "physical relations;" that they have nothing more than a hypothetical existence, without any independent recognizable quality justifying our conclusions respecting them. But may not this identical language be retortively suggested in the case of their "correlates of force?" What more than a hypothetical existence have they? Certainly their enthusiasm to get rid of all vital conditions or manifestations, is quite as marked a feature in their speculations respecting life as any enthusiasm we have shown in the verification of vital phenomena, on the established law of cause and effect. They insist upon this law in the case of statical aggregates, and even assign absolute identity of attributes; but when it comes to dynamical aggregates, they fall back on partial identity only, and deny the presence of the law altogether.
Nor are they any more felicitous in their treatment of other points in controversy. In speaking of his "plastide particles," Professor Bastian, the most defiant challenger of vitalistic propositions now living, says: "Certain of these particles, through default of necessary conditions, never actually develop into higher modes of being." Here he makes the absence of "necessary conditions" the cause of non-development, while he stoutly denies that the presence of such "conditions" give rise to the development of a pre-existing vital unit. And yet, strange to say, he speaks of the elemental origin of "living matter" as "having probably taken place on the surface of our globe since the far-remote period when such matter was first engendered." But how his "sum-total of external conditions," acting upon dead matter, can "engender" living matter, is one of those "related heterogenetic phenomena" which he does not condescend to explain. It is by this sort of scientific verbiage that he gets rid of the pre-existing vital principle, or germinal principle of life, which the biblical genesis declares to be in the earth itself.
To be entirely consistent with himself, he should deny the existence of this germinal principle in the seeds of plants themselves, and insist upon the sum-total of external conditions as the cause of all life-manifestations, in the vegetal as in the animal world. There can be no inherent tendency, he should insist, in the seed itself towards structural development, but only external conditions acting upon "dead matter," in heterogentic directions. The shooting down of the radicle or undeveloped root, and the springing up of the plumule or undeveloped stalk, is accordingly due to no vital principle in the seed, but to the complexity or entanglement of the molecules wrapped up in their integumentary environment. And this, or some similar fortuitous entanglement of molecules, should account for all life-manifestations, as well as all life-tendencies, in nature. These molecular entanglements should, therefore, be infinite in number, as well as in fortuitous complexity, to account for all the myriad forms of life "engendered from dead matter" in the material universe.
For if there is any one thing that the materialists insist upon more resolutely than another, it is the fortuitousness of nature—the happening by chance of whatever she does. Formerly it used to be the "fortuitous concourse of atoms;" now it is the "fortuitous aggregate of molecules." By what accidental or fortuitous happening the atoms have dropped out of their scientific categories, and the molecules have been advanced to their commanding place in absolute accidentalness, is one of those unassignable causes in which they apparently so much delight. We can only account for it on the supposition that they have all become worshippers of that blind and accidental Greek goddess, who bore the horn of Amalthea and plentifully endowed her followers with a wealth of language and other much-coveted gifts, but not with the most desirable knack at disposing of them.
The true cause of vital phenomena manifestly depends on these two conditions—the presence of the specific vital unit, and the necessary environing plasma, or nutrient matter, for its primary development. Without the presence of both of these conditions, or conditioning incidences, there can be no life-manifestation anywhere. And we do not see that anything is gained, even in the matter of scientific nomenclature, by merely substituting "molecular force" for "vital force," in the explication of vital phenomena. Even granting that molecular changes do take place during the development of the vital units in their necessary plasmic environment; it by no means follows that these changes are not dependent on the vital principle as it acts, rather than on the molecules as they act, The higher force should always subordinate the lower in all metamorphic, as well as other processes, of nature. It is the vital principle that differentiates matter—the aggregate of molecules—not matter differentiating the vital principle. No "molA(C)cules organiques" can ever differentiate an ape-unit into a man-unit, any more than Professor Tyndall can fetch a Plato out of mere sky-mist. Once an ape-unit, always an ape-unit; once a man-unit, eternally a man-unit.
Let the vitalists stick to this proposition—this eternally fixed unit as "une idA(C)e dans l'entendement de Dieu," (to use a better French expression than English)—and they can fight the materialists off their own ground anywhere. The one sublime verity of the universe is that "life exists," and that it has existed from all eternity as possible in the Divine mind, and in the Divine mind alone. If materialistic science is disposed to butt its head against this impregnable proposition, it can do so. The proposition will stand, whatever may happen to the inconsiderate head.
For science may press her devotees into as many different pursuits as there are starting-points to an azimuth circle, and command them to search and find out the ultimate causes of things in the universe, but the forever narrowing circle in one direction, and the forever widening one in the other, would utterly baffle all their attempted research. Whether they descended into the microscopic world, with its myriad-thronged conditions of life, or passed upward and outward, in Sirius-distances, to the irresolvable nebulA , where other and perhaps brighter stars might burst upon their view gleaming coldly and silently down the still enormous fissures and chasms in the heavens the result would be the same. Wider and wider fields of observation might open upon their view, as the stellar swarms thickened and the power of human vision failed, but the uranological expedition would return no wiser than when it started, and Science would still be confronted with the same illimitability of space, the same infinitude of matter, and the same incomprehensibility of the world-arranging intelligence that lies beyond. For He who hath garnished the heavens by his spirit who divideth the sea with his power, and hangeth the earth upon nothing "holdeth back the face of his throne and spreadeth his cloud upon it."
What if, in one direction, we should find those inconceivably small specks, or mere bioplastic points, which we call "living matter," or, in the other direction, those inconceivably vast world-forming masses which we call "dead matter," who shall say that "the secret places of the Most High" are not hidden from us, or that when the spirit of God first moved through these vast fissures and chasms in the heavens upon the face of all matter, there was not imparted to it that "animating principle of life" of which the biblical genesis speaks, and which we everywhere see manifesting itself in nature? Surely this inquiry is not one to be superciliously set aside by the materialists, after the failure of their uranological expedition, on the ground that it does not furnish food enough for scientific contemplation, without such physiological fancies as their specialists have been giving us in the shape of force-correlations and molecular theories of life.
But speaking of the higher forces as subordinating the lower, suggests that there should be something more definitely explained regarding the hypothesis of "differentiation," on which Mr. Herbert Spencer hangs so much of his mathematical faith in the true explication of vital phenomena. The term "differentiation" is not so formidable as it might seem to the general reader at first sight. As applied to physiological problems it should have the same determinate value, in expressing functional differences, as in the higher operations of mathematics. Nothing can, of course, differentiate itself, nor can any two things differentiate each other, even when functionally allied. The actual coA"fficient sought is the difference effected, in functional value, in one of two independent variables. For all formulA in differentiation are constructed on the hypothesis that only one of two variables suffers change. The differential coA"fficient has yet to be determined which shall express the developmental changes in two variables at once. When, therefore, we attempt to extend the formulA of differentiation to plant and animal life, we are confronted by a very formidable difficulty at the outset the impossibility of determining an invariable coA"fficient for any two variables. Besides, all attempts at differentiating an ape-unit into anything else than an ape-unit would be as impossible as to multiply or divide cabbages by turnips, or sparrows by sparrowhawks. Such divisions would give us no quotients, any more than their differentiations would give us a coA"fficient. Physiological differentiation will, therefore, never help us out of fixed species or nearly allied types. We can bridge no specific differences by it. In the differentiation of the horse and the ass for instance, the superior blood will predominate in the preservation of types, and even the mule will kick against further differentiation. Nature would so utterly abhor the practice as resolutely to slam the door in Mr. Spencer's face, if the obstinacy of the mule did not kick it off its hinges.
And nature would be quite as intractable in the case of "force-correlation," another of Mr. Spencer's redoubtable phrases. This term is quite recent in its application to animate objects, nor has it been long applied to inanimate. It is claimed to be a recently discovered force, and is one that the materialists have seized upon as the Herculean club with which to smite all vital theories to the earth. Its meaning, so far as it has any, is not difficult to get at. The simplest way to explain it, however, is the best. The reader is to understand that when he rubs two flat sticks together, the heat thereby engendered is not the result of friction, as all the world has heretofore supposed, but that the amount of force expended in rubbing the right-hand stick against the left-hand stick, is, by some law of versability, not over-well defined, transferred to the two sticks, and gets so entangled between their surfaces that it can only reappear in another and altogether different kind of force. When it leaves the hands and passes into the two sticks, it is, as the materialists assert, vital force. But as no force can be annihilated, the conclusive assumption is that it still exists somewhere. All of it, in the first place, went into the two flat sticks, and, when there, ceased to be vital force. Some of it disappeared, of course, in overcoming the inertia of the sticks, but the bulk of it became entangled with the superficial molecules of the two sticks, and reappeared as heat—another name for molecular force.
This is what is meant by the "differentiation" of vital force into molecular force, and vice versa. But by what process of rubbing, under this law of versability, molecular force can be reversed, or differentiated back into vital force, Mr. Spencer has not condescended to inform us. The simple truth is, and the materialists will be forced to admit it in the end, that there is no verification of this theory beyond that of mere force-equivalence. For instance, it has been experimentally determined that a certain amount of fuel expended in heat is equivalent to a certain amount of mechanical force, not mechanical work, as M. Carnot puts it. For force is not expended in work until it is actually generated, and the amount generated, not that expended in work, is the real equivalence of the heat produced from fuel.
Another problem is presented when it comes to determining the amount of generated force necessary to run a piece of machinery which shall accomplish a given amount of mechanical work.
A far better phrase to express this equivalence of force has been suggested and used by several writers in what is called the "Transmutation of Force." For there is no correlation, or reciprocal relation, between heat as originally produced by the consumption of fuel and the force as engendered in steam before it is transmuted into work. Nor is there any real equivalence as between the two forces after its transmutation. A very large per centage of heat is lost in its transmutation from a latent form in fuel to an active or available form in steam, and a still greater loss in its transmission into work by machinery. Theoretically, there may be such an equivalence as that named, but practically it is impossible to realize it. And a theory that is impossible of realization is of no practical utility in itself, and of little value as the basis of further theory. If, then, the theory of force equivalence is a failure in practical application, it furnishes a very poor basis on which to predicate force-correlation, or the doctrine of reciprocal forces. It is estimated, for instance, that a pound weight falling seven hundred and seventy-two feet, will, in striking the earth, impart to it a degree of heat equivalent to raising one pound of water 1A deg. F. But the heat thus imparted can never be so utilized as to raise a pound weight seven hundred and seventy-two feet into the air.
This shows that there is no actual reciprocity of relationship between the force as originally engendered and finally expended in work. Nor can it be shown that the original force is transmuted or changed into another and different kind of force by the operation. The force generated and the force expended are essentially one and the same, as much so as that transmitted from the power to the weight by means of a rope and pulley. And the quality of the force is not changed, whether the weight be lifted by machinery or the human hand. Force, in its mechanical sense, is that power which produces motion, or an alteration in the direction of motion, and is incapable of being specialized, except in a highly figurative sense, into a thousand and one correlates of motion. But these miscellaneous and figurative forces are not what we are considering. The doctrine of force-correlation takes no such wide and comprehensive sweep. It embraces neither the force of wit, nor the force of folly; but mechanical force and its equivalents. The force exercised by the human hand in lifting a weight either with or without rope and pulley is, in every definitional sense of the word, mechanical force. For the arm and hand are only the implements, or mechanical contrivances of nature, by which the will-power transmutes itself into work, or, more properly speaking, transmits itself from the point of force-generation to that of force-expenditure. And this is precisely the office performed by all mechanical contrivances for the transmission—not transmutation—of force. And the most perfect machine is that which transmits the engendered force, with the least possible waste or abandonment, to its point of ultimate expenditure in work.
All these hypothetical correlates of force, therefore, predicated upon the doctrine of force-transmutation, have no foundation in fact, since the force transmitted from the point of generation to the point of expenditure undergoes no change but that of direction, in its passage along rope, wire, belt, pulley, shafting, etc. A man whose limbs have been paralyzed, may still will to remove mountains. The will-power is the same, but the mechanical contrivances for its transmission are wanting. Of the actual point or centre of this force-generation, in the case of the will-power, we know nothing; but the moment the power is started on its way towards the point of force-expenditure, whether it traverses the nerves and tissues of the brain, or the right arm or the left, or a crowbar or pickaxe, it is in no sense distinguishable from the force that traverses a rope and pulley. Nor is there any evidence that it undergoes molecular changes, or becomes modified or conditioned by any nearly or remotely related force, as it darts along the nerves, runs through the contracted tissues, electrifies the crowbar, or flashes into work from the point of a pickaxe. Whatever produces, or tends to produce, motion, or an alteration in its direction, is mechanical force, no matter from what force-centre it may start. When we can definitely determine the centre of vital force, as exercised in building up vital structure, not in wielding pickaxes, it is to be hoped we shall be able to distinguish, by the proper correlates, vital force from that which is mechanical. But the task is manifestly a hopeless one with the materialists.
Professor Beale positively denies that there are any such physical force-relations as those claimed by the materialists, and asserts that vital force bears no relation, or correlation, to either chemical or physical force; that the one is a distinct and separate factor from the other, and cannot be interpreted in the same force-formulA . He says: "The idea of motion, or heat, or light, or electricity forming or building up, or constructing any texture capable of fulfilling a definite purpose, seems absurd, and opposed to all that is known, and yet is the notion continually forced upon us, that vitality, which does construct, is but a correlate of ordinary energy or motion."
But after devoting so much time to "force-correlation," and "force-differentiation," the advocates of "molecular-machinery" may feel themselves neglected if we dismiss their favorite hobby without further notice. The precise parentage of this term is disputed, but it has any number of putative fathers. We have spoken of the size of the molecules themselves, and the numbers of them that might be huddled together on the point of a cambric needle without jostling. Let us now consider the size of a molecular machine. For each molecule runs its own machine, and is provident enough to see that they do not jostle. In fact, it is a very nice question in physics, whether the machines do not run the molecules, instead of the prevailing opposite opinion that the molecules run the machines. Unfortunately, the question is one that can never be determined. The requisite scientific data will forever be wanting.
But Professor James C. Maxwell, now, or quite recently, filling the chair of experimental physics in the University of Cambridge, England, has furnished us with approximate calculations. On the strength of his approximations we will proceed to consider the dimensions of these wonderful little machines. And first, it may be axiomatically laid down that these molecular machines, which either run the molecules or are run by them, can never exceed the size of their respective molecules. Conceding, then, that each one of these machines exactly fits into its own molecule, so as to present identically the same dimensions—as well as their largest possible dimensions—it would require two millions of them, placed in a row, to make one millimetre, or the one three hundred and ninety-four thousandths of an inch in length, or seven hundred and eighty-eight billions of them to make one inch! Who will ever be staggered at Sirius-distances, after this? And who will deny that an infinite world lies below the point of our microscopic vision, if not an Infinite kingdom and throne beyond our telescopic glance?
But, following the same high authority in experimental physics, let us consider the aggregate weight of these molecular machines. We will not marshal their aggregate numbers in a row, for an array of forty billions of them would make too insignificant a figure for inspection; but simply give their actual weight as computed under the French or metric system. Take, then, a million million million million of these machines, throwing in molecules and all, and they will weigh, if there is no indiscreet kicking of the beam, just a fraction between four and five grammes, or—to differentiate the weights—a small fraction over one-tenth of an ounce!
But why not get down to the atoms, of which the molecules are only the theoretical congeries, and marshal the "atomic forces" into line? These embryonic atoms are much the braver warriors, and, when summoned to do battle, spring, lithe and light-armed, against the elemental foe. They are no cowardly molecules, these atoms, but make war against Titans, as well as Titanic thrones and powers. The elements recognize them as their body guardsmen, their corps of invincible lancers, their bravest and best soldiers in fight. And they are wholly indifferent as to the legions of molecules arrayed against them, and would as soon hurl a mountain of them into the sea as to sport with a zephyr or caper with the east wind. Why not summon these countless myriads of bright and invincible spearmen, to batter down the walls of this Cretan labyrinth of Life? An army of these would be worth all the molecules that Professor Maxwell could array in line, in a thousand years. No life-problem need remain unsolved with their bright spears to drive the tenebrious mists before them. Even Professor Tyndall's "fog-banks of primordial haze" would be ignominiously scattered in flight before these atomic legions. Let our materialistic friends summon them, then, to their aid. The field of controversy will never be won by their molecular "Hessians." The ineffably bright lancers that stand guard over the elemental hosts are the light brigade with which to rout the vitalistic enemy. Advance them then to the front, and, beneath the shadowy wing of pestilence or some other appalling ensign of destruction, the abashed vital squadrons will flee in dismay.
But let us pass from scientific speculations to alleged scientific facts. In a paper read by Dr. Hughes Bennett before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in 1861, its author says: "The first step, in the process of organic formation, is the production of an organic fluid; the second, the precipitation of organic molecules, from which, according to the molecular law of growth, all other textures are derived either directly or indirectly." Here again the molecules, and not the elementary atoms, are advanced to the front, and not a little anxiety is shown, in a definitional way, to identify vital processes of growth with crystalline processes of formation. But Dr. Bennett entirely mistakes, as well as misstates, the process of vital development, if he does not overlook the law governing the formation of crystals. There can be no symmetrically arranged solids in an inorganic fluid without the presence of some law, or principle, definitely determining, not the "precipitation," but the "formation," of crystals. The inorganic particles are not precipitated or thrown downward, any more than they are sublevated or thrown upward. The process is one of formation, not precipitation. Every crystallographer, not hampered by materialistic views and anti-vital theories, admits the presence of a fixed and determinate law governing each crystalline system, whatever may be the homologous parts or the unequal axes it represents.
And so of the equally undeviating law of vital growth. Life comes from no mere "precipitation of organic molecules," as Dr. Bennett would have us believe. If so, what is it that precipitates the molecules? They can hardly be said to precipitate themselves. To precipitate, in a chemical sense, is to be thrown down, or caused to be thrown down, as a substance from its solution. What, then, causes the molecules to be thus precipitously thrown down from a fluid to a solid, or a semi-solid, state? It cannot be from any blind or inconsiderate haste on the part of the molecules themselves. There must be some independent principle, or law of nature—one presupposing an intelligent law-giver—to effect the "precipitating process," if any such really exists.
But it does not exist. The first step is one of development and growth—the manifestation of functional activity—the building up of organic or cellular tissue. The exact process, in the case of seed-bearing plants and trees, is well known. All those familiar with the characteristic differences of seeds, their chemical constituents, their tegumentary coverings, rudimentary parts, etc., thoroughly understand the process in its outward manifestation. There is no precipitation of molecules as in an organic fluid, unless the albumen lying between the embryo and testa of the seeds, and constituting the nutriment on which the plant feeds during its primary stages of growth, can be called a fluid. It throws none of its characteristic ingredients downward any more than upward. Indeed the greater tendency of its molecules is upward rather than downward, in the "molecular processes" (vital ones) by which the embryonic cell is started upon its career of plant-life. The celebrated Dr. Liebig says of this albuminous environment: "It is the foundation, the starting-point, of the whole series of peculiar tissues which constitute those organs which are the seat of all vital actions." In the case of animal life, this albumen abounds in the serum of the blood, enters largely into the chyle and lymph, goes to build up the tissues and muscles, and is the chief ingredient of the nerves, glands, and even the brain itself. And in all these developmental stages, its tendency is to coagulate rather than precipitate. In its coagulated condition, it dries to a hard, partially translucent and friable state, and is more or less insoluble in water, and entirely so at a temperature from 140A deg. to 160A deg. F.
When the seed is planted or placed in water, it first commences to swell from the absorption of the water or moisture of the ground by the pores of its external covering, the favorable temperature being from 60A deg. to 80A deg. F. It gradually expands until its outer membranes burst, and its initial rootlets clasp their hold upon the earth. From this point its several stages of development are well known to the ordinary observer. Here the first step is absorption and expansion, not precipitation. There is also a change in chemical conditions, the water at least being decomposed. For it would seem to be a law of vegetal growth that reproduction should begin in decomposition and decay. The Apostle's description of the "death of the grain," as symbolizing the death of man, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, points conclusively in this direction. It is in the decomposition and decay of the grain that the implanted germ is quickened into life—ascends into the bright light, the warm sunshine, the refreshing presence of showers and dews. In this way it fulfils its providential purpose of yielding to the sower the more munificent life which he is forever seeking to attain.
Its germination is the springing up of the inner living principle of the grain, not its outer envelope or dead husk. This disappears in decay, except the small nutrient portion within which the germinal principle of life would seem to reside, and which undergoes a thorough chemical change in the process of passing from death unto life, or being assimilated and taken up into the new living structure. The Apostle's comparison distinctly marks these several changes as the one process of passing from death unto life. He saw in this wonderful provision of nature, the still more wonderful prevision of God. To his mind it was over the debris of the dead past that the living present is constantly marching towards a higher and more perfect life—the ultimate fruition and joy of an eternal home in the skies! And he saw that the two grand instrumentalities and co-accessory agencies to this end, were Life and Death, both equally constant and active, like all the other instrumentalities and governing agencies of the universe. Life is forever unlocking the portals of the present to youth and vigor; Death is forever closing them to age and decrepitude. This divine prevision thus becomes the wisest and most beneficent provision. Without life there would be no such thing as death, and without death no such thing as this grand succession and march of life—this passing from out the Shadow into the Day.
Darwinism Considered from a Vitalistic Stand-Point.
Granting that the assumption of Darwinism rests, as claimed, on the fixed and inflexible adaptation of means to ends, in the diversified yet measurably specialized processes of nature, there is no logical deduction to be drawn therefrom but that which traces the representatives of all the great types of the animal kingdom to one single source, and that not the Sovereign Intelligence of the Universe, but a mere "ovule in protoplasm," or what may be defined, in its unaggregated form, as an inconceivably small whirligig, having motion on a central axis, but whether an independent motion of its own, or one derived from an Infinite Intelligence, the Darwinian systematizers are not bold enough to aver. They have too many a priori scruples either to assert the one proposition or to deny the other. What set this little whirligig in motion is a mystery that lies beyond the purview of science, so called, and into the depths of this infinitessimal and most mysterious little chamber they refuse to go.
They search not for the evidence of an Infinite Intelligence in the outermost circle of the heavens where the highest is to be found, and where a bound is set that we may not pass, but shutting their eyes to all the grander evidences of such an Intelligence, they dive down into the infinitessimal realm of nature and assume to dig out the sublimer secrets of the universe there. And this is their grand discovery: That this infinitessimal whirligig of theirs has not only whirled man into existence, but the entire circle of the heavens, with the innumerable host of stars that march therein, and all the boundless systems of worlds that roll in space. With this subordination of the Infinite to the infinitessimal, of intelligence to insensate matter, of divine energy, so to speak, to blind molecular force, they are satisfied; and, like the mole in the fable, conceive their little molecule to be the only possible creator of a stupendous universe.
Scrutinize my propositions closely, and see if I am guilty of misstating theirs. Their new theory is only a slight modification of an old one, or the old adage, omne vivum ex ovo—all life is from an egg. For they assert that every living thing primordially proceeds from an ovule in protoplasm, the essential part of the protoplasmic egg, so to speak, being this little ovum or cellule, from which have issued all possible organisms in both the vegetable and animal kingdoms. Nor is this theory essentially confined to organic matter. A scientific coArdination of its several known parts, or alleged functions, extends the operations of this infinitessimal whirligig to the plastic or uniformly diffused state of all matter, from which has been evolved, in an infinite duration of past time, not only life in its highest manifestations, but a universe so stupendously grand that no amount of human intelligence can grasp the first conception of it.
Mr. Emerson—our Ralph Waldo—virtually accepts this theory of development, substituting, however, a stomach for an ovule, and the reverse of the Darwinian proposition, in what he is pleased to call "the incessant opposition of nature to everything hurtful." It is not the "selection of the fittest" but the "rejection of the unfit," by which "a beneficent necessity (I use his language) is always bringing things right." "It is in the stomach of plants," he says, "that development begins, and ends in the circles of the universe." "'Tis a long way," he admits, "from the gorilla to the gentleman—from the gorilla to Plato, Newton, Shakespeare—to the sanctities of religion, the refinements of legislation, the summits of science, art, poetry."
Few persons, I take it, will dispute this proposition. The road is a long one and beset with all sorts of thorns and briars, such as Mr. Emerson's philosophy will hardly eradicate from the wayside. Even the most refined empiricism will find it difficult to stomach his stomachic theory of the universe, which lands all atomic or corpuscular philosophy in a digestive sac, such as Jack Falstaff bore about him with its measureless capacity for potations and Eastcheap fare. It is a road too in which Mr. Emerson's philosophy will get many sharp raps from an external world of phenomena, in the futility of both his and the Darwinian hypothesis to explain away the independent origination of certain species of plants and animals—new varieties still springing into existence, under favorable conditions, in obedience to the divine fiat, "Let the earth bring forth."
In laying the foundations of this new science, if science it shall be called, we must insist that the course of nature is uniform, and that, however extended our generalizations in any one of her lines of uniformity, all intermediate, as well as ultimate propositions, must not only be stated with the utmost scientific accuracy, but the logical deductions therefrom must also be uniform, or lie in the path of uniformity. The earliest and latest inductions must either coincide or approximate the same end. No links must be broken, no chasms bridged, in the scientific series. There must be a distinct and separate link connecting each preceding and each succeeding one in the chain. The lowest known mammal must be found in immediate relationship with his higher congener or brother, not in any remote cousinship. There must be no saltatory progress—no leaping over intermediate steps or degrees. The heights of science are not to be scaled per saltum, except as degrees may sometimes be conferred by our universities.
There are some fish-like animals, say our Darwinian systematizers, like the Lepidosirens and their congeners, with the characteristics of amphibians; and hence they infer that by successive deviations and improvements the lower order has risen into the higher. But out of what page in the volume of nature, in the countless leaves we have turned back, has the immediate congener dropped, that we are obliged to look for the relationship in thirty-fourth cousins? We might as well say that some of the Infusoria possess the same or similar characteristics, and predicate relationship between them and the amphibians; for giants sometimes spring from dwarfs and dwarfs from giants. At all events, our diagnoses must be freed from these intermediate breaks or failures in the chain of continuity, or the doctrine of descent must tumble with the imaginary foundations on which it is built. And bear in mind that the most enthusiastic Darwinist is forced to admit that there are still rigid partitions between the lower and higher organisms that have not been pierced by the light of scientific truth, but they assume that future discoveries and investigations will solve the difficulty. But science, inflexible as she is, or ought to be, in her demands, admits of no assumptions, much less sanctions such exceptions and deviations as we constantly find in the Darwinian path of continuity. The eye of imagination can supply nothing to her vision. She is eagle-eyed, and soars into the bright empyrean—does not dive into quagmires and the slime of creation after truth.
But let us see how Mr. Darwin bridges one of the very first chasms he meets with in constructing his chain of generation. He goes back to the first link, or to what he calls primordial generation. Here the leap is from inorganic matter to the lowest form of organic life—from inanimate to animate dust. The chasm is immense, as all will agree. But he bridges it by falling back on his infinitessimal whirligig—his primum mobile—or on the motions of elements as yet inaccessible, except to the eye of imagination. For even Plato's monad, or ultimate atom, was not matter itself, being indivisible, but rather a formal unit or primary constituent of matter, which, like Mr. Darwin's whirligig in its unaggregated form, admits of neither a maximum nor a minimum of comprehension; but rests entirely on imaginary hypothesis. And we may here add that a system which begins in imaginary hypotheses and ends in them—as that of bridging the chasmal difference between a gorilla and a Plato—can be dignified into a science only by a still greater stretch of the imagination—that of bridging the difference between the Darwinian zero and his ninety degrees of development in a Darwin himself!
Bear in mind, as we proceed, that the function of an argument in philosophy, as in logic, is to prove that a certain relation exists between two concepts or objects of thought, when that relation is not self-evident. In the Darwinian chain we have, as the first link, organic life springing from inorganic matter, without the slightest relation existing between the two, except what may be universally predicated of matter itself, whether animate or inanimate, organic or inorganic; and there is no other affirmative premise, expressing their agreement as extremes, that can possibly admit of an affirmative conclusion. The parts are so separated in thought that no metaphysical or ideal distinction exists to coordinate them in classification. We are simply forced back, in our attempt at classification, upon the intuitions of consciousness, where reason manifestly ceases to enforce its inductions.
And here the human mind intuitively springs an objection which is at once aimed at the very citadel of Darwinism. On what rests the validity of these intuitions except it be that "breath of life," which, as we have before said, was breathed into man when he became a living soul? If we follow the divine record, instead of these blind systematizers leading the blind, we shall have no difficulty in establishing the validity of these intuitions—the highest potential factors this side of Deity to be found anywhere in the universe. For if our intuitions are not to be relied upon—if their objects and perceptions are to be discarded as unreliable—then there can be no agreement or disagreement between any two ideas presented, objectively or subjectively, to the human mind. No processes of mental analysis or ratiocination, like those pursued in the elementary methods of Euclid, can present the basis of an intellectual judgment, or lay the foundation of the slightest faith or belief in the world. To deny the primary perception of truth by intuition is as fatal to "Evolution" as to the sublimer teachings of the Bible Genesis.
But from the very nature of our being, as well as the primary datum of consciousness itself, we must rest the validity of these intuitions on something, and that, something more than a finite intelligence; and since science, with all her knowledge methodically digested and arranged, furnishes no clue to the mystery, we are left to the higher sources of inspiration to reach it. And this inspiration, however it may be derived, necessarily becomes a part of our intuitions, since it addresses itself to the strongest possible cravings of the human soul, and is accepted as its inseparable companion and guest.
Shall we build our faith then on the Divine Word,—on the Word that was in the beginning with God, and, when incarnate, was God,—or on Mr. Darwin's little whirligig that originally set everything in motion, and has only to go on ad infinitum to whirl us out a God, as it has already whirled us out a Darwinian universe without one. For if this ovulistic whirligig has bridged the chasmal difference between protoplasm and man, since the transition from inorganic matter to organic life, the process has only to be indefinitely extended to bridge the chasm between man and Deity, or between finite and infinite intelligence. This gives us nature evolving a God, instead of the doctrine of the old Theogonies, of a God presiding from all eternity over nature; one "who laid the foundations of the earth that it should not be removed forever; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters; who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire."
These evolutionists manifestly get the cart before the horse in their category of cosmological events. It is not inert matter organizing itself into life, nor any mode of physical or chemical action, nor any mere manifestation of motion or of heat, nor any other conceivable correlation of natural forces. None of these has enabled us to penetrate the mysterious inner-chamber of life itself. For reasons obviously connected with our own welfare, He, from whom alone are "the issues of life," seems to have ordained that we should fathom the depths of both physical and chemical force, and beneficently wield and direct them to our own uses. But this vital force; this something that stands apart from and is essentially different from all other kinds of force, is of a nature that baffles all our efforts to approach. The power to grasp it, or even to penetrate in the slightest degree its mysteries, is delegated to none. All attempts to lay bare this principle of vitality, or level the barriers that separate it from physical or chemical action, have utterly failed. We know no more of its essence now than was known a thousand years ago, and know no less than will be known a thousand years hence. To become masters of the mystery, we must enter the impenetrable veil within which the Infinite Intelligence of the universe presides,—who, we are told, "sendeth forth his spirit, and we are created, who taketh away our breath, we die and return to our dust." 
We are just as much bewildered in respect to this vital principle in our classifications of the myriads of little creatures careering over the field of the microscope, as when we turn to the most marked formations of genera and species in geological distribution. The great trouble with Mr. Darwin's vinculum is, that its weakest links are precisely where the strongest should be found, and vice versa. With a candor rarely displayed by a writer who is spinning a theory, he admits this. The geological record is not what he would have it to be. Whole chapters are gone where they are most needed, and nature's lithography seems constantly at fault. Independent species are now and then springing up where derivatives should be looked for, while derivatives are everywhere disappearing in non-derivatives. Many of the middle Tertiary molusca, and a large proportion of the later Tertiary period, are specifically identical with the living species, of to-day. What has "natural selection" been doing for this family in the last million years or more? Manifestly nothing, and less than nothing, for some of the species have dropped out altogether.
These facts, and hundreds of others like them, are constantly obtruding themselves upon our attention to show, in harmony with the Bible Genesis, the immutability of species—the absolute fixity of types—rather than their variability, as claimed. If nature abhors anything more than a vacuum, it is manifestly any marked transition from fixed types, and she thunders her edicts against it in the non-fertility of all hybrids. The doctrine of variation lacks the all-essential element of continuity, and is oftener at war with the theory of the "selection of the fittest," than it is with the selection of the "unfit." The leap from Lepidosirens to Amphibians is no greater than the interval between any two species of animals or plants yet discovered, either fossil or living. The intervals are as numerous as the species themselves, and everywhere constitute great and sudden leaps, or such transitional changes as "natural selection" could not have effected independently of intervening forms—those that nowhere exist in nature, and never have existed, if we are to credit geologic and paleontologic records. There is everywhere similarity of structure, but not identity; and the nearer we approach to identity of structure the wider the divergence in similarity of characteristics. A bird may be taught to talk and sing snatches of music. But no monkey has ever been able to articulate human sounds, much less give them rhythmical utterance.
Take the case of the wild pigeon, a subject that especially delights Mr. Darwin. Most of the deviations are confined to the domesticated breeds, and none of these rank in strength, hardiness, capability of flight, or symmetry of structure, with the wild or typical bird. There are well-defined deviations, but no sensible improvements, except to the eye of the bird-fancier. The deviations are simply entailed weaknesses, or the very reverse of what should appear from the "selection of the fittest." The fact undeniably is, that these variations are almost wholly abnormal—mere exaggerated characteristics, induced in the first instance, perhaps, by high cultivation and close in-and-in breeding.
Turn these abnormal varieties loose, let them go back to the aboriginal stock, and these characteristics will rapidly disappear; that is, they will ultimately lose themselves or melt away in the original type. Mr. Darwin admits that the tendency will be to reversion, but he insists, manifestly without any positive proof therefor, that the greater tendency is to new centres of attraction, and not necessarily the primitive one. But this is mere assumption—sheer begging the question on his part,—since all the oscillations are incontestibly about the original or type centre.
The same may be said of the typical races of men, like the negro and wild Indian of our prairies. You may lift them out of their primitive condition—temporarily suspend, if you please so to put it, their primordial attraction,—but, left again to themselves, they will go back to the original type; that is, their offspring will again infest the jungles and roam their native hunting-grounds. The process here is the very reverse of the Darwinian theory. Reversion, as a rule, follows the degeneracy of types, instead of there being any favorable homogeneous result, springing from a new centre of attraction. The Indian makes a splendid savage, but a very poor white man. Think of Red Jacket taking the part of Mercutio in the play or enacting the more valiant role of Falstaff in King Henry the Fourth. An infusion of white blood does not help the matter, but rather makes it worse. Generally, the meanest Indian on the continent is your half-breed, and among the negroes there is no term so expressive of the contempt of that race, as that applied by them to a mulatto. The present condition of Mexico affords a striking exemplification of this law of reversion. The inheritable characteristics or variations, produced from an infusion of Spanish blood, are rapidly disappearing—the native blood whipping out the European. The potency is in the inferior blood, simply because it is the predominating one. The result has been no homogeneous new race, but a reversion, now manifestly in progress, to the type centre or aboriginal stock. And the curse pronounced by Ezekiel upon mongrel tribes—"woe unto the mingled peoples" may have a significance in this connection worth considering; but it manifestly falls outside the scope of our present inquiry.
In considering the embryological structure of man, and the homologies he therein presents to the lower animals, Mr. Darwin thus conclusively (in his judgment) remarks: "We thus learn that man is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in his habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World."
But Mr. Darwin's pronominal "we," in this connection, admits of qualification. He can hardly speak for all the scientific world at once. The philosophical maxim of Sir Isaac Newton—hypotheses non fingo—I build no hypotheses, make no suppositions, but adhere to facts—has a few followers still left. But what are Mr. Darwin's facts? Has he yet discovered the caudal man, except as the ever-fertile Mr. Stanley heard of one in Africa? And where is his monkey that first lost the prehensile power to climb trees? For bear in mind that it was the loss of this prehensile power that resulted in the caudal atrophy of our monkey progenitors, who became men simply because they were tailless monkeys! They had lost their power to climb trees, and accordingly had no longer any use for tails to let themselves down from the limbs. A "beneficent necessity" therefore, according to Mr. Emerson, dropped the tail as something decidedly "unfit." For the simplest tyro in Darwinian philosophy will see that the loss of the Catarrhine monkey's tail, if it ever occurred, could not have resulted from the "selection of the fittest." The deeper Emersonian philosophy of the "rejection of the unfit," affords the only solution of the difficulty, and then only on the assumption that the tail is an unfit appendage for the monkey.
With the loss of his tail, in the light of this new genesis, the monkey necessarily ceased to be arboreal in his habits. He could no longer subsist on the fruits and nuts of trees, or take refuge therein from his enemies. He had to go to work and make weapons to defend himself—to construct tools—make and set traps, live on his wits, and not on his prehensile power to climb trees. He soon discovered, of course, that the longest pole knocked the persimmon. This was his first intellectual stride towards the future Edison. From the simplest sort of Grahamitic philosopher he passed into the robust, beef-eating Englishman. But this was not all. As an arboreal gymnast, he was manifestly on his way to more masterly feats of agility than ever,—those dependent, not on muscular function, but on the nervous action of the brain and spinal marrow. Necessity became with him the "mother of invention," and how admirably he improved under this maternal instructor we are left to infer from the paramount conclusion of Mr. Darwin, that the demoralized monkey became the incipient man!
But this conclusively accounts for only one of the many anatomical differences between man and his caudal progenitor. For why should the loss of his tail have resulted in the changed chemistry of the monkey's brain? or in the increased involutions of his brain even? The specific differences between the present and ancestral types are very numerous and demand separate classification. Their variability runs through every bone, muscle, tissue, fibre, nerve. Their blood corpuscles are not the same. The chemistry of their bones essentially differs. The nerves are differently bundled and differently strung. In intonations of voice—symmetry of arms, legs, chest—hairlessness of body, and aquatic and land habits, the frog is a much nearer approach to man than the monkey, as all caricaturists, delineating aldermanic proportions, will agree. And Mr. Darwin might have immortalized himself by deriving the builders of the ancient pile-habitations and other primitive water-rats and croakers of the Swiss lakes, from this tailless batrachian. For everybody knows, or thinks he knows, how the frog lost his tail. If he didn't wag it off, he certainly absorbed its waggishness as a distinguishing characteristic of the "coming man"—the future Artemas Wards and Mark Twains of the race. This ancestral origin will also account for the otherwise unaccountable proclivity of all human juveniles to play at the game of leap-frog! Besides, it would have relieved Mr. Darwin from one of the greatest perplexities he has had to encounter. As he derives man from a hairy quadruped, the absence of hair on the human body, is a phenomenal fact that gives him great trouble. He agrees that it does not result from "natural selection," as he says "the loss of hair is an inconvenience and probably an injury to man." Nor does he suppose it to result from what he calls "correlated development." He is more puzzled over this problem of divestiture than any other, and finds the solution of it only in "sexual selection." That is, he assumes that among our semi-human progenitors, far back in the Tertiary or some other period, some female monkeys were less hirsute than others, and that they naturally preferred males possessing similar characteristics. These divergencies were thus commenced, and, by continuous "sexual selection," the infirmity (for such he regards the loss of hair) was propagated until the race was almost entirely denuded or bereft of this covering. In the same way he accounts for nearly all the differentiations of the race, among the various tribes now or formerly inhabiting the earth. All have sprung from the same semi-human progenitors—apes that lost their capacity to subsist as apes, and hence found it necessary to subsist as men!
The law of degeneracy has, therefore, had quite as much to do with human origins as that of progressive development. In fact, it is the paramount law from a Darwinian stand-point. For the loss of hair and of the prehensile power to climb trees are both conceded by Mr. Darwin to be serious defects and drawbacks in the ape family.
But the law of sexual selection, as treated by the evolutionists, is not scientifically accurate, nor is it true in fact. The loving tendency of nature is to opposites, not likes. The positive and negative poles are those that play into each other with most marvellous effect. Each repels its like and rushes to the embrace of its opposite. Extremes lovingly meet everywhere. A brunette selects a blonde and a blonde a brunette, as a general rule in matrimony. A tall man or woman, with rare exceptions, chooses a short companion for life. Dark eyes delight in those that are light, and vice-versa. Everywhere nature seeks diversity, not similitude. The gayest and brightest feathered songster craves companionship in modest and unobtrusive colors. Diversity is the law of life, as equality, or versimilitude, is that of death. Neither natural selection, nor sexual selection, runs counter to this law. If Mr. Darwin's theory were true, that likes selected likes, then the two marked extremes which should have characterized the race, soon after its emergence from the semi-human state, should have been giants and pigmies, Gargantuas and Lilliputs. Otherwise "sexual selection," as treated by its author, plays no intelligible part in the economy of nature, except to counterbalance variability, not to propagate it.
But the Darwinian assumption that the primeval man, or his immediate ape-like progenitor, came through "natural selection," that is, through the "survival of the fittest," is subject to one or two other objections which we shall briefly notice. And the first objection is not altogether a technical one. The term "fittest," as applied to a monkey, has at once a definite and comprehensive significance to us. It implies the presence of whatever is most perfect of its kind in the monkey as a monkey, and not in the monkey as something else than a monkey. They are all admirably adapted for climbing trees; and it is this adaptation that secures them safety, or complete immunity, in shelter from their enemies. To say that nature selects the fittest for them—for any species of monkey—by converting their forefeet into rudimentary hands, with a loss of prehension and no corresponding advantages in locomotion, is to use language without any appreciable significance to us. We can only say that what is fittest for the monkey is ill-fitted for man, and the reverse. This is all we can definitely predicate of them, from what we know of their anatomical structure, and the diversified uses to which it may be put.
The fact is, as the Bible genesis shows, that every living thing is perfect of its kind, and whatever is perfect admits of no Darwinian variations or improvements for the better. And the simple statement of this undeniable proposition is, we submit, a complete refutation of Darwinism. When the waters and the earth were commanded to bring forth abundantly of every living creature and every living thing, "it was so, and God saw that it was good," that is, everything perfect of its kind, and in its kind. With this single limitation as to kind, a rattlesnake is no less perfect than a Plato or a John Howard.
When we consider man's upright position; the firmness and steadiness with which he plants his foot upon the earth; when we examine the mechanism of his hand, and the wonderful and almost unlimited range it possesses for diversified use; when we see how ill-fitted he is for climbing trees, yet how express and admirable for climbing among the stars, even to the outermost milky-way, the idea that what is fittest for him is fit for the chattering monkey, is too absurd to give us pause. And yet how does Mr. Darwin know that the monkey has been climbing up, all these hundred thousand or million years, into man, as one of the congenital freaks of nature, and not man shambling down into the monkey as a reverse congenital freak. Children have sometimes been born with a singular resemblance to the ape family, but no ape has ever, to Mr. Darwin's knowledge, produced issue more manlike than itself. The divergencies run the wrong way to meet the conditions of the development theory. We have had nearly five thousand years in which to mark these transitional changes, and yet the monkey of to-day is identical with that painted on the walls of ancient Meroe. In all this time he has made no advance in the genetic relation; and if we turn back the lithographic pages of nature for a hundred times five thousand years, we shall find no essential departure from aboriginal types.
But the Darwinian hypothesis admits of a more conclusive answer than we have yet given. Past time, it will be conceded, is theoretically if not actually infinite; and in all past time, nature has been tugging away at Mr. Darwin's problem of the "survival of the fittest." It is no two hundred and fifty thousand years, nor two hundred and fifty millions, but an infinite duration of past time that covers the period in which she has been wrestling with this problem. How successfully has she solved it? In the Darwinian sense of the term "fittest," she has not so much as stated her first equation or extracted the root of her first power. She is manifestly as much puzzled over the problem as Mr. Darwin himself. He fails to see that the "survival of the fittest," necessarily implies, or carries with it, the correlative proposition,—the "non-survival of the unfit." And when such a law has been operative for an infinite duration of past time, the "unfit," however infinitely distributed at first, should have disappeared altogether, many thousands, if not millions, of years ago. If the evolutionists are dealing with vast problems, and assigning to nature, unlimited factors to express the totality of her unerring operations, they must be careful to limit the time in which any one of her given labors is to be accomplished. If she makes any progress at all, an infinite duration of past time should enable her to complete her work just as effectually as an infinite duration of time to come.
But by what law of "natural selection," appertaining to a single pair of old world monkeys, have their offspring advanced to this regal state of manhood, while all other pairs have remained stationary, or precisely where they were two hundred and fifty thousand years ago or more? Why this exceptional divergence in the case of a single pair of monkeys? Why this anomalous, aberrant, and thoroughly eccentric movement on the part of nature? We had supposed that her operations were uniform—conformable to fixed laws of movement. The doctrine of the "survival of the fittest" implies this. Why then, should nature, in her unerring operations, have selected the fittest in respect to a single pair of Catarrhine monkeys, and at the same time rejected the fittest in the case of a million other pairs? If she had selected only the fittest in respect to this old world stock of monkeys, the entire Catarrhine family should have disappeared in the next higher or fitter group—a group nowhere to be found in geological distribution. The break between man and this Catarrhine monkey covers quite a series of links in the genetic vinculum; and yet between the two we find no high form of a low type fitting into a low form of a high type, as we manifestly should, to account for all the diversified changes that must have taken place in the interim. And what is true of the types is measurably true of the classes within the types, as well as of the orders within the classes. Wide deviations in forms, as in characteristics, would seem to be the invariable rule; the blending of type into type, except perhaps in remote relationships, is nowhere visible.
But if "variation" and "natural selection" have played important parts in the economy of nature, why may not "specific creation" have played its part also? Positive science can hardly flatter itself with the belief that it is rolling back the mystery of the universe to a point beyond which "specific creation" might not have commenced, or the divine fiat been put forth. To believe in the possibility of a rational synthesis, limited to sensible experience, or phenomenal facts within our reach, that shall climb from law to law, or from concrete fact to abstract conception, until it shall reach the Ultima Thule of all law, is to carry the faith of the scientist beyond the most transcendental belief of the theologian, and make him a greater dupe to his illusions than was ever cloistered in a monastery or affected austerity therein as a balm to the flesh. We may substitute new dogmatisms for old ones, but we can never postulate a principle that shall make the general laws of nature any less mysterious than the partial or exceptional, or that shall in the long run, render "natural selection" any more comprehensible, or acceptable to the rational intuition, than "specific creation." For while one class of scientists is climbing the ladder of synthesis, by assigning a reason for a higher law that may be predicated of a lower, we shall find the broader and more analytical mind accepting the higher mystery for the lower, and, by divesting its faith of all metaphysical incumbrance, landing in the belief of an all-encompassing law, which shall comprehend the entire assemblage of known laws and facts in the universe. And the natural drift of the human mind is ever towards this abstract conception—this one all-encompassing law of the universe. It steadily speculates in this direction, and some of the highest triumphs of our age, in physical as well as metaphysical science, are measurably due to this tendency. The scientific mind is not confined wholly to experimental research. It is stimulated to higher contemplations, and is constantly disposed to make larger and more comprehensive groupings of analogous facts. It is fast coming to regard light, heat, electricity, magnetism, gravitation, chemical affinity, molecular force, and even Mr. Darwin's little whirligig, as only so many manifestations or expressions of one and the same force in the universe—that ultimate, all-encompassing, divine force (not to speak unscientifically) that upholds the order of the heavens, "binds the sweet influences of the Pleiades, brings forth Mazzaroth in his season, and guides Arcturus with his suns."
It is the boast of the Darwinian systematizers that their development theory not only harmonizes with, but admirably supplements and out-rounds the grander speculation of Laplace, termed the "Nebular Hypothesis," which regards the universe as having originally consisted of uniformly diffused matter, filling all space, which subsequently became aggregated by gravitation, much after the manner of Mr. Darwin's little whirligig, into an infinite number of sun-systems, occupying inconceivably vast areas in space. Of the correctness of this hypothesis it is unnecessary to speak. It is to the Darwinian speculation what the infinite is to the infinitessimal, and we only refer to it to bring out the vastness of the conception as compared to the latter theory, and to predicate thereon the more conclusive induction that an Infinite Intelligence directs and superintends all.