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    3. Evolution

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    Chapter 4
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    Everybody nowadays talks about evolution. Like electricity, the cholera
    germ, woman's rights, the great mining boom, and the Eastern Question,
    it is 'in the air.' It pervades society everywhere with its subtle
    essence; it infects small-talk with its familiar catchwords and its
    slang phrases; it even permeates that last stronghold of rampant
    Philistinism, the third leader in the penny papers. Everybody believes
    he knows all about it, and discusses it as glibly in his everyday
    conversation as he discusses the points of racehorses he has never seen,
    the charms of peeresses he has never spoken to, and the demerits of
    authors he has never read. Everybody is aware, in a dim and nebulous
    semi-conscious fashion, that it was all invented by the late Mr. Darwin,
    and reduced to a system by Mr. Herbert Spencer--don't you know?--and a
    lot more of those scientific fellows. It is generally understood in the
    best-informed circles that evolutionism consists for the most part in a
    belief about nature at large essentially similar to that applied by
    Topsy to her own origin and early history. It is conceived, in short,
    that most things 'growed.' Especially is it known that in the opinion of
    the evolutionists as a body we are all of us ultimately descended from
    men with tails, who were the final offspring and improved edition of the
    common gorilla. That, very briefly put, is the popular conception of the
    various points in the great modern evolutionary programme.

    It is scarcely necessary to inform the intelligent reader, who of course
    differs fundamentally from that inferior class of human beings known to
    all of us in our own minds as 'other people,' that almost every point in
    the catalogue thus briefly enumerated is a popular fallacy of the
    wildest description. Mr. Darwin did not invent evolution any more than
    George Stephenson invented the steam-engine, or Mr. Edison the electric
    telegraph. We are not descended from men with tails, any more than we
    are descended from Indian elephants. There is no evidence that we have
    anything in particular more than the remotest fiftieth cousinship with
    our poor relation the West African gorilla. Science is not in search of
    a 'missing link'; few links are anywhere missing, and those are for the
    most part wholly unimportant ones. If we found the imaginary link in
    question, he would not be a monkey, nor yet in any way a tailed man. And
    so forth generally through the whole list of popular beliefs and current
    fallacies as to the real meaning of evolutionary teaching. Whatever most
    people think evolutionary is for the most part a pure parody of the
    evolutionist's opinion.

    But a more serious error than all these pervades what we may call the
    drawing-room view of the evolutionist theory. So far as Society with a
    big initial is concerned, evolutionism first began to be talked about,
    and therefore known (for Society does not read; it listens, or rather it
    overhears and catches fragmentary echoes) when Darwin published his
    'Origin of Species.' That great book consisted simply of a theory as to
    the causes which led to the distinctions of kind between plants and
    animals. With evolution at large it had nothing to do; it took for
    granted the origin of sun, moon, and stars, planets and comets, the
    earth and all that in it is, the sea and the dry land, the mountains and
    the valleys, nay even life itself in the crude form, everything in fact,
    save the one point of the various types and species of living beings.
    Long before Darwin's book appeared evolution had been a recognised force
    in the moving world of science and philosophy. Kant and Laplace had
    worked out the development of suns and earths from white-hot
    star-clouds. Lyell had worked out the evolution of the earth's surface
    to its present highly complex geographical condition. Lamarck had worked
    out the descent of plants and animals from a common ancestor by slow
    modification. Herbert Spencer had worked out the growth of mind from its
    simplest beginnings to its highest outcome in human thought.

    But Society, like Gallio, cared nothing for all these things. The
    evolutionary principles had never been put into a single big book, asked
    for at Mudie's, and permitted to lie on the drawing-room table side by
    side with the last new novel and the last fat volume of scandalous court
    memoirs. Therefore Society ignored them and knew them not; the word
    evolution scarcely entered at all as yet into its polite and refined
    dinner-table vocabulary. It recognised only the 'Darwinian theory,'
    'natural selection,' 'the missing link,' and the belief that men were
    merely monkeys who had lost their tails, presumably by sitting upon
    them. To the world at large that learned Mr. Darwin had invented and
    patented the entire business, including descent with modification, if
    such notions ever occurred at all to the world-at-large's speculative

    Now, evolutionism is really a thing of far deeper growth and older
    antecedents than this easy, superficial drawing-room view would lead us
    to imagine. It is a very ancient and respectable theory indeed, and it
    has an immense variety of minor developments. I am not going to push it
    back, in the fashionable modern scientific manner, to the vague and
    indefinite hints in our old friend Lucretius. The great original Roman
    poet--the only original poet in the Latin language--did indeed hit out
    for himself a very good rough working sketch of a sort of nebulous and
    shapeless evolutionism. It was bold, it was consistent, for its time it
    was wonderful. But Lucretius's philosophy, like all the philosophies of
    the older world, was a mere speculative idea, a fancy picture of the
    development of things, not dependent upon observation of facts at all,
    but wholly evolved, like the German thinker's camel, out of its author's
    own pregnant inner consciousness. The Roman poet would no doubt have
    built an excellent superstructure if he had only possessed a little
    straw to make his bricks of. As it was, however, scientific brick-making
    being still in its infancy, he could only construct in a day a shadowy
    Aladdin's palace of pure fanciful Epicurean phantasms, an imaginary
    world of imaginary atoms, fortuitously concurring out of void chaos into
    an orderly universe, as though by miracle. It is not thus that systems
    arise which regenerate the thought of humanity; he who would build for
    all time must make sure first of a solid foundation, and then use sound
    bricks in place of the airy nothings of metaphysical speculation.

    It was in the last century that the evolutionary idea really began to
    take form and shape in the separate conceptions of Kant, Laplace,
    Lamarck, and Erasmus Darwin. These were the true founders of our modern
    evolutionism. Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer were the Joshuas who
    led the chosen people into the land which more than one venturous Moses
    had already dimly descried afar off from the Pisgah top of the
    eighteenth century.

    Kant and Laplace came first in time, as astronomy comes first in logical
    order. Stars and suns, and planets and satellites, necessarily precede
    in development plants and animals. You can have no cabbages without a
    world to grow them in. The science of the stars was therefore reduced to
    comparative system and order, while the sciences of life, and mind, and
    matter were still a hopeless and inextricable muddle. It was no wonder,
    then, that the evolution of the heavenly bodies should have been clearly
    apprehended and definitely formulated while the evolution of the earth's
    crust was still imperfectly understood, and the evolution of living
    beings was only tentatively and hypothetically hinted at in a timid

    In the beginning, say the astronomical evolutionists, not only this
    world, but all the other worlds in the universe, existed potentially, as
    the poet justly remarks, in 'a haze of fluid light,' a vast nebula of
    enormous extent and almost inconceivable material thinness. The world
    arose out of a sort of primitive world-gruel. The matter of which it was
    composed was gas, of such an extraordinary and unimaginable gasiness
    that millions of cubic miles of it might easily be compressed into a
    common antibilious pill-box. The pill-box itself, in fact, is the net
    result of a prolonged secular condensation of myriads of such enormous
    cubes of this primæval matter. Slowly setting around common centres,
    however, in anticipation of Sir Isaac Newton's gravitative theories, the
    fluid haze gradually collected into suns and stars, whose light and heat
    is presumably due to the clashing together of their component atoms as
    they fall perpetually towards the central mass. Just as in a burning
    candle the impact of the oxygen atoms in the air against the carbon and
    hydrogen atoms in the melted and rarefied wax or tallow produces the
    light and heat of the flame, so in nebula or sun the impact of the
    various gravitating atoms one against the other produces the light and
    heat by whose aid we are enabled to see and know those distant bodies.
    The universe, according to this now fashionable nebular theory, began as
    a single vast ocean of matter of immense tenuity, spread all alike over
    all space as far as nowhere, and comparatively little different within
    itself when looked at side by side with its own final historical
    outcome. In Mr. Spencer's perspicuous phrase, evolution in this aspect
    is a change from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, from the
    incoherent to the coherent, and from the indefinite to the definite
    condition. Difficult words at first to apprehend, no doubt, and
    therefore to many people, as to Mr. Matthew Arnold, very repellent, but
    full of meaning, lucidity, and suggestiveness, if only we once take the
    trouble fairly and squarely to understand them.

    Every sun and every star thus formed is for ever gathering in the hem of
    its outer robe upon itself, for ever radiating off its light and heat
    into surrounding space, and for ever growing denser and colder as it
    sets slowly towards its centre of gravity. Our own sun and solar system
    may be taken as good typical working examples of how the stars thus
    constantly shrink into smaller and ever smaller dimensions around their
    own fixed centre. Naturally, we know more about our own solar system
    than about any other in our own universe, and it also possesses for us a
    greater practical and personal interest than any outside portion of the
    galaxy. Nobody can pretend to be profoundly immersed in the internal
    affairs of Sirius or of Alpha Centauri. A fiery revolution in the belt
    of Orion would affect us less than a passing finger-ache in a certain
    single terrestrial baby of our own household. Therefore I shall not
    apologise in any way for leaving the remainder of the sidereal universe
    to its unknown fate, and concentrating my attention mainly on the
    affairs of that solitary little, out-of-the-way, second-rate system,
    whereof we form an inappreciable portion. The matter which now composes
    the sun and its attendant bodies (the satellites included) was once
    spread out, according to Laplace, to at least the furthest orbit of the
    outermost planet--that is to say, so far as our present knowledge goes,
    the planet Neptune. Of course, when it was expanded to that immense
    distance, it must have been very thin indeed, thinner than our clumsy
    human senses can even conceive of. An American would say, too thin; but
    I put Americans out of court at once as mere irreverent scoffers. From
    the orbit of Neptune, or something outside it, the faint and cloud-like
    mass which bore within it Cæsar and his fortunes, not to mention the
    remainder of the earth and the solar system, began slowly to converge
    and gather itself in, growing denser and denser but smaller and smaller
    as it gradually neared its existing dimensions. How long a time it took
    to do it is for our present purpose relatively unimportant: the cruel
    physicists will only let us have a beggarly hundred million years or so
    for the process, while the grasping and extravagant evolutionary
    geologists beg with tears for at least double or even ten times that
    limited period. But at any rate it has taken a good long while, and, as
    far as most of us are personally concerned, the difference of one or two
    hundred millions, if it comes to that, is not really at all an
    appreciable one.

    As it condensed and lessened towards its central core, revolving rapidly
    on its great axis, the solar mist left behind at irregular intervals
    concentric rings or belts of cloud-like matter, cast off from its
    equator; which belts, once more undergoing a similar evolution on their
    own account, have hardened round their private centres of gravity into
    Jupiter or Saturn, the Earth or Venus. Round these again, minor belts or
    rings have sometimes formed, as in Saturn's girdle of petty satellites;
    or subsidiary planets, thrown out into space, have circled round their
    own primaries, as the moon does around this sublunary world of ours.
    Meanwhile, the main central mass of all, retreating ever inward as it
    dropped behind it these occasional little reminders of its temporary
    stoppages, formed at last the sun itself, the main luminary of our
    entire system. Now, I won't deny that this primitive Kantian and
    Laplacian evolutionism, this nebular theory of such exquisite
    concinnity, here reduced to its simplest terms and most elementary
    dimensions, has received many hard knocks from later astronomers, and
    has been a good deal bowled over, both on mathematical and astronomical
    grounds, by recent investigators of nebulæ and meteors. Observations on
    comets and on the sun's surface have lately shown that it contains in
    all likelihood a very considerable fanciful admixture. It isn't more
    than half true; and even the half now totters in places. Still, as a
    vehicle of popular exposition the crude nebular hypothesis in its rawest
    form serves a great deal better than the truth, so far as yet known, on
    the good old Greek principle of the half being often more than the
    whole. The great point which it impresses on the mind is the cardinal
    idea of the sun and planets, with their attendant satellites, not as
    turned out like manufactured articles, ready made, at measured
    intervals, in a vast and deliberate celestial Orrery, but as due to the
    slow and gradual working of natural laws, in accordance with which each
    has assumed by force of circumstances its existing place, weight, orbit,
    and motion.

    The grand conception of a gradual becoming, instead of a sudden making,
    which Kant and Laplace thus applied to the component bodies of the
    universe at large, was further applied by Lyell and his school to the
    outer crust of this one particular petty planet of ours. While the
    astronomers went in for the evolution of suns, stars, and worlds, Lyell
    and his geological brethren went in for the evolution of the earth's
    surface. As theirs was stellar, so his was mundane. If the world began
    by being a red-hot mass of planetary matter in a high state of internal
    excitement, boiling and dancing with the heat of its emotions, it
    gradually cooled down with age and experience, for growing old is
    growing cold, as every one of us in time, alas, discovers. As it passed
    from its fiery and volcanic youth to its staider and soberer middle age,
    a solid crust began to form in filmy fashion upon its cooling surface.
    The aqueous vapour that had floated at first as steam around its heated
    mass condensed with time into a wide ocean over the now hardened shell.
    Gradually this ocean shifted its bulk into two or three main bodies that
    sank into hollows of the viscid crust, the precursors of Atlantic,
    Pacific, and the Indian Seas. Wrinklings of the crust, produced by the
    cooling and consequent contraction, gave rise at first to baby mountain
    ranges, and afterwards to the earliest rough draughts of the still very
    vague and sketchy continents. The world grew daily more complex and more
    diverse; it progressed, in accordance with the Spencerian law, from the
    homogeneous to the heterogeneous, and so forth, as aforesaid, with
    delightful regularity.

    At last, by long and graduated changes, seas and lands, peninsulas and
    islands, lakes and rivers, hills and mountains, were wrought out by
    internal or external energies on the crust thus generally fashioned.
    Evaporation from the oceans gave rise to clouds and rain and hailstorms;
    the water that fell upon the mountain tops cut out the valleys and river
    basins; rills gathered into brooks, brooks into streams, streams into
    primæval Niles, and Amazons, and Mississippis. Volcanic forces uplifted
    here an Alpine chain, or depressed there a deep-sea hollow. Sediment
    washed from the hills and plains, or formed from countless skeletons of
    marine creatures, gathered on the sinking bed of the ocean as soft ooze,
    or crumbling sand, or thick mud, or gravel and conglomerate. Now
    upheaved into an elevated table-land, now slowly carved again by rain
    and rill into valley and watershed, and now worn down once more into
    the mere degraded stump of a plateau, the crust underwent innumerable
    changes, but almost all of them exactly the same in kind, and mostly in
    degree, as those we still see at work imperceptibly in the world around
    us. Rain washing down the soil; weather crumbling the solid rock; waves
    dashing at the foot of the cliffs; rivers forming deltas at their barred
    mouths; shingle gathering on the low spits; floods sweeping before them
    the countryside; ice grinding ceaselessly at the mountain top; peat
    filling up the shallow lake--these are the chief factors which have gone
    to make the physical world as we now actually know it. Land and sea,
    coast and contour, hill and valley, dale and gorge, earth-sculpture
    generally--all are due to the ceaseless interaction of these separately
    small and unnoticeable causes, aided or retarded by the slow effects of
    elevation or depression from the earth's shrinkage towards its own
    centre. Geology, in short, has shown us that the world is what it is,
    not by virtue of a single sudden creative act, nor by virtue of
    successive terrible and recurrent cataclysms, but by virtue of the slow
    continuous action of causes still always equally operative.

    Evolution in geology leads up naturally to evolution in the science of
    life. If the world itself grew, why not also the animals and plants that
    inhabit it? Already in the eager active eighteenth century this obvious
    idea had struck in the germ a large number of zoologists and botanists,
    and in the hands of Lamarck and Erasmus Darwin it took form as a
    distinct and elaborate system of organic evolution. Buffon had been the
    first to hint at the truth; but Buffon was an eminently respectable
    nobleman in the dubious days of the tottering monarchy, and he did not
    care personally for the Bastille, viewed as a place of permanent
    residence. In Louis Quinze's France, indeed, as things then went, a man
    who offended the orthodoxy of the Sorbonne was prone to find himself
    shortly ensconced in free quarters, and kept there for the term of his
    natural existence without expense to his heirs or executors. So Buffon
    did not venture to say outright that he thought all animals and plants
    were descended one from the other with slight modifications; that would
    have been wicked, and the Sorbonne would have proved its wickedness to
    him in a most conclusive fashion by promptly getting him imprisoned or
    silenced. It is so easy to confute your opponent when you are a hundred
    strong and he is one weak unit. Buffon merely said, therefore, that if
    we didn't know the contrary to be the case by sure warrant, we might
    easily have concluded (so fallible is our reason) that animals always
    varied slightly, and that such variations, indefinitely accumulated,
    would suffice to account for almost any amount of ultimate difference. A
    donkey might thus have grown into a horse, and a bird might have
    developed from a primitive lizard. Only we know it was quite otherwise!
    A quiet hint from Buffon was as good as a declaration from many less
    knowing or suggestive people. All over Europe, the wise took Buffon's
    hint for what he meant it; and the unwise blandly passed it by as a mere
    passing little foolish vagary of that great ironical writer and thinker.

    Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of his grandson, was no fool; on the
    contrary, he was the most far-sighted man of his day in England; he saw
    at once what Buffon was driving at; and he worked out 'Mr. Buffon's'
    half-concealed hint to all its natural and legitimate conclusions. The
    great Count was always plain Mr. Buffon to his English contemporary.
    Life, said Erasmus Darwin nearly a century since, began in very minute
    marine forms, which gradually acquired fresh powers and larger bodies,
    so as imperceptibly to transform themselves into different creatures.
    Man, he remarked, anticipating his descendant, takes rabbits or
    pigeons, and alters them almost to his own fancy, by immensely changing
    their shapes and colours. If man can make a pouter or a fantail out of
    the common runt, if he can produce a piebald lop-ear from the brown wild
    rabbit, if he can transform Dorkings into Black Spanish, why cannot
    Nature, with longer time to work in, and endless lives to try with,
    produce all the varieties of vertebrate animals out of one single common
    ancestor? It was a bold idea of the Lichfield doctor--bold, at least,
    for the times he lived in--when Sam Johnson was held a mighty sage, and
    physical speculation was regarded askance as having in it a dangerous
    touch of the devil. But the Darwins were always a bold folk, and had the
    courage of their opinions more than most men. So even in Lichfield,
    cathedral city as it was, and in the politely somnolent eighteenth
    century, Erasmus Darwin ventured to point out the probability that
    quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, and men were all mere divergent descendants
    of a single similar original form, and even that 'one and the same kind
    of living filament is, and has been, the cause of organic life.'

    The eighteenth century laughed, of course. It always laughed at all
    reformers. It said Dr. Darwin was very clever, but really a most
    eccentric man. His 'Temple of Nature,' now, and his 'Botanic Garden,'
    were vastly fine and charming poems--those sweet lines, you know, about
    poor Eliza!--but his zoological theories were built of course upon a
    most absurd and uncertain foundation. In prose, no sensible person could
    ever take the doctor seriously. A freak of genius--nothing more; a mere
    desire to seem clever and singular. But what a Nemesis the whirligig of
    time has brought around with it! By a strange irony of fate, those
    admired verses are now almost entirely forgotten; poor Eliza has
    survived only as our awful example of artificial pathos; and the
    zoological heresies, at which the eighteenth century shrugged its fat
    shoulders and dimpled the corners of its ample mouth, have grown to be
    the chief cornerstone of all accepted modern zoological science.

    In the first year of the present century, Lamarck followed Erasmus
    Darwin's lead with an open avowal that in his belief all animals and
    plants were really descended from one or a few common ancestors. He held
    that organisms were just as much the result of law, not of miraculous
    interposition, as suns and worlds and all the natural phenomena around
    us generally. He saw that what naturalists call a species differs from
    what naturalists call a variety, merely in the way of being a little
    more distinctly marked, a little less like its nearest congeners
    elsewhere. He recognised the perfect gradation of forms by which in many
    cases one species after another merges into the next on either side of
    it. He observed the analogy between the modifications induced by man and
    the modifications induced by nature. In fact, he was a thorough-going
    and convinced evolutionist, holding every salient opinion which Society
    still believes to have been due to the works of Charles Darwin. In one
    point only, a minor point to outsiders, though a point of cardinal
    importance to the inner brotherhood of evolutionism, he did not
    anticipate his more famous successor. He thought organic evolution was
    wholly due to the direct action of surrounding circumstances, to the
    intercrossing of existing forms, and above all to the actual efforts of
    animals themselves. In other words, he had not discovered natural
    selection, the cardinal idea of Charles Darwin's epoch-making book. For
    him, the giraffe had acquired its long neck by constant reaching up to
    the boughs of trees; the monkey had acquired its opposable thumb by
    constant grasping at the neighbouring branches; and the serpent had
    acquired its sinuous shape by constant wriggling through the grass of
    the meadows. Charles Darwin improved upon all that by his suggestive
    hint of survival of the fittest, and in so far, but in so far alone, he
    became the real father of modern biological evolutionism.

    From the days of Lamarck, to the day when Charles Darwin himself
    published his wonderful 'Origin of Species,' this idea that plants and
    animals might really have grown, instead of having been made all of a
    piece, kept brewing everywhere in the minds and brains of scientific
    thinkers. The notions which to the outside public were startlingly new
    when Darwin's book took the world by storm, were old indeed to the
    thinkers and workers who had long been familiar with the principle of
    descent with modification and the speculations of the Lichfield doctor
    or the Paris philosopher. Long before Darwin wrote his great work,
    Herbert Spencer had put forth in plain language every idea which the
    drawing-room biologists attributed to Darwin. The supporters of the
    development hypothesis, he said seven years earlier--yes, he called it
    the 'development hypothesis' in so many words--'can show that
    modification has effected and is effecting great changes in all
    organisms, subject to modifying influences.' They can show, he goes on
    (if I may venture to condense so great a thinker), that any existing
    plant or animal, placed under new conditions, begins to undergo adaptive
    changes of form and structure; that in successive generations these
    changes continue, till the plant or animal acquires totally new habits;
    that in cultivated plants and domesticated animals changes of the sort
    habitually occur; that the differences thus caused, as for example in
    dogs, are often greater than those on which species in the wild state
    are founded, and that throughout all organic nature there _is_ at work a
    modifying influence of the same sort as that which they believed to
    have caused the differences of species--'an influence which, to all
    appearance, would produce in the millions of years and under the great
    variety of conditions which geological records imply, any amount of
    change.' What is this but pure Darwinism, as the drawing-room
    philosopher still understands the word? And yet it was written seven
    years before Darwin published the 'Origin of Species.'

    The fact is, one might draw up quite a long list of Darwinians before
    Darwin. Here are a few of them--Buffon, Lamarck, Goethe, Oken, Bates,
    Wallace, Lecoq, Von Baer, Robert Chambers, Matthew, and Herbert Spencer.
    Depend upon it, no one man ever yet of himself discovered anything. As
    well say that Luther made the German Reformation, that Lionardo made the
    Italian Renaissance, or that Robespierre made the French Revolution, as
    say that Charles Darwin, and Charles Darwin alone, made the evolutionary
    movement, even in the restricted field of life only. A thousand
    predecessors worked up towards him; a thousand contemporaries helped to
    diffuse and to confirm his various principles.

    Charles Darwin added to the primitive evolutionary idea the special
    notion of natural selection. That is to say, he pointed out that while
    plants and animals vary perpetually and vary indefinitely, all the
    varieties so produced are not equally adapted to the circumstances of
    the species. If the variation is a bad one, it tends to die out, because
    every point of disadvantage tells against the individual in the struggle
    for life. If the variation is a good one, it tends to persist, because
    every point of advantage similarly tells in the individual's favour in
    that ceaseless and viewless battle. It was this addition to the
    evolutionary concept, fortified by Darwin's powerful advocacy of the
    general principle of descent with modification, that won over the whole
    world to the 'Darwinian theory.' Before Darwin, many men of science
    were evolutionists: after Darwin, all men of science became so at once,
    and the rest of the world is rapidly preparing to follow their

    As applied to life, then, the evolutionary idea is briefly this--that
    plants and animals have all a natural origin from a single primitive
    living creature, which itself was the product of light and heat acting
    on the special chemical constituents of an ancient ocean. Starting from
    that single early form, they have gone on developing ever since, from
    the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, assuming ever more varied shapes,
    till at last they have reached their present enormous variety of tree,
    and shrub, and herb, and seaweed, of beast, and bird, and fish, and
    creeping insect. Evolution throughout has been one and continuous, from
    nebula to sun, from gas-cloud to planet, from early jelly-speck to man
    or elephant. So at least evolutionists say--and of course they ought to
    know most about it.

    But evolution, according to the evolutionists, does not even stop here.
    Psychology as well as biology has also its evolutionary explanation:
    mind is concerned as truly as matter. If the bodies of animals are
    evolved, their minds must be evolved likewise. Herbert Spencer and his
    followers have been mainly instrumental in elucidating this aspect of
    the case. They have shown, or they have tried to show (for I don't want
    to dogmatise on the subject), how mind is gradually built up from the
    simplest raw elements of sense and feeling; how emotions and intellect
    slowly arise; how the action of the environment on the organism begets a
    nervous system of ever greater and greater complexity, culminating at
    last in the brain of a Newton, a Shakespeare, or a Mendelssohn. Step by
    step, nerves have built themselves up out of the soft tissues as
    channels of communication between part and part. Sense-organs of
    extreme simplicity have first been formed on the outside of the body,
    where it comes most into contact with external nature. Use and wont have
    fashioned them through long ages into organs of taste and smell and
    touch; pigment spots, sensitive to light or shade, have grown by
    infinite gradations into the human eye or into the myriad facets of bee
    and beetle; tremulous nerve-ends, responsive sympathetically to waves of
    sound, have tuned themselves at last into a perfect gamut in the
    developed ear of men and mammals. Meanwhile corresponding percipient
    centres have grown up in the brain, so that the coloured picture flashed
    by an external scene upon the eye is telegraphed from the sensitive
    mirror of the retina, through the many-stranded cable of the optic
    nerve, straight up to the appropriate headquarters in the thinking
    brain. Stage by stage the continuous process has gone on unceasingly,
    from the jelly-fish with its tiny black specks of eyes, through infinite
    steps of progression, induced by ever-widening intercourse with the
    outer world, to the final outcome in the senses and the emotions, the
    intellect and the will, of civilised man. Mind begins as a vague
    consciousness of touch or pressure on the part of some primitive,
    shapeless, soft creature: it ends as an organised and co-ordinated
    reflection of the entire physical and psychical universe on the part of
    a great cosmical philosopher.

    Last of all, like diners-out at dessert, the evolutionists take to
    politics. Having shown us entirely to their own satisfaction the growth
    of suns, and systems, and worlds, and continents, and oceans, and
    plants, and animals, and minds, they proceed to show us the exactly
    analogous and parallel growth of communities, and nations, and
    languages, and religions, and customs, and arts, and institutions, and
    literatures. Man, the evolving savage, as Tylor, Lubbock, and others
    have proved for us, slowly putting off his brute aspect derived from his
    early ape-like ancestors, learned by infinitesimal degrees the use of
    fire, the mode of manufacturing stone hatchets and flint arrowheads, the
    earliest beginnings of the art of pottery. With drill or flint he became
    the Prometheus to his own small heap of sticks and dry leaves among the
    tertiary forests. By his nightly camp-fire he beat out gradually his
    excited gesture-language and his oral speech. He tamed the dog, the
    horse, the cow, the camel. He taught himself to hew small clearings in
    the woodland, and to plant the banana, the yam, the bread-fruit, and the
    coco-nut. He picked and improved the seeds of his wild cereals till he
    made himself from grass-like grains his barley, his oats, his wheat, his
    Indian corn. In time, he dug out ore from mines, and learnt the use
    first of gold, next of silver, then of copper, tin, bronze, and iron.
    Side by side with these long secular changes, he evolved the family,
    communal or patriarchal, polygamic or monogamous. He built the hut, the
    house, and the palace. He clothed or adorned himself first in skins and
    leaves and feathers; next in woven wool and fibre; last of all in purple
    and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. He gathered into
    hordes, tribes, and nations; he chose himself a king, gave himself laws,
    and built up great empires in Egypt, Assyria, China, and Peru. He raised
    him altars, Stonehenges and Karnaks. His picture-writing grew into
    hieroglyphs and cuneiforms, and finally emerged, by imperceptible steps,
    into alphabetic symbols, the raw material of the art of printing. His
    dug-out canoe culminates in the iron-clad and the 'Great Eastern'; his
    boomerang and slingstone in the Woolwich infant; his boiling pipkin and
    his wheeled car in the locomotive engine; his picture-message in the
    telephone and the Atlantic cable. Here, where the course of evolution
    has really been most marvellous, its steps have been all more distinctly
    historical; so that nobody now doubts the true descent of Italian,
    French, and Spanish from provincial Latin, or the successive growth of
    the trireme, the 'Great Harry,' the 'Victory,' and the 'Minotaur' from
    the coracles or praus of prehistoric antiquity.

    The grand conception of the uniform origin and development of all
    things, earthly or sidereal, thus summed up for us in the one word
    evolution, belongs by right neither to Charles Darwin nor to any other
    single thinker. It is the joint product of innumerable workers, all
    working up, though some of them unconsciously, towards a grand final
    unified philosophy of the cosmos. In astronomy, Kant, Laplace, and the
    Herschels; in geology, Hutton, Lyell, and the Geikies; in biology,
    Buffon, Lamarck, the Darwins, Huxley, and Spencer; in psychology,
    Spencer, Romanes, Sully, and Ribot; in sociology, Spencer, Tylor,
    Lubbock, and De Mortillet--these have been the chief evolutionary
    teachers and discoverers. But the use of the word evolution itself, and
    the establishment of the general evolutionary theory as a system of
    philosophy applicable to the entire universe, we owe to one man
    alone--Herbert Spencer. Many other minds--from Galileo and Copernicus,
    from Kepler and Newton, from Linnæus and Tournefort, from D'Alembert and
    Diderot, nay, even, in a sense, from Aristotle and Lucretius--had been
    piling together the vast collection of raw material from which that
    great and stately superstructure was to be finally edified. But the
    architect who placed each block in its proper niche, who planned and
    designed the whole elevation, who planted the building firmly on the
    rock and poised the coping-stone on the topmost pinnacle, was the author
    of the 'System of Synthetic Philosophy,' and none other. It is a strange
    proof of how little people know about their own ideas, that among the
    thousands who talk glibly every day of evolution, not ten per cent. are
    probably aware that both word and conception are alike due to the
    commanding intelligence and vast generalising power of Herbert Spencer.
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