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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/834

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

In the first category, the influence of mind in modifying is chiefly confined to man. It must have acted from the time when he first began to prepare his crude weapons of defense and offense to the present day, when some new discovery or some new invention may alter the map of the world, revolutionize society, or give one race or nation the advantage over another; nor can we feel sure that animals below man have not been modified by similar psychical effort. In the second category, the direct influence of the emotions on the individual, it is a psycho-physiological factor involved in the question of use and disuse; for if it be once admitted (and I think the tendency of modern neural science is in the direction of establishing the fact) that strong mental effort may be made to affect special parts of the body—i.e., that an excess of nervous force brought to play on any particular organ, or any particular part of the organism, induces increased growth or development of such parts; we can understand how far desire, especially under the spur of necessity, may be influential in inducing modification. Lamarck's idea, therefore, may not be so ridiculous as it has hitherto been supposed by many. Darwin took no stock in this influence, and referred with some contempt to the views of Lamarck and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. He thought it strange that the author of "Les Animaux sans Vertèbres" should have written that insects which never saw their eggs should will them to be of particular form, which he thought hardly less absurd than to believe that the desire to climb should make a pediculus formed to climb hair, or a woodpecker to climb trees.

Emotion of Mother as affecting Offspring.—There may be some doubt about the extent of the influence of the individual mind in inducing direct modification, for the subject is a difficult one to deal with, and we have few exact data to draw from. Since in human affairs we recognize the power of will in affecting purpose and action, and in molding character, it is legitimate to infer that when our knowledge has increased we shall recognize its effect on function. There can be less doubt as to the third category, viz., influence of the mind or emotions of the mother on her unborn offspring in inducing modification both physiological and mental. As a cause of variation, though believed in by J. D. Hooker, as we learn from the "Life and Letters," and by other of Darwin's contemporaries, it was discarded by Darwin himself, his principal reasons being that the results of observations made for him in hospitals were adverse to any such influence. Medical men, as a rule, also discard it as among the mere notions and superstitions of women, and argue its impossibility on the ground that there is no neural connection between mother and fœtus. The ancients practically recognized the influence of the imagination of the