Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/86

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But Mr. Wallace needs no compliments from me, and it is not for the purpose of paying them that I have taken pen in hand. My purpose is rather to commit to paper certain thoughts which have occurred to me during the reading of his most interesting volume, and which it may perhaps be worth while to record. It seems to me that the publication of Mr. Wallace's work affords an occasion for taking stock, as it were, of that which the author describes as "Darwinism." It is needless to say that in the author's use of the word there is nothing vague, much less disparaging, in this term. The term is used in a certain definite sense, and is intended to express, not evolution in general, but evolution by those special processes to which Mr. Darwin believed evolution to be due. It is, I think, manifest that much advantage may accrue even from a declaration at the hands of such an authority as Mr. Wallace of what "Darwinism" is; but, besides this, it is specially advantageous, now that a quarter of a century has passed since the great revolution in thought on this class of subjects commenced, that we should know what is the real position of the controversy; there has been sufficient time for the smoke and din of the battle to pass away, and we can now form a better estimate than was possible in earlier days of the actual result of the engagement. I propose, therefore, to offer some remarks upon Mr. Wallace's volume, chiefly from the point of view just indicated; observing in general that the conclusion which seems to me to be of chief importance is this—that while Mr. Wallace holds to Darwin's views in the most important particulars, he does not regard "Darwinism" as any explanation of some of the most important phenomena which the living world presents.

This observation, however, must stand on one side for the present. The point which must occupy us just now is the actual meaning of "Darwinism," upon which possibly not a few persons have somewhat hazy notions. Let me quote Mr. Wallace:

In order to show the view Darwin took of his own work, and what it was that he alone claimed to have done, the concluding passage of the introduction to the Origin of Species should be carefully considered. It is as follows: "Although much remains obscure, and will long remain obscure, I can entertain no doubt, after the most deliberate and dispassionate judgment of which I am capable, that the view which most naturalists until recently entertained, and which I formerly entertained—namely, that each species has been independently created—is erroneous. I am fully convinced that species are not immutable; but that those belonging to what are called the same genera are the lineal descendants of some other and generally extinct species, in the same manner as the acknowledged varieties of any one species are the descendants of that species. Furthermore, I am convinced that natural selection has been the most important, but not the exclusive, means of modification." It should be especially noted, adds Mr. Wal-