twelvemonth, or thereabouts, after the publication of the 'Origin' I find among such critics Louis Agassiz; Murray, an excellent entomologist; Harvey', a botanist of considerable repute; and the author of an article in the 'Edinburgh Review' all strongly adverse to Darwin. Pictet, the distinguished and widely learned paleontologist of Geneva, treats Mr. Darwin with a respect which forms a grateful contrast to the tone of some of the preceding writers, but consents to go with him only a very little way. On the other hand, Lyell, up to that time a pillar of the anti-transmutationists (who regarded him, ever afterwards, as Pallas Athene may have looked at Dian, after the Endymion affair), declared himself a Darwinian, though not without putting in a serious caveat. Nevertheless, he was a tower of strength, and his courageous stand for truth as against consistency, did him infinite honour. As evolutionists, sans phrase, I do not call to mind among the biologists more than Asa Gray, who fought the battle splendidly in the United States; Hooker, who was no less vigorous here; the present Sir John Lubbock and myself.
Such are the signs of defective information which contribute, almost at each chapter, to check our confidence in the teachings and advocacy of the hypothesis of 'Natural Selection.' But, as we have before been led to remark, most of Mr. Darwin's statements elude, by their vagueness and incompleteness, the test of Natural History facts. Thus he says:—
'I think it highly probable that our domestic dogs have descended from several wild species.' It may be so; but what are the species here referred to? Are they known, or named, or can they be defined? If so, why are they not indicated, so that the naturalist might have some means of Judging of the degree of probability, or value of the surmise, and of its bearing on the hypothesis?
'Isolation, also,' says Mr. Darwin, 'is an important element in the process of natural selection.' But how can one select if a thing be 'isolated'? Even using the word in the sense of a confined area, Mr. Darwin admits that the conditions of life 'throughout such area, will tend to modify all the individuals of a species in the same manner, in relation to the same conditions.' (P. 104.)
No evidence, however, is given of a species having ever been created in that way; but granting the hypothetical influence and transmutation, there is no selection here. The author adds, 'Although I do not doubt that isolation is of considerable importance in the production of new species, on the whole, I am inclined to believe, that largeness
- From an article in the 'Edinburgh Review' for April, 1860, attributed to Richard Owen.