Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/192

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liand, we may rightly compare the eye "to a telescope, perfected by the long continued efforts of the highest human intellects/' we could carry out the analogy, and draw satisfactory illustrations and inferences from it. The essential, the directly intellectual thing is the making of the improvements in the telescope or the steam-engine. Whether the successive improvements, being small at each step, and consistent with the general type of the instrument, are applied to some of the individual machines, or entire new machines are constructed for each, is a minor matter. Though if machines could engender, the adaptive method would be most economical; and economy is said to be a paramount law in nature. The origination of the improvements, and the successive adaptations to meet new conditions or subserve other ends, are what answer to the supernatural, and therefore remain inexplicable. As to bringing them into use, though wisdom foresees the result, the circumstances and the natural competition will take care of that, in the long run. The old ones will go out of use fast enough, except where an old and simple machine remains still best adapted to a particular purpose or condition,—as, for instance, the old Newcomen engine for pumping out coal-pits. If there's a Divinity that shapes these ends, the whole is intelligible and reasonable; otherwise, not.

We regret that the necessity of discussing philosophical questions has prevented a fuller examination of the theory itself, and of the interesting scientific points which are brought to bear in its favor. One of its neatest points, certainly a very strong one for the local origination of species, and their gradual diffusion under natural agencies, we must reserve for some other convenient opportunity.

The work is a scientific one, rigidly restricted to its direct object; and by its science it must stand or fall. Its aim is, probably not to deny creative intervention in nature,—for the admission of the independent origination of certain types does away with all antecedent improbability of as much intervention as may be required,—but to maintain that Natural Selection in explaining the facts, explains also many classes of facts which thousand-fold repeated independent acts of creation do not explain, but leave more mysterious than ever. How far the author has succeeded, the scientific world will in due time be able to pronounce.