Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/271

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By Professor W. H. DALL.

IT is now nearly a century since Lamarck published the outlines of his theory of evolution by descent with modifications transmitted by heredity and initiated by dynamic impulses; originating in the mass of animals from the environment, and in the higher and more intelligent groups partly from within the developing organism itself.

Met by the ridicule and unfriendly criticisms of the 'creationists,' which were the more generally accepted on account of the modesty, retiring disposition and aversion to controversy of Lamarck himself, handicapped by the blindness and poverty of his later years, his views have been little known in their true shape, and the majority of naturalists have been content to receive them in the garbled form in which they were presented by those who rejected them. Theoretical, as the conditions of science at the time made obligatory; in some respects with our present light obviously erroneous; the philosophy of Lamarck nevertheless contained also a body of opinion substantially in harmony with the evolutionary ideas of Spencer and Darwin, and which has been established by the work of modern students of nature, among the axioms of science.

It was then a pious task which Professor Packard undertook, to present in its true form the zoological philosophy of this venerable pioneer, that the present generation of philosophers might learn their obligations to him. To this sympathetic exposition of Lamarck's views the author has prefixed a summary of the meager details in regard to his private life and public services, which a careful search has been able to discover; illustrated them by pictures of the house in which Lamarck was born, and that in which most of his work was done and where he died, adding a facsimile from his manuscript. Finally a chapter has been added in which the revival of Lamarckian ideas among an influential body of modern students is summarized.

Jean-Baptiste-Pierre-Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck was born August 1, 1744, at Bazentin-le-Petit, Department of the Somme, near Longueval. His mother was Marie Françoise de Fontaine. His family belonged to an ancient race of the minor nobility of Béarn. On the death of his father in 1760, he joined the French army, then campaigning in Germany. Almost immediately afterward he achieved

  1. Lamarck, the founder of evolution, his life and work, by Alpheus S. Packard, M.D., LL.D. Longmans Green and Co., New York, 1901. Pp. xiv+ 451, 8º, ills.