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criticisms of the one epoch-making book of this century may still be read with interest, and are certainly among the curiosities of Darwinian literature.


Sir George Cornewall Lewis to Mrs. Lowe.

Kent House: February 27, 1860.

Dear Mrs. Lowe,-I return with many thanks the book which you had the kindness to lend me. I have read the whole of it with much interest, but the author has entirely failed in convincing me of the truth of his opinions, so far as they are new and intelligible. I regard the subject of his enquiry, the origin of species, as unphilosophical and impenetrable. He writes about species, but never determines what a species is; he objects to the received definition, but substitutes none of his own. He uses the phrase 'Natural Selection' in half a dozen different senses. Sometimes he applies it to a case when the animals themselves make a selection; sometimes to cases where they are passive, or even reluctant, and are operated on by external causes. Whatever value the book has is confined to the light which it sheds upon the causes which limit animal population. But this light is shed incidentally, for the author impairs the value of his own remarks by confounding the causes which kill individuals with those which exterminate an entire species. A species may be kept constantly within the limits indicated by its potential capacity of multiplication, without being in danger of extinction :-Because birds eat worms, it does not follow that worms will be annihilated. In my opinion he has entirely failed in showing that the various causes which he calls Natural Selection' have operated upon the animal kingdom, or determines the number of species within the period over which the exact knowledge of man extends. The writer is a man of talent and ingenuity, with a turn for bold speculation and a great command of facts. He is, however, deficient in clearness and soundness; he may suggest to others, but he cannot discover and prove. His mind is of the German type, speculative, laborious, and unsound.

Believe me,

Yours very truly,

In the case of William Macleay, it would seem that Lowe himself must have written to him on political affairs, dwelling

on the rapid advance of democracy. Mrs. Lowe, however, evidently devoted her communication mainly to Darwin, as will be seen from the elaborate nature of Macleay's reply.


W. S. Macleay to Robert Lowe.

Elizabeth Bay: May 1860.

My dear Lowe,-I have received by the last mail your letter of 17th of July, and Mrs. Lowe's of 10th Feb. I am grieved at the political prospects which both present. The tendency of the present generation of politicians to surrender everything to the many-headed monster appears to me to be nearly as rife in England as it is in the Colonies. Well, I thank Heaven for having lived neither to feel the heel of the military despot nor the brutality of the mob.

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I have enjoyed the best part of that circle which it appears fated that mankind must go round. There is nothing here to interest you now, for almost all those friends whom I used to meet round your hospitable table at Nelson Bay are either gone to Europe or to their graves. It is lucky for me, therefore, that both you and Mrs. Lowe have given me the subject of this letter in asking me for my opinion of Darwin's book. To me, now on the verge of the tomb, I must confess the subject of it is more interesting than either the extension of British commerce or even the progress of national education. This question is no less than What am I?' 'What is man?' a created being under the direct government of his Creator, or only an accidental sprout of some primordial type that was the common progenitor of both animals and vegetables. The theologian has no doubt answered those questions, but leaving the Mosaic account of the Creation to Doctors of Divinity, the naturalist finds himself on the horns of a dilemma. For, either from the facts he observes, he must believe in a special creation of organised species, which creation has been progressive and is in now in full operation, or he must adopt some such view as that of Darwin, viz. that the primordial material cell of life has been constantly sprouting forth of itself by natural selection' into all the various forms of animals and vegetables. Darwin, indeed, for no reason that I can perceive, except his fear of alarming the clergy, speaks of a Creator of the original material cell.

But there appears to be very little necessity for His existence, if it be true, as Darwin says, that this material cell can go on by itself

eternally sprouting into all the animals and vegetables that have existed or will exist.

Again, if this primordial cell had a Creator, as Darwin seems to admit, I do not see what we gain by denying the Creator, as Darwin does, all management of it after its creation. Lamarck was more logical in supposing it to have existed of itself from all eternity— indeed this is the principal difference that I see between this theory of Darwin's and that of Lamarck, who propounded everything essential in the former theory, in a work now rather rare-his Philosophie zoologique.

But you may see an abridgment of it in so common a book as his Histoire Nat. des animaux vertébrés, vol. i., pp. 188, et seq.-Edit. 1818, where the examples given of natural selection are the gasteropod molluscs. It is the system also, with some small alterations, of the Vestiges of Creation, a work which I recollect telling you at the time is more incorrect as to facts and therefore valueless, however attractive it may be in style. Darwin, on the other hand, like his predecessor Lamarck, is a most able naturalist; and though I agree with what Mrs. Lowe tells me is the opinion of Sir R. Murchison, viz. that his facts are not always sound; still, quite enough of them are so far unexceptionable as to entitle his lucubrations-however preposterous to our respect, if not to our assent. It remains, therefore, for those who are conversant with natural history to determine: first, whether he has drawn his facts fairly, and, second, whether he has not cushioned many facts which make against his theory. For my part, I think that his facts may be interpreted another way, and that he has not stated many things that bear on his subject. Above all, I dislike his favourite form of question,' Why should the Deity have interfered in such and such a case?' Or 'Why did He not?' Moreover, I care little for his sneers at the only answer which we short-sighted mortals can give to such questionsviz. that 'It was because Providence so pleased.' Of his three kinds of selection by which he says the world is managed without special interference on the part of a Creator, I only believe in the variation of species by human selection,'-i.e. human selection operating within certain limits assigned by the Creator. As for his two other kinds of 'selection' by which he accounts for all the species of animals and vegetables-viz. sexual selection and natural selection, I find them quite impossible to digest. Natural selection (sometimes called struggles' by Darwin) is identical with the 'Besoins des choses' of Lamarck, who, by means of his hypothesis, for instance, assigns the constant stretching of the neck to reach the acacia leaves as the cause of the extreme length of it in the giraffe ; much in the same way the black bear, according to Darwin, became a whale, which I believe as little as his other assertion that our

progenitors anciently had gills-only they had dropped off by want of use in the course of myriads of generations. As for his sexual selection, it is the only original invention of the three. It is truly Darwin's own, and if anyone can believe, that the sexes of every animal were originally alike: that the cock, for instance, owes his comb, wattle, and other distinguishing marks to the taste of the hens who have constantly sought such a type to breed from-why, all I can say is that such a believer must have a very wide swallow.

I can only assume from the favour which this book has received from the English public, that either they do not understand the tenour of it, or that what is termed Revealed Religion, and particularly the Mosaic account of the Creation, sits somewhat uneasily on the minds of a great many thinking persons. The theory is almost a materialist one-nay, even so far atheistic that, if it allows of a deity at all, He has been ever since the institution of the primordial type of life fast asleep. This living cell of matter, on the other hand, has been constantly and actively sprouting forth by natural selection into all the forms of animals and vegetables that ever have existed or will hereafter exist. All special interference of a Creator with it Darwin repeatedly denies. I am myself so far a Pantheist that I see God in everything: but then I believe in His special Providence, and that He is the constant and active sole Creator and all-wise Administrator of the Universe. Darwin seems at times to have been led to his most wild conclusions by his anxiety to avoid the constant and special interference of a Creator. He parodies your legal axiom, and says, De minimis non curat Deus. But there can be nothing great or small in respect to the absolute. The microscope shows infinity on one side as the telescope does on the other. In comparison to the infinite absolute, the wart on my hand, each hair on my head, the sparrow on the housetop, must be as important as Jupiter or the sun. And it is an absurd notion which Cudworth had to combat that God is too great to meddle with trifles, or, to use Darwin's instance, to be the cause of the colour on a pigeon's wing.

My notion of omnipotence is that it interferes with everything to the most minute atom of dust, and I see no difficulty in believing its constant and special management of all things and all events. May I take one of Darwin's stumbling-blocks; for instance, I see no difficulty in believing that the original of all mammals were created with navels, or, if you please, without them. For I daily witness monstrosities and malformations which I attribute to the direct will of the Creator, and not to the accidental, abortive, or depraved sprouting of the material cell. In fact, I am no believer in the doctrine of Chance, but think that everything is provided, even to the black tuft of hair on the breast of the turkey-cock. Moreover, I believe it to

have been provided by God, and not, as Darwin says, produced by the taste of turkey-hens continued through many generations. By the way, how did these same turkey-hens come by this unvarying taste for the black tufts of hair on the breast of their mates? At questions of this kind we shall always arrive, even if we adopt Darwin's theory of sexual and natural selection. And the answer to such questions will, I suspect, invariably amount to the admission of an external and special interference. To conclude: It is far easier for me to believe in the direct and constant government of the Creation by God, than that He should have created the world and then left it to manage itself, which is Darwin's theory in a few words. Nevertheless, Charles Darwin is an old friend of mine and I feel grateful to him for his work. I hope it will make people attend to such matters, and to be no longer prevented by the first chapter of Genesis from asking for themselves what the Book of Nature says on the subject of the Creation.

I have now complied with your and Mrs. Lowe's requests. I could say much more if I entered into the examination of Darwin's facts, or rather the facts on which he founds his theory, but I must have already tired you-I only wish I had your gift of writing tersely -sed non cuivis. This letter is for Mrs. Lowe as well as you, so pray tell her, with my affectionate regards, that I trust she will tell me whether she agrees with Darwin's notions or with mine, i.e. saving intact her own saving faith in the Bible story of six days and the concluding apple.

Ever, my dear Lowe,

Affectionately your friend,

But lighter matters than either democracy or Darwinism would often beguile the leisure of the active-minded statesman in his pleasant country house. Robert Lowe had a turn for versification, and if asked for a poem by any of his friends, he would comply with the request. The Duchess of St. Albans has been good enough to copy the following lines from the album of her mother, the late Mrs. Bernal Osborne.

Lines on Australia.

Written in Mrs. Bernal Osborne's

They told me of a glorious land

Beyond the heaving main,

And they who touched its happy strand

Should never want again.

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