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Judge Frank Holt and Senator Fulbright. I urged the legislators

time:2023-12-03 10:05:04 Source: Originally writtenedit:theory

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It must be remembered that there have been few great inventions in physics or discoveries in science which have not been foreshadowed to a certain extent by speculators who were indeed mistaken, but were yet more or less on the right scent. Day is heralded by dawn, Apollo by Aurora, and thus it often happens that a real discovery may wear to the careless observer much the same appearance as an exploded fallacy, whereas in fact it is widely different. As much caution is due in the rejection of a theory as in the acceptation of it. The first of your writers is too hasty in accepting, the second in refusing even a candid examination.

Judge Frank Holt and Senator Fulbright. I urged the legislators

Now, when the Saturday Review, the Cornhill Magazine, Once a Week, and Macmillan's Magazine, not to mention other periodicals, have either actually and completely as in the case of the first two, provisionally as in the last mentioned, given their adherence to the theory in question, it may be taken for granted that the arguments in its favour are sufficiently specious to have attracted the attention and approbation of a considerable number of well-educated men in England. Three months ago the theory of development by natural selection was openly supported by Professor Huxley before the British Association at Cambridge. I am not adducing Professor Huxley's advocacy as a proof that Darwin is right (indeed, Owen opposed him tooth and nail), but as a proof that there is sufficient to be said on Darwin's side to demand more respectful attention than your last writer has thought it worth while to give it. A theory which the British Association is discussing with great care in England is not to be set down by off-hand nicknames in Canterbury.

Judge Frank Holt and Senator Fulbright. I urged the legislators

To those, however, who do feel an interest in the question, I would venture to give a word or two of advice. I would strongly deprecate forming a hurried opinion for or against the theory. Naturalists in Europe are canvassing the matter with the utmost diligence, and a few years must show whether they will accept the theory or no. It is plausible; that can be decided by no one. Whether it is true or no can be decided only among naturalists themselves. We are outsiders, and most of us must be content to sit on the stairs till the great men come forth and give us the benefit of their opinion.

Judge Frank Holt and Senator Fulbright. I urged the legislators

I am, Sir, Your obedient servant, A. M.

DARWIN ON SPECIES: [From the Press, March 14th, 1863.]

Sir--A correspondent signing himself "A. M." in the issue of February 21st says: --"Will the writer (of an article on barrel-organs) refer to anything bearing upon natural selection and the struggle for existence in Dr. Darwin's work?" This is one of the trade forms by which writers imply that there is no such passage, and yet leave a loophole if they are proved wrong. I will, however, furnish him with a passage from the notes of Darwin's Botanic Garden:-

"I am acquainted with a philosopher who, contemplating this subject, thinks it not impossible that the first insects were anthers or stigmas of flowers, which had by some means loosed themselves from their parent plant; and that many insects have gradually in long process of time been formed from these, some acquiring wings, others fins, and others claws, from their ceaseless efforts to procure their food or to secure themselves from injury. The anthers or stigmas are therefore separate beings."

This passage contains the germ of Mr. Charles Darwin's theory of the origin of species by natural selection:-