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time：2023-12-03 08:19:16 Source: Originally writtenedit：ability
F. You express the prevalent idea concerning the book, which as you express it appears nonsensical enough.
C. How, then, should you express it yourself?
F. Hand me the book and I will read it to you through from beginning to end, for to express it more briefly than Darwin himself has done is almost impossible.
C. That is nonsense; as you asked me what impression I derived from the book, so now I ask you, and I charge you to answer me.
F. Well, I assent to the justice of your demand, but I shall comply with it by requiring your assent to a few principal statements deducible from the work.
F. You will grant then, firstly, that all plants and animals increase very rapidly, and that unless they were in some manner checked, the world would soon be overstocked. Take cats, for instance; see with what rapidity they breed on the different runs in this province where there is little or nothing to check them; or even take the more slowly breeding sheep, and see how soon 500 ewes become 5000 sheep under favourable circumstances. Suppose this sort of thing to go on for a hundred million years or so, and where would be the standing room for all the different plants and animals that would be now existing, did they not materially check each other's increase, or were they not liable in some way to be checked by other causes? Remember the quail; how plentiful they were until the cats came with the settlers from Europe. Why were they so abundant? Simply because they had plenty to eat, and could get sufficient shelter from the hawks to multiply freely. The cats came, and tussocks stood the poor little creatures in but poor stead. The cats increased and multiplied because they had plenty of food and no natural enemy to check them. Let them wait a year or two, till they have materially reduced the larks also, as they have long since reduced the quail, and let them have to depend solely upon occasional dead lambs and sheep, and they will find a certain rather formidable natural enemy called Famine rise slowly but inexorably against them and slaughter them wholesale. The first proposition then to which I demand your assent is that all plants and animals tend to increase in a high geometrical ratio; that they all endeavour to get that which is necessary for their own welfare; that, as unfortunately there are conflicting interests in Nature, collisions constantly occur between different animals and plants, whereby the rate of increase of each species is very materially checked. Do you admit this?
F. You admit then that there is in Nature a perpetual warfare of plant, of bird, of beast, of fish, of reptile; that each is striving selfishly for its own advantage, and will get what it wants if it can.
F. If it can. How comes it then that sometimes it cannot? Simply because all are not of equal strength, and the weaker must go to the wall.
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