It would be superfluous here to discuss all of them (16. I have fully discussed these laws in my 'Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,' vol. ii. chap. xxii. and xxiii. M. J.P. Durand has lately (1868) published a valuable essay, 'De l'Influence des Milieux,' etc. He lays much stress, in the case of plants, on the nature of the soil.); but several are so important, that they must be treated at considerable length.
THE DIRECT AND DEFINITE ACTION OF CHANGED CONDITIONS.
This is a most perplexing subject. It cannot be denied that changed conditions produce some, and occasionally a considerable effect, on organisms of all kinds; and it seems at first probable that if sufficient time were allowed this would be the invariable result. But I have failed to obtain clear evidence in favour of this conclusion; and valid reasons may be urged on the other side, at least as far as the innumerable structures are concerned, which are adapted for special ends. There can, however, be no doubt that changed conditions induce an almost indefinite amount of fluctuating variability, by which the whole organisation is rendered in some degree plastic.
In the United States, above 1,000,000 soldiers, who served in the late war, were measured, and the States in which they were born and reared were recorded. (17. 'Investigations in Military and Anthrop. Statistics,' etc., 1869, by B.A. Gould, pp. 93, 107, 126, 131, 134.) From this astonishing number of observations it is proved that local influences of some kind act directly on stature; and we further learn that "the State where the physical growth has in great measure taken place, and the State of birth, which indicates the ancestry, seem to exert a marked influence on the stature." For instance, it is established, "that residence in the Western States, during the years of growth, tends to produce increase of stature." On the other hand, it is certain that with sailors, their life delays growth, as shewn "by the great difference between the statures of soldiers and sailors at the ages of seventeen and eighteen years." Mr. B.A. Gould endeavoured to ascertain the nature of the influences which thus act on stature; but he arrived only at negative results, namely that they did not relate to climate, the elevation of the land, soil, nor even "in any controlling degree" to the abundance or the need of the comforts of life. This latter conclusion is directly opposed to that arrived at by Villerme, from the statistics of the height of the conscripts in different parts of France. When we compare the differences in stature between the Polynesian chiefs and the lower orders within the same islands, or between the inhabitants of the fertile volcanic and low barren coral islands of the same ocean (18. For the Polynesians, see Prichard's 'Physical History of Mankind,' vol. v. 1847, pp. 145, 283. Also Godron, 'De l'Espece,' tom. ii. p. 289. There is also a remarkable difference in appearance between the closely-allied Hindoos inhabiting the Upper Ganges and Bengal; see Elphinstone's 'History of India,' vol. i. p. 324.) or again between the Fuegians on the eastern and western shores of their country, where the means of subsistence are very different, it is scarcely possible to avoid the conclusion that better food and greater comfort do influence stature. But the preceding statements shew how difficult it is to arrive at any precise result. Dr. Beddoe has lately proved that, with the inhabitants of Britain, residence in towns and certain occupations have a deteriorating influence on height; and he infers that the result is to a certain extent inherited, as is likewise the case in the United States. Dr. Beddoe further believes that wherever a "race attains its maximum of physical development, it rises highest in energy and moral vigour." (19. 'Memoirs, Anthropological Society,' vol. iii. 1867-69, pp. 561, 565, 567.)
Whether external conditions produce any other direct effect on man is not known. It might have been expected that differences of climate would have had a marked influence, inasmuch as the lungs and kidneys are brought into activity under a low temperature, and the liver and skin under a high one. (20.