I would give absolutely nothing for the theory of Natural Selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent. I think Embryology, Homology, Classification, etc., etc., show us that all vertebrata have descended from one parent; how that parent appeared we know not. If you admit in ever so little a degree, the explanation which I have given of Embryology, Homology and Classification, you will find it difficult to say: thus far the explanation holds good, but no further; here we must call in "the addition of new creative forces." I think you will be driven to reject all or admit all: I fear by your letter it will be the former alternative; and in that case I shall feel sure it is my fault, and not the theory's fault, and this will certainly comfort me. With regard to the descent of the great Kingdoms (as Vertebrata, Articulata, etc.) from one parent, I have said in the conclusion, that mere analogy makes me think it probable; my arguments and facts are sound in my judgment only for each separate kingdom.


I dare say I have not been guarded enough, but might not the term inferiority include less perfect adaptation to physical conditions?

My remarks apply not to single species, but to groups or genera; the species of most genera are adapted at least to rather hotter, and rather less hot, to rather damper and dryer climates; and when the several species of a group are beaten and exterminated by the several species of another group, it will not, I think, generally be from EACH new species being adapted to the climate, but from all the new species having some common advantage in obtaining sustenance, or escaping enemies. As groups are concerned, a fairer illustration than negro and white in Liberia would be the almost certain future extinction of the genus ourang by the genus man, not owing to man being better fitted for the climate, but owing to the inherited intellectual inferiority of the Ourang-genus to Man-genus, by his intellect, inventing fire-arms and cutting down forests. I believe from reasons given in my discussion, that acclimatisation is readily effected under nature. It has taken me so many years to disabuse my mind of the TOO great importance of climate--its important influence being so conspicuous, whilst that of a struggle between creature and creature is so hidden--that I am inclined to swear at the North Pole, and, as Sydney Smith said, even to speak disrespectfully of the Equator. I beg you often to reflect (I have found NOTHING so instructive) on the case of thousands of plants in the middle point of their respective ranges, and which, as we positively know, can perfectly well withstand a little more heat and cold, a little more damp and dry, but which in the metropolis of their range do not exist in vast numbers, although if many of the other inhabitants were destroyed [they] would cover the ground. We thus clearly see that their numbers are kept down, in almost every case, not by climate, but by the struggle with other organisms. All this you will perhaps think very obvious; but, until I repeated it to myself thousands of times, I took, as I believe, a wholly wrong view of the whole economy of nature...


I am so much pleased that you approve of this chapter; you would be astonished at the labour this cost me; so often was I, on what I believe was, the wrong scent.


On the theory of Natural Selection there is a wide distinction between Rudimentary Organs and what you call germs of organs, and what I call in my bigger book "nascent" organs. An organ should not be called rudimentary unless it be useless--as teeth which never cut through the gums--the papillae, representing the pistil in male flowers, wing of Apteryx, or better, the little wings under soldered elytra. These organs are now plainly useless, and a fortiori, they would be useless in a less developed state. Natural Selection acts exclusively by preserving successive slight, USEFUL modifications.

Charles Darwin

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