Beacon Lights of History, Volume 14 eBook

John Lord
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 372 pages of information about Beacon Lights of History, Volume 14.

As a scientist, however, Darwin is not concerned with hopes or fears, but simply with the truth, as man’s reason enables him to discern it.  We must recognize, he thinks, as the truth, established by an overwhelming array of inductive evidence, that man, with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which he feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men, but to the humblest living creature, with his godlike intellect, which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system—­with all these exalted powers—­man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.


We have said that Darwin’s theory of the origin of species, together with its corollary, the descent of man, has met with almost universal acceptance by scientists.  We have to use the qualifying adverb, because some of Darwin’s contemporaries, including Virchow and Owen, not to mention St. George Mivart and the Duke of Argyll, have withheld their adhesion.  Since his death, moreover, his disciples have tended to split into two schools.  On the one hand, Weismann has rejected the Lamarckian factors,—­the effect of use and disuse upon organs, and the transmissibility of acquired characters.  The importance of these factors has been emphatically re-asserted, on the other hand, by Lankester and others.  Whether biologists, however, range themselves in the Neo-Darwinian or in the Neo-Lamarckian camp, the value of the principle of natural selection is acknowledged by all, and nobody now asserts the independent creation and permanence of species.


The Complete Works of Darwin, published by D. Appleton and Company.

The Works of Alfred Russel Wallace.

Francis Darwin’s “Life of Charles Darwin.”

Huxley’s Writings, passim.

Haeckel’s “Natural History of Creation.”

Weismann’s “Studies in the Theory of Descent” and subsequent papers.

Romanes’s “Scientific Evidences of Organic Evolution.”

Lankester’s “Degeneration.”

Fiske’s “Darwinism and Other Essays.”

For adverse criticism of Darwin, read Mivart’s “Genesis of Species,” and the Duke of Argyll’s “Unity of Nature.”





The exact combination of inspiration, heredity, and environment which serves to produce genius will perhaps ever be a problem beyond the skill of human intelligence.  When the rare elements do combine, however, the result is always worthy of most careful study, both because great achievements furnish a healthy stimulus to emulation, and because some glimpse may be gained of Nature’s working in the formation of her rarest products.

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Beacon Lights of History, Volume 14 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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