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a longer time is not necessary to explain the present phenomena of the earth's surface. Only give us such mighty engines as those above described, and in two thousand years, we would upheave another Great Britain from the depths of the sea, and fashion its rocks and strata, with all their fossil remains, after the exact model of that which our island now exhibits. And who shall set limits to Almighty Power, or say what He was pleased to do in former ages of the world?
Mr. Lyell furnishes a map, in which he depicts the quantity of country that has been covered with sea, since the older tertiary strata were deposited,—which territory includes the greater part of Europe. His proof of this recent submergence is, that the “area thus described is now covered by deposits, containing the remains of aquatic animals belonging to tertiary species.” When, therefore, it is considered that amongst this number, there are the remains of several existing species, by the confession of geologists themselves, we have a decisive proof that immense changes have taken place since the Mosaic creation; for we can never give up to the speculating cosmogonist those distinct passages of scripture which declare, that all living creatures were created at the same time with the human race. We would not, indeed, be thought to say, that none have been brought into being subsequent to that period ; but we affirm, on scriptural authority, that none of them were in existence prior to the "six days' work,” described by Moses. Now, we find marine shells of this date at the elevation of one thousand feet on one of the Welsh mountains, at a depth of from two to four thousand below the surface of the Alps, and almost at the foot of Apennine hills, two thousand feet in height. This great change of level is allowed by geologists to have occurred during their “tertiary epoch ;” that is, in scriptural language, since the creation of man. There is no middle ground of opinion to him who believes that “in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day : wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it."
Every new discovery in geognosy only tends further to convince us that we understand but little of the agencies which have long been at work upon the surface of our globe. The ordinary flow of springs and rivers is producing vast changes in an incredibly short time; but the more powerful operations of floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, and a general deluge, defy all
human calculations respecting their mighty effects. The little that is known is of so astounding a character as to make the reflecting mind pause, before it ventures upon hazardous speculations in the mysterious recesses of patriarchal history.
WE ought to bestow a few remarks upon the grand argument of modern geologists for the antiquity of our globe, and for a succession of epochas before the creation of man, deduced from the numerous fossil remains that have been discovered in the earth's strata, and which have been carefully arranged into distinct classes and genera, according to their known or supposed similarity to existing animals. They are said to have been regular in their deposition, and to have required a considerable time for the separate existence of each species, thus arguing an immense period for the entire stratification. Several parts of this hypothesis have been too hastily assumed, and the theories built upon them cannot be sustained by sufficient proof. Such is the distinction of species, the manner in which the deposits were effected, and the length of time required for their completion; to each of which points we shall now briefly advert.
Special attention was paid to the subject of organic remains by the celebrated Cuvier, who, in making a classification of the different genera and species, formed a system in accordance with his own geological theory. But a careful student of nature, whilst he gives the full meed of praise to the patient investigations of that illustrious physiologist, and whilst he readily admits many of the facts which he has recorded, will be cautious how he assents to any theory grounded upon the ipse dixit of any philosopher. We may assent to all the discoveries of Cuvier, whilst we repudiate his system. We may give full credence to the statements which he has made respecting the nature and formation of fossil bones, whilst we object to the relevancy of his deductions, and find some flaws in his course of argument. The following is the substance of his proposition : "Every organized individual forms an entire system of its own, all the parts of which mutually correspond and concur to produce a
certain definite purpose by reciprocal re-action, or by combining towards the same end. Hence none of these separate parts can change their forms without a corresponding change on the other parts of the same animal, and, consequently, each of these parts, taken separately, indicates all the other parts to which it has belonged. Thus, if the viscera of an animal are so organized as only to be fitted for the digestion of recent flesh, it is also requisite that the jaws should be so constructed as to fit them for devouring their prey; the claws must be constructed for seizing and tearing it to pieces; the teeth for cutting and dividing its flesh; the entire system of the limbs, or organs of motion, for pursuing and overtaking it; and the organs of sense for discovering it at a distance. Hence any one who observes the print of a cloven foot, may conclude that it has been left by a ruminant animal, and regard the conclusion as equally certain with any other in physics or in morals. Consequently, this single foot-mark clearly indicates to the observer the forms of the teeth, of the jaws, of the vertebræ, of all the leg-bones, thighs, shoulders, and of the trunk of the body of the animal that left the mark.”
Now,whilst we cannot but admire the beauty of such an adaptation of structure to the wants and habits of various animals, and whilst awarding to the Baron all the praise due to the discovery of so fine a view of the Creator's wisdom, we cannot altogether agree with the last consequence which he has drawn. A “single foot-mark” might indicate the presence of any species with which we were intimately acquainted, the prints of whose feet we had been accustomed to trace; or it might demonstrate the general nature of the creature to which such a foot belongs; but no amount of physiological knowledge would cause an unknown trace to make us acquainted with the entire structure of the animal, as Cuvier has suggested. He draws too largely upon our faith in his deductions, for which he has not furnished sufficient data. We may assent to his conclusion in the second-last sentence of the above quotation, whilst we demur to the truth of the following one. The "print of a cloven foot may convince us that it has been left by a ruminant animal ; but it will not indicate the form of the nostrils, the contour of the ear, the shape of each limb, and the existence or length of the horns. Beasts of prey have not a similar acumen in all their senses; some being famous for sight, others for scent, others for hearing. In this reasoning, there is a leap from
general to particular, which true logic will not admit.
Yet from this position Cuvier argues, that the smallest piece of bone may become the sure index of the class and species of the animal to which it belonged. It “may” be so; but it is only to the skilful anatomist, who thoroughly understands every part of his subject by repeated examination. And if it requires a long period of careful study to become so perfectly conversant with the bones of the human body, as to know the value of every prominence and indenture, what must be the labour of acquiring this knowledge concerning all the families of living creatures!
In the above quotation, an error occurs in the use of the word “species” for “genus;" and a great deal of false reasoning may proceed from such a mistake. It is well to define the precise meaning which we wish to attach to every scientific term. For instance, there is the class mammalia, order digitata, family feræ, genus of dogs, and species of greyhound, terrier, &c. Some naturalists may
include the wolf and fox in the same genus as dogs; but we object to this vague classification, as tending to produce unnecessary confusion. Whether genus be here rightly used or not, does not belong to the present question; if not, some other word must be used in its place; but if adopted with respect to one division of animals, it ought to be similarly used in describing others. Wolves and dogs have never been found naturally to merge into one another; therefore we regard them as being of distinct genera, according to the plain idea of generation conveyed in the Latin word which we have borrowed. Wherever animals will freely mix together in breeding, we regard them as belonging to the same genus. We cannot, then, agree with the conclusion of Mr. Lyell, after an elaborate argument upon this subject, that "species have a real existence in nature, and that each was endowed at the time of its creation with the attributes and organization by which it is now distinguished.” But we claim the following allowances which he makes as to the variation of species : “ There is a capacity in all species to accommodate themselves, to a certain extent, to a change of external circumstances;” which change " is usually attended by some modifications of the form, colour, size, structure, or other particulars;" that "some acquired peculiarities of form, structure, and instinct, are transmissible to the offspring ;” and that the entire variation of the original type which any given kind of change can produce, may usually be effected in a brief period of time.” We disagree with him, however, when he says, “ After which no farther deviation can be obtained by continuing to alter the circumstances, though ever so gradually; which, though perhaps true of an individual animal, is not so of a species; as we know from the successive changes which take place in the breeds of dogs, sheep, horses, oxen, &c., in different parts of the world.
When we have once employed a distinctive term in natural history, we should rigidly adhere to the same shade of meaning in all our future arguments, or else we may reason in a very fallacious manner. Thus, to talk of the dog species, and afterwards of the species of greyhound, is varying the use of the distinguishing noun; for if we choose to speak of the dog as a species, we must employ another word to denote the different kinds or races of dogs; but if we call it a genus, (according to the etymology of the word,) we may then employ species to point out its various subdivisions.
Granting to Cuvier the transcendent skill in comparative anatomy which his admirers have attributed to him, by supposing him to have been familiar with every bone and muscle of each family and order of terrestrial animals, we may deny the relevancy of his conjectures concerning individual species. We know that the profound anatomist may instantly declare any given bones to belong to the human kind, and even pronounce many of them to have formed portions of a male or female skeleton; and from the peculiar shape of the skull, he may be correct in deciding to which of the great divisions of mankind it had appertained; but is he prepared to tell from a part of any bone, that it was a portion of a Laplander, Syrian, Indian, Tartar, one of the Mongolian races, or an American or Malay Negro ? ,
Can the zoologist, upon inspecting a bone or "part of a bone” of a dog, horse, or sheep, tell us to which of the numerous and ever-changing species of these genera it has belonged ? Yet it is upon such an absolute distinction of never-varying species, that a main part of the present geological theories are founded.
A grazier or horse-dealer knows very well that he can mix breeds, and produce an essential change upon his flocks or cattle; so that, by repeated alterations, the existing species shall in a short time be altogether modified. We have seen sheep in England without horns, and others with small horns : in Scotland, there are hardier kinds, with horns of larger size and