CHAPTER VII. MISCELLANEOUS OBJECTIONS TO THE THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION.
1. LONGEVITY. (continued)
It has been argued that, as none of the animals and plants of Egypt, of
which we know anything, have changed during the last three or four thousand
years, so probably have none in any part of the world. But, as Mr. G.H.
Lewes has remarked, this line of argument proves too much, for the ancient
domestic races figured on the Egyptian monuments, or embalmed, are closely
similar or even identical with those now living; yet all naturalists admit
that such races have been produced through the modification of their
original types. The many animals which have remained unchanged since the
commencement of the glacial period, would have been an incomparably
stronger case, for these have been exposed to great changes of climate and
have migrated over great distances; whereas, in Egypt, during the last
several thousand years, the conditions of life, as far as we know, have
remained absolutely uniform. The fact of little or no modification having
been effected since the glacial period, would have been of some avail
against those who believe in an innate and necessary law of development,
but is powerless against the doctrine of natural selection or the survival
of the fittest, which implies that when variations or individual
differences of a beneficial nature happen to arise, these will be
preserved; but this will be effected only under certain favourable
The celebrated palaeontologist, Bronn, at the close of his German
translation of this work, asks how, on the principle of natural selection,
can a variety live side by side with the parent species? If both have
become fitted for slightly different habits of life or conditions, they
might live together; and if we lay on one side polymorphic species, in
which the variability seems to be of a peculiar nature, and all mere
temporary variations, such as size, albinism, etc., the more permanent
varieties are generally found, as far as I can discover, inhabiting
distinct stations, such as high land or low land, dry or moist districts.
Moreover, in the case of animals which wander much about and cross freely,
their varieties seem to be generally confined to distinct regions.