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abortion of the reproductive organs.
It is a more curious fact, previously referred to, that the achenes or seeds of the circumference and centre sometimes differ greatly in form, colour, and other characters. In Carthamus and some other Compositæ the central achenes alone are furnished with a pappus; and in Hyoseris the same head yields achenes of three different forms. In certain Umbelliferæ the exterior seeds, according to Tausch, are orthospermous, and the central one coelospermous, and this is a character which was considered by De Candolle to be in other species of the highest systematic importance. Prof. Braun mentions a Fumariaceous genus, in which the flowers in the lower part of the spike bear oval, ribbed, one-seeded nutlets; and in the upper part of the spike, lanceolate, twovalved, and two-seeded siliques. In these several cases, with the exception of that of the well developed rayflorets, which are of service in making the flowers conspicuous to insects, natural selection cannot, as far as we can judge, have come into play, or only in a quite subordinate manner. All these modifications follow from the relative position and inter-action of the parts; and it can hardly be doubted that if all the flowers and leaves on the same plant had been subjected to the same external and internal condition, as are the flowers and leaves in certain positions, all would have been modified in the same manner.
In numerous other cases we find modifications of structure, which are considered by botanists to be generally of a highly important nature, affecting only some of the flowers on the same plant, or occurring on distinct plants, which grow close together under the same conditions. As these variations seem of no special use
to the plants, they cannot have been influenced by natural selection. Of their cause we are quite ignorant; we cannot even attribute them, as in the last class of cases, to any proximate agency, such as relative position. I will give only a few instances. It is so common to observe on the same plant, flowers indifferently tetramerous, pentamerous, &c., that I need not give examples; but as numerical variations are comparatively rare when the parts are few, I may mention that, according to De Candolle, the flowers of Papaver bracteatum offer either two sepals with four petals (which is the common type with poppies), or three sepals with six petals. The manner in which the petals are folded in the bud is in most groups a very constant morphological character; but Professor Asa Gray states that with some species of Mimulus, the æstivation is almost as frequently that of the Rhinanthideæ as of the Antirrhinideæ, to which latter tribe the genus belongs. Aug. St. Hilaire gives the following cases: the genus Zanthoxylon belongs to a division of the Rutaceæ with a single ovary, but in some species flowers may be found on the same plant, and even in the same panicle, with either one or two ovaries. In Helianthemum the capsule has been described as unilocular or 3-locular; and in H. mutabile, “Une lame, plus ou moins large, s'étend entre le pericarpe et le placenta.” In the flowers of Saponaria officinalis, Dr. Masters has observed instances of both marginal and free central placentation. Lastly, St. Hilaire found towards the southern extreme of the range of Gomphia olexformis two forms which he did not at first doubt were distinct species, but he subsequently saw them growing on the same bush; and he then adds, “ Voilà donc dans un même individu des loges et un style qui
se rattachent tantôt à un axe verticale et tantôt à un gynobase.”
We thus see that with plants many morphological changes may be attributed to the laws of growth and the inter-action of parts, independently of natural selection. But with respect to Nägeli's doctrine of an innate tendency towards perfection or progressive development, can it be said in the case of these strongly pronounced variations, that the plants have been caught in the act of progressing towards a higher state of development? On the contrary, I should infer from the mere fact of the parts in question differing or varying greatly on the same plant, that such modifications were of extremely small importance to the plants themselves, of whatever importance they may generally be to us for our classifications. The acquisition of a useless part can hardly be said to raise an organism in the natural scale; and in the case of the imperfect, closed flowers above described, if any new principle has to be invoked, it must be one of retrogression rather than of progression; and so it must be with many parasitic and degraded animals. We are ignorant of the exciting cause of the above specified modifications; but if the unknown cause were to act almost uniformly for a length of time, we may infer that the result would be almost uniform; and in this case all the individuals of the species would be modified in the same manner.
From the fact of the above characters being unimportant for the welfare of the species, any slight variations which occurred in them would not have been accumulated and augmented through natural selection. A structure which has been developed through long
continued selection, when it ceases to be of service to a species, generally becomes variable, as we see with rudimentary organs; for it will no longer be regulated by this same power of selection. But when, from the nature of the organism and of the conditions, modifications have been induced which are unimportant for the welfare of the species, they may be, and apparently often have been, transmitted in nearly the same state to numerous, otherwise modified, descendants. It cannot have been of much importance to the greater number of mammals, birds, or reptiles, whether they were clothed with hair, feathers, or scales; yet hair has been transmitted to almost all mammals, feathers to all birds, and scales to all true reptiles. A structure, whatever it may be, which is common to many allied forms, is ranked by us as of high systematic importance, and consequently is often assumed to be of high vital importance to the species. Thus, as I am inclined to believe, morphological differences, which we consider as importantsuch as the arrangement of the leaves, the divisions of the flower or of the ovarium, the position of the ovules, &c.- first appeared in many cases as fluctuating variations, which sooner or later became constant through the nature of the organism and of the surrounding conditions, as well as through the intercrossing of distinct individuals, but not through natural selection; for as these morphological characters do not affect the welfare of the species, any slight deviations in them could not have been governed or accumulated through this latter agency. It is a strange result which we thus arrive at, namely that characters of slight vital importance to the species, are the most important to the systematist; but, as we shall hereafter see when we treat of the genetic
principle of classification, this is by no means so paradoxical as it may at first appear.
Although we have no good evidence of the existence in organic beings of an innate tendency towards progressive development, yet this necessarily follows, as I have attempted to show in the fourth chapter, through the continued action of natural selection. For the best definition which has ever been given of a high standard of organisation, is the degree to which the parts have been specialised or differentiated; and natural selection tends towards this end, inasmuch as the parts are thus enabled to perform their functions more efficiently.
A distinguished zoologist, Mr. St. George Mivart, has recently collected all the objections which have ever been advanced by myself and others against the theory of natural selection, as propounded by Mr. Wallace and myself, and has illustrated them with admirable art and force. When thus marshalled, they make a formidable array; and as it forms no part of Mr. Mivart's plan to give the various facts and considerations opposed to his conclusions, no slight effort of reason and memory is left to the reader, who may wish to weigh the evidence on both sides. When discussing special cases, Mr. Mivart passes over the effects of the increased use and disuse of parts, which I have always maintained to be highly important, and have treated in my Variation under Domestication at greater length than, as I believe, any other writer. He likewise often assumes that I attribute nothing to variation, independently of natural selection, whereas in the work just referred to I have collected a greater number of well-established cases than can be found in any other work known to me. My judg