C ontrivance, if established, appears to me to prove every thing which we wish to prove. Amongst other things it proves the personality of the Deity,* as distinguished from what is sometimes called nature, sometimes called a principle: which terms, in the mouths of those who use them philosophically, seem to be intended, to admit and to express an efficacy, but to exclude and to deny a personal agent. Now that which can contrive, which can design, must be a person.* These capacities constitute personality, for they imply consciousness, and thought. They require that which can perceive an end or purpose; as well as the power of providing means, and of directing them to their end.1 They require a centre in which perceptions unite, and from which volitions flow; which is mind. The acts of a mind prove the existence of a mind: and in whatever a mind resides is a person. The seat of intellect is a person. We have no authority to limit the properties of mind to any particular corporeal form, or to any particular circumscription of space. These properties subsist, in created nature, under a great variety of sensible forms. Also every animated being has its sensorium, that is, a certain portion of space, within which perception and volition are exerted. This sphere may be enlarged to an indefinite extent; may comprehend the universe:* and, being so imagined, may serve to furnish us with as good a notion, as we are capable of forming, of the immensity of the divine nature, i. e. of a Being, infinite, as well in essence, as in power; yet nevertheless a person.
'No man hath seen God at any time.'* And this, I believe, makes the great difficulty. Now it is a difficulty, which chiefly arises from our not duly estimating the state of our faculties. The Deity, it is true, is the object of none of our senses: but reflect what limited capacities animal senses are. Many animals seem to have but one sense, or perhaps two at the most, touch and taste. Ought such an animal to conclude against the existence of smells, sounds, and colours? To another species is given the sense of smelling. This is an
1 Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever,* p. 153, ed. 2.
advance in the knowledge of the powers and properties of nature: but, if this favored animal should infer from its superiority over the class last described, that it perceived every thing which was perceptible in nature, it is known to us, though perhaps not suspected by the animal itself, that it proceeded upon a false and presumptuous estimate of its faculties. To another is added the sense of hearing; which lets in a class of sensations entirely unconceived by the animal before spoken of; not only distinct, but remote from any which it had ever experienced, and greatly superior to them. Yet this last animal has no more ground for believing, that its senses comprehend all things, and all properties of things, which exist, than might have been claimed by the tribes of animals beneath it: for we know, that it is still possible to possess another sense, that of sight, which shall disclose to the percipient a new world. This fifth sense makes the animal what the human animal is: but to infer that possibility stops here; that either this fifth sense is the last sense, or that the five comprehend all existence, is just as unwarrantable a conclusion, as that which might have been made by any of the different species which possessed fewer, or even by that, if such there be, which possessed only one. The conclusion of the one sense animal, and the conclusion of the five sense animal, stand upon the same authority. There may be more and other senses than those which we have. There may be senses suited to the perception of the powers, properties, and substance of spirits.* These may belong to higher orders of rational agents; for there is not the smallest reason for supposing that we are the highest, or that the scale of creation stops with us.
The great energies of nature are known to us only by their effects. The substances which produce them, are as much concealed from our senses as the divine essence itself. Gravitation, though constantly present, though constantly exerting its influence, though every where around us, near us, and within us; though diffused throughout all space, and penetrating the texture of all bodies with which we are acquainted, depends, if upon a fluid, upon a fluid, which, though both powerful and universal in its operation, is no object of sense to us; if upon any other kind of substance or action, upon a substance and action from which we receive no distinguishable impressions. Is it then to be wondered at, that it should, in some measure, be the same with the divine nature?
Of this however we are certain, that, whatever the Deity be, neither the universe, nor any part of it which we see, can be he. The universe itself is merely a collective name: its parts are all which are real; or which are things. Now inert matter is out of the question; and organized substances include marks of contrivance. But whatever includes marks of contrivance, whatever, in its constitution, testifies design, necessarily carries us to something beyond itself, to some other being, to a designer prior to, and out of, itself. No animal, for instance, can have contrived its own limbs and senses; can have been the author to itself of the design with which they were constructed. That supposition involves all the absurdity of self-creation, i. e. of acting without existing. Nothing can be God, which is ordered by a wisdom and a will, which itself is void of; which is indebted for any of its properties to contrivance ab extra.* The not having that in his nature which requires the exertion of another prior being, (which property is sometimes called self-sufficiency, and sometimes self-comprehension,) appertains to the Deity, as his essential distinction, and removes his nature from that of all things which we see. Which consideration contains the answer to a question that has sometimes been asked, namely, Why, since something or other must have existed from eternity, may not the present universe be that something? The contrivance, perceived in it, proves that to be impossible. Nothing contrived, can, in a strict and proper sense, be eternal, forasmuch as the contriver must have existed before the contrivance.
Wherever we see marks of contrivance, we are led for its cause to an intelligent author. And this transition of the understanding is founded upon uniform experience. We see intelligence constantly contriving, that is, we see intelligence constantly producing effects, marked and distinguished by certain properties; not certain particular properties, but by a kind and class of properties, such as relation to an end, relation of parts to one another, and to a common purpose. We see, wherever we are witnesses to the actual formation of things, nothing except intelligence producing effects so marked and distinguished. Furnished with this experience, we view the productions of nature. We observe them also marked and distinguished in the same manner. We wish to account for their origin. Our experience suggests a cause perfectly adequate to this account. No experience, no single instance or example, can be offered in favor of any other. In this cause therefore we ought to rest: in this cause the common sense of mankind* has in fact rested, because it agrees with that, which, in all cases, is the foundation of knowledge, the undeviating course of their experience. The reasoning is the same, as that, by which we conclude any ancient appearances to have been the effects of volca-nos or inundations,* namely, because they resemble the effects which fire and water produce before our eyes; and because we have never known these effects to result from any other operation. And this resemblance may subsist in so many circumstances, as not to leave us under the smallest doubt in forming our opinion. Men are not deceived by this reasoning; for whenever it happens, as it sometimes does happen, that the truth comes to be known by direct information, it turns out to be what was expected. In like manner, and upon the same foundation, (which in truth is that of experience,) we conclude that the works of nature proceed from intelligence and design, because, in the properties of relation to a purpose, subserviency to an use, they resemble what intelligence and design are constantly producing, and what nothing except intelligence and design ever produce at all. Of every argument, which would raise a question as to the safety of this reasoning, it may be observed, that, if such argument be listened to, it leads to the inference, not only that the present order of nature is insufficient to prove the existence of an intelligent Creator, but that no imaginable order would be sufficient to prove it; that no contrivance, were it ever so mechanical, ever so precise, ever so clear, ever so perfectly like those which we ourselves employ, would support this conclusion. A doctrine, to which, I conceive, no sound mind can assent.
The force however of the reasoning is sometimes sunk by our taking up with mere names. We have already noticed,1 and we must here notice again, the misapplication of the term 'law,'* and the mistake concerning the idea which that term expresses in physics, whenever such idea is made to take the place of power, and still more of an intelligent power, and, as such, to be assigned for the cause of any thing, or of any property of any thing, that exists. This is what we are secretly apt to do when we speak of organized bodies (plants, for instance, or animals) owing their production, their form, their growth, their qualities, their beauty, their use, to any law or laws of nature: and when we are contented to sit down with that answer to our enquiries concerning them. I say once more, that it is a perversion
of language to assign any law, as the efficient, operative, cause of any thing. A law presupposes an agent; for it is only the mode according to which an agent proceeds: it implies a power, for it is the order according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the 'law' does nothing; is nothing.
What has been said concerning 'law,' holds true of mechanism. Mechanism is not itself power. Mechanism, without power, can do nothing. Let a watch be contrived and constructed ever so ingeniously; be its parts ever so many, ever so complicated, ever so finely wrought or artificially put together, it cannot go without a weight or spring, i. e. without a force independent of, and ulterior to, its mechanism. The spring acting at the centre, will produce different motions and different results, according to the variety of the intermediate mechanism. One and the self-same spring, acting in one and the same manner, viz. by simply expanding itself, may be the cause of a hundred different, and all useful movements, if a hundred different and well-devised sets of wheels be placed between it and the final effect, e. g. may point out the hour of the day, the day of the month, the age of the moon, the position of the planets, the cycle of the years, and many other serviceable notices; and these movements may fulfill their purposes with more or less perfection, according as the mechanism is better or worse contrived, or better or worse executed, or in a better or worse state of repair: but, in all cases, it is necessary that the spring act at the centre. The course of our reasoning upon such a subject would be this. By inspecting the watch, even when standing still, we get a proof of contrivance, and of a contriving mind, having been employed about it. In the form and obvious relation of its parts we see enough to convince us of this. If we pull the works in pieces, for the purpose of a closer examination, we are still more fully convinced. But, when we see the watch going, we see proof of another point, viz. that there is a power somewhere and somehow or other, applied to it; a power in action; that there is more in the subject than the mere wheels of the machine; that there is a secret spring or a gravitating plummet; in a word, that there is force and energy, as well as mechanism.
So then, the watch in motion establishes to the observer two conclusions: one; that thought, contrivance, and design, have been employed in the forming, proportioning, and arranging of its parts;
and that, whoever or wherever he be, or were, such a contriver there is, or was: the other; that force or power, distinct from mechanism, is, at this present time, acting upon it. If I saw a hand-mill even at rest, I should see contrivance; but, if I saw it grinding, I should be assured that a hand was at the windlass, though in another room. It is the same in nature. In the works of nature we trace mechanism; and this alone proves contrivance: but living, active, moving, productive nature, proves also the exertion of a power at the centre; for, wherever the power resides, may be denominated the centre.
The intervention and disposition of what are called 'second causes'* fall under the same observation. This disposition is or is not mechanism, according as we can or cannot trace it by our senses, and means of examination. That is all the difference there is; and it is a difference which respects our faculties, not the things themselves. Now where the order of second causes is mechanical, what is here said of mechanism strictly applies to it. But it would be always mechanism (natural chymistry, for instance, would be mechanism) if our senses were acute enough to descry it. Neither mechanism, therefore in the works of nature, nor the intervention of what are called second causes, (for I think that they are the same thing,) excuse the necessity of an agent distinct from both.
If, in tracing these causes, it be said, that we find certain general properties of matter, which have nothing in them that bespeaks intelligence, I answer, that, still, the managing of these properties, the pointing and directing them to the uses which we see made of them, demands intelligence in the highest degree. For example, suppose animal secretions to be elective attractions,* and that such and such attractions universally belong to such and such substances; in all which there is no intellect concerned; still the choice and collocation of these substances, the fixing upon right substances and disposing them in right places, must be an act of intelligence. What mischief would follow, were there a single transposition of the secretary organs; a single mistake in arranging the glands which compose them?
There may be many second causes, and many courses of second causes, one behind another, between what we observe of nature, and the Deity; but there must be intelligence somewhere; there must be more in nature than what we see; and, amongst the things unseen, there must be an intelligent, designing, author. The philosopher beholds with astonishment the production of things around him. Unconscious particles of matter take their stations, and severally range themselves in an order, so as to become collectively plants or animals, i. e. organized bodies, with parts bearing strict and evident relation to one another, and to the utility of the whole: and it should seem that these particles could not move in any other way than as they do, for they testify not the smallest sign of choice, or liberty, or direction. There may be plastic natures, particular intelligent beings, guiding these motions in each case: or they may be the result of trains of mechanical dispositions, fixed beforehand by an intelligent appointment,* and kept in action by a power at the centre. But in either case, there must be intelligence.
The minds of most men are fond of what they call a principle, and of the appearance of simplicity, in accounting for phenomena. Yet this principle, this simplicity, is sometimes nothing more than in the name; which name, comprises, perhaps, under it a diversified, multifarious, or progressive operation, distinguishable into parts. The power, in organized bodies, of producing bodies like themselves, is one of these principles. Give a philosopher this, and he can get on. But he does not reflect, what this principle, (if such he chuse to call it,) what this mode of production requires; how much it presupposes; what an apparatus of instruments, some of which are strictly mechanical, is necessary to its success; what a train it includes of operations and changes, one succeeding another, one related to another, one ministring to another; all advancing, by intermediate, and, frequently, by sensible steps, to their ultimate result. Yet, because the whole of this complicated action is wrapped up in a single term, generation, we are to set it down as an elementary principle; and to suppose, that, when we have resolved the things which we see into this principle, we have sufficiently accounted for their origin, without the necessity of a designing, intelligent Creator. The truth is, generation is not a principle, but a process. We might as well call the casting of metals a principle: we might, so far as appears to me, as well call spinning and weaving principles: and then, referring the texture of cloths, the fabric of muslins and callicoes, the patterns of diapers and damasks, to these as principles, pretend to dispense with intention, thought, and contrivance, on the part of the artist; or to dispense, indeed, with the necessity of any artist at all, either in the manufactory of the article, or in the fabrication of the machinery by which the manufactory was carried on.
And, after all, how, or in what sense, is it true, that animals produce their like? A butterfly, with a proboscis instead of a mouth, with four wings and six legs, produces a hairy caterpillar, with jaws and teeth, and fourteen feet. A frog produces a tadpole. A black beetle, with gauze wings and a crusty covering, produces a white, smooth, soft worm: an ephemeron fly, a cod-bait maggot. These, by a progress through different stages of life, and action, and enjoyment, (and, in each state, provided with implements and organs appropriated to the temporary nature which they bear,) arrive at last at the form and fashion of the parent animal. But all this is process, not principle; and proves, moreover, that the property of animated bodies of producing their like, belongs to them, not as a primordial property, not by any blind necessity in the nature of things, but as the effect of economy, wisdom, and design; because the property itself, assumes diversities, and submits to deviations, dictated by intelligible utilities, and serving distinct purposes of animal happiness.
The opinion, which would consider 'generation' as a principle in nature; and which would assign this principle as the cause, or endeavour to satisfy our minds with such a cause, of the existence of organized bodies, is confuted, in my judgment, not only by every mark of contrivance discoverable in those bodies, for which it gives us no contriver, offers no account, whatever; but also by the further consideration, that things generated possess a clear relation to things not generated. If it were merely one part of a generated body bearing a relation to another part of the same body, as the mouth of an animal to the throat, the throat to the stomach, the stomach to the intestines, those to the recruiting of the blood, and, by means of the blood, to the nourishment of the whole frame: or if it were only one generated body bearing a relation to another generated body, as the sexes of the same species to each other, animals of prey to their prey, herbivorous and graminivorous animals to the plants or seeds upon which they feed, it might be contended, that the whole of this correspondency was attributable to generation, the common origin from which these substances proceeded. But what shall we say to agreements which exist between things generated and things not generated? Can it be doubted, was it ever doubted, but that the lungs of animals bear a relation to the air, as a permanently elastic fluid? They act in it and by it: they cannot act without it. Now, if generation produced the animal, it did not produce the air; yet their properties correspond. The eye is made for light, and light for the eye. The eye would be of no use without light, and light perhaps of little without eyes: yet one is produced by generation; the other not. The ear depends upon undulations of air. Here are two sets of motions; first, of the pulses of the air; secondly, of the drum, bones, and nerves of the ear; sets of motions bearing an evident reference to each other: yet the one, and the apparatus for the one, produced by the intervention of generation; the other altogether independent of it.
If it be said, that the air, the light, the elements, the world itself, is generated, I answer, that I do not comprehend the proposition. If the term mean any thing, similar to what it means, when applied to plants or animals, the proposition is certainly without proof; and, I think, draws as near to absurdity, as any proposition can do, which does not include a contradiction in its terms. I am at a loss to conceive, how the formation of the world can be compared to the generation of an animal. If the term generation signify something quite different from what it signifies upon ordinary occasions, it may, by the same latitude, signify any thing. In which case a word or phrase taken from the language of Otaheite,* would convey as much theory concerning the origin of the universe, as it does to talk of its being generated.
We know a cause (intelligence) adequate to the appearances, which we wish to account for: we have this cause continually producing similar appearances: yet, rejecting this cause, the sufficiency of which we know, and the action of which is constantly before our eyes, we are invited to resort to suppositions, destitute of a single fact for their support, and confirmed by no analogy with which we are acquainted. Were it necessary to enquire into the motives of men's opinions, I mean their motives separate from their arguments, I should almost suspect, that, because the proof of a Deity drawn from the constitution of nature is not only popular but vulgar, (which may arise from the cogency of the proof, and be indeed its highest recommendation,) and because it is a species almost of puerility to take up with it, for these reasons, minds, which are habitually in search of invention and originality, feel a resistless inclination to strike off into other solutions and other expositions. The truth is, that many minds are not so indisposed to any thing which can be offered to them, as they are to the flatness of being content with common reasons; and, what is most to be lamented, minds conscious of superiority are the most liable to this repugnancy.
The 'suppositions' here alluded to all agree in one character. They all endeavour to dispense with the necessity in nature of a particular, personal, intelligence; that is to say, with the exertion of an intending, contriving mind, in the structure and formation of the organized constitutions which the world contains. They would resolve all productions into unconscious energies, of a like kind, in that respect, with attraction, magnetism, electricity, etc.; without any thing further.
In this the old systems of atheism and the new agree.* And I much doubt, whether the new schemes have advanced anything upon the old, or done more than changed the terms of the nomenclature. For instance, I could never see the difference between the antiquated system of atoms,* and Buffon's organic molecules. This philosopher, having made a planet by knocking off from the sun a piece of melted glass, in consequence of the stroke of a comet; and having set it in motion, by the same stroke, both round its own axis and the sun, finds his next difficulty to be, how to bring plants and animals upon it. In order to solve this difficulty, we are to suppose the universe replenished with particles, endowed with life, but without organization or senses of their own; and endowed also with a tendency to marshal themselves into organized forms. The concourse of these particles, by virtue of this tendency, but without intelligence, will, or direction, (for I do not find that any of these qualities are ascribed to them,) has produced the living forms which we now see.
Very few of the conjectures, which philosophers hazard upon these subjects, have more of pretension in them, than the challenging you to shew the direct impossibility of the hypothesis. In the present example, there seemed to be a positive objection to the whole scheme upon the very face of it; which was, that, if the case were as here represented, new combinations ought to be perpetually taking place; new plants and animals, or organized bodies which were neither, ought to be starting up before our eyes every day. For this, however, our philosopher has an answer. Whilst so many forms of plants and animals are already in existence, and, consequently, so many
'internal molds,* as he calls them, are prepared and at hand, the organic particles run into these molds, and are employed in supplying an accession of substance to them, as well for their growth, as for their propagation. By which means things keep their antient course. But, says the same philosopher, should any general loss or destruction of the present constitution of organized bodies take place, the particles, for want of 'molds' into which they might enter, would run into different combinations, and replenish the waste with new species of organized substances.
Is there any history to countenance this notion? Is it known, that any destruction has been so repaired? any desart thus repeopled?
So far as I remember, the only natural appearance mentioned by our author, by way of fact whereon to build his hypothesis, the only support on which it rests, is the formation of worms in the intestines of animals, which is here ascribed to the coalition of superabundant organic particles, floating about in the first passages; and which have combined themselves into these simple animal forms, for want of internal molds, or of vacancies in those molds, into which they might be received. The thing referred to is rather a species of facts, than a single fact; as some other cases may, with equal reason, be included under it. But to make it a fact at all, or, in any sort, applicable to the question, we must begin with asserting an equivocal generation contrary to analogy, and without necessity: contrary to an analogy, which accompanies us to the very limits of our knowledge or enquiries, for wherever, either in plants or animals, we are able to examine the subject, we find procreation from a parent form; without necessity, for I apprehend that it is seldom difficult to suggest methods, by which the eggs, or spawn, or yet invisible rudiments of these vermin, may have obtained a passage into the cavities in which they are found.1 Add to this, that their constancy to their species, which, I believe, is as regular in these as in the other vermes,* decides the question against our philosopher, if, in truth, any question remained upon the subject.
Lastly; these wonder-working instruments, these 'internal molds,' what are they after all? what, when examined, but a name without
1 I trust I may be excused, for not citing, as another fact which is to confirm the hypothesis, a grave assertion of this writer, that the branches of trees upon which the stag feeds, break out again in his horns. Such facts merit no discussion.
signification; unintelligible, if not self-contradictory; at the best, differing nothing from the 'essential forms'* of the Greek philosophy? One short sentence of Buffon's work exhibits his scheme as follows. 'When this nutritious and prolific matter, which is diffused throughout all nature, passes through the internal mold of an animal or vegetable, and finds a proper matrix or receptacle, it gives rise to an animal or vegetable of the same species.' Does any reader annex a meaning to the expression, 'internal mold,' in this sentence? Ought it then to be said, that, though we have little notion of an internal mold, we have not much more of a designing mind? The very contrary of this assertion is the truth. When we speak of an artificer or an architect, we talk of what is comprehensible to our understanding, and familiar to our experience. We use no other terms, than what refer us for their meaning to our consciousness and observation; what express the constant objects of both: whereas names, like that we have mentioned, refer us to nothing; excite no idea; convey a sound to the ear, but I think do no more.
A nother system, which has lately been brought forward, and with much ingenuity, is that of appetencies.* The principle, and the short account, of the theory, is this. Pieces of soft, ductile, matter, being endued with propensities or appetencies for particular actions, would, by continual endeavours, carried on through a long series of generations, work themselves gradually into suitable forms; and, at length, acquire, though perhaps by obscure and almost imperceptible improvements, an organization fitted to the action which their respective propensities led them to exert. A piece of animated matter, for example, that was endued with a propensity to fly, though ever so shapeless, though no other we will suppose than a round ball to begin with, would, in a course of ages, if not in a million of years, perhaps in a hundred millions of years,* (for our theorists, having eternity to dispose of, are never sparing in time,) acquire wings. The same tendency to loco-motion in an aquatic animal, or rather in an animated lump which might happen to be surrounded by water, would end in the production offins: in a living substance, confined to the solid earth, would put out legs and feet; or, if it took a different turn, would break the body into ringlets, and conclude by crawling upon the ground.
Although I have introduced the mention of this theory into this place, I am unwilling to give to it the name of an atheistic scheme, for two reasons; first, because, so far as I am able to understand it, the original propensities and the numberless varieties of them (so different, in this respect, from the laws of mechanical nature, which are few and simple) are, in the plan itself, attributed to the ordination and appointment of an intelligent and designing Creator: secondly, because, likewise, that large postulatum, which is all along assumed and presupposed, the faculty in living bodies of producing other bodies organized like themselves, seems to be referred to the same cause at least is not attempted to be accounted for by any other. In one important respect, however, the theory before us coincides with atheistic systems, viz. in that, in the formation of plants and animals, in the structure and use of their parts, it does away final causes. Instead of the parts of a plant or animal, or the particular structure of the parts, having been intended for the action or the use to which we see them applied, according to this theory they have themselves grown out of that action, sprung from that use. The theory therefore dispenses with that which we insist upon, the necessity, in each particular case, of an intelligent, designing, mind, for the contriving and determining of the forms which organized bodies bear. Give our philosopher these appetencies; give him a portion of living irritable matter (a nerve, or the clipping of a nerve,) to work upon; give also to his incipient or progressive forms, the power, in every stage of their alteration, of propagating their like; and, if he is to be believed, he could replenish the world with all the vegetable and animal productions which we at present see in it.
The scheme under consideration is open to the same objection with other conjectures of a similar tendency, viz. a total defect of evidence. No changes, like those which the theory requires, have ever been observed. All the changes in Ovid's Metamorphoses* might have been effected by these appetencies, if the theory were true; yet not an example, nor the pretence of an example, is offered, of a single change being known to have taken place. Nor is the order of generation obedient to the principle upon which this theory is built. The mammœ1* of the male have not vanished by inusitation;* nec curtorum, per multa sœcula, Judœorum propagini deest prœputium.* It is easy to
1 I confess myself totally at a loss to guess at the reason, either final or efficient, for this part of the animal frame, unless there be some foundation for an opinion, of which I draw the hint from a paper of Mr Everard Home's,* (Phil. Transac. 1799, p. 2.) viz. that the mammœ of the fœtus may be formed before the sex is determined.
say, and it has been said, that the alterative process is too slow to be perceived; that it has been carried on through tracts of immeasurable time; and that the present order of things is the result of a gradation, of which no human record can trace the steps. It is easy to say this; and yet it is still true, that the hypothesis remains destitute of evidence.
The analogies which have been alledged are of the following kind. The bunch of a camel, is said to be no other than the effect of carrying burthens; a service in which the species has been employed from the most antient times of the world. The first race, by the daily loading of the back, would probably find a small grumous* tumour to be formed in the flesh of that part. The next progeny would bring this tumour into the world with them. The life, to which they were destined, would increase it. The cause, which first generated the tubercle, being continued, it would go on, through every succession, to augment its size, till it attained the form and the bulk under which it now appears. This may serve for one instance: another, and that also of the passive sort, is taken from certain species of birds. Birds of the crane kind, as the crane itself, the heron, bittern, stork, have, in general, their thighs bare of feathers. This privation is accounted for from the habit of wading in water, and from the effect of that element to check the growth of feathers upon these parts: in consequence of which, the health and vegetation of the feathers declined through each generation of the animal: the tender down, exposed to cold and wetness, became weak, and thin, and rare, till the deterioration ended in the result which we see, of absolute nakedness. I will mention a third instance because it is drawn from an active habit, as the two last were from passive habits;* and that is the pouch of the pelican. The description, which naturalists give of this organ is as follows: 'From the lower edges of the under chap, hangs a bag, reaching from the whole length of the bill to the neck, which is said to be capable of containing fifteen quarts of water. This bag the bird has a power of wrinkling up into the hollow of the under chap. When the bag is empty it is not seen: but when the bird has fished with success, it is incredible to what an extent it is often dilated. The first thing the pelican does in fishing, is to fill the bag; and then it returns to digest its burthen at leisure. The bird preys upon the large fishes, and hides them by dozens in its pouch. When the bill is opened to its widest extent, a person may run his head into the bird's mouth; and conceal it in this monstrous pouch, thus adapted for very singular purposes.'1 Now this extraordinary conformation, is nothing more, say our philosophers, than the result of habit; not of the habit or effort of a single pelican, or of a single race of pelicans, but of a habit perpetuated through a long series of generations. The pelican soon found the conveniency, of reserving in its mouth, when its appetite was glutted, the remainder of its prey, which is fish. The fullness produced by this attempt, of course stretched the skin which lies between the under chaps, as being the most yielding part of the mouth. Every distension increased the cavity. The original bird, and many generations which succeeded him, might find difficulty enough in making the pouch answer this purpose: but future pelicans, entering upon life with a pouch derived from their progenitors, of considerable capacity, would more readily accelerate its advance to perfection, by frequently pressing down the sac with the weight of fish which it might now be made to contain.
These, or of this kind, are the analogies relied upon. Now in the first place, the instances themselves are unauthenticated by testimony;* and, in theory, to say the least of them, open to great objections. Who ever read of camels without bunches, or with bunches less than those with which they are at present usually formed? A bunch, not unlike the camel's, is found between the shoulders of the buffalo; of the origin of which it is impossible to give the account which is here given. In the second example. Why should the application of water, which appears to promote and thicken the growth of feathers upon the bodies and breasts of geese and swans and other water fowls, have divested of this covering the thighs of cranes? The third instance, which appears to me as plausible as any that can be produced, has this against it, that it is a singularity restricted to the species; whereas, if it had its commencement in the cause and manner which have been assigned, the like conformation might be expected to take place in other birds, which fed upon fish. How comes it to pass, that the pelican alone was the inventress, and her descendants the only inheritors, of this curious resource?
But it is the less necessary to contravert the instances themselves, as it is a straining of analogy beyond all limits of reason and credibility, to assert that birds, and beasts, and fish, with all their variety
and complexity of organization, have been brought into their forms, and distinguished into their several kinds and natures, by the same process (even if that process could be demonstrated, or had ever been actually noticed) as might seem to serve for the gradual generation of a camel's bunch, or a pelican's pouch.
The solution, when applied to the works of nature generally, is contradicted by many of the phenomena, and totally inadequate to others. The ligaments or strictures, by which the tendons are tied down at the angles of the joints, could, by no possibility, be formed by the motion or exercise of the tendons themselves; by any appetency exciting these parts into action; or by any tendency arising therefrom. The tendency is all the other way: the conatus in constant opposition to them. Length of time does not help the case at all, but the reverse. The valves also in the blood-vessels, could never be formed in the manner, which our theorist proposes. The blood, in its right and natural course, has no tendency to form them. When obstructed or refluent, it has the contrary. These parts could not grow out of their use, though they had eternity to grow in.
The senses of animals appear to me altogether incapable of receiving the explanation of their origin which this theory affords. Including under the word 'sense' the organ and the perception, we have no account of either. How will our philosopher get at vision, or make an eye? How should the blind animal affect sight, of which blind animals, we know, have neither conception nor desire? Affecting it, by what operation of its will, by what endeavour to see, could it so determine the fluids of its body, as to inchoate the formation of an eye? or, suppose the eye formed, would the perception follow? The same of the other senses. And this objection holds its force, ascribe what you will to the hand of time, to the power of habit, to changes, too slow to be observed by man, or brought within any comparison which he is able to make of past things with the present: concede what you please to these arbitrary and unattested suppositions, how will they help you? Here is no inception. No laws, no course, no powers of nature which prevail at present, nor any analogous to these, could give commencement to a new sense. And it is in vain to enquire, how that might proceed, which could never begin.
I think the senses, to be the most inconsistent with the hypothesis before us, of any part of the animal frame. But other parts are sufficiently so. The solution does not apply to the parts of animals, which have little in them of motion. If we could suppose joints and muscles to be gradually formed by action and exercise, what action or exercise could form a skull, or fill it with brains? No effort of the animal could determine the clothing of its skin. What conatus* could give prickles to the porcupine or hedgehog, or to the sheep its fleece?
In the last place; what do these appetencies mean when applied to plants? I am not able to give a signification to the term, which can be transferred from animals to plants; or which is common to both. Yet a no less successful organization is found in plants, than what obtains in animals. A solution is wanted for one, as well as the other.
Upon the whole; after all the struggles of a reluctant philosophy the necessary resort is to a Deity. The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is God.
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