The Radical Review (1877-1878)

May, 1877.

  • William J. Potter, “The Two Traditions, Ecclesiastical and Scientific,” 1.
  • B. W. Ball, “To Benedict Spinosa,” [poem]. 24.
  • C. W. Ernst. Practical Socialism in Germany. 25.
  • D. A. Wasson. Theodore Parker as Religious Reformer. 46.
  • Edmund C. Stedman. The Discoverer. [poem] 74.
  • P. J. Proudhon. System of Economical Contradictions, Introduction. 76,
  • Joel A. Allen. The Influence of Physical Conditions in the Genesis of Species. 108.
  • Lysander Spooner. Our Financiers: Their Ignorance, Usurpations, and Frauds. 141.
  • Current Literature.
    1. Alfred Tennyson. Harold: A Drama. Notice by John Weiss, 158.
    2. J. N. Larned. Talks about Labor. Notice by Stephen Pearl Andrews, 165.
    3. George E. Ellis. Memoir of Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford. Notice by Joseph H. Allen, 170.
    4. James Russell Lowell. Three Memorial Poems. Notice by J. Vita Blake, 174.
    5. R. W. Thompson. Papacy and the Civil Power. Notice by Charles Almy, Jr., 176.
    6. J. B. Gross. Teachings of Providence. Notice by J. Vila Blake, 179.
    7. John Hibberton. Jericho Road. Notice by Charles Almy, Jr., 181.
  • Sidney H. Morse. Chips from my Studio, I. 184.


O pure as Christ, as deeply-souled I

Whose life an alder-shaded stream,
Hid from the broad day’s garish beam,
In hush of thought unmurmuring rolled.
Thou outcast of an outcast race!

From loyalty to truth no lure
Thy step could turn,—its path obscure
Content with even tread to pace.
With surer foot who could have scaled

The vulgar heights? Conformist,—thee
With loud acclaim and jubilee
Rabbles and rabbins would have hailed.
With tardy recognition now

Memorial honors thee await,
There, where on earth thine humble fate
Thou didst accept with placid brow.
B. W. Ball.
  • B. W. Ball, “To Benedict Spinosa,” The Radical Review 1, no. 1 (May 1877): 24.



GERMANY, which is now considered the first power of Europe, so far as military and political forces are concerned, was, within the memory of men that have not yet reached the noonday of their life, hardly more than a geographical term, or an aggregation of states, constitutions, laws, customs, and tendencies which no mortal could hope to understand, a chaos which no common reason could hope to change into any thing like cosmos or respectable organization. It is well known that the popular revolution of 1848 attempted this task, and failed so completely that even excellent men, prominently connected with the movement, are now in the habit of smiling whenever they recount their early struggles for German unity and political progress in their native country. It is known at the same time that ” blood and iron,” as Prince Bismarck once called it by way of accidental allusion, accomplished in 1864, in 1866, and in 1870, at a geometric ratio, what was considered, before his advent, a mere ideal and an idealistic dream; although all Germany had dreamed it ever since Barbarossa disappeared from the sight of man, sleeping, as a beautiful legend expresses it, in the Kyffhauser, while Germany is powerless, but ready to return when his empire shall revive and attain to its righteous destiny.

The prophecy has been realized. On the first day of 1871, all Germany, with the single exception of the German provinces under Austrian and Swiss sovereignty, to which might be added the Germans along the Russian Baltic up to St. Petersburg, and the millions of Germans scattered among foreign and distant nations, was officially and constitutionally united into the German Empire; and eighteen days later the King of Prussia assumed, at the request of all German governments,—the latter led by the King of Bavaria,—the title, office, rank, and prerogatives of an hereditary emperor. Thus the sentiment, which always longs to behold leadership personified, which believes in European leadership, and up to that time had venerated the third Napoleon, transferred its feelings of mighty and magnificent empire to the victor of Sedan, never doubting that the peace of Europe was henceforth depending upon the interests and intentions of Berlin. It is not useless to say that such a feeling, however general it may be, is not justified either in reason or in political facts ; and that Germany viewed from without is one thing, and viewed from within is another. Hence her greatest soldier, Count Moltke, significantly told the German Parliament that the new Empire, although a great fact and a greater factor in the public polity of Europe, was not much, liked abroad, was still less loved, and would for years to come meet nothing but unfriendly and hostile considerations in foreign countries. This confession was made during a discussion of the military budget, and yet tells but half the truth, in so far as it refers only to the international, and not to the internal and domestic, state of Germany. It is a singular fact, yet true beyond all doubt, that Germany is not a popular country, and that other nations admire it far less, and oppose it far more, than they did France and even Italy or Spain, while these were the leaders of Europe. England, on the other hand, is perhaps not much less disliked among the people of the earth.

It would be worthy of special investigation to ascertain the causes of this fact; all the more because it has great influence upon the policy and particular progress of these Germanic empires. England might be supposed to be everywhere a messenger of peace and prosperity, chiefly through her commerce; and it might be expected that Germany would receive a fair amount of heartfelt homage and true devotion, since the rising minds of all nations are flocking to her universities to learn truth, and to her literature to learn wisdom. Yet such is not the fact; the foreign student, the studious traveller, and the travelling resident remains, in the very heart of Germany and German culture, a cool and critical observer; he thinks his francs, dollars, and guineas there spent a full equivalent of what he carries home; he remains a stranger to German life, and the domestic polity of Germany remains to him a profound secret,—a mystery or something worse. This is to a certain extent due, perhaps, to the difficulty which almost all foreigners experience in merely learning the language of Germany. For such help as they receive from the general grammar and dictionary is utterly inadequate, and superior only to the little histories and handbooks that pretend to explain the growth and culture of contemporary Germany. With what amazement do Germans read the scores of outlandish books which undertake to explain the social state of their country; and how bewildered they are whenever they see that their own attempts at enlightening foreigners are neither appreciated nor even understood, or rather not relished, because they are not comprehensible !

Who knows the statistics of Germany ? Who knows the Con stitution of Germany ? Who knows the social organism of Germany ? What foreigner is not amazed, if he is told authoritatively that Germany is an industrial rather than an agricultural country; and what American is not surprised, when he compares the growth of German towns with that of cities in the United States ? What foreigner doubts that the military establishment of Germany is her greatest calamity, and that her only salvation lies in the use of the plough and the steam-engine, in the glories of jury trial and free speech, in the government of the people by the people themselves, in the speedy separation of Church and State, in local and provincial self-government, in the limitation of the imperial prerogative, in the blessings of parliamentary power; and in a general return from the sword to the quill, and from the quill that writes metaphysical the more modern steel pen that writes good newspapers and practical wisdom, or to the golden pen that writes up cash books and commercial ledgers in elephant folio ? No wonder that almost every revelation of domestic Germany (as represented in the non-German press) should look like a symptom of social disorganization, and that the majority of foreigners should lack faith in the destinies of the youthful Empire, if a minority at home professes faith only in that which means deep, radical, and permanent change.

Such a revelation was the late parliamentary election. It is here proposed to discuss briefly a domestic movement which is plainly hostile to the Empire and to German society, and to recount the counter-movement of the national government. The movement of general society it is not necessary to describe in detail as long as it is firmly united with that of the government in all its departments, while the general conclusion may be safely left to the thoughtful reader.


While the Germans call it social-democracy, or democratic socialism, the movement here referred to may be described in one word as socialism, perhaps as German socialism, although it is very difficult to see much substantial or any essential difference between the socialist on the right bank of the Rhine and his progenitor and prototype who lives not very far from the left side of the German river. This movement is partly theoretical, partly practical; the latter only being of general interest and, to Germany, of some importance. For there is no doubt that the Imperial Government will have to fight what Prince Bismarck calls the red internationalists, now that the struggle with the black internationalists—the Jesuits, Papists, and Romanists—is apparently coming to an end satisfactory in the opinion of German authorities. While it was necessary in the memorable battle against Rome to distinguish carefully between legitimate theology and illegal political action on the part of the Roman bishops, between religion and civil life, between Catholic Christians and un-Christian, revolutionary acts, there is no doubt that the socialists will have to be met in toto and as a unit, although they are divided into a great many factions, schools, and parties, all of which fight each other about as much as they oppose the established government. There is no doubt that the general association of German workingmen (der allgemeine deutsche Arbciterverein) does not wish to be mistaken for the party of social-democratic workingmen {die sozialdemokraiische Arbeiterpartei); and it may be readily admitted that most of the forty or fifty newspapers conducted in the interest of German socialism utter different complaints, and propose different remedies, if they do not preach a different kind of new gospel. Nevertheless, it is safe to consider them as substantially united, both theoretically and practically ; practically, because they agree in their hostility to the Empire as now organized ; theoretically, because they found their destructive and constructive plans upon the same kind of political and social philosophy. This philosophy, on the other hand, is nothing else than a mild and somewhat softened reproduction of French thought; of Cabet and Babeuf, of St. Simon and Fourier, of Louis Blanc, and, above all, of P. J. Proudhon. It is not proposed to realize all that these thinkers have dreamed of, and still less to use all the methods which they have proposed ; but without them, it is entirely safe to say, there would be no such socialism in Germany as there is now: and he who has mastered Proudhon and is able to meet him, has mastered and may safely face the socialism of contemporary Germany. The full evidence for so sweeping a statement as this,—an assertion that will be assailed by most of the German socialists,—must be reserved for another occasion. A just amazement, however, may be here expressed at the slender contributions of German literature to social philosophy and political economy, in so far as these sciences are not metaphysical, but historical and practical. For in this respect the German mind has not been equal in fertility to either France or England, and the few names that are truly eminent can be easily counted on the fingers. In fact, such men as Roscher, now the leading name among political economists in Germany; Stein, the principal adversary of socialism; SchulzeDelitzsch, the father of cooperative association in Germany; Lassalle, the chief agitator of the socialists; and Marx, the principal guide in the warfare of .” labor against capital,”—are solitary names, significant in their loneliness, and vivid reminders of what might have been, if Germany had given to the interests of the body half as much attention as she has given to the mind and to more distant affairs.

Nevertheless, it must be said that the German socialists, if they have mentally and theoretically fallen short of their French models, have practically been much more circumspect, prudent, and temperate. And this is greatly due to a large class of cultivated university teachers, who are giving their attention to social and economic science, so-called Kathedersozialistcn,— many of them men who unite philosophic insight with the most vivid feeling for the poor and struggling classes. These modest men, most of them poor and struggling themselves, are usually quite trustworthy in whatever they present; they are maintaining at the same time the historic glories of all the great universities of the European continent, in being the watchmen of truth and the champions of popular rights. For in Germany, perhaps more than in any other country, liberal learning, so aristocratic in itself, has at all times been in deep sympathy with the common people.

The eventful years in the history of practical socialism in Germany are 1848, 1863, 1871, and 1877,—the revolution, Lassalle, the foundation of the Empire, and the election to the third German Parliament. In more senses than one all these periods are barely preliminary, and the first great crisis can be expected to occur only when Prince Bismarck, assisted by Count Eulenburg, shall undertake a struggle similar to that which he has just carried on with the help of Falk, the Prussian minister of churches and schools, against the Roman establishment.

The central figure of German socialism before 1848 is Wilhelm Weitling, born in 1808 at Magdeburg, by profession a tailor; who became acquainted with the new faith at Paris, and thence turned to Switzerland, in order to promulgate aud expand his doctrines among the German mechanics of the republic. While his “Gospel for Poor Sinners” 1 was going through the press, he was arrested at Zurich, in November, 1843, and exiled in 1845. Later, he came to this country, and died in comparative obscurity. He excited great attention in Germany, particularly by his works entitled, “Guarantees of Harmony and Liberty,”2 and ” Humanity as it is, and as it should be .”3

Precisely as Weitling received his impulses at Paris, so did the German revolution of 1848 originate in the French capital,—a city without which modern Germany would lack some

1 “Das Evangelium dcs armen Sunders” Berne.

2 “Garantien der Harmonic undFreihcit” Vivey, 1842.

3 “Die Menschheit, wie sie ist und wie sic scin sollte,” second edition, Berne, 1845. [graphic]


Ferdinand Lassalle was born April n, 1825, at Breslau, of wealthy parents (Jews), and first intended to succeed his father as a merchant. He attended a classical school in his native city; in 1840 he went to Leipsic to visit the commercial school there, but, after a year or two, decided to devote himself to law and philosophy. After due preparation under private tutors he was admitted to the university of Breslau in 1842, and two years later he joined the university of the Prussian capital, chiefly attracted by the philosophy of Hegel, which was there cultivated by a number of spirited men, most of whom had been sitting under the great master himself. Hinrichs and Hotho lectured upon art and aesthetics, Michelet discoursed ethics, Gans taught philosophical jurisprudence, and all of them followed strictly the methods of Hegel’s fundamental work,—his logic. From Berlin Lassalle went to Paris, where he became very intimate with Heine, who recommended him to Varnhagen von Ense in the following terms :—

” My friend Lassalle, who will hand you this note, is a young man of the most excellent talents. With the most thorough learning, with vast and comprehensive information on all subjects, with extraordinary penetration, with an unusual wealth of language, he unites an energy of will and a readiness of action that are simply astonishing,” etc . (See Heine’s letter to Varnhagen, January 3, 1846.)

Lassalle was then twenty years old. A German poet, who saw him but once at a concert, says of him,—

” He looked all defiance ; but on his brow there rested such energies as would justify the expectation that he might conquer a throne.”

Even at this time, chiefly devoted to classical and transcendental pursuits, Lassalle dressed like a dandy, lived in sumptuous apartments, and gave little dinner parties of the most exquisite character. His leisure was devoted to a work in two volumes, “Die Philosophie Herakleitos des Dunkeln von Ephesos;” but it was printed only in 1858, because its author got deeply entangled in one of the causes cttebres of the day. He had met in 1845 the Countess Hatzfeldt, by birth a princess, then in litigation with her husband on account of some property. The latter was suspected of an arrangement by which his second son was to lose the benefit of an estate to the baroness Meyendorff. Lassalle, already intimate with the princess, and deeply interested in her petition for a divorce, tried to prevent the design of the Count, and, with two gentlemen, waited upon the baroness at a hotel in Cologne to read the document in question. His friends managed to make away with a casket containing the deed and other valuables; and one of them, a young lawyer, was punished for the crime, while Oppenheim and Lassalle were fully acquitted. On the nth of August, 1848, Lassalle defended himself before the court at Cologne in an oration, the like of which a German jury is not in the habit of hearing. Suddenly interrupting his defence, he said:—

“The family was silent; but it is written that the stones shall speak, if man be silent. Where all the rights of man are offended, where the voice of consanguinity is hushed, and a helpless being is deserted by all natural protectors, there rises of justice the first and last friend of man—man. My eye, gentlemen, has always dwelt on questions of general interest, and I might have paused before I used all my talents for the relief of an individual misfortune,—before I interrupted my career for many years to come,—although it is heartrending to a gentleman who has a heart himself, to see a fellow-being that he believes to be true and noble perish without help by mere brute force in the midst of our civilization. But I saw general principles involved in this particular affair. I knew that the princess was sacrificed by her own rank; I knew that only the overweening immorality of a peer and millionaire could risk such misdeeds, such outrages upon moral society.” (See Lassalle’s Vertheidigungsrede of August 11, 1848.)

Shortly after Lassalle had learned of the privations endured by the princess, he challenged the Count, and when the latter ridiculed ” that Jewish imp,” Lassalle vowed revenge. Before thirty-six courts he appeared as the lady’s defender; nine years he prosecuted and persecuted the Count, until at last a compromise was forced upon him in April, 1854, by which the lady received full possession of her princely fortune, while Lassalle, having used up his income mainly in this suit, received an annual stipend that enabled him to consult only his tastes and not his necessities. He published his work on Heraclitus, and immediately afterwards commenced his second and greatest literary work, ” Das System der erworbenen Rechtz” (2 volumes, Leipsic, 1861). [graphic]

But he was frequently interrupted in these theoretical studies by more practical duties, usually those of defending himself before some court in cases of political prosecution. In 1848 he was arrested at Diisseldorf as one of the republican leaders in the revolution; the jury, however, acquitted him, although he opened his defence with the confession that he was a revolutionist on principle ; yet, as a matter of practical expediency, he would condescend to step down to the level of the attorneygeneral, so as to be able to show him his inconsistency and the impertinence of his prosecution. And, as if to make mockery complete, he interprets his dictum, ” a revolutionist on principle,” by adding that a man does not make his way through Greek philosophy and Roman law, through all departments of history and political economy, to put the burning torch into the hands of the mob; that he draws the foundations of law and equity from reason, while his opponents find it nowhere but in the throat of the cannon. They have hundreds of guns and thousands of soldiers,—those are their reasons, and impressive ones such as everybody understands! The fight against these Lassalle could not undertake single-handed. Hence he turned, reluctantly it is safe to say, to the lower and uucongenial strata of society for help. For

“Flectere si nequeo Superos, Acheronta movebo.”

Lassalle died August 31, 1864; his connection with the socialist movement commenced April 12, 1862, when he delivered in Berlin, before a society of mechanics, an address entitled, ” The special connection between the present age and the idea of the workingman’s estate.”‘ He stated that during the middle age real property was the exclusive basis of all rights; since the French revolution of 1789, capital had taken its place; the revolution of 1848 wanted to make labor the sole basis of political and social rights, because labor is the only producer of values. The laboring class is not a mere estate, but represents the whole people, and therefore is entirely free from clannish sentiments. Hence, the commonwealth must cease to be a mere contrivance for the protection of life and property, and become an organism which shall enable its individual members to attain to a degree of culture, power, and freedom which they could never reach if left to themselves. This little pamphlet brought another suit upon him, but enabled him at the same time to expand his doctrines before the court and in print; it caused universal attention among the laboring classes, and became the first gospel of orthodox socialism in Germany. On May 24, 1863, the “General Association of German Workingmen”1 was founded; Lassalle was chosen its president for five years, and henceforth socialism was one of the active factors in the domestic polity of Germany. Up to that time Schulze-Delitzsch, a man of extraordinary merits, had been the hero of the workingman, and of general value chiefly by the foundation of many hundreds of cooperative shops, in which the poor could learn the important and useful lesson of legitimate self-help. Induced by other congresses of all kinds, such as had been the fashion in Germany since 1848, it was proposed in the autumn of 1862 to have a general “congress of workmen.” While the preparations for this were going on, chiefly at Leipsic, where a central committee was in session, and while Schulze-Delitzsch counselled moderation and caution, Lassalle delivered the oration already mentioned; the court brought his name to the attention of the Leipsic committee, and Lassalle was at once requested to express his views upon their purpose, and to assist them in any way that he might deem best. He published an answer in 1863, and commenced at once a remarkable series of agitations in Leipsic, Frankfort-on-the-Main, and other places; he produced an immediate rupture among the followers of Schulze-Delitzsch, published a number of his speeches and essays, and was on the point of consolidating a vast army of socialists, when his life came to a sudden end. In the summer of 1864, while at Rigi-Kaltbad, he met a young lady, Helene von Donniges, the daughter of a Bavarian diplomatist whom he had known in Berlin. The young lady was engaged to be married to Baron Rakowitz, but soon consented to prefer Lassalle. Her parents objected; Lassalle was dismissed, and in consequence challenged the baron, who wounded him at the first shot. The great agitator died three days later; the princess Hatzfeldt took his body to Germany, and he was buried by the side of his father in the Jewish cemetery of Breslau. But his work lasted and has increased to the present day.

lUUeber den besondern Zusammenhang der gegenwartigen Geschicht periode mil der Idee des Arbeiterstandes.” (Zurich, 1863).

1 “Der allgemeinc deutsche Arbeiterverein”


Like all socialists, Lassalle is great and generally correct in his merciless critique of actual society and the economic theorems popularly accepted as infallibly true. And if he does not say any thing new, or superior to what Proudhon, Blanc, Marx, and Owen, have said before him, it is yet worth while to read his terse descriptions, and to learn from him how miserable is the life of a great many human* beings to whom we are indebted for many of our comforts. His graphic accounts of society, however, are as one-sided as his economic theories. The latter he states thus :—

“The iron law of economy which, under the present system of demand and supply, determines the amount of wages, is this: all wages, on the average, are limited by the amount required for mere existence and for propagation. The amount required for existence is different in different localities. If labor gets a little more, the people are prosperous; they are poor, if it gets a little less. The fact that labor is paid to-day better than it was a hundred years ago does not prove that it is now paid sufficiently. In fact, it is underpaid as a result of the despotism exercised by capital. Hence the laborer himself must own or control capital, if he wants to rise from his slough of despair, or if he wants to get the full benefit of his work. The best way to make him a capitalist and independent is not to be found in the tradesunion or in the cooperative store, but in productive associations, whose credit and capital is to be guaranteed by government. In order to control government, nothing is required but manhood suffrage, by means of which the laboring class will forthwith obtain the majority in the legislature.”

That these doctrines, particularly as presented by Lassalle, an unusually forcible and elegant speaker, should prove attractive to those whom he intended to benefit, is not very wonderful. Did he not tell the workingmen in his very first address (April 12, 1862) : “You are the granite rock on which must be reared the church of the present day ” ? Nevertheless, he was not satisfied with his practical success. In 1864 he wrote to his plenipotentiary:—

“I am tired to death; I am overworked, overburdened in the most terrible degree. The deep and painful disappointment, the gnawing, hidden chagrin, which the carelessness and apathy of the working class, taken as a whole, causes me, is too much even for me. Nevertheless, I shall not drop the standard as long as there is a gleam of hope left on the political horizon. Our association now counts three thousand members; that tells every thing. Who would have thought of such faintness and coldness ? All this will not change until certain political events shall happen that will stir up the masses. And they may happen before long. Till then we must keep up as well as may be.”

These events did happen, and but a few months after Lassalle had written the preceding lines. He was one of the very few men in Germany who understood the full bearing of the Danish war; who knew that the success of Prussia in Sleswick was unquestionable; that Austria then would be forced out of the German Confederation; that Prussia in consequence would be the leader of Germany, and that Germany itself would soon be firmly united. That the progress of these events would bring the much-coveted right of general suffrage was a matter of course, and Lassalle firmly believed that that was equal to a general control of government by the workingman. His friends and followers agreed with him, and mathematical computation came to their full support. But the trouble is that a vote is not merely a mathemat’ ical abstraction, and that voters have other qualities than those appreciated in arithmetic. Hence all socialists were grievously disappointed when the constitution of the NorthGerman Confederation, proclaimed April 17, 1867, without any hesitation established universal suffrage, and yet found itself justified in the expectation that even in this way a loyal and lawabiding majority could be obtained for the parliament. This grief came to a public demonstration when the general committee of the “sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei” then at Brunswick, issued a manifesto on September 5, 1870, immediately after the battle of Sedan, by which a continuation of the war was to be prevented. This manifesto, which proposed a general rise of the working classes, was a direct answer to the republican declaration made the day before in Paris. The signers of the manifesto were promptly interned at Lotzen, and serious inconvenience was prevented, although it is well known that most socialists in Germany agree with the French ultras much better than with their own government and with the majority of their countrymen. Their hostility against Moltke, Bismarck, and the Emperor,—against the Empire itself,—is as evident as it is nefarious and treacherous.

The election for the third parliament,—each parliament lasting for three years,—took place January 10, 1877. The opposition during the first and second parliaments came in the main from the Catholic party, technically known as the “centre,” and caused the enactment of a number of laws by which the national legislature can very well afford to be judged. The socialists had a few representatives from the beginning, and have now elected thirteen or fourteen, fifteen members being required for the proposal of a new bill. The parliament itself consists of about four hundred members. That a handful of socialists cannot do much among such a number is quite evident; the evidence becomes absolute if the quality of the members is taken into consideration, or if the debates are read in which the socialists take part. Their party, however, cannot be left entirely unconsidered, even if the German parliament and its constituency should do what it is entirely unwilling to do,—let things go as they please.

For the late election the Empire was divided into three hundred and ninety-seven electoral districts, in which there were 8,523,446 registered voters. Of these, however, only about sixty per cent, went to the polls, the opposition appearing in unusual strength, while the socialists appeared in full force. The opposition polled the following votes :— [table]

This, however, is not an opposition in the English or American sense; i. e., a conservative opposition which means to support the constitution, and is merely opposed to the actual administration. It is ultimately a revolutionary party, which detests the existing laws and institutions and would willingly [graphic] [ocr errors]

naturally gravitate into the great party. While this would be the greatest calamity to the Empire, it is reasonable to suppose, either that the union will not be formed, or that it will become a less revolutionary opposition, or that it will be crushed by a loyal majority. The latter can be expected with great confidence. The supporters of the Empire polled the following vote on the tenth of January last:—

The National Liberals, 1,742,501

The Imperialists, 375,523

The Conservatives, 359,95°

The Government in full, 2,477,974

These figures seem to give a majority to the opposition; the majority of the members, however, is loyal in its support not only of the Empire, but also of the actual administration, the most important members of which, in this connection, are Prince Bismarck, Falk, and Count Eulenburg. It must be remembered also that nearly forty voters out of every hundred,—in all over three million and five hundred thousand, —have stayed away from the polls, and that most of these are liberals or conservatives, both of them supporting the government. Even in the great cities a change for the better may be expected, as soon as the voters will do their duty. In Berlin there voted only eighty thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine out of one hundred and fifty-three thousand three hundred and ninety-nine registered, or less than forty-seven per cent. Many members of the opposition will also be driven into more loyal affiliations, if the organization of the Empire or of German society should be endangered. The Emperor, therefore, used the following language in his address from the throne, when he opened the third parliament on February 22 :—

” You will agree with me in not sharing the apprehension that a revival of trade might be prevented by a lack of confidence in the future security of our lawful institutions. The organization of the Empire and the sound sense of the German people form a strong protection against the dangers that might issue from the attempts of anarchy against the security and systematic development of our lawful institutions.”


If the socialism of contemporary Germany may be defined theoretically as communism and solidarity in production, while all consumption is to take place mainly in families, and practically as an attempt to promote the good of the laboring classes at the expense of the bourgeoisie and at the risk of social and political organization as now existing, the Empire defines its own object as ” the protection of the whole Empire, of all its domestic laws, and the promotion of civil welfare among the German people” (see the introduction of the German Constitution). Hence the central government differs from that of the United States by having all the power and sovereignty which is not specially given to the individual States or to the people at large ; while in this country the people of the coordinate and semisovereign States are supposed to retain whatever they have not specially delegated and transferred to the federal authorities. Or, in other words, the organs of the political estate in this country are: first the people, secondly the national government and the coordinate States; while in Germany the imperial government is the principal seat of power, law, and order, and the people at large are of subordinate importance, in philosophic theory. The question—which theory be the better—of course admits of no solution. But it is very plain that in Germany the law and its administration is of vastly greater importance than in the United States, because vastly more is depending upon it and much more material included in its domain. In America, moreover, the lawmaker merely expresses the average sentiment of the people, while in Germany the whole organism of civil society is, more or less, the result and effect of statute law. Hence it is possible in America, though by no means probable, that socialism and communism will come to be a great power without coming to any conflict with the laws of the land; while in Germany there must be a struggle between the two as soon as socialism becomes enough of a reality to indicate that it has not been provided for by the legislature. Consequently the lawmakers can but choose one of two things: either to make d priori laws, and to compel the people into obedience until they turn rebellious and revolutionary; or to make a posteriori laws that shall fit the people as they actually are. A very limited acquaintance with the acts of the German parliaments sufficiently shows that they have elected the latter method, and that they have been so successful as to make a revolution on the part of socialists a practical impossibility. In fact, after the victory of German laws over Roman impertinencies, a possible conflict between the German Empire and the followers of Lassalle would be absolutely ruinous to the latter. Whatever they need is usually given them before they ask for it, and the imaginary blows which they strike at the Empire usually turn out to be a strike in the air, misspent force, or a blow at themselves. Lassalle asked for universal suffrage ; it was introduced a few years later, long before the great mass of laborers knew what it meant. He asked for free labor; labor was soon so free that almost all the small shops disappeared, because they could not compete with the larger ones. He demanded that the State should specially help the workingman; the State has provided for him so well that he has hardly any thing to do but to sell his dearly as possible. The only thing left undone by the State, and yet demanded by Lassalle, is the supply of capital to the workingman ; and that will have to be done by parliament, not, however, out of the coffers of government, for they are either empty or already engaged, but out of the pockets of the bourgeois into those of the laborer. The question, then, might ultimately become one of votes; and in that case a very slender acquaintance with the distribution of property in Germany will show that the greater part of the aggregate wealth in Germany is held, not by a minority, but by a majority of the voters under the present system of universal suffrage. Hence even a general revolution of the socialists would be disastrous to nobody but themselves, and nothing is really left them but to make the most of society as now constituted. It is not difficult to show this both from the laws and the tax-books of Germany.

It is a singular fact how generally the poor overrate the wealth of those whom they think rich, and how frequently this mistake is made by Germans particularly by German socialists. The largest tax-payer in Prussia is Krupp of Essen, and he paid last year only eighty-four thousand six hundred marks, or, roughly speaking, twenty thousand dollars; next to him comes a tax liberal, and the same act makes State-citizenship identical with citizenship of the Empire. Hence the mechanics of Germany, and all other classes liable to move from one place to another, retain more political power than they do in the United States. The act of June 7, 1871, makes the owners of railways, factories, and mines responsible for a great many injuries to their employees and customers for which they are not responsible in the United States. The act of November 14, 1867, protects all mortgages to a liberal extent against foreclosure,—an act of incalculable benefit to the large class among the poor who wish to acquire real property. The act of June 21, 1869, protects all wages against attachment, unless actually earned and not called for at the regular day of payment. The act of May 4, 1868, permits any kind of marriage, except between very near relatives. The act of June 21, 1869, in fine, regulates all mechanical trades and professions, always with particular kindness to the poor, the ignorant, and the struggling. This important law, while under discussion, revealed in a striking manner the sentiments of the government, the liberal party, the progressists, and the socialists. The party of progress demanded absolute liberty after the heart of Adam Smith and Ricardo, but was easily shown that a policy of laissez fairs would surrender all the weak to the pleasure of the strong, and therefore was incompatible with the policy of the Empire, which intended to help all classes alike. The socialists announced a formal war of labor against capital, but were promptly told that their distinction between labor and capital was simply ignorance and self-deception. They complained that modern machinery had enslaved the laborer, but were easily shown that machinery makes labor literally free by performing an enormous amount of work which previously had to be done by force of muscle. They wanted to have a normal working day, but were informed that day-labor had been supplanted by piece-labor, and that their request, consequently, was a return to the irrevocable past . One speaker explained to the socialists the legitimate consequences of their crude theories and the inevitable results of their practical demands. The accumulation of capital and rent was shown to be a moral act, and this moral agency was proved to underlie all trades as much as land is the basis

C. W. Ernst

  • C. W. Ernst, “Practical Socialism in Germany,” The Radical Review 1, no. 1 (May 1877): 25-45.


THE sun of Theodore Parker’s life was his assured and triumphant belief in God. There is one light of the sun and another of the moon, and his was solar belief, no weak lunar ray. “What a happy man he must have been!” said lately a thoughtful woman, to whom one of his sermons upon his dearest theme had been read. Temperament had doubtless its part in the unconquerable cheerfulness of his belief; but, with all due allowance for its effect, just appreciation must still say that a faith in God more spontaneous, spacious, entire, and controlling than his, or healthier, manlier, freer from emotional flatulence or fatty bloat of pietism, has scarcely been seen in our century. And his, if any man’s, was belief in the sense which implies, not intellectual opinion or assent only, but loyal devotedness, unconditioned duty, and that obedience whose joy and honor it is to obey.

Believing with his whole soul, he also believed entirely in a whole God. The countenance that seemed to shine down from heights above all height upon his heart was not divided,—a brightness to dazzle on the one side, and a blackness to appall on the other,—but was an entire and unblemished luminance of justice glorified in benignity. Kant and his own heart had taught him to derive the idea of God from the ethical consciousness in man, that is, from the human sense of righteousness; and, so deriving, we do not find the being of the deity first, and his moral perfection afterward, but it is the sense of a sovereign righteousness which implicates and evidences divine being. He did not follow Kant strictly, nor, though endowed with rare power to grasp and render generally apprehensible the chief ethical results of philosophy, was he a strict philosophical thinker in the sense of the schools; but he was so far a Kantian as with philosophic certitude to say: We are authorized and engaged by our own moral being to affirm a perfect moral government of the universe.

There he was immovable; nothing could shake him. If tradition came with a black-spotted picture of the divine, and cried, “Bow down!” he answered, “I worship upward, not downward.” If facts of our natural experience seemed scarce consonant with his belief, he admitted, though reluctantly and sparingly, the apparent discrepancy, but did so only to house himself more wholly in the high native faith of his spirit. The outward facts of life do not agree with the idea of a perfect God?” Then,” said the stout man, “I must go forth and do my part, by hard work in the world, to make them agree.” And that, if not philosophy, was a mode of the want of it, of which, perhaps, more could be endured!

Believing in an All-powerful who is perfect justice, he held, with Plato and with Jesus, that only perfect goodness is perfect justice. He meant no flabby goody-goodness, but a sovereign rule that only and ever for benign ends orders disciplines and uses chastisements. Consistently with that faith, he could not think of God as an eternal destroyer. He was unable to conceive of the universe as divinely well and whole, and at the same time sick with an eternal running sore, to be eternally cauterized with fire, but run still. Wisely the world is so designed that moral evil is possible; but the design, to be wise, must include the overcoming of it, and the evocation of moral power thereby. “I came,” said one, “to seek and save that which is lost.” In that utterance Parker heard a veritable voice from heaven. So, he said, the Eternal Providence seeks and saves; and the universe has no pit so dark that its eye cannot see, or so deep that its care cannot reach, to the bottom.

If, now, with such a faith, he had thought that God works by supernatural irruption into his universe, he might have taken occasion to fold the hands in idle rest and wait, or to fold the hands and pray God to use diligence. Such was not his thought. He believed that the design of Heaven lies in the ethical spirit of man, thence working out to its realization. Hence the great plan of Divine Providence was to him, in the measure of his powers, committed; and all his loyalty of. religion, all his conscience of duty, all his heart’s longing for a supremacy of righteousness and justice on earth, and all his deep, sacred love of his kind, joined in one, and moved him as one in his labor. By so much, therefore, as he was sure God intended the overcoming of evil, by so much he was bound in duty, and by religion inspired, to help God do it. Look at his faith from the supernaturalistic point of view, and you may imagine it a soft optimism, lulled in lazy security. Apprehend it in its proper interior connection, and you will see there, on the contrary, the plan of a righteous Providence, self-kindled to a flame of consecrate and achieving duty in a human soul.

This it was that drove him to and through his great work. The eloquent Monday lecturer<ref>Rev. Joseph Cook</ref> says he was a statue, partly of bronze and partly of clay: the enduring bronze his anti-slavery labor; the crumbling clay his religion. To me the matter presents itself in a different aspect. His religion bound him to wrestle down unrighteousness, instead of folding the hands in a prayer-meeting; his anti-slavery labor was the wrestling-down, religiously as heroically done. How clay should beget bronze I have yet to learn. It will not do; the man was of one piece, no patchwork. He did better than many others, because, with heart and will as well as intellect, he believed better. Just his religion it was that, like the engine of a steamship in a storm, drove him ploughing a way over or through the rage-crested waves of national iniquity.

Because himself so moved, he was led to estimate highly the power and worth of religious motive. By true religion, he meant living righteousness in man, that feels itself working under, and sustained by, the design of an Infinite Righteousness. Morals alone are the bird running upon its feet; ethical religion is the same bird soaring on the wing; religion without ethics is a paper kite. There is much kiting religion in the world, and it may fly high; but the string of self-interest binds it always to the earth, while the thing itself, be as solemn about it as men may, is but a toy. But by religion Parker meant rectitude winged with worship. And could this religion have its own free and glorious course, what might it, what must it, not do for the world!

What horrors of war and foulnesses of peace would it not banish; to what heights of character and equities of action must it not lead the way!

But he looked around, and saw with pain that religion was, to a sad extent, a wasted power. Much of it there was, but what was it doing? Hercules clad in a gown and twirling a distaff! It would not even try to purge the foulness from politics, and to breathe a moral soul under the ribs of trade; but had retired to the meeting-house, there to “save souls.” What it was doing to make the souls worth saving might be inquired. Or was it at all the human soul, the ethical spirit of man, which it would save? Was it not rather aiming to provide safety after death for resurrected bodies? At any rate, it was doing less than enough. With all its ostensible labor to soften hard hearts, there were in those days but too many tokens that hearts were becoming hard, and only heads getting softened! Let us not needlessly drag past shames to light; but this must be said: there was a time when “soul-saving” religion in America was expressly and conspicuously put to the test; and dull indeed were the ears that then heard no incontrovertible voice saying of it, “weighed in the balances and found wanting.”

Why, Theodore Parker asked, is religion thus weakened or falsified in effect? He found two deep-lying causes. First, its living spirit was clogged with a dead body, a traditional corpus or corpse of creed, of which one must say, as Martha at the grave, “By this time it stinketh.” Secondly, it was put in theory upon a narrow and dubious basis of supernaturalism, becoming of necessity more dubious every day, rather than upon the universal spiritual basis proper to it. By effect of the former cause, it was morally deteriorated; by effect of the latter, was wasting its force in an unnatural war with human reason and knowledge, instead of adding all the strength of reason to its own, to employ both in fruitful labor.

Such was his diagnosis of the case. It required of him two chief labors, which he dutifully undertook; one of critical elimination and rejection, and the other of fresh construction. At these we will glance in due order.

A ship sails upon a long voyage, touching and taking in cargo at various ports. Midway in the voyage, and yet far from home, it is already overladen, and in danger to be swamped, while a stormy season is coming on. Meantime, the cargo, while comprising inestimable treasures, consists also, and in too considerable part, either of stuff that never was valuable,— oyster shells as well as pearls,—or of perishable stuff, worth something when taken in, but decayed, and become not only worthless, but pestilent. What should be done? Prudent counsel would say: Open the hatches without delay, and set the crew at work to separate the trash from the treasure, and get it safely overboard. Parker found himself upon such a ship, and the name of it was Christianity. A goodly ship, and freighted with treasure richer than gems and gold, but dangerously encumbered also, and at the opening of a stormy season for religion, with worthless weight. He perceived the situation; others did not. Discernment has its duties; he lifted up his voice and cried, “Lighten the ship! Save the precious treasure it bears, and make room for more, by casting away what is of no value!”

The title of his first notable sermon, “The Transient and Permanent in Christianity,” indicates his spirit and aim in all his labor of criticism. He enlarged his purpose indeed, and sought to distinguish between transient and permanent in historical religion generally; but his object ever was to rescue the vital, immortal essence of religion from its imprisonment in defunct forms of thought, or its oppression by accidental accretions.

Was it not, now, antecedently probable that such a work would be required? For’religion, like every vital and perennial principle in history, has always its immortal soul and its mortal body. The one is ever the same, but expands and ascends from lesser to greater, and from lower to higher historical expressions and embodiments; the other lives its day, then becomes a dead body, in which the spirit, though it cannot die, languishes imprisoned and oppressed. But the dogmatic body of Christian religion is already fifteen centuries old, and was shapen in a time which could give little promise of ability to think adequately for ours. Nor is the lapse of centuries a sufficient measure of the mental distance. For a line has been crossed, another epoch in the history of the human mind has come; and with it, not only new knowledge, but other morals of mental action have arrived. The precept of the old epoch was, “Hear and believe;” the precept of the new is, “Look and learn.” Before this eye that looks and learns, not only have the old heavens rolled themselves together as a scroll and disappeared, leaving to view the infinite spaces, sun-peopled, with their mystery only of open depth; not only has the fiat patch of earth become a globe resting in everlasting motion and poised in pure law; and not only has the earth’s surface, before unmeaning, become all one great letter-press, wherein its own ancient and wondrous history is told,—but in the sphere of human history discoveries have been made, of themselves sufficient to effect a mental revolution. The traditional outsides of history have been pierced, seen through, and found to be only outsides. At first it was with Voltairean mockery, as if tradition were no more than a hollow shell; but the sciolistic eye is soon replaced by a deeper insight: the shallow jest dies away, the grin disappears. For beneath the old outsides is found somewhat still older, and yet new as this day’s morning; namely, the undying powers and principles of the human spirit, identical in endless change, and unfolding by processes that, while differing much with place, time, and temper of a people, have yet their order and law. And this fact is put now out of question: only vital, productive principles are immortal; their historical forms never. All grows old in history, except that which makes it. Symbol, ceremonial, institution, creed, are the shell which the human spirit builds, and from which it must soon or late migrate, to build anew. The ethical ideal that one age wholesomely worships becomes the idol that some other age, to worship wholesomely, must cast down. And, through all, principles are continuous, and the unity of history not broken.

It was, therefore, with the laws of history at his back, and wholly in the interest of religion itself, that Theodore Parker, following upon Channing and others, turned a clear, intrepid eye upon that body of religious belief which the tradition of centuries has brought to us. He saw there an ideal of the divine, once the best that men could arrive at, now not best nor good, but still forced upon shrinking conscience by means of a book reputed infallible. This, once the temple of the religious spirit, has become the prison from which it must be delivered. And he addressed himself in brave earnest to that labor of liberation.

A Calvinistic mother had read of a morning to her little daughter that chapter of the New Testament, in which mention is made of a sin that shall never be forgiven. After the reading, the child sat silent a minute; then said, “Mamma, won’t God forgive them ever, ever?” “No, my child.” “But why not, mamma?” The embarrassed mother answered as best she could, that is, with the common-places about God’s constraining justice. The little girl seemed to accept the explanation, and was again silent; but presently cried out, “Well, mamma, God isn’t a Christian, then, is he?”

Theodore Parker was a childlike man, who said: The God the Father of the Christian trinity is any thing but a Christian. It was a human conception, religiously conceived, suited to the ages that begot it, and such as they, with many ages following, could look up to with reverence and adoration unfeigned; but to us it is as little a representation of perfect goodness or justice as the three-headed god of Hindoo sculpture is an Apollo. And because it no longer represents that which the human soul, with open eye and sincere vision, can recognize as goodness or justice, he could only see in the worship of it,—I hesitate to say it, for it is a sad thing, but the plain words must come,—he could only see a worship of unrighteousness. That it was such without intention and without consciousness of the fact, he more than willingly acknowledged; but such to him it was, even such, —among the saddest of all sights that this world of ours ever offers to the afflicted eye: religion beguiled, deluded, and worshipping downward!

But how is this possible, an unintended and unconscious worship of unrighteousness? The possibility is too easily explained. In a society of ministers in this State, one spoke thus: “The principal of our high school,” said he, “who has lately lost a daughter, and is thinking seriously about.religion, came to me the other day with this question: ‘How can it be right for God, of free will, to create an immortal soul, knowing beforehand that he will have to damn it in hell eternally?’ Of course,” continued the minister, “I maintained it was right, but really I do not see my way, and would like more light if you can give it me.” There was a space of silence; then a brother took heart to say: “I wonder if God is obliged to do what seems right to us?” Other response there was none. Begin, now, imputing to God character that cannot seem just, and action that cannot seem right to us; then call it just and right because it has been so imputed,—and the way lies broad open for an unconscious worship of unrighteousness. Parker said that the worshippers of Moloch doubtless praised their god as just and good. Why not? They had but to say, “Moloch is not obliged to do what seems right to us,” and room was made to any required extent for that spurious ascription.

With the traditional object of worship Parker did not deal by a process of ratiocination; his appeal was made to conscience chiefly. He stated the conception in plain, graphic terms; then said, “Look; look and see what it really is; look and say if honest conscience will suffer you to accept that as the portrait of Infinite Righteousness.”

We will not only look at it, but also into it, if that be possible.

It is a curious question: Where did the God the Father of the Christian trinity come from? The intense contrast of the conception to the Father whom Jesus loved is obvious at a glance. I am apt to think that the conception arose by a composition between the Hebrew Jehovah and the Greek Fate. Fate—to attend to one only of its two chief characters—was the ideal of legal or penal justice, executing judgment by its ministers, the Erinnyes or Furies. In the first person of the trinity, legal justice was imagined as set on the throne of heaven, and there made one with the infinite holiness ascribed to Jehovah.

Legal justice cannot forgive. Moreover, it demands perfection, no less, within its province. Perfection: the citizen must keep the whole law, to the uttermost syllable and letter. It is true that legal justice, as known here on earth, does not require moral perfection; for it does not enter at all into the interior of life, but is limited to its extreme outside, and, as penal justice, prohibits and punishes those actions only which no man, however imperfect, need be guilty of, and which, if permitted, would break- the bones of civilization. But so far as this mode of justice goes, it necessarily demands a perfect obedience, a perfect conduct. Therefore it has but a limited application. Should it quit its proper outside place, and strike inward into the realm of spontaneous personal morals, where there is a finer law of obligation and a very different economy, it would become itself the transgressor. Hence the Latin adage, Summum jus summa injuria,—”the highest justice is the greatest wrong.” The English, however, cannot have the precision of the original: for our word “justice” has a moral as well as a legal signification, while the Latin jus, like the German Recht, signified legal right only. The extreme or excess of this, its intrusion into the sphere of the finer equities* is the utmost injury and wrong.

Now, in the first person of the trinity legal justice was made infinite, and one and the same with infinite holiness. What law, now, has this justice to execute? Why, the law of absolute holiness, ideal perfection. Its code does not correspond to the imperfect moral ability of man, but to the infinite holiness of God. This standard it must apply to mortals; must find them criminals, felons, in so far as they do not perfectly obey it; and must assume the black cap to denounce sentence of infinite condemnation against all human beings accordingly.

For before such a justice, executing such a law, what flesh shall stand? Its code necessarily exceeds all measure of human possibility. So tried, we are felons, one and all, and can be no less. Best and worst are alike criminals, and under infinite condemnation. Vain is all human endeavor; vainly the good look up to the ideal of perfect right, and, not for reward, but as drawn in love to that high goal, seek it with step stoutly climbing; all in vain the noble do and dare, forgetting self: they are not perfect, and “he that offendeth in one point is guilty of all.” Nor would any mere human virtue, though indeed perfect, at all suffice. Human righteousness is but “filthy rags.” A transcendental holiness is required, far above all measure of mere human well-doing. The want of this is called “sin;” and accordingly one shall confess himself the “vilest of sinners,” without intending at all to intimate that he is, in the human tense, a bad man,—feeling, very likely, that he rather shows how.good a man he is than confesses himself a bad one.<ref>I happened of late to hear this scrap of conversation in the cars. “His talk,” says one, “was nothing but confession of sin; you would have thought him the worst man in the world.” “Ah!” said the other admiringly, “he is a fine man, he is a very fine man.”</ref>

If, now, there is to be any condescension to man’s imperfection, any kindness .toward it, the name of it must be mercy, not justice. But how is mercy to come in? Infinite legal justice excludes it. What a situation for the human race! Here it is, hemmed in, destruction impending over it, and no way, no power, to fly. “Escape!” it cries; but escape there is none. Mercy would come to it, but legal justice bars the way. But, in this desperate strait, suddenly a “door of escape” is opened. There is to be, there is, a strange thing, quite unknown to any human code; namely, an expiation by proxy: the infinite legal justice is compounded with in that else unheard-of way, and “mercy” may come in. Such was the ethical conception that for a series of centuries was to prevail in history. That it has had its function there is not to be doubted. For a time, for ages, it was a prodigious sharpener of hard consciences. But, if a dull axe be held upon the keen grindstone day out and day in, the steel will at length be quite cut away, and only the soft iron left. Have there been no indications among us of soft conscience, conscience that could well divide between Saturday and Sunday, but whose edge was quickly turned when applied to a hard material, as some great wrong, with which many pecuniary interests were bound up, and for which avarice pleaded? The grindstone has its use, but there is a limit to its uses.

And now let us look at an aspect of human life to which a very different mode of justice is suited. Here is an apprentice. He enters the workshop to learn a trade. Quite ignorant he enters; compared with a perfect workman, he might be called totally depraved. Of course, he will blunder and bungle. Charity itself could not make up a mouth to call him a good workman. Nevertheless, he may be a good apprentice; that is, a good sort of imperfect creature. And, if he is attentive, diligent, and docile, the master will say of him, “He is a good lad, he does well.” And, in saying so, the master will be simply just: the approval is not mercy, it is justice only. Here, then, —and let the fact be well noted,—is a sort of justice that not only can, but, to be indeed justice, must approve and applaud imperfection. And the opposite of this would, in that place, be not only injustice, but injustice of a cruel and brutal kind.

For example, suppose that master to set up a standard of workmanship taken from his own practiced skill, to apply that standard to the boy, and to undertake the execution of all its demands upon him in the spirit of strict legal justice. Now he will say to the poor lad: “The law of this shop is that every one is to be a perfect workman. You cannot at once be such, it is true; but that is the law, and justice constrains me to execute it upon you. If, therefore, you are a perfect mechanic, you will stand acquitted; if you are less, I shall see that you hate me, since you do not obey my law, and as my enemy, and the enemy of all good workmanship as well, I shall treat you.” Beautiful justice were that!

Theodore Parker would say that men are God’s apprentices. It is a moral apprenticeship, too; they are learning to will rightly no less than to do well what has been rightly willed. This figure indicates his thought, not perfectly, but sufficiently for the immediate purpose. Apprentices: does not the term signify the reality of human life in one great aspect of it? To this reality a mode of divine justice corresponds. The name of it is not mercy, but justice. And it is a sort of divine justice, which, to be just, not only acquits, but positively approves moral imperfection striving to do well.

Meantime, Parker did not, in Mr. Cook’s phrase, “set the universe upon rockers;” he merely did not fix it upon a grindstone. Legal justice has its proper outside place in a divine system. It is executed in the outward order of the world by the natural law of consequence. For example, a drunkard has reformed, and is confirmed in sobriety. Every good man accepts him for what he actually is, a man of sober habits. That is forgiveness, to accept one for what he has really become. At the same time, humane justice demands it, and I trust that divine justice is not unequal to the act. But the man’s former habits have injured his constitution, and the burden of that injury he will have to bear while he lives. That is legal justice, executed in its proper outside and subordinate place.

That law, now, of moral consequence is one which Parker, so far from ignoring, affirmed rigorously. He held that this law will go with every man out of this world, and never leave him. It was not he who preached a means to set it aside in behalf of “the elect.” It was not he who cried, “Come to Jesus, and have all your sins in a moment washed away.” He would not push legal justice to inhuman extremes, and try to push the finer j ustice of Heaven out of the universe in doing so: but neither was he a party to any plan for buying it off.

The conception of an infinite legal justice, excluding, not only all divine charity, but all the finer fatherly equities of divine justice as .well, until itself be compounded with by a supernatural expiation, is one which no patchwork mercies can amend. There is a radical and ineradicable vice in the conception itself. But when the infinite legal justice is represented as creating its own helpless victims; when, Adam and Eve having fallen, it chooses that they shall nevertheless be the progenitors of the whole human race, and that their posterity shall inherit from them a nature totally depraved, but be felons and under capital condemnation by so much as they are even morally imperfect; when the expiator, who is to come with “mercy” to some of these unhappy creatures, delays his coming four thousand years; when, meantime, the infinite legal justice selects for arbitrary favor a small people, of no singular merit, in a corner of western Asia, but leaves all the rest of mankind to roll down to death in the darkness; when, eighteen hundred years after the great event, the very name of the expiator is still unknown to twothirds of the human race; when the evidence afforded to all subsequent ages that any such supernatural expiation has been accomplished, or was intended, is such that numbers of candid and pious scholars, with all most studious examination of it, can only find that it is not evidence; and when, beyond all, appears in lurid perspective the place where unnumbered myriads of souls, so created, and so entreated on earth, are kept alive for an eternity of torment,—then the question propounds itself, and presses to the lips: Is there a man on this planet who can honestly say that such a representation commends itself to his natural sentiments of justice? Is there an orthodox Christian who would not reject it with horror, did he not feel compelled to believe that God has actually done so, and that therefore it must be right? I will not credit it of any human being.

Theodore Parker was not born to an inheritance of such belief, as was my lot. He had not wasted years and strength and health in desperately trying to reconcile his heart to it. But he looked at the representation, and with an eye, not merely with an eyeball. And, as he saw, he spoke. It is not God, he said, but a spectre of imagination; and the worship of it is a worship of unrighteousness, though not so intended. Hence, as a religious man, he had no choice but to raise his voice against it. “Infidel” he was called for doing so; infidel he would have been,—false, that is, to his sense of sacred obligation,—had he forborne. Faithless he was not the man to be: therefore, in the name of Divine Justice, by such a representation violently caricatured; in the name of the human soul, by it perverted and oppressed; in the name of whatever is sacred in earth or heaven, —he entered against it his religious protest. The solemn voice, with its Hebrew resonance, rang out, and the cry of a soul that could not be silent was in it, saying, “Thou shalt not think evil of the Highest.”

“But it is the God of the Bible,” men say. It is not the God of the Bible; but, in nooks and corners of that venerable collection, “texts” may be found to keep it in countenance; and, while the Bible is regarded as a dead level of supernatural communication, there is little hope of its final dismissal. Now, Parker knew that the doctrine of biblical infallibility is exploded; and orthodox scholars knew it with him. Six years before his South Boston sermon, the noble-minded, learned, and pious Dr. Arnold, from the bosom of the English Church, had, in a private letter, put the infallibility of the Bible,—not quite in direct terms, but by indubitable implication,—in the same category with that of the Pope.<ref>Stanley’s “Life of Arnold,” p. 238.</ref> Even John Calvin had the candor to confess that the divine authority of the book,—divine authority, a pretension one degree lower than that of infallible inspiration,—could not be proved; and modern research has left the old dogma not a leg to stand, not a crutch to lean, upon.

Parker was not extreme in this matter. He loved the Bible, and his voice grew almost lyrical when he spoke its praise. But he would not that it should be made a “fetich.” He was justly unwilling that men should set up an unfounded doctrine about the book, and then, having themselves falsified it, use it to their own soul’s hurt. As it was a treasure of moral incitement and instruction, he deeply appreciated and earnestly commended it; only when it was to be converted into a handcuff for human conscience, he interposed and said, “No! your doctrine about the book, which would fit it for that use, is one of your own making, and is now fully known to be untrue.” And he said it quite aloud.

It may be that, with much good, some harm was done. His act brought down the great vulgar upon intelligences unfitted to contend with such an antagonist, and for a time there was a severe reaction. He had no choice, however; ours is a democratic country, and our only appeal is to the people. And now the reaction is past, while the good effect remains. Some day orthodox divines will be thanking Theodore Parker for forcing them to cast off an encumbrance. Or they may adopt a less handsome course, choosing rather to accuse him of misunderstanding their position and attributing to them a doctrine which, having abandoned it, they would be considered as having never held. For, to that sly way of changing front, theologians and others do sometimes resort, I am sorry to say.

But Parker did not stick fast in a mere not. Our century, in wide contrast to the last, has arrived at an understanding of the spontaneous self-annunciation of spiritual principles in man, which makes bibles intelligible as products of natural spirituality. The doctrine which presents itself from this point of view, and which Parker shared with others of his contemporaries at home and abroad, has been put by Emerson into two lines,—

“Out of the heart of Nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old,”—

out of the heart of human nature, the ethical nature in man, in which the great Whole gives itself voice. Men wrote there the faith and fear and aspiration, the compelling duty and devotion of their souls, building better than they knew. It is spiritual spontaneity before reflection, coming forth simply because it is there and must come. Books so written do not furnish us out with a baggage of infallibly correct notions, but they do vastly better; they attest that spontaneity of belief, and they reveal its interior identity in all times. We touch there the most ancient heart of the race, and it is the thrill of unity, not the shock of dissonance, that arises. And, as that ethical heart of humanity speaks to us, intelligible, from the cradle of the ages, and our own answers back, in other dialect, but the same mother tongue, there springs up from these consonances a voice to tell us of the spirit that once moved upon the flee of the waters, and still moves in the soul of man.

Yonder, suppose, in the heavens is a cloud that the eye cannot penetrate; and, while the atmosphere continues in the same state, it will there remain. But now comes a warmer, drier air that drinks it up, holds it in transparent solution, and converts it into blue sky. In the last century the Bible was still a cloud, opaque, to human intelligence impenetrable. Some looked upon it, and said, “Miracle;” and some looked, and said, “Imposture.” But other airs of thought have come to solve and render it transparent; and now, though no particle of its significance is lost, it is cloud no longer, but azure sky, through which the tempered sunlight streams. And in cordial, grateful recognition of its offices, as thus contained in the atmosphere of human intelligence, Parker rested. It had become such to him as freely to transmit heaven’s light, and to cast no shadow upon his soul.

I now turn, but conscious that brevity is imperative, to his labor of construction. Three questions here present themselves.

What ground did he build upon?

Whence was the material drawn?

What edifice did he erect?

I. His ground was the three great facts of natural spirituality, normal inspiration, and the law of moral development in history.

1. Natural spirituality: man is, by his proper nature as Person, a spiritual being, and, as such, a fountain of religion and morals. Faiths and bibles, sanctities of duty and devotion, flow naturally from his being. In the greater number the flow is mostly by way of response to the nobler hearts, and may be like the flow of brooks in midsummer drought, when the scanty waters creep, scarce visible, among grasses and rushes; or it may appear hardly otherwise than in the faith that sustains institutions and continues customs; while now and then in some rich soul the tide rises high, and flows as from fountains in heaven. But man is a born worshipper; and Parker regarded all religions, and Christianity with the rest, as issuing from springs of spirituality native to the being of humanity.

2. Therefore issuing from God; for, in these powers of man, he said, God is immanent, and in their proper outcome is expressed or revealed. That immanence of God is inspiration; and it is important to grasp the precise nature and purport of Parker’s doctrine, chiefly on account of its intrinsic importance, but also on account of statements recently made. For the people of Boston have been told of late that he failed to distinguish between inspiration and several other things, real or imaginary, as dictation, illumination, supernatural revelation, etc. These statements, to proceed not only from an honest man, but from an honest mind as well, have caused me no little wonderment. For Parker said precisely what he meant by inspiration, and, if words can make any thing clear, it is so that he meant none of these things. “But the problem of inspiration,” he says in his biographical sketch, “got sooner solved. I believed in the Immanence of God in man; . . . . hence that all men are inspired in proportion to their actual powers and their normal use thereof; that Truth is the test of intellectual inspiration, Justice of moral, and so on.” That is, God inspires man with intellectual, moral, and religious powers; with active reason, active conscience, the active principle of religion; and is in these powers and principles as the divine legitimation and authentication of their proper significance and lawful use. Hence divine reason is not one thing, and human reason another of a different sort; divine justice not a something different in kind from humane justice; the difference is of degree, not kind: there is but one reason, one right, homogeneous, or with itself consistent, in earth and heaven; and insomuch as any man is indeed a rational and moral being, he has the clew to it. And so what comes normally from the spiritual being of man, comes not from that alone, but the founts of eternity feed the stream. Such is the purport of Parker’s doctrine.

3. The idea of history as a scene of moral as well as intellectual development was with Theodore Parker a fundamental one. Now I do not, for my own part, swear by Herbert Spencer; and think it possible that Mr. Parker held to the doctrine of progress in a somewhat stricter sense than I am able to do. For it is not my opinion,—and perhaps was not his,—that a later age is of necessity superior to an earlier one. The fresh bud or fragrant blossom is a wholesomer object than the rotten apple, though the latter represents a maturer stage; and there are nations, if not ages, that are rotten apples. It is true that in the decayed fruit the seeds may still be alive and healthy; and so in history, seeds of new growth may live long, even amid the wretchedest stagnancy of mind and rot of morals.

But we must confess it: the world moves, and gets on. If we read in the books of Kings in the Old Testament, and see there what Jewish life then was, it is impossible not to be sensible that our times, compared with those, show an immense advance, and in morals as in all else. And so, if we look into the Rig Veda, the Zendavesta, the Ramayana, the Iliad, it is again impossible not to see that, even in the ideal life there expressed or portrayed, the mental and moral states are comparatively inchoate and obscure: it is a morning twilight, inspiring in its way, with freshness of dews and roseate flushes of dawn, but twilight still. Athens is a star in history; but we could not endure the manners of Athens. Roman virtue was noble, but under favor of the past tense; set down here in New England, it would be uncouth. And so, call it development, growth, progress, what you will, a process of enlargement and improvement is the great fact of history. Therefore, if there be a divine idea or economy of history, that is it, or an essential part of it.

But progress implies imperfection, and is only possible to an imperfect creature. Thorwaldsen wept upon completing a statue in which he could discover no fault. Because he could find no degree of failure, he could have no hope of farther advance. Moral progress assumes the fact, and requires the sense, of moral imperfection. And so the divine idea of history is grounded on imperfection; since only the imperfect is improvable. To say that is not to garnish wickedness. Parker had no purpose, as I have none, to pour water of Cologne upon putrescence, and then call it sweet-scented; or to make darlings of rattlesnakes by decking them with fine ribbons. It is as well to be sane. We do not now hang for petty larceny; it does not follow that the moral sense of the community is dulled, nor that those who procured this mitigation of punishment did it in favor of thievery.

But there is no room for dispute about the broad fact: there it is, before every man’s eyes. Every thing best in life is connected with the fact of imperfection. It is in the mother’s unmeasured love for the babe at her breast; in the father’s care; in the mutual attraction of young man and maiden, and mutual service of husband and wife; in all pity, charity, and gratitude; in reverence and sacred awe; in aspiration that seeks an ideal excellence; in the want that hungers and thirsts after righteousness. That is the divine plan.

Moreover, this plan comprehends the uses of failure. They say that all production of higher forms of life upon this planet has been connected with changes in the planet itself. Higher terrestrial conditions arrived; the existing organisms were not adjusted to them,—failed to meet them; at the point of that failure, there was a sally of life,—a birth-throe,—out of which issued higher forms of animal being. I think there must be truth in this, for the like is to be observed in national and individual life. Out of a sense of failure, most bitter at the time, this Federal Union was born; and had not the sense of failure been so very bitter, nothing half so good had been reached. Now we are again feeling ourselves behindhand, and there is occasion to feel so; but the cause is, perhaps, not that the nation has really retrograded, but that the honest work formerly done has made conditions that call for higher degrees of political and social virtue. Even the abolition of slavery has brought fresh difficulty upon us. Because the nation has done well, it must do better. And I trust that its consciousness of imperfection, and consequent self-condemnation, has not come for the last time. That would augur ill for its future; for through that very consciousness it is that the divine plan is worked out; and the nations in which it does not arise are in a state of suspended animation. And so in the individual life. He that has never said to himself, “You are not doing well enough,” is scarcely doing well at all. “On steps of our dead selves,” as Tennyson sings, we ascend.

Such, substantially, was Parker’s theory of history and human life. Who will say that it was not, in the main, a true one? And who does not see how utterly and monstrously unsuited to such a system were that infinite legal justice, measuring all men by the standard of absolute moral perfection, and denouncing infinite woes against that want of it which is signified by the theological term “sin.”

II. Whence was Parker’s material drawn?

The proper source, he said, of belief is the consciousness of humanity. Now, there are those who make merry over consciousness, considered as a source of belief. The vivacious Lewes, in his Life of Goethe, diverts himself with the fable of a German philosopher constructing a camel out of his interior consciousness. That consciousness is no authority upon camels is certain, and it may be that a philosophic camel would not be the best authority upon consciousness. But is the conscious soul conscious of nothing, or of the first personal pronoun only? Assume the Darwinian hypothesis, and see how that would look. In form after form of life, through myriads of millenniums, experience has been funded and made mental capital: already in the ant and the bee, with their marvellous instincts, already in the wild goose, steering north or south through the high air, with a mariner’s compass in its narrow head, much has been laid up; but Nature, upon arriving at her highest terrestrial product, is all at once exhausted, and has only Locke’s “piece of white paper” to put inside! That were strange, and to me is quite incredible.

Parker stated as matter of immediate consciousness these three: God, Absolute Right, Immortality. According to Kant, we know by direct moral consciousness only of Justice, or Right, as absolute law; and thence necessarily infer the other two. Parker really followed the same course. In his sermons, he reasoned to God and immortality substantially in the Kantian way. But his formula ran differently; for in him belief was so spontaneous, inevitable, rich, and overrunning, that, while reasoning to its objects for others, he could scarcely feel that he did so for himself. Light takes time in passing through space, but we, with the sun overhead in the light-flooded noons of summer, cannot feel that it does so; and he, with the sun above his heart, could not feel that there was any interval of reasoning thought between it and his apprehension of it. Meantime, his source was not merely the consciousness of an isolated individual, but that of humanity, as expressed in bibles, worships, high philosophies, psalms, and epic singing, in all words and deeds and growths that attest the significant fulness of man’s heart.

III. What building did Parker erect?

His edifice comprises these three ideas; The Perfect God and divine universe; The equality of faculty to function and obligation in man; Absolute religion. For convenience’s sake, I glance at these in the reverse order.

1. Absolute religion is but religion itself. There is religion, and also particular forms of it, as there is a human nature, with individual and national expressions of it. The apostle James undertook to say what pure religion is: Parker undertook the like, with a difference of expression. He did not try to put all historical religions in a pot, and stew out of them a broth, to be named absolute religion, but simply inquired what religion essentially is. I suppose it to be essentially something, and think the endeavor to distinguish its essence a very proper and even* laudable one.

2. Faculty equals function and obligation. It cannot be the duty of a babe at the breast to hold a plow or navigate a ship.. Obviously, it were injustice and outrage to punish or condemn one for not doing what he has not the natural power to do. But upon this matter it cannot be necessary here to spend another word; though, as against the traditional speculation of theology,—say that of Jonathan Edwards,—the doctrine has a significance very extensive indeed.

3. The perfect God and Divine Universe: ethical religion can affirm no less. God and his work are perfect; else—no God; for nothing imperfect can receive the name. But in a perfect universe there can be no eternal sore, with an eternal cautery of fire, that, nevertheless, does not cure. There can be no “absolute evil,” Parker said, no evil endlessly persisting, in a world conceived in a perfect thought, made by a perfect hand, and governed by a perfect Providence. Now, it is well known in this community that his doctrme to such effect has of late been challenged, on grounds of ethical science, by a critic of rare brilliancy and power. Parker mistook, it seems; the universe would not be perfect without an eternal hell, nor God without the everlasting woe of many among his creatures. The appeal to ethical science is one not to be refused; if, in that court, judgment has been given against Parker’s doctrine, its defeat is indeed final. But has it in fact been overthrown there? The question is one which I propose neither to avoid, nor to answer with any mere shuffle.

Parker’s critic, in a masterly piece of moral pathology, shows that when one has looked upon the law of right, and, with full purpose and full understanding of his act, said, “I will not obey it,” he then begins to hate it; then to blind himself to it; and so, darkening the ethical eye ever more, and ever more hardening the neck in iniquity, he comes at length to that chronic persistence in evil ways, which is named depravity. Speaking now only for myself, I admit it. One does observe such a process, —a sad sight! Let all men learn from it to beware how, even in the name of God and religion, they tamper with the sacred sense of right and truth.

How far may that process go? The critic seeks to show that it may go to the length of utter moral blindness, utter extinction of goodness in the soul. Suppose that this is indeed the fact. Let it be admitted that one may quite lose his moral soul. For my own part, I do not profess to be sure that no one ever does so.

This admitted, what follows? The critic assumes that he who has lost his soul continues, nevertheless, to have a human soul, which will be kept alive to fructify eternally in depravity and devilishness, and to be rewarded with eternal pain.

There I must call a halt. There the doctrine passes into that which no analogy sustains, which is simply impossible, and which would make the universe not only undivine, but horrible, were it possible.

Depravity is corruption, corruption is death. “Dead in trespasses and sins ” is dead. For what is the human soul? It is, primarily, that ethical being of man which, according to Kant, rises above the merely phenomenal world, and belongs to the sphere of real being. In that, if anywhere, are the springs of immortality, and, that extinct, the springs are dry. Or is it said that absolute depravity is not moral death, but only moral disorder? Is there, then, such a thing as immortal disorder? The conception is unnatural. Disorder is but a transient stage of indetermination between recovery and dissolution, and one way or the other must terminate. In short, the conception of a soul kept in death or deadly disorder alive for ever, that the stench of its foulness may ascend with the smoke of its torment, is one with which no terms can be made; it is simply inadmissible.

And Mr. Cook’s chosen analogy serves but to prove it inadmissible. That gentleman opens his case with one of those speaking illustrations of which his mind is so affluent. You find, says he, a fossil hand, with the two first fingers closed upon the palm, and you know that had the third finger been extricated from the stone, it also would have been bent toward the palm. The way thus prepared, he proceeds to show—first in the inorganic, and then in the organic, realms of Nature—that there is a point beyond which the power of self-recovery does not continue. These are the two closed fingers; and thence he argues that, in the moral realm also, there is a point at which that power quite ceases.

So far I open no dispute with him for the present, but will simply pursue his own illustrations to their proper consequence. A ship, says the critic, careens too far and does not recover itself, but goes over. Yes ; and that ship sails the seas no more: there’s an end of it. A tree, he continues, is cut into beyond the heart, and does not build up the wound with fresh wood, but falls and perishes. True; and that tree is down, is dead, and there’s an end of it. There are the two fingers closed in plain death. If, now, a soul is ever so self-hurt that it cannot recover, but goes down into sheer depravity, analogy says of it,—Mr. Cook’s analogy says,—That soul is fallen, is dead, and there’s an end of it. And I am confident that the whole world of Nature will yield no analogy to the contrary. So that those stone fingers, and with them the visible universe entire, are closed against the monstrous imagination of an endless survival in moral death. But the tree is mortal at best, and, if the soul be designed for immortal life, there is an infinite difference between the two cases. Hence it were rash, were indeed somewhat youthful, to assume that all the limitations of the one are to be found in the other. A larger logic would say that, if for the mortal tree there is a measured vis medicatrix, or power of self-repair, there must for a spirit, in which are the seeds of immortality, be a similar power hot thus limited, but having the scope of the destinies with which it is associated. The logic of Julius Miiller may be formally perfect, only it is too small for the matter. One should not look to find the ocean swell in an ounce vial. To know at all the ways of Providence on the scale of immortality, reason should launch itself with generous courage, dare to lose sight of these mortal shores, and to sail by the unattainable stars. Induction in a closet, from observations made in a point of time, does not, perhaps, serve for the navigation of God in the spaces of eternity.

But the observation is itself uncertain. Who knows that the moral life can be quite extinguished? Who knows that any human being has sunk into a depravity helpless, hopeless, absolute?” Theodore Parker’s guesses,”—here is a guess that is not Theodore Parker’s! And which of those that venture it dares say to a fellow-creature, “Useless for you to try; bad you are, and bad you must be “? I am not so bold, and dare as little fling such words after men from this earth departed as dash them in the face of any here. And, to encourage hope, do we not see examples almost of moral resurrection? Does not the Orthodox church itself, at the death-bed of a wretch the most hardened, still say, “It is not too late”? And how small-minded, how unbelieving, at bottom, it is to assume that the mere physical fact, mere accident, it may be, of death, determines all for the moral life,—that scarlet fever, a mad dog, a runaway horse, a falling brick, or rusty nail may hedge up for ever the gracious providence of Heaven and fix a soul’s fate for eternity! Such credulity is not spiritual faith, but the want of it. It indicates an eye to which providential purpose and law hinge upon small physical events,—the infinitely greater upon the infinitely less.

The Monday lecturer, if I understand him aright, assumes, and as the basis of his entire argument, that at the moment of death every man is irrevocably determined in character; either he has so chosen the right and good that, through day and darkness and all temptations and tests, his choice would still endure, or, with the determination of pure depravity, has said, “Evil, be thou my good!” But with what inattention to the facts is such a notion entertained! Here is a young man of twenty at work upon a high staging, in which is a defective board. He steps upon that board; it breaks; the poor fellow is precipitated to the earth and killed. What, now, of him? He was not bad, and was not a saint. Like thousands of others, he would probably have done well under good influences, and under evil ones might have been quite led astray. Is any man so absurd a pagan as to say that a weak piece of pine lumber was commissioned to determine his soul’s destiny for ever? Or can paganism itself believe that God would take him, morally undetermined as he was, from the arms of death, thrust him down into nether places, and say, “You shall have no second opportunity; I will make an eternal sinner of you, whether you will or no; you shall be nothing else”? Horrible to think of! It is almost an offence against good taste so far to entertain the ghastly fancy as to give it words. These are imaginations which, could they become realities, would not only slay souls, but murder Divine Justice itself!

Theodore Parker looked at the facts broadly, and did not deceive himself. He saw—to distinguish roughly—three classes of character. The highest consists of men singularly noble and good; saints, like Channing; figures in which virtue becomes poetic and classic, like Emerson; men of heroic morals, like Sumner. Beneath these, and such as these, appears the great average of human quality, the respectable middle class in morals, comprising men in and out of the churches,—not bad and not heroically good, but good for ordinary occasions, and with better stuff in them, very likely, than they commonly put in use, or are themselves aware of. Lower than these, and quite at the bottom, are men who afflict the eye,—base, sordid, false, unclean, of whom the worst may fairly be called depraved. Concerning these last Parker might have doubted, had he, with ” the greatest living theologian,” depended upon observation alone; though he was of a mind quite too healthy to doubt if they would not be preserved alive to rot and burn, and burn and rot, and make the universe foul for ever. But he could not know; for none can learn from observation only that such characters will cast their slough, and recover moral health. At the point, however, of that doubt he threw in his faith in God, and the scale was quickly turned. For here was a man with such a faith in God as should count for something in his thinking; faith in a just God, I say, and not merely in a cast-iron omnipotence of legalism. Therefore, where observation failed to give his soul assurance, and his great humane heart might otherwise have wavered in a sad uncertainty, he put to his eye the speculum of that faith, and with new optics saw a spiritual world where, as was said of old, there is more joy over one fallen man that amends than over ninety and nine upright ones that need no amendment; and saw an infinite Providence with an eternity before him, in which, now by kind severities of punitive discipline and now by influences as of the vernal sun that melts the frozen heart of winter and makes the brown sod green, to reprove, to correct, to subdue, to warm and inspire, and so to bring every wandered soul soon or late in consistency with its own freedom of election to the true light and right way. For he, Theodore Parker, believed in a Divine can, not a Divine cant, and in a Divine will, not a Divine wont; therefore in a God who both can and will keep the health of his universe, protecting his own laws in consistency with the ultimate good of his own creatures, and vindicating his own righteousness by making righteousness universal.

One may find himself not qualified for a faith so generous, and still be a sound man, dutifully doing the day’s labor by the day’s light. But the reader sees what success has attended upon the effort of a man uncommonly able to array ethical science against it. That any effort of another with like intent will prosper better I do not anticipate. And were that grand belief quite confuted, the ghastly alternative presented by Mr. Parker’s critic would be no real one, but an imagination at war equally with the truth of Nature and the justice of Heaven.

Here are two pictures of the spiritual universe. In the one, the universe appears as divided into two contrasting halves, two continents or spheres,—an upper one bathed in everlasting light, a nether one buried in eternal darkness, with some narrow neck or isthmus between them, and each comprising millions numberless of human souls. In the upper realm all the souls are pardoned criminals, but their guilt has been paid for by another; therefore they are regarded as innocent. And their hearts are turned the right way; they love goodness, and seek it with sincere desire: and so, in glory of divine light, in joy without shadow, in gratitude that has no measure, in sweet ease of everlasting leisure and rapture of heavenly thoughts, they praise the Lamb that has bought them with his blood, they praise the spirit that has sanctified them, they praise the infinite legal justice that for a consideration has pardoned them; and, singing praises, sing themselves into new depths and ecstasies of blessedness, and upward into new heights and intensities of perfect sanctity, and so on for ever more. Meantime, all this has in the nether half of this same universe its equal and horrible accompaniment. There like myriads of souls are criminals not pardoned, nor ever to be pardoned, nor ever permitted to amend. All that half of the universe is one immeasurable mass of reeking, festering rottenness, obscene, abominable, abhorrent, as no speech can adequately say or imagination conceive. There depravity rots downward for ever into horror beneath horror of foulness and loathsomeness; the evil man becomes an imp of darkness, the impish becomes devilish, the devil damned, fructified eternally in hatefulness of heart and hideousness of moral feature. That moiety of God’s universe reverberates through eternity with one endless roar of curses and execrations, of oaths that surpass all measure of profanity, of blasphemies that blister where they fall, and scald the demon hearts that conceived them. And all in a ghastly darkness, made visible, rather than lit, by lurid flames that lick the ocean of eternal sin, and fill with foul smoke this half of a divine universe. And this half, like the other, is in God, an equal part of his manifested perfection. For in God all is contained, and in him eternal hell lives and moves and has its being, if eternal hell be.

Look at the other picture. Here is a universe with no rotten and eternally rotting nether half; it is healthy and whole, everlastingly well and sound in every part. An infinitely perfect Creator, Father, and Master has brought into being countless numbers of intelligent and,morally capable creatures; not to triumph over them, whether as the unworthy recipients of his “grace” or as the worthy victims of his “justice,” but to reproduce in them, through eternal ages, more and more of his own perfection. Of his household, and in his school, they are immortally to learn, and, learning, to make their own the wisdom of his thought, the justice of his ways, the beauty of his manifested being. His truth they learn and appropriate by thought and study, his righteousness by being themselves its subjects, the beauty of his perfect wholeness by harmonizing in themselves the various chords of a manifold being. From smallest beginnings they ascend, and in freedom rise; there is imperfection of the learner, but none of the plan which comprehends and conducts all; justice governs, but corrects without destroying, and subdues to transform surrender itself.into moral victory. A perfect moral government and a perfect providence make common cause, and are one and the same. And so in light the whole intelligent and moral creation still ascends toward the light: all that is gross in imperfection disappears; all that is noble in purpose, great in design, or glorious in achievement accumulates with perpetual increase, and shines with brighter ray; while highest and lowest alike look up to that all-transcending ideal, whose reality God himself is, to see there the infinite “parent of good, almighty,” and to feel themselves his begotten. Here Heaven’s justice triumphs, not over, but in and with its subjects; here the work itself of God is that praise of his perfection which infinite perfection can never need or seek; here all may well learn that it is more blessed to give than to receive, for it is the All-Blessed himself, that, in his own person and providence, gives the lesson. A universe with no black spot; immortality that is everywhere blessing, and not curse; freedom that, without fail, glorifies the wisdom that begot it; the good for ever arriving at the better, and for ever to arrive; justice vindicating itself by creating its law, to be a living spring in every soul; an eternity that is all health, and a whole creation that in eternity blossoms in the beauty of a divine ideal, and ripens in the reality of a divine consummation,—such is the representation.

From whom the former picture, so highly captivating, proceeds it is needless to say: the latter is Theodore Parker’s. Which of the two is that of a perfect universe, or in the better degree reflects the image of a perfect God, it is for the reader to determine.

A word only upon his labor of practical reform, and I shall have done. That labor was the offspring and exemplification of his religion. The tree bore the fruit, and the fruit shows the quality of the tree. He believed in a Divine Righteousness that, from within men’s hearts, and by the work of their hands, would make righteousness on earth; and his religion enlisted him to be its soldier. He believed that God intends the overcoming of evil; and he religiously made that intention his own. He believed that the providential design lies for us, first of all, in human conscience; and his religion engaged him to do heroically the work of conscience. The great battle had come. Heaven called him; he left all, and marched; and few can know how much he left to do his duty. Into the imminent deadly breach, foremost among the foremost, Jie threw himself, and his clarion voice rang out above the din, till at last he fell stricken, and was borne forth from the smoke to die. And I, above his grave, deem it not too bold to say: Brave soldier of God! if thine were not true religion, then it is from religion itself, and not from thy brow, that a laurel falls.

D. A. Wasson.


  • David A. Wasson, “Theodore Parker as Religious Reformer,” The Radical Review 1, no. 1 (May 1877): 46-73.


  • Edmund C. Stedman. The Discoverer. [poem] 74.
  • P. J. Proudhon. System of Economical Contradictions, Introduction. 76.

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AMONG biologists who accept the modern theory of evolution as the only reasonable hypothesis available for the explanation of the diversity “of structure among organized beings, there is a wide difference of opinion as to what are the leading causes of differentiation. The doctrine of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, has recently been brought prominently forward as the key to this complex problem, and is upheld by a large class of enthusiastic adherents, who accept it as the full solution of the whole question. By others the conditions of environment are believed to be far more influential in effecting a certain class of modifications, at least, than the necessarily precarious influence of natural selection, which must take its origin in isolated instances of variation in favorable directions, and depend for its continuance upon these fortuitous advantages being inherited by the descendants of the favored individuals in which they originate. The modifying influence of conditions resulting from geographic or climatic causes, was long since noticed, and for nearly a century has been considered by many writers as explanatory of much of the diversity existing not only in the human race, but among animals. It has, however, remained, until recently, vaguely grounded, being based more in conjecture than on observed facts. Scarcely, indeed, have two decades passed since the real nature and extent of geographical variation among animals, and even as yet among only a few species, began to receive careful attention, while only within the last fifteen years has any attempt been made to correlate the observed differences with the climatic or geographical conditions of habitat. Only within recent years have the differences in general size, and in the relative size of different parts, been ascertained by careful measurement, and the differences in the character of the tegumentary covering (as the pelage in mammals) and in color, in individuals of the same species inhabiting distant portions of a common habitat, been duly recorded. In the work of registering these instructive data, it has fallen to Americans to take a leading part; large credit in the matter being due not only to the activity of our professional biologists, but to the liberality of the general Government in attaching competent natural-history observers and collectors to the numerous surveying parties it has sent out during the last twenty years to explore the, till then, practically unknown geography and productions of our Western Territories. The combined fruits of their labors, together with those of the agents and correspondents of the Smithsonian Institution, have resulted in the accumulation of an amount of material far exceeding that elsewhere accessible to single investigators; representing, as it does, at least two of the vertebrate classes of animals from the whole North American continent so fully, that generalizations may be made from their study which could not otherwise have been reached for many years, and for which no similar facilities for any other equal area as yet exist. The recent investigations of American mammalogists and ornithologists have been, in consequence, largely directed to the subject of geographical variation ; and their publications teem with tabulated measurements and records of variations in form and color that accompany differences in the climatic or geographical conditions of habitat. Among the results that have followed are the discovery of numerous interesting geographical varieties or sub-species, and the demonstration of the complete intergradation of many forms, often quite widely diverse in color, size, and proportion of parts, formerly regarded (and properly so as then known) as unquestionably distinct species; which discoveries have of course necessitated a large reduction in the number of recognized ” specific” or non-intergrading forms. But most important of all has been the correlation of local variations with the conditions of environment, and the deduction therefrom of certain laws of geographical variation. Upon these have been based hypotheses that go far toward explaining many of the phenomena of intergradation and differentiation observed among existing animals. In the present paper will be given not only a summary of the results thus far attained, but enough of the details of the subject to show the nature of the evidence on which rest the conclusions already reached. These results, it is claimed, show that other influences than natural selection operate powerfully in the differentiation of specific forms, and that geographical causes share more largely in the work than naturalists have heretofore been prepared to admit,—at least to consider as proven.

As is well known, animals vary greatly in respect to the extent of the areas they inhabit. While a few species are nearly or quite cosmopolitan, many others are restricted to single small islands, or to limited portions of a continent. Not a few range over the greater part of whole hemispheres, while by far the larger number are confined within comparatively narrow limits. Of the numerous species of mammals and birds inhabiting North America, none are equally common throughout the whole extent of the continent. The habitats of a few only extend from the Barren Grounds of the Arctic regions to Mexico, and from the Atlantic coast westward to the Pacific; one or two only among the mammals range over the whole continent from Alaska to Central America, while some occupy merely the extreme boreal parts of the continent. The latter, in many cases, range also over the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the Old World. Others extend from Arctic America southward to the United States. Still others occupy only the middle or more temperate latitudes, being unrepresented in the extreme north or the extreme south. Others, again, first appear in the middle or more southerly parts, and range thence southward far into the tropics. A large number are restricted to the region east of the Rocky Mountains ; others are confined to a narrow belt along the Pacific coast; and others still to limited areas of the great Rocky Mountain Plateau. In general, their distribution accords with climatal regions or zones, their respective ranges being limited in part by latitude and in part by geographical barriers, as treeless, arid plains or high mountain ranges. The northern and southern boundaries of the habitat of a species are found to agree, not generally with the arbitrary parallels of the geographer, but with isothermal lines, these being more or less different for each species. The geographical distribution of a species is thus mainly determined by climatic or other physical causes, though in part, doubtless, by its organic constitution. In most cases, species that are wide-ranging are the most variable, as would naturally follow from their being subjected, in the different portions of their habitats, to widely different environing circumstances. Hence such species are often found to run into numerous local races, some of them greatly differing from others, but still inseparably connected by individuals inhabiting the intervening regions. Over districts slightly diversified, even if of large extent, species generally preserve comparative constancy of character, while, conversely, local races are of frequent occurrence in regions of alternating valleys, mountain ranges, and table lands ; and more especially is this true if the highly diversified region be situated in the warmer latitudes. Small islands, remotely situated from other lands, have usually many species peculiar to themselves, their differentiation being proportionate to the geologic antiquity of the islands and their remoteness from larger land areas. In islands of recent origin, and not widely separated from continental lands, the ancestral stock of the species is still often clearly apparent, the forms thus differentiated through insular influences not having passed beyond the varietal stage; in other cases they are specifically different from their nearest continental allies, or may even have advanced far toward generic distinctness, while their origin may still remain tolerably apparent.

Plasticity, or susceptibility to the influences of physical surroundings, often differs even among quite closely allied species, as those of the same family or even genus ; and different species are evidently affected differently by the same circumstances. Variability in color may, or may not, accompany variability in size, or in the character of particular organs. Generally, however, a species which varies greatly in one feature, varies to a similar degree in many others. Species having a wide geographical range not only commonly run into a greater or less number of local races, but they generally present more than the average amount of strictly individual variation, as though species ranging widely in space were originally more plastic than those having more circumscribed habitats, and were thus able more easily to adapt themselves to their surroundings ; they are also more persistent, their fossil remains being far more frequently met with in the quaternary deposits than are those of the more local and generally more specialized forms.

Geographical variation, as exhibited by the mammals and birds of North America, may be summarized under the following heads: namely, (i) variation in general size, (2) in the size of peripheral parts, and (3) in color; the latter being subdivisible into (a) variation in color with latitude, and (£) with longitude. As a rule, the mammals and birds of North America increase in size from the south northward. This is true not only of the individual representatives of each species, but generally the largest species of each genus and family are northern. There are, however, some strongly marked exceptions, in which the increase in size is in the opposite direction, or southward. There is for this an obvious explanation, as will be presently shown; the increase being found to be almost invariably toward the region where the type or group to which the species belongs receives its greatest numerical development, and where the species attain the largest size, and are also most specialized. Hence the representatives of a given species increase in size toward its hypothetical centre of distribution, which is in most cases doubtless also its original centre of dispersal. Consequently there is frequently a double decadence in size within specific groups, and both in size and numerically in the case of species, when the centre of development of the group to which they belong is in the warm-temperate or tropical regions. This may be illustrated by reference to the distribution of the higher classes of vertebrates in North America. Among the species occurring north of Mexico, there are very few that may not be supposed to have had a northern origin ; and the fact that some are circumpolar in their distribution, while most of the others (especially among the mammals) have congeneric Old World allies, further strengthens the theory of their northern origin. Not only do individuals of the same species increase in size toward the north, but the same is true of the species of the different genera. Again, in the exceptional cases of increase in size southward, the species belong to southern types, or, more correctly, to types having their centre of development within or near the intertropical regions, where occur not only the greatest number of the specific representatives of the type, but also the largest.

For more detailed illustration we may take three families of the North American Carnivora; namely, the Canidae (wolves and foxes), the Felidae (lynxes and wild cats), and the Procyonidae (raccoons). The first two are to some extent cosmopolitan, while the third is strictly American. The Canidae have their largest specific representatives, the world over, in the temperate or colder latitudes. In North America the family is represented by six species,1 the smallest of which (speaking generally) are southern, and the largest northern. Four of them are among the most widely-distributed of North American mammals, two (the gray wolf and the common fox) being circumpolar species; another (the arctic fox) is also circumpolar, but is confined to high latitudes. The three widest-ranging species (the gray wolf, the common fox, and the gray fox) are those which present the most marked variation in size. Taking the skull as the basis of comparison, it is found that the common wolf is fully one-fifth larger in the northern parts of British America and Alaska than it is in Northern Mexico, where it finds the southern limit of its habitat. Between the largest northern skull and the largest southern skull there is a difference of about thirty-five per cent, of the mean sise! Specimens from the intermediate region show a gradual intergradation between these extremes, although many of the examples from the upper Missouri country are nearly as large as those from the extreme north.

The common fox, though occurring as far north as the wolf, is much more restricted in its southward range, especially along the Atlantic coast, and presents a correspondingly smaller amount of variation in size. The Alaskan animal, however, averages about one-tenth larger than the average size of specimens from New England. In the gray fox, whose habitat extends from Pennsylvania southward to Yucatan, the average length of the skull decreases from about five inches in Pennsylvania to considerably less than four in Central America,—a difference equal to about thirty per cent, of the mean size for the species.

1 The gray wolf (Canis lupus), the prairie wolf (C. latrans), the Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), the common fox (V. aiopex), the kit fox (V. velox), and the gray fox (Urocyon virginianus).

The Felidse, unlike the Canidae, reach their greatest development, as respects both the number and the size of the species, in the intertropical regions. This family has but a single typical representative—the panther (Felis concolor)—north of Mexico, and this ranges only to about the northern boundary of the United States. The other North American representatives of the family are the lynxes, which, in some of their varieties, range from Alaska to Mexico. They form, however, the most northern, as well as the most specialized or ” aberrant” type of the family. While they vary greatly in color, as well as in the length and texture of the pelage, at different localities, they afford a most remarkable exception to all laws of variation in size with locality; for a large series of skulls, representing localities as widely separated as Louisiana, Northern Mexico, and California on the one hand, and Alaska and the Mackenzie River District on the other, as well as various intermediate localities, reveals no appreciable difference in size throughout this wide area. The true cats, however, as the panther and the ocelots, are found to greatly increase in size southward, or toward the metropolis of the family. The panther ranges from the Northern States southward over most of South America. Skulls from the Adirondack region of New York have an average length of about seven and a half inches, the length increasing to eight and three-quarters in Louisiana and Texas, from beyond which points there is lack of data. The ocelot (Felispardalis) finds its northern limit near the Rio Grande of Texas, and ranges thence southward far into South America. The average size of Costa Rican examples is about one-fifth greater than that of specimens from the Rio Grande.

The Procyonidae are chiefly represented in tropical America, a single species—the common raccoon (Procyon lotor)—being found in the United States, and thence northward to Alaska. Here again the increase in size is southward, or toward the metropolis of the family,—Pennsylvania specimens averaging about one-tenth smaller than Costa Rican examples.

The common otter (Lutra canadensis) affords another example of increase in size southward among our Carnivora, although belonging to a family essentially northern in its distribution. The otters, however, form a distinct sub-family, which attains its greatest number of species in the warmer regions of the earth; and hence offers, not an exception to, but a confirmation of, the law of increase toward the centre of distribution of the group to which it belongs.

Instances of increase in size northward among the Carnivora of North America are so generally the rule that further space need not be taken in recounting examples in detail. It may suffice to state that the badger (Taxidea americand), the marten (Mustcla americand), the fisher {M, pennanti), the wolverine (Gulo luscus), and the ermine {Putorius ermineus),—all northern types,—afford examples of variation in size strictly parallel with that already noticed as occurring in the foxes and wolves.

To refer briefly to other groups, it may be stated that the Cervidae (deer family) are mainly rather northern in their distribution ; that the largest species occur in the colder zones, and that individuals of the same species increase rapidly in size toward the north. Some of the species, in fact, afford some of the most striking instances of northward increase in size ; among which are the common Virginia deer and its several representatives in the interior of the continent and on the Pacific slope. It is also noteworthy that the most obviously distinctive characteristic of the group—the large, annually deciduous antlers—reaches its greatest development at the northward. Thus all the northern species, as the moose, the elk, and the caribou, have branching antlers of immense size, while the antlers are relatively much smaller in the species inhabiting the middle region of the continent, and are reduced to a rudimentary condition—a simple slender sharp spike, or a small and singly forked one—in the tropical species ; the antlers declining in size much more rapidly than the general size of the animal. This is true in individuals of the same species as well as of the species collectively.

The Rodentia (the squirrels, marmots, spermophiles, mice, and their affines) offer the same illustrations in respect to the law of increase in size as the species already mentioned, the.size sometimes increasing to the southward, but more generally to the northward, since the greater number of the species belong decidedly to northern types. There is no more striking instance known among mammals of variation in size with locality than that afforded by the flying squirrels, in which the northern race is more than one-half larger than the southern ; yet the two extremes are found to pass so gradually the one into the other, that it is hardly possible to define even a southern and a northern geographical race except on the almost wholly arbitrary ground of difference in size. The species, moreover, is one of the most widely distributed, ranging from the Arctic regions (the northern limit of forests) to Central America.

Among birds the local differences in size are almost as strongly marked as among mammals, and, in the main, follow the same general law. A decided increase in size southward, however, or toward the warmer latitudes, occurs more rarely than in mammals, although several well-marked instances are known. The increase is generally northward, and is often very strongly marked. The greatest difference between northern and southern races occurs, as in mammals, in the species whose breeding stations embrace a wide range of latitude. In species which breed from northern New England to Florida, the southern forms are not only smaller, but are also quite different in color and in other features. This is eminently the case in the common quail (JJrtyx virginianus), the meadow lark {Stumella magna), the purple grackle (Quiscalus purpureas), the red-winged blackbird (Agelausphceniceus), the golden-winged woodpecker (Colaptes auratus), the towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalrnus), the Carolina dove {Zenadura carolinensis), and in numerous other species; and is quite appreciable in the blue jay (Cyanurus cristatus), the crow (Corvus americanus), in most of the woodpeckers, in the titmice, numerous sparrows, and several thrushes and warblers, the variation often amounting to from ten to fifteen per cent, of the average size of the species.

As a general rule, certain parts of the organism vary more than does general size, there being a marked tendency to enlargement of peripheral parts under high temperature, or toward the tropics,—hence southward in North America. This is more readily seen in birds than in mammals, in consequence, mainly, of their peculiar type of structure. In mammals it is manifested occasionally in the size of the ears dhd feet, and in the horns of bovines, but especially and more generally in the pelage. At the northward, in individuals of the same species, the hairs are longer and softer, the under fur more abundant, and the ears and the soles of the feet better clothed. This is not only true of individuals of the same species, but of northern species collectively as compared with their nearest southern allies. Southern individuals retain permanently, in many cases, the sparsely clothed ears and the naked soles that characterize northern individuals only in summer, as is notably the case among the different squirrels and spermophiles.

In mammals which have the external ear largely developed,— as the wolves, foxes, some of the deer, and especially the hares, —the larger size of this organ in southern as compared with northern individuals of the same species is often strikingly apparent. It is more especially marked, however, in species inhabiting extensive open plains and semi-desert regions. The little wood hare, or gray ” rabbit” (Lepus sylvaticus~), affords a case in point. This species is represented, in some of its varieties, across the whole breadth of the continent, and from the northern border of the United States southward to Central America, but in different regions by different geographical races or sub-species. In addition to certain differences of color and general size, the ears vary still more strongly. In the form inhabiting the Great Plains, commonly known as the little sagebrush hare (L. sylvaticus, nuttalli~), the ears are considerably longer than in the eastern variety, and increase in size from the north southward, reaching their greatest development in Western Arizona and the desert region further westward and southward, where the variety of the plains proper passes into still another variety characterized mainly by the large size of its ears, which are in this race nearly twice the size they attain in the eastern variety. In the large long-eared “jackass ” hares of the Plains, the ear likewise increases in size to the southward. In Lepus callotis, for example, which ranges from Wyoming southward far into Mexico, the ear is about one-fourth to one-third larger in the southern examples than in the northern. The little brown hare of the Pacific coast (Z. trowbridgei) presents a similar increase in the size of the ear southward, as does, to a less extent, the prairie hare (L. campestris). Not only are all of the long-eared species of American hares confined to the open plains of the arid interior of the continent, but over this same region is the tendency to an enlargement of the ear southward stronger than elsewhere. It is also of interest in this connection that the largest-eared hares of the Old World occur over similar open, half-desert regions, as do also the largest-eared foxes. On our western plains, the deer are represented by a large-eared species. Among the domestic races of cattle, those of the warm temperate and intertropical regions have much larger and longer horns than those of northern countries; as is shown by a comparison of the Texan, Mexican, and South American breeds, with the northern stock, or those of the south of Europe with the more northern races. In the wild species of the Old World, the southern or sub-tropical are remarkable for the large size of their horns. The horns of the American pronghorn (Antilocapra americand) are also much larger at southern than at northern localities.1 Naturalists have also recorded the existence of larger feet in many of the smaller North American mammalia at the southward than at the northward, among individuals of the same species, especially among the wild mice, in some of the squirrels, the opossum and raccoon, as well as in other species.

In birds, the enlargement of peripheral parts, especially of the bill, claws, and tail, is far more obvious and more general than in mammals. The bill is particularly susceptible to variation in this regard,—in many instances being very much larger, among individuals of unquestionably the same species, at the southward than at the northward. This accords with the general fact that all the ornithic types in which the bill is remarkably enlarged occur in the intertropical regions. The southward enlargement of the bill within specific groups may be illustrated by reference to almost any group of North American birds, or to those of any portion of the continent. As in other features of geographical variation, the greatest differences in the size of the bill are met with among species having the widest distribution in latitude. Among the species inhabiting eastern North America we find several striking examples of this enlargement among the sparrows, black-birds, thrushes, crows, wrens, and warblers; in the quail, the meadow lark, the golden-winged woodpecker, etc. Generally the bill, in the slender-billed forms, becomes longer, more attenuated, and more decurved (in individuals specifically the same) in passing from the New England States southward to Florida, while in those which have a short, thick, conical bill there is a general increase in its size so that the southern representatives of a species, as a rule, have thicker and longer bills than their northern relatives, though the birds themselves are smaller. There is thus not only generally a relative, but often an absolute, increase in the size of the bill in the southern races. The species of the Pacific coast and of the interior afford similar illustrations, in some cases more marked even than in any of the eastern species. More rarely, but still quite frequently, is there a similar increase in the size of the feet and claws.

1 The deer tribe, in which the antlers increase in size toward the north, offer an. apparent exception to the rule of increase in size of peripheral parts toward the tropics. The antlers of the deer, however, are merely seasonal appendages, being annually cast and renewed, and are thus entirely different physiologically from the horns of bovines, which retain a high degree of vitality throughout the life of the animal.

The tail, also, affords an equally striking example of the enlargement of peripheral parts southward. Referring again to the birds of the Atlantic coast, many of the above-named species have the tail absolutely longer at southern localities than at northern, and quite often relatively longer. Thus while the general size decreases, the length of the tail is wholly maintained, or decreases less than the general size ; but, in some cases, while the general size is one tenth or more smaller at the south, the tail is ten to fifteen per cent, longer than in the larger northern birds. Some western species are even more remarkable in this respect; and in consequence mainly of this fact the southern types have been varietally separated from the shorter-tailed northern forms of the same species.

Variations in color with locality are still more obvious, particularly among birds, in which the colors are more positive, the contrasts of tint greater, and the markings consequently better defined than is usually the case in mammals. The soft, finelydivided covering of the latter is poorly fitted for the display of the delicate pencilings and the lustrous, prismatic hues that so often characterize birds. Mammals, however, present many striking instances of geographical variation in color.

As already stated, geographical variation in color may be conveniently considered under two heads. While the variation with latitude consists mainly in a nearly uniform increase in one direction, the variation observed in passing from the Atlantic coast westward is more complex. In either case, however, the variation results primarily from nearly the same causes, which are obviously climatic, and depend mainly upon the relative humidity, or the hygrometric conditions of the different climatal areas of the continent. In respect to the first, or latitudinal variation, the tendency is always toward an increase in intensity of coloration southward. Not only do the primary colors become deepened in this direction, but dusky and blackish tints become stronger or more intense, iridescent hues become more lustrous, and dark markings, as spots and streaks or transverse bars, acquire greater area. Conversely, white or light markings become more restricted. In passing westward a general and gradual blanching of the colors is met with on leaving the wooded regions east of the Mississippi, the loss of color increasing with the increasing aridity of the climate and the absence of forests, the greatest pallor occurring over the almost rainless and semi-desert regions of the Great Basin and Colorado Desert. On the Pacific slope, north of California, the color again increases, with a tendency to heavy, sombre tints over the rainy, heavily-wooded region of the north-west coast.

Geographical variation in color among mammals, for reasons already stated, is generally, but not always, manifested merely through the varying intensity or depth of the tints. It is, however, often strongly marked. The common chickaree, or red squirrel (Sciurus hudsonius), for example, which ranges from high northern latitudes southward over the northern portion of the United States, shows an increase in the color over the middle of the dorsal surface from pale yellowish or fulvous to rufous. The fox squirrel of the Mississippi Valley {Sciurus niger, ludovicianus), which ranges from Dakota southward to the Gulf of Mexico, has the lower parts, at the northward, very pale yellowishwhite, which tint gradually increases in intensity southward, till in Louisiana it becomes deep reddish-orange, the dorsal surface also becoming at the same time somewhat darker. Excepting the fox squirrels, and a Pacific coast variety of the chickaree, all the squirrels living north of Mexico have the lower parts white, while those inhabiting tropical America have the lower parts fulvous, deep golden, orange, or even dark brownish-red; specimens with the belly white being exceptional, though occasionally occurring in several of the species.

Mammals tend strongly to run into melanitic phases, which are especially developed at particular localities or over limited regions, but whether or not the result of geographical influences is not clearly evident. The whitening of the pelage in winter at the north in a considerable number of species of mammals, and in one genus of birds, and not elsewhere, is, on the contrary, a strictly geographical phenomenon, but seems to be the result of other than the ordinary causes of geographical variation in color. Its occurrence in some species, and its absence in others closely allied to them, is a fact not readily explained. It shows, however, how differently different animals are effected by the same influences. The change to a white winter livery is more complete in the higher latitudes, where the whiteness pervades the pelage to a greater depth, and continues for a longer period, the change being only partial in the southern representatives of species that exhibit this seasonal change of color.

In respect to southward increase in color among birds, a few examples only, out of the many almost equally striking, can be here given. These will be chosen from widely different groups, and will represent localities remotely separated, as well as very diverse styles of coloration. In comparing, for instance, New England examples of the common quail with others from southern Florida, the colors are found to be so much stronger and darker in the southern birds as to give the appearance of their being entirely distinct species ; particularly when the smaller size and larger bills of the southern race are also considered. While in the northern birds the color of the dorsal surface is gray and rufous, slightly varied with black, the gray is wholly wanting in the southern type, the rufous is much stronger, and the black markings are very much broader. The lower surface is varied by transverse bars of black and white, but while in the northern birds the white bars are twice, or more than twice, the width of the black ones, in the southern birds they are often of equal width; or the black bars may be the broader, with much more black bordering the white throat-patch, giving, on the whole, a very much darker aspect to this region of the body. Yet, when a series is brought together from many intermediate localities, there is found to be a complete intergradation between the most extreme phases. In the common towhee the style of coloration fortuitous, spontaneous results of natural selection yield a satisfactory explanation of these phenomena, or must we seek some more uniform and definitely acting cause ? To briefly summarize the results above detailed, we have a somewhat uniform increase of size in some given direction affecting many species simultaneously and similarly over the same areas. We have a frequent enlargement of peripheral parts, affecting not a few but many species, and all in a similar manner, though in varying degrees. We have a very general increase in the depth or intensity of colors southward, a general loss of color in approaching the central, arid portions of the continent, and again an excessive increment of color under still different climatic conditions and over a different area. We find the increase of size among the individuals of any given species to be quite uniformly in the direction of the centre of distribution of the group to which the species belongs, this being especially well-marked in mammals. We find the increase in the size of peripheral parts,—as the external ear and the length of the pelage in mammals, and the size of the bill and length of the tail in birds,—to be in the direction of the regions where these parts meet respectively their greatest development,— the increase in color (especially among birds) toward the region where are developed the richest and most lustrous tints, the loss of color in the direction of the region where the greatest general pallor prevails. We find again that the enlargement of peripheral parts correlates with increase of temperature; the southward increase of color with an increase of atmospheric humidity and temperature, and consequently with the protective influences of luxuriant arboreal vegetation and clouds; and, conversely, the loss of color accompanying excessive aridity, a scanty vegetation, and an almost cloudless sky,—the conditions, in short, of all others the most powerfully effective in the blanching of color; and again the sombre, dusky tints of the north-west coast accompanying the most humid conditions of climate and the conditions generally most favorable for the protection or preservation of color. Are these merely accidental coincidences, or are they the evident results of cause and effect ? Because the white winter livery of some of the northern species is more protective against cold than darker tints would be, or aids in concealing them in some cases (as in the hares and ptarmigans) from their enemies, or in other cases (as in the ermines and the Arctic fox) tends to aid them in stealing unperceived upon their prey, are they to be regarded as unquestionably the beneficial results of the working of natural selection ? Because the dull gray tints of species inhabiting the semi-desert regions of the interior harmonize well with the general gray aspect of their surroundings, is this concordance the result again of the operation of the law of natural selection, the less favorably colored having been weeded out in the struggle for existence ? Are the heavy, dull colors of the humid region of the north-west the result, again, of the necessary influence of natural selection in perpetuating only the individuals whose colors best accord with their sombre conditions of environment ? Has the same action brought about the bright, rich coloration of birds, insects, and other animals under the warm humid conditions of the hotter parts of the earth, preserving the ratio of brilliancy of coloration with that of the conditions that everywhere most favor such differentiation ? Finally, is the exact correlation of the changes in coloration with the gradual change of climatic conditions in passing from one geographical region to another the result in like manner of the long-continued weeding out of the lessfavored ? Or are these modifications severally due to the direct action of the conditions of environment ?

In answering these questions it may be well to glance first at the nature of the theoretical origin of differentiation through the influence of natural selection as expounded by the leading advocates of the theory. As is well known, all the individuals of a species found at the same locality (differences resulting from sex and age aside) are not all cast in the same mould, but differ constantly, the average range of purely individual variation in general size and in the size of different parts ranging (in birds and mammals) from eight to fifteen or twenty per cent, of the average size for the species, with a corresponding amount of variation in color. These variations are found to tend in every conceivable direction, and it of course follows that some of them must be in directions exceptionally favorable to the species. The theory of modification by the action of natural selection only supposes that the stronger or otherwise more favored individuals transmit their favorabl.j qualities to their offspring, and that the latter, in consequence of their inherited advantages, multiply more rapidly than their less favored relatives ; that these favorable deviations from the parental stock become in subsequent generations more pronounced, and that the original form is eventually overpowered and supplanted by its modified descendants. From the same original stock may be conceived to arise, even simultaneously, other forms diverging in different, though still favorable, directions, these in turn giving rise to several lines of descent, occupying perhaps different portions of the habitat of the original species, where they also multiply and become dominant, and eventually pass on from the stage of incipient species to more or less widely differentiated types. These premises being admitted,—and they are certainly within the bounds of reasonable conception,—only the element of time, apparently, is requisite for the development of an endless variety of unstable forms, constantly increasing in number and following divergent lines of development, and thus capable, apparently, of giving rise to all the diversity of organisms at present peopling the earth.

But there are many adverse circumstances with which the favored forms have in the outset to contend, and to which, in the majority of instances, they must succumb. These are, first, the minuteness of the first favorable divergence, the isolation of the individuals in which it appears, and consequently the impossibility of such individuals pairing with others similarly favored, and the consequent tendency of the offspring to possess the favorable characters in a less rather than in a greater degree than the parent, and to be absorbed into the original stock. Secondly, in case the incipient advantages are perpetuated, as it is necessary to suppose, the new offshoot must originate from a single point, and spread thence gradually to contiguous regions as its representatives slowly multiply.

But it is supposed, again, that new forms are not always thus gradually evolved from minute beginnings, but sometimes— perhaps not unfrequently—arise by a saltus; that individuals may be born widely different from their parents, differing so widely and persistently as not to be so-readily absorbed by the parental stock. In proof of this, instances are cited of new species apparently appearing suddenly, and of varieties thus originating under artificial conditions resulting from domestication. Granting that new forms may thus arise, although as yet few facts have been adduced in its support, they are necessarily at first local, and in no way accord with the observed geographical differences that characterize particular regions, and which affect similarly many species belonging to widely different groups.

The direct influence of climatic or geographical condition, upon animals is, in the main, ignored by the leading exponents of the doctrine of natural selection. To quote Mr. Darwin’s own words on this point:—

“The action of climate seems at first sight to be quite independent of the struggle for existence; but, in so far as climate chiefly acts in reducing food, it brings on the most severe struggle between the individuals, whether of the same or of distinct species, which subsist on the same kind of food. Even when climate, for instance extreme cold, acts directly, it will be the least vigorous, or those which have got the least food through the advancing winter, which will suffer most. When we travel from south to north, or from a damp region to a dry, we invariably see some species gradually getting rarer and rarer, and finally disappearing; and the change of climate being conspicuous, we are tempted to attribute the whole effect to its direct action. But this is a false view: we forget that each species, even where it most abounds, is constantly suffering enormous destruction at some period of its life from enemies, or from competitors for the same place and food; and, if these enemies or competitors be in the least degree favored by any slight change of climate, they will increase in numbers, and, as each area is already fully stocked with inhabitants, the other species will decrease. When we travel southward and see a species decreasing in numbers, we may feel sure that the cause lies quite as much in other species being favored, as in this one being hurt. So it is when we travel northward, but in a somewhat lesser degree, for the number of species of all kinds, and therefore of competitors, decreases northwards; hence, in going northward, or in ascending a mountain, we far oftener meet with stunted forms, due to the directly injurious action of climate, than we do in proceeding southward or in descending a mountain. When we reach the Arctic regions, or snow-capped summits, or absolute deserts, the struggle for life is almost exclusively with the elements. That climate acts in main part indirectly by favoring other species, we may clearly see in the prodigious number of plants in our gardens which can perfectly well endure our climate, but which never become naturalized, for they cannot compete with our native plants, nor resist destruction by our native animals.”1

While there is perhaps little reason to question the general correctness of the above-quoted generalizations, they have little bearing upon the question of the modification of species by the direct action of climatic conditions, but relate mainly to such unfavorable climatic influences as tend toward the extinction of species, or to the circumscription of their ranges. Indeed, the

« “Origin of Species,” 5th ed., pp. 80, 81.

phenomena of variation detailed in the foregoing pages were almost wholly unknown at the time the earlier editions of the ” Origin of Species” were published, and have hardly as yet become the common property of naturalists. Gradual decrease in size southward in hundreds of species inhabiting the same continent, or a gradual increase or decrease in color in given directions on a similarly grand scale, are facts but recently made known, and have not as yet been very fully discussed by evolutionists of the purely Darwinian school. Mr. Darwin, indeed, in referring to the ” effects of changed conditions ” upon animals, alludes to facts of a similar character,—as the alleged brighter colors of European shells near their southern limit of distribution and when living in shallow water, and the more sombre tints of birds that live on islands or near the coast under overcast skies, as compared with those of the same species livingmore in the interior, etc.; but is in doubt as to how much should be attributed, even in such cases, ” to the accumulative action of natural selection, and how much to the definite action of the conditions of life.” ” Thus,” he says, ” it is well known to furriers that animals of the same species have thicker and better fur the farther north they live; but who can tell how much of this difference may be due to the warmest-clad individuals having been favored and preserved, during many generations, and how much to the action of the severe climate? for it would appear that climate has some direct action on the hair of our domestic quadrupeds.” 1 Since, however, it happens that some species do not vary at all, although living under the most opposite climates, he is thereby inclined ” not to lay much weight on the direct and definite action of the conditions of life,” though he fully admits ” that strong arguments of a general nature may be advanced on the other side.” ” In one sense,” he adds, ” the conditions of life may be said, not only to cause variability, but likewise to include natural selection; for the conditions determine whether this or that variety shall survive.”2 But he says again: ” I believe that natural selection generally acts slowly in effecting changes, at long intervals of time, and only on a few of the inhabitants of the same region” In a latter work, however, he

  • ” Origin of Species,” pp. 166, 167. * Ibid., p. 168.

refers to the variation in color with locality seen in many species of birds in the United States, and says explicitly, in reference to northern and southern localities, “this seems to be the direct result of the difference in temperature, light, etc., between the two regions.”1

There is, however, a vast amount of unquestionable proof of the direct and constant action of climate and other conditions of life upon animals, and that such geographical variations as the thicker and softer fur of mammals inhabiting cold regions, smaller size and brighter colors at the southward, etc., etc., do not require the action of natural selection, in its strict and proper sense, for their explanation. It is well known, for instance, that a flock of fine-wooled sheep, when taken to a hot climate, rapidly acquire a coarser and coarser fleece, till, in a few generations, it nearly loses its character of proper wool, and becomes simply hair; that the change affects simultaneously the whole flock, and is not brought about by one or two individuals acquiring a coarser fleece and through their descendants modifying the character of the herd. Furthermore, in the case of sheep, it is well known that certain countries are very favorable to the production of a fine fleece, and that fine-wooled breeds, even by man’s aid, cannot be perpetuated in other regions. Again, it is a fact of common observation that in birds and mammals colors become more or less faded toward the moulting season simply by the direct action of the elements,—the tints of the fresh and the long-worn plumage or pelage being more or less strikingly different in the same individuals,—and that this contrast at different seasons is more marked in arid than in moist regions, through the greater bleaching effect of a dry heated atmosphere and the more intense dazzling sunlight of regions that are not only cloudless, but lack the protection afforded by abundant vegetation.

While so much is claimed by the writer as due to the direct action of climatic causes, it is admitted also that habits and food, and other conditions of life than those resulting from climate, have a marked effect in determining modifications of form and color among animals. A scarcity of a favorite kind of food will undoubtedly force species to subsist upon the next best that offers, which may be so different as to modify certain characters and fit the species to live upon the less desired food. A change of food may lead to modification of dentition, the muscles of mastication, and the organs of digestion, and, correlatively, of other organs or parts of the body; the modification, however, arising simultaneously among all the descendants of the individuals thus driven to a change of diet, instead of appearing first in a single individual and becoming perpetuated in its descendants alone. Entomologists have found that, among insects of the same species, the forced or voluntary use of different food-plants gives rise to modifications of color and structure, and hence result in what have been termed phytophagic varieties or sub-species, and that man can also effect such changes at will by simply changing the food of the species. Again, the geological character of a country is well known to have a marked effect upon the size and color of animals inhabiting it, as is strikingly illustrated among molluscous animals, whose abundance, and even presence, is largely dependent upon the constituents of the soil. Over regions of the United States, for example, where the underlying rock is non-calcareous, the species are both few in number and sparsely represented, while in other regions, where limestone abounds, but which are in other respects essentially the same, the species are far more numerous and far more abundantly represented. In respect to the fresh-water mussels, those of the same species from different streams are easily distinguishable by differences in the thickness of the shell, in color, shape, and ornamentation, so that the character of the shells themselves affords a clew to the locality of their origin. At some localities the species tend to become tuberculous or spinous, this being particularly the case toward the southward; at other localities they acquire a very much thickened shell, or different colors, the same characteristics appearing simultaneously in quite diverse species, and thus becoming distinctive of particular localities. In regard to mammals, measurements of large series of the skulls of minks, martens, squirrels, and other native species, show that the representatives of these species living in northern New England and north-eastern New York are smaller than the representatives of the same species occurring in the limestone districts of Pennsylvania and the States more to the westward, and the same is true of the different kinds of domestic cattle. This is in opposition to the law of decrease in size southward that elsewhere and generally characterizes these same species, and seems obviously related to the geological character of the country at these localities; small size, in opposition to a general law, occurring over northern non-calcareous districts, and larger size more to the southward where the underlying rock is limestone. In this case the difference obviously results from the direct action of the conditions of habitat upon every individual rather than from ” slowly effected changes ” originating in ” only a few of the inhabitants ” of these respective districts.

1 ” The Descent of Man,” 2d ed., p. 225.

Use and disuse of organs, through changes of habit resulting from changed conditions of environment, must result in some modification of the organ involved. As an example may doubtless be cited the passerine birds of some of the smaller, remotelysituated islands, as the Guadelupe and Galapagos groups, where recent investigations have shown that most of the species differ similarly in several features from their nearest allies of the mainland, and of which they are unquestionably insular forms. These differences consist in the greater size of the bill, shorter wings, longer tails, and darker colors. The sedentary life necessitated by the confined habitats of species thus situated would naturally act more or less strongly on the organs of flight, and a reduction in the size of the wing would follow ;—not necessarily through the round-about process of natural selection, through the modification originally of a single individual, but by the direct action on all the individuals alike of the changed conditions of life.

It is doubtless unnecessary to further multiply examples of the modification of animals by the direct action of the conditions of life. The subject is one that can be but imperfectly treated at best in a short paper like the present. The illustrations have here been drawn from a limited geographical field, and mainly from among the two higher classes of vertebrates. There are, however, abundant indications that other fields and other classes would yield results equally confirmatory of the direct action of physical conditions in the evolution of specific forms among animals and plants. Changes in environing conditions will, however, go but a short way toward explaining the origin of the great diversity of structure among existing organisms; the character of the food, habit, or the increased use or the disuse of particular organs, may explain many of the modifications, leaving a large share of the work to as yet unknown causes. Natural selection, as sometimes defined, is made to cover all causes of differentiation, it being stated by Mr. Darwin himself that, if organic beings undergo modification through changes in their conditions of life,'” uniformity of character can be given to their modified offspring solely by nartural selection preserving similar favorable variations.” In its strict sense, variation by natural selection results only through favorable differences appearing at first in single isolated individuals, which transmit these favorable qualities to their offspring, in virtue of which they multiply till they outnumber, crowd out, and finally destroy the less favored form from which they originated.

It is hardly conceivable, for example, how the peculiar structure seen in the woodpecker, the kingfisher, the swift, the heron, or the duck, or the peculiar dentition and correlated characters of the rodents, the ruminants, or the shrews and moles, as compared with the Carnivora, can have been initiated by the direct action of climatic conditions, however much other conditions of environment may have favored the development of these diverse types.

Having thus far mainly detailed merely facts and coincidences relating to the subject of variation with locality, it may be well in conclusion to consider more fully some of the possible or probable causes of purely geographical variation. In regard to geographical variation in color, it seems evident that high temperature, conjoined with moisture, favors increase of color and especially the acquisition of lustrous tints, while moisture alone favors simply increase in depth or the production of dull, heavy, and especially fuscous phases of coloration ; on the other hand, that aridity and exposure favor the loss of color. The latter is due apparently no less to the influence of a dry and often intensely heated atmosphere than to the direct action of light intensified by the reflection of the sun’s rays from almost verdureless sands. That the latter conditions act powerfully in blanching color there is most abundant proof. Hence we have the necessary correlation of increase of bright rich tints of coloration with the increase of atmospheric humidity. In respect to the enlargement of peripheral parts at the southward, it is obvious that a high temperature favors the more rapid circulation of the blood in these parts, while, as is well known, a low temperature produces the opposite effect, and necessarily retards their development.

With the decrease in size among birds, there has been observed a decrease of vivacity and deterioration of song, which may reasonably be attributed to the enervating influence of a high temperature. Since the northern types of animate reach their highest physical development toward the northward, it seems fair to suppose that decrease in size southward may be directly due to the enfeebling influences of increase of temperature, since certainly it cannot be attributed, in the majority of cases at least, to greater scarcity of food, for, in many instances, just the reverse obtains. This supposition is in accordance with the known effects of similar climatic conditions upon the northern races of man, which reach their greatest vigor and highest intellectual status under temperate conditions of climate, and deteriorate, both physically and mentally, on removing to intertropical regions. Again, the mammals and birds of the United States reach their maximum size within the United States under the stimulating climate of the region drained by the Upper Mississippi and Upper Missouri Rivers, being, as a rule, larger here than in corresponding latitudes more to the eastward. The decrease in size toward both the northern and southern borders of the habitat of a given species or genus, of which there are many marked instances, further shows that size varies with the varying conditions of habitat, and reaches the maximum only where the conditions are most favorable to the life of the species.

Much has been written respecting the influence of climate on man, and many speculations have been indulged in in relation to the part the conditions of life have taken in bringing about the diversity at present existing among the different races. A striking parallelism is often observable between the leading features of geographical variation among animals and the physical differences that obtain among nations or races of men inhabiting the same areas and subjected to the same influences. While civilized man is, in a measure, less the subject of such influences than the lower animals, he is not wholly above them. Certain regions more favor both physical and intellectual development than others; and these prove to be, as would be expected, the milder temperate portions of the globe, where the struggle for a mere vegetative existence is reduced to a minimum.

The influence of different climatic conditions upon members of the same nationality find exemplification in different parts of our own country, and are so obvious as to be the subject of frequent observation and comment. The same original stock is found to gradually develop certain peculiar physical and mental characteristics when placed under diverse conditions of climate, certain localities more favoring intellectual growth and activity than others; just as certain regions are characterized by the frequent occurrence of particular diseases, which in other regions are exceptional. While humidity and a high temperature, when combined, are found to be enervating and deteriorating, a clear dry atmosphere favors vigor of both mind and body. But the subject of the influence of climatic conditions upon man is too vast to be entered upon in detail in the present connection. The study of man from a geographical standpoint, or with special reference to conditions of environment, offers a most important and fruitful field of research, which, it is to be hoped, will soon receive a more careful attention than has as yet been given it.

In conclusion, a few words seem called for concerning the question, What is a species ? as well as in respect to the bearing of the general facts above detailed upon the evolution of specific forms.

As is well known, the belief that species were distinct and immutable creations was long the prevailing one among naturalists. Yet the question of what constitutes a species is one about which endless discussions have arisen, and one respecting which the most discordant opinions have been held by naturalists equally eminent in their respective fields of research. The amount and kind of difference necessary to characterize a species has been variously defined; forms that some have considered as specific others have regarded as merely varieties, and the reverse. In certain groups of organisms intermediate forms have been constantly met with, constituting steps of easy intergradation between quite diverse types. Such forms have been, and still are, held by some writers as varieties of a single species, and by others as constituting a group (genus or sub-genus) of distinct, but nearly related, species. Through the frequent discovery of such intergradations, however, the instability of so-called ” species ” has been made manifest, and the contrary doctrine of the stability or fixity of species refuted. Indeed, naturalists now generally agree that the terms variety, species, genus, sub-genus, family, sub-family, super-family, and the like, are but conventional and more or less arbitrary designations for different degrees of differentiation,—convenient formulae for the expression of general facts in biology. Not a few high authorities even maintain that the differences which characterize these several groups are of the same nature, differing only in degree, in opposition to others who hold that they are based on different categories of structure, or on differences of kind rather than of degree. The falsity of the latter view is shown more and more clearly with the increase of our knowledge of the structure and affinities of animals.

While formerly species were considered as necessarily characterized either by differences of a particular kind, or by a certain amount of difference, the present tendency is to regard neither as a sufficient criterion, the test of specific diversity being merely absence of intergradation,—in other words, breaks in the continuity of closely allied beings. Local races, or geographical forms, are thrown together under one specific designation whenever they are found to intergrade, however diverse may be their extreme phases of differentiation. The term species is now made to cover groups which were, not many years since, frequently regarded as sub-genera, or even genera,—the forms then supposed, in numberless instances, to be ” good species ” now ranking merely as sub-species. The reduction in the number of species has necessarily entailed a considerable reduction in the number of currently accepted genera, which in turn are limited by hiati rather than by any given amount or particular kind of difference. It was formerly urged against the theory of evolution that its advocates could point to no instance of the gradual change of one species into another, and that, until this was done, the theory was untenable. Among the species of North American vertebrates recognized as valid ten years ago, hundreds of instances can now be cited of thoroughly proven intergradation; forms then regarded as unquestionable species being found to be but connected phases of one and the same specific type, which assumes, at remote localities, under the evident action of climatic agencies, phases widely diverse, which gradually merge the one into the other through the individuals inhabiting the intervening districts. So long as species are based on the absence of intergradation,—and biologists have found no other satisfactory criterion for their limitation,—there can of course be no passage of one species into another. Let, however, some of the connecting links become extinct, and these now intergrading forms would be resolved into distinct species. In this way insular and other local forms are passing beyond the so-called varietal stage, and species are similarly tending to generic distinctness. That varieties may and do arise by the action of climatic influences, and pass on to become species, and that species become, in like manner, differentiated into genera, is abundantly indicated by the facts of geographical distribution and the obvious relation of local forms to the conditions of environment. The present more or less unstable condition of the circumstances surrounding organic beings, together with the known mutations of climate our planet has undergone in past geological ages, points clearly to the agency of physical conditions as one of the chief factors in the evolution of new forms of life. So long as the environing conditions remain stable, just so long will permanency of character be maintained ; but let changes occur, however gradual or minute, and differentiation begins. If too sudden or too great, extinction of many forms must result, giving rise to breaks in the chain of genetically connected organisms. In the deep abysses of the sea, where the temperature is low and stable, where the conditions of life must have remained almost unvaried since the early geological periods, the same low organisms still exist that were the prevailing forms of life when life first dawned upon the earth. The recent explorations of the depths of the sea have gone far to prove that stability of organic forms is in direct ratio to the stability of the conditions of existence, while the facts of geographical distribution show that change of structure and diversity of life are directly related to the physical conditions .of habitat.

Joel A. Allen.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2690 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.