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The opponents of heredity quote facts which appear to them conclusive : the frequent absence of resemblance between parents and children, and the frequent mediocrity of the descendants of men of genius. Pericles produced a Paralus and a Xanthippus. The austere Aristides produced the infamous Lysimachus. The powerful-minded Thucydides was represented by an idiotic Milesias and a stupid Stephanos. Was the great soul of Oliver Cromwell to be found in his son Richard ? What were the inheritors of Henry iv. and of Peter the Great ? What were the children of Shakespeare and the daughters of Milton? What was the only son of Addison ? An idiot.
The supporters of heredity retort upon this argument by saying, What is the meaning of these proverbial phrases, 'the wit of the Mortemarts,' the wit of the Sheridans,' if one does not believe in transmission ? Torquato Tasso was the son of a celebrated father. We have the two Herschels, the two Colmans, the Kemble family, and the Coleridges. Finally, the most striking example is that of Sebastian Bach, whose musical genius was found, in an inferior degree, among three hundred Bachs, the children of
various mothers. The question of heredity is still more complicated when we endeavour to find out if it be true, as certain authors have advanced, that the father gives the organs of animal life, and the mother the organs of vegetable life.
Mr. Lewes, who rejects this opinion, maintains the law of heredity, remarking that it is the rule, but that we must take account of the disturbing causes which explain the exceptions. Physiology tells us that always and necessarily the race inherits the organization of the parents; and that if the organization be inherited, so are the tendencies and aptitudes. Our experience of heredity is so constant that nothing can seem to us more incredible than that negro parents should give birth to a child with the features of a European, or that two sheep should produce a goat. But while there is a constancy in the transmission of general characteristics, there is a considerable variation in the transmission of individual peculiarities.
A child may inherit from both parents, or from one only. We do not expect two scrofulous parents to have healthy children,
irascible parents to produce gentle natures, or two idiots to give birth to a man of genius. But if the aptitudes of the parents are different, if the father have a talent for music and the mother have not, and if two children be born of their marriage, it is very possible that one may be musical like the father, the other insensible to music like the mother, or that both may be musicians, or neither. We should not have exaggerated the bearings of the objections, if we had remarked that the influence of one of the two parents may destroy that of the other, and that, consequently, the apparent exceptions to the law of heredity on the contrary confirm that law.
This question leads to many others, says Mr. Lewes, upon which he declines to enter, and he sends us to Mr. Herbert Spencer for everything which concerns the hereditary transmission of intellectual or moral development. It is perhaps appropriate to remark that he brings forward a collection of facts which may serve as proofs in favour of the law of evolution, and of the continuity of natural phenomena.
MR. SAMUEL BAILEY.
MR. SAMUEL BAILEY would merit a separate essay in consequence of the number of his philosophical publications, many of which date very far back, if we had proposed to ourselves anything but a short sketch of English contemporary psychology. It is not possible to classify him. As a declared partisan of experience, he forms a sort of transition between the Scotch school and the psychologists of whom we have just spoken. In his clear, exact, precise, and rather dry manner, he differs totally from the descriptive psychology of which Mr. Bain has offered us the most complete type ; he reminds us rather of the eighteenth century, and the somewhat meagre lucidity of Condillac and of Destutt de Tracy. He is, like them, more a logician than a psychologist, and his verbal analysis does not penetrate sufficiently far into a science 'so buried in facts' as psychology. With a mind penetrating rather than extensive, greedy for clearness, he pursues metaphors with intense enmity; he hates all vague phraseology, all rhetorical arguments which usurp the place of science, and explanations which pretend to resolve its difficulties; he demands for psychology a language as precise as possible. He is nevertheless not so devoted to algebra but that he will yield to the attractions of eloquence in its proper place, and he has revindicated the rights of science in language so firm and so lofty that we must quote it :
What! shall thousands of scientific men, with triumphant acclaim, employ themselves in almost infinitesimal physical investigations; in searching into the atomic composition and
1 His principal works are : Letters on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, 3 vols. 1855-1863; The Theory of Reasoning; A Review of Berkeley's Theory of Vision, etc.
microscopic structure of bodies ; in exploring the innumerable forms of animal and vegetable life which are invisible to the unassisted sight; in discovering planets that have for ages rolled unmarked through their obscure orbits; in condensing with telescopic power into suns and systems what was recently regarded (so to speak) as the elemental vapour of stars; in throwing into arithmetical expression inconceivably rapid vibrations, in the apparently steady ray that even the strongest wind cannot shake; thus bringing into view, from the distant and the diminutive, the most recondite parts of the material universe; and shall the exact analysis of the phenomena of consciousness, the discrimination of differences in feeling and intellectual operations, however fine and minute, the vigilant detection, the subtlest concatenations of thought, the firm yet delicate grasp of mental analogies which elude the rough and careless handling of common observation, the nice appreciation of language, and all its changing hues and latent expedients; the decomposition of the processes of reasoning and laying bare the foundations of evidence,-shall these, I say, be stigmatized as an over-exercise of acuteness, a waste of analytic power, a useless splitting of hairs, and a worthless weaving of cobwebs ? Amidst the honours lavished on investigations into the most secluded recesses of the material world, are we to be told that the close and minute and discriminating examination of our own mental nature is a vain and superfluous labour, leading to no beneficial or important issue?
Believe it not : rest assured that here untiring investigation, minute analysis, close scrutiny, careful discrimination of things apt to be confounded, scrupulous accuracy in pursuing processes, and precision in recording results, are as apposite, as fruitful, as important, as indispensable, as dignified if you will, as they are (I say it without disparagement) in tracking invisible stars, calculating the millions of imperceptible undulations in a ray of light, weighing the atoms of chemical elements, peering into the cells of organic structures, studying the anatomy of mites and midges, and even searching into the specific characters and peculiar habits of molluscs and animalcules.' 1
Bailey, Letters on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, vol. ii. p. 271.
Mr. Bailey recognises only one method for the facts of consciousness,—that of the sciences of matter. He nevertheless complains in another place of the invasions of physiology ; he even maintains that the knowledge of physiological facts does not clear up that of psychological facts; that even if we knew the material conditions of memory and of perception, etc., we should still remain ignorant of what it is. The science of acoustics, he says, is useless in producing good music; in the same way the knowledge of physical or mechanical means which engender or influence psychological phenomena does not enable us to penetrate
their nature. It is not very easy to reconcile these assertions.
In all cases the reasoning of the author, incontestable from the point of view of first causes, appears to be deficient in solidity so far as second causes are concerned. Now the proper object of every science which separates itself from metaphysics is the research of these immediate and approximate causes. Let us add that the progress of science seems to contradict the author.
We have seen in the Introduction, with what vivacity he combats the doctrine of faculties; so also he classes facts of conscience only cursorily and without attaching much importance to matter. The following is his classification of the phenomena of consciousness :
Ist Order.—Sensitive affections.
Genus I. Corporeal sensations.
Genus 2. Mental emotions.
Genus i. Perceiving.
Genus 4. Reasoning.
Genus 1. Relative to the body.
Genus 2. Relative to the mind. We shall not follow him into detail, which indeed is not very
1 Vol. i. Letter 2.
2 Vol. ii. Letter 16.
4 Vol. i. Letter 6.