The Descent Of Man

Chapter VI

ON THE AFFINITIES AND GENEALOGY OF MAN.

Position of man in the animal series–The natural system genealogical–
Adaptive characters of slight value–Various small points of resemblance
between man and the Quadrumana–Rank of man in the natural system–
Birthplace and antiquity of man–Absence of fossil connecting links–Lower
stages in the genealogy of man, as inferred, firstly from his affinities
and secondly from his structure–Early androgynous

The term androgynous can be defined as the combination of partly male and partly female characteristics. It is usually used to describe a person whose gender is ambiguous. This situation may also be found in fashion. In early twentieth century because of strict social rules people used to dress according to their gender. But during world war I the gender dressing blurred and many fashion brands brought trousers for women. Click Crypto CFD Trader review to read more.

condition of the
Vertebrata–Conclusion.

Even if it be granted that the difference between man and his nearest
allies is as great in corporeal structure as some naturalists maintain, and
although we must grant that the difference between them is immense in
mental power, yet the facts given in the earlier chapters appear to
declare, in the plainest manner, that man is descended from some lower
form, notwithstanding that connecting-links have not hitherto been
discovered.

Man is liable to numerous, slight, and diversified variations, which are
induced by the same general causes, are governed and transmitted in
accordance with the same general laws, as in the lower animals. Man has
multiplied so rapidly, that he has necessarily been exposed to struggle for
existence, and consequently to natural selection. He has given rise to
many races, some of which differ so much from each other, that they have
often been ranked by naturalists as distinct species. His body is
constructed on the same homological plan as that of other mammals. He
passes through the same phases of embryological development. He retains
many rudimentary and useless structures, which no doubt were once
serviceable. Characters occasionally make their re-appearance in him,
which we have reason to believe were possessed by his early progenitors.
If the origin of man had been wholly different from that of all other
animals, these various appearances would be mere empty deceptions; but such
an admission is incredible. These appearances, on the other hand, are
intelligible, at least to a large extent, if man is the co-descendant with
other mammals of some unknown and lower form.

Some naturalists, from being deeply impressed with the mental and spiritual
powers of man, have divided the whole organic world into three kingdoms,
the Human, the Animal, and the Vegetable, thus giving to man a separate
kingdom. (1. Isidore Geoffroy St.-Hilaire gives a detailed account of the
position assigned to man by various naturalists in their classifications:
‘Hist. Nat. Gen.’ tom. ii. 1859, pp. 170-189.) Spiritual powers cannot be
compared or classed by the naturalist: but he may endeavour to shew, as I
have done, that the mental faculties of man and the lower animals do not
differ in kind, although immensely in degree. A difference in degree,
however great, does not justify us in placing man in a distinct kingdom, as
will perhaps be best illustrated by comparing the mental powers of two
insects, namely, a coccus or scale-insect and an ant, which undoubtedly
belong to the same class. The difference is here greater than, though of a
somewhat different kind from, that between man and the highest mammal. The
female coccus, whilst young, attaches itself by its proboscis to a plant;
sucks the sap, but never moves again; is fertilised and lays eggs; and this
is its whole history. On the other hand, to describe the habits and mental
powers of worker-ants, would require, as Pierre Huber has shewn, a large
volume; I may, however, briefly specify a few points. Ants certainly
communicate information to each other, and several unite for the same work,
or for games of play. They recognise their fellow-ants after months of
absence, and feel sympathy for each other. They build great edifices, keep
them clean, close the doors in the evening, and post sentries. They make
roads as well as tunnels under rivers, and temporary bridges over them, by
clinging together. They collect food for the community, and when an
object, too large for entrance, is brought to the nest, they enlarge the
door, and afterwards build it up again. They store up seeds, of which they
prevent the germination, and which, if damp, are brought up to the surface
to dry. They keep aphides and other insects as milch-cows. They go out to
battle in regular bands, and freely sacrifice their lives for the common
weal. They emigrate according to a preconcerted plan. They capture
slaves. They move the eggs of their aphides, as well as their own eggs and
cocoons, into warm parts of the nest, in order that they may be quickly
hatched; and endless similar facts could be given. (2. Some of the most
interesting facts ever published on the habits of ants are given by Mr.
Belt, in his ‘Naturalist in Nicaragua,’ 1874. See also Mr. Moggridge’s
admirable work, ‘Harvesting Ants,’ etc., 1873, also ‘L’Instinct chez les
Insectes,’ by M. George Pouchet, ‘Revue des Deux Mondes,’ Feb. 1870, p.
682.) On the whole, the difference in mental power between an ant and a
coccus is immense; yet no one has ever dreamed of placing these insects in
distinct classes, much less in distinct kingdoms. No doubt the difference
is bridged over by other insects; and this is not the case with man and the
higher apes. But we have every reason to believe that the breaks in the
series are simply the results of many forms having become extinct.

Professor Owen, relying chiefly on the structure of the brain, has divided
the mammalian series into four sub-classes. One of these he devotes to
man; in another he places both the marsupials and the Monotremata; so that
he makes man as distinct from all other mammals as are these two latter
groups conjoined. This view has not been accepted, as far as I am aware,
by any naturalist capable of forming an independent judgment, and therefore
need not here be further considered.

We can understand why a classification founded on any single character or
organ–even an organ so wonderfully complex and important as the brain–or
on the high development of the mental faculties, is almost sure to prove
unsatisfactory. This principle has indeed been tried with hymenopterous
insects; but when thus classed by their habits or instincts, the
arrangement proved thoroughly artificial. (3. Westwood, ‘Modern
Classification of Insects,’ vol. ii. 1840, p. 87.) Classifications may, of
course, be based on any character whatever, as on size, colour, or the
element inhabited; but naturalists have long felt a profound conviction
that there is a natural system. This system, it is now generally admitted,
must be, as far as possible, genealogical in arrangement,–that is, the co-
descendants of the same form must be kept together in one group, apart from
the co-descendants of any other form; but if the parent-forms are related,
so will be their descendants, and the two groups together will form a
larger group. The amount of difference between the several groups–that is
the amount of modification which each has undergone–is expressed by such
terms as genera, families, orders, and classes. As we have no record of
the lines of descent, the pedigree can be discovered only by observing the
degrees of resemblance between the beings which are to be classed. For
this object numerous points of resemblance are of much more importance than
the amount of similarity or dissimilarity in a few points. If two
languages were found to resemble each other in a multitude of words and
points of construction, they would be universally recognised as having
sprung from a common source, notwithstanding that they differed greatly in
some few words or points of construction. But with organic beings the
points of resemblance must not consist of adaptations to similar habits of
life: two animals may, for instance, have had their whole frames modified
for living in the water, and yet they will not be brought any nearer to
each other in the natural system. Hence we can see how it is that
resemblances in several unimportant structures, in useless and rudimentary
organs, or not now functionally active, or in an embryological condition,
are by far the most serviceable for classification; for they can hardly be
due to adaptations within a late period; and thus they reveal the old lines
of descent or of true affinity.

We can further see why a great amount of modification in some one character
ought not to lead us to separate widely any two organisms. A part which
already differs much from the same part in other allied forms has already,
according to the theory of evolution, varied much; consequently it would
(as long as the organism remained exposed to the same exciting conditions)
be liable to further variations of the same kind; and these, if beneficial,
would be preserved, and thus be continually augmented. In many cases the
continued development of a part, for instance, of the beak of a bird, or of
the teeth of a mammal, would not aid the species in gaining its food, or
for any other object; but with man we can see no definite limit to the
continued development of the brain and mental faculties, as far as
advantage is concerned. Therefore in determining the position of man in
the natural or genealogical system, the extreme development of his brain
ought not to outweigh a multitude of resemblances in other less important
or quite unimportant points.

The greater number of naturalists who have taken into consideration the
whole structure of man, including his mental faculties, have followed
Blumenbach and Cuvier, and have placed man in a separate Order, under the
title of the Bimana, and therefore on an equality with the orders of the
Quadrumana, Carnivora, etc. Recently many of our best naturalists have
recurred to the view first propounded by Linnaeus, so remarkable for his
sagacity, and have placed man in the same Order with the Quadrumana, under
the title of the Primates. The justice of this conclusion will be
admitted: for in the first place, we must bear in mind the comparative
insignificance for classification of the great development of the brain in
man, and that the strongly-marked differences between the skulls of man and
the Quadrumana (lately insisted upon by Bischoff, Aeby, and others)
apparently follow from their differently developed brains. In the second
place, we must remember that nearly all the other and more important
differences between man and the Quadrumana are manifestly adaptive in their
nature, and relate chiefly to the erect position of man; such as the
structure of his hand, foot, and pelvis, the curvature of his spine, and
the position of his head. The family of Seals offers a good illustration
of the small importance of adaptive characters for classification. These
animals differ from all other Carnivora in the form of their bodies and in
the structure of their limbs, far more than does man from the higher apes;
yet in most systems, from that of Cuvier to the most recent one by Mr.
Flower (4. ‘Proceedings Zoological Society,’ 1863, p. 4.), seals are
ranked as a mere family in the Order of the Carnivora. If man had not been
his own classifier, he would never have thought of founding a separate
order for his own reception.

It would be beyond my limits, and quite beyond my knowledge, even to name
the innumerable points of structure in which man agrees with the other
Primates. Our great anatomist and philosopher, Prof. Huxley, has fully
discussed this subject (5. ‘Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature,’ 1863,
p. 70, et passim.), and concludes that man in all parts of his organization
differs less from the higher apes, than these do from the lower members of
the same group. Consequently there “is no justification for placing man in
a distinct order.”

In an early part of this work I brought forward various facts, shewing how
closely man agrees in constitution with the higher mammals; and this
agreement must depend on our close similarity in minute structure and
chemical composition. I gave, as instances, our liability to the same
diseases, and to the attacks of allied parasites; our tastes in common for
the same stimulants, and the similar effects produced by them, as well as
by various drugs, and other such facts.

As small unimportant points of resemblance between man and the Quadrumana
are not commonly noticed in systematic works, and as, when numerous, they
clearly reveal our relationship, I will specify a few such points. The
relative position of our features is manifestly the same; and the various
emotions are displayed by nearly similar movements of the muscles and skin,
chiefly above the eyebrows and round the mouth. Some few expressions are,
indeed, almost the same, as in the weeping of certain kinds of monkeys and
in the laughing noise made by others, during which the corners of the mouth
are drawn backwards, and the lower eyelids wrinkled. The external ears are
curiously alike. In man the nose is much more prominent than in most
monkeys; but we may trace the commencement of an aquiline curvature in the
nose of the Hoolock Gibbon; and this in the Semnopithecus nasica is carried
to a ridiculous extreme.

The faces of many monkeys are ornamented with beards, whiskers, or
moustaches. The hair on the head grows to a great length in some species
of Semnopithecus (6. Isidore Geoffroy St.-Hilaire, ‘Hist. Nat. Gen.’ tom.
ii. 1859, p. 217.); and in the Bonnet monkey (Macacus radiatus) it radiates
from a point on the crown, with a parting down the middle. It is commonly
said that the forehead gives to man his noble and intellectual appearance;
but the thick hair on the head of the Bonnet monkey terminates downwards
abruptly, and is succeeded by hair so short and fine that at a little
distance the forehead, with the exception of the eyebrows, appears quite
naked. It has been erroneously asserted that eyebrows are not present in
any monkey. In the species just named the degree of nakedness of the
forehead differs in different individuals; and Eschricht states (7. ‘Uber
die Richtung der Haare,’ etc., Muller’s ‘Archiv fur Anat. und Phys.’ 1837,
s. 51.) that in our children the limit between the hairy scalp and the
naked forehead is sometimes not well defined; so that here we seem to have
a trifling case of reversion to a progenitor, in whom the forehead had not
as yet become quite naked.

It is well known that the hair on our arms tends to converge from above and
below to a point at the elbow. This curious arrangement, so unlike that in
most of the lower mammals, is common to the gorilla, chimpanzee, orang,
some species of Hylobates, and even to some few American monkeys. But in
Hylobates agilis the hair on the fore-arm is directed downwards or towards
the wrist in the ordinary manner; and in H. lar it is nearly erect, with
only a very slight forward inclination; so that in this latter species it
is in a transitional state. It can hardly be doubted that with most
mammals the thickness of the hair on the back and its direction, is adapted
to throw off the rain; even the transverse hairs on the fore-legs of a dog
may serve for this end when he is coiled up asleep. Mr. Wallace, who has
carefully studied the habits of the orang, remarks that the convergence of
the hair towards the elbow on the arms of the orang may be explained as
serving to throw off the rain, for this animal during rainy weather sits
with its arms bent, and with the hands clasped round a branch or over its
head. According to Livingstone, the gorilla also “sits in pelting rain
with his hands over his head.” (8. Quoted by Reade, ‘The African Sketch
Book,’ vol i. 1873, p. 152.) If the above explanation is correct, as seems
probable, the direction of the hair on our own arms offers a curious record
of our former state; for no one supposes that it is now of any use in
throwing off the rain; nor, in our present erect condition, is it properly
directed for this purpose.

It would, however, be rash to trust too much to the principle of adaptation
in regard to the direction of the hair in man or his early progenitors; for
it is impossible to study the figures given by Eschricht of the arrangement
of the hair on the human foetus (this being the same as in the adult) and
not agree with this excellent observer that other and more complex causes
have intervened. The points of convergence seem to stand in some relation
to those points in the embryo which are last closed in during development.
There appears, also, to exist some relation between the arrangement of the
hair on the limbs, and the course of the medullary arteries. (9. On the
hair in Hylobates, see ‘Natural History of Mammals,’ by C.L. Martin, 1841,
p. 415. Also, Isidore Geoffroy on the American monkeys and other kinds,
‘Hist. Nat. Gen.’ vol. ii. 1859, pp. 216, 243. Eschricht, ibid. s. 46, 55,
61. Owen, ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. iii. p. 619. Wallace,
‘Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection,’ 1870, p. 344.)

It must not be supposed that the resemblances between man and certain apes
in the above and in many other points–such as in having a naked forehead,
long tresses on the head, etc.,–are all necessarily the result of unbroken
inheritance from a common progenitor, or of subsequent reversion. Many of
these resemblances are more probably due to analogous variation, which
follows, as I have elsewhere attempted to shew (10. ‘Origin of Species,’
5th edit. 1869, p.194. ‘The Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication,’ vol. ii. 1868, p. 348.), from co-descended organisms having
a similar constitution, and having been acted on by like causes inducing
similar modifications. With respect to the similar direction of the hair
on the fore-arms of man and certain monkeys, as this character is common to
almost all the anthropomorphous apes, it may probably be attributed to
inheritance; but this is not certain, as some very distinct American
monkeys are thus characterised.

Although, as we have now seen, man has no just right to form a separate
Order for his own reception, he may perhaps claim a distinct Sub-order or
Family. Prof. Huxley, in his last work (11. ‘An Introduction to the
Classification of Animals,’ 1869, p. 99.), divides the primates into three
Sub-orders; namely, the Anthropidae with man alone, the Simiadae including
monkeys of all kinds, and the Lemuridae with the diversified genera of
lemurs. As far as differences in certain important points of structure are
concerned, man may no doubt rightly claim the rank of a Sub-order; and this
rank is too low, if we look chiefly to his mental faculties. Nevertheless,
from a genealogical point of view it appears that this rank is too high,
and that man ought to form merely a Family, or possibly even only a Sub-
family. If we imagine three lines of descent proceeding from a common
stock, it is quite conceivable that two of them might after the lapse of
ages be so slightly changed as still to remain as species of the same
genus, whilst the third line might become so greatly modified as to deserve
to rank as a distinct Sub-family, Family, or even Order. But in this case
it is almost certain that the third line would still retain through
inheritance numerous small points of resemblance with the other two. Here,
then, would occur the difficulty, at present insoluble, how much weight we
ought to assign in our classifications to strongly-marked differences in
some few points,–that is, to the amount of modification undergone; and how
much to close resemblance in numerous unimportant points, as indicating the
lines of descent or genealogy. To attach much weight to the few but strong
differences is the most obvious and perhaps the safest course, though it
appears more correct to pay great attention to the many small resemblances,
as giving a truly natural classification.

In forming a judgment on this head with reference to man, we must glance at
the classification of the Simiadae. This family is divided by almost all
naturalists into the Catarrhine group, or Old World monkeys, all of which
are characterised (as their name expresses) by the peculiar structure of
their nostrils, and by having four premolars in each jaw; and into the
Platyrrhine group or New World monkeys (including two very distinct sub-
groups), all of which are characterised by differently constructed
nostrils, and by having six premolars in each jaw. Some other small
differences might be mentioned. Now man unquestionably belongs in his
dentition, in the structure of his nostrils, and some other respects, to
the Catarrhine or Old World division; nor does he resemble the Platyrrhines
more closely than the Catarrhines in any characters, excepting in a few of
not much importance and apparently of an adaptive nature. It is therefore
against all probability that some New World species should have formerly
varied and produced a man-like creature, with all the distinctive
characters proper to the Old World division; losing at the same time all
its own distinctive characters. There can, consequently, hardly be a doubt
that man is an off-shoot from the Old World Simian stem; and that under a
genealogical point of view he must be classed with the Catarrhine division.
(12. This is nearly the same classification as that provisionally adopted
by Mr. St. George Mivart, (‘Transactions, Philosophical Society,” 1867, p.
300), who, after separating the Lemuridae, divides the remainder of the
Primates into the Hominidae, the Simiadae which answer to the Catarrhines,
the Cebidae, and the Hapalidae,–these two latter groups answering to the
Platyrrhines. Mr. Mivart still abides by the same view; see ‘Nature,’
1871, p. 481.)

The anthropomorphous apes, namely the gorilla, chimpanzee, orang, and
hylobates, are by most naturalists separated from the other Old World
monkeys, as a distinct sub-group. I am aware that Gratiolet, relying on
the structure of the brain, does not admit the existence of this sub-group,
and no doubt it is a broken one. Thus the orang, as Mr. St. G. Mivart
remarks, “is one of the most peculiar and aberrant forms to be found in the
Order.” (13. ‘Transactions, Zoolog. Soc.’ vol. vi. 1867, p. 214.) The
remaining non-anthropomorphous Old World monkeys, are again divided by some
naturalists into two or three smaller sub-groups; the genus Semnopithecus,
with its peculiar sacculated stomach, being the type of one sub-group. But
it appears from M. Gaudry’s wonderful discoveries in Attica, that during
the Miocene period a form existed there, which connected Semnopithecus and
Macacus; and this probably illustrates the manner in which the other and
higher groups were once blended together.

If the anthropomorphous apes be admitted to form a natural sub-group, then
as man agrees with them, not only in all those characters which he
possesses in common with the whole Catarrhine group, but in other peculiar
characters, such as the absence of a tail and of callosities, and in
general appearance, we may infer that some ancient member of the
anthropomorphous sub-group gave birth to man. It is not probable that,
through the law of analogous variation, a member of one of the other lower
sub-groups should have given rise to a man-like creature, resembling the
higher anthropomorphous apes in so many respects. No doubt man, in
comparison with most of his allies, has undergone an extraordinary amount
of modification, chiefly in consequence of the great development of his
brain and his erect position; nevertheless, we should bear in mind that he
“is but one of several exceptional forms of Primates.” (14. Mr. St. G.
Mivart, ‘Transactions of the Philosophical Society,’ 1867, p. 410.)

Every naturalist, who believes in the principle of evolution, will grant
that the two main divisions of the Simiadae, namely the Catarrhine and
Platyrrhine monkeys, with their sub-groups, have all proceeded from some
one extremely ancient progenitor. The early descendants of this
progenitor, before they had diverged to any considerable extent from each
other, would still have formed a single natural group; but some of the
species or incipient genera would have already begun to indicate by their
diverging characters the future distinctive marks of the Catarrhine and
Platyrrhine divisions. Hence the members of this supposed ancient group
would not have been so uniform in their dentition, or in the structure of
their nostrils, as are the existing Catarrhine monkeys in one way and the
Platyrrhines in another way, but would have resembled in this respect the
allied Lemuridae, which differ greatly from each other in the form of their
muzzles (15. Messrs. Murie and Mivart on the Lemuroidea, ‘Transactions,
Zoological Society,’ vol. vii, 1869, p. 5.), and to an extraordinary degree
in their dentition.

The Catarrhine and Platyrrhine monkeys agree in a multitude of characters,
as is shewn by their unquestionably belonging to one and the same Order.
The many characters which they possess in common can hardly have been
independently acquired by so many distinct species; so that these
characters must have been inherited. But a naturalist would undoubtedly
have ranked as an ape or a monkey, an ancient form which possessed many
characters common to the Catarrhine and Platyrrhine monkeys, other
characters in an intermediate condition, and some few, perhaps, distinct
from those now found in either group. And as man from a genealogical point
of view belongs to the Catarrhine or Old World stock, we must conclude,
however much the conclusion may revolt our pride, that our early
progenitors would have been properly thus designated. (16. Haeckel has
come to this same conclusion. See ‘Uber die Entstehung des
Menschengeschlechts,’ in Virchow’s ‘Sammlung. gemein. wissen. Vortrage,’
1868, s. 61. Also his ‘Naturliche Schopfungsgeschicte,’ 1868, in which he
gives in detail his views on the genealogy of man.) But we must not fall
into the error of supposing that the early progenitor of the whole Simian
stock, including man, was identical with, or even closely resembled, any
existing ape or monkey.

ON THE BIRTHPLACE AND ANTIQUITY OF MAN.

We are naturally led to enquire, where was the birthplace of man at that
stage of descent when our progenitors diverged from the Catarrhine stock?
The fact that they belonged to this stock clearly shews that they inhabited
the Old World; but not Australia nor any oceanic island, as we may infer
from the laws of geographical distribution. In each great region of the
world the living mammals are closely related to the extinct species of the
same region. It is therefore probable that Africa was formerly inhabited
by extinct apes closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; and as these
two species are now man’s nearest allies, it is somewhat more probable that
our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere. But
it is useless to speculate on this subject; for two or three
anthropomorphous apes, one the Dryopithecus (17. Dr. C. Forsyth Major,
‘Sur les Singes fossiles trouves en Italie:’ ‘Soc. Ital. des Sc. Nat.’ tom.
xv. 1872.) of Lartet, nearly as large as a man, and closely allied to
Hylobates, existed in Europe during the Miocene age; and since so remote a
period the earth has certainly undergone many great revolutions, and there
has been ample time for migration on the largest scale.

At the period and place, whenever and wherever it was, when man first lost
his hairy covering, he probably inhabited a hot country; a circumstance
favourable for the frugiferous diet on which, judging from analogy, he
subsisted. We are far from knowing how long ago it was when man first
diverged from the Catarrhine stock; but it may have occurred at an epoch as
remote as the Eocene period; for that the higher apes had diverged from the
lower apes as early as the Upper Miocene period is shewn by the existence
of the Dryopithecus. We are also quite ignorant at how rapid a rate
organisms, whether high or low in the scale, may be modified under
favourable circumstances; we know, however, that some have retained the
same form during an enormous lapse of time. From what we see going on
under domestication, we learn that some of the co-descendants of the same
species may be not at all, some a little, and some greatly changed, all
within the same period. Thus it may have been with man, who has undergone
a great amount of modification in certain characters in comparison with the
higher apes.

The great break in the organic chain between man and his nearest allies,
which cannot be bridged over by any extinct or living species, has often
been advanced as a grave objection to the belief that man is descended from
some lower form; but this objection will not appear of much weight to those
who, from general reasons, believe in the general principle of evolution.
Breaks often occur in all parts of the series, some being wide, sharp and
defined, others less so in various degrees; as between the orang and its
nearest allies–between the Tarsius and the other Lemuridae–between the
elephant, and in a more striking manner between the Ornithorhynchus or
Echidna, and all other mammals. But these breaks depend merely on the
number of related forms which have become extinct. At some future period,
not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will
almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the
world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor
Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. ‘Anthropological Review,’ April 1867, p.
236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his
nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a
more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape
as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and
the gorilla.

With respect to the absence of fossil remains, serving to connect man with
his ape-like progenitors, no one will lay much stress on this fact who
reads Sir C. Lyell’s discussion (19. ‘Elements of Geology,’ 1865, pp. 583-
585. ‘Antiquity of Man,’ 1863, p. 145.), where he shews that in all the
vertebrate classes the discovery of fossil remains has been a very slow and
fortuitous process. Nor should it be forgotten that those regions which
are the most likely to afford remains connecting man with some extinct ape-
like creature, have not as yet been searched by geologists.

LOWER STAGES IN THE GENEALOGY OF MAN.

We have seen that man appears to have diverged from the Catarrhine or Old
World division of the Simiadae, after these had diverged from the New World
division. We will now endeavour to follow the remote traces of his
genealogy, trusting principally to the mutual affinities between the
various classes and orders, with some slight reference to the periods, as
far as ascertained, of their successive appearance on the earth. The
Lemuridae stand below and near to the Simiadae, and constitute a very
distinct family of the primates, or, according to Haeckel and others, a
distinct Order. This group is diversified and broken to an extraordinary
degree, and includes many aberrant forms. It has, therefore, probably
suffered much extinction. Most of the remnants survive on islands, such as
Madagascar and the Malayan archipelago, where they have not been exposed to
so severe a competition as they would have been on well-stocked continents.
This group likewise presents many gradations, leading, as Huxley remarks
(20. ‘Man’s Place in Nature,’ p. 105.), “insensibly from the crown and
summit of the animal creation down to creatures from which there is but a
step, as it seems, to the lowest, smallest, and least intelligent of the
placental mammalia.” From these various considerations it is probable that
the Simiadae were originally developed from the progenitors of the existing
Lemuridae; and these in their turn from forms standing very low in the
mammalian series.

The Marsupials stand in many important characters below the placental
mammals. They appeared at an earlier geological period, and their range
was formerly much more extensive than at present. Hence the Placentata are
generally supposed to have been derived from the Implacentata or
Marsupials; not, however, from forms closely resembling the existing
Marsupials, but from their early progenitors. The Monotremata are plainly
allied to the Marsupials, forming a third and still lower division in the
great mammalian series. They are represented at the present day solely by
the Ornithorhynchus and Echidna; and these two forms may be safely
considered as relics of a much larger group, representatives of which have
been preserved in Australia through some favourable concurrence of
circumstances. The Monotremata are eminently interesting, as leading in
several important points of structure towards the class of reptiles.

In attempting to trace the genealogy of the Mammalia, and therefore of man,
lower down in the series, we become involved in greater and greater
obscurity; but as a most capable judge, Mr. Parker, has remarked, we have
good reason to believe, that no true bird or reptile intervenes in the
direct line of descent. He who wishes to see what ingenuity and knowledge
can effect, may consult Prof. Haeckel’s works. (21. Elaborate tables are
given in his ‘Generelle Morphologie’ (B. ii. s. cliii. and s. 425); and
with more especial reference to man in his ‘Naturliche
Schopfungsgeschichte,’ 1868. Prof. Huxley, in reviewing this latter work
(‘The Academy,’ 1869, p. 42) says, that he considers the phylum or lines of
descent of the Vertebrata to be admirably discussed by Haeckel, although he
differs on some points. He expresses, also, his high estimate of the
general tenor and spirit of the whole work.) I will content myself with a
few general remarks. Every evolutionist will admit that the five great
vertebrate classes, namely, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and
fishes, are descended from some one prototype; for they have much in
common, especially during their embryonic state. As the class of fishes is
the most lowly organised, and appeared before the others, we may conclude
that all the members of the vertebrate kingdom are derived from some
fishlike animal. The belief that animals so distinct as a monkey, an
elephant, a humming-bird, a snake, a frog, and a fish, etc., could all have
sprung from the same parents, will appear monstrous to those who have not
attended to the recent progress of natural history. For this belief
implies the former existence of links binding closely together all these
forms, now so utterly unlike.

Nevertheless, it is certain that groups of animals have existed, or do now
exist, which serve to connect several of the great vertebrate classes more
or less closely. We have seen that the Ornithorhynchus graduates towards
reptiles; and Prof. Huxley has discovered, and is confirmed by Mr. Cope and
others, that the Dinosaurians are in many important characters intermediate
between certain reptiles and certain birds–the birds referred to being the
ostrich-tribe (itself evidently a widely-diffused remnant of a larger
group) and the Archeopteryx, that strange Secondary bird, with a long
lizard-like tail. Again, according to Prof. Owen (22. ‘Palaeontology’
1860, p. 199.), the Ichthyosaurians–great sea-lizards furnished with
paddles–present many affinities with fishes, or rather, according to
Huxley, with amphibians; a class which, including in its highest division
frogs and toads, is plainly allied to the Ganoid fishes. These latter
fishes swarmed during the earlier geological periods, and were constructed
on what is called a generalised type, that is, they presented diversified
affinities with other groups of organisms. The Lepidosiren is also so
closely allied to amphibians and fishes, that naturalists long disputed in
which of these two classes to rank it; it, and also some few Ganoid fishes,
have been preserved from utter extinction by inhabiting rivers, which are
harbours of refuge, and are related to the great waters of the ocean in the
same way that islands are to continents.

Lastly, one single member of the immense and diversified class of fishes,
namely, the lancelet or amphioxus, is so different from all other fishes,
that Haeckel maintains that it ought to form a distinct class in the
vertebrate kingdom. This fish is remarkable for its negative characters;
it can hardly be said to possess a brain, vertebral column, or heart, etc.;
so that it was classed by the older naturalists amongst the worms. Many
years ago Prof. Goodsir perceived that the lancelet presented some
affinities with the Ascidians, which are invertebrate, hermaphrodite,
marine creatures permanently attached to a support. They hardly appear
like animals, and consist of a simple, tough, leathery sack, with two small
projecting orifices. They belong to the Mulluscoida of Huxley–a lower
division of the great kingdom of the Mollusca; but they have recently been
placed by some naturalists amongst the Vermes or worms. Their larvae
somewhat resemble tadpoles in shape (23. At the Falkland Islands I had the
satisfaction of seeing, in April, 1833, and therefore some years before any
other naturalist, the locomotive larvae of a compound Ascidian, closely
allied to Synoicum, but apparently generically distinct from it. The tail
was about five times as long as the oblong head, and terminated in a very
fine filament. It was, as sketched by me under a simple microscope,
plainly divided by transverse opaque partitions, which I presume represent
the great cells figured by Kovalevsky. At an early stage of development
the tail was closely coiled round the head of the larva.), and have the
power of swimming freely about. Mr. Kovalevsky (24. ‘Memoires de l’Acad.
des Sciences de St. Petersbourg,’ tom. x. No. 15, 1866.) has lately
observed that the larvae of Ascidians are related to the Vertebrata, in
their manner of development, in the relative position of the nervous
system, and in possessing a structure closely like the chorda dorsalis of
vertebrate animals; and in this he has been since confirmed by Prof.
Kupffer. M. Kovalevsky writes to me from Naples, that he has now carried
these observations yet further, and should his results be well established,
the whole will form a discovery of the very greatest value. Thus, if we
may rely on embryology, ever the safest guide in classification, it seems
that we have at last gained a clue to the source whence the Vertebrata were
derived. (25. But I am bound to add that some competent judges dispute
this conclusion; for instance, M. Giard, in a series of papers in the
‘Archives de Zoologie Experimentale,’ for 1872. Nevertheless, this
naturalist remarks, p. 281, “L’organisation de la larve ascidienne en
dehors de toute hypothese et de toute theorie, nous montre comment la
nature peut produire la disposition fondamentale du type vertebre
(l’existence d’une corde dorsale) chez un invertebre par la seule condition
vitale de l’adaptation, et cette simple possibilite du passage supprime
l’abime entre les deux sous-regnes, encore bien qu’en ignore par ou le
passage s’est fait en realite.”) We should then be justified in believing
that at an extremely remote period a group of animals existed, resembling
in many respects the larvae of our present Ascidians, which diverged into
two great branches–the one retrograding in development and producing the
present class of Ascidians, the other rising to the crown and summit of the
animal kingdom by giving birth to the Vertebrata.

We have thus far endeavoured rudely to trace the genealogy of the
Vertebrata by the aid of their mutual affinities. We will now look to man
as he exists; and we shall, I think, be able partially to restore the
structure of our early progenitors, during successive periods, but not in
due order of time. This, can be effected by means of the rudiments which
man still retains, by the characters which occasionally make their
appearance in him through reversion, and by the aid of the principles of
morphology and embryology. The various facts, to which I shall here
allude, have been given in the previous chapters.

The early progenitors of man must have been once covered with hair, both
sexes having beards; their ears were probably pointed, and capable of
movement; and their bodies were provided with a tail, having the proper
muscles. Their limbs and bodies were also acted on by many muscles which
now only occasionally reappear, but are normally present in the Quadrumana.
At this or some earlier period, the great artery and nerve of the humerus
ran through a supra-condyloid foramen. The intestine gave forth a much
larger diverticulum or caecum than that now existing. The foot was then
prehensile, judging from the condition of the great toe in the foetus; and
our progenitors, no doubt, were arboreal in their habits, and frequented
some warm, forest-clad land. The males had great canine teeth, which
served them as formidable weapons. At a much earlier period the uterus was
double; the excreta were voided through a cloaca; and the eye was protected
by a third eyelid or nictitating membrane. At a still earlier period the
progenitors of man must have been aquatic in their habits; for morphology
plainly tells us that our lungs consist of a modified swim-bladder, which
once served as a float. The clefts on the neck in the embryo of man shew
where the branchiae once existed. In the lunar or weekly recurrent periods
of some of our functions we apparently still retain traces of our
primordial birthplace, a shore washed by the tides. At about this same
early period the true kidneys were replaced by the corpora wolffiana. The
heart existed as a simple pulsating vessel; and the chorda dorsalis took
the place of a vertebral column. These early ancestors of man, thus seen
in the dim recesses of time, must have been as simply, or even still more
simply organised than the lancelet or amphioxus.

There is one other point deserving a fuller notice. It has long been known
that in the vertebrate kingdom one sex bears rudiments of various accessory
parts, appertaining to the reproductive system, which properly belong to
the opposite sex; and it has now been ascertained that at a very early
embryonic period both sexes possess true male and female glands. Hence
some remote progenitor of the whole vertebrate kingdom appears to have been
hermaphrodite or androgynous. (26. This is the conclusion of Prof.
Gegenbaur, one of the highest authorities in comparative anatomy: see
‘Grundzuge der vergleich. Anat.’ 1870, s. 876. The result has been arrived
at chiefly from the study of the Amphibia; but it appears from the
researches of Waldeyer (as quoted in ‘Journal of Anat. and Phys.’ 1869, p.
161), that the sexual organs of even “the higher vertebrata are, in their
early condition, hermaphrodite.” Similar views have long been held by some
authors, though until recently without a firm basis.) But here we
encounter a singular difficulty. In the mammalian class the males possess
rudiments of a uterus with the adjacent passage, in their vesiculae
prostaticae; they bear also rudiments of mammae, and some male Marsupials
have traces of a marsupial sack. (27. The male Thylacinus offers the best
instance. Owen, ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. iii. p. 771.) Other
analogous facts could be added. Are we, then, to suppose that some
extremely ancient mammal continued androgynous, after it had acquired the
chief distinctions of its class, and therefore after it had diverged from
the lower classes of the vertebrate kingdom? This seems very improbable,
for we have to look to fishes, the lowest of all the classes, to find any
still existent androgynous forms. (28. Hermaphroditism has been observed
in several species of Serranus, as well as in some other fishes, where it
is either normal and symmetrical, or abnormal and unilateral. Dr.
Zouteveen has given me references on this subject, more especially to a
paper by Prof. Halbertsma, in the ‘Transact. of the Dutch Acad. of
Sciences,’ vol. xvi. Dr. Gunther doubts the fact, but it has now been
recorded by too many good observers to be any longer disputed. Dr. M.
Lessona writes to me, that he has verified the observations made by
Cavolini on Serranus. Prof. Ercolani has recently shewn (‘Accad. delle
Scienze,’ Bologna, Dec. 28, 1871) that eels are androgynous.) That various
accessory parts, proper to each sex, are found in a rudimentary condition
in the opposite sex, may be explained by such organs having been gradually
acquired by the one sex, and then transmitted in a more or less imperfect
state to the other. When we treat of sexual selection, we shall meet with
innumerable instances of this form of transmission,–as in the case of the
spurs, plumes, and brilliant colours, acquired for battle or ornament by
male birds, and inherited by the females in an imperfect or rudimentary
condition.

The possession by male mammals of functionally imperfect mammary organs is,
in some respects, especially curious. The Monotremata have the proper
milk-secreting glands with orifices, but no nipples; and as these animals
stand at the very base of the mammalian series, it is probable that the
progenitors of the class also had milk-secreting glands, but no nipples.
This conclusion is supported by what is known of their manner of
development; for Professor Turner informs me, on the authority of Kolliker
and Langer, that in the embryo the mammary glands can be distinctly traced
before the nipples are in the least visible; and the development of
successive parts in the individual generally represents and accords with
the development of successive beings in the same line of descent. The
Marsupials differ from the Monotremata by possessing nipples; so that
probably these organs were first acquired by the Marsupials, after they had
diverged from, and risen above, the Monotremata, and were then transmitted
to the placental mammals. (29. Prof. Gegenbaur has shewn (‘Jenaische
Zeitschrift,’ Bd. vii. p. 212) that two distinct types of nipples prevail
throughout the several mammalian orders, but that it is quite intelligible
how both could have been derived from the nipples of the Marsupials, and
the latter from those of the Monotremata. See, also, a memoir by Dr. Max
Huss, on the mammary glands, ibid. B. viii. p. 176.) No one will suppose
that the marsupials still remained androgynous, after they had
approximately acquired their present structure. How then are we to account
for male mammals possessing mammae? It is possible that they were first
developed in the females and then transferred to the males, but from what
follows this is hardly probable.

It may be suggested, as another view, that long after the progenitors of
the whole mammalian class had ceased to be androgynous, both sexes yielded
milk, and thus nourished their young; and in the case of the Marsupials,
that both sexes carried their young in marsupial sacks. This will not
appear altogether improbable, if we reflect that the males of existing
syngnathous fishes receive the eggs of the females in their abdominal
pouches, hatch them, and afterwards, as some believe, nourish the young
(30. Mr. Lockwood believes (as quoted in ‘Quart. Journal of Science,’
April 1868, p. 269), from what he has observed of the development of
Hippocampus, that the walls of the abdominal pouch of the male in some way
afford nourishment. On male fishes hatching the ova in their mouths, see a
very interesting paper by Prof. Wyman, in ‘Proc. Boston Soc. of Nat. Hist.’
Sept. 15, 1857; also Prof. Turner, in ‘Journal of Anatomy and Physiology,’
Nov. 1, 1866, p. 78. Dr. Gunther has likewise described similar cases.);–
that certain other male fishes hatch the eggs within their mouths or
branchial cavities;–that certain male toads take the chaplets of eggs from
the females, and wind them round their own thighs, keeping them there until
the tadpoles are born;–that certain male birds undertake the whole duty of
incubation, and that male pigeons, as well as the females, feed their
nestlings with a secretion from their crops. But the above suggestion
first occurred to me from mammary glands of male mammals being so much more
perfectly developed than the rudiments of the other accessory reproductive
parts, which are found in the one sex though proper to the other. The
mammary glands and nipples, as they exist in male mammals, can indeed
hardly be called rudimentary; they are merely not fully developed, and not
functionally active. They are sympathetically affected under the influence
of certain diseases, like the same organs in the female. They often
secrete a few drops of milk at birth and at puberty: this latter fact
occurred in the curious case, before referred to, where a young man
possessed two pairs of mammae. In man and some other male mammals these
organs have been known occasionally to become so well developed during
maturity as to yield a fair supply of milk. Now if we suppose that during
a former prolonged period male mammals aided the females in nursing their
offspring (31. Mlle. C. Royer has suggested a similar view in her ‘Origine
de l’homme,’ etc., 1870.), and that afterwards from some cause (as from the
production of a smaller number of young) the males ceased to give this aid,
disuse of the organs during maturity would lead to their becoming inactive;
and from two well-known principles of inheritance, this state of inactivity
would probably be transmitted to the males at the corresponding age of
maturity. But at an earlier age these organs would be left unaffected, so
that they would be almost equally well developed in the young of both
sexes.

CONCLUSION.

Von Baer has defined advancement or progress in the organic scale better
than any one else, as resting on the amount of differentiation and
specialisation of the several parts of a being,–when arrived at maturity,
as I should be inclined to add. Now as organisms have become slowly
adapted to diversified lines of life by means of natural selection, their
parts will have become more and more differentiated and specialised for
various functions from the advantage gained by the division of
physiological labour. The same part appears often to have been modified
first for one purpose, and then long afterwards for some other and quite
distinct purpose; and thus all the parts are rendered more and more
complex. But each organism still retains the general type of structure of
the progenitor from which it was aboriginally derived. In accordance with
this view it seems, if we turn to geological evidence, that organisation on
the whole has advanced throughout the world by slow and interrupted steps.
In the great kingdom of the Vertebrata it has culminated in man. It must
not, however, be supposed that groups of organic beings are always
supplanted, and disappear as soon as they have given birth to other and
more perfect groups. The latter, though victorious over their
predecessors, may not have become better adapted for all places in the
economy of nature. Some old forms appear to have survived from inhabiting
protected sites, where they have not been exposed to very severe
competition; and these often aid us in constructing our genealogies, by
giving us a fair idea of former and lost populations. But we must not fall
into the error of looking at the existing members of any lowly-organised
group as perfect representatives of their ancient predecessors.

The most ancient progenitors in the kingdom of the Vertebrata, at which we
are able to obtain an obscure glance, apparently consisted of a group of
marine animals (32. The inhabitants of the seashore must be greatly
affected by the tides; animals living either about the MEAN high-water
mark, or about the MEAN low-water mark, pass through a complete cycle of
tidal changes in a fortnight. Consequently, their food supply will undergo
marked changes week by week. The vital functions of such animals, living
under these conditions for many generations, can hardly fail to run their
course in regular weekly periods. Now it is a mysterious fact that in the
higher and now terrestrial Vertebrata, as well as in other classes, many
normal and abnormal processes have one or more whole weeks as their
periods; this would be rendered intelligible if the Vertebrata are
descended from an animal allied to the existing tidal Ascidians. Many
instances of such periodic processes might be given, as the gestation of
mammals, the duration of fevers, etc. The hatching of eggs affords also a
good example, for, according to Mr. Bartlett (‘Land and Water,’ Jan. 7,
1871), the eggs of the pigeon are hatched in two weeks; those of the fowl
in three; those of the duck in four; those of the goose in five; and those
of the ostrich in seven weeks. As far as we can judge, a recurrent period,
if approximately of the right duration for any process or function, would
not, when once gained, be liable to change; consequently it might be thus
transmitted through almost any number of generations. But if the function
changed, the period would have to change, and would be apt to change almost
abruptly by a whole week. This conclusion, if sound, is highly remarkable;
for the period of gestation in each mammal, and the hatching of each bird’s
eggs, and many other vital processes, thus betray to us the primordial
birthplace of these animals.), resembling the larvae of existing Ascidians.
These animals probably gave rise to a group of fishes, as lowly organised
as the lancelet; and from these the Ganoids, and other fishes like the
Lepidosiren, must have been developed. From such fish a very small advance
would carry us on to the Amphibians. We have seen that birds and reptiles
were once intimately connected together; and the Monotremata now connect
mammals with reptiles in a slight degree. But no one can at present say by
what line of descent the three higher and related classes, namely, mammals,
birds, and reptiles, were derived from the two lower vertebrate classes,
namely, amphibians and fishes. In the class of mammals the steps are not
difficult to conceive which led from the ancient Monotremata to the ancient
Marsupials; and from these to the early progenitors of the placental
mammals. We may thus ascend to the Lemuridae; and the interval is not very
wide from these to the Simiadae. The Simiadae then branched off into two
great stems, the New World and Old World monkeys; and from the latter, at a
remote period, Man, the wonder and glory of the Universe, proceeded.

Thus we have given to man a pedigree of prodigious length, but not, it may
be said, of noble quality. The world, it has often been remarked, appears
as if it had long been preparing for the advent of man: and this, in one
sense is strictly true, for he owes his birth to a long line of
progenitors. If any single link in this chain had never existed, man would
not have been exactly what he now is. Unless we wilfully close our eyes,
we may, with our present knowledge, approximately recognise our parentage;
nor need we feel ashamed of it. The most humble organism is something much
higher than the inorganic dust under our feet; and no one with an unbiassed
mind can study any living creature, however humble, without being struck
with enthusiasm at its marvellous structure and properties.

The Descent Of Man

Chapter XIX

SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERS OF MAN.

Differences between man and woman–Causes of such differences and of
certain characters common to both sexes–Law of battle–Differences in
mental powers, and voice–On the influence of beauty in determining the
marriages of mankind–Attention paid by savages to ornaments–Their ideas
of beauty in woman–The tendency to exaggerate each natural peculiarity.

With mankind the differences between the sexes are greater than in most of
the Quadrumana, but not so great as in some, for instance, the mandrill.
Man on an average is considerably taller, heavier, and stronger than woman,
with squarer shoulders and more plainly-pronounced muscles. Owing to the
relation which exists between muscular development and the projection of
the brows (1. Schaaffhausen, translation in ‘Anthropological Review,’ Oct.

Anthropology is the branch of science which deals with the study about human being from different aspects of life like human behavior, evolution history, biology and many other aspects of human experience. The study of past of human life is also known as archeology. Anthropology is subdivided into social anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistic anthropology. Click website here to learn more.

1868, pp. 419, 420, 427.), the superciliary ridge is generally more marked
in man than in woman. His body, and especially his face, is more hairy,
and his voice has a different and more powerful tone. In certain races the
women are said to differ slightly in tint from the men. For instance,
Schweinfurth, in speaking of a negress belonging to the Monbuttoos, who
inhabit the interior of Africa a few degrees north of the equator, says,
“Like all her race, she had a skin several shades lighter than her
husband’s, being something of the colour of half-roasted coffee.” (2. ‘The
Heart of Africa,’ English transl. 1873, vol i. p. 544.) As the women
labour in the fields and are quite unclothed, it is not likely that they
differ in colour from the men owing to less exposure to the weather.
European women are perhaps the brighter coloured of the two sexes, as may
be seen when both have been equally exposed.

Man is more courageous, pugnacious and energetic than woman, and has a more
inventive genius. His brain is absolutely larger, but whether or not
proportionately to his larger body, has not, I believe, been fully
ascertained. In woman the face is rounder; the jaws and the base of the
skull smaller; the outlines of the body rounder, in parts more prominent;
and her pelvis is broader than in man (3. Ecker, translation, in
‘Anthropological Review,’ Oct. 1868, pp. 351-356. The comparison of the
form of the skull in men and women has been followed out with much care by
Welcker.); but this latter character may perhaps be considered rather as a
primary than a secondary sexual character. She comes to maturity at an
earlier age than man.

As with animals of all classes, so with man, the distinctive characters of
the male sex are not fully developed until he is nearly mature; and if
emasculated they never appear. The beard, for instance, is a secondary
sexual character, and male children are beardless, though at an early age
they have abundant hair on the head. It is probably due to the rather late
appearance in life of the successive variations whereby man has acquired
his masculine characters, that they are transmitted to the male sex alone.
Male and female children resemble each other closely, like the young of so
many other animals in which the adult sexes differ widely; they likewise
resemble the mature female much more closely than the mature male. The
female, however, ultimately assumes certain distinctive characters, and in
the formation of her skull, is said to be intermediate between the child
and the man. (4. Ecker and Welcker, ibid. pp. 352, 355; Vogt, ‘Lectures
on Man,’ Eng. translat. p. 81.) Again, as the young of closely allied
though distinct species do not differ nearly so much from each other as do
the adults, so it is with the children of the different races of man. Some
have even maintained that race-differences cannot be detected in the
infantile skull. (5. Schaaffhausen, ‘Anthropolog. Review,’ ibid. p. 429.)
In regard to colour, the new-born negro child is reddish nut-brown, which
soon becomes slaty-grey; the black colour being fully developed within a
year in the Soudan, but not until three years in Egypt. The eyes of the
negro are at first blue, and the hair chestnut-brown rather than black,
being curled only at the ends. The children of the Australians immediately
after birth are yellowish-brown, and become dark at a later age. Those of
the Guaranys of Paraguay are whitish-yellow, but they acquire in the course
of a few weeks the yellowish-brown tint of their parents. Similar
observations have been made in other parts of America. (6. Pruner-Bey, on
negro infants as quoted by Vogt, ‘Lectures on Man,’ Eng. translat. 1864, p.
189: for further facts on negro infants, as quoted from Winterbottom and
Camper, see Lawrence, ‘Lectures on Physiology,’ etc. 1822, p. 451. For the
infants of the Guaranys, see Rengger, ‘Saugethiere,’ etc. s. 3. See also
Godron, ‘De l’Espece,’ tom. ii. 1859, p. 253. For the Australians, Waitz,
‘Introduction to Anthropology,’ Eng. translat. 1863, p. 99.)

I have specified the foregoing differences between the male and female sex
in mankind, because they are curiously like those of the Quadrumana. With
these animals the female is mature at an earlier age than the male; at
least this is certainly the case in Cebus azarae. (7. Rengger,
‘Saugethiere,’ etc., 1830, s. 49.) The males of most species are larger
and stronger than the females, of which fact the gorilla affords a well-
known instance. Even in so trifling a character as the greater prominence
of the superciliary ridge, the males of certain monkeys differ from the
females (8. As in Macacus cynomolgus (Desmarest, ‘Mammalogie,’ p. 65), and
in Hylobates agilis (Geoffroy St.-Hilaire and F. Cuvier, ‘Histoire Nat. des
Mammiferes,’ 1824, tom. i. p. 2).), and agree in this respect with mankind.
In the gorilla and certain other monkeys, the cranium of the adult male
presents a strongly-marked sagittal crest, which is absent in the female;
and Ecker found a trace of a similar difference between the two sexes in
the Australians. (9. ‘Anthropological Review,’ Oct. 1868, p. 353.) With
monkeys when there is any difference in the voice, that of the male is the
more powerful. We have seen that certain male monkeys have a well-
developed beard, which is quite deficient, or much less developed in the
female. No instance is known of the beard, whiskers, or moustache being
larger in the female than in the male monkey. Even in the colour of the
beard there is a curious parallelism between man and the Quadrumana, for
with man when the beard differs in colour from the hair of the head, as is
commonly the case, it is, I believe, almost always of a lighter tint, being
often reddish. I have repeatedly observed this fact in England; but two
gentlemen have lately written to me, saying that they form an exception to
the rule. One of these gentlemen accounts for the fact by the wide
difference in colour of the hair on the paternal and maternal sides of his
family. Both had been long aware of this peculiarity (one of them having
often been accused of dyeing his beard), and had been thus led to observe
other men, and were convinced that the exceptions were very rare. Dr.
Hooker attended to this little point for me in Russia, and found no
exception to the rule. In Calcutta, Mr. J. Scott, of the Botanic Gardens,
was so kind as to observe the many races of men to be seen there, as well
as in some other parts of India, namely, two races of Sikhim, the Bhoteas,
Hindoos, Burmese, and Chinese, most of which races have very little hair on
the face; and he always found that when there was any difference in colour
between the hair of the head and the beard, the latter was invariably
lighter. Now with monkeys, as has already been stated, the beard
frequently differs strikingly in colour from the hair of the head, and in
such cases it is always of a lighter hue, being often pure white, sometimes
yellow or reddish. (10. Mr. Blyth informs me that he has only seen one
instance of the beard, whiskers, etc., in a monkey becoming white with old
age, as is so commonly the case with us. This, however, occurred in an
aged Macacus cynomolgus, kept in confinement whose moustaches were
“remarkably long and human-like.” Altogether this old monkey presented a
ludicrous resemblance to one of the reigning monarchs of Europe, after whom
he was universally nick-named. In certain races of man the hair on the
head hardly ever becomes grey; thus Mr. D. Forbes has never, as he informs
me, seen an instance with the Aymaras and Quichuas of South America.)

In regard to the general hairiness of the body, the women in all races are
less hairy than the men; and in some few Quadrumana the under side of the
body of the female is less hairy than that of the male. (11. This is the
case with the females of several species of Hylobates; see Geoffroy St.-
Hilaire and F. Cuvier, ‘Hist. Nat. des Mamm.’ tom. i. See also, on H. lar,
‘Penny Cyclopedia,’ vol. ii. pp. 149, 150.) Lastly, male monkeys, like
men, are bolder and fiercer than the females. They lead the troop, and
when there is danger, come to the front. We thus see how close is the
parallelism between the sexual differences of man and the Quadrumana. With
some few species, however, as with certain baboons, the orang and the
gorilla, there is a considerably greater difference between the sexes, as
in the size of the canine teeth, in the development and colour of the hair,
and especially in the colour of the naked parts of the skin, than in
mankind.

All the secondary sexual characters of man are highly variable, even within
the limits of the same race; and they differ much in the several races.
These two rules hold good generally throughout the animal kingdom. In the
excellent observations made on board the Novara (12. The results were
deduced by Dr. Weisbach from the measurements made by Drs. K. Scherzer and
Schwarz, see ‘Reise der Novara: Anthropolog. Theil,’ 1867, ss. 216, 231,
234, 236, 239, 269.), the male Australians were found to exceed the females
by only 65 millim. in height, whilst with the Javans the average excess was
218 millim.; so that in this latter race the difference in height between
the sexes is more than thrice as great as with the Australians. Numerous
measurements were carefully made of the stature, the circumference of the
neck and chest, the length of the back-bone and of the arms, in various
races; and nearly all these measurements shew that the males differ much
more from one another than do the females. This fact indicates that, as
far as these characters are concerned, it is the male which has been
chiefly modified, since the several races diverged from their common stock.

The development of the beard and the hairiness of the body differ
remarkably in the men of distinct races, and even in different tribes or
families of the same race. We Europeans see this amongst ourselves. In
the Island of St. Kilda, according to Martin (13. ‘Voyage to St. Kilda’
(3rd ed. 1753), p. 37.), the men do not acquire beards until the age of
thirty or upwards, and even then the beards are very thin. On the
Europaeo-Asiatic continent, beards prevail until we pass beyond India;
though with the natives of Ceylon they are often absent, as was noticed in
ancient times by Diodorus. (14. Sir J.E. Tennent, ‘Ceylon,’ vol. ii.
1859, p. 107.) Eastward of India beards disappear, as with the Siamese,
Malays, Kalmucks, Chinese, and Japanese; nevertheless, the Ainos (15.
Quatrefages, ‘Revue des Cours Scientifiques,’ Aug. 29, 1868, p. 630; Vogt,
‘Lectures on Man,’ Eng. trans. p. 127.), who inhabit the northernmost
islands of the Japan Archipelago, are the hairiest men in the world. With
negroes the beard is scanty or wanting, and they rarely have whiskers; in
both sexes the body is frequently almost destitute of fine down. (16. On
the beards of negroes, Vogt, ‘Lectures,’ etc. p. 127; Waitz, ‘Introduct. to
Anthropology,’ Engl. translat. 1863, vol. i. p. 96. It is remarkable that
in the United States (‘Investigations in Military and Anthropological
Statistics of American Soldiers,’ 1869, p. 569) the pure negroes and their
crossed offspring seem to have bodies almost as hairy as Europeans.) On
the other hand, the Papuans of the Malay Archipelago, who are nearly as
black as negroes, possess well-developed beards. (17. Wallace, ‘The Malay
Arch.’ vol. ii. 1869, p. 178.) In the Pacific Ocean the inhabitants of the
Fiji Archipelago have large bushy beards, whilst those of the not distant
archipelagoes of Tonga and Samoa are beardless; but these men belong to
distinct races. In the Ellice group all the inhabitants belong to the same
race; yet on one island alone, namely Nunemaya, “the men have splendid
beards”; whilst on the other islands “they have, as a rule, a dozen
straggling hairs for a beard.” (18. Dr. J. Barnard Davis on Oceanic
Races, in ‘Anthropological Review,’ April 1870, pp. 185, 191.)

Throughout the great American continent the men may be said to be
beardless; but in almost all the tribes a few short hairs are apt to appear
on the face, especially in old age. With the tribes of North America,
Catlin estimates that eighteen out of twenty men are completely destitute
by nature of a beard; but occasionally there may be seen a man, who has
neglected to pluck out the hairs at puberty, with a soft beard an inch or
two in length. The Guaranys of Paraguay differ from all the surrounding
tribes in having a small beard, and even some hair on the body, but no
whiskers. (19. Catlin, ‘North American Indians,’ 3rd. ed. 1842, vol. ii.
p. 227. On the Guaranys, see Azara, ‘Voyages dans l’Amerique Merid.’ tom.
ii. 1809, p. 85; also Rengger, ‘Saugethiere von Paraguay,’ s. 3.) I am
informed by Mr. D. Forbes, who particularly attended to this point, that
the Aymaras and Quichuas of the Cordillera are remarkably hairless, yet in
old age a few straggling hairs occasionally appear on the chin. The men of
these two tribes have very little hair on the various parts of the body
where hair grows abundantly in Europeans, and the women have none on the
corresponding parts. The hair on the head, however, attains an
extraordinary length in both sexes, often reaching almost to the ground;
and this is likewise the case with some of the N. American tribes. In the
amount of hair, and in the general shape of the body, the sexes of the
American aborigines do not differ so much from each other, as in most other
races. (20. Prof. and Mrs. Agassiz (‘Journey in Brazil,’ p. 530) remark
that the sexes of the American Indians differ less than those of the
negroes and of the higher races. See also Rengger, ibid. p. 3, on the
Guaranys.) This fact is analogous with what occurs with some closely
allied monkeys; thus the sexes of the chimpanzee are not as different as
those of the orang or gorilla. (21. Rutimeyer, ‘Die Grenzen der
Thierwelt; eine Betrachtung zu Darwin’s Lehre,’ 1868, s. 54.)

In the previous chapters we have seen that with mammals, birds, fishes,
insects, etc., many characters, which there is every reason to believe were
primarily gained through sexual selection by one sex, have been transferred
to the other. As this same form of transmission has apparently prevailed
much with mankind, it will save useless repetition if we discuss the origin
of characters peculiar to the male sex together with certain other
characters common to both sexes.

LAW OF BATTLE.

With savages, for instance, the Australians, the women are the constant
cause of war both between members of the same tribe and between distinct
tribes. So no doubt it was in ancient times; “nam fuit ante Helenam mulier
teterrima belli causa.” With some of the North American Indians, the
contest is reduced to a system. That excellent observer, Hearne (22. ‘A
Journey from Prince of Wales Fort,’ 8vo. ed. Dublin, 1796, p. 104. Sir J.
Lubbock (‘Origin of Civilisation,’ 1870, p. 69) gives other and similar
cases in North America. For the Guanas of South America see Azara,
‘Voyages,’ etc. tom. ii. p. 94.), says:–“It has ever been the custom among
these people for the men to wrestle for any woman to whom they are
attached; and, of course, the strongest party always carries off the prize.
A weak man, unless he be a good hunter, and well-beloved, is seldom
permitted to keep a wife that a stronger man thinks worth his notice. This
custom prevails throughout all the tribes, and causes a great spirit of
emulation among their youth, who are upon all occasions, from their
childhood, trying their strength and skill in wrestling.” With the Guanas
of South America, Azara states that the men rarely marry till twenty years
old or more, as before that age they cannot conquer their rivals.

Other similar facts could be given; but even if we had no evidence on this
head, we might feel almost sure, from the analogy of the higher Quadrumana
(23. On the fighting of the male gorillas, see Dr. Savage, in ‘Boston
Journal of Natural History,’ vol. v. 1847, p. 423. On Presbytis entellus,
see the ‘Indian Field,’ 1859, p. 146.), that the law of battle had
prevailed with man during the early stages of his development. The
occasional appearance at the present day of canine teeth which project
above the others, with traces of a diastema or open space for the reception
of the opposite canines, is in all probability a case of reversion to a
former state, when the progenitors of man were provided with these weapons,
like so many existing male Quadrumana. It was remarked in a former chapter
that as man gradually became erect, and continually used his hands and arms
for fighting with sticks and stones, as well as for the other purposes of
life, he would have used his jaws and teeth less and less. The jaws,
together with their muscles, would then have been reduced through disuse,
as would the teeth through the not well understood principles of
correlation and economy of growth; for we everywhere see that parts, which
are no longer of service, are reduced in size. By such steps the original
inequality between the jaws and teeth in the two sexes of mankind would
ultimately have been obliterated. The case is almost parallel with that of
many male Ruminants, in which the canine teeth have been reduced to mere
rudiments, or have disappeared, apparently in consequence of the
development of horns. As the prodigious difference between the skulls of
the two sexes in the orang and gorilla stands in close relation with the
development of the immense canine teeth in the males, we may infer that the
reduction of the jaws and teeth in the early male progenitors of man must
have led to a most striking and favourable change in his appearance.

There can be little doubt that the greater size and strength of man, in
comparison with woman, together with his broader shoulders, more developed
muscles, rugged outline of body, his greater courage and pugnacity, are all
due in chief part to inheritance from his half-human male ancestors. These
characters would, however, have been preserved or even augmented during the
long ages of man’s savagery, by the success of the strongest and boldest
men, both in the general struggle for life and in their contests for wives;
a success which would have ensured their leaving a more numerous progeny
than their less favoured brethren. It is not probable that the greater
strength of man was primarily acquired through the inherited effects of his
having worked harder than woman for his own subsistence and that of his
family; for the women in all barbarous nations are compelled to work at
least as hard as the men. With civilised people the arbitrament of battle
for the possession of the women has long ceased; on the other hand, the
men, as a general rule, have to work harder than the women for their joint
subsistence, and thus their greater strength will have been kept up.

DIFFERENCE IN THE MENTAL POWERS OF THE TWO SEXES.

With respect to differences of this nature between man and woman, it is
probable that sexual selection has played a highly important part. I am
aware that some writers doubt whether there is any such inherent
difference; but this is at least probable from the analogy of the lower
animals which present other secondary sexual characters. No one disputes
that the bull differs in disposition from the cow, the wild-boar from the
sow, the stallion from the mare, and, as is well known to the keepers of
menageries, the males of the larger apes from the females. Woman seems to
differ from man in mental disposition, chiefly in her greater tenderness
and less selfishness; and this holds good even with savages, as shewn by a
well-known passage in Mungo Park’s Travels, and by statements made by many
other travellers. Woman, owing to her maternal instincts, displays these
qualities towards her infants in an eminent degree; therefore it is likely
that she would often extend them towards her fellow-creatures. Man is the
rival of other men; he delights in competition, and this leads to ambition
which passes too easily into selfishness. These latter qualities seem to
be his natural and unfortunate birthright. It is generally admitted that
with woman the powers of intuition, of rapid perception, and perhaps of
imitation, are more strongly marked than in man; but some, at least, of
these faculties are characteristic of the lower races, and therefore of a
past and lower state of civilisation.

The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shewn
by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can
woman–whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely
the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most
eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive both
of composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with
half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear
comparison. We may also infer, from the law of the deviation from
averages, so well illustrated by Mr. Galton, in his work on ‘Hereditary
Genius,’ that if men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in
many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of
woman.

Amongst the half-human progenitors of man, and amongst savages, there have
been struggles between the males during many generations for the possession
of the females. But mere bodily strength and size would do little for
victory, unless associated with courage, perseverance, and determined
energy. With social animals, the young males have to pass through many a
contest before they win a female, and the older males have to retain their
females by renewed battles. They have, also, in the case of mankind, to
defend their females, as well as their young, from enemies of all kinds,
and to hunt for their joint subsistence. But to avoid enemies or to attack
them with success, to capture wild animals, and to fashion weapons,
requires the aid of the higher mental faculties, namely, observation,
reason, invention, or imagination. These various faculties will thus have
been continually put to the test and selected during manhood; they will,
moreover, have been strengthened by use during this same period of life.
Consequently in accordance with the principle often alluded to, we might
expect that they would at least tend to be transmitted chiefly to the male
offspring at the corresponding period of manhood.

Now, when two men are put into competition, or a man with a woman, both
possessed of every mental quality in equal perfection, save that one has
higher energy, perseverance, and courage, the latter will generally become
more eminent in every pursuit, and will gain the ascendancy. (24. J.
Stuart Mill remarks (‘The Subjection of Women,’ 1869, p. 122), “The things
in which man most excels woman are those which require most plodding, and
long hammering at single thoughts.” What is this but energy and
perseverance?) He may be said to possess genius–for genius has been
declared by a great authority to be patience; and patience, in this sense,
means unflinching, undaunted perseverance. But this view of genius is
perhaps deficient; for without the higher powers of the imagination and
reason, no eminent success can be gained in many subjects. These latter
faculties, as well as the former, will have been developed in man, partly
through sexual selection,–that is, through the contest of rival males, and
partly through natural selection, that is, from success in the general
struggle for life; and as in both cases the struggle will have been during
maturity, the characters gained will have been transmitted more fully to
the male than to the female offspring. It accords in a striking manner
with this view of the modification and re-inforcement of many of our mental
faculties by sexual selection, that, firstly, they notoriously undergo a
considerable change at puberty (25. Maudsley, ‘Mind and Body,’ p. 31.),
and, secondly, that eunuchs remain throughout life inferior in these same
qualities. Thus, man has ultimately become superior to woman. It is,
indeed, fortunate that the law of the equal transmission of characters to
both sexes prevails with mammals; otherwise, it is probable that man would
have become as superior in mental endowment to woman, as the peacock is in
ornamental plumage to the peahen.

It must be borne in mind that the tendency in characters acquired by either
sex late in life, to be transmitted to the same sex at the same age, and of
early acquired characters to be transmitted to both sexes, are rules which,
though general, do not always hold. If they always held good, we might
conclude (but I here exceed my proper bounds) that the inherited effects of
the early education of boys and girls would be transmitted equally to both
sexes; so that the present inequality in mental power between the sexes
would not be effaced by a similar course of early training; nor can it have
been caused by their dissimilar early training. In order that woman should
reach the same standard as man, she ought, when nearly adult, to be trained
to energy and perseverance, and to have her reason and imagination
exercised to the highest point; and then she would probably transmit these
qualities chiefly to her adult daughters. All women, however, could not be
thus raised, unless during many generations those who excelled in the above
robust virtues were married, and produced offspring in larger numbers than
other women. As before remarked of bodily strength, although men do not
now fight for their wives, and this form of selection has passed away, yet
during manhood, they generally undergo a severe struggle in order to
maintain themselves and their families; and this will tend to keep up or
even increase their mental powers, and, as a consequence, the present
inequality between the sexes. (26. An observation by Vogt bears on this
subject: he says, “It is a remarkable circumstance, that the difference
between the sexes, as regards the cranial cavity, increases with the
development of the race, so that the male European excels much more the
female, than the negro the negress. Welcker confirms this statement of
Huschke from his measurements of negro and German skulls.” But Vogt admits
(‘Lectures on Man,’ Eng. translat. 1864, p. 81) that more observations are
requisite on this point.

VOICE AND MUSICAL POWERS.

In some species of Quadrumana there is a great difference between the adult
sexes, in the power of their voices and in the development of the vocal
organs; and man appears to have inherited this difference from his early
progenitors. His vocal cords are about one-third longer than in woman, or
than in boys; and emasculation produces the same effect on him as on the
lower animals, for it “arrests that prominent growth of the thyroid, etc.,
which accompanies the elongation of the cords.” (27. Owen, ‘Anatomy of
Vertebrates,’ vol. iii. p. 603.) With respect to the cause of this
difference between the sexes, I have nothing to add to the remarks in the
last chapter on the probable effects of the long-continued use of the vocal
organs by the male under the excitement of love, rage and jealousy.
According to Sir Duncan Gibb (28. ‘Journal of the Anthropological
Society,’ April 1869, p. lvii. and lxvi.), the voice and the form of the
larynx differ in the different races of mankind; but with the Tartars,
Chinese, etc., the voice of the male is said not to differ so much from
that of the female, as in most other races.

The capacity and love for singing or music, though not a sexual character
in man, must not here be passed over. Although the sounds emitted by
animals of all kinds serve many purposes, a strong case can be made out,
that the vocal organs were primarily used and perfected in relation to the
propagation of the species. Insects and some few spiders are the lowest
animals which voluntarily produce any sound; and this is generally effected
by the aid of beautifully constructed stridulating organs, which are often
confined to the males. The sounds thus produced consist, I believe in all
cases, of the same note, repeated rhythmically (29. Dr. Scudder, ‘Notes on
Stridulation,’ in ‘Proc. Boston Soc. of Nat. Hist.’ vol. xi. April 1868.);
and this is sometimes pleasing even to the ears of man. The chief and, in
some cases, exclusive purpose appears to be either to call or charm the
opposite sex.

The sounds produced by fishes are said in some cases to be made only by the
males during the breeding-season. All the air-breathing Vertebrata
necessarily possess an apparatus for inhaling and expelling air, with a
pipe capable of being closed at one end. Hence when the primeval members
of this class were strongly excited and their muscles violently contracted,
purposeless sounds would almost certainly have been produced; and these, if
they proved in any way serviceable, might readily have been modified or
intensified by the preservation of properly adapted variations. The lowest
Vertebrates which breathe air are Amphibians; and of these, frogs and toads
possess vocal organs, which are incessantly used during the breeding-
season, and which are often more highly developed in the male than in the
female. The male alone of the tortoise utters a noise, and this only
during the season of love. Male alligators roar or bellow during the same
season. Every one knows how much birds use their vocal organs as a means
of courtship; and some species likewise perform what may be called
instrumental music.

In the class of Mammals, with which we are here more particularly
concerned, the males of almost all the species use their voices during the
breeding-season much more than at any other time; and some are absolutely
mute excepting at this season. With other species both sexes, or only the
females, use their voices as a love-call. Considering these facts, and
that the vocal organs of some quadrupeds are much more largely developed in
the male than in the female, either permanently or temporarily during the
breeding-season; and considering that in most of the lower classes the
sounds produced by the males, serve not only to call but to excite or
allure the female, it is a surprising fact that we have not as yet any good
evidence that these organs are used by male mammals to charm the females.
The American Mycetes caraya perhaps forms an exception, as does the
Hylobates agilis, an ape allied to man. This gibbon has an extremely loud
but musical voice. Mr. Waterhouse states (30. Given in W.C.L. Martin’s
‘General Introduction to Natural History of Mamm. Animals,’ 1841, p. 432;
Owen, ‘Anatomy of Vertebrates,’ vol. iii, p. 600.), “It appeared to me that
in ascending and descending the scale, the intervals were always exactly
half-tones; and I am sure that the highest note was the exact octave to the
lowest. The quality of the notes is very musical; and I do not doubt that
a good violinist would be able to give a correct idea of the gibbon’s
composition, excepting as regards its loudness.” Mr. Waterhouse then gives
the notes. Professor Owen, who is a musician, confirms the foregoing
statement, and remarks, though erroneously, that this gibbon “alone of
brute mammals may be said to sing.” It appears to be much excited after
its performance. Unfortunately, its habits have never been closely
observed in a state of nature; but from the analogy of other animals, it is
probable that it uses its musical powers more especially during the season
of courtship.

This gibbon is not the only species in the genus which sings, for my son,
Francis Darwin, attentively listened in the Zoological Gardens to H.
leuciscus whilst singing a cadence of three notes, in true musical
intervals and with a clear musical tone. It is a more surprising fact that
certain rodents utter musical sounds. Singing mice have often been
mentioned and exhibited, but imposture has commonly been suspected. We
have, however, at last a clear account by a well-known observer, the Rev.
S. Lockwood (31. The ‘American Naturalist,’ 1871, p. 761.), of the musical
powers of an American species, the Hesperomys cognatus, belonging to a
genus distinct from that of the English mouse. This little animal was kept
in confinement, and the performance was repeatedly heard. In one of the
two chief songs, “the last bar would frequently be prolonged to two or
three; and she would sometimes change from C sharp and D, to C natural and
D, then warble on these two notes awhile, and wind up with a quick chirp on
C sharp and D. The distinctness between the semitones was very marked, and
easily appreciable to a good ear.” Mr. Lockwood gives both songs in
musical notation; and adds that though this little mouse “had no ear for
time, yet she would keep to the key of B (two flats) and strictly in a
major key.”…”Her soft clear voice falls an octave with all the precision
possible; then at the wind up, it rises again into a very quick trill on C
sharp and D.”

A critic has asked how the ears of man, and he ought to have added of other
animals, could have been adapted by selection so as to distinguish musical
notes. But this question shews some confusion on the subject; a noise is
the sensation resulting from the co-existence of several aerial “simple
vibrations” of various periods, each of which intermits so frequently that
its separate existence cannot be perceived. It is only in the want of
continuity of such vibrations, and in their want of harmony inter se, that
a noise differs from a musical note. Thus an ear to be capable of
discriminating noises–and the high importance of this power to all animals
is admitted by every one–must be sensitive to musical notes. We have
evidence of this capacity even low down in the animal scale: thus
Crustaceans are provided with auditory hairs of different lengths, which
have been seen to vibrate when the proper musical notes are struck. (32.
Helmholtz, ‘Theorie Phys. de la Musique,’ 1868, p. 187.) As stated in a
previous chapter, similar observations have been made on the hairs of the
antennae of gnats. It has been positively asserted by good observers that
spiders are attracted by music. It is also well known that some dogs howl
when hearing particular tones. (33. Several accounts have been published
to this effect. Mr. Peach writes to me that an old dog of his howls when B
flat is sounded on the flute, and to no other note. I may add another
instance of a dog always whining, when one note on a concertina, which was
out of tune, was played.) Seals apparently appreciate music, and their
fondness for it “was well known to the ancients, and is often taken
advantage of by the hunters at the present day.” (34. Mr. R. Brown, in
‘Proc. Zool. Soc.’ 1868, p. 410.)

Therefore, as far as the mere perception of musical notes is concerned,
there seems no special difficulty in the case of man or of any other
animal. Helmholtz has explained on physiological principles why concords
are agreeable, and discords disagreeable to the human ear; but we are
little concerned with these, as music in harmony is a late invention. We
are more concerned with melody, and here again, according to Helmholtz, it
is intelligible why the notes of our musical scale are used. The ear
analyses all sounds into their component “simple vibrations,” although we
are not conscious of this analysis. In a musical note the lowest in pitch
of these is generally predominant, and the others which are less marked are
the octave, the twelfth, the second octave, etc., all harmonies of the
fundamental predominant note; any two notes of our scale have many of these
harmonic over-tones in common. It seems pretty clear then, that if an
animal always wished to sing precisely the same song, he would guide
himself by sounding those notes in succession, which possess many over-
tones in common–that is, he would choose for his song, notes which belong
to our musical scale.

But if it be further asked why musical tones in a certain order and rhythm
give man and other animals pleasure, we can no more give the reason than
for the pleasantness of certain tastes and smells. That they do give
pleasure of some kind to animals, we may infer from their being produced
during the season of courtship by many insects, spiders, fishes,
amphibians, and birds; for unless the females were able to appreciate such
sounds and were excited or charmed by them, the persevering efforts of the
males, and the complex structures often possessed by them alone, would be
useless; and this it is impossible to believe.

Human song is generally admitted to be the basis or origin of instrumental
music. As neither the enjoyment nor the capacity of producing musical
notes are faculties of the least use to man in reference to his daily
habits of life, they must be ranked amongst the most mysterious with which
he is endowed. They are present, though in a very rude condition, in men
of all races, even the most savage; but so different is the taste of the
several races, that our music gives no pleasure to savages, and their music
is to us in most cases hideous and unmeaning. Dr. Seemann, in some
interesting remarks on this subject (35. ‘Journal of Anthropological
Society,’ Oct. 1870, p. clv. See also the several later chapters in Sir
John Lubbock’s ‘Prehistoric Times,’ 2nd ed. 1869, which contain an
admirable account of the habits of savages.), “doubts whether even amongst
the nations of Western Europe, intimately connected as they are by close
and frequent intercourse, the music of the one is interpreted in the same
sense by the others. By travelling eastwards we find that there is
certainly a different language of music. Songs of joy and dance-
accompaniments are no longer, as with us, in the major keys, but always in
the minor.” Whether or not the half-human progenitors of man possessed,
like the singing gibbons, the capacity of producing, and therefore no doubt
of appreciating, musical notes, we know that man possessed these faculties
at a very remote period. M. Lartet has described two flutes made out of
the bones and horns of the reindeer, found in caves together with flint
tools and the remains of extinct animals. The arts of singing and of
dancing are also very ancient, and are now practised by all or nearly all
the lowest races of man. Poetry, which may be considered as the offspring
of song, is likewise so ancient, that many persons have felt astonished
that it should have arisen during the earliest ages of which we have any
record.

We see that the musical faculties, which are not wholly deficient in any
race, are capable of prompt and high development, for Hottentots and
Negroes have become excellent musicians, although in their native countries
they rarely practise anything that we should consider music. Schweinfurth,
however, was pleased with some of the simple melodies which he heard in the
interior of Africa. But there is nothing anomalous in the musical
faculties lying dormant in man: some species of birds which never
naturally sing, can without much difficulty be taught to do so; thus a
house-sparrow has learnt the song of a linnet. As these two species are
closely allied, and belong to the order of Insessores, which includes
nearly all the singing-birds in the world, it is possible that a progenitor
of the sparrow may have been a songster. It is more remarkable that
parrots, belonging to a group distinct from the Insessores, and having
differently constructed vocal organs, can be taught not only to speak, but
to pipe or whistle tunes invented by man, so that they must have some
musical capacity. Nevertheless it would be very rash to assume that
parrots are descended from some ancient form which was a songster. Many
cases could be advanced of organs and instincts originally adapted for one
purpose, having been utilised for some distinct purpose. (36. Since this
chapter was printed, I have seen a valuable article by Mr. Chauncey Wright
(‘North American Review,’ Oct. 1870, page 293), who, in discussing the
above subject, remarks, “There are many consequences of the ultimate laws
or uniformities of nature, through which the acquisition of one useful
power will bring with it many resulting advantages as well as limiting
disadvantages, actual or possible, which the principle of utility may not
have comprehended in its action.” As I have attempted to shew in an early
chapter of this work, this principle has an important bearing on the
acquisition by man of some of his mental characteristics.) Hence the
capacity for high musical development which the savage races of man
possess, may be due either to the practice by our semi-human progenitors of
some rude form of music, or simply to their having acquired the proper
vocal organs for a different purpose. But in this latter case we must
assume, as in the above instance of parrots, and as seems to occur with
many animals, that they already possessed some sense of melody.

Music arouses in us various emotions, but not the more terrible ones of
horror, fear, rage, etc. It awakens the gentler feelings of tenderness and
love, which readily pass into devotion. In the Chinese annals it is said,
“Music hath the power of making heaven descend upon earth.” It likewise
stirs up in us the sense of triumph and the glorious ardour for war. These
powerful and mingled feelings may well give rise to the sense of sublimity.
We can concentrate, as Dr. Seemann observes, greater intensity of feeling
in a single musical note than in pages of writing. It is probable that
nearly the same emotions, but much weaker and far less complex, are felt by
birds when the male pours forth his full volume of song, in rivalry with
other males, to captivate the female. Love is still the commonest theme of
our songs. As Herbert Spencer remarks, “music arouses dormant sentiments
of which we had not conceived the possibility, and do not know the meaning;
or, as Richter says, tells us of things we have not seen and shall not
see.” Conversely, when vivid emotions are felt and expressed by the
orator, or even in common speech, musical cadences and rhythm are
instinctively used. The negro in Africa when excited often bursts forth in
song; “another will reply in song, whilst the company, as if touched by a
musical wave, murmur a chorus in perfect unison.” (37. Winwood Reade,
‘The Martyrdom of Man,’ 1872, p. 441, and ‘African Sketch Book,’ 1873, vol.
ii. p. 313.) Even monkeys express strong feelings in different tones–
anger and impatience by low,–fear and pain by high notes. (38. Rengger,
‘Saugethiere von Paraguay,’ s. 49.) The sensations and ideas thus excited
in us by music, or expressed by the cadences of oratory, appear from their
vagueness, yet depth, like mental reversions to the emotions and thoughts
of a long-past age.

All these facts with respect to music and impassioned speech become
intelligible to a certain extent, if we may assume that musical tones and
rhythm were used by our half-human ancestors, during the season of
courtship, when animals of all kinds are excited not only by love, but by
the strong passions of jealousy, rivalry, and triumph. From the deeply-
laid principle of inherited associations, musical tones in this case would
be likely to call up vaguely and indefinitely the strong emotions of a
long-past age. As we have every reason to suppose that articulate speech
is one of the latest, as it certainly is the highest, of the arts acquired
by man, and as the instinctive power of producing musical notes and rhythms
is developed low down in the animal series, it would be altogether opposed
to the principle of evolution, if we were to admit that man’s musical
capacity has been developed from the tones used in impassioned speech. We
must suppose that the rhythms and cadences of oratory are derived from
previously developed musical powers. (39. See the very interesting
discussion on the ‘Origin and Function of Music,’ by Mr. Herbert Spencer,
in his collected ‘Essays,’ 1858, p. 359. Mr. Spencer comes to an exactly
opposite conclusion to that at which I have arrived. He concludes, as did
Diderot formerly, that the cadences used in emotional speech afford the
foundation from which music has been developed; whilst I conclude that
musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male or female
progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex. Thus
musical tones became firmly associated with some of the strongest passions
an animal is capable of feeling, and are consequently used instinctively,
or through association when strong emotions are expressed in speech. Mr.
Spencer does not offer any satisfactory explanation, nor can I, why high or
deep notes should be expressive, both with man and the lower animals, of
certain emotions. Mr. Spencer gives also an interesting discussion on the
relations between poetry, recitative and song.) We can thus understand how
it is that music, dancing, song, and poetry are such very ancient arts. We
may go even further than this, and, as remarked in a former chapter,
believe that musical sounds afforded one of the bases for the development
of language. (40. I find in Lord Monboddo’s ‘Origin of Language,’ vol. i.
1774, p. 469, that Dr. Blacklock likewise thought “that the first language
among men was music, and that before our ideas were expressed by articulate
sounds, they were communicated by tones varied according to different
degrees of gravity and acuteness.”)

As the males of several quadrumanous animals have their vocal organs much
more developed than in the females, and as a gibbon, one of the
anthropomorphous apes, pours forth a whole octave of musical notes and may
be said to sing, it appears probable that the progenitors of man, either
the males or females or both sexes, before acquiring the power of
expressing their mutual love in articulate language, endeavoured to charm
each other with musical notes and rhythm. So little is known about the use
of the voice by the Quadrumana during the season of love, that we have no
means of judging whether the habit of singing was first acquired by our
male or female ancestors. Women are generally thought to possess sweeter
voices than men, and as far as this serves as any guide, we may infer that
they first acquired musical powers in order to attract the other sex. (41.
See an interesting discussion on this subject by Haeckel, ‘Generelle
Morphologie,’ B. ii. 1866, s. 246.) But if so, this must have occurred
long ago, before our ancestors had become sufficiently human to treat and
value their women merely as useful slaves. The impassioned orator, bard,
or musician, when with his varied tones and cadences he excites the
strongest emotions in his hearers, little suspects that he uses the same
means by which his half-human ancestors long ago aroused each other’s
ardent passions, during their courtship and rivalry.

THE INFLUENCE OF BEAUTY IN DETERMINING THE MARRIAGES OF MANKIND.

In civilised life man is largely, but by no means exclusively, influenced
in the choice of his wife by external appearance; but we are chiefly
concerned with primeval times, and our only means of forming a judgment on
this subject is to study the habits of existing semi-civilised and savage
nations. If it can be shewn that the men of different races prefer women
having various characteristics, or conversely with the women, we have then
to enquire whether such choice, continued during many generations, would
produce any sensible effect on the race, either on one sex or both
according to the form of inheritance which has prevailed.

It will be well first to shew in some detail that savages pay the greatest
attention to their personal appearance. (42. A full and excellent account
of the manner in which savages in all parts of the world ornament
themselves, is given by the Italian traveller, Professor Mantegazza, ‘Rio
de la Plata, Viaggi e Studi,’ 1867, pp. 525-545; all the following
statements, when other references are not given, are taken from this work.
See, also, Waitz, ‘Introduction to Anthropology,’ Eng. translat. vol. i.
1863, p. 275, et passim. Lawrence also gives very full details in his
‘Lectures on Physiology,’ 1822. Since this chapter was written Sir J.
Lubbock has published his ‘Origin of Civilisation,’ 1870, in which there is
an interesting chapter on the present subject, and from which (pp. 42, 48)
I have taken some facts about savages dyeing their teeth and hair, and
piercing their teeth.) That they have a passion for ornament is notorious;
and an English philosopher goes so far as to maintain, that clothes were
first made for ornament and not for warmth. As Professor Waitz remarks,
“however poor and miserable man is, he finds a pleasure in adorning
himself.” The extravagance of the naked Indians of South America in
decorating themselves is shewn “by a man of large stature gaining with
difficulty enough by the labour of a fortnight to procure in exchange the
chica necessary to paint himself red.” (43. Humboldt, ‘Personal
Narrative,’ Eng. translat. vol. iv. p. 515; on the imagination shewn in
painting the body, p. 522; on modifying the form of the calf of the leg, p.
466.) The ancient barbarians of Europe during the Reindeer period brought
to their caves any brilliant or singular objects which they happened to
find. Savages at the present day everywhere deck themselves with plumes,
necklaces, armlets, ear-rings, etc. They paint themselves in the most
diversified manner. “If painted nations,” as Humboldt observes, “had been
examined with the same attention as clothed nations, it would have been
perceived that the most fertile imagination and the most mutable caprice
have created the fashions of painting, as well as those of garments.”

In one part of Africa the eyelids are coloured black; in another the nails
are coloured yellow or purple. In many places the hair is dyed of various
tints. In different countries the teeth are stained black, red, blue,
etc., and in the Malay Archipelago it is thought shameful to have white
teeth “like those of a dog.” Not one great country can be named, from the
polar regions in the north to New Zealand in the south, in which the
aborigines do not tattoo themselves. This practice was followed by the
Jews of old, and by the ancient Britons. In Africa some of the natives
tattoo themselves, but it is a much more common practice to raise
protuberances by rubbing salt into incisions made in various parts of the
body; and these are considered by the inhabitants of Kordofan and Darfur
“to be great personal attractions.” In the Arab countries no beauty can be
perfect until the cheeks “or temples have been gashed.” (44. ‘The Nile
Tributaries,’ 1867; ‘The Albert N’yanza,’ 1866, vol. i. p. 218.) In South
America, as Humboldt remarks, “a mother would be accused of culpable
indifference towards her children, if she did not employ artificial means
to shape the calf of the leg after the fashion of the country.” In the Old
and New Worlds the shape of the skull was formerly modified during infancy
in the most extraordinary manner, as is still the case in many places, and
such deformities are considered ornamental. For instance, the savages of
Colombia (45. Quoted by Prichard, ‘Physical History of Mankind,’ 4th ed.
vol. i. 1851, p. 321.) deem a much flattened head “an essential point of
beauty.”

The hair is treated with especial care in various countries; it is allowed
to grow to full length, so as to reach to the ground, or is combed into “a
compact frizzled mop, which is the Papuan’s pride and glory.” (46. On the
Papuans, Wallace, ‘The Malay Archipelago,’ vol. ii. p. 445. On the
coiffure of the Africans, Sir S. Baker, ‘The Albert N’yanza,’ vol. i. p.
210.) In northern Africa “a man requires a period of from eight to ten
years to perfect his coiffure.” With other nations the head is shaved, and
in parts of South America and Africa even the eyebrows and eyelashes are
eradicated. The natives of the Upper Nile knock out the four front teeth,
saying that they do not wish to resemble brutes. Further south, the
Batokas knock out only the two upper incisors, which, as Livingstone (47.
‘Travels,’ p. 533.) remarks, gives the face a hideous appearance, owing to
the prominence of the lower jaw; but these people think the presence of the
incisors most unsightly, and on beholding some Europeans, cried out, “Look
at the great teeth!” The chief Sebituani tried in vain to alter this
fashion. In various parts of Africa and in the Malay Archipelago the
natives file the incisors into points like those of a saw, or pierce them
with holes, into which they insert studs.

As the face with us is chiefly admired for its beauty, so with savages it
is the chief seat of mutilation. In all quarters of the world the septum,
and more rarely the wings of the nose are pierced; rings, sticks, feathers,
and other ornaments being inserted into the holes. The ears are everywhere
pierced and similarly ornamented, and with the Botocudos and Lenguas of
South America the hole is gradually so much enlarged that the lower edge
touches the shoulder. In North and South America and in Africa either the
upper or lower lip is pierced; and with the Botocudos the hole in the lower
lip is so large that a disc of wood, four inches in diameter, is placed in
it. Mantegazza gives a curious account of the shame felt by a South
American native, and of the ridicule which he excited, when he sold his
tembeta,–the large coloured piece of wood which is passed through the
hole. In Central Africa the women perforate the lower lip and wear a
crystal, which, from the movement of the tongue, has “a wriggling motion,
indescribably ludicrous during conversation.” The wife of the chief of
Latooka told Sir S. Baker (49. ‘The Albert N’yanza,’ 1866, vol. i. p.
217.) that Lady Baker “would be much improved if she would extract her four
front teeth from the lower jaw, and wear the long pointed polished crystal
in her under lip.” Further south with the Makalolo, the upper lip is
perforated, and a large metal and bamboo ring, called a pelele, is worn in
the hole. “This caused the lip in one case to project two inches beyond
the tip of the nose; and when the lady smiled, the contraction of the
muscles elevated it over the eyes. ‘Why do the women wear these things?’
the venerable chief, Chinsurdi, was asked. Evidently surprised at such a
stupid question, he replied, ‘For beauty! They are the only beautiful
things women have; men have beards, women have none. What kind of a person
would she be without the pelele? She would not be a woman at all with a
mouth like a man, but no beard.'” (49. Livingstone, ‘British
Association,’ 1860; report given in the ‘Athenaeum,’ July 7, 1860, p. 29.)

Hardly any part of the body, which can be unnaturally modified, has
escaped. The amount of suffering thus caused must have been extreme, for
many of the operations require several years for their completion, so that
the idea of their necessity must be imperative. The motives are various;
the men paint their bodies to make themselves appear terrible in battle;
certain mutilations are connected with religious rites, or they mark the
age of puberty, or the rank of the man, or they serve to distinguish the
tribes. Amongst savages the same fashions prevail for long periods (50.
Sir S. Baker (ibid. vol. i. p. 210) speaking of the natives of Central
Africa says, “every tribe has a distinct and unchanging fashion for
dressing the hair.” See Agassiz (‘Journey in Brazil,’ 1868, p. 318) on
invariability of the tattooing of Amazonian Indians.), and thus
mutilations, from whatever cause first made, soon come to be valued as
distinctive marks. But self-adornment, vanity, and the admiration of
others, seem to be the commonest motives. In regard to tattooing, I was
told by the missionaries in New Zealand that when they tried to persuade
some girls to give up the practice, they answered, “We must just have a few
lines on our lips; else when we grow old we shall be so very ugly.” With
the men of New Zealand, a most capable judge (51. Rev. R. Taylor, ‘New
Zealand and its Inhabitants,’ 1855, p. 152.) says, “to have fine tattooed
faces was the great ambition of the young, both to render themselves
attractive to the ladies, and conspicuous in war.” A star tattooed on the
forehead and a spot on the chin are thought by the women in one part of
Africa to be irresistible attractions. (52. Mantegazza, ‘Viaggi e Studi,’
p. 542.) In most, but not all parts of the world, the men are more
ornamented than the women, and often in a different manner; sometimes,
though rarely, the women are hardly at all ornamented. As the women are
made by savages to perform the greatest share of the work, and as they are
not allowed to eat the best kinds of food, so it accords with the
characteristic selfishness of man that they should not be allowed to
obtain, or use the finest ornaments. Lastly, it is a remarkable fact, as
proved by the foregoing quotations, that the same fashions in modifying the
shape of the head, in ornamenting the hair, in painting, tattooing, in
perforating the nose, lips, or ears, in removing or filing the teeth, etc.,
now prevail, and have long prevailed, in the most distant quarters of the
world. It is extremely improbable that these practices, followed by so
many distinct nations, should be due to tradition from any common source.
They indicate the close similarity of the mind of man, to whatever race he
may belong, just as do the almost universal habits of dancing,
masquerading, and making rude pictures.

Having made these preliminary remarks on the admiration felt by savages for
various ornaments, and for deformities most unsightly in our eyes, let us
see how far the men are attracted by the appearance of their women, and
what are their ideas of beauty. I have heard it maintained that savages
are quite indifferent about the beauty of their women, valuing them solely
as slaves; it may therefore be well to observe that this conclusion does
not at all agree with the care which the women take in ornamenting
themselves, or with their vanity. Burchell (53. ‘Travels in South
Africa,’ 1824, vol. i. p. 414.) gives an amusing account of a Bush-woman
who used as much grease, red ochre, and shining powder “as would have
ruined any but a very rich husband.” She displayed also “much vanity and
too evident a consciousness of her superiority.” Mr. Winwood Reade informs
me that the negroes of the West Coast often discuss the beauty of their
women. Some competent observers have attributed the fearfully common
practice of infanticide partly to the desire felt by the women to retain
their good looks. (54. See, for references, Gerland, ‘Ueber das
Aussterben der Naturvolker,’ 1868, ss. 51, 53, 55; also Azara, ‘Voyages,’
etc., tom. ii. p. 116.) In several regions the women wear charms and use
love-philters to gain the affections of the men; and Mr. Brown enumerates
four plants used for this purpose by the women of North-Western America.
(55. On the vegetable productions used by the North-Western American
Indians, see ‘Pharmaceutical Journal,’ vol. x.)

Hearne (56. ‘A Journey from Prince of Wales Fort,’ 8vo. ed. 1796, p. 89.),
an excellent observer, who lived many years with the American Indians,
says, in speaking of the women, “Ask a Northern Indian what is beauty, and
he will answer, a broad flat face, small eyes, high cheek-bones, three or
four broad black lines across each cheek, a low forehead, a large broad
chin, a clumsy hook nose, a tawny hide, and breasts hanging down to the
belt.” Pallas, who visited the northern parts of the Chinese empire, says,
“those women are preferred who have the Mandschu form; that is to say, a
broad face, high cheek-bones, very broad noses, and enormous ears”(57.
Quoted by Prichard, ‘Physical History of Mankind,’ 3rd ed. vol. iv. 1844,
p. 519; Vogt, ‘Lectures on Man,’ Eng. translat. p. 129. On the opinion of
the Chinese on the Cingalese, E. Tennent, ‘Ceylon,’ 1859, vol. ii. p.
107.); and Vogt remarks that the obliquity of the eye, which is proper to
the Chinese and Japanese, is exaggerated in their pictures for the purpose,
as it “seems, of exhibiting its beauty, as contrasted with the eye of the
red-haired barbarians.” It is well known, as Huc repeatedly remarks, that
the Chinese of the interior think Europeans hideous, with their white skins
and prominent noses. The nose is far from being too prominent, according
to our ideas, in the natives of Ceylon; yet “the Chinese in the seventh
century, accustomed to the flat features of the Mongol races, were
surprised at the prominent noses of the Cingalese; and Thsang described
them as having ‘the beak of a bird, with the body of a man.'”

The Descent Of Man

Preface


During the successive reprints of the first edition of this work, published
in 1871, I was able to introduce several important corrections; and now
that more time has elapsed, I have endeavoured to profit by the fiery
ordeal through which the book has passed, and have taken advantage of all
the criticisms which seem to me sound. I am also greatly indebted to a
large number of correspondents for the communication of a surprising number
of new facts and remarks. These have been so numerous, that I have been
able to use only the more important ones; and of these, as well as of the
more important corrections, I will append a list. Some new illustrations
have been introduced, and four of the old drawings have been replaced by
better ones, done from life by Mr. T.W. Wood. I must especially call
attention to some observations which I owe to the kindness of Prof. Huxley
(given as a supplement at the end of Part I.), on the nature of the
differences between the brains of man and the higher apes. I have been
particularly glad to give these observations, because during the last few
years several memoirs on the subject have appeared on the Continent, and
their importance has been, in some cases, greatly exaggerated by popular
writers.

I may take this opportunity of remarking that my critics frequently assume
that I attribute all changes of corporeal structure and mental power
exclusively to the natural selection of such variations as are often called
spontaneous; whereas, even in the first edition of the ‘Origin of Species,’The book “Origin of Species was written by Charles Darwin and was published on 24th November 1859. This book is considered as the foundation of evolutionary biology. This book has introduced the theory of evolution of species through the course of time by natural selection. In this book, he also included the evidence that he gathered from the Beagle Voyage.  Click Bitcoin Trader to know more.

I distinctly stated that great weight must be attributed to the inherited
effects of use and disuse, with respect both to the body and mind. I also
attributed some amount of modification to the direct and prolonged action
of changed conditions of life. Some allowance, too, must be made for
occasional reversions of structure; nor must we forget what I have called
“correlated” growth, meaning, thereby, that various parts of the
organisation are in some unknown manner so connected, that when one part
varies, so do others; and if variations in the one are accumulated by
selection, other parts will be modified. Again, it has been said by
several critics, that when I found that many details of structure in man
could not be explained through natural selection, I invented sexual
selection; I gave, however, a tolerably clear sketch of this principle in
the first edition of the ‘Origin of Species,’ and I there stated that it
was applicable to man. This subject of sexual selection has been treated
at full length in the present work, simply because an opportunity was here
first afforded me. I have been struck with the likeness of many of the
half-favourable criticisms on sexual selection, with those which appeared
at first on natural selection; such as, that it would explain some few
details, but certainly was not applicable to the extent to which I have
employed it. My conviction of the power of sexual selection remains
unshaken; but it is probable, or almost certain, that several of my
conclusions will hereafter be found erroneous; this can hardly fail to be
the case in the first treatment of a subject. When naturalists have become
familiar with the idea of sexual selection, it will, as I believe, be much
more largely accepted; and it has already been fully and favourably
received by several capable judges.

DOWN, BECKENHAM, KENT,
September, 1874.

First Edition February 24, 1871.
Second Edition September, 1874.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

My Several Publications

In the early part of 1844, my observations on the volcanic
islands visited during the voyage of the “Beagle” were published.
In 1845, I took much pains in correcting a new edition of my
‘Journal of Researches,’ which was originally published in 1839
as part of Fitz-Roy’s work. The success of this, my first
literary child, always tickles my vanity more than that of any of
my other books. Even to this day it sells steadily in England
and the United States, and has been translated for the second
time into German, and into French and other languages. This
success of a book of travels, especially of a scientific one, so
many years after its first publication, is surprising. Ten
thousand copies have been sold in England of the second edition.
In 1846 my ‘Geological Observations on South America’ ,
Geological observation on South America is the book written by Charles Darwin in 1846. This book is based on the geological research that he did during his five years voyage of HMS Beagle. This book was the third and last edition of Darwin’s account. It took four years for Darwin to complete the series. Click on the link next to know more were
published. I record in a little diary, which I have always kept,
that my three geological books (‘Coral Reefs’ included) consumed
four and a half years’ steady work; “and now it is ten years
since my return to England. How much time have I lost by
illness?” I have nothing to say about these three books except
that to my surprise new editions have lately been called for.
(‘Geological Observations,’ 2nd Edit.1876. ‘Coral Reefs,’ 2nd
Edit. 1874.)

In October, 1846, I began to work on ‘Cirripedia.’ When on the
coast of Chile, I found a most curious form, which burrowed into
the shells of Concholepas, and which differed so much from all
other Cirripedes that I had to form a new sub-order for its sole
reception. Lately an allied burrowing genus has been found on
the shores of Portugal. To understand the structure of my new
Cirripede I had to examine and dissect many of the common forms;
and this gradually led me on to take up the whole group. I
worked steadily on this subject for the next eight years, and
ultimately published two thick volumes (Published by the Ray
Society.), describing all the known living species, and two thin
quartos on the extinct species. I do not doubt that Sir E.
Lytton Bulwer had me in his mind when he introduced in one of his
novels a Professor Long, who had written two huge volumes on
limpets.

Although I was employed during eight years on this work, yet I
record in my diary that about two years out of this time was lost
by illness. On this account I went in 1848 for some months to
Malvern for hydropathic treatment, which did me much good, so
that on my return home I was able to resume work. So much was I
out of health that when my dear father died on November 13th,
1848, I was unable to attend his funeral or to act as one of his
executors.

My work on the Cirripedia possesses, I think, considerable value,
as besides describing several new and remarkable forms, I made
out the homologies of the various parts–I discovered the
cementing apparatus, though I blundered dreadfully about the
cement glands–and lastly I proved the existence in certain
genera of minute males complemental to and parasitic on the
hermaphrodites. This latter discovery has at last been fully
confirmed; though at one time a German writer was pleased to
attribute the whole account to my fertile imagination. The
Cirripedes form a highly varying and difficult group of species
to class; and my work was of considerable use to me, when I had
to discuss in the ‘Origin of Species’ the principles of a natural
classification. Nevertheless, I doubt whether the work was worth
the consumption of so much time.

>From September 1854 I devoted my whole time to arranging my huge
pile of notes, to observing, and to experimenting in relation to
the transmutation of species. During the voyage of the “Beagle”
I had been deeply impressed by discovering in the Pampean
formation great fossil animals covered with armour like that on
the existing armadillos; secondly, by the manner in which closely
allied animals replace one another in proceeding southwards over
the Continent; and thirdly, by the South American character of
most of the productions of the Galapagos archipelago, and more
especially by the manner in which they differ slightly on each
island of the group; none of the islands appearing to be very
ancient in a geological sense.

It was evident that such facts as these, as well as many others,
could only be explained on the supposition that species gradually
become modified; and the subject haunted me. But it was equally
evident that neither the action of the surrounding conditions,
nor the will of the organisms (especially in the case of plants)
could account for the innumerable cases in which organisms of
every kind are beautifully adapted to their habits of life–for
instance, a woodpecker or a tree-frog to climb trees, or a seed
for dispersal by hooks or plumes. I had always been much struck
by such adaptations, and until these could be explained it seemed
to me almost useless to endeavour to prove by indirect evidence
that species have been modified.

After my return to England it appeared to me that by following
the example of Lyell in Geology, and by collecting all facts
which bore in any way on the variation of animals and plants
under domestication and nature, some light might perhaps be
thrown on the whole subject. My first note-book was opened in
July 1837. I worked on true Baconian principles, and without any
theory collected facts on a wholesale scale, more especially with
respect to domesticated productions, by printed enquiries, by
conversation with skilful breeders and gardeners, and by
extensive reading. When I see the list of books of all kinds
which I read and abstracted, including whole series of Journals
and Transactions, I am surprised at my industry. I soon
perceived that selection was the keystone of man’s success in
making useful races of animals and plants. But how selection
could be applied to organisms living in a state of nature
remained for some time a mystery to me.

In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after I had begun my
systematic enquiry, I happened to read for amusement ‘Malthus on
Population,’ and being well prepared to appreciate the struggle
for existence which everywhere goes on from long-continued
observation of the habits of animals and plants, it at once
struck me that under these circumstances favourable variations
would tend to be preserved, and unfavourable ones to be
destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new
species. Here then I had at last got a theory by which to work;
but I was so anxious to avoid prejudice, that I determined not
for some time to write even the briefest sketch of it. In June
1842 I first allowed myself the satisfaction of writing a very
brief abstract of my theory in pencil in 35 pages; and this was
enlarged during the summer of 1844 into one of 230 pages, which I
had fairly copied out and still possess.

But at that time I overlooked one problem of great importance;
and it is astonishing to me, except on the principle of Columbus
and his egg, how I could have overlooked it and its solution.
This problem is the tendency in organic beings descended from the
same stock to diverge in character as they become modified. That
they have diverged greatly is obvious from the manner in which
species of all kinds can be classed under genera, genera under
families, families under sub-orders and so forth; and I can
remember the very spot in the road, whilst in my carriage, when
to my joy the solution occurred to me; and this was long after I
had come to Down. The solution, as I believe, is that the
modified offspring of all dominant and increasing forms tend to
become adapted to many and highly diversified places in the
economy of nature.

Early in 1856 Lyell advised me to write out my views pretty
fully, and I began at once to do so on a scale three or four
times as extensive as that which was afterwards followed in my
‘Origin of Species;’ yet it was only an abstract of the materials
which I had collected, and I got through about half the work on
this scale. But my plans were overthrown, for early in the
summer of 1858 Mr. Wallace, who was then in the Malay
archipelago, sent me an essay “On the Tendency of Varieties to
depart indefinitely from the Original Type;” and this essay
contained exactly the same theory as mine. Mr. Wallace expressed
the wish that if I thought well of his essay, I should sent it to
Lyell for perusal.

The circumstances under which I consented at the request of Lyell
and Hooker to allow of an abstract from my MS., together with a
letter to Asa Gray, dated September 5, 1857, to be published at
the same time with Wallace’s Essay, are given in the ‘Journal of
the Proceedings of the Linnean Society,’ 1858, page 45. I was at
first very unwilling to consent, as I thought Mr. Wallace might
consider my doing so unjustifiable, for I did not then know how
generous and noble was his disposition. The extract from my MS.
and the letter to Asa Gray had neither been intended for
publication, and were badly written. Mr. Wallace’s essay, on the
other hand, was admirably expressed and quite clear.
Nevertheless, our joint productions excited very little
attention, and the only published notice of them which I can
remember was by Professor Haughton of Dublin, whose verdict was
that all that was new in them was false, and what was true was
old. This shows how necessary it is that any new view should be
explained at considerable length in order to arouse public
attention.

In September 1858 I set to work by the strong advice of Lyell and
Hooker to prepare a volume on the transmutation of species, but
was often interrupted by ill-health, and short visits to Dr.
Lane’s delightful hydropathic establishment at Moor Park. I
abstracted the MS. begun on a much larger scale in 1856, and
completed the volume on the same reduced scale. It cost me
thirteen months and ten days’ hard labour. It was published
under the title of the ‘Origin of Species,’ in November 1859.
Though considerably added to and corrected in the later editions,
it has remained substantially the same book.

It is no doubt the chief work of my life. It was from the first
highly successful. The first small edition of 1250 copies was
sold on the day of publication, and a second edition of 3000
copies soon afterwards. Sixteen thousand copies have now (1876)
been sold in England; and considering how stiff a book it is,
this is a large sale. It has been translated into almost every
European tongue, even into such languages as Spanish, Bohemian,
Polish, and Russian. It has also, according to Miss Bird, been
translated into Japanese (Miss Bird is mistaken, as I learn from
Prof. Mitsukuri.–F.D.), and is there much studied. Even an
essay in Hebrew has appeared on it, showing that the theory is
contained in the Old Testament! The reviews were very numerous;
for some time I collected all that appeared on the ‘Origin’ and
on my related books, and these amount (excluding newspaper
reviews) to 265; but after a time I gave up the attempt in
despair. Many separate essays and books on the subject have
appeared; and in Germany a catalogue or bibliography on
“Darwinismus” has appeared every year or two.

The success of the ‘Origin’ may, I think, be attributed in large
part to my having long before written two condensed sketches, and
to my having finally abstracted a much larger manuscript, which
was itself an abstract. By this means I was enabled to select
the more striking facts and conclusions. I had, also, during
many years followed a golden rule, namely, that whenever a
published fact, a new observation or thought came across me,
which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of
it without fail and at once; for I had found by experience that
such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from the
memory than favourable ones. Owing to this habit, very few
objections were raised against my views which I had not at least
noticed and attempted to answer.

It has sometimes been said that the success of the ‘Origin’
proved “that the subject was in the air,” or “that men’s minds
were prepared for it.” I do not think that this is strictly
true, for I occasionally sounded not a few naturalists, and never
happened to come across a single one who seemed to doubt about
the permanence of species. Even Lyell and Hooker, though they
would listen with interest to me, never seemed to agree. I tried
once or twice to explain to able men what I meant by Natural
Selection, but signally failed. What I believe was strictly true
is that innumerable well-observed facts were stored in the minds
of naturalists ready to take their proper places as soon as any
theory which would receive them was sufficiently explained.
Another element in the success of the book was its moderate size;
and this I owe to the appearance of Mr. Wallace’s essay; had I
published on the scale in which I began to write in 1856, the
book would have been four or five times as large as the ‘Origin,’
and very few would have had the patience to read it.

I gained much by my delay in publishing from about 1839, when the
theory was clearly conceived, to 1859; and I lost nothing by it,
for I cared very little whether men attributed most originality
to me or Wallace; and his essay no doubt aided in the reception
of the theory. I was forestalled in only one important point,
which my vanity has always made me regret, namely, the
explanation by means of the Glacial period of the presence of the
same species of plants and of some few animals on distant
mountain summits and in the arctic regions. This view pleased me
so much that I wrote it out in extenso, and I believe that it was
read by Hooker some years before E. Forbes published his
celebrated memoir (‘Geolog. Survey Mem.,’ 1846.) on the subject.
In the very few points in which we differed, I still think that I
was in the right. I have never, of course, alluded in print to
my having independently worked out this view.

Hardly any point gave me so much satisfaction when I was at work
on the ‘Origin,’ as the explanation of the wide difference in
many classes between the embryo and the adult animal, and of the
close resemblance of the embryos within the same class. No
notice of this point was taken, as far as I remember, in the
early reviews of the ‘Origin,’ and I recollect expressing my
surprise on this head in a letter to Asa Gray. Within late years
several reviewers have given the whole credit to Fritz Muller and
Hackel, who undoubtedly have worked it out much more fully, and
in some respects more correctly than I did. I had materials for
a whole chapter on the subject, and I ought to have made the
discussion longer; for it is clear that I failed to impress my
readers; and he who succeeds in doing so deserves, in my opinion,
all the credit.

This leads me to remark that I have almost always been treated
honestly by my reviewers, passing over those without scientific
knowledge as not worthy of notice. My views have often been
grossly misrepresented, bitterly opposed and ridiculed, but this
has been generally done, as I believe, in good faith. On the
whole I do not doubt that my works have been over and over again
greatly overpraised. I rejoice that I have avoided
controversies, and this I owe to Lyell, who many years ago, in
reference to my geological works, strongly advised me never to
get entangled in a controversy, as it rarely did any good and
caused a miserable loss of time and temper.

Whenever I have found out that I have blundered, or that my work
has been imperfect, and when I have been contemptuously
criticised, and even when I have been overpraised, so that I have
felt mortified, it has been my greatest comfort to say hundreds
of times to myself that “I have worked as hard and as well as I
could, and no man can do more than this.” I remember when in
Good Success Bay, in Tierra del Fuego, thinking (and, I believe,
that I wrote home to the effect) that I could not employ my life
better than in adding a little to Natural Science. This I have
done to the best of my abilities, and critics may say what they
like, but they cannot destroy this conviction.

During the two last months of 1859 I was fully occupied in
preparing a second edition of the ‘Origin,’ and by an enormous
correspondence. On January 1st, 1860, I began arranging my notes
for my work on the ‘Variation of Animals and Plants under
Domestication;’ but it was not published until the beginning of
1868; the delay having been caused partly by frequent illnesses,
one of which lasted seven months, and partly by being tempted to
publish on other subjects which at the time interested me more.

On May 15th, 1862, my little book on the ‘Fertilisation of
Orchids,’ which cost me ten months’ work, was published: most of
the facts had been slowly accumulated during several previous
years. During the summer of 1839, and, I believe, during the
previous summer, I was led to attend to the cross-fertilisation
of flowers by the aid of insects, from having come to the
conclusion in my speculations on the origin of species, that
crossing played an important part in keeping specific forms
constant. I attended to the subject more or less during every
subsequent summer; and my interest in it was greatly enhanced by
having procured and read in November 1841, through the advice of
Robert Brown, a copy of C.K. Sprengel’s wonderful book, ‘Das
entdeckte Geheimniss der Natur.’ For some years before 1862 I
had specially attended to the fertilisation of our British
orchids; and it seemed to me the best plan to prepare as complete
a treatise on this group of plants as well as I could, rather
than to utilise the great mass of matter which I had slowly
collected with respect to other plants.

My resolve proved a wise one; for since the appearance of my
book, a surprising number of papers and separate works on the
fertilisation of all kinds of flowers have appeared: and these
are far better done than I could possibly have effected. The
merits of poor old Sprengel, so long overlooked, are now fully
recognised many years after his death.

During the same year I published in the ‘Journal of the Linnean
Society’ a paper “On the Two Forms, or Dimorphic Condition of
Primula,” and during the next five years, five other papers on
dimorphic and trimorphic plants. I do not think anything in my
scientific life has given me so much satisfaction as making out
the meaning of the structure of these plants. I had noticed in
1838 or 1839 the dimorphism of Linum flavum, and had at first
thought that it was merely a case of unmeaning variability. But
on examining the common species of Primula I found that the two
forms were much too regular and constant to be thus viewed. I
therefore became almost convinced that the common cowslip and
primrose were on the high road to become dioecious;–that the
short pistil in the one form, and the short stamens in the other
form were tending towards abortion. The plants were therefore
subjected under this point of view to trial; but as soon as the
flowers with short pistils fertilised with pollen from the short
stamens, were found to yield more seeds than any other of the
four possible unions, the abortion-theory was knocked on the
head. After some additional experiment, it became evident that
the two forms, though both were perfect hermaphrodites, bore
almost the same relation to one another as do the two sexes of an
ordinary animal. With Lythrum we have the still more wonderful
case of three forms standing in a similar relation to one
another. I afterwards found that the offspring from the union of
two plants belonging to the same forms presented a close and
curious analogy with hybrids from the union of two distinct
species.

In the autumn of 1864 I finished a long paper on ‘Climbing
Plants,’ and sent it to the Linnean Society. The writing of this
paper cost me four months; but I was so unwell when I received
the proof-sheets that I was forced to leave them very badly and
often obscurely expressed. The paper was little noticed, but
when in 1875 it was corrected and published as a separate book it
sold well. I was led to take up this subject by reading a short
paper by Asa Gray, published in 1858. He sent me seeds, and on
raising some plants I was so much fascinated and perplexed by the
revolving movements of the tendrils and stems, which movements
are really very simple, though appearing at first sight very
complex, that I procured various other kinds of climbing plants,
and studied the whole subject. I was all the more attracted to
it, from not being at all satisfied with the explanation which
Henslow gave us in his lectures, about twining plants, namely,
that they had a natural tendency to grow up in a spire. This
explanation proved quite erroneous. Some of the adaptations
displayed by Climbing Plants are as beautiful as those of Orchids
for ensuring cross-fertilisation.

My ‘Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication’ was
begun, as already stated, in the beginning of 1860, but was not
published until the beginning of 1868. It was a big book, and
cost me four years and two months’ hard labour. It gives all my
observations and an immense number of facts collected from
various sources, about our domestic productions. In the second
volume the causes and laws of variation, inheritance, etc., are
discussed as far as our present state of knowledge permits.
Towards the end of the work I give my well-abused hypothesis of
Pangenesis. An unverified hypothesis is of little or no value;
but if anyone should hereafter be led to make observations by
which some such hypothesis could be established, I shall have
done good service, as an astonishing number of isolated facts can
be thus connected together and rendered intelligible. In 1875 a
second and largely corrected edition, which cost me a good deal
of labour, was brought out.

My ‘Descent of Man’ was published in February, 1871. As soon as
I had become, in the year 1837 or 1838, convinced that species
were mutable productions, I could not avoid the belief that man
must come under the same law. Accordingly I collected notes on
the subject for my own satisfaction, and not for a long time with
any intention of publishing. Although in the ‘Origin of Species’
the derivation of any particular species is never discussed, yet
I thought it best, in order that no honourable man should accuse
me of concealing my views, to add that by the work “light would
be thrown on the origin of man and his history.” It would have
been useless and injurious to the success of the book to have
paraded, without giving any evidence, my conviction with respect
to his origin.

But when I found that many naturalists fully accepted the
doctrine of the evolution of species, it seemed to me advisable
to work up such notes as I possessed, and to publish a special
treatise on the origin of man. I was the more glad to do so, as
it gave me an opportunity of fully discussing sexual selection–a
subject which had always greatly interested me. This subject,
and that of the variation of our domestic productions, together
with the causes and laws of variation, inheritance, and the
intercrossing of plants, are the sole subjects which I have been
able to write about in full, so as to use all the materials which
I have collected. The ‘Descent of Man’ took me three years to
write, but then as usual some of this time was lost by ill
health, and some was consumed by preparing new editions and other
minor works. A second and largely corrected edition of the
‘Descent’ appeared in 1874.

My book on the ‘Expression of the Emotions in Men and Animals’
was published in the autumn of 1872. I had intended to give only
a chapter on the subject in the ‘Descent of Man,’ but as soon as
I began to put my notes together, I saw that it would require a
separate treatise.

My first child was born on December 27th, 1839, and I at once
commenced to make notes on the first dawn of the various
expressions which he exhibited, for I felt convinced, even at
this early period, that the most complex and fine shades of
expression must all have had a gradual and natural origin.
During the summer of the following year, 1840, I read Sir C.
Bell’s admirable work on expression, and this greatly increased
the interest which I felt in the subject, though I could not at
all agree with his belief that various muscles had been specially
created for the sake of expression. From this time forward I
occasionally attended to the subject, both with respect to man
and our domesticated animals. My book sold largely; 5267 copies
having been disposed of on the day of publication.

In the summer of 1860 I was idling and resting near Hartfield,
where two species of Drosera abound; and I noticed that numerous
insects had been entrapped by the leaves. I carried home some
plants, and on giving them insects saw the movements of the
tentacles, and this made me think it probable that the insects
were caught for some special purpose. Fortunately a crucial test
occurred to me, that of placing a large number of leaves in
various nitrogenous and non-nitrogenous fluids of equal density;
and as soon as I found that the former alone excited energetic
movements, it was obvious that here was a fine new field for
investigation.

During subsequent years, whenever I had leisure, I pursued my
experiments, and my book on ‘Insectivorous Plants’ was published
in July 1875–that is, sixteen years after my first observations.
The delay in this case, as with all my other books, has been a
great advantage to me; for a man after a long interval can
criticise his own work, almost as well as if it were that of
another person. The fact that a plant should secrete, when
properly excited, a fluid containing an acid and ferment, closely
analogous to the digestive fluid of an animal, was certainly a
remarkable discovery.

During this autumn of 1876 I shall publish on the ‘Effects of
Cross and Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom.’ This
book will form a complement to that on the ‘Fertilisation of
Orchids,’ in which I showed how perfect were the means for cross-
fertilisation, and here I shall show how important are the
results. I was led to make, during eleven years, the numerous
experiments recorded in this volume, by a mere accidental
observation; and indeed it required the accident to be repeated
before my attention was thoroughly aroused to the remarkable fact
that seedlings of self-fertilised parentage are inferior, even in
the first generation, in height and vigour to seedlings of cross-
fertilised parentage. I hope also to republish a revised edition
of my book on Orchids, and hereafter my papers on dimorphic and
trimorphic plants, together with some additional observations on
allied points which I never have had time to arrange. My
strength will then probably be exhausted, and I shall be ready to exclaim “Nunc dimittis.”

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

Voyage of the ‘Beagle’ – Dec 27, 1831 to Oct 2, 1836

On returning home from my short geological tour in North Wales, I
found a letter from Henslow, informing me that Captain Fitz-Roy
was willing to give up part of his own cabin to any young man who
would volunteer to go with him without pay as naturalist to the
Voyage of the “Beagle”. I have given, as I believe, in my MS.
Journal an account of all the circumstances which then occurred;
I will here only say that I was instantly eager to accept the
offer, but my father strongly objected, adding the words,
fortunate for me, “If you can find any man of common sense who
advises you to go I will give my consent.” So I wrote that
evening and refused the offer. On the next morning I went to
Maer to be ready for September 1st, and, whilst out shooting, my
uncle (Josiah Wedgwood.) sent for me, offering to drive me over
to Shrewsbury and talk with my father, as my uncle thought it
would be wise in me to accept the offer. My father always
maintained that he was one of the most sensible men in the world,
and he at once consented in the kindest manner. I had been
rather extravagant at Cambridge, and to console my father, said,
“that I should be deuced clever to spend more than my allowance
whilst on board the ‘Beagle’;” but he answered with a smile, “But
they tell me you are very clever.”

Next day I started for Cambridge to see Henslow, and thence to
London to see Fitz-Roy, and all was soon arranged. Afterwards,
on becoming very intimate with Fitz-Roy, I heard that I had run a
very narrow risk of being rejected, on account of the shape of my
nose! He was an ardent disciple of Lavater, and was convinced
that he could judge of a man’s character by the outline of his
features; and he doubted whether any one with my nose could
possess sufficient energy and determination for the voyage. But
I think he was afterwards well satisfied that my nose had spoken
falsely.

Fitz-Roy’s character was a singular one, with very many noble
features: he was devoted to his duty, generous to a fault, bold,
determined, and indomitably energetic, and an ardent friend to
all under his sway. He would undertake any sort of trouble to
assist those whom he thought deserved assistance. He was a
handsome man, strikingly like a gentleman, with highly courteous
manners, which resembled those of his maternal uncle, the famous
Lord Castlereagh, as I was told by the Minister at Rio.
Nevertheless he must have inherited much in his appearance from
Charles II., for Dr. Wallich gave me a collection of photographs
which he had made, and I was struck with the resemblance of one
to Fitz-Roy; and on looking at the name, I found it Ch. E.
Sobieski Stuart, Count d’Albanie, a descendant of the same
monarch.

Fitz-Roy’s temper was a most unfortunate one. It was usually
worst in the early morning, and with his eagle eye he could
generally detect something amiss about the ship, and was then
unsparing in his blame. He was very kind to me, but was a man
very difficult to live with on the intimate terms which
necessarily followed from our messing by ourselves in the same
cabin. We had several quarrels; for instance, early in the
voyage at Bahia, in Brazil, he defended and praised slavery,
which I abominated, and told me that he had just visited a great
slave-owner, who had called up many of his slaves and asked them
whether they were happy, and whether they wished to be free, and
all answered “No.” I then asked him, perhaps with a sneer,
whether he thought that the answer of slaves in the presence of
their master was worth anything? This made him excessively
angry, and he said that as I doubted his word we could not live
any longer together. I thought that I should have been compelled
to leave the ship; but as soon as the news spread, which it did
quickly, as the captain sent for the first lieutenant to assuage
his anger by abusing me, I was deeply gratified by receiving an
invitation from all the gun-room officers to mess with them. But
after a few hours Fitz-Roy showed his usual magnanimity by
sending an officer to me with an apology and a request that I
would continue to live with him.

His character was in several respects one of the most noble which
I have ever known.

The voyage of the “Beagle” has been by far the most important
event in my life, and has determined my whole career; yet it
depended on so small a circumstance as my uncle offering to drive
me thirty miles to Shrewsbury, which few uncles would have done,
and on such a trifle as the shape of my nose. I have always felt
that I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of
my mind; I was led to attend closely to several branches of
natural history, and thus my powers of observation were improved,
though they were always fairly developed.

The investigation of the geology of all the places visited was
far more important, as reasoning here comes into play. On first
examining a new district nothing can appear more hopeless than
the chaos of rocks; but by recording the stratification and
nature of the rocks and fossils at many points, always reasoning
and predicting what will be found elsewhere, light soon begins to
dawn on the district, and the structure of the whole becomes more
or less intelligible. I had brought with me the first volume of
Lyell’s ‘Principles of Geology,’ which I studied attentively; and
the book was of the highest service to me in many ways. The very
first place which I examined, namely St. Jago in the Cape de
Verde islands, showed me clearly the wonderful superiority of
Lyell’s manner of treating geology, compared with that of any
other author, whose works I had with me or ever afterwards read.

Another of my occupations was collecting animals of all classes,
briefly describing and roughly dissecting many of the marine
ones; but from not being able to draw, and from not having
sufficient anatomical knowledge, a great pile of MS. which I made
during the voyage has proved almost useless. I thus lost much
time, with the exception of that spent in acquiring some
knowledge of the Crustaceans, as this was of service when in
after years I undertook a monograph of the Cirripedia.

During some part of the day I wrote my Journal, and took much
pains in describing carefully and vividly all that I had seen;
and this was good practice. My Journal served also, in part, as
letters to my home, and portions were sent to England whenever
there was an opportunity.

The above various special studies were, however, of no importance
compared with the habit of energetic industry and of concentrated
attention to whatever I was engaged in, which I then acquired.
Everything about which I thought or read was made to bear
directly on what I had seen or was likely to see; and this habit
of mind was continued during the five years of the voyage. I
feel sure that it was this training which has enabled me to do
whatever I have done in science.

Thus training holds an important place in success stories. This is also evident from the training acquired from auto trading robots that increase the level of understanding and ease the process of active investing. Blog posts are a clear evidence of its success. See post to know more.

Looking backwards, I can now perceive how my love for science
gradually preponderated over every other taste. During the first
two years my old passion for shooting survived in nearly full
force, and I shot myself all the birds and animals for my
collection; but gradually I gave up my gun more and more, and
finally altogether, to my servant, as shooting interfered with my
work, more especially with making out the geological structure of
a country. I discovered, though unconsciously and insensibly,
that the pleasure of observing and reasoning was a much higher
one than that of skill and sport. That my mind became developed
through my pursuits during the voyage is rendered probable by a
remark made by my father, who was the most acute observer whom I
ever saw, of a sceptical disposition, and far from being a
believer in phrenology; for on first seeing me after the voyage,
he turned round to my sisters, and exclaimed, “Why, the shape of
his head is quite altered.”

To return to the voyage. On September 11th (1831), I paid a
flying visit with Fitz-Roy to the “Beagle” at Plymouth. Thence
to Shrewsbury to wish my father and sisters a long farewell. On
October 24th I took up my residence at Plymouth, and remained
there until December 27th, when the “Beagle” finally left the
shores of England for her circumnavigation of the world. We made
two earlier attempts to sail, but were driven back each time by
heavy gales. These two months at Plymouth were the most
miserable which I ever spent, though I exerted myself in various
ways. I was out of spirits at the thought of leaving all my
family and friends for so long a time, and the weather seemed to
me inexpressibly gloomy. I was also troubled with palpitation
and pain about the heart, and like many a young ignorant man,
especially one with a smattering of medical knowledge, was
convinced that I had heart disease. I did not consult any
doctor, as I fully expected to hear the verdict that I was not
fit for the voyage, and I was resolved to go at all hazards.

I need not here refer to the events of the voyage–where we went
and what we did–as I have given a sufficiently full account in
my published Journal. The glories of the vegetation of the
Tropics rise before my mind at the present time more vividly than
anything else; though the sense of sublimity, which the great
deserts of Patagonia and the forest-clad mountains of Tierra del
Fuego excited in me, has left an indelible impression on my mind.
The sight of a naked savage in his native land is an event which
can never be forgotten. Many of my excursions on horseback
through wild countries, or in the boats, some of which lasted
several weeks, were deeply interesting: their discomfort and
some degree of danger were at that time hardly a drawback, and
none at all afterwards. I also reflect with high satisfaction on
some of my scientific work, such as solving the problem of coral
islands, and making out the geological structure of certain
islands, for instance, St. Helena. Nor must I pass over the
discovery of the singular relations of the animals and plants
inhabiting the several islands of the Galapagos archipelago, and
of all of them to the inhabitants of South America.

As far as I can judge of myself, I worked to the utmost during
the voyage from the mere pleasure of investigation, and from my
strong desire to add a few facts to the great mass of facts in
Natural Science. But I was also ambitious to take a fair place
among scientific men,–whether more ambitious or less so than
most of my fellow-workers, I can form no opinion.

The geology of St. Jago is very striking, yet simple: a stream
of lava formerly flowed over the bed of the sea, formed of
triturated recent shells and corals, which it has baked into a
hard white rock. Since then the whole island has been upheaved.
But the line of white rock revealed to me a new and important
fact, namely, that there had been afterwards subsidence round the
craters, which had since been in action, and had poured forth
lava. It then first dawned on me that I might perhaps write a
book on the geology of the various countries visited, and this
made me thrill with delight. That was a memorable hour to me,
and how distinctly I can call to mind the low cliff of lava
beneath which I rested, with the sun glaring hot, a few strange
desert plants growing near, and with living corals in the tidal
pools at my feet. Later in the voyage, Fitz-Roy asked me to read
some of my Journal, and declared it would be worth publishing; so
here was a second book in prospect!

Towards the close of our voyage I received a letter whilst at
Ascension, in which my sisters told me that Sedgwick had called
on my father, and said that I should take a place among the
leading scientific men. I could not at the time understand how
he could have learnt anything of my proceedings, but I heard (I
believe afterwards) that Henslow had read some of the letters
which I wrote to him before the Philosophical Society of
Cambridge (Read at the meeting held November 16, 1835, and
printed in a pamphlet of 31 pages for distribution among the
members of the Society.), and had printed them for private
distribution. My collection of fossil bones, which had been sent
to Henslow, also excited considerable attention amongst
palaeontologists. After reading this letter, I clambered over
the mountains of Ascension with a bounding step, and made the
volcanic rocks resound under my geological hammer. All this
shows how ambitious I was; but I think that I can say with truth
that in after years, though I cared in the highest degree for the
approbation of such men as Lyell and Hooker, who were my friends,
I did not care much about the general public. I do not mean to
say that a favourable review or a large sale of my books did not
please me greatly, but the pleasure was a fleeting one, and I am
sure that I have never turned one inch out of my course to gain
fame.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

Cambridge 1828-1831

After having spent two sessions in Edinburgh, my father
perceived, or he heard from my sisters, that I did not like the
thought of being a physician, so he proposed that I should become
a clergyman. He was very properly vehement against my turning
into an idle sporting man, which then seemed my probable
destination. I asked for some time to consider, as from what
little I had heard or thought on the subject I had scruples about
declaring my belief in all the dogmas of the Church of England;
though otherwise I liked the thought of being a country
clergyman. Accordingly I read with care ‘Pearson on the Creed,’
and a few other books on divinity; and as I did not then in the
least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word in the
Bible, I soon persuaded myself that our Creed must be fully
accepted.

Considering how fiercely I have been attacked by the orthodox, it
seems ludicrous that I once intended to be a clergyman. Nor was
this intention and my father’s wish ever formerly given up, but
died a natural death when, on leaving Cambridge, I joined the
“Beagle” as naturalist. If the phrenologists are to be trusted,
I was well fitted in one respect to be a clergyman. A few years
ago the secretaries of a German psychological society asked me
earnestly by letter for a photograph of myself; and some time
afterwards I received the proceedings of one of the meetings, in
which it seemed that the shape of my head had been the subject of
a public discussion, and one of the speakers declared that I had
the bump of reverence developed enough for ten priests.

As it was decided that I should be a clergyman, it was necessary
that I should go to one of the English universities and take a
degree; but as I had never opened a classical book since leaving
school, I found to my dismay, that in the two intervening years I
had actually forgotten, incredible as it may appear, almost
everything which I had learnt, even to some few of the Greek
letters. I did not therefore proceed to Cambridge at the usual
time in October, but worked with a private tutor in Shrewsbury,
and went to Cambridge after the Christmas vacation, early in
1828. I soon recovered my school standard of knowledge, and
could translate easy Greek books, such as Homer and the Greek
Testament, with moderate facility.

During the three years which I spent at Cambridge my time was
wasted, as far as the academical studies were concerned, as
completely as at Edinburgh and at school. I attempted
mathematics, and even went during the summer of 1828 with a
private tutor (a very dull man) to Barmouth, but I got on very
slowly. The work was repugnant to me, chiefly from my not being
able to see any meaning in the early steps in algebra. This
impatience was very foolish, and in after years I have deeply
regretted that I did not proceed far enough at least to
understand something of the great leading principles of
mathematics, for men thus endowed seem to have an extra sense.
But I do not believe that I should ever have succeeded beyond a
very low grade. With respect to Classics I did nothing except
attend a few compulsory college lectures, and the attendance was
almost nominal. In my second year I had to work for a month or
two to pass the Little-Go, which I did easily. Again, in my last
year I worked with some earnestness for my final degree of B.A.,
and brushed up my Classics, together with a little Algebra and
Euclid, which latter gave me much pleasure, as it did at school.
In order to pass the B.A. examination, it was also necessary to
get up Paley’s ‘Evidences of Christianity,’ and his ‘Moral
Philosophy.’ This was done in a thorough manner, and I am
convinced that I could have written out the whole of the
‘Evidences’ with perfect correctness, but not of course in the
clear language of Paley. The logic of this book and, as I may
add, of his ‘Natural Theology,’ gave me as much delight as did
Euclid. The careful study of these works, without attempting to
learn any part by rote, was the only part of the academical
course which, as I then felt and as I still believe, was of the
least use to me in the education of my mind. I did not at that
time trouble myself about Paley’s premises; and taking these on
trust, I was charmed and convinced by the long line of
argumentation. By answering well the examination questions in
Paley, by doing Euclid well, and by not failing miserably in
Classics, I gained a good place among the oi polloi or crowd of
men who do not go in for honours. Oddly enough, I cannot
remember how high I stood, and my memory fluctuates between the
fifth, tenth, or twelfth, name on the list. (Tenth in the list
of January 1831.)

Public lectures on several branches were given in the University,
attendance being quite voluntary; but I was so sickened with
lectures at Edinburgh that I did not even attend Sedgwick’s
eloquent and interesting lectures. Had I done so I should
probably have become a geologist earlier than I did. I attended,
however, Henslow’s lectures on Botany, and liked them much for
their extreme clearness, and the admirable illustrations; but I
did not study botany. Henslow used to take his pupils, including
several of the older members of the University, field excursions,
on foot or in coaches, to distant places, or in a barge down the
river, and lectured on the rarer plants and animals which were
observed. These excursions were delightful.

Although, as we shall presently see, there were some redeeming
features in my life at Cambridge, my time was sadly wasted there,
and worse than wasted. From my passion for shooting and for
hunting, and, when this failed, for riding across country, I got
into a sporting set, including some dissipated low-minded young
men. We used often to dine together in the evening, though these
dinners often included men of a higher stamp, and we sometimes
drank too much, with jolly singing and playing at cards
afterwards. I know that I ought to feel ashamed of days and
evenings thus spent, but as some of my friends were very
pleasant, and we were all in the highest spirits, I cannot help
looking back to these times with much pleasure.

But I am glad to think that I had many other friends of a widely
different nature. I was very intimate with Whitley (Rev. C.
Whitley, Hon. Canon of Durham, formerly Reader in Natural
Philosophy in Durham University.), who was afterwards Senior
Wrangler, and we used continually to take long walks together.
He inoculated me with a taste for pictures and good engravings,
of which I bought some. I frequently went to the Fitzwilliam
Gallery, and my taste must have been fairly good, for I certainly
admired the best pictures, which I discussed with the old
curator. I read also with much interest Sir Joshua Reynolds’
book. This taste, though not natural to me, lasted for several
years, and many of the pictures in the National Gallery in London
gave me much pleasure; that of Sebastian del Piombo exciting in
me a sense of sublimity.

I also got into a musical set, I believe by means of my warm-
hearted friend, Herbert (The late John Maurice Herbert, County
Court Judge of Cardiff and the Monmouth Circuit.), who took a
high wrangler’s degree. From associating with these men, and
hearing them play, I acquired a strong taste for music, and used
very often to time my walks so as to hear on week days the anthem
in King’s College Chapel. This gave me intense pleasure, so that
my backbone would sometimes shiver. I am sure that there was no
affectation or mere imitation in this taste, for I used generally
to go by myself to King’s College, and I sometimes hired the
chorister boys to sing in my rooms. Nevertheless I am so utterly
destitute of an ear, that I cannot perceive a discord, or keep
time and hum a tune correctly; and it is a mystery how I could
possibly have derived pleasure from music.

My musical friends soon perceived my state, and sometimes amused
themselves by making me pass an examination, which consisted in
ascertaining how many tunes I could recognise when they were
played rather more quickly or slowly than usual. ‘God save the
King,’ when thus played, was a sore puzzle. There was another
man with almost as bad an ear as I had, and strange to say he
played a little on the flute. Once I had the triumph of beating
him in one of our musical examinations.

But no pursuit at Cambridge was followed with nearly so much
eagerness or gave me so much pleasure as collecting beetles. It
was the mere passion for collecting, for I did not dissect them,
and rarely compared their external characters with published
descriptions, but got them named anyhow. I will give a proof of
my zeal: one day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare
beetles, and seized one in each hand; then I saw a third and new
kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one
which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas! it ejected
some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was
forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as was the third
one.

I was very successful in collecting, and invented two new
methods; I employed a labourer to scrape during the winter, moss
off old trees and place it in a large bag, and likewise to
collect the rubbish at the bottom of the barges in which reeds
are brought from the fens, and thus I got some very rare species.
No poet ever felt more delighted at seeing his first poem
published than I did at seeing, in Stephens’ ‘Illustrations of
British Insects,’ the magic words, “captured by C. Darwin, Esq.”
I was introduced to entomology by my second cousin W. Darwin Fox,
a clever and most pleasant man, who was then at Christ’s College,
and with whom I became extremely intimate. Afterwards I became
well acquainted, and went out collecting, with Albert Way of
Trinity, who in after years became a well-known archaeologist;
also with H. Thompson of the same College, afterwards a leading
agriculturist, chairman of a great railway, and Member of
Parliament. It seems therefore that a taste for collecting
beetles is some indication of future success in life!

I am surprised what an indelible impression many of the beetles
which I caught at Cambridge have left on my mind. I can remember
the exact appearance of certain posts, old trees and banks where
I made a good capture. The pretty Panagaeus crux-major was a
treasure in those days, and here at Down I saw a beetle running
across a walk, and on picking it up instantly perceived that it
differed slightly from P. crux-major, and it turned out to be P.
quadripunctatus, which is only a variety or closely allied
species, differing from it very slightly in outline. I had never
seen in those old days Licinus alive, which to an uneducated eye
hardly differs from many of the black Carabidous beetles; but my
sons found here a specimen, and I instantly recognised that it
was new to me; yet I had not looked at a British beetle for the
last twenty years.

I have not as yet mentioned a circumstance which influenced my
whole career more than any other. This was my friendship with
Professor Henslow. Before coming up to Cambridge, I had heard of
him from my brother as a man who knew every branch of science,
and I was accordingly prepared to reverence him. He kept open
house once every week when all undergraduates, and some older
members of the University, who were attached to science, used to
meet in the evening. I soon got, through Fox, an invitation, and
went there regularly. Before long I became well acquainted with
Henslow, and during the latter half of my time at Cambridge took
long walks with him on most days; so that I was called by some of
the dons “the man who walks with Henslow;” and in the evening I
was very often asked to join his family dinner. His knowledge
was great in botany, entomology, chemistry, mineralogy, and
geology. His strongest taste was to draw conclusions from long-
continued minute observations. His judgment was excellent, and
his whole mind well balanced; but I do not suppose that any one
would say that he possessed much original genius. He was deeply
religious, and so orthodox that he told me one day he should be
grieved if a single word of the Thirty-nine Articles were
altered. His moral qualities were in every way admirable. He
was free from every tinge of vanity or other petty feeling; and I
never saw a man who thought so little about himself or his own
concerns. His temper was imperturbably good, with the most
winning and courteous manners; yet, as I have seen, he could be
roused by any bad action to the warmest indignation and prompt
action.

I once saw in his company in the streets of Cambridge almost as
horrid a scene as could have been witnessed during the French
Revolution. Two body-snatchers had been arrested, and whilst
being taken to prison had been torn from the constable by a crowd
of the roughest men, who dragged them by their legs along the
muddy and stony road. They were covered from head to foot with
mud, and their faces were bleeding either from having been kicked
or from the stones; they looked like corpses, but the crowd was
so dense that I got only a few momentary glimpses of the wretched
creatures. Never in my life have I seen such wrath painted on a
man’s face as was shown by Henslow at this horrid scene. He
tried repeatedly to penetrate the mob; but it was simply
impossible. He then rushed away to the mayor, telling me not to
follow him, but to get more policemen. I forget the issue,
except that the two men were got into the prison without being
killed.

Henslow’s benevolence was unbounded, as he proved by his many
excellent schemes for his poor parishioners, when in after years
he held the living of Hitcham. My intimacy with such a man ought
to have been, and I hope was, an inestimable benefit. I cannot
resist mentioning a trifling incident, which showed his kind
consideration. Whilst examining some pollen-grains on a damp
surface, I saw the tubes exserted, and instantly rushed off to
communicate my surprising discovery to him. Now I do not suppose
any other professor of botany could have helped laughing at my
coming in such a hurry to make such a communication. But he
agreed how interesting the phenomenon was, and explained its
meaning, but made me clearly understand how well it was known; so
I left him not in the least mortified, but well pleased at having
discovered for myself so remarkable a fact, but determined not to
be in such a hurry again to communicate my discoveries.

Dr. Whewell was one of the older and distinguished men who
sometimes visited Henslow, and on several occasions I walked home
with him at night. Next to Sir J. Mackintosh he was the best
converser on grave subjects to whom I ever listened. Leonard
Jenyns (The well-known Soame Jenyns was cousin to Mr. Jenyns’
father.), who afterwards published some good essays in Natural
History (Mr. Jenyns (now Blomefield) described the fish for the
Zoology of the “Beagle”; and is author of a long series of
papers, chiefly Zoological.), often stayed with Henslow, who was
his brother-in-law. I visited him at his parsonage on the
borders of the Fens [Swaffham Bulbeck], and had many a good walk
and talk with him about Natural History. I became also
acquainted with several other men older than me, who did not care
much about science, but were friends of Henslow. One was a
Scotchman, brother of Sir Alexander Ramsay, and tutor of Jesus
College: he was a delightful man, but did not live for many
years. Another was Mr. Dawes, afterwards Dean of Hereford, and
famous for his success in the education of the poor. These men
and others of the same standing, together with Henslow, used
sometimes to take distant excursions into the country, which I
was allowed to join, and they were most agreeable.

Looking back, I infer that there must have been something in me a
little superior to the common run of youths, otherwise the above-
mentioned men, so much older than me and higher in academical
position, would never have allowed me to associate with them.
Certainly I was not aware of any such superiority, and I remember
one of my sporting friends, Turner, who saw me at work with my
beetles, saying that I should some day be a Fellow of the Royal
Society, and the notion seemed to me preposterous.

During my last year at Cambridge, I read with care and profound
interest Humboldt’s ‘Personal Narrative.’ This work, and Sir J.
Herschel’s ‘Introduction to the Study of Natural Philosophy,’
stirred up in me a burning zeal to add even the most humble
contribution to the noble structure of Natural Science. No one
or a dozen other books influenced me nearly so much as these two.
I copied out from Humboldt long passages about Teneriffe, and
read them aloud on one of the above-mentioned excursions, to (I
think) Henslow, Ramsay, and Dawes, for on a previous occasion I
had talked about the glories of Teneriffe, and some of the party
declared they would endeavour to go there; but I think that they
were only half in earnest. I was, however, quite in earnest, and
got an introduction to a merchant in London to enquire about
ships; but the scheme was, of course, knocked on the head by the
voyage of the “Beagle”.

My summer vacations were given up to collecting beetles, to some
reading, and short tours. In the autumn my whole time was
devoted to shooting, chiefly at Woodhouse and Maer, and sometimes
with young Eyton of Eyton. Upon the whole the three years which
I spent at Cambridge were the most joyful in my happy life; for I
was then in excellent health, and almost always in high spirits.

As I had at first come up to Cambridge at Christmas, I was forced
to keep two terms after passing my final examination, at the
commencement of 1831; and Henslow then persuaded me to begin the
study of geology. Therefore on my return to Shropshire I
examined sections, and coloured a map of parts round Shrewsbury.
Professor Sedgwick intended to visit North Wales in the beginning
of August to pursue his famous geological investigations amongst
the older rocks, and Henslow asked him to allow me to accompany
him. (In connection with this tour my father used to tell a
story about Sedgwick: they had started from their inn one
morning, and had walked a mile or two, when Sedgwick suddenly
stopped, and vowed that he would return, being certain “that
damned scoundrel” (the waiter) had not given the chambermaid the
sixpence intrusted to him for the purpose. He was ultimately
persuaded to give up the project, seeing that there was no reason
for suspecting the waiter of especial perfidy.–F.D.)
Accordingly he came and slept at my father’s house.

A short conversation with him during this evening produced a
strong impression on my mind. Whilst examining an old gravel-pit
near Shrewsbury, a labourer told me that he had found in it a
large worn tropical Volute shell, such as may be seen on the
chimney-pieces of cottages; and as he would not sell the shell, I
was convinced that he had really found it in the pit. I told
Sedgwick of the fact, and he at once said (no doubt truly) that
it must have been thrown away by some one into the pit; but then
added, if really embedded there it would be the greatest
misfortune to geology, as it would overthrow all that we know
about the superficial deposits of the Midland Counties. These
gravel-beds belong in fact to the glacial period, and in after
years I found in them broken arctic shells. But I was then
utterly astonished at Sedgwick not being delighted at so
wonderful a fact as a tropical shell being found near the surface
in the middle of England. Nothing before had ever made me
thoroughly realise, though I had read various scientific books,
that science consists in grouping facts so that general laws or
conclusions may be drawn from them.

It can be very well compared to the different facts in the trading world like the economy downturns, currency fluctuations, demand and supply etc. Grouping of these facts from an important source and their inference will help us in investing in cryptocurrencies and forex to earn profits.

Next morning we started for Llangollen, Conway, Bangor, and Capel
Curig. This tour was of decided use in teaching me a little how
to make out the geology of a country. Sedgwick often sent me on
a line parallel to his, telling me to bring back specimens of the
rocks and to mark the stratification on a map. I have little
doubt that he did this for my good, as I was too ignorant to have
aided him. On this tour I had a striking instance of how easy it
is to overlook phenomena, however conspicuous, before they have
been observed by any one. We spent many hours in Cwm Idwal,
examining all the rocks with extreme care, as Sedgwick was
anxious to find fossils in them; but neither of us saw a trace of
the wonderful glacial phenomena all around us; we did not notice
the plainly scored rocks, the perched boulders, the lateral and
terminal moraines. Yet these phenomena are so conspicuous that,
as I declared in a paper published many years afterwards in the
‘Philosophical Magazine’ (‘Philosophical Magazine,’ 1842.), a
house burnt down by fire did not tell its story more plainly than
did this valley. If it had still been filled by a glacier, the
phenomena would have been less distinct than they now are.

At Capel Curig I left Sedgwick and went in a straight line by
compass and map across the mountains to Barmouth, never following
any track unless it coincided with my course. I thus came on
some strange wild places, and enjoyed much this manner of
travelling. I visited Barmouth to see some Cambridge friends who
were reading there, and thence returned to Shrewsbury and to Maer
for shooting; for at that time I should have thought myself mad
to give up the first days of partridge-shooting for geology or
any other science.

[ The Autobiography of Charles Darwin : Early Years ]

A German Editor having written to me for an account of the
development of my mind and character with some sketch of my
autobiography, I have thought that the attempt would amuse me,
and might possibly interest my children or their children. I
know that it would have interested me greatly to have read even
so short and dull a sketch of the mind of my grandfather, written
by himself, and what he thought and did, and how he worked. I
have attempted to write the following account of myself, as if I
were a dead man in another world looking back at my own life.
Nor have I found this difficult, for life is nearly over with me.
I have taken no pains about my style of writing.

I was born at Shrewsbury on February 12th, 1809, and my earliest
recollection goes back only to when I was a few months over four
years old, when we went to near Abergele for sea-bathing, and I
recollect some events and places there with some little
distinctness.

My mother died in July 1817, when I was a little over eight years
old, and it is odd that I can remember hardly anything about her
except her death-bed, her black velvet gown, and her curiously
constructed work-table. In the spring of this same year I was
sent to a day-school in Shrewsbury, where I stayed a year. I
have been told that I was much slower in learning than my younger
sister Catherine, and I believe that I was in many ways a naughty
boy.

By the time I went to this day-school (Kept by Rev. G. Case,
minister of the Unitarian Chapel in the High Street. Mrs. Darwin
was a Unitarian and attended Mr. Case’s chapel, and my father as
a little boy went there with his elder sisters. But both he and
his brother were christened and intended to belong to the Church
of England; and after his early boyhood he seems usually to have
gone to church and not to Mr. Case’s. It appears (“St. James’
Gazette”, Dec. 15, 1883) that a mural tablet has been erected to
his memory in the chapel, which is now known as the ‘Free
Christian Church.’) my taste for natural history, and more
especially for collecting, was well developed. I tried to make
out the names of plants (Rev. W.A. Leighton, who was a
schoolfellow of my father’s at Mr. Case’s school, remembers his
bringing a flower to school and saying that his mother had taught
him how by looking at the inside of the blossom the name of the
plant could be discovered. Mr. Leighton goes on, “This greatly
roused my attention and curiosity, and I enquired of him
repeatedly how this could be done?”–but his lesson was naturally
enough not transmissible.–F.D.), and collected all sorts of
things, shells, seals, franks, coins, and minerals. The passion
for collecting which leads a man to be a systematic naturalist, a
virtuoso, or a miser, was very strong in me, and was clearly
innate, as none of my sisters or brother ever had this taste.

One little event during this year has fixed itself very firmly in
my mind, and I hope that it has done so from my conscience having
been afterwards sorely troubled by it; it is curious as showing
that apparently I was interested at this early age in the
variability of plants! I told another little boy (I believe it
was Leighton, who afterwards became a well-known lichenologist
and botanist), that I could produce variously coloured
polyanthuses and primroses by watering them with certain coloured
fluids, which was of course a monstrous fable, and had never been
tried by me. I may here also confess that as a little boy I was
much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this was
always done for the sake of causing excitement. For instance, I
once gathered much valuable fruit from my father’s trees and hid
it in the shrubbery, and then ran in breathless haste to spread
the news that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit.

I must have been a very simple little fellow when I first went to
the school. A boy of the name of Garnett took me into a cake
shop one day, and bought some cakes for which he did not pay, as
the shopman trusted him. When we came out I asked him why he did
not pay for them, and he instantly answered, “Why, do you not
know that my uncle left a great sum of money to the town on
condition that every tradesman should give whatever was wanted
without payment to any one who wore his old hat and moved [it] in
a particular manner?” and he then showed me how it was moved. He
then went into another shop where he was trusted, and asked for
some small article, moving his hat in the proper manner, and of
course obtained it without payment. When we came out he said,
“Now if you like to go by yourself into that cake-shop (how well
I remember its exact position) I will lend you my hat, and you
can get whatever you like if you move the hat on your head
properly.” I gladly accepted the generous offer, and went in and
asked for some cakes, moved the old hat and was walking out of
the shop, when the shopman made a rush at me, so I dropped the
cakes and ran for dear life, and was astonished by being greeted
with shouts of laughter by my false friend Garnett.

I can say in my own favour that I was as a boy humane, but I owed
this entirely to the instruction and example of my sisters. I
doubt indeed whether humanity is a natural or innate quality. I
was very fond of collecting eggs, but I never took more than a
single egg out of a bird’s nest, except on one single occasion,
when I took all, not for their value, but from a sort of bravado.

I had a strong taste for angling, and would sit for any number of
hours on the bank of a river or pond watching the float; when at
Maer (The house of his uncle, Josiah Wedgwood.) I was told that I
could kill the worms with salt and water, and from that day I
never spitted a living worm, though at the expense probably of
some loss of success.

Once as a very little boy whilst at the day school, or before
that time, I acted cruelly, for I beat a puppy, I believe, simply
from enjoying the sense of power; but the beating could not have
been severe, for the puppy did not howl, of which I feel sure, as
the spot was near the house. This act lay heavily on my
conscience, as is shown by my remembering the exact spot where
the crime was committed. It probably lay all the heavier from my
love of dogs being then, and for a long time afterwards, a
passion. Dogs seemed to know this, for I was an adept in robbing
their love from their masters.

I remember clearly only one other incident during this year
whilst at Mr. Case’s daily school,–namely, the burial of a
dragoon soldier; and it is surprising how clearly I can still see
the horse with the man’s empty boots and carbine suspended to the
saddle, and the firing over the grave. This scene deeply stirred
whatever poetic fancy there was in me.

In the summer of 1818 I went to Dr. Butler’s great school in
Shrewsbury, and remained there for seven years still Midsummer
1825, when I was sixteen years old. I boarded at this school, so
that I had the great advantage of living the life of a true
schoolboy; but as the distance was hardly more than a mile to my
home, I very often ran there in the longer intervals between the
callings over and before locking up at night. This, I think, was
in many ways advantageous to me by keeping up home affections and
interests. I remember in the early part of my school life that I
often had to run very quickly to be in time, and from being a
fleet runner was generally successful; but when in doubt I prayed
earnestly to God to help me, and I well remember that I
attributed my success to the prayers and not to my quick running,
and marvelled how generally I was aided.

I have heard my father and elder sister say that I had, as a very
young boy, a strong taste for long solitary walks; but what I
thought about I know not. I often became quite absorbed, and
once, whilst returning to school on the summit of the old
fortifications round Shrewsbury, which had been converted into a
public foot-path with no parapet on one side, I walked off and
fell to the ground, but the height was only seven or eight feet.
Nevertheless the number of thoughts which passed through my mind
during this very short, but sudden and wholly unexpected fall,
was astonishing, and seem hardly compatible with what
physiologists have, I believe, proved about each thought
requiring quite an appreciable amount of time.

Nothing could have been worse for the development of my mind than
Dr. Butler’s school, as it was strictly classical, nothing else
being taught, except a little ancient geography and history. The
school as a means of education to me was simply a blank. During
my whole life I have been singularly incapable of mastering any
language. Especial attention was paid to verse-making, and this
I could never do well. I had many friends, and got together a
good collection of old verses, which by patching together,
sometimes aided by other boys, I could work into any subject.
Much attention was paid to learning by heart the lessons of the
previous day; this I could effect with great facility, learning
forty or fifty lines of Virgil or Homer, whilst I was in morning
chapel; but this exercise was utterly useless, for every verse
was forgotten in forty-eight hours. I was not idle, and with the
exception of versification, generally worked conscientiously at
my classics, not using cribs. The sole pleasure I ever received
from such studies, was from some of the odes of Horace, which I
admired greatly.

When I left the school I was for my age neither high nor low in
it; and I believe that I was considered by all my masters and by
my father as a very ordinary boy, rather below the common
standard in intellect. To my deep mortification my father once
said to me, “You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-
catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your
family.” But my father, who was the kindest man I ever knew and
whose memory I love with all my heart, must have been angry and
somewhat unjust when he used such words.

Looking back as well as I can at my character during my school
life, the only qualities which at this period promised well for
the future, were, that I had strong and diversified tastes, much
zeal for whatever interested me, and a keen pleasure in
understanding any complex subject or thing. I was taught Euclid
by a private tutor, and I distinctly remember the intense
satisfaction which the clear geometrical proofs gave me. I
remember, with equal distinctness, the delight which my uncle
gave me (the father of Francis Galton) by explaining the
principle of the vernier of a barometer. with respect to
diversified tastes, independently of science, I was fond of
reading various books, and I used to sit for hours reading the
historical plays of Shakespeare, generally in an old window in
the thick walls of the school. I read also other poetry, such as
Thomson’s ‘Seasons,’ and the recently published poems of Byron
and Scott. I mention this because later in life I wholly lost,
to my great regret, all pleasure from poetry of any kind,
including Shakespeare. In connection with pleasure from poetry,
I may add that in 1822 a vivid delight in scenery was first
awakened in my mind, during a riding tour on the borders of
Wales, and this has lasted longer than any other aesthetic
pleasure.

Early in my school days a boy had a copy of the ‘Wonders of the
World,’ which I often read, and disputed with other boys about
the veracity of some of the statements; and I believe that this
book first gave me a wish to travel in remote countries, which
was ultimately fulfilled by the voyage of the “Beagle”. In the
latter part of my school life I became passionately fond of
shooting; I do not believe that any one could have shown more
zeal for the most holy cause than I did for shooting birds. How
well I remember killing my first snipe, and my excitement was so
great that I had much difficulty in reloading my gun from the
trembling of my hands. This taste long continued, and I became a
very good shot. When at Cambridge I used to practise throwing up
my gun to my shoulder before a looking-glass to see that I threw
it up straight. Another and better plan was to get a friend to
wave about a lighted candle, and then to fire at it with a cap on
the nipple, and if the aim was accurate the little puff of air
would blow out the candle. The explosion of the cap caused a
sharp crack, and I was told that the tutor of the college
remarked, “What an extraordinary thing it is, Mr. Darwin seems to
spend hours in cracking a horse-whip in his room, for I often
hear the crack when I pass under his windows.”

I had many friends amongst the schoolboys, whom I loved dearly,
and I think that my disposition was then very affectionate.

With respect to science, I continued collecting minerals with
much zeal, but quite unscientifically–all that I cared about was
a new-NAMED mineral, and I hardly attempted to classify them. I
must have observed insects with some little care, for when ten
years old (1819) I went for three weeks to Plas Edwards on the
sea-coast in Wales, I was very much interested and surprised at
seeing a large black and scarlet Hemipterous insect, many moths
(Zygaena), and a Cicindela which are not found in Shropshire. I
almost made up my mind to begin collecting all the insects which
I could find dead, for on consulting my sister I concluded that
it was not right to kill insects for the sake of making a
collection. From reading White’s ‘Selborne,’ I took much
pleasure in watching the habits of birds, and even made notes on
the subject. In my simplicity I remember wondering why every
gentleman did not become an ornithologist.

Towards the close of my school life, my brother worked hard at
chemistry, and made a fair laboratory with proper apparatus in
the tool-house in the garden, and I was allowed to aid him as a
servant in most of his experiments. He made all the gases and
many compounds, and I read with great care several books on
chemistry, such as Henry and Parkes’ ‘Chemical Catechism.’ The
subject interested me greatly, and we often used to go on working
till rather late at night. This was the best part of my
education at school, for it showed me practically the meaning of
experimental science. The fact that we worked at chemistry
somehow got known at school, and as it was an unprecedented fact,
I was nicknamed “Gas.” I was also once publicly rebuked by the
head-master, Dr. Butler, for thus wasting my time on such useless
subjects; and he called me very unjustly a “poco curante,” and as
I did not understand what he meant, it seemed to me a fearful
reproach.

As I was doing no good at school, my father wisely took me away
at a rather earlier age than usual, and sent me (Oct. 1825) to
Edinburgh University with my brother, where I stayed for two
years or sessions. My brother was completing his medical
studies, though I do not believe he ever really intended to
practise, and I was sent there to commence them. But soon after
this period I became convinced from various small circumstances
that my father would leave me property enough to subsist on with
some comfort, though I never imagined that I should be so rich a
man as I am; but my belief was sufficient to check any strenuous
efforts to learn medicine.

The instruction at Edinburgh was altogether by lectures, and
these were intolerably dull, with the exception of those on
chemistry by Hope; but to my mind there are no advantages and
many disadvantages in lectures compared with reading. Dr.
Duncan’s lectures on Materia Medica at 8 o’clock on a winter’s
morning are something fearful to remember. Dr.– made his
lectures on human anatomy as dull as he was himself, and the
subject disgusted me. It has proved one of the greatest evils in
my life that I was not urged to practise dissection, for I should
soon have got over my disgust; and the practice would have been
invaluable for all my future work. This has been an irremediable
evil, as well as my incapacity to draw. I also attended
regularly the clinical wards in the hospital. Some of the cases
distressed me a good deal, and I still have vivid pictures before
me of some of them; but I was not so foolish as to allow this to
lessen my attendance. I cannot understand why this part of my
medical course did not interest me in a greater degree; for
during the summer before coming to Edinburgh I began attending
some of the poor people, chiefly children and women in
Shrewsbury: I wrote down as full an account as I could of the
case with all the symptoms, and read them aloud to my father, who
suggested further inquiries and advised me what medicines to
give, which I made up myself. At one time I had at least a dozen
patients, and I felt a keen interest in the work. My father, who
was by far the best judge of character whom I ever knew, declared
that I should make a successful physician,–meaning by this one
who would get many patients. He maintained that the chief
element of success was exciting confidence; but what he saw in me
which convinced him that I should create confidence I know not.
I also attended on two occasions the operating theatre in the
hospital at Edinburgh, and saw two very bad operations, one on a
child, but I rushed away before they were completed. Nor did I
ever attend again, for hardly any inducement would have been
strong enough to make me do so; this being long before the
blessed days of chloroform. The two cases fairly haunted me for
many a long year.

My brother stayed only one year at the University, so that during
the second year I was left to my own resources; and this was an
advantage, for I became well acquainted with several young men
fond of natural science. One of these was Ainsworth, who
afterwards published his travels in Assyria; he was a Wernerian
geologist, and knew a little about many subjects. Dr. Coldstream
was a very different young man, prim, formal, highly religious,
and most kind-hearted; he afterwards published some good
zoological articles. A third young man was Hardie, who would, I
think, have made a good botanist, but died early in India.
Lastly, Dr. Grant, my senior by several years, but how I became
acquainted with him I cannot remember; he published some first-
rate zoological papers, but after coming to London as Professor
in University College, he did nothing more in science, a fact
which has always been inexplicable to me. I knew him well; he
was dry and formal in manner, with much enthusiasm beneath this
outer crust. He one day, when we were walking together, burst
forth in high admiration of Lamarck and his views on evolution.
I listened in silent astonishment, and as far as I can judge
without any effect on my mind. I had previously read the
‘Zoonomia’ of my grandfather, in which similar views are
maintained, but without producing any effect on me. Nevertheless
it is probable that the hearing rather early in life such views
maintained and praised may have favoured my upholding them under
a different form in my ‘Origin of Species.’ At this time I
admired greatly the ‘Zoonomia;’ but on reading it a second time
after an interval of ten or fifteen years, I was much
disappointed; the proportion of speculation being so large to the
facts given.

Drs. Grant and Coldstream attended much to marine Zoology, and I
often accompanied the former to collect animals in the tidal
pools, which I dissected as well as I could. I also became
friends with some of the Newhaven fishermen, and sometimes
accompanied them when they trawled for oysters, and thus got many
specimens. But from not having had any regular practice in
dissection, and from possessing only a wretched microscope, my
attempts were very poor. Nevertheless I made one interesting
little discovery, and read, about the beginning of the year 1826,
a short paper on the subject before the Plinian Society. This
was that the so-called ova of Flustra had the power of
independent movement by means of cilia, and were in fact larvae.
In another short paper I showed that the little globular bodies
which had been supposed to be the young state of Fucus loreus
were the egg-cases of the wormlike Pontobdella muricata.

The Plinian Society was encouraged and, I believe, founded by
Professor Jameson: it consisted of students and met in an
underground room in the University for the sake of reading papers
on natural science and discussing them. I used regularly to
attend, and the meetings had a good effect on me in stimulating
my zeal and giving me new congenial acquaintances. One evening a
poor young man got up, and after stammering for a prodigious
length of time, blushing crimson, he at last slowly got out the
words, “Mr. President, I have forgotten what I was going to say.”
The poor fellow looked quite overwhelmed, and all the members
were so surprised that no one could think of a word to say to
cover his confusion. The papers which were read to our little
society were not printed, so that I had not the satisfaction of
seeing my paper in print; but I believe Dr. Grant noticed my
small discovery in his excellent memoir on Flustra.

I was also a member of the Royal Medical Society, and attended
pretty regularly; but as the subjects were exclusively medical, I
did not much care about them. Much rubbish was talked there, but
there were some good speakers, of whom the best was the present
Sir J. Kay-Shuttleworth. Dr. Grant took me occasionally to the
meetings of the Wernerian Society, where various papers on
natural history were read, discussed, and afterwards published in
the ‘Transactions.’ I heard Audubon deliver there some
interesting discourses on the habits of N. American birds,
sneering somewhat unjustly at Waterton. By the way, a negro
lived in Edinburgh, who had travelled with Waterton, and gained
his livelihood by stuffing birds, which he did excellently: he
gave me lessons for payment, and I used often to sit with him,
for he was a very pleasant and intelligent man.

Mr. Leonard Horner also took me once to a meeting of the Royal
Society of Edinburgh, where I saw Sir Walter Scott in the chair
as President, and he apologised to the meeting as not feeling
fitted for such a position. I looked at him and at the whole
scene with some awe and reverence, and I think it was owing to
this visit during my youth, and to my having attended the Royal
Medical Society, that I felt the honour of being elected a few
years ago an honorary member of both these Societies, more than
any other similar honour. If I had been told at that time that I
should one day have been thus honoured, I declare that I should
have thought it as ridiculous and improbable, as if I had been
told that I should be elected King of England.

During my second year at Edinburgh I attended –‘s lectures on
Geology and Zoology, but they were incredibly dull. The sole
effect they produced on me was the determination never as long as
I lived to read a book on Geology, or in any way to study the
science. Yet I feel sure that I was prepared for a philosophical
treatment of the subject; for an old Mr. Cotton in Shropshire,
who knew a good deal about rocks, had pointed out to me two or
three years previously a well-known large erratic boulder in the
town of Shrewsbury, called the “bell-stone”; he told me that
there was no rock of the same kind nearer than Cumberland or
Scotland, and he solemnly assured me that the world would come to
an end before any one would be able to explain how this stone
came where it now lay. This produced a deep impression on me,
and I meditated over this wonderful stone. So that I felt the
keenest delight when I first read of the action of icebergs in
transporting boulders, and I gloried in the progress of Geology.
Equally striking is the fact that I, though now only sixty-seven
years old, heard the Professor, in a field lecture at Salisbury
Craigs, discoursing on a trapdyke, with amygdaloidal margins and
the strata indurated on each side, with volcanic rocks all around
us, say that it was a fissure filled with sediment from above,
adding with a sneer that there were men who maintained that it
had been injected from beneath in a molten condition. When I
think of this lecture, I do not wonder that I determined never to
attend to Geology.

>From attending –‘s lectures, I became acquainted with the
curator of the museum, Mr. Macgillivray, who afterwards published
a large and excellent book on the birds of Scotland. I had much
interesting natural-history talk with him, and he was very kind
to me. He gave me some rare shells, for I at that time collected
marine mollusca, but with no great zeal.

My summer vacations during these two years were wholly given up
to amusements, though I always had some book in hand, which I
read with interest. During the summer of 1826 I took a long
walking tour with two friends with knapsacks on our backs through
North wales. We walked thirty miles most days, including one day
the ascent of Snowdon. I also went with my sister a riding tour
in North Wales, a servant with saddle-bags carrying our clothes.
The autumns were devoted to shooting chiefly at Mr. Owen’s, at
Woodhouse, and at my Uncle Jos’s (Josiah Wedgwood, the son of the
founder of the Etruria Works.) at Maer. My zeal was so great
that I used to place my shooting-boots open by my bed-side when I
went to bed, so as not to lose half a minute in putting them on
in the morning; and on one occasion I reached a distant part of
the Maer estate, on the 20th of August for black-game shooting,
before I could see: I then toiled on with the game-keeper the
whole day through thick heath and young Scotch firs.

I kept an exact record of every bird which I shot throughout the
whole season. One day when shooting at Woodhouse with Captain
Owen, the eldest son, and Major Hill, his cousin, afterwards Lord
Berwick, both of whom I liked very much, I thought myself
shamefully used, for every time after I had fired and thought
that I had killed a bird, one of the two acted as if loading his
gun, and cried out, “You must not count that bird, for I fired at
the same time,” and the gamekeeper, perceiving the joke, backed
them up. After some hours they told me the joke, but it was no
joke to me, for I had shot a large number of birds, but did not
know how many, and could not add them to my list, which I used to
do by making a knot in a piece of string tied to a button-hole.
This my wicked friends had perceived.

How I did enjoy shooting! But I think that I must have been
half-consciously ashamed of my zeal, for I tried to persuade
myself that shooting was almost an intellectual employment; it
required so much skill to judge where to find most game and to
hunt the dogs well.

One of my autumnal visits to Maer in 1827 was memorable from
meeting there Sir J. Mackintosh, who was the best converser I
ever listened to. I heard afterwards with a glow of pride that
he had said, “There is something in that young man that interests
me.” This must have been chiefly due to his perceiving that I
listened with much interest to everything which he said, for I
was as ignorant as a pig about his subjects of history, politics,
and moral philosophy. To hear of praise from an eminent person,
though no doubt apt or certain to excite vanity, is, I think,
good for a young man, as it helps to keep him in the right
course.

My visits to Maer during these two or three succeeding years were
quite delightful, independently of the autumnal shooting. Life
there was perfectly free; the country was very pleasant for
walking or riding; and in the evening there was much very
agreeable conversation, not so personal as it generally is in
large family parties, together with music. In the summer the
whole family used often to sit on the steps of the old portico,
with the flower-garden in front, and with the steep wooded bank
opposite the house reflected in the lake, with here and there a
fish rising or a water-bird paddling about. Nothing has left a
more vivid picture on my mind than these evenings at Maer. I was
also attached to and greatly revered my Uncle Jos; he was silent
and reserved, so as to be a rather awful man; but he sometimes
talked openly with me. He was the very type of an upright man,
with the clearest judgment. I do not believe that any power on
earth could have made him swerve an inch from what he considered
the right course. I used to apply to him in my mind the well-
known ode of Horace, now forgotten by me, in which the words “nec
vultus tyranni, etc.,” come in.
(Justum et tenacem propositi virum
Non civium ardor prava jubentium
Non vultus instantis tyranni
Mente quatit solida.)

[ Coral Reefs : Chapter III. Fringing or Shore-Reefs ]

Reefs of Mauritius.–Shallow channel within the reef.–Its slow filling
up.–Currents of water formed within it.–Upraised reefs.–Narrow
fringing-reefs in deep seas.–Reefs on the coast of East Africa and of
Brazil.–Fringing-reefs in very shallow seas, round banks of sediment and
on worn-down islands.–Fringing-reefs affected by currents of the sea.–
Coral coating the bottom of the sea, but not forming reefs.

Fringing-reefs, or, as they have been called by some voyagers, shore-reefs,
whether skirting an island or part of a continent, might at first be
thought to differ little, except in generally being of less breadth, from
barrier-reefs. As far as the superficies of the actual reef is concerned
this is the case; but the absence of an interior deep-water channel, and
the close relation in their horizontal extension with the probable slope
beneath the sea of the adjoining land, present essential points of
difference.

The reefs which fringe the island of Mauritius offer a good example of this
class. They extend round its whole circumference, with the exception of
two or three parts (This fact is stated on the authority of the Officier du
Roi, in his extremely interesting “Voyage a l’Isle de France,” undertaken
in 1768. According to Captain Carmichael (Hooker’s “Bot. Misc.” volume
ii., page 316) on one part of the coast there is a space for sixteen miles
without a reef.), where the coast is almost precipitous, and where, if as
is probable the bottom of the sea has a similar inclination, the coral
would have no foundation on which to become attached. A similar fact may
sometimes be observed even in reefs of the barrier class, which follow much
less closely the outline of the adjoining land; as, for instance, on the
south-east and precipitous side of Tahiti, where the encircling reef is
interrupted. On the western side of the Mauritius, which was the only part
I visited, the reef generally lies at the distance of about half a mile
from the shore; but in some parts it is distant from one to two, and even
three miles. But even in this last case, as the coast-land is gently
inclined from the foot of the mountains to the sea-beach, and as the
soundings outside the reef indicate an equally gentle slope beneath the
water, there is no reason for supposing that the basis of the reef, formed
by the prolongation of the strata of the island, lies at a greater depth
than that at which the polypifers could begin constructing the reef. Some
allowance, however, must be made for the outward extension of the corals on
a foundation of sand and detritus, formed from their own wear, which would
give to the reef a somewhat greater vertical thickness, than would
otherwise be possible.

The outer edge of the reef on the western or leeward side of the island is
tolerably well defined, and is a little higher than any other part. It
chiefly consists of large strongly branched corals, of the genus Madrepora,
which also form a sloping bed some way out to sea: the kinds of coral
growing in this part will be described in the ensuing chapter. Between the
outer margin and the beach, there is a flat space with a sandy bottom and a
few tufts of living coral; in some parts it is so shallow, that people, by
avoiding the deeper holes and gullies, can wade across it at low water; in
other parts it is deeper, seldom however exceeding ten or twelve feet, so
that it offers a safe coasting channel for boats. On the eastern and
windward side of the island, which is exposed to a heavy surf, the reef was
described to me as having a hard smooth surface, very slightly inclined
inwards, just covered at low-water, and traversed by gullies; it appears to
be quite similar in structure to the reefs of the barrier and atoll
classes.

The reef of Mauritius, in front of every river and streamlet, is breached
by a straight passage: at Grand Port, however, there is a channel like
that within a barrier-reef; it extends parallel to the shore for four
miles, and has an average depth of ten or twelve fathoms; its presence may
probably be accounted for by two rivers which enter at each end of the
channel, and bend towards each other. The fact of reefs of the fringing
class being always breached in front of streams, even of those which are
dry during the greater part of the year, will be explained, when the
conditions unfavourable to the growth of coral are considered. Low
coral-islets, like those on barrier-reefs and atolls, are seldom formed on
reefs of this class, owing apparently in some cases to their narrowness, and
in others to the gentle slope of the reef outside not yielding many fragments
to the breakers. On the windward side, however, of the Mauritius, two or
three small islets have been formed.

It appears, as will be shown in the ensuing chapter, that the action of the
surf is favourable to the vigorous growth of the stronger corals, and that
sand or sediment, if agitated by the waves, is injurious to them. Hence it
is probable that a reef on a shelving shore, like that of Mauritius, would
at first grow up, not attached to the actual beach, but at some little
distance from it; and the corals on the outer margin would be the most
vigorous. A shallow channel would thus be formed within the reef, and as
the breakers are prevented acting on the shores of the island, and as they
do not ordinarily tear up many fragments from the outside, and as every
streamlet has its bed prolonged in a straight line through the reef, this
channel could be filled up only very slowly with sediment. But a beach of
sand and of fragments of the smaller kinds of coral seems, in the case of
Mauritius, to be slowly encroaching on the shallow channel. On many
shelving and sandy coasts, the breakers tend to form a bar of sand a little
way from the beach, with a slight increase of depth within it; for
instance, Captain Grey (Captain Grey’s “Journal of Two Expeditions,” volume
i. page 369.) states that the west coast of Australia, in latitude 24 deg.,
is fronted by a sand bar about two hundred yards in width, on which there
is only two feet of water; but within it the depth increases to two
fathoms. Similar bars, more or less perfect, occur on other coasts. In
these cases I suspect that the shallow channel (which no doubt during
storms is occasionally obliterated) is scooped out by the flowing away of
the water thrown beyond the line, on which the waves break with the
greatest force. At Pernambuco a bar of hard sandstone (I have described
this singular structure in the “London and Edinburgh Phil. Mag.” October
1841.), which has the same external form and height as a coral-reef,
extends nearly parallel to the coast; within this bar currents, apparently
caused by the water thrown over it during the greater part of each tide,
run strongly, and are wearing away its inner wall. From these facts it can
hardly be doubted, that within most fringing-reefs, especially within those
lying some distance from the land, a return stream must carry away the
water thrown over the outer edge; and the current thus produced, would tend
to prevent the channel being filled up with sediment, and might even deepen
it under certain circumstances. To this latter belief I am led, by finding
that channels are almost universally present within the fringing-reefs of
those islands which have undergone recent elevatory movements; and this
could hardly have been the case, if the conversion of the very shallow
channel into land had not been counteracted to a certain extent.

A fringing-reef, if elevated in a perfect condition above the level of the
sea, ought to present the singular appearance of a broad dry moat within a
low mound. The author (“Voyage a l’Isle de France, par un Officier du
Roi,” part i., pages 192, 200.) of an interesting pedestrian tour round the
Mauritius, seems to have met with a structure of this kind: he says
“J’observai que la, ou la mer etale, independamment des rescifs du large,
il y a terre UNE ESPECE D’EFFONCEMENT ou chemin couvert naturel. On y
pourrait mettre du canon,” etc. In another place he adds, “Avant de passer
le Cap, on remarque un gros banc de corail eleve de plus de quinze pieds:
c’est une espece de rescif, que la mer abandonne, il regne au pied une
longue flaque d’eau, dont on pourrait faire un bassin pour de petits
vaisseaux.” But the margin of the reef, although the highest and most
perfect part, from being most exposed to the surf, would generally during a
slow rise of the land be either partially or entirely worn down to that
level, at which corals could renew their growth on its upper edge. On some
parts of the coast-land of Mauritius there are little hillocks of coral-rock,
which are either the last remnants of a continuous reef, or of low
islets formed on it. I observed that two such hillocks between Tamarin Bay
and the Great Black River; they were nearly twenty feet high, about two
hundred yards from the present beach, and about thirty feet above its
level. They rose abruptly from a smooth surface, strewed with worn
fragments of coral. They consisted in their lower part of hard calcareous
sandstone, and in their upper of great blocks of several species of Astraea
and Madrepora, loosely aggregated; they were divided into irregular beds,
dipping seaward, in one hillock at an angle of 8 deg., and in the other at
18 deg. I suspect that the superficial parts of the reefs, which have been
upraised together with the islands they fringe, have generally been much
more modified by the wearing action of the sea, than those of Mauritius.

Many islands are fringed by reefs quite similar to those of Mauritius (I
may give Cuba, as another instance; Mr. Taylor (“Loudon’s Mag. of Nat.
Hist.” volume ix., page 449) has described a reef several miles in length
between Gibara and Vjaro, which extends parallel to the shore at the
distance of between half and the third part of a mile, and encloses a space
of shallow water, with a sandy bottom and tufts of coral. Outside the edge
of the reef, which is formed of great branching corals, the depth is six
and seven fathoms. This coast has been upheaved at no very distant
geological period.”); but on coasts where the sea deepens very suddenly the
reefs are much narrower, and their limited extension seems evidently to
depend on the high inclination of the submarine slope; a relation, which,
as we have seen, does not exist in reefs of the barrier class. The
fringing-reefs on steep coasts are frequently not more than from fifty to
one hundred yards in width; they have a nearly smooth, hard surface,
scarcely uncovered at low water, and without any interior shoal channel,
like that within those fringing-reefs, which lie at a greater distance from
the land. The fragments torn up during gales from the outer margin are
thrown over the reef on the shores of the island. I may give as instances,
Wateeo, where the reef is described by Cook as being a hundred yards wide;
and Mauti and Elizabeth Islands (Mauti is described by Lord Byron in the
voyage of H.M.S. “Blonde”, and Elizabeth Island by Captain Beechey.), where
it is only fifty yards in width: the sea round these islands is very deep.

Fringing-reefs, like barrier-reefs, both surround islands, and front the
shores of continents. In the charts of the eastern coast of Africa, by
Captain Owen, many extensive fringing-reefs are laid down; thus, for a
space of nearly forty miles, from latitude 1 deg 15′ to 1 deg 45′ S., a
reef fringes the shore at an average distance of rather more than one mile,
and therefore at a greater distance than is usual in reefs of this class;
but as the coast-land is not lofty, and as the bottom shoals very gradually
(the depth being only from eight to fourteen fathoms at a mile and a half
outside the reef), its extension thus far from the land offers no
difficulty. The external margin of this reef is described, as formed of
projecting points, within which there is a space, from six to twelve feet
deep, with patches of living coral on it. At Mukdeesha (latitude 2 deg 1′
N.) “the port is formed,” it is said (Owen’s “Africa,” volume i., page 357,
from which work the foregoing facts are likewise taken.) “by a long reef
extending eastward, four or five miles, within which there is a narrow
channel, with ten to twelve feet of water at low spring-tides;” it lies at
the distance of a quarter of a mile from the shore. Again, in the plan of
Mombas (latitude 4 deg S.), a reef extends for thirty-six miles, at the
distance of from half a mile to one mile and a quarter from the shore;
within it, there is a channel navigable “for canoes and small craft,”
between six and fifteen feet deep: outside the reef the depth is about
thirty fathoms at the distance of nearly half a mile. Part of this reef is
very symmetrical, and has a uniform breadth of two hundred yards.

These instances show how hard is the formation of coral reefs in the long run which is a great investment to the beautiful nature. It is just like the concept of trading for investments in the international arena. Get the facts about forex robots to know more.

The coast of Brazil is in many parts fringed by reefs. Of these, some are
not of coral formation; for instance, those near Bahia and in front of
Pernambuco; but a few miles south of this latter city, the reef follows
(See Baron Roussin’s “Pilote du Bresil,” and accompanying hydrographical
memoir.) so closely every turn of the shore, that I can hardly doubt it is
of coral; it runs at the distance of three-quarters of a mile from the
land, and within it the depth is from ten to fifteen feet. I was assured
by an intelligent pilot that at Ports Frances and Maceio, the outer part of
the reef consists of living coral, and the inner of a white stone, full of
large irregular cavities, communicating with the sea. The bottom of the
sea off the coast of Brazil shoals gradually to between thirty and forty
fathoms, at the distance of between nine and ten leagues from the land.

From the description now given, we must conclude that the dimensions and
structure of fringing-reefs depend entirely on the greater or less
inclination of the submarine slope, conjoined with the fact that
reef-building polypifers can exist only at limited depths. It follows from
this, that where the sea is very shallow, as in the Persian Gulf and in
parts of the East Indian Archipelago, the reefs lose their fringing
character, and appear as separate and irregularly scattered patches, often
of considerable area. From the more vigorous growth of the coral on the
outside, and from the conditions being less favourable in several respects
within, such reefs are generally higher and more perfect in their marginal
than in their central parts; hence these reefs sometimes assume (and this
circumstance ought not to be overlooked) the appearance of atolls; but they
differ from atolls in their central expanse being much less deep, in their
form being less defined, and in being based on a shallow foundation. But
when in a deep sea reefs fringe banks of sediment, which have accumulated
beneath the surface, round either islands or submerged rocks, they are
distinguished with difficulty on the one hand from encircling barrier-reefs,
and on the other from atolls. In the West Indies there are reefs,
which I should probably have arranged under both these classes, had not the
existence of large and level banks, lying a little beneath the surface,
ready to serve as the basis for the attachment of coral, been occasionally
brought into view by the entire or partial absence of reefs on them, and
had not the formation of such banks, through the accumulation of sediment
now in progress, been sufficiently evident. Fringing-reefs sometimes coat,
and thus protect the foundations of islands, which have been worn down by
the surf to the level of the sea. According to Ehrenberg, this has been
extensively the case with the islands in the Red Sea, which formerly ranged
parallel to the shores of the mainland, with deep water within them: hence
the reefs now coating their bases are situated relatively to the land like
barrier-reefs, although not belonging to that class; but there are, as I
believe, in the Red Sea some true barrier-reefs. The reefs of this sea and
of the West Indies will be described in the Appendix. In some cases,
fringing-reefs appear to be considerably modified in outline by the course
of the prevailing currents. Dr. J. Allan informs me that on the east coast
of Madagascar almost every headland and low point of sand has a coral-reef
extending from it in a S.W. and N.E. line, parallel to the currents on that
shore. I should think the influence of the currents chiefly consisted in
causing an extension, in a certain direction, of a proper foundation for
the attachment of the coral. Round many intertropical islands, for
instance the Abrolhos on the coast of Brazil surveyed by Captain Fitzroy,
and, as I am informed by Mr. Cuming, round the Philippines, the bottom of
the sea is entirely coated by irregular masses of coral, which although
often of large size, do not reach the surface and form proper reefs. This
must be owing, either to insufficient growth, or to the absence of those
kinds of corals which can withstand the breaking of the waves.

The three classes, atoll-formed, barrier, and fringing-reefs, together with
the modifications just described of the latter, include all the most
remarkable coral formations anywhere existing. At the commencement of the
last chapter in the volume, where I detail the principles on which the map
(Plate III.) is coloured, the exceptional cases will be enumerated.

[ Coral Reefs : Chapter I. Atolls or Lagoon-Islands ]

SECTION 1.I.–KEELING ATOLL.

Corals on the outer margin.–Zone of Nulliporae.–Exterior reef.–Islets.–
Coral-conglomerate.–Lagoon.–Calcareous sediment.–Scari and Holuthuriae
subsisting on corals.–Changes in the condition of the reefs and islets.–
Probable subsidence of the atoll.–Future state of the lagoon.

(PLATE: UNTITLED WOODCUT, VERTICAL SECTION THROUGH KEELING ATOLL.)

A.–Level of the sea at low water: where the letter A is placed, the depth
is twenty-five fathoms, and the distance rather more than one hundred and
fifty yards from the edge of the reef.

B.–Outer edge of that flat part of the reef, which dries at low water:
the edge either consists of a convex mound, as represented, or of rugged
points, like those a little farther seaward, beneath the water.

C.–A flat of coral-rock, covered at high water.

D.–A low projecting ledge of brecciated coral-rock washed by the waves at
high water.

E.–A slope of loose fragments, reached by the sea only during gales: the
upper part, which is from six to twelve feet high, is clothed with
vegetation. The surface of the islet gently slopes to the lagoon.

F.–Level of the lagoon at low water.

KEELING or COCOS atoll is situated in the Indian Ocean, in 12 deg 5′ S.,
and longitude 90 deg 55′ E.: a reduced chart of it was made from the
survey of Captain Fitzroy and the Officers of H.M.S. “Beagle,” is given in
Plate I., Figure 10. The greatest width of this atoll is nine miles and a
half. Its structure is in most respects characteristic of the class to
which it belongs, with the exception of the shallowness of the lagoon. The
accompanying woodcut represents a vertical section, supposed to be drawn at
low water from the outer coast across one of the low islets (one being
taken of average dimensions) to within the lagoon.

The section is true to the scale in a horizontal line, but it could not be
made so in a vertical one, as the average greatest height of the land is
only between six and twelve feet above high-water mark.

I will describe the section, commencing with the outer margin. I must
first observe that the reef-building polypifers, not being tidal animals,
require to be constantly submerged or washed by the breakers. I was
assured by Mr. Liesk, a very intelligent resident on these islands, as well
as by some chiefs at Tahiti (Otaheite), that an exposure to the rays of the
sun for a very short time invariably causes their destruction. Hence it is
possible only under the most favourable circumstances, afforded by an
unusually low tide and smooth water, to reach the outer margin, where the
coral is alive. I succeeded only twice in gaining this part, and found it
almost entirely composed of a living Porites, which forms great irregularly
rounded masses (like those of an Astraea, but larger) from four to eight
feet broad, and little less in thickness. These mounds are separated from
each other by narrow crooked channels, about six feet deep, most of which
intersect the line of reef at right angles. On the furthest mound, which I
was able to reach by the aid of a leaping-pole, and over which the sea
broke with some violence, although the day was quite calm and the tide low,
the polypifers in the uppermost cells were all dead, but between three and
four inches lower down on its side they were living, and formed a
projecting border round the upper and dead surface. The coral being thus
checked in its upward growth, extends laterally, and hence most of the
masses, especially those a little further inwards, had broad flat dead
summits. On the other hand I could see, during the recoil of the breakers,
that a few yards further seaward, the whole convex surface of the Porites
was alive; so that the point where we were standing was almost on the exact
upward and shoreward limit of existence of those corals which form the
outer margin of the reef. We shall presently see that there are other
organic productions, fitted to bear a somewhat longer exposure to the air
and sun.

Next, but much inferior in importance to the Porites, is the Millepora
complanata. (This Millepora (Palmipora of Blainville), as well as the M.
alcicornis, possesses the singular property of stinging the skin where it
is delicate, as on the face and arm.)

It grows in thick vertical plates, intersecting each other at various
angles, and forms an exceedingly strong honeycombed mass, which generally
affects a circular form, the marginal plates alone being alive. Between
these plates and in the protected crevices on the reef, a multitude of
branching zoophytes and other productions flourish, but the Porites and
Millepora alone seem able to resist the fury of the breakers on its upper
and outer edge: at the depth of a few fathoms other kinds of stony corals
live. Mr. Liesk, who was intimately acquainted with every part of this
reef, and likewise with that of North Keeling atoll, assured me that these
corals invariably compose the outer margin. The lagoon is inhabited by
quite a distinct set of corals, generally brittle and thinly branched; but
a Porites, apparently of the same species with that on the outside, is
found there, although it does not seem to thrive, and certainly does not
attain the thousandth part in bulk of the masses opposed to the breakers.

The woodcut shows the form of the bottom off the reef: the water deepens
for a space between one and two hundred yards wide, very gradually to
twenty-five fathoms (A in section), beyond which the sides plunge into the
unfathomable ocean at an angle of 45 deg. (The soundings from which this
section is laid down were taken with great care by Captain Fitzroy himself.
He used a bell-shaped lead, having a diameter of four inches, and the
armings each time were cut off and brought on board for me to examine. The
arming is a preparation of tallow, placed in the concavity at the bottom of
the lead. Sand, and even small fragments of rock, will adhere to it; and
if the bottom be of rock it brings up an exact impression of its surface.)
To the depth of ten or twelve fathoms the bottom is exceedingly rugged, and
seems formed of great masses of living coral, similar to those on the
margin. The arming of the lead here invariably came up quite clean, but
deeply indented, and chains and anchors which were lowered, in the hopes of
tearing up the coral, were broken. Many small fragments, however, of
Millepora alcicornis were brought up; and on the arming from an eight-fathom
cast, there was a perfect impression of an Astraea, apparently
alive. I examined the rolled fragments cast on the beach during gales, in
order further to ascertain what corals grew outside the reef. The
fragments consisted of many kinds, of which the Porites already mentioned
and a Madrepora, apparently the M. corymbosa, were the most abundant. As I
searched in vain in the hollows on the reef and in the lagoon, for a living
specimen of this Madrepore, I conclude that it is confined to a zone
outside, and beneath the surface, where it must be very abundant.
Fragments of the Millepora alcicornis and of an Astraea were also numerous;
the former is found, but not in proportionate numbers, in the hollows on
the reef; but the Astraea I did not see living. Hence we may infer, that
these are the kinds of coral which form the rugged sloping surface
(represented in the woodcut by an uneven line), round and beneath the
external margin. Between twelve and twenty fathoms the arming came up an
equal number of times smoothed with sand, and indented with coral: an
anchor and lead were lost at the respective depths of thirteen and sixteen
fathoms. Out of twenty-five soundings taken at a greater depth than twenty
fathoms, every one showed that the bottom was covered with sand; whereas,
at a less depth than twelve fathoms, every sounding showed that it was
exceedingly rugged, and free from all extraneous particles. Two soundings
were obtained at the depth of 360 fathoms, and several between two hundred
and three hundred fathoms. The sand brought up from these depths consisted
of finely triturated fragments of stony zoophytes, but not, as far as I
could distinguish, of a particle of any lamelliform genus: fragments of
shells were rare.

At a distance of 2,200 yards from the breakers, Captain Fitzroy found no
bottom with a line of 7,200 feet in length; hence the submarine slope of
this coral formation is steeper than that of any volcanic cone. Off the
mouth of the lagoon, and likewise off the northern point of the atoll,
where the currents act violently, the inclination, owing to the
accumulation of sediment, is less. As the arming of the lead from all the
greater depths showed a smooth sandy bottom, I at first concluded that the
whole consisted of a vast conical pile of calcareous sand, but the sudden
increase of depth at some points, and the circumstance of the line having
been cut, as if rubbed, when between five hundred and six hundred fathoms
were out, indicate the probable existence of submarine cliffs.

On the margin of the reef, close within the line where the upper surface of
the Porites and of the Millepora is dead, three species of Nullipora
flourish. One grows in thin sheets, like a lichen on old trees; the second
in stony knobs, as thick as a man’s finger, radiating from a common centre;
and the third, which is less common, in a moss-like reticulation of thin,
but perfectly rigid branches. (This last species is of a beautiful bright
peach-blossom colour. Its branches are about as thick as crow-quills; they
are slightly flattened and knobbed at the extremities. The extremities
only are alive and brightly coloured. The two other species are of a dirty
purplish-white. The second species is extremely hard; its short knob-like
branches are cylindrical, and do not grow thicker at their extremities.)
The three species occur either separately or mingled together; and they
form by their successive growth a layer two or three feet in thickness,
which in some cases is hard, but where formed of the lichen-like kind,
readily yields an impression to the hammer: the surface is of a reddish
colour. These Nulliporae, although able to exist above the limit of true
corals, seem to require to be bathed during the greater part of each tide
by breaking water, for they are not found in any abundance in the protected
hollows on the back part of the reef, where they might be immersed either
during the whole or an equal proportional time of each tide. It is
remarkable that organic productions of such extreme simplicity, for the
Nulliporae undoubtedly belong to one of the lowest classes of the vegetable
kingdom, should be limited to a zone so peculiarly circumstanced. Hence
the layer composed by their growth merely fringes the reef for a space of
about twenty yards in width, either under the form of separate mammillated
projections, where the outer masses of coral are separate, or, more
commonly, where the corals are united into a solid margin, as a continuous
smooth convex mound (B in woodcut), like an artificial breakwater. Both
the mound and mammillated projections stand about three feet higher than
any other part of the reef, by which term I do not include the islets,
formed by the accumulation of rolled fragments. We shall hereafter see
that other coral reefs are protected by a similar thick growth of
Nulliporae on the outer margin, the part most exposed to the breakers, and
this must effectually aid in preserving it from being worn down.

The woodcut represents a section across one of the islets on the reef, but
if all that part which is above the level of C were removed, the section
would be that of a simple reef, as it occurs where no islet has been
formed. It is this reef which essentially forms the atoll. It is a ring,
enclosing the lagoon on all sides except at the northern end, where there
are two open spaces, through one of which ships can enter. The reef varies
in width from two hundred and fifty to five hundred yards, its surface is
level, or very slightly inclined towards the lagoon, and at high tide the
sea breaks entirely over it: the water at low tide thrown by the breakers
on the reef, is carried by the many narrow and shoal gullies or channels on
its surface, into the lagoon: a return stream sets out of the lagoon
through the main entrance. The most frequent coral in the hollows on the
reef is Pocillopora verrucosa, which grows in short sinuous plates, or
branches, and when alive is of a beautiful pale lake-red: a Madrepora,
closely allied or identical with M. pocillifera, is also common. As soon
as an islet is formed, and the waves are prevented breaking entirely over
the reef, the channels and hollows in it become filled up with cemented
fragments, and its surface is converted into a hard smooth floor (C of
woodcut), like an artificial one of freestone. This flat surface varies in
width from one hundred to two hundred, or even three hundred yards, and is
strewed with a few large fragments of coral torn up during gales: it is
uncovered only at low water. I could with difficulty, and only by the aid
of a chisel, procure chips of rock from its surface, and therefore could
not ascertain how much of it is formed by the aggregation of detritus, and
how much by the outward growth of mounds of corals, similar to those now
living on the margin. Nothing can be more singular than the appearance at
low tide of this “flat” of naked stone, especially where it is externally
bounded by the smooth convex mound of Nulliporae, appearing like a
breakwater built to resist the waves, which are constantly throwing over it
sheets of foaming water. The characteristic appearance of this “flat” is
shown in the foregoing woodcut of Whitsunday atoll.

The islets on the reef are first formed between two hundred and three
hundred yards from its outer edge, through the accumulation of a pile of
fragments, thrown together by some unusually strong gale. Their ordinary
width is under a quarter of a mile, and their length varies from a few
yards to several miles. Those on the south-east and windward side of the
atoll, increase solely by the addition of fragments on their outer side;
hence the loose blocks of coral, of which their surface is composed, as
well as the shells mingled with them, almost exclusively consist of those
kinds which live on the outer coast. The highest part of the islets
(excepting hillocks of blown sand, some of which are thirty feet high), is
close to the outer beach (E of the woodcut), and averages from six to ten
feet above ordinary high-water mark. From the outer beach the surface
slopes gently to the shores of the lagoon, which no doubt has been caused
by the breakers the further they have rolled over the reef, having had less
power to throw up fragments. The little waves of the lagoon heap up sand
and fragments of thinly-branched corals on the inner side of the islets on
the leeward side of the atoll; and these islets are broader than those to
windward, some being even eight hundred yards in width; but the land thus
added is very low. The fragments beneath the surface are cemented into a
solid mass, which is exposed as a ledge (D of the woodcut), projecting some
yards in front of the outer shore and from two to four feet high. This
ledge is just reached by the waves at ordinary high-water: it extends in
front of all the islets, and everywhere has a water-worn and scooped
appearance. The fragments of coral which are occasionally cast on the
“flat” are during gales of unusual violence swept together on the beach,
where the waves each day at high-water tend to remove and gradually wear
them down; but the lower fragments having become firmly cemented together
by the percolation of calcareous matter, resist the daily tides longer, and
hence project as a ledge. The cemented mass is generally of a white
colour, but in some few parts reddish from ferruginous matter; it is very
hard, and is sonorous under the hammer; it is obscurely divided by seams,
dipping at a small angle seaward; it consists of fragments of the corals
which grow on the outer margin, some quite and others partially rounded,
some small and others between two and three feet across; and of masses of
previously formed conglomerate, torn up, rounded, and re-cemented; or it
consists of a calcareous sandstone, entirely composed of rounded particles,
generally almost blended together, of shells, corals, the spines of echini,
and other such organic bodies; rocks, of this latter kind, occur on many
shores, where there are no coral reefs. The structure of the coral in the
conglomerate has generally been much obscured by the infiltration of
spathose calcareous matter; and I collected a very interesting series,
beginning with fragments of unaltered coral, and ending with others, where
it was impossible to discover with the naked eye any trace of organic
structure. In some specimens I was unable, even with the aid of a lens,
and by wetting them, to distinguish the boundaries of the altered coral and
spathose limestone. Many even of the blocks of coral lying loose on the
beach, had their central parts altered and infiltrated.

The lagoon alone remains to be described; it is much shallower than that of
most atolls of considerable size. The southern part is almost filled up
with banks of mud and fields of coral, both dead and alive, but there are
considerable spaces, between three and four fathoms, and smaller basins,
from eight to ten fathoms deep. Probably about half its area consists of
sediment, and half of coral-reefs. The corals composing these reefs have a
very different aspect from those on the outside; they are very numerous in
kind, and most of them are thinly branched. Meandrina, however, lives in
the lagoon, and great rounded masses of this coral are numerous, lying
quite or almost loose on the bottom. The other commonest kinds consist of
three closely allied species of true Madrepora in thin branches; of
Seriatapora subulata; two species of Porites (This Porites has somewhat the
habit of P. clavaria, but the branches are not knobbed at their ends. When
alive it is of a yellow colour, but after having been washed in fresh water
and placed to dry, a jet-black slimy substance exuded from the entire
surface, so that the specimen now appears as if it had been dipped in ink.)
with cylindrical branches, one of which forms circular clumps, with the
exterior branches only alive; and lastly, a coral something like an
Explanaria, but with stars on both surfaces, growing in thin, brittle,
stony, foliaceous expansions, especially in the deeper basins of the
lagoon. The reefs on which these corals grow are very irregular in form,
are full of cavities, and have not a solid flat surface of dead rock, like
that surrounding the lagoon; nor can they be nearly so hard, for the
inhabitants made with crowbars a channel of considerable length through
these reefs, in which a schooner, built on the S.E. islet, was floated out.
It is a very interesting circumstance, pointed out to us by Mr. Liesk, that
this channel, although made less than ten years before our visit, was then,
as we saw, almost choked up with living coral, so that fresh excavations
would be absolutely necessary to allow another vessel to pass through it.

The sediment from the deepest parts in the lagoon, when wet, appeared
chalky, but when dry, like very fine sand. Large soft banks of similar,
but even finer grained mud, occur on the S.E. shore of the lagoon,
affording a thick growth of a Fucus, on which turtle feed: this mud,
although discoloured by vegetable matter, appears from its entire solution
in acids to be purely calcareous. I have seen in the Museum of the
Geological Society, a similar but more remarkable substance, brought by
Lieutenant Nelson from the reefs of Bermuda, which, when shown to several
experienced geologists, was mistaken by them for true chalk. On the
outside of the reef much sediment must be formed by the action of the surf
on the rolled fragments of coral; but in the calm waters of the lagoon,
this can take place only in a small degree. There are, however, other and
unexpected agents at work here: large shoals of two species of Scarus, one
inhabiting the surf outside the reef and the other the lagoon, subsist
entirely, as I was assured by Mr. Liesk, the intelligent resident before
referred to, by browsing on the living polypifers. I opened several of
these fish, which are very numerous and of considerable size, and I found
their intestines distended by small pieces of coral, and finely ground
calcareous matter. This must daily pass from them as the finest sediment;
much also must be produced by the infinitely numerous vermiform and
molluscous animals, which make cavities in almost every block of coral.
Dr. J. Allan, of Forres, who has enjoyed the best means of observation,
informs me in a letter that the Holothuriae (a family of Radiata) subsist
on living coral; and the singular structure of bone within the anterior
extremity of their bodies, certainly appears well adapted for this purpose.
The number of the species of Holothuria, and of the individuals which swarm
on every part of these coral-reefs, is extraordinarily great; and many
shiploads are annually freighted, as is well-known, for China with the
trepang, which is a species of this genus. The amount of coral yearly
consumed, and ground down into the finest mud, by these several creatures,
and probably by many other kinds, must be immense. These facts are,
however, of more importance in another point of view, as showing us that
there are living checks to the growth of coral-reefs, and that the almost
universal law of “consumed and be consumed,” holds good even with the
polypifers forming those massive bulwarks, which are able to withstand the
force of the open ocean.

This splendid natural feature has to be appreciate as it is not very easy to facilitate a living in a competitive atmosphere like the exposed ocean. In the same manner, we have a complete crypto robot, Ethereum Code to ease the competitive trading platform with expert guidance and easy usage.

Considering that Keeling atoll, like other coral formations, has been
entirely formed by the growth of organic beings, and the accumulation of
their detritus, one is naturally led to inquire how long it has continued,
and how long it is likely to continue, in its present state. Mr. Liesk
informed me that he had seen an old chart in which the present long island
on the S.E. side was divided by several channels into as many islets; and
he assures me that the channels can still be distinguished by the smaller
size of the trees on them. On several islets, also, I observed that only
young cocoa-nut trees were growing on the extremities; and that older and
taller trees rose in regular succession behind them; which shows that these
islets have very lately increased in length. In the upper and south-eastern
part of the lagoon, I was much surprised by finding an irregular
field of at least a mile square of branching corals, still upright, but
entirely dead. They consisted of the species already mentioned; they were
of a brown colour, and so rotten, that in trying to stand on them I sank
halfway up the leg, as if through decayed brushwood. The tops of the
branches were barely covered by water at the time of lowest tide. Several
facts having led me to disbelieve in any elevation of the whole atoll, I
was at first unable to imagine what cause could have killed so large a
field of coral. Upon reflection, however, it appeared to me that the
closing up of the above-mentioned channels would be a sufficient cause; for
before this, a strong breeze by forcing water through them into the head of
the lagoon, would tend to raise its level. But now this cannot happen, and
the inhabitants observe that the tide rises to a less height, during a high
S.E. wind, at the head than at the mouth of the lagoon. The corals, which,
under the former condition of things, had attained the utmost possible
limit of upward growth, would thus occasionally be exposed for a short time
to the sun, and be killed.

Besides the increase of dry land, indicated by the foregoing facts, the
exterior solid reef appears to have grown outwards. On the western side of
the atoll, the “flat” lying between the margin of the reef and the beach,
is very wide; and in front of the regular beach with its conglomerate
basis, there is, in most parts, a bed of sand and loose fragments with
trees growing out of it, which apparently is not reached even by the spray
at high water. It is evident some change has taken place since the waves
formed the inner beach; that they formerly beat against it with violence
was evident, from a remarkably thick and water-worn point of conglomerate
at one spot, now protected by vegetation and a bank of sand; that they beat
against it in the same peculiar manner in which the swell from windward now
obliquely curls round the margin of the reef, was evident from the
conglomerate having been worn into a point projecting from the beach in a
similarly oblique manner. This retreat in the line of action of the
breakers might result, either from the surface of the reef in front of the
islets having been submerged at one time, and afterward having grown
upwards, or from the mounds of coral on the margin having continued to grow
outwards. That an outward growth of this part is in process, can hardly be
doubted from the fact already mentioned of the mounds of Porites with their
summits apparently lately killed, and their sides only three or four inches
lower down thickened by a fresh layer of living coral. But there is a
difficulty on this supposition which I must not pass over. If the whole,
or a large part of the “flat,” had been formed by the outward growth of the
margin, each successive margin would naturally have been coated by the
Nulliporae, and so much of the surface would have been of equal height with
the existing zone of living Nulliporae: this is not the case, as may be
seen in the woodcut. It is, however, evident from the abraded state of the
“flat,” with its original inequalities filled up, that its surface has been
much modified; and it is possible that the hinder portions of the zone of
Nulliporae, perishing as the reef grows outwards, might be worn down by the
surf. If this has not taken place, the reef can in no part have increased
outwards in breadth since its formation, or at least since the Nulliporae
formed the convex mound on its margin; for the zone thus formed, and which
stands between two and three feet above the other parts of the reef, is
nowhere much above twenty yards in width.

Thus far we have considered facts, which indicate, with more or less
probability, the increase of the atoll in its different parts: there are
others having an opposite tendency. On the south-east side, Lieutenant
Sulivan, to whose kindness I am indebted for many interesting observations,
found the conglomerate projecting on the reef nearly fifty yards in front
of the beach: we may infer from what we see in all other parts of the
atoll, that the conglomerate was not originally so much exposed, but formed
the base of an islet, the front and upper part of which has since been
swept away. The degree to which the conglomerate, round nearly the whole
atoll, has been scooped, broken up, and the fragments cast on the beach, is
certainly very surprising, even on the view that it is the office of
occasional gales to pile up fragments, and of the daily tides to wear them
away. On the western side, also, of the atoll, where I have described a
bed of sand and fragments with trees growing out of it, in front of an old
beach, it struck both Lieutenant Sulivan and myself, from the manner in
which the trees were being washed down, that the surf had lately
recommenced an attack on this line of coast. Appearances indicating a
slight encroachment of the water on the land, are plainer within the
lagoon: I noticed in several places, both on its windward and leeward
shores, old cocoa-nut trees falling with their roots undermined, and the
rotten stumps of others on the beach, where the inhabitants assured us the
cocoa-nut could not now grow. Captain Fitzroy pointed out to me, near the
settlement, the foundation posts of a shed, now washed by every tide, but
which the inhabitants stated, had seven years before stood above high
watermark. In the calm waters of the lagoon, directly connected with a
great, and therefore stable ocean, it seems very improbable that a change
in the currents, sufficiently great to cause the water to eat into the land
on all sides, should have taken place within a limited period. From these
considerations I inferred, that probably the atoll had lately subsided to a
small amount; and this inference was strengthened by the circumstance, that
in 1834, two years before our visit, the island had been shaken by a severe
earthquake, and by two slighter ones during the ten previous years. If,
during these subterranean disturbances, the atoll did subside, the downward
movement must have been very small, as we must conclude from the fields of
dead coral still lipping the surface of the lagoon, and from the breakers
on the western shore not having yet regained the line of their former
action. The subsidence must, also, have been preceded by a long period of
rest, during which the islets extended to their present size, and the
living margin of the reef grew either upwards, or as I believe outwards, to
its present distance from the beach.

Whether this view be correct or not, the above facts are worthy of
attention, as showing how severe a struggle is in progress on these low
coral formations between the two nicely balanced powers of land and water.
With respect to the future state of Keeling atoll, if left undisturbed, we
can see that the islets may still extend in length; but as they cannot
resist the surf until broken by rolling over a wide space, their increase
in breadth must depend on the increasing breadth of the reef; and this must
be limited by the steepness of the submarine flanks, which can be added to
only by sediment derived from the wear and tear of the coral. From the
rapid growth of the coral in the channel cut for the schooner, and from the
several agents at work in producing fine sediment, it might be thought that
the lagoon would necessarily become quickly filled up. Some of this
sediment, however, is transported into the open sea, as appears from the
soundings off the mouth of the lagoon, instead of being deposited within
it. The deposition, moreover, of sediment, checks the growth of coral-reefs,
so that these two agencies cannot act together with full effect in
filling it up. We know so little of the habits of the many different
species of corals, which form the lagoon-reefs, that we have no more
reasons for supposing that their whole surface would grow up as quickly as
the coral did in the schooner-channel, than for supposing that the whole
surface of a peat-moss would increase as quickly as parts are known to do
in holes, where the peat has been cut away. These agencies, nevertheless,
tend to fill up the lagoon; but in proportion as it becomes shallower, so
must the polypifers be subject to many injurious agencies, such as impure
water and loss of food. For instance, Mr. Liesk informed me, that some
years before our visit unusually heavy rain killed nearly all the fish in
the lagoon, and probably the same cause would likewise injure the corals.
The reefs also, it must be remembered, cannot possibly rise above the level
of the lowest spring-tide, so that the final conversion of the lagoon into
land must be due to the accumulation of sediment; and in the midst of the
clear water of the ocean, and with no surrounding high land, this process
must be exceedingly slow.

SECTION 1.II.–GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF ATOLLS.

General form and size of atolls, their reefs and islets.–External slope.–
Zone of Nulliporae.–Conglomerate.–Depth of lagoons.–Sediment.–Reefs
submerged wholly or in part.–Breaches in the reef.–Ledge-formed shores
round certain lagoons.–Conversion of lagoons into land.

I will here give a sketch of the general form and structure of the many
atolls and atoll-formed reefs which occur in the Pacific and Indian Oceans,
comparing them with Keeling atoll. The Maldiva atolls and the Great Chagos
Bank differ in so many respects, that I shall devote to them, besides
occasional references, a third section of this chapter. Keeling atoll may
be considered as of moderate dimensions and of regular form. Of the
thirty-two islands surveyed by Captain Beechey in the Low Archipelago, the
longest was found to be thirty miles, and the shortest less than a mile;
but Vliegen atoll, situated in another part of the same group, appears to
be sixty miles long and twenty broad. Most of the atolls in this group are
of an elongated form; thus Bow Island is thirty miles in length, and on an
average only six in width (See Figure 4, Plate I.), and Clermont Tonnere
has nearly the same proportions. In the Marshall Archipelago (the Ralick
and Radack group of Kotzebue) several of the atolls are more than thirty
miles in length, and Rimsky Korsacoff is fifty-four long, and twenty wide,
at the broadest part of its irregular outline. Most of the atolls in the
Maldiva Archipelago are of great size, one of them (which, however, bears a
double name) measured in a medial and slightly curved line, is no less than
eighty-eight geographical miles long, its greatest width being under
twenty, and its least only nine and a half miles. Some atolls have spurs
projecting from them; and in the Marshall group there are atolls united
together by linear reefs, for instance Menchikoff Island (See Figure 3,
Plate II.), which is sixty miles in length, and consists of three loops
tied together. In far the greater number of cases an atoll consists of a
simple elongated ring, with its outline moderately regular.

The average width of the annular wreath may be taken as about a quarter of
a mile. Captain Beechey (Beechey’s “Voyage to the Pacific and Beering’s
Straits,” chapter viii.) says that in the atolls of the Low Archipelago it
exceeded in no instance half a mile. The description given of the
structure and proportional dimensions of the reef and islets of Keeling
atoll, appears to apply perfectly to nearly all the atolls in the Pacific
and Indian Oceans. The islets are first formed some way back either on the
projecting points of the reef, especially if its form be angular, or on the
sides of the main entrances into the lagoon–that is in both cases, on
points where the breakers can act during gales of wind in somewhat
different directions, so that the matter thrown up from one side may
accumulate against that before thrown up from another. In Lutke’s chart of
the Caroline atolls, we see many instances of the former case; and the
occurrence of islets, as if placed for beacons, on the points where there
is a gateway or breach through the reef, has been noticed by several
authors. There are some atoll-formed reefs, rising to the surface of the
sea and partly dry at low water, on which from some cause islets have never
been formed; and there are others on which they have been formed, but have
subsequently been worn away. In atolls of small dimensions the islets
frequently become united into a single horse-shoe or ring-formed strip; but
Diego Garcia, although an atoll of considerable size, being thirteen miles
and a half in length, has its lagoon entirely surrounded, except at the
northern end, by a belt of land, on an average a third of a mile in width.
To show how small the total area of the annular reef and the land is in
islands of this class, I may quote a remark from the voyage of Lutke,
namely, that if the forty-three rings, or atolls, in the Caroline
Archipelago, were put one within another, and over a steeple in the centre
of St. Petersburg, the whole world would not cover that city and its
suburbs.

The form of the bottom off Keeling atoll, which gradually slopes to about
twenty fathoms at the distance of between one and two hundred yards from
the edge of the reef, and then plunges at an angle of 45 deg into
unfathomable depths, is exactly the same (The form of the bottom round the
Marshall atolls in the Northern Pacific is probably similar: Kotzebue
(“First Voyage,” volume ii., page 16) says: “We had at a small distance
from the reef, forty fathoms depth, which increased a little further so
much that we could find no bottom.”) with that of the sections of the
atolls in the Low Archipelago given by Captain Beechey. The nature,
however, of the bottom seems to differ, for this officer (I must be
permitted to express my obligation to Captain Beechey, for the very kind
manner in which he has given me information on several points, and to own
the great assistance I have derived from his excellent published work.)
informs me that all the soundings, even the deepest, were on coral, but he
does not know whether dead or alive. The slope round Christmas atoll (Lat.
1 deg 4′ N., 157 deg 45′ W.), described by Cook (Cook’s “Third Voyage,”
volume ii., chapter 10.), is considerably less, at about half a mile from
the edge of the reef, the average depth was about fourteen fathoms on a
fine sandy bottom, and at a mile, only between twenty and forty fathoms.
It has no doubt been owing to this gentle slope, that the strip of land
surrounding its lagoon, has increased in one part to the extraordinary
width of three miles; it is formed of successive ridges of broken shells
and corals, like those on the beach. I know of no other instance of such
width in the reef of an atoll; but Mr. F.D. Bennett informs me that the
inclination of the bottom round Caroline atoll in the Pacific, is like that
off Christmas Island, very gentle. Off the Maldiva and Chagos atolls, the
inclination is much more abrupt; thus at Heawandoo Pholo, Lieutenant Powell
(This fact is taken from a MS. account of these groups lent me by Captain
Moresby. See also Captain Moresby’s paper on the Maldiva atolls in the
“Geographical Journal”, volume v., page 401.) found fifty and sixty fathoms
close to the edge of the reef, and at 300 yards distance there was no
bottom with a 300-yard line. Captain Moresby informs me, that at 100
fathoms from the mouth of the lagoon of Diego Garcia, he found no bottom
with 150 fathoms; this is the more remarkable, as the slope is generally
less abrupt in front of channels through a reef, owing to the accumulation
of sediment. At Egmont Island, also, at 150 fathoms from the reef,
soundings were struck with 150 fathoms. Lastly, at Cardoo atoll, only
sixty yards from the reef, no bottom was obtained, as I am informed by
Captain Moresby, with a line of 200 fathoms! The currents run with great
force round these atolls, and where they are strongest, the inclination
appears to be most abrupt. I am informed by the same authority, that
wherever soundings were obtained off these islands, the bottom was
invariably sandy: nor was there any reason to suspect the existence of
submarine cliffs, as there was at Keeling Island. (Off some of the islands
in the Low Archipelago the bottom appears to descend by ledges. Off
Elizabeth Island, which, however, consists of raised coral, Captain Beechey
(page 45, 4to edition) describes three ledges: the first had an easy slope
from the beach to a distance of about fifty yards: the second extended two
hundred yards with twenty-five fathoms on it, and then ended abruptly, like
the first; and immediately beyond this there was no bottom with two hundred
fathoms.) Here then occurs a difficulty; can sand accumulate on a slope,
which, in some cases, appears to exceed fifty-five degrees? It must be
observed, that I speak of slopes where soundings were obtained, and not of
such cases, as that of Cardoo, where the nature of the bottom is unknown,
and where its inclination must be nearly vertical. M. Elie de Beaumont
(“Memoires pour servir a une description Geolog. de France,” tome iv., page
216.) has argued, and there is no higher authority on this subject, from
the inclination at which snow slides down in avalanches, that a bed of sand
or mud cannot be formed at a greater angle than thirty degrees.
Considering the number of soundings on sand, obtained round the Maldiva and
Chagos atolls, which appears to indicate a greater angle, and the extreme
abruptness of the sand-banks in the West Indies, as will be mentioned in
the Appendix, I must conclude that the adhesive property of wet sand
counteracts its gravity, in a much greater ratio than has been allowed for
by M. Elie de Beaumont. From the facility with which calcareous sand
becomes agglutinated, it is not necessary to suppose that the bed of loose
sand is thick.

Captain Beechey has observed, that the submarine slope is much less at the
extremities of the more elongated atolls in the Low Archipelago, than at
their sides; in speaking of Ducie’s Island he says (Beechey’s “Voyage,” 4to
edition, page 44.) the buttress, as it may be called, which “has the most
powerful enemy (the S.W. swell) to oppose, is carried out much further, and
with less abruptness than the other.” In some cases, the less inclination
of a certain part of the external slope, for instance of the northern
extremities of the two Keeling atolls, is caused by a prevailing current
which there accumulates a bed of sand. Where the water is perfectly
tranquil, as within a lagoon, the reefs generally grow up perpendicularly,
and sometimes even overhang their bases; on the other hand, on the leeward
side of Mauritius, where the water is generally tranquil, although not
invariably so, the reef is very gently inclined. Hence it appears that the
exterior angle varies much; nevertheless in the close similarity in form
between the sections of Keeling atoll and of the atolls in the Low
Archipelago, in the general steepness of the reefs of the Maldiva and
Chagos atolls, and in the perpendicularity of those rising out of water
always tranquil, we may discern the effects of uniform laws; but from the
complex action of the surf and currents, on the growing powers of the coral
and on the deposition of sediment, we can by no means follow out all the
results.

Where islets have been formed on the reef, that part which I have sometimes
called the “flat” and which is partly dry at low water, appears similar in
every atoll. In the Marshall group in the North Pacific, it may be
inferred from Chamisso’s description, that the reef, where islets have not
been formed on it, slopes gently from the external margin to the shores of
the lagoon; Flinders states that the Australian barrier has a similar
inclination inwards, and I have no doubt it is of general occurrence,
although, according to Ehrenberg, the reefs of the Red Sea offer an
exception. Chamisso observes that “the red colour of the reef (at the
Marshall atolls) under the breakers is caused by a Nullipora, which covers
the stone WHEREVER THE WAVES BEAT; and, under favourable circumstances,
assumes a stalactical form,”–a description perfectly applicable to the
margin of Keeling atoll. (Kotzebue’s “First Voyage,” volume iii., page
142. Near Porto Praya, in the Cape de Verde Islands, some basaltic rocks,
lashed by no inconsiderable surf, were completely enveloped with a layer of
Nulliporae. The entire surface over many square inches, was coloured of a
peach-blossomed red; the layer, however, was of no greater thickness than
paper. Another kind, in the form of projecting knobs, grew in the same
situation. These Nulliporae are closely related to those described on the
coral-reefs, but I believe are of different species.) Although Chamisso
does not state that the masses of Nulliporae form points or a mound, higher
than the flat, yet I believe that this is the case; for Kotzebue (Kotzebue,
“First Voyage,” volume ii., page 16. Lieutenant Nelson, in his excellent
memoir in the Geological Transactions (volume ii., page 105), alludes to
the rocky points mentioned by Kotzebue, and infers that they consist of
Serpulae, which compose incrusting masses on the reefs of Bermudas, as they
likewise do on a sandstone bar off the coast of Brazil (which I have
described in “London Phil. Journal,” October 1841). These masses of
Serpulae hold the same position, relatively to the action of the sea, with
the Nulliporae on the coral-reefs in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.), in
another part, speaks of the rocks on the edge of the reef “as visible for
about two feet at low water,” and these rocks we may feel quite certain are
not formed of true coral (Captain Moresby, in his valuable paper “on the
Northern atolls of Maldivas” (“Geographical Journal”, volume v.), says that
the edges of the reefs there stand above water at low spring-tides.)
Whether a smooth convex mound of Nulliporae, like that which appears as if
artificially constructed to protect the margin of Keeling Island, is of
frequent occurrence round atolls, I know not; but we shall presently meet
with it, under precisely the same form, on the outer edge of the
“barrier-reefs” which encircle the Society Islands.

There appears to be scarcely a feature in the structure of Keeling reef,
which is not of common, if not of universal occurrence, in other atolls.
Thus Chamisso describes (Kotzebue’s “First Voyage,” volume iii., page 144.)
a layer of coarse conglomerate, outside the islets round the Marshall
atolls which “appears on its upper surface uneven and eaten away.” From
drawings, with appended remarks, of Diego Garcia in the Chagos group and of
several of the Maldiva atolls, shown me by Captain Moresby (see also
Moresby on the Northern atolls of the Maldivas, “Geographical Journal”,
volume v., page 400.), it is evident that their outer coasts are subject to
the same round of decay and renovation as those of Keeling atoll. From the
description of the atolls in the Low Archipelago, given in Captain
Beechey’s “Voyage,” it is not apparent that any conglomerate coral-rock was
there observed.

The lagoon in Keeling atoll is shallow; in the atolls of the Low
Archipelago the depth varies from 20 to 38 fathoms, and in the Marshall
Group, according to Chamisso, from 30 to 35; in the Caroline atolls it is
only a little less. Within the Maldiva atolls there are large spaces with
45 fathoms, and some soundings are laid down of 49 fathoms. The greater
part of the bottom in most lagoons, is formed of sediment; large spaces
have exactly the same depth, or the depth varies so insensibly, that it is
evident that no other means, excepting aqueous deposition, could have
leveled the surface so equally. In the Maldiva atolls this is very
conspicuous, and likewise in some of the Caroline and Marshall Islands. In
the former large spaces consist of sand and SOFT CLAY; and Kotzebue speaks
of clay having been found within one of the Marshall atolls. No doubt this
clay is calcareous mud, similar to that at Keeling Island, and to that at
Bermuda already referred to, as undistinguishable from disintegrated chalk,
and which Lieutenant Nelson says is called there pipe-clay. (I may here
observe that on the coast of Brazil, where there is much coral, the
soundings near the land are described by Admiral Roussin, in the “Pilote du
Bresil”, as siliceous sand, mingled with much finely comminuted particles
of shells and coral. Further in the offing, for a space of 1,300 miles
along the coast, from the Abrolhos Islands to Maranham, the bottom in many
places is composed of “tuf blanc, mele ou forme de madrepores broyes.”
This white substance, probably, is analogous to that which occurs within
the above-mentioned lagoons; it is sometimes, according to Roussin, firm,
and he compares it to mortar.)

Where the waves act with unequal force on the two sides of an atoll, the
islets appear to be first formed, and are generally of greater continuity
on the more exposed shore. The islets, also, which are placed to leeward,
are in most parts of the Pacific liable to be occasionally swept entirely
away by gales, equalling hurricanes in violence, which blow in an opposite
direction to the ordinary trade-wind. The absence of the islets on the
leeward side of atolls, or when present their lesser dimensions compared
with those to windward, is a comparatively unimportant fact; but in several
instances the reef itself on the leeward side, retaining its usual defined
outline, does not rise to the surface by several fathoms. This is the case
with the southern side of Peros Banhos (Plate I., Figure 9) in the Chagos
group, with Mourileu atoll (Frederick Lutke’s “Voyage autour du Monde,”
volume ii., page 291. See also his account of Namonouito, below, and the
chart of Oulleay in the Atlas.) in the Caroline Archipelago, and with the
barrier-reef (Plate I., Figure 8) of the Gambier Islands. I allude to the
latter reef, although belonging to another class, because Captain Beechey
was first led by it to observe the peculiarity in the question. At Peros
Banhos the submerged part is nine miles in length, and lies at an average
depth of about five fathoms; its surface is nearly level, and consists of
hard stone, with a thin covering of loose sand. There is scarcely any
living coral on it, even on the outer margin, as I have been particularly
assured by Captain Moresby; it is, in fact, a wall of dead coral-rock,
having the same width and transverse section with the reef in its ordinary
state, of which it is a continuous portion. The living and perfect parts
terminate abruptly, and abut on the submerged portions, in the same manner
as on the sides of an ordinary passage through the reef. The reef to
leeward in other cases is nearly or quite obliterated, and one side of the
lagoon is left open; for instance, at Oulleay (Caroline Archipelago), where
a crescent-formed reef is fronted by an irregular bank, on which the other
half of the annular reef probably once stood. At Namonouito, in the same
Archipelago, both these modifications of the reef concur; it consists of a
great flat bank, with from twenty to twenty-five fathoms water on it; for a
length of more than forty miles on its southern side it is open and without
any reef, whilst on the other sides it is bounded by a reef, in parts
rising to the surface and perfectly characterised, in parts lying some
fathoms submerged. In the Chagos group there are annular reefs, entirely
submerged, which have the same structure as the submerged and defined
portions just described. The Speaker’s Bank offers an excellent example of
this structure; its central expanse, which is about twenty-two fathoms
deep, is twenty-four miles across; the external rim is of the usual width
of annular reefs, and is well-defined; it lies between six and eight
fathoms beneath the surface, and at the same depth there are scattered
knolls in the lagoon. Captain Moresby believes the rim consists of dead
rock, thinly covered with sand, and he is certain this is the case with the
external rim of the Great Chagos Bank, which is also essentially a
submerged atoll. In both these cases, as in the submerged portion of the
reef at Peros Banhos, Captain Moresby feels sure that the quantity of
living coral, even on the outer edge overhanging the deep-sea water, is
quite insignificant. Lastly, in several parts of the Pacific and Indian
Oceans there are banks, lying at greater depths than in the cases just
mentioned, of the same form and size with the neighbouring atolls, but with
their atoll-like structure wholly obliterated. It appears from the survey
of Freycinet, that there are banks of this kind in the Caroline
Archipelago, and, as is reported, in the Low Archipelago. When we discuss
the origin of the different classes of coral formations, we shall see that
the submerged state of the whole of some atoll-formed reefs, and of
portions of others, generally but not invariably on the leeward side, and
the existence of more deeply submerged banks now possessing little or no
signs of their original atoll-like structure, are probably the effects of a
uniform cause,–namely, the death of the coral, during the subsidence of
the area, in which the atolls or banks are situated.

There is seldom, with the exception of the Maldiva atolls, more than two or
three channels, and generally only one leading into the lagoon, of
sufficient depth for a ship to enter. in small atolls, there is usually
not even one. Where there is deep water, for instance above twenty
fathoms, in the middle of the lagoon, the channels through the reef are
seldom as deep as the centre,–it may be said that the rim only of the
saucer-shaped hollow forming the lagoon is notched. Mr. Lyell (“Principles
of Geology,” volume iii., page 289.) has observed that the growth of the
coral would tend to obstruct all the channels through a reef, except those
kept open by discharging the water, which during high tide and the greater
part of each ebb is thrown over its circumference. Several facts indicate
that a considerable quantity of sediment is likewise discharged through
these channels; and Captain Moresby informs me that he has observed, during
the change of the monsoon, the sea discoloured to a distance off the
entrances into the Maldiva and Chagos atolls. This, probably, would check
the growth of the coral in them, far more effectually than a mere current
of water. In the many small atolls without any channel, these causes have
not prevented the entire ring attaining the surface. The channels, like
the submerged and effaced parts of the reef, very generally though not
invariably occur on the leeward side of the atoll, or on that side,
according to Beechey (Beechey’s “Voyage,” 4to edition, volume i., page
189.), which, from running in the same direction with the prevalent wind,
is not fully exposed to it. Passages between the islets on the reef,
through which boats can pass at high water, must not be confounded with
ship-channels, by which the annular reef itself is breached. The passages
between the islets occur, of course, on the windward as well as on the
leeward side; but they are more frequent and broader to leeward, owing to
the lesser dimensions of the islets on that side.

At Keeling atoll the shores of the lagoon shelve gradually, where the
bottom is of sediment, and irregularly or abruptly where there are
coral-reefs; but this is by no means the universal structure in other atolls.
Chamisso (Kotzebue’s “First Voyage,” volume iii., page 142.), speaking in
general terms of the lagoons in the Marshall atolls, says the lead
generally sinks “from a depth of two or three fathoms to twenty or
twenty-four, and you may pursue a line in which on one side of the boat you
may see the bottom, and on the other the azure-blue deep water.” The shores
of the lagoon-like channel within the barrier-reef at Vanikoro have a similar
structure. Captain Beechey has described a modification of this structure
(and he believes it is not uncommon) in two atolls in the Low Archipelago,
in which the shores of the lagoon descend by a few, broad, slightly
inclined ledges or steps: thus at Matilda atoll (Beechey’s “Voyage,” 4to
edition, volume i, page 160. At Whitsunday Island the bottom of the lagoon
slopes gradually towards the centre, and then deepens suddenly, the edge of
the bank being nearly perpendicular. This bank is formed of coral and dead
shells.), the great exterior reef, the surface of which is gently inclined
towards and beneath the surface of the lagoon, ends abruptly in a little
cliff three fathoms deep; at its foot, a ledge forty yards wide extends,
shelving gently inwards like the surface-reef, and terminated by a second
little cliff five fathoms deep; beyond this, the bottom of the lagoon
slopes to twenty fathoms, which is the average depth of its centre. These
ledges seem to be formed of coral-rock; and Captain Beechey says that the
lead often descended several fathoms through holes in them. In some
atolls, all the coral reefs or knolls in the lagoon come to the surface at
low water; in other cases of rarer occurrence, all lie at nearly the same
depth beneath it, but most frequently they are quite irregular,–some with
perpendicular, some with sloping sides,–some rising to the surface, and
others lying at all intermediate depths from the bottom upwards. I cannot,
therefore, suppose that the union of such reefs could produce even one
uniformly sloping ledge, and much less two or three, one beneath the other,
and each terminated by an abrupt wall. At Matilda Island, which offers the
best example of the step-like structure, Captain Beechey observes that the
coral-knolls within the lagoon are quite irregular in their height. We
shall hereafter see that the theory which accounts for the ordinary form of
atolls, apparently includes this occasional peculiarity in their structure.

In the midst of a group of atolls, there sometimes occur small, flat, very
low islands of coral formation, which probably once included a lagoon,
since filled up with sediment and coral-reefs. Captain Beechey entertains
no doubt that this has been the case with the two small islands, which
alone of thirty-one surveyed by him in the Low Archipelago, did not contain
lagoons. Romanzoff Island (in lat. 15 deg S.) is described by Chamisso
(Kotzebue’s “First Voyage,” volume iii., page 221.) as formed by a dam of
madreporitic rock inclosing a flat space, thinly covered with trees, into
which the sea on the leeward side occasionally breaks. North Keeling atoll
appears to be in a rather less forward stage of conversion into land; it
consists of a horse-shoe shaped strip of land surrounding a muddy flat, one
mile in its longest axis, which is covered by the sea only at high water.
When describing South Keeling atoll, I endeavoured to show how slow the
final process of filling up a lagoon must be; nevertheless, as all causes
do tend to produce this effect, it is very remarkable that not one
instance, as I believe, is known of a moderately sized lagoon being filled
up even to the low water-line at spring-tides, much less of such a one
being converted into land. It is, likewise, in some degree remarkable, how
few atolls, except small ones, are surrounded by a single linear strip of
land, formed by the union of separate islets. We cannot suppose that the
many atolls in the Pacific and Indian Oceans all have had a late origin,
and yet should they remain at their present level, subjected only to the
action of the sea and to the growing powers of the coral, during as many
centuries as must have elapsed since any of the earlier tertiary epochs, it
cannot, I think, be doubted that their lagoons and the islets on their
reef, would present a totally different appearance from what they now do.
This consideration leads to the suspicion that some renovating agency
(namely subsidence) comes into play at intervals, and perpetuates their
original structure.

(DESCRIPTION OF THE PLATES.

PLATE II.–GREAT CHAGOS BANK, NEW CALEDONIA,MENCHIKOFF ATOLL, ETC.

FIGURE 1.–GREAT CHAGOS BANK, in the Indian Ocean; taken from the survey by
Captain Moresby and Lieutenant Powell; the parts which are shaded, with the
exception of two or three islets on the western and northern sides, do not
rise to the surface, but are submerged from four to ten fathoms; the banks
bounded by the dotted lines lie from fifteen to twenty fathoms beneath the
surface, and are formed of sand; the central space is of mud, and from
thirty to fifty fathoms deep.

FIGURE 2.–A vertical section, on the same scale, in an eastern and western
line across the Great Chagos Bank, given for the sake of exhibiting more
clearly its structure.

FIGURE 3.–MENCHIKOFF ATOLL (or lagoon-island), in the Marshall
Archipelago, Northern Pacific Ocean; from Krusenstern’s “Atlas of the
Pacific;” originally surveyed by Captain Hagemeister; the depth within the
lagoons is unknown.

FIGURE 4.–MAHLOS MAHDOO ATOLL, together with Horsburgh atoll, in the
Maldiva Archipelago; from the survey by Captain Moresby and Lieutenant
Powell; the white spaces in the middle of the separate small reefs, both on
the margin and in the middle part, are meant to represent little lagoons;
but it was found not possible to distinguish them clearly from the small
islets, which have been formed on these same small reefs; many of the
smaller reefs could not be introduced; the nautical mark (dot over a dash)
over the figures 250 and 200, between Mahlos Mahdoo and Horsburgh atoll and
Powell’s island, signifies that soundings were not obtained at these
depths.

FIGURE 5.–NEW CALEDONIA, in the western part of the Pacific; from
Krusenstern’s “Atlas,” compiled from several surveys; I have slightly
altered the northern point of the reef, in accordance with the “Atlas of
the Voyage of the ‘Astrolabe’.” In Krusenstern’s “Atlas,” the reef is
represented by a single line with crosses; I have for the sake of
uniformity added an interior line.

FIGURE 6.–MALDIVA ARCHIPELAGO, in the Indian Ocean; from the survey by
Captain Moresby and Lieutenant Powell.)

SECTION 1.III.–ATOLLS OF THE MALDIVA ARCHIPELAGO–GREAT CHAGOS BANK.

Maldiva Archipelago.–Ring-formed reefs, marginal and central.–Great
depths in the lagoons of the southern atolls.–Reefs in the lagoons all
rising to the surface.–Position of islets and breaches in the reefs, with
respect to the prevalent winds and action of the waves.–Destruction of
islets.–Connection in the position and submarine foundation of distinct
atolls.–The apparent disseverment of large atolls.–The Great Chagos
Bank.–Its submerged condition and extraordinary structure.

Although occasional references have been made to the Maldiva atolls, and to
the banks in the Chagos group, some points of their structure deserve
further consideration. My description is derived from an examination of
the admirable charts lately published from the survey of Captain Moresby
and Lieutenant Powell, and more especially from information which Captain
Moresby has communicated to me.

[ Coral Reefs : Chapter V. Theory Of The Formation Of The Different Classes Of Coral-Reefs ]

The atolls of the larger archipelagoes are not formed on submerged craters,
or on banks of sediment.–Immense areas interspersed with atolls.–Their
subsidence.–The effects of storms and earthquakes on atolls.–Recent
changes in their state.–The origin of barrier-reefs and of atolls.–Their
relative forms.–The step-formed ledges and walls round the shores of some
lagoons.–The ring-formed reefs of the Maldiva atolls.–The submerged
condition of parts or of the whole of some annular reefs.–The disseverment
of large atolls.–The union of atolls by linear reefs.–The Great Chagos
Bank.–Objections from the area and amount of subsidence required by the
theory, considered.–The probable composition of the lower parts of atolls.

The naturalists who have visited the Pacific, seem to have had their
attention riveted by the lagoon-islands, or atolls,–those singular rings
of coral-land which rise abruptly out of the unfathomable ocean–and have
passed over, almost unnoticed, the scarcely less wonderful encircling
barrier-reefs. The theory most generally received on the formation of
atolls, is that they are based on submarine craters; but where can we find
a crater of the shape of Bow atoll, which is five times as long as it is
broad (Plate I., Figure 4); or like that of Menchikoff Island (Plate II.,
Figure 3.), with its three loops, together sixty miles in length; or like
Rimsky Korsacoff, narrow, crooked, and fifty-four miles long; or like the
northern Maldiva atolls, made up of numerous ring-formed reefs, placed on
the margin of a disc,–one of which discs is eighty-eight miles in length,
and only from ten to twenty in breadth? It is, also, not a little
improbable, that there should have existed as many craters of immense size
crowded together beneath the sea, as there are now in some parts atolls.
But this theory lies under a greater difficulty, as will be evident, when
we consider on what foundations the atolls of the larger archipelagoes
rest: nevertheless, if the rim of a crater afforded a basis at the proper
depth, I am far from denying that a reef like a perfectly characterised
atoll might not be formed; some such, perhaps, now exist; but I cannot
believe in the possibility of the greater number having thus originated.

An earlier and better theory was proposed by Chamisso (Kotzebue’s “First
Voyage,” volume iii., page 331.); he supposes that as the more massive
kinds of corals prefer the surf, the outer portions, in a reef rising from
a submarine basis, would first reach the surface and consequently form a
ring. But on this view it must be assumed, that in every case the basis
consists of a flat bank; for if it were conically formed, like a
mountainous mass, we can see no reason why the coral should spring up from
the flanks, instead of from the central and highest parts: considering the
number of the atolls in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, this assumption is
very improbable. As the lagoons of atolls are sometimes even more than
forty fathoms deep, it must, also, be assumed on this view, that at a depth
at which the waves do not break, the coral grows more vigorously on the
edges of a bank than on its central part; and this is an assumption without
any evidence in support of it. I remarked, in the third chapter, that a
reef, growing on a detached bank, would tend to assume an atoll-like
structure; if, therefore, corals were to grow up from a bank, with a level
surface some fathoms submerged, having steep sides and being situated in a
deep sea, a reef not to be distinguished from an atoll, might be formed: I
believe some such exist in the West Indies. But a difficulty of the same
kind with that affecting the crater theory, runners, as we shall presently
see, this view inapplicable to the greater number of atolls.

No theory worthy of notice has been advanced to account for those
barrier-reefs, which encircle islands of moderate dimensions. The great
reef which fronts the coast of Australia has been supposed, but without any
special facts, to rest on the edge of a submarine precipice, extending
parallel to the shore. The origin of the third class or of fringing-reefs
presents, I believe, scarcely any difficulty, and is simply consequent on
the polypifers not growing up from great depths, and their not flourishing
close to gently shelving beaches where the water is often turbid.

What cause, then, has given to atolls and barrier-reefs their
characteristic forms? Let us see whether an important deduction will not
follow from the consideration of these two circumstances, first, the
reef-building corals flourishing only at limited depths; and secondly, the
vastness of the areas interspersed with coral-reefs and coral-islets, none
of which rise to a greater height above the level of the sea, than that
attained by matter thrown up by the waves and winds. I do not make this
latter statement vaguely; I have carefully sought for descriptions of every
island in the intertropical seas; and my task has been in some degree
abridged by a map of the Pacific, corrected in 1834 by MM. D’Urville and
Lottin, in which the low islands are distinguished from the high ones (even
from those much less than a hundred feet in height) by being written
without a capital letter; I have detected a few errors in this map,
respecting the height of some of the islands, which will be noticed in the
Appendix, where I treat of coral formations in geographical order. To the
Appendix, also, I must refer for a more particular account of the data on
which the statements on the next page are grounded. I have ascertained,
and chiefly from the writings of Cook, Kotzebue, Bellinghausen, Duperrey,
Beechey, and Lutke, regarding the Pacific; and from Moresby (See also
Captain Owen’s and Lieutenant Wood’s papers in the “Geographical Journal”,
on the Maldiva and Laccadive Archipelagoes. These officers particularly
refer to the lowness of the islets; but I chiefly ground my assertion
respecting these two groups, and the Chagos group, from information
communicated to me by Captain Moresby.) with respect to the Indian Ocean,
that in the following cases the term “low island” strictly means land of
the height commonly attained by matter thrown up by the winds and the waves
of an open sea. If we draw a line (the plan I have always adopted) joining
the external atolls of that part of the Low Archipelago in which the
islands are numerous, the figure will be a pointed ellipse (reaching from
Hood to Lazaref Island), of which the longer axis is 840 geographical
miles, and the shorter 420 miles; in this space (I find from Mr. Couthouy’s
pamphlet (page 58) that Aurora Island is about two hundred feet in height;
it consists of coral-rock, and seems to have been formed by the elevation
of an atoll. It lies north-east of Tahiti, close without the line bounding
the space coloured dark blue in the map appended to this volume. Honden
Island, which is situated in the extreme north-west part of the Low
Archipelago, according to measurements made on board the “Beagle”, whilst
sailing by, is 114 feet from the SUMMIT OF THE TREES to the water’s edge.
This island appeared to resemble the other atolls of the group.) none of
the innumerable islets united into great rings rise above the stated level.
The Gilbert group is very narrow, and 300 miles in length. In a prolonged
line from this group, at the distance of 240 miles, is the Marshall
Archipelago, the figure of which is an irregular square, one end being
broader than the other; its length is 520 miles, with an average width of
240; these two groups together are 1,040 miles in length, and all their
islets are low. Between the southern end of the Gilbert and the northern
end of Low Archipelago, the ocean is thinly strewed with islands, all of
which, as far as I have been able to ascertain, are low; so that from
nearly the southern end of the Low Archipelago, to the northern end of the
Marshall Archipelago, there is a narrow band of ocean, more than 4,000
miles in length, containing a great number of islands, all of which are
low. In the western part of the Caroline Archipelago, there is a space of
480 miles in length, and about 100 broad, thinly interspersed with low
islands. Lastly, in the Indian Ocean, the archipelago of the Maldivas is
470 miles in length, and 60 in breadth; that of the Laccadives is 150 by
100 miles; as there is a low island between these two groups, they may be
considered as one group of 1,000 miles in length. To this may be added the
Chagos group of low islands, situated 280 miles distant, in a line
prolonged from the southern extremity of the Maldivas. This group,
including the submerged banks, is 170 miles in length and 80 in breadth.
So striking is the uniformity in direction of these three archipelagoes,
all the islands of which are low, that Captain Moresby, in one of his
papers, speaks of them as parts of one great chain, nearly 1,500 miles
long. I am, then, fully justified in repeating, that enormous spaces, both
in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, are interspersed with islands, of which
not one rises above that height, to which the waves and winds in an open
sea can heap up matter.

On what foundations, then, have these reefs and islets of coral been
constructed? A foundation must originally have been present beneath each
atoll at that limited depth, which is indispensable for the first growth of
the reef-building polypifers. A conjecture will perhaps be hazarded, that
the requisite bases might have been afforded by the accumulation of great
banks of sediment, which owing to the action of superficial currents (aided
possibly by the undulatory movement of the sea) did not quite reach the
surface,–as actually appears to have been the case in some parts of the
West Indian Sea. But in the form and disposition of the groups of atolls,
there is nothing to countenance this notion; and the assumption without any
proof, that a number of immense piles of sediment have been heaped on the
floor of the great Pacific and Indian Oceans, in their central parts far
remote from land, and where the dark blue colour of the limpid water
bespeaks its purity, cannot for one moment be admitted.

The many widely-scattered atolls must, therefore, rest on rocky bases. But
we cannot believe that the broad summit of a mountain lies buried at the
depth of a few fathoms beneath every atoll, and nevertheless throughout the
immense areas above-named, with not one point of rock projecting above the
level of the sea; for we may judge with some accuracy of mountains beneath
the sea, by those on the land; and where can we find a single chain several
hundred miles in length and of considerable breadth, much less several such
chains, with their many broad summits attaining the same height, within
from 120 to 180 feet? If the data be thought insufficient, on which I have
grounded my belief, respecting the depth at which the reef-building
polypifers can exist, and it be assumed that they can flourish at a depth
of even one hundred fathoms, yet the weight of the above argument is but
little diminished, for it is almost equally improbable, that as many
submarine mountains, as there are low islands in the several great and
widely separated areas above specified, should all rise within six hundred
feet of the surface of the sea and not one above it, as that they should be
of the same height within the smaller limit of one or two hundred feet. So
highly improbable is this supposition, that we are compelled to believe,
that the bases of the many atolls did never at any one period all lie
submerged within the depth of a few fathoms beneath the surface, but that
they were brought into the requisite position or level, some at one period
and some at another, through movements in the earth’s crust. But this
could not have been effected by elevation, for the belief that points so
numerous and so widely separated were successively uplifted to a certain
level, but that not one point was raised above that level, is quite as
improbable as the former supposition, and indeed differs little from it.
It will probably occur to those who have read Ehrenberg’s account of the
Reefs of the Red Sea, that many points in these great areas may have been
elevated, but that as soon as raised, the protuberant parts were cut off by
the destroying action of the waves: a moment’s reflection, however, on the
basin-like form of the atolls, will show that this is impossible; for the
upheaval and subsequent abrasion of an island would leave a flat disc,
which might become coated with coral, but not a deeply concave surface;
moreover, we should expect to see, in some parts at least, the rock of the
foundation brought to the surface. If, then, the foundations of the many
atolls were not uplifted into the requisite position, they must of
necessity have subsided into it; and this at once solves every difficulty
(The additional difficulty on the crater hypothesis before alluded to, will
now be evident; for on this view the volcanic action must be supposed to
have formed within the areas specified a vast number of craters, all rising
within a few fathoms of the surface, and not one above it. The supposition
that the craters were at different times upraised above the surface, and
were there abraded by the surf and subsequently coated by corals, is
subject to nearly the same objections with those given above in this
paragraph; but I consider it superfluous to detail all the arguments
opposed to such a notion. Chamisso’s theory, from assuming the existence
of so many banks, all lying at the proper depth beneath the water, is also
vitally defective. The same observation applies to an hypothesis of
Lieutenant Nelson’s (“Geolog. Trans.” volume v., page 122), who supposes
that the ring-formed structure is caused by a greater number of germs of
corals becoming attached to the declivity, than to the central plateau of a
submarine bank: it likewise applies to the notion formerly entertained
(Forster’s “Observ.” page 151), that lagoon-islands owe their peculiar form
to the instinctive tendencies of the polypifers. According to this latter
view, the corals on the outer margin of the reef instinctively expose
themselves to the surf in order to afford protection to corals living in
the lagoon, which belong to other genera, and to other families!), for we
may safely infer, from the facts given in the last chapter, that during a
gradual subsidence the corals would be favourably circumstanced for
building up their solid frame works and reaching the surface, as island
after island slowly disappeared. Thus areas of immense extent in the
central and most profound parts of the great oceans, might become
interspersed with coral-islets, none of which would rise to a greater
height than that attained by detritus heaped up by the sea, and
nevertheless they might all have been formed by corals, which absolutely
required for their growth a solid foundation within a few fathoms of the
surface.

It would be out of place here to do more than allude to the many facts,
showing that the supposition of a gradual subsidence over large areas is by
no means improbable. We have the clearest proof that a movement of this
kind is possible, in the upright trees buried under the strata many
thousand feet in thickness; we have also every reason for believing that
there are now large areas gradually sinking, in the same manner as others
are rising. And when we consider how many parts of the surface of the
globe have been elevated within recent geological periods, we must admit
that there have been subsidences on a corresponding scale, for otherwise
the whole globe would have swollen. It is very remarkable that Mr. Lyell
(“Principles of Geology,” sixth edition, volume iii., page 386.), even in
the first edition of his “Principles of Geology,” inferred that the amount
of subsidence in the Pacific must have exceeded that of elevation, from the
area of land being very small relatively to the agents there tending to
form it, namely, the growth of coral and volcanic action. But it will be
asked, are there any direct proofs of a subsiding movement in those areas,
in which subsidence will explain a phenomenon otherwise inexplicable?
This, however, can hardly be expected, for it must ever be most difficult,
excepting in countries long civilised, to detect a movement, the tendency
of which is to conceal the part affected. In barbarous and semi-civilised
nations how long might not a slow movement, even of elevation such as that
now affecting Scandinavia, have escaped attention!

Mr. Williams (Williams’s “Narrative of Missionary Enterprise,” page 31.)
insists strongly that the traditions of the natives, which he has taken
much pains in collecting, do not indicate the appearance of any new
islands: but on the theory of a gradual subsidence, all that would be
apparent would be, the water sometimes encroaching slowly on the land, and
the land again recovering by the accumulation of detritus its former
extent, and perhaps sometimes the conversion of an atoll with coral islets
on it, into a bare or into a sunken annular reef. Such changes would
naturally take place at the periods when the sea rose above its usual
limits, during a gale of more than ordinary strength; and the effects of
the two causes would be hardly distinguishable. In Kotzebue’s “Voyage”
there are accounts of islands, both in the Caroline and Marshall
Archipelagoes, which have been partly washed away during hurricanes; and
Kadu, the native who was on board one of the Russian vessels, said “he saw
the sea at Radack rise to the feet of the cocoa-nut trees; but it was
conjured in time.” (Kotzebue’s “First Voyage,” volume iii., page 168.) A
storm lately entirely swept away two of the Caroline islands, and converted
them into shoals; it partly, also, destroyed two other islands. (M.
Desmoulins in “Comptes Rendus,” 1840, page 837.) According to a tradition
which was communicated to Captain Fitzroy, it is believed in the Low
Archipelago, that the arrival of the first ship caused a great inundation,
which destroyed many lives. Mr. Stutchbury relates, that in 1825, the
western side of Chain Atoll, in the same group, was completely devastated
by a hurricane, and not less than 300 lives lost: “in this instance it was
evident, even to the natives, that the hurricane alone was not sufficient
to account for the violent agitation of the ocean.” (“West of England
Journal”, No. I., page 35.) That considerable changes have taken place
recently in some of the atolls in the Low Archipelago, appears certain from
the case already given of Matilda Island: with respect to Whitsunday and
Gloucester Islands in this same group, we must either attribute great
inaccuracy to their discoverer, the famous circumnavigator Wallis, or
believe that they have undergone a considerable change in the period of
fifty-nine years, between his voyage and that of Captain Beechey’s.
Whitsunday Island is described by Wallis as “about four miles long, and
three wide,” now it is only one mile and a half long. The appearance of
Gloucester Island, in Captain Beechey’s words (Beechey’s “Voyage to the
Pacific,” chapter vii., and Wallis’s “Voyage in the ‘Dolphin’,” chapter
iv.), has been accurately described by its discoverer, but its present form
and extent differ materially.” Blenheim reef, in the Chagos group,
consists of a water-washed annular reef, thirteen miles in circumference,
surrounding a lagoon ten fathoms deep: on its surface there were a few
worn patches of conglomerate coral-rock, of about the size of hovels; and
these Captain Moresby considered as being, without doubt, the last remnants
of islets; so that here an atoll has been converted into an atoll-formed
reef. The inhabitants of the Maldiva Archipelago, as long ago as 1605,
declared, “that the high tides and violent currents were diminishing the
number of the islands” (See an extract from Pyrard’s Voyage in Captain
Owen’s paper on the Maldiva Archipelago, in the “Geographical Journal”,
volume ii., page 84.): and I have already shown, on the authority of
Captain Moresby, that the work of destruction is still in progress; but
that on the other hand the first formation of some islets is known to the
present inhabitants. In such cases, it would be exceedingly difficult to
detect a gradual subsidence of the foundation, on which these mutable
structures rest.

Some of the archipelagoes of low coral-islands are subject to earthquakes:
Captain Moresby informs me that they are frequent, though not very strong,
in the Chagos group, which occupies a very central position in the Indian
Ocean, and is far from any land not of coral formation. One of the islands
in this group was formerly covered by a bed of mould, which, after an
earthquake, disappeared, and was believed by the residents to have been
washed by the rain through the broken masses of underlying rock; the island
was thus rendered unproductive. Chamisso (See Chamisso, in Kotzebue’s
“First Voyage,” volume iii., pages 182 and 136.) states, that earthquakes
are felt in the Marshall atolls, which are far from any high land, and
likewise in the islands of the Caroline Archipelago. On one of the latter,
namely Oulleay atoll, Admiral Lutke, as he had the kindness to inform me,
observed several straight fissures about a foot in width, running for some
hundred yards obliquely across the whole width of the reef. Fissures
indicate a stretching of the earth’s crust, and, therefore, probably
changes in its level; but these coral-islands, which have been shaken and
fissured, certainly have not been elevated, and, therefore, probably they
have subsided. In the chapter on Keeling atoll, I attempted to show by
direct evidence, that the island underwent a movement of subsidence, during
the earthquakes lately felt there.

The facts stand thus;–there are many large tracts of ocean, without any
high land, interspersed with reefs and islets, formed by the growth of
those kinds of corals, which cannot live at great depths; and the existence
of these reefs and low islets, in such numbers and at such distant points,
is quite inexplicable, excepting on the theory, that the bases on which the
reefs first became attached, slowly and successively sank beneath the level
of the sea, whilst the corals continued to grow upwards. No positive facts
are opposed to this view, and some general considerations render it
probable. There is evidence of change in form, whether or not from
subsidence, on some of these coral-islands; and there is evidence of
subterranean disturbances beneath them. Will then the theory, to which we
have thus been led, solve the curious problem,–what has given to each
class of reef its peculiar form?

(PLATE: WOODCUT NO. 4.

AA–Outer edge of the reef at the level of the sea.

BB–Shores of the island.

A’A’–Outer edge of the reef, after its upward growth during a period of
subsidence.

CC–The lagoon-channel between the reef and the shores of the now encircled
land.

B’B’–The shores of the encircled island.

N.B.–In this, and the following woodcut, the subsidence of the land could
only be represented by an apparent rise in the level of the sea.

PLATE: WOODCUT NO. 5.

A’A’–Outer edges of the barrier-reef at the level of the sea. The
cocoa-nut trees represent coral-islets formed on the reef.

CC–The lagoon-channel.

B’B’–The shores of the island, generally formed of low alluvial land and
of coral detritus from the lagoon-channel.

A”A”–The outer edges of the reef now forming an atoll.

C’–The lagoon of the newly formed atoll. According to the scale, the
depth of the lagoon and of the lagoon-channel is exaggerated.)

Let us in imagination place within one of the subsiding areas, an island
surrounded by a “fringing-reef,”–that kind, which alone offers no
difficulty in the explanation of its origin. Let the unbroken lines and
the oblique shading in the woodcut (No. 4) represent a vertical section
through such an island; and the horizontal shading will represent the
section of the reef. Now, as the island sinks down, either a few feet at a
time or quite insensibly, we may safely infer from what we know of the
conditions favourable to the growth of coral, that the living masses bathed
by the surf on the margin of the reef, will soon regain the surface. The
water, however, will encroach, little by little, on the shore, the island
becoming lower and smaller, and the space between the edge of the reef and
the beach proportionately broader. A section of the reef and island in
this state, after a subsidence of several hundred feet, is given by the
dotted lines: coral-islets are supposed to have been formed on the new
reef, and a ship is anchored in the lagoon-channel. This section is in
every respect that of an encircling barrier-reef; it is, in fact, a section
taken (The section has been made from the chart given in the “Atlas of the
Voyage of the ‘Coquille’.” The scale is .57 of an inch to a mile. The
height of the island, according to M. Lesson, is 4,026 feet. The deepest
part of the lagoon-channel is 162 feet; its depth is exaggerated in the
woodcut for the sake of clearness.) east and west through the highest point
of the encircled island of Bolabola; of which a plan is given in Plate I.,
Figure 5. The same section is more clearly shown in the following woodcut
(No. 5) by the unbroken lines. The width of the reef, and its slope, both
on the outer and inner side, will have been determined by the growing
powers of the coral, under the conditions (for instance the force of the
breakers and of the currents) to which it has been exposed; and the
lagoon-channel will be deeper or shallower, in proportion to the growth of
the delicately branched corals within the reef, and to the accumulation of
sediment, relatively, also, to the rate of subsidence and the length of the
intervening stationary periods.

It is evident in this section, that a line drawn perpendicularly down from
the outer edge of the new reef to the foundation of solid rock, exceeds by
as many feet as there have been feet of subsidence, that small limit of
depth at which the effective polypifers can live–the corals having grown
up, as the whole sank down, from a basis formed of other corals and their
consolidated fragments. Thus the difficulty on this head, which before
seemed so great, disappears.

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As the space between the reef and the subsiding shore continued to increase
in breadth and depth, and as the injurious effects of the sediment and
fresh water borne down from the land were consequently lessened, the
greater number of the channels, with which the reef in its fringing state
must have been breached, especially those which fronted the smaller
streams, will have become choked up with the growth of coral: on the
windward side of the reef, where the coral grows most vigorously, the
breaches will probably have first been closed. In barrier-reefs,
therefore, the breaches kept open by draining the tidal waters of the
lagoon-channel, will generally be placed on the leeward side, and they will
still face the mouths of the larger streams, although removed beyond the
influence of their sediment and fresh water;–and this, it has been shown,
is commonly the case.

Referring to the diagram shown above, in which the newly formed barrier-reef
is represented by unbroken lines, instead of by dots as in the former
woodcut, let the work of subsidence go on, and the doubly pointed hill will
form two small islands (or more, according to the number of the hills)
included within one annular reef. Let the island continue subsiding, and
the coral-reef will continue growing up on its own foundation, whilst the
water gains inch by inch on the land, until the last and highest pinnacle
is covered, and there remains a perfect atoll. A vertical section of this
atoll is shown in the woodcut by the dotted lines;–a ship is anchored in
its lagoon, but islets are not supposed yet to have been formed on the
reef. The depth of the lagoon and the width and slope of the reef, will
depend on the circumstances just referred to under barrier-reefs. Any
further subsidence will produce no change in the atoll, except perhaps a
diminution in its size, from the reef not growing vertically upwards; but
should the currents of the sea act violently upon it, and should the corals
perish on part or on the whole of its margin, changes would result during
subsidence which will be presently noticed. I may here observe, that a
bank either of rock or of hardened sediment, level with the surface of the
sea, and fringed with living coral, would (if not so small as to allow the
central space to be quickly filled up with detritus) by subsidence be
converted immediately into an atoll, without passing, as in the case of a
reef fringing the shore of an island, through the intermediate form of a
barrier-reef. If such a bank lay a few fathoms submerged, the simple
growth of the coral (as remarked in the third chapter) without the aid of
subsidence, would produce a structure scarcely to be distinguished from a
true atoll; for in all cases the corals on the outer margin of a reef, from
having space and being freely exposed to the open sea, will grow vigorously
and tend to form a continuous ring whilst the growth of the less massive
kinds on the central expanse, will be checked by the sediment formed there,
and by that washed inwards by the breakers; and as the space becomes
shallower, their growth will, also, be checked by the impurities of the
water, and probably by the small amount of food brought by the enfeebled
currents, in proportion to the surface of living reefs studded with
innumerable craving mouths: the subsidence of a reef based on a bank of
this kind, would give depth to its central expanse or lagoon, steepness to
its flanks, and through the free growth of the coral, symmetry to its
outline:–I may here repeat that the larger groups of atolls in the Pacific
and Indian Oceans cannot be supposed to be founded on banks of this nature.

If, instead of the island in the diagram, the shore of a continent fringed
by a reef had subsided, a great barrier-reef, like that on the north-east
coast of Australia, would have necessarily resulted; and it would have been
separated from the main land by a deep-water channel, broad in proportion
to the amount of subsidence, and to the less or greater inclination of the
neighbouring coast-line. The effect of the continued subsidence of a great
barrier-reef of this kind, and its probable conversion into a chain of
separate atolls, will be noticed, when we discuss the apparent progressive
disseverment of the larger Maldiva atolls.

We now are able to perceive that the close similarity in form, dimensions,
structure, and relative position (which latter point will hereafter be more
fully noticed) between fringing and encircling barrier-reefs, and between
these latter and atolls, is the necessary result of the transformation,
during subsidence of the one class into the other. On this view, the three
classes of reefs ought to graduate into each other. Reefs having
intermediate character between those of the fringing and barrier classes do
exist; for instance, on the south-west coast of Madagascar, a reef extends
for several miles, within which there is a broad channel from seven to
eight fathoms deep, but the sea does not deepen abruptly outside the reef.
Such cases, however, are open to some doubts, for an old fringing-reef,
which had extended itself a little on a basis of its own formation, would
hardly be distinguishable from a barrier-reef, produced by a small amount
of subsidence, and with its lagoon-channel nearly filled up with sediment
during a long stationary period. Between barrier-reefs, encircling either
one lofty island or several small low ones, and atolls including a mere
expanse of water, a striking series can be shown: in proof of this, I need
only refer to the first plate in this volume, which speaks more plainly to
the eye, than any description could to the ear. The authorities from which
the charts have been engraved, together with some remarks on them and
descriptive of the plates, are given above. At New Caledonia (Plate II.,
Figure 5.) the barrier-reefs extend for 150 miles on each side of the
submarine prolongation of the island; and at their northern extremity they
appear broken up and converted into a vast atoll-formed reef, supporting a
few low coral-islets: we may imagine that we here see the effects of
subsidence actually in progress, the water always encroaching on the
northern end of the island, towards which the mountains slope down, and the
reefs steadily building up their massive fabrics in the lines of their
ancient growth.

We have as yet only considered the origin of barrier-reefs and atolls in
their simplest form; but there remain some peculiarities in structure and
some special cases, described in the two first chapters, to be accounted
for by our theory. These consist–in the inclined ledge terminated by a
wall, and sometimes succeeded by a second ledge with a wall, round the
shores of certain lagoons and lagoon-channels; a structure which cannot, as
I endeavoured to show, be explained by the simple growing powers of the
corals,–in the ring or basin-like forms of the central reefs, as well as
of the separate marginal portions of the northern Maldiva atolls,–in the
submerged condition of the whole, or of parts of certain barrier and
atoll-formed reefs; where only a part is submerged, this being generally to
leeward,–in the apparent progressive disseverment of some of the Maldiva
atolls,–in the existence of irregularly formed atolls, some being tied
together by linear reefs, and others with spurs projecting from them,–and,
lastly, in the structure and origin of the Great Chagos Bank.

STEP-FORMED LEDGES ROUND CERTAIN LAGOONS.

If we suppose an atoll to subside at an extremely slow rate, it is
difficult to follow out the complex results. The living corals would grow
up on the outer margin; and likewise probably in the gullies and deeper
parts of the bare surface of the annular reef; the water would encroach on
the islets, but the accumulation of fresh detritus might possibly prevent
their entire submergence. After a subsidence of this very slow nature, the
surface of the annular reef sloping gently into the lagoon, would probably
become united with the irregular reefs and banks of sand, which line the
shores of most lagoons. Should, however, the atoll be carried down by a
more rapid movement, the whole surface of the annular reef, where there was
a foundation of solid matter, would be favourably circumstanced for the
fresh growth of coral; but as the corals grew upwards on its exterior
margin, and the waves broke heavily on this part, the increase of the
massive polypifers on the inner side would be checked from the want of
water. Consequently, the exterior parts would first reach the surface, and
the new annular reef thus formed on the old one, would have its summit
inclined inwards, and be terminated by a subaqueous wall, formed by the
upward growth of the coral (before being much checked), from the inner edge
of the solid parts of the old reef. The inner portion of the new reef,
from not having grown to the surface, would be covered by the waters of the
lagoon. Should a subsidence of the same kind be repeated, the corals would
again grow up in a wall, from all the solid parts of the resunken reef,
and, therefore, not from within the sandy shores of the lagoon; and the
inner part of the new annular reef would, from being as before checked in
its upward growth, be of less height than the exterior parts, and therefore
would not reach the surface of the lagoon. In this case the shores of the
lagoon would be surrounded by two inclined ledges, one beneath the other,
and both abruptly terminated by subaqueous cliffs. (According to Mr.
Couthouy (page 26) the external reef round many atolls descends by a
succession of ledges or terraces. He attempts, I doubt whether
successfully, to explain this structure somewhat in the same manner as I
have attempted, with respect to the internal ledges round the lagoons of
some atolls. More facts are wanted regarding the nature both of the
interior and exterior step-like ledges: are all the ledges, or only the
upper ones, covered with living coral? If they are all covered, are the
kinds different on the ledges according to the depth? Do the interior and
exterior ledges occur together in the same atolls; if so, what is their
total width, and is the intervening surface-reef narrow, etc.?)

THE RING OR BASIN-FORMED REEFS OF THE NORTHERN MALDIVA ATOLLS.

I may first observe, that the reefs within the lagoons of atolls and within
lagoon-channels, would, if favourably circumstanced, grow upwards during
subsidence in the same manner as the annular rim; and, therefore, we might
expect that such lagoon-reefs, when not surrounded and buried by an
accumulation of sediment more rapid than the rate of subsidence, would rise
abruptly from a greater depth than that at which the efficient polypifers
can flourish: we see this well exemplified in the small abruptly-sided
reefs, with which the deep lagoons of the Chagos and Southern Maldiva
atolls are studded. With respect to the ring or basin-formed reefs of the
Northern Maldiva atolls, it is evident, from the perfectly continuous
series which exists that the marginal rings, although wider than the
exterior or bounding reef of ordinary atolls, are only modified portions of
such a reef; it is also evident that the central rings, although wider than
the knolls or reefs which commonly occur in lagoons, occupy their place.
The ring-like structure has been shown to be contingent on the breaches
into the lagoon being broad and numerous, so that all the reefs which are
bathed by the waters of the lagoon are placed under nearly the same
conditions with the outer coast of an atoll standing in the open sea.
Hence the exterior and living margins of these reefs must have been
favourably circumstanced for growing outwards, and increasing beyond the
usual breadth; and they must likewise have been favourably circumstanced
for growing vigorously upwards, during the subsiding movements, to which by
our theory the whole archipelago has been subjected; and subsidence with
this upward growth of the margins would convert the central space of each
little reef into a small lagoon. This, however, could only take place with
those reefs, which had increased to a breadth sufficient to prevent their
central spaces from being almost immediately filled up with the sand and
detritus driven inwards from all sides: hence it is that few reefs, which
are less than half a mile in diameter, even in the atolls where the
basin-like structure is most strikingly exhibited, include lagoons. This
remark, I may add, applies to all coral-reefs wherever found. The
basin-formed reefs of the Maldiva Archipelago may, in fact, be briefly
described, as small atolls formed during subsidence over the separate
portions of large and broken atolls, in the same manner as these latter were
formed over the barrier-reefs, which encircled the islands of a large
archipelago now wholly submerged.

SUBMERGED AND DEAD REEFS.

In the second section of the first chapter, I have shown that there are in
the neighbourhood of atolls, some deeply submerged banks, with level
surfaces; that there are others, less deeply but yet wholly submerged,
having all the characters of perfect atolls, but consisting merely of dead
coral-rock; that there are barrier-reefs and atolls with merely a portion
of their reef, generally on the leeward side, submerged; and that such
portions either retain their perfect outline, or they appear to be quite
effaced, their former place being marked only by a bank, conforming in
outline with that part of the reef which remains perfect. These several
cases are, I believe, intimately related together, and can be explained by
the same means. There, perhaps, exist some submerged reefs, covered with
living coral and growing upwards, but to these I do not here refer.

As we see that in those parts of the ocean, where coral-reefs are most
abundant, one island is fringed and another neighbouring one is not
fringed; as we see in the same archipelago, that all the reefs are more
perfect in one part of it than in another, for instance, in the southern
half compared with the northern half of the Maldiva Archipelago, and
likewise on the outer coasts compared with the inner coasts of the atolls
in this same group, which are placed in a double row; as we know that the
existence of the innumerable polypifers forming a reef, depends on their
sustenance, and that they are preyed on by other organic beings; and,
lastly, as we know that some inorganic causes are highly injurious to the
growth of coral, it cannot be expected that during the round of change to
which earth, air, and water are exposed, the reef-building polypifers
should keep alive for perpetuity in any one place; and still less can this
be expected, during the progressive subsidences, perhaps at some periods
more rapid than at others, to which by our theory these reefs and islands
have been subjected and are liable. It is, then, not improbable that the
corals should sometimes perish either on the whole or on part of a reef; if
on part, the dead portion, after a small amount of subsidence, would still
retain its proper outline and position beneath the water. After a more
prolonged subsidence, it would probably form, owing to the accumulation of
sediment, only the margin of a flat bank, marking the limits of the former
lagoon. Such dead portions of reef would generally lie on the leeward side
(Mr. Lyell, in the first edition of his “Principles of Geology,” offered a
somewhat different explanation of this structure. He supposes that there
has been subsidence; but he was not aware that the submerged portions of
reef were in most cases, if not in all, dead; and he attributes the
difference in height in the two sides of most atolls, chiefly to the
greater accumulation of detritus to windward than to leeward. But as
matter is accumulated only on the backward part of the reef, the front part
would remain of the same height on both sides. I may here observe that in
most cases (for instance, at Peros Banhos, the Gambier group and the Great
Chagos Bank), and I suspect in all cases, the dead and submerged portions
do not blend or slope into the living and perfect parts, but are separated
from them by an abrupt line. In some instances small patches of living
reef rise to the surface from the middle of the submerged and dead parts.),
for the impure water and fine sediment would more easily flow out from the
lagoon over this side of the reef, where the force of the breakers is less
than to windward; and therefore the corals would be less vigorous on this
side, and be less able to resist any destroying agent. It is likewise
owing to this same cause, that reefs are more frequently breached to
leeward by narrow channels, serving as by ship-channels, than to windward.
If the corals perished entirely, or on the greater part of the
circumference of an atoll, an atoll-shaped bank of dead rock, more or less
entirely submerged, would be produced; and further subsidence, together
with the accumulation of sediment, would often obliterate its atoll-like
structure, and leave only a bank with a level surface.

In the Chagos group of atolls, within an area of 160 miles by 60, there are
two atoll-formed banks of dead rock (besides another very imperfect one),
entirely submerged; a third, with merely two or three very small pieces of
living reef rising to the surface; and a fourth, namely, Peros Banhos
(Plate I., Figure 9), with a portion nine miles in length dead and
submerged. As by our theory this area has subsided, and as there is
nothing improbable in the death, either from changes in the state of the
surrounding sea or from the subsidence being great or sudden, of the corals
on the whole, or on portions of some of the atolls, the case of the Chagos
group presents no difficulty. So far indeed are any of the above-mentioned
cases of submerged reefs from being inexplicable, that their occurrence
might have been anticipated on our theory, and as fresh atolls are supposed
to be in progressive formation by the subsidence of encircling barrier-reefs,
a weighty objection, namely that the number of atolls must be
increasing infinitely, might even have been raised, if proofs of the
occasional destruction and loss of atolls could not have been adduced.

THE DISSEVERMENT OF THE LARGER MALDIVA ATOLLS.

The apparent progressive disseverment in the Maldiva Archipelago of large
atolls into smaller ones, is, in many respects, an important consideration,
and requires an explanation. The graduated series which marks, as I
believe, this process, can be observed only in the northern half of the
group, where the atolls have exceedingly imperfect margins, consisting of
detached basin-formed reefs. The currents of the sea flow across these
atolls, as I am informed by Captain Moresby, with considerable force, and
drift the sediment from side to side during the monsoons, transporting much
of it seaward; yet the currents sweep with greater force round their
flanks. It is historically known that these atolls have long existed in
their present state; and we can believe, that even during a very slow
subsidence they might thus remain, the central expanse being kept at nearly
its original depth by the accumulation of sediment. But in the action of
such nicely balanced forces during a progressive subsidence (like that, to
which by our theory this archipelago has been subjected), it would be
strange if the currents of the sea should never make a direct passage
across some one of the atolls, through the many wide breaches in their
margins. If this were once effected, a deep-water channel would soon be
formed by the removal of the finer sediment, and the check to its further
accumulation; and the sides of the channel would be worn into a slope like
that on the outer coasts, which are exposed to the same force of the
currents. In fact, a channel precisely like that bifurcating one which
divides Mahlos Mahdoo (Plate II., Figure 4.), would almost necessarily be
formed. The scattered reefs situated near the borders of the new
ocean-channel, from being favourably placed for the growth of coral, would,
by their extension, tend to produce fresh margins to the dissevered portions;
such a tendency is very evident (as may be seen in the large published
chart) in the elongated reefs on the borders of the two channels
intersecting Mahlos Mahdoo. Such channels would become deeper with
continued subsidence, and probably from the reefs not growing up
perpendicularly, somewhat broader. In this case, and more especially if
the channels had been formed originally of considerable breadth, the
dissevered portions would become perfect and distinct atolls, like Ari and
Ross atolls (Plate II., Figure 6), or like the two Nillandoo atolls, which
must be considered as distinct, although related in form and position, and
separated from each other by channels, which though deep have been sounded.
Further subsidence would render such channels unfathomable, and the
dissevered portions would then resemble Phaleedoo and Moluque atolls, or
Mahlos Mahdoo and Horsburgh atolls (Plate II., Figure 4), which are related
to each other in no respect except in proximity and position. Hence, on
the theory of subsidence, the disseverment of large atolls, which have
imperfect margins (for otherwise their disseverment would be scarcely
possible), and which are exposed to strong currents, is far from being an
improbable event; and the several stages, from close relation to entire
isolation in the atolls of the Maldiva Archipelago, are readily explicable.

We might go even further, and assert as not improbable, that the first
formation of the Maldiva Archipelago was due to a barrier-reef, of nearly
the same dimensions with that of New Caledonia (Plate II., Figure 5), for
if, in imagination, we complete the subsidence of that great island, we
might anticipate from the present broken condition of the northern portion
of the reef, and from the almost entire absence of reefs on the eastern
coast, that the barrier-reef after repeated subsidences, would become
during its upward growth separated into distinct portions; and these
portions would tend to assume an atoll-like structure, from the coral
growing with vigour round their entire circumferences, when freely exposed
to an open sea. As we have some large islands partly submerged with
barrier-reefs marking their former limits, such as New Caledonia, so our
theory makes it probable that there should be other large islands wholly
submerged; and these, we may now infer, would be surmounted, not by one
enormous atoll, but by several large elongated ones, like the atolls in the
Maldiva group; and these again, during long periods of subsidence, would
sometimes become dissevered into smaller atolls. I may add, that both in
the Marshall and Caroline Archipelagoes, there are atolls standing close
together, which have an evident relationship in form: we may suppose, in
such cases, either that two or more encircled islands originally stood
close together, and afforded bases for two or more atolls, or that one
atoll has been dissevered. From the position, as well as form, of three
atolls in the Caroline Archipelago (the Namourrek and Elato group), which
are placed in an irregular circle, I am strongly tempted to believe that
they have originated by the process of disseverment. (The same remark is,
perhaps, applicable to the islands of Ollap, Fanadik, and Tamatam in the
Caroline Archipelago, of which charts are given in the atlas of Duperrey’s
voyage: a line drawn through the linear reefs and lagoons of these three
islands forms a semicircle. Consult also, the atlas of Lutke’s voyage; and
for the Marshall group that of Kotzebue; for the Gilbert group consult the
atlas of Duperrey’s voyage. Most of the points here referred to may,
however, be seen in Krusenstern’s general Atlas of the Pacific.)

IRREGULARLY FORMED ATOLLS.

In the Marshall group, Musquillo atoll consists of two loops united in one
point; and Menchikoff atoll is formed of three loops, two of which (as may
be seen in Figure 3, Plate II.) are connected by a mere ribbon-shaped reef,
and the three together are sixty miles in length. In the Gilbert group
some of the atolls have narrow strips of reef, like spurs, projecting from
them. There occur also in parts of the open sea, a few linear and straight
reefs, standing by themselves; and likewise some few reefs in the form of
crescents, with their extremities more or less curled inwards. Now, the
upward growth of a barrier-reef which fronted only one side of an island,
or one side of an elongated island with its extremities (of which cases
exist), would produce after the complete subsidence of the land, mere
strips or crescent or hook-formed reefs: if the island thus partially
fronted became divided during subsidence into two or more islands, these
islands would be united together by linear reefs; and from the further
growth of the coral along their shores together with subsidence, reefs of
various forms might ultimately be produced, either atolls united together
by linear reefs, or atolls with spurs projecting from them. Some, however,
of the more simple forms above specified, might, as we have seen, be
equally well produced by the coral perishing during subsidence on part of
the circumference of an atoll, whilst on the other parts it continued to
grow up till it reached the surface.

THE GREAT CHAGOS BANK.

I have already shown that the submerged condition of the Great Chagos Bank
(Plate II., Figure 1, with its section Figure 2), and of some other banks
in the Chagos group, may in all probability be attributed to the coral
having perished before or during the movements of subsidence, to which this
whole area by our theory has been subjected. The external rim or upper
ledge (shaded in the chart), consists of dead coral-rock thinly covered
with sand; it lies at an average depth of between five and eight fathoms,
and perfectly resembles in form the annular reef of an atoll. The banks of
the second level, the boundaries of which are marked by dotted lines in the
chart, lie from about fifteen to twenty fathoms beneath the surface; they
are several miles broad, and terminate in a very steep slope round the
central expanse. This central expanse I have already described, as
consisting of a level muddy flat between thirty and forty fathoms deep.
The banks of the second level, might at first sight be thought analogous to
the internal step-like ledge of coral-rock which borders the lagoons of
some atolls, but their much greater width, and their being formed of sand,
are points of essential difference. On the eastern side of the atoll some
of the banks are linear and parallel, resembling islets in a great river,
and pointed directly towards a great breach on the opposite side of the
atoll; these are best seen in the large published chart. I inferred from
this circumstance, that strong currents sometimes set directly across this
vast bank; and I have since heard from Captain Moresby that this is the
case. I observed, also, that the channels or breaches through the rim,
were all of the same depth as the central lagoon-like space into which they
lead; whereas the channels into the other atolls of the Chagos group, and
as I believe into most other large atolls, are not nearly as deep as their
lagoons: for instance at Peros Banhos, the channels are only of the same
depth, namely between ten and twenty fathoms, as the bottom of the lagoon
for a space about a mile and a half in width round its shores, whilst the
central expanse of the lagoon is from thirty-five to forty fathoms deep.
Now, if an atoll during a gradual subsidence once became entirely
submerged, like the Great Chagos Bank, and therefore no longer exposed to
the surf, very little sediment could be formed from it; and consequently
the channels leading into the lagoon from not being filled up with drifted
sand and coral detritus, would continue increasing in depth, as the whole
sank down. In this case, we might expect that the currents of the open
sea, instead of any longer sweeping round the submarine flanks, would flow
directly through the breaches across the lagoon, removing in their course
the finer sediment, and preventing its further accumulation. We should
then have the submerged reef forming an external and upper rim of rock, and
beneath this portion of the sandy bottom of the old lagoon, intersected by
deep-water channels or breaches, and thus formed into separate marginal
banks; and these would be cut off by steep slopes, overhanging the central
space, worn down by the passage of the oceanic currents.

By these means, I have scarcely any doubt that the Great Chagos Bank has
originated,–a structure which at first appeared to me far more anomalous
than any I had met with. The process of formation is nearly the same with
that, by which Mahlos Mahdoo had been trisected; but in the Chagos Bank the
channels of the oceanic currents entering at several different quarters,
have united in a central space.

This great atoll-formed bank appears to be in an early stage of
disseverment; should the work of subsidence go on, from the submerged and
dead condition of the whole reef, and the imperfection of the south-east
quarter a mere wreck would probably be left. The Pitt’s Bank, situated not
far southward, appears to be precisely in this state; it consists of a
moderately level, oblong bank of sand, lying from 10 to 20 fathoms beneath
the surface, with two sides protected by a narrow ledge of rock which is
submerged between 5 and 8 fathoms. A little further south, at about the
same distance as the southern rim of the Great Chagos Bank is from the
northern rim, there are two other small banks with from 10 to 20 fathoms on
them; and not far eastward soundings were struck on a sandy bottom, with
between 110 and 145 fathoms. The northern portion with its ledge-like
margin, closely resembles any one segment of the Great Chagos Bank, between
two of the deep-water channels, and the scattered banks, southward appear
to be the last wrecks of less perfect portions.

I have examined with care the charts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and
have now brought before the reader all the examples, which I have met with,
of reefs differing from the type of the class to which they belong; and I
think it has been satisfactorily shown, that they are all included in our
theory, modified by occasional accidents which might have been anticipated
as probable. In this course we have seen, that in the lapse of ages
encircling barrier-reefs are occasionally converted into atolls, the name
of atoll being properly applicable, at the moment when the last pinnacle of
encircled land sinks beneath the surface of the sea. We have, also, seen
that large atolls during the progressive subsidence of the areas in which
they stand, sometimes become dissevered into smaller ones; at other times,
the reef-building polypifers having entirely perished, atolls are converted
into atoll-formed banks of dead rock; and these again through further
subsidence and the accumulation of sediment modified by the force of the
oceanic currents, pass into level banks with scarcely any distinguishing
character. Thus may the history of an atoll be followed from its first
origin, through the occasional accidents of its existence, to its
destruction and final obliteration.

OBJECTIONS TO THE THEORY OF THE FORMATION OF ATOLLS AND BARRIER-REEFS.

The vast amount of subsidence, both horizontally or in area, and vertically
or in depth, necessary to have submerged every mountain, even the highest,
throughout the immense spaces of ocean interspersed with atolls, will
probably strike most people as a formidable objection to my theory. But as
continents, as large as the spaces supposed to have subsided, have been
raised above the level of the sea,–as whole regions are now rising, for
instance, in Scandinavia and South America,–and as no reason can be
assigned, why subsidences should not have occurred in some parts of the
earth’s crust on as great a scale both in extent and amount as those of
elevation, objections of this nature strike me as of little force. The
remarkable point is that movements to such an extent should have taken
place within a period, during which the polypifers have continued adding
matter on and above the same reefs. Another and less obvious objection to
the theory will perhaps be advanced from the circumstance, of the lagoons
within atolls and within barrier-reefs never having become in any one
instance during prolonged subsidences of a greater depth than sixty
fathoms, and seldom more than forty fathoms; but we already admit, if the
theory be worth considering, that the rate of subsidence has not exceeded
that of the upward growth of the coral on the exterior margin; we are,
therefore, only further required to admit, that the subsidence has not
exceeded in rate the filling up of the interior spaces by the growth of the
corals living there, and by the accumulation of sediment. As this filling
up must take place very slowly within barrier-reefs lying far from the
land, and within atolls which are of large dimensions and which have open
lagoons with very few reefs, we are led to conclude that the subsidence
thus counter-balanced, must have been slow in an extraordinary degree; a
conclusion which accords with our only means, namely, with what is known of
the rate and manner of recent elevatory movements, of judging by analogy
what is the probable rate of subsidence.

In this chapter it has, I think, been shown, that the theory of subsidence,
which we were compelled to receive from the necessity of giving to the
corals, in certain large areas, foundations at the requisite depth,
explains both the normal structure and the less regular forms of those two
great classes of reefs, which have justly excited the astonishment of all
persons who have sailed through the Pacific and Indian Oceans. But further
to test the truth of the theory, a crowd of questions will occur to the
reader: Do the different kinds of reefs, which have been produced by the
same kind of movement, generally lie within the same areas? What is their
relation of form and position,–for instance, do adjoining groups of
atolls, and the separate atolls in these groups, bear the same relation to
each other which islands do in common archipelagoes? Have we reason to
believe, that where there are fringing-reefs, there has not lately been
subsidence; or, for it is almost our only way of ascertaining this point,
are there frequently proofs of recent elevation? Can we by this means
account for the presence of certain classes of reefs in some large areas,
and their entire absence in others? Do the areas which have subsided, as
indicated by the presence of atolls and barrier-reefs, and the areas which
have remained stationary or have been upraised, as shown by fringing-reefs,
bear any determinate relation to each other; and are the dimensions of
these areas such as harmonise with the greatness of the subterranean
changes, which, it must be supposed, have lately taken place beneath them?
Is there any connection between the movements thus indicated, and recent
volcanic action? All these questions ought to receive answers in
accordance with the theory.