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'The enlightened person accepts the word of authority not as something to which he has to say ‘yes’, but as something to which it is appropriate to subject to critical analysis. The question for the enlightened person therefore is whether the word of authority can stand up to cross-examination before the tribunal of reason. If it can then it is accepted because it is sanctioned not by authority but by reason. If on the other hand it cannot withstand the cross-examination then it has to be discarded, however exalted the source.'
'Man's interference, by preventing this natural process of selection among plants, independent of the wider range of circumstances to which he introduces them, has increased the differences in varieties particularly in the more domesticated kinds...' "In his unpublished essay of 1844,Darwin wrote, 'In the case of forest trees raised in nurseries, which vary more than the same trees do in their aboriginal forests, the cause would seem to lie in their not having to struggle against other trees and weeds, which in their natural state doubtless would limit the conditions of their existence…"
"Our common forest trees are very variable, as may be seen in every extensive nursery-ground; but as they are not valued as fruit trees, and as they seed late in life, no selection has been applied to them; consequently, as Patrick Matthew remarks, they have not yielded different races…"
‘The Wild Pine attains its greatest perfection of growth and form in the colder countries, and on the older rock formations. It is in its native regions of granite, gneiss and the allied deposits, that it grows in extended forests over hundreds of leagues, overpowering the less robust species. When transplanted to the lower plains and subjected to culture, it loses so much of the aspect and characters of the noble original, as scarcely to appear the same. No change can be greater to the habits of a plant than the transportation of this child of the mountain to the shelter and cultivated soil of the nursery; and when the seeds of these cultivated trees are collected and sown again, the progeny diverges more and more from the parent type.'
‘If we are to observe nature, therefore, we must go to the wilds, because, in all cultivated productions, there are secondary characters produced by the artificial treatment, and we have no means of observing a distinction between these, and those which the same individual would have displayed, had it been left to a completely natural state. The longer that the race has been under the domestication and culture, the changes are of course the greater. So much is that the case that in very many both of the plants and animals that have been in a state of domestication since the earliest times of which we have any record, we know nothing with certainty about the parent races in their wild state. As to the species, or if you will the genus we can be certain. The domestic horse has not been cultivated out of an animal with cloven hoofs and horns; and the domestic sheep has never been bred out of any of the ox tribe. So also wheat and barley have not been cultivated out of any species of pulse, neither have Windsor beans at any time been grasses. But within some such limits as these our certain information lies; and for aught we know the parent race may, in its wild state, be before our eyes every day and yet we may not have the means of knowing that it is so. The breeding artificially has been going on for at least three thousand years…’
‘But there is another difficulty. When great changes are made on the surface of a country, as when forests are changed into open land, and marshes into corn fields, or any other change that is considerable, the changes of the climate must correspond; and as the wild productions are very much affected by that, they must also undergo changes; and these changes may in time amount to the entire extinction of some of the old tribes, both of plants and of animals, the modification of others to the full extent that the hereditary specific characters admit, and the introduction of not varieties only but of species altogether new.That not only may but must have been the case. The productions of soils and climates are as varied as these are; and when a change takes place in either of these, if the living productions cannot alter their habits so as to accommodate themselves to the change there is no alternative, but they must perish.’
“Cultivation itself will deteriorate, and in time destroy races, if the same race and the same mode of culture be pursued amid general change. Our own times are times of very rapid change, and, upon the whole, of improvement; we dare not, without the certainty of their falling off, continue the same stock and the same seed corn, season after season, and age after age, as was done by our forefathers. The general change of the country, must have change and not mere succession, in that which we cultivate; and thus we must cross the breeds of our animals, and remove the seeds and plants of our vegetables from district to district. There is something of the same kind in human beings..”
'Long ago when Darwin was still a youth aboard the Beagle, the Naturalist Robert Mudie, faithful to his century, had written:
' "There is a law that maintains the species." Scarcely had he made this assertion before he was busy explaining that all cultivated plants or animals were more or less monsters and that of the appearance of their parentage we know little or nothing. Even of wild forms he ends by hinting ambiguously of the emergence of species "altogether new". Finally he verges on complete heresy. "There is something," he almost whispers, "of the same kind in human beings," '