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Hereditary Genius
IT is confidently asserted by all modern physiologists that the life of
every plant and animal is built up of an enormous number of
subordinate lives; that each organism consists of a multitude of
elemental parts, which are to a great extent independent of each
other; that each organ has its proper life, or autonomy, and can
develop and reproduce itself independently of other tissues (see
Darwin on “Domestication of Plants and Animals,” ii. 368, 369). Thus
the word “Man,” when rightly understood, becomes a noun of
multitude, because he is composed of millions, perhaps billions of
cells, each of which possesses in some sort an independent life, and is
parent of other cells. He is a conscious whole, formed by the joint
agencies of a host of what appear to us to be unconscious or barely
conscious elements.
Mr. Darwin, in his remarkable theory of Pangenesis, takes two
great strides from this starting point. He supposes, first, that each cell,
having of course its individual peculiarities, breeds nearly true to its
kind, by propagating innumerable germs, or to use his expression,
“gemmules,” which circulate in the blood and multiply there;
remaining in that inchoate form until they are able to fix themselves
upon other more or less perfect tissue, and then they become
developed into regular cells. Secondly, the germs are supposed to be
solely governed by their respective Previous page Top Next page