COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY is celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Darwin, the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the “ Origin of Species.” In the year 1809 many illustrious men2 were born, among them Darwin and Lincoln, one hundred years ago to-day, February 12.
WE are assembled, at the invitation of an organization devoted to the dissemination of scientific knowledge, under the hospitable roof of an institution maintained for the promotion of systematic observation, for the purpose of honoring the memory of one of the greatest of seers.
CHARLES DARWIN was born in a time of intellectual unrest. Explorers, students of chemistry and workers in mines had been adding to actual knowledge for nearly one third of a century and thoughtful men had been forced to recognize the worthlessness of many conceptions which had long passed current.
CONSIDEBING the fact that Charles Darwin disclaimed the title of botanist, his contributions to the knowledge of plant life and its phenomena were certainly extraordinary. His investigations extended over a great range of topics, at one time or another practically covering the whole field of botanical research.
THIS is an assembly composed substantially of members and friends of the New York Academy of Sciences, united to do homage to one whose genius has been long felt in our meetings, and whose influence is now recognized in every field of intellectual endeavor.
WE have come together to-day to consider Darwin’s influence on zoologyIt is a hazardous task to pretend to estimate the influence of any event on the course of history so long as we can not know what the outcome had been otherwise. But to this at least we can testify, that it is the general belief of zoologists to-day that Darwin’s influence in bringing about the acceptance of the theory of evolution marks a turning point in the history of their science, and I shall attempt to justify this opinion by pointing out the condition of zoology before Darwin and its subsequent course of development after 1859.
HARLES DARWIN undoubtedly exerted a profound and threefold influence on botany, zoology and all the kindred sciences; first, by his rehabilitation of Lamarck’s theory of transformism, or evolution, as it is more generally but less aptly called; secondly, by his wonderful studies on variation; and thirdly, by the announcement of his brilliant theory of natural selection through the survival of the fittest.
THE HALO OF A HUNDRED YEARS (FEBRUARY, 1809, TO FEBRUARY, 1909)
PROFESSOR R. M. WENLEY
IN ordinary circumstances, a humble representative of Wissenschaft der Philosophie, like myself—a pursuer rather than a possessor of knowledge, would deem any poor words of his superfluous on such an occasion, and in an assembly composed chiefly of those who have consecrated their lives to the natural sciences.
I BEG to thank the council of the Linnean Society for the very great honor they have done me, in coupling my name with that of Charles Darwin on the celebration of this anniversary, and for the still greater and more exceptional honor, of perpetuating my features with those of my illustrious forerunner, upon the medal you have now awarded me.
THE FIRST PRESENTATION OF THE THEORY OF NATURAL SELECTION
SIR JOSEPH HOOKER
I HAVE been honored by receiving from the council of our society a request that I would take up a little of your time and attention with a brief address. No theme or subject was vouchsafed to me by the council, but, having gratefully accepted the honor, I was bound to find one for myself.
THERE is here reproduced the text of two pages of the original manuscript of “The Descent of Man” in the handwriting of the author. This manuscript, as well as the portraits by Lock and Whitfield and by Maull and Fox reproduced above, we owe to the kindness of Mr. Charles F. Cox, president of the New York Academy of Sciences, who has permitted the use of his valuable collection of Darwiniana.