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Title: Mr Belloc Objects to "The Outline of History"
Author: H G Wells
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Title: Mr Belloc Objects to "The Outline of History"
Author: H G Wells

                           MR. BELLOC OBJECTS

                      TO "THE OUTLINE OF HISTORY"


                              H. G. WELLS

                              WATTS & CO.,
                  JOHNSON'S COURT, FLEET STREET, E.C.4

                            First Published
                             SEPTEMBER 1926


IN the autumn of 1925 and the spring and summer of 1926 there was
published a revised and illustrated version of the Outline of History,
by Mr. H. G. Wells. There followed a series of articles by Mr. Belloc
attacking this Outline and Mr. Wells.  These articles were published in
the Catholic Universe, in the Southern Cross of Cape Colony, in the
American Catholic Bulletin, and possibly elsewhere.  Every fortnight,
keeping pace with the issue of the Outline, these attacks appeared; in
all, twenty-four voluminous articles.  They were grossly personal and
provocative in tone, and no doubt a great joy and comfort to the
faithful.  Mr. Wells prepared a series of articles in reply; and as no
one outside the public of these Catholic journals seemed to have heard
of Mr. Belloc's attacks, he offered them to the editors concerned,
proposing, if necessary, to give the use of this interesting matter to
them without payment.  Six articles he asked to have published--in
reply to twenty-four.  This offering was declined very earnestly by these
editors.  To the editor of the Catholic Universe Mr. Wells protested in
the terms of the following letter:--

        MY DEAR SIR,

        I am sorry to receive your letter of May 19th.
        May I point out to you that Mr. Belloc has been
        attacking my reputation as a thinker, a writer, an
        impartial historian, and an educated person for
        four-and-twenty fortnights in the Universe? He has
        misquoted; he has misstated. Will your Catholic
        public tolerate no reply?

Under the stimulus of this remonstrance, the editor of the Universe,
after a month's delay and various consultations with Mr. Belloc and the
directors of his paper, offered Mr. Wells the "opportunity of correcting
definite points of fact upon which he might have been mis-represented,"
but declined to allow him to defend his views or examine Mr. Belloc's
logic and imputations in his columns.  Mr. Wells was disinclined for a
series of wrangles upon what might or might not be a "point of fact."
He then offered his articles to various non-Catholic papers, but, with
one accord, they expressed their lack of interest in either Mr. Belloc
himself or in his exposition of Catholic ideas about natural selection,
the origin of man, and the general course of history.  Yet it seems to
Mr. Wells that, regarded as a mental sample, Mr. Belloc is not without
significance, and that the examination of the contemporary Catholic
attitude towards the fundamental facts of history is a matter of
interest beyond Catholic circles.  Accordingly he has decided to issue
these articles in the form of a book, and he has urged the publishers to
advertise them, as freely as may be permitted, in the Catholic press.  He
has retained the "cross-heads" customary in journalistic writing.









                    MR. BELLOC'S ARTS OF CONTROVERSY

I am the least controversial of men.  Public disputations have rarely
attracted me.  For years I have failed to respond to Mr. Henry Arthur
Jones, who long ago invented a set of opinions for me and invited me to
defend them with an enviable persistence and vigour.  Occasionally I may
have corrected some too gross public mis-statement about me--too often
I fear with the acerbity of the inexperienced.  But now, in my sixtieth
year, I find myself drawn rather powerfully into a disputation with Mr.
Hilaire Belloc.  I bring an unskilled pen to the task.

I am responsible for an Outline of History which has had a certain
vogue.  I will assume that it is known by name to the reader.  It is a
careful summary of man's knowledge of past time.  It has recently been
re-issued with considerable additions in an illustrated form, and Mr.
Belloc has made a great attack upon it.  He declares that I am violently
antagonistic to the Catholic Church, an accusation I deny very
earnestly, and he has produced a "Companion" to this Outline of mine,
following up the periodical issue, part by part, in the Universe of
London, in the Catholic Bulletin of St. Paul, Minnesota, in the Southern
Cross of Cape Colony, and possibly elsewhere, in which my alleged
errors are exposed and confuted.

In the enthusiasm of advertisement before the "Companion" began to
appear, these newspapers announced a work that would put Mr. Belloc
among the great classical Catholic apologists, but I should imagine that
this was before the completed manuscript of Mr. Belloc's work had come
to hand, and I will not hold Catholics at large responsible for all Mr.
Belloc says and does.

It is with this Companion to the Outline of History that I am to deal
here.  It raises a great number of very interesting questions, and there
is no need to discuss the validity of the charge of Heresy that is
levelled against me personally.  I will merely note that I am conscious
of no animus against Catholicism, and that in my Outline I accept the
gospels as historical documents of primary value, defend Christianity
against various aspersions of Gibbon's, and insist very strongly upon
the role of the Church in preserving learning in Europe, consolidating
Christendom, and extending knowledge from a small privileged class to
the whole community.  I do not profess to be a Christian.  I am as little
disposed to take sides between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant (Mr.
Belloc will protest against that "Roman," but he must forgive it; I
know no other way of distinguishing between his Church and Catholics not
in communion with it) as I am to define the difference between a
pterodactyl and a bird.


In this art of controversy it is evident that great importance attaches
to pose.  This is plain from the very outset of Mr. Belloc's apologia.
From the beginning I have to be put in my place, and my relationship to
Mr. Belloc has to be defined.  Accustomed as I am to see Mr. Belloc
dodging about in my London club, and in Soho and thereabouts, and even
occasionally appearing at a dinner party, compactly stout, rather
breathless and always insistently garrulous, I am more than a little
amazed at his opening.  He has suddenly become aloof from me.  A great
gulf of manner yawns between us. "Hullo, Belloc!" is frozen on my lips,
dies unuttered.  He advances upon me in his Introduction with a gravity
of utterance, a dignity of gesture, rare in sober, God-fearing men.
There is a slow, formal compliment or so.  I have, I learn, "a deservedly
popular talent in fiction."  I am sincere, an honest soul.  My intentions
are worthy.  But the note changes; he declares I am a "Protestant writing
for Protestants," and there is danger that my Outline may fall into
Catholic hands.  Some Catholics may even be infected with doubt.  His
style thickens with emotion at this thought and he declares: "One
Catholic disturbed in his faith is more important than twenty thousand
or a hundred thousand or a million of the average reading public of
England and America."  That is why he is giving me his attention,
syndicating these articles and swelling himself up so strongly against
me.  That is why he now proposes to exhibit and explain and expose me in
the sight of all mankind.  It is controversy, and everyday manners are in

The controversial pose reveals itself further.  The compliments and
civilities thin out and vanish.  Mr. Belloc becomes more magisterial,
relatively larger, relatively graver, with every paragraph.  He assumes
more definitely the quality of a great scholar, of European culture and
European reputation, a trained, distinguished universally accepted
historian.  With what is evidently the dexterity of an expert
controversialist and with an impressiveness all his own, he seems to
look over and under and round the man he knows, and sketches in the man
he proposes to deal with, his limitations, his pitiful limitations, the
characteristics, the disagreeable characteristics, that disfigure him.
It is a new Wells, a most extraordinary person.  I learn with amazement
the particulars with which it is necessary to instruct that Catholic
soul in danger before the matter of my book can be considered.  I see
myself in the lurid illumination of Catholic truth.


To begin with, I am "an intense patriot."  This will surprise many
readers.  I dread its effect on Mr. Henry Arthur Jones, whose favourite
tune upon the megaphone for years has been that I am the friend of every
country but my own.  Will he intervene with a series of articles to "My
dear Belloc"?  I hope not.  I might plead that almost any chapter of the
Outline of History could be quoted against this proposition.  But Mr.
Belloc is ruthless, he offers no evidence for his statement, no foothold
for a counter-plea.  He just says it, very clearly, very emphatically
several times over, and he says it, as I realise very soon, because it
is the necessary preliminary to his next still more damaging exposures.
They are that I am an Englishman "of the Home Counties and London
Suburbs"--Mr. Belloc, it seems, was born all over Europe--that my
culture is entirely English, that I know nothing of any language or
literature or history or science but that of England.  And from this his
creative invention sweeps on to a description of this new Wells he is
evoking to meet his controversial needs.  My admiration grows.  I resist
an impulse to go over at once to Mr. Belloc's side.  This, for example,
is splendid.  This new Wells, this suburban English Protestant, has
written his Outline of History because, says Mr. Belloc, "he does not
know that 'foreigners' (as he would call them) have general histories."

That "as he would call them" is the controversial Mr. Belloc rising to
his best.

Mr. Belloc, I may note in passing, does not cite any of these general
histories to which he refers.  It would surely make an interesting list
and help the Catholic soul in danger to better reading.  The American
reader, at whose prejudices this stuff about my patriotism is presumably
aimed, would surely welcome a competing Outline by a "foreigner."  Mr.
Belloc might do worse things than a little translation work.

Then the Royal College of Science shrivels at his touch to a mechanics'
institute, and the new Wells, I learn, "does really believe from the
bottom of his heart all that he read in the text-books of his youth."
The picture of this new Wells, credulous, uncritical devourer of the
text-books supplied by his suburban institute, inveterate Protestant,
grows under the pen of this expert controversialist.  I have next to be
presented as a low-class fellow with a peculiar bias against the "Gentry
of my own country," and this is accordingly done. "Gentlemen" with whom
I have quarrelled are hinted at darkly--a pretty touch of fantasy.  A
profound and incurable illiteracy follows as a matter of course.


Mr. Belloc's courage gathers with the elaboration of his sketch.  He is
the type to acquiesce readily in his own statements, and one can see
him persuading himself as he goes along that this really is the Wells he
is up against.  If so, what is there to be afraid of? If there is a
twinge of doubt, he can always go back and read what he has written.  The
phraseology loses its earlier discretion, gets more pluckily abusive.
Presently words like "ignorance" and "blunders" and "limited
instruction" come spluttering from those ready nibs.  Follows "childish"
and "pitiable" and "antiquated nonsense."  Nothing to substantiate
any of it--just saying it.  So Mr. Belloc goes his way along the
primrose path of controversy.  He takes a fresh sip or so from his all
too complaisant imagination.  New inspirations come.  I have "copied"
things from the "wrong" books.  That "copied" is good!  One can see
that base malignant Wells fellow, in his stuffy room all hung with Union
Jacks, with the "wrong," the _"Protestant"_ book flattened out before
him, copying, copying; his tongue following his laborious pen.  Presently
I read: "It is perhaps asking too much of our author to adopt a
strictly scientific attitude."  This, from an adept in that mixture of
stale politics and gossip which passed for history in the days of Mr.
Belloc's reading, to even the least of Huxley's students, is stupendous!

Still he swells and swells with self-importance and self-induced
contempt for his silent and invisible antagonist.  The pen runs on, for
does not the Catholic press wait for its latest great apologist? The
thin film of oily politeness in the opening paragraphs is long since
gone and done with, and Mr. Hilaire Belloc is fully himself again and
remains himself, except for one or two returns to patronising praise and
the oil squirt, for the rest of these remarkable papers.

His are, I suppose, the accepted manners of controversy--and what
wonderful manners they are!  I note them, but I cannot emulate them.

There is, however, one reference to the unlettered suburbanism of this
ideal Wells too good to lose.  I had almost let it slip by.  It is an
allusion to a certain publication in French. "There may be no
translation," Mr. Belloc throws out superbly at the height of his form,
"but Mr. Wells ought to have heard of"--the out-of-date monograph in
question.  "There may be no translation . . ."!  How feeble sounds my
protest that for all practical purposes I read French as well as I do
English, and that in all probability if it came to using a German,
Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian scientific work I could give Mr. Belloc
points and a beating.


But I have said enough to justify incidentally my habitual avoidance of
the arts of controversy.  I cannot inflate myself in this fashion.  I
cannot do the counter to this attitude.  I was born and I shall die
"familiar."  What seems to make Mr. Belloc feel brave and happy would
make me feel sick.  On this he has presumed overmuch.  There are limits to
my notorious gentleness and modesty, and they have been reached by Mr.
Belloc in these articles.  His skill is undeniable; no other writer could
better his unpremeditated condescension, his apparently inadvertent
insults.  And yet the facts beneath all this insolent posturing are quite
well known and easily verifiable.  I cannot imagine whom it is intended
to deceive for any length of time.

Mr. Belloc is a man four years my junior, and his; academic career was
briefer and not more brilliant than mine.  Since he came down from Oxford
to the world of London thirty years ago, he has done no original
historical work of any distinction.  He has been a popular writer as I
have been a popular writer, and he is no more if no less a scholar than
I am.  There has been much incidental and inconsequent brightness in his
discursive career--funny verses and stories, an amusing rather than a
serious period in Parliament, much pamphleteering, lecturing and
speaking; he has been active and erratic; now he would be urging on an
anti-Semitic campaign; now, in association with Horatio Bottomley,
attempting to hound Masterman, his old friend and rival, out of
politics; the war made him the most confident of military "experts," and
he has done quite a number of clever revivifications of this or that
historical event.  That is his record.  It gives him a respectable
position in the republic of letters, in which also my position is
respectable.  No doubt he has every right and very considerable
qualifications for the criticism of such a popular work as my Outline.
But there is nothing in his career and nothing in his quality to justify
this pose of erudition and insolent superiority he assumes towards me,
and which he has made an integral part of his attack.  He has assumed it
entirely in relation to this controversy.  He has thrown ordinary
courtesy and good manners to the winds because only in that way can he
hope for a controversial advantage over me.


This disconcerting pose is part of his attack.  That is why I am obliged
to discuss it here.  Upon many points the attack is almost pure pose;
there is no tangible argument at all.  It is very important to note that
and bear that in mind.  It has to be borne in mind when Mr. Belloc is
accused of inordinate vanity or of not knowing his place in the world.  I
doubt even if he is really very vain.  I realised long ago that his
apparent arrogance is largely the self-protection of a fundamentally
fearful man.  He is a stout fellow in a funk.  He is the sort of man who
talks loud and fast for fear of hearing the other side.  There is a
frightened thing at the heart of all this burly insolence.  He has a
faith to defend and he is not sure of his defence.  That mitigates much
of his offence, even if it mitigates little of his offensiveness.  Let me
say a word or so more of excuse and explanation for him.  These
personalities of his are, so to speak not a personal matter.  There is
more in them than that.  Mr. Belloc's attack upon my Outline does not
stand alone among his activities; it is part of a larger controversy he
wages against the modern, the non-Catholic vision of the world.  He has
carried on that controversy since his Balliol days.  The exigencies that
oblige him to pretend, against his better knowledge and common civility,
that I am petty and provincial and patriotic and wilfully ignorant and
pitifully out-of-date, oblige him to pretend as much about most of those
who stand for modern science and a modern interpretation of history.  He
would pretend as hard about Sir Ray Lankester, for example, or about
Professor Gilbert Murray or Sir Harry Johnston or Professor Barker, as
he does about me.  It is a general system of pretence.  It is a necessary
part of--I will not say of _the_ Catholic attitude, but of _his_ Catholic
attitude towards modern knowledge.

The necessity for a pose involving this pretence is not very difficult
to understand.  Long before Mr. Belloc embarked upon the present dispute
he had become the slave of a tactical fiction, which reiteration had
made a reality for him.  He evoked the fiction as early, I believe, as
his Oxford days.  It may have been very effective at Oxford--among the
undergraduates.  Then perhaps it was consciously a defensive bluff, but
certainly it is no longer that.  He has come at last to believe
absolutely in this creature of his imagination.  He has come to believe
this: that there is a vast "modern European" culture of which the
English-speaking world knows nothing, of which the non-Catholic world
knows nothing, and with which he is familiar.  It is on his side.  It is
always on his side.  It is simply and purely Belloccian.  He certainly
believes it is there.  It sustains his faith.  It assuages the gnawing
attacks of self-criticism that must come to him in the night.  Throughout
these papers he is constantly referring to this imaginary stuff--
without ever coming to precisions.  Again and again and again and
again--and again and again and again, he alludes to this marvellous
"European" science and literature, beyond our ken.

He does not quote it; it does not exist for him to quote; but he
believes that it exists.  He waves his hand impressively in the direction
in which it is supposed to be.  It is his stand-by, his refuge, his
abiding fortress.  But, in order to believe in it, it is necessary for
him to believe that no other English-speaking men can even read French,
and that their scepticism about it is based on some "provincial"
prejudice or some hatred of Catholics, or southern people, or "Dagoes,"
or "foreigners," or what you will.  That is why Nature wilfully ignores
the wonderful science of this "Europe"--and why our Royal Society has
no correspondence with it.  But he has to imagine it is there and make
his readers imagine it is there, and that there is this conspiracy of
prejudice to ignore it, before he can even begin to put up any
appearance of a case against such a resume of current knowledge as the
Outline of History.


All this rough and apparently irrelevant stuff about his own great
breadth and learning and my profound ignorance and provincialism, to
which he has devoted his two introductory papers, is therefore the
necessary prelude to putting over this delusion.  That stream of
depreciation is not the wanton personal onslaught one might suppose it
to be at the first blush.  If he has appeared to glorify himself and
belittle me, it is for greater controversial ends than a mere personal
score We are dealing with a controversialist here and a great apologist,
and for all I know these may be quite legitimate methods in this, to me,
unfamiliar field.  Few people will be found to deny Mr. Belloc a
considerable amplitude of mind in his undertaking, so soon as they get
thus far in understanding him.  Before he could even set about
syndicating this Companion to the Outline of History he had to incite a
partisan receptivity in the Catholic readers to whom he appeals, by
declaring that a violent hatred for their Church is the guiding motive
of my life.  He had to ignore a considerable array of facts to do that,
and he has ignored them with great courage and steadfastness.  He had to
arouse an indifferent Catholic public to a sense of urgent danger by
imposing this figure of a base, inveterate, and yet finally contemptible
enemy upon it.  His is a greater task than mere dragon-slaying.  He had to
create the dragon before he could become the champion.  And then, with
his syndication arrangements complete, while abusing me industriously
for ignorance, backwardness, and general intellectual backwoodism, he
had to write the whole of these articles without once really opening
that Humbert safe of knowledge which is his sole capital in this
controversy.  Time after time he refers to it.  Never once does he quote
it.  At most he may give us illusive peeps....

Now and then as we proceed I shall note these illusive peeps.

I can admire great effort even when it is ill-directed and to show how
little I bear him a grudge for the unpleasant things he has induced
himself to write about me, and for the still more unpleasant things he
tempts me--though I resist with a success that gratifies me--to write
about him, I contemplate a graceful compliment to Mr. Belloc.  In spite
of the incurable ignorance of French and that "dirty Dago" attitude
towards foreigners Mr. Belloc has so agreeably put upon me, it is my
habit to spend a large part of the winter in a house I lease among the
olive terraces of Provence.  There is a placard in one corner of my study
which could be rather amusingly covered with the backs of dummy books.  I
propose to devote that to a collection of Mr. Belloc's authorities.
There shall be one whole row at least of the Bulletins of the Madame
Humbert Society, and all the later researches of the Belloc Academy of
Anonymous Europeans, bound in bluff leather.  There will be Finis
Darwinis by Hilario Belloccio, and Hist.  Eccles.  by Hilarius Belloccius.
I may have occasion to refer to other leading authorities in the course
of this controversy.  I shall add to it as we proceed.

And so, having examined, explained, disposed of, and in part apologised
for, Mr. Belloc's personalities and the pervading inelegance of his
manners, I shall turn with some relief from this unavoidably personal
retort to questions of a more general interest.  I propose as my first
study of these modern Catholic apologetics, so valiantly produced by Mr.
Belloc and so magnificently published and displayed by the Catholic
press, to follow our hero's courageous but unsteady progress through the
mysteries of Natural Selection.  And after that we shall come to Original
Sin and Human Origins in the light of Mr. Belloc's science and the
phantom science of those phantom naturalists and anthropologists he
calls to his assistance.



MY first article upon Mr. Belloc's Companion to the Outline of History
dealt, much against my inclination and as charitably and amiably as
possible, with the oddities of Mr. Belloc's manner and method, and those
remarkable non-existent "European authorities" to whom he appeals
habitually in moments of argumentative stress.  I do not propose to go
on thus girding at Mr. Belloc.  He is a Catholic apologist, endorsed by
Catholic authorities, and there is matter of very great importance for
our consideration in what he has to say about the history of life and

After his second paper is finished his abuse of me becomes merely
incidental or indirect.  He goes on to a staggering rush at Natural
Selection.  Let us see to where Catholic thought has got--if Mr. Belloc
is to be trusted--in relation to this very fundamental matter.

It is Mr. Belloc's brilliant careless way to begin most of his arguments
somewhere about the middle and put the end first.  His opening
peroration, so to speak, is a proclamation that this "Natural Selection"
--whatever it is--is "an old and done-for theory of Darwin and
Wallace."  "It is a laughing-stock for half a generation among competent
men."  Mr. George Bernard Shaw does not believe in it!  G. B. S. among the
Fathers!  That wonderful non-existent "latest European work" which plays
so large a part in Mr. Belloc's dialectic is summoned briefly, its
adverse testimony is noted, and it is dismissed to the safe again.  And
then there is a brief statement of how these two vile fellows, Darwin
and Wallace, set out upon this reprehensible theorising What a ruthless
expose it is of the true motives of scientific people!

        "The process of thought was as follows:

        "'There is no Mind at work in the universe; therefore
        changes of this sort must come from blind chance or
        at least _mechanically_.  At all costs we must get rid
        of the idea of design: of a desired end conceived in
        a Creative Mind.  Here is a theory which will make the
        whole process entirely mechanical and dead, and get
        rid of the necessity for a Creator.'"

And so having invented and then as it were visited and spat upon the
derided and neglected tomb of Natural Selection and assured us that God,
Mr. Shaw, "European opinion," and all good Catholics are upon his side,
Mr. Belloc plucks up courage and really begins to write about Natural


What is this Natural Selection which has been dead for half a century,
but which Mr. Belloc still exerts himself industriously through four
long papers to kill all over again? It is the purest common-sense, the
most obvious deduction from obvious facts.  I have set out the idea as
plainly as I could in the Outline of History Mr. Belloc is attacking.  It
is put so plainly there that, before he can begin to argue against it,
he has to misstate it; he has to tell the story all over again in his
own words and get it suitably askew.  It was quite open to him to quote
from my account, but he preferred to compile his own misstatement.
Indeed, in all this argument against Natural Selection he never once
quotes my actual words.  He paraphrases throughout.  He has put some words
between inverted commas in one place, so as inadvertently to produce the
impression that they are mine, but they are not mine.

Now the facts upon which the idea of Natural Selection rests are matters
of universal knowledge. "Every species of living things is continually
dying and being born again as a multitude of fresh individuals"; that is
the primary fact.  No species seems to be perfectly adapted to its
conditions, and even the happiest species tends to multiply until it is
in a state of need and pressure.  So far surely we are dealing with
things beyond dispute.  And next comes the fact of individuality.  Every
living unit is individual with a difference of its own.  Every
individual has its own distinctive differences, and each of these
differences may or may not be an advantage or a disadvantage.
Individuals with advantageous differences will generally get on better
in life, prosper and so be able to breed more freely, than those with
disadvantageous differences.  Offspring have a tendency to repeat the
distinctive differences of their parents.  Therefore, taking a species
as a whole by the million or billion or million billion--for few
species of animals or plants are represented by fewer individuals than a
million--there will be in each successive generation a greater number
of individuals with the differences that are advantageous relative to
the number with disadvantages.  In other words, the average of the
species will have moved more or less in the direction of the
advantageous differences, whatever they may be, and however numerous
they may be.  If, for example, the species is chased and has to climb or
run for it, there will be rather more good climbers and sprinters in the
new generation.  There may be other dangers and other needs; they will
not affect the premium set on quickness and the fate of the slow.  And
if the circumstances of the species continue to press in the same
direction, the movement of the average will be in the same direction in
this respect for so long as they continue to press.  Over a few score or
even a few hundred generations, and under conditions not very strenuous,
a species may not change very much.  It may seem to be _fixed_ in its
general characteristics, just as the continents seem to be fixed in
their general outline.  But, as the range of time extends and the
pressure of necessity continues, the change becomes more striking.


That is the process of Natural Selection, the "laughing-stock" of Mr.
Belloc's mysterious conclave of "European" savants.  Natural Selection
has nothing to do with the reason for the differences between
individuals.  It has no more to do with those than gravitation has to do
with the differences in the heaviness of different substances.  But it is
necessary to state as much here, because in some queer muddled way Mr.
Belloc seems to be persuaded that it has.  These differences may arise by
pure chance; they may come about through the operation of complex laws,
they may come in shoals and have their seasons.  These things have
nothing to do with Natural Selection.

Now, Wallace and Darwin were two excellent Europeans who happened to be
interested in natural history.  In spite of the sinister motives invented
for them by Mr. Belloc, I doubt if any Catholic sufficiently educated to
have read their lives will agree that they had even a latent animus
against Catholic truth or even a subconscious desire to "get rid of a
Creator" in their minds.  They no more thought of "getting rid of a
Creator" when humbly and industriously they gathered their facts and
put fact to fact than an honest bricklayer thinks of "getting rid of a
Creator" when he lays his bricks with care and builds a sound piece of
wall.  They went about the world studying natural history.  They
considered life with a patience and thoroughness and freedom from
preconceptions beyond the imagination of a man of Mr. Belloc's habits.
They found no such "fixity of species" as he is inspired to proclaim.
They found much evidence of a progressive change in species, and they
saw no reason to explain it by a resort to miracles or magic.  A Catholic
priest of the Anglican communion named Malthus had written a very
interesting and suggestive book upon over-population and the consequent
struggle for existence between individuals.  It turned the attention of
both these diligent and gifted observers to just that process of Natural
Selection I have stated.  Independently both of them came to the
conclusions that species changed age by age and without any necessary
limits, and mainly through the sieve of Natural Selection, and that,
given a sufficient separation to reduce or prevent interbreeding and a
sufficient difference in the selective conditions at work, two parts of
the same species might change in different directions, so as at last to
become distinct and separate species.

Darwin's book upon the subject was called The Origin of Species.  It was
a very modest and sufficient title.  He did not even go to the length of
calling it the origin of genera or orders or classes.  He did not at
first apply it to man.

This is the theory of the origin of species through Natural Selection.
It was not pretended by either of these pioneers that Natural Selection
was the sole way through which the differences of species came about.
For example, Darwin devoted a considerable part of his working life to
such collateral modes of differentiation as the hypothesis that Sexual
Selection also had its share.  Criticism has whittled down that share to
practically negligible proportions, but I note the hypothesis here
because it absolutely disposes of the assertion which Mr. Belloc hammers
on the table, that the Theory of Natural Selection excludes any other
mode of specific differentiation.


Very rapidly this conception of Natural Selection was extended by
naturalists until it came to be regarded as the general process of life.
They came to realise that all species, all genera, all classes of life,
whatever else may be happening to them, are and always have been varying
through the process of Natural Selection, some rapidly, some slowly;
some so slowly as hardly to change at all through vast ages.  I have
stated the a priori case by which, given birth and death and
individuality and changing conditions and sufficient time, it appears
logically inevitable that the change and differentiation of species
_must_ occur, and must be now going on.  If we had no material evidence
at all it would still be possible to infer the evolution of species.

That a priori case has never been answered, and it seems to me
unanswerable.  But scientific men, with their obstinate preference for
observation and experiment over mere logical gymnastics, rarely rest
their convictions on a priori cases.  A sustaining scepticism is a matter
of conscience with them.  To them an a priori case is merely a theory--
that is to say, a generalisation under trial.  For nearly three-quarters
of a century, therefore, biologists have been examining whatever
instances they could discover that seemed to contradict this assumption
that the process of specific change under Natural Selection is the
general condition of life.  To this day this view is still called the
Theory of Natural Selection, though to a great number it has come to
have the substantial quality of an embracing fact.

It would have been amusing if Mr. Belloc had told us more of his ideas
of the scientific world.  Apparently he knows scarcely anything of
museums or laboratories or the spirit and methods of research.  And
manifestly he has not the faintest suspicion of the way in which the
whole world of vital phenomena has been ransacked and scrutinised to
test, correct, supplement, amplify or alter this great generalisation
about life.  He probably shares the delusion of most other men in the
street, that scientific theories are scientific finalities, that they
are supposed to be as ultimate as the dogmas of some infallible
religion.  He imagines them put over chiefly by asseveration, just as the
assertions of a polemical journalist are put over.  He has still to
learn that theories are trial material, testing targets, directives for
research.  Shooting at established theories is the normal occupation of
the scientific investigator.  Mr. Belloc's figure of the scientific
investigator is probably a queer, frowsty, and often, alas!  atheistical
individual, poking about almost aimlessly among facts in the hope of
hitting upon some "discovery" or "getting rid of a God."  He does not
understand the tense relevance of the vast amount of work in progress.
But for three-quarters of a century the thought and work of myriads of
people round and about the world have borne directly or almost directly
upon the probing, sounding, testing of the theory of Natural Selection.
It stands clarified and, it would seem, impregnable to-day.


Among questions bearing upon it but not directly attacking it has been
the discussion of the individual difference.  For example, are
differences due to individual experiences ever inherited? Or are only
inherent differences transmissible? What role is played by what one
might call "normal," relatively slight differences, and what by the
"sports" and abnormal births in specific change? Do species under
stress, and feeding on strange food or living in unaccustomed climates,
betray any exceptional tendency to produce abnormality?  Have there
been, so to speak, storms and riots of variation in some cases? Can
differences establish themselves while outer necessity remains neutral?
Can variations amounting to specific differences in colour and form
arise as a sort of play of the germ plasm and be tolerated rather than
selected by nature? In what manner do normal differences arise What
happens to differences in cases of hybridisation? Here are sample
questions that have been the seeds of splendid work and great arguments.
Some of them were already under discussion in Darwin's time; he was a
pioneer in such explorations; many ideas of his have stood the test of
time, and many suggestions he threw out have been disproved.  When some
casual "may be" of Darwin's is examined and set aside, it is the custom
of polemical journalists to rush about and proclaim to all who may be
sufficiently ill-informed to listen that Darwin is "exploded."  Such
explosions of Darwin are constantly recurring like gun-fire near a
garrison town, and still he remains.  None of these subsidiary questions
affect the stability of this main generalisation of biology, the Theory
of Natural Selection.

The actual attack and testing of the Theory of Natural Selection have
yielded negative results.  The statement of the theory may have been made
finer and exacter, that is all.  And yet the conditions of its survival
have been very exacting.  If the theory is to stand, the whole of plant
and animal life in time and space must be arranged in a certain order.
It must be possible to replace classification by a genealogical tree.
Every form must fall without difficulty into its proper place in that
tree.  If it is true that birds are descended from reptiles or men from
apes, then there must be no birds before the reptiles appear, and no men
before apes.  The geological record is manifestly a mere fragmentary
history, still for the most part unread; but, however fragmentary it is,
it must be consistent.  One human skull in the coal measures blows the
whole theory to atoms.  The passage from form to form must be explicable
by intermediate types capable of maintaining themselves; there may be
gaps in the record, but there must be no miraculous leaps in the story.
If an animal living in the air is to be considered as a lineal
descendant of some animal living in the water, then the structure of the
former bit by bit and step by step must be shown to be adapted,
modified, changed about from that of the latter; it must have ears for
water-hearing modified for air-hearing, and its heart and breathing
arrangements must be shown to be similarly changed over, and so on for
all its structure.  All these requirements will follow naturally from the
necessities of a process of Natural Selection.  They follow logically
upon no other hypothesis.  They are not demanded, for example, by the
idea of a Creator continually interfering with and rectifying some
stately, unaccountable process of "Evolution," which seems to be Mr.
Belloc's idea--so far as he ventures to display any idea of his own--
in the matter.  Such things as vestigial structures and a number of odd
clumsinesses in living things--many still very imperfect adaptations
to an erect position, for example--become grotesque in relation to
such a view.  A Creator who put needless or inconvenient fish structures
into the anatomy of a land animal and made the whole fauna and flora of
the land a patch-up of aquatic forms of life must be not so much a
Divinity as a Pedant.  But it is the burthen of the whole beautiful
science of comparative anatomy that the structure of animals and plants,
and their succession in time, fall exactly into the conditions defined
by the Theory of Natural Selection.  In the most lovely and intricate
detail, in a vast multitude of examples, in plants and in animals alike,
this theme of the adaptation of pre-existing structure is worked out.

We should in accordance with the Theory of Natural Selection expect to
find traces of the ancestral form not only in the lay-out of the adult
animal, but in every phase of its life history; and that, in fact, is
just what we do find.  There is no more fascinating branch of comparative
anatomy than embryology.  Each life cycle we discuss tends to repeat the
ancestral story, and only under the stress of necessity does it undergo
modification at any point.  There is little toleration in the life
process for unnecessary divergencies.  Economies are effected by short
cuts and reductions, and special foetal structures are granted
reluctantly.  So that even in man we find peeping through the adaptations
imposed upon the human type by its viviparous necessities, and in spite
of the advantage of every economy of force, memories, for example, of
the gill slits, of the fish heart and kidney, of the reptilian skull, of
the mammalian tail.  I mention this fact in the Outline, and upon it Mr.
Belloc comments in a manner that leaves one's doubts poised between his
honesty and his intelligence.  He declares, which is totally untrue, that
I "repeat the old Victorian tag"--I doubt if there ever was such a
tag--that the embryo "climbs up the family tree."  He puts these words
in inverted commas as though I have really adopted and used them, and
for the life of me it is only by straining my charity to the utmost that
I can accept that this was an accident.  Of course every text-book of
embryology for the last forty years has made it perfectly plain, as I
have stated here, that the life cycle can be and is modified at any
point, and that an embryo has much more serious work in hand than
reciting its family history.  It betrays its ancestral origins to
analysis; but that is an altogether different matter.  Mr. Belloc,
however, is so densely ignorant himself upon these questions that he can
imagine, or think it worth while to pretend to imagine and attempt to
persuade his readers by the expedient of these inverted commas, that I
entertain such a view.  And then follows this, which I quote that the
reader may the better understand a certain occasional acerbity in my
allusions, to Mr. Belloc:--

         "He doesn't know that Vailleton of Montpellier has
         knocked the last nail into the coffin of that
         facile and superficial Victorian short-cut (and
         blind alley).  He has probably never heard of
         Vailleton, and when he does he will suspect him
         for a foreigner That is what I mean by being
         provincial and not abreast of one's time."

It is perfectly true that I have never heard of any Vailleton in
biological science.  Nor has anyone else There is "no sich a person."
Perhaps Mr. Belloc has not been able to read the manuscript of some
adviser, or his memory may have played a trick upon him.  Possibly he has
in mind that eminent Victorian embryologist Vialleton, who, so far from
being the very newest thing in "European" biology, must now be getting
on for seventy.  He is half-way back to Haeckel, the originator of the
family tree idea, a German embryologist and not, as a matter of fact,
the Victorian English Protestant Mr. Belloc supposes him to be.  Possibly
years and years ago some French student may have run away with the idea
that embryos conscientiously repeat their phylogeny and Professor
Vialleton may have thought it well to discuss this idea in one of his
books.  It is not an idea I have ever entertained, much less stated, and
its only interest here is that it gives Mr. Belloc a chance of showing
how rudely he can set out his inaccuracies and his misconceptions.

But this is an incidental comment.  I will reserve for my next section a
consideration of the remarkable arguments--"crushing arguments" the
enthusiastic cross-heads of his editor declare them to be--that Mr.
Belloc produces against this, view of life as a being in a state of
change under the action of Natural Selection that I have put here before
the reader.



THE chief arguments against the Theory of Natural Selection with which
Mr. Belloc has favoured us are neatly set out by him in two triads.  His
passion for orderly arrangement is greater than his logic, and we shall
find that the second and third arguments of his second triad are
substantially the same.  He is rather exceptionally ignorant of modern
scientific literature, and his arguments do not cover all the
countervailing considerations upon which systematic observation and
research work have been based--the speculations of Dr.  Fairfield
Osborn would have been a godsend for him--but the things he has to say
are conveniently simple; they embody some prevalent misconceptions, and
they will be useful in accentuating the more salient points in my
account of the theory given in my second paper.

He produces first certain remarkable a priori arguments--his "three a
priori arguments."  The first is beautifully absurd.  It is difficult to
believe it is advanced in anything but a spirit of burlesque.  He says
that an advantage is not an advantage.  He says that an advantage does
not give an advantage unless it is combined with other advantages.  You
will think I am misrepresenting him.  Then please read this:--

         "(1) The advantageous differences making for survival
         are not of one kind in any particular case, but of an
         indefinitely large number (e.g.  climate getting
         colder needs not only warmer coat, but power to
         digest new food, protective colouring so as not to
         show dark against snow, etc., an indefinitely large
         number of qualities).  Now the chance of _all_ being
         combined (and co-ordinated) in a single individual,
         _without design, accidentally_ let alone of their thus
         appearing in many individuals _accidentally and
         without design_, approximates to zero."

This is, so to speak, the short uncompleted form of the first argument.
It is expanded later to a copiousness too great to admit of quotation.
This expansion carries the statement right to its conclusion, that only
an individual possessing all the possible differences that are
advantageous at any particular time can survive.  Otherwise its
differences have no "survival value."  They may be advantages, but not
sufficient advantages to score an advantage.  I know this sounds tipsy,
but there it is in black and white in Mr. Belloc's wonderful Article V
for anyone to consult.  It follows plainly that, except for a miracle,
every species must be exterminated in every generation.  I can see no
other way out of it.  No individual, he declares, can survive without the
full set of advantageous differences, and the chance of any individual
having the full set of advantageous differences, he declares after some
abstruse verbal gestures, is zero.  There is Mr. Belloc with his
unfailing logic, his clear mathematical demonstration, and all the rest
of it.  There is the lucid Latin mind shining above my Nordic fog!  Yet
the previous generation got along without any of the set!  And species
do survive.

Did Mr. Belloc imagine he was saying something else? It is not for me
to speculate.  Helping out an antagonist in a controversy is apt to be
resented.  He has, I think simply got into a muddle here, and he is not
sufficiently self-critical to get out of it again.  So he tries to muddle
through.  It is quite reasonable to say that when a species is under
stress of changing conditions it is usual for the need for adaptation to
be felt upon a number of points and not simply upon one, and that, since
every advantage counts, the individuals with the greatest combination of
advantageous differences have the best chances.  But that does not alter
the fact that even a single advantage is an advantage.  What happens in
nature is not an extermination of all who are not completely in the
fashion of the new differences.  That seems to be Mr. Belloc's idea, but
it is a wrong idea.  What does happen is a diminution in each generation
of the number of the disadvantaged in relation to the number of the
advantaged.  That is quite another affair.  Mr. Belloc has not grasped
this.  His third a priori argument shows as much even more plainly than
his first, and to that I shall presently come.


I fancy this stuff he has written here is an outcome of an indigestion
of Samuel Butler by Mr. Belloc.  I should not have thought Mr. Belloc had
read Samuel Butler, and I doubt if he has read him much.  But there is a
decided echo of _Luck or Cunning_ in the one indistinct paragraph in
which, without committing himself too deeply, Mr. Belloc seems to convey
his own attitude towards the procedure of Evolution. "Design," what.
ever that is, is at work, and Natural Selection is not. "There is an
innate power possessed by the living thing to attempt its own
adaptation."  It is quite a delusion apparently that rabbits that cannot
run or sparrows that are not quick on the wing are killed off more
frequently than the smarter fellows.  That never happens, though to the
atheistically minded it may seem to happen.  If it happened, it would
"get rid of a God."  But there are rabbits which, unlike Mrs. Dombey, do
make an effort.  You must understand that all creation, inspired by
design, is striving.  The good fungus says to itself, "Redder and more
spots will benefit me greatly," and tries and tries, and presently there
are redder hues and more spots.  Or a happily inspired fish says: "There
is a lot of food on land and the life is more genteel there, so let me
get lungs."  And presently it gets lungs.  Some day Mr. Belloc must take a
holiday in Sussex and flap about a bit and get himself some wings and
demonstrate all this.  But perhaps this is caricature, and Mr. Belloc
when he talks about that "innate disposition" just means nothing very
much--just an attempt or something.  I will not pretend to understand
Mr. Belloc fully upon this point.


I will return to the essential misconception of the Theory of Natural
Selection betrayed in this first a priori when I consider Mr. Belloc's
third feat of logic.  But first let me glance at his second.  In this he
says, very correctly, that every stage in the evolution of a living
creature must be a type capable of maintaining itself and every change
must be an advantageous change.  I have noted this very obvious point
already in my second paper But then Mr. Belloc instructs us that the
chances of its being so are, for no earthly reason, zero, that fatal
zero again!--and goes on to a passage so supremely characteristic
that it must be read to be believed:--

         "A bird has wings with which it can escape its enemies.  If it
         began as a reptile without wings--when, presumably, it had
         armour or some other aid to survival--what of the interval?
         Natural Selection sets out to change a reptile's leg into a
         bird's wing and the scales of its armour into feathers.  It
         does so by making the leg less and less of a leg for countless
         ages, and by infinite minute gradations gradually turning the
         scales into feathers.

         "By the very nature of the theory _each stage_ in all these
         millions is an advantage over the last towards survival!  The
         thing has only to be stated for its absurdity to appear.
         Compare the 'get away' chances of a lizard at one end of the
         process or a sparrow at the other with some poor beast that had
         to try and scurry off on half-wings!  or to fly with half-legs!

         "Postulate a design, say, 'Here was something in the making,'
         and the process is explicable, especially if fairly rapid so as
         to bridge over the dangerously weak stage of imperfection.
         Postulate Natural Selection and it is manifestly impossible."

Let us note a few things of which Mr. Belloc shows himself to be unaware
in this amusing display of perplexity.  In the first place he does not
know that the Mesozoic reptiles most closely resembling birds were
creatures walking on their hind-legs, with a bony structure of the loins
and a backbone already suggestive of the avian anatomy.  Nor is he aware
that in the lowliest of living birds the fore-limbs are mere flappers,
that the feathers are simpler in structure than any other bird's
feathers, and that the general development of a bird's feather points
plainly to the elongation of a scale.  He has never learnt that feathers
came before wings, and that at first they had to do, not with flying but
with protection against cold.  Yet all this was under his nose in the
Outline of History in text and picture.  The transition from a quilled to
a feathered dinosaur presents indeed no imaginative difficulties, and
the earliest birds ran and did not fly.  One of the earliest known
extinct birds is Hesperornis, a wingless diving bird.  It is figured on
page 30, and there is another bird on page 34 that Mr. Belloc might
ponder with advantage.  A whole great section of living birds, like the
ostrich and the emu, have no trace in their structure of any ancestral
flying phase: their breast-bones are incapable of carrying the necessary
muscular attachments.

But after the feather was fully developed it opened up great
possibilities of a strong and light extension of the flapper, helpful in
running or useful in leaps from tree to tree.  Archaeopteryx, another
early bird, which is also figured in the Outline, has a sort of bat-wing
forelimb with feathers instead of membrane.  It was a woodland creature,
and flew as a flying fox or a flying lemur or even a bat flies.  All
these facts are widely known, and all that trouble about the half-leg,
half-wing, dissolves before them.  But consider what a hash they make of
Mr. Belloc's argument, and how pitifully it scurries off before them on
its nondescript stumps of pretentious half-knowledge, half-impudence!
So much for zero the second.


The final of this wonderful trinity of a prioris is a repetition of an
argument advanced ages ago by Queen Victoria's Lord Salisbury, when he
was President of the British Association.  Even then it struck people
that he had been poorly coached for the occasion.  Assuming that one or
two individuals have got all these "survival value" differences in the
correct proportions--against which the chances are zero--how by any
theory of Natural Selection are we to suppose they will meet, breed, and
perpetuate them? So this argument runs.  The chances are again declared
to be zero, the third zero and Mr. Belloc, I gather, calls in Design
again here and makes his Creative Spirit, which has already urged these
two individuals, lions or liver flukes or fleas or what not to make an
effort and adapt themselves, lead them now to their romantic and
beneficial nuptials, while the Theory of Natural Selection grinds its
teeth in the background and mutters "Foiled again."

But this third argument reinforces the first, in showing what is the
matter with Mr. Belloc's ideas in this group of questions.  He has got
the whole business upside down.  I rather blame the early Darwinians in
this matter for using so inaccurate a phrase as the "Survival of the
Fittest."  It is to that phrase that most of Mr. Belloc's blunderings are
due.  Yet he ought not to have been misled.  He had a summary of modern
views before him.  He criticises my Outline of History, he abuses it and
yet he has an extraordinary trick of getting out of its way whenever it
swings near his brain-case.  I warn the readers of that modest compendium
expressly (and as early as page 16) that the juster phrase to use is not
the Survival of the Fittest, but the Survival of the Fitter.  I do what I
can throughout to make them see this question not in terms of an
individual, but in terms of the species.

Yet Mr. Belloc insists upon writing of "the Fittest" as a sort of
conspicuously competitive prize boy, a favourable "sport," who has to
meet his female equivalent and breed a new variety.  That is all the
world away from the manner in which a biologist thinks of the process of
specific life.  He sees a species as a vast multitude of individuals in
which those without individual advantages tend to fail and those with
them tend to be left to continue the race.  The most important fact is
the general relative failure of the disadvantaged.  The fact next in
order of importance is the general relative survival of the advantaged.
The most important consequence is that the average of the species moves
in the direction of advantageous differences, moving faster or slower
according to its rate of reproduction and the urgency of its
circumstances--that is to say, to the severity of its death-rate.  Any
one particular individual may have any sort of luck; that does not
affect the general result.

I do not know what Mr. Belloc's mathematical attainments are, or indeed
whether he has ever learnt to count beyond zero.  There is no evidence on
that matter to go upon in these papers.  But one may suppose him able to
understand what an average is, and he must face up to the fact that the
characteristics of a species are determined by its average specimens.
This dickering about with fancy stories of abnormal nuptials has nothing
to do with the Theory of Natural Selection.  We are dealing here with
large processes and great numbers, secular changes and realities broadly

I must apologise for pressing these points home.  But I think it is worth
while to take this opportunity of clearing up a system of foggy
misconceptions about the Theory itself that may not be confined
altogether to Mr. Belloc.


And now let us come to Mr. Belloc's second triad of arguments--his
arguments, as he calls them, "from Evidence."  The sole witness on
Evidence called is his own sturdy self.  He calls himself into the box,
and I will admit he gives his testimony in a bluff, straightforward
manner--a good witness.  He says very properly that the Theory of
Natural Selection repudiates any absolute fixity of species.  But we have
to remember that the rate of change in any species is dependent upon the
balance between that species and its conditions, and if this remains
fairly stable the species may remain for as long without remarkable
developments, or indulge in variations not conditioned by external
necessities.  The classical Lingula of the geological text-books, a
warm-water shell-fish, has remained much the same creature throughout the
entire record, for hundreds of millions of years it may be.  It was
suited to its submarine life, and hardly any variation was possible that
was not disadvantage.  It swayed about within narrow limits.

This admission of a practical stability annoys Mr. Belloc; it seems to
be a mean trick on the part of the Theory of Natural Selection.  He
rather spoils his case by saying that "according to Natural Selection"
the swallow ought to go on flying "faster and faster with the process
of time."  Until it bursts into flames like a meteor and vanishes from
our world? And the Lingula ought to become more and more quiescent
until it becomes a pebble? Yet plainly there is nothing in the Theory
of Natural Selection to make the swallow fly any faster than its needs
require.  Excess of swiftness in a swallow may be as disadvantageous as
jumping to conclusions can be to a controversialist.

But here is a statement that is spirited and yet tolerably fair:--

        "If Natural Selection be true, then what we call a Pig is but
        a fleeting vision; all the past he has been becoming a Pig,
        and all the future he will spend evolving out of Pigdom, and
        Pig is but a moment's phase in the eternal flux."

This overlooks the melancholy possibility of an extinction of Pigs, but
it may be accepted on the whole as true.  And against this Mr. Belloc
gives us his word, for that upon examination is what his "Evidence"
amounts to--that Types are Fixed.  He jerks in capitals here in a
rather convincing way.  It is restrained of him, considering how great
a part typography plays in his rhetoric, that he has not put it up in
block capitals or had the paper perforated with the words: Fixed Types.

        "We have the evidence of our senses that we are surrounded by
        fixed types."

For weeks and months it would seem Mr. Belloc has walked about Sussex
accumulating first-hand material for these disputations, and all this
time the Pigs have remained Pigs.  When he prodded them they squealed.
They remained pedestrian in spite of his investigatory pursuit.  Not one
did he find "scuttling away" with a fore-limb, "half-leg, half-wing."
He has the evidence of his senses also, I may remind him, that
the world is flat.  And yet when we take a longer view we find the world
is round, and Pigs are changing, and Sus scrofa is not the beast it was
two thousand years ago.

Mr. Belloc is conscious of historical training, and I would suggest to
him that it might be an improving exercise to study the Pig throughout
history and to compare the Pigs of the past with the Pigs of a
contemporary agricultural show.  He might inform himself upon the bulk,
longevity, appetites, kindliness, and general disposition of the Pig
to-day.  He might realise then that the Pig to-day, viewed not as the
conservative occupant of a Sussex sty, but as a species, was something
just a little different as a whole, but different, definably different,
from the Pig of two thousand or five thousand years ago.  He might
retort that the Pig has been the victim of selective breeding and is
not therefore a good instance of Natural Selection, but it was he who
brought Pigs into this discussion.  Dogs again have been greatly moulded
by man in a relatively short time, and, again horses.  Almost all
species of animals and plants that have come into contact with man in
the last few thousand years have been greatly modified by his exertions
and we have no records of any detailed observations of structure or
habits of creatures outside man's range of interest before the last
three or four centuries.  Even man himself, though he changes with
relative slowness because of the slowness with which he comes to sexual
maturity, has changed very perceptibly in the last five thousand years.


Mr. Belloc says he has not ("Argument from Evidence").  He says it very
emphatically ("Crushing Argument from Evidence"--to adopt the
phraseology of his cross-heads).  Let me refer him to a recent lecture by
Sir Arthur Keith (Royal Society of Medicine, Nov.  16 1925) for a first
gleam of enlightenment.  He will realise a certain rashness in his
statement.  I will not fill these pages with an attempt to cover all the
changes in the average man that have gone on in the last two or three
thousand years.  For example, in the face and skull, types with an
edge-to-edge bite of the teeth are giving place to those with an overlapping
bite; the palate is undergoing contraction, the physiognomy changes.  And
so on throughout all man's structure.  No doubt one can find plentiful
instances to-day of people almost exactly like the people of five
thousand years ago in their general physique.  But that is not the point.
The proportions and so forth that were exceptional then are becoming
prevalent now the proportions that were prevalent then, now become
rare.  The average type is changing.  Considering that man only gets
through about four generations in a century, it is a very impressive
endorsement of the theory of Natural Selection that he has undergone
these palpable modifications in the course of a brief score of
centuries.  Mr. Belloc's delusion that no such modification has occurred
may be due to his presumption that any modification would have to show
equally in each and every individual.  I think it is.  He seems quite
capable of presuming that.


Mr. Belloc's next Argument from Evidence is a demand from the geologist
for a continuous "series of changing forms passing one into the other."
He does not want merely "intermediate forms," he says; he wants the
whole series--grandfather, father, and son.  He does not say whether he
insists upon a pedigree with the bones and proper certificates of birth,
but I suppose it comes to that.  This argument, I am afraid, wins, hands
down.  Mr. Belloc may score the point.  The reprehensible negligence
displayed by the lower animals in the burial of their dead, or even the
proper dating of their own remains, leaves the apologist for the Theory
of Natural Selection helpless before this simple requisition.  It is true
that we now have, in the case of the camels, the horses, and the
elephants, an extraordinary display of fossil types, exhibiting step by
step the development and differentiation of species and genera.  But
this, I take it, rather concerns his Third than his Second Argument from


The third argument is essentially a display of Mr. Belloc's inability to
understand the nature of the record of the rocks.  I will assume that he
knows what "strata" are, but it is clear that he does not understand
that any uniform stratum indicates the maintenance of uniform conditions
while it was deposited and an absence of selective stresses, and that
when it gives place to another different stratum, that signifies a
change in conditions, not only in the conditions of the place where the
stratum is found, but in the supply of material.  An estuary sinks and
gives place to marine sands, or fresh water brings down river gravels
which cover over an accumulation of shingle.  Now if he will think what
would happen to-day under such circumstances, he will realise that the
fauna and flora of the stratum first considered will drift away and that
another fauna and flora will come in with the new conditions.  Fresh
things will come to feed and wade and drown in the waters, and old types
will no longer frequent them.  The fossil remains of one stratum are very
rarely directly successive to those below it or directly ancestral to
those above it.  A succession of forms is much more difficult and elusive
to follow up, therefore, than Mr. Belloc imagines.  And then if he will
consider what happens to the rabbits and rats and mice on his Sussex
estate, and how they die and what happens to their bodies, he may begin
to realise just what proportion of the remains of these creatures is
ever likely to find its way to fossilisation.  Perhaps years pass without
the bones of a single rabbit from the whole of England finding their way
to a resting-place where they may become fossil.  Nevertheless the rabbit
is a very common animal.  And then if Mr. Belloc will think of
palaeontologists, millions of years after this time, working at the
strata that we are forming to-day, working at a gravel or sand-pit here
or a chance exposure there, and prevented from any general excavation,
and if he will ask himself what proportion of the rare few rabbits
actually fossilised are likely to come to light, I think he will begin
to realise for the first time in his life the tremendous "gappiness"
of the geological record and how very childish and absurd is his demand
for an unbroken series of forms.  The geological record is not like an
array of hundreds of volumes containing a complete history of the past.
It is much more like a few score crumpled pages from such an array, the
rest of the volumes having either never been printed, or having been
destroyed or being inaccessible.

In his Third Argument from Evidence Mr. Belloc obliges us with a summary
of this record of the rocks, about which he knows so little.  I need
scarcely note here that the only evidence adduced is his own inspired
conviction.  No "European" palaeontologist or biologist is brought out of
the Humbert safe and quoted.  Here was a chance to puzzle me dreadfully
with something "in French," and it is scandalously thrown away.  Mr.
Belloc tells us, just out of his head, that instead of there being that
succession of forms in the geological record the Theory of Natural
Selection requires, there are "enormously long periods of stable type"
and "(presumably) rapid periods of transition."  That "presumably" is
splendid; scientific caution and all the rest of it--rapid periods
when I suppose the Creative Spirit got busy and types woke up and said,
"Turn over; let's change a bit."

There is really nothing to be said about this magnificent generalisation
except that it is pure Bellocking.  Wherever there is a group of strata,
sufficiently thick and sufficiently alike to witness to a long-sustained
period of slight alterations in conditions, there we find the successive
species approximating.  This is not a statement a la Belloc.  In spite of
the chances against such a thing occurring, and in defiance of Mr.
Belloc's assertion that it does not occur, there are several series of
forms in time, giving a practically direct succession of species.  Mr.
Belloc may read about it and at the same time exercise this abnormal
linguistic gift which sits upon him so gracefully, his knowledge of the
French language, in Deperet's Transformations du Monde Animal, where all
these questions are conveniently summarised.  There he will get
the results of Waagen with a succession of Ammonites and also of Neumayr
with Paludina, and there also he will get information about the sequence
of the species of Mastodon throughout the Tertiary age and read about
the orderly progress of a pig group, the Brachyodus of the Eocene and
Oligocene.  There is a touch of irony in the fact that his own special
protege, the Pig, should thus turn upon him and rend his Third Argument
from Evidence.

More recondite for Mr. Belloc is the work of Hilgendorf upon Planorbis,
because it is in German; but the drift of it is visible in the
Palaeontology wing of the London Natural History Museum, Room VIII.  A
species of these gasteropods was, during the slow processes of molecular
change, caught in a big lake, fed by hot springs.  It underwent
progressive modification into a series of successive new species as
conditions changed through the ages.  Dr.  Klaehms' specimens show this
beautifully.  Rowe's account of the evolutionary series in the genus
Micraster (Q.J.M.S., 1899) is also accessible to Mr. Belloc, and he will
find other matter to ponder in Goodrich's Living Organisms, 1924.  The
finest series of all, longer in range and completer in its links, is
that of the Horse.  There is an excellent little pamphlet by Matthew and
Chubb, well illustrated, The Evolution of the Horse, published by the
American Museum of Natural History, New York, so plain, so simple, so
entirely and humiliatingly destructive of Mr. Belloc's nonsensical
assertions, that I pray him to get it and read it for the good of his
really very unkempt and neglected soul.  Thus we observe that Mr. Belloc
does not know the facts in this case of Natural Selection, and that he
argues very badly from such facts as he misconceives.  It is for the
reader to decide which at the end is more suitable as a
laughing-stock--the Theory of Natural Selection or Mr. Belloc.  And
having thus studied this great Catholic apologist as an amateur
biologist and arrived at the result, we will next go on to consider what
he has to say about the origins of mankind--and Original Sin.



FROM Mr. Belloc's feats with Natural Selection we come to his adventures
among his ancestors and the fall of man.  These are, if possible, even
more valiant than his beautiful exposure of the "half-educated
assurance" of current biological knowledge.  He rushes about the arena,
darting from point to point, talking of my ignorance of the "main
recent European work in Anthropology," and avoiding something with
extraordinary skill and dexterity.  What it is he is avoiding I will
presently explain.  No one who has read my previous articles need be told
that not a single name, not a single paper, is cited from that galaxy of
"main recent European" anthropology.  With one small exception.  There
is a well-known savant, M. Marcellin Boule, who wrote of the Grottes de
Grimaldi in 1906.  Some facetious person seems to have written to Mr.
Belloc and told him that M. Boule in 1906 "definitely proved the exact
opposite" of the conclusions given by Mr. Wright in his Quaternary Ice
Age (1914), and quoted in my Outline.  Mr. Belloc writes this down,
elevates M. Boule to the magnificence of "Boule" simply and follows up
with the habitual insults.  By counting from his one fixed mathematical
point, _"zero"_ in some dimension unknown to me, he concludes that I
must be twenty years out of date, though the difference between 1906 and
1914, by ordinary ways of reckoning, is really not minus twenty but plus

The same ungracious humorist seems to have stuffed up Mr. Belloc with a
story that for the last twenty years the climate of the earth has ceased
to vary with the eccentricity of the earth's orbit, and that any natural
consequences of the procession of the equinoxes no longer occur; that
climate has, in fact, cut loose from astronomical considerations, and
that you can find out all about it in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  You
cannot.  Mr. Belloc should have tried.  Some day he must find time to
puzzle out M. Boule's curve of oscillation of the Mediterranean and
correlate it with Penck's, and go into the mystery of certain
Moustierian implements that M. Boule says are not Moustierian; and after
that he had better read over the little discussion about changes of
climate in the Outline of History--it is really quite simply put--
and see what it is I really said and what his leg-pulling friend has
been up to with him in that matter.  It may be kinder to Mr. Belloc to
help him with a hint.  Croll made an excellent book in which he pointed
out a number of astronomical processes which must produce changes of
climate.  He suggested that these processes were sufficient to account
for the fluctuations of the glacial age.  They are not.  But they remain
perfectly valid causes of climatic variation.  Croll is no more done for
than Darwin is done for.  That is where Mr. Belloc's friend let Mr.
Belloc down.

But Mr. Belloc does not always work on the information of facetious
friends, and sometimes one is clearly in the presence of the unassisted
expert controversialist.  When, for example, I say that the Tasmanians
are not racially Neanderthalers, but that they are Neanderthaloid, he
can bring himself to alter the former word also to Neanderthaloid in
order to allege an inconsistency.  And confident that most of his
Catholic readers will not check him back by my book, he can ascribe to
me views about race for which there is no shadow of justification But it
is disagreeable to me to follow up such issues; they concern Mr. Belloc
much more than they do the living questions under discussion, and I will
not even catalogue what other such instances of unashamed controversy


In the course of the darting to and fro amongst human and sub-human
pre-history, Mr. Belloc criticises me severely for quoting Sir Arthur
Keith's opinion upon the Piltdown remains.  I have followed English
authorities.  All these remains are in England, and so they have been
studied at first hand mostly by English people.  No one can regret this
insularity on the part of Eoanthropus more than I do, but it leaves Mr.
Belloc's "European opinion on the whole" rejecting Sir Arthur Keith as
a rather more than usually absurd instance of Mr. Belloc's distinctive
method. "_What_ European opinion?" you ask.  Mr. Belloc does not say.
Probably Belloking of Upsala and Bellokopoulos of Athens.  Mr. Belloc--
forgetting that in an earlier edition of the Outline I give a full
summary of the evidence in this case, up-to-date--informs his Catholic
audience that I have apparently read nothing about the Piltdown vestige
but an "English work."  And then he proceeds to fall foul of the
"restoration" of Eoanthropus.  It is an imaginary picture of the
creature, and I myself think that the artist has erred on the human
side.  Mr. Belloc objects to all such restorations.

Well, we have at least a saucerful of skull fragments and a doubtful
jawbone to go upon, and the picture does not pretend to be, and no
reader can possibly suppose it to be, anything but a tentative
restoration.  But why a great Catholic apologist of all people, the
champion of a Church which has plastered the world with portraits of the
Virgin Mary, of the Holy Family, and with pictures of saints and
miracles in the utmost profusion, without any warning to the
simple-minded that these gracious and moving figures to which they give their
hearts may be totally unlike the beings they profess to represent--why
he should turn iconoclast and object to these modestly propounded
restorations passes my comprehension.  At Cava di Tirrene near Naples I
have been privileged to see, in all reverence, a hair of the Virgin,
small particles of St.  Peter, and other evidences of Christianity; and
they did not seem to me to be so considerable in amount as even the
Eoanthropus fragments.  And again, in this strange outbreak of
iconoclastic rage, he says:--

         "Again, we have the coloured picture of a dance of American Red
         Indians round a fire solemnly presented as a 'reconstruction'
         of Palaeolithic society."

He has not even observed that the chief figures in that picture are
copied directly from the actual rock paintings of Palaeolithic men
although this is plainly stated.


And yet he must have looked at the reproductions of these rock paintings
given in the Outline.  Because in his ninth paper he comes out with the
most wonderful of all the mares' nests he has discovered in the Outline
of History, and it concerns these very pictures.  You see there is an
account of the Reindeer men who lived in France and North Spain, and it
is said of them that it is doubtful if they used the bow.  Mr. Belloc
declares that it is my bitter hatred of religion that makes me say this
but indeed it is not.  It is still doubtful if the Reindeer hunters had
the bow.  The fires of Smithfield would not tempt me to say certainly
either that they had it or that they did not have it, until I know.  But
they seem to have killed the reindeer and the horse and bison by
spearing them.  Mr. Belloc may have evidence unknown to the rest of
mankind in that Humbert safe of his, otherwise that is the present state
of our knowledge.  But, as I explain on pages 56 and 57 in language that
a child might understand, simultaneously with that reindeer hunting life
in the north there were more advanced (I know the word will disgust Mr.
Belloc with its horrid suggestion of progress, but I have to use it)
Palaeolithic people scattered over the greater part of Spain and
reaching into the South of France who had the bow.  It says so in the
text: "Men carry bows" runs my text, describing certain rock pictures
reproduced in my book.  I wrote it in the text; and in the legends that
are under these pictures, legends read and approved by me, the statement
is repeated.  The matter is as plain as daylight and as plainly stated
Mr. Belloc will get it if he says over to himself slowly--"Reindeer
men, bows doubtful; Azilian, Capsian men to the south, bows certainly."
And now consider Mr. Belloc, weaving his mare's nest:--

         "Upon page 50 he writes, concerning the palaeolithic man of
         the cave drawings, this sentence: '_it is doubtful if they
         knew of the bow._'

         "When I first read that sentence, I was so staggered, I
         could hardly believe I had read it right."

         "That a person pretending to teach popular prehistorical
         science in 1925 should tell us of the cave painters that it
         was '_doubtful if they knew of the bow_' seemed to me quite
         out of nature.

         "It was the more extraordinary because here before me, in
         Mr. Wells's own book, were reproductions of these cave
         paintings, with the bow and the arrow appearing all over
         them!  Even if he did not take the trouble to look at the
         pictures that were to illustrate his book, and left that
         department (as he probably did) to hack work, he ought, as
         an ordinary educated man, to have known the ultimate facts
         of the case."

         "Palaeolithic man was an archer, and an archer with an
         efficient weapon.

         "The thing is a commonplace; only gross ignorance can have
         overlooked it--but, as I have said, there is a cause
         behind that ignorance.  Mr. Wells would not have made this
         enormous error if he had not been possessed with the
         necessity of making facts fit in with his theology."


There is a real splendour in these three almost consecutive passages.
And note incidentally how this facile controversialist bespatters also
my helpers and assistants.  They do "hack work."  Palaeolithic man,
speaking generally, was _not_ an archer.  Only the later Palaeolithic men,
dealing with a smaller quarry than the reindeer, seem to have used the
bow.  Manifestly it is not I who am fitting my facts with my theology
here, but Mr. Belloc.  He is inventing an error which is incredible even
to himself as he invents it, and he is filling up space as hard as he
can with indignation at my imaginary offence.

Why is he going on like this? In the interests of that Catholic soul in
danger? Possibly.  But his pen is running so fast here, it seems to me,
not so much to get to something as to get away from something.  The
Catholic soul most in danger in these papers of Mr. Belloc's is Mr.
Belloc's, and the thing he is running away from through these six long
disputations is a grisly beast, neither ape nor true man, called the
Neanderthaler, Homo Neanderthalensis.  This Homo Neanderthalensis is the
real "palaeolithic" man.  For three-quarters of the "palaeolithic"
age he was the only sort of man.  The Reindeer men, the Capsian men, are
"modern" beside him.  He was no more an archer than he was an
electrical engineer.  He was no more an artist than Mr. Belloc is a man
of science.

Instead of bothering with any more of the poor little bits of
argey-bargey about this or that detail in my account of the earlier true men
that Mr. Belloc sees fit to make--instead of discussing whether these
first human savages, who drew and painted like Bushmen and hunted like
Labrador Indians, did or did not progress in the arts of life before
they passed out of history, let me note now the far more important
matters that he refuses to look at.

Mr. Belloc makes a vast pother about Eoanthropus which is no more than a
few bits of bone; he says nothing of the other creature to whom I have
devoted a whole chapter: the man that was not a man.  Loud headlines,
challenging section headings, appeal in vain to Mr. Belloc's averted
mind.  Of this Neanderthal man we have plentiful evidence, and the
collection increases every year.  Always in sufficiently old deposits,
and always with consistent characteristics.  Here is a creature which not
only made implements but fires, which gathered together ornamental
stones, which buried its dead.  Mr. Belloc says burying the dead is a
proof of a belief in immortality.  And this creature had strange teeth,
differing widely from the human, more elaborate and less bestial; it had
a differently hung head; it was chinless, it had a non-opposable thumb.
Says M. Boule, the one anthropologist known to Mr. Belloc: "In its
absence of forehead the Neanderthal type strikingly resembles the
anthropoid apes."  And he adds that it "must have possessed only a
rudimentary psychic nature . . .  markedly inferior to that of any
modern race."  When I heard that Mr. Belloc was going to explain and
answer the Outline of History, my thought went at once to this creature.
What would Mr. Belloc say of it? Would he put it before or after the
Fall? Would he correct its anatomy by wonderful new science out of his
safe? Would he treat it like a brother and say it held by the most
exalted monotheism, or treat it as a monster made to mislead wicked men?

He says nothing!  He just walks away whenever it comes near him.

But I am sure it does not leave him.  In the night, if not by day, it
must be asking him: "Have I a soul to save, Mr. Belloc? Is that
Heidelberg jawbone one of us, Mr. Belloc, or not? You've forgotten me,
Mr Belloc.  For four-fifths of the Palaeolithic age I was 'man.' There
was no other.  I shamble and I cannot walk erect and look up at heaven as
you do, Mr. Belloc, but dare you cast me to the dogs?"

No reply.

The poor Neanderthaler has to go to the dogs, I fear, by implication,
for Mr. Belloc puts it with all the convincing force of italics, that
"_Man is a fixed type._"  We realise now why he wrote the four wonderful
chapters about Natural Selection that we have done our best to
appreciate.  It was to seem to establish this idea of _fixed types_.
Man had to be shown as a "Fixed Type" for reasons that will soon be
apparent.  Apart from Mr Belloc's assertion, there is no evidence that
man is any exception to the rest of living creatures.  He changes They
all change.  All this remarkable discourse about bows or no bows and
about the high thinking and simple living of these wandering savages of
twenty or more thousand years ago, which runs through half a dozen
papers, seems to be an attempt to believe that these early men were
creatures exactly like ourselves--and an attempt to believe that the
more animal savages of the preceding hundred thousand years did not for
all practical purposes exist at all.  An attempt to believe and induce
belief; not an attempt to demonstrate.  Mr. Belloc emerges where he went
in, with much said and nothing proved, and the Outline undamaged by his
attack.  And emerging he makes a confession that he never was really
concerned with the facts of the case at all. "Sympathy or antagonism
with the Catholic faith is the only thing of real importance in
attempting to teach history"--and there you are!  All these
argumentative gesticulations, all these tortured attempts to confute,
are acts of devotion to Mr. Belloc's peculiar vision of the Catholic

I am afraid it is useless for me to suggest a pilgrimage to Mr. Belloc,
or I would ask him to visit a popular resort not two hours by automobile
from the little corner of France in which I am wont to shelter my
suburban Protestantism from the too bracing English winter.  That is the
caves at Rochers Rouges, at which, as it happens, his one quoted
authority, M. Boule, worked for several years.  There in an atmosphere
entirely "Latin" and "continental," under the guidance of Signor Alfredo
Lorenzi, he can see for himself his Fixed Type Man at successive levels
of change.  No northern man need be with him when he faces the facts of
these caves; no Protestant shadow need dog his steps; his French, that
rare distinguished gift, will be understood, and he may even air such
Provencal or Italian as he is master of.  The horrid Neanderthaler is
not in evidence.  But there protected by glass covers, he will be able to
see the skeletons of Cro-Magnon man and Grimaldi man lying in the very
positions in which they were discovered.  He will see for himself the
differences of level at which they were found and have some help in
imagining the ages that separate the successive types.  He will note
massiveness of skull and protrusion of jaw.  He will see the stone
implements they used, the ashes of their fires and have some material
for imagining the quality of their savagery.  He can hunt about for
arrow-heads to bear out his valiant assertion that Palaeolithic man was
"an archer with an efficient weapon."  He will hunt until stooping and
the sunshine make him giddy, in vain.  And then, with these bones fresh
in his mind, he should go to the Museum at Monaco and see the skeleton
of a modern human being.  He will find no end of loud talk and valiant
singing and good red wine necessary before he can get back to his faith
in man as a _Fixed Type_.


It is extremely difficult to find out what Mr. Belloc, as a
representative Catholic, believes about human origins.  I was extremely
curious to get the Catholic view of these matters, and I heard of the
advent of these articles with very great pleasure, because I thought I
should at last be able to grasp what I had hitherto failed to understand
in the Catholic position.  But if Mr. Belloc has said all that there is
to say for Catholicism upon these points, Catholicism is bankrupt.  He
assures me that to believe in the Biblical account of the Creation is a
stupid Protestant tendency, and that Catholics do not do anything of the
sort.  His attitude towards the Bible throughout is one almost of
contempt.  It is not for me to decide between Christians upon this
delicate issue.  And Catholics, I gather, have always believed in
Evolution and are far above the intellectual level of the American
Fundamentalist.  It is very important to Catholic self-respect to keep
that last point in mind.  Catholic evolution is a queer process into
which "Design" makes occasional convulsive raids; between which raids
species remain "fixed"; but still it is a sort of Evolution.  My peasant
neighbours in Provence, devout Catholics and very charming people, have
not the slightest suspicion that they are Evolutionists, though Mr.
Belloc assures me they are.

But, in spite of this smart Evolutionary town wear of the Church, it has
somehow to be believed by Catholics that "man" is and always has been
and will be the same creature, "fixed."  That much Mr. Belloc gives us
reiteratively.  A contemporary writer, the Rev. Morris Morris, has
written an interesting book, Man Created during Descent, to show that
man's immortal soul was injected into the universe at the beginning of
the Neolithic period, which makes those Azilians and Capsians, with
their bows and carvings, mere animals.  The new Belloc-Catholic teaching
is similar, but it puts the human beginnings earlier.  Somewhen after
the Chellean and Moustierian periods, and before the Reindeer men, I
gather that "man" appeared, according to Catholic doctrines, exactly
what he is now.  Or rather better.  He was clad in skins and feathers,
smeared with paint, a cave-haunting wanderer with not even a dog at his
heels; but he was, because Mr. Belloc says so, a devout monotheist and
had a lucid belief in personal immortality.  His art was pure and
exalted--there were little bone figures of steatopygous women in
evidence.  He had no connection with the Neanderthal predecessor--or
else he had jumped miraculously out of the Neanderthaler's bestial skin.
Sometimes it seems to be one thing and sometimes the other.  But all
that stuff about Adam and Eve and the Garden and the Tree and the
Serpent, so abundantly figured in Catholic painting and sculpture, seems
to have dropped out of this new version of Catholic truth.

Yet those pictures are still shown to the faithful!  And what the Fall
becomes in these new revelations of Catholicism, or whether there was a
Fall, historically speaking Mr. Belloc leaves in the densest obscurity.
I have read and re-read these articles of his, and I seek those lucid
Latin precisions he has promised me in vain.  Was and is that Eden story
merely symbolical, and has the Church always taught that it is merely
symbolical? And if so, what in terms of current knowledge do these
symbols stand for? Is it symbolical of some series of events in time or
is it not? If it is, when and what were the events in time? And if it is
not, but if it is symbolical of some experience or adventure or change
in the life of each one of us, what is the nature of that personal fall?
What is the significance of the Garden the Innocence, the Tree, the
Serpent? To get anything clear and hard out of Mr. Belloc's papers in
reply to these questions is like searching for a diamond in a lake of
skilly.  I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that Mr. Belloc is as
vague and unbelieving about this fundamental Catholic idea as the
foggiest of foggy Protestants and Modernists, but that he has lacked the
directness of mind to admit as much even to himself.  Yet surely the
whole system of salvation, the whole Christian scheme, rests upon the
presumption of a fall.  Without a fall, what is the value of salvation?
Why redeem what has never been lost? Without a condemnation what is the
struggle? What indeed, in that case, is the Catholic Church about?

What modern thought is about is a thing easier to explain.  In the
Outline of History, against which Mr. Belloc is rather carping than
levelling criticism, there is set out, as the main form of that Outline,
a progressive development of conscious will in life.  It is not a form
thrust upon the massed facts by any fanatical prepossession; it is a
form they insisted upon assuming under my summarising hands.  What is
going on in this dispute is not that I am beating and putting over my
ideas upon Mr. Belloc or that he is beating and putting over his ideas
upon me, but that the immense increase of light and knowledge during the
past century is imposing a new realisation of the quality and depth and
import of life upon us both, and that I am acquiescent and he is
recalcitrant.  I judge his faith by the new history, and he judges the
new history by his faith.


                           FIXITY OR PROGRESS

I am glad to say that we are emerging now from the worst of the
controversial stuff, irritating and offensive, in which Mr. Belloc is so
manifestly my master and coming to matters of a more honest interest.

I have stuck to my argument through the cut and slash, sneer and
innuendo of Mr. Belloc's first twelve papers I have done my best to be
kind and generous with him.  I have made the best excuses I can for him
I have shown how his oddities of bearing and style arise out of the
difficulties of his position, and how his absurd reasonings about
Natural Selection and his deliberate and tedious bemuddlement of the
early Palaeolithic sub-men with the late Reindeer men and the Capsian
men are all conditioned by the necessity he is under to declare and
believe that "man" is, as he puts it, a "Fixed Type," the same in the
past and now and always.  He is under this necessity because he believes
that otherwise the Christian faith cannot be made to stand up as a
rational system, and because, as I have shown by a quotation of his own
words, he makes their compatibility with his idea of Catholic teaching
his criterion in the acceptance or rejection of facts.

I will confess I do not think that things are as bad as this with
Christianity.  I believe a far better case could be made for Catholicism
by an insistence that its value and justification lie in the change and
in the direction of the human will, in giving comfort and consolation
and peace, in producing saints and beautiful living; and that the truth
of the history it tells of space and time is entirely in relation to the
development of these spiritual aspects, and has no necessary connection
whatever with scientific truth.  This line of thought is no novelty, and
I do not see why Catholics should not keep to it and leave the outline
of history alone.  I do not say that it is a line of apologetics that
would convince me altogether, but it is one that would need far more
arduous discussion and merit, far more respect than Mr. Belloc's a
priori exploits, his limping lizards and flying pigs.

But it is not my business to remind Catholics of their own neglected
philosophers, and clearly the publication of Mr. Belloc's articles by
the Universe, the Catholic Bulletin, and the Southern Cross shows that
the Catholic world of to-day is stoutly resolved to treat the fall of
man and his unalterable nature as matters of fact, even if they are
rather cloudy matters of fact, and to fight the realities of modern
biology and anthropology to the last ditch.

So the Catholics are pinned to this dogma of the fixity of man and
thereby to a denial of progress.  This vale of tears, they maintain, is
as a whole a stagnant lake of tears, and there is no meaning to it
beyond the spiritual adventures of its individual lives.  Go back in time
or forward, so long as man has been or will be, it is all the same.  You
will find a world generally damned, with a select few, like Mr. Belloc,
on their way to eternal beatitude.  That is all there is to the
spectacle.  There is, in fact, I10 outline of history; there is just a
flow of individual lives--there are only birth and salvation or birth
and damnation.  That, I extract from Mr. Belloc and other contemporary
writers, is the Catholic's vision of life.


And it is not only the Catholic vision of life.  It is a vision far more
widely accepted.  I would say that, if we leave out the ideas of damning
or beatitude, it is the "common-sense" vision of the world.  The
individual life is, to common-sense, all that matters, the entire drama.
There is from this popular and natural point of view no large,
comprehensive drama in which the individual life is a subordinate part.
Just as to the untutored mind the world is flat, just as to Mr. Belloc
during his biological research work in Sussex the species of pig
remained a "fixed type," so to the common intelligence life is nothing
more or less than "Me," an unquestioned and unanalysed Me, against the

The universe may indeed be imagined as ruled over and pervaded by God,
and this world may be supposed to have extensions of hell and heaven;
all sorts of pre-natal dooms and debts may affect the career of the Me,
but nevertheless the Me remains in the popular mind, nobbily integral,
one and indivisible, and either it ends and the drama ends with it, or
it makes its distinct and special way to the Pit, or, with Belloc and
the Catholic community, to the beatitude he anticipates.

The individual self is primary to this natural, primitive, and prevalent
mode of thinking.  But it is not the only way of thinking about life.  The
gist of the Outline of History is to contradict this self-centred
conception of life and show that this absolute individualism of our
thought and destinies is largely illusory.  We do not live in ourselves,
as we so readily imagine we do; we are contributory parts in the
progress of a greater being which is life, and which becomes now
conscious of itself through human thought.


Now here I think we get down, beneath all the frothings and
bespatterings of controversy, to the fundamental difference between Mr.
Belloc and myself.  It is this which gives our present controversy
whatever claim it can have to attention.  Neither Mr. Belloc nor myself
is a very profound or exhaustive philosopher.  In ourselves we are very
unimportant indeed.  But we have this in common, that we can claim to be
very honestly expressive of the mental attitudes of clearly defined
types of mind, and that we are sharply antithetical types.

By nature and training and circumstances Mr. Belloc stands for the stout
sensible fellow who believes what he sees, who considers that his sort
always has been and always will be; who stands by accepted morals and
time-honoured ways of eating and drinking and amusement; who loves--
and grips as much as he can of--the good earth that gives us food for
our toil; who begets children honestly by one beloved wife until she
dies and then repeats the same wholesome process with the next; who
believes in immortality lest he should be sorry to grow old and die; who
trusts in the Church and its teaching because visibly the Church is a
great and impressive fact, close at hand and extremely reassuring; who
is a nationalist against all strangers because, confound it!  there are
nations, and for Christendom against all pagans; who finds even Chinamen
and Indians remote and queer and funny.  I do not think that is an unfair
picture of the ideals of Mr. Belloc and of his close friend and ally,
Mr. Chesterton, as they have spread them out for us; and I admit they
are warm and rosy ideals.  But they are ideals and not realities.  The
real human being upon this swift-spinning planet is not that stalwart,
entirely limited, fixed type resolved to keep so, stamping about the
flat world under God's benevolent sky, eating, drinking, disputing, and
singing lustily, until he passes on to an eternal individual beatitude
with God and all the other blessed ones.  He is less like that every day,
and more and more conscious of the discrepancy.

I have read and admired and sympathised with the work of Mr. Belloc and
Mr. Chesterton since its very beginnings, but I find throughout it all a
curious defensive note.  It may be I attribute distresses to them that
they do not feel.  But it seems to me they are never quite sure in their
minds about this "fixed" human being of theirs--the same yesterday,
now, and for ever.  Mr. Belloc must be puzzled not a little by that vast
parade of Evolution through the immeasurable ages which he admits has
occurred--a parade made by the Creative Force for no conceivable
reason, since a "fixed type" might just as well have been created
straight away.  He must realise that if man is the beginning and end of
life, then his Creator has worked within fantastically disproportionate
margins both of space and time.  And in his chapters upon animal and
human origins Mr. Belloc's almost obstinate ignorance of biological
facts, his fantastic "logic," his pathetic and indubitably honest belief
in his non-existent "European authorities," his fumbling and evasion
about Palaeolithic man, and above all his petty slights and provocations
to those whose views jar upon him, have nothing of the serenity of a man
assured of his convictions, and all the irritability and snatching at
any straw of advantage of a man terribly alarmed for his dearest
convictions.  When Mr. Belloc gets to his beatitude he will feel like a
fish out of water.  I believe Mr. Belloc and his friend Mr. Chesterton
are far too intelligent not to be subconsciously alive to the immense
and increasing difficulties of their positions, and that they are
fighting most desperately against any conscious realisation of the true
state of affairs.


It happens that my circumstances, and perhaps my mental temperament,
have brought my mind into almost dramatic opposition to that of Mr.
Belloc.  While his training was mainly in written history, the core of
mine was the analytical exercises of comparative anatomy and
palaeontology.  I was brought up upon the spectacle of life in the
universe as a steadily changing system.  My education was a modern one,
upon material and questionings impossible a hundred years ago.  Things
that are fundamental and commonplaces to me have come, therefore, as
belated, hostile, and extremely distressing challenges to the
satisfactions and acceptances of Mr. Belloc.

Now, this picture of a fixed and unprogressive humanity working out an
enormous multitude of individual lives from birth to either eternal
beatitude or to something not beatitude, hell or destruction or whatever
else it may be that Mr. Belloc fails to make clear is the alternative to
beatitude--this picture, which seems to be necessary to the Catholic and
probably to every form of Christian faith, and which is certainly
necessary to the comfort of Mr. Belloc, has no validity whatever for my
mind.  It is no more possible in my thought as a picture of reality than
that ancient cosmogony which made the round earth rest upon an elephant,
which stood upon a tortoise, which stood upon God-knows-what.

I do not know how the universe originated, or what it is fundamentally;
I do not know how material substance is related to consciousness and
will; I doubt if any creature of my calibre is capable of knowing such
things; but at least I know enough to judge the elephant story and the
fixed humanity story absurd.  I do not know any convincing proof that
Progress must go on--I find no invincible imperative to progressive
change in my universe; but I remark that progressive change does go on,
and that it is the form into which life falls more and more manifestly
as our analysis penetrates and our knowledge increases.  I set about
collecting what is known of life and the world in time and space, and I
find the broad outline falls steadily and persistently into a story of
life appearing and increasing in range, power, and co-operative unity of
activity.  I see knowledge increasing and human power increasing, I see
ever-increasing possibilities before life, and I see no limits set to it
all.  Existence impresses me as a perpetual dawn.  Our lives, as I
apprehend them, swim in expectation.  This is not an outline I have
thrust upon the facts; it is the outline that came naturally as the
facts were put in order.

And it seems to me that we are waking up to the realisation that the
individual life does not stand alone as people in the past have seemed
to imagine it did, but that it is far truer to regard it as an episode
in a greater life, which progresses and which need not die.  The episode
begins and ends, but life goes on.

Mr. Belloc is so far removed from me mentally that he is unable to
believe that this, clearly and honestly, is how I see things; he is
moved to explain it away by saying that I am trying to "get rid of a
God," that I am a rotten Protestant, that this is what comes of being
born near London, that if I knew French and respected the Gentry all
this would be different, and so on, as the attentive student of his
great apology for Catholicism has been able to observe.  But all the
while he is uncomfortably on the verge of being aware that I am a mere
reporter of a vast mass of gathered knowledge and lengthened
perspectives that towers up behind and above his neat and jolly
marionette show of the unchanging man and his sins and repentances and
mercies, his astonishing punishments, and his preposterous eternal
reward among the small eternities of the mediaeval imagination.  I strut
to no such personal beatitude.  I have no such eternity of individuation.
The life to which I belong uses me and will pass on beyond me, and I am


Mr. Belloc is completely justified in devoting much more than half his
commentary to these fundamental issues and dealing with my account of
the appearance of Christianity and the story of the Church much more
compactly.  It is this difference at the very roots of our minds which
matters to us, and it is the vital question we have to put before the
world.  The rest is detail.  I do believe and assert that a new attitude
to life, a new and different vision of the world, a new moral atmosphere
and a different spirit of conduct, is coming into human affairs, as a
result of the scientific analysis of the past hundred years.  It is only
now reaching such a clearness of definition that it can be recognised
for what it is and pointed out.

The essential distinction of the newer thought in the world is in its
denial of the permanence of the self and in its realisation of the
self's comparative unimportance.  Even in our individual lives we are
increasingly interested in common and generalised things.  The older
commoner life, the religious life just as much as the most worldly life,
seems to us excessively self-conscious.  The religious life, its
perpetual self-examination for sin and sinful motives, its straining
search after personal perfection, appears in the new light as being
scarcely less egotistical than a dandy's.  And this new way of living and
thinking is directly linked on to the idea of progress, which makes life
in general far more interesting than any individual life can be, just as
the self-centred life, whether it be religious and austere or vain or
self-indulgent, is directly connected with the old delusions of
permanence which rob life in general of any sustained interest.  When one
is really persuaded that there is nothing new under the sun, then there
is nothing worth living for whatever outside the personal adventure, the
dance between permanent individual beatitude or permanent individual

As this modern conception of life, as a process of progressive change in
which individuality of our order can be sometimes excessively
exaggerated as it has been in the past and sometimes minimised as is
happening now; as this conception establishes itself, it changes the
spirit of living and the values of our general ideas about living
profoundly.  Lit only by a very bright light held low, an ordinary road
becomes a tangle of vivid surfaces and black shadows, and you cannot
tell a puddle or a gutter from a ditch or a precipice.  But in diffused
daylight you can see the proportions of every irregularity.  So too with
changing illumination our world alters its aspects, and things that once
seemed monstrous and final are seen to be mere undulations in a
practicable progress.  We can realise now, as no one in the past was ever
able to realise it, that man is a creature changing very rapidly from
the life of a rare and solitary great ape to the life of a social and
economic animal.  He has traversed most of this tremendous change of
phase in something in the nature of a million years.  His whole being,
mind and body alike, betrays the transition.  We can trace the
mitigations of his egotism through the development of religious and
customary restraints.  The recent work of the psycho-analysts enables us
to understand something of the intricate system of suppressions and
inhibitions that this adaptation to a more and more complex social life
has involved.  We begin to realise how man has symbolised and personified
his difficulties, and to comprehend the mechanisms of his uncongenial
but necessary self-restraint.


The disposition of those who apprehend this outline of history that
modern science has made plain to us, and who see all life as a system of
progressive change, is by no means antagonistic to religion.  They
realise the immense importance and the profound necessity of religion in
this last great chapter of the story, the evolution of human society.
But they see religion within the frame of fact; they do not, like Mr.
Belloc, look through religion at fact.  Man has accommodated his
originally fierce and narrow egotism to the needs of an ever wider and
more co-operative social life, very largely through the complex
self-subjugations that religion has made possible.  Within the shell and cover
of religion the new less self-centred habits of mind have been able to
develop.  An immense mass of imaginative work, of mythology, of theology,
that now seems tortuous, mystical, and fantastic, was necessary for the
casting of the new moral being of socialised man.  We seem to be entering
upon a phase in which moral and intellectual education may be able to
free themselves from the last vestiges of the mythology in which that
new moral being was moulded; but it is ungracious and false to the true
outline of history to deny the necessary part that the priest, the
sacrifice, the magic ceremonial for tribal welfare, the early tribal
religions, have played in this transfiguration of the sub-human into the
modern human mind, upon which all our community rests to-day.

It is because of our sense of this continuity of our present
dispositions with the religions upon which they are founded that so many
of us are loth to part with all the forms and phrases of the old creeds
and all the disciplines of time-honoured cults.  Perhaps some of us (the
present writer in the crowd among others) have been over-eager to read
new significances into established phrases, and clothe new ideas in the
languages of the old scheme of salvation.  It may be we have been pouring
new wine into old bottles.  It may be better to admit frankly that if man
is not fixed Christianity is, and that mankind is now growing out of
Christianity; that indeed mankind is growing out of the idea of Deity.
This does not mean an end to religion, but it means a fresh orientation
of the religious life.  It means a final severance with those
anthropomorphic conceptions of destiny, that interpretation of all
things in terms of personality and will with which religion began.  For
many of us that still means a wrench and an effort.  But the emphatic
assertions of Mr. Belloc, the stand that Catholicism, as he expounds it,
makes against any progressive adaptation to the new spirit in human
life, may render that effort easier.

In this examination of Mr. Belloc's opening and more fundamental attacks
upon the Outline of History I have shown sufficiently that Mr. Belloc is
incapable of evidence or discussion, that he imagines his authorities,
that he is careless and ignorant as to his facts and slovenly and tricky
in his logic.  I have dealt kindly but adequately with his atrocious bad
manners and his insolence and impudence.  I do not think it is worth
while to go on through the second half of his outpourings with any
particularity.  It is exactly the same kind of thing, but upon more
familiar ground and less fundamental issues.  Mr. Belloc quibbles.  He
falsifies.  For example, he imagines traditions to reinforce the Gospel
account of Christ's teaching and to show that the founder of
Christianity was aware of his godhead and taught the doctrine of the
Trinity, he declares--just out of his head--that I do not know it
was the bull and not Mithra who was sacrificed in the system of
Mithraism, though I state that quite plainly in a passage he has
ventured to ignore.  And so on.  The wonderful methods of the
Palaeolithic bow story repeat themselves with variations, time after
time.  Why should I trouble to repeat the exposure in every case? I have
done enough to demonstrate the quality of this effort to bluff and bawl
away accepted knowledge and manifest fact, and that is all that I set
out to do.

And this apparently is the present state of Catholic teaching.  This
stuff I have examined is representative stuff.  This is the current
utterance of organised Christianity, so far as there is any utterance,
upon the doctrines of the Creation and the Fall--doctrines upon
which rest the whole scheme of Christian salvation and the entire fabric
of a Christian's faith.



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