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32 Lamarck’s health began to fail in 1809, when he developed eye problems, and in 1818 he became completely blind. Indeed, his life was marked by tragedy and poverty. When he died in 1829, his family did not have enough money for his funeral and had to appeal to the Académie des Sciences for funds; his books, and scientific collections were sold at public auction. By that time, his evolutionary writings had been taken up by others in France and Britain. The Cuvier-Geoffroy Debate Scientists and scholars like to use the word “revolution” to describe great changes in science, but Lamarck’s evolutionism was revolutionary in the original sociopolitical sense of the word as well.

Darwin himself was as well versed in the Bible as he was in natural theology, and there is no question that his own theory of natural selection had evolved, at least in part, from such arguments. 36 In Blyth’s model, each species was bound to a certain geographical area; each had been assigned a place in the economy of nature by the Creator and kept there as the struggle for existence weeded out deviants from the norm. Because each species was exquisitely adapted to a particular mode of existence, when circumstances in a locality changed, Blyth thought, a species must perish with it.

Although some historians are uncertain about his beliefs, Lamarck himself seems to have been less equivocal. As he commented in his Philosophie zoologique, “everything is thus preserved in the established order . . ”14 The inheritance of acquired characteristics by use and disuse of parts due to changing environmental circumstances would account for the “numerous anomalies or deviations” from a linear increase in complexity of classes. Those naturalists who believed in the fixity of species maintained that the structure of an animal is always in perfect adaptation to their functions, and that the structure of a part determined its function.

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