Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/249
hour in learning it, we should perhaps have known whether it was the Chinese or the Malay game, or what it was; and this might have been the very clew, lost to native memory, to the connection of the Polynesians with a higher Asiatic culture in ages before a European ship had come within their coral reefs.
It remains to call attention to a point which this research into the development of games brings strongly into view. In the study of civilization, as of so many other branches of natural history, a theory of gradual evolution proves itself a trustworthy guide. But it will not do to assume that culture must always come on by regular, unvarying progress. That, on the contrary, the lines of change may be extremely circuitous, the history of games affords instructive proofs. Looking over a playground wall at a game of hockey, one might easily fancy the simple line of improvement to have been that the modern schoolboy took to using a curved stick to drive the ball with, instead of hurling it with his hands as he would have done if he had been a young Athenian of b. c. 500. But now it appears that the line of progress was by no means so simple and straight, if we have to go round by Persia, and bring in the game of polo as an intermediate stage. If, comparing Greek draughts and English draughts, we were to jump to the conclusion that the one was simply a further development of the other, this would be wrong, for the real course appears to have been that some old draught-game rose into chess, and then again a lowered form of chess came down to become a new game of draughts. We may depend upon it that the great world-game of evolution is not played only by pawns moving straight on, one square before another, but that long-stretching moves of pieces in all directions bring on new situations, not readily foreseen by minds that find it hard to see six moves ahead upon a chess-board.—Fortnightly Review.
By Dr. ANDREW WILSON.
THE medical student, who, in answer to an examiner anxious to ascertain the exact amount of the lad's knowledge concerning fishes, replied that "he knew them all from the limpet to the whale," must indeed be credited with a larger share of candor than of zoölogical science. The limpet is a shell "fish" by courtesy at the best, but the whale, public opinion notwithstanding, is not a fish in any sense of the term. The most that can be said of the whale in this respect is that it is fish-like; and, admitting that appearances in zoölogical study are as deceptive as in ordinary existence, it behooves us to be cautious in accepting outward resemblances as indicative of real and