Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/724

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

guage is certain to prove injurious if not disastrous to our American colleges. Progress of knowledge, the spirit of the age, and the requirements of the American people must count for more than has been yielded to them if these institutions are to increase in influence and prosperity. He says;

{{fsx|85%|The demands of our own polyglot people are to be heard, if we wish them to come to school. If we of the colleges decide that we wish no one to come but those who will take the one old road, the numbers in the colleges will not greatly increase, even though the population of our country quadruples. For we must judge of the future by the past in this matter. The population of the United States, as shown by the census, increased during the ten years, between 1870 and 1880, from thirty-eight and one half millions to fifty millions—an increase of twenty-three per cent. But the increase in number of students, for the same tune, in twenty of the oldest, leading colleges, was less than three and one half percent. Something is keeping the sons of our well-to-do common people out of the colleges. It is not the hard work. They work much harder on things that pay less in profit and position. It is not that they are not hungry for knowledge. They go greedily after husks even. But among the thousands of things they want to know and need to know, in order to have part in the life they are to lead, Greek seems to them of the least necessity. And it is because this bar of the Greek lies across the path to a college education that the crowd is turned from college halls. We of the cloisters may say, it should not seem of small importance to sensible people; but it does seem so. And we are causing thousands every year to lose all the rest of a college training, because we persist in making Greek the one, universal, inexorable test of admission to college.


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LITERARY NOTICES.

INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC SERIES, VOL. XLVIII.

Origin of Cultivated Plants. By Alphonse De Candolle. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 468. Price, $2.

Although a thoroughly popular work interesting to everybody, this volume is nevertheless a monument of laborious and learned research. Its author is not only one of the most eminent botanists of the age, but he has been for many years especially devoted to this subject. He published an extensive work thirty years ago on "Geographical Botany," one chapter of which was devoted to the "Origin of Cultivated Plants," and he has since pursued the subject so systematically and perseveringly that the field is now his own. The present book, however, is entirely new, and gives what is known of the history of nearly all plants which are cultivated, either on a largo scale for economic purposes, or in fields, orchards, and kitchen gardens.

The work, as may be supposed, has been one of very great difficulty. Lack of knowledge, doubtful statements, and, what is worse, long sanctioned and established error, have proved formidable difficulties in the way of research. Plants, like men, have not only traveled over the globe from region to region, undergoing changes in their migrations into new environments, but they have been directly modified by domestication, so that only thorough botanical knowledge can trace their lineage and throw light upon their origin. In some cases the original wild species are probably extinct, and in other cases the cultivated varieties have lapsed into the wild condition, so that the problem of identification is liable to be much obscured. But greater difficulties still have arisen from the fact that botany is a modern science of which the ancients knew very little, so that their descriptions are imperfect and untrustworthy. The embarrassments of the research are, moreover, heightened by that revolution in regard to the validity of evidence which science has wrought in recent times. All statements have to be questioned and sifted, and loose opinions thrown aside by the more exacting standards of proof which men of science now recognize. On these points, and with reference to the general plan of his inquiries, Professor De Candolle remarks:

I have always aimed at discovering the condition and (ho habitat of each species before it was cultivated. It was needful to this end to distinguish from among innumerable varieties that which should be regarded as the most ancient, and to find out from what quarter of the globe it came. The problem is more difficult than it appears at first sight. In the last century and up to the middle of the present, authors made little account of it, and the most able have contributed to the propagation of erroneous ideas. I believe that three out of four of Lin-