Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/36

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26
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

its more warlike and less scrupulous neighbors. Progress in civilization must necessarily be very slow, and to be permanent must pervade all classes and all the surrounding nations; and it is because past civilizations have been too partial that there have been so many relapses into comparative barbarism. All this is carefully worked out, and is well worthy of attention.

In the last section, on the probable future of the human race, we have some remarkable speculations, very different from the somewhat Utopian views held by most evolutionists, but founded, nevertheless, on certain very practical considerations. In the next few hundred or a thousand years the chief alterations will be the extinction of all the less dominant races, and the partition of the world among the three great persistent types, the whites, blacks, and Chinese, each of which will have occupied those portions of the globe for which they are best adapted. But, taking a more extended glance into the future of 50,000 or 100,000 years hence, and supposing that no cosmical changes occur to destroy, wholly or partially, the human race, there are certain well-ascertained facts on which to found a notion of what must by that time have occurred. In the first place, all the coal and all the metals available will then have been exhausted, and, even if men succeed in finding other sources of heat, and are able to extract the metals thinly diffused through the soil, yet these products must become far dearer and less available for general use than now. Railroads and steam-ships, and every thing that depends upon the possession of large quantities of cheap metals, will then be impossible, and sedentary agricultural populations in warm and fertile regions will be the best off. Population will have lingered longest around the greatest masses of coal and iron, but will finally become most densely aggregated within the tropics. But another and more serious change is going on, which will result in the gradual diminution and deterioration of the terrestrial surface. Assuming the undoubted fact that all our existing land is wearing away and being carried into the sea, but, by a strange over-sight, leaving out altogether the counteracting internal forces, which for countless ages past seem always to have raised ample tracts above the sea as fast as subaërial denudation has lowered them, it is argued that, even if all the land does not disappear and so man become finally extinct, yet the land will become less varied, and will consist chiefly of a few flat and parched-up plains, and volcanic or coralline islands. Population will by this time necessarily have much diminished, but it is thought that an intelligent and persevering race may even then prosper. "They will enjoy the happiness which results from a peaceable existence, for, without metals or combustibles, it will be difficult to form fleets to rule the seas, or great armies to ravage the land;" and the conclusion is that "such are the probabilities according to the actual course of things." Now, although we cannot admit this to be a probability on the grounds stated by M. de Candolle, it does seem a