Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/42
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
the deceased turned the color of his blanket, which was yellow. But, in most allusions to it, we find it spoken of as the true plague, or the pestilence in its worst and most destructive form.
The solitude of the forest at this time must have been most solemn and awe-inspiring. Of villages once populous, nothing remained but decaying huts, tenanted by birds and beasts, who had left white and bare the human bones scattered around. The desolations of Athens, of Constantinople, of Florence, and of London, were all unequalled by the spectacle of depopulation that has been presented on our very shores.
The Indian plague becomes an interesting fact of medical science, since it has been supposed that our climate has prophylactic virtues which render the pestilence, that, after an interval of centuries, has again and again ravaged Europe, impossible. We have strong reason to hope that the progress of science has banished this swift minister of death from the civilized races, and that even the modified forms of the disease are gradually yielding and disappearing. Still it is by no means certain that it may not come travelling from the East again, and, if so, we are no more protected by territorial or climatic influences than the inhabitants of the Old World. At least, so we might reasonably infer from this last fearful but interesting chapter of history.
TO give readers some idea of the contents of a good book is very often the most useful thing a reviewer can do. Unfortunately, that course is not open to us in the present instance. The subject is too vast. We cannot exhibit the grandeur; we can only in a few general phrases express our admiration of the profound, all-embracing philosophy of which the work before us is an installment. The doctrine of evolution, when taken up by Mr. Spencer, was little more than a crochet. He has made it the idea of the age. In its presence other systems of philosophy are hushed; they cease their strife, and become its servants, while all the sciences do it homage. The place that the doctrine of evolution has secured in the minds of those who think for the educated public may be indicated by a few names taken just as they occur. Mr. Darwin's works, the novels of George Eliot, Mr. Tylor's "Primitive Culture," Dr. Bastian's "Beginnings of Life," and Mr. Bagehot's "Physics and Politics," have hardly anything in com-
- "The Principles of Psychology." In two volumes. By Herbert Spencer. New York: D. Appleton & Co.