Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/279

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

either as boy or man, that shall he also reap, holds of necessity of man's entire nature! Not to occupy too much of your space, Mr. Editor, I conclude by expressing the hope that the readers of the "Monthly" will not adopt the views expressed in "The Savagery of Boyhood," till they have some sounder basis for them than has yet been furnished.

T. Wesley Mills.

Physiological Laboratory, McGill College,

Montreal, October 8, 1887.




TOLSTOI'S ASTRONOMY.

Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Sir: The great Russian novelist, Count Leo Tolstoi, in his powerful story, "Anna Karenina," makes a curious mistake in describing the phenomena of the heavens, which will do to put with those you have noted in regard to the moon. After describing with great beauty and fidelity to nature a spring day, he says (page 176, Crowell's edition. New York):

"It grew darker and darker. Venus, with silvery light, shone out in the west; and in the east Arcturus gleamed with his sombre, reddish fire. At intervals Levin saw the Great Bear. No more snipe appeared; but Levin resolved to wait until Venus, which was visible through the branches of his birch-tree, rose clear above the hills on the horizon, and till the Great Bear was entirely visible. The star had passed beyond the birch-trees, and the Wain of the Bear was shining out clear in the sky," etc.

Venus, when seen in the west as evening star, would, on the same evening, sink lower instead of rising higher. It is curious that Count Tolstoi, who is in general an accurate observer of Nature, and who shows, in this very passage, that he has watched the heavens on spring evenings, should make such a mistake. He has confused the apparent and real motions of Venus evidently.

Eliza A. Bowen.

September 20, 1887.



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EDITOR'S TABLE.


AN ALLEGED ARGUMENT AGAINST EVOLUTION.

THE "Journal of Commerce" of this city has been occupying itself lately with the question of the origin of the human race; and, as the result of its studies and reflections, feels justified in pronouncing that "the development theory is refuted by all human experience." The main argument on which our contemporary relies to support this opinion is that there is no "organic tendency toward constant improvement and greater uprightness," that it is not natural for man to be good, and that he only attains to any moral excellence through unceasing struggle. No text-book in theology — so we are informed — is needed to tell us that the race is not attaining to moral goodness by the slow process of natural development; the conflict in every man's breast being sufficient to assure him that the ideal which he pursues is the original image of perfect righteousness that has been defaced by manifold transgressions. Such is the argument of our contemporary, stated, as nearly as possible, in its own words. We need hardly say that we are glad to find a paper like the "Journal of Commerce" presenting subjects of this character for the consideration of its readers; and we feel assured that it will be prepared to examine in a candid spirit the comments we propose to offer on the view above outlined.

In the first place, we would observe, the theory of evolution is one of a very wide compass; and, if it is applied with some degree of confidence to the history of morals, it is because, in so many other fields, it has proved itself the key to phenomena otherwise unexplainable. The language held by Professor Morse before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and by Professors Roscoe, Newton, and others before the similar British Association, sufficiently proves in what light the doctrine of evolution is regarded by the most eminent scientific investigators of our day. The question, therefore, presents itself as to whether man's moral nature has been formed upon principles, and by a method, wholly different from those illus-