Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/157

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


 

THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



DECEMBER, 1892.



NEW CHAPTERS IN THE WARFARE OF SCIENCE.

XVIII.—FROM MAGIC TO CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS.

By ANDREW DICKSON WHITE, LL.D., L. H. D.,
EX-PRESIDENT OF CORNELL UNIVERSITY.
PART I.

IN all the earliest developments of human thought we find a tendency to ascribe mysterious powers over Nature to men and women especially gifted or skilled. Survivals of this view are found to this day among savages and barbarians left behind in the evolution of civilization, and especially is this the case among the tribes of Australia, Africa, and the Pacific coast of America; even in the most enlightened nations still appear, here and there, popular beliefs, observances, or sayings, drawn from this earlier phase of thought.

Between the prehistoric savage developing this theory, and therefore endeavoring to deal with the powers of Nature by magic, and the modern man who has outgrown it, appears a long line of nations struggling upward through it. As the hieroglyphs, cuneiform inscriptions, and various other records of antiquity are read, the development of this belief can be studied in Egypt, India, Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, and Phœnicia. From these countries it came into the early thought of Greece and Rome, but especially into the Jewish and Christian sacred books; both in the Old Testament and in the New we find magic, sorcery, and soothsaying constantly referred to as realities.[1]


  1. For magic in prehistoric times and survivals of it since, with abundant citation of authorities, see Tylor, Primitive Culture, chap, iv; also the Early History of Mankind, by