Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/55

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ultimately fall into the sun. These things, however, possess to us no practical physical interest. Such countless ages must elapse ere they affect man's material condition upon earth, that we hardly can gravely consider them as impending. The chief interest they excite is moral. Like the man's hand that appeared to the revelling king, they write "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" (Weighed, measured, limited, doomed) on our material world, and dimly point to some power that stands, as it were, hidden from our view behind the screen of matter, "that shall make all things new."—Chambers's Journal.



TWO lines of research into the Science of Man, of the highest moment as well in theoretical Anthropology as in practical Ethics and Politics, both to be always associated with the name of Quetelet, are now discussed at large in his Social Physics and Anthropometry. The two great generalizations which the veteran Belgian astronomer has brought to bear on physiological and mental science, and which it is proposed to describe popularly here, may be briefly defined: First, he has been for many years the prime mover in introducing the doctrine that human actions, even those usually considered most arbitrary, are in fact subordinate to general laws of human nature; this doctrine, maintained in previous publications, especially in the earlier edition of the first named work some thirty seven years ago, is now put forth in its completest form. Second, he has succeeded in bringing the idea of a biological type or specific form, whether in bodily structure or mental faculty, to a distinct calculable conception, which is likely to impress on future arguments a definiteness not previously approached.

The doctrine of the regularity and causality of human actions was powerfully stated some fifteen years ago by Mr. Buckle in the introduction to his "History of Civilization." Buckle is here essentially the exponent of Quetelet's evidence, from which, indeed, as a speculative philosopher, he draws inferences more extreme than those of his statistical teacher. To Quetelet is due the argument from the astonishing regularity from year to year in the recurrences of murders and suicides, a regularity extending even to the means or instruments by which these violent acts are committed; his inference being broadly that "it is society which prepares the crime, the criminal being only

  1. Physique Sociale, ou Essai sur le Développement des Facultes de l'Homme. Par Ad. Quetelet. (Brussels, 1869.)
    Anthropométrie, ou Mesure des differentes Facultés de l'Homme. Par Ad. Quetelet (Brussels, 1870.)