Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/430

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to know how the problem of the origin of man now stands in the light of science, whether they believe in the doctrine of evolution or not, will turn to this exposition of it by one of the first of living biologists, and thus satisfy their curiosity and post up in a discussion which is beginning to engross a large share of the attention of thoughtful men all over the world. Those who accept the doctrine of evolution and wish to become familiar with its higher applications to organic life, and whose concern with the subject is strictly scientific, will also turn to this work to get the latest and fullest knowledge that has been reached concerning the development of man, and with no other solicitude than to obtain the truth. Yet the book in its subject matter is so greatly in advance of the intelligence and liberality of the age that multitudes will care nothing about it. The mass of people have but precious little curiosity as to where they came from, or how they got here. They generally have some belief about it, which they acquired early, and hold satisfactory, and do not care to have disturbed. To all such, scientific inquiries into these questions are mere impertinence. Then there are others who have a strong antipathy to all these investigations into the germ history of man. As Professor Haeckel remarks: "If we say that each human individual develops from an egg, the only answer even of most so called educated men will be an incredulous smile; if we show them the series of embryonic forms, developed from this human egg, their doubt will, as a rule, change into disgust." It will obviously be a long time before such prejudices are overcome and there arises a general desire to know the facts concerning the genealogy of man, and his real place in nature. People must apprentice themselves a long time to the study of evolution among the lower forms of life, before they are willing to include themselves in the inquiry. Meantime there are many who are alive to the magnitude and import of the investigation, and these will cordially welcome a treatise from Haeckel on "The Evolution of Man."

Professor Haeckel some years ago published a comprehensive work on "The Natural History of Creation." It was an exposition of evolutionary doctrine through the widest circle of biological phenomena, and was of a much more general character than the present treatise. The development of man is, of course, confined to a consideration of the genesis of the human race. This subject, however, can not be treated alone; and, although it is in a certain sense a sequel to the first work, it is nevertheless much occupied with questions belonging to the general domain of life. The derivation of man is a question of kinship with the whole series of ancestral forms. Haeckel is so much of a pioneer in a great field, hitherto scantily cultivated, that he assumes the right of forming his own terminology, and hence we meet with various unfamiliar words in his pages, although he always makes them clear, and makes them contribute to the clearness of his discussion. The present treatise, devoted to anthropogeny, is divided into two parts: the first, ontogeny, or the history of individual human organisms, concerns itself chiefly with germ history or embryology; and the second, on phylogeny, is a history of the evolution of the various animal forms, from which man has descended in the course of countless ages. Phylogeny is thus a history of evolution, and embraces the sub-sciences of paleontology and genealogy. These terms mark out the divisions and scope of the work, and show that it is occupied with the radical problems of the subject.

Though strictly scientific, this treatise of Haeckel's is in a remarkable degree popular in style and form. It is written with great clearness, and with a view of rendering the subject attractive, and its profusion of elegant wood cuts and colored plates greatly enhances its interest. The time has not come when all biologists will agree with Haeckel as to the genealogical chain that he has made out from man to the moner, and much of his work may be long held as speculative. But Haeckel strenuously maintains that dissent from his array of proofs must be due to their not being sufficiently weighed, or to the bias of rival hypotheses. He writes with the ardor of a man intensely convinced, and with the lucidity and grasp of one thoroughly familiar with the wide elements of his subject. The book may be commended without hesitation to all who wish to acquaint themselves