Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/776

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of educated artisans, impracticable than it is repugnant to morality. We may accept with admiration and gratitude Darwin's scientific discoveries without feeling ourselves obliged to draw from them inferences which the discoverer himself has not drawn. We may recognize the breaches made by science, history, and criticism in the evidences not only of Christianity, but of natural religion; we may admit with sadness that the world is at present left without any positive proof, in a producible form, of articles of belief deemed but a few years ago as indisputable as they were fundamental; yet we may decline at once to pronounce that the religious sentiment in man is devoid of meaning, and that the evidences are absolutely incapable of rational reconstruction. Doubt, frankly avowed, and coupled with a resolve under all perplexities to be patient and see what the future of inquiry may have in store, is the attitude, as I am persuaded, of many men of science in whose characters caution and reverence have a place, as well as of many thoughtful and cultivated men of the world.[1]

  1. I take this, the first available opportunity, of saying that a paper professing to be a critique of three articles of mine—two in "Macmillan" and one in the "Atlantic Monthly"—on subjects akin to that of the present paper, by Miss Louisa Bevington, which appeared in the "Fortnightly Review" of August last, was as complete a misrepresentation of the purport of those articles, of their spirit, and, above all, of the attitude of their writer toward science and scientific men, as angry prejudice could produce. The most recent of the three articles attacked had appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly" a year and nine months before this sudden outpouring of the vials of philosophic wrath, the immediate motive for which it is difficult to divine. The nature of my offense, however, is apparent enough. In her exordium Miss Bevington discloses her intention of suppressing what she is pleased to term the "noisy literature" of people like me, who accept Darwin's scientific discoveries and yet refuse, as at present advised, to draw inferences which, as has been said in the text, Darwin himself has not drawn, and which he has given us no reason for believing that he is disposed to draw. She hardly displays the spirit of the philosophy of which she is the devotee. The highly evolved ought to have patience while inferior creatures are going through the necessary stages of their evolution. I am charged with "reading evolutionism into the views of persons not commonly credited with paramount scientific authority, for the purpose of taking it out again ethically besmirched and reeking with the blood of the weaker peoples." If the charge were true, it would justify any amount of denunciation and almost any mixture of metaphors. But the passages of my three articles on which Miss Bevington founds it (and which she represents as the main purport and substance of the articles, though in truth they are of the most cursory kind and comprise in all only three or four sentences) do not relate to evolution at all: they relate to the doctrine of the moral inequality of races and their different claims to legal protection, put forth by Professor Tyndall at the time of the Jamaica affair. Professor Tyndall, not Dr. Darwin, is the "eminent man" to whom I allude, as I have thought that anybody who remembered the Jamaica controversy would have known. To the scientific doctrine of evolution I gave the frankest adhesion, acknowledging "that it was unspeakably momentous, and that great was the debt of gratitude due to its illustrious authors." This Miss Bevington does not quote, but she satisfies her sense of justice by alluding to the passage as "certain ethical admissions favorable rather than not to the evolution hypothesis." I am incapable of such folly as ascribing immoral consequences to any genuine discovery of science. Science, in combination with historical philosophy and literary criticism, is breaking up religious beliefs; and the break-up of religious beliefs is attended, as experience seems to show, with dan-