Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/135

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125
LITERARY NOTICES.

ciful relations in nature and holding them to be truths of nature. The growth of true science has been little else than an historic fight of the human mind against its tendency to substitute its own cheap and frivolous imaginations for verifiable facts and demonstrative truths. Theology for thousands of years interpreted nature by such superficial conceptions of the relations of its parts as could be arrived at without serious investigation or any real knowledge. For thousands of years the explanations of nature were deduced from the properties of words, and modern science only arose through a protracted struggle with this tendency. It is but recently that the connection between succeeding forms of life, which paleontology reveals as a great fact in the history of the earth, was held to be but an ideal relation as taught by theology; while the recent progress of biological science has consisted in substituting for it a genetic relation, or an actual dynamic causation. Science, therefore, must be regarded as most strictly occupied with its proper work in establishing the actual causal and determining relations among phenomena. So far as analogy can be made a help in arriving at such positive and substantial results, its function is legitimate for scientific purposes; but, pressed further, it will probably continue to be regarded as an impediment to fruitful investigation.

But Mr. Andrews is a courageous and independent thinker, who wants no instruction from us as to the value or importance of the work he is doing. He claims to be already the center and master of a group of disciples which form a normal school of preparation for larger operations in the way of propagating his ideas. We are, moreover, informed that "a university for the elaboration and diffusion of the new science (Universology) has for several years been chartered under the general act of Congress for the District of Columbia, and is only waiting more ample endowment to take on large and imposing proportions." Certainly plenty of work is cut out for such a university. A part of its programme is "one language for the whole world," the "future vernacular of the planet." This might seem to be a vast gain (assuming incidentally its practicability), as we should hope that such a language would supersede the multitudinous tongues that are now such a burden in education. But the hope is vain; Mr. Andrews says that "Alwato so facilitates the acquisition of all other languages that the prior existing languages will be kept living, and the valuable literatures of the world retained and their acquisition made easy. . . . English, French, German, etc., will survive for their special literatures and localities. . . . So greatly is the scientific method superior to the crude natural spontaneity which merely lets matters drift 'at their own sweet will.' "Nevertheless, this spontaneous drift of things in which Mr. Andrews has so little confidence, inasmuch as it has given us all the sciences and arts, and created civilization, and brought the primitive man through the route of development up to his present status of intelligence and cultivation, ought not, we think, to be too lightly discarded in behalf of a university at Washington, although chartered and even endowed by the American Congress.

Vice Versa; or, a Lesson to Fathers. By F. Anstet. D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 349. Price, $1.

We have here a most humorous novel with a very original plot. It is vigorously and vividly written, and has a great deal of naturalness in its descriptive and narrative parts, while it is pervaded throughout by a most fantastic and egregious absurdity. After the first shock, however, the reader accepts the ridiculous situation, and enjoys the wit and fun with no little curiosity to know what the author will make of his whimsical fancy. The odd conceit upon which the story hinges is the exchange of personalities between a father and son; that is, they are mutually transformed in bodily aspect, the father into the son and the son into the father, while their minds are not affected. The lad becomes outwardly the dignified London merchant, though still retaining all his boyish ideas; while the old merchant is shrunk into the school-boy and with the thoughts and feelings of an old man is packed off to the hated school, where his son had been before. The old gentleman's misadventures in his new and extraordinary situation in the school, and the boy's tantrums in charge of the old merchant's resi-