Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/711

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SKETCH OF PROFESSOR J. P. LESLEY.

695

Philosophical Society" under various dates. During the last ten years his official duties as director of the State survey, involving the publication of about seventy volumes of reports, have prevented in a great measure his personal work as a geologist, and he has published nothing over his own name except prefaces and notes to these reports. But a large number of his geological papers, as above referred to, together with various essays on philological and antiquarian subjects, will be found in the "Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society."

Professor Lesley was for several years Secretary to the American Iron Association, and he has also for many years been Secretary and Librarian of the American Philosophical Society. Although a hard worker in science, he is a man of varied intellectual accomplishments, of a philosophical bent of mind, and interested in many of those higher questions which are agitating the mind of the age. In 1865 he gave a series of lectures before the Lowell Institute in Boston, which was afterward published (1868) under the title of "Man's Origin and Destiny as seen from the Platform of the Sciences." After being out of print for several years, a new edition of this work was called for, and it was revised and reissued, with six additional chapters, in 1881.

The book abounds in evidence of the author's independence and originality, and of his varied and extensive erudition. It is but just to say, however, that it was not intended as an elaborate or systematic treatise, and it is thus characterized by the author himself: "The author never contemplated anything beyond a general sketch of the present bearings of science upon the vexed question of the origin and early history of man. But the question has many subdivisions. He intended the several lectures to be separate sketches of those subdivisions of the field of discussion—mere introductions to their proper study. His views are stated, therefore, in round terms. Nothing is closely reasoned out. Much is left to the logical instinct, and more to the literary education, of the reader. Reference is everywhere made to sources of information within easy reach of all. Even the style of an essay has been avoided. The book is merely a series of familiar conversations upon the current topics of interest in the scientific world." This spirited book was noticed in Volume XX of "The Popular Science Monthly," and the following estimate was given of it: "We have gone through Mr. Lesley's book with interest and profit—pleased with its brilliant and forcible passages, which are frequent; instructed by its learning and its abounding facts, and stimulated by its incisive observations and its forcible arguments. But the work is strongly stamped with the author's individuality, and its supplementary chapters especially, fresh and breezy as they are, contain various opinions to which we find it impossible to subscribe. But, notwithstanding its faults, the work is original, helpful, and invigorating, and those who are concerned to note the drift of modern inquiry will be sure to find it serviceable."