Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/572

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

under the light it afforded, the work of research went on with increasing fruitfulness and success. The doctrine of evolution was not merely acknowledged, but it became a new guide to the discovery of truth, which is the highest possible attestation that could be given of its verity. Nor was it by any means a mystery of experts continued to laboratories of which ordinary people could know nothing and must take on authority. Its illustrations and proofs constantly multiplied in those common spheres of thought with which intelligent people are familiar, so that the current literature of the time was full of it. Mr. Beecher saw that the doctrine was not only accredited by a very large number of the ablest minds of the age as an established truth, but he had himself been a student of the subject in his own field of labor, and he found it of invaluable service in that revision of beliefs and opinions which was a part of his responsible duty as an independent public teacher. In broadly accepting and comprehensively applying the new doctrine, Mr. Beecher gives a powerful impulse to theological reform, for, in the further winnowing of religious opinions, only those will stand which are found vitally rooted in the truths of nature; and, from this point of view, the acceptance of the doctrine of evolution by the religious mind will be the most important step yet taken in renovating theology by ending its antagonism with the order of natural truth, and by making "the solid ground of nature" its lasting and unshakable foundation.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Louis Agassiz: Hrs Life and Correspondence. Edited by Elizabeth Cary Agassiz. In two volumes, pp. 794. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Price, $4.

Mrs. Agassiz began the preparation of this extremely interesting biography with the simple purpose of preserving the facts, letters, and journals bearing upon it from dispersion and final loss. But, as the work grew in her hands, she says she began to feel that an intellectual life, marked by such unusual coherence and unity of aim, might serve as a stimulus and an encouragement to others. And, for this reason, she at length decided to place it before the general public. The first volume contains a portrait of Agassiz at the age of nine-teen, and several other interesting illustrations connected with his birthplace and early life. The narrative in this volume covers the European portion of Agassiz's life, about which little is known in this country. It is woven together from family papers, and the contributions of fellow-students and others who knew Agassiz intimately at one period or another of his early career. A brother of Professor Agassiz, who survived him several years, took the greatest interest in preserving whatever concerned his scientific career, and this brother furnished Mrs. Agassiz with many papers and documents concerning his earlier life. After the brother's death the work was continued by a cousin, Mr. Auguste Mayor, who also selected from the glacier of the Aar, "at the request of Mr. Alexander Agassiz, the bowlder which now marks his father's grave."

Louis Agassiz had no other teacher than his parents for the first ten years of his life. "Having lost her first four children in infancy, his mother watched with trembling solicitude over his early years." She understood that his love of nature was an intellectual tendency, and throughout her whole life, as well in the work of his manhood as in the sports of his childhood, she remained his most intimate friend. He survived her but six years. When a very little fellow he had his collection of fishes, and the vignette represents the stone basin behind the parsonage, into which water from a spring was always flowing, and which was Agassiz's first aquarium. He had various pets, whose families he reared with the greatest care. "His pet animals," we are told, "suggested questions to answer, which was the task of his life." The story of his school-life, from the age of ten to seventeen, is briefly told, but leaves the distinct impression of a boy with a settled purpose. After spending two years at the medical school in Zürich, Agassiz went to the University of