Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/39

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Surely this stone has an eventful history, but I shall not tax your patience longer by trying to trace it conjecturally. I shall only say that we can not but agree with the common opinion which regards meteorites as fragments broken from larger masses, but we can not be satisfied without trying to imagine what were the antecedents of those masses.



IN a recently published work, bearing the above title, we have an elaborate plea, drawn by an eminent legal practitioner, against the doctrine of evolution as expounded by such writers as Darwin, Huxley, and Spencer. To satisfy the natural curiosity of the public as to how eminent qualifications as a jurist should have come to be united with competence for a very ambitious essay in biological and philosophical criticism, the author informs us that, for years past, he has found relaxation from severe professional labor in the study, during his leisure hours, of the works of the leading evolutionists. He believes that he has fully mastered both their facts and their reasonings; and, finding the latter very weak—so weak that, in one case, he almost blushes to have to repeat the argument to his intelligent readers—he comes forward to level the whole structure of the evolutionary philosophy, and to rebuild on its ruins the ancient theory of "special creation." It must not be supposed, however, that Mr. Curtis is indebted to previous writers for the arguments he now brings to bear in favor of that venerable position. It is over forty years, he tells us, since he looked into any of the great authorities in the department of natural theology; and he is not now conscious of having "borrowed an argument, imitated a method, or followed an example." It is not often, perhaps, that so extensive a claim can be laid to originality; for most of us, it must be confessed, borrow arguments, imitate methods, and follow examples, often to our great profit, and without, in general, feeling our consciences unduly burdened. There is no doubt in our mind that Mr. Curtis has made an honest effort to understand the writers whom he has set to work to criticise. He has conned his brief with a good deal of care; but the trouble is, as we conceive, that he has held a brief, and has not been in contact with the actual facts. He has taken one or two books of Darwin's, and one or two of Spencer's, and has subjected them to a kind of microscopic analysis; but there is no evidence whatever that either his reading or his observation has been of a character to enable him to do justice to the doctrine of evolution as a whole. He has not even read enough of the authors he criticises to

  1. Creation or Evolution? A Philosophical Inquiry. By George Ticknor Curtis. New York: D. Appleton and Company.