Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/135

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125
EDITOR'S TABLE.

of electricity implies the investigation from a new standpoint of the various substances used as its conductors. The study of this particular agency, therefore, involves the study of a great number of related things, and thus directly tends to an enlargement of mental grasp. It has, if we mistake not, another most interesting side. All natural sciences, by the analogies they supply, throw more or less light upon the operations of mind and the movements of social forces. Electricity, we believe, will furnish the most instructive ones of all, but we can not to-day more than throw out the hint. Physical science, let us say in conclusion, is bringing noble gifts to the feet of mankind; it is for mankind to see that they use these nobly and wisely.

 

 

THE DOCTRINE OF NATURAL SELECTION.

There has been a very industrious outcry in certain quarters lately, to the effect that the doctrine of Natural Selection was losing ground; and certain reactionaries have been allowing themselves to entertain great hopes that all might yet be well with their antiquated ideas. As a very apt and powerful answer to this contention came Mr. Wallace's book on Darwinism, in which, in the line of animal creation, he claimed more for the action of natural selection than even Darwin had done. Following close on it came the interesting treatise of Mr. E. B. Poulton, F. R. S., on the Colors of Animals. The last paragraph of Mr. Poulton's preface is worth quoting entire:

"Above all, I should wish to acknowledge, although I can never fully express the depth of my indebtedness to the principles which first made Biology a science, the principles enunciated by Charles Darwin. It is common enough nowadays to hear of new hypotheses, which are believed by their inventors to explain the fact of evolution. These hypotheses are as destructive of one another as they are supposed to be of natural selection, which remains as the one solid foundation on which evolution rests. I have wished to express this conviction, because my name has been used as part of the support for an opposite opinion, by an anonymous writer in the Edinburgh Review. In an article in which unfairness is as conspicuous as the prejudice to which it is due, I am classed as one of those 'industrious young observers' who 'are accumulating facts telling with more or less force against pure Darwinism.' On the strength of this and other almost equally strange evidence, the reviewer triumphantly exclaims, 'Darwin, the thanes fly from thee!' In view of this public mention of my name, I may, perhaps, be excused for making the personal statement that any scientific work which I have had the opportunity of doing has been inspired by one firm purpose—the desire to support, in however small a degree, and to illustrate by new examples, those great principles which we owe to the life and writings of Charles Darwin, and especially the pre-eminent principle of natural selection."

Mr. Poulton may express himself, perhaps, a little over-enthusiastically; but surely there is much significance in the protest which he raises against being quoted on the anti-Darwinian side. One substantial piece of manufactured evidence not only vanishes entirely, but has its place taken by an energetic assertion of the contrary position. Evidences, indeed, that the doctrine of evolution has become almost a fixed principle with scientific workers are to be found on every hand. When men of any scientific eminence whatever, like the late Prof. Sedgwick, in England, or Sir William Dawson, of Canada, refuse it their adhesion, their position becomes one of such singularity as powerfully to prove the rule as to the direction the scientific world at large has taken. One of the most conservative publications of the day in England