Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/643

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The Doctrine of Descent, and Darwinism. By Oscar Schmidt, Professor in the University of Strasbourg. With Illustrations. 334 pages. Price, $1.50. D. Appleton & Co. No. XIII. of the "International Scientific Series."

A popular exposition of the general doctrine of Development and Descent, within moderate limits, has been long wanted. Mr. Darwin's works are voluminous, and they elaborate special points with a minuteness of detail and a wealth of learning that are the delight of the student, but are not attractive to the general reader. A compend of the main facts and essential logic of his system, as now widely accepted by naturalists, is therefore a desideratum in scientific literature. Various attempts have been made to meet this need, but they have generally been defective in statement, and made by men who did not know the subject at first hand. Prof. Schmidt's volume fairly covers the ground, and is brought within convenient limits for the general reader; while its author is an independent investigator in natural history, and has made his own original contributions to the theory which his book explains. As a piece of exposition the volume is quite remarkable, and its writer may be congratulated for having done his part toward relieving German men of science from the imputation recently intimated by Helmholtz, that they are behind those of other countries as lucid and successful popular teachers. There are a meatiness and a density of thought in this little work which betray the close German thinker, and keep the reader well occupied; but there are a wit, point, and polemical force in his pages, that relieve them from dryness, and well sustain the reader's attention. Yet the characteristic of the volume is that the author has seized the essential points of the great argument, and brought out, with unexampled success, the strength of what may be called the Darwinian position. The broad philosophic doctrine of Evolution he does not attempt to discuss, but limits his argument to the field of biology, to the Animal World in its Present State, the Phenomena of Reproduction, Historical and Paleontological Development, the Geological and Geographical Distribution of Life, Heredity, Reversion, Selection, Derivation, and Pedigree. An able chapter is given to Special Creation and the Nature of Species; the Bearing of Linguistic Inquiry upon the Doctrine of Development is presented; and the concluding chapter is devoted to the question of the Descent of Man. On all these subjects the author is up to the latest results, and presents them in a well-methodized form.

This volume covers very important ground in the popular scientific series to which it belongs, as its doctrines are sometimes implied and frequently referred to in the other books, and it is therefore satisfactory to know that Prof. Schmidt has executed his work with judgment and ability.

Religion as affected by Modern Materialism. By James Martineau, D. D., LL. D. With an Introduction by the Rev. H. W. Bellows. 68 pp. Price, 75 cents.

Dr. Martineau is one of the most affluent and captivating of modern theological writers, and is regarded as perhaps the leading English champion of Unitarian heterodoxy. His "Essays, Philosophical and Theological," reprinted by the Putnams, range over a wide variety of topics, and display much acuteness and logical force, but their chief characteristic is the imaginative raciness of their style. The essay now issued, and which was delivered as an address before the Manchester New College, is a brilliant rhetorical polemic, called forth by Tyndall's address, in which the author aims to expose what, he regards as the inconsistency, the baselessness, and the absurdity, of modern materialistic philosophy. Many of his hits are fine, and many of his sarcasms biting, and the whole discussion is most readable, but we think the author leaves the subject very much as he found it. We fail to see that his breadth and liberality give him any advantage in this discussion over the narrow and bigoted theologian. As an historical fact, theological doctrines have stood in the way of Science at every great step of its advancement. Nor have the theologians ever consented to take their doctrines out of the way; the disagreeable duty has been imposed upon Science, all along, of displacing them. Nor does there seem to be yet, on the part of theologians, much disposition to change their tactics; they still plant down their dogmas in