Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/371

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

disposition was most pliant, and they were continuous until the period of adult life. There is no escape from the conclusion that nature prevails enormously over nurture when the differences of nurture do not exceed what is commonly to be found among persons of the same rank of society and in the same country. My only fear is, that my evidence seems to prove too much, and may be discredited on that account, as it seems contrary to all experience that nurture should go for so little. But experience is often fallacious in ascribing great effects to trifling circumstances. Many a person has amused himself with throwing bits of stick into a tiny brook and watching their progress; how they are arrested, first by one chance obstacle, then by another; and again, how their onward course is facilitated by a combination of circumstances. He might ascribe much importance to each of these events, and think how largely the destiny of the stick had been governed by a series of trifling accidents. Nevertheless all the sticks succeed in passing down the current, and they travel, in the long-run, at nearly the same rate. So it is with life in respect to the several accidents which seem to have had a great effect upon our careers. The one element, which varies in different individuals, but is constant in each of them, is the natural tendency; it corresponds to the current in the stream, and inevitably asserts itself. More might be added on this matter, and much might be said in qualification of the broad conclusions at which we have arrived, as to the points in which education appears to create the most permanent effect: how far by training the intellect, and how far by subjecting the boy to a higher or lower tone of public opinion; but this is foreign to my immediate object. The latter has been to show broadly, and, I trust, convincingly, that statistical estimation of natural gifts by a comparison of successes in life is not open to the objection stated at the beginning of this memoir. We have only to take reasonable care in selecting our statistics, and then we may safely ignore the many small differences in nurture which are sure to have characterized each individual case.—Frazer's Magazine.


By E. Lewis, Jr.

ON the south shore of Long Island there intervenes between the uplands and the ocean a narrow beach on which the waves continually break. It is composed chiefly of clean, grayish-white, silicious sand. Other matters present are mica, garnet, and magnetic-iron sands, but, excepting a few localities, these are not in quantity sufficient to alter the general character of the beach. The sand-grains