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EDITOR'S TABLE.

the action of gravity, in a way to excite the astonishment of whole circles. And this miraculous prerogative, we are told, is, itself, but an exemplification of natural law. But, assuming the truth of the spiritualist's view, we have simply come to an end of natural law. If the wonders alleged be true, where is the basis of trust in the regular course of Nature? If the uniformities of phenomena that science assumes to have discovered can, as a matter of fact, be disturbed by the capricious incursions of unseen beings, then there are no such uniformities; and the conception of law, instead of being the most fundamental conviction of the scientific mind, is an illusion to be abandoned. Anxiety about the constancy of these laws is, however, the last thing that troubles scientific men, and their repose of mind upon this subject sufficiently accounts for their general indifference to the claims of spiritualism.


INDICATIONS OF PROGRESS.

Our readers will well remember the row occasioned last year when Prof. Huxley said that the evidence of the truth of evolution must be accepted as demonstrative. "We mark with interest the decisive indications that are accumulating in confirmation of Prof. Huxley's position. Another President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science has spoken upon the subject, under the responsibilities of his distinguished position, and in entire corroboration of the avowals of former presidents of that body for the last dozen years in relation to this question. His indorsement of evolutionary doctrine is emphatic and unqualified. Prof. Allen Thomson has been well known as an eminent cultivator of biology; but he comes forward now as a new authority, and will be listened to without the prejudice which attaches to the names of those men who have been in the thick of the fight for the last twenty years. The topic of the presidential address is the "Development of the Forms of Animal Life," and we here quote the opening passages, describing the remarkable change in the manner of viewing biological questions which has taken place during the last half century. President Thomson says:

"In the three earlier decades of this century it was the common belief, in this country at least, shared by men of science as well as by the larger body of persons who had given no special attention to the subject, that the various forms of plants and animals recognized by naturalists in their systematic arrangements of genera and species were permanently fixed and unalterable; that they were not subject to greater changes than might occur as occasional variations, and that such was the tendency to the maintenance of uniformity in their specific characters that, when varieties did arise, there was a natural disposition to the return, in the course of succeeding generations, to the fixed form and nature supposed to belong to the parental stock; and it was also a necessary part of this view of the permanency of species that each was considered to have been originally produced from an individual having the exact form which its descendants ever afterward retained. To this scientific dogma was further added the quasi-religious view that, in the exercise of infinite wisdom and goodness, the Creator, when he called the successive species of plants and animals into existence, conferred upon each precisely the organization and the properties adapting it best for the kind of life for which it was designed in the general scheme of creation. This was the older doctrine of 'Direct Creation,' of 'Teleological Relation,' and of 'Final Causes;' and those only who have known the firm hold which such views had over the public mind in past times can understand the almost unqualified approbation with which the reasoning on these questions in writings like the 'Bridgewater Treatises' (not to mention older books on natural theology) was received in their time, as well as the very opposite feelings excited by every work which presented a different view of the plan of creation.

"On the Continent of Europe, it is true, some bold speculators, such as Goethe, Oken, Lamarck, and Geoffroy St. Hilaire, had in the end of the last and commence-