Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/484

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

age health of the community, but the process could scarcely be called curative or rectifying.

If, therefore, we believe in natural selection, let us believe in it as it is, and be content to speak of it as it is. Let us not make a god of what is, in its essence, the very negation of intelligent action. In regard to the doctrine of immortality, there is little need for alarm, so far as the teachings of science are concerned. Science does not attack it; and if the theological grounds on which it has been received hold good, then the doctrine holds good. Let us have our own teleology if we will, only let us not mix it up with our science, seeing that it can only embarrass the growth of the latter. All will be well if we keep everything in its own place, observing proper metes and bounds.


WHEN a man and a bear meet together casually in an American forest, it makes a great deal of difference, to the two parties concerned at least, whether the bear eats the man or the man eats the bear. We haven't the slightest difficulty in deciding afterward which of the two, in each particular case, has been the eater, and which the eaten. Here, we say, is the grizzly that ate the man; or, here is the man that smoked and dined off the hams of the grizzly. Basing our opinion upon such familiar and well-known instances, we are apt to take it for granted far too readily that between eating and being eaten, between the active and the passive voice of the verb edo, there exists necessarily a profound and impassable native antithesis. To swallow an oyster is, in our own personal histories, so very different a thing from being swallowed by a shark that we can hardly realize at first the underlying fundamental identity of eating with mere coalescence. And yet, at the very outset of the art of feeding, when the nascent animal first began to indulge in this very essential animal practice, one may fairly say that no practical difference as yet existed between the creature that ate and the creature that was eaten. After the man and the bear had finished their little meal, if one may be frankly metaphorical, it was impossible to decide whether the remaining being was the man or the bear, or which of the two had swallowed the other. The dinner having been purely mutual, the resulting animal represented both the litigants equally; just as, in cannibal New Zealand, the chief who ate up his brother chief was held naturally to inherit the goods and chattels of the vanquished and absorbed rival, whom he had thus literally and physically incorporated.

A jelly-speck, floating about at his ease in a drop of stagnant