It sanctions the most exalted ethical ideals, such as the choicest minds have conceived. It is a judgment-power, because it permits only that which is right and perfect to endure, and lets the unjust, the base, and the evil perish.
The knowledge that this world-power supports virtue, and contributes its part in elevating the moral nature, will inspire the moralist in his efforts in behalf of the good, and in his contention against the bad. But we must be careful not to mistake the true significance of this law. There is arising in the newer evolutionist literature a kind of fatalist optimism or optimistic fatalism, the effects of which may be no less disastrous than those of an undiscriminating pessimism. If natural selection is to select the good, then the good must already be there. It does not contradict this principle, that the human race will die out as other species have died out; but it follows directly from the principle that the race must die out if it becomes bad. Not without us, but through us, through our volition, conscious of that purpose, will the continuous development go on. In our day, says Salter, in his "Religion of Morals," evolution is sometimes regarded as if it was something outside of us and above us, and we had only to wait on its motion. But evolution operates through you and me. It is only an abstract name for the course which your energy and mine and that of other beings take. It is for better or for worse, according as we are better or worse. It goes on rapidly or creeps along painfully, according as our thoughts are quick or slow and dead. It is not enough to perceive that the bad will at last perish and the good persist. We must wish it to be the good that will triumph. It is still true that the sources of history are in us. The result of these considerations must be a heightening of the feeling of responsibility.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Deutsche Rundschau.
|MOTHS AND MOTH-CATCHERS.|
TO understand the way in which our North American moths are distributed (and by North American we mean the territory north of Mexico and the West Indies), we must study the physical geography of the continent. There is a perfect host of species and individuals, which depend on special kinds of plants, for the most part, and their diffusion is, of course, limited by the area of the plant upon which their caterpillars subsist. But the greater bulk of the species are not confined in their young stage to one sort of plant, while, from their activity, these flying flowers, the moths, range farther than the more slowly traveling blossoms whose honey they extract.