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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/868

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of his theory Darwin most desired to enjoy, and were the three to whom he earliest and most fully confided his views. Yet Gray and he did not agree entirely in their acceptance of the theory. While Darwin gave the predominant place to the environment in determining variation, Gray thought that the process worked more from within and was at most modified or limited by the external conditions. Darwin had extreme difficulty in accepting the conception of a Supreme Intelligence ordaining and controlling the process of evolution; Gray held to a complete harmony between the working of a Supreme Power and of evolution, and declared that "natural law is the human conception of continued and orderly divine action."

Professor Gray's "Statistics of the Flora of the United States" and his observations on the plants of Japan have an important bearing upon the theory of the origin of animal and vegetable life in the polar regions and their distribution thence down the continents, which is now advocated by biologists and paleontologists of high standing.

Professor Gray has not been conspicuous as a man of letters, but we may justly claim for his botanical works a place in literature as such. He contributed to the "American Journal of Science" biographical notices of deceased botanists and reviews of botanical work in which his accurate criticisms were tempered by a uniform kindliness of spirit, and he made considerable contributions to the "North American Review," "The Nation," and the "Atlantic Monthly." A volume of selections from these contributions, with a chapter on "Evolutionary Teleology," was published in 1876, under the title of "Darwiniana."

Professor Gray's personal character was admirably characterized by Darwin, who concluded, before he had even seen him, from reading some of his letters to Hooker, that he must be a man with something very lovable about him. A friend, paying a tribute to him in the London "Spectator," speaks warmly of his "singularly sweet and beautiful nature," and of "the freshness and brightness that recalled nothing but youth," of which not years nor learning, nor incessant studies, nor even the classification of the American Compositæ, could deprive him; and added that Darwin's son, to whom he sent a parcel of stamps to cheer his sickbed, "was not the only English child who received a like present from the same giver."

What the world of science thought of Asa Gray is attested by the honors which its schools and its societies conferred upon him, and by the respect, as to one having authority, in which he is invariably spoken of by its most distinguished writers. American feeling was reflected in the token which was presented to him a little more than two years ago by one hundred and eighty-five botanists, all in a sense his students, with Mr. Lowell's quatrain.

Professor Gray was taken away from the midst of his work. He had just completed a review of Darwin's "Life and Letters," had not quite finished the revision of his "Vitaceæ," and was busy with his "Necrology" for the "Journal of Science," when he was stricken.

 

 

HOW IT WORKS.

One of the recognized evils attendant on the public-school system of this country is the insecurity of the tenure by which teachers hold their situations. So manifest an evil has this been that in certain States it has been proposed to remedy it by legislation. But, supposing the evil entirely removed, what would the result be? We can perhaps judge by what one of the best conducted of our educational journals says is the case in the great State of Illinois. We are not aware at this mo-