Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/84

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

will tend to redeem the work of the greatest natural observer who has ever lived from the great misuse which has been often made of it. There is no real disparagement of that work in saying that the phrase which embalmed it is metaphorical. The very highest truths are conveyed in metaphor. The confession of Mr. Spencer is fatal only to claims which never ought to have been made. Natural selection represents no physical causation whatever except that connected with heredity. Physically it explains the origin of nothing. But the metaphorical elements which Mr. Spencer wishes to eliminate are of the highest value. They refer us directly to those supreme causes to which the physical forces are "under subjection." They express in some small degree that inexhaustible wealth of primordial inception, of subsequent development, and of continuous adjustment, upon which alone selection can begin to operate. These are the supreme facts in nature. When this is clearly seen and thoroughly understood, Darwin's researches and speculations will no longer act as a barrier to further inquiry, as Mr. Spencer complains they now do. They will, on the contrary, be the most powerful stimulus to deeper inquiry, and to more healthy reasoning.—Nineteenth Century.

THE AMERICAN ROBIN AND HIS CONGENERS.
By Dr. SPENCER TROTTER.

OUR American robin is a thrush—the red-breasted thrush is his proper title—he occupies a high position in the scale of bird-life, and possesses some very interesting records of his family history. When our forefathers first came over they found the frank, hearty bird with the russet breast ready to make friends with them, to stay about the clearings and around their rough cabins, cheering them with the strong, hopeful song that has ever gladdened the heart with its vigor and fullness of promise. With what joy the pioneers must have welcomed the first spring that brought the robins back after the long, dreary winter! To this day the first robin of the spring creates a sensation, coming, as he often does, amid the ice and the snow and the rough wind, and not a leaf on the trees. The early settlers called him "robin" from his red breast, no doubt, and his confiding ways, after the trusty little warbler so dear to their hearts in the old home across the sea. And so it has been "robin" ever since, although our bird is but distantly related to the little robin-redbreast of the Old World, who belongs to the warblers—another branch of the family.