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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/590

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and, further, as "a survival of the most inert." But, "as inertness consists in stability, and in fitness to resist alike the chemical and the mechanical agencies which destroy other species, it is evident that his phraseology is but another statement of the formula of 'the survival of the fittest.' The great principle of the change of the mineral matters which existed in former conditions of our planet, into other forms more stable under the altered conditions of later ages, is but an extension to the mineral kingdom of the laws already recognized in astronomical and biological development."

 

Training the Emotions.—It has been proposed to give some attention to regulating the development of the emotions, both in the young and in the adult public. Frances Power Cobbe, in the "Fortnightly Review," maintains that emotions come to persons by a sort of contagion far oftener than they spring up of themselves in the human breast. Any attempt to communicate our emotions by command, however, tends rather to produce the opposite feelings. In order to educate the emotions of others, we must employ this natural agency, contagion. In order to inspire a person with a given feeling, we must exhibit the feeling in ourselves. Parents, duly impressed with the importance of the subject, would carefully suppress, or at least conceal, such of their own emotions as they would regret to see caught up by their children. A teacher who has the respect and esteem of his pupils will affect their emotions for evil or good according as he betrays enthusiasm or aversion for selfish and sanguinary conquerors, according as he justifies or condemns assassins and anarchists, according as he represents science as seeking triumphs or truths, and according as he treats efforts for the elevation of mankind with levity or respect. The companions of the young have a great influence on the development of their emotions. As regards girls, their doubly emotional natures make it a matter of moral life and death that their companions should be pure and honorable minded. Too little precaution is taken, especially in American public schools, against the herding of innocent children with others who have been familiar with vice. As regards the education of the emotions of the community, an excessively demoralizing influence was removed when the public was excluded from executions. Admirable machinery for the communication of noble emotions through the masses is furnished by majestic public functions and by funerals of distinguished men. Literature has an immense power to sway the emotions of all educated people. The stage is another great agency for training the emotions of the public, and, even when it produces only harmless merriment, its influence is wholesome and beneficent. Music and the beauty of nature and of art are also powerful levers of the higher emotions, which it becomes us to use for the benefit of our fellows whenever it is practicable to do so.

 

The Botanical Outlook.—In his address to the Biological Section of the British Association, Mr. W. T. Thiselton Dyer, while asserting the importance of botany, admitted that the outlook for systematic botany was at present somewhat discouraging. France, Germany, and Austria, he said, "no longer possess anything like a school on the subject, though they still supply able and distinguished workers. That these are, however, few, may be judged from the fact that it is difficult to fill the place of the lamented Eichler in the direction of the Botanic Garden and herbarium at Berlin. Outside of our own country Switzerland is the most important seat of general systematic study, to which three generations of De Candolles have devoted themselves. The most active centers of work at the moment are, however, to be found in our own country, in the United States, and in Russia, And the reason is, in each case, no doubt the same. The enormous area of the earth's surface over which each country holds sway brings to them a vast amount of material which peremptorily demands discussion. . . . The data of systematic botany, when properly discussed, lend themselves to very important generalizations. Perhaps those which are yielded by the study of geographical distribution are of the most general interest. The mantle of vegetation which covers the earth, if only we could rightly unravel its texture, would tell us a good deal about geological history. The study of geological distribution, rightly handled, affords an independent line of attack upon the