Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/201

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

declared that the theory of the nature of the spiritual world involved in the story is true. Now I hold that this theory is false, that it is a monstrous and mischievous fiction; and I unhesitatingly express my disbelief in any assertion that it is true, by whomsoever made. So that, if Dr. Wace is right in his belief, he is also quite right in classing me among the people he calls "infidels"; and although I can not fulfill the eccentric expectation of the Bishop of Peterborough, that I shall glory in a title which, from my point of view, it would be simply silly to adopt, I certainly shall rejoice not to be reckoned among the bishop's "us Christians" so long as the profession of belief in such stories as the Gadarene pig affair, on the strength of a tradition of unknown origin, of which two discrepant reports, also of unknown origin, alone remain, forms any part of , the Christian faith. And, although I have, more than once, repudiated the gift of prophecy, yet I think I may venture to express the anticipation, that if "Christians" generally are going to follow the line taken by the Bishop of Peterborough and Dr. Wace, it will not be long before all men of common sense qualify for a place among the "infidels."—Nineteenth Century.





THE fungi as a class may hardly be called popular. For various reasons they are, so to speak, under a cloud. They are little known, and so in lieu of better information the legend "poison" seems to run for all the finer and more showy species. If not held absolutely poisonous, most are at least considered useless and are nameless. Literature, the all-embracing, which concerns itself freely with other forms of animate nature, draws a line at the fungi; and Browning evinces great boldness when he ventures to touch with the wand of his poesy "the freaked, fawn-colored, flaky crew" that rises in November hours.

Worse than all this, thanks to the imperfect knowledge of days not long gone by, the very word fungus is uncanny, and to most minds of vague, uncertain application, suggestive of things unpleasant, not to say direful. For what, forsooth, is a fungus? A wily invader which, having by some unguarded entrance gained access, may do all sorts of mischief; may fill our cellar, for instance, and turn us out of house and home, as one is reputed to have filled the

  1. Illustrations from drawings by M. F. Linder and the author.