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274
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

clearly trace to a natural cause. He knows as well as we do the general inertness of the human mind, and how readily multitudes abandon the search for natural causes in favor of supernatural explanations that, in their eyes, have the double merit of saving them trouble and ministering to their love of the marvelous. Is this a disposition that a man of culture should set himself to aggravate and render more potent for the fabrication of mischievous illusions? That is what Dr. Abbott is now doing, however, and we scarcely understand how be can be blind to the fact.

The other hypothesis—that after a gradual and voluntary subjection of the nature to sin in some form or other the individual passes under the power of a fiend—errs in the direction of superfluity. If Dr. Abbott should elect to stand by this view of the matter, and, in spite of his very recent indorsement, to dismiss his theory of twenty years ago about amiable and respectable people becoming the victims of diabolical possession, we should then only have to ask him how he distinguishes between slavery to a devil and that slavery to evil propensities long indulged which the world has for ages recognized as a familiar and deplorable phenomenon. The devil in this case seems to be a fifth wheel to the coach, and even worse than a fifth wheel; for it is hard to see how the weight of the vehicle is going to be made to rest, in the slightest degree, on so unnecessary an adjunct.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Natural Inheritance. By Francis Galton. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Pp. 259. Price, $2.50.

The name of the author of this work is identified with studies of problems that lie at the base of the science of heredity, more closely, perhaps, than that of any other who has written upon the subject. Upon it he has published five books and fifteen memoirs and review articles, the earliest of which appeared in 1869. That work, which covered the subject of "Hereditary Genius," could only have been the fruit of long-continued, careful studies, such as Mr. Galton is still pursuing, but under more and more methodized forms. This volume contains the more important of the results of these continued researches, set forth in an orderly way, with more completeness than has hitherto been possible, together with a large amount of new matter. The inquiry relates to the inheritance of moderately exceptional qualities by brotherhoods and multitudes rather than by individuals. Among the problems to be dealt with to which particular attention is called are the one that refers to the curious regularity observed in the statistical peculiarities of populations during a long series of generations, in which certain marks that may not recur prominently in the groups most closely related to one another, appear most distinctly through the whole; the average share contributed to the personal features of the offspring by each ancestor severally; and the nearness of kinship in different degrees. The discussion is opened with an account of the processes in heredity, in which a distinction is marked between natural and acquired peculiarities, and family likeness and individual variation, latent characteristics, blending and mutually exclusive heritages, and petty influences are considered. The man being usually one twelfth larger than the woman, a rule is found for transmuting female into male measures so as to fix a uniform standard, applicable to either sex. The term "particulate inheritance" is defined as relating to the bits of elements which we inherit from this progenitor and that, and as covering the incalculable number of small and mostly unknown circumstances that influence our development. In a chapter on "Organic Stability" the effort is made to show, by familiar illustrations from common things, how types may come about and be perpetuated; how "sports" may suddenly appear and then endure; and, from this, that evolution is not by minute steps only, but may occur by jumps. The account of the method by which the author's "schemes" and his rules for estimating the value of his results were prepared is minute and exact, hard as a mathematical demonstration to follow, but, like a mathematical demonstration, clear