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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/694

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

these methods or the men who use them. The climate in which they live and the circumstances which have produced and retained these methods are so entirely different from our climate and our surroundings that any criticism from our standpoint would almost necessarily be unjust. The lack of capital and the lack of common roads are serious matters, no doubt, but they are not insuperable difficulties. Insect plagues that destroy from a fourth to a half of their crops are great drawbacks, but such questions should be regarded, not as visitations of God, before which man is powerless, but as practical matters to be met and dealt with as our planters are meeting and dealing with similar plagues in this country.

 

DARWINISM IN THE NURSERY.
By LOUIS ROBINSON, M. D.

WITHIN quite recent times we have learned that such seemingly trivial things as nursery rhymes and fairy tales are of the greatest importance in illustrating some points of the history and affinities of the human race, and also, in a less degree, in indicating the character of the ideas of our early ancestors concerning the forces and phenomena of Nature.

The value of the intense conservatism of the nursery in thus preserving for us, in an almost unchanged form (like ants in the resin of the Tertiary epoch or mammoths in the frozen tundra of the Quaternary), relics of the thoughts and customs of long ago has only begun to be appreciated; and doubtless if the nursery were less of a close preserve to the poachers and priers of science, and, like the beehive and the ant-hill, were available for purposes of investigation or experiment, we might considerably add to our knowledge concerning the history and habits of primitive man. At present there is a gap between embryology and anthropology which has never been filled up; and, oddly enough, with one or two exceptions, there have been hitherto no attempts to make use of the abundant material close at hand for the purpose of filling it. In this essay I propose to bring forward a few results of researches that have been carried out during several years under rather unusually favorable circumstances, in the hope that in some humble degree I may contribute to this end.

Some of the results obtained have been extraordinary, and the hesitation with which they have been received by some of my friends well versed in physiology and anthropology shows that hitherto the facts have escaped attention. They are, however, easily verified, and in several instances a single experiment performed in presence of a skeptic has cut short the controversy in a