Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/365

This page has been validated.
349
EVOLUTION OF CIVILIZATION AND THE ARTS.

through to reach the higher levels of civilization. All the forms of evolution can be found there, from those representative of the stone age to those of the age of steam and electricity.

In this essay I have endeavored to set forth the principles: that the various elements, the aggregation of which constitutes a civilization—especially institutions, creeds, and arts—are the expression of certain modes of thinking and feeling special to each race, and inevitably suffer transformation in passing from one race to another; that they rarely undergo a parallel development among different races. With some, institutions—with others, literature, industry, or art—prevail. One or several of these elements may remain at an inferior level in the midst of a brilliant civilization, or it may stand high in a low civilization. Of all the factors having an influence on the adoption and evolution of the fundamental elements of a civilization, the most important is race. It holds a position much above that of the influence of political institutions, conquest, or religious belief, which is powerful everywhere else. When a people of a much higher race is in contact with a people of a much lower race—as the whites with the negroes—the latter can not immediately acquire anything useful from it. Two superior races confronting one another exert no action upon each other when, in consequence of differences in mental structure, they have incompatible civilizations. This condition exists when a highly civilized people finds itself in contact with a people having a very ancient and very different civilization, as when modern Europeans are brought into contact with the Hindus or the Chinese. When civilizations possessing compatible elements, like those of the Mussulmans and the Hindus, meet, they first overlay one another and then fuse as to their compatible elements. The civilizing action which some peoples can exercise upon others has been more profound the further we go back in history, because the elements of civilization were less complicated in ancient times than now. This power of action has been reduced from age to age.—Translated for The Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.

 


 
M. Perrotin, a French astronomer, records several observations of luminous protuberances escaping from the disk of Mars, near the fiftieth degree of southern latitude, resembling what would result from the escape of a flow of matter from the planet. The author held the publication of his discovery in reserve for some time, apprehending that there might be some mistake about the matter, but, convinced at last of the reality of the appearance, communicated the fact to the French Academy of Sciences on the 5th of September. No adequate explanation has been offered for the phenomenon, but the discoverer suggests that it may be connected with the luminous points that may be distinguished on the disk of the planet.