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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/340

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

place suburb, and the manufacturer's chimney, with, its grimysurroundings and furnaces which make verdure impossible, are each of them priceless in value compared with all the charms of irrational Nature which the most skillful poet can depict. They are of such value, because each is an arena wherein good thoughts and words and deeds may find a place, and so help on the world to fulfill what is for us its one great end.

A nature must be wonderful indeed which demands for its existence the reversal of that great cosmic process which, so far as we know, has ever and everywhere prevailed antecedently to its advent. The difference between a being of so transcendent a nature and every other must surely be something altogether different from the difference between mercury grass and a field buttercup, or between a wolf and a badger!

But the reader must not imagine I would represent Prof. Huxley as an entirely conscious convert to a view opposed to that he had before advocated. Some of his utterances concord with the latter, and I can not presume to say to which he will ultimately adhere.

Thus, as to the future of evolution, he tells us:[1]

Some day, I doubt not, we shall arrive at an understanding of the evolution of the æsthetic faculty.

He affirms also that those who seek to find "the origin of the moral sentiments" [the right honorable professor's term for ethical perceptions] in evolution "are on the right track."

In a note[2] he declares that—

Strictly speaking, social life and the ethical process, in virtue of which it advances toward perfection, are part and parcel of the general process of evolution, just as the gregarious habit of innumerable plants and animals, which has been of immense advantage to them, is so.

Is this only an inconsistent adherence to old opinions, or is it meant to be seriously maintained as an essential truth? If the latter, it nullifies all that was said as to the distinctness of the ethical process and the wonderful reversal of the great cosmic process by man! Every one knew that gregarious creatures, such as wolves, have different habits from solitary animals, such as badgers, and many know that the growth of mercury grass has consequences whereof that of the buttercup is devoid. No prophet need arise in Israel to tell us such things as these. No special university lecture was required to teach them to us, and I, for one, must decline to believe that all those eloquent expressions which have been quoted—respecting "righteousness being the


  1. [December Monthly, p. 187.]
  2. [December Monthly.] Note, p. 188. The Italics are mine.