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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/865

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LITERARY NOTICES.

while we "minister to impressions that are skin-deep and transitory, we leave vast inner tracts of the nervous system uncultivated." One great cause of the evil may lie in the fact that to-day a certain superficial education is all but universal—an education which favors a superficial life—and that the education which reaches those deeper tracts that the professor speaks of is, through the spread of the other, becoming increasingly scarce. The true note of a high education is generous enthusiasm; the equally true and authentic note of an inferior education, even though conducted within the walls of a famous university, is the spirit of selfish competition. The world never had so many teachers by profession as it has to-day; but possibly it never lacked teachers in the highest sense more than it does today—teachers who are fountains of inspiration to all who come within their influence, because, in their teaching, deep calls to deep, and the nature of the pupil is inwardly molded into the image of a true humanity; not merely fashioned from without into fitness for a struggle in which the hindmost is piously consigned to—the best help he can get.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

From the Greeks to Darwin. An Outline of the Development of the Evolution Idea. Columbia University Biological Series. I. By Henry Fairfield Osborn, Sc. D. New York: Macmillan & Co. Price, $2.

Prof. Osborn has undertaken in this work the interesting and useful task of tracing from the earliest times down to the present day the course of speculation and discovery which resulted in the establishment of the Darwinian theory of the origin of species by natural selection. This being his specific task, we could wish that the author had drawn more clearly the distinction between the discovery and enunciation of the law of natural selection and the discovery and enunciation of the law of evolution in its most comprehensive sense. We do not, indeed, find this distinction drawn anywhere throughout the work; on the contrary, we find in many places a somewhat loose application of the wider term evolution to the narrower theory of natural selection, with a certain amount of resulting confusion. "The evolution law," he tells us, "was reached not by any decided leap, but by the progressive development of every subordinate idea connected with it, until it was recognized as a whole by Lamarck and later by Darwin." Compare this with Prof. Huxley's statement of the case: "In the Origin of Species, and in his other numerous and important contributions to the solution of the problem of biological evolutions Mr. Darwin confines himself to the discussion of the causes which have brought about the present condition of living matter, assuming such matter to have once come into existence. On the other hand, Mr. Spencer and Prof. Haeckel have dealt with the whole problem of evolution (Italics ours). The profound and vigorous writings of Mr. Spencer embody the spirit of Descartes in knowledge of our own day and may be regarded as the Principes de Philosophie of the nineteenth century." (See Collected Essays, Vol. II; also Encyclopædia Britannica.) Prof. Osborn tells us, referring to Darwin, that "in the middle of this century came the man who ranks as the great central thinker." This was certainly not Darwin's estimate of himself. His strong point, as he often remarked, was observation. He looked at his facts hard and long until they seemed to teach him something, but he expressly disclaimed any special talent for generalization. This he recognized as belonging to Mr. Spencer in an altogether eminent degree. "I suspect," he wrote to Prof. Bay Lankester, "that hereafter he will be looked at as by far the greatest living philosopher in England; perhaps equal to any that have lived."

Nothing could be further from the wish of any one connected with this journal than to belittle in any way the work of Charles Darwin. That he was the author of a great and fertile idea which has worked almost a complete revolution in biological method all the world is aware. It is only a month or so since we quoted in these very columns the testimony borne by Prof. Huxley to the value and importance of the Darwinian theory as