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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/433

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415
SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

hostile to religion in theistic evolution, finding its germs even in the writings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, while he shows that learned doctors of the Church have defined creation in a way which readily admits the operation of the evolutionary process. Taking up spontaneous generation again, he declares that belief in the possibility of this action—provided that force and matter he always regarded as under Divine guidance—is contrary to neither faith nor philosophy. It is allowable also to believe that man's body was derived from an ancestry of the lower animals, though his soul must be held as "in the case of each individual, directly and immediately created by God himself." Prof. Zahm expresses himself everywhere clearly, temperately, and in a readable manner. This is not his first publication on the relations of science and religion, but it is likely to be his last, as he has been called since it appeared to honorable duties at Rome, which probably will not leave him opportunity for further work in this field.

 

Although giving quite a full and coherent account of his scientific work, the Life, of Romanes[1] derives its chief value from the insight it gives into the private life and religious experiences of its subject. For a book written by his wife and completed just a year after his death this is entirely natural and commendable, and being thus largely a memorial tribute of affection it does not challenge the ordinary criticism of the reviewer. The first twenty-five years of Mr. Romanes's life are disposed of in eight pages. Then comes an account of his writing the essay which won the Burney Prize of 1873. The record of his life-work in biological investigations begins with researches on the nervous system of the Medusæ; and continues with his work on pangenesis, animal intelligence, physiological selection, inheritance of acquired characters, and various excursions on minor matters. The information given on these subjects is contained mainly in the correspondence which Romanes carried on with Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin, Thiselton-Dyer, E. B. Poulton, E. Schaefer, and others, for his wife has endeavored "to let him, especially in matters scientific, speak for himself." In this respect she is somewhat hampered by the fact that he "lived in almost daily intercourse for parts of many years with more than one of his most intimate friends. Hence there are no letters to several people with whom he was in the habit of discussing scientific, philosophic, and theological questions." There are also many letters relating to his personal affairs, his journeys for recreation or pleasure, and his diversions, of which music, writing poetry, and shooting were the chief. There is an evident solicitude on the part of Mrs. Romanes to show that her husband died in the Christian faith. Early in the volume she describes his period of agnosticism as an "eclipse of faith," and toward the end she devotes much space to his correspondence and his expressions of favorable views on religious matters. No attempt has been made to weigh the value of his contributions to science. The volume is illustrated with a frontispiece portrait and views of two houses in which Mr. Romanes resided.


  1. The Life and Letters of George John Romanes. Written and edited by his Wife. Pp. 360, 8vo. London, New York, and Bombay: Longmans, Green & Co. Price, $4.