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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/719

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SKETCH OF CLEMENCE ROYER.

not within the province of our sketch to dwell upon any of the bold assertions and hypotheses in it that have been invalidated by later geological discoveries; and, notwithstanding a few errors in detail, almost inevitable in a book of the kind, the Origine de l'Homme is, as a whole, a work as vigorously thought out as clearly and generously written.

Madame Clémence Royer has further occupied herself with special researches on subjects of the same nature. Their results have been published in the highly esteemed review, the Bulletin of the Société d' Anthropologie. The most important of these memoirs relate to the Craniology of the Quaternary Period, the Celts, the Origin of the Different Human Races (1873), and the Domestication of Monkeys (1887). The last work was published at the time of the appearance of a book by M. Victor Meunier,[1] a believer in the possibility of domesticating the simian race. His proposition, received in France as a kind of a joke, taxed the genius of the Parisian caricaturists, because the author had suggested that newborn children be nursed by monkeys, whose milk was most like that of the human mother. Of course it was an easy subject to joke about. Madame Royer showed how little originality there was in this book. We might, she said, undoubtedly succeed in educating monkeys, and they would at the end of many generations be in certain cases superior to the dog and the horse. Unfortunately, the struggle for existence opposed the adoption of the Utopian idea. The place for each human recruit at the social table is now too narrow for any part of it to be left for "our lower brethren."

Anthropological sciences were not the only ones to which the encyclopedic mind of our learned philosopher was attracted. A few years ago she returned to her earlier studies, and collaborated on the Nouveau Dictionnaire d'Économie politique of Léon Say (1891'92). The most profound article she wrote for this work was that on the word positivism. According to it, the Positive Philosophy dates, not from Auguste Comte, who is believed to have introduced it, but from Bacon; for its essential features may be found in the Novum Organum and the Scientia nuova. Furthermore, Madame Royer found that Comte "emasculated" the doctrine of the famous chancellor. The principal dogma of the system is the impossibility of knowledge of first causes by our reason. This is an error, says Madame Royer. Two distinct ideas have been confounded in the term first causes: first, the permanent cause of phenomena, their essential "substratum," the discovery of which man may perhaps some day reach; and, second, the supposed primary term of each phenomenal law. But if the world is eternal, this last does not exist,


  1. Les Singes domestiques. Paris, 1886.