Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/132

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far more thoroughgoing than any yet attained; he will consolidate himself, will get together his powers and faculties, will reach a degree of integrity as yet only foreshadowed. When that time comes man will see as never before how much bigger a being he is than his intellect; how much more he can be and do by putting his whole self, his feeling, his emotion, his sentiment, as well as his mind and will, into his work.

In that day popular sentiment will not hold almost all creatures which are more or less obscure as utterly good-for-nothing and to be trodden underfoot without a passing thought; will not hold every worm, every spider, every snake forejudged and forecondemned as a poisonous "horrid thing." There will be a suspension of popular judgment in these matters, as there now is of scientific. There will be a general disposition to fair play toward all things that live; a desire to treat each according to its merits—to kill it, humanely, if it prove really harmful, or if undoubted benefit may come from so doing; but otherwise to allow it to go its way. And be it specially noted that the benefits of this new day will not end in better sentiment and feeling alone. Equally great good will come to knowledge and interpretation. A tinge of feeling, of sentiment, toward organisms promotes interest, interest promotes attention, and attention is an essential prerequisite to the acquisition of knowledge and to sound reasoning. We learn most quickly, most spontaneously, most comprehensively, most securely, things that interest us, and things interest us most toward which the affections go out.

It used to be said of Louis Agassiz that he handled his specimens as though he were in love with them; I submit the question to my fellowstudents in zoology and botany: Do you not ordinarily come to have a real fondness for the animals and plants you study? I do, and do not hesitate to say that through this affectionate interest has come one of my main impulses to and satisfactions in zoology. I have no doubt that feeling has been an element in whatever of effectiveness my work has had. Of course the orthodox intellectualist's reply to this will be prompt and in its accustomed tone of finality. "Yes," most biologists will say, "we certainly are fond of the organisms we deal with. We have an eye for the gracefulness of form and movement and the beauty of color that abound everywhere among living things; but this has nothing to do with our biology." Some will go further and declare that not only does feeling contribute nothing to achievement in science, but that it is actually hostile to such achievement. To keep sentimentalism at arm's length is exactly one of the things biology has to do, they will say; and will point to the mischievousness of the modern nature-fakers.

This is not the place to consider either illegitimate or legitimate fancifulness in writing about animals. I merely express the conviction that much as is to be deplored the flood of mercenary falsity concerning