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The Descent of Man, and Selection in relation to Sex




IF Mr. Darwin had closed his rich series of contributions to Science by the publication of the “Origin of Species,“he would have made an epoch in Natural History like that which Socrates made in philosophy, or Harvey in medicine. The theory identified with his name has stimulated ethnological and anatomical inquiries in every direction; it has been largely adopted and followed out by naturalists in this country and America, but most of all in the great work-room of modern science, whence a complete literature on “Darwinismus“has sprung up, and there disciples have appeared who stand in the same relation to their master as Muntzer and the Anabaptists did to Luther. Like most great advances in knowledge, the theory of Evolution found everything ripe for it. This is shown by the well-known fact that Mr. Wallace arrived at the same conclusion as to the origin of species while working in the Eastern Archipelago, and scarcely less so by the manner in which the theory has been worked out by men so distinguished as Mr. Herbert Spencer and Prof. Haeckel. But it was known when the “Origin of Species “was published, that instead of being the mere brilliant hypothesis of a man of genius, of which the proofs were to be furnished and the fruits gathered in by his successors, it was really only a summary of opinions based upon the most extensive and long-continued researches. Its author did not simply open a new province for future travellers to explore, he had already surveyed it himself, and the present volumes show him still at the head of his followers. They are written in a more popular style than those on "Animals and Plants under Domestication,“as they deal with subjects of more general interest; but all the great qualities of industry and accuracy in research, of fertility in framing hypotheses, and of impartiality in judgment, are as apparent in this as in Mr. Darwin's previous works. To one who bears in mind the too frequent tone of the controversies these works have excited, the turgid rhetoric and ignorant presumption of those "who are not of his school -or any school,“and the still more lamentable bad taste which mars the writings of Vogt and even occasionally of Haeckel, it is very admirable to see the calmness and moderation (for which philosophical would be too low an epithet) with which the author handles his subject. If prejudice can be conciliated, it will surely be by a book like this.

The Descent of Man, and Selection in relation to Sex.

By Charles Darwin, &c. In two volumes. Pp. 428, 475. (Murray, 1871.)

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