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Vignettes from Nature

Abstract

CERTAINLY Mr. Grant Allen stands at the head of living writers as a popular exponent of the evolution theory. Although the subject is one which he has taken up a comparatively short time ago, he appears to have thoroughly mastered its principles, to have read and assimilated all the best works on the subject, and to have so imbued himself with its leading ideas that he is able to apply it in an intelligent and often original manner to every natural object he meets with in his daily walks or holiday rambles. To these primary qualifications he adds a great power of description, a vivid imagination, and a charming style of writing, all of which are displayed in every page of his last work. This consists of a series of short essays, which originally appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette, each giving a sketch of some single scene or natural object, and showing how much interest can be given to the most common things by considering them from the point of view of evolution. “Sedge and Woodrush” furnish an opportunity for the explanation of degraded types and the large part played by “degeneration” in the origin of existing animals and plants. By the common “Red Campion and White” we are shown how, and by what means, species become differentiated; and the subject is further discussed and elucidated in the chapter on a “Bed of Nettles.” After showing how the sting of the nettle has originated, and how it protects the plant by stinging the noses of herbivorous quadrupeds, he goes on to discuss the general form of the nettle in a way that is both suggestive and (I think) original.

Vignettes from Nature.

By Grant Allen. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1881.)

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