Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 311–17.

Editor's Literary Record



Regular Feature, Review

Publications reviewed:

Lilly 1884 Taylor 1884 Sully 1884 Blackmore 1884


Religion, Descent, Botany, Darwinism, Morality, Anthropomorphism, Psychology, Methodology, Neurology, Education, Human Development, Reading, Anti-Scientism

    Comments that the 'most ancient religion, of which we know anything, is Totemism, or the worship of animals, from whom men believe themselves to be descended. The most modern religion worships men, who, in the name of the most modern thought, claim animals for their ancestors. Extremes meet' (312). Observes that 'Since Mr. Butler, that unwearied opponent of Darwinism, announced that even a stone has its rudimentary morality (which consists in obeying the law of gravitation), one is ready to look for morals everywhere, and good in everything. Commenting on John E Taylor's claim that all life, whether animal or vegetable, is always accompanied by consciousness, notes that 'Great astuteness is shown by flowers in securing the services of insects for cross fertilisation; and, as we understand the system of Mr. Grant Allen, colour is merely a species of advertisement, appealing to flies and bees, as the gaudy hues of theatrical posters appeal to lovers of the drama'. Suggests that Taylor's 'book (whatever its scientific value) makes botany interesting, and makes us look on plants as nearly human'. (313) Praises James Sully's recent volume for its 'clear statement and interesting style', but concedes that 'Within our limits we cannot review critically a work so full of minute detail, and which explains, with so much learning and such wealth of illustration, the slow, and in most of us, unconscious process by which the mind attains her full knowledge of a fully rounded world, and of herself'. The book is nevertheless 'unhesitatingly recommended [...] to students of philosophy, whether they are reading for their own satisfaction, or under the pressure of examination', and 'Mr. Sully's minute observations of development of mind in children gives his book even a domestic interest'. (314). In reviewing Richard D Blackmore's vituperative new novel, remarks that 'such men of science as know Greek (not, perhaps, a very large class), take the point of the sneer about "Hereditary Meiocathobary" full in their instructive breasts' (315).

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