28 AUGUST 1880, Page 21

The Spirit of Nature. By H. B. Baildon. (J. and

A. Churchill.)— The author calls these lectures "a series of interpretative essays on the history of matter, from the atom to the flower." There are seven of them, one entitled "Chemistry," which, however, deals mainly with physics ; four devoted to botany, using that word in its widest sense ; one takes up the subject of the relation of poetry to science; and the last discusses the cruelty of Nature. The whole book is not destitute of interest or value, but as a criticism of the views of Nature which have become formulated in the term Dar- winism, it is decidedly inadequate. The author's critical apparatus is not equal to the operations which he endeavours to conduct by its means. Some of his arguments are not without pertinence, but his knowledge of chemical, physical, and biological phenomena is neither wide enough nor deep enough to enable him to apprehend fully the weakness and the strength of the views with which he sympathises or against which contends.