Category Archives: Gardner, Martin

Throw a baseball into the Atlantic Ocean

Weekend here and facing the Atlantic Ocean while I write this. There is a fisherman fellow standing  at the edge of the beach high tide-line with his kit and not less than three rods positioned in the sand in front of him. I watched him off and on now for three hours, and I haven’t seen him catch anything yet. His truck is parked back on the beach and it appears otherwise empty.

I watched the tide come last night at dusk and then night on the veranda. There were occasional passerbys, usually in pairs, but some earnest joggers appeared from time to time. I scanned the beach from north to south, becasue there is a virtual 180 degree vista of the ocean here.

After nightfall I noticed an eerie intermittent glimmer on the rolling ocean waves as they approached the sandy shore. I wondered, looked up and saw a 3-quarter moon at 11:00 o’clock in the sky above. I am always stunned by the face of the moon whether it be over the rice patties of South Vietnam at midnight, flying in an American Medivac heliocopter with an Indonesian soldier with a bullet in his head, or the corn-fields of Wisconsin near the River of same name, or finally on the Serangetti in Kenya, observing the hyenas eat their dinner.

Enough of using the moon as a segway to muse of moonlit memories of the past. It is bright sunny morning towards noon now.  The fisherman is gone now and the beach is filling with scantily-clad sunworshippers, young men throwing footballs, and quality time family related activities.

I am reminded that August Derleth compiled a volume of fishing anecdotes which was not published in his lifetime. This manuscript resulted after his many years of editing Outdoor Magazine. I am still looking for the right cover ilustration for this volume; and Stephen Leacock wrote a number of articles on the pleasures of fishing, and Carl Spadoni (Leacock’s Bibliographer) collected them and published them in Gone Fishing, with a delightfully ghostly cover by James Lumbers.

Now what am I going to do today? Go fishing? nope! There is one activity I do do regularly — have a pedicure and manicure — that is, once a year. And then we are off to the Daytona Flea market, yet another regular, once-a-year activity.


Travelling to Florida

During a recent car excursion to Florida, we had some some experiences worthy of note. I won’t bore you with the repetitive details necessarily involved — like lousy or good meals, or lousy and hard beds, not enough towels etc. nobody wants to take their time to read that trivia.

The first night we stopped at Dunkirk, New York. We have stayed there before and I know there is a computer in the lobby with the usual gambling and tourist shortcuts, but there was also a short cut to “Google Earth.” I was struck with an idea and I punched in “Maiwand Afghanistan.” And indeed I did get an aerial view of Maiwand, not in great resolution but certainly recognizable. I printed it out, and have now rescanned it. I wasn’t able to save the original digital image, but I post it here, and hope that I haven’t committed some egregious act of piracy. When I get home I should be able to find the landmarks and the military (British and Jezail) graveyard. I don’t suppose I will see the rock cairns, nor the signed entrance, nor the obelisk in the treed grove that marks the Afghan cemetery. Maiwand of course was where Dr. John H. Watson received his wound(s) serving as a Medical Officer with The Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers.

The first destination the next day was my appointment at The Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group in York, PA to discuss the possibility of two large bulk book purchases. One batch of books was held in inventory at the warehouse in York, and the other batch of books was held at the warehouse, sixty miles up the road at their warehouse in Fredericksburg with a Lebanon, PA mailing address. I met with Joan, Shonna and Bradley in shipping and was very pleased when they accpeted Arkham House lapel pins.

That same afternoon we drove to “Fallingwater” a house built over running water of a stream somewhat southwest of Pittsburgh. We took a wrong turn, and got some excellent directions from Emily and her associates working in Campaign office of a Democrate running for office. Emily was in fact a guide at Fallingwater — serendipity in Pittsburgh. Fallingwater is a remarkable world class attraction where Frank Lloyd Wright built a home for Mr. Kaufman the department store magnate back in the 1930’s. The project went over budget, and rather than describe it here, I’ll let the reader google the word — Fallingwater. They have a remarkable webcam on site which is viewable on their website. The water was running very high under the house with the spring thaw. David Niles and his film crew were conducting a high definition film shoot of the house, and David noted that he had waited for 43 years for this two-day opportunity of a lifetime. The security guard noted that the site had 150,000 visitors per annum. I took a photograph of David doing the shoot, and we agreed that we would meet again at his studio in New York City — likely in January 2011. I invited him to do a shooot of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and he was interested. He knew of the recent Thomson renovation to the tune of 300 million, but he did not know of the 110 million dollar Reubens! I was going to post that picture of David but when I read the disclaimed that the gatekeeper had given me — no pictures of the site are to be posted on the internet, I decided not to. In closing well worth the visit — and now a cherished memory.

A point of interest: Frank Lloyd Wright (Spring Green, Wisconsin) lived just down the road from August Derleth (Sauk City, Wisconsin). They were neighbors and they kknew each other. Augie hired an architect from Chicago to build his house which Augie called “The Place of Hawks” the house that Redbook built. The money from the downpayment came from a series of Sac Prairie novels that Augie sold to Redbook. Some of these have never been collected in book foorm, and a couple are still in manuscript and have never been published at all. They were presumably turned down by Redbook, but on this point the written record is unclear. When FLW asked AD why he had not hired him to do Place of Hawks, Augie is alleged to have said “because if you had designed the house, it would be your house, and because the fellow from Chiago designed it — it is my house. Neat point! who remebers that fellow Kaufman now? The Fallingwater property designed by FLW belongs to the Pennsylvania Conservatory.

The second night we stopped at Breezewood, Pennsylvania. Then after a hectic drive around Washington, DC.
we stopped at Richmond, Virginia. We walked through the mall next door for a relaxed Italian Dinner. I consulted the tourist guides in the lobby, and thought a visit to The Confederacy White House and the The Holocaust Museum in Richmond were top of the list for a visit, but got on the road first thing instead.

On the road again in North Carolina  we stopped at J&R Outlet Mall and my major purchase was a $3.00 children’s baseball bat. Not that I’m a baseball player, but I am publishing a 3rd edition of The Annotated Casey at the Bat by Martin Gardner. I mailed the bat to Martin in a mailing tube, and suggested that his son Jim take a picture of Martin swinging the bat like Casey did in Thayer’s poem. This will form the back cover illustration for the book with a suitable caption.

The fourth night we overnighted in Florence, South Carolina. The Fatz Cafe was located within walking distance from the motel. The next day we did a whirlwind sight seeing tour of Myrtle Beach, and Charleston South Carolina. I placed a telephone call to Dan Boulden and we discussed the two editions of The Shunned House a 2008 facsimile edition issued in an edition of 100 copies. There are minor differences which will be elaborated in a blog in the near future. 

The fifth night we stopped at Ridgeland, South Carolina after a long day. Mexican meal nearby, and on the road early to visit the St. Augustine Outlet Mall. I sat patiently and quietly for a couple of hours while a shopping spree occurred.

We arrived at our destination in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Upon registration I was presented with a package from Pasquale Accardo containing the final correction of the Chester-Belloc Project. I collection of G.K. Chesterton’s illustrations, published and unpublished for some 13 books.

We went out to dinner at a Sports Bar, and I was impressed that not a single one of the 100 TV’s in the place featured the Health Care Debate which was in progress, and that I had been following every morning and every evening of the trip. On the way home I purchased a Magic Jack, a rather magical device for placing and receiving telephone calls at no charge in The USA and Canada.

That’s enough! and here’s Maiwand! I uploaded it twice, and I can’t figure out how to delete the second image.


Leacock at the Bat

I just received my invitation in the mail to the annual Stephen Leacock Medal Awards Dinner. It is scheduled for June the 12th in Orillia at Geneva Park, and promises to be a worthwhile event. Over the past number of dinners I have prepared pamphlets with content which may be of interest to Leacock Fans, and distributed to each attendee at their place setting for dinner.

   There are presently four in the series: Two Elegies (2005); Random Rhymes (2006); The Shannon and the Chesapeake (2007); and A Scandal in Montreal (2008).

   I took 2009 off as I was simply too busy being retired to prepare one. I had planned to do one discussing the poem “Casey at the Bat.”  Now I’m glad I didn’t get around to it, because I now have new cover art by Charles Pachter.

   Carl Spadoni mentions in his Bibliography of Leacock, that he found an unattributed newspaper clipping from Montreal relating that Leacock had regailed the audience at a dinner speech with his own personalized version of “Casey at the Bat.” It was unclear from the article whether Leacock had recited E.L. Thayer’s version of the poem, or personalized it for Mariposa.

If you google “Casey at the Bat” you find and audio version with De Wolf Hopper reciting the poem, as he did 1,000’s of times in his acting career. I would speculate that Leacock undoubtedly heard Hopper recite the poem, and was inspired to do it himself.

Leacock was not known to play baseball, but he did pay Cricket, both in school and as a young adult.

Shortly after I retired I received a letter from Martin Gardner, of Annotated Alice fame, in which he congratulated me for the publication of The Complete Annotated Father Brown. I called him to discuss the project and compare notes, and he was also interested about republishing a number of his out of print books. One of these was a fourth edition of his The Annotated Casey at the Bat.

It seemed like a natural next step then for me to work on a Mariposa version of “Casey at the Bat” titled “Leacock at the Bat.”

Next, I was working with Charles Pachter, a Toronto pop culture artist, essentially Canada’s Andy Warhol to develop an image of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson, and this project is still very mcuh a work in progress. But in any case during the preliminary conversation, Charles mentioned that he had a cottage studio on Lake Simcoe located  a 20 minute drive from Orillia. I invited him to do an image of Leacock at the bat, but not baseball, but rather cricket, and I attach his creation for your consideration.

During the same visit, I also spotted two other Pachter images in the studio, and obtained permssion to use them as well. The one is for Raymond Souster’s next collection of poetry entitled Big Smoke Blues. The image itself is entitled “Tour de Force.” and it is neat image of a Moose on a tightrope in the shadow of Toronto’s CN Tower. The other is entitled “Bon Echo.” and it is illustrated elsewhere in this blog as the cover for Walt Whitman’s Canada.

So that’s the background, and now, all is left to me to redraft Thayer’s poem change Casey to Leacock, change the other characters to the Mariposa Rogues’ Gallery, and of course change the sport from Baseball to Cricket.

I also plan to include the revised version of Thayer’s poem as well as Martin Gardner’s introduction and footnotes in the pamphlet as well.

As far as 2011 Dinner goes, that’s already allocated — “The Innocence of Stephen Leacock” in which Stephen Leacock meets Father Brown, a pastiche by John Peterson.

A mysterious phenomenon, toward which Professional critics are usually oblivious, recurs constantly in the literary history of the United States. A man or woman, with no special talent for poetry, will put together some apparently run-of-the-mill stanzas and manage to get them printed in a newspaper or magazine. The poem is read and talked about. It is reprinted here and there. People cut it out to carry in a billfold, or pin on a bulletin board, or put under the glass top of a desk, or frame and hang on a wall. Thousands memorize it. Eventually it becomes so well known that it is hard to find a literate person who hasn’t read it. (Martin Gardner in his intrroduction to The Annotated Casey at the Bat)

  Just to recall to your memory I include E.L. Thayer’s originally published version of the poem here:

Casey at the Bat

A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows3 did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;4
They thought if only Casey5 could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn6 preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,7
And the former was a lulu8 and the latter was a cake;9
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despis-ed, tore the cover off the ball;10
And when the dust had lifted, and the men11 saw what had occurred,
There was Johnnie12 safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher13 ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.14

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire15 said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.16
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted some one on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.17

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville18—mighty Casey has struck out.


Martin Gardner’s Projects for 2008 and 2009

In 2007, I received a letter from Martin Gardner last year complimenting me on the publication of The Compleat Annotated Father Brown in 2002. In the same letter he wondered if I would be interested in publishing a volume of his essays entitle The Fantastic Fiction of Gilbert Chesterton. I called him immediately in Norman, Oklahoma to discuss his project, and I agreed without hesitation to do the project. I suggested that if Martin had any other projects to hand I would be pleased to have a look at them as well. Martin is not computer literate but his son is. The manuscript arrived and below you will find the folded out dustjacket of the publication, along with a table of contents.

About the author: Martin Gardner is a science writer best known for the 25 years that he wrote Scientific American‘s column on recreational mathematics. In literary circles he is most admired for his Annotated Alice, an in depth study of Lewis Carroll’s two Alice books. His other books range over mathematics, science, pseudoscience, philosophy, religion, and literature. He has also written two novels and edited several anthologies of popular poetry. Mr. Gardner describes himself as a “philosophical theist” in the tradition of Plato, Kant, William James, Charles Peirce, and Miguel de Unamuno. Gilbert Chesterton, H.G. Wells, and Lord Dunsany are three of his literary heroes.


Table of Contents

Foreword by John Peterson
Chapter 1: The Napoleon of Notting Hill
Chapter 2: The Club of Queer Trades
Chapter 3: The Man Who Was Thursday
Chapter 4: The Ball and the Cross
Chapter 5: The Innocence of Father Brown
Chapter 6: Did Sherlock Holmes Meet Father Brown?
Chapter 7: Chesterton’s Manalive
Chapter 8: Chesterton’s Flying Inn
Chapter 9: The Poet and the Lunatics
Chapter 10: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Chapter 11: The Trees of Pride and Other Tales
Chapter 12: Tales of the Long Bow
Chapter 13: The Return of Don Quixote
Chapter 14: Four Faultless Felons
Chapter 15: The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond
Afterword by Pasquale Accardo
Appendix A: Illustrations by W. Graham Robertson for The Napoleon of Notting Hill 179
Appendix B: Illustrations by G.K.C. for The Club of Queer Trades 187
Appendix C: “The Man Who Was Thursday” from Famous Fantastic Mysteries (March 1944) 219
Appendix D: Illustrations by Sydney Seymour Lucas for The Innocence of Father Brown 227


Mr. Belloc Objects by H.G. Wells
I. Mr. Belloc’s Arts of Controversy
II. The Theory of Natural Selection Stated
III. Mr. Belloc as a Specimen Critic of Natural Selection
IV. Mr. Belloc’s Adventures among the Sub-Men
Manifest Terror of the Neanderthaler
V. Fixity or Progress

Mr. Belloc Still Objects by Hilaire Belloc
I. Mr. Wells’s General Grievances
II. Mr. Wells as Biologist
III. Mr. Wells’s Ignorance of the Catholic Church
IV. My Errors
V. Mr. Wells Shirks

VI. The Great Rosy Dawn

An Introduction by Martin Gardner

H.G. Wells’s rare little book, Mr. Belloc Objects, is almost totally forgotten today except for Wells collectors. In 1926, when this book was first printed, Wells had hit the jackpot with his Outline of History. It had become a worldwide best seller, and had earned for Wells a considerable fortune.

Histories of the world had been written earlier, but Wells’s Outline differed from them in two ways: Its range was wider, and it opened with a history of prehistoric humanity that assumed the soundness of Darwinian evolution. Hilaire Belloc, a well known British writer and an ultra-conservative Catholic, wrote a series of articles attacking Wells’s Outline, especially his defense of Darwin. Belloc’s articles were widely published in Catholic periodicals, and later issued as a book titled A Companion to Mr. Wells’s Outline of History.

Wells was furious. Not just because evolution was dismissed as bad science, but because Belloc was savage in his personal attacks on Wells. It was the first and last time that Wells was goaded into replying in kind to ad hominem criticism. His little book not only is very funny, it is one of the strongest pieces of rhetoric ever written in defense of evolution against a form of creationism known today as Intelligent Design (ID).

The creationism Belloc defends was not, of course, the crude fundamentalism of Protestant young earthers convinced that God created the entire universe in six literal 24-hour days. Belloc was not a young earther. He accepted evolution in a sense, but insisted that each species was a new creation. In just what way it was a new creation Belloc does not say. Like today’s Iders, Belloc leaves this hopelessly vague. Did God create out of whole cloth the first pigs? Or did he merely guide mutations in such a way that pigs were suddenly born to non-pig parents?

Today’s IDers are equally mute on this point. As attorney Phillip Johnson says over and over again in his books defending ID, it is not necessary for opponents of Darwin to explain exactly how God guided evolution. It is only necessary to make clear the inadequacy of explaining the origin of species by random mutations followed by survival of the fittest. The question becomes especially bothersome with respect to the origin of humans. As Wells so beautifully argues in his last chapter, proponents of ID are haunted by the fossils of Neanderthals. Were they true humans, with immortal souls, or were they merely higher apes?
Exactly how did this monumental transition occur? Surely Belloc did not believe God created Adam out of the dust of the earth, then fabricated Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. But if the Genesis account is mythological, exactly how was the transition made? Were the first humans reared and suckled by a mother who was a beast? Belloc is as silent on this question as are today’s IDers.
At the time Belloc lambasted Wells, the Catholic Church by and large rejected all forms of evolution. Consider the tragic story of St. George Jackson Mivart (1827–1904). He was a much admired British zoologist, author of many books including a massive volume titled The Cat, and a student of the great Thomas Huxley. He was also a devout Catholic, but a Catholic with extreme liberal views. Over and over again, in scholarly journals, and in his book On the Genesis of Species, Mivart defended the evolution of all forms of life, including humans, but by a process governed by God and with the proviso that immortal souls were infused into the first men and women. Repeatedly he warned his Church that by opposing evolution it was making a foolish mistake similar to the mistake it made in persecuting Galileo for claiming the earth went around the sun. In brief, Mivart he1d views on evolution identical with the views of almost all of today’s Catholic philosophers and theologians. Poor Mivart! He was too far ahead of his time. The Church branded him a heretic, excommunicated him, and denied him a Christian burial.

Today almost all liberal Christians, Protestant or Catholic, regard evolution as God’s method of creation, no more requiring miracles along the way than the origin of the solar system required frequent pushes by the Creator , as Newton believed, to keep the planets in orbit.

Almost all of today’s IDers are conservative Christians. Phillip Johnson is an evangelical Presbyterian. David Berlinski is a conservative Baptist. Michael Behe, the most persuasive of the lot, is a Catholic. Berlinski recently teamed up with Ann Coulter to help her write the part of her book Godless in which she bashes Darwin.

How did Belloc react to Wells’s attack? He promptly wrote a book titled Mr. Belloc Still Objects. It is included in the book you hold.
How do things now stand with the Roman Church? I am pleased to report that Pope John Paul II declared evolution to be more than a theory and worthy to be taught in all Catholic schools. The Church is moving slowly and cautiously in a liberal direction — that is, in the direction promoted by such Catholic thinkers as Hans Kung, in Germany, and in the U.S. by Gary Wills, Father Andrew Greeley, and many others. Hopefully it will continue to glide in that direction. If it goes the other way, it will be a sad day for both the Church and the world. — Martin Gardner

An Epilogue by Martin Gardner

Belloc learned nothing from Wells’s attack. His rebuttal continues the same insults, the same below the belt punches. As in his original articles on Wells’s Outline of History, it is not so much what Belloc says that reveals his ignorance of biology and geology, it is what he doesn’t say.
What he doesn’t say is how he thinks the “fixed types” came into being. Did God somehow manipulate the genetic information in sperm and eggs so that mothers gave birth to widely different life forms, or did the Almighty create the first fixed types from nothing, or from, as in Adam’s case, the Earth’s dust? IDers today are similarly tongue tied on this fundamental question.
Belloc seems unable to comprehend that types seem fixed because they are end points on branches of the evolutionary tree. Intermediate forms are all in the past. Fossilization is a rare event. We get only glimpses of extinct missing links. Belloc seems to think that because a horse can’t mate with a cow, the way lions can mate with tigers, horses were always horses and cows were always cows.
I have assumed that Belloc was not a Catholic fundamentalist who took the two Genesis accounts of creation to be literal history, with the word “day” of course meaning a period of many millions, or even billions, of years . Now I’m not so sure. I was startled by a sentence on page 88 where Belloc says the Fall of Man took place 5930 years ago “in the neighborhood of Baghdad.” How Belloc arrived at that date and place beats me. Wells must have guffawed when he read this! Belloc certainly believed the Fall was some sort of event, such as Adam and Eve chewing a forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It is hard to believe Belloc could think this, including the roll of a talking snake, but perhaps he did. If not, just what was the Fall?
Belloc generously grants that Wells was right on a few trivial points, and he promises to make corrections on his articles when they soon go into a book. Some of Belloc’s criticisms of Wells are right on target. That Wells was an atheist is undeniable, though this was not always the case. In his younger years he believed in a limited or finite God, a God growing in time as portrayed in the philosophies of such “process theologians” as Samuel Alexander and Charles Hartshorne. Wells defended such a deity in his war novel Mr. Britling Sees it Through, and in a nonfiction work titled God the Invisible King. Later he decided he was really an atheist.
Belloc is also right in accusing Wells of having a low opinion of the Roman Church. He once likened the Church to a huge dinosaur roaming the Earth and refusing to become extinct. Shortly before he died he wrote Crux Ansata, a savage indictment of Roman Catholicism. Belloc even catches Wells in a whopping error, one often made by non-Catholics. He confused the Virgin Birth of Jesus with Mary’s Immaculate Conception!
What about Belloc’s many quotations from scientists expressing doubts about Darwinism? My guess is that most of the men quoted were finding fault with Darwin’s views about the process of evolution, not the fact. Darwin, it must be recalled, knew nothing about mutations. He was a follower of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French biologist who believed that an animal’s striving to improve its survival chances caused favorable genetic changes. For example, a giraffe’s efforts to eat leaves high on trees would somehow be transmitted to sperm and eggs with the result that its descendant’s necks would become a trifle longer. Similarly, disuse of an organ would cause it to weaken and perhaps disappear. In Belloc’s day Lamarckism was being abandoned for lack of evidence. Today the inheritance of acquired traits has been totally discredited.
“Darwinism” of course is a fuzzy term. In a narrow sense, Darwin’s Lamarckism has been so thoroughly discarded that one can say Darwinism indeed expired. But in a broader sense, Darwinism is alive and well. It is a fact, accepted today by all biologists and geologists, with very few exception, that life began on Earth with one-celled forms, then slowly altered by random mutations which were either beneficial or harmful, or neither. Favorable mutations tended to survive. Harmful mutations tended to die off. I suspect that most, perhaps not all, the scientists quoted by Belloc actually were firm believers in evolution but had differences with Darwin over the exact way evolution took place.
Consider the remark by William Bateson, a famous British geneticist, Bateson doesn’t deny evolution. He merely expresses his belief that factors other than natural selection played a dominant rôle in the process. In Bateson’s time there was considerable controversy over the mechanisms of evolution, controversy that persists today. But Bateson never doubted that all life could be graphed by a single tree.
Hans Driesch, a German biologist, was another firm believer in evolution who differed from Darwin only on technical matters. Eberhard Dennert, Belloc’s next expert, was an obvious crank. His 1904 book The Deathbed of Darwinism is described by Stephen Jay Gould in his book The Panda’s Thumb as ranking “right up there with bumblebees can’t fly” and “rockets won’t work in a vacuum.” Dennert predicted evolution’s total demise by 1910!
Belloc annoyingly never gives first names to his experts, so I was unable to learn anything about a man with the last name of Dwight. He sounds like a simple-minded creationist. There are lots of scientists with the last name of Morgan. I don’t know which one Belloc is quoting, but his disagreement with Darwin is clearly over the process, not the fact, of evolution. We are told nothing about a 1909 book by, I assume, F. le Danree, a French biologist , except that it is a “crushing blow” against evolution.
Sitting in my apartment, at an assisted living facility (I’m 94), with only a computer on hand as a research tool, I was unable to learn anything about Edward Dawson Cope, an American paleontologist who is probably the Cope Belloc had in mind. Nor could I find much about Yves Delarge, a French zoologist, or Karl Wilhelm Nägeli, a Swiss botanist. I drew a total blank on any scientist named Korchinsky. Perhaps someone more familiar than I with the early history of evolution can tell us just what the men quoted by Belloc actually believed.
Even today scientists wrangle over the mechanisms of evolution. Gould, for instance, promoted a controversial view called “punctuated equilibrium.” It emphasizes the fact that some species, trilobites for example, remained unaltered for millions of years while others changed radically over a period of a few thousand years. Gould was of course a thoroughgoing Darwinian, yet his opinions have been strongly opposed today by Richard Dawkins and others.
As far as I know, Wells made no effort to reply to Belloc’s Still Objects book. Regardless of his objections, Belloc must still have been haunted by the Neanderthals. Were they ape-like humans or human-like apea? Was there a turning point in history, according to Belloc some six thousand years ago, when the first humans suddenly appeared on old Earth like a magician’s beautiful assistant stepping out of a previously empty container? Maybe some expert on Belloc’s opinions can tell us what Belloc failed to reveal in his forgotten and funny little volume.


About the book

A critical assessment of Mary Baker Eddy and the international movement she spawned is long overdue. Of the hundreds of books written about Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science, almost all have been by believers. With the notable exception of Mark Twain’s Christian Science, the small number penned by skeptics have long since gone out of print.
Martin Gardner, noted for his work in science, mathematics, philosophy, and literature, had intended to write a short essay about Mrs. Eddy, but became so fascinated by her life and personality that his work grew to book length. Written with humor, insight, and a wealth of fantastic detail, this book will delight skeptics and infuriate true believers.
Learn about the granite replica of the Great Pyramid of Egypt that was erected on the site of Mrs. Eddy’s birthplace, only to be mysteriously dynamited years later. Read about Mrs. Woodbury, who was on her way to becoming Mrs. Eddy’s rival until Woodbury announced her “immaculate conception” of a child, which she named the Prince of Peace. Discover how Mrs. Stetson, once Mrs. Eddy’s beloved pupil, was excommunicated when her Christian Science church in Manhattan began to outshine the Mother Church in Boston.
While Mrs. Eddy foretold the coming of a millennium in which all persons would be Christian Scientists and healthy, Gardner shows her to be a power-hungry individual whose life included spiritualism, a morphine addiction, frequent hysterical rages, and accusations of the use of “malicious animal magnetism” against herself and her followers, as well as litigation against her critics and persecution of those she regarded as disloyal.
Martin Gardner exposes the plagiarism that occurs in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, including the early editions of Science and Health, which were so filled with errors of grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as attacks on fancied enemies, that the church has done everything in its power to prevent reprintings. Later editions were edited and polished by skillful writers, notably James Henry Wiggin, who thought the book was “balderdash.”
Recent scandal, financial woes, the resignation of top officials and editors of church publications, and the tragic deaths of Christian Science children denied medical aid by their parents have all contributed to the rapid decline of church membership.
Mr. Gardner’s final chapter places Christian Science within the context of New Thought, a movement that anticipated all the elements of today’s New Age. He focuses on the life of New Thought poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, now forgotten but once our nation’s most loved versifier. She was, in Gardner’s opinion, the Shirley MacLaine of her time.
“Laugh and the world laughs with you,” Ella began one of her famous poems, “weep and you weep alone.” While reading Martin Gardner’s eye-opening book, it is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Other Books also by Martin Gardner

The Annotated Alice
The Annotated Snark
The Annotated Man Who Was Thursday
The Annotated Ancient Mariner
The Annotated Night Before Christmas
The Flight of Peter Fromm (novel)
The No-Sided Professor (short stories)
The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener
The New Ambidextrous Universe
The Night is Large
Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?
Are Universes Thicker than Blackberries?
Great Essays in Science (ed)
The Jinn from Hyperspace

The Adventures of Humphrey Huckleberry (short stories, Martin has to visit his storage locker to retrieve a set of originals)

Note: Math and puzzle books, books for small children, books about conjuring, books about pseudoscience, or anthologies of verse are all purposely omitted from this list which was composed by the author. A complete bibliography of Martin Gardner is being compiled by David Morille and he describes this a work in progress, and he sent me a working galley which is 100’s of pages in length.

The Annotated Casey at the Bat (A work in progress — awaiting a new cover)
Visitors from Oz (novel — awaiting a new cover)

Blurbs about Martin Gardner

I read Martin Gardner’s manuscript and really enjoyed doing so. It’s quintessential Gardner, which means it is gracefully written, well-argued, extremely informative, quite convincing, already a classic. He certainly writes in an agreeable fashion. I knew from the first page I was reading an MG book. It is, of course, a collection of columns, chapters, essays, forewords, etc. — John Robert Colombo

Chesterton’s criticism almost always leads the reader to (re)read the subject of the criticism. Gardner’s essays on Chesterton’s fiction do exactly the same. They point out the many virtues of GKC’s fiction and invite a new generation to experience the wonder. — Pasquale Accardo

When the historian of philosophy Étienne Gilson was asked how Chesterton, who had never had any formal training in philosophy, could have written his brilliant study of the medieval philosopher-theologian, Thomas Aquinas, Gilson’s simple answer was that “Chesterton was one of the deepest thinkers who ever existed.” And when Isaac Asimov was asked whom he thought was the most intelligent person on earth, he answered without hesitation, “Martin Gardner.” — John Peterson

“For more than half a century, Martin Gardner has been the single brightest beacon defending rationality and good science against the mysticism and anti-intellectualism that surround us.” — Stephen Jay Gould

“Martin Gardner is a national treasure, and Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? should be compulsory reading in every high school and in Congress. It will no doubt hold back the current tidal wave of lunacy about UFOs, Scientology, Creationism, and the like. —Arthur C. Clarke

Martin Gardner’s contribution to contemporary intellectual culture is unique—in its range, its insight, and its understanding of hard questions that matter. — Noam Chomsky