Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/555

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
541
ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.
 

 

—— Says "Blackwood's Magazine": "The man who first suggested an electric telegraph, in a letter to the 'Scots Magazine' in the year 1745, Charles Marshall, was looked on as having dealings with the Evil One, and had to leave his native country and go to America. When Ronalds, about the year 1817, laid his plans for an electric telegraph before the English Government, they would not even take the trouble to investigate the matter. An under secretary, in the usual official style, wrote him that he was 'directed by his Majesty's Secretary of State, etc., to inform Mr. Ronalds that a telegraph is of no use in time of peace, and that in time of war the semaphore then in use was quite sufficient for the purpose.'" And as late as 1879 one of the "most able and experienced electricians of the day" was in a state of mind to say before a select committee that he did not think the telephone would be much used in England; that he fancied the descriptions they got of its use in America were a little exaggerated; "but there are conditions in America which necessitate the use of instruments of this kind more than here. Here we have a superabundance of messengers, errand-boys, and things of that kind. In America they are wanted."

—— Tanner, in his narrative of a captivity among the North American Indians, says that, when a certain chief named Picheto was one night much alarmed by a furious storm, he got and offered some tobacco to the thunder, entreating it to stop.

—— Prisons as Clinics.—Dr. Maudsley remarks: "Another promising but strangely neglected field of inquiry is a study of criminals. The time will come, ought to have come now, when prisons shall be used for the systematic investigation of the antecedents, and for the clinical study of the varieties of the criminal nature, just as asylums are used for the clinical study of diseased minds, hospitals for the study of diseased bodies. It may not be doubted whether half the books that have been written on moral philosophy would be worth one good book, by an earnest and industrious inquirer, who should undertake the scientific study of the inmates of a single prison."

—— Max Müller says, in his sketch of Kant, that for the last twenty years of his life he always had guests at dinner—two to five—that he demanded punctuality, that the guests proceeded to the dining-room talking of no subject more profound than the weather, that politics (and we may add science, natural history, etc.) was a frequent subject of conversation, but anything of the nature of metaphysics was rigorously excluded. Though of a very slender constitution, all his life through Kant had managed to keep himself in health by persistent adherence to certain maxims of diet and regimen. One of these was that the germs of disease might often be avoided if the breathing were systematically carried on by the nose; and for that reason Kant always in his later years walked alone with mouth closed. He was also careful to avoid perspiration. He walked after dinner alone, and then attended to business or read newspapers and miscellaneous books. As the darkness began to fall, he would take his seat at the stove, and, with his eye fixed on the tower of Lobenicht church, would ponder on the problems which exercised his mind. One evening, however, as he looked, a change had occurred—the church-tower was no longer visible. His neighbor's