Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/808

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when the consul L. Papirius Cursor, making war upon the Samnites, frightened the enemy with the noise of a drove of them rushing down the mountain and dragging large limbs behind them; and when Julius Cæsar, in the civil wars, prevented the Pompeiians in Spain from decamping by marching his mules with a great bustle by their camp, and making them think that he was retiring.

Our historical citations show, then, with great probability, that the two asinine races are natives of hot countries, the one of the region of the Upper Nile, the other of the Hispano-Atlantic center. For this reason they are difficult of acclimation in cold regions, while they are better able than horses to endure the torrid temperature of the diamond-regions of Southern Africa. Furthermore, the African or Nilotic ass was diffused from a very ancient period over a geographical area which extended at least from the Ganges to the Atlantic Ocean, while the European or Hispano-Atlantic ass has hardly got beyond the boundaries of his original country. The history of asses, then, as well as that of horses, testifies that the ancient migrations of civilization did not start from the western part of the continent.


THE nature of matter is still almost as unknown to us in its essence as it was to the ancients, since in its minute structure it lies far below the range of the senses, or of instrumental appliances, and, therefore, beyond that direct experimental field so necessary in furnishing primary conceptions to the mind. From the impossibility of originating entirely novel ideas (which would amount to creative power), we are forced to combine and recombine such conceptions as we have, derived from experiences within that excessively small portion of the scale of being within the ken of our perceptions and faculties. This perceptible scale has been somewhat extended in both directions by refined modern instrumental means, and thus the number of elementary concepts has been slightly increased, while precision has been added to those already in possession, by stricter modes of analysis.

The field, however, is still largely speculative. It might, therefore, seem unprofitable and unscientific to labor in it, were it not for the urgent necessity for and great value of some working hypothesis, however crude (if on the road to truth), as an aid and stimulus to further progress. Without hypothesis, we can not interpret or collo-

  1. Read before the Philosophical Society of Washington, January 27, 1883.