Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/135

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
125
EDITOR'S TABLE.

mon—salmon that have died from exhaustion while endeavoring to force themselves to the head-waters of the river for spawning purposes; and in the fall of 1883 our canine camp-followers partook voraciously of this free salmon-feast, with the result that all of them, with one single exception, died—with every indication of being poisoned. The single exception was the young dog that had suffered from the rattlesnake-bite. He apparently experienced no discomfort from his meal; and, strangest of all, from that day he became a well dog! He regained his youthful elasticity of spirit, became robust, and, when I last saw him, was as playful and intelligent a dog as I have ever seen. There is no exaggeration in any of these lines, and what I have here stated can be verified by at least a dozen witnesses.

To my mind this incident seems to point to the conclusion that there is developed in salmon, and possibly in other decaying fish, an organic principle, in itself poisonous, but which may prove to be a counter-agent for the poison of the rattlesnake and of other venomous serpents. I am therefore inclined to believe that an examination of this matter might result in the production of an antidote to the terrible venom of the poisonous snakes; and, in the hope that such may be the case, I remain, respectfully yours,

Bernard Bienenfeld.
1018 Post Street, San Francisco,
November 29, 1885.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

 

CHARITY AND SENTIMENTALITY.

AN apostle once wrote, "Let love be without dissimulation." Had he lived in our day, he might have thought it quite as important to say, "Let love be without sentimentality." In looking over the reports of charitable institutions—especially purely voluntary ones—we are frequently struck by the utter absence of any attempt to deal in what might be called a scientific manner with the facts that come within their scope. Instead of this, we have any amount of sentimentality and gush, pious ascriptions of thanks to Providence, considerable laudation of the officers engaged in the work of the institution, and long lists of donations, with the names of the donors, of course. Now, we would cheerfully exchange all this for a little information likely to be servicable in a scientific point of view. Say it is an "orphans' home." What we should like to know in connection with the operations of such an institution may be roughly indicated under the following heads: 1. In regard to each inmate, whether he or she is really an orphan or not. 2. If so, how the condition of orphanage and dependence arose. 3. How it happened that private aid from friends or relatives was not forthcoming—whether, for example, the existence of a convenient asylum into which the orphan could be put had anything to do with the child's being placed there rather than otherwise provided for. 4. What moral effects seem to flow from the absence of parental affection and influence. 5. What the special influences of the home or asylum seem to be in different classes of cases. 6. What the subsequent course in life of children released from the home has been.

It is too much the habit of the present day to think that, if things are done from a right motive, they must be done well. One evil effect of this is to discourage criticism of motives apparently good; yet the interests of society as a whole call for nothing more strongly than for a stringent criticism of motives as well as of actions. Take the case of our orphan asylum again. In some small town, a lot of benevolent people, chiefly of the more emotional sex, will decide that an orphan asylum is wanted. There may be only three or four cases within their knowledge at the time that in any way call for such an institution; and probably no very great amount of private effort would be required to dispose of these satisfactorily in a private way.