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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/294

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

grammars and dictionaries have also been prepared and printed, and from them the languages can be learned so as to be spoken intelligibly without oral instruction.

 

The Storage of Life.—In an address delivered at the Royal Institution, London, Dr. B. W. Richardson discussed the conditions of the storing or laying up of life, of which the cases of great longevity frequently met with are examples. He puts "hereditary qualification" first of these conditions, and says that the person gifted with this faculty of storage may be of fragile and delicate build, may even be deformed, may be of dull or of bright intellect, may be of cleanly or of uncleanly habit, may be placed in what would seem the most unfavorable position in life, and will continue to live on so as to see all of his more fortunate neighbors fall. The two hereditary temperaments which are incompatible with storage of life are the nervous and the lymphatic; the two which are compatible, and perhaps necessary, are the sanguine and the bilious; better, perhaps, than any singly, would be a mixture of the two latter. In the organism best constituted for storage, the color of the eyes, always an excellent test, is a light hazel, the hair is dark brown, the color of the skin is inclined to be florid, and the lips and eyelids are of good natural red. Dr. Richardson is confident that the number of persons who reach the classical threescore years and ten in England at present is much above what it has ever been in the history of the country. Toward improving heredity in the direction of longevity, the first consideration is the selection of lives for parentage. If such a social miracle could be performed as the fashion of a proper arrangement to prevent the marriage of health with disease, or, still more urgently, the intermarriage of disease, there would soon be an important advance in the value of life. A strong aid to the force of heredity is the virtue of continency, or that virtue which would provide for the limitation of the family circle to such a degree that the resources of the family may never be dangerously taxed by the largeness of it. Another aid is rendered by the art of training the body in such form that all parts of it shall be kept in perfect balance and in equal health. "I do not remember," says Dr. Richardson, "any one of fine and vigorous frame of body and mind who, dying prematurely, did not die from the failure of some one vital organ almost exclusively." A weak and well-balanced body is practically a stronger body than a strong and unbalanced one, and a body of original strength and beauty may be made of unusually long or of unusually short life, according as it is trained into the conditions leading to the one or the other. The storage of life is promoted also by that stoical virtue which may be summed up in the term perfected or all-round temperance. I include in this term not merely abstinence from stimulating or alcoholic drinks. The storage of life is reduced by intemperance of speech, of action, and even of thought. We may consider that whatever quickens the action of the heart beyond its natural bounds is a form of intemperance. The wild hope or wilder despair of the money-market, unbridled passion, and jealousy, are among the kinds of stimulation that hasten the decline of heart-power. The existence among men of diseases which lead to physical deterioration, and reduce the capacity for the storage of life, not alone in one but through many generations, is the last subject to which there is time to refer. The alcoholic diseases, the scrofulous and phthisical, the malignant or cancerous, the syphilitic, are diseases of this order, and whoever helps to remove them by getting at and removing their causes is among the truest friends that humanity ever possessed.

 

Protection of Wood aaginst Fire.—An investigation has been made by Profs. Boudin and Donny, of the Ghent University, at the requisition of the Belgian Minister of Public Works, in regard to rendering wood uninflammable. They reported that to deprive wood to a considerable extent of the property of catching and communicating fire it is sufficient to coat it with a suitable composition. A practical process must not be too expensive, nor take too much time, and the substance used must not attack any metal used in connection with the wood. Two methods of treatment may be mentioned. One is the injection of saline solutions, which appears but little applicable except to small pieces of wood, and may be