Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/645

This page has been validated.
621
THE WASTES OF MODERN CIVILIZATION.

museum to make such exhibitions of apartments from various stations, by means of which, we shall be able to convey ideas of the more important parts of the house.

The new enterprise invites the active co-operation of our countrymen. As a rule, the people know best where such treasures as we desire to bring to light are to be found. We therefore ask them to help us gather up such national relics as still exist in the way of dress and house furnishings to be preserved for the observation of posterity.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from Die Gartenlaube.

 

THE WASTES OF MODERN CIVILIZATION.
By FELIX L. OSWALD, M. D.
II.

THE use of certain remedial drugs is apt to become a confirmed habit, which often continues to afflict the patient for years after his apparent recovery from the effects of the original disease. The medication of desperate moral disorders has now and then entailed a similar penalty. During the millennium of mediæval superstition, when the enforcement of antinatural dogmas had made common sense a capital crime and secular science an article of contraband, the study of classic literature became for thousands a refuge from the peril of madness. From the tyranny of the monkish Inquisition thousands of persecuted thinkers could still escape to the haunts of Plato and Virgil, as, in spite of chains and guards, a Siberian exile may in dreams return to the lost paradise of freedom. Knowledge, too, could still be delved from the treasure-mine of pagan philosophy, and for nearly a thousand years the study of dead languages became thus a chief condition of intellectual survival.

Intellectual progress had been almost completely arrested. Like a monstrous dam, the barrier of an unnatural dogma obstructed the currents of civilization; all through priest-ridden Europe the rivers of national life had been collected into a vast theological mill-pond, and only from the heights of a classical education, from turrets accessible only by steep and tortuous stairs, philosophers could, in retrospect, study the phenomena of life under less abnormal conditions, and naturally made the attic of that edifice the repository of their own choicest thought.

Then came the great dam-burst of the Protestant revolt. The rills of the first breach soon became uncontrollable torrents, and the flood of the accumulated waters rushed onward with an impetus which, in the rapid progress of science and reform, promised