Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/856

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sake of action is not enough, and that I take interest in the game only so far as my self-love is seriously interested in it. It is still necessary for me to have a difficulty to overcome, a rival to surpass, an advance to make. In dismounting from a horse, in taking off our skates, in putting away our oars, we congratulate ourselves that we have become stronger, and we feel an imperious necessity for telling of our prowess. We should take less pleasure in a game of skill if we could not convince ourselves after each essay, and convince some one else, that we had become more adroit in it. Every exercise in which one is decidedly a past master inspires a vague distaste.

We are able also to determine, in every physical exercise, a particular kind of pride. Very simple or childish, if you please, but all the deeper and more instinctive—that which one feels in conquering the forces of nature. We delight to refuse what they solicit us to do, and to accomplish what they seem to forbid. Hence the pleasure felt in climbing a hill, putting down an obstacle, leaping a ditch, and walking against wind and rain. In canoe-sailing we would rather stand close to the wind than be carried with it, and prefer running over the waves to flying before them. Of all these forces we struggle most earnestly against and most delight to overcome that of gravitation. It binds us to the earth by fetters which we are anxious to unloose, and inflicts disabilities upon us and exposes us to dangers that we are glad to escape. Motions of speedy transport are pleasant, because they relieve us for the moment from the burden of the feeling of inertia. Hence the agreeableness of riding, driving, cycling, spring-board jumping, vaulting, and riding in an express train. There is a charm in dreaming that we are leaping immense distances and prolonging the bound by the force of the will alone. In the struggle against height, falling is defeat; equilibrium is the defensive; motion of simple translation is the beginning of enfranchisement; and movement upward is triumph.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.


The Niagara-studies of Prof. Julius Pohlmann have led him to predict that, after the falls have receded one mile—or in two thousand years—there will be but one fall, the American fall having disappeared, and its islands will be represented by low hill-tops on a peninsula projecting from the American shore; but the fall will be nearly two hundred feet high. After a recession of three miles more, there will be again two falls at the foot of Grand Island, the Canadian fall being the larger. The height of the falls will thereafter diminish thirty-five feet for every mile they travel south; and long before they have receded twelve miles, or to the southern end of Grand Island, they must disappear entirely as falls, and present only a long series of rapids. The second American fall will recede more slowly than the Canadian fall, but will ultimately be reduced to the same condition, forming a river with swift-flowing current and perhaps a few short rapids.