Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/681

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
663
CONCERNING SHREWS.

The one doubtful sign, it appears to me, as regards the future, is pointed at by the qualification implied in the words—the human being who really belongs to the new society. It may possibly happen that there will be an increase, or at least non-diminution, of what may be called the social wreckage. A class may continue to exist and even increase in the midst of our civilization, possibly not a large class in proportion, but still a considerable class, who are out of the improvement altogether, who are capable of nothing but the rudest labor, and who have neither the moral nor the mental qualities fitted for the strain of the work of modern society. On the other side, as already hinted, the existence of what may be called a barbarian class among the capitalist classes, living in idle luxury and not bearing the burden of society in any way, seems also a danger. But speculations of this sort would perhaps take us too far at present. Substantially, as yet, there seems to be no reason to doubt the steadiness of the improvement in recent years among the working classes, both those practically so called and those who may be included when we use the language in its widest—that is, the strictly economic—sense, and that this improvement goes on from year to year, and from generation to generation, and must, in the nature of things, go on, in consequence of the improvements and inventions of the modern world and the general spread of education, so long as nothing happens to prevent a continuous improvement in the efficiency of human labor and the average return it can obtain from the forces with which it works.—Contemporary Review.

 

CONCERNING SHREWS.
By FREDERIK A. FERNALD.

THE shrews, or shrew mice, as they are often called from their mouse-like size and general appearance, are nearly related to the moles, but may be distinguished from them by their distinct outer ear and the moderate size of their fore-paws, which are not usually employed in digging. They have a long, pointed muzzle, with two very long cutting teeth in each jaw—the upper much curved and the lower nearly horizontal. Their other teeth are many-pointed, being thus adapted to seizing the worms and crushing the hard wing-cases of the beetles which form their food. They also sometimes destroy small vertebrates and devour each other. Most species of shrews live on the surface of the ground, and a few in burrows. They do not hibernate. They take their food at night. They are spread over the northern hemisphere, sometimes going very far north, and the smaller spe-