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746
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The prairie-dog (Cynomes ludovicianus) is migratory, although it moves slowly, accomplishing hardly more than half a mile a year. Apparently, their object is to obtain fresh food, for they eat root and branch as they go. The leaders are, invariably, the young, who are constantly driven out by their more mature and powerful brethren. Their vacated holes are occupied by owls and rattle-snakes, but whether these prove enemies or not I do not know.

I strongly suspect that the cause of migration in the lemmings is the parasites which infest their bodies. These, after a few years, increase to such numbers as to be unendurable; then the lemmings set out and are never known to return until they have overcome their enemies in the flood.

S. E. Wilber.
Greeley, Colorado, Feb. 28, 1874.
 

 

MR. SPENCER AND THE WOMEN.

Sir: Two papers have already appeared in your columns relating to Mr. Herbert Spencer's "Study of Sociology:"—a direct review of the work, January 10th, to which Viscount Amberley has given the credit of fairly appending to it his own name, thus placing his comments on the author's view of women on the true class-footing of their being the judgment of a man; and a letter, December 20th, confined to this point, to which, through its being signed only with the initial "L.," class-weight of this sort is entirely wanting, notwithstanding the actual force of its remarks—thus forming, as I wish to argue, a notable instance of the undesirableness of that practice of signing by mere initials which is contended for in another article of the first-mentioned number, on the ground of its being a protection to the modest, retiring, sensitive nature of some writers who yet feel that they have something to say which would be well said. My object, then, is now the twofold one, of on the one hand repeating (with some difference) the main arguments of "L.," under the avowed character of a woman; and on the other of pressing upon my fellow-women the present necessity, as especially called forth by Mr. Spencer's recent work, of women not indulging on this occasion in the moral timidity which the hiding of their real names is the effect of. It is the peculiarity of the case that, as all writers have hitherto been taken for granted to be men, there has sprung a natural desire among actual women-writers to play a trick on the public, which has thence caused them as much as possible to force the matter of their own thoughts into the mould of those of men. And although, perhaps, there may be little harm in this where it is fiction alone that is concerned, I contend that it is really a deep injury in relation to those practical questions with which specially all the literature of journals must be occupied.

I share strongly with "L." the disappointment which he or she expresses on the turn which to me also appears indicated in Mr. Spencer's design against the present desire arisen in women to take their part in the social regulating of their country. I mean, chiefly, as to those appended statements of his, cast as if casually into the foot-notes at the end of his volume, which, however, contain in this peculiar instance what must be taken by his readers as a sort of a priori basis to his whole intended reasoning on the subject to come; the whole statements, crowded into almost a single page, regard matters on which it is the very claim of women that no settled opinion is yet possible. Mr. Spencer signifies that whatever fruits of the higher kind of intellect women possibly may produce are, nevertheless, by a certain degree of "normal limitation," to be accounted of as mere mental monstrosities—mere aberrations from the true course of development which is the only profitable course. He obviously thinks it nothing against such course that some of the number of men should exclude themselves from the ordinary duties of domestic and social life, in order that, by strained efforts at intellectual illumination, they may guide those self-efforts of commoner men, which, in the case of men, he asserts are the only true means of real culture; but with women he implies that all such seclusion can inevitably produce nothing of any value so long as men are at hand to afford the required lights. Nothing but an absolute dearth of men present to do that for women which normally they cannot do for themselves—the case referred to being