Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/414

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equivalent to glee or music—its spire of bell-shaped flowers rising above the covert of fox and hare, suggesting the old tintinnabulum, a chime of small bells fixed on an arched support.

The other group of the Gerardias seldom exceeds a foot in height; the foliage is scant, often filiform, and the flowers are open bells of a purplish pink, very gay when blooming profusely on sandy barrens. The one group are the plants of rich woodlands, the other of thin, arid soil, of salt marshes, and of the seashore, but each one records the name of John Gerarde as he would have best liked it to be preserved. Never within his loved garden at Holborn, they are still a fitting memorial of him who so carefully studied their kindred, and

"Kydst the hidden kindes of many a weede."


WE laugh under the most diverse circumstances. Curious incidents of the most various character, some absurdly trifling and others rising into different degrees of importance, will provoke the feeling that prompts laughter, or the emotion of the ludicrous; for it is this with which we have to do, rather than with the audible explosion. Our inquiry is into the interior cause, into the moral element in the incident that provokes the feeling, and into what takes place in the nervous centers. The study of this is important, and has been well prosecuted by recent authors of the day, but the purely psychological element should not be neglected.

At the beginning of our inquiry we meet the common opinion that the feeling of laughter is caused by joy. This has the merit of simplicity; but joy does not always make us laugh, for there are serious joys; and we frequently laugh without being joyful, and even sometimes at things that are sad.

Another opinion, to which Darwin inclines, is that laughter is provoked by what is queer, unusual, by what disagrees with or is contrary to our mental habits, or interrupts the familiar course. The queer, the old-fashioned, the provincial, partake, we admit, of the ludicrous. Caricatures amuse because of their exaggerations of proportions in contradiction to all natural laws. We recognize that there is something queer in everything that excites laughter, and that no word, act, situation, or attitude can be really laughable without having something strange about it.

Yet the queer does not always make us laugh. There are things contrary to the normal order that have nothing ludicrous about