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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/523

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FRAGMENTS OF SCIENCE.

cause English laws allow them to get gold from the English cheaper than their goods can be obtained. "Suppose a merchant in Britain buys £100,000 worth of corn from America and gives a check on the Bank of England for the amount of the purchase. The American draws the £100,000 in gold and takes it home; he will have to pay no export or import duty thereon—indeed, the probability is he may get a premium on the gold in America. But reverse the transaction: Suppose the British merchant sold £100,000 worth of his goods to America, there would, in the first place, be the exorbitant duty imposed there upon our manufactures of from forty to fifty per cent. Or suppose our merchant wished to buy corn or any American produce in exchange for his goods in place of bringing money, the case would be different—it would tell against the American farmer, who would get a less price for his corn, etc., than he would have done by free trade." This instance is given "to show how free trade in gold would bring about free trade and reciprocity between the United States and Britain, and is applicable to every other state with which we trade.… There should be full scope given to all good banks in the country, large or small, to carry on banking business in the best modern manner for the benefit of all parties, so as to encourage and develop all trades and industries."

 

Rats and the Plague.—In his introductory address at the opening of the London School of Tropical Medicine, Dr. Manson preached a war of extermination against rats with the vigor of Cato calling for the destruction of Carthage. "Were I asked," he said, "how I would protect a state from plague, I would certainly answer. Exterminate the rats as a first and most important measure." He added, "At the present juncture, were I the responsible sanitary head of any town in Europe, in anticipation of a possibility compared to which in horror and in destructiveness a general European war would be a trifle, I would do my best to have every rat and, if possible, every mouse in my district promptly exterminated." Dr. Manson does not reveal his plan of campaign. Wholesale poisoning of sewers might have serious disadvantages, and there would be difficulties about inveigling the rodent population of these subterranean health resorts (as some enthusiasts consider them to be) into a lethal chamber. Are we to cry havoc and let slip the cats of war? or to hurl an army of snakes against the foe? In either case we might find ourselves in the awkward position of a king who had called a too powerful auxiliary to his aid. Already action is being taken on the rat theory of plague. The French Government has ordered that special precautions are to be taken to prevent the importation of rats in vessels from plague-stricken places. It is to be hoped that similar precautions will be taken in regard to the transports which convey the Indian contingent to the Cape, or the situation there may become complicated by the intervention of an enemy who will deal destruction impartially to Boers and to Britons.

 

Forestry in California.—As a remedy for the devastation of the forest lands of California, Marsden Manson, having shown that Government administrations with politics in them can not be trusted in the matter, recommends that all forest reservations and public lands upon mountain slopes within the borders of the State be granted to the University of California in trust, for the purpose of maintaining, developing, and extending the water supply of those regions forever. For this purpose the regents should be empowered to lease, under proper control, the timber cutting and pasturage privileges of those areas, and to use the resultant fund to protect the catchment areas, to maintain a college of practical forestry, to construct reservoirs at such points as may be necessary to the industries of the State, and dispose of the water for the benefit of the trust, to acquire mountain lands to be added to the catchment areas, and to do all such things as may maintain wise systems of forest and water conservation and use. The extent of income-bearing property which can be made available for forest preservation and storage of flood waters, Mr. Manson says, is far beyond the general idea.

 

Another New Element.—The mineral pitchblende is distinguished for its