Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/397

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principle of instruction in this school is "to make knowledge concrete, practical."

Revivals and Religious Insanity.—In a paper by G. H. Savage, M.D., of the Bethlehem Hospital for the Insane, London, on "Religious Insanity and Religious Revivals," the lists of cases admitted to the hospital during the four months April to August, in the three years 1875, 1874, and 1873, are compared. The result does not show any increase of insanity traceable to the recent religious excitement in England. Indeed, the author sees no reason for regarding religious insanity as a peculiar, well-defined species of mental disease. According to him, it is simply an accident of education, temperament, or sex, whether certain subjective feelings develop themselves into a morbid religious idea, or into an illusion of being persecuted and annoyed by others. "Many persons," he adds, "verging on insanity—in fact, in the melancholy stage of the disease—seek religious consolation, and, not-withstanding this, go mad; they would probably have gone mad in any case, and the most that can be said against the service is that it precipitated the attack." But to return to the figures. In 1875, from April to August, there were admitted to Bethlehem 42 male patients, and of these 9 suffered from religious insanity. During the same time 55 women were admitted, of whom 8 had religious delusions. That was 21.4 per cent, of the men, and 14.5 percent, of the women. During 1874, in the same period, 30 male admissions gave 6 religious cases, and 47 female cases gave 16 that is, 16.6 and 34 per cent, respectively. In 1873, 28 male admissions gave 4 religious cases, or 14.2 per cent.; 28 female admissions gave 8 religious cases, or 28.4 per cent.


We have received from Prof. W. S. Barnard the following correction of a statement in his article on "Opossums and their Young," published in the December Monthly: "In your December number I stated that the delivery of young opossums had never been witnessed. To the contrary see observations of Mr. J. G. Shute, in the 'Proceedings of the Essex Institute,' vol. iii., page 288, to which my attention has just been called. The female curves her body until the sexual orifice is opposite the pouch, which opens by muscular contraction to receive the young, without any assistance from the paws or lips."

The largest telescope ever yet attempted is now in course of construction in Dublin by Mr. Grubb. It is intended for the new Observatory of Vienna. The object-glass will have an aperture of over twenty-six inches, and the focal length is to be about thirty-two feet.

In the American Journal of Science and Arts for November Prof. Marsh has a short illustrated paper describing the remains of several fossil birds obtained from the Cretaceous of Kansas, and possessing teeth.

We learn from the Scientific American that the excavations at Hell-Gate were completed about the end of July. The work now in progress consists in the boring of holes for the charges of nitro-glycerine. This was to have been completed before the end of the year 1875, and then two or three months more would be occupied in inserting the charges.

A curious race of sheep, living on an island in Englishman's Bay, coast of Maine, are described in Forest and Stream. They are nearly as wild as deer. Their principal winter food is sea-weed, chiefly dulse; they also eat the branches of nearly all the trees which grow on the island.

In very early times the pine appears to have been the principal forest-tree of Denmark. At present the beech occupies this position, and the pine is no longer indigenous in the country. Next after the beech comes the birch, then the alder, the aspen, the hazel, etc. An examination of the vegetable débris of the bogs of Denmark shows that the pine was followed immediately by the sessile-fruited variety of the oak, and this in turn by the beech.

In illustration of the influence of nutrition on the habits of plants, Mr. Meehan, of Philadelphia, cites the case of two species of Euphorbia, which, though usually prostrate, he found assuming an erect growth when their nutrition was interfered with by a small fungoid parasite. A similar fact was observed in connection with the common purslane, one of the most prostrate of all procumbent plants, which, under similar conditions, also became erect.

Dr. Nicolas von Konkoly finds in the train of meteors the spectrum-lines of sodium, magnesium, carbon, strontium, and possibly lithium, while the nucleus invariably gives a continuous spectrum, in which the yellow, the green, or the red predominates, according to the color, blue being very rare, and violet never seen.