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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 26/April 1885/Popular Miscellany

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 26‎ | April 1885

POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Psychology of the Chimpanzee.—Dr. C. Pitfield Mitchell has published a "Study of the Psychology of the Chimpanzee," which he has made upon a specimen in captivity at the Central Park Menagerie, New York. On being introduced, the animal offers his right fore hand, and, grasping one of the fingers of his visitor, attempts to put it in his mouth. The extension of the hand, in meeting an acquaintance, is made with a pleased look of recognition, unmistakably the outcome of gratified social feeling, and is often accompanied with a presentation of the back to be scratched. The chimpanzee, seated in a chair at table before a bowl of milk, grasps the spoon with his right fore-hand, and feeds himself, wiping his lips with a napkin held in his left fore-hand. In using the spoon, the coordination of movements lacks precision, but none of the milk is spilled; and, when the spoon is taken away, he whimpers to have it returned, but does not seem inclined to drink in the natural way. The outer and visible signs of laughter are comparatively simple; that species of laughter which is caused by the perception of incongruities was never witnessed, although a few attempts were made to evoke it, and although monkeys and dogs are known to be sensitive to ridicule. When disappointed, as when a piece of banana was taken away from him, the animal sulked, became angry, cried, and shook his hands. When introduced to his image in the looking-glass, he seemed fixed for an instant with surprise, then looked to the back of the mirror, and began to bite the frame and pull an attached cord. "Advancing to the front and examining the reflection of his person with evident satisfaction, he commenced, with absurdly sincere intentions, to make effusive demonstrations of love. He repeatedly pressed his lips and tongue to the glass, and, erecting himself to his full height, strutted, and grinned, and made obeisance in most ridiculous and amusing fashion. He was once seen to make signs to his image by spasmodic movements of his lips, without uttering any audible sound. He again looked behind the mirror, and again fell to biting the frame. He became still more angry and hit the glass, first with the left fore-hand and then with the left hind-hand, and continued to do so with such violence that we were finally compelled to break the spell. While eating some fruit, he saw himself in the glass, and ran away preciptately, that he might keep possession of his morsel." A colored India-rubber ball that emitted a musical note when squeezed was examined with timid curiosity at first. "At length, he took the ball in his hands, not seeming afraid, and tried by gentle pressure, in imperfect imitation of what he had seen me do, to evoke its note. Failing in this, he commenced to hit it forcibly with the knuckles, and grinned with pleasure when the sound was produced. He then hit it violently, drawing the upper lip over the upper row of teeth, looking as if delighted in the exercise of his powers. He was allowed to see a piece of fruit put in a tin box or canister, and the latter closed by a firm adjustment of the lid. He very quickly applied the teeth, not the fingers, to remove the lid, and, having succeeded in doing so, extracted the fruit. But, seeing a similar cover on the opposite end of the canister, the previous association of contiguity between an adjusted cover and inclosed fruit forced him unreasoningly to remove this cover also."

 

The New England Meteorological Society.—The New England Meteorological Society was formed in June, 1884, to advance the study of atmospheric phenomena in New England, and to collect and diffuse information in meteorology. Its meetings are held on the third Tuesdays of October, January, and April, at places designated for each meeting. It publishes a monthly bulletin, containing a summary of the meteorological conditions of the preceding month, with other items of interest, which is supplied to members. Observations are welcomed from every one, and circulars and blanks to aid in making them are sent to those who desire them. The society is making arrangements for the display of daily weather-signals with railroads, postmasters, town authorities, and others, and contemplates the institution of investigations on the subject of ozone in its relations with epidemic disease. For carrying out its work, it relies wholly on the fees of membership, three dollars a year each member. Hence all interested in its work are invited to apply for membership to W. S. Davis, Secretary, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

Heavy Ordnance for National Defense.—In a pamphlet on "Heavy Ordnance for National Defense," Lieutenant W. H. Jaques, of the United States Navy, shows that we are in pressing need of guns to make our fortifications of value; that the most practicable type of the guns that are required is that represented by the system of Mr. J. Vavasseur, of London; and that there are no establishments in the United States possessing sufficient plant and experience to manufacture them on the scale that is demanded. In answering the question. What is the best method of supply of such guns, he shows, by cogent reasons, that the Government can not depend on foreign supply or private industries, and should not rely on its own factories alone. That which suggests itself to him as the most feasible way for securing a provision of heavy ordnance is, for the Government to make arrangements for obtaining a supply of tempered steel from private industries, and provide for the fabrication of the guns—that is, for the machining and assembling of the parts, and the sighting of the guns—in its own factories, of which there should be two, one for the army and one for the navy. For this purpose appropriations should be made immediately for the purchase of steel, so that manufacturers may prepare to furnish it.

 

Scorpion-Lore verified.—A correspondent of "Land and Water," who has lived in Jamaica, has verified some of the curious stories that are told about scorpions. Having found one of these creatures among some old papers, he tried the experiment of blowing upon it, to test the verity of the tradition that a scorpion will not move under such circumstances. Somewhat to the experimenter's astonishment, the animal stopped at once, and flattened himself close to the paper on which he had been running, and would not move even when he was prodded with a pencil, or the paper to which he clung was shaken. As soon as the blowing was discontinued, the scorpion advanced cautiously, only to stop again at the slightest breath. Another experiment was made with regard to the readiness of scorpions to sting themselves to death. A circle of burning sticks was laid three yards in diameter, and the scorpion was placed in the center of it. The fire was not so hot but that the temperature was endurable within a few inches of it, and the center of the circle was cool. The scorpion made several desperate efforts to escape, and finding it could not, "retired almost into the exact center of the circle, and there in a tragic manner raised his tail till the sting or spur was close to his head, gave himself two deliberate prods in the back of his neck, and thus miserably perished by his own hand." An accidental observation enabled the writer to verify the story that the young of scorpions live upon the back of their mother. While he was playing billiards, something fell from the roof of the building upon the table. It proved to be a female scorpion, and from it ran away in every direction a number of perfectly formed scorpions, about a quarter of an inch long, of which thirty-eight were killed. The mother was in the throes of death, her body having been entirely eaten away by the brood. The negro attendant of the billiard-room said that the young scorpions always lived thus at the expense of their mother's life.

 

Local Variations in Thermometers.—Mr. H. A. Paul has called attention to discrepancies in the observations of temperatures which can not be covered by the ordinary precautions in the exposure and reading of thermometers, nor even by those more carefully devised ones recommended by Mr. n. A. Hazen, of the Signal-Service Office, in his recent paper on "Thermometer Exposure." According to Professor T. C. Mendenhall, of the Ohio State Weather Service, "the means of the thermometrical readings of the twenty State Service stations on the nights of the 21st and 25th of January, 1884, differed by respectively 12·4° and 14·7° Fahr. from those of the four Signal-Service stations. At Columbus a difference of 27° appeared between the reading of a thermometer on the north side of a stone building, and that of the State Service instrument in an open lot three miles distant. This circumstance indicates that the true minimum can not be got in a city or to the leeward of it when a moderate breeze is blowing. It may be questioned also whether exposure near the ground, where the conditions must vary with the local character of the surface, can be relied upon as a measure of the average state of the atmosphere for a few hundred or a few thousand feet overhead. Hence a plan of exposure on high, open scaffoldings would be highly desirable. At any rate, meteorological stations, especially those of the Signal Service, which is engaged in predicting the weather conditions for large areas, will have to be moved into the country, and probably to moderately elevated points, before the best results can be obtained."

 

The Great Bore of the Amazon.—Mr. John C. Branner, formerly of the Imperial Geological Commission of Brazil, has published a paper on the pororóca, or bore, of the Amazon, a manifestation of force peculiar to the northern division of the mouth of the great river, of which the inhabitants of the adjacent country stand in extreme terror. It was not his privilege to witness an exhibition of the phenomenon, although he much wished to do so, while the people with whom he was staying desired that he or any one else should not, but he observed some of its effects and had the scene described to him. The most impressive manifestations of the force of the wave are near the mouth of the Araguary River. An eye-witness of one of the appearances of the pororóca, at that place, one of a party of soldiers, related that "shortly after the tide had stopped running out they saw something coming toward them from the ocean in a long white line, which grew bigger and whiter as it approached. Then there was a sound like the rumbling of distant thunder, which grew louder and louder as the white line came nearer, until it seemed as if the whole ocean had risen up, and was coming charging and thundering down on them, boiling over the edge of this pile of water like an endless cataract, from four to seven metres high, that spread across the whole eastern horizon. This was the pororóca! When they saw it coming, the crew became utterly demoralized, and fell to crying and praying in the bottom of the boat, expecting that it would certainly be dashed to pieces, and they themselves be drowned. The pilot, however, had the presence of mind to heave anchor before the wall of waters struck them; and, when it did strike, they were first pitched violently forward, and then lifted, and left rolling and tossing like a cork on the foaming sea it left behind, the boat nearly filled with water. But their trouble was not yet ended; for, before they had emptied the boat, two other such seas came down on them at short intervals, tossing them in the same manner, and finally leaving them within a stone's-throw of the river-bank, when another such wave would have dashed them on the shore. They had been anchored near the middle of the stream before the waves struck them, and the stream at this place is several miles wide." The signs of the devastation wrought upon the land by this gigantic wave are very impressive. Great trees, dense tropical forests, "uprooted, torn, and swept away like chaff"—for the most powerful roots of the largest trees can not withstand its rush; the destruction of the banks for some distance inland; and the formation of new land in places, are among the signs of its ravages. The pororóca is an accompaniment of the spring tides, and is due to the resistance offered to the tidal waves by the sand-bars and narrow channels which they have to meet. Its effects are most marked in the northern channels of the mouth of the Amazon, while little is known of it in the southern channels.

 

Drift-Copper in Iowa.—Mr. A. R. Fulton, president, read a paper, before a recent meeting of the Des Moines Academy of Science, on the pieces of native copper that occasionally occur in the drift of Iowa. lie named several specimens that had been found in different parts of the State, varying from ten ounces to thirty pounds in weight, all identical in appearance with the native copper of the Lake Superior district. They had doubtless been brought down from there by glacial action, and this made it probable that the glacial current had some time during the Ice age flowed in a southwest direction. So, pieces of lead-ore have been found in parts of the State southwest of the lead-region around Dubuque, pointing to the same supposition.

 

Sowing Fertilizers.—Professor Storer, of the Bussey Institution, has made some experiments to determine the quantity of given fertilizers which a man would naturally throw from his hand in sowing an acre field. Having measured off a half-acre, he employed a careful laborer, accustomed to such work, to scatter the fertilizers over the soil, directing him to sow them as if he were sowing grain thickly. Doubling the amount actually sowed on the half-acre to adapt the proportion to the standard of a whole acre, the quantities sown were, to the acre: of nitrate of soda, 214 pounds; of muriate of potash, 173 pounds; of superphosphate of lime, 173 pounds; of blood, bone, and meat-dust fertilizer, 124 pounds. All of the substances were quite finely powdered up, except the nitrate of soda. The blood, bone, and meat-dust fertilizer weighed 60 pounds to the bushel; the superphosphate of soda, 68 pounds; the muriate of soda, 69 pounds; and the nitrate of soda, 88 pounds. The experiment was repeated with a student of the institution, "an exceptionally intelligent American of one-and-twenty years," without much experience in that work, to do the sowing, and who moved as rapidly as the other man had moved deliberately. He scattered nitrate of soda at the rate of 194 pounds to the acre, and muriate of potash at the rate of 116 pounds. The laborer's work may be regarded as a useful indication of what would actually happen in case the specified fertilizers, says Professor Storer, were sown by hand. It will be noticed that the figures of the table agree very well with certain rules or statements current in agricultural journals, concerning the amounts of saline manures proper to be applied in practice; and it may well be true that some of these rules were originally based upon observations of the amounts of material that a man could conveniently scatter.

 

Suicide a Product of Fast Modern Life.—The "Lancet," noticing the increased prominence which suicides have appeared to assume in recent years, and believing that a large proportion of those crimes are the deliberate, conscious acts of persons overburdened with the cares of life or dreading some terror, attributes the increase to the fast rate of modern life. Boys and girls, it says, "are men and women in their acquaintance with and experiences of life and its so-called pleasures and sorrows, at an age when our grandparents were innocent children in the nursery. . . . Life is played out before its meridian is reached, or the burden of responsibility is thrust upon the consciousness at a period when the mind can not in the nature of things be competent to cope with its weight and attendant difficulties. . . . Forced education, commenced too early in life and pressed too fast, is helping to make existence increasingly difficult. . . . Hasty and too early marriages, too anxious struggles for success in life, too hazardous adventures in business enterprise, the rush of undisciplined and untrained minds into the arena of intellectual strife, and, above all, that swinging of the self-consciousness, pendulum-like, between excess in rigor of self-control and untempered license, which constitutes the inner experience of too many, arc proximate causes of the break-down or agony of distress which ends in suicide. The underlying cause is impatience, social, domestic, and personal, of the period of preparation which Nature has ordained to stand on the threshold of life, but which the haste of progress treats as delay."

 

Oil and Earths as Food for Mice.—Professor Storer, of the Bussey Institution, has discovered that mice, when short of food, are capable of eating putty and of living upon the oil which they assimilate from it. Their capacity for feeding upon oil was demonstrated to him when one morning he found the wicks of the lamps which his workmen had left overnight in the cellar drawn and combed out, and the oil all sucked from them. Some months later he had several panes of glass set in the windows with new putty; a few days afterward he found the putty all eaten off. After making these observations, he began experimenting. He caged some mice, and, having fed them oats till they became accustomed to their new quarters, he cut down the supply of oats to just enough to keep them in good case, and gave fresh putty—ten or twelve balls, large enough to just pass through a three-eighth inch hole to three mice. This putty, weighing twenty grammes (16·7 grammes of whiting and 3·3 grammes of oil), furnished five and a half grammes of whiting, or one third of its weight, to each animal. The whiting was passed off as an oilless dung, which became very large, white, and friable. It was relatively the same as if a man of about one hundred and fifty pounds weight were to eat and pass off fifty pounds of chalk a day! The mice would eat no more than the quantity named. If their allowance was increased, the surplus was left. To prove that it was for the sake of the oil that the putty was eaten, balls of whiting mixed with water, and of gypsum and water, were tried. They were not eaten; only a few of them were scratched enough to satisfy the mice that there was no oil in them. Red ochre when substituted for the whiting was eaten the first day, with the production of red dung, but was not eaten on the second day. It was better relished when mixed with whiting, but the mice soon tired of it in that shape. Yellow ochre was hardly more acceptable than red. Mixtures of linseed-oil and gypsum were eaten freely, but not so freely as the whiting mixture. Carbonate of baryta proved to be poisonous to the animals, but the poison seemed to be neutralized when carbonate of lime was mixed with it. Carbonate of lead seemed to act as a poison, but not so deadly, provided it was mixed with whiting, as it might have been supposed to be. Clay was not appreciated by the mice, but was eaten when mixed with whiting. Experiments with various results were also tried with sulphate of baryta, silica, carbonate and oxide of zinc (both eventually producing death), slaked lime (of which only one of the mice would eat enough to kill him), and whiting and sirup, which was eaten freely. Similar experiments were tried on rats, with similar results.

 

Rainfall as affected by Wind.—The proper construction and location of rain gauges to secure measurements agreeing with the average rainfall on the surrounding district has been a much-discussed problem. In 1766 Dr. Heberden observed that gauges on the ground collect generally a larger quantity of rain than gauges on the sides and roofs of buildings. As a summary of facts since learned, G. E. Curtis, in "Signal-Service Notes," No. 16, quotes the following from an article published by Symons in 1878: "The greater part of the decrease is due to wind. The stronger the wind, the greater the decrease with elevation. The less the diameter of the elevated gauge, the less will it indicate. A gauge on the leeward side of a tower may collect as much rain as one on the ground. A gauge in the middle of a large roof may, notwithstanding its height, collect very nearly the same as one upon the ground." In the following year Symons further stated that "there is no evidence of any difference between the fall of rain at various-heights from sixty to two hundred and sixty feet above the ground." How the variation in the vicinity of buildings can depend on the wind was explained in 1861 by W. S. Jevons, who said that a stream of air meeting an obstacle leaps over it, flowing with increased velocity above it, as a river flows fastest through narrows. When two equal drops of rain fall into a current of air at points where the velocity is not the same, one drop will either approach toward or recede from the other, and the quantity of rain falling on the space beneath will be increased or diminished. The large rainfall registered at the Signal-Service station on Mount Washington has recently been specially investigated. Four extra gauges, three inches in diameter, were set up seventy-five feet respectively north, east, south, and west from the station-gauge. The observations of thirteen months showed that precipitation varies materially within one or two hundred feet. It was found also that the windward gauges generally recorded the least rain, the central gauges more, and the leeward gauges the most. Hence it is concluded that the wind affects the distribution of rain on the summit of Mount Washington in the same way as on the tops of buildings. During this period the station gauge, which is eight inches in diameter, was found to give larger readings than the others, and a three-inch gauge was set up near the large one for comparison under the same conditions. The conclusion reached was that the discrepancy was due to insufficient collection by the smaller gauge, and varied as the square of the wind's velocity. European observers have noticed no such differences between the measurements of three-inch gauges and larger sizes, but their observations were made when the velocity of the wind did not exceed twenty miles an hour, while on Mount Washington it reached seventy-five miles an hour.

 

The Food of Animals.—The question whether the distinction between herbivorous and carnivorous animals is as clear as it has been supposed to be is discussed in the "Field Naturalist" and the "Journal of Science." The prevailing theory is that the primary animal life was herbivorous; and this must have been the case with the earliest and lowest forms, which had nothing but plants on which to feed; but among vertebrates, and especially among mammalia, the earliest forms seem to have been zoöphagous or animal-eating. Among fishes, amphibians, and reptiles, even in the earlier geological epochs, the vegetable feeders are found in a minority. The earliest fossil birds were plainly fitted for a predatory life; and the lowest and earliest forma among mammals are decidedly zoöphagous. It may even be permissible to ask if among mammals the purely plant-eating forms have not been developed from a zoöphagous or at least from an omnivorous stock. The only large group which contains no zoophagous or omnivorous members, that of the ruminants, is characterized by its complicated and highly specialized digestive organs, "evidently modified from the normal mammalian type, so as to be adapted to a purely vegetable diet." Numerous animals are zoophagous at one period of their lives and plant-eating at another, and experience a natural and normal change. Thus all mammals begin life as milk-eaters. Likewise all birds begin with a diet of insects and worms or of half-digested food disgorged from the crop of their parents. Changes arising from scarcity of food, or from caprice, are also on record. Domesticated dogs and cats often partake of vegetable matter. Among wild animals the change indict when it occurs is most generally from vegetable to animal. Curiously, when any species has adopted a new diet, it shows a great disinclination to return to its former food. The majority of warm-blooded animals may, however, be regarded as omnivorous, in so far that they consume both animal and vegetable food. Apes and monkeys, generally classed with vegetarians, "never omit an opportunity of robbing a bird's nest, and feed with avidity upon a great variety of insects." The bears and their allies, except the so-called polar bear, carnivores, seem to prefer fruits, roots, honey, insects, and even grain before it is ripened and hardened. "There is no satisfactory evidence that any of the cats in a wild state will consume vegetable matter, but at least two groups of the Canidæ—the foxes and the jackals—are not averse to fruit." Among the rodents an omnivorous character is becoming more and more fully established. The Solidungula, or horse kind, and the ruminants are, so far as is known, strictly vegetarians; but the other sub-order of the Ungulata, that of the pachyderms, includes the swine, the most typically omnivorous animals. Among the birds, the number of purely plant-eating species is relatively smaller, that of the exclusively zoöphagous larger, and that of the forms recognized as omnivorous is increasing as our knowledge of their habits extends. Thus the animal-eating and plant-eating forms of animal life are not separated from each other by any sharply marked characters, but are connected by a multitude of creatures intermediate in their organization, and consequently adapted for a mixed diet.

 

Health and Density of Population.—Professor de Chaumont recently illustrated the influence of density of population on health, by comparing London and Paris. In Paris every individual had an area of about forty square metres, while in London he had eighty. The result of the difference was clearly shown, not only in the lower death-rate in a larger population, but in the character of the diseases, while some diseases—scarlet fever, for instance—were more severe in London than on the Continent; others, such as typhoid fever and diphtheria, were much more common and fatal in the large cities of the Continent than they were in England. In London, the streets were filthy and the sewers abominable, but the houses were the perfection of cleanliness; whereas, in Paris, one might give a dinner-party in the sewers, and the streets were perfectly clean, but the houses were abominably filthy. In Paris, all the filth was kept in or under the house:-> while in London it was all sent away. The result was shown in the differences in the health of the two cities, particularly in diphtheria, which was described by French sanitarians as the scourge of their country, while in London it took a comparatively low position in the class of zymotic diseases.

 

Chinese Acupuncture.—The "North China Herald" gives some curious illustrations of the skill of Chinese doctors in cauterization and acupuncture. With two copper coins as his only tools a Mantchoo peasant produced an effectual counter-irritation in a case of slight sunstroke. Acupuncture is performed first in the hollow of the elbow of each arm, and is regarded as successful if blood flows from the wound. If the blood does not appear, the case is regarded as grave, and the operation is repeated in the abdomen, with drawing back and forth of the needle. If the patient shows signs of pain, or blood is drawn, a poultice is applied, and recovery is regarded as almost certain. If the blood does not flow, or the patient does not suffer, the case is given up. A case is quoted in which a young Chinese was instantly relieved of the cramp of cholera by this process. The Chinese explanation of their treatment is that, when the blood is in the poisoned condition which induces the choleraic symptoms, it becomes thick and accumulates in certain parts of the body, from which it must be withdrawn.

 

Development of Zuñi Civilization.—Mr. F. H. Cushing explained before the British Association his theory of the manner in which the present civilization of the Zuñis rose by a genuine process of self-development from a low condition of barbarism, in which he finds every reason to believe those Indians originally existed. The brush covered wigwam in which they first dwelt gave way to a small building of lava-stone, or a cliff-dwelling, and that to the pueblo house, which is both cliff and dwelling in one. Their earliest vessels were gourds. They incased them in wicker-work for safer transportation; then took the wicker-work alone, and had a basket; then plastered the basket with clay to make it tight, and got the idea of a pottery-vessel. The first ornamentation of their pottery was derived from the imitation of this wicker-work frame. And all this took only a few centuries—nothing near the numerous cycles of ages which some anthropologists imagine it must have taken man to reach a civilized state.

 

Family Relations of the Mnata Yanvo.—Dr. Pogge and Max Buchner have described the people of the Muata Yanvo, or Matianvo of Livingstone, as, although fetich worshipers, practicing circumcision, a "fine warlike race, unhappily addicted to slave hunting, though far in advance of some neighboring tribes, and living under feudal institutions." "Among many peculiar customs," says General Lefroy, "is one which invests one of the king's half-sisters, under the designation of the Lukokescha, with the second authority in the kingdom. She is forbidden to marry, but permitted a sort of morganatic alliance with a slave, any off-spring being ruthlessly destroyed, and, on the death of the king, she has the principal voice in determining his successor, who, however, must be selected from among the sons of the late king. . . . The extraordinary custom prevails here that a man's children do not belong to him, but to the eldest brother of their mother; and, should a child die, the father must make compensation."

 

Treatment for the Opium-Habit.—In his little pamphlet on this subject. Dr. Asa P. Meylert says that in all cases where unrestrained the opium habitue takes a larger quantity than would suffice him. The method of cure by gradual reduction alone he has tried in one case at the patient's request, but does not propose to repeat the experiment. Every reduction was attended with severe suffering. In another case, he tried to reduce gradually, using tonics to sustain the patient, but no narcotics, nor a substitute of any kind. The case was that of a woman, whose general health was good, whose will-power was unusually strong, who had not taken opium long, and was not taking a very large quantity—thirty grains of crude opium daily. It was a most favorable opportunity to try this method. The result proved that, notwithstanding the tonic treatment, she found a daily reduction of four per cent intolerable. We must therefore—if we adopt this method—consider something less than four per cent as adapted to the average patient. Suppose that the average consumption be estimated at ten grains of morphia daily—and this is a low estimate. Suppose, again, that the patient continues the drug to the one tenth grain before leaving it off altogether—and this would be a minimum limit without special treatment: to reduce from ten grains to one tenth grain, at three and one half per cent daily, would require one hundred and thirty days, or nearly four and a half months; at one per cent, four hundred and fifty-nine days, or over fifteen months. Those who know how easily the opium patient is alarmed by any sudden shock, and how naturally relief is sought from the bottle for every ill or mischance in life, need no assurance that a cure which must extend over so long a time is utterly impracticable for the average patient, outside an institution. There remains but one general course of treatment which Dr. Meylert deems worthy of consideration—that by substitution. This consists in gradually reducing the drug, substituting, however, some narcotic, sedative, or soporific. He knows of no antidote which will allow the immediate cessation of morphia without pain; the best offered by the nostrum-venders being only a poor attempt at reduction and substitution. Dr. T. D. Crothers states that analyses of fourteen so called opium antidotes showed the presence of morphia in every one.

 

A Blind Man's Capacities.—The death of Mr. Fawcett, the blind English statesman, has brought out a proposition to create a fund in memory of him which shall be most appropriately devoted to the furtherance of the higher education of the blind. Mr. Fawcett himself was a splendid example of what a blind man can accomplish when be sets his heart on the work he engages in; yet what he did, he did wholly without the systematic instruction which is given in some institutions for the blind. His public work was of the best, so that he was one of the most valued officers of the British Government. Besides this, he was able to ride, to walk, to skate, to row, to fish, and to climb the Alps. Though the affliction of having become blind after having seen may be considered greater than that of having been blind from birth, Mr. Fawcett was able to enjoy much from having once seen. "In his walks with his friends, he would sometimes wish to go to a place where he could have 'a view'—that is, where his companions could describe to him scenes once familiar to his sight—and more than one of those who have met him have been struck on being told by the professor (as a result of friendly inquiries from third parties as to their appearance) that he was glad to see them look so well." Thus he was able to make the recollection of what he had seen a source of pleasure to himself. Blind asylums were first founded as a kind of hospitals for incurables, without any idea of teaching anything to their inmates. But even then a few individual efforts had been made to instruct the blind. Bernouilli, more than two hundred years ago, is reported to have taught a blind girl at Geneva how to write. Saunderson and Weissenberg did the same for themselves. The attempt further to develop the idea was made in Paris exactly a hundred years ago, when Fraulein Paradies, of Vienna, who had made some efforts in the same direction, communicating with persons in France, an institution was established, in which it was proposed to give a general education to the blind, as well as to train them in special faculties.

 

Origin of Chinese Ancestral Worship.—According to a writer in the "North China Mail," the Chinese ancestral worship was maintained in most ancient times on the ground that the souls of the dead survive. The present, it was believed, is a part only of human existence, and men continue to be after death what they have become before it. Hence the honors accorded to men of rank in their lifetime were continued to them after death. In the course of ages, and in the vicissitudes of religious ideas, men came to believe more definitely in the possibility of communications with supernatural beings. In the twelfth century before the Christian era it was a distinct belief that the thoughts of the sages were to them a revelation from above. A few centuries subsequently we find for the first time great men transferred in the popular imagination to the sky, it being believed that their souls took up their abode in certain constellations. This was due to the fact that the ideas of immortality had taken a new shape, and that the philosophy of the times regarded the stars of heaven as the pure essences of the grosser things belonging to this world. The pure is heavenly and the gross earthly, and, therefore, that which is purest on earth ascends to the regions of the stars. At the same time hermits and other ascetics began to be credited with the power of acquiring extraordinary longevity, and the stork became the animal which the immortals preferred to ride above all others. The idea of plants having the property of conferring immunity from death soon sprang up, and the red fungus Polypones lucidus was regarded as the most efficacious of such plants. Its red color was among the circumstances that gave it its reputation, for at this time the five colors of Babylonian astrology had been accepted as indications of good and evil fortune. This connection of a red color with the notion of immortality through the medium of good and bad luck led to the adoption of cinnabar as the philosopher's stone, and thus to the construction of the whole system of alchemy; but the plant was regarded first.

 

Over-pressure in English Board-Schools.—A controversy is going on in England over the question whether or not over-pressure is exerted in the elementary schools. Much depends, in the debate, on the definition to be attached to the term over-pressure. Edith Lupton would include in it any physical or mental injury done to any child as a consequence of the carrying out of the education acts. The school-officers would require that the child should have been previously entirely healthy; but Dr. B. W. Richardson is quoted as saying that such a child in our present state of civilization does not exist. Dr. Crichton Browne has reported, after examining the London schools, that the evil in them is real, and is working injury upon the children. It is exerted by the "keeping in" after school-hours of children, usually those who are from any cause behind with their work and have to be pushed so as to be ready for the examination, and in the imposition of home-lessons. The prime motive to both these impositions is the necessity which exists for forcing backward pupils to the examination level. The very fact that these children are backward is evidence that they are not as competent to sustain the regular school-work as their brighter fellows; yet they are the ones upon whom the additional charges are laid. "The influence of that emotional excitement caused by the approach of an examination," says Dr. Browne, "is really one of the most dangerous elements in educational over-pressure," and the "examination-fever," as it has been called, "is now endemic in the metropolis." Many of the London children go to the school partially starved, through having to depend upon food which, though it may be abundant, is innutritious. They "want blood, and we offer them a little brain-polish; they ask for bread, and receive a problem; milk, and the tonic-solfa system is introduced to them." Some come breakfastless to school, because they must be in their places punctually, and they have no time to eat breakfast. More than a third of the children in the elementary schools of London are represented to be suffering habitually from headaches, and these come on for the most part in the latter half of the day, when the brain has become exhausted, and the pressure of work tells most seriously from it. Many are troubled with sleeplessness, generally caused by their thinking over their lessons, particularly their arithmetic-lessons. Parents frequently complain to teachers that the family are disturbed by the children talking of their lessons in their sleep. Dr. Crichton Brown-e believes that a considerable part of the increase in nervous and brain diseases, and neuralgia and short-sightedness, is attributable to this over-pressure. He found nothing, however, to complain of in Scotland, where the children are vigorous, well fed and clothed and taken care of. These conclusions have been scornfully contradicted by the friends of the school-boards, but Edith Lupton gives Dr. Browne a strong support by showing that even the school inspectors had not means of ascertaining the facts at all comparable with those which he used. Thus, at Bradford, the official inspection was done at a rate which gave an average of one minute for the personal examination of each child. "Out of that time had to be taken the time required for inspecting log-book, school premises, sanitary arrangements, teachers, and pupil-teachers. The children had to be examined in reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing, English, geography, elementary science, history, drawing, and algebra. The infant department, in facts about animals, coal, gas, salt, form, color, food, plants, clothing, rain, frost, etc., etc.; modeling, geometrical drawing, weaving, planting, drill. Then there was the merit grant in all the schools, organization and discipline, intelligence and instruction, behavior of children, inspection of the exemption schedule and its authentication 'by attendance officers,'" preliminarily to which special inquiries had to be made personally. Furthermore, the inspector "had to satisfy himself that in the daily management of the school the children were being brought up in habits of punctuality, good manners and language, cleanliness and neatness, cheerful obedience to duty, consideration and respect for others, honor and truthfulness in word and act; and not only that regard had been paid in classifying them as to their health, age, and mental capacity, but that the dull and delicate had not been at any time within the preceding year unduly pressed. And all this in five hours for three hundred children! Miss Lupton adds instances of actual and serious over-pressure which had come under her own observation.