THE subject of this evening’s discourse was proposed by our late honorary secretary.2 That word “ late ” has for me its own connotations. It implies, among other things, the loss of a comrade by whose side I have worked for thirteen years. On the other hand, regret is not without its opposite in the feeling with which I have seen him rise by sheer intrinsic merit, moral and intellectual, to the highest official position which it is in the power of English science to bestow.
IN the class Mammalia the order Edentata is one which offers a very great diversity. To judge from their name, the Edentates should all be animals without teeth ; yet, though some of them, as the ant-eater and pangolin, offer this peculiarity, others, on the contrary, as the sloth, the armadillo, and the orycteropus or earth-hog, have the jaws provided with organs of mastication, except the portion where the incisors should be.
I MUST assume it to be generally known that in last year’s Congress of German Naturalists and Physicians, held at Munich, a prominent member incidentally referred to the points of contact between Socialist Democracy and Darwinism, as also to the momentous and redoubtable consequences which might thence ensue.
THE readers of the “ Monthly ” will remember the account of “ An Infant’s Progress in Language,” by F. Pollock, in our September number. We also published an article on “Lingual Development in Babyhood,” by M. Taine, in June, 1876. M. Bernard Perez has just published a book upon an analogous subject—the mental development of children under three years of age. The following résumé of his observations is translated from the “ Revue Scientifique ” for November, 1878.
I HAVE recently announced to the Royal Society that, reasoning from the phenomena presented to us in the spectroscope when known compounds are decomposed, I have obtained evidence that the so-called elementary bodies are in reality compound ones.
MR. JOHN STUART MILL, in the preface to his work on “ Logie and the Principles of Evidence,” observes that while in the search for truth we may be able, in some cases, to avoid errors instinctively and successfully, although unable to formulate the method by which we do so, yet it is an advantage not to be dispensed with to have a rational understanding of the philosophy of reasoning, so that we shall not be forced to depend alone on blind and irregular instinct.
OMNIA EXEUNT in—Theologiam.1 NO branch of science appears to consider itself complete, nowadays, until it has issued at last into the vexed ocean of theology. Thus, Biology writes “ Lay Sermons ” in Professor Huxley ; Physics acknowledges itself almost Christian in Professor Tyndall ; Anthropology claims to be religious in Mr. Darwin ; and Logic, in Mr. Spencer, confesses that “ a religious system is a normal and essential factor in every evolving society.
PERHAPS there is no object more common in the cabinets of mi croscopists than mounted specimens of bee-stings. Almost every popular work on the microscope describes and figures them, but it is only within a few months that the true structure of these organs has been made known. Mr. J. D. Hyatt, of this city, has been studying the subject for the past eight years, and his recent discoveries have shown that the ordinary descriptions are incorrect and founded upon mere inferences, drawn from the appearance of the organ as usually dissected and mounted. There are no less than eight discoveries, for which we are indebted to the labors of this gentleman, and it is our intention to present some of these as briefly as possible. I Physicus, "On Theism," pp. 51, 63, 114. 2 Abstract from a paper, by J. P. Hyatt, in the "American Quarterly Microscopical Journal," October, 1878.
AS a preliminary to the paper of this evening upon reflex action as a cause of disease and a method of cure, I must say a word about reflex action itself, and also about another subject with which it is very closely connected, viz., the transference of impressions.
MR. DUGDALE, in his recent monograph, “ The Jukes,” has endeavored to show by rather startling statistics how crime and pauperism become hereditary. In this vicious and depraved family, there is a conspicuous absence of moral sensibility—a lack of what we call conscience—that strikes the social scientist as something abnormal.
THE oft-repeated words, “ Cause unknown,” appended to the daily reports of the conflagrations which occur all over the country, furnish matter for grave reflection. A glance at the report of one of the largest fire brigades will show us that the causes (when ascertained) are of the most varied description.
PROFESSOR CLEVELAND ABBE, an American astronomer and meteorologist, who had intended to observe the eclipse of the sun last July from the summit of Pike’s Peak, in Colorado, more than 14,000 feet above the sea-level, fell ill after he had reached that place, and was carried down to the Lake House (elevation 10,000 feet), there to remain while the rest of his party staid to view the eclipse from the summit.
AMONG the pioneers and master minds in the domain of natural science, during the first half of the nineteenth century, several have risen far above their contemporary co-laborers, and have attained to heroic prominence ; while a few, transcending the limits of their own period, have largely contributed to giving shape and character to their time, opened and entered upon novel paths or new fields of inquiry, and thereby have immortalized their life-work, and their name in history’s imperishable record.
READING the article in your November number from “ Nature ” on “ Singing Mice” recalls my experience with one of these interesting little animals : Some years since, while residing at Santa Fé, New Mexico, one of these vocal mice made its appearance in my house.
IT can not be kept too clearly in mind that the broad issue of modern educational reform is whether sciences or languages shall predominate as objects and instruments of culture. Shall physical nature, life, man, society, and the actual phenomena of experience, become the leading objects of study; or shall the acquisition of forms of speech, the accumulation of verbal symbols, and the discipline of grammar-grinding continue to hold their traditional ascendancy ?
ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND DESTINY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE. By JOHN A. WEISSE, M. D. New York : J. W. Bouton. 1879. Pp. 800. Price, $5. Two purposes are intended by the author of this work : first, to set forth a history of the English language and literature ; and, second, to show the fitness of the English to become the universal language of civilized man.
Printing and the Perpetuity of Modern Civilizations.—The subjoined remarks on the influence of printing on the permanency of our modern civilizations are from the able address delivered in August last before the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by Professor A. K, Grote, VicePresident of Section B : Those who have brought together the story of the ancient civilization of Greece have agreed with unanimity that the separation between the mass of the people and the intellectual portion became at length insurmountable, and finally led to national destruction.
AMONG the results of the labors of the United States Fish Commission during the year 1878 is to be reckoned the discovery of fifty new species of fishes in our Atlantic waters. These species are enumerated by Messrs. G. Brown Goode and Tarleton H. Bean, in the “ American Journal of Science.