THE manner in which trains of imagery and consideration follow each other through our thinking, the restless flight of one idea before the next, the transitions our minds make between things wide as the poles asunder, transitions which at first sight startle us by their abruptness, but which, when scrutinized closely, often reveal intermediating links of thought of perfect naturalness and propriety—all this magical, imponderable streaming has from time immemorial excited the admiration of every living man whose attention happened to be caught by its omnipresent mystery.
THOUGH a large amount of material has been collected and published regarding the megalithic structures of Europe, their classification is in a somewhat unsatisfactory condition. The misery of the systematist has already made itself apparent in synonyms for a well-known class of monuments—namely, the dolmens.
TAKE it that these lectures are intended to be more suggestive than didactic, and in what I shall have to say to you my object will be merely to induce you to think for yourselves. I shall not attempt to outline the laws of political economy, nor even, where my own views are strong and definite, to touch upon unsettled questions.
A RECENT visit to Professor Henry A. Ward’s “Natural Science Establishment" at Rochester, New York, led the writer to some reflections on the comparative value of a knowledge of natural history. In the prevailing systems of education, the subject is totally disregarded, or receives but trifling consideration.
SOME thirty years ago, I enjoyed opportunities of discussing with John Stuart Mill (whose younger brother had been for twelve months an inmate of my house) many questions of philosophy in which we both felt the deepest interest. Among these was the Doctrine of Causation set forth in his recently published "System of Logic”: “We may define the cause of a phenomenon to be the antecedent, or the concurrence of antecedents, on which it is invariably and unconditionally consequent."
ONE of the results of teaching at the Museum is, that it always has considerable influence upon the teachers themselves. Forced by the nature of this institution to keep himself constantly acquainted with what is known and what is sought, with what is definitely acquired to science, and with the object of aspiration, obliged to coordinate recent with preceding discoveries, to test theories, to bind together the new material continually accumulating about the stones forming the vast edifice of science, the professor sees the lines of this structure slowly modified, he himself contributing to this result, and sometimes ends his career under the sway of other ideas than those which at first inspired him.
TO say that we are under a moral obligation to enjoy ourselves would be, in the opinion of most persons, to utter an unmeaning paradox. It is commonly supposed that the natural instinct for pleasure can take care of itself without any reënforcement from a sense of duty.
HAVING met from time to time with cases of brain-fag, and also actual insanity, arising from excessive mental work, I wish to direct attention to-day to this cause of disordered mind, not because it is so widespread a cause as many others, but because for this very reason it is in danger of being treated with indifference, whereas at the present moment I regard it as a serious evil, although comparatively restricted in its operation in consequence of the great mass of the people falling under opposite influences; still I fear that it is in schools and colleges as well as in the cottage of the laborer and manufacturer, among students as well as among those who delve and spin, that we must seek for the causes of mental disturbance if we wish to understand them thoroughly.
THE satyr in the fable was not more scandalized at the man who blew hot and cold with the same breath, to warm his fingers and to cool his porridge, than the old acquaintances of water as the natural cooler and refresher of the world have been to find it artificially asserted as supreme in the opposite office of heating.
WITH the discovery of America, the founding of colonies in the New World relieved the Old of so much surplus population as gave the people of both hemispheres many new chances in life. The advantages of education, meager as was the information given by the schools, inspired men with a desire for larger liberty than the old monarchical governments were either able or willing to give.
FROM the southern and western slopes of the San Juan Mountains, in southwestern Colorado, stretches far to the south and west a strange country. It is a country of plateaus and cañons—of plateaus whose surfaces are flat and unbroken for miles on miles; as far as one can see, the country presents a monotonous level, but is cut here and there by deep, almost impassable, canons.
TRAVELERS to Rome, endowed with a reasonable measure of that taste for the repulsive which is natural to our paradoxical race, have long been accustomed to include in their round of sights a Capuchin convent, noted only for the singular manner in which the bones of its deceased inmates have been made to serve as emblems of mortality to the devout.
THE Honorable Edward Littleton, an authority in English higher education, has written a notable article in the "Nineteenth Century" on "Athletics in Public Schools." He canvasses the system with some thoroughness, and arrives at independent conclusions regarding it, which will be of special interest on this side of the Atlantic, now that such vigorous efforts are making to adopt the same policy in our higher schools.
PIERRE BARRÈRE, in an essay on the natural history of the equatorial possessions of France, written in 1741, described a tortoise of a singular form which the Indians of Guiana called the raparara. It had, he said, a long, wrinkled neck, from which hung small membranes, ragged or slashed like a fringe; its head was flattened and triangular, and ended in a kind of trunk shaped like a quillpen; and the upper part of the shell was furrowed and marked with large knobs.
SOME few people may perhaps have remarked and remembered an unusual meteorological phenomenon which occurred in London last Christmas night. We had had several weeks of hard frost, and the cold on Christmas morning was rendered more piercing than ever by a bitter east wind, though indications of an approaching thaw were not wanting.
CARL RITTER was born at Quedlinburg, in Saxony, the birth-place of Klopstock, on the 7th of August, 1779. His father was physician in ordinary to the Abbess of the convent in that place, and was a man of noble character and gentle disposition who was held in high esteem by his fellow citizens.
IN a good but caustic review of Mr. Mallock’s book— "Is Life worth Living?" —you make use of a sentence which would seem to reflect on all alike who are engaged in the study of theological problems: "We have here the last brilliant exploit of the theological mind in its warfare with modern science."
A GOOD illustration of the tendencies of officialism in education, as well as in politics, is afforded by the recent inaugural address of the new President of the New York Board of Education, Mr. Stephen C. Walker. He said he had formerly been opposed to the policy of taxing the people to sustain academic or high-class education.
HAVING paused for a short time in the claboration of his "Principles of Sociology" to anticipate a portion of the next treatise on “Ethics,” Mr. Herbert Spencer has resumed his labors in their regular order, as the volume before us attests.
Action of Organic Acids on Minerals.— At a recent meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences, Professor H. Carrington Bolton, of Trinity College, Hartford, communicated the results of a continuation of his researches on the behavior of minerals with organic acids.
THE Berlin Geographical Society recently celebrated the birthday anniversary of Carl Ritter, the famous German geographer. He founded the society in 1828, and presided over it until 1860. The university, the army, and various German societies, were largely represented, and handsome subscriptions were announced for a memorial to the hero of the evening.