IN the history of a nation or a people there are sometimes important changes taking place, so gradually and quietly that they are scarcely perceptible at the time. It may require a series of years or several generations to work out the problems involved, but they may be followed with results of great magnitude.
IN the Editor’s Table of the April number of this magazine, there appeared what seemed to me some most excellent remarks on “The Hindrances to the Science of Politics.” One of the chief of these the writer declared to be the wide-spread skepticism as to the possibility of such a science.
THERE is a lamentable want of method in the titular nomenclature of our public service. A first-class clerk on the civil list is a novice, receiving twelve hundred dollars a year ; he becomes a fourth-class clerk, at eighteen hundred a year, only after three promotions.
SCIENTIFIC discoveries are not distributed uniformly in time. They appear rather in periodic groups. Thus, in the first two years of this century, among other gifts presented by men of science to the world, we have the voltaic pile ; the principle of Interference, which is the basis of the undulatory theory of light ; and the discovery by William Herschel of the dark rays of the sun.
“ All things are engaged in writing their history. The planet, the pebble goes attended by its shadow. The rolling stone leaves its scratches on the mountain ; the river its channel in the soil. . . . The falling drop makes its sculpture in the sand or STONE.”—EMERSON.
THE general increase in schools of design, technical schools, and like institutions, has created no little comment, and given rise, to some extent, to opposition. It is a difficult matter to reconcile the differences between the opponents and those who favor this form of instruction, for the reason that the question, in a measure, is one of pecuniary interest to both parties.
LIFE is a sun-child ; and nearly all species of plants and animals attain the highest forms of their development in the neighborhood of the equator. Palm-trees are tropical grasses. The python-boa is a fully developed black-snake ; the tiger an undiminished wildcat.
POPULAR expressions are often very significant. “I saw three dozen lights of all colors,” or some similar expression, may frequently be heard from persons who have received violent blows on the head or face. Under the influence of shocks of this kind, the eye really seems to see infinite numbers of sparks.
ONE of the first things to be observed in a storm is the way the wind acts. It does not blow regularly, but in gusts. At one moment it bends over the branches of the trees ; in the next, it has loosened its hold, and let them fly back. We see it swelling out a ship’s sails into a full puff ; a minute later the sails hang flapping as if they had been struck down.
ACCORDING to the popular idea, man is the only animal endowed with reason. Even after modern scientific classification forced from all the humiliating admission that man is an animal, the idea of his supreme superiority over all the rest of the animal kingdom was embalmed in the formula, “ Man is a reasoning being.”
A SHEEP or an ox, a fowl or a rabbit, is made up, like ourselves, of organic structures and blood, the organs continually wasting as they work, and being renewed by the blood ; or, otherwise described, the component molecules of these organs are continually dying of old age as their work is done, and replaced by new-born successors generated by the blood.
THE GEOLOGICAL DISTRIBUTION OF NORTH AMERICAN FORESTS.
THOMAS J. HOWELL
THE causes which have determined the present distribution of the flora of the world have occupied the minds of some of the ablest students of natural history, but no satisfactory solution of the problem has yet appeared. If we accept the theory of Raumer, that plants are limited in their northern extension by heat alone, we shall find many anomalies difficult to reconcile, as no isothermal lines limit species.
THE preface of twenty pages with which M. Edmond Perrier has introduced M. Levêque’s French translation of Mr. Darwin’s essay on “Earth-Worms” is a masterly work, the importance of which will escape no one. We know that this eminent naturalist, after having given a quite cool reception to the theory of descent, at last, in his “Colonies Animales,” accepted it, under reserves, the tendency of which was to restrict the bearing of evolution at different points.
THE myths of a people are the first crude embodiments of its religious feeling. They are first formulated in stories told over the fires of long winter evenings, and pass on as traditions from father to son, until written language at last makes a record of them.
THIS subject may appear to some, if not all of you, a rather peculiar one. The eating of insect-flesh is entirely repugnant to our feelings, and at once arouses all our natural and inherited antipathies. Even those who accept literally the Mosaic history of the creation as set forth in the book of Genesis, are loath to take advantage of the permissory bill of fare granted by Divine authority in the book of Leviticus.
A LONG the New Hampshire sea-coast, in the towns of Rye and North Hampton, stretches a curious and massive formation, which at first sight appears as if built at enormous expenditure of time and labor. On closer examination, however, it proves to be only one of Ocean’s eccentric freaks, executed in this case with almost human intelligence and care.
THE TELEPHONE, WITH A SKETCH OF ITS INVENTOR, PHILIPP REIS.
WILLIAM F. CHANNING
A BOOK of absorbing public interest is announced shortly to appear in England and this country—a history of the telephone of Johann Philipp Reis, with a biographical sketch of its inventor, by Professor Sylvanus P. Thompson. The telephone outranks all previous discoveries in its direct enlargement of human power.
DEVELOPING A NEW INSTINCT. Messrs. Editors : A COW (half Jersey) ran with others in an orchard, and showed herself exceedingly fond of green, sour apples. So persistently did she “go for them,” that it was suggested she would climb the trees yet.
MR. HERBERT SPENCER has been chosen a member of the Institute of France. We learn that he was elected in May by a nearly unanimous vote as a Foreign Correspondent of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Henry P. Tappan, of Detroit.
NOTES OF TALKS ON TEACHING. Given by FRANCIS W. PARKER, at the Martha’s Vineyard Summer Institute, July 17 to August 19, 1882. Reported by LELIA E. PATRIDGE. New York : E. L. Kellogg & Co. THE normal schools all over the land have for the past twenty-five years been sending out graduates whose mission it has been to replace the old rote-system of lesson-learning by methods better adapted to the minds of children.
Nationalities in New York City.—“ The Impress of Nationalities on the City of New York ” is the subject of a paper recently read by Mr. James W. Gerard before the New York Historical Society. The subject is a difficult one, for the impress is multiple and the population of the city is exceedingly heterogeneous.
DR. C. C. ABBOTT reports as among many interesting “finds” which he discovered in the Trenton gravels, after the heavy rains of last September, a wisdom-tooth of a man, which lay in the undisturbed gravel within a dozen feet of the spot where a mastodon’s tusk, described in Professor Cook’s “Geology of New Jersey,” was found some years ago, buried almost as deeply as the tusk, and in a similar situation and among similar surroundings.