AN observant foreigner once said of America, “I found progress in everything except in their schools and churches.” One must take with a grain of allowance the impressions of foreign tourists. They are solicited so importunately by the objects of the senses that they fail, as a class, to appreciate the real significance of American institutions.
CONTROVERSY, like most things in this world, has a good and a bad side. On the good side, it may be said that it stimulates the wits, tends to clear the mind, and often helps those engaged in it to get a better grasp of their subject than they had before; while, mankind being essentially fighting animals, a contest leads the public to interest themselves in questions to which, otherwise, they would give but a languid attention.
IN October, 1885, I left England with the object of paying a visit to the group of islands known as the “Solomon Islands,” for the purpose of making collections of the fauna, and, if possible, penetrating to the mountains of the interior of some of the larger islands, which had not yet been visited by white men.
IN 1844 C. C. Greville made this entry in his journal: "We are now overrun with philanthropy, and God only knows where it will stop, or whither it will lead us !” When he wrote these words he was appalled lest the malign influence of philanthropy should avail to secure additional legislation for the protection of women and children in the mines and factories of England.
HISTORICAL studies have undergone a great transformation in our days. Almost exclusively literary a few years ago, they are tending at this time to become almost as exclusively scientific. It is not the recent progress of archæology alone that has caused a remodeling of our knowledge and our ideas in history.
ONE of the peculiar features of modern historical study is that it is to a very large extent dependent upon the examination of the monuments which the people of the past have left and the articles of use and ornament that are found among their ruins.
SINCE the time when Maxwell occupied himself with the theory of electricity, perhaps even since the time of Faraday, it has been generally accepted by most physicists that electricity is a phenomenon resulting from oscillations of the luminiferous ether.
ARNHAGEN VON ENSE, the German Macaulay, characterizes the shams of our latter-day civilization in the remark that “ a constant improvement in the luster of the varnish has kept up with the progressive dry-rot of the timber.” The historian thus denounces the increasing political corruption of his age, but his aphorism admits of a much wider application.
IT is a duty every teacher owes to his pupils to explain to them, or help them to find out for themselves, the causes of the natural phenomena which occur daily before their eyes. Yet to undertake to teach pupils about natural objects without allowing them to see, handle, hear, taste, or smell them—i. e., to come in contact with them by means of their senses—is like trying to teach music to a man who was born deaf, or color to a man who was born blind.
WHILE, as Darwin and his successors have established, plants are dependent to a considerable extent upon insects for the means of securing the fertilization of their seed, they are also liable to be eaten by them, and are in great danger from the voracious appetites of other animals.
THE Albanians are accustomed to train ganders for fighting, for which purpose they feed them with such herbs as contribute most to the development of a pugnacious disposition. When one among them thinks his goose’s courage has been sufficiently developed, he sends out a herald to go through the village uttering a challenge for any townsman having a gander which he is ready to pit in a combat to bring him to the ring for a match.
AS, in olden time, a certain Lars Porsena, of Clusium, swore by the great gods that his friends the Tarquins, who had been expelled from Rome for gross misconduct, "should suffer wrong no more,” so, in our own day, Mr. Mallock, of "Is Life worth Living ?” seems to have sworn a great oath that the beliefs which the republic of modern thought has for good cause expelled from its borders shall by his powerful arm be restored to their old tyranny over human life.
THE Gran Chaco derives its name, according to Charlevoix, from those great Indian battues, or collections of wild game, which, surrounded by a cordon of fire and hunters, were gradually driven to a given center. It is a vast central tract of country lying between the southern tropic and 29° south latitude, bounded on the north by Brazil and Bolivia, on the south by the Argentine province of Santa Fé, on the east by the Paraná and Paraguay Rivers, and on the west by Santiago del Estero and Salta.
ANTOINE LAURENT LAVOISIER was born on the 26th of August, 1743, and suffered death by the guillotine on the 8th of May, 1794. His family, descended from a postilion in the royal stables in the previous century, had gradually risen in estate.
AMONG the published sermons of the Rev. John Wesley is a famous one on “The Cause and Cure of Earthquakes.” The cause of earthquakes, according to the eminent divine, was national unrighteousness, and their cure would be found to lie in national reformation.
THE publication of “The Great Ice Age,” by James Geikie, fifteen years ago, and of its second edition, revised, two or three years later, presented to the general reader a comprehensive and very interesting account of the Glacial period, the latest completed chapter of geologic history.
Science-Teaching in Schools.—The report of the Committee of American Naturalists, on a scheme of instruction in natural science to be recommended to the schools, advises that instruction should begin in the lowest grades of the primary schools, and continue through the whole course.
THE “Hand-Book of Meteorological Tables,” compiled by Prof. H. A. Hazen, contains in a convenient form the reductions needed for current work, omitting those not now generally used. Several of the tables are new, or recomputed in their present form after some years’ experience by the author in their use.