IN all the earliest developments of human thought we find a tendency to ascribe mysterious powers over Nature to men and women especially gifted or skilled. Survivals of this view are found to this day among savages and barbarians left behind in the evolution of civilization, and especially is this the case among the tribes of Australia, Africa, and the Pacific coast of America; even in the most enlightened nations still appear, here and there, popular beliefs, observances, or sayings, drawn from this earlier phase of thought.
PERHAPS few persons are fully aware of the official attitude of the Papal See toward beliefs which modern science has rejected as absurd, and toward institutions which the progress of civilization has abolished as injurious. In a recent review of Cesare Cantù’s voluminous Universal History, the Jesuit Father Giuseppe Brunengo criticises this popular work from a Catholic point of view, and censures its deviations from the teachings of the Church.*
THE accompanying map, prepared for Prof. Wright’s new work on Man and the Glacial Period from data furnished by the latest investigations in Great Britain, embodies a vast amount of information, and for the most part tells its own story. It is largely the outcome of the work of the late Prof. Carvill Lewis, whose untimely death left his large collection of English notes still unpublished.
IT is always interesting to trace the various habits and attributes of our domestic animals which form the bond of their association with us back to their natural origin. In doing so we can hardly fail to reach some suggestive inferences which bear upon our own early history as well as upon that of the animals we study.
THIRTY years ago, when Bates wrote his modest observations upon the protective mimicry of the butterflies of the Amazons, few naturalists could have foreseen the vital and far-reaching influence those now classic pages would have upon the future of biology.
THE more closely we study the works of the ancient Greeks, and penetrate the secret of the thought which they loved to conceal under the veil of symbol and myth, the more plainly we recognize that their wise men half-saw by a kind of rapid divination many of the truths which have been demonstrated to modern philosophy only by series of methodically connected observations and experiments.
IN the summer of 1888 I took a club of young people belonging to my church to the famous ruins of the mound-builders at Aztalan, Wis., for a day’s outing, and exploration of the mounds of that once great village. A superficial survey soon convinced me that it had been a very populous village, as it covered at different times as much as two hundred acres, down to an area of a little more than seventeen acres, which was skillfully and strongly fortified, representing the increased intelligence and caution of several generations constantly shrinking under the ravages of war and possibly cannibalistic devastations.
THE year 1891 was certainly one of those in which new industrial applications of paper were most numerous. The idea of using paper in place of stone in the construction of houses is already old; but paper to take the place of glass in windows, of clay in flower-pots, of iron in railway rails, wagon-wheels, and horseshoes, of porcelain in laboratory ware, of wood in barrels, it having already taken the place of that material in small boats, paper in pulleys, are applications as novel as bold.
IT is astonishing to realize how little is known by the laity of the simplest rules for the preservation of health. It would be amusing if it were not so shocking, because so ignorant, to know of some of the curious remedies used by people otherwise intelligent.
WHILE reading an earnest paper upon Conversational Immoralities, by Mrs. Amelia Barr (North American Review, April, 1890), I came across the following sentences : “There are bad people in the world, but young girls should never be near enough to them to be aware of the fact”; and “Women of whose lives young girls should, at least, seem to be innocent, are topics of conversation.”
IT would be difficult to say where the idea first originated of the possibility of artificially producing occult changes in the organism of a healthy individual, so that, if exposed to a contagious or an infectious disease, there would be an acquired resistance that would prevent the development of such a disease.
IN matters scientific as well as religious a conflict of opinion among professors is apt to produce skepticism among scholars. Nothing tends to discredit the teachings of a system more than want of harmony among its exponents. For such discordance is an acknowledgment of doubt and uncertainty, of failure to discover the truth.
STUDENTS of considerable merit have published solid and important studies on the writings of the Oriental world and the alphabet. Their work is now supplemented by the Histoire de l’écriture dans l'antiquité, of M. Philippe Berger (Paris, 1891), in which the attempt is made to give a comprehensive view of the whole subject.
MORE than twenty years ago I was one of a great company of children who labored with wooden spade and pail on the beach at Long Branch. Never a corps of sappers and miners worked more industriously or more vainly. A mighty force, unhindered, or rather strengthened, by night and storm and winter, worked behind us, not merely leveling at a touch our tiny forts and mounds and trenches, but laughing at the utmost power and skill of wiser heads and stronger hands.
CONSIDERABLE interest attaches to the metal nickel at the present time, principally for two reason : In the first place, experiments recently made in France, England, and America have shown that steel alloyed with a small percentage of nickel forms an alloy possessed of great strength and remarkable resisting powers.
PROF. WRIGHT has come forward within a few years to a foremost position among authorities in geology and the antiquity of man. His studies of glacial action have been thorough, extended, comprehensive, and fruitful of results beyond those of almost any other single observer, and make singularly fitting the curious designation given him by Judge Baldwin, Secretary of the Western Reserve Historical Society, as “the apostle of the Ice Age and Early Man.”
IN the preface to his Data of Ethics Mr. Spencer recognized the danger which might be apprehended from a weakening of the authority of existing moral systems before the authority of a more comprehensive and rational system should be established.
THE rapid progress of scientific investigations during this latter half of the nineteenth century has been scarcely less surprising than the countless applications of invention in manufactures, in the vast development of railroads, and in the uses of electricity for the telegraph and telephone, and for motive power and light.
Reality of Geological Catastrophes.—In a review of the history of the theories of the development of the earth’s crust—that of uniformitarianism and that of catastrophes—in his address at the British Association, Prof. Archibald Geikie spoke of a modification or enlargement of the uniformitarian doctrine which has been brought about by continued investigation of the terrestrial crust and consequent increase of knowledge respecting the history of the earth.
IN a paper in the British Association, on the Periodical Velocity of Bubbles in Vertical Tubes of Liquid, Mr. F. T. Tronton said that as a bubble ascended in a tube its changes of shape caused corresponding changes in its velocity, and consequently any given bubble if watched would be seen to have alternating maxima and minima of velocity.