« PreviousContinue »
oratory investigations, and may justly claim a voice in this special department. It is to be regretted, that Dr. Babes concedes the primary discovery of the specific bacilli of different morbid processes to Babes alone. 'L'un de nous' creeps into the various chapters with a frequency not in harmony with accepted facts. So far as is known to microscopists, Dr. Babes has made no original discoveries; and the work is valuable for reference only (and in this particular its worth may not be overestimated), and as a fresh proof of Professor Cornil's facility as a writer. Lustgarten has priority in the discovery of the contagium vivum of syphilis, as well as in the peculiar process of staining. I saw Babes make several ineffectual attempts to carry out Lustgarten's directions, even while his book was going through the press; so that his statements in this connection, as well as those that occur in the discussion of actinomycosis, are purely imaginative. Actinomycoses have been successfully colored by only one man in Berlin, but his name was not Babes. The drawings in some cases are pretty good. The tube-drawings are, however, wretched, and convey an entirely erroneous impression of the growth of bacilli. Cornil's work in the book is without spot or blemish, and it is unfortunate that his duties as minister of public instruction did not allow him to give more attention to the details. Drs. G. Sims Woodhead, and Arthur W. Hare, have brought out a book jointly (Pathological mycology'). Dr. Woodhead came to Berlin for a few weeks, worked in the laboratories, and then returned to Scotland, and wrote a book. The nature and scientific value of this publication may be estimated from the length of time which was given to the study of micro-biology. The description of methods is entirely out of date. The illustrations are singularly inaccurate, notably No. v., and all of the potato-drawings. No. 22 is not used by Koch at all, and in No. 34 the tubes are not held properly. No. 37, with description, is absolutely wrong. It is evidently a contaminated, and not a pure, culture. There is no detailed account of drop culture or of plate culture, which is the very basis of Koch's method of pure culture. The bacillus of blue milk forms a brown tint, and not a 'green' tint, as the authors claim.
Neither of these works finds great favor among scientific men in Germany, and neither conveys any adequate impression of the exact processes of inquiry necessary to a comprehensive, intelligent survey of micro-biology. Even Koch himself stands but yet upon the threshold, working his way into the clear light of truth through much tribulation and scepticism; and even he would never dare to pronounce with such autocracy upon certain processes, as do those whose enthusiasm leads them to snap judgments after a few weeks of special study.
An interesting matter lately happened in Professor Johnne's laboratory at Dresden. A friend of mine, working up the micro-organisms of different earths, took a specimen from underneath the laboratory window. From this he cultivated some specimens of the bacilli of anthrax. Inquiry showed that formerly this place had been used as a burial spot for sheep dying of anthrax, but that for ten years it has not been used for such a purpose. HORATIO R. BIGELOW, M.D. Bastei, Sächs. Schweiz, July 13.
[Our correspondent makes some strong statements which need modification. The animus of Friedländer's criticism of Cornil and Babes' book (Fortschritte der medecin, July 1, 1885) may be easily understood, and loses value by so much. So far as our perusal of 'Les bacteries' has informed us, the 'L'un de nous,' spoken of in our letter, refers purely to con
firmatory work done by one or the other of the authors, and is not a claim to originality. To our thinking, Lustgarten, being the only one mentioned at all in connection with syphilis in the classification of the schizomycetes, receives all the credit the most grasping could desire: and the fact that Babes failed once or twice to stain the bacilli, proves nothing in regard to his success at other times (as any practical worker knows); nor, so far as we can see, has it any bearing upon his assertions in regard to actinomycosis. In regard to the staining of the fungus of the latter, we would suggest that some others than the one successful worker in Berlin should try washing the sections for a short time in dilute hydrochloric acid, and then stain according to Gram's method. We fancy there will be no difficulty in finding the fungus stained blue, as was demonstrated in Washington last April. Our review (Science, July 24) gives our own opinion of the work. Of Sims and Woodhead's Pathological mycology,' we have received only the first part as yet; and we have therefore not spoken of it in detail. Bad as our correspondent seems to think it, it promises to be at least the best work upon the subject that has yet appeared in English. — ED.]
Another curious phase of color association, besides the interesting one mentioned by Dr. C. S. Minot, is that in connection with names.
I have heard three children of different temperaments in the same family avow an association of colors with names. Strangely enough, they agreed on nearly every example; as, for instance, that Kate was red; Mary, white; Alice, violet; Dick, deep Vandyke brown; William, a watery blue, etc. This seems even more arbitrary and unaccountable than color associations with months; as that might, to some extent, be influenced by the prevailing tints of natural objects at those particular seasons. Thus the tone of sunlight during January, February, and March, determining the color associated, shining white yellow; that of the April sky, when there is otherwise an absence of striking color; the leading hue of Mayflowers; the zenith of verdure in June,- all may assist in forming the color associations. I may add, I know the use of color-symbols for names to exist also in adult minds in a less definite degree (the agreement between different persons also not so unanimous), but quite sufficiently to cause a confusion in recalling names of the 'same color;' as, for example, Martha and Mary Ann, both being classified as 'brownish drab.' I think if this connection of ideas were traced to the root, it would result in the conclusion that the assortment is conducted on a very elementary basis; as in the case of the two last-mentioned names, usually belonging to persons engaged in ordinary work-aday pursuits, they are represented, or rather produce an identical effect of commonplace neutrality upon the mind, with the tint commonly adapted to serviceable uses. It is probable that thought is much more frequently carried on by hieroglyphics of form and color than by words. In fact, these afford too slow a presentation of ideas, while some faintly defined symbol conveys the effect of whole sentences at an instant. As Ribot explains a certain illusion of memory 'there is a ground of resemblance quickly perceived between the two impressions, which leads us to identify them.' We confuse similar modifications of the nerve elements as the pictures on two slides passing simultaneously through the magic lantern are comK. A. CHIPMAN.
6 Place d'Armes Square, Montreal, Aug. 3.
IMMORTALITY IN MODERN THOUGHT.
Ir will be admitted, we think, that the tendency of modern science is materialistic.
This is especially true of biology. In fact, to many the doctrine of correlation of vital with physical forces, and the doctrine of derivative origin of species, seem little short of a demonstration of materialism. Thus materialism has become a fashion of thought; but, like all fashions, it has run into excess, which must be followed by reaction. We believe the reaction has already commenced. Science sees now, more clearly than ever before, its own limits. It acknowledges its impotence to bridge the chasm between the physical and the psychical. We pass from physical to chemical, and from chemical to vital, without break. All is motion,
and nothing more; also, in the region of the vital, we pass from sense-impression through nerve-thrill to brain-changes, and still we find only motions. But when, just here, there emerge consciousness, thought, will, the relation of these to brain-changes is just as unimaginable as the appearance of the genie when Aladdin's lamp is rubbed.
It is impossible to emphasize this point too strongly. Suppose a living brain be exposed to an observer with infinitely perfect senses. Such an observer would see, could see, only molecular movements. But the subject knows nothing of all this. His experiences are of a totally different order; viz., consciousness, thought, etc. Viewed from the outside, there is nothing but motions; viewed from the inside, nothing but thought, etc., - from the one side, only material phenomena; from the other, only psychical phenomena. May we not generalize this fact? May we not extend it to nature also? From the outside we find nothing but motion. On the inside there must be consciousness, thought, etc. in a word, God. To bridge this chasm, whether in nature or in the brain, Science is impotent. As to what is on the other side of material phenomena, she is agnostic, but cannot be materialistic.
Admitting, then, in man a world of phenomena, which cannot be construed in terms of motion, and which for convenience we group under the name of spirit,' is the group permanent? Is the spirit immortal? On this subject, Science can say absolutely nothing. The field is therefore open for evidence from any quarter, and of any degree. Some of these evidences, though not given by Science, are at least suggested by lines of scientific
This thought is admirably presented by Johnstone Stoney, Nature, vol. xxxi. p. 422.
1. We have said that consciousness and thought lie behind material phenomena, in nature and in the human brain. In the one case we call it God, the divine Spirit; in the other, the spirit of man. Now, does not this identity, or similarity of relation to material phenomena, imply, or at least suggest, similarity of nature, and therefore immortality for the spirit of man?
2. Individual human life passes through its little cycle of changes, and quickly closes in death. If this be all, then for the individual, when all is done, it is precisely as if he had never been. "Yes," answers the Comtist, "for the individual, but not for humanity. Every human life leaves a residuum which enters into the life and growth of humanity. It is a glorious and unselfish religion thus to merge one's self into the only true object of worship, humanity." But, alas! the cycle of humanity also closes; and for humanity too, when all is done, it will be precisely as if it had never been. But the earth - the Cosmos - abides.' Yes, but only a little longer. Science declares that the cycle of the cosmos must also close. And then, when all is done, after all this process of evolution reaching upward to find its completion in man, after all the yearnings, hopes, struggles, and triumphs of man, what is the outcome? is precisely as if the cosmos had never been. It is all literally "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Not only heart, but reason, revolts against such a final outcome. If we believe that reason underlies the phenomena of the cosmos, we cannot accept such a result. We cannot believe that the cosmos has no intelligible end. But what intelligible end is there conceivable, unless something is finally attained which is not involved in a cycle, i.e., unless man is immortal?
3. There are three primary divisions of our psychical nature; viz., sense, intellect, and will. There are three corresponding processes in making a complete rational philosophy: viz., (1) instreaming of impressions of the external world through the senses (facts); (2) elaboration of these into a consistent whole by the intellect (knowledge); (3) outgoing of this knowledge in activity (conduct). Now, a true. working theory of life must satisfy all these. But scientific men are apt to think that only (1) and (2) are necessary; that true facts elaborated into consistent theory is all we need care for. Theologians, on the contrary, seem to
think only (2) and (3) necessary: they elaborate a theory of life consistent with itself, and apparently satisfactory in its application to conduct, but are less careful to test its harmony with facts derived from the senses. But all three are necessary.1 The first furnishes material; the second constructs the building; the third tests its suitableness for human habitation. All admit that successful application to art is the best test of true theory. But conduct is the art corresponding to our theory of life, and therefore the test of its truth. Now, is not immortality as an element of our theory of life in the highest degree conducive of right conduct? Is it not a useful, yea a necessary, element in a working hypothesis?
4. But it may be objected, animals, too, have brains in them, too, we find evidences of something like consciousness and thought. Are they, too, immortal? If so, where shall we stop? We pass down by sliding scale, without break, to the lowest verge of life. Shall we stop here? No: for vital is transmutable into physical forces. Thus all is immortal, or none. Thus hope of immortality vanishes, as it were, by evaporation.
This objection, though serious, is, we think, not fatal. To make our view clear, we use an illustration taken from biology. May we not imagine that in animals spirit is in embryo in the womb of Nature, unconscious of self, and incapable of independent life; and that in man. it came to birth, a separate spirit, — individual, conscious of self, and capable of independent life, on a new and higher plane? According to this view, geological time is the period of gestation, evolution is the process of development, and the appearance of man the act of birth.2 JOSEPH LE CONTE.
THE BRITISH MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY.
THE visitor to the west end of London is confronted, upon turning into Cromwell Road, by a large and majestic building, whose architectural grace and warm color make a very pleasing impression upon the eye. This recent addition to the splendors of the West End is the home of the natural-history departments of the British museum. By its completion the plans of certain prominent English naturalists are happily consummated. As early as 1854 Dr. Edward Gray, alarmed by the rapid
1 Reflex action and theism. WILLIAM JAMES.
review for November, 1881.
2 Princeton review for November, 1878.
growth of the national collection of objects from the three kingdoms of nature, memorialized the trustees of the British museum upon the necessity of better accommodations. 1862 the matter received careful attention from Professor (now Sir) Richard Owen, who published an elaborate essay upon the proper scope of a national natural-history museum, in which he presented plans for the division of material, and the erection of a museum building. These and other plans were thoroughly discussed by the naturalists of England, and the critics became eventually divided into two opposing factions, the one maintaining that it was best to hold the natural-history collections in Great Russell Street by an enlargement of the original edifice; and the other, that it was more desirable to erect a new building somewhere in the western part of the metropolis, where more air and a better light could be obtained. The latter view finally prevailed in the government councils; but, by reason of a combination of unfortunate circumstances, nothing was done toward the erection of a new building for nearly twenty years. The collections were not moved from Great Russell Street until the autumn of 1880.
The new building stands upon a part of the ground allotted to the great industrial exhibition of 1851. Near it are the South Kensington and Indian museums, and the structures occupied by transient displays, such as the recent fisheries and hygienic exhibitions. The main portion of the building faces Cromwell Road, and presents a frontage of about six hundred and fifty feet. The two central towers are flanked on either side by a long wing and a terminal pavilion. The wings are three stories high, with a basement. The style of architecture is Norman-Gothic, richly ornamented with animal forms and conventional figures drawn from animate objects. At the back of the principal part of the structure are a number of single-storied annexes, running out at right angles to the main wall. Light for the rooms at the front and sides is obtained through large windows reaching down to the floor, but the annexes are lighted from the top.
The entire building is constructed of a buffcolored terra-cotta, which, as already intimated, is elaborately modelled, especially about the windows and doorways. The walls of the interior are likewise ornamented with conventional figures in relief. The ceiling of the central hall, presently to be mentioned, is inlaid with wooden panels upon which are painted representations of different species of plants in life-colors. The floor is a rich marble mosaic.
The main entrance leads into the great central hall, a hundred and fifty feet long, ninetyseven feet wide, and about sixty feet high, lighted by windows near the roof, and having a gallery on the sides at the level of the second story, reached by a grand staircase at the back. The ground-floor of this hall is occupied by the index collection, which is lodged in twelve arched alcoves on the east and west sides. It also gives room to a great spermwhale skeleton, which is the first specimen one sees upon entering the building.
Back of the central hall is another somewhat smaller, -ninety-seven feet by seventy feet, which will be devoted to the collection illustrative of the British fauna.
On the west side of the central hall is the entrance to the bird gallery, which occupies the entire first story of the west wing and terminal pavilion. The wing is two hundred and thirty-three feet long and fifty feet wide; the pavilion, sixty feet by forty feet. The east wing and pavilion, which are of like proportions, are occupied by the fossil mammalia. the back wall of the wings and the annexes previously mentioned is a long narrow corridor lighted from above. The western corridor is occupied by coelenterates and sponges, and the eastern by fossil reptiles. Each of the annexes is occupied by a single group. The most westerly room contains mollusks, after which follow echinoderms, reptiles, crustaceans, and fishes. The annexes at the east of the central hall contain fossil fishes and various groups of fossil invertebrates. It will be perceived that the eastern half of the first story is devoted to fossil animals, while the western half is occupied by a portion of the collection of recent animals. The second story of the west wing is given up to mammals, and that of the east wing to minerals. In the third story (which is reached by a bridge) the west hall contains the collection of mammalian osteology, and the east hall the plants.
The basements are principally devoted to work-rooms and storage-rooms for duplicates and supplies; but at the extreme western end a cetacean gallery has been established, in which the entire collection of whale skeletons has been brought together.
There is one commodious apartment on the ground-floor which deserves special mention. It is designated as the students' room. Persons who have obtained permission to study in the museum can have brought into this room such specimens as they wish to examine. Tables and other conveniences are provided, so that investigations can be carried on with
a very considerable degree of comfort. system must commend itself to the officers of all large public museums, and to the students who resort to them.
It is manifestly impossible, within the limits of this article, to describe the cases used in the museum, or the modes of arranging specimens. Suffice it to say that the former are elaborate and costly, and appear to have been designed with much care, and that the latter are in most cases not only highly instructive, but artistic.
The chief excellence of the new structure lies in the series of annexes or galleries lighted from the top, and devoted to single groups of forms. This arrangement is in some sort an extension of the system of alcoves employed in numerous museums, but is greatly superior to the latter, on account of the size of the rooms and their complete isolation.
It is perhaps ungracious, where so much is admirable, to call attention to features which have the semblance of defects. Nevertheless, the building has been severely criticised by English naturalists, both on account of its architectural elaborateness and the faulty arrangement of its parts. The arrangement of the staircases is such as to occasion much unnecessary walking; and there is no way by which to move large specimens from the lower to the upper stories. The light in the alcoves of the central hall, devoted to the index collection, is insufficient, while along the entire southern façade it is admitted in such excess as to surely prove ruinous to the mounted specimens in the cases between the windows. There is no regular provision for a library.
It should be remembered, however, that no perfect structure was ever erected, and that the defects of this building are lost sight of in its general excellence. Its superiority over the old quarters at Great Russell Street is so great as to make comparison impossible.
The museum in Cromwell Road has somewhat more than a third more available floorspace than our national museum at Washington ; but the capacity of the latter can be greatly increased by the addition of galleries. We are here comparing, however, a part of the British national museum with the whole of our own; for while the building at South Kensington is intended to contain only animals, plants, and minerals, the museum at Washington holds all the collections of the government illustrative of the three kingdoms of nature, and in addition those representing the history of the progress of culture and the arts.
After much agitation, the control of the natural-history collections has passed from the