Page images
PDF
EPUB

of contractors, each of whom is bound down to have his portion of the work completed within a given time, the company retaining the power of breaking the contract at a moment's notice should the work prove unsatisfactory. It is confidently expected that the canal will be finished by the end of 1889.

It only remains for us now to consider briefly the importance of the canal for the commerce of the world in general. It is almost unnecessary to speak of the saving in time and money that will be effected when the necessity for the long and perilous voyage round Cape Horn has been obviated. The following table shows, in round numbers, the distance in miles saved between various ports:

[blocks in formation]

This saving of distance will confer a great benefit on merchants and traders, who will thereby be enabled to get their goods more quickly into the market. It will also effect such a saving on insurance, both of goods and shipping, as will cover the extra expense of the dues levied on going through the canal.

The field for commercial enterprise opened up to the world by means of the Panama canal is immense, comprising, as it does, Peru, Chili, Colombia, W. Mexico, California, Oregon, the north of China, Japan, East Australia, and a great part of Polynesia. By request of the International congress of 1879, a report was drawn up by M. Levasseur, estimating the future traffic of the new route. From the statistics at his command, M. Levasseur estimated the total annual traffic at seven and a quarter million tons, of which five and a quarter million represents the traffic between Pacific and Atlantic ports; the remaining two millions, that between Europe and the east. This, however, he states to be only the net tonnage, which is less than the gross and actual tonnage by about a third,- a not unimportant consideration as regards the revenue of the canal. Thus, dues at the rate of 12s. 6d. per ton will an

nually be levied on ten millions aggregate tonnage; and the company has an additional source of income in an immense tract of land (1,930 square miles) with all the minerals it may contain, -the gift of the Colombian government.

The Panama canal will have no prejudicial effect on the Suez canal; rather it will be the complement of it. The two great highways of commerce and civilization are absolutely distinct, and there can be no rivalry between the two great maritime canals,- that of the east and that of the west. The Suez canal is the open door between Europe and the north of Africa, on the one hand, and the south of Asia and its archipelago, on the other. The Panama canal opens up a way for Europe and America to carry on their commerce with the western shores of the great western continents, with the north of China and Japan, and with Australia.

The commercial revolution effected by the cutting of the Suez canal will be altogether surpassed by the similar revolution now about to be effected by the cutting of the Isthmus of Panama. The Suez canal could only be used by steamers, and when it was opened the commercial world was not yet ready for it. The Panama canal, on the contrary, may be used by steamers and sailingvessels alike. The commercial world is eagerly awaiting its opening, and from the very first the advantages it affords will be gladly seized. M. Amédée Marteau, the editor of the Journal de Havre, has devoted an article to the Panama canal, in which he estimates the number of tons that would have passed through it had it been open in 1884. Founding his conclusions on official documents, he says:

"We are in a position to state exactly and precisely, without hypothesis and without exaggeration, the amount of tonnage now passing between Europe and America, Asia and Oceania, threefourths of which must go round by Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope, a détour which the opening of the Panama canal will henceforward render unnecessary. The total tonnage is as follows:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors]

come derived from the company's land, passenger dues, etc.

[ocr errors]

"In this estimate," continues M. Amédée Marteau, not having full statistics, we have taken no account of the present and future trade of the Atlantic ports of South America and the Antilles, with all parts of the Pacific, which cannot be reckoned at less than half a million tons. Neither have we attempted to estimate the increase of European and North American tonnage which must result from the impetus given to the trade with the Pacific and Oceania, and which probably would not amount to less than an additional one or two million tons."

The aggregate tonnage, therefore, that will annually pass through the canal must be reckoned at about eleven or twelve million tons. The cost of the canal is estimated at about £50,000,000, and the interest due annually to share and bond-holders amounts to £3,000,000.

FERDINAND DE LESSEPS.

A PLEA FOR THE SENSE OF SMELL. THE division of the five senses into higher and lower has carried with it both a moral and an aesthetic implication. While it is granted as a general proposition that sight and hearing have been the aesthetic educators of our race, yet at various times have attempts been made to rescue one or other of the remaining senses from the aesthetic degradation to which they were consigned. The aesthetic value of the tactile-mater group of sensations is deduced from the educability of the blind as regards artistic conceptions. That taste and smell play a real and worthy rôle in aesthetic life is the claim of every epicure. The very word which we use to denote artistic appreciation, taste,' owes its origin to this class of sensations. A recent writer' in this field urges the claim that the sense of taste has no right to the aesthetic position it occupies, and that it has usurped the place that of right belongs to smell. The question discussed is that of the 'gastronomic value of odors.' The point of view can be most briefly described as epicurean. The thesis is, that the pleasures of the table usually assigned as ' matters of taste' are really matters of smell.'

[ocr errors]

Taste and smell have all along acted in such close association, have, so to speak, gone to the same school, learned the same lessons, enjoyed the same pleasures, and suffered the same pains,

that they have almost come to be regarded as one sense only by special artificial means do we fully realize their dual nature. That a blindfolded person, clasping his nose tightly, will not be able

1 Henry T, Fincks, Contemporary review, November.

to distinguish between beef, mutton, veal, or pork will be similarly confused by bits of chicken, turkey, and duck, etc., is a familiar experience. Apart from the different kinds of feeling which these food-stuffs produce in the mouth, they are distinguished by smell alone. Hence, to get the real pleasure of eating, one must smell the food. True, society discountenances this proceeding if done in the ordinary way: but, says Mr. Fincks, there is a second way of smelling not usually recognized except unconsciously by gastronomists; viz., by exhaling through the nose. In ordinary expiration the air does not touch the olfactory region of the nostril; but by a special effort the air laden with all the perfumes that make up the epicure's paradise can be turned into that direction.

On this depends the art of eating. There are great individual differences in the power of accomplishing this result, and perhaps color-blindness has its analogy in smell. On the other hand, gastronomic practice for smell is as essential as artistic training for color. In both cases the teaching is largely unconscious, and instinct points out the best method of enjoying food. The mistake is, that we call every mouth-sensation a taste, and do not analyze it physiologically.

Taste is a very meagre sense at best we distinguish six kinds, - alkaline, metallic, bitter, sour, sweet, and saline. The first two have no gastronomic value; salt is at best that which spoils the soup if it isn't put in,' and is not relished for its own sake; while a taste for bitter is a morbid craving for contrast, at which the unsophisticated tongue of children would revolt. Even sour and sweet must be allied with fragrance, to yield much pleasure. What we call sour is usually a combination of tastes, smells, and touches. We distinguish one sour from another by the accompanying odor. Sweetness is the only original and genuine' pleasure of the overrated sense of taste. Yet even here the pleasure would be small if smell did not aid. "Were taste alone to be considered, confectioners might as well close their shops, and leave the sale of sugar to grocers." No one cares much for plain sugar: even children soon learn to prefer candy; i.e., flavored sugar.

[ocr errors]

"A few gifted mortals, known as epicures, have had an instinctive knowledge of the importance of odors, and the same is true of a few original and immortal cooks." The two main obstacles to the recognition of the gastronomic reform embodied in the principle that the object of cookery is to develop the "countless delicious perfumes latent in the raw material of food, or to add others when the food is deficient in natural flavor," are the "amazing gastronomic indifference

of mankind" and the "notion that there is something unrefined in the undisguised enjoyment of a meal." The cure for the first is a right education; the second is a relic of asceticism shown at its worst in the superstition that it is exquisitely refined and feminine for a girl to have no appetite. Epicures are healthy because they live on the quintessence of food' by constantly breathing through the nose. The epicure's habit of retaining this pleasure as long as possible leads to slow eating and complete mastication. Odors stimulate the flow of saliva and the other alimentary juices, and thus a gastronomist will never be a dyspeptic. Epicureanism is not gluttony: it is the ability to get pleasure out of commonplace foods. He may prefer "canvas-back duck to roast goose," but "he alone knows what an oriental rose-garden of magic perfumes may be found in the simplest crust of whole-meal or graham bread and butter."

In this strain Mr. Fincks develops the science of eating and of cooking, and applies its principles to several important classes of food-stuffs. He even proposes a new industry; namely, of so feeding poultry and other animals as to produce a special brand of meat with original nuances of flavor. And finally he promises us that the recognition of the royal position of smell in the gastronomic hierarchy would bring about an increase of twenty per cent or more in the average health and happiness of the community.

The notorious Jaeger holds that the scul is a smell we have now been given reasons for believing that smell is at the least the breath of life. J. J.

A RECENT CONTRIBUTION TO THE DISCUSSION OF HYPNOTISM.

THE French psychologists seem to be making their own the study of whole groups of mental phenomena. Of late years, almost all the valuable contributions to the subject of hypnotism, and all phenomena, have come from them. In fact, they have discovered so many new and striking facts, that almost all the old generalizations have been overthrown, and the multiplicity of facts has hardly as yet been digested into any new theory. One of the most interesting of recent discussions is that of Burgson in the November number of the Revue philosophique. It is valuable not only for the new light thrown upon some of the most mysterious phenomena of hypnotism, but for the suggestions which it offers to a study of the whole complex field of thought-transferrence.'

From time to time there have been reports of hypnotic persons who could see through opaque

objects, tell what was going on at a distance, etc. The case of some boys who could tell the title of the chapter at the head of a page, or the number of the page, when a book was opened but was held with its cover towards them, was reported to Burgson. Upon trying it, he found that one of the boys told correctly at least every other time what was required. Some experimenters would have stopped short with this, and would have heralded abroad a remarkable case of telepathic action.

But Burgson continued experimenting. He noticed three things. When the hypnotized subject was asked how he knew, for example, the figures of a page, he replied that he saw them; and when he was asked to touch the back of the book, instead of touching the cover, he put his hand under and touched the open page. Another fact was, that, when the boy did not guess right the first time, he would often correct it, if the book were moved a few inches nearer or farther from the eye of the operator. The third thing was, that the rigures were often read reversed, as 213 for 312. This suggested to the operator that the patient seemed to be reading as if in a mirror, and he began to wonder if it were possible that the latter read the figures or word as reflected in the cornea of himself, the operator. Simple experiments revealed, that, if the operator's eyes were closed as soon as the figure had been seen, the patient was rarely successful; that the attitude which gave the best chance for the formation of a distinct image was that in which the guess was most uniformly successful; and that the correctness of the guess decreased as the light was changed so as to obscure the reflection. image in the cornea could not be, however, more than .1 mm. in size. In spite of the well-attested hyperaesthesia of organs in hypnotic subjects, there might be some doubt of an ability to see any thing so small. Experiments were then tried with a view to deciding this point. The most satisfactory consisted in giving the subject a prepared section of an orchid the cells of whose tissue were only .06 mm. in diameter, and telling him to draw the same. With microscopic fineness of

vision this was done.

The

It only remained to see if the hypnotic patient's power of forming conclusions from very subtle and ordinarily imperceptible signs was confined to cornea-reading. It was easily proved that it was not. The operator hypnotized the subject sitting before him, and then made the latter believe that he was one with the operator, so that whatever affected him would also affect the subject. Then a third person, standing behind the operator, pricked some part of the latter, generally a part of his hand held behind his back, The

subject would then locate the spot where pain was felt in himself, and was correct even to a very narrow and definite limit. It seemed a wild guess to suppose that he formed his judgments from the small portions of the movements of the arms only of the third person, which were visible to him; and yet further experiment showed, that, if a screen were placed so that he could not see any of the movements of this third person, his ability to locate entirely disappeared. Experiments somewhat similar showed that the patient could tell what word the operator was writing, simply by the general movements of the armis of the latter.

Burgson himself calls attention to these experiments more as evidences of what he terms unconscious deception on the part of the hypnotized subject, than for other reasons. He calls attention, however, to the necessity of repeating those experiments of the English members of the Society of psychical research which seemed to point to mind-reading pure and simple. The average literary man who handles these latter facts does not seem to be aware of the great objection which holds against them scientifically. Absolutely the only way hitherto known of mental communication is the expression of an idea through physical media, and the retranslation of this back into a mental state. Mind-reading pure and simple does away with the intervening physical medium of expression. It is a fact of a different order from any now known. If it can be shown that what really takes place in these cases is cornea reading, or some similar occurrence, the facts are reduced to those of the same order as ordinary mindreading or muscle-reading, and they admit of a scientific explanation.

But these experiments also afford, as it seems to me, the most conclusive evidence yet offered of the law laid down by Helmholtz, that the existence of a sensation is always neglected in behalf of the meaning conveyed by it. Here the minute image on the cornea is perceived, not as what it is, but as a series of two or three figures which are definitely and correctly located in their proper spatial position. There is in these experiments no question of conscious deceit. The subject does not secretly and consciously perceive the image on the cornea, and then pass off the knowledge thus gained as if he had actually seen the figures. He himself is a victim of the deception. He thinks he sees them on the book. His sensations, in short, are mere signs or symbols, to which in themselves he pays no attention. He observes only the objective bearing, the information conveyed. The proof of the theory did not require such a crucial experiment as this, perhaps, and yet it is as striking an evidence as could be desired.

But it also shows that the interpretation of the sensation is governed by the conceptions already in consciousness, and this affords a valuable contribution to the growing theory of apperception. There is an increasing tendency among psycholo gists to regard all perceptions as judgments passed upon sensations by means of the conceptions present in the mind at the time of their occurrence. The sensation is interpreted into harmony with these dominant conceptions; so that we see not merely what is really there to see, but what the mind is adjusted to see, what it can read in out of itself. All hypnotism is one page of evidence to the influence of dominant conceptions, but the present instance is typical of the extent to which it may be carried. It is to be hoped that some one will carry the experiments further, and particularly see how far unsuspected cornea and muscle reading has entered into the as yet unexplained cases of mind-reading, so called. J. D.

VOLUNTARY AMPUTATION AMONG CRAYFISH.

IN referring to limb-shedding as a voluntary act among certain crustaceans, Professor Huxley tells us in his 'Crayfish' that "this voluntary amputation is always effected at the same place ; namely, where the limb is slenderest, just beyond the articulation which unites the basal joint with the next. The other limbs also readily part at the joints; and it is very common to meet with crayfish which have undergone such mutilation." Quite recently (Sept. 4) M. H. de Varigny, in a very instructive paper which he has published in the Revue scientifique, entitled "L'amputation réflexe des pattes chez les crustacés," presents us with the results of a long series of experiments of his, undertaken with the view of throwing additional light upon this subject. M. Varigny studied the phenomenon in quite a variety of species and in several hundred individuals. He claims that in every instance the amputation is voluntary, and is truly an amputation, and not a disarticulation due to the feebleness of the interarticular membrane of the joint. Much less is the throwing-off of the limb ever due to a fracture.

Then referring to the previous researches of M. Frédéricq, M. Varigny further claims that this act on the part of the crustacean will not only follow a direct blow, but may often be induced through either scratching or bruising the claw, or simply rubbing it, or through the action of the electric current. Moreover, it is found that the amputation is reflex, and depends upon the action of the central nervous system, for when the latter

is injured, or the animal brought under the influence of an anaesthetic, it cannot be performed; that when the amputation is voluntary, the crab loses but little blood, which is not the case when the limb is removed by the experimenter, thus going to show that the act is purely a protective one, often saving the life of the animal with the minimum amount of injury.

The power to perform the act with promptness varies with the different species, and in any of them, when the animal is fatigued, it is not apt to resort to it. In experimenting with vigorous specimens of Carcinus maenas, it was observed that when the ten limbs were successively struck, allowing sufficient time for each one to detach itself before the next leg was struck, a far greater number were thrown off than when they were all struck together, or in very rapid succession.

Then, in one hundred and ten specimens of the same species, it was found that a second blow upon the undetached claws would cause them, in nearly all cases, to come away likewise, especially after the animal had somewhat recovered from the shock caused by the loss of its other limbs. And when the same experiments are undertaken in the case of only five of the limbs, the number that come away was proportionately much greater. Further, it was noted that the animal was more successful in getting rid of its great claws, or pincers, than it was with the ambulatory limbs.

To sum up, then, M. Varigny believes this reflex function of defence, as performed among crustaceans, consists in a voluntary amputation, indifferently executed among those species wherein the musculature of the limbs is but feebly developed, and among individuals exhausted by severe pain, as in such cases where all the limbs have been simultaneously removed.

As the hemorrhage is so much less as resulting from the voluntary amputation, when compared with what takes place after the removal of the limb by artificial means, it will not be questioned but that this power as possessed by these animals is one of service to them.

Further investigations in this direction will be not only interesting, but valuable.

ELLIOTT'S ALASKA AND THE SEAL
ISLANDS.

THIS handsomely illustrated and printed volume is evidently intended for a popular audience. Little of its contents is new. That which is original with the author, and due to his personal observation, is in great part a re-arrangement and amplification of matter printed by him two or Our arctic province Alaska and the Seal Islands. By HENRY W. ELLIOTT. New York, Scribner, 1986. 8°.

three times previously, especially in the octavo report on the 'Condition of affairs in Alaska,' issued by the government in 1875, and in the quarto document of the census series of 1880, relating to the fur-seal fisheries and kindred topics, published in 1882, from which part of the illustrations of the present volume have been adapted or reduced. This, however, will not diminish the interest or value of the work for those who are not in the habit of consulting government documents, or who read merely for general information. The part of the work which is a re-arrangement of matter original with others is naturally less satisfactory than that on the Aleutian and Seal islands, where the author is at home in the scenes he, for the most part, very fairly and accurately describes. Many of the illustrations are faithful and good, especially those due to pen-and-ink sketches. From these, however, the human figure-pieces must be excepted the faces in particular partake somewhat of caricature, are generally out of drawing, and have absolutely no anthropological value. The landscapes, excepting a few representing mountains, are generally very good. In the copy before us, Mount Shishaldin has disappeared from the plate which claims to give a glimpse of it (p. 146); Mount Iliamna is represented with a slope near the peak (p. 87) of about twenty-three degrees from the vertical; and Verstovia (p. 32) has hardly more than forty-five.

The book is to some extent a misnomer, the most interesting and available part of Alaska lying between latitudes 50° and 60° north, as does the greater part of the British Islands, which no one would think of calling arctic. The nomenclature and transliteration of Russian words are very irregular and often inaccurate, in no respect conforming to the systems generally adopted. Apart from the biology of the fur-seals and birds of the Seal Islands, the natural history of the book is very shaky, and the anthropology almost a minus quantity. But it is hardly worth while to lay much stress on its deficiencies from a scientific stand-point, since it is hardly likely to be consulted for precise data of that sort. Its historical errors are less numerous but more important. To give a single instance, the author repeats the error of Petroff in Bancroft's Alaska,' by stating that in 1868 Messrs. Hutchinson and Morgan passed the season in exclusive control of the sealing on St. George and St. Paul islands. As a matter of fact, there were five or more competing companies. There is an insufficient index; and the map, though well drawn and printed, in spite of the date, 1886, which it bears, is destitute of all the more important geographical discoveries of the last few years.

« PreviousContinue »