Page images
PDF
EPUB

cities, should be rigidly watched by experienced veterinarians, who should be on duty continuously at these slaughter-houses, in order that no single animal can be sold for meat until it has been examined. A long experience in this matter has satisfied the writer that no confidence can be safely put in the slaughterers as a class. They will, without any compunction whatever, kill and sell the most diseased animals, and do not hesitate to put upon the market even the flesh of new-born calves, and of those that have died from disease. It will be an expensive matter, it is true, to station a competent veterinary surgeon at each of the slaughter-houses in these great cities; but the interests of the public health demand it, and they should be kept there continuously. The work will then not be done as efficiently as if public abattoirs were established on the river-front, and the slaughter-houses now scattered throughout the cities abandoned.

IT IS WELL KNOWN that the senses are subject to normal deceptions (sinnes taüchungen), which seem to be inborn in the structure of the nervous

system and the sense-organs. In some respects the world that we piece together from our judgments and sensations proves to be somewhat different from the world to which we apply the footrule and plumb-line, which we weigh and measure by objective standards. The science whose business it is to discover the nature of these discrepancies is psychophysics. M. Sorel, in a recent article (Revue philosophique, October, 1886), calls attention to the wide practical bearing of this study, shows how it was taken into account by the Greek architects, and how it modifies our aesthetic conceptions. He looks forward to the time when all these deceptions will be quantitatively determined, and applied in every-day life. Not only will we have a real psychophysic law (or laws), but perhaps also the signs of practical consulting psychophysicists will grace our streets.

THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL PRISON association at Atlanta this year seems to have been very successful. The opening addresses by ex-President Hayes and Mr. Henry W. Grady of the Atlanta constitution were very well received, the latter especially calling forth strong expressions of approval. The various discussions on prison architecture, prison diet, the prison physician, the paroling of prisoners, reformatories, and prison

labor, were ably introduced and well conducted. The debate on prison labor seems to have excited most interest. Warden McClaughry of Joliet had the courage to defend the contract system, and regretted the action of the people of Illinois in adopting at the last election a constitutional amendment prohibiting it. Warden Brush of Sing Sing made an eminently sensible remark when he said that discussions about forms of prison labor were of little use just now, when a cyclone is sweeping over the country, and agitators are striving to put an end to all prison labor, whatever its form. It was in this discussion that Dr. Tucker created a sensation not only by defending the lessee system as practised at the south, but by pronouncing a panegyric on it. He claimed that the lessee system is the best possible, and made a number of extremely foolish and absurd remarks about the psychological repulsion' between races, and in closing demanded the utmost severity of punishment compatible with the convicts' physical health. He went so far as to declare that the chain-gang is the negro's paradise.

Dr. Sims of Chattanooga, who had two days before made an argument for the abolition of the lessee system, which is reported as being very cogent, made a brief answer to Dr. Tucker, and, while granting that the lessee system in Georgia is better managed than elsewhere, repeated the conclusions reached by his previous argument. Dr. Tucker had asserted, after telling his hearers that the penal features of the lessee system are too severe for whites and not severe enough for colored persons, that the death-rate of Georgia prisoners was 8.8 in the thousand. Warden Brush called attention to the official report of the state penitentiary, which showed a death-rate of 30 per thousand; but all the answer Dr. Tucker would vouchsafe was, My arithmetic is right.' The truth is, that the lessee system of convict labor is barbarous and inhuman; and the wonder is, that any self-respecting man could publicly defend it, especially before such a body as the National prison association.

Mr. Wines, writing in the International record of charities and correction, says that the tendency of thought in the prison association becomes more apparent each year. The keynote of all the discussions is that felons who pursue crime as a vocation, or are driven to it by an irresistible natural

impulse, should be permanently incarcerated for the security of society. This implies a distinction between the incorrigible and the corrigible; and the possibility of reformation and establishment of reformatory discipline in prisons follow as matters of course. In Mr. Wines's own language, "Life sentences for recidivists, indeter minate sentences for first offenders, the mark system, the progressive classification of prisoners, conditional liberation, improved facilities for education in prison, the reformation of our system of prison labor, all of these are parts of the sifting process by which we seek in the end to eliminate from the community the dangerous elements in society." This is an inspiring programme, and, when the reformers convince our legislatures of its practicability, undoubtedly much will be gained. But we do not hesitate to say, that, as a rule, we find, in the opinions of prison-reformers, too much theory and too little practicality. They are on the right road, but their progress is slower than it need be, on this very account.

THE DEBT WHICH the sciences of ethnology and linguistics owe to missionary labors has never been adequately acknowledged. The latest recognition of its value, though well meant and instructive, is still imperfect. Dr. R. N. Cust's monograph, Language as illustrated by Bible translations' (London, Trübner, 1886), displays the scholarship and research which would be expected from the author. He gives a classified list of versions, arranged according to the various families of languages, from which it appears, that since the establishment of the British and foreign Bible society, in 1803, the missionaries of that society and of similar associations in Great Britain, the United States, and other Protestant countries, have translated the Bible or portions of it into no less than two hundred and ninety languages and dialects. Of these, forty-nine belong to Europe, one hundred and one to Asia, sixty to Africa, thirty-eight to America, and forty-one to Oceania. Adding the older versions (some of which have been republished under missionary revision), we have a total of three hundred and twenty-four translations in the catalogue of Dr. Cust. however, by no means exhausts the list. His plan excludes reference to the Roman-Catholic versions, which are numerous- if not of the whole Bible, at least of portions of it. Eliot's Indian Bible, though mentioned (not quite accurately) in

This,

the text of the monograph, does not appear in the list. Nor is any thing said of the vast number of grammars, dictionaries, and vocabularies, or the versions of catechisms and similar works, — in many more languages than are included in his list, which we owe to these zealous laborers, of almost every Christian denomination. In spite of these limitations, however, Dr. Cust's memoir will be a most useful manual of reference for philologists. It is to be hoped that he will supplement it, as he is probably better able to do than any one else, by an additional list, comprising these other missionary publications, which will be helpful to students. Prof. Max Müller has shown that the foundation of the science of comparative philology was laid in the great work of the Jesuit missionary Hervas, - his Catalogue of languages,' in six volumes, published in Spanish in the year 1800, and derived mainly from the results of missionary researches. The distinguished professor himself, and the other eminent philologists of our day, a list which includes such names as F. Müller, Gerland, Latham, Farrar, Sayce, Hovelacque, Charencey, Whitney, Brinton, Trumbull, and many hardly less noted,-who have reared upon this basis such a noble superstructure, will be the first to admit that their work owes its extent and value chiefly to the materials supplied by the later efforts of these enlightened and indefatigable toilers.

A STRIKING PROOF of the growth of scientific studies at Harvard is given in the recent report of the Museum of comparative zoology. Although it is within three years that the latest addition to its building has been occupied, it has already become too crowded for the needs of the university. This addition completed the first wing of the great structure originally contemplated by Agassiz, and gave a massive building nearly three hundred feet long and five stories high, with about a hundred thousand square feet of flooring, or the equivalent of seventy rooms, thirty by forty-five feet in dimensions. The new portion, nearly a third of the whole, is entirely devoted to offices, library, and purposes of instruction; and yet the curator, Mr. Agassiz, in his recent report to the president and fellows, reports that "the unexpected demand for instruction is in excess of our accommodation. . . . It will be absolutely essential, in order to maintain the unity of organization on which so much care and money have

been expended, to provide additional quarters for the accommodation of the increasing number of students, and the natural demands for expansion in the specialties of each department. At the present moment an additional section of the museum would barely meet our requirements." We understand that work will commence on this another season. Nor is the interest wholly confined to the students. Most of the exhibitionrooms having been thrown open to the public, the number of visitors has greatly increased, so that it has become necessary to begin the erection of a large portico-front to the main entrance on the middle of the south side, and to transfer to it the staircases, which are now wholly insufficient to accommodate the stream of visitors. At the same time it will greatly relieve the now somewhat barren façade of the building.

THE NOVEMBER IOWA WEATHER bulletin, by Dr. Gustavus Hinrichs, closes with an intimation of the character of the coming winter. "The probability is very high that the winter now begun will be a mild one in Iowa and the north-west. The very fact that the last two winters have been severe ones greatly increases the probability stated. It should, however, not be forgotten that even the mildest of Iowa winters has spells of severe weather and blizzards." We must not infer from this that Dr. Hinrichs has any intention of competing with such long-range weather prophets as Mr. Blake, editor of a self-complacent sheet called the Future, or others of that class. The prediction here quoted is probably based simply on the fact that the mean temperature of a region for a long term of years is essentially constant, and hence severe winters will generally be compensated by mild ones; but studies of this kind in Europe show that any rules thus based are very often broken. No one could safely order a smaller supply than usual of winter coal, or attempt to make a corner in ice, on such indications, especially as the term 'mild winter' is not considered incompatible with some spells of severe weather and blizzards. Severe winters may, on the other hand, have low mean temperatures, while they are relatively free from heavy snows, which form the chief element of severity in the mind of a railroad superintendent.

ISAAC LEA, LL.D.

DR. ISAAC LEA, the Nestor of American naturalists, died at his home in Philadelphia on the 8th

instant. Dr. Lea was born in Wilmington, Del., March 4, 1792. He was of Quaker descent, his ancestors coming from Gloucestershire, England, with William Penn on his second visit. His taste for natural history exhibited itself at an early period, and was fostered by his mother, who was fond of botany, and by his association with Vanuxem, then a youth, who was devoted to mineralogy and geology, then hardly organized as sciences. Their studies were undirected, and only in 1815 did they become members of the Academy of natural sciences, then about three years old. Lea forfeited his birthright in the Society of friends by joining a company raised for the defence of the country, in 1814, though the organization was never called into service. Though engaged in learning mercantile business, young Lea became an active member of the academy, and published a mineralogical paper in its journal in 1817. This was followed by a very long series of contributions to mineralogy and conchology, recent and fossil, which have made his name familiar to naturalists all over the world. He married, in 1821, Miss Frances A. Carey, the daughter of Mathew Carey, the well-known economist, and became a member of the publishinghouse of Carey & sons, from which he retired in 1851. Mr. Lea's married life was exceptionally long and happy, lasting fifty-two years, and blessed with two sons and a daughter, who still survive.

[ocr errors]

In 1825 began those studies of the fresh-water and land shells, especially the Unios, with which Dr. Lea's name will always be associated. In 1827 he published his first paper on the genus Unio. In 1836 he printed his first synopsis' of the genus, a thin octavo of fifty-nine pages. The fourth edition of this work appeared in 1870, when it had grown to two hundred and fourteen pages quarto.

Dr. Lea was a member of most American and many foreign scientific societies. He visited Europe, and studied his favorite mollusks at all the museums, where he made the acquaintance of Férussac, Brongniart, Gay, Kiener, and other distinguished men, whose names now sound like echoes of a past epoch.

In 1833 Dr. Lea published his 'Contributions to geology,' at that time the best illustrated paleontological work which had ever appeared in the United States, the text of which was remarkable for the care and judgment evinced in its preparation. Up to 1874 he continued ever busy; and the number of new forms, recent and fossil, made known by him, amounts to nearly two thousand. His activity continued almost unabated up to some ten years ago. Not content with figuring

DECEMBER 17, 1886.]

557

[graphic][merged small]

and describing the shells alone, he figured the embryonic forms of thirty-eight species of Unio, and described the soft parts of more than two hundred. He also investigated physiological questions, such as the sensitiveness of these mollusks to sunlight and the differences due to sex. His 'Observations on the genus Unio' form thirteen quarto volumes magnificently illustrated.

Dr. Lea presided over the Academy of natural sciences for several terms, and was president of the American association for the advancement of science in 1860, beside filling various other positions of trust and honor. His scientific activity extended over a period of nearly sixty years. He received the degree of LL.D. from Harvard college in 1852. His faculties, and his interest in research, continued unabated up to the time of his death, and even to the very last such intercourse with him as his strength permitted was felt by all who approached him as a privilege. A full bibliography of Dr. Lea's writings, illustrated by an admirable etched portrait by Ferris, appeared about a year ago as Bulletin of the U. S. national museum, No. 23, and forms a volume of nearly three hundred pages.

ENGLISH WORKERS IN PSYCHICAL
RESEARCH.

As requested by you, I will give the information respecting the English society for psychical research which I have been able to gather during a recent residence abroad. Both the English and American societies have been happy in securing the active support of the most able and widely known scientists, and under their guidance psychic research is assuming a definiteness and importance which claims full recognition in the commonwealth of science. It may be interesting to your readers to know something of the personnel of the English society. It was organized with the following officers: president, Prof. Henry Sidgwick; vice-presidents, Arthur J. Balfour, M.P., Prof. W. F. Barrett, Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Carlisle, John R. Holland, M.P., Richard H. Hutton (editor of the Spectator), the Rev. W. Stainton Moses, the Hon. Roden Noël, Prof. Lord Rayleigh, Prof. Balfour Stewart, and Hensleigh Wedgwood. The president, a nephew of Lord Salisbury, is widely known by his philosophical works. Both his time and his most liberal purse are given without stint to the work of the society. Mrs. Sidgwick is one of the most effective contributors to the work of the society, not only in her independent investigations, but also by her writings and her able addresses at the public meetings. She is holding her own position ably against the urgent

claims of supernaturalism on the part of the believers in mediumistic phenomena. Her brother, Lord Rayleigh, is well known to those who attended the meeting of the British association in 1884 at Montreal.

Prof. W. F. Barrett of Kings college, Dublin, first organized the movement, both in England and America, and is known personally, as well as by his scientific reputation, to many of your readers. Edmund Gurney, Esq., author of a large quarto volume on The power of sound,' has just completed two octavo volumes entitled Phantasms of the living,' the edition of which was burned last summer just as it was being put into the hands of the printer. The second printing is issued this month. Mr. Gurney possesses the highest abilities, and is in circumstances which enable him to devote his whole time to the work of the society. In close association with him is F. W. H. Myers, Esq., whose poems are household words with the younger generation of earnest thinkers. He is one of the able corps of government chief inspectors of public schools. A most valuable remainder of his time is devoted to the work of the society. Mr. Myers has communicated in the journals of the society, and in recent numbers of the Nineteenth century and Contemporary review, some most brilliant and suggestive papers on psychology, deserving of the most careful attention of scientists. Prof. Balfour Stewart gives the weight of his counsel, and his presence in the chair at the public meetings held in the rooms of the Royal society of artists in watercolors, where are found many leaders in society, including some of the royal family, as well as scientific gentlemen.

1

Mr. Richard Hodgson of St. John's college, Cambridge, lately an able lecturer on the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, devotes his whole time to the work of the society. Mr. Hodgson went out to India in 1884 expressly to examine the claims of Madame Blavatski, Colonel Alcott of the Theosophical society, and of other impostors or dupes, to the possession of supernatural powers, acquired by the aid of a class of thaumaturgists in Persia called Mahatmas. Not a few earnest young men in the colleges of England and America, who had lost their faith in historical Christianity, had become fascinated by the claims of the Asiatic theosophists, especially as set forth in Mr. Sinnett's works, "The occult world' and 'Esoteric Buddhism,' and were prepared to accept the occult philosophy, and with it the alleged miracles of theosophy. The results of Mr. Hodg

1 See Nineteenth century, May and July, 1884, and November, 1886; and Contemporary review, February and November, 1885.

« PreviousContinue »