Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/106

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96
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

their struggles and mental agony that a slight degree of physical pain would be unnoticed.

4. Swimmers, and persons who do not lose their wits, become so exhausted and chilled that, when the final act comes, their powers make but a feeble resistance. And, in both cases, the passage of water into the lungs tends to bring on insensibility by obstructing the circulation, before it is time for the agony of asphyxia to be felt.

So that, in drowning, we have reason to believe, contrary to Taylor's opinion, that pure, uncomplicated asphyxia never occurs.

If death by drowning be inevitable, as in a shipwreck, the easiest way to die would be to suck water into the lungs by a powerful inspiration, as soon as one went beneath the surface. A person who had the courage to do this would probably become almost immediately unconscious, and never rise to the surface. As soon as the fluid filled his lungs, all feelings of chilliness and pain would cease, the indescribable semi-delirium that accompanies anæsthesia would come on, with ringing in the ears and delightful visions of color and light, while he would seem to himself to be gently sinking to rest on the softest of beds and with the most delightful of dreams.

 
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SCIENCE AND MENTAL IMPROVEMENT.[1]
By Professor JOSEPH LE CONTE.

THIS club, as I take it, was formed for mutual improvement. The narrowing and ever-increasingly narrowing tendency of professional pursuits, in these modern times of division of intellectual labor and eager struggle for life, renders the formation of such associations very necessary. The ideal of a life-culture, as I conceive it, i. e., of a culture which, commencing with youth, shall terminate only with death, is briefly epitomized as follows: First, a general culture of all the faculties—a preparation for general efficiency without reference to any special pursuit—to the period of full maturity; then a concentration of the thus strengthened and disciplined powers upon special professional studies, but still in connection with a scheme of liberal culture or university, by which the professional culture shall be impregnated with the lofty spirit of liberal learning; and, lastly, when active professional life commences with its necessary narrowing effects, the formation of associations like this, by which we are brought into contact with the best thought in every department.

If culture be the object of your association, then ought it not to be merely an association of kindred spirits, as many think. On the contrary, it should consist of persons of the most diverse pursuits—theologians, lawyers, physicians, engineers, merchants, and of all modes of

  1. An address before the Chit-Chat Club in San Francisco.