Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/134

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124
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

apart from the body and brain seemed insuperable, and to believe sincerely and without a doubt that which is inconceivable is, at least in my own case, impossible.

Doubts regarding the question of immortality gave me no concern as to consequences. Those doubts are honest, and I can not prevent them. I was and am convinced that if what I was taught in my youth concerning God and a future life be true, an All-wise and All-just Supreme Being can not condemn me for believing according to the best light of the intellect which he himself gave me; while, if the doctrine of immortality be false, then of course death ends all. In either case there is no cause for uneasiness. Since my partial return to health, the wish to live has strengthened; in fact, now that I am able to attend to my daily business, the state of my health gives me more concern than it did at a time when I was too weak to walk across the floor. On the whole, I think that the fear of, or rather the repugnance to death, varies directly with the vicissitudes of health—strongly developed in robust health, decreasing gradually as death draws nearer. It is well that it is so. J. J. F.

New York, December 22, 1878.

 

 

EARTHWORMS, ETC.

To the Editors of the Popular Science Monthly.

I had the good fortune during the past summer to witness a remarkable display of reason, or something quite akin to reason, in an earthworm. I was watching a number of them in my garden after a shower, as they swallowed bits of dry grass and leaves, when I observed one of very large size take hold of a stick about six inches long. He took hold as he reached it, by the middle, and drew it toward his hole. But as the dirt was heaped up near the hole, the stick soon became bedded about an inch, and then resisted the persistent efforts of the worm to draw it farther. He then deliberately let go of the middle and felt along to the end of the stick, which he seized and drew easily to his retreat. I watched until it had partially disappeared in the hole, but was unable to determine the special value of the prize. It is likely that he desired to feed on the decayed bark of the stick, as I have observed that these worms almost invariably eat dried food instead of green.

By the way, have you ever had your attention drawn to the circulation of the Caladium esculentum? You will observe at the tip of a thrifty-growing leaf, on the upper side, a small hole, in which you can insert the point of a pin. Now water the plant abundantly, and shortly you will observe a small globule of water leap out of this hole. Nine of these combine to make a drop, which falls off and is replaced by another. In a short time quite a pool of water will be found under the plant.

E. P. Powell. 
 Clinton, New York, January 20, 1879.
 

EDITOR'S TABLE.

MORALITY AND EVOLUTION.

IT is announced that Herbert Spencer has ceased writing upon his "Sociology," and begun the "Principles of Morality," the last of his series; and it is inferred from this that, having found his "Synthetic Philosophy" overgrown and unmanageable, he has abandoned a part of it in order to finish the rest. This is an entire misapprehension. He has never had his great work so completely in command as now. His suspension of labor upon the sociological division is but temporary, and he anticipates a part of the final ethical discussion for reasons quite other than those assigned. The step has been taken in consequence of Mr. Spencer's uncertain health, and from an apprehension that he might break down before reaching its concluding part. Regarding "The Principles of Morality" as the most important portion of his undertaking, to which all the preceding works are preliminary, he felt it to be of great importance to prepare such a statement of his ethical views as will show the bearing of the previous parts of his system upon that subject. He accordingly some months ago stopped work upon the second volume of the "Sociology," and began "The Data of Ethics," the first portion or ground-work of "The Principles of Morality." This is now so nearly finished that it may be expected to appear in a small volume of two hundred and fifty pages in the course of the spring, when Mr.