Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/570

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554
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

able that the sudden clatter impressed the startled animal as being the sound uttered by some dangerous enemy. If such were the case, it was natural for the beast to search for the thing itself that terrified him, which in fact was done, for he immediately fastened his gaze upon the leaf that lay on the floor and commenced against it his timid hostilities. This conduct upon his part justifies the inference that the noise of the falling stick suggested a visible enemy, possibly a serpent; and so, the withdrawing of his paw accompanied by the licking of it would seem to tell us that the illusion or hallucination affected the sense of touch as well as those of hearing and sight.

Having once passed through this experience as following the hearing of the noise made by the falling stick, it was natural that there should be an association within him between sudden noises in general and the thing of terror, and hence, as Mr. Ringueberg tells us, he was apt to be thrown by such noises into paroxysms; and so, the sound which caused the first trouble having arisen in the kitchen, noises coming subsequently from that quarter were the most disturbing to him, just as stated. Proceeding one step further, as the first attack came upon Pluto in the kitchen, it was natural for him to regard that spot as the abiding-place of this enemy, and to show signs of terror, as he did, at all times when passing through that apartment. And, when particularly disposed to a violent attack, the association of ideas connected with the kitchen was most likely to there bring upon him the climax of his trouble.

Mr. Ringueberg speaks always of these paroxysms as accompanied by a fixed staring at some particular object, whether a spot upon the ceiling, a hanging towel, or something else, and a terrified retreat there-from; all of which suggests a false sight, bringing up the image of some material enemy, and it is rather imaginative, under all the circumstances, to suppose that it was ghosts, or things spiritual, which he had before him, in imagination.

Respectfully yours,
Frank McGloin. 
 New Orleans, May 18, 1883.
 


EDITOR'S TABLE.

HERBERT SPENCER AND THE FRENCH ACADEMY.

MR. HERBERT SPENCER has been chosen a member of the Institute of France. We learn that he was elected in May by a nearly unanimous vote as a Foreign Correspondent of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Henry P. Tappan, of Detroit. These academical distinctions are so often unworthily bestowed, that Mr. Spencer does not hold them in much esteem as indications of genuine merit; but, as it may be assumed that he is not indifferent to the good opinion of his eminent contemporaries, he will, no doubt, appreciate at its true worth this well-intended compliment, and make his acknowledgments accordingly.

But there is an interest in the transaction not confined to the immediate parties to it. When an institution, standing highest in the world as a dispenser of the titles to intellectual eminence, and which has become a kind of authoritative arbiter in such matters, undertakes to assign the position of a man like Spencer, there are many who will desire to know with what discrimination, and what rectitude of judgment, the award has been made. The honors of the Institute are not all of equal dignity: that of Foreign Associate is highest, while that of Foreign Correspondent is of secondary rank. The French academicians, after having certainly taken abundant time for deliberation, now decide that Mr. Spencer's claims are not such as to entitle him to the highest rank among the intellectual leaders of the time. We think the Academy has here made a considerable mistake, which it is important should be corrected.[1]

  1. It may be as well to say that we are not to expect too much from the French Academy. Its predominant historic spirit has been time-serving, and it is declared by high authority that, instead of fostering originality, it has rather been its policy to hamper and crush it. We should not, therefore, look to it for a very liberal appreciation of Herbert Spencer; his qualities, in fact, are very much those which it has not been its policy to honor. The following estimate of its influence, by M. Langfrey, is