Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/362

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348
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

renunciation and of duty to neighbor—these are brighter stars in the firmament of human genius than the scientific discoverer. The discovery of the law of gravitation is the grandest attainment of scientific thought; but can we justly compare the effects of that generalization upon human interests and happiness with the elevating influence which is exerted by the poetry of Isaiah or of Shakespeare upon multitudes throughout the world; which is perhaps being felt at this very moment by fireside or on sick-bed in distant lands—by the solitary dweller on the skirts of the vast forests of Western America, in the great lone land of Canada, in the farthest depths of the Australian bush? Science has not rendered the philosopher, the poet, and the moral teacher superfluous, nor will it ever supersede them; on the contrary, it will have need of them to attain to its own perfect working to the bettering of man's estate; and it may well seem to some that the time has come when its manifold scattered and somewhat anarchical results should be penetrated by the synthetic insight of the philosopher, be embodied in forms of beauty by the poet's imagination, and utilized by the moral teacher to guide and promote the progress of mankind. So long as man sees splendor in the starry heavens, beauty in the aspects of Nature, grandeur and glory in self-sacrifice, so long will he feel that his brief conscious life is but a momentary wavelet on the vast ocean of the unconscious; that there is in him the yearning of something deeper than knowledge, which "cometh from afar," and which the labored acquisitions of science will ever fail to satisfy.

 

ABOUT SHARKS.

SHARKS are usually spoken of as the most rapacious and abhorrent of sea-animals. That they are rapacious is undeniable, but why they are so is not generally considered. We will go a little into the matter. The shark, a fish of the family Squalidæ, when quite in his infant state, and only a few inches in length, exhibits a pugnacity almost without parallel for his age. He will attack fish two or three times larger than himself; or, if caught, and placed for observation on the deck of a vessel, he resents handling, and, with unerring precision, strikes a finger placed on almost any part of his body.

Two things contribute to the shark's determinate fierceness. In the first place, we may refer to his teeth, for of these engines of destruction Nature has been to him particularly bountiful; and this species of bounty he has a peculiar pleasure in exercising. If he could speak, he would probably tell us that, besides being troubled with his teeth, which he could not help keeping in use, he had been gifted with enormous abdominal viscera, and that, more particularly,