Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/653

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

will marvel that I write thus, for no man hath seen God at any time, yet in his works we see him daily, but now after a more special manner." Then, after giving a clear account of the whole occurrence, the writer concludes with an exhortation to unbelievers: "Now let the atheist stand amazed at this work of the Lord." In certain districts of Berkshire there is still a tradition of the fall of these meteorites, and old people speak of it as such an event as to have created a belief at the time that "the world was coming to an end."

 

Education in the Public Schools of Massachusetts.—Mr. Wendell Phillips recently delivered an address on the subject of education, in which occurred the following remarks upon the value of the intellectual training a girl receives in the public schools of Massachusetts: "The public schools teach her arithmetic, philosophy, trigonometry, geometry, music, botany, and history, and all that class of knowledge. Seven out of ten of them, remember, are to earn their bread by the labor of their hands. Well, at fifteen, we give that child back to her parents utterly unfitted for any kind of work that is worth a morsel of bread. If the pupil could only read the ordinary newspaper to three auditors it would be something, but this the scholar so educated, so produced, cannot do. I repeat it: four-fifths of the girls you present to society at fifteen cannot read a page intelligibly." But the current system of school-education is faulty and defective no less with regard to boys than with regard to girls, for, as Mr. Phillips further observes, "we produce only the superficial result of the culture we strive for. Now, I claim that this kind of education injures the boy or girl in at least three ways: first, they are able, only by forgetting what they have learned and beginning again, to earn their day's bread; in the second place, it is earned reluctantly; third, there is no ambition for perfection aroused. It seems to be a fact, which many of the public educators of to-day overlook, that seven-tenths of the people born into this world earn their living on matter and not on mind. Now, friends, I protest against this whole system of common schools in Massachusetts. It lacks the first element of preparation for life. We take the young girl or the young boy whose parents are able to lift them into an intellectual profession; we keep them until they are eighteen years old in the high schools; we teach them the sciences; they go to the academy or the college to pursue some course of preparation for their presumed course through life. Why not keep them a little longer and give them other than intellectual training for the business of life?"

 

Influence of Color of Soil on Potatoes.—Having observed that potatoes grown in dark-colored soil are less subject to disease than those grown in soil of lighter color, Mr. J. B. Hannay, member of the Edinburgh Royal Society, conjectured that the difference must be due to the greater absorption of heat by the darker soil. He accordingly made the following experiment: A piece of ground, consisting of a kind of blue till, was divided into two parts, both being planted with potatoes in the ordinary way. One of the parts was then covered with soot, which had been carefully washed till no soluble matter remained in it; the other part was left as planted. The potatoes in the soot-covered portion sprouted first, and throughout were much healthier than the others. The temperature of both portions was from time to time noted on sunny days with the following result:

Aver-
age..
EARTH COVERED
WITH SOOT.
PURE EARTH.
Depth 2 in. Depth 8 in. Depth 2 in. Depth 8 in.
55.4 52.6 53.0 52.1
56.9 55.0 55.2 55.4
67.2 63.9 65.1 60.8
64.5 63.2 63.8 62.4
61.7 58.7 58.8 58.0
63.0 60.6 61.4 59.2
58.1 56.9 57.2 56.3
65.4 62.2 63.5 61.8
63.2 63.8 63.9 62.0
.... 61.4 60.0 60.0

From this table it clearly appears that the potatoes grown in dark soil have a warmer climate, so to speak, than those in a light one. The tubers with no soot were weak, and had a great deal of disease among them, while the other lot were nearly all healthy.

Chemical examination showed the prin-