Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/260

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248
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

chemicals; and the process, together with the peculiar methods of fixing up tea for foreign markets, not only renders the plant less palatable and beneficial, but more expensive. The adulteration and coloring of teas for the foreign market, he said, are wholly in consequence of the demand which has existed for such teas; and the minister expressed the opinion that if the Boards of Trade in New York and China would make known the fact that pure teas are not only better but cheaper, it would benefit both producer and consumer. There is, he said, really only one kind of tea-plant, and from this both the green and black teas are produced. The equivalents for the two terms "green" and "black" do not signify to the Chinese the color of the tea, as in America, but have reference to the period of gathering, "green" indicating to them, as in "green corn," not a color, but a state of immaturity.

 

Prof. Winchell on College Education.—Prof. Alexander Winchell, in a recent address, said that the ratio of college graduates to our population is continually diminishing; this, he held, would not be the case if college education were, under the conditions of modern life, as good a preparation for a successful career as it was in former times. But while the requirements of our time are totally different from those of earlier periods in the history of man, our system of education is still, to all intents and purposes, what it was in mediæval times. Among the deficiencies of our collegiate education, the most serious, according to Prof. Winchell, is ignorance of our national organization, laws, and political history, and of the principles and laws of political life; then, insufficient knowledge of the governments and history of modern European states and of their statesmen. Last, but not least, comes comparative ignorance of the natural sciences and of mechanical and free-hand drawing. Our so-called liberal education embraces but a pitiful amount of the systems of knowledge which are moving the world. Nor are these shortcomings confined only to our colleges and universities. In our elementary schools, at the age when every active power is ready to spring forth and seize the living truth, we try to satisfy with syntax, and a list of names from Siberia. "All children like to see pictures, and to make pictures; but, instead of fostering this useful instinct, a picture on the slate is as horrifying to Miss Nancy or Mr. Petrifact as the name of science is to our mediævalized theologian. When a boy is aching to take a locomotive to pieces, we set him to dissecting a verb. Let him gratify his curiosity; let him entertain himself with chemical reagents; give him means to make a telephone or a steam engine; allow him to drive nails and a jack-plane; give him a microscope and a geological hammer. With these things he will unite hand-work with head-work in a most fruitful alliance; and when he becomes a man, he may be either a mechanically expert scholar or a scholarly mechanic. As a scholar he will understand affairs and possess the common-sense which will turn every situation to account. As a mechanic he will understand his business, and make a 'boss' who may be trusted without misgiving."

 

History of an Ant-Community.—Like Sir John Lubbock, the eminent French chemist Berthelot devotes much of his leisure time to studying the ways of ants. He has for years closely observed an ant hill, which at first presented the form of a little conical hillock, peopled by thousands of inhabitants. The history of this community, as recorded by Berthelot, has a striking resemblance to human history—the same arts of peace and of war, the same distinctions of classes, the same fluctuations of fortune. The ants excel as hunters, as marauders; they have among them skilled architects, thrifty housewives. Division of labor is enforced. There are civilized ants and barbarians. The warriors despise the toil and drudgery of civil life, and they delight in making set raids, taking numbers of prisoners, and reducing them to servitude. While their betters are taking their walks abroad, or carrying on their wars, the slaves care for the young, and attend to the household affairs and economies. It is interesting to observe them while engaged in building. There are superintendents of work, and there are simple workers. Sometimes the latter make mistakes; for instance, suppose they have to build an arch,