Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/514

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498
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

solar system has been evolved? Even the solar system is but one out of one hundred million such systems, each of which has its own life-history. Viewed in their true proportions, the phenomena I have described are but of infinitesimal importance, and the time they have occupied is merely ephemeral.

No doubt we have only dwelt upon the tides on the earth and the tides in the moon, which have been of such infinite importance. But do not suppose that tides are confined to the earth and to the moon. So far as we know, every body in the universe is capable of producing, and actually does produce, tides in every other body. Every planet throbs in response to the tides produced in it by every other planet. Every star has a distinct tidal wave produced in it by every other star. You may say that such tides are infinitesimal, but you must remember that infinitesimal causes, sufficiently often repeated, can achieve the mightiest effects.

We know that tides have wrought our solar system into its present form; and are we to say that the wondrous powers of the tides have no grander scope for their exercise? I prefer to believe that tides operate far and wide through the universe, and that in the recognition of the supreme importance of tidal evolution we mark a great epoch in the history of physical astronomy.—Nature.

 

EPIDEMIC CONVULSIONS.[1]
By DAVID W. YANDELL,

PROFESSOR OF SURGERY, UNIVERSITY OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY.

EXTRAORDINARY interest was excited in the popular mind of Kentucky, at an early day, by a form of convulsive disease, which, though it had been witnessed elsewhere in the world, had never before assumed a shape so decidedly epidemic. Among the Camisards, or French prophets, who appeared in the mountains of the Cevennes toward the close of the seventeenth century, the subjects, when about to receive the gift of prophecy, were often affected with trembling and fell down in swoons. When the fit came, no matter where they were, they fell, smiting their breasts with their hands, crying for mercy, and imprecating curses on the Pope. They were finally, after an obstinate struggle, put down by their insane persecutor, Louis XIV.[2]

Epidemic convulsions prevailed in Scotland, half a century later.

  1. The larger part of the materials contained in this paper were collected by my father, the late L. P. Yandell, M.D., and were intended to be embraced in the "Medical History of Kentucky," a work on which he was engaged at the time of his death. I have done little more than arrange and place them in their proper chronological order.—D. W. Y.
  2. "Encyclopædia Americana," article "Cevennes."