Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/794

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



respects a proportional reduction of a larger world. There is an impossibility in the matter which I can only indicate, but which depends on the constitution of time and space.

If the views I have expressed are true, we have a right to infer that all animals as to their energy stand upon the same line, or, in other words, that a muscular fiber possesses the same properties, whether it belong to a vertebrate, an articulate, or a mollusk. Such a conclusion is more satisfactory at the first view than those which I have criticised, for our mind is fond of discovering unity and uniformity in nature. I am not certain that it is exact. That can be determined only by experiments. The question is now put into the hands of investigators who are endowed with the genius for patient and minute researches. Let them attack it with their instruments of observation and precision. The arguments they will deduce will be those before which we shall be forced to bow.

The main object of my remarks has been, however, to plead the cause, which in these days has been somewhat compromised, of Speculation, the mother of ideas, which allures us more frequently than it instructs us, but which stimulates, guides, and pushes us forward, and sometimes gives us a glimpse, if it does not permit us to contemplate them, of brilliant and grand horizons.



THE prudent and thrifty tradesman once a year takes an account of stock, and thereby assures himself as to what goods he has in possession, as well as what gain or loss may have accrued to him as the result of the year's transactions. So the nation, or, if we please to use the figure of personality, "Uncle Sam," deems it wise occasionally to take an account of stock; only this is done but once in ten years, and is called "taking the census." It could not well be taken oftener. The process is too long and too complicated. The reduction to tabular form of the millions of facts and items of information, the summarization of the particulars gathered from so many States and Territories, require no small amount of time, even with the best arrangements for facilitating the performance of the work. The results of the census of 1880 are not yet officially before us. Some facts as to population, the gross number of people in a certain range of cities and towns, and a few other facts of special interest or importance, have been communicated to the newspapers, and thus have become known to the public. But not a single volume of the thirty which the census report is expected to make has yet appeared.