Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/114

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104
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

supposed that the peculiarities which it presents are absolutely unique. It seems more likely that there may be many other stars which are at present passing through our system. In fact, considering that most or all of the stars are actually in motion, it can be shown that, in the course of ages, the whole face of the heavens is gradually changing. We are thus led to the conclusion that our system is not an absolutely isolated group of bodies in the abyss of space, but that we are visited by other bodies coming from the remotest regions of space.—Contemporary Review.

 

ON BRAIN-WORK AND HAND-WORK.
By R. M. N.

DR. BEARD'S treatise on the "Longevity of Brain-Workers" was ably reviewed some years ago in the "Journal of Science." Still it appears to me that the last word on this topic has not yet been said. Certain points, both of distinction and of resemblance, seem to have been overlooked as well by reviewer as by author, and certain of the conclusions drawn are at least open to question.

I may perhaps be allowed to put the opening question, What is work? The common reply is, "Any pursuit by which a man earns or attempts to earn a livelihood and to accumulate wealth." This definition is the more to be regretted because it cherishes, or rather begets, the vulgar error that all persons who do not aim at the accumulation of wealth are "idlers." In point of fact such men may be doing far greater services to the world than the most diligent and successful votary of a trade or a profession. Darwin, having a competency, was therewith content. To him, and to others of kindred minds, the opportunity of devoting his whole life to the search after scientific truth was a boon immeasurably higher than any conceivable amount of wealth. Shall we call him an idler? Nor is science the only field which opens splendid prospects to men of independent means. Art, literature, philanthropy, have all their departments, unremunerative in a commercial point of view, or at least not directly remunerative, and for all these cultivators are wanted. Therefore, reversing the advice given by routine moralists, I would say to wealthy young men of ability: "Do not take up any trade, business, or profession, but do some of the world's unpaid work. Leave money-making to those who have no other option, and be searchers for truth and beauty." Every one who follows this advice will contribute something to show the world that the race for wealth is not the only pursuit worthy of a rational being. I should define work as the conscious systematic application of mind or body to any definite purpose.

I said "of mind or body." Perhaps the expression may sound old--