Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/719

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swamp air and swamp water, and furnish an argument for the antidote theory rather than otherwise.

We can hardly accord to Professor King the soundness of his argument, that because miasma and mosquitoes prevail at night, therefore the mosquito is the author of miasma. Does the mosquito produce the miasma in the air, or create the disease by his "bite"? Suppose we say bats fly only at night, and dew falls only at night, therefore the bats create the dew?

The night air may be congenial to both malaria and mosquitoes, as it may be to both bats and dew, without any further relationship. If Professor King will spend a week or a month in May or June in our northern cedar-lands, I will warrant him more mosquito-bites to the square inch of exposed person than there are pounds of atmospheric pressure on the same surface, and I will also guarantee him safety from all malarial disease.

F. R. Stebbins.
Adeian, Michigan, October 8, 1883.


Messrs. Editors:

In your editorial comments on the classical question, you refer to Germany as favorable to the old education on account of royalty and the Bismarckian régime; you also quote from "Science" a condemnation of German scientific writers. Allow me, in the briefest manner, to set you right on these two points. Whatever you may think of Bismarck, you should, in the present discussion, at least state that Bismarck does not favor Greek, but thinks it is only studied for a make-believe of mental superiority; also that he has emphatically stated that the state must take its civil officers wherever they can be found, efficiency being the only test, not the approval, etc., of the university; and, thirdly, you should bear in mind that Bismarck is no favorite with the Berlin University, the latter being much more of your opinion as to the "régime" now existing in Prussia than of an opinion favorable to Bismarck.

While I share your views as to the aristocratic tendencies that take shelter under the Latin-Greek education, I yet believe that respect for royalty in Germany is fostered mainly by the common school, while the universities are decidedly democratic in their influence.

As regards the lack of clearness and order formerly so common in German scientific writers, I beg to call your attention to the many excellent scientific writers that Germany can now point to, when a comparison with other countries is instituted. I believe a somewhat careful investigation would startle those who accept the common dogma that German scientific writers are obscure and deficient in order. Schleiden, the botanist, Carl Vogt, Du Bois-Reymond, Virchow, Haeckel, are only a few of the best-known German scientists who excel in order and clearness, and in the graces of style. No modern literature has scientific works superior in order, clearness, and style, to those of George Forster and Jacob Moleschott, and yet the former excelled, and the latter still excels, in scientific work. In a country like Germany, where so many write, bad writing is apt to be more readily noticed. As for the absence of important generalizations by German scientists, I think this subject should be treated separately. Kepler's grand generalizations were written in Latin; Leibnitz published many of his in French; there are other authors distinguished for important generalizations, who, if they can not compare with Darwin, yet occupy a high rank—for instance, Dr. J. R. Mayer, who first formulated the great law of heat-equivalents, and hence of the conservation of force.

I should be glad to find that your sense of justice is strong enough to make the corrections your statements and the extract require.

C. A. E.
Iowa City, December 26, 1883.

Our sense of justice is perhaps not very strong, but it is put to no strain by publishing the foregoing. We referred to the "Bismarckian régime" only as a name for the present phase of the administration of the German Government, and our argument could not depend upon any man's personal views, because it rested upon the broad declaration of the university authorities that the ascendency of the classics must be maintained for church and state reasons. It is interesting to know that Bismarck regards Greek as a humbug, but he would probably be the last man to deny that shams may have their political uses.

The quotation from "Science" was made, not because we approved or considered pertinent all that it said, but because it testified decisively to the neglected condition of the native speech on the part of a people long given over to the worship of classical ideals. Our correspondent recognizes "the lack of clearness and order formerly so common in German scientific writers." He, however, enumerates several recent writers that are not open to this charge. But are not those exceptions to a general practice? and would it not have been somewhat more to the point to inform us whether or not these writers were assiduous cultivators of the classics?—Ed.