Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/866

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cape. The Ophisaurus ventralis of Kansas and other Western States has no external limbs; there arc, however, rudimentary hind-limbs under the skin, very similar in general appearance to chose found in the black-snake (Coluber constrictor). Stories of the quivering fragments of its tail coming together again after being detached from the body were common enough among the soldiers and settlers, but I am able to state of my own knowledge (though it seems to be a waste of words to do so) that they are not endowed with sufficient perceptive and volitional power to accomplish such an act. They die in a few hours, and are reproduced by the animal in a few months. The Ophisaurus is perfectly harmless, and is readily tamed so as to become a pet.

William A. Hammond.
New York, March 1, 1887.




IN the January number of the "Contemporary Review," Madame Adam has an article entitled "Science in Politics," the main contention of which appears to be that science and politics make a very bad mixture. The proof of this position she finds in the evil influence exerted, as she believes, by the late M. Paul Bert on contemporary French politics. M. Bert, she avers, was the ruin of Gambetta by turning him aside from a broad, sympathetic way of treating public questions into a narrow and abstract way of treating them. The savant applied himself to political questions in the same spirit in which he applied himself to questions of physiology; and was prepared to act upon the results obtained with as little hesitation as if it were a mere matter of carrying through some laboratory experiment. In fact, he was just as ready to vivisect the nation with a new school law as to vivisect a cat in the ordinary fashion. So runs the indictment against M. Bert; and because M. Bert, the scientist, was so rash an innovator in politics, we are asked to learn the lesson that the more science is kept out of politics the better. Well, Madame Adam is a very clever woman, and what she says about M. Bert may be all true; but we do not quite see our way to an acceptance of the conclusions she offers us. Science is something more than physiology: a man may be a good physiologist, and yet outside of his special study may have anything but a scientific mind. What is wanted for political action is science in its most comprehensive sense; and, other things being equal, the more of true science a statesman possesses, the better fitted, we fully believe, he will be for his position. The statesman, of course, needs to know men, and to know them, not as subjects for the operating-table, but as living, moving units of the social organism. But this knowledge properly coordinated is scientific knowledge. The scientific statesman is not swayed by every impulse of the hour; he knows something of human history; and he knows how short-lived many movements are, and how infallibly communities will in the long run obey the general laws of their evolution. At the same time he makes allowance for the strength of many feelings that perhaps he does not himself share. He may be very free from prejudice himself; but he knows how large and how necessary a part prejudice plays in human affairs, and makes allowances for it accordingly. To a man who had got beyond physiology and physiological methods the knowledge he had acquired of that science would often he of special value for the understanding of political problems. The problem of problems in politics is indeed to establish a sociological balance of functions analogous to that physiological balance which is measurably attained in the healthy human body. We want to avoid con-