Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/532

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516
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

istence through. thermal springs and volcanic exhalations, to all appearance is slowly and silently engendering considerable and permanent effects in the interior of the globe, and is giving birth to various minerals as it did in former days.

In the same way as in our organism all the parts of the body owe their development to the support which they receive from the circulation of the blood, so in the crust of the earth, water, by its incessant subterranean circulation and its predominantly chemical work, accomplishes a kind of vital action which is perpetuated through ages. May we not justly apply to these mineralogical and geological results, so worthy of our curiosity and derived from a single cause, Leibnitz's favorite epigraph, In varietate unitas?Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue des Deux Mondes.

 

THE ORIGIN OF HOLIDAYS.
By HARLOW GALE.

AS ballads are the essence of a people's history, so holidays are the free utterance of their character. Spontaneity is always valuable evidence, and holidays are in their beginnings purely spontaneous. They furnish psychically an excellent example of reflex action. The stimuli which come to us from the outer world of things as well as from the inner world of sensation find three channels for the expenditure of their force, viz., thought, feeling, and involuntary or reflex action, Man's position in the scale of life is determined in general by the proportion in which stimulus is distributed among these three outflows. The less of conscious life a creature has, the nearer will it approach to the existence of an automaton.

Now, though we can not precisely construct the psychical life of the primitive man, yet the law of evolution enables us to picture him as exercising little reflective thought, rather dull feelings of the bodily pain and pleasure sort, and a comparatively large amount of reflex action; so that stimulus, following the line of least resistance or greatest traction, will in a majority of cases end in reflex action. Even if the incoming sentient current does flow on or over into feeling and even thought, the smallness of their capacity prevents much egress through these intellectual channels, and the restricted current must again find its exit in expressive muscular action. Let us briefly review the historical beginnings and development of this spontaneous demonstrative life.

The primitive holiday was occasional—i.e., prompted by unusual events of domestic or tribal life. Births, marriages, and deaths are almost universally celebrated by primitive man, and