Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/440

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426
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

claims to recognition as a great teacher of the nineteenth century. His work is "as distinctively the product of the age of science as Petrarch's of the revival of learning." There is not a mood of the human mind, Dr. Berdoe continues, which is beyond the power of this poet to analyze and explain. "Analysis with him becomes invective. He is 'the maker,' because he is so great an analyst. Analysis with genius such as his leads to synthesis, and for this he is called a scientific poet." His poems teem with instances of the influence which modern scientific discoveries have exercised upon his genius, and this possibly is one element in their obscurity. As Max Müller has said that neither Tennyson nor Browning could be understood without an acquaintance with the Greek and Roman classics, so "in Browning's case a knowledge of the physical sciences is also demanded of us; but this only shows that Browning is in advance of his time, as a leader of men should be. The age can not be very distant when an acquaintance with science will be as common as a knowledge of the ancient classics. Then we shall hear less of Browning's obscurity. Browning's theory of life is eminently in accord with the teachings of.evolution and development." It is scientific because he goes into its purpose, and what to the pessimist is infinite mystery is replete with law and order to him. A large number of citations from Browning's poems are given to confirm and illustrate these positions.

 

Recognition of Pictures by Animals.—A correspondent of The Spectator owns a fox-terrier that had been cured of a tendency to run sheep by judicious punishment. Some time afterward the dog, which had been left in a room for a few minutes with an unfinished painting of sheep and sheep-dogs in the snow, was found gazing intently at the picture and showing all the signs of canine excitement. As the figures of the sheep were only eight or ten inches in length, the owner believed that the dog must have understood that they were supposed to be at a distance from him. The dogs in the picture he apparently entirely ignored. Another correspondent of the same journal tells of a dog who, when shown a life-sized figure of a cat worked in wools on a screen, made a rush for it, and but for his master's clutching him firmly by the collar the screen would have been torn to shreds. A cat is also mentioned who sprang at a bird which her mistress had painted on a fire-screen, and a dog, who disliked being washed, that when shown a large picture of a child scrubbing a fox-terrier in a tub turned away his head ruefully and would not look at his "brother in adversity." These instances are put forward as evidence of animal intelligence. But do they not rather serve as measures of the inferiority of brute to human intelligence? For the dog or cat in each case was deceived by an artificial representation on the flat which would not deceive a human being.

 

Antiquity of Submarine Warfare.—The efficiency of submarine mines or batteries and of guard-boats and shore defenses is augmented to a wonderful degree when the two systems are made to supplement one another. The combination of them affords the only means now known for compelling the enemy to long and cautious operations when he would like to carry his purpose at a blow. It is possible to evade or defy either system alone, but "even the most dashing commander would hesitate to run past forts and batteries when every channel is alive with destructive charges." The efficiency of mines depends on every part of their arrangement being complete; and while the laying of them is simple enough, they are in practice subject to difficulties and complications from weather, wind, tides, currents, fogs, and shifting ground, that can not be foreseen. These cunning inventions of explosive engines, rams, and torpedoes, though they seem so new and scientific, had their counterparts in the devices of the past. The spar torpedo-boats were like the Greek fire-boats which were described in the thirteenth century as old. The mobile torpedo-boat had its prototype in those drifting or secretly propelled infernal machines that figured in the water-fights of two or three hundred years ago. Fixed submarine mines were described by Gianbaptista Porta in 1608. The principles of these systems are old; all that is new in them is contained in the "modern improvements" and more perfect adaptations. The systematic application of submarine warfare, however, dates from the second half of