Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/150

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140
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

parishes of London, with everything in its place and nothing left out. On the side of the learned, Scaliger read nothing which he could not remember, and committed Homer to memory in twenty-one days, and all the Greek poets in three months. Like powers, changing only the authors learned, were displayed by Bishop Saunderson, Euler, Leibnitz, Gilbert Wakefield, and Porson. The same power is called into action in the acquisition of languages; and here we have the instances of Crassus, who could try cases and pronounce judgments in any of the dialects of his Asiatic prcetorate; Mithridates, who administered the laws in all the languages of the twenty-two nations of his empire; Sir William Jones, who knew thirteen languages well, and could read with comparative ease in thirty others; John Leyden, who had a good acquaintance with fifteen languages; George Borrow, who translated prose and poetry from thirty languages; Edward Henry Palmer, who could speak the native tongue of every European nation, and was so perfect a master of Arabic, Persian, Hindustani, Turkish, and the language of the gypsies, that even natives were sometimes deceived as to his nationality; Viscount Strangford and Elihu Burritt, "the learned blacksmith"; Cardinal Mezzofanti, who professed to be able to speak in "only fifty-two" languages; Sir John Bowring, who was much like him in gifts; and Von der Gabelentz, who "seems to have been equally at home with the Suahelis, the Samoyeds, the Hazaras, the Aimaks, the Dyaks, the Dakotas, and the Kiriris; who could translate from Chinese into Manchu, compile a grammar or correct the speech of the inhabitauts of the Fiji Islands, New Hebrides, Loyalty Islands, or New Caledonia."

 

Mobility of Labor. —Discussing in the British Association the effects on mobility of labor of the introduction of machinery and the tendency to production on a large scale, Mr. H. Llewellen Smith defined mobility as the free economic device of employment, by change either of occupation or of place. It is not the same as movement, nor is the one measured by the other. It is measured by the extent to which a set of workers engaged in a particular process, or in making a particular article, would or would not suffer economically by a change in the demand for that process or that article. There is, besides, "initial mobility," or the free effective choice of occupation at the outset. This is effected by the localization of industries and the tendency to heredity, which again is strongest in domestic trades and weakest in factories. The general result reached by discussion is, that modern changes tend to divide up a process of manufacture into a number of detail processes of which one man performs only one, but the various members of the group of workers producing a particular article become less and less specialized with regard to that article, and their range of mobility, which is narrowed as regards power of interchange among themselves, is widened as regards power of interchange with workers engaged in corresponding processes of other trades. Machinery often tends to facilitate this interchange by transferring different manufactures into different groupings of nearly identical detail process. Hence, while dividing up employments on the one hand, machinery reintegrates them on fresh lines. Thus the boundaries of trades and industries are shifting and industries are regrouping themselves. Apprenticeship and trade customs are affected. There is a simultaneous tendency to shorten the time necessary to learn a particular process, and so to increase the ease (though not always the practical opportunity) of interchange among different processes of the same trade.

 

Rubies and Sapphires in Siam. —The gem-mines of Siam are at Krung, Krat, and Phailin, points or districts dependent on the seaport of Chantabun. They are shortly to be leased; but at present the only condition required for entering the mines is the payment of a small fee to the head man of the district. The digger's first object is to discover a layer of soft, yellowish sand, in which both rubies and sapphires are deposited. This stratum lies at depths varying from a few inches to twenty feet, on a bed of subsoil in which no precious stones are found. A pit is dug, and the soil removed is taken to a neighboring canal or stream, where it is mixed with water and passed through an ordinary hand-sieve. In his