Popular Science Monthly/Volume 40/March 1892/Correspondence

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Editor Popular Science, Monthly:

SIR: Two sentences in your Editor's Table of the January (1892) number excite my surprise. They are these: "Every man within certain limits is an evolutionist, and we have little hesitation in saying that the limits within which each man is an evolutionist are the real limits of his intelligence"; and "we believe—and when we say 'we' we mean all persons with any pretensions to education or intelligence—in evolution as applied to the physical history of our globe." Are these statements consistent with that judicial fairness which all seekers for truth, such as you certainly mean to be, should preserve?

There are many of us who have been diligent students of the works of evolutionists from the appearance of Herbert Spencer's First Principles in 1865. We have read Darwin's volumes carefully, and Huxley's and Tyndall's. We have followed Prof. Gray's beautiful essays. But we are as yet unconvinced "of evolution as applied to the physical history of our globe." There are gaps in the chain which, to our mind, are not filled, nor are in promise of being filled, in material evolution, as at the beginning of life. We accept the statement of the authors of The Unseen Universe: "It is against all true scientific experience that life can appear without the intervention of a living antecedent." Also at the appearance of new organs, as Prof. Samuel Harris says, after giving Prof. Tyndall's description of the development of the eye: "This certainly is not science; no fact sustains a single one of the assumptions. It is a figment of fancy." Then there is the gap between the brute and rational man, where we see no approach to a bridge.

Besides this, it seems to us there is much sophistical reasoning among evolutionists, as pointed out by Rudolph Schmid, by S. Wainwright, and especially by Prof. Samuel Harris, in his Scientific Basis of Theism.

There is, too, an initial difficulty in the getting the heterogeneous out of the homogeneous, without a force from without, impulsive and directive.

Clerk Maxwell states the difficulty in the way of evolution from molecular science: "No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules throughout all time, and throughout the whole region of the stellar universe, for evolution necessarily implies a continuous change, and the molecule is incapable of growth or decay, of preservation or destruction. . . . Therefore, for the interaction of molecules, there must be a power from without impelling and directing." Maxwell adds words which we accept: "These molecules continue this day as they were created, perfect in number, measure, and weight; and from the ineffaceable characters impressed on them we may learn that those aspirations after truth in statement and justice in action, which we reckon among our noblest attributes as men, are ours because they are the essential constituents of the image of Him who, in the beginning, created not only the heaven and the earth, but the material of which the heaven and the earth consist."

We would not deny an evolution in the physical work which Prof. Harris calls "scientic," but we would consider it with Prof. Leotze "as a gradual unfolding of a creative spiritual principle," and would recognize, with him and Ulrici, "in the evolution both a mechanical and a teleological process, implying both an energizing and a directing agency."

Now, if in not accepting evolution as ordinarily understood, in holding Darwinism non-proven, we show a limit of our intelligence and are excluded from the company of "all persons with any pretensions to education or intelligence," it positively is not from lack of study of what evolutionists have said, and certainly we have some very good company in our limitation and our exclusion; many of them are men who seem to be thoroughly conversant with all that has been said for evolution, and they seem to be able to grapple with the arguments.

Do not statements such as you make create a prejudice against evolution among many fair-minded men, and hinder their acceptance of its arguments?

Evolutionists repel with indignation the assertion that they are actuated by a desire to be rid of God and of moral obligation. Need they be surprised if men who have studied diligently what they say, and are yet unconvinced, do repel with equal indignation the assertion of their limitation of intelligence?

Is not the true way to grant each other the fair assumption of honesty and honorableness of motive and of intelligence? Is not this the only true way for those who would help one another in the search for the one supreme reality—Truth?

John R. Thurston.
Whitinsville, Mass., December 22, 1891.


Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Sir: In 1855, on the 11th of November, Japan was shaken by a terrible earthquake. At that time the center of the seismic disturbance was somewhere in the vicinity of Yeddo (now Tokyo); the great part of the city was laid in ruins, and the loss of life amounted to several tens of thousands, including those who were actually crushed to death by the falling houses and those who, imprisoned in the débris, were burned in numerous fires which broke out in various parts of the city; for, as the earthquake occurred at about eleven o'clock at night, the inhabitants were asleep and unprepared to escape from their houses.

On the 28th of last October another part of Japan was visited by a similar catastrophe, of which more details are available than of the above-mentioned earthquake of 1855. The center of this latter seems to have been the valley of Neo, north of the city of Gifu, in the province of Mino. In this city and in the neighboring town of Ogaki the destruction is terrible and the loss of life appalling. Gifu is the seat of government of Gifu prefecture. In Gifu and Aichi prefectures the killed numbered 7,522, the wounded 9,983; the number of buildings wholly destroyed is 88,705; partly destroyed, 28,011; while throughout the entire region over which the disturbance was most seriously felt the totals are: Killed, 7,566; wounded, 10,121; buildings wholly destroyed, 89,629; partly destroyed, 28,626.

Great changes in the geographical features of the provinces of Hchizen, Mino, and Owari, at the head of Owari Bay, will evidently result. Land-slips have occurred which completely changed the appearance of the mountain-sides; river channels are dammed by the débris, causing inundations of agricultural lands, and large lakes where were cultivated farms.

The total area throughout which the earthquake was felt is stated to have been 39,375 square miles. No serious damage was done in Tokyo or Yokohama. Asama-Yama, the volcano in the provinces of KodzukeShinano, far to the north of the center of the disturbance, was thrown into a state of unusual activity, large quantities of scoria? having been ejected. Fuji-Yama has also suffered. It appears that, ten minutes after the most violent shock, a noise like a hundred peals of thunder was heard to proceed from the side of the mountain. Some people declare that an immense land-slip, visible soon after the earthquake, has occurred; but before their statements could be verified by careful, scientific investigation, snow fell and obscured the topography.

One of the Japanese newspapers states that at the Okumstama Shrine, in the Nagajima district of Aichi prefecture, Mino province, several fissures were opened from which mud and water were ejected. After the water had drained off, a number of wooden swords, stone axes, and maga-tama (beads) were discovered. If this be true, it is a remarkable archaeological fnd.

The trembling of earth continues up to the present time, although the shocks arc no longer of destructive force. Prof. Milne, of the Imperial University, compares the rumbling sound that accompanies the shocks to that which would be produced by the escape of a great volume of steam through narrow fissures—a colossal steam-horn, in short, roaring and bellowing underground, each of its thunders indicating the explosion of a more or less destructive force.

J. King Goodrich.
Yokohama, Japan, November 16, 1891.


Editor Popular Science Monthly:

Sir: I was greatly interested in the article by President Jordan, on the colors of letters, which appeared recently in your magazine. From my earliest recollections I had always associated various colors with the letters, but never before have I heard of any one else who did so.

Thinking that statistics on this subject might be of interest, I send you my list of alphabet colors:

A. Dull yellow. N. Tin color.
B. Dark. O.
C. Like kerosene-flame. P. Nearly like H.
D. Black. Q. Red.
E. Like A. R. Black.
F. Dark. S. Silver color.
G. Gray. T. Dark.
H. Slate color. U.
I. Black. V. Like J.
J. Dirty brown. W.
K. Black. X. Red.
L. Black. Y.
M. Dark red. Z. Red.

Those left blank are associated in my mind with a color, but I am unable to define it; and certain of the descriptions used do not fully convey the idea.

It has been suggested to me that my connecting color with the letters arose from the colors on the blocks from which I learned them. This might account for red, black, and white, but certainly would not account for the other shades.

My own explanation of the matter is this: When we are learning to spell we associate certain letters with certain words, and those words give us the idea of color. These words may be said to be chrompoetic, and this property, if it may be so called, can not be dissociated from them. For illustration, D is associated in my mind with dog, and when I think of dog it never is a white dog, but always a black one; hence, D is black. I brings up ink and black ink; J, a jug of brown color; V is a vulture, which I always think of as brown.

In many cases I am unable to trace the connection between the letter and the color, but I feel sure it exists somewhere in my mind. If this possesses sufficient interest to your readers to warrant its publication, you are at liberty to do so.

James S. Stevens, Professor of Physics.
Maine State College, Orono, Me., Aug. 15, 1891.