Popular Science Monthly/Volume 43/October 1893/Editor's Table
AIDS TO MISERY.
AN extremely instructive article appears in the Fortnightly Review for August, under the title of The Poor of the World. The author, Mr. Samuel A. Barnett, has been traveling round the world in order to inform himself by personal observation and inquiry as to the condition of the poor in different countries. The result, so far as presented in this article, is to show that everywhere the great underlying cause of poverty is lack of individuality and the power of self-help, and that the only ultimate remedy is the creation through education—understanding the word in its widest sense—of more perfect individuals. This is the doctrine which Mr. Spencer has been preaching directly and indirectly for many years past, often at the cost of much contumely and, in general, to unbelieving ears. The reason for the unpopularity of this view is not far to seek. Eager reformers do not like to think that the evils they combat are deep-seated and can only be slowly worked out of human nature; they cherish the hope of accomplishing great things in a short time and seeing the fruit of their labors in a striking form. Sentimental persons, again, always want to cast the blame of what is wrong on somebody; and if they can not see quite clearly who in particular is to blame, they denounce "society." It is pleasanter to feel ourselves fighting the selfish, the indifferent, the grasping, or those whom we are pleased to consider such, than to accept the position of simply trying to repair evils inherent in the condition of things as molded by natural forces. All within us that craves for the quick, the short, the easy, the sensational, indisposes us to accept a theory that opens up a vista of patient, prolonged, and carefully revised effort, bringing with it little of glory at any one time, and calling for the exercise of no small amount of scientific faith.
We have been hearing lately of the sanguinary conflicts of Hindus and Mohammedans in the streets of Bombay. Different as the creeds may be which the two races possess, Mr. Barnett found that the temples of the one and the mosques of the other were equally centers of distribution of a large amount of charity, the product of gifts gathered from the rich, and that the effects of this charity were most pernicious. "It ever," he says, "one is inclined to doubt the danger of priestcraft, a visit to India ought to dispel such doubts. He will find in the Brahmans a typical priesthood, and he will see how their unquestioned rule has degraded the people, until they seem without power of clear thinking or wide feeling." How charity serves the priesthood a double turn is well explained: "The pious give, not because their brothers have need, but to please the god; and it is nothing to them if their gifts are consumed by the priests or wasted on worthless objects. The priests give as priests—either to attract worshipers to their temple or to deliver their own souls." The charity thus dispensed, far from abating poverty increases and extends it. In Hyderabad, where the Mohammedans are in the ascendant, ten per cent of the revenue, in addition to large private gifts, is spent on keeping armies of beggars who are descendants of orthodox families, while it is quite ft common thing for wills to provide for the feeding of idle multitudes on certain holy days of the year. In India, moreover, an obligation is laid upon all the members of a family to support one another. As a consequence, "the working and successful man is kept low by weak and very often idle relatives." The system, to quote Mr. Barnett again, "checks enterprise and tends to make a dead level of poverty in which there are no richer people to act as barriers against the flood of famine or bad times." One is sometimes touched, he confesses, by the way in which the strong hold on to the weak, but it is impossible not to notice that idlers abound. Nowhere is there so little individuality, nowhere such feebleness in prospect or in presence of calamity.
While family feeling is strong in India, the general feeling of humanity is weak. The reason, our author says, is "partly because the people think too much of their gods. . . . The chief duty of man seems to be to please his god; and when, by a gift, he has delivered himself of this duty, he thinks no more of his brother at the gate." Among such people the task of a government seeking to effect reforms becomes extremely difficult. "All measures," Mr. Barnett well observes, "must be ineffectual so long as the people themselves are deficient in life-preserving qualities, such as confidence, enterprise, and self-control." Here we have the gist of the whole matter. There are certain qualities, moral, intellectual, physical, which are life-preserving. They may be said to qualify for life; and when they are absent, nothing but a constant strain upon better qualified individuals will enable the defective ones to survive. By "confidence," Mr. Barnett means in this place confidence in others, and he illustrates his remark by stating that, for want of confidence, any savings the poor can make in India "are not invested or even intrusted to a bank; they are turned into jewelry to burden the women's fingers, toes, noses, and ears, and at last sold to provide a marriage feast." He cites the fact that there are in India four hundred-thousand jewelers and only three hundred-thousand smiths. As a life-preserving quality, however, confidence in self is at least as important as confidence in others; and confidence in self, or, in other words, self-reliance, is just the quality at which so much of the charity of our day strikes. Charity is flowing in an ever-broadening stream; but it does not qualify for life those whom it enables to live; on the contrary, it saps what little energy they have, and so hands on a magnified problem to be dealt with by the charity of the future. The inhabitants of India are said to be the most docile people in the world, but on that very account they are more difficult to govern, because their weakness makes them look to the Government for everything. As Mr. Barnett forcibly remarks, "It is perhaps more difficult to keep a weak man on his feet than to prevent a strong man from rising." If you have the strong man down you have gravitation in your favor; but in trying to keep the weak man up you have gravitation against you, and gravitation is apt to win in the long run. The Government of India, Mr. Barnett testifies, is doing a great deal of useful work in the promotion of industries, the improvement of the soil by irrigation, and the enforcement, as far as possible with such a population, of sanitary measures. But all this costs money, and as one thing leads to another, one abuse corrected revealing a dozen others that need correction, the expense of government and the burdens which the people have to bear in the way of taxation are constantly increasing. "Government," as Mr. Barnett puts it, "does much to relieve the people, but the conclusion of the whole matter leaves one doubtful if it would not be more helpful if it did less for them and took less from them." And he pithily adds, "A system undoubtedly good may be so costly as to be bad." Surely there is much in all this that we may reflect on with advantage here. The advantage of such a comparative study as Mr. Barnett is making is that it shows various evils in their fuller development, and puts communities in which they may exist only in lesser degree on their guard,
Mr. Barnett has also made a few observations in this country. He found in San Francisco a form of government "so democratic as to leave hardly a grievance for the most ardent demagogue." And yet "the poor increase, and the talk is as the talk of East London about starvation cases and the inadequacy of the poorhouse; the demand is for laws to prevent vagrancy, to reduce rents and limit immigration." There is abundant charity; the officer of the Associated Charities, we are told, "confessed that it was impossible to control the impulses of the rich men of the city; and if he complained that gifts did mischief, the answer was, 'What is that tome?'"
In Boston there is a very perfect system for the organization of charity; but when Mr. Barnett inquired whether the clergy and philanthropic persons made use of the records kept in the central office, the answer was, "No." Here, as elsewhere, "private charity is wayward and willful; gifts go as passing emotion directs, institutions are created which represent the fancy rather than the sympathy of the creators." Then, when gifts are found to be of no avail, repressive legislation is resorted to—laws against drinking and even cigarette smoking. The drink must be taken in a perpendicular position, and the cigarette must not be smoked by any person under a certain age. Mr. Barnett's article is good reading, and as a capital appendix to it we recommend the chapters on Negative and Positive Beneficence Mr. Spencer's last volume. The philosopher is justified by every wide and impartial survey of the facts.
THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION MEETING AT MADISON.
Experience shows the American Association that it can have a large attendance at its meetings only by keeping to the main highways of travel, and by choosing large cities. With the World's Fair as a magnet, drawing and holding hundreds of its members, the association was fortunate in assembling as many as it did, some two hundred and ninety, at Madison. Those who attended were rewarded by good papers and stimulating discussions, and if the sectional meetings were smaller than usual, they were uncommonly earnest and interesting from the absence of the distractions not to be avoided when a maltitude gathers together. Hospitality was hearty; the people of Madison—a city, by the way, of singular beauty—with the University of Wisconsin, renewed the best traditions of the Association in manifold opportunities for bringing old friends together, for presenting beginners in science to leaders grown gray in the service of truth.
In his opening remarks President William Harkness, of Washington, touched on a practice of the Academy of Sciences of France well worthy of imitation in America—the conferring membership upon those of its friends who, while not themselves men of science, provide financial aid for research. At Nice, for example, an observatory of world-wide repute has arisen as a gift of Mr. Bischoffsheim, a banker, whose name is rightfully enrolled beside those of the astronomers whose labors he has lightened and promoted.
Evolution was the keynote in the addresses of the vice-presidents in the Sections of Zoölogy, Botany, and Economics. Prof. H. F. Osborn, in sketching the Ascent of the Mammalia, traced the succession of typical species plainly derived one from another. Exploration within recent years, he said, has but served to confirm Prof. O. 0. Marsh's demonstration of the horse's genealogy through forms with which Prof. Huxley in his American lectures has made the world familiar.
Prof. Charles E. Bessey, in his address on Evolution and Classification, said that for nearly forty years the system of Linnæus stood in the way of the better system of Jussieu and De Candolle; that system in its turn has for a third of a century been a clog and a hindrance to the adoption of the vivifying idea that genetic ties are the true basis for classification. The botanist in giving this new and illuminating order to plants must be careful to discriminate between primitively simple forms and those simple by derivation. Parasites are far from being the only plants that have undergone simplification of structure; in willows and poplars, for example, a single ovary has resulted from the union of two or three ovaries. For flowering plants Prof. Bessey presented in detail a revised arrangement of the Benthamian series.
The Mutual Relations of Science and Stock-breeding gave Prof. W. H. Brewer, in his address to the Economic Section, an opportunity of showing how an art is broadened and bettered when it flowers into a science. Until Darwin's Origin of Species was published stock-breeding followed the rule of thumb, with results slow and uncertain; today, when heredity is understood as due to influences largely calculable and controllable, stock-breeding almost rises to the assuredness of aplastic art. Prof. Brewer spoke of a sheep-breeder of his acquaintance who has all the ideality of the true artist, who figures to himself a perfect sheep with every good point at its best, every defect eliminated; in striving to give substance to that form as he imagines it, this man is as devoted as any wielder of chisel or brush. Breeding, said Prof. Brewer, can alone decide whether acquired characteristics are transmitted, and it may even throw an important side light on vexed questions of education.
Prof. E. L. Nichols, in his address to the physicists on Phenomena of the Time Infinitesimal, showed a bullet in flight photographed in an interval so brief that the missile seemed at rest.
In another picture the bullet was shown in the act of shattering a pane of glass, with all the incidental perturbation of the surrounding air. In giving rapid motion to the sensitive plate Prof. Nichols pointed out how its availability can be vastly extended. In this field, he maintained, there is abundant harvest for the investigator, for when the time interval is appreciable we do not get a picture really instantaneous, but only a composite photograph whose elements we have to guess at. As to what happens in the first hundredths of a second in the polarization of the voltaic cell, in electrolysis, nothing is known, and here possibilities of the highest interest await the suitable application of the camera.
In reviewing twenty-five years' progress in analytical chemistry Prof. Edward Hart brought out its remarkable stimulus from the exigencies of industry, and the no less remarkable fashion in which the debt had been repaid. In 1868 the determination of phosphorus in steel required two to three days; today twelve minutes suffice. At the furnaces of South Bethlehem, Pa., a sample of molten metal is passed upon by the analyst while the iron is still on its way to the converter; the manufacture can thus be intelligently directed with the utmost promptness. This is but one of the important ways in which the chemist has borne a part in cheapening iron and steel. The work of analysis, in this and other departments, has been greatly quickened by developing those methods which allow the chemist to determine in a single specimen one constituent rapidly and accurately. It is preferable to determine phosphorus in one sample and sulphur in another than to determine each separately in the same sample. In closing his review Prof. Hart mentioned the honored chemists of America who have notably contributed to the world's advance in their science during the past quarter of a century—men little known to a nation richer, longer lived, and happier because of their unselfish labor. Prof. S. W. Robinson, addressing the Mechanical Section on the education of the engineer, made incidental reference to invention as an aim in class work. Admitting that ingenuity of the highest order rests upon an incommunicable somewhat, he argued that inventiveness of a valuable kind was quite within the scope of teaching. In the department of machine design he believed lay a field for eliciting the originality of students; the several parts of a machine could be studied with a view to their improvement, and then the machine as a whole could be redesigned. Time was when it was considered artistic to give a machine or engineering structure the outlines of the Greek orders; to-day a design which is seen to be strong, rigid, and economical is found to lend itself to a beauty of form impossible to borrowed lines, however graceful in themselves.
Prof. C. A. Walcott, in his discourse on geological time as indicated by the sedimentary rocks of North America, prepared the hearer for the address of Prof. Joseph Le Conte, as retiring president, on the origin of mountain ranges. This address in matter and spirit was a master's lesson in scientific method. Without the waste of a word Prof. Le Conte lucidly explained the theory of mountain birth which science owes to him and to Prof. J. D. Dana. That sea margins have everywhere been the seat of mountain emergence was declared to be a fact of observation; that the physical cause for this fact is mainly the shrinking of a cooling and practically viscous planet, seeking equilibrium, was argued with a judicious weighing of the objections urged by T. Mellard Reade and other critics. For all the natural affection that a thinker must bear the child of his brain, Prof. Le Conte claimed no more than that the probabilities were in its favor, leaving the last and unappealable verdict to be uttered only when all the evidence has been discovered and passed upon. Contrasted with the scientific erudition of this address was Dr. D. G. Brinton's popular introduction to The Earliest Men on the following evening at the public session. Choosing apt and simple illustrations, he showed how the anthropologist, from remains which seem rather scanty, is able to piece together a picture of primitive men. That they had compassion and skill enough among them to nurse the helpless for months together was, for example, proved by adducing the bones of a man who had suffered a compound, comminuted fracture, and survived the misfortune several years.
One of the liveliest sectional discussions arose among the botanists on the reading of Prof. C. R. Barnes's paper on The Food of Green Plants, in which paper it was maintained that the protoplasm of plants and animals is identical. Prof. N. L. Britton could not see how the profound divergences between animals and plants, in their highest forms, could have arisen, except through elemental differences in protoplasm. Prof. C. MacMillan also demurred to the dictum of Prof. Barnes: animals are analytic, energy-producing; plants are synthetic, energy-absorbing; that plants have a certain superiority over animals comes out, he argued, in their comparative superabundance. In this section Prof. C. MacMillan also read a brief paper, proving how seriously botany is neglected as a study in American colleges and universities, many biological laboratories being devoted chiefly to instruction in zoölogy. The section voted that through the proper official channels the Department of Agriculture, at Washington, be requested to print and circulate Prof. MacMillan's paper.
To the chemists Prof. E. W. Morley detailed the refined methods by which he assigns to oxygen a specific gravity of 15·882, as a result of twenty recent determinations. An apparatus for ascertaining expansions was exhibited by Prof. Morley, its inventor, and Prof. W. A. Rogers, its builder, with which a millionth of an inch can be easily measured, and with careful adjustment even one twenty-millionth of an inch. In principle the apparatus is an application of Prof. A. A. Michelson's interferential refractometer, the interference of light-waves from mirrors attached to a standard and to a compared metallic bar enabling the observer to determine minute movements with a precision hitherto impossible.
An inquiry into the properties of paraldehyde and metaldehyde by Profs. W. R. Orndorff and John White illustrated the inferences whereby the chemist is able to body forth the respective positions in a molecule of the atoms which compose it. In the Anthropological Section the songs of sequence of the Navajoes were rendered by a phonograph, an instrument which promises to be as indispensable as the camera to the serious traveler. A discussion of the most animated kind took place in this section between Rev. G. F. Wright and Mr. W J McGee on certain evidences adduced by the former of preglacial man, Mr. McGee maintaining that the evidence was merely probable and not conclusive.
OUR NEW INDEX.
Half a century ago science was an affair of a few individuals, and a laboratory of any kind was to most people only a curiosity. The man who devoted himself to the study of Nature was looked upon as a visionary having neither place nor function among the contributors to human welfare; scientific methods in the arts were rarely heard of; natural knowledge had no part or place in education; and, besides an occasional learned treatise, two or three technical periodicals met all the needs of scientific publication.
But all this has now been changed. The last half of the nineteenth century will long be memorable as the period during which science achieved a prominent if not a leading place in nearly every department of human activity. The wonderful advance of discovery, closely followed as it has been by numerous practical applications, has wrought a revolution in many fields, until in the arts, in commerce, in education, and even in the professions, science may justly claim to exercise a controlling influence.
With all this there has come an enormous increase in the volume of scientific literature. Scores of scientific periodicals are engaged in the work of disseminating the results of investigation and books by the hundred are published every year in which the methods and conclusions of science are given more permanent record. The accumulation of material from this ceaseless and ever-increasing activity is already so great that ready means of access to it becomes an urgent need of the hour.
But it is only with a subdivision of this great body of knowledge that we are here specially concerned. In the early days of the scientific awakening just alluded to, it was only natural that the results obtained by workers in science should for the most part remain the possession of the student and investigator. That science, however, had a message for the people was not long in being perceived. Side by side with its many important industrial applications there had grown up a vast body of scientific knowledge only needing suitable interpretation to make it available for the masses. Under the stimulus supplied by a few enthusiastic public teachers there gradually arose a demand for this new kind of knowledge that would brook no refusal. In obedience to this desire of the public we have seen issuing from the press during the last twenty-five or thirty years a steadily growing stream of popular scientific literature embodying the ablest thought of the time, and much of it the direct product of our most distinguished scientific men.
To this class of literature The Popular Science Monthly belongs. Its special work has been to spread current scientific thought in simplified form among the people, and we may confidently claim that in no other publication can there be found a more useful, more complete, or more interesting record of the science of the last twenty years available for the general reader than is contained in the forty volumes to which our new Index is intended as the key.
To place this great store of information at the command of the intelligent reader so that he may inform himself on any given subject with the least outlay of time and attention this Index has been planned and compiled. It groups the articles so that any one looking up, for instance, Anthropology, Evolution. Manual Training, Social Science, Vivisection, can find what has appeared in the Monthly on the subject in question under that head. Practical usefulness has been put before mere logical accuracy in classification. As the Monthly is a popular magazine, popular names have been preferred to technical ones as names of classes. Thus, articles about Consumption are put under that head with a cross-reference from Tuberculosis. Cross-references from other synonyms have been liberally used.
Large aggregations of titles have been avoided by dividing subjects. Any one wishing to know what the magazine has contained on the question "Are the Planets inhabited?" would be more likely to look under planets than under astronomy; accordingly, all articles dealing exclusively with the planets, sun, moon, stars, or nebulae are put under those respective heads, with a cross-reference under astronomy.
This Index contains a new feature that must prove of great value to users—that is, it gives the number of pages and illustrations in each article in its subject entry. By this means the searcher can see which are the most extended and instructive articles in a long list.
The titles of all books noticed in the Monthly have been entered under the subjects of which they treat, these entries being distinguished from the titles of articles by Italics. As all important books of a popular scientific character published in the past twenty years have been sent to this magazine for review, a valuable classified bibliography of popular science for that period is thus furnished.
Having adopted a new plan for the present volume, we have thought best to include in it the whole contents of the magazine from its first number. The Index of Volumes I to XX is thus superseded.
To any one who has a file of the Monthly from the beginning, this Index will be like a key to a treasure house. To any one who has not a file, but who depends upon a public library for the use of the volumes when he has occasion to read up a scientific subject, the Index will be an even more valuable possession, for it will enable him to call for the volumes he wants without loss of time.
Finally, we wish to recognize the ability of the compiler, Mr. F. A. Fernald, who, bringing to the work a large experience in indexing, has exercised the utmost care to secure accuracy and completeness, and has also suggested and carried out several improvements that will add greatly to the convenience of readers.