Popular Science Monthly/Volume 44/February 1894/Popular Miscellany

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Pestalozzianism in America.—An article under this title, by Mr. George W. Boutwell, in The Popular Science Monthly of November, 1893, undertakes to correct in one important point my article on the Oswego Normal School, in The Popular Science Monthly of the preceding May. I fully agree with Mr. Boutwell that Pestalozzian principles were known and discussed in this country long before the Oswego movement. This was implied in my article, if not distinctly stated. I did not state where, when, and by whom they were introduced, not because of a desire to detract from the honor due to Pestalozzian pioneers in Massachusetts or elsewhere in America, but because these matters were not directly within the scope of my article, and limitations of space did not permit excursions from the subject. It is claimed for Dr. Sheldon and his associates that they were the first to systematically apply Pestalozzian methods to a system of public schools in all its grades, and the first to give to teachers systematic training in these methods. This claim will, I believe, bear investigation, and will keep in honorable remembrance the work done at Oswego.—William M. Aber.

 

Prehistoric Trepanning.—A considerable number of examples of trepanning and of instruments used in the operation have been recovered from the prehistoric remains in different countries, the chronological dates of which range from the earliest neolithic age to historic times. Hippocrates was not a stranger to these processes, but performed them in cases of accidents to the skull, and even of headache. The Montenegrins submit to the operation; and it has been suggested as probable that in both instances the procedure is simply a custom surviving from primeval ages. A paper reviewing this subject, by Dr. Robert Munro, records a strange blending of medicine and theology in the earlier periods of this treatment, for he shows that during the neolithic period the operation was performed on children afflicted with certain internal maladies, and that the skulls of those who survived the treatment were considered possessed of special mystical qualities. When such persons died, fragments were often cut from their skulls and used as amulets; and pieces cut from the margin of the cicatrized opening were preferred. The process in prehistoric times was practiced chiefly on children, partly, probably, because it could be more easily accomplished upon them, and possibly, also, as an early precaution against certain supernatural and demoniac evils. The Chaldean magic, according to Lenormant, mentioned "the wicked demon which seizes the body, which disturbs the body," and taught that "the disease of the forehead proceeds from the infernal regions; it is come from the dwelling of the lord of the abyss." We have a right to suppose, in view of these evidences, as Broca has suggested, that many of the convulsions peculiar to children were regarded as the result of demoniacal possession. It would be natural, then, to try to assist the escape of the imprisoned spirit by boring a hole in the skull by which it was confined. The belief in the medicinal efficacy of cranial bones persisted till the beginning of the last century; and such bones have been worn in recent years by aged Italians as charms against epilepsy and other nervous diseases. When once the dogma was promulgated that sanctity and a perforated skull were correlated, fond relatives might bore the heads of the departed to facilitate the exodus of any malignant influence still lingering within, and to insure them, by the venerated aperture. a satisfactory position in their new existence. For similar reasons the bone was buried with the deceased, and sometimes it was even placed within his skull. Dr. Munro, while accepting Broca's view and amplifying upon it, suggests further that the post-mortem trepanning may have been such a pious endeavor to carry sacramental benefit beyond the grave as induced the early Christians to be baptized for the dead, and that it points to a belief in the supernatural and in the existence of a future state.

 

Prof. Huxley and the late Sir Andrew Clark.—Prof. Huxley has furnished the London Lancet with the following reminiscence of his first meeting and subsequent acquaintance with Sir Andrew Clark, the eminent English physician, who has recently died: "I was appointed assistant surgeon to H. M. S. Victory at Portsmouth in March, 1846, and was, in the ordinary course, detailed for duty at Haslar Hospital until such time as the Admiralty might be pleased to order me to join a seagoing ship. Some time after—I think two or three months—a young Scotchman joined our mess. He was very slender, of somewhat stooping carriage, and with that florid delicacy of complexion which commonly marks the poitrinaire. Most of us were tolerably vigorous young men, and we thought that our new colleague, Andrew Clark, had a good deal less prospect of standing the life that was probably in store for him than we had. In fact, he looked just the sort of man to die of consumption before the age of thirty-five. Now it so happened that three out of the small company of assistant surgeons at Haslar during the five months of my residence—Alexander Armstrong, John Watt Reid, and myself—were destined to prove our competency to go through a fair share of hard work, official and other; and it would have very much surprised us to hear that Clark was not only to work harder, but to go on working for years after we had been put upon our respective shelves as retired veterans. I doubt if a good deal more wisdom and experience than any of us possessed would have divined in our very quiet, and even retiring, young messmate the prodigious store of mental and physical energy upon which he was able to draw in later life; and I venture to be certain that, of all careers imaginable, that of the most fashionable physician in London is the last that any one, however sagacious, would have predicted for him. I went my way to the other side of the world, for four years, in the fall of 1846, and, after my return to England, the kindly fates determined I should no longer be exposed to the risk of committing homicide as a grievously incompetent member of the noblest of professions. So my former messmate and I drifted far away from one another on our several courses, and only indirect accounts of him reached me from time to time. I heard that destiny had withdrawn him from the service, no doubt for reasons directly opposite to those which led to my removal; then, that he was practicing in some far-off region of London, eastward of the fashionable Eden; then, as it seemed quite suddenly, I learned that he was a hospital physician of great repute and rapidly increasing practice, residing in the very omphalos of Æsculapia Cavendish Square. We met now and again, as busy men in London do; but I suppose our renewed acquaintance would have stopped there, had I not fallen ill in 1871 of what it was then the fashion to call overwork. I was desired to rest, go to Egypt, and do all sorts of other things; which I did, but with no other result than that of gradually descending into lower and lower circles of the inferno of hypochondriacal dyspepsia. After a year or more of this increasing wretchedness, a friend fairly worried me into consulting the doctor who was all the fashion, and who, I confess, seemed nowise the better in my eyes for being so. It is difficult for me to speak in moderate language of the time and pains which one of the hardest-pressed of physicians devoted to my case; of his thoughtful and self-sacrificing care not only of me, but of several members of my family; of the scientific sagacity of his diagnosis; or of the firmness with which he insisted on somewhat ascetic remedial measures which, in the opinion of not a few of my friends, tended to speedy euthanasia. Suffice it to say that I was practically well in three months, and remained in a very good state of repair for a dozen years. From that time onward we were fast friends, none the less for heartily disagreeing about a good many fundamental questions. Thoughtless people blame Sir Andrew Clark for not leaving off work when he had reached wealth, fame, and the official headship of his profession. But though he may have liked these rewards as well as another, my friend did not live for them. His work was his life, and no true friend would have desired for him, of all men, a prolongation of that shadow-life of enforced rest, in which there is no repose."

 

Action of Light on Dyes.—The report of the British Association's committee on the action of light on dyed colors refers chiefly to coloring matters belonging to groups of dyes known as eosins, rosanilines, indulines, and azo colors, producing various shades of red. The results show that relative fastness or permanence of the colors when exposed to light is practically the same on silk as on wool. The most fugitive red dyes are those of the eosin group and their allies, while the most permanent, with very few exceptions, belong to the group of azo colors. One very important result is that the rate of fading of a dye depends mainly on its chemical constitution, and does not depend upon whether it is an artificial or a natural product. It follows that, contrary to the common belief, artificial coloring matters are made that are quite as permanent when exposed to light as the colors obtained directly from vegetable products.

 

Guesses and Proof.—Dr. Pye-Smith, in the course of the last Harveian oration, delivered in London in October, said: "As Paley justly puts it, 'He only discovers who proves.' To hit upon the true conjecture here and there amid a crowd of untrue guesses, and leave it again without appreciation of its importance, is as a sign, not of intelligence, but of frivolity. We are told that of the seven wise men of Greece one—I believe it was Thales—taught that the sun did not go around the earth, but the earth around the sun, and hence it has been said that Thales anticipated Copernicus—a flagrant example of the fallacy in question. A crowd of idle philosophers, who sat through the long summer days and nights of Attica discussing all things in heaven and earth, must sometimes have hit upon a true opinion, if only by accident; but Thales, or whoever broached the heliocentric dogma, had no reason for his belief, and showed himself not more but less reasonable than his companions. The crude theories and gross absurdities of phrenology are not in the least justified or excused by the present knowledge of cerebral localization; nor do the baseless speculations of Lamarck or Erasmus Darwin entitle them to be regarded as the forerunners of Erasmus Darwin's illustrious grandson. Up to 1859 impartial and competent men were bound to disbelieve in evolution; after that date, or at least so soon as the facts and arguments of Darwin and Wallace had been published, they were equally bound to believe in it. He discovers who proves, and by this test Harvey is the sole and absolute discoverer of the movements of the heart and of the blood."

 

Habits of Scorpions.—A study is contributed to Nature by Mr. R. J. Pocock, of the habits of living scorpions. They were made upon the two species Parabuthus capensis and Euscorpius carpathicus. The specimens were evidently nocturnal, spending the daytime huddled together in the corners of their box, or under pieces of wood, and wandering about at night. "It was easy, however, at any time during the day to rouse them from their sluggishness by applying a little artificial warmth to the box." If the warmth was very moderate, they would seek it and bask in it; but as it increased, even while the author could bear it for several minutes without inconvenience upon his hand, "they were at once in a state of consternation." While walking, both species carried their pincers well in advance of the head, where they served as feelers. Euscorpius dragged its tail along the ground; Parabuthus carried his, curled in a vertical plane, over the hinder part of the back. All scorpions appear to be carnivorous, and to live principally on insects or other articulated animals, but the species differ considerably in their choice of food from the variety offered them. "As soon as a cockroach is seized the use of the scorpion's tail is seen; for this organ is brought rapidly over the latter's back, and the point of the sting is thrust into the insect. The poison instilled into the wound thus made, although not causing immediate death, has a paralyzing effect upon the muscles, and quickly deprives the insect of struggling powers, and consequently of all chance of escape. If the insect, however, is a small one—one, in fact, that can be easily held in the pincers, and eaten without trouble while alive—a scorpion does not always waste poison upon it." The only one of the higher senses that seems to be highly developed is that of touch. M. L. Becker says that that sense and hearing are excessively developed, but Mr. Pocock finds no evidence of auditory organs, and the sight very poor. The external organs of touch are the hairs that thickly or sparingly cover various parts of the body; and the pectine or ventral combs appear to play an important part in this office. The stinging by a scorpion is not a random thrust, delivered indiscriminately at any part of a captured insect. The scorpion "generally feels carefully for a soft spot, and then with an air of great deliberation delicately inserts its sting into it. There can be little doubt that this care is taken that there may be no risk of damaging the point of the sting against a substance too hard for it. . . . The same care of the sting is shown in the carriage of the tail, this organ being curled in such a way that the point can not come in contact with any foreign bodies. Even when turned with a piece of stick, or irritated by being crawled upon by a cockroach, a scorpion is not often sufficiently provoked to use its sting. The tail is certainly used to knock aside the instrument or sweep off the insect, but the sides or lower surface of the organ are employed, the vesicle being carefully tucked down." The author did not find his scorpions so pugnacious as they are generally said to be, and he doubts if they ever deliberately commit suicide, though they may do so accidentally, or in desperation.

 

The Blue Mountains of Jamaica.—The first object that greets the eye of the voyager, as he nears the shores of Jamaica, says Commissioner Charles A. Ward, in his account of the island prepared for the Chicago Exposition, is the mass of dark blue mountain looming upon the horizon; and as he draws nearer and nearer, though peak and ridge assume clearer and more distinct shapes, each still retains the tint of deep azure that gives its name to the chain. From its highest point, 7,500 feet above the sea, it throws out branches north and south, which now open into alluvial plain, now descend sheer into the girdle of warm blue sea that encircles the island. The trip to the highest point—Blue Mountain Peak—is one of two days, the night being spent in a hut on the summit. Provisions must be laid in and guides procured, who will also serve as porters. The road mounts ridge after ridge, winds down steep descents, crosses the streams that rush down every gorge, skirts along the slopes and goes over the tops of the intervening hills, and now and then leaves one valley and follows the course of another. An easy ride of about four hours brings the traveler to Farm Hill Coffee Plantation, where the keys of the hut on the summit may be obtained. The road then winds along past Whitfield Hall to Abbey Green, whose houses and terraces of solid masonry are perched on slopes so steep that they appear in imminent danger of tumbling into the abyss beneath them. Behind this the road zigzags up the steep sides of the mountain, threading its course between fields of coffee, some of them of such venerable age that many of the bushes have assumed the appearance of dwarfed trees from the constant lopping and pruning, with trunks from six to nine inches in diameter, and only about four feet high. The leaves of cinchona, blotched with scarlet, now add their quota of color to the scene, for we are leaving the coffee region and reaching the elevation at which this plant best flourishes. Hundreds of acres were planted here some fifteen years ago, but their cultivation is less profitable now, and the cinchona runs wild and self-sown, growing in rank thickets. At the top of the peak, about two hours from Farm Hill, is a small open space covered with soft, springy turf and fringed with stunted trees, at one side of which stands a little hut of two rooms. It has a stove and a supply of fire-wood, which can be used on condition of replacing the wood before leaving—a most rigidly observed point of peak etiquette. South of the hut is a narrow track leading down a precipitous ravine, near which is a small pool of water sufficient for one's absolute needs—except in extraordinarily dry weather, when it fails. The thermometer sometimes falls to 40° Fahr., and solid ice was once found on the summit during a wave of unusual cold. Only one of the peaks—Sir John's Peak, which is 6,100 feet high—approaches within 2,000 feet of the altitude of this one. The southern and western slopes of the range are largely cultivated with coffee and inhabited.

 

Concurrence of Parts in the Living Organism.—The presidential address of Dr. J. S. Burdon Sanderson at the British Association was devoted to the exposition of the character and scope of biology. Aristotle was named as the true father and founder of the science, while the name was given to it by Trevirauus. He conceived the difference between vital and physical processes to lie, not in the nature of the processes themselves, but in their co ordination—that is, in their adaptedness to a given purpose, and to the peculiar and special relation in which the organism stands to the external world. His conception, the speaker declared, "can still be accepted as true." It suggests the idea of organism as that to which all other biological ideas must relate. It also suggests, although perhaps it does not express it, that action is not an attribute of the organism but of its essence; that if, on the one hand, protoplasm is the basis of life, life is the basis of protoplasm. Their relations to each other are reciprocal. We think of the visible structure only in connection with the invisible process." It is also of value as indicating at once the two lines of inquiry into which the science has been divided by the evolution of knowledge. These two lines may be easily deduced from the general principle from which Treviranus started, according to which it is the fundamental characteristic of the organism that all that goes on in it is to the advantage of the whole. This conception has at all times presented itself in the minds of those who have sought to understand the distinction between living and non-living. It was expressed by the physiologists of three hundred years ago by the term consensus partium—which was defined as the concurrence of parts in action, of such a nature that each does its share, all combining to bring about one effect, "as if they had been in secret council, but at the same time by some constant law of Nature." It means that, regarding a plant or an animal as an organism, we concern ourselves primarily with its activities or its energies. These are naturally distinguishable into two kinds, according as we consider the action of the whole organism in its relation to the external world or to other organisms, or the action of the parts or organs in their relation to each other. This distinction has always existed, but has only lately come into such prominence that it divides biologists into two camps—those who make it their aim to investigate the action of the organism and its parts by the accepted methods of physics and chemistry; and those who interest themselves rather in considering the place which each organism occupies and the part it plays in the economy of Nature.

 

A Year's Work in Physics.—Among the notable papers of the year resulting from studies in physics, Mr. R. T. Glazebrook, sectional president in the British Association, mentioned Mr. E. R. Griffith's redetermination of the mechanical equivalent of heat—a work which it has taken five years to complete. With the exception of one group of experiments the results differ by less than one part in ten thousand. During his investigation Mr. Griffith proved an exact accordance between the scale of temperature as determined by comparing his platinum thermometer with the air thermometer made in 1890 by Callendar and himself, and that of the nitrogen thermometer of the Bureau International at Sèvres. Among other long investigations completed during the year was Rowland's Table of Standard Wave Lengths. The photographic map of the solar spectrum taken by Mr. Riggs with a Rowland grating was also finished. Lord Rayleigh's paper ou the Intensity of Light reflected from Water and Mercury at nearly perpendicular incidence, combined with the experiments on reflection from liquid surfaces in the neighborhood of the polarizing angle, establishes results of the utmost importance in optical theory. "There is," says Lord Rayleigh, "no experimental evidence against the rigorous application of Fresnel's formula—for the reflection of polarized light to the ideal case of an abrupt transition between two uniform transparent media." Prof. Dewar has continued his experiments on the liquefaction of oxygen and nitrogen on a large scale. To a physicist perhaps the most important results of the research are the discovery of the magnetic properties of liquid oxygen, and the proof of the fact that the resistance of certain pure metals vanishes at absolute zero. The last discovery is borne out by Griffiths and Callendar's experiments with their platinum thermometers. Mr. Williams's article on the Relation of the Dimensions of Physical Quantities to Directions in Space led to an interesting discussion.

 

The Polar Basin.—In his presidential address before the Geographical Section of the British Association Mr. Henry Seebohm, after stating that the foundation of all geography is exploration, and that its scientific study requires a knowledge of cartography and of meteorology or climatology, elaborated these subjects in detail, taking the polar basin as an example. There is, he said, only one polar basin; the relative distribution of land and water and the geographical distribution of light and heat in the arctic region are absolutely unique. In no other part of the world is a similar climate to be found. The distribution of land and water round the south pole is almost the converse of that round the north pole. In the one we have a mountain of snow and ice covering a lofty mass of congealed water surrounded by an ocean stretching away with very little interruption from land to the confines of the tropics. In the other we have a basin of water surrounding a comparatively flat plain of pack ice, some of which is probably permanent (the so called palæocrystic sea), but most of which is driven hither and thither in summer by winds and currents, and is walled in by continental and island barriers broken only by the narrow outlets of Bering Strait and Baffin's Bay, and the broader gulf which leads to the Atlantic Ocean, and even that interrupted by Iceland, Spitzbergen, and Franz Josef Land. If we assume that the unknown regions are principally sea, then the polar basin, including the area drained by all rivers flowing into the Arctic Sea, may be roughly estimated to contain about 14,000,000 square miles, of which half is land and half water. In the coldest part of the basin the land is either glacier or tundra, and in the warmer parts it is either forest or steppe. Greenland, the home of the glacier and the mother of the icebergs of the Northern Atlantic, rises 9,000 or 10,000 feet above the sea level, while the sea between that lofty plateau and Scandinavia is the deepest known in the polar basin, though it is separated from the rest of the Atlantic by a broad belt or submarine plateau connecting Greenland across Iceland and the Faroes with the British Islands and Europe. Iceland, Spitzbergen, and Novaya-Zemlia, the latter a continuation of the Urals, are all mountainous and full of glaciers. The glaciers of southern Alaska are some of the largest in the world.

 

Aspects of the Antarctic Regions.—The subject of antarctic exploration was discussed at the meeting of the British Association. Mr. W. S. Bruce contributed Notes of an Antarctic Voyage. Dr. C. M. Donald, reporting some observations made on the voyage, said that the antarctic regions differ in many respects from the arctic regions, the differences arising probably from diversities in geological structure. Bird life is scant in the south, and the birds are of different kinds from those of the north. The icebergs, too, instead of being rugged and irregular, are plateau-shaped, rising with straight sides about two hundred and fifty feet from the water, and often of vast extent. One was met thirty miles long. Two of the steamers of the expedition worked through the pack ice—impenetrable to a sailing ship—and approached the sixty-fifth parallel. Mr. Seebohm described the penguin as being, with the exception of a few petrels, almost the only bird found in the ntarctic aregions. Penguins were so different from all other birds that some had divided the order into penguins and not-peuguins. The penguin was found almost to the equator; not only where there is a cold current. The Australian Antarctic Expedition, much talked of a few years ago, is in a state of suspense on account of the difficulty of obtaining the money needed.

 

The Place of Geology in Education.—In the discussion, in the British Association, of the Place of Geology in Secondary and Professional Education, Prof. Greenville A. J. Cole urged that geology formed a subject of such far-reaching importance that it should be included in the general course for boys and girls of about the age of sixteen or seventeen. Every one should be capable of appreciating his surroundings, and particularly the past history of life upon the globe, if he was to be able to pass judgment upon current affairs and to play his part as an individual organism. Geology was as fundamentally important as history, and tended to modify very largely our conceptions of the relations between what is called antiquity and ourselves. In common with other natural sciences it encouraged a love of truth where statements could be safely made, and of reserve where assertions would be merely dogmatic. The course suggested for all pupils was one in which mineral details were subordinated, except where they were important in explaining the origin of certain broad features, such as familiar and local landscapes. The greatest stress for general purposes was to be laid upon an outline of stratigraphical geology and its illustration by such beds, unconformitiss, etc., as might be exhibited in the environs of the school. The outdoor character of the study should be insisted on; and the fact that the broader generalizations of the science were based on the collation of local observations would not be among the least valuable results of the introduction of the subject into our educational systems. Prof. G. A. Lebour thought that in teaching geology to students destined to be engineers or to have charge of mines it was desirable that they should have such a kuowledge of the subject as would enable them, not to solve problems, but to understand the grounds on which experts base their reports.

 

Finger Marks.—In the British Association Mr. Francis Galton gave a description of his system of finger-print impressions which had been recently introduced into the Indian army. There is affixed to the nominal roll an impression in ink of the fore, middle, and ring fingers of the right hand of each recruit. This plan is found very useful as a check upon personation. Sir William Herschel used the method with success in Bengal for many years. If a clear impression with the finger tips were made, there would be obtained between thirty and forty bifurcations or ridges which were absolutely persistent through life. For purposes of identification the impression of three fingers would be sufficient, but for purposes of registration it was desirable to take the whole ten. It was suggested that this method might be adopted in the case of illiterates instead of making the usual cross-mark as a signature to legal documents. The President of the Anthropological Section said that this method was used by prehistoric man for purposes of ornamentation.

 

A Scheme of Education.—In one of his Johns Hopkins University lectures on the Philosophy of Education, Prof. W. T. Harris marks three epochs of school education—the elementary, secondary, and higher; of which the first or elementary stage is the opening of the "five windows" of the soul: arithmetic, the foundation of our knowledge of Nature, by which we measure and count all things inorganic; elementary geography, by which the distribution of animal and plant life is learned; reading and writing, which give a glimpse into literature; grammar; and history (of the pupil's own country). Literature, says the author, "lifts up the pupil into the realms of human nature and discloses the motives which govern the actions of men." In history, one sees "revealed the aspirations of his countrymen, his own nature, written out in colossal letters." The secondary education takes up human learning and continues it along the same lines—namely, inorganic Nature, organic Nature, literature (the heart), grammar and logic (the intellect), and history (the will). Algebra deals in general numbers, geometry and physics continue inorganic Nature, while natural history continues the study already begun in geography. Then come Greek and Latin, "and here is opened up a great field of study into the embryology of our civilization. In the dead languages we have the three great threads running through the history of our civilization. The Greek, with its literature and aesthetic art and philosophy, shows the higher forms of human freedom; the Roman seeks the true forms of contracts and treaties and corporations; and the Hebrew thread is the religious one. So with the secondary education we begin to get the embryology of our forms of life." The higher or collegiate education is the comparative step. Each branch is studied in the light of all the others. The first or elementary education, then, is but superficial, a mere inventory; the secondary insists on some reflection on what has been learned; and the third or higher education is the unity and comparison of all that has been learned, so that each is explained by the whole.

 

Mineral Resources of Missouri.—The territory occupied by the State of Missouri, according to a report by Arthur Winslow, State Geologist, has been known as a mineral producing area for nearly two hundred years. Penicaut, one of Le Sueur's party, which ascended the Mississippi River in 1700, refers to a mine west of the Mississippi and west of Sainte Genevieve, whence the Indians got their supply of lead. This indicates with reasonable certainty the date when the French began to make use of the mineral resources of the region. Iron mining was begun about 1815. Records of the existence of coal date from 1804; in 1840, 8,903 tons were mined, and production has since been continuous. Zinc was mined with lead ores for many years, but was not utilized till 1869. Since then the growth of production has been rapid. The principal mineral products of Missouri are zinc, in respect to which the State ranks first in the country; lead, in which it is second only to Colorado, and iron. In addition, Missouri is a large producer of coal, its clays have a national reputation, and it has a great variety of excellent building and ornamental stones. Among the minor products are quicklime, glass sands, copper, and baryta. Several of the more common classes of mineral waters are scattered all over the State. The zinc region is in the extreme southwest; lead is known to occur in thirty or more counties, and was mined during the past year in fourteen. Iron mining is confined to a part of the State south of the Missouri River and east of the marginal line of the coal measures. Of the four prominent mineral products of the State coal is the most widespread. Clays suitable for all ordinary uses are very abundant. Building stones are plentiful for home use, and shipments are made from many of the quarries to foreign points. They include marbles, sandstones of excellent quality, and the Mexican "onyx" (arragonite, or carbonate of lime). Sands suitable for the manufacture of glass are abundant in the eastern part of the State. Silver occurs at one place, but the mine has been abandoned.

 

Prospects of Negro Education.—The problem of the comparative intellectual or ethical capacities of the Caucasian and the negro is treated by Dr. J. L. M. Curry, chairman of the Executive Committee of the John F. Slater Fund, as a speculative question that need not be studied as yet. What is called the "negro problem" is remote from its final or satisfactory solution. To settle it will require more than the thirty years that have elapsed since the Proclamation of Emancipation and more data and calmer and more scientific generalizations—free, too, from prejudice, fanaticism, sectarianism, and partisanship—than are yet at hand. The education of the negro is encompassed with peculiar complications, difficulties, and limitations. What has been accomplished is encouragement to do more. What has been attained is the demonstration that other and better things can be reached. In adopting means and methods to secure the highest results in education it must not be forgotten that the negro is still fettered by the heredity of thousands of years and by the ingrained and slowly eradicable weaknesses of slavery. It is proper to remember that African slavery has strengthened the necessary evils of the "peculiar institution" into habitudes, and that these in the course of years have become racial characteristics. Conferences were held during the last year, at which the normal and material condition of the negroes and the obstacles to their progress, the methods and means of progress, and the influence of women were discussed. Unquestionable as has been the improvement in normal and industrial work in the schools, it is equally beyond question that the instruction is not what it should be in any of them. What is called normal instruction is too often of very superficial character and a mere annex to the ordinary literary course, while what is done in manual training is unscientific and based apparently on merely utilitarian considerations. The Slater Fund has heretofore been operated in connection with the denominational and other schools already established in the South. While its managers have sought to emphasize as much as possible its peculiar objects of normal and manual training, it could not interfere with their objects or expect them to subordinate them to its purpose. The Hampton and Tuskegee Schools and the one at Montgomery are, however, not under these embarrassing conditions. A proposition is now before the trustees for establishing or aiding in establishing an independent school in which the purposes of the fund shall be predominant. The amount of the fund is $1,220,375.