Page images
PDF
EPUB

distinct. I was then shown the great nebula in Orion, the double star Castor, and a fine cluster in Perseus, the most beautiful object I saw. The telescope is not quite achromatic, but it is wonderfully steady, and the clockwork motion

very perfect. The night, though very clear, was not one for what is termed "good seeing;” hence high powers could not be used, and the result was somewhat disappointing. A really good telescope of moderate size, say four-inch or six-inch object glass, properly mounted, and which can be used whenever the conditions are good, will afford more pleasure and instruction than chance visits to the largest instruments.

Early in January I had an engagement to lecture before the American Geographical Society at New York, the subject being, “Oceanic Islands and the Permanence of Continental and Oceanic Areas." I stayed with my kind friend Mr. A. G. Browne, who took me after the lecture to the Century Club, where I met Clarence King, the geologist, and some other scientific men. Next morning I visited the American Museum of Natural History, where I met Dr. J. B. Holder, Mr. J. A. Allen, the well-known writer on birds and mammals, and some other naturalists; and returned to Washington in the afternoon,

On Sunday evening, March 6, I started on a ten days' visit to Canada to fulfil some lecture engagements. I went by a circuitous route by Williamsport, where I breakfasted; then on by Seneca lake and Rochester to Niagara. All this country was very picturesque-much like Wales, but no walls or hedges, and wooden houses. Willows with bright yellow bark were conspicuous, and very handsome. Near the lake were abundant vineyards, deep gullies in horizontal shaly rock, with numerous waterfalls. I reached the Niagara old suspension bridge at 5 p.m., and had just time to see the rapids by going down the cliffs in an elevator about two hundred feet. The leaping, irregular waves were fine, but hardly up to my expectation. I had an excellent supper at a small hotel, and then went on to Toronto, which I reached at 12.20, going on next morning to Kingston, which I reached at 2.30 p.m., where Principal Grant met me and took me

in a sleigh to the college. In the evening I lectured on “Darwinism" to a good and attentive audience.

After the lecture some friends of Principal Grant came in, and we had much conversation. A lady who was interested in spiritualism spoke to me, and asked me if I knew that Romanes was a spiritualist, and had tried to convert Darwin. I told her that I knew he was interested in the phenomena of spiritualism, but that I thought it most improbable that he had said anything to Darwin. "But,” said she, “ Professor Romanes's brother is a great friend of mine, and he gave me the drafts of the letters they jointly wrote to Darwin. Would you like to see them?” I said I certainly should, and she promised to bring them the next morning. She did so, and I read them with great interest and surprise, as he had never mentioned them to me when he had come to see me expressly to discuss spiritualism. On asking, she said I might take notes of the contents, as they were given to her without any restriction, and the Canadian Romanes was a thorough spiritualist. This curious episode, and what it led to, will be explained in a future chapter.

In the afternoon I left for Toronto, where I arrived about II p.m., and drove to Professor Wright's house. We lunched next day with Dr. Wilson, and met Mr. Hale, the well-known anthropologist. In the afternoon there was a reception at Professor Wright's, and in the evening I gave my lecture on the Darwinian theory, which

gave
the

argument as afterwards developed in the first five and the last chapters of my book on “Darwinism.” When I had finished, the Bishop of Toronto made a few remarks, and expressed his relief when he heard my concluding observations. The next day I gave a combined lecture on "Animal Colours and Mimicry,” which occupied an hour and three-quarters; but the crowded audience seemed much interested, and the lantern was an excellent one, and showed the coloured slides to perfection. A Mr. Smith, the head of a veterinary college, who had heard my first lecture, wished me to repeat it to his pupils, which I did the next day to a very attentive audience of three hundred young

men.

In the evening I dined with Professor Goldwin Smith and a party of scientific men in his fine old house, with black walnut staircase and furniture. Afterwards we adjourned to his spacious library, where we discussed politics and literature. The next evening was spent at Mr. Allen's, where I saw a fine collection of Canadian birds, and was struck by the large number of handsome woodpeckers and other brightcoloured birds as compared with Europe. On my way back to Washington I spent four days at Niagara, living at the old hotel on the Canadian side, in a room that looked out on the great fall, and where its continuous musical roar soothed me to sleep. It was a hard frost, and the American falls had great ice-mounds below them, and ranges of gigantic icicles near the margins. At night the sound was like that of a strong, steady wind at sea, but even more like the roar of the London streets heard from the middle of Hyde Park. When in bed a constant vibration was felt. I spent my whole time wandering about the falls, above and below, on the Canadian and the American sides, roaming over Goat Island and the Three Sisters Islands far in the rapids above the Horse-shoe Fall, which are almost as impressive as the fall itself. The small Luna Island dividing the American falls was a lovely sight; the arbor-vitæ trees (Thuya Americana), with which it is covered, young and old, some torn and jagged, but all to the smallest twigs coated with glistening ice from the frozen spray, looked like groves of gigantic tree corals, the most magnificent and fairy-like scene I have ever beheld. All the islands are rocky and picturesque, the trees draped with wild vines and Virginia creepers, and afford a sample of the original American forest vegetation of very great interest. During these four days I was almost entirely alone, and was glad to be so.

I was never tired of the ever-changing aspects of this grand illustration of natural forces engaged in modelling the earth's surface. Usually the centre of the great falls, where the depth and force of the water are greatest, is hidden by the great column of spray which rises to the height of four hundred or five hundred feet; but occasionally the wind drifts it aside, and allows the great central gulf of falling water

to be seen nearly from top to bottom-a most impressive sight.

When I got back to Washington it was snowing hard, and the whole country was more wintry-looking than at Niagara, four degrees further north. I at once went to the Geological Survey Library to look up recent works on Niagara, and had an interesting talk with Mr. McGee about it. He told me that the centre of the Horse-shoe Fall has receded about two hundred feet in forty years. The Potomac falls, which are in gneiss rock, have receded quite as fast. The conditions that combine to produce the recession of waterfalls are numerous, and so liable to change, that it is impossible to trust to conclusions drawn from observations during limited periods. It is evident, for example, that while the Canadian falls have receded nearly one-third of a mile, the American falls have not receded more than ten or twenty feet.

Although I did not have a single lecture engagement at Washington, I read two short scientific papers there. There was a Woman's Anthropological Society, which invited me to address them, and being rather puzzled what to talk about, I made a few remarks on "The Great Problems of Anthropology." These I defined as the problem of race and the problem of language. On the first point I stated that there are three great races or divisions of mankind clearly definable -the black, the brown, and the white, or the Negro, Mongolian, and Caucasian. If we once begin to subdivide beyond these primary divisions, there is no possibility of agreement, and we pass insensibly from the five races of Pritchard to the fifty or sixty of some modern ethnologists. The other great problem, that of language and its origin, was important, because it was, above all others, the human characteristic, and was the greatest factor in man's intellectual development. I then laid down the outlines of the theory of mouthgestures, which I afterwards developed in my article on “The Expressiveness of Speech,"showing how greatly it extends the range of mere initiative sounds (which had been ridiculed by some great philologists) and affords a broad and secure foundation for the development of every form of human speech.

The other paper was on “Social Economy versus Political Economy," and was given at the request of Major Powell and a few other scientific friends to a large audience of gentlemen and ladies. It was an attempt to show how and why the old “political economy” was effete and useless, in view of modern civilization and modern accumulations of individual wealth. Its one end, aim, and the measure of its success, was the accumulation of wealth, without considering who got the wealth, or how many of the producers of the wealth starved. What we required now was a science of “social economy,” whose success should be measured by the good of all. Under this system, not only should no worker ever be in want, but labour must be so organized that every worker, without exception, must receive as the product of his labour all the essentials of a healthy and happy life; must have ample relaxation, adequate change of occupation, the means of enjoying the beauty and the solace of nature on the one hand, and of literature and art on the other. This must be a first charge on the labour of the community ; till this is produced there must be no labour expended on luxury, no private accumulations of wealth in order that unborn generations may live lives of idleness and pleasure.

This paper was altogether too revolutionary for many of my hearers, and the general feeling was perhaps expressed in the following passage from the Washington Post: "It is astounding that a man who really possesses the power of induction and ratiocination, and who, in physical synthesis has been a leader of his generation, should express notions of political economy, which belong only or mainly to savage tribes.” At that time, however, there was hardly a professed socialist in America. In the eighteen years that have elapsed since this paper was read an enormous advance in opinion has occurred, and to-day, not only to a large proportion of the workers, but to thousands of the professional classes, the views therein expressed would be accepted as in accordance with justice and sound policy.

Another evening I was asked by Dr. T. A. Bland, editor of The Council Fire, and friend of the Indians, who had seen VOL. II.

к

« EelmineJätka »