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brilliant coloring, the grotesqueness of their form, or their rarity. A rare species has the same interest for a collector of natural objects as a rare book for a bibliomaniac. Be its importance real or nominal, its rarity recommends it, because men tire of that with which they are familiar.

The American ferret (Putorius nigripes, Audubon and Bachman), of which we offer a representation, is one of the least known of North American mammals, and is but rarely met with in collections. It was described by Audubon and Bachman in 1851 from a single specimen, and a quarter of a century passed before our knowledge of the species was in any wise augmented. In 1874, Dr. Coues advertised his desire for specimens in certain sporting papers, and was gratified to receive for the Smithsonian institution several examples from different localities.

Since that time quite a number of specimens

manni of Siberia. It seems very improbable, however, that Hensel's view is correct.

The specimen figured was obtained for the Smithsonian institution by Capt. James Gillis, at Cheyenne, Wyoming. The head and body measure 19 inches (following the curves); the tail, including the terminal pencil, 5 inches. F. W. TRUE.

A CLERGYMAN has just been committed to prison in England for seven days as a penalty for striking a constable. The assailant was coming out of his house, when the policeman, who happened to be waiting to serve a summons, laid the document on his arm. His reverence exclaimed, "You brute, how you did frighten me!" and struck the constable a violent blow in the face with a candlestick. In commenting on this case, the Lancet says that it should not be forgotten

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have accumulated in the national museum and some other establishments.

Of the habits and distribution of the blackfooted ferret, we still know very little. The specimens thus far recorded are from Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. The species probably ranges over the greater part of that section of the United States lying between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.

The specimens of which the history is known were taken from prairie-dog holes; and Dr. Coues states that about Fort Wallace, Kansas, the species is said to be known as the prairie-dog hunter.' Dr. Hayden found the remains of a prairie-dog in the stomach of a ferret which he sent to the Smithsonian institution.

In his work upon the weasels, Dr. Coues established a special sub-genus, Cynomyonax, for the black-footed ferret, and in 1881 Hensel made the species synonymous with the Putorius Evers

that in many instances the immediate effect of a 'fright' is to make the person startled strike out with any thing at hand. Some persons are paralyzed by panic: others are instantly roused to action in a way that does not involve volition. The blow is as much the result of the excitation as the knee-jerk produced by striking the patellar tendon, albeit the train of actions is more complex, and involves the exercise of that co-ordinative faculty which has been called the sub-consciousness. In stumbling we make certain movements with the feet, and clutch at any thing that may be within reach in a manner designed to prevent or minimize the effect of a fall. A good horseman will, 'instinctively,' as we say, take such precautions as will prevent his being hurt by a fall. The will is not intentionally active in these processes. The recognition of the danger, and the adoption of suitable measures, seem to occupy too short a time for thought.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25, 1885.

COMMENT AND CRITICISM.

ALL AMERICANS have been amused with the stories which have recently appeared in the newspapers, of the intense state of excitement to which the English people have allowed themselves to be roused by the elections just closed. There is, of course, good reason for the difference in American and English election manners in the prolongation of the agony which the protraction of the English elections entails. In the Lancet for Dec. 12 appeared an article on Deaths from election fever.' The writer takes the ground that the feebler minds of a community are those which take the most interest in politics. "This being so, it ought to surprise no one that a large sprinkling of the 'minds' subjected to the strain and excitement attendant on a general election should give way, or that in a certain proportion of instances brains should be so affected as to suffer those coarser injuries which end in speedy death rather than protracted mental disease." Is this to be accepted as a fair statement of the facts in England, and do we experience in the United States an increase in the number of deaths from brain-diseases at times of great political excitement ?

WHILE THERE IS MUCH to rejoice at in the recent circular issued by A. C. Armstrong & company, concerning the New Princeton review, yet there is one paragraph that cannot but have a disappointing effect when read by those whose interest in philosophy is purely scientific, and not dogmatic or polemical. It is clearly implied that no philosophical articles, however meritorious, will be admitted into the Review unless they are in accord with the system of realistic philosophy, on which the venerable president of the college of New Jersey lays so much stress. From the point of view of science, this is an unfortunate determination. We have in the English language only one really scientific philosophical journal, and that is published in London. The Journal of speculative philosophy is excellent in its way, but it is not in the accepted sense of the word 'scientific. Many of our other periodicals admit philo

No. 151.-1885.

sophical articles, but they are lost sight of amid the surrounding mass of theology, literature, and art. The New Princeton review had been eagerly looked forward to as supplying a want, as far as its philosophical department was concerned. Now its preliminary announcement disappoints this expectation. We repeat, that, from a scientific stand-point, it is unfortunate that this new magazine is to be a dogmatic philosopher and an organ, rather than scientific and critical.

MOST OF THE INTERIOR of New South Wales, which is occupied by the watershed of the Darling River, the main line of drainage of the Australian continent, is a great alluvial plain, with little slope in any direction, and no well-defined water-courses in a considerable portion. The fall of the Darling through much of its length is but a few inches to the mile. The soil is of salt or bitter lake formation. The industry to which a large portion of this territory is likely to be devoted is sheep-raising, provided a sufficient supply of water can be obtained without requiring the sheep to travel too long a distance. As droughts occur extending over periods of from one to three years, the solution of the problem of water-supply is vital to the settlement of the country. Since the soil is light and unstable, permanent dams cannot be constructed in the rivers without great cost, and the declivity is too slight to permit of water being conveyed by artificial channels or canals to any distance from the streams. It has been found by artesian borings that some of the beds of loose sand interstratified with the clays yield a large supply of fresh water; but the limited amount of research that has yet been made is not sufficient to assure the squatters that water can thus surely be found, and the search for water by that means is too costly and uncertain a process for the settlers. The construction of storagetanks, to be supplied by surface drainage, has therefore been suggested. Under the arduous conditions imposed by the probability of long droughts, these earthen tanks should be made much larger than has been the practice heretofore. The smallest reservoir, to supply some eleven thousand sheep, pastured on an area of six miles square, would require the excavation of

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IN A RECENT NUMBER of the London Times appears more evidence of the interest of England in the conquest of Burmah, that a good trade-route with western China may be opened. After referring to the misguided ways of King Thebaw, who is held up as a weak individual, guided by a few illadvised ministers of state, the Times refers to the future of the country in these words: "Whatever may have been the influences round King Thebaw, they cannot much affect the future of his kingdom. Mr. Bernard, the chief commissioner, will, it is stated, proceed at once to Mandalay, with a party of officials acquainted with the Burmese language. For the present, General Prendergast will administer the country. But when Mr. Bernard arrives, civil authorities will take charge of it, and rule it in the name of the empress of India. The question seems to have been carefully studied, and there seems to be no difficulty in framing a temporary organization for governing Upper Burmah. Our efficient Indian civil service is not to be embarrassed by the acquisition of a new province."

RAILWAYS IN BURMAH.

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MR. HOLT S. HALLETT recently addressed the members of the Scottish geographical society, his subject being A survey for railway connections between India, Siam, and China.' The conquest by England of Upper Burmah places the Burmese Shan states under her protection, and thus allows their peaceful and trade-loving inhabitants to expect a better commercial connection with that country. England is now placed in such a position that no political hindrance remains to prevent her driving the iron horse up to the gates of China, and opening up to trade the western provinces of that rich and prosperous empire. For the past four years Mr. Colquhoun and Mr. Hallett have deeply interested themselves in the subject of the expansion of trade by linking China and the intervening countries to India by means of railways. The valley of the Irrawaddy is bounded on the west by a range of hills which, as it proceeds southwards, spreads out into an entangled mass,

touching the sea along the Bay of Bengal with many of its spurs. No railway can therefore be constructed, except at a prohibitive cost, from Calcutta along the seaboard towards Rangoon. Through the pass used by the Burmese in their invasion of Assam, there is a route which would suit admirably for carrying a railway from the Brahmapootra valley into the valley of the Irrawaddy, and then the railway could be joined, without meeting any great difficulties, to the Rangoon and Tonghoo line, having its present terminus at Rangoon. The height of the pass is not more than 2,500 feet above the sea-level, or 2,000 feet above the level of the Brahmapootra valley.

Owing to the many ranges that would have to be crossed, a railway constructed to connect any part of the Irrawaddy valley in Upper Burmah, or Lower Burmah to the north of Beeling, with western China, would be of greater length and considerably more costly than a line (proposed by Mr. Hallett) which has its terminus at Maulmain.

In considering the traffic which would be likely to arise from the construction of railways through the centre of Indo-China, Mr. Hallett said: "It will be well to remember, 1°, that although the population of our possessions in British Burmah is only 1-40th of that of our Indian dominions, yet British Burmah has 1-10th of the whole trade of India; 2°, that Upper Burmah, which since the rebellion of the Burmese Shan states has scarcely a million of inhabitants, still carries on a trade with us of about £3,000,000 sterling; 3°, that a million sterling of treasure is imported into Burmah each year more than is exported; 4°, that Chinese emigration has been shut out lately from America, Australia, and other places, and would certainly set into the fertile plains of IndoChina if it were encouraged and facilitated by the construction of railways; 5°, that already half the population in the delta of the Meh Nam is composed of Chinese and their descendants; 6°, that the great want of British Burmah is population."

The paying prospects of the proposed railways can be compared with those of the railway between Rangoon and Prome, which was opened in 1878. This railway, which is 162 miles in length, was made to connect the town of Prome with the seaport of Rangoon. It passes for fully two-thirds of its length through an unfertile country covered with scrub jungle. On the whole length of the railway there are not more than six villages, and the line is in competition with the admirable flotilla of steamers plying on the Irrawaddy River. Yet this line paid to the English government a net profit of 6 per cent last year upon the expenses of its construction.

BAD TIMES.

IN these days of many books, one gives a welcome to the man who can write a small book; but in this case the man is he whose work makes him the rival of two not often found together in the same comparison, Charles Darwin and Henry George. Mr. Wallace, as a naturalist, disputes with Darwin the claim of having originated the theory of natural selection; while, as the defender of the nationalization of land, he also appears in the field where Henry George had been the most prominent figure. Like Simon Newcomb, who has lent the hours not occupied by severe mathematical studies to the service of political economy, so Mr. Wallace has turned from natural history to explain to us the causes of the depression in business which has in the years since 1873 become so unfortunately familiar to us all.

His definition of 'bad times' consists in "the low prices of goods, the number of men out of employment, and the numerous bankruptcies" (p. 14), thus showing the influence of that common failing in business circles wherein men think that high prices are in themselves good, and low prices bad. It is owing to this prevalent opinion that men are apt, even when they know better, to wink at any measure which promises higher prices, even though it be through increased quantities of money. Indeed, our silver dukes hold their vassals in obedience, to no small extent, by making them believe that demonetization of silver leads to a contraction of the world's money, and so to a fall of prices. When a man has a stock of goods on hand, he wants prices to go up, no matter how. This overlooks the fact that money as a medium of exchange is only a means to an end, or a road from one to another place. An increase of money may raise prices, but not the quantity of goods in the world. Doubling the trucks in a store does not double the goods which they are made to carry.

But the real distress from low prices arises from the fact that they once were high; and that obligations to a fixed amount, entered into when prices were high, must now be paid off when prices are lower. This is the painful process; and yet it is painful only because people, led away in the period of speculation by sanguine expectations, entered into obligations which they did not have the actual wealth to satisfy. They bought with an enlarged faith, that is, with an expanded credit ; and when the panic came, they found out that they had

Bad times: an essay on the present depression of trade, tracing it to its sources in enormous foreign loans, excessive war expenditure, the increase of speculation and of millionnaires, and the depopulation of the rural districts; with suggested remedies. By ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE. London, Macmillan, 1885. 16°.

In

only expectations, instead of real wealth, with which to meet their engagements. Into this truth our author takes us, with some natural traces of English insularity, by explaining the effect of foreign loans in producing the depression. 1870-75 he claims that England furnished one thousand three hundred million dollars as foreign loans to Egypt, Turkey, Russia, Austria, Italy, and Spain; to Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Paraguay; and to Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, and the United States; and to English colonies. These loans left England in the form of exports; so that English exports appear to have been so unusually increased during these years, that they have never since been equalled. The effect on England was to unnaturally stimulate many manufactures. "But soon came the inevitable reaction. The vast amounts of borrowed capital were exhausted, and, instead of having a plethora of money to spend, all these countries had interest to pay; and the people being heavily taxed to pay this interest, their purchasing-power was diminished, and the demand for our goods suddenly fell off." These foreign loans being expended so largely unproductively in wars and extravagant uses, nothing remained as a permanent source of demand for England's goods, and so English exports declined, business became depressed, and men were left unemployed. In this chapter our author gets nearer the essential truth than in some other of his explanations of the 'bad times;' for the above conditions were not solely English, or true only of nations. Individuals and corporations were everywhere lending and consuming beyond all wisdom, out of all proportion to their real means of payment. After our civil war, that was what we were doing.

The other causes seem to be of value only so far as they lead up to the one already explained. From 1870 to 1884 "the expenditure of the six great powers of Europe has increased from £345,000,000 to £612,000,000, an additional burthen of £266,500,000 a year. The population of these six states is now a little over 269,000,000 ; so that they have to bear, on the average, an addition of taxation amounting to nearly a pound a head, or about five pounds for each family.” As this has come about owing to wars, or preparations for war, it explains how the wealth has been consumed unproductively. The author also estimates that seven millions of men are involved in producing for this wasteful expenditure, and reminds us of John Bull and his island,' when he says that "the moral arguments against war would doubtless be more generally effective if it were clearly seen that always and everywhere its direct and necessary effect is to produce more

or less depression of trade." Seize an Englishman by his pocket, and you can convince his mind.

The flow of the rural population to the cities is pointed out as one of the causes of the great distress in the centres of population, because of the vastly greater competition for employment. Together with this movement he instances the fact that" from 1873 to 1884 the quantity of arable land in the country has decreased by considerably more than a million acres." These seem to be local causes, and have little effect on other nations; for they are probably the evidences of a re-adjustment of industries to new conditions, such, for example, as the great produce of American wheat districts. The ownership of land by great millionnaires, he argues, also works injury. In 1863-72 the fortunes above a quarter of a million were 162, but in 1873-82 they had increased to 208,- an increase of more than 30 per cent. But we do not regard these causes of general importance.

The book, in fact, only in its description of the evil effects consequent on speculation, and the mania for foreign loans, gets close at the real cause. But when he gets to his remedies, he does not hit very near the mark. As foreign loans, he thinks, are made chiefly for the glory of monarchs, and to aid in wars for the personal aggrandizement of ruling families, he would have England stand ready to aid the tax-payers in these borrowing countries whenever they revolt against the heavy taxation caused by the loans which they have had no share in spending. Speculative transactions he would discourage by high stampduties; and large fortunes should be prevented by a graduated income-tax. If our author were to extract the ever-springing sanguineness of human nature from the business-man, he would best prevent over-trading and the recurrence of periodic panics, but in scarcely any other way.

NIMROD IN THE NORTH.

IN this book Lieutenant Schwatka has given a most entertaining story of hunting and fishing in the north polar regions. Seven chapters of the book have been devoted to stories of adventure with animals whose homes are within the arctic circle. Many of the stories told in the volume are similar to some found in the writings of Gerard de Veer, of the Barentz expedition; in the writings of Parry, Beechey, Hearne, Rink, Richardson, Rae, Kane, McClintock, and Hall; so that they are not entirely new; but Lieutenant Schwatka has added to them many interesting observations of

Nimrod in the north. By Lieut. FREDERICK SCHWATKA. New York, Cassell, 1885. 8°.

his own, upon the haunts and habits of the land and water game of the regions he explored, which modify ideas derived from other writers.

The volume is illustrated with numerous faithful and lifelike pictures of the animals, birds, and scenery of the regions beyond the parallel of 66 30' north. This feature of the book will make it most attractive to the reader, but more especially to the younger generation, who will find much pleasure in having before them such excellent representations of the bear, reindeer, musk ox, walrus, etc., with which Lieutenant Schwatka's party had so many exciting and perilous adventures during their stay in the country between Depot Island and King William's Land.

The story of the sledge-journey to King William's Land, as told in this book by Lieutenant Schwatka, is unparalleled in arctic exploration. The vicissitudes of storm and intense cold encountered and overcome are most interesting and instructive. To one of less determination or of less hardihood, the journey must have failed; but the indomitable will and inexhaustible self-reliance set forth in the story made success certain where failure would have likely occurred to any one less gifted.

It is almost inconceivable that travel could have been practicable in a temperature of 83° below the freezing-point, or that no discomfort was felt at such times. But the credence of arctic explorers will be tested almost to its elastic limit, to believe that Lieutenant Schwatka's party, when in chase of musk ox, travelled at a good round dog-trot from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon,' making about forty miles in a temperature of 97 below the freezing-point, without suffering from the cold, but, on the contrary, that he felt at times uncomfortably warm!

The last two chapters describe the beginning and ending of a rather remarkable raft-journey of thirteen hundred miles down the Yukon River, in Alaska. This trip led to the discovery of several rapids, the passage of which was full of innocent adventure; otherwise there is but little in it to excite interest.

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