Art. LXIII.—Inaugral Address.
[Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 29th June, 1898.]
The vast range of subjects to be considered if we attempt to view the whole field of science makes it impossible in a single short address to present a picture of the whole. If one evening could be devoted to each branch of science it would perhaps be possible to convey some idea of the present position of knowledge, but even then there would be great difficulty in steering between the Scylla of technical terms that appear pedantic and the Charybdis of loose popular expression. I can only hope to call your attention this evening to a few facts which I consider interesting, and which may have escaped your notice, and I can only do this in a few branches of science by reviewing late additions to our acquaintance with the universe.
First we will take the most ancient and in many ways the grandest department of science—viz., that of astronomy. The great advances that have taken place of late years in exact astronomical knowledge have been achieved not only by the exertions of trained and acute observers, and by the use of more powerful telescopes, but by the aid of photography, spectrum analysis, and other methods of investigation and check. To many, of us the interest we take in the solar system is contained in the idea that the other planets may be worlds like our own, that they may be inhabited by people like ourselves, or perchance be our own homes in some future state of existence. Even the hope of being able to communicate with their inhabitants in this life is not considered too wild and visionary a speculation for many people to entertain. Little hope, however, can be obtained in this direction from astronomy at its present stage of development. Some new and surprising discovery, some process as startling to us as the revelations of the spectrum analysis would have been considered fifty years ago, will have to be evolved from the human brain before man is able to set up communication with other planets, and even before he can
be certain that the planets are inhabited. We know little more than this; Mars, the planet best situated for observation, has little or no atmosphere, and therefore, if inhabited, must be so by creatures not formed like human beings. There may, however, be some slight or thin atmosphere, as sometimes light shadows that appear like vapours have been seen on the planetary surface; but even on this point the best observers are doubtful. The polar ice-caps, known since the days of Herschel, do undoubtedly diminish during the Martian summer. Mr. Douglas, of Lowell Observatory, has remarked a dark edge to the melting ice, probably the water into which the ice is converted. This is not certain, because the polar caps may not be of ice at all; they may be of solid carbonic acid. The most eminent physicists doubt whether the sun's rays would have power to melt more than a few inches of snow or ice at the Martian, poles. The greatly disputed canals of Schiaparelli are still considered unproven. The word “canal” is a mistranslation of Schiaparelli's word “canale”; this, in Italian, does not mean “canal,” but “channel,” or watercourse. Some astronomers show these channels on their maps of Mars as sharp dark lines passing from point to point on the planet's surface; but Barnard, of the Lick Observatory (one of the most reliable observers, and aided by one of the largest telescopes in existence), says that the so-called channels are indistinct markings too hazy and undefined to be reproduced; this, too, when he is able to give other details not mentioned by Schiaparelli. A curious thing concerning the controversy is that some of the observers of the so-called canals' in Mars are able to distinguish similar lines not only on Mercury and Venus, but even on the satellites of Jupiter. The more cautious and conservative astronomers hesitate even yet to accept the Martian canal system, and one of them has caustically remarked that if you wish to see the canals well at night you must fix your eyes all the preceding day on Schiaparelli's map.
The spectroscope in the hands of Keeler has made us acquainted with the fact that the outer portion of the rings of Saturn revolve more slowly than the inner. This implies that the rings are not composed of coherent matter, either solid or liquid, but of a cloud of minute particles, perhaps of a vaporous character, each moving in its own orbit.
It is, however, in the domain of the fixed stars that the most interesting facts have been brought to light, and as spectrum analysis aids the telescope it is to be hoped that even greater wonders will be presented to our grasp. The most marvellous lesson revealed yet is as to the presence of dark, and therefore invisible, bodies in. the stellar spaces, and
it is thought certain that many of the fixed stars have dark planets revolving round them. This fact has been affirmed by observations on a class of stars known as Algol-variables, and they are so named after the star Algol, in the constellation Perseus. This star is ordinarily of the second magnitude, but at regular intervals of time, in a little less than three days, it sinks for an hour or two to the fourth magnitude, then resumes its former brightness, the whole change occupying about five or six hours. The fact that there are numerous stars of this character is now fully established; their brightness remains constant for a time, then suffers partial eclipse for a few hours, and always at regular intervals. It was long ago suspected in the case of Algol that this eclipse was caused by the revolution of a dark body round the star, and was fairly well proved by Vogel's measurement of the motion of that star in the line of sight; it is a natural conclusion that the similar and regular eclipse of other stars is due to a like cause. A planet could not be seen to eclipse a star unless our system lies near the plane of its orbit, therefore it is only reasonable to conclude that there are many other planets not moving in such a plane. The eclipses of these planets would not be visible to us, as in such case they would pass either above or below the star. To give some idea of the care and incessant watchfulness necessary for astronomical record it should be pointed out that observations on these Algol-variables have to be made during the time of partial eclipse, and compared with observations at other times. An observer might record the magnitude of such a star on a dozen occasions, and yet never happen to strike the period of obscuration. This new addition to our knowledge proves that there can be no limit to what we yet may learn concerning the suns and worlds in space. Thirty years ago no project seemed more hopeless than that of detecting an invisible planet revolving round some immensely distant sun, but now it is a well-cultivated branch of astronomy.
Another late discovery is that of the companion of the brilliant star Procyon. This star, like Sirius, was thought to have a companion, because by very refined observations of position the visible star was found to revolve round a fixed centre. The companion of Sirius was discovered by Alvan Clark, the companion of Procyon by Schaeberle. Procyon's satellite is found to have a mass of about one-half of its bright star, and the revolution takes about forty years. The companion of Sirius has a mass of about one-third of its brilliant ally, and its revolution is in fifty years. The systems of planets moving about such stars seem to have more eccentric orbits than the planets of our own solar system.
It is one of the triumphs of spectrum analysis to have dis-
covered that some sixty of the fixed stars appear not to be solid bodies, but composed of transparent gas, like a nebula, they showing spectra of bright lines. Most of these gaseous stars are situated in the Milky Way; but observations made at Arequipa, in Peru, on a part of the sky only visible in the Southern Hemisphere, show that some others are visible in the Magellanic Clouds, thirty degrees distant from the Milky Way.
If we turn from the domain of astronomy to that of natural history we may find several new items worthy of note. A very curious variety of ant has been discovered in Northern Australia, near Port Darwin. It is called the magnetic or meridian ant. It is only a variety of the ordinary white ant but the singularity consists in the arrangement of its nest. This looks like a slab of sandstone put on edge, so that, viewed end on, it resembles a pillar; but the long axis of the nest is always placed due north and south, so that the builders are properly more meridian ants than magnetic ants. A traveller finding one of these ant's nests needs no other compass. The reason of this orientation of the short axis is not yet fully investigated, but it is believed to arise from an effort or instinct in the ant to expose as little as possible of its dwelling to the direct rays of the sun.
Attention has been lately drawn to the curious habit of the Australian “frilled lizard”—namely, that when alarmed on open ground, or at a distance from tree-trunks, it rises on its hind legs and runs like a biped for perhaps thirty or forty yards. It appears strange that in Australia quadrupeds should contract this habit of forsaking the all-fours attitude, and running in an upright position, as the kangaroos and some other marsupials do. It is believed, however, by naturalists that the Dinosaurs, that long-extinct order of reptiles, also moved in a similar way, on the hinder limbs only. While on the subject of reptiles I may mention that it has been adduced as a proof of over-evolution and its drawbacks that the head of the cobra and other hooded snakes often leads to their destruction. These hoods are supposed to be an endowment of the snake for the purpose of terrifying its foes, the sudden and great enlargement of the hood when the creature is about to strike or in times of excitement adding to its formidable appearance. It is now found that the hooded snake, when striking at its foe, often overbalances itself, through the weight of the heavy outstretched hood, and topples forward. Some birds that are snake-killers, and the snake's deadly enemy the mongoose, take instant advantage, and, having tempted the snake to strike and miss, seize it before it can recover, and ripping up the back of the neck kill it at once.
Dr. Arthur Willey has been for some years trying to obtain the eggs of the pearly nautilus. These eggs have been for a long time desiderata of naturalists because the structure of the nautilus is remarkable, and, although that animal is allied to the cuttle-fish, it has many and wonderful points of difference. To fully understand the arrangement of the structure and the building of the chambered cell it is necessary. to know more of its younger stages while it is growing and developing within the egg. Dr. Willey spent a year in New Britain, where the nautilus is taken in baskets like lobster-traps at a depth of 70 fathoms of water, but was unsuccessful in the attempt to obtain the eggs. He then tried New Guinea, but nearly lost his life through the upsetting of his vessel. He passed through New Caledonia, which he found unsuitable for his purpose; but, on arriving at Lifu, in the Loyalty Islands, found to his delight that the nautili can there be captured in 3 fathoms of water. He constructed a large, submarine cage in which he kept specimens of the nautili, and at last his patient endeavours have been rewarded. Some of the creatures spawned in the cage, and the doctor has been able to collect abundant samples of the egg. Each egg is as large as a grape, and is deposited separately by the mother.
The pearl-shell fisheries, in the lagoons and waters of the islands of the Pacific, have been so ruthlessly exploited that the trade is now being carried on under extreme difficulties. Formerly the pearl-oysters were abundant on the surface of the coral reefs exposed at low tide or in the shallow waters near the shores. These supplies are exhausted, and it has become necessary to employ diving apparatus, which in some, cases has to be used at a depth of 80 ft. Something may perhaps be done by perfecting the methods and apparatus used in diving, but far more success will probably attend the new idea of restocking the old beds. Experiments are being carried on both on the Western Australian and Queensland coasts to ascertain if the oyster will grow and propagate with artificial aid. A preliminary experiment made at Roebuck Bay, on the Western Australian coast, in a mangrove swamp covered by several fathoms of water at high tide, has proved that the oysters (placed for safety in wire-covered cages) commenced to propagate within the first year, and young shells were found attached to the parent shells. Succeeding experiments are showing very favourable conditions, and it is probable that, if attention is given to the restocking of the lagoons and shallow reef-areas of the Pacific, investments could be made that would realise immense fortunes for the promoters. Hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of shell.have been taken in a short time from the Paumotu and other island groups now barren of such articles of export. Could the still waters within
the atolls be regularly attended and watched as culture-fields of the pearl-oyster, there is a great commercial future before the pioneer settlers of the South Sea Islands.
In the same part of the world there is sad waste of opportunity in not cultivating the turtle industry. The animals are carefully watched on landing by the keen eyes of natives, and the “nests” of eggs are devoured. If the small turtles, hatched by the sun, could be reared in salt-water ponds-as we rear trout in the fresh waters of this colony—they would escape not only their human foes till they arrived at maturity, but in their babyhood they would be able to be preserved from the crowds of sharks and other fish that await the tiny turtles as they enter the sea in a defenceless condition. This applies both to the edible and the tortoise-shell varieties of turtle; they could be bred for commercial purposes with a minimum of trouble and outlay and a maximum of profit.
The Royal Society's expedition to Central Africa has recorded a remarkable observation in regard to the great Lake Tanganyika. The fauna of the lake is quite unique, and as limited as peculiar. The jelly-fish and shrimps are of marine type, and the water, which Livingstone stated was brackish in his time, is now quite fresh. Lake Nyassa, sonae 246 miles to the south-east, never apparently had any connection with the ocean, but it seems probable that Lake Tanganyika, a part of the great Rift Valley running through that part of Africa, once had such connection.
Turning from the lower grades of creation to the world of men and women, there is much to interest us in modern geographical and anthropological work. A journey needing great daring and entailing severe exposure was made by Mr. Harry de Windt among the Tchuktchi of Arctic Alaska. He gives us in his account a wonderful picture of the intensity of the struggle for life among the Esquimaux of the far north. They make a habit of infanticide, but even under the extreme pressure of hunger do not carry the practice so far as to indulge in cannibalism of the kind related of an Australian mother who was found in tears, not because of her baby having had to be killed, but because her parents had eaten the titbits. We doubt, however, if any Australians could surpass in dirtiness these Indians of the land of ice. Some of their habits are perfectly indescribable. The Tchuktchi is not prone to suicide, but when a man has reached the point at which he is decidedly not worth his food a family conclave is held, and the whole village assembles around the home of the victim to celebrate his funeral feast. The person in whom all are interested is himself full of lively interest in the proceedings, and, in the midst of a circle of relations, submits himself
to the parting ceremonies. One of his nearest connections places his foot against the old man's back and strangles him with a thong. This seems to be a dreadful custom, but as death from starvation is everywhere around it is more excusable than in a community where food is plentiful. The height of these Indians is greater than that of the ordinary Esquimaux, some of them reaching 6 ft. in stature; they are slim, wiry, and strong. They are good shots with the rifle, expert sailors, and clever hunters, and, like most primitive peoples that lead a hardy life, they have a horror of dying in bed, believing, like the old Norsemen, that a death by violence insures eternal happiness.
The mention of cannibalism suggests that few people are aware that in parts of China cannibalism is sometimes practised. In Dr. Sven Hedin's paper on “Four Years' Travel in Central Asia,” read last November before the Royal Geographical Society, he speaks as follows : “When the Dungan village To-ba, which has a strongly fortified position between Ten-kar and Si-ning, had held out for several months it was obliged to surrender, but it did so on the condition that its inhabitants should be allowed to leave the town unmolested. The Chinese accepted the proposal, but required the inhabitants of the town to stack their weapons. This was hardly done before the Dungans were attacked and killed to the last man. The populace howled like wild animals when General Ho's soldiers came back from their campaign with Mahom-medan prisoners, who were triumphantly led in chains through the streets of Si-ning to Djen-tai-jamen to receive judgment, which was soon forthcoming. They were led out again, and outside the gate their throats were cut with dull knives. Then the chest of each was opened and the heart and liver stuck on spear-points, and thus carrying these trophies to the nearest eating-house the soldiers had them fried and then ale them up. The Chinese believe that if they eat the hearts and livers of their enemies their courage will be transferred to themselves.
A very curious little race of people has been discovered by Messrs. Olifsen and Filipsen, Danish officers, who have made an expedition to the Pamirs. The race in question is of exceedingly small stature, and their dwarfish habit extends to the lower animals in their possession. The oxen are about the size of donkeys, the donkeys no bigger than dogs, the goats and sheep of the most diminutive description. This peculiarity probably arises from the absence of nutriment on those high and barren lands. This people is badly armed; they are mere savages, and their religion is a species of fire worship.
Colonel Feilden has made an interesting exploring voyage to the little-known Island of Novaya Zemlya. There is little
of geographical import in the report of the voyage, but the observations on the fauna and flora are worth notice. The colonel remarks watching the king eiders among the other swarming sea-birds, and says that these handsome ducks were such splendid divers that they were bringing up shellfish from the sea-bottom where the water was.60ft. in depth. Of the abundance of bird life he says, “Dotterels, little stints, purple-sandpipers with their freshly-hatched-out broods ran around us; reeves were fewer in number; snow-buntings, shore-larks, and Lapland buntings hopped around; snowy owls sat on the-peaty knobs and watched our proceedings with serious interest. The tarns were alive with red-necked phalaropes chasing one another. It was indeed a very delightful experience.” We should not expect many flowers in the arctic regions, but the Colonel says, “One may wade through acres of blossoming: plants a foot high, veritable arctic flower-gardens. In the end of June and beginning of July Matthiola nudicaulis, a delicate-pink-blosaorned cruciferous plant, with the arctic yellow poppy and louseworts of many colours, from glorious yellows to rich pinks, are spread broadcast. Polemonium cæruleum, with its-grand blue blossoms, coloured acres. Saxifraga hirculus, with its yellow flowers, is perhaps the most abundant and widespread of the plants. Silene acaulis is likewise most abundant, growing in clumps and bosses on dry spots and the sides of the ridges among the disintegrated rocks in such dense-masses as to give colour to the cliffs. Then comes the alpine forget-me-not, with its lovely colouring, varying from white to the purest cerulean blue. My words fail, I know, to give adequate description of the immense charm attaching to this arctic flora.”
Those interested in the branch of anthropology that relates to the weapons used by wild races may care to learn that a near relative of the boomerang has been discovered in use among the Kolis of Northern Gujerat, India. It is not-curved as the boomerang is, but rather presents a kind of “elbow” or “knee” in shape; it is very effective when properly thrown at ground-game, but is not cast so as to return to the thrower. In one case lately tried in Court in that locality it was found that an old and feeble man, being threatened by a robber swordsman, cut the assailant's shins, across at ten paces distance, and brought him down; then, before the astonished, thief could rise, the now unarmed old man had him disarmed and a captive. Mr. H. S. H. Cavendish, who has lately journeyed and explored in Somaliland, also mentions a new and curious weapon. Speaking of the Murle people, on the River Omo, he says, “Their most singular weapon is the circular knife which they wear round their wrist, similar to that described as in use among the
Darsonich. When they are not fighting this knife is covered with hide, so that they may not hurt themselves with it. This weapon they use not only for fighting, but also to cut up their meat when they are eating. It may be described as an iron bracelet with a sharp cutting-edge outside, the blade being about 2in. to 4in. wide.” I have particularly noticed this weapon, because the thought has struck me that this bracelet-knife may be the progenitor or relative of the quoit-like Asiatic weapon ascribed in the Bhagavat Gita to the ancient Aryans. It is possible that the bracelet-knife of the Murle people might be removed from the wrist and hurled as a quoit-missile against an enemy.
The excavations carried on by the American Expedition in Southern Babylonia bear out the statements previously made as to the extreme antiquity to which we must refer the builders of the old cities. At the mounds of Niffer search was commenced among ruins on a platform that was built by a king named Ur-gur about two thousand six hundred years before Christ. Below this was another platform which. Sargon I. built some twelve hundred years earlier, all the bricks bearing the names of Sargon and his son Naram-Sin. Below this were found ruins of temples erected about two thousand years earlier than Sargon's platform; so that we are presented with evidence as to the advanced stage of civilisation that the builders had reached about seven thousand six hundred years ago. Two interesting discoveries have also been made in Egypt—one that of a city of which the name is unknown, and that was once inhabited by some race that was neither Egyptian nor that of the people whose chipped-flint tools were found two or three years ago. In the newly discovered city there was a cemetery containing two thousand graves, and the bodies were not mummified nor embalmed, but were found sitting with the knees bent up to the chin, in that peculiar position which is common to ancient sepulture among primitive people all round the world, in Great Britain as in Polynesia. In some of the graves the skulls were placed in the centre, and lines of bones were set out from these like the spokes of a wheel; but the ends of the bones had been removed for the purpose of extracting the marrow—a fact that points to ceremonial cannibalism at the funeral rites. The other interesting Egyptian discovery was made at the Island of Philæ, on the Nile, an island whose beautiful temples were threatened with destruction by the projected building of a huge dam for irrigation purposes. An alteration of level for the purpose of trying to save the ruin, and only submerging the foundations, caused the institution of an exhaustive survey of the island; and it has been found that the temple on Philæ has (unlike many Egyptian temples)
very solid foundations—so solid, indeed, that there is exactly as much stone-work below the surface of the ground as there is above.
Reluctantly leaving the many items of interest that time will not allow me to bring under your notice, I may call attention to the loss sustained by anthropology generally and by the Polynesian Society in particular by the death of Mr. S. E. Peal, of Assam. He for years with untiring energy devoted himself to studies in ethnology as well as to researches in botany. He tried to direct the attention of scholars to the many points of similarity in customs, costume, &c, between the Nogas and other tribes of Assam and the Dayaks of Borneo and other eastern islanders, urging the necessity of a central society being formed to act as a medium between the savants of India and those of Oceania.
The mention of Mr. Peal's death brings me to the sad duty of chronicling the deaths of other well-known and regretted scientific men lately in our midst. The names of Professor Parker, of Dunedin; of Mr. Maskell, Registrar of the New Zealand University; and of Mr. T. Kirk—all distinguished men, regretted by the whole world of intellect—will be trebly mourned by us among whom they lived and worked, and to whom they are endeared by a thousand kindlv personal recollections.
The thought of those who have passed away brings one to the consideration of beliefs as to the soul of man, and especially to the different aspects under which the subject is considered by primitive peoples. I had intended to present to you a synopsis of the remarkable inquiries made by M. Zaborowski into belief held in the double and triple soul by the natives of Madagascar. He compares it with a similar belief among the Nias of the Malay Archipelago, and it appears very wonderful to us, who are in the habit of considering primitive people as simple-minded, to notice the clearness with which so-called savages pursue their inquiries into mental conditions which even to cultured men, with ages of philosophy behind them, appear cloudy and difficult to investigate. But M Zaborowski's discoveries would need a whole evening in themselves and I must defer them to another occasion, wishing now to turn to one or two subjects practical to ourselves and to our interests as members of a civilised society.
Perhaps one of the most interesting subjects of study when comparing savage and civilised men, is as to the amount of moral and social responsibility that should be allotted to each individual. It seems fairly easy to note the degree in which the members of a savage tribe stands to its other members. Well-understood customs and usages, intricate to outsiders but simple to those “to the manner born,” regulate every action
of life, and almost even the thoughts of the actors. To civilised men, on the other hand, the law of custom has become confused; religion, morals, legislation, evolution of ideas, exigencies of occupation throw a web of lines and a dazzle of cross-lights over the question of individual responsibility. It would be idle to attempt to consider such a question as regards those of us who are (more or less) sane, because the infinite number of differing cases baffles inquiry, but it is at least open to us to consider somewhat as to the responsibility, or the absence of responsibility, that we impute to the insane. It is one of the saddest of subjects, but with the continual increase of insanity it demands attention. The tendency of education and culture is to empty our gaols and fill our lunatic asylums. It is hardly compatible with such modern culture to hold that an insane person is one “possessed of a devil,” and that from such a one the evil spirit can be cast out by any priestly or religious conjuring. But, while we are ready to punish the criminal, and thus declare that we hold him directly responsible for his actions, it may be as well to endeavour to find out how much healthy action may be found as a survival in a diseased mind. The born criminal is now, in prison, ranked with the man who has but once, perhaps, broken the long record of a useful and laborious life by yielding to temptation, and there is no difference made in the law between the man who is criminal because his brain is diseased and the man who, though physically sound, is morally weak. It is an enormous mistake to treat mental deficiency and mental disease as if they were one and the same thing. Mental deficiency indicates insufficient brain development, and may show every variety of moral and intellectual weakness. Idiots and other persons so afflicted may have marked ability in some special directions, such as music; but they are certainly not responsible beings, and can no more be expected to obey the moral laws that govern sane persons than a watch can be expected to keep time if some of its works are removed. On the other hand, and in regard to those suffering from brain-disease, the line between sanity and insanity could not be drawn if the behaviour or conversation of such persons were considered the only criteria of their knowledge of right and wrong. For those who are not conversant with the subject, I will quote as example the report of an interview with a lunatic person-a fair example enough :-
A.B., male; age, 38.
Who are you?-I am a crowned king.
Where were you crowned?-At Corbett and Sullivan's championship prize-fight.
What are you king of?-Emperor of Germany. The Emperor of Germany crowned me, and the arbitrators sanctioned it.
Are your powers mortal or divine?-Divine as far as the truth is concerned.
Are your physical powers great?-Just middling.
Did you ever hold the sun in your hands?-I did.
Did you ever hold the moon in your hands?-I remember the sun, but am not so certain about the moon. The sun was very hot.
How hot was it?-It hurt the leather mits I had on. I think other powers were used on it.
What kept it hot?-It was hot weather.
What caused the trouble you went through?-The Proclamation issued by all Exchequers of all nations and empires.
How did you suffer?-Abuse of all kinds. My body is marked up. I have the leopard's body right through, and my body is spotted like a dog's.
What other abuse have you suffered?-My body has been torn by bears. There were four, brownish-black in colour, two old ones and two young ones.
What is the difference between right and wrong?-It is right to love the Almighty, and to serve him with faith, hope, and charity.
What is wrong?-To commit anything that the law of God forbids.
What is conscience?-The dictates of a man's own mind to tell him if he is doing wrong.
Is it wrong to kill?-Yes.
Is there any justification for murder?-No.
If an insane man committed murder, what punishment would you inflict, if any?-I would not hang him, but put him in safe-keeping, that his neighbours might be safe.
Is any insane man responsible?-Never; neither God nor man can make him responsible. Our Heavenly Father forgiveth, so should we.
Now, no one can believe from the report of the foregoing interview that the patient was sane; yet, although an uneducated man, he had clear notions of right and wrong, at least equal to and as satisfactory as those that guide the bulk of our citizens. We are surrounded in this century with problems and enigmas, but little is done, I fear, to turn public attention to the necessity of procuring the thoughts of the very best trained and alert experts in order to guide us on this subject. We see people set free from asylums, as cured, and allowed to return to their families, or to marry and propagate children of infected and tainted blood. Men commit murders, and the plea of insanity is allowed to protect them from punishment when the question of how far they are responsible even if insane on some point is not inquired into. Men and women who are not in asylums, but who are in reality far less morally responsible for their conduct than many who are in those refuges, are allowed by the present constitution of society to hold positions of honour. Surely it behoves us all to take more notice of this spreading and growing weakness of the human race under civilised conditions, and ask ourselves whether we are taking sufficient precautions to prevent the ruin of mankind in the future by our worship of the liberty of the individual—whether that
liberty takes the form of filling the asylums with lunatics or the hospitals with patients.
The correlation of action of mind and body brings to us the consideration of the position held by will and temperament on the conditions of civilised life. If the study of history has its most practical application in teaching us how to avoid the pitfalls into which have fallen the men and women who preceded us upon the world's stage, surely also the most practical lesson to be inculcated by the study of anthropology is the avoidance of evils that in the customs of savages stare at us open-eyed. Are these same evils rampant among us under other names, and disguised under thin veneers of civilisation and culture? In many cases they undoubtedly are, and, although it would take far too long even to attempt to Show the hundredth, part of the misery that arises from the ages-old mistakes that we hug to our Bosoms under new names, there is one at least to which I may call your attention, and that is to the little heed that is given to the training of the will in benign directions, and to the higher discipline of the feelings. It is the tendency of modern life, with its intense efforts of struggle and competition, to exalt in the educated man of the nineteenth century those qualities which in savage life brings the individual to the front, and converts the energetic and resourceful member of a barbarous tribe into the successful war-chief. Nay, more, it exalts those base qualities in man which in the lower stages of his evolution as an animal were his graceful and noble attributes, but which should be left behind him on his ascent from among the lower creatures, for the exertion of such faculties may cause him to become the enemy of his kind and the foe of all that bear the impress of the higher nature.
Unflinching courage, restless energy, unsparing disregard for others that cannot serve his turn, acquisitiveness, lust of power: these are the qualities that in the modern industrial world, as in the realm of savage club-law, command not only the world's rewards but the world's admiration. Some of these qualities, such as courage and energy, are always worthy of respect, worthy now as they were in the old forest days when man shared them with the ape and tiger; but if with these are held up other less worthy qualities—base ambitions, lust of gold, greed of power, &c.—it becomes a matter of doubt whether such mental possessions may not be found to be false lights, leading to ultimate disaster. Let us put aside the social question that presses upon us at every turning of the path, and let us consider only the physical effect upon the millions who must form the crowd from which successful individuals detach themselves. If we think what it must be to live in a continual high strain, we must acknow-
ledge that with the cultivation of the nerve forces too great preponderance must be given to their exercise, and this at the expense of other parts of the human constitution.
Is it possible to so govern the mind and will that they may have a good effect upon the body instead of ill, and may recuperate instead of wasting the physical powers? I believe that it is so possible, and will proceed to lay before you my reasons for considering that in many cases our maladies and weaknesses are the effects of causes within our own control. We are startled year by year with the increasing lists of victims of certain diseases to which the human frame is liable. It is true that skilful surgery has advanced to such perfection that operations once deemed almost certainly fatal are now not only performed daily, but are executed with the very slightest risk to life. On the other hand, diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, Bright's disease, and other scourges of modern life, appear to be continually widening their fields of advance. My impression is that, although deadly maladies cannot be cured by any action of the mind if they have once obtained firm foothold, even as it would be impossible for the mind to perform a difficult surgical operation, still the preparatory processes, the seed-time if not the harvest of death, can be beneficially neutralised to a degree at present hardly understood.
Here we must plainly distinguish at once between direct thought and the general habit of thinking –i.e., feeling. Of course, we know that our thoughts are sometimes conditioned by the state of the bodily health. For instance, the man whose liver is out of order will see things in a jaundiced manner; he will almost certainly be a pessimist; while the sanguine man-the man who never knew he had a liver, whose blood gushes healthily through his veins-will think cheerfully of life and its surroundings. What we do not recognise so clearly is that by thinking directly, by effort of the will, by concentration of the desire in a certain direction, we may influence our general state of feeling, and so produce a reflex action on the bodily functions. If we allow our thoughts to dwell upon gloomy subjects—some twopenny loss, some fancied slight, some possible calamity that may never arrive—are we not inducing a habit of feeling that may more or less prepare our bodies to act as seed-beds of disease? On the other hand, is it not possible, by concentrating our force of will into meditation on brighter subjects, by leaving the contemplation of evil—especially other people's evil, and the sinfulness of our neighbours—we may make the blood flow more healthily and banish the black humours for which we have blamed our innocent livers, and, indeed, from which the poor liver itself may be suffering?
If we visit a lunatic asylum, and find there the victim of erotic mania, shall we not, if we inquire far enough, find in, that victim one who has given his thoughts too full and continual play on forbidden subjects? If we find, too, in that asylum the wrecked slave of alcoholism, is not in many instances the history of such a case the history of one who; little by little, allowed his thoughts to wander away into love of the brain-excitement caused by daily-increasing draughts of a stimulant? If we could look inside the brain of such a man during his early stages of mental disease we should find him occupied with vivid flitting pictures which alcoholism in its early beginnings induces; and a similar position is held by every one of us who allows his thoughts to run wild instead of keeping them under control.
Those of us who have suffered from insomnia know that the effect of that malady is to present continuous pictures to the mind—the mind that turns restless from subject to subject without rein or guidance—till sleep appears impossible, and if too long continued “that way madness lies.” But this torture is only an exaggeration of what is passing in the mind of every one in lesser degree who does not keep conscious control over the centres of thought. This waste of the intellectual forces weakens and wears the body, fatigues it to no purpose; it is itself the outer gate of insanity, however disinclined we may be to acknowledge it to ourselves. It is a morbid state, and under it one part of the body at least suffers perceptible decay—that is, the brain—even if no other part of the body is apparently affected. How many old people, or people hardly past middle age, we see whose doddering minds have sunk into senility long before the general organs of the body yield themselves to dissolution.
There is scarcely, perhaps, a dominant state of feeling that, if persisted in, does not bring about a functional disturbance. It is stated that one of the early symptoms of general paralysis is the morbid vanity and boundless self-esteem exhibited by the patient. Is the converse of the proposition not a probable truth—viz., that years of intense self-esteem and colossal egotism—even if concealed—may engender the condition that results in paralysis? Nay, may we not, by indulging in such diseased imaginings, be preparing maladies that, if not evident in our own short lives, may accumulate and be handed on to appear as curses in the lives of our children's children?
It may be affirmed that although the effect of sickness in producing mental depression is common enough, yet that the reverse action has not been noted. If this is so, it is surely only from want of observation and inquiry. We hear of people dying of a “broken heart”; many such cases are
within the experience of most of us. There are few instances, perhaps, where the valves of the heart have been actually ruptured by intense emotion, but numberless instances might be adduced where, within a short time after some great sorrow or disgrace, the body has yielded to the effect of the wounded feelings, and death has resulted. People, too, die from homesickness—that intense desire and longing for their native country and friends that the Swiss call the “mal-du-pays,” and in this the mental illness soon reacts fatally on the physical forces.
“We know also that gloom or despair may induce jaundice; that good news will make the heart beat vigorously, that cheerfulness will calm and regulate its beat; that fear and anxiety may paralyse digestion. Some cases of exophthalmic goitre present a curiously symptomatic analogy to the phenomena of fear. There is intestinal laxity, sense of abdominal chill and emptiness, palpitation of the heart and about the abdominal aorta, carotid, throbbing and tension about the throat, with protrusion of the eyeballs. A case is cited by Guislain, from Ridard, of a woman who, after seeing her daughter violently beaten, was seized with great terror, and suddenly became affected with gangrenous erysipelas of the breast. Mr. Carter narrates that a lady who was watching her little child at play saw a heavy window-sash fall upon its hand, cutting off three of its fingers, and she was so much overcome by fright and distress as to be unable to help. After dressing the wounds the surgeon turned to the mother, whom he found seated moaning and complaining of pain in the hand. Three fingers corresponding to those injured in the child were discovered to be swollen and inflamed. Purulent sloughing set in. Fothergill says that the most pronounced case of anæmia he ever met with was in a girl of splendid physique and magnificent family history. She was the type of health when her father fell down by her side at market and died there and then. She then became incurably anaemic. Emotion had ruined her blood. Both acute and chronic diabetes frequently own shock or prolonged anxiety as their cause. The same is true of chronic kidney disease, and the same causes form part of the factors concerned in cancer and epilepsy. The hair may turn grey in the course of a night of grief. The milk of a mother in animals and man may be instantly suspended by emotion. Dr. Carpenter records cases in which the milk of nursing mothers, though not suspended, became instantly fatal to their offspring. In the hypnotic state the influence of mind on body is perhaps still more striking. Bivet and Féré record cases of much interest. Postage-stamps were applied to the shoulder of a hypnotized subject, and the suggestion was made that a
blister would appear. In twenty-four hours, when the dressing was removed, the skin was thick, dead and white, puffy, and surrounded by an intensely red zone. The whole was photographed. The temperature of small parts of the body can be raised several degrees by suggestion. Nose-bleeding and blood-sweat have been produced; and in one case the subject's name, traced gently on his arm with a blunt probe, stood out, long after, in times of intense congestion, accompanied by a little bleeding. It is needless further to multiply instances. The point is that, if intense feeling or slighter degrees of feeling, morbid, long-sustained, can intimately affect every bodily process in a marked and vivid manner, producing great alterations of structure or function and chemico-physiological actions, or acute and chronic disease, then those slighter but much more prolonged errors and morbidities of thought and feeling of which we are all guilty from moment to moment and from day to day, those improper and unguarded states of consciousness which we all permit, not even recognising them as improper, must be answerable, as causes, for a large part of the diseases of humanity. And answerable, too, not only for disease, but for the unhealthiness of what we count as health, for the undergrown, short-lived bodies in which we have to dwell so carefully even when we do not have what alone we call obvious disease.”*
It may be urged that one must let the mind have play in some direction. That is true, but might it not be in some advantageous direction—in the direction of cheerfulness, hopefulness, thoughts of noble deeds, kind actions, generous impulses; not towards hate, rage, sullen broodings, lust, revenge, jealousy, mean longings, balked ambitions. These latter low planes of thought are the disease-producers; these plough the body as well as the soul, and fit the soil for the germs of fatal maladies. They involve a waste of vitality, and in that waste they beckon to the evil forces that lie in wait for man if the “sound mind in the sound body.” is not ready to combat them as the leucocytes in the blood attack the microbe.
An authority—Herbert Coryn—says, “I once saw a case of minor epilepsy gradually improve almost to cure by a prolonged attempt on the part of the patient to cure the irritability of temper to which he was a victim, and to cure the discontinuity of thought and lapses of attention which he had for years permitted to increase. It was an aggravated case of the ordinary mind-wandering, in which we all habitually indulge, and the small fits occurred during the intervals of the lapsing of his attention from, and the return of his attention
[Footnote] * H. Coryn, “Mind as Disease-producer.”
to, the subject of which he was speaking. And epilepsy of the greater kind, when the fits are periodic, frequently presents the phenomenon that some one fit may not occur, its place being taken by an attack of ungovernable rage. Taking this fact with my own cited case—the general connection of epilepsy with uncontrolled temper, and the sometimes striking effect of hypnotism in the reduction of the number of fits—I am strongly inclined to regard it as often an heirloom of long periods of time, extending over many generations, during which no control was gained of the moods, and in which every fit of irritability was allowed the utmost scope—was allowed its fling. The connection of epilepsy and of general irritability of temper with the presence of uric acid in the blood—the gouty temper—admits of similar explanation. If rage, sullen moods, fear, anxiety, and some other emotions and colours of feeling can, as we know, upset the liver, and cause the development of uric acid and urates, sometimes along with jaundice, then it would seem probable that, short of these violent outbreaks, a general state of irritability, proneness to acrid criticisms, readiness to quarrel for one's slightest ‘right,’ to resent trifles, to see intentional offence in innocent acts, may maintain a slight and continued uric-acid condition of blood, and, maintaining the mental state to which it is due, eventuate in a vicious circle. In a phrase, bad temper may be not only one effect but also one cause of gout and epilepsy, and of all other maladies due to chemical auto-toxæmia. Haig has done much to enlighten us upon the connection of this crystalline poison, uric acid, with a large number of diseases, acute and chronic, functional and organic. It is normally formed in the body at the rate of about 13gr. per day. Its presence and excretion in increased amount is associated with many phenomena, all morbid, both of body and mind, and notably with headaches, melancholia, depression of spirits, epilepsy, and, in general, with a lowered tone of consciousness. Normally the cells of the body excrete their waste products as the harmless body, urea. When, instead of producing urea, they produce uric acid, as is normal among serpents, for example, the result is a set of changes of a most far-reaching character, which tend to vary with irregularities in the output of uric acid. In a sense, there is an attempt at reversion to the cold-blooded type. And the discrepancy is felt by the mind giving rise to the associated mental phenomena.”
The serpent's hate, the peacock's vanity, the baboon's lust, these are reversions if found in man, and yielding to them as mental emotions will actually induce bodily reversions towards those lower types of being from which we have escaped upward; and to return even partially towards such
lower types means for us weakness, illness, death. This is the “inwardness” of Tennyson's verse when he wrote.—
Arise and fly
The reeling faun, the sensual feast;
Move upward, working out the beast,
And let the ape and tiger die.
In conclusion, I may say that this disquisition on the influence of the mind over the body may be thought to be out of place in an address mostly on anthropology. I do not consider it to be so. If by the study of man we only mean the annotation and indexing into records of what men have done and are doing in the world, such a study does not reach the border of that high land on which true science dwells. For scientia means knowledge, and the highest knowledge must be the knowledge of our true selves, of the inner man, not of the action and interaction of barbarism and culture on the human race. The observation that - teaches ns properly to “know,” and by its help to set ourselves on a higher plane of thought, is observation well bestowed and time well spent.