D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

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and extent of higher influences, and to retard material advancement.
One of the striking characteristics of the age is the promptness with
which money is invested and speculative enterprises are carried for-
ward. The prevailing tendency is to assume the inevitable success of
a project, and overlook the chances of failure. In fact, the liberality
with which our country is supplied with improvements in steam tran-
sit, newspapers, ocean-cables, telephones, etc., denotes that the modern
spirit is far from cynical. The transaction of business, except in a
limited and inefiicient way, would be impossible if the majority of
men were swindlers.

It is with much satisfaction that we observe a general conspiracy
in the drift of affairs whereby a negative way of viewing things fails
to become general. Affirmative and cheerful people have positive
force that dispels the shadows of needless anxiety with excess of light.
The friends with whom we are the most unreserved, and who exert
the most social power generally, are not severe in their judgments.
The cheerful man is a center of attractive force, while the cynic at
times dissipates important and beneficial influences. In truth, the



ideas of the cynic are like blasts of cold air, out of which people are
glad to escape with the utmost promptness. Cynicism does not repre-
sent as much intelligence as the constructive tendency, because cyni-
cal ideas are allied to feeling and held without reference to any
wide generalization of facts. Events take place or combine in a
purely intellectual way, or in accordance with laws of necessity and
causation. But in opposition to this principle we often find the vague
expectation that events can be moditied by emotional action, or feel-
ing, or by theories not adapted to experience. The seeming obduracy
of inanimate objects, when we try to disentangle their complications
by means of anger, shows that emotional action may be quite absurd
when applied to affairs of the intellect. A like suggestion of mania
is observable in the cynicism which sees in human nature only differ-
ent grades of rascality. It is a subjective conclusion deduced from
exceptional instances.

In addition to the want of effect due to emotional conclusions
reached regardless of objective causes, we find further source of error
in the very common cynical belief that there is ultimate strength in
deception. Bonaparte claimed that much of his success resulted from,
his ingenious lying, but his power really lay in his reasoning, his
knowledge of human nature, his wonderful constructive force, and his
grasp of details. These qualities are intellectual, powerful, positive.
The success of his lying depended upon intellectual weakness or de-
ficient knowledge in others, and not upon superior power exerted in
spite of their relative intelligence. Strategy, like stimulants in sick-
ness, may bridge over a chasm, but, when subjected to the test of time
or innumerable repetitions, it is inevitably exposed by unexpected and
incalculable events. In fact, deceptive action often has an air of ab-
surdity, humorous as well as geometrical, as seen in Dickens's judge,
who, at the Bardell trial, tried to conceal the fact that he had been
aroused from sleep — when Buzfuz ceased speaking for a moment —
by apparently writing with a dry pen, and then looking as if be
thought most profoundly with his eyes shut.

Spinoza was right in his conclusion that destruction and violence
are negative. The highest form of conceivable existence, the most
real, must be in accordance with principles of reason and harmony.
This implies the elimination of discord or destruction, which in its
effects upon our consciousness is always negative — that is, tends
toward indefiniteness and a vanishing-point. Consciousness is re-
duced almost to zero during intense pain, because there is simply one
sensation, and no sustained or connected line of thought including
many ideas.

Reasonable mental actions are usually present, but if we select
negative mental actions — hate, fear, envy, anger — we are at once con-
scious of their exceptional nature as compared with the total amount
of time consumed by more rational forms of thought. It is observ-


able that persons noted for manifestations of motiveless malice ai-e
often reputed to be ineipiently insane.

All forms of envy are magnified by the instant prominence which
they occupy in thought. In an orchestra of ten instruments the har-
mony of nine may be overpowered by one that persists in playing out
of tune. The presence of envy and malice in one person may cause
us to lose sight of its absence in ninety-nine. We may therefore con-
clude that cynicism, which is the perception of the dark side of every-
thing, can never become a great destructive force, because it can not
accumulate power. It must ever remain a standing threat, a stimulus
to right thinking. The higher forms of power in men are positive
and not passive. Superstition and the dai-kness of cynicism must be
swept away by the evolution of intelligence.


AVERY remarkable archaeological discovery has recently attracted
the attention of the scientific world in Scandinavia, and has be-
come a matter of popular concern in Norway, where every one is in-
terested in the ancient and glorious national traditions. The baths of
Sandefiord are situated in the southwestern part of the fiord of Chris-
tiania. The road from that place to the ancient city of Tansberg
passes near the village of Gogstad, not far from which is a tumulus
or funeral-mound, which has been long known in the local traditions
under the name of Kangshaug, or the Mound of the King. This heap,
which is nearly fifty metres, or more than one hundred and sixty feet,
in diameter, rises in a gentle sloj^e from the level of the plains and
meadows which extend from the fiord to the foot of the mountains,
and is covered with a verdant sod. According to the legend, a pow-
erful king had chosen the spot as the place Avhere he should finally
rest, surrounded by his horses and his hunting-dogs ; and his most
precious treasures had been buried near his body. Superstition and
the fear of avenging spirits had for centuries prevented every kind of
examination of the tomb, but the investigating zeal of our age vent-
ured to penetrate the mystery. Excavations were made, and brought
forth the discovery of an entire viking's war-vessel, and the grave of
the imknown chief by its side.

The sons of the peasant on whose land the tumulus was situated
began to dig into it in January and February, 1880 ; they turned
away a spring which they found in digging, and soon afterward met
with building-timbers. Wisely, they suspended their labors to bring
them to the attention of the society at Christiania for the preservation
of ancient monuments. This society took charge of the subsequent


excavations, and sent Mr. Nicolaysen, a learned and skillful antiquary,
to superintend them. They were continued under his direction during
April and May, and finally brought the viking's vessel into view.
The ship was twenty-two and a half metres (or about seventy-two
feet) long, five metres (or seventeen feet) wide in the middle, would
draw a metre and a half (or five feet) of water, and had twenty ribs
or benches for rowers. It is considerably the largest vessel of an-
tiquity that has yet been discovered.

The Danish Professor Engelhardt, in 1863, unearthed from the
turf-pits of Xydam, in Schleswig, a vessel fourteen metres (or forty-
five and a half feet) long ; and another vessel was found in 1867, at
Tune, thirteen metres (or forty-two feet) long. Neither of these ves-
sels could be compared, however, as to its state of preservation or its
dimensions, with the one found at Gogstad.

The tumulus is now nearly a mile from the sea, but the nature of
the alluvial soil makes it evident that the waves formerly washed its
base. The vessel had, it then appears, been drawn immediately out
of the fiord, and placed upon a bed of fascines or hurdles and moss.
The walls had then been covered with clay, the hold filled with earth
and sand, and the whole covered over so as to form a tumulus. The
prow of the vessel was turned toward the sea, for at that period it
was believed that, when God should call the chief, he would come out
of his grave and launch his ship all equipped upon the waves of the

Some interesting objects were found on the prow of the vessel,
which at first escaped attention. A piece of a beam showed the hole
in which the shaft of an anchor had been inserted, but only bits of
iron were found. The remains of two or three small oaken canoes of
very fine form were unearthed, and by their side were found a num-
ber of oars, some of which were intended for the canoes, and some
for the vessel itself. They were eighteen or twenty feet long, and of
a shape much like that of the oars which are used in England in re-
gattas. The blocks were worked very thin, and some of them were
ornamented with carvings. The floor of the ship was as well pre-
served as if it had been built yesterday, and was adorned with curved
lines. Some pieces of wood seemed to have formed parts of drag-nets.
Certain beams and planks are supposed to have formed partitions
separating the benches of rowers from one another, leaving a passage
in the middle. A neatly shaped hatchet, several inches long and
of the form common to hatchets of the iron age, was found on a pile
of oaken chips. Some beams had dragons' heads at their ends, rudely
carved and painted in the same colors as the walls of the vessel — that
is, in black and yellow. The colors are still bright enough to show
that water has not greatly aflFected them. As olive and other vege-
table oils were then unknown, we must suppose that the colors were
prepared with some kind of fat, perhaps with whale-oil.

VOL. XIX. — 6



The excavations were continued till the whole length of the vessel
was exposed. All along the outside of the walls, from the prow to
the poop, extended a series of circular bucklers lapping one over
another like the scales of a fish, of which nearly a hundred, partly

painted yellow and black, remain. In many places the wood of the
bucklers has been destroyed, and only the central plate of iron is left.
The famous tapestry of Bayeux shows quite plainly how the vessels
of the vikings were furnished with rows of bucklers (Fig. 2), but it



has been supposed tliat tliey were the shiekls which the soldiers used
in action, and which were hung there for the sake of convenience. It
is now evident that they had no purpose but ornament, as they were
of wood, not much thicker than pasteboard, and could not resist a
sword -thrust that was given with any force.

A large block of oak, solidly fixed in the bottom at the middle of
the vessel, had a square hole for the mast ; and some circumstances
indicated that the mast could be laid down. A few pieces of rope,
and some rags of a woolen stuff, probably the sail, were also found.

The funeral-chamber was built on one side of the tumulus, with
strong planks and beams set obliquely one against another, the whole
occupying a space of two or three square metres. This was opened,
wdth the expectation of finding arms or precious objects, but the ex-
plorers were disappointed. The tomb had probably been violated at
some previous epoch. A few threads of a kind of brocade, a few parts
of bridles and saddles, some articles in bronze, silver, and lead, and
metallic buttons, on one of which was artistically represented a knight
letting down his lance, were all that could be found here. The bones
of a horse and of two or three hunting-dogs were discovered in the
sides of the chamber.

A large copper vessel, supposed to be the kettle of the ship, was
found in the forward part of the boat. It had been hammered out
of a single sheet of copper, and afforded satisfactory evidence of the
industrial skill of those remote times. Another vessel, of iron, with
ears and a bail, was found, with some wooden bowls near it. It was
at first intended to remove the whole of the ship to the Museum of
Christiania, and jMr. Treshan, a large proprietor of the neighborhood,

Fia. 2.— Attempted Restoration op an Ancient Scandinavian Vessel.

offered to pay the expense of the removal. The persons having the
matter in charge, however, decided, after a careful examination and
consideration of the subject by an expert, that it would be impracti-


cable to carry the vessel away, and that it would be better to cover it
from the weather and leave it where it was found. Only the smaller
objects were taken to Christiania.

Antiquaries have agreed in ascribing the epoch of the erection of
the tumulus to the most ancient iron age, or to the ninth or tenth
century of our era — most probably to the age of Harold the Fair-
haired, founder of the Norwegian state.

Dr. V. Gross, of Neuveville, Switzerland, has furnished a descrip-
tion of an ancient canoe which was found in April, 1880, buried in
the ground near the shores of the Lake of Bienne, and which has
been placed in the museum at Neuveville. It is of oak, and differs
somewhat in shape from similar canoes that have been found hereto-
fore. The stern has the square form of modern boats, and the prow

Fio. 3.— Lacustuine Canoe found in the Lakb of Bienne.

is adorned with a spur-shaped prolongation (Fig. 3). The boat is
9 '55 metres (or a little more than thirty feet) long, fro«i two and a
half to three feet broad, and about nineteen inches deep. Rounded
notches at intervals along the sides seem to have been intended as
rests for oars. A piece of about five feet by nine inches appears to
have been broken or taken out of one of the sides near the stern, the
place of which may have been supplied by a plank. In order to pre-
serve the form of the vessel against warping and shrinkage, it was
soaked in boiled linseed-oil to which colophene was afterward added.
The application, after a sufficient number of repetitions, was attended
by such satisfactory results that Dr. Gross has no hesitation in recom-
mending it for all objects that are too bulky to be put in glycerine. —
La Nature.



THERE is a schoolhouse in a convenient little by-street in Boston,
which is visited weekly by scholars and scientists, specialists of
renown and commonplace fathers and mothers, philanthropists and
seekers after the curious, and from its doors not one turns away with-
out being surprised and touched.

The Horace Mann School for the Deaf, in TVarrenton Street, is one
of the latest developments of that great humanitarian movement
which rose like a miracle in the last half of the eighteenth century,
one of the few sunbeams which have come to us from those dark and


faithless days. It was opened under tlie name of " Boston School for
Deaf Mutes," in November, 1869, with twenty-five pupils. Two re-
movals have been made since that time, but the eighty members com-
prising the school are now pleasantly located in the present building,
which contains eigbt class-rooms, a reception-room, and play-room.

The name of the school was changed in 1877, because the pupils
who were learning to speak objected to being called "mutes" ; a preju-
dice which the city very wisely considered. As early as 1843 Mr.
Horace Mann, then Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Educa-
tion, described in one of his reports the German method of teaching
articulation, and urged its adoption here. It was a suggestion which,
as Dr. Howe said, " took twenty years to bear fruit," but it was grace-
fully remembered in changing the name of the school which now
teaches that method with marked success. It is both a city and a
State institution, and in that way has some advantages over an oi-di-
nary public school ; a longer recess, for example, and but one session
instead of two.

And in this cheerful place, in an atmosphere of encouragement and
affection, the children gladly stay during five hours of the day ; while
the teachers, who are enthusiasts in their work, patiently try to fit them
to take their places more equally in the struggle of life.

The work is very slow. When we remember that most of these
pupils have never heard a sound, and do not know what it is, that
they have no communication with the Avorld except by pantomime,
and then remember that the end aimed at is to make them speak the
English language, so that any one can understand them, and that they
must learn to read from the movements of his lips whatever a hear-
ing person chooses to say to them, the tremendous toil will be faintly

From the time in the last century when the first government insti-
tutions for the deaf and dumb were founded simultaneously in Ger-
many and France, the methods of instruction have been different in
those usually antagonistic countries.

The Abbe de I'Epee contented himself with the sign-language, and
his idea is still the ruling one in the French school, for its defenders
hold that the thinking and reasoning qualities are better brought out
with a language which, when once learned with comparative ease, allows
the mind free play, than with a system where the whole powers of the
pupil must be given for years to expression.

On the other hand, Ileinicke, of Eppendorf, believed that the dumb
could be taught to speak, and this has been the principle of the German
school from the beginning. There is no doubt but the latter method
Avould place its pupils upon a better footing with their fellow-men,
from whom the sign-language must separate them to a great extent,
but to become general it is necessary that in a majority of cases it
should be a pronounced success. In the instances which have come


under the writer's notice, it has not appeared that the ideas of the
pupils are dwarfed by the process ; rather does it seem as if, with the
first spoken word, a spell were broken and they were free.

Professor Bell's system of visible speech has been used in the Hor-
ace Mann School from the beginning ; but an attempt is being made,
with apparent success, to do away with even this artificial method, and,
keeping it as an occasional aid, to teach the English language directly.

The teacher in beginning her work writes a word on the black-
board, pointing to the object in the room for which it stands ; and the
child is made to understand by constant repetition that that written
word and that object are always meant for each other. A number of
such nouns are written and rehearsed until the pupil will point readily
to the object when the written characters corresponding to it are
shown him, or will write the word when the object is placed before
him. These children often learn to point to the nouns wholly by the
looks of the written words before the little fingers can use the pencil,
though they naturally write quickly and well — earlier than children
who hear.

Perhaps the child's first vocal attempt is to close his lijis, and make
the humming sound produced by an effort to speak the letter m ; and
he does so by feeling the curious vibrating sensation in his teacher's
lips and chin, and trying to imitate it. In nine cases out of ten he
does this the second time he tries, no one knows why. The instant he
succeeds, the letter m is written triumphantly for him on the black-
board, and he feels that his oral education has begun. After this, very
probably the long soimd of e is attempted, the mouth open, the tip of
the tongue pressed against the lower teeth, and the vibrations again
felt. The pupils are early shown, however, that the mass of vibratory
tone must come from the base of the chest by the action of the dia-
phragm, for otherwise the register of sound is apt to be unpleasantly
placed either in the throat or head.

The vowels are usually taught first, and each of these elements
sometimes requires weeks of patient work to get perfectly. Having
succeeded, the consonants are added, fe, re, be, sa, ta, no, so ; and
words naturally follow.

There are always two classes of children in schools of this kind,
the congenital mutes who have nev^er heard, and a large number who
wei-e not born deaf but became so in different stages of their age and
development, either by disease or accident. Scarlet fever alone is
computed to cause one third of the deafness in America. These two
classes are separated as far as possible, for the semi-mutes usually re-
tain a few words or sentences upon which to build, while the congeni-
tals must begin far behind them, everything being artificial.

As all the teaching must be objective, the class-rooms present an
animated appearance, gay with pictures upon the walls and colored
crayon drawings upon the blackboards.


When the child enters the school he is usually provided with a lan-
guage of natural pantomime which is practical and very entertaining.
The sign of " mother " is putting the hand to the back of the head, as
if a coil of hair were there, while for *' father " the hand is drawn over
the face in the manner in which he wears his beard. A cow is repre-
sented with the thumbs at the ears and the fingers extended ; a don-
key the same, with the fingers together and hands slowly opening and

Some of the gestures are very pretty. A child tells his teacher
that his father was asleep when he came to school, by making the sign
for father and inclining his head to one side with closed eyes upon
his open palm, and shows his anticipation of some pleasure he is to
have, by making the gesture for to-morrow, over and over again ; with
one forefinger he closes his eye, and, lifting it quickly, makes it a fig-
ure one (opening his eyes, of course, at the same time), meaning that
he will sleej) otice before the time comes.

It is strange that all children, coming from whatever place or con-
dition, have these natural gestures alike when they enter the school.
The quick motions of the little fingers, as they tell a long story in this
way, remind one of humming-birds.

The children are as different from one another as hearing children
are. Some are so pretty that artists might covet them, little ones who
have not yet learned to speak, but who look up at you silently, statues
in which the soul is to awake ; others, dwarfed and distorted in figure,
have a look of dull despair, too old for childhood. The heart is sad
and tender for them all.

Every gesture is vigilantly suppressed as soon as the written or
spoken word can be used in its place, but in the youngest class these
signs are naturally most used. An animated group the eleven pupils
make, several of them mere babies of four and five years. They ask
very personal questions about the visitor, which the teacher readily in-
terprets if she sees fit. There are some inquiries concerning the age
of the stranger, for instance, or innocent comments on the size of his
feet, or the shape of his hat, which she may think best to ignore. In
this class is Charley, whose teacher spelled his name in the more com-
mon way until he intimated to her that he objected to having a lie on
the end of his name ! Constant association with one of the girls in the
class, who had a prejudice against the unvarnished truth, had early
familiarized the eleven Avith the word. This girl has a lively imagina-
tion and a strong vein of romance, which cause her, perhaps, to seem
unreliable to slower intellects. She never, for example, sees a com-
panion with a new necklace or dress, but she carelessly signs to her that
she herself possesses such articles by the barrel and bale ; while her
own home, which she describes to open-eyed listeners, as built of gold
with a diamond door and silver steps, has long been known by reputa-
tion throughout the school. This pupil, in her one interview with the


writer, asked if she had a hat with a long white feather, if she had a
gold bracelet, if she played on the piano, and had a door-plate on her
door; and the latter, as she sorrowfully shook her head, felt the degra-
dation involved in the admission.

Once in a while one of these little ones is stubborn, and, refusing
to be taught, closes his eyes. This, of course, throws the teacher upon

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 10 of 110)