D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

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his mercy ; there is nothing more effective he can do.

In cases of great rage, one child indicates, by practical illustration,
that its opponent has a father who drinks and a mother who is fat. In-
sult among them can go no further than this, and the teacher is sum-
moned by the wail of the accused.

Their misfortune keeps them, in a large measure, from understand-
ing the distinctions of rich and poor, differences it is so sad to see,
made sometimes by children as soon as they can stand alone. The
little dainty daughter of a house whose one great cross is this child's
deprivation, admires with loving touch the golden hair of her school-
friend whose shoes are worn at the toes, and whose dress tells its own
story of the mother's poverty and overwork.

We must not turn from this interesting youngest class, without
mentioning the pretty, sensitive little girl of four years, who described
a ride which a gentleman had given her ; standing as she did upon a
chair with her audience around her, she made quick gestures with her
fingers, her eyes turned brightly upon each face before her, but, as she
proceeded, her remembrances went beyond her power in signs, and
with intent, -serious face she traced, with her forefinger in the air,
sketches of the rest she had seen. We did not understand what she
meant to tell us, but almost a feeling of awe fell upon us as we looked
on at this dumb intelligence which was being led by the mind that is
greater than ours,

Kor should the boy a little older be forgotten, a pale, sickly child,
who goes regularly to church on Sundays, and seems to enjoy it. One
day, when a copy of the " Madonna and Child " was shown, and one
of the other children was puzzled by the subject, this boy told his com-
panion the story of the Saviour from* his babyhood to his cross in
these natural signs, not dreaming that his teacher had seen it all.

For a long time after children enter the school they think their
fathers and mothers and teachers are all like themselves, and have
learned to speak in the same way as they are being taught. This de-
lusion lasts for some time, but generally fades out gradually. Once
in a while, however, it comes as a shock. One of the younger pupils
who still had this idea, as she sat watching her teacher and a visitor,
noticed apparently that the teacher sometimes spoke to the new-comer
without looking at her, and that she answered in the same way. It
struck her for the first time, evidently, that these were not dependent
upon the movements of the lips. As the visitor departed, the child
went up to her teacher, and, pointing after her, laid her finger on her


teacher's lips, and, looking up at her, shook her head. " She did not
watch ray lips ? " asked the teacher. " No, she hears." And she point-
ed to her ear. The child, then pointing to her teacher's ear, looked up
in question. "Yes," answered the latter, "I hear too." She stood a
moment trying to understand it ; then she laid her finger on her own
ear, pointed to herself and slowly shook her head. The knowledge of
her difference from the common order of things had come to her.

As one passes from the youngest to the oldest class, the progress
is very marked. In some of the rooms the pupils only say separate
words, in others a few sentences ; but in the last a surprise awaits
every one. There sits a class of nine pupils from about thirteen to
sixteen years old, who, at the low-toned request of their teacher, rise,
come forward to nearer seats, and recite the answers clearly and cor-
rectly to the questions of an ordinary geography lesson. Five or six
of them spoke with especial ease, and the teacher assured the visitor
that, not only could a prolonged conversation be kept up with them
upon any subject, but that, in fact, the class had probably understood
all the visitor had been saying since she came in. Their faces lighted
up Avhen one of them hesitated a moment for the answer, and each one
showed an anxiety to be questioned ; they whispered to one another,
and were reproved for it just like the restless little creatures impris-
oned for five hours daily in any other school in the city. One girl, in
particular, spoke with such a pleasant inflection and so much anima-
tion, that the visitor said, " She must be a semi-mute, surely ? " " No,"
the teacher answered ; " all of my pupils were born deaf." Of two
who seemed a little backward, she said : " They are not strong chil-
dren, and their articulation is not so good as the others ; but it is a
great advantage to them to be able to understand what is said to them,
even if they never speak very well." She further stated that all the
usual studies of the upper grammar-school classes were pursued by her
own. It seems to all who see it a marvelous thing ; but the ignorance
still prevailing in regard to the system and its results is incredible.
The teachers say they are asked the strangest questions every day :
Why they do not teach the children to sing ; whether they use raised
letters ; whether their work is not easy, as it must certainly require
but little education to teach such benighted minds. But everything
was outdone by the prominent member of a board of education who,
after expressing his amazement as he passed from grade to grade of
the school, asked, " How long is it before they begin to hear ? " A
wonderful system, indeed, he must have thought it ; and he could not
plead the possession of a depth of general ignorance such as a chance
glimpse discovered in the mind of that woman who came in to visit the
school, and, after taking a large part of the teacher's time to explain
the method, looked over the young faces before her once again, and
asked, " Now, air thim sinsihle ? "

One of the most beautiful things about the school is the affection


existing between the teachers and jiupils, and among the children
themselves. Many of the little ones are poor, and are clothed mainly
by the teachers and friends of the school, and when one of them ap-
pears in a new dress all of her fellow-pupils rejoice with her.

After they leave the school, which many do to engage in some em-
ployment, they are proud to keep up their proficiency, and encouraging
and curious things are heard of them. One is a teacher in a Sunday-
school ; one is vigorously pursuing her studies in a branch of the So-
ciety for Home Culture ; another practices her piano-lesson an hour
a day ; one boy is a promising student of wood-engraving ; and the
other day a lady recognized in the young girls who were talking hap-
pily together beside her in a horse-car two past members of the Horace
Mann School.

All this is fair fruit from the labors of that Eppendorf scholar who
sowed his seed a hundred years ago, and it would gladden the hearts
of the many men who have longed to see this result from the dark-
ness of the middle ages until now. Separate instances have been
known in all time, where devoted men and women have given a life-
time to this work, and counted it well spent. We do not know the
impulse which led the Spanish monk, Pedro de Ponce, in Leon, to the
wonderful toil and patience which must have been required before
his four deaf-mutes talked with men in the sixteenth century, but we
hardly doubt that it began in the aflBiction of some one dear to him ;
for, almost always, until the feeling of duty which we owe to these
sufferers became so general as it is now, in the isolated cases that stand
out from the pages of all history we read between the lines the record
of a devoted love.

Even if some of the pupils of the Horace Man School, and the simi-
lar institution in Northampton, should never be able to hold protracted
conversations upon all subjects, there are many sentences with which
they will always be able to gladden the hearts of their parents and

As some one has wisely said, it would be well worth sustaining the
system if the child only learned to say " Father, mother, I love you."
For the parents feel the happiness of hearing one word pronounced by
the lips of their children ; and the father who said to the teacher that
he would give his ten-thousand-dollar farm if that little girl of his
could speak to him, echoed' the greatest wish of many other hearts
than his.

But the children learn more lessons than are mentioned in the school
reports — neatness, obedience, gentleness, kindness ; and thus are the
teachers in many ways setting these captives free.




WE have become so accustomed to color in all the objects about
us, that we may almost be said to take no notice of it. Day-
after day we look upon the Avealth of color in the landscape by which
we are surrounded, without hardly ever giving it a thought. Some of
us never awake to the perception of the beauty of color in nature ; to
others the knowledge of this beauty is only opened through the me-
dium of art. A person who has taken little interest in paintings, but
who, by some circumstance or other, is at last led to a more attentive
study, especially of landscape-painting, will frequently be surprised by
the enhanced interest which Nature ever after awakens in him. He
finds charms where he never sought them before, and sees beauties to
which he had been totally blind. The mystery of color has been un-
folded to him, or rather he has been made conscious of his own faculty
of perceiving color — a faculty which had, indeed, been always in him,
but which had lain dormant.

Even to those, however, who are fully alive to the charm of color,
the latter is so much a matter of fact that they take its presence for
granted, and accept as a foregone conclusion that it can never be
otherwise. The question, How would the world look without color ?
has never troubled their minds, and, if it were really proposed to them,
they would probably meet it with the reply that there was no need of
speculating about impossibilities. Yet that which appears to be so
impossible is really possible ; for there are not only people in existence
who do not see, never saw, and never will see color, but we may even
create something approximating such a colorless world for ourselves,
at least as far as the artificial sjihere is concerned in which we move
within our houses.

Before me, as I write this, hangs a Chinese painting, executed in
all the brilliancy of Oriental coloring — rich vermilion, fine blues of
various shades, greens, and other full colors. I light an alcohol-lamp,
into the wick of which I have rubbed some common table-salt. I turn
down the gas, and, as I now look at the Chinese painting in the dim
light of my magic lamp, all its color has disappeared. I know the
vermilion, the blues, and the greens are all there, but I can not see
them. And yet I see the picture itself quite plainly, with its outlines
and its delicate gradations ; but it is all black and gray, with only a
faint trace of yellow here and there, where a yellow pigment has been
employed by the artist. Beside me on my writing-table lies a sample-
chart of watei'-colors ; but, however intently I look at it, I can see
nothing but spots that seem to have been produced by India-ink in
various gradations. I travel round my room, and all the objects ap-


pear to me of the same somber hue. The embroidered cushion on the
lounge, the carpet on the floor, even the flowers in the vase — they are
all black and white, or at the best yellow. The little world that sur-
rounds me is colorless.

Imagine, then, for a moment the whole woi'ld deprived of color.
IIow would it look ? An enamored poet singing to his adored in the
world as we at present know it might, perhaps, prelude his ditty thus :

" Thou rosy maiden with rich, ruby lips,

And hair as golden as the sun's bright rays ! "

Translated into the language of a poet of the colorless world, this
strain would run about as follows :

" Thou grayish maiden with dark, jetty lips,
And hair as white as freshly fallen snow I "

We, who are accustomed to the charm of color, turn away shudder-
ingly from such a world, in which we would all look like the figures
in a steel-engraving, printed in the blackest of ink on the whitest of

And yet, as I have said before, there are people who live in such a
world continually, and must continue to live in it to their days' end.
Fortunately, however, the instances of people who are totally color-
hlind — that is to say, who are absolutely incapable of experiencing the
sensation of color — are extremely rare ; and, to the few people so
afllicted, the deprivation is not so great as it would seem to be to us,
since, having never known the poetry of color, they do not feel the
want of it.

But, although there ai-e only very few people indeed who are total-
ly color-blind, there are, on the other hand, a very large number of
persons, especially among the male sex, who are at least partially so ;
and it is even more diflicult to picture to ourselves the world as it is
presented to their eyes than to imagine a world entirely destitute of
color. Defective color-vision of this kind is most frequently manifest-
ed in the inability to see the difference between red and green. A
person thus afflicted can detect no difference between the ripe cherry
on the tree and the leaves by which it is surrounded, or between the
strawberry and the stems and leaves of the plant on whicH it grows.
Even the bright red of some flowers may only present itself to such
persons as a lighter shade of the color of the leaves, while yellow and
blue are perceived by them quite as distinctly as by persons of normal
vision. To them, therefore, the world must bear a resemblance in
color to some of the old pottery which is decorated in blue, yellow,
and black, on a whitish ground. There are other varieties of de-
fective color-vision, all of which may be generally described as an in-
ability to perceive certain colors, while the perception of certain other
colors is normal. The simplest method of picturing to ourselves the


world as it is seen by some color-blind persons is to hold up before the
eyes a glass vessel with flat, parallel sides, tilled with a solution of sul-
phate of copper. We shall then be pretty much in the same condition
as a red-blind person.

The inconveniences which color-blind people must frequently be
exposed to are manifest. Numerous stories are told of the most ludi-
crous mistakes made, especially by red-blind persons : of a tailor, for
instance, who mended a black coat with a piece of red cloth ; of a
hunter who bought red cloth to have made what he supposed would
be a green hunting-jacket. The story of the tailor shows how this
malady, or, rather, constitutional defect, may do injury to men in their
professional capacity. But the consequences that may possibly arise
from it are of a far more serious nature when the safety of a large
number of human beings is dependent on the color-vision of a single
individual. This is the case with railroad operatives, who must be
able without fail to tell one signal from another ; and, as of late
years the conviction has gained ground that color-blindness is far
more common than it was formerly supposed to be, the railroad com-
panies are warned more emphatically from year to year by scientific
men to see to the eyes of their employees. Some of the European
Governments are beginning to turn their attention to this important
matter (all the more important because railroad-signals are usually red
and green, and red-blindness is the most common form of the failing),
and the Swedish Government has lately directed the physicians at-
tached to its state roads to examine all the operatives on these roads,
with a view to the detection of the presence of color-blindness. The
first fruit of this order is a report by Professor Holmgren, who re-
cently examined the employees of the Upsala-Gefle road, showing
that, out of two hundred and sixty-six individuals, eighteen were af-
flicted with the malady to a degree sufficiently high to incapacitate
them entirely for service on the road. The prevalence of the disease
varies in different countries, the highest percentage being found in
England, where, according to a statement made by Professor von
Rezold, in his " Theory of Color," republished in this country in an
English translation, one out of every eighteen, persons is said to be
afflicted with it. Among men, as before remarked, the disease is more
common than among women.

The cause of total or partial color-blindness may easily be under-
stood if we accept the hypothesis first brought forward by the English
physicist Young, and now subscribed to by the leading scientific ob-
servers of all countries. According to Young, all the phenomena of
color-vision are due to the (hypothetical) presence of three different
kinds of nerve-fibers in the retina — that is to say, in that part of the
eye on which the reflected images of the objects of the outer world
are projected as upon a screen, and through the agency of which the
sensations produced by the impressions so received are transmitted to


the brain. One of tliese sets of nerve-fibers is supposed to respond
most readily to red, the other to green, the third to violet, or to a blue
which verges closely upon violet. When all these nerve-fibers are ab-
solutely at rest, we see nothing. Improperly speaking, we might say
that we then experience the sensation of black, for absolute black real-
ly produces no sensation, but is rather the result of the absence of all
sensation. On the contrary, when all the nerve-fibers are excited
simultaneously and to an equal degree, we experience the sensation of
white, provided that the amount of excitation is tolerably great. If
the excitation is only feeble, we see what we call gray — gray being
simply white of a low degree of luminosity. All other color-sensa-
tions are produced by the excitation of groups of nerves variously
combined. Thus, whenever the fibers which respond to red and those
which respond to green are excited simultaneously, we experience the
sensation of yellow ; when the two groups which respond respectively
to green and to violet are simultaneously excited, Ave experience the
sensation of blue, and so on through the whole scale of colors. Again,
when all the nerve-fibers are excited at once, but to an unequal degree,
we perceive the result of the mixture of one predominating color with
the others. If we suppose the nerves responding to red to be the most
violently excited, we shall experience the sensation of red mixed with
white, or, in other words, of light red.

It will readily be seen that this hypothesis explains the curious con-
dition of color-blind persons very satisfactorily. In the case of total
color-blindness, we need only to assume that the nerve-fibers are in an
abnormal condition, so that each set, instead of responding to only one
sensation, responds equally to all. The result must necessarily be a
total absence of color in the impressions received through the eye. In
the case of a red-blind person, the nerves which ought to respond to
red may either be paralyzed or they may be wanting altogether, and all
other defects in color-vision may be explained upon the same principle.

To a limited extent the inability to tell the difference between cer-
tain colors, which is due to partial color-blindness, may be overcome
by the use of variously colored glasses ; but, after all, no artificial
palliative will compensate for the want of a naturally perfect eye.


By H. N. deafer, F. C. S.

SO much has already been wi'itten by way of contribution to our
knowledge of the different species of the eucalyptus-tree, that,
interesting as the subject is, it may well be considered to have re-
ceived already a fair share of attention. There is one aspect of it,


however, which can not perhaps be dwelt upon too much, and that is
the value of this genus of plants as drainers of the soil and purifiers
of the atmosphere. This is probably the true reason why so many
attempts, more or less successful, have been made to acclimatize the
eucalyptus in Southern Europe and even in Great Britain. No doubt,
experiments have been stimulated by other causes. The foliage of
these trees is, for example, unlike that of any other in our islands. It
is pendulous, quivering, and evergreen ; and the peculiar whitish ap-
pearance of one side of the leaves — due to a fatty or resinous secretion
— is very characteristic. Till the tree is from three to five years old,
the leaves grow horizontally ; but afterward they generally assume
a pendent position. Instead of having one of their surfaces toward
the sky, and the other toward the earth, they are often placed with
their edges in these directions, so that each side is equally exposed
to the light. This arrangement may have something to do with the
extraordinary quantity of moisture these trees exhale into the at-

The eucalyptus belongs to the natural order Myrtacece, and is in-
digenous to the temperate parts of Australia (where it goes by the
name of stringy-bark, or gum-tree) and Tasmania — that is, where the
mean temperature does not exceed a range of fi-om 52^ to 72^ Fahr.
The foliage is leathery, and almost always characterized by a certain
metallic aspect. The leaves are as a rule narrow, and have either a
very short and twisted petiole or foot-stalk, or none at all. In Aus-
tralia they commonly attain a height of two hundred feet, and in-
stances are given in which a height of three hundred and fifty feet
has been attained. The flowers are usually pinkish or white, and in
the latter case superficially resemble those of the myrtle. Unlike
these, however, they are devoid of petals. The fruit contains the
seeds — seeds so minute, it is said, that from one pound of those of
the variety Globulus more than one hundred and sixty thousand plants
could be raised.

I have always taken a great interest in the eucalyptus, and have
grown it near Dublin for several years with considerable success. I
have had at one time as many as twenty fine healthy saplings of the
species Globulus, of from ten to sixteen feet high, and one which
reached to twenty-five feet, and had a stem of twenty-two inches cir-
cumference. These were all five years old. But cold is the deadly
enemy of the gum-tree ; and, though I had kept mine during four or-
dinary Irish winters, I lost them all during the almost Arctic winter
of 1878-79. I may say, in passing, that I have not been quite dis-
couraged, and that I have again several healthy plants making good
progress. My interest in the subject has received a new stimulus from
a recent experience of eucalypt-culture in the wild plain known as the
Campagna of Rome.

One lovely morning in last October we left our hotel hard by the


Pantheon, and in a few minutes came to the Tiber, If we except the
quaint and bright costumes of many classes of the people, and the
ever-changing street scenes of Rome, there is nothing in the drive of
very much interest until we reach the river. Here, looking back, we
see the noble structure which crowns the Capitoline Hill. The fine
building on the farther bank of the river is the Hospital of St.
Michele. On this side we are passing the small harbor of the steam-
boats which ply to Ostia. Presently, the Marmorata, or landing-place
of the beautiful marble of Carrara, is reached. From here a drive of
a few minutes brings us to the cypress-covered slope of the Protestant
Cemetery, where, in the shadow of the pyramid of Cestius, lie the
graves of Shelley and Keats. Apart from the interest attached to
these two lowly tombs and the memories aroused by their touching
epitaphs, no Englishman can visit this secluded spot and look without
deep feeling upon the last resting-places of his countrymen, who have
died so many hundred miles from home and friends. The cemetery is
kept in order and neatness, and flowers grow upon nearly all the

Our route next lay along the base of that remarkable enigma the
Monte Testaccio, a hill as high as the London Monument or the Ven-
dome Column at Paris, made entirely of broken Roman pots and tiles,
as old perhaps as the time of Nero ! Leaving behind this singular
heap of earthenware, we thread long avenues of locust-trees, and
presently, passing through the gate of St. Paul, reach the magnificent

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 11 of 110)