D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

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dark, so the children are driven to their suffocating, unventilated bed-
rooms, not to sleep but to swelter, till toward midnight, when drowsi-
ness subsides into a sort of lethargy which yields only to broad day-
light, three or four hours after sunrise ; " So much the better," says
the fashionable mother, who has passed the night at an ice-cream
ridotto, " and morning air isn't healthy, either ; most dangerous to
leave the house before the dew is off the grass."

Only the curse of pessimism, our woful distrust of our natural in-
stincts, can explain such absurdities. The parched palate's petition


for a cooling liquid is not plainer than the brain's craving for rest and
slumber when a high temperature adds its somniferous tendency to
the drowsy influence of a full meal. On warm summer days all
Nature indulges in a noontide nap ; I have walked through tropical
forests that were as silent under the rays of a vertical sun as a Nor-
wegian pine-grove in the dead of a polar night ; nor would it be easy
to name a single animal that does not appear sleepy after meals. At
noon leaf -trees throw their densest shade ; even butterflies seek the
penetralia of the foliage, and lizards cling lazily to the dark side of the
lower branches ; every school-teacher knows that children feel the
drowsy spell of the afternoon sun ; why should they alone be hurt by
yielding to its promptings? Either postpone the principal meal to
the end of the day, or increase the noontide recess to at least three
hours, so as to leave time for a digestive siesta.

In midsummer all mammals (squirrels, perhaps, excepted) become
semi-noctunial : deer and llamas pasture the moonlit mountain-mead-
ows ; bears, badgers, and the larger species of monkeys are wide-awake ;
buffaloes wander €7i masse to the next drinking-place ; and the step-
children of Nature, the starved lazzaroni of Southern Europe, forget
their misery if they can procure a fiddle or a guitar. The moonlit
streets of the Mexican cities swarm with merry children, but north
of the Rio Grande not a decent lad is seen out-doors after sundown ;
Luna has to seek her Endymions in the tropics, though our summer
nights are often as glorious as the noches serenas of southern Anda-
lusia. And what would our hardy forefathers have said about our
dread of the morning dew ? How many thousands of hunters and
soldiers have slept in the open fields, and how many times did we wade
through the dew-drenched brambles of the Ardennes, my little brother
and I, to see the sun rise, and breathe the mountain wind, at the only
hour when the air is both fragrant and cool, inspiring thoughts which
music can only awaken for a fleeting moment ! — if such hours are
mortiferous, there can not be a more agreeable way of ending what
our latter-day epicures are pleased to call life.

"What harm can there be in dividing our daily portion of sleep ?
Birds and beasts do it, the founders of the most ascetic orders of
Spanish monks allowed it, and our summer months are certainly as
warm as those of Southern Europe. People who are so anxious to
improve the shining hours for business purposes had much better
curtail the number of their meals ; take a vote among the juvenile
operatives of a cot ton -factory, and ten to one that a large majority
would gladly postpone, or even renounce, their dinner for the privilege
of sleeping an hour or two between 1 and 3 p. m, A Belgian silk-
manufacturer, who had spent his own boyhood at the loom, told me
that he could never find it in his heart to discharge a factory -child for
dozing over its work.

Necessity may compel individuals to compromise such matters. If
VOL. XIX.— 22


I had to work or teach all day, I would not eat a crumb between
breakfast and supper, and pass the dinner-hour under a shade-tree ; but
parents who can afford to educate their children at home should give
them either an all-summer vacation or a half-afternoon recess — let them
rest from twelve till three, or sleep if they prefer ; in the evening, do
not send them to bed till they are really tired, and till the night- wind
has revitalized the air of their bedrooms ; but make them rise with the
sun — if they are drowsy they will go to bed earlier the next evening.
There is no danger of a child's — especially a boy's — oversleeping him-
self, unless the hai-dships of his waking hours are so intolerable that
oblivion becomes a blessing ; but it can do no harm to make the
health-giving morning hour as attractive as possible : provide some
out-door amusement, a prize foot-race, a butterfly-hunt, or gathering
windfalls in the apple-orchard ; if the desire for longer sleep can out-
weigh such inducements, there must be something wrong — plethorific
diet, probably, or over-study. The requisite amount of sleep depends
on temperament and occupation as well as on age ; with children
under ten, however, too much indulgence would be an error on the
safer side : let them choose their allowance between eight and ten
hours ; in after-years, seven hours should be the minimum, nine the
maximum for healthy children ; sickly ones ought to have carte
blanche, both as to quantum and time of repose ; consumptives, espe-
cially, need all the rest they can get. Profound sleep in a cool, quiet
retreat is Nature's own specific for all wasting diseases, a panacea
without price and money.

Nothing can be more injudicious than to stint children in their
sleep with a view of gaining a few hours for study. " Tha€ plan,"
says Pestalozzi, " defeats its own purpose, for such children are never
wide-awake ; you can keep them out of bed, but you can not prevent
them from dozing with their eyes open. A wide-awake boy will learn
more in one hour than a day-dreamer in ten."

Habitual deficiency of sleep will undermine the strongest consti-
tution ; headache, throbbing, and feverish heat are the precursors of
graver evils, unless a temporary loss of mental power compels an ar-
mistice wdth outraged Nature. King Alfred, Spinoza, Kepler, Victor
Alfieri, Madame d.e Stael, and Frederick Schiller killed themselves
•wdth restless study ; Beethoven and Charles Dickens, too, probably
prepaid the debt of Nature by their habit of fighting fatigue with
strong coffee. Sleeplessness may lead to chronic hypochondria, and
even to idiocy ; without their long vigils, the monks of the Thebais and
the fathers of the Alexandrian Church could hardly have written such
stupendous nonsense. It is a curious fact that compulsory wakefulness
combined with mental activity often induces a state of morbid insom-
nia, an absolute inability to obtain the sleep which it was at first so
difficult to resist. In such cases, the only remedy is fresh air and a
complete change of occupation. During sleep the brain is in a com-


l>aratively bloodless coutlition ; * a Lot head and throbbing temjiles
are unfavorable to repose, and it has been suggested that insomnia
might be counteracted by a hot foot-bath, chafing the arms and legs,
or any similar operation that would divert the blood from the head
toward the extremities, and thus tend to diminish the activity of the
cerebral circulation. Listening to distant music or the ripple of a
river-current has also a wonderful hypnotic effect, the repetition of
monotonous sounds, or, indeed, of any sensorial impression, seems
more favorable to repose than their entire absence. The philosopher
Kant assures us that he could obtain sleep in a paroxysm of gout by
resolutely fixing his attention on some abstruse ethical or mathemati-
cal problem, but remarks that the success of that method depends
upon the laboriousness of the mental process ; the mind, as it were,
takes refuge in sleep as the alternative of drudging at a wearisome
task. Robert Burton, too, gives a number of similar recipes, besides
I list of wondi'ous medicinal compounds to be swallowed or inhaled
"d horam somni, but in ordinary cases it is better to try the effects of
out-door exercise, before resorting to dormouse-fat,f theological text-
books, or other desperate remedies.

Being naturally a sound and long sleeper has been ranked among
the surest prognostics of a long life, and sleep after a wasting disease
as the most certain symptom of recovery. Most brain-workers are
subject to occasional fits of insomnia, but the faculty of sustaining
licalth and vigor upon a very small allowance of sleep is generally a
concomitant of mental inferiority, or at least inactivity. The most
intelligent animals, dogs and monkeys, sleep the longest ; stupid brutes
merely stretch their legs, their inert brain requires no rest ; a cow
never sleeps in the proper sense of the word. Mirabeau, Goethe, and
James Quin often slumbered for twelve or fourteen hours successively,
while Leopold I, of Austria, and Charles IT, of Spain, the heartless
and brainless bigots, could content themselves with five hours of sleep
out of the twenty-four, and their prototype, the Emperor Justinian,
often even with one. — (Gibbon's " Rome," vol. vii, p. 406.)

Heinrich Heine wonders why Jehovah did not square his account

with our wicked forefathers by punishing them in their sleep, instead

f compromising their innocent progeny. Dietetic sins often avenge

themselves in that way; blutwurst, sauerkraut, or short-cakes with

* Dr. Caldwell records a ca?e of a woman at MontpcUicr, who " had lost part of her
;;ull (from disease), the braiu and part of its' membranes lying bare. When she was in
deep and sound sleep, the brain lay in the skull almost motionless ; when she was
) I earning, it became elevated ; and, when she awoke, it became suffused with blood and
• omcd inclined to rise through the cranial aperture." — ("Psychological Journal," vol. v,
p. 74.)

t " Anoint the soles of the feet with the fat of a dormouse, the teeth with ear-wax of
a dog, swine's gall, oil of nunaphar, henbane," etc. — (" Correctors of Accidents to procure
>leep," " Anatomy of Melancholy," p. 414.)


pork- fritters, generally result in apocalyptic visions, and an eel-pie for
supper is a reliable receipt for a first-class nightmare. Vivid dreams,
j)er se, however, are by no means a morbid symptom ; on the con-
trary, the scenes of the slumber-drama are most lively and lifelike in
the happiest years of childhood ; and I remember a time when I longed
for the bed-hour, in anticipation of a pleasant dream-land excursion.
Children are apt to relate their trance adventures, and I would encour-
age the habit ; dreams, as the elder Pliny already observes, may often
afford a suggestive insight into the ethical condition of the mind ; also
into the condition of the stomach. Melodramatic incidents indicate
the presence of irritating ingesta, and the least attempt at clairvoyance
calls for out-door exercise and an aperient diet. A South-German
feather-bed is a Trophonian cave ; the difficulty of turning from side
to side crowds the brain with alarming phantasms, and the excessive
warmth of the thing itself is apt to affect the imagination. The best
bed is, indeed, a hard, broad mattress, or a well-stuffed straw tick, and,
for reasons I have stated in the chapter on " In-door Life,'' a woolen
blanket over a linen bed-sheet is preferable to a quilt. Those who
find it uncomfortable to sleep in an absolutely horizontal position
should slightly raise the head-end of the bedstead rather than use a
thick bolster. A thick pillow bends the head upon the breast, or
keeps the neck in a position that aggravates the distress of respiratory
difficulties. "Woven-wire mattresses recommend themselves by their
cleanliness and durability ; their elastic qualities alone would hardly
justify a great expense, though luxury has even devised an "hydro-
static bed," a trough of water with a tegument of caoutchouc. His-
tory records the name of the Sybarite who "cried aloud because a
leaflet of his flower-mattress got crumpled " ; and Chevalier Luckner,
the Russian Lucullus, built himself an air-pillow bed on noiseless
wheels, that could be turned by a hand-lever, in order to move the
sleeping-car from or toward the stove, the aphelion and perihelion be-
ing determined by the state of the out-door atmosphere. Such chev-
aliers deserve the penance of Ezekiel (iv, 3-G), who had to lie three hun-
dred and ninety days on his left side for the iniquity of the house of
Israel, and forty days extra for the iniquity of the house of Judah. A
weary head needs no air-cushions, with noiseless wheel-attachments ;
brakesmen take their intermittent naps on the hard caboose-bunk of
a rumbling freight-train ; and the log of the Royal Sovereign records
that, during the heat of the battle of the Kile, some of the over-
fatigued boys fell asleep upon the deck.

The habit of going to sleep at fixed hours can overcome the tort-
ures of neuralgia, and some practical stoics have manifested a not
less astonishing command over their mental emotions ; Napoleon I
slept soundly on the eve of the battle he knew to be his last chance,
like Mohammed II before his last neck-or-nothing assault upon the
ramparts of Constantinople. Army-life can acquaint a man with


strange beds, as Avell as bedfellows. Skobeleff's troopers had to sleep
ill dug-outs on the woodless ridges of the Balkan ; and during Ney's
retreat from Moscow, the commander himself had once to pass a night
in a root-house, where a few rotten boards and a bundle of straw
formed his only protection against a raging snow-storm.

But " roughing it " teaches some useful lessons, and soldiers and
hunters often learn by experience that sleep under such circumstances
depends upon the possibility of getting the feet warm ; rain in the
face, or even a wet overcoat, is less anti-hypnotic than chilled toes.
In a trapper's bivouac the sleepers generally lie in a circle around the
camp-fire, with their feet toward the glowing embers, and the Swiss
mountaineers use foot-sacks — long socks of a felt-like stuff, and wide
tnough to leave room for a lot of dry leaves, besides two or three pairs
ni Stockings. Both methods are practical applications of Dr. Cald-
^vel^s theory that a decrease of the cerebral blood-circulation has a
si)mniferous influence ; in other words, that sleep can be promoted by
warming the extremities of the body, and thus diverting the blood
from the head.

In-doors, summer often reverses the problem ; in the dog-days,
when the amount of bedclothing has to be reduced to a minimum,
the main point is to cool the head by lowering the temperature of
the bedroom. Open windows, a hard, smooth mattress, linen bed-
sheets, and a light supper will generally answer the purpose ; in
tlie lower latitudes, George Combe recommends glazed brick floors,
frequent sprinklings, and in very hot nights a tub with ice. And why
Tiot ? The Turkish residents of Damascus pass the summer nights
iu the yeyirman or fountain-hall of their cool houses, and the gar-
lison soldiers of San Juan d'Ulloa deem it a special privilege to sleep
-n the floating wharf, exposed to the spray and the fitful swell of the

In the West Indies and the Mississippi Valley, mosquito-bars are
I sad necessity, but all sensible people should be glad that the French
tanopy-beds are going out of fashion. The French are right, though,
in making children over ten years sleep alone ; it is one of the rare
instances of an etiquette law being supported by a valid reason. To
those who can afford it. Dr. Franklin recommends even two beds per
individual, and in sweltering summer nights it is certainly a blessing
to be able to leave a hot bed for a cool one ; in the large family guest-
chambers of a German hotel, sleepless travelers can thus change the
hods like relay-horses. The builders of the old English country-seats
^eera to have made it a rule to have the houses face due south, with
few or no windows on the north side, and in such buildings the east
windows would make the best bedroom fronts, both on account of the
rvening shade and the monitory morning sun. In our Northwestern
Territories, where the thermometer ranges from 90° above zero to 45°
below, it would be no bad plan to vary the location of the bedcham-


ber with the change of the season, hut, as a general rule, the dormi-
tory should be the coolest room in the house — i. e., the nearest to th(
north side, and the farthest from the kitchen.

THE de^t:lopmext of political ixstitutioxs.


TWO parts of the primitive triune political structure have, in the
last two chapters, been dealt with separately ; or, to speak
strictly, the first has been considered as independent of the second,
and again, the second as independent of the first : incidentally noting
its relations to the third. Here we have to treat of the two in combi-
nation. Instead of observing how from the chief, little above the
rest, there is, under certain conditions, evolved the absolute ruler, en-
tirely subordinating the select few and the many ; and instead of
observing how, under other conditions, the select few become an oli-
garchy tolerating no supreme man, and keeping the multitude in sub-
jection, we have now to observe the cases in which there is estab-
ILshcd a cooperation between the first and the second.

After chieftainship has become settled, the chief continues to have
sundry reasons for acting in concert with his head-men. It is needful
to conciliate them ; it is needful to get their advice and willing assist-
ance ; and, in serious matters, it is desirable to divide responsibility
with them. Hence the prevalence of a consultative assembly. In
Samoa, " the chief of the village and the heads of families formed,
and still form, the legislative body of the place." Among the Foolahs,
" before undertaking anything important or declaring war, the king
[of Rabbah] is obliged to summon a council of Mallams and the prin-
cipal people." Of the Mandingo states we read that, " in all affairs of
importance, the king calls an assembly of the principal men, or elders,
by whose counsels he is directed." And such cases might be multi-
plied indefinitely.

That we may fully understand the essential nature of this institu-
tion, and that we may see why, as it evolves, it assumes the distinctive
characters it does, we must once more go back to the beginning.

Evidence, coming from many peoples in all times, shows that the
consultative body is, at the outset, nothing more than a council of war.
It is in the open-air meeting of armed men that the cluster of leaders
is first seen performing that deliberative function in respect of military
measures which is afterward extended to other measures. Long after


its deliberations have become more general in their scope, there sur-
vive traces of this origin.

In Rome, where the king was above all things the genei'al, and
where the senators, as the heads of clans, were, at the outset, war-
eliiefs, the burgesses were habitually, when called together, addressed
as " spear-inen " : there survived the title which was naturally given
to them when they were present as listeners at war-councils. So, dur-
ing later days in Italy, when the small republics grew up. Describing
the assembling of " citizens at the sound of a great bell, to concert
together the means of their common defense," Sismondi says, " This
meeting of all the men of the state capable of bearing arras was called
a Parliament." Concerning the gatherings of the Poles in early times
we read : " Such assemblies, before the establishment of a senate, and
while the kings were limited in power, were of frequent occurrence,
and . . . were attended by all who bore arms " ; and at a later stage
'* the comitia j^alMlata, which assembled during an interregnum, con-
sisted of the whole body of nobles, who attended in the open plain,
armed and equipped as if for battle." In Hungary, too, up to the
beginning of the sixteenth century, " les seigneurs, h cheval et armes
le pied en cap comme pour aller en guerre, se reunissaient dans le
champ de courses de Rakos, pres de Pesth, et la discutaient en plain
air les affaires publiques." Again, " the supreme political council is
i lie nation in arms," says Stubbs of the primitive Germans ; and
though, during the Merovingian period, the popular power declined,
vet, " under Chlodovech and his immediate successors, the people as-
sembled in arms had a real participation in the resolutions of the
king." Even now the custom of going weapon in hand is maintained
where the primitive political form remains. " To the present day,"
writes M. Laveleye, " the inhabitants of the Outer Rhodes of Appen-
7X'll come to the general assembly, one year at Ilundwyl and the other
at Trogen, each carrying in his hand an old sword or ancient rapier of
I he middle ages." Mr. Freeman, too, was witness to a like annual
•gathering in IJri, where the inhabitants assemble in aiTns to elect their
chief magistrate and to deliberate.

It may, indeed, be alleged that in early, unsettled times the carry-
ing of arms by each freeman was needful for personal safety, espe-
cially when a place of meeting very far from his home had to be
leached. But there is evidence that, though this continued to be a
cause for assembling in arms, it was not by itself a sufficient cause.
While we read of the ancient Scandinavians that " all freemen capa-
ble of bearing arms were admitted " to the national assembly, and
that, after his election from " among the descendants of the sacred
stock," " the new sovereign was elevated amid the clash of anns and
the shouts of the multitude," we also read that " nobody, not even
file king or his champion«. wcrp nllow.-.l t,> <-(.iiie anned to the


Even apart from such evidence, there is ample reason to infer that
the council of war originated the consultative body, and gave outlines
to its structure. Defense against enemies was everywhere the need
which originally prompted joint deliberation. For other purposes
individual action, or action in small parties, might suffice ; but for
insuring the general safety combined action of the whole horde oi
tribe was necessary ; and to secure this combined action must have
been the first motive for a political gathering. Moreover, certain con-
stitutional traits of early assemblies, among the civilized, point to
councils of Avar as having initiated them. If we ask what must haji
pen when, in a tribe, the predominant few debate military measure^
in presence of the many, the reply is that, in the absence of a developed
political organization, the assent of the many to any decision must be
obtained before it can be acted upon ; and the like must at first hap-
pen when many tribes are united. As Gibbon says of the Diet of the
Tartars, formed of chiefs of tribes and their martial trains, " the
monarch who reviews the strength, must consult the inclination, of an
armed people." Even if, under such conditions, the predominant few
could impose their will upon the many, armed like themselves, it would
clearly be impolitic to do so, since success in w^ar would be endan-
gered by dissension. Hence would arise the usage of putting to the
surrounding mass of armed men the question whether they agreed to
the course which the council of chiefs had decided upon. There
would grow up a form such as that which had become established for
governmental purposes at large among the early Romans, whose king
or general asked the assembled burgesses or "spear-men" whether
they approved of the proposal made ; or like that ascribed by Tacitus
to the primitive Germans, who, now with murmurs and now with
brandishing of spears, rejected or accepted the suggestions of their
leaders. Moreover, there would natui*ally come just that restricted
expression of popular opinion which we are told of. The Roman bur-
gesses were allowed to answer only "Yes" or "'No" to any question
put to them ; and this is exactly the simple answer which the chief
and head warriors would require from the rest of the warriors when
war or peace had to be determined upon, A kindred restriction
existed among the Spartans. In addition to the senate and coordinate
kings, there was "an Ekklesia, or public assembly of citizens, con-
vened for the purpose of approving or rejecting propositions sub-
mitted to them, with little or no liberty of discussion " — a usage quite
explicable if we assume that in the Homeric Agora, from which the

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 42 of 110)