Copyright
D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The Popular science monthly (Volume 19) online

. (page 61 of 110)
Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 61 of 110)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


as a mutual insurance company, under the title of "The Equitable
Society."

They were the first to issue policies for life, for a fixed amount, and
at premiums not merely conjectural. Still, for a number of years their
progress was very slow. But the public mind was agitated on the
subject, and many men of superior ability were absorbed by it. Most
prominent among these was Dr. Price, an unsuccessful Unitarian
preacher, who had contributed many excellent papers to the " Philo-
sophical Transactions," and published treatises on annuity values. lie
was consulted by one of the many insurance societies then forming, all
of which he found started on a basis sure to lead to ruin. As he ex-
pressed it, "All London seems to be entering societies of this sort,"
and he determined to examine the subject thoroughly. What ap-
peared an easy task proved the arduous labor of many years. The
London mortality bills could not serve as a proper basis for insurance



490 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

calculations. The large and fluctuating population of a city like Lon-
don, with its extremes of social conditions, could not be deemed a fair
exponent of the value of healthy lives of the whole country. Dr.
Price set to work to collect data from which trustworthy tables might
be computed. He constructed quite a number of them, among which,
one based on thirty years' mortality of Norwich, and another on ten
years' observation at Chester, attracted considerable notice. lie also
applied such French, Dutch, and Swedish statistics as were available.
But most important of all, and the one on which his fame chiefly rests,
was the Northampton table, taken from thirty years' mortality obser-
vations of the town of Northampton. At the time of its publication,
Dr. Price's numerous works had become widely known and his reputa-
tion was well established. In 1T80 the Equitable Society, which had
commenced with Dodson's London tables, concluded to adopt the
Northampton table, and Dr. Price became the Society's consulting act-
uary. The directors generally followed his suggestions, and within a
year he made 20,000 computations for them. The Society, now basing
the reserves on the Northampton table, which showed a lower rate of
mortality than Dodson's, found the surplus to accumulate rapidly, and
large and frequent dividend additions were made to the old policies.
With the reduction of the premiums the business increased steadily,
and numbers of ncNv companies were started in competition, M'hose fate
we need not follow. Life insurance had become a practical system,
established on a scientific basis.

The directors of the Equitable Society were intelligent and enter-
prising but veiy careful men. They had selected the Northampton
table, from the different new tables presented, because among these
it showed the highest rate of mortality. It proved to be based on a
peculiar error of reasoning. An enumeration of the whole population
could not be obtained, and the parish registers only gave a record of
the christenings and deaths. But the town contained great numbers
of Baptists, who repudiate infant baptism ; and Dr. Price overlooked
the fact that births and christenings were not identical, and assumed a
much higher proportion of deaths to births than had actually occurred.
The Northampton table came into general use, however, and the Eng-
lish Government, that had adopted it as a basis for annuity values, lost
about £2,000,000 before its inaccuracy was discovered.

The next step of importance was the publication of a new mortali-
ty table, known as the Carlisle table, by an eminent actuary, Mr.
Joshua Milne, in 1816. It was deduced from data obtained from the
town of Carlisle, a very healthy and prosperous place, growing both
by immigration and natural increase. During the* eight years from
1779 to 1787 the population had risen from 7,677 to 8,677 inhabitants,
being just 1,000, and the deaths recorded were 1,840. While the num-
ber under observation was very small, the advantage of having enu-
merations of the whole population was considerable. For the first



THE INSUFFICIENT USE OF MILK. 491

time it was possible, not only to compare births and deaths, but also
to determine their proportion to the living. With the exception of
the very young and old ages, where the numbers had been too few to
make it reliable, the excellence of the Carlisle table was so pronounced
that it quickly superseded the Northampton table, and remained in use
until within a very recent period. With its adoption, premiums were
again lowered, and the business increased largely. It outgrew the
experimental stage, and, until then confined to England, began to
extend to the Continent of Europe.



THE ixsufficie:n^t use of milk.

By DYCE DUCKWORTH, M. D., F. R. C. V.

I DESIRE to call attention to the insufficient employment of milk as
an ordinary article of diet in this country. It may seem hardly
possible to maintain that such a complaint is rightly grounded. All
classes of persons are supposed to use milk, to some amount, as a mat-
ter of course. And although adults are not supposed to take very
much, save what they consume with tea and coffee, yet children are
commonly credited with the consumption of a good deal, or, at all
events, of a sufficiency, of this commodity.

In this communication I propose to show that this common belief
is largely erroneous, and that persons of all classes, and of all ages, in
England, consume too little milk. The consequences of this starvation
I hold to be serious, and the remedy for it perhaps not far to seek.
The subject may be best considered, first, as it affects the communities
settled in cities and towns ; and, secondly, in relation to the peasantry
and country population generally.

Is is not too much to say that a fitting supply of milk is at present
too seldom secured even by families who can well afford to pay for it.
The full value of milk as an article of diet is not yet sufficiently appre-
ciated by people who ought to be aware of it. Many adults regard it
mainly as food for children, and many believe that they can not digest
it, and state that it " curdles on the stomach," and makes them " bil-
ious." The ordinary milk-supply to many establishments is just suffi-
cient to allow their tea and coffee to be colored with it. A very inade-
quate quantity is often given to children, and the quality of it is no
better than that yielded by skimmed milk, with, possibly, more or less
water added to it. And in such households as I am now referring to,
there is often, curiously enough, a stinginess in respect to cream, or
what is made to pass for it, which, paltry and niggardly as it is, con-
trasts ridiculously, and I will say vulgarly, with the more free ex-
penditure not uncommonly assented to on bad sherry and worse claret.



492 TUB POPULAR SCIEXCE MONTHLY.

Any one, who knows what is meant by a cup of good tea, knows
also that a certain quantity of good cream is an essential ingredient in
it. There is, then, an incongruity between the inadequate supply of
milk and cream and the free use of wine in such households, and the
consequence is a serious nutritional loss to all the members of it.

The question of expense, however, does come to be a consideration
in many families who are consistently economical, yet, even here, I
maintain that a false economy prevails, if milk be in any degree stinted
to their young and growing members.

The poorer classes are greatly starved of milk in the towns. Many
among them so seldom get good milk that they acquire gradually a
complete distaste for what goes by the name. The same, too, is the
case with tea and coffee. The miserable decoctions which, among
the poor, pass for these precious beverages, are so far from what they
might and should be, that these people are naturally led to the un-
wholesome substitutions of bad beer and worse gin. A cup of good
tea or coffee, with abundant milk in it, is a very unwonted treat and
novel experience to the poor. I find much difficulty in enjoining the
use of milk among hospital out-patients (and I order nothing so freely),
partly, because they are incredulous as to its value ; partly, because
they can not get enough of it, and when obtained it is so inferior ; and
also, because they either dislike it, or allege that it disagrees with
them. A sickly laborer, for instance, accustomed to sundry pints of
beer and " drops " of gin, is aghast at the recommendation to substi-
tute for these a pint or two of milk. Milk is as nauseous for him as
his physic, possibly more so.

Xow, in the matter of taking milk, there are reasons why this re-
pugnance is felt. We most of us take, and enjoy, that which we have
been accustomed to get, and those who have been brought up largely
on milk naturally regard it with liking. Thus, the hardy Scotsman or
Irishman, who has been well nourished on buttermilk, can well apjjre-
ciate good milk when it is forthcoming. The southern Englishman is
a poor creature in this respect.

Again, milk is a food that should not be taken in copious draughts
like beer, or other fluids, which differ from it chemically. If we con-
sider the use of milk in infancy, the physiological ingestion, that is, of
it, we find that the sucking babe imbibes little by little the natural
food provided for it. Each small mouthful is secured by effort, and
slowly presented to the gastric mucous surface for the primal digestive
stages. It is thus regularly and gradually reduced to curd, and the
stomach is not oppressed with a lump of half-coagulated milk. The
same principle should be regarded in the case of the adult. Milk
should be slowly taken in mouthfuls, at short intervals, and thus it is
rightly dealt with by the gastric juice. If milk be taken after other
food, it is almost sure to burden the stomach, and to cause discomfort
and prolonged indigestion, and this, for the obvious reason that there



mF-^^^W^'



THE INSUFFICIENT USE OF MILK. 493

is insufficient digestive agency to dispose of it. And, the better the
quality of the milk, the more severe the discomfort will be under
these conditions.*

Milk is insufficiently used in making simple puddings of such farina-
ceous foods as rice, tapioca, and sago. Distaste for these is engendered
very often, I believe, because the milk is stinted in making them, or poor,
skimmed milk is used. Abundance of new milk should be employed,
and more milk, or cream, should be added when they are taken. In
Scottish households this matter is well understood, and a distinct
pudding-plate, like a small soup-plate, is used for this coui-se. The
dry mosses commonly served as milky puddings in England are ex-
actly fitted to create disgust for what should be a most excellent and
delicious part of a wholesome dinner for both children and adults.

I am of opinion that much mischief results from the use of con-
densed milk, called Swiss milk, for children. I think it has a poor
nutritive value compared with fresh good milk, and it is simply foolish
for people to employ it when they can procui-e the real article. At
sea, or when such milk as can be had is of doubtful quality, there may
be just cause for resorting to it, but it is as unwise to employ it when
fresh milk is procurable as it is to use extract of beef when freshly-
made beef -tea can be had. I am aware that some infants will only
take condensed milk, and appear to thrive upon it, but I think it is not
to be trusted to for the highest nutritional purposes, and it should be
discarded as soon as possible. The value of milk for the aged is not
appreciated as it should be. If old age is a second childhood, the food
for such persons should be that adapted to feeble digestive powers and
the edentulous condition.

Many invalids and feeble persons can be induced to take milk with
rum in it. This is at times a valuable prescription, but I find that
people resort to it without medical advice, and some make it practi-
cally a mere excuse for a pernicious form of dram-drinking.

Milk and eggs in the form of custard is of high value. Some in-
valids, it should be known, can take custard-pudding cold when they
can not take it hot, and with salt in it instead of sugar.

To illustrate what should be considered a proper milk-supply for a
family and household consisting of ten persons, adults and children, I
may state that five quarts ^^er diem is the least quantity that should
be consumed for all purposes. Children of any age may very well
take a quart a day. If this, or anything approaching this, were the
rule, instead of the exception, rickets, in its manifold phases, would be
completely banished from this country, and a much higher standard of
health and robustness would unquestionably prevail.

* The addition of a little carbonate of soda or of lime-water will often enable milk to
be better digested. It is sometimes well to eat a dry biscuit and sip the milk between
the mouthfuls. For weakly children with whom milk disagrees, good cream, diluted with
two or three parts of water, may be often substituted with advantage.



494



THE POPULAR SCIEXCE MONTHLY



I pass, secondly, to consider the present inadequate supply of milk
to the peasantry and country people generally. It is not commonly
known that the English peasantiy get, as a rule, and in many parts of
the counti-y, less milk than the population of the towns. The swine
are really better off in many instances.

Buttermilk should be used, and proves most wholesome and nutri-
tious. When the gentry in any neighborhood are supplied with milk,
little remains for the poorer folks to buy, and much of what they get
is either doled out, as a form of charity, from the dairies of the rich,
and is already skimmed, or too little for their real wants and require-
ments remains available for purchase.

The results of this milk-starvation in the country are readily ob-
served ; the children suffer much from want of good milk, and, hardly
less, many of the, adults. Milk and meat are rare commodities among
the peasantry who are not so situated as to secure supplies on the
estates of their masters. The loss of meat can be far better borne
than that of milk. A good supply of vegetables, with cheese and
onions, will make up for loss of much animal food; especially if whole-
some brown, or whole meal, bread be eaten. The fact that the best
bread, as it is termed, is so largely used by the poor, has often been
shown to be due to the en-oneous belief that the whitest bread is more
wholesome and "goes further" than that made from "seconds" flour.
A diet of this " best " bread and a scanty allowance of skimmed milk
is, in truth, a very poor and ill-nourishing one. The strange fact
remains that pampered servants, and the lower orders generally, pre-
fer this poor stuff because it is called the best, while their betters,
who eat darker-colored, or whole-meal bread, have no influence whatever
in setting them a better example. It must strike all trained observers
that there is a great deal of ansemia among the poorer country-folks,
even in the healthiest districts, and much of this I believe to be due to
errors in diet, and some of it to insufficient use of milk.

It comes to this, therefore — a large increase in our milk-supply is
absolutely called for. It seems certain that our fanners can no longer
grow cereals so as to make them a source of profit, or to meet the
wants of our population. America, Canada, and India can always
meet our deficiencies. Our corn-fields are rapidly being laid down in
permanent pasture, but the herds of grazing-cattle we were wont to
3ee are gradually dwindling away. Cattle-plague and various mur-
rains explain this lamentable fact. But are these henceforth to pre-
vail to such an extent as to curtail our home-growth of beef and our
milk production ? I, for one, sincerely trust not, and I hope I am not
too sanguine when I express the belief that the time is not far distant
when, by a large, a very large, increase in our grazing-stocks, we may
at least meet the crying want of a much better milk-supply for the
whole countrv. — Tlie Practitioner.



w



INTELLIGENCE OF ANTS. 495

INTELLIGENCE OF ANTS.

Bv GEORGE J. ROMANES.

I HAVE frequently been much struck by the absence of informa-
tion, even among professed naturalists and professed psycholo-
gists, concerning the intelligence of ants. The literature on the subject
being scattered and diffused, it is not many persons who have either
the leisure or the inclination to search it out for themselves. Most of
us, therefore, either rest in a general hazy belief that ants are wonder-
fully intelligent animals, without knowing exactly in what ways and
degrees the intelligent action of these animals is disjilayed ; or else,
having read Sir John Lubbock's investigations, we come to the general
conclusion that ants are not really such very intelligent animals, after
all, but, as was to have been expected from their small size and low
position in the zoological scale, it only required some such methodical
course of scientific investigation to show that previous ideas upon the
subject were exaggerated, and that, when properly tested, ants are
found to be rather stupid than otherwise. I have therefore thought it
well to write a paper for this widely circulated review, in order to
diffuse some precise information concerning the facts of this interest-
ing branch of. natural history.

Not having any observations of my own to communicate, I have no
special right to be heard on this subject ; but, as I have recently had
occasion to read through the literature connected with it, I am able to
render what I may call a filtered abstract of all the facts which have
hitherto been observed by others. It is needful, however, to add that
the filter has been necessarily a close one ; if I had a lai-ge volume in-
stead of a short paper as my containing vessel, the filtrate would still
require to be a strongly condensed substance.

Powers of Spkcial Sense. — Let us take first the sense of sight.
Sir John Lubbock made a number of experiments on the influence of
light colored by passing through various tints of stained glass, with
the following results : 1. The ants which he observed greatly disliked
the presence of light within their nests, " hurrying about in search of
the darkest corners " when light was admitted. 2. Some colors were
much more distasteful to them than others ; for while under a slip of
red glass there were on one occasion congregated 890 ants, under a
green slip there were 544, under a yellow 495, and under a violet only
5. 3. The rays thus act on these ants in a graduated series, which
corresponds with the order of their influence on a photographic plate.
Experiments were therefore made to test the effect of the rays on either
side of the visible spectrum, but with negative results. In considering
these experiments, however, it is important to remember that other ob-
servers (especially Moggridge in Europe, and 3IcCook in America) have



496 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

described other species of ants (genus Atta) as fond of light. It would
be interesting for any one who has an opportunity to try whether ants
of this genus do not show toward the rays of the spectrum a scale of
preference the reverse of that which Sir John Lubbock described.

As regards hearing, Sir John found that sounds of various kinds do
not produce any effect upon the insects, nor could he obtain any evi-
dence of their emitting sounds, either audible or inaudible to human
ears.

It has long been known that the sense of smell in ants is highly
developed, and it appears to be the sense on which, like dogs, they
mainly rely. Iluber proved that they track one another's footsteps
in finding their way to food, etc.; for he observed, on drawing his
finger across the trail so as to obliterate the scent, that the ants be-
came confused and ran about in various directions, till they again came
upon the trail on the other side of the interrupted space. By many
ingeniously devised experiments Lubbock has amply confirmed Ruber's
statements, and concludes that in finding treasure " they are guided in
some cases by sight, while in others they track one another by scent " —
depending, however, more upon scent than upon sight.

There can be little doubt that ants have a sense of taste, as they
are so well able to distinguish sugary substances ; and it is unquestion-
able that in their antenna they possess highly elaborated organs of
touch.

Sense of Direction. — It is certain that ants, in common with many
other animals, possess some unaccountable sense of direction, whereby
they are able to find their way independently of landmarks, etc. Sir
John Lubbock tried a number of experiments in this connection, of
which the following is perhaps the most conclusive : Between the nest
and the food he placed a hat-box, in each of two opposite sides of
which he bored a small hole, so that the ants, in passing from the nest
to the food and back again, had to go in at one hole and out at the
other. The box was fixed upon a pivot, where it could be easily
rotated, and, when the ants had well learned their way to the food
through the box, the latter was turned half round as soon as an ant
had entered it ; " but in every case the ant turned too, thus retaining
her direction."

Sir John then placed in the stead of a hat-box a disk of white paper.
"When an ant was on the disk making toward the food, he gently drew
the paper to the other side of the food, so that the ant was conveyed
by the moving surface in the same direction as that in which she was
going, but beyond the point to which she intended to go. Lender these
circumstances the ant did not turn round, but went on to the farther
edge of the disk, " when she seemed a good deal surprised at finding
where she was."

These results seem to indicate that the sense of direction is due
to a process of I'egistering all the changes of direction which may be



INTELLIGENCE OF ANTS. 497

made during the out-going journey, and that this power of registra-
tion has reference only to lateral movements ; it has no reference to
variations in the velocity of advance along the line in which the ani-
mal is progressing

Powers of Commuxicatiox. — Iluber, Forel, Kirby and Spence,
Dujardin,. Burmeister, Franklin, and other observers have all expressed
themselves as holding the opinion that ants are able to communicate
information to one another by some system of language or signs. The
facts, however, on which the opinion of these earlier observers rested,
have not been stated with that degree of caution and detail which the
acceptance of their opinion would require. But the more recent ob-
servations of Bates, Belt, Moggridge, Hague, Lincecura, McCook, and
Lubbock, leave no doubt upon the subject. Two or three instances
will be enough to select in order to prove the general fact. Hague,
the geologist, kept upon his mantel-shelf a vase of flowers, and he no-
ticed a file of small red ants on the wall above the shelf passing up-
ward and downward between the latter and a small hole near the
ceiling. The ants, whose object was to get at the flowers, were at first
few ; but they increased in number during several successive days, un-
til an unbroken succession was formed all the way down the wall. To
get rid of the ants, Hague then tried frequently brushing them off the
wall upon the floor in great numbers ; but the only result was that an-
other train was formed to the flowers ascending from the floor. He,
therefore, took more severe measures, and struck the end of his finger
lightly upon the descending train near the flower-vase, so killing some
and disabling others. "The effect of this was immediate and unex-
pected. As soon as those ants which were approaching arrived near to
where their fellows lay dead and suffering, they turned and fled with
all possible haste, and in half an hour the wall above the mantel-shelf
was cleared of ants." The stream from below continued to ascend for
an hour or two, the ants advancing *' hesitatingly just to the edge of
the shelf, when, extending their antennae and stretching their necks,
they seemed to peep cautiously over the edge until beholding their
suffering companions, when they too turned, expressing by their be-
havior great excitement and terror." Both columns of ants thus en-
tirely disappeared. For several days there was a complete absence of
ants : then a few began to reappear ; " but, instead of visiting the vase
which had been the scene of the disaster, they avoided it altogether,"
and made for another vessel containing flowers at the other end of the



Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 61 of 110)