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    Naturevolume 52pages257258 (1895) | Download Citation

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    THIS month's Contemporary Review is remarkably rich in articles of scientific interest. Mr. Herbert Spencers third paper on professional institutions deals with the “Dancer and Musician.” So far back as 1857, Mr. Spencer showed that, excluding movements which are reflex and involuntary, muscular movements in general are originated by feelings in general. “As a consequence of this psycho-physical law, the violent muscular motions of the limbs which cause bounds and gesticulations, as well as those strong contractions of the pectoral and vocal muscles which produce snouting and laughter, become the natural language of great pleasure.” From the ways in which children manifest their joy were evolved the expressions of elated feeling with wThich peoples meet their conquering chief or king, and eventually the natural displays of joy came “to be observances used on all public occasions as demonstrations of allegiance, while, simultaneously, the irregular jumpings and gesticulations with unrhythmical shouts and cries, at first arising without concert, gradually by repetition became regularised into the measured movements we know as dances, and into the organised utterances constituting songs. Once more, it is easy to see that out of the groups of subjects thus led into irregular ovations, and by-and-by into regular laudatory receptions, there will eventually arise some who, distinguished by their skill, are set apart as dancers and singers, and presently acquire the prosessional character.” In support of this interpretation evidence obtained from many nations is adduced, and the separation and secularisation of the twin professions of dancing and music are traced. Mr. G. F. Scott-Elliot writes in the same review on “The Best Route to Uganda.” He is in favour of a route following the line of the African lakes. The route enters the Zambesi at Chinde, and continues up the Zambesi and Lower Shiré as far as Chiromo, from whence a railway of approximately 120 miles would be required across the Shiré Highlands to Matope, from which point the Upper Shiré is navigable, and goods can be carried to the north end of Lake Nyassa. Here another railway would be required from Karonga to South Tanganika (240 miles). From the north end of Tanganika a line would run to Kagera. The Kagera river rises on the easterly flanks of the mountains to the east of Tanganika, and eventually falls into the Victoria Nyanza. A cataract is said to exist on the river, but even if this is so, and a length of line is required to avoid it, the cost of the whole line would only be about, £1,700,000, or one-half that necessary for the Mombasa railway. Other considerations point clearly to the Lake route as the better of the two suggested lines. Prof. Lombroso contributes a paper on “Atavism and Evolution.” He gives a number of instances of what he regards as atavistic phenomena in social life. “England,” he says, “has succeeded in establishing a form of monarchy the most liberal in Europe; and is working out without disturbance the aims of Socialism. But, at the same time, she not only maintains the privileges of her Peers, but actually dresses them up, as well as her judges, in the wigs and robes of the Normans; and still uses, on ceremonial occasions, the language of her ancient conquerors. … Then this very positive and practical nation insists on retaining a system of weights, measures, and coins, which is opposed to that of all modern Europe, and is an obstacle both to commercial exchange and to scientific research.” He classifies recent inventions which are shown to be old as evidence of atavism, and explains the duplication by the dislike with which, according to him, human nature regards novelties. Too rapid advance in the arts provokes reaction and causes the tide of progress to ebb when it should be flowing. A sensible article on the “Physiology of Recreation” is contributed by Mr. Charles Roberts, in the course of which he gives the following classification of physical recreations according to their physiological value. Outdoor: running, athletics, games, skating, skipping, &c.; riding, rowing, swimming, walking, cycling, marching. Indoor: fencing and other military exercises with arms, boxing and wrestling, dancing, billiards, dumb-bells, machine gymnastics, trapeze and high gymnastics, singing and reading aloud, playing musical instruments. Recreations of a leisurely sort, physiologically considered, are:—Outdoor: natural history, gardening and farming, carpentry and other technical work. Indoor: reading; chess, draughts, and cards; music. Another paper in the Contemporary, entitled “The Origin of Man and the Religious Sentiment,” by A. Fogazzaro, invites criticism from the standpoint of evolution.

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    https://doi.org/10.1038/052257a0

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