Review of Reviews, 14 (1896), 495–508.
Character Sketch. Annus Domini 1896
Regular Feature, Biography
Imperialism, Animal Husbandry, Agriculture, Disease, Race, Entomology, Darwinism, Evolution, Population, National Efficiency, Industry, War, Light, Electromagnetism, Ether, Physics, Surgery, Popularization, Supernaturalism, Machinery, Technology, Transport, Invention
In a review of the main events of the closing year, claims that the rinderpest has killed 'nine-tenths of the hoofed beasts, wild and tame, of the African Continent'. While cattle have been hit particularly badly by the 'subtle contagion', and 'out of 200,000 cattle in Rhodesia it has not left 15,000 alive', 'Nor were swift-footed antelope able to elude the swifter darts of the deadly archer. Three out of five species died like rotten sheep. The others, for some cause not yet discovered, seem to be immune'. (496). Notes that China has presented 'a spectacle of singular interest' in the present year. To 'our Western eyes that huge yellow ant-heap is almost as unknown as if its denizens were a colony of termites', but from 'the midst of that bewildering and multitudinous expanse of indistinguishable human cheese mites' has come Li Hong-Zhang, who has 'familiarised the West with the personality' of the Chinese mandarin. (499) Observes that it is only through 'the war of extermination which is waged endlessly between the carnivores and the creatures upon which they dine [...] naturalists tell us, that the gazelle maintains its swiftness and symmetry, while the moment the sharp edge of the struggle for existence is dulled, your graceful carrier pigeon develops into an unwieldy Dodo', and comments that there 'seems little prospect at present of evolution Dodowards in a world in which the population daily becomes thicker upon the ground. England for so long has been such an easy first in the field of industry and commerce, that John Bull has been somewhat surly when roused this year to recognise the fact that unless he pulls himself together, there is every likelihood that he will be beaten even in his own markets by the foreigner'. This evolutionary 'combat of nations in Europe has fortunately been confined to industrial warfare', although 'the gates of the Temple of Janus have been by no means shut'. (505) Records that in 'popular science' the year will be 'chiefly famous on account of the discovery of the X rays. Professor Röntgen may or may not have laid the foundation for a revolution in surgical practice, but he has certainly rendered yeoman service in familiarising the public mind with the idea which all previous teaching had failed to do, that there is no reason in the nature of things why we should not be able to see through opaque substances. The X ray has not merely revealed the bones of the hand, it has rendered thinkable to many persons much that has hitherto been regarded as the wild fantasies of occultists'. Also records that 'the removal of the legislative restrictions which have heretofore barred the introduction of motor carriages on public highways has encouraged expectations and stimulated invention, for the fruit of which we shall have to wait until 1897'. (508)
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005-07
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 3.0, hriOnline Publications <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]