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How does a language, apparently so imperfect, answer, nevertheless, all purposes, and how has it enabled Chinese authors to treat in innumerable works of every scientific and literary subject that can interest the human mind? The answer is, that the inflections of nouns and verbs, which give so much precision to the ancient languages, find their equivalents to a certain degree in the collection of the Chinese characters, which, according to the position which they occupy in a sentence, and according to the words with which they are construed, can assume every possible grammatical value. The relative position of words determines their character, and imparts the requisite clearness both to the spoken and the written speech."
It has often been said that there is no language which in its grammatical features approaches so near the Chinese as English. M. Stanislas Julien himself, whenever he wishes to illustrate the peculiarities of Chinese, has recourse to English rather than to French, in order to give something like an approximate idea of a Chinese word or a Chinese sentence. If, however, we look more closely into these similarities between the Chinese and English, the latter belonging to a family of speech in which inflection had once reached its highest perfection, we shall find that they are apparent rather than real. They admit of an historical explanation, and they form in fact a new instance of the old rule that “extremes meet." Chinese and English form two opposite poles. The circle in the growth of language begins with Chinese and ends with English, as far as grammatical articulation is concerned. — California Teacher.
THEORIES OF THE TIDAL WAVE.
Most of us suppose we know, in a general way, how the moon or sun draws a tidal wave after it. The explanation which nine hundred and ninety-nine (at least) out of every thousand would give runs much in this wise. Being nearer to the water immediately under her than to the earth’s centre, the moon draws that water somewhat away from the earth; and again, being nearer to the earth's centre than to the water directly beyond, the moon
draws the earth away from that water. Thus, underneath the moon a heap of water is raised, and at the directly opposite point a heap of water is left (so to speak). So that were it not for the effects of friction, the water would assume a sort of egg-shaped figure, whose longest diameter would point directly towards the moon.
And not only is this the explanation which is invariably given in popular treatises, but scientific men of the utmost eminence have adopted it, as correctly exhibiting the general facts of the case. Recently, for example, when Mr. Adams had published his proof that the moon's motion is gradually becoming accelerated in a way which the lunar theory cannot account for, Mr. Delaunay, a leading French astronomer, endeavored to prove that in reality it is the earth's rotation which is diminishing, instead of the moon's motion which is increasing. He thought the tidal wave, continually checked by the earth's friction as it travels against the direction of her rotation, would act as a sort of “ break,” since its friction must, in turn, check the earth. And in discussing this matter, he took, as his fundamental axioms, the law of tidal motion commonly given in our books of geography and astronomy. This presently called up the Astronomer Royal, who gave a very clear and convincing demonstration that there would always be low water under the moon, if there were no friction.
But this is not all, nor is it even the most remarkable part of the case. Eminent as the Astronomer Royal deservedly is, and especially skilful as we know him to be in questions such as the one we are considering, yet if he were solus contra mundum, we might readily believe that there was some flaw in his reasoning, since, as every one knows, the most eminent mathematicians have sometimes misconceived the bearings of a perplexing problem.
But, as Mr. Airy himself pointed out, Newton and Laplace were both with him.
How is it that the views of Newton and Laplace, admittedly the very bighest authorities which could be quoted, have found no place in our treatises of astronomy? Their views have never been disproved. In fact, as we have seen, one of the most eminent of our mathematicians, in re-examining the question, has come to precisely the same conclusion. Can it be that the explanation actually given is preferred on account of its greater simplicity? That would be reasonable, if the two explanations were accordant, but they happen, unfortunately, to be wholly opposed to each other, and therefore one of them must be false. Those who teach us our geography and astronomy ought to look to this.
The worst of it is, that the most of consequences which astronomers ascribe to the action of the tidal wave depend on the choice we make between the rival theories. If the ordinary view is right, the moon's motion is continually being hastened by the attraction of the bulging tidal wave, and this hastening will bring the moon into a smaller and smaller orbit, until at last she will be brought into contact with the earth, unless, as Professor Alexander Herschel suggests, she should crumble under the increased effects of the earth's action, and so come to form a ring of fragments around our globe. If, however, the other view is right, the moon's motion will be continually retarded, her orbit will gradually widen out, and some day, presumably, we shall lose her altogether. This retard. ing and hastening refer to the rate at which the moon completes her revolutions round the earth. As a matter of fact, paradoxical as it sounds, it is a continual process of retarding which eventually hastens the moon's motion. Every check on the moon's motion gives the earth an increased pull on her, and this pull adds more to her velocity than she lost by the check. And vice versa.
Again, if the views commonly given are just, the earth's friction should cause the tidal wave to lag behind its true place. But if Newton, Laplace, and Airy are right, then, to use the words of the last-named astronomer, " the effect of friction will be to accelerate the time of each individual tide."
We apprehend that there is room for improvement in the cur. rent account of the tides. Many eminent men, as Whewell, Lub. bock, and Haughton, have discussed in the most elaborate and skil. ful manner the laws according to which the actual tidal wave travels along the great sea-paths. But as yet no one has tried to rec. oncile the theory of Newton, which may be called the dynamical theory of the tides, with that commonly given in our books, which may be called the statical theory. — London Spectator.
THE UNITARY SYSTEM OF ANALYSIS. This system is that chiefly used in solving questions in mental arithmetic. It is doubtless well adapted to beginners in the study of arithmetic; but we do not think it should be exclusively or chiefly used in the instruction of more advanced classes. At best, it is the hands-and-knees method, thoroughly safe, but cumbersome and slow. Mature thinking should be an aim in view as a result of mental processes; but mature thinking should be direct and comprehensive. Roundabout reasoning and wordy explanations do not tend to make thought quick and expression concise. By this wire-drawn syllogistic method, the pupil has little, if any, stimulus to original thinking, for the order of thinking is prescribed for him to the exclusion of all original methods. All the pupils in a class must work their examples by one and the same formula. This restriction of thought and expression to a single path can yield but a narrow discipline.
On a recent visit to Canning we were informed that one of the pupils of the school, some ten years of age, showed a marked originality in his methods of solving arithmetical questions. Relations not obvious are quickly discovered by him, and from his power of comprehension be masters examples rather by composition than decomposition. This power of getting at the centre of a problem, whence all its relations are seen comprehensively, should be the thing aimed at, rather than the mere ability to plod a beaten path around the circumference. We do not say a word against the employment of “ unitary " analysis; but that this inethod, and this only, should be used, and used evermore, is altogether too much of a good thing. Any and every analysis has its limiting period, when the elements which it discovers should be comprehended as something complex indeed, yet single to the conception and to the use of the intellect, so that they may be employed as a single element in a higher analysis.—Nova Scotia Journal of Education.
THE BUREAU OF EDUCATION. THE Washington correspondent of the Boston Daily Advertiser, “Dixon," says, through the columns of that journal:
"The Bureau of Education is in great danger of being overthrown, and can hardly be saved, except by vigilance on the part of the friends of education throughout the country. The feeling is pretty widely prevalent among members of Congress that the present head of the establishment, Commissioner Barnard, has not been a success, but has proved unequal to the task of organizing the bureau, and making it meet the requirements of the time. The committee on appropriations not only refuse to make provision for carrying on his work, but show a decided disposition to repeal the law creating the bureau, and a number of strong members of Congress indicate a purpose to support this action of the committee. Some other members will try hard to save the bureau, and have the President give it a new head, while others favor the creation of a new bureau or department, embracing education, freedmen's affairs and statistics.”
This state of things is to be regretted. The recognition of the educational interests of the country by the National Government was regarded as a great step onward. A Department or Bureau of Education once established, there was no doubt in regard to its usefulness or permanency. There seems, however, to have been some disappointment in respect to the workings of this department, and every year brings up the question of its continuance.
The importance and necessity of this department is conceded by all who have given due attention to the subject. The influence that goes forth from the fact that the government thus brings into greater prominence the educational interests of the country, more, vastly more, than repays the necessary expenditure. Though the establishment of systems of education is the duty of individual States, and the national government has no power to shape these systems by general or special laws, still it can collect and impart information, and by a judicious use of the means at its disposal, do much to deepen the interest in the education of the people, and lead to the adoption of the best systems of public instruction.
From our point of view there is nothing of greater public concern, nothing more worthy the careful attention of legislators, nothing that justifies a more generous expenditure of money, than the education of the rising generation. The advancement of all the various interests of the nation depends upon the quantity and quality of this education. Consider what is necessary to enable a man to vote understandingly, to perform the many duties that devolve upon him as a citizen; what intelligence is demanded in all the departments of productive labor; and it becomes only the more clear that the one great interest