go to the Exposition at Buffalo to see and to think.
of the Exposition well worth seeing and thinking about are chosen
for discussion here:
Two vast extremes.
The weakest and the most powerful manifestation of nature's power.
The falls of Niagara, with the great system of lakes and rivers
The diminutive baby in its hot-air chamber, sightless, deaf, feeble-but
with the great human race, the vast sea of organized thought, back
All the world
reveres the power and beauty of the falls. Men stand in the spray
on the high banks, as the rainbows form and the green water sweeps
over with millions of horse-power. Eighteen million cubic feet of
water every minute, dashing down to carve out the solid rock. There
is power marvelously manifested.
But what is
that power beside the force that may originate in the tiny brain
of an incubator baby?
The brain is
smaller now than half of an apple. But that brain may start a work
that will persist, and affect men's destiny, when the falls, working
their own ruin, shall have dwindled down to an even, placid stream
without so much as a ruffling of the water to tell where once the
great power rushed by.
at the falls and look at the baby.
A mighty river
flows swiftly and quietly until suddenly it drops into space over
a ledge of solid rock one hundred and sixty-four feet high. There
is dull thunder in the air, a roaring that has not ceased for ages
upon ages. The mind cannot conceive the force of that torrent. Like
so many chips it would wash away every vestige of the great Exposition
and every building in the city of Buffalo.
But, if you
will see it, there is more to interest in the little form behind
the incubator glass than in all the roaring and power of "the
Thunder of Waters."
between the force of the Niagara River and that of the newborn baby
is this: One, the river, represents material force, the mere force
of gravity. The child's brain represents spiritual force, the power
of organization and of speculation. The power sent here in fragile
human forms to rule the falls, and other manifestations of crude
power, regulate nature and do the work of embellishing and cultivating
you ever seen a baby in an incubator? Look at one now.
Through a thick
plate of glass you see a tiny form arrayed in spotless linen. Blue
ribbons indicate elbows and knees. The tiny human being lies on
a soft cushion, under its head a pillow as big as a man's hand.
It is pathetically short and mysteriously still. The head is small,
the face pink and tranquil, with the solemn tranquillity of peaceful
old age. The hands are so small that a beetle might almost wear
them for claws. They are gently closed. The baby is supremely happy
and comfortable, with the happiness that knows no want, feels and
craves nothing. That incubator baby begins earthly life in the blissful
state of Nirvana, for which the Buddhist struggles through existence.
American mind, ever suspicious, watches the little creature with
growing doubt. Is it a real baby, or a wax one put there to deceive
the public? The nose, in size and shape like a small huckleberry,
gives faint promise of future character. It draws in the heated
air so softly that breathing is invisible. Perhaps long watching
shows the waxen fingers open and close, very slowly. That means
that a revolution is approaching in that small human world. The
baby wants to be fed, and soon you will realize that he is alive.
His face is drawn into odd shapes. A feeble wrinkle, inherited from
some ancient relative, appears above the eyes. The eyes are tightened
into knots, the hands are jerked up over the stomach-sole seat of
serious sensation-and a mewing sort of cry tells the watchful nurse
that feeding-time has come.
He is moved
from his nest of heated air, carefully wrapped in woolen coverings.
He is weighed, fed as nature intended he should be fed, weighed
again and put back to resume his interrupted, sleepy contemplation
of the infinite. If he does not weigh enough, he is persuaded in
various ways to absorb more nourishment. His life is regulated,
and, unlike older mortals, he is contented that it should be regulated.
Hot air, cleanliness, a soft bed and good food satisfy him.
Of all minds,
a vast majority are more deeply impressed, of course, by the falls
of Niagara than by any baby, however interestingly presented.
We are used
to babies, and a majority of us see but little in them at best.
Falls the human mind sees almost as many different interesting possibilities
as there are different sorts of human beings.
looks at the great force going to waste. He says, "I'll harness
it." And he does. His harness attached to the cataract now
lights the distant city and drives machinery many miles away.
creature with dull imagination sees only danger and a chance for
possible personal achievement by taking the risk. He says. "I'll
go over the falls myself." And he does go over in a barrel,
to meet his death or to sit proudly in a dime museum the rest of
looking at the earth as a tiny speck in space, sees in human admiration
of the falls only interesting proof of our infinite human littleness.
He wonders that any man should study Niagara Falls when he might
study comets traveling hundreds of miles per second with streaming
tails of fire millions of miles long.
The bride and
groom, full to the brim with the little emotion which constitutes
their world, see in Niagara Falls only a suitable background for
a photograph. The groom slaps his chest and says, "Our love
is as strong as the cataract." He forgets that, like the cataract,
his love will recede, presumably.
of social problems finds suggestion and even ground for indignation
in the study of the falls.
single-taxer knows that the government has been compelled to pay
vast sums in order to establish national parks near the cataract.
He knows that the falls are receding every year. It occurs to him
that a speculative millionaire might buy up both banks of the Niagara
River two miles above the falls and leave to his heirs absolute
control of the cataract in the future. It maddens this single-taxer
to think that this small investment now would enable the heirs of
the plutocrat later on to own every foot of Niagara Falls real estate
and compel the government to pay ruinous prices once more for park
There is theoretical
logic in the single-taxer's views and in his anger. The cataract
does recede. It recedes one foot every year on an average. If a
man bought both sides of the river two miles above the falls, he
would control all the cataract real estate in exactly ten thousand
five hundred and sixty years from now. It would take that length
of time for the cataract to move back two miles, so that the plutocrat's
heirs would need to be very patient and pay taxes for a long time.
Incidentally, by the time it shall have receded two miles the cataract
will, according to scientists, be reduced in height to eighty feet
and will hardly be worth seeing.
It is probable
that in that distant day the troubles of the single-taxer will have
been adjusted even to his satisfaction, as a natural process of
civilization. It is certain that at that time men will read with
amusement of the primitive days when their fellows harnessed up
a petty waterfall in order to move their engines.
In that far-off
time the problem of conveying the strength of a waterfall a few
miles away will appear as childish as the invention of the wheelbarrow
seems to us now. Tides will long since have been harnessed. The
brains then living on this big driving-wheel called the Earth will
have learned to utilize the forces in the great machine on which
they revolve daily.
are now struggling with the problem of abstracting electric force
from coal direct. They will then be thinking of the problem of utilizing
direct the sun's energy, or the power of gravity in our satellite
donkey-engine, the moon.
But this has
led us from our small, tiny-faced friends in the rows of incubators.
kinds of little human dynamos lie in those hot-air boxes.
One with a
few spears of red hair and a very determined expression at feeding-time
is of pure Irish stock. If his emotions could be translated into
coherent speech, he would undoubtedly express a desire to challenge
any baby of his weight in Incubator Row. The nurses declare that
he tries to fight them, although he weighs less than five pounds.
whom, perhaps, more later, is of German blood. In spite of his youth,
he is distinctly philosophical. It is easy to imagine that he devotes
hours of speculation to a nearby shed in the Exposition where scientists
are experimenting with different breeds of cows, testing their good
qualities with various kinds of food, and especially their availability
for nourishing motherless infants.
Side by side
are three little creatures whose relationship is recognized at a
glance. These are the Cohen triplets, taken by their careful father
and mother to the home where the best chance for development will
be given them.
would envy the man who would own the falls of Niagara. But you would
envy much more wisely him who shall possess for his own the possibilities
of development wrapped up in those little Cohen triplets. You would
possess the possibility of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice,
as Doctor Johnson prophetically said when auctioning off the Bass'
ale brewery. And you would possess, also, possibilities of power,
intellectual and artistic, beyond the dreams of human ambition.
with the right start, education and incentive might give you the
wealth of a Rothschild and enable you to buy, without feeling the
outlay, all the power of the falls and the land for miles around.
Another might give you the genius of a Heine or the admirable moral
purpose of a Spinoza, more desirable than all the money that all
the Rothachilds ever dreamed of. The third might contribute to your
powers and to the world a Hersehel in astronomy, a Mendelssohn in
music, or a genius like that of Bernhardt in the art of interpreting
little creatures lie in their nests of warm air, quiet and dull,
waiting for the feeding-hour. They are frail, insignificant little
atoms compared with the great torrent that roars and rocks the ground
a few miles away from them. But any one of those three small heads
might develop a force far superior to that of many Niagaras.
When you go
to the Exposition at Buffalo, you are sure to visit the falls without
advising. Be advised here to devote to the babies in their incubator
at least as much thought, if not as much time, as to the giant waterfall.
In the evening, when you come out of the incubator building, you
will find the Exposition lighted with wonderful effect by the invisible
power generated at the falls and brought through wires to the little
Towers of light,
avenues of light, arches and fountains of light, dazzle you with
their glitter and glare. Nothing, you think, could be more impressive-until
you look above and see, afar off in the dark, one single star that
makes all the lighting of that little corner of the earth seem like
the flickering of a few fireflies fluttering about in the face of
The power of
Niagara lights those lamps and floods the Exposition with brilliancy.
But in the brain of an infant is born the power that lights civilization,
that lights the path of men on their journey toward a decent social
We can measure
and limit the power that thunders at Niagara. We know that it is
indestructible; that we may at will utilize it as heat, motion,
light, electricity. But who can measure or limit, or understand
the power that is in the human brain? That power also is indestructible.
It bestows immortality on all who think. It involves the marvelous
combination of comparison, observation, induction, deduction. It
is the force that rules the world, studies and gradually understands
Of that wonderful
power of thought the seed is planted in every infant brain. And
for that reason the incubator baby, silent, unimpressive, insignificant
apparently, deserves to rank in importance with the falls of Niagara
when nature's wonders are studied intelligently.
LESSON FOR MOTHERS
baby in the incubator is born into a world of trials and troubles
before his appointed time. For that reason science provides for
him in the incubator a home as like as possible in temperature and
other conditions to that which he has hurriedly abandoned.
baby of German parentage was studied by this writer. There is a
lesson for mothers in that German baby, as there is in every incubator
baby, amid it shall be told.
baby hurried into the world almost three months ahead of time. He
weighed three pounds, and doubled his weight in six weeks. His heart
was about as big as the end of your thumb, and his liver-as in all
newborn babies-was monstrously large, nearly as big as that of a
child of ten. If you want to admire nature's wisdom, study the newborn
baby's liver, with its changed position in the body and its wonderful
adaptation to a milk diet.
German infant, like all babies born too soon, presented an aspect
of extreme old age. It was one mass of wrinkles all over its body.
Nature does not waste effort. The baby unborn has no need of adipose
tissue, and the tissues of the body, intended to act as cushions,
protecting us from the outside material world, are provided only
just before birth.
quite bald, toothless of course, with wrinkled skin and an aspect
of unbelievable solemnity. No man one hundred and twenty-five years
of age ever appeared one-half as ancient.
HERE IS THE LESSON FOR MOTHERS
baby did so well at the end of six weeks that its mother insisted
on removing it from the artificial nest. It was well cared for by
a mother of at least average intelligence. But it failed rapidly,
and would have died soon had it not been put back in its shelter.
not merely through irregularities of temperature, but through brain
do well to remember that the chief thing in caring for a baby is
to keep its brain quiet. An agitated infantile brain exhausts the
blood-supply, takes heat from the stomach, where it should be, to
the brain, where it does harm, and kills off millions of children.
This particular baby was not agitated mentally by the usual processes
of forcing intelligence. He paid attention to nobody.
from his incubator his brain was forced to work, in order to regulate
temperature. Every human brain contains among its millions of distinct
parts a mechanism which devotes its energies to dealing with conditions
of heat and cold. This thermotic apparatus causes closing of the
pours, when sudden cold strikes the body, and regulates in other
ways our physical ability to undergo changes of temperature. So,
at least, said the wise doctor that cared for the German baby. This
feeble effort of one tiny brain function was sufficient to diminish
the baby's vitality and menace his life.
with healthy children normally born should learn from the German
baby's narrow escape to let their children's minds rest as long
as possible, while the body gets its start. Nature sets the example
by making the baby deaf for a long time after birth. Mothers and
nurses often do not know even this.
German baby is doing well. It is as heavy as its competitors on
the block and will live to do its share of the world's hard work.
It will do infinite good, should the story of its advent here below
impress upon mothers the fact that building up the baby's body involves
keeping its brain quiet.