Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/124

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114
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

zation. 3. The fact that cannibalism is practiced, not to satisfy hunger or gratify the taste, but only in cases regulated by law.

Accepting the theory of a comparatively modern origin of cannibalism, the question still remains, of the immediate occasion of its introduction. Aside from the tradition already mentioned, we can imagine but three grounds on which it could have been based. Human flesh may have been first eaten under stress of necessity, and found so palatable that the practice was continued; superstition may have suggested the idea that the eating of the flesh would secure the eater against the bad influence of the spirit of the eaten one; or, the ignominious extirpation of an offender may have been considered a good method of showing the general abhorrence of him. This last view, advocated by Marsden, seems to me most improbable, for it is unthinkable that cannibalism could have come to prevail in this way among a people who had not previously known it. The second view, that of a superstitious origin, appears more probable; and it is no real objection to it that the Battas now do not know anything of such superstition, for there are many other customs of which the people who practice them can not give a satisfactory account. The former view seems, however, still more probable, for it is most reconcilable with psychological laws, and agrees with the traditions.

The region within which cannibalism prevails has been considerably contracted within the last three years, in consequence of the extension of Dutch authority over Silindung and Toba; for man-eating is, of course, extinguished wherever Dutch influence prevails. The heathenism of the Battas is, moreover, fast declining before the persistent attacks of Christianity; and Mohammedanism, with its most repulsive traits, must also pass away.

 
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SKETCH OF CHARLES ADOLPHE WURTZ.

CHARLES ADOLPHE WURTZ, President of the French Academy of Sciences, is one of the recognized leaders of modern chemistry. Much of his work is regarded as of the first importance in connection with chemical theory, and he is justly considered one of| the chief pioneers of modern organic chemistry.

Professor Wurtz was born in Strasburg, November 26, 1817, and was taught in his earlier studies at the Protestant Gymnasium in that city. He afterward studied in the Medical Faculty of Strasburg, where he was chief of the chemical department from 1839 to 1844, and received his degree in 1843. He began his chemical career as an assistant to Dumas. Having come to Paris, he was made preparateur to the course of organic chemistry of the Faculty in 1845. He after-