Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/151

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141
POPULAR MISCELLANY.

of Europe, with a view of founding an American school. Considerable progress has been made in forestry in India, where steps for forming a regular forest administration were taken immediately after the mutiny. A policy of sending candidates to foreign schools to be trained has given the state a body of able men, thoroughly grounded in the management of natural forests covering extensive tracts of country. Within the last two years the Cape of Good Hope and Cyprus have been furnished with forest officers from France. The Mauritius, Ceylon, the Straits Settlements, Hong-Kong, Feejee, and other British colonies, are all following suit, and have recourse to Kew and other similar institutions for foresters. Of all the British colonies, South Australia is the one that is giving most attention to the subject. More would, undoubtedly, be accomplished in all the colonies had Great Britain a central institution for training a sufficient number of foresters to supply their needs.


Egypt as a Health Resort.—In estimating the merits of Egypt as a winter residence for invalids, Dr. Edith Pechey specifies dryness and equableness of temperature as the characteristics of climate chiefly demanded for such a purpose. Of the former quality one soon has practical proof in a Nile voyage. The hair gets very dry, the nails grow slowly and are very brittle, and all articles of use in some way give testimony of it. The air becomes drier with the ascent of the river, "and the dry heat is more easily borne than moist heat. One experiences no discomfort from the increase of temperature as one approaches the tropics; in fact, one thoroughly enjoys there what in Lower Egypt would be found quite oppressive." Egypt is not exempt from occasional sudden and great changes of temperature, but they are rare. Of much greater importance are the variations. The temperature falls suddenly at sunset for about half an hour, and another depression takes place in the early morning. The changes are very evident in a wooden boat, and from this fact constitute a great drawback in the dahabeeah voyage for invalids. In Nubia, the diurnal variation is much less marked, and the nights are only pleasantly cool. The life on the dahabeeah is a very enjoyable one, and "for cases of overwork nothing could be devised more calculated to restore and strengthen the intellectual powers than the Nile trip, and here no physician need hesitate for a moment. There are perfect rest, no railway bustle or jar, the variety of traveling in fact without the fatigue, with the constant enjoyment of sunshine and fresh air." Phthisical and rheumatic patients will also be greatly benefited, if they are careful in guarding themselves against the night and morning chills.


Cowries and African Currency.—Herr John C. Hertz has published a memoir, in the "Transactions of the Geographical Society of Hamburg," on the use and diffusion of the cowrie-shell (Cyprœa moneta) as a medium of exchange. The author's father dispatched a vessel to the Maldive Islands in 1844 for a cargo of cowries, to be sold to merchants for use in West African trade. Not finding as many shells there as they had anticipated, they completed their cargo with the larger and less valuable species of Zanzibar, where the cowries are burned into lime. Several cargoes of cowries were sent annually to Whydah and Lagos, where they were exchanged with the slave-traders for the Spanish doubloons they received from the sale of slaves. The Hamburg ship-captains dispatched this money home from Cape Town. The cowrie-trade continued to extend as the slave-trade flourished, till Brazil took measures to prevent the introduction of African slaves. Simultaneously with the extinction of the slave-trade began the introduction of palm-oil, and a new trade, in which that product took the place of the Spanish doubloons, that grew as the use of palm-oil was extended. It flourished greatly during the Crimean War, when the Black Sea tallow was excluded from the markets. With it also flourished the trade in cowries, which thus appears to be connected with so many historical events that, considered from that point of view, it may be regarded as in some sort a measure of historical development—a view which received another exemplification in 1852, when England blockaded the coast of Dahomey, and the trade in cowries was stopped. In 1845 the Sultan of Bornoo reformed his currency, and introduced Spanish doubloons