Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/263

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251
WHISTLING

fifty years after its publication; even Tycho Brahe opposed it; it can therefore scarcely cause surprise that Luther rejected it, that Giordano Bruno died at the stake for his advocacy of it, while the less steadfast Galileo was forced to renounce it.

Notwithstanding the pessimism of our speculative philosophers, who deny all progress because they contribute nothing toward it, Darwin's lot was happier than that of the great reformer of astronomy. While Copernicus could only feast his eyes on the first printed copy of his work as he lay on his death-bed, because he had not dared to publish it sooner, although he had completed it some years before, Darwin survived the appearance of his nearly a quarter of a century. He witnessed the fierce struggles its appearance at first gave rise to; its ever-increasing acceptance and its final triumph, to which he, cheerful and active to the last, greatly contributed by a long series of admirable works.

While the Holy Inquisition persecuted the followers of Copernicus with fire and sword, Charles Darwin lies buried in Westminster Abbey among his peers, Newton and Faraday.

 
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WHISTLING.
By T. F. THISELTON DYER.

IN whatever way regarded, either as a graceful accomplishment or as the spontaneous expression of light-heartedness, whistling has in our own and foreign countries generally attracted considerable attention. Why it should have been invested with so much superstitious awe it is difficult to say, but it is a curious fact that the same antipathy which it arouses among certain classes of our own countrymen is found existing in the most distant parts of the earth, where, as yet, civilization has made little or imperceptible progress. Thus Captain Burton[1] tells us how the Arabs dislike to hear a person whistle, called by them el sifr. Some maintain that the whistler's mouth is not to be purified for forty days; while, according to the explanation of others, Satan touching a man's body causes him to produce, what they consider, an offensive sound.[2] The natives of the Tonga Islands, Polynesia, hold it to be wrong to whistle, as this act is thought to be disrespectful to God.[3] In Iceland, the villagers have the same objection to whistling, and so far do they carry their superstitious dread of it that "if one swings about him a stick, whip, wand, or aught that

  1. "First Footsteps in East Africa," 1856, p. 142.
  2. Carl Engel, "Musical Myths and Facts," 1876, i, 91.
  3. "Mariner and Martin: An Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands," 1818, ii, 131.