Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/670

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tle, they began now to relax their exertions. It was melancholy to look at the registers of the little towns, neatly kept by native scribes, and to observe the gradual decrease—if fewer deaths sometimes, then also in proportion fewer births. One noticed, too, the hopeless resignation of the sick, suffering from comparatively slight ailments, but apparently not caring to live. If something more could be done in the way of giving skilled attendance to the sick, it would be well. An attempt is being made, by giving some little training in the hospitals, but the hamlets are so numerous, and so small and scattered, that it would be difficult for such trained attendants to reach them all. More might, as it seemed to me, be done in the way of sanitary supervision. The head-man or the district chief may be "responsible," but he may not always understand what is needed. Where sites are unhealthy they should be changed, and far greater cleanliness in the surroundings insisted on. (The interiors of the houses, as I have said, are almost faultless in this respect.) Direct encouragement might be given in some form for the rearing of children. The possession of an illegitimate child being now a proof of a crime which is punishable by law, such children, naturally, seldom see the light. But what I believe is needed, above all, is some additional stimulus to exertion, some interest in life which would strengthen their hold on it. With our accumulated experience, our great resources, and unlimited good intentions, is the problem beyond us?—Abridged from Blackwood's Magazine.


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THE FOUNDATION-STONES OF THE EARTH.[1]

By Prof. T. G. BONNEY.

DO we know anything about the earth in the beginning of its history—anything of those rock-masses on which, as on foundation-stones, the great superstructure of the fossiliferous strata must rest? Palæontologists, by their patient industry, have deciphered many of the inscriptions, blurred and battered though they be, in which the story of life is engraved on the great stone book of Nature. Of its beginnings, indeed, we can not yet speak. The first lines of the record are at present wanting—perhaps never will be recovered. But, apart from this: before the grass and herb and tree, before the "moving creature in the water," before the "beast of the earth after his kind," there was a land and there was a sea. Do we know anything of that globe, as yet void of life? Will the rocks themselves give us any

  1. An address delivered before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at the Bath meeting, September 10, 1888.