Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/86
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
is even doubtful whether the original form of Genesis distributed creation over six days.
Subsequent history of the Sabbath shows a reflex action between religion and sociology. Religion prevailed against better arrangements for periods of rest. Sociology used religion to get what it could.
The Indians reached only the first part of the inception of the Sabbath in the ceremonies of the new and full moon, which were to them of great importance, those of the new moon being most noted.
Circumcision. — This, generally regarded as a distinctive mark of the Israelites, is by no means peculiar to them, and is found in so many parts of the world, with such evidences of great antiquity, as to contravene its attribution to them. Its origin is a subject of much dispute. As practiced indiscriminately in infancy, it is perhaps a surgical blunder. It is certain that among the Israelites it was not at first a religious rite. The operation was not then performed by the priesthood, but by a secular person of skill, without ceremonials. Afterward it was regarded as an initiatory ceremony, and as such its parallels connected with the sexual organization may be found all over the world, but as a special national distinction the declared object was not attained. Besides the Egyptians, Arabs and Persians, with whom the coincidence might be expected, many tribes of Africa, Central and South America, Madagascar, and scores of islands of the sea, show the same mark, and it has even been found in several of the North American tribes. The sole motive for alluding to this very comprehensive subject is to correct the popular belief that the custom is peculiar to the Israelites. In this as in many other alleged respects they were not "peculiar."
By HYLAND C. KIRK.
HON. J. W. DOUGLASS, a lawyer of Washington, D. C., formerly Commissioner of Internal Revenue, after reaching his office one morning, to relieve the pressure on his foot, took off one of his new boots and sat at his work, his legs crossed in the customary legal form, his stockinged foot swinging freely. It happened to swing over the waste-basket, when, to his exceeding surprise, every piece of paper, string, and scrap in that receptacle, as if impelled by a writ of habeas corpus, rose up and clung to his foot. He brushed off the scraps and tried it again, and again that peremptory mandamus or process of attachment seemed to